The SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s) LA Conference was held early July, and I had no idea what I was getting into, in the best way possible. When I started on the path into the kidlit world, there was a list of things I had to do to get the best start. One of the most important was joining SCBWI to immerse myself in the children’s book world. Luckily, I dipped my toe in this world when I attended the regional meet-up earlier this year because otherwise I would’ve been completely overwhelmed by the event that was the huge L.A. conference.
The weekend was packed with inspirational keynote speakers, informative break-out talks by authors, agents and editors in the industry, and brunch with children’s writer and legend Judy Blume! The days were filled with so much inspiration, I hardly knew what to do with myself. I was constantly torn between attending one talk over the other at the same time, both sounding equally intriguing. But I think the best part of all was meeting all the wonderful people I had connected with online through my children’s book writing class. I spent my days learning from my instructor and "fairy godmother", Dr. Mira Reisberg, and eagerly sitting in on talks and sharing ideas with my book pals Emily, Jodi and Bryan. It was so surreal to meet my book friends in person after sharing my stories and ideas with them for months online. I found my tribe!
The Silver Linings social on Saturday night was really something to experience, with writers and artists dancing, mingling enjoying the appetizers and snacks galore. The drinks flowed and the ice-cream sundaes called my name. I even spotted my kidlit hero, author and illustrator Jon Klassen (but did not give in to my fan impulses this time- next time Jon Klassen, next time). This was kidlit heaven!
Of all the speakers who shared their wisdom and experiences with us (and all of them were so amazing), there were two in particular that really struck a chord with me. Opening keynote speaker Vanessa Brantley Newton and break-out session speaker Leuyen Pham. Newton spoke with an emotion that connected with the audience. Her story of perseverance and unrelenting will was so touching and inspiring to hear. And I hope her story about the goat falling into the well and the words of, “Shake it off and pack it under” will resonate with me when I’m struggling to push through on my creative journey.
Pham is a magical unicorn all her own. She’s illustrated an incredible number of books, and hearing her process absolutely blew my mind. How does she illustrate more than one book at a time and maintain her sanity while raising her young children? This woman is an illustrating machine! Regardless, it was reassuring to hear her speak about her experiences of illustrating, searching for inspiration, and realizing that even though she’s extremely talented, she’s also very, very hard-working. I am a big fan, Leuyen!
When I first told my husband I would be attending the SCBWI conference, he was so supportive, and in Renaldo fashion, could probably see how taken I would be, even more so than I did at the time. I’ve caught the kidlit bug and it’s not letting me go! I came home from each full day at the conference, lit up with energy and newly inspired, though exhausted. I hope I remember this feeling. It was incredible to live in a kidlit bubble for one fulfilling weekend. And even though this event has come and gone, I’ll return to the memories again and again to keep me going on this kidlit journey. There is always next year, and perhaps the Winter Conference in New York to look forward to! My creative cup is now full.
Here you'll find...
my thoughts, and hopefully a spark of inspiration. Enjoy!