The SCBWI WWA 18th annual Conference For Children's Book Writers And Illustrators.

Whew!

Okay I've been back from the SCBWI WWA Conference in Redmond for two days now. But my head is still swimming with all sorts of good stuff. And I lost a day of work yesterday due to my 2-year-old's unexplainable rash all over the back of his legs; apparently he probably got into some itchy plant over the weekend according to the Doc (I can't help but kind of love these quirks of motherhood). So I'm late to post this. But I just want to say Yay for SCBWI Western Washington! Thanks for another wonderful conference.

First off, I am lame at taking pictures. I took maybe 5 total at the conference and a few were repeats. So this is all I've got. A cheesy canned photo of some friends and the Ambassador of Children's literature himself, Mr. Jon Scieszka (rhymes with Fresca).
Highlights From The Conference:
  • Chatting and networking with so many amazing people! I got to thank Ellen Hopkins in person for the awesome conference and mentorship program in Nevada (she's a regional advisor for SCBWI there), which meant a lot to me because I'm so grateful to them for the incredible job they are doing.
  • Getting great and helpful feedback on my work through the manuscript and dummy critiques (I can't wait to get going on my dummy again).
  • George Shannon's mini session on "Writing to be heard: Sound and The Picture Book" has inspired me to go back to every picture book manuscript I have and rethink/examine the sound and rhythm in each of them to better contribute to the heart of each story. Sidenote: I finally bought, TIPPY TOE CHICK GO at the conference (one of my favorite Shannon titles I didn't already own). I think my son has only has requested it about 7 times in the last 2 days.
  • A HILARIOUS video Kim Baker made as a tribute to SCBWI. I'll post a link when it eventually is up on the internet.
  • Hearing all the amazing key-notes. Adam Rex and Jon Scieszka made me laugh so hard I wanted to cry. Ellen Hopkins' pictures of remodeling as a metaphor for revising were spot on. And I found a new hero in Grace Lin. I especially loved when Grace said, "No matter what you do in your life, no one else has done it just like you. Tell your own story."
  • During her session on what makes a great cover, Elizabeth Parisi, art director for Scholastic, showed quick mock-up covers she made for the dummies she had critiqued. It was so fun to see how she handled the different dummies!
  • I loved looking through the portfolios at the portfolio show and seeing how my fellow illustrator friends have improved their work through the years. A special congrats to my friend Jennifer Mann who won the grand prize at the portfolio show (she's an awesome illustrator and she totally deserves it).
  • And probably one of the biggest highlights for me was, no kidding, I got recognized for a picture book dummy I wrote! I was in a bit of a daze when it all happened (it was the end of a full weekend) but I think it's called a breakout writer honor. I think. [UPDATE: SEE BELOW] At the very end of the conference Joni Sensel, one of our co-regional advisors read off a short list of names. The names were given from manuscript critiquers who thought something they read by that person showed special promise. It feels so awesome to get that kind of a pat on the back! I was giddy the whole way home and drank a margarita (or two) with my hubby on Sunday night to celebrate.
  • Last but not least, I loved the carpool home with my home crew from Bellingham. It's great to meet new and exciting friends and acquaintances but it's wonderful to know that I have a supportive and talented critique group and network right in my own backyard.
Thank you so much to Joni Sensel, Laurie Thompson and Kim Baker, our co-regional advisors and assistant regional advisor, for all the hard work you put into the conference. It was a pleasure to be a part of the advisory committee this year and I look forward to more fun next year!

UPDATE: Okay, I got the official word, no official name for the honor at the end of the conference. Just a cool honor to keep us working. That it did. And it made my day! LATER UPDATE: Got word that the honor without a name now has a name: Most Promising Work-In-Progress Honor. Sweet! I suppose I can use that in query letters. One day. When the thing is ready. Motivation has stepped up a notch, for sure.