SCBWI Summer Conference 2010 August 6, 2010 03:38 7 Comments

I just got back from the 39th Annual SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Summer Conference. The weather in Los Angeles was absolutely perfect - 70, dry and sunny everyday and the conference was held at the luxurious Hyatt Regency Century Plaza where I stayed. I almost didn't want to come back!


Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California


The conference is described as "4 days of agents, editors, publishers, workshops and networking designed to take your writing and illustration to the next level" - it was that and a whole lot more! It was my first time attending and I look forward to the next. Some highlights from the conference for me include:


*Rubin Pfeffer, formerly senior Vice President and Publisher for Simon & Schuster Children's Books and now a partner at the East West Literary Agency, urging us to think of ourselves not as writers and illustrators but as content creators.


*Stephanie Owens Lurie, Editorial Director of Disney-Hyperion, stating that picture books are down 40% but then adding "digital could be the re-birth of the picture book." She also mentions in her workshop that we as authors need to "embrace technology, because our audience has."


*Author Jon Scieszka telling us in his keynote speech that you should not do what someone else does but to do what YOU connect with.


*Attending the Golden Kite Luncheon. This included an awards ceremony and a moving tribute to the late, great author Sid Fleischman. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room.


*Author Alexis O'Neil telling us in her workshop on school visits, not to underestimate the value of your work and that you should set your fees and stick to your guns. Act like a pro and you’ll be treated like one.


*Author/illustrator Loren Long telling us how he infuses mood and emotion into his art by imagining what song might be playing during a scene he's working on (he goes on to demonstrate this by belting out the song "All by Myself" against the backdrop of his drawing of a forlorn looking duck). He closes his speech by telling us to ask ourselves "What do I want to give this world?"


*An editor stating that 50% of an author's time should be AFTER the book is published. Self-promotion is key.


*Jennifer Hunt, Executive Editor of Little Brown Books for Young Readers, telling us that we shouldn't focus too much on trends but that we should look for universal truths.


*Selling out of my book "Greetings from Kiwi and Pear" at the P.A.L. book sale - YAY me!


*Seeing conference attendees and faculty, of all ages, tearing up the dance floor to the tune of "I Like Big Butts" at the Heart and Soul ball.


*Closing keynote speaker author/illustrator Ashley Bryan leading 1000+ of us to recite poems such as "My People" by Langston Hughes. So lively. So moving. SO AMAZING! You'd never know he was 87. It was truly unforgettable and the perfect way to end the conference.


*Meeting all the new people. I already miss the camaraderie of fellow writer's and illustrators. Most nights people just hung out in the hotel lobby talking, laughing, sharing ideas and even facebooking in some cases! It was also kind of funny to see everyone immersed in their laptops - made me wonder what people did after hours at this conference before there were computers!



Now back home my mind is STILL buzzing with information and inspiration. The workshops and panels enlightened, the keynote speeches brought me to tears and laughter, and everyone I met was so smart, welcoming, supportive and passionate. I feel so lucky to be part of this community and the conference made me love what I do even more!


Although, I'm dying to ride the wave of inspiration and work on some of my book ideas, that will just have to wait. I actually have to switch gears now for the New York International Gift Fair coming up in two weeks! Drop by and say hello if you're attending - I'll be in booth #2949.