Sunday, May 17, 2009

quick conference post that won't do it justice

My computer battery is down to a smidge and I'm exhausted from a wonderful SCBWI weekend, so this will be very short and without hyperlinks. Sorry about that! We just got home from the Western Washington annual conference, held just outside Seattle, and as always, it was fantastic. The conference faculty included: Jon Scieszka, the actual ambassador of children's literature (really -- he even has a medal!), Adam Rex, and Ellen Hopkins, not to mention the usual wealth of editors, agents, art directors, and others.

Hastily, I shall throw up some pictures:

The incredibly talented author-illustrator Adam Rex:
Did you know he's working on a YA novel now? It won't even be illustrated at all. What a wild talent he is, seriously. And so funny. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, don't miss it! I'm still reading "Smekday" -- haven't had much reading time the past few days. Love it so far. Did you know his first draft of it was a picture book ms? And that it was called "Smegday"? ha ha!

Ellen Hopkins, also a fantastic and inspiring speaker. She revealed the personal and very moving background to her writing her first novel, Crank, which was: her teenage daughter's tragic meth addiction. She went on to say that no matter how high her publishing journey carries her (multiple NYT bestsellers, required school reading lists, 200 emails/day from readers), there is always the sadness of her daughter's life there to anchor her down. She and her husband are currently raising their daughter's son as their own child, and he is a lucky boy to have them.
Well, that's Ellen in the right foreground, with the blonde hair. (This is what conferences look like in the evenings!) I found out from her talk that my first ever SCBWI conference was also hers. I think it was 2002. She's really had crazy success since then, and it's richly deserved.

Jim and I with Justina Chen Headley, whose book North of Beautiful is half cropped out.
Can't wait to read it! I've heard such fantastic things, and I've loved Justina's previous two books.

Ah. With Sara Easterly, showing you what pregnant ladies drink at cocktail parties:

This is really too awesome. On Friday night, there were two ladies in Rathersting tattoos! Isn't this GREAT?? I'll add them to the Rathersting gallery very soon. Thank you so much, Pam!

With the darling Suzanne Young, with whom Jim and I and Emily Whitman carpooled from Portland to Seattle:
Suzanne's first book, The Naughty List, is coming out from Razorbill next February. Emily's first novel, Radