Everyone is a Storyteller!

The amazing SCBWI Co-founder Lin Oliver says so!

A gem of my journey to publication of my middle grade manuscript has been my membership in the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), a 25,000 member organization founded in 1975 by the amazing Lin Oliver.
Members can join a chapter throughout the United States or in any of the 120 chapters throughout the world. Annual conferences bring members together.

So, I felt like I was meeting a rock star when I came face-to-face with Lin Oliver at last weekend’s SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Retreat held in Wisconsin Dells. I was honored to join the faculty to bring authors and pre-published authors my presentation on the importance of sharing their works through public presentations. Since we spend most of our days hunched over a keyboard and blinking cursor, speaking before an audience isn’t very intuitive. My belief is that the work isn’t done until enthusiastic readers can meet their favorite authors in person and see themselves in the pages of a book.

I’d like to share Oliver’s sage advice.

“Everyone is a storyteller. Pay attention to your urge to tell stories,” she advised. The audience chuckled as Oliver told of her childhood spent cycling around her neighborhood telling tall tales about her family. “I was punished for every story I told. But, I persisted.”
After graduating from UCLA, Oliver went on to work for Universal Studios, worked on the Beverly Hillbillies TV show, and produced the first children’s movie by E.B. White. She formed SCBWI in the 1970s. She’s perhaps best known for the dozens of books she’s written with Henry Winkler, or “The Fonz” from the sitcom, Happy Days. She also runs her own production company and has written and produced many TV series and TV movies.

Oliver notes:

8 reasons why children book authors are vital
1. We are leading the tastes and values of the next generation. Authors are professionals and must ask to be treated as such by all of the people in their lives.
2. Read deeply. Develop your own career. Keep a journal of what you read. You’ll define a taste and voice for yourself.
3. Seek your own voice. Follow your own weirdness. Know what you are good at.
4. Study your craft. It’s not a children’s book if a child doesn’t solve the story problem.
5. Only create what you feel deeply about. Tell a story that fiercely comes from inside your guts.
6. Marinate. Allow for gestation and patience. Ideas take time.
7. Enjoy and observe your thoughts and experiences from a writer’s/illustrator’s viewpoint.
8. Share your hopes and dreams with our creative community.

So, authors press on. Make this year your “Yes of Yes.” Great things materialize when we step outside our comfort zone and just say yes. I’ll have an announcement next week. All because, I said, “Yes.”

Lora Hyler is a communications expert with a 25+ year career in broadcast radio and television, and corporate communications, working with the media, energy and financial industries. She’s also consulted with education institutions, and youth non-profit organizations. She’s been a SCBWI member since 2015. Her artist residencies in Marnay-sur-seine, France and on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. have given her time and space to create children books.