I spent last weekend in New York with over a thousand authors and illustrators. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators held its annual winter conference. Members span the globe and were fully present at this weekend’s events. I was in observer mode mostly and didn’t get into meeting and greeting many people, but I did get to speak to a few familiar faces over the weekend, most specifically, the wonderful Pat Cummings.
Lin Oliver invited me to join the phenomenal team of artists and authors this year to join a panel titled, The Art of the Picturebook. This was my first conference, and boy was I overwhelmed.
After spending the first day taking copious notes at the Illustrator’s Intensive, I spent the evening in bed with a migraine. Fortunately, Jaime Kim, this year’s SCBWI Student Scholarship winner, and MICA student, was gracious enough to grab ibuprofen for me. I was planning to head to the fancy publisher’s cocktail party to see my editor and others, but couldn’t make it out of my bed. So sad.
Saturday morning’s keynote was Jack Gantos. I want to read all of his books now. What an engaging, smart, and funny guy! If you ever have a chance to see Jack Gantos speak, do it. You do have a chance to read his books, so do that first!
I won’t get into too many details from the weekend, mainly because I am exhausted. Tomie DePaola had a talk with Cecilia Yung on Friday, which was amazing. He was followed by Brett Helquist and Paul O. Zelinsky. I attended a workshop on Writing Historical Fiction, by Kendra Levin, (for one of my students) which was super informative. Jack Gantos blew me away with his humor, and Kate Messner was inspiring with her talk on failure.
Alongside the conference events, I was able to sneak on down to SVA and share some love with Marshall and Kim. Another SVAMFA2005 grad, Marion Vitus was also attending the conference and headed on down with me. Marshall and Kim are gearing up to celebrate 30 their 30th year! What a legacy.
On Saturday I skipped out of the afternoon breakout session to go and hang out with Sam Weber and Jillian Tamaki. Look for a fun chat between us on Sam’s podcast, “Your Dreams My Nightmares”. After the big social gala that evening back at the hotel, Jaime and I walked over to The Plaza Hotel where I indulged in a lobster roll and cupcakes from BILLY’S my favorite cupcakery. What bliss!
My panel on Sunday was a blast! How often do you get to hang out with Arthur Levine, Marla Frazee!!!, Raul Colon, Oliver Jeffers, and Peter Brown? It was huge fun! I am so grateful to have been asked. My proudest moment was at the end of the talk where I was able to ask what type of paper people used. Many conference goers came up to me after and let me know how much they appreciated that because they always want to know what materials everyone uses. Even as a professional, it is always on my mind as well. We had a swinging autograph party at the end of the afternoon, and then I headed home and prepared for my Monday morning class. Needless to say, I am wiped out.
CONGRATULATIONS to our wonderfully talented Jaime Kim! She was granted full access to the conference and had her portfolio reviewed by art directors. The large stack of postcards and business cards she left behind were gone by the end of the weekend. Keep a lookout for this one!
For more conference goodness, check out the SCBWI Conference blog!