I knew things were going really really well when I found myself at the baggage claim in LAX with Carolyn Crimi and Kelly DiPucchio. Ok, so I didn't recognize them. I had met a fellow conference attendee on the plane, Jacqui Robbins, who has the hook up, so she introduced me to the others. I played it totally cool. "Excuse me, did she say you're Carolyn Crimi?" "Yes." "I LOVE your work! You're so funny! My daughter and I have read all your books and they're so funny I love them all...blah blah blah." Smooth operator, that's me.
Anyway, we all took a shuttle to our hotel together. Also on the shuttle, we met an editor from Scholastic books. (before you get too excited, she only does nonfiction books, which isn't my bag, baby). So the ride from LAX to the hotel was pretty awesome. I waited in line to check in with Carolyn and Kelly, so I figured I wasn't doing too bad for myself. I headed up to my room, realized I was now alone and starving. Room service looked pretty awesome, so I got it. What do you think?
Conference proceedings started on Friday morning. We were welcomed by Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser, the founders of SCBWI and prolific writers themselves. They were pleased to announce that 1,139 kidlit folks were in attendance at the conference, the largest number ever! Their first conference, in 1972 had 55 participants. You've come a long way, baby!
Following them was Jon Scieszka. If I have to explain who he is, you're reading the wrong blog. Jon is like a god of kidlit responsible for brilliance such as The Stinky Cheese Man, the Time Warp Trio, and Trucktown. His presentation was so funny and inspiring, I vowed to meet him during the course of the conference. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. Better luck next time.
Next up was M.T. Anderson. The man is, and I'm not exaggerating, a literary genius. In addition to that, he's an awesome speaker with a great singing voice. He treated us to a performance of the state anthem he's written for Delaware. Why Delaware? You'll have to read his work.
Next I went to a workshop with Ginger Clark, literary agent. Followed by lunch a panel discussion with 4 editors, and another workshop with Josh Adams, a literary agent. The mind expansion for the day was brought to a close by illustrator Loren Long then we were off for the wine and cheese party. Who should I run into there?
Yes, you're correct if you guessed my BFF, Jay Asher! Jay, the man, the myth, the legend, Asher, (who is still on the NYT bestseller list at...oh, is it 67 weeks now?) remembered me and gave me a hug. Yeah, Jay and I are cool like that. Anyway, my awesome photog for these pictures did the posed one first, and then snapped a candid as we were chatting, to "prove that we had a conversation". God bless her, whoever she is.
So Jay, and I, did chat for awhile...maybe 10 or 15 minutes, which is ridiculously awesome when you're talking to a NYT bestseller.
When Jay wandered off to find some cheese before it was all eaten out from under him, I decided to head out. But on the way out, I ran into Kathleen Duey, who is my FB friend and an amazing fantasy author. I chatted with her and a group of her followers for close to 20-25 minutes until I felt so hungry I thought I might soon expire. Rather than doing that, I found someone to have dinner with. Elisabeth Aikins and I had dinner together on the patio and had great conversation.
All in all, not a bad way to spend the first day in LA. Can you believe there's more to the story than that?
In the interest of sparing you from a blow by blow of everything, I will highlight the speakers I heard for the day and skip on to the next bit of awesome.
Gordon Korman (again, another god of kidlit)
Panel of literary agents
MY CRITIQUE was done by Cynthea Liu All I will say about that is that she's the 3rd person to say the the manuscript is very marketable (a great thing). She illuminated that I have a lot more work to do before I can get on with the next phase and I don't want to wrap my head around that yet, so there you have it.
Marion Dane Bauer
E.B. Lewis illustrator (breathtaking presentation)
Rachel Vail she has a theater major, fantastic presenter!
After an emotionally charged day with this phenomenal presenters, it was time for the Heart and Soul Gala. Yes, a gala! I spent much of the gala with my new friend, Jody Lamb. Jody is awesome so check her out. So Jody helped me accomplish the goal of being photographed with as many of the literary celebs as possible. Here's what happened: