SCBWI LA 2013: Notes, Recommended Reading and Oh Yeah–Don’t Be A Chicken

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since the SCBWI summer conference ended! I’ve finally recovered from the sublime exhaustion the summer conference brings. Yes, it’s taken me this long to feel normal again. Well, really, it took me about a week to recover. Too many late-night fireside chats!

Four days of learning, insight and fun is over, but I feel like I came home with a jar full stars. Shimmering bits of motivation that continue to swirl, glow and inspire even two weeks later.

This year was my fifth or sixth time attending the summer conference, so I knew what I was in for: friends (new and old), inspiration, laughter, a few tears from emotional keynotes, and even that pesky ounce or two of self-doubt which usually manages to creep in. (The friends and laughter usually suffocate the self-doubt though!) 

FRIENDS!Speaking of friends, one of the best parts of the conference is getting to meet and hang out with my peeps, both new and old. There is nothing quite like being surrounded by people who “get” me.  My tribe. There was time with my fellow Mentees, my home-base buds (OC Illustrators) and I finally got to meet and hang out with my fellow Simply Messing About teammates Laura Zarrin and Tracy Bishop! (Renee, where were youuuuu?!?) We spent one night hanging out super-late with Diandra Mae talking about everything under the sun–from our careers, to our kids, to…lots of other stuff. So. Much. Fun.

Laura Zarrin (Simply Messing About), Me, Eliza Wheeler (fellow Mentee) and Kimberly Gee (Fellow Mentee)

LEARNING FROM MASTERS!I usually take pages and page of notes, but this time, I kept it to a minimum. I tried to be as present as possible during each session and really only write down things that really packed a power punch regarding where I’m at and where I’m going on my journey.

Here are some quotes from the weekend that really hit home for me:

Jon Scieszka (author)

  • “Be subversive!”
  • “You don’t want to put kids to sleep–wake them up!”

Mac Barnett (author)

  • “Write books with new rules!”
  • “Wonder is the place where truth and lies meet." (paraphrased)

Richard Peck (author)

  • “No one young will pay money to hear an adult.”
  • “Writing is the act of getting your brain to bleed directly onto the blank page.”

Joanne Rocklin (author)

  • “You have to know the rules in order to break them and then do something powerful with that.”

Jarrett Krosozcka (author/illustrator)

  • “Create mini cliffhangers on each page.”

Dan Santat (author/illustrator)

  • “Illustration is 80% design and 20% ability.”


Among my notes, are titles of books various presenters suggested based on their keynote/workshop subject matter. It’s pretty amazing to be able to refer to and study the books which influenced the conference faculty/speakers.

Mentioned by Jon Sciezka during his keynote, “The Importance of Being Subversive in Writing for Kids: Not Every Book Should Put You to Sleep"

Mentioned by Kristin Venuti (author) during her workshop, “Funny You Should Ask”

Mentioned by Arthur Levine (publisher/author) and Mike Jung (author) during their “Imagining Ethnicity” workshop

Mentioned during the “What Makes an Evergreen, What makes a Hit” Editors Panel

Mentioned by Richard Peck during his “Shaping Story from the Opening Line” workshop:

  • Feed by M.T. Anderson, 

Mentioned by Steven Malk (agent at Writer’s House) during the Illustrators Intensive 

Mentioned by Carson Ellis (author/illustrator) during the Illustrators Intensive

*Note: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster was mentioned about eleventy-hundred times throughout this year’s as well as last year’s conference. It’s first on my To Be Read list. Maybe it should rank high on your list too?

SHOULD’A, COULD’A, WOULD’A!Though the conference leaves me on a high for quite some time afterwards, I always leave with a small nagging feeling of “shoulda, coulda, woulda”:

Here are some things I’ve promised myself to do more of next year. And if you’re going to be a first-timer at a conference maybe you can prime yourself to be better than I was at these things:

  • Meet and talk to more people
  • Take more pictures, so I wouldn’t have to borrow everyone else’s for blog posts!
  • Hand out more business cards
  • Take at least one nap, so it wouldn’t take me a week to recover from so much excitement
  • Actually submit my assignment for the Illustrator Intensive
  • Ask more questions during the breakout sessions

By the way, most of the list above is due to ME BEING A CHICKEN during certain circumstances. When are they going to start offering a pre-conference conference about how to not be a wallflower???

Anyhow…the SCBWI 2013 Summer Conference was amazing as usual. If you can swing it at least once in your career, go! And DON’T BE A CHICKEN when you get there! You never know how good a friend that guy behind you in the Starbucks line might become.

08/20/2013 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

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