Monday, August 8, 2011

Update: SCBWI Summer Conference - Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Saturday's keynote speakers blew me away.  After each one, I kept thinking it couldn't get better than that speech.  But each speaker was unique and engaging.  In fact, I found myself on the verge of tears through each one.  Pathetic, maybe.  But I was moved and inspired.

Donna Jo Napoli could make anyone feel like a slacker.  With 5 kids (I believe), a Ph.D, and countless books published, I really have no excuse not to find time to write.  She spoke on censorship and the necessity of writing about hard topics, especially for young people.  She was eloquent and insightful.

Author/Illustrator David Small's presentation was powerful.  He began with a visual presentation of excerpts from his memoir, Stitches - a graphic novel, and it gave me chills.  The work is powerful.  I have never read a graphic novel and was surprised at how gripping and achingly honest the emotions come across to readers.  He ended with another visual presentation on the typical life of a newly published illustrator.  It lightened the mood considerably.  I went from being stunned and haunted by his first presentation to being amused and delighted.  He showed two very different sides of himself and it was compelling.

David Smalls - his book Stitches was sold out, but I couldn't resist his cute
 tale of a girl who believes she is a princess and has to say good-night
and go to bed.  

Judy Blume was a surprise guest speaker.  Judy Blume!  Queen of YA fiction!  That was some surprise.  She spoke on her writing process and how it has changed over the years - from a typewriter and 5 drafts to a computer and 21 drafts.  But people, she emphasized, people never change.  Teenagers still have the same fears and insecurities.  She has a way of touching people that is a true gift.

After her presentation and the other incredible presentations from the morning, I called my husband to check in.  He asked me how the conference was going and I could only blubber, fighting back tears, because I had just been in the presence of and learned from extraordinary people.  I've never felt anything like it.

Jon Scieszka was the afternoon keynote speaker and he was hilarious!  I don't believe I stopped laughing the entire time.  Originally a school teacher, he is really able to connect with young people and get into their mindset.  I can easily understand why young readers love him.

Jon Scieszka and his book The Stinky Cheese Man

Jay Asher - author of 13 Reasons Why.  I LOVE that book!

The evening ended with a pajama party.  I was hesitant to wear pjs in the very fancy Hyatt Regency at Century Plaza, but once I saw the outfits of some of the other attendees, I knew my ensemble was tame.  The dance party ROCKED.  I thought teachers partied hard.  No, children's book writers and illustrators party HARD.  I totally got my groove on in my plaid pjs.  The djs were awesome.  I think it's safe to say that EVERYONE - all 1,300 of us - had a blast.  (It made getting up early for the last day of the conference a little difficult, but was worth it!)

My flannel pajamas - my attire for the evening!

The SCBWI members get down, get down, get down tonight!

Carly and I represent Las Vegas at the conference.
What happens at the SCBWI pajama party, stays at the SCBWI pajama party! ;)

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