Thursday, August 15, 2013


Christina Forshay, Laura Zarrin, Tracy Bishop

I still can’t believe I got to go to the annual Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) LA International Summer Conference. It was a huge opportunity for me and I wanted to get the most out of it. I didn’t want to be in a situation where I was frantically shoving postcards into the hands of every art director or editor begging for work. Believe me, that’s no fun for anyone, so I decided to set an intention for the conference. Something I could focus on and act upon that would take the pressure off. I chose ‘connection’. 

I wanted to connect with all of my wonderful Twitter peeps, illustrators and writers I admire, and, of course, the art directors and editors. Setting an intention allowed me to relax and enjoy the experience. It would have been completely stressful to go in expecting to come out with a book contract. That’s unrealistic. It is really helpful for art directors and editors to get to know the faces behind the postcards and for us to get to know who it is we're submitting to. It makes the whole experience feel more friendly.

Priscilla Burris and Bonnie Adamson

As Tracy said in her post, being at the conference is like being in a real live Twitter feed free from hashtags and 140 character limits. It was mind blowing and so, so wonderful! I loved meeting my fellow SMA member, Christina Forshay. I had a list in my head of whom I wanted to meet in person and more often than not, one of those people would just magically be passing by when I thought of them. Weird, but true. There are a few that I didn’t manage to meet, but I trust I will someday. I just kept my intention in mind, stayed present in the moment, and it all happened organically. I didn’t have to scheme, contrive, or be obnoxiously aggressive. I was relaxed and enjoying myself.

Diandre Mae, Laura Zarrin, Tracy Bishop

I like to be in bed by 10pm. I love to snuggle in with a good book, but I didn’t pay an arm and a leg to read a book, so I stayed up late, hanging out in the lobby/bar or out by the fire with the other conferees. I pushed myself to talk to people I didn’t know. I’m very grateful to
Diandre Mae (aka The Energizer Bunny) for setting such a good example. She always outlasted me by a long shot then popped out of bed all bright and shiny the next morning while I was dragging my sorry self out of bed. I’m still not buying her introvert story, by the way. I was pretty sleep deprived by the end, but it was well worth it.
Laurent Linn
Giuseppe Castellano and Jarrett J. Krosoczka
I also got a chance to personally thank some of the creators of books that touched and entertained my reluctant readers. A highlight of that was talking to Jon Scieszka who created to encourage more boys to read. It was an invaluable resource for my oldest son. I also thanked Jarrett Krosoczka for creating the Lunch Lady series, one of only a handful of books my youngest would willingly read. It felt so much more real to talk to them from this perspective than to just fawn over them and their talent.
E.B. Lewis and Laura Zarrin (Cecelia Yung on the right)

Tom Lichtenheld and Jannie Ho

I like to sit in the front row. Not a popular choice, I’m finding, but it gave me the opportunity to hang out with artist rep, Mela Bolinao of MB Artists (Tracy’s rep) and just talk about our kids.

I so thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience! I made so many connections just by being open to the idea. I didn’t have to force anything; I just let it happen. If I hadn’t set that intention, I think I would have missed out on so much.


  1. Yet another GREAT round up SCBWI LA 2013 read for me today! I especially appreciated the pics....both of your fellow bloggers and some of the ADs and illustrators I haven't gotten a chance to meet real time, yet. Actually "seeing" some of the names I put on postcards.....really made them seem....well......nice! (grin) THANKS so MUCH!

  2. Thank you and I totally get what you mean. It helps so much to 'know' who you're sending postcards to.

  3. Hello Laura! How fun to be scanning through articles and blogs this morning and see your lovely smiling face! I thought, hey! These guys are the first illustrators I met at the conference (officially at the curb of LAX, you with Tracy, waiting for the shuttle.)

    What a fun post and agreed, a great conference. Such a whirlwind, huh? Great connecting with you and Tracy, as well as all the other amazing talented people at the LA Conference. #LA13SCBWI,

  4. Great to meet you too! It was quite a whirlwind, for sure.