In case you felt sorry for us writers here in Austin that we weren't attending the National SCBWI conference in New York, I'm thinking the tables were turned. Sure, the temperature dropped just a few degrees colder than we'd all hoped, but we bundled up and kicked off the weekend Friday afternoon.
I headed to the airport where I had the pleasure of meeting Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson and her husband Neil, editor Stacy Cantor of Walker books, former FSG editor now full-time author Lisa Graff, and author Sara Lewis Holmes. The cold weather delayed some flights and brought others in early, but everyone managed to make it.
After dropping Lisa and Sara off at the hotel, I waited at The Cheesecake Factory with Austin author Jessica Lee Anderson and author/illustrator Gene Brenek.
Dulce de Leche cheesecake = BLISS
Lisa and I headed to the home of Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith where they hosted an amazing pre-conference party complete with cheese made by Greg himself. If you've never seen their home, it's this beautiful historical masterpiece in downtown Austin.
I was doing critiques throughout the day, but did manage to hear bits and pieces of talks given by editor Stacy Cantor, author Lisa Graff, agent Nathan Bransford, editor Cheryl Klein of AAL/Scholastic, author Sara Lewis Holmes, agent Andrea Cascardi, agent Mark McVeigh, Kirby Larson, and Caldecott honor illustrator Marla Frazee.
Did I mention what an awesome lineup of faculty we had?
My conclusion while the conference was going on: I need to go to more conferences. I love them. They make be feel like such a writer.
The conference ended with a panel I was on with eight other Austin authors/illustrators: Jessica Lee Anderson, Sibert Honor author Chris Barton, Illustrator Patrice Barton, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover (me), Newbery Honor author Jacqueline Kelly, Caldecott Honor author Liz Garton Scanlon, Philip Yates, Jennifer Ziegler. We each talked about our top habit for writing. (Mine was thinking outside the box.)
Saturday night we headed to the home of Meredith Davis who hosted a post-conference BBQ. I chatted with Nathan Bransford about his upcoming book and also his client Jenn Hubbard's new book THE SECRET YEAR, Cheryl Klein (and her boyfriend James who traveled down with her) about what sorts of changes Harry Potter needed for the American audience and what good books we'd read recently, and Stacy Cantor about book trailers and the success of PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles. Lisa Graff had a super early flight, so we bugged out around nine and I drove her back to the hotel and then promply crashed into bed.
It was a perfect weekend and a great reminder for how important going to these types of conferences really is. The Austin SCBWI team did an amazing job of putting this thing together. The amount of work required is huge, and they pulled it off without a single hitch. Huge Kudos to them!
Tim Crow handed off his RA hat to Debbie Gonzales and though we'll miss him, Debbie will be fantastic! She's already got the whole year filled with awesome presenters (including me at the March meeting), and she has big plans for the future!
I loved hanging out with all my writer peeps. There is nothing quite like being in a room full of 200 authors and illustrators to fill one with warmth inside. I'd say I'm speechless, but that's rarely the case, so suffice it to say I'm riding a fantastic post-conference high.
Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead!