Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back to Reality

I'm back from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference. Physically, anyway. I’m still in a California haze made up of wisdom and inspiration, with amazing conversations still swirling in my head. Four days of keynote speeches, workshops, and encouragement from fabulous writers, artists, editors and agents. For me, some of the highlights included Sherman Alexie’s opening keynote where he talked about how kids feel trapped and how books become their way of escape from a harsh world. If you ever have a chance to hear this man speak, run don’t walk to the presentation. Wow. And Richard Peck was, as always, mesmerizing. He talked of many things, but I latched on to his words about how stories turn on epiphany--the moment of sudden awareness when we can’t go back. Karen Cushman spoke of how writers pull their hearts from their chests and offer them to the readers. Another wow. And Ellen Hopkins suggested that as writers we must give our pain to our characters.

That’s just a taste. Want more? Check out These bloggers were everywhere, doing their best to catch everything possible. Great for those who couldn’t attend. And for those of you on Twitter, go to for another kind of recap.

Beyond the incredible words and emotions, there was also the usual fun and nonsense.

The ladies out-numbered the gents, as usual, so at least one men’s bathroom was transformed into a ladies room. Something about placing potted plants in the urinals. As you can see from the picture, the women appreciated this more than the guys.

And there were, of course, the critiques, the author panels, the agent panels, the portfolio showcase, the jokes and raffles, the Saturday night party, The Golden Kite luncheon. . . And oh let’s not forget the long lines at the Starbucks each morning—a great place to meet other authors and illustrators. Okay, so the word on the street was that the other guests in the hotel were NOT too happy with all the children’s writers and illustrators taking over, but we were a friendly group and we didn’t bite.

Okay, there’s my brief overview. I’ll be sharing more conference stuff in the weeks to come, but if you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them. Maybe they will help me clear the haze and get back to reality.

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