Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SCBWI - Drink the Kool Aid

I recently attended the SCBWI National Conference in Los Angeles.  From the moment you hit the ground in L.A. it's go time.  You're almost guaranteed to meet up with other conference goers on the Supershuttle ride from the airport to the hotel. Without even looking through the van's window you know you're not in Kansas anymore.

Creative people, for the most part, work alone in isolated studios or writing spaces.  It's a rare opportunity that we're given a chance to socialize with others unabashedly about what's in our heads.  Now in the presence of an audience who gets us, unlike our family and friends who may feign that they're interested in how we get into the space to write a specific character, we're with our tribe.

If you're a writer or illustrator, who's not familiar with SCBWI, my recomendation is join.  Drink the Kool-Aid and become part of this community that nourishes the creative soul.

Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser started a not of profit organization known as The Society for Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators in 1971. When they walk onto the stage on the morning of day one (with an audience of 1200+) so many feelings are bouncing around the room; respect, admiration, gratitude and appreciation all making the air in the ballroom electric.

The rock star line up of the faculty reels us in even further, as we chug more SCBWI Kool Aid. We're anticipating what our favorite authors and illustrators are going to share with us over the next three days.  It's too much, my head is about to explode, which is all timed perfectly to the music and marching of the faculty across the stage. (holds lighter up over my head)

You know you've made the "write" decision to invest in yourself.

Meg Rosoff raised the bar of the conference from the start.  She told us when you write for children you have the power to change lives.  She continued in showing us how faults are powerful. Meg may have dubbed herself the queen of weird, but after her speech I could have gone home completely and utterly satisfied.

Everyone comes to this conference with different agendas and needs.  SCBWI offers agents, editors, industry news, workshops, critiques, speakers and networking opportunities that allows you to customize your conference experience.

Judy Schachner shared her experience where she had to "Run for your life she's got the rabies."  Luckily, Skippy Jon Jones didn't get the rabies. I fell in love with Judy Schachner's collages and plan to invite friends over to work on our own colleges or vision boards sharing coffee and conferrence notes when we get home. 

I fangirled Stephen Chbosky (Perks of being a Wallflower) and Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why) during the first breakout session with no other intention but to be inspired by greatness.  They didn't let me down.  I took away techniques in screenplay writing that I've been using this week revising scenes of my WIP. 

Justin Chanda is smart, really smart.  I feel good about the world knowing he's one of the experts bringing books to kids.

I sat in on Amy Nichol's panel.  Amy is a writer from Arizona that I met last year at the L.A. conference.  She was selected to be part of the class 2K14, which is made up of debut authors. Amy's book, Now That You're Here comes out in December.  The sequel,  While You Were Gone is out in 2015.  The panel was very informative about group marketing techniques.
Class of 2K14

Sharon Flake was my surprise discovery at this conference.  Her heartfelt story spilled across the stage as she shared her honest journey as a writer.  I can't wait to read her work, starting with The Skin I'm In.

Aaron Becker rocks as a storyteller, maybe not so much as a singer.

Maggie Stiefvater is a writer, thief and artist. Not to mention fellow equestrian.  She incorporates her childhood horse stories into her novel, The Scorpio Races. Write what you know.
Maggie Stiefvater

I don't think you can say the conference was winding down when the last speaker was JUDY "FREAKING' BLUME!

The faculty, scheduled speakers and events are amazing no doubt.  But SCBWI brings together people in this industry in ways that are equally as important as the inspiration, industry and craft.

Deb Peters, my roomie who I met at an LA conference years ago, brought her new book cover and we celebrated her success!

Deb Peter's creates a multi path young reader version of the classic Three Musketeers

Deb working on her next novel.

I got to jump up and down in the lobby full of joy with Ingrid Sundberg in honor of her first book, All We Left Behind/ Fall 2015.  Once we settled down from all the jumping and squealing, it started all over again for her second set of big news this year, her engagment !

Ingrid Sundberg is also part of the Fearless Fifteeners

SCBWI provides so many levels to help me achieve my goals as a writer and illustrator.

Arizona represented at Old Italy Party

The journey I'm on as a writer/illustrator is richer due to SCBWI. 

And these crazy kids from Minnesota 
My friendships I've met through SCBWI nourish my soul.

Drink the Kool Aid