SCBWI winter conference, NY

I've just returned from a fantastic trip to New York, where I finally made it to the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) annual winter conference. I'd been wanting to attend one of these since we moved to Toronto.

This one enticed me for three main reasons:

A) The Friday, full-day Illustrator's Intensive focused on "Books and Beyond" (particularly ebooks and apps); something that's of interest to all of us. (I know there's info and discussions all over the internet about this stuff, but sometimes it's more fun to be told in person.)

B) Mo Willems was speaking


So I booked my ticket.

This conference is HUGE. Approximately 1200 attendees, all buzzing with excitement and chatting about the industry, and cram-packed with amazing, quality speakers. It was a beautiful thing. I love writers and illustrators conferences. I find it so inspiring to listen and learn from the best, and even more importantly, get to meet and mingle with like-minded souls. This type of work can be fairly isolated, and getting out and speaking to other passionate people is incredibly energising and uplifting, and just good fun.

My conference highlights:

R.L Stine gave a fantastic talk over lunch - for a guy who is the king of creepy, he is incredibly funny and charming.

Seeing the amazing work in the Illustrator's exhibition

Pretty much everything Jane Yolen and Mark Teague said, on the picture book panel.

Pretty much everything Mo Willems said, on the humour panel. (Though I wish he'd had longer to present).

Meeting some Toronto authors and illustrators who promptly invited me to join their monthly meet-ups!! Yay!! I can't wait!

Agent Dan Lazar's talk. Considering his talk wasn't really relevant to me (he was focusing on novelists), he was very funny and informative.

Alessandra Balzar's talk (co-publisher of HarperCollins imprint, Balzar & Bray). Aside from being very interesting and informative, she's simply a great speaker and very inspiring. I love when people just know their stuff, and present it so clearly and with such enthusiasm.

Going back to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, twice. I know it's not actually related to the conference, but it's my favourite place in the world. Even one of the security guards commented on how happy I looked.

I got to meet up with my friend Serena Geddes, and meet and hang out with the FABULOUS group of Aussie writers and illustrators that made it over: Katherine Battersby, James Foley, and Angela Driver.
So. Much. Fun.

l-r: Serena, James, moi, Katherine, Angela

gelato in snowy Times Square? Yes, please!

Favourite quotes/take-aways:

from Jane Yolen and Mark Teague, discussing picture books:

from Mo Willems, discussing what makes something funny:

Interestingly, Mo (Mr Willems?) also mentioned that Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus wasn't initially written as a book. It was just a series of doodles in a sketchbook, until someone pointed out they could be a book. I love the idea that it came so organically, not being forced, and as a result is such a quirky and unique book. (So yes, people, perhaps all your nonsensical doodles might just amount to a bestseller yet!)
For more Mo, there is a short pre-scbwi interview with him

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I was interested in learning about apps. I'll cover that bit in a fresh post very soon. But for now I'm off to doodle.