In my last blog post, I mentioned how helpful it was during the pandemic to connect with people online. In mid-2020, when socially-distanced people were badly missing each other, I decided the SCBWI-Wisconsin region could benefit from connecting online just to hang out and chat, like we do at conference socials. It seemed to me that a lot of online meetups at the time revolved around some sort of educational programming, and I thought our members might want an unstructured way to hang out. We also had newly published members who were releasing books during a pandemic, not the ideal time to release, to be sure.
So I came up with the idea of “PAL New Release” meetups that, for a host of reasons, our PAL coordinators couldn’t implement until 2021, but, hey, they’ve been a HUGE success! And they’re something we’ll continue doing well after the pandemic has past.
The PAL New Release meetups allow our members to hear directly from PAL (Published and Listed) authors about their new books — and they can talk about anything! Like: How did the book come to be? How did you get your original idea? How did the manuscript change over drafts? How did your editor’s editorial advice fit in with your vision? What’s the word count? How did the publisher choose the illustrator for the book? Are you getting a say in your marketing plan? Anything they want to chat about!
The authors aren’t required to answer anything they don’t want to, and they can ask questions too. Maybe an author they admire is in the audience, and they can compare notes, with the rest of the participants gleaning from the talk. Oh, and the whole talk is preceded by a half hour of simple catch-up time. People can dip in whenever they want. It’s all very easy-going, very fun, and a great way to connect with fellow members who may live too far to ever meet outside of a conference. What a great way to connect us all!
For all the fatigue Zoom has given us, there are great ways to connect, and I’m happy this little brainchild has caught on. I hope it lives on forever.