Back to the main topic of this post:
I was fortunate to attend the latest SCBWI conference held in LA this July. This was the first large SCBWI conference I’ve attended and think that it was well worth my time to go, especially as a newbie to the industry. The LA conference, from what I hear, is a more relaxed atmosphere and there is more of a chance to meet your peers. I think it is a great conference to go to, especially if you are just beginning, because you can hear professionals talk about their experiences, attend mini workshops and bond with peers who are in various stages in their careers. I felt like at least half the attendees were close to me, still waiting to publish their first book. I think a lot of the breakout sessions were also geared and very helpful to new author/illustrators, and I got something from each one that I went to. My regret is that I wasn’t able to be in more than one spot at the same time, to listen in on all the great lectures. I took lots of notes, and it’ll take me a while to go through them to sort all the information out.
There were so many highlights at the conference. The first was being able to connect in person with friends I had made on Facebook in my writing groups. I got to know many of them better, as we sat together for panels, lunches and coffee. My two roommates, whom I had met in an online class, became life-long friends, and as a bonus, sharing a room really helped bring the conference cost down. Left: Us roomies all alumni of Arree Chung's (right) Storyteller Academy.
Second, I got to meet Leuyen Pham, author/illustrator. I love her style and humor and went to all three of her events. My favorite was her session “Creating Middle Grade Art”. She has illustrated a wide variety of middle grade books, and her insights on how to choose the subject matter, working with art directors and differences between chapter books for early readers and middle grade novels were eye opening. She also has a very similar way of working to me, which made me identify with her the a lot.
Third, I wanted to highlight the breakout session with Tammy Sauer. Her session was titled “Picture Book Writing Secrets - Revealed!”. Her talk was also very informative, and extremely entertaining and she was a speed talker. I did my best to take notes, but still havent gone over everything and organized it all. She had so many good ideas on how to make stories more funny, interesting, organized, how to escalate events, play with readers expectations, different types of hooks etc. She was the most animated speaker I’ve seen at a conference, and it was fun to be there for the ride, even though my hand hurt from taking notes and my ears were ringing afterwards.
|portfolio review session|
On the flipside: do talk to strangers. If you looked around, there were plenty of people standing/sitting alone. Ask them if they are an illustrator or a writer and if they were published, and the conversations would usually flow pretty easy from there. I did get the nerve to talk to some of the faculty, but am kicking myself for not saying anything to Peter Brown. I am a big fan and just didn’t know what to say to him aside from blushing. I’ll have to work on that for next time.
Which brings me to the next point, do your research and look the faculty up before you go. It will make it easier and faster to figure out what lectures you want to see, and to come up with conversation points or questions that are helpful for you.
The only thing I was perhaps let down by, was the illustration showcase. The showcase was fairly well organized, but aside from peers looking at your portfolio, I am not sure there were any art directors/editors/publishers to see it. I believe the New York conference has a lot more of editors and art directors around, so if you need to save money, that might be something I’d reconsider for the next LA conference.
|so many new friends|