LA SCBWI conference

August 12, 2011

In the last year or so, I've gone to some great conferences and book festivals and signings and schmoozes and get togethers. They're all fun, I meet great people everywhere I go, and I always come home and nap for about three weeks afterwards. Don't worry–I put some cereal on the table for my kids and turn on Disney channel. I have learned children can survive months with these basic staples.
But my most favoritest concert in the galaxy is LA SCBWI aka kids camp for kids writers. At other writerly shin digs, I'm either speaking or signing or meeting important people, and this all means I have to prepare and worry and put on my professional face (which closely resembles my fun face, just with more twitching). At this conference,  I can sit in the lobby and talk with writing friends I only get to see every year. Yes, I also go to classes taught by acclaimed, wise authors, BUT i was so gold star in high school that i never ditched so I have to live out those fantasies now. At writing conferences. That I paid for. 
This years conference, although an utter blast, was also bittersweet, remembering my dearly missed friend, LK Madigan. Our first in-person meeting happened two years ago in the conference hallway, and no, she was not wearing pants. Good times. Another best writing bud, Lisa Schroeder, was also noticeably absent, but she did come to Las Vegas to see the band LIFEHOUSE the previous weekend, and we played with my girls and ate cupcakes and had an overall grand time. I don't have a picture of us, because I am THE WORST at documenting major life events, but here is one picture from the poolside conference.

And now some highlights from the conference.

1. Author signing
I'm used to going to signings and having the majority of buyers either not know who I am or have not yet read my book. At the published author reception, i spoke with other writers who knew me and my work and it was pretty hard not to reverse fan girl and thank them for reading. Having readers is still pretty mind blowing, truly. Also, that people spend their money on my book? Forgetaboutit.

2. Adjoining rooms
Like I said, seeing friends is the best part of the conference for me, and this group of Utah authors are some of my favorite. I don't have an in-person writing group in Las Vegas, but I do travel to Salt Lake City regularly, so I'm like an occasional honorary member at their lunch table. Brodi Ashton (upcoming book is EVERNEATH. I will blog about this book in January. It is on my top 5 YA list for the year) had the idea, and lo, the adjoining rooms were genius. Along with Bree Despain (THE DARK DIVINE) and Emily WIng Smith (BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE), we had many late night giggles with the doors between our room open. Seriously, like camp, minus campfire and plus king-sized beds and maid service and balconies and room service. Which is how I like to roll.

3. The pajama party
I was bummed that the annual ball wasn't dress up this year, until I got my PJs on. And then I realized it is easier to cabbage patch in pink slippers and plaid pants. I am also in professional love with this DJ. Yes, if I say PROFESSIONAL, than it is totally kosher. And this was a professional conference, so…


4. Libba Bray made me cry. Twice.
Tears 1: Libba Bray (Printz winner, bestseller, author of BEAUTY QUEENS and A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY) gave a hilarious talk about writing the third book in her career launching trilogy. Did I mention I too am finishing the third book in my trilogy? She said it was hard. That she had to rewrite the entire book. That she was late on deadline, that she was a mess and… this is Libba Bray. This is an author who, from my internet vantage point, seemed to always have her stuff together. So wow, even the incomparable Libba Bray feels those same crazy feelings I've been going through? I'm not alone? This is NORMAL?  I'm NORMAL? 
Tears 2: Running into Libba Bray, and explaining to her that no one understands me but her and we should be best friends now, all while holding a blow up monkey I found on the ground at the dance. And using said monkey to wipe my tears. Impression? Made. Restraining order? Filed.

5. Craft
The best class I attended craft-wise was by Bruce Coville on intersecting plot and character. I took seven pages of notes. I replotted out my next MG idea. I do not feel like rewriting these notes now, but I will. Or, uh, link to someone who typed notes. Yeah, I'm a tease.

6. My agent. Agents.
I love her. My agent–Sarah Davies. Whenever I get the chance to spend time with her, I do, even if it means flying down for a conference during deadline (Which We Will Not Speak Of). Because Sarah? Makes things happen. During this trip, I also had a chance to meet with my film agent, Jason Dravis, and talk about some possibilities for various, er, works. Vague, much? Yes. But possibility is always lovely.

7. Close Encounters of the Author Kind

My daughter just started The Magic Tree House books, and keeps begging me to write a chapter book that she can read now. Since that is impossible, being as publishing takes eons and kids grow up, I did the next best thing and took a picture with Mary Pope Osbourne. Notice the glint in my eye. I can't decide if it's excitable or manic. 

Lunch with authors that I stole from Leigh Fallon. We moved for the picture. We didn't eat Last Supper style the whole time.
(from the left) Josephine Angelini (Starcrossed), Bree Despain (The Dark Divine), Brodi Ashton (Everneath), Lindsey Leavitt (Princess For Hire),  Lani Woodland (Intrinsical), Leigh Fallon (Carrier of the Mark), Morgan Shamy (writer), Alexandra Monir (Timeless), Gretchen McNeil (Possess).

And now! Back to that deadline. I am painfully behind due to these two back to back deadlines, so please forgive my lack of blogging and/or email response. I should be back sometime in, oh, 2012. That is the year after this one, right?