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Saturday, August 20, 2011

SCBWI Conference Wrap up AND contest you shouldn't miss

Ok, my mind is beginning to get hazy on what happened in LA.  Two days after I returned, I took a road trip with my husband and young children to Milwaukee and Chicago.  It's been a busy month.  But I promised you more stories, so more stories I shall share, disjointed as they may seem at this point.

First, I'll begin with a super happy photo of my first time behind the author table.  This picture was taken by the insanely talented Angela Matteson.  She's a children's illustrator and I really like her style.  So much that I'm currently trying to think of a story to match to her style so I can ask her to illustrate another book for me for MeeGenius.  (don't worry Sean, I still want to do a PJ Girl sequel with you.  Still working out just the right idea though.  It'll get here.)  Don't hold your breath, Angela.  As Sean will attest, it can take me awhile to formulate and write a new idea.  But when I get it, oh boy, I'll be crossing my fingers that you'll want to work with me.

Notice the lighting in the photo.  Very bright, right?  I told you those lights were shining in my eyes.  One very nice, and tall, gentleman stayed to chat with me for awhile and kindly positioned himself in such a way that the lights didn't blind me for awhile.  My enduring gratitude to you, sir, whoever you are.

Ok, on to other things.  The party for instance.  SCBWI has a tradition of wild costume parties on Saturday night of the conference.  This year's theme, in honor of their 40th Anniversary, was the 40 Winks Pajama Party.  Well, I didn't have to take more than 10 seconds to figure out what I would be wearing.  (Hello, my picture book is titled PAJAMA GIRL!)  I am extraordinarily lucky to have met two wonderful friends at the conference last year who were on board with group costumes so we were the three Pajama Girls.  Thank you so much to Lisa Lamm Aikins and Jody Lamb for not only dressing up with me, but for the awesome fun we had together at the conference.  You ladies are amazing.

Also, thanks to Sean, the coolest illustrator rockin' a viking helmet, for designing the super cute shirts.  Someone even asked me about the shirt because they'd heard of Pajama Girl.  (swoon)  There's buzz, people!  It might be a small mosquito buzz, but it still counts.

So on to the party.  I had been trying, unsuccessfully, that day to meet up with the fabulous author, Christy Raedeke.  Loyal blog readers will know that I interviewed her here last year.  I loved her book, The Prophecy of Days.  I'm really behind in my reading this summer but I'm very excited to read the second book, The Serpents Coil.  I was really looking forward to meeting her in person but it didn't seem like it was going to work out.  So while Jody and I were hanging around near the lobby doors trying to find her, we did run into Ray Veen again.  I'm pretty sure Ray thought Christy was a figment of my imagination but he humored me.  Good sport, that Ray Veen.  Anyway, while we were waiting, we seized the opportunity to chat with Jon Scieszka.  I got a pic. with him the following day that I will insert here for your viewing pleasure.

Yes, Jon is a riot.
Giving up on ever finding Christy, me, Jody and Ray headed toward the food line and mingled like the sociable and cool people we are.  Interestingly enough, we had a conversation with someone (sorry, I told you I was hazy at this point) about how hard it was to find people.  With 1300+ attendees, you'd meet someone cool in a session and say, "Catch ya later" only to never even catch a glimpse of them again.  However, I kept running into Ray and Chris Friden.  Jody and I had met Chris the night before at the member book sale while I was still trying to find my Pajama Girl table.  We'd ran into him periodically throughout the day and would you believe I ran into him again at the pajama party?  Of course you would...because it's true.  Shortly after running into Chris, we found Lisa and the trio of Pajama Girls was complete.  Next, we hit the dance floor because I'm a dancin' queen, and Chris was cuttin' it up out there too.  Once the party had to officially stop we all said our goodbyes and Jody and I headed to the lobby to try our luck at kidlit celeb spotting.  But who did we find?  Go ahead.  Guess.  Yes, it was Chris again!  So we had some drinks and laughed, hysterically, as we told our own crazy stories into the night.  Really, it was some hard core belly laughs.  Tears were involved.  It was good times.  Everyone needs to laugh like that much more often than they do.  Go find someone and share some laughs right now.  The blog will still be here when you get back.  So thank you to Jody and Chris for making me laugh so hard.  I needed it.  That was definitely a high point of the conference for me.

