Last weekend, I attended the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Florida conference. It was my fourth such conference – and it did not disappoint.
With representation from the publishing world (Andrea Welch, Senior Editor with Beach Lane Books, and Maria Middleton, Associate Art Director with Abrams), the writer realm (Laurie Friedman, author of “A Big Bed for Jed” and “Love, Ruby Valentine”), and the illustrator stratum (Ethan Long, writer/illustrator of “Scribbles and Ink” and “My Dad, My Hero”), the conference was packed with professional development, profound statements, and perfect rhyme.
However, my favorite part of the conference wasn’t Mr. Long’s comparison of Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble or Ms. Middleton’s thoughts on cat vs dog narrators or Ms. Friedman’s poster board fetish or Ms. Welch’s super-sweet disposition. No, my favorite part of the conference was the opportunity to meet new friends, such as Matt Kelsen, Wendy Mintz, Alisa Jenkins, and Steven Locklin (congratulations on “Beneath Hallowed Ground”). It was refreshing to speak with each of you – to learn of your career paths, your labors of love, and your successes (in both the writing and non-writing worlds).
I also so enjoyed visiting with old friends such as Erin Fennel, Sylvia Lopez (congratulations on “Cinder-Elvis”), and Jill Siegel (congratulations on your contract with Guardian Angel). Just when “getting published” seemed unattainable, you each inspired me and gave me hope.
Finally, I met some extraordinary individuals during my critiques: Rob Sanders, Gloria Rothstein, Margaret Mincks, and Linda Shute (we had met previously but you really are a lovely person – and have a great eye for PBs). Thank you for your thoughtful comments, suggestions, and well-wishes.Although this was my last Florida conference (for now – maybe I’ll be invited back someday as an author!), I’ll be taking a piece of it away with me in the form of friendships. Thank you, SCBWI Florida!