Thursday, August 5, 2010

18 A View from LA -- 2010 SCBWI Conference

So I went to L.A. And it was amazing. Except I missed Marissa and all of you.

Well, not all of you. I got to spend a lot of time with a few fabulous people including Cici Pena, Tracy Clark, Lisa Gail Green, Ara Burkland, and Leah Epstein, and a little time with a lot of other writers I've met through blogging. I was delighted to make amazing new friends.

Of course, I went to Los Angeles to learn. Simply put, I'm not sure anyone could go to an SCBWI conference without learning. There were 17 panels and keynote presentations, and 61 intensives (not including the premium workshops). That made choosing what to attend the hardest part of every day. Sharing the decision with friends gave us all the chance to divide and conquer. Which says a lot about the quality of the programming. Instead of taking every opportunity to meet with friends from all across the country, we were using our friendships to have extra opportunities to learn.

Fortunately, Alice Pope and the SCBWI blog team have done a brilliant job reporting on all the intensives and keynotes. Whether you missed the session because you attended a different intensive, or because you couldn't make it to Los Angeles at all, reading their posts will give you the critical information.

What the posts can't convey is the amount of energy and inspiration that fills you as you're surrrounded by so many brilliant people. A post can't tell you what happens after hours, or before the first keynote of the day.

I'll give you my serious, personal take-aways from the conference in our regular Monday post next week, and we have a few guest bloggers who will present for us, too. For now, I want to share some of the less serious things I learned:
  • Inspiration can strike at any time during an SCBWI conference. Bring paper.
  • California in August is NOT warmer than Virginia. Wear sweaters.
  • The half-portion salad in the Hyatt restaurant is not only smaller than a breadbox, it's actually smaller than a bread plate. Buy snacks for your room.
  • Leaving a 25-lb box of prunes and a shopping bag of Pepcid AC in an empty bar booth during a writer's conference is a cheap way to spark creativity.
  • Agents brave enough to attend an SCBWI wine and cheese event should be provided with bodyguards. And whips and chairs.
  • Revelers wearing a costume to the Heart and Soul Ball deserve applause. People who choose to disco at the ball may wish, in future, to avail themselves of the opportunity to attend incognito.
  • Anything written under the influence of friends and Prosecco will sound worse the next morning.
  • Attending an SCBWI conference will result in at least one must-go-write-right-this-minute moment. Friends of said writers are hereby thanked for their patience and understanding.
Having gone to both SCBWI-NY and SCBWI-LA this year, I'm beyond impressed with the opportunities the conferences offer both writers and illustrators. I'm grateful for the friends I met, and for the deeper understanding of the craft and the publishing industry I took home with me.

Each of the conferences has its unique flavor and the SCBWI team works hard to achieve a flawless event. The New York conference feels a little more rushed, but I loved the chance to hear work from other writers at the Friday critique sessions. The Los Angeles conference is more relaxed, but the intensives seemed more densely packed with information. At both events, getting feedback from agents and editors is beyond price. 

Did you go to either of the conferences? What was your favorite moment? If you didn't make it this year, do you attend your local SCBWI events? Do you find them worth the time and money?

Happy conferencing,



    1. So glad you had a nice time. I'm still a touch green with envy that you got to go. lol.

      I've never been to a writers conference...yet. I am taking part in WriteOnCon next week though. Can't wait.

    2. Aw, Martina, you're too sweet. I missed you terribly! I loved hearing about the wonderful time you had in LA. It is money well-spent and I hope to make the next big one with you. Meeting everyone we've gotten to know in the blogosphere would be amazing! For now, I'm with you Lindsay. See you at WriteOnCon!


    3. Thanks for sharing the wealth of information shared at these events. I'm going to add them to my conference hops for 2011.

    4. You're too funny, Martina! So true about the agents being swarmed and revisiting work the morning after. It was great hanging out with you--I'm so glad you made to the conference. See you at New York in January?

    5. I've heard so many amazing things about these conferences but have yet to attend one. They sound fantastic!

    6. It's my dream to go to the LA SCBWI conference, but until then, I'm soaking up all I can from you who went and are now sharing with us. Thanks!

    7. This was my first national conference and I LOVED IT! So much inspiration and motivation.

    8. Okay I only have two corrections - 1. So Cal is USUALLY much hotter in the summer. This year has been very strange. I personally blame it on the giant ice-creatures from Dimension 12. But, whatever. 2. Funny, prosecco and friends made my writing better. Though, admittedly slower than normal. :D
      It was incredible meeting you and everyone else in person! Your take on the conference was great. I love this industry.

    9. So glad to hear you had a fruitful experience (even more so if you actually *ate* the prunes). ;) I went to RWA in Orlando and had an awesome time, but next year I'm adding on SCBWI-NY. Can't wait!

    10. what a great experience!! thanks so much for sharing your insight, as always.

      you're a wealth of information, ladies!


    11. Thanks for sharing. I've never gone. Can't wait to read your post on Monday.

    12. I loved the conference so much, the first thing I said to my husband was, "Can I go again next year?" The answer was yes. :D

      I had so much fun meeting people I know from the blogs, but there were so many others I never had a chance to meet.

    13. Nice round-up, Marissa and Martina! Sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you there, but I've added a link to this post on the official Fans of SCBWI page on Facebook: :)

    14. Fabulous SCBWI wrap-up, Marissa! I felt the same way. what an amazing opportunity to connect with other writers and to feel inspired.

    15. Not in my budget this year. Maybe 2011?

      Looking forward to Monday's post.

    16. I hope I see you all there next year! I'm determined to go because it was such a great learning opportunity!

      And Lia, thanks for pointing out the Facebook page and linking to us. The SCBWI resources are awesome.


    17. Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!
      Conferences in Los Angeles


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