So, the next day, I was knocked out.  Jody and I went down for breakfast.  I was a zombie so I went back to bed for awhile.  Didn't emerge until the Golden Kite luncheon but I felt much better.  Jody went home that night, sad sad.  And as I sat around the lobby, alone, hoping to find someone awesome to talk to, I ran into Ray Veen again.  He too was preparing to head home so we hung out for a bit before I sent him off with a pep talk for conquering LAX and getting safely back home to MI.  (which he did successfully).

Next day was intensives.  Ran into Chris again.  (is there any surprise?)  (actually, a funny aside, every time I type Chris, I accidentally type Christ and have to make sure I take the 'T' off.  Now that I think of it, Chris did wear white a lot...)  Anyway, intensives...I got to work on my query letter with Tina Wexler.  She seems like an awesome person to work with.  She's definitely on my list of agents of query now.  Afternoon was revising your novel with editor Julie Strauss Gabel of Dutton Children's.  I don't think she's interested in anything I write but it was still valuable to hear her perspective.

Afterwards, I hung out in the lobby to see if anyone cool was left and who did I finally get the chance to see?  Why, my BFF Jay Asher!  We'd smiled at each other a few times during the conference but never got a chance to talk so I marched myself over and changed that.  We probably chatted for about 40 minutes.  At one point during our wonderful reunion a guy I recognized but couldn't place came over.  He said a few things to Jay and then turned to me saying, "Have we met?"  I said no so he held out his hand and said, "I'm Arthur."  I said, "Hi, I'm Sarah" but what I was thinking was along the lines of "Holy shit, he's Arthur Levine!"  Arthur Levine is a big deal in children's publishing.  I played it as cool as I could considering I had no idea what to say to the man.  But he didn't hang with us very long.  Whew!  It was a relief to just chill with Jay.  I'm super suave when in the presence of a New York Times bestseller who has sold movie rights for not just that bestselling book, but for the next book that hasn't even come out yet.  Smooth like melted butter.  You betcha.  I'm sure Jay would agree.  At any rate, he knows who I am and he gave me a hug.  Two of them if you really want to know.  No picture this year though because things were too hectic.

So there you have it.  LA 2011 in a nutshell.  I guess this post was a slightly obese nutshell.  Sorry.  But, if you read the title of this post, there's a little more.


Loyal blog readers will also know that I interviewed author, Michael Lawrence here last year.  You'll also recall that I have an overwhelming amount of respect and admiration for the guy.  At this point, I would dare say we're friends.  Anyway, we have embarked on a joint venture to help promote his amazing trilogy, The Aldous Lexicon.  They are available as ebooks now (the print version is out of print which makes me very sad.  Truly, I LOVE those books).  In an effort to keep them in the public eye we've created a Facebook and Twitter page for them under Naia Underwood (she's a character in the trilogy).  Naia is hosting a contest.  Send her a tweet @NaiaUnderwood or respond to her FB status to answer the question, "What would you do if you came face to face with an alternate version of yourself?"  (it happened to her).  Doing either of those things will enter you in a random drawing for a $12 Amazon gift certificate.  Who doesn't want free money for books?  Seriously!  That's all you have to do, but we're already planning future contests and other fun stuff so it would be worth your while to follow her or 'like' her, as the case may be.  This contest is open until Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2011.  Please get entered and spread the word.  You've got nothing to lose!  Ok, that's my plug for Naia.  She's close to my heart so I really hope you'll consider checking out her page.  Off soapbox.

Still dreaming of the Fonz....

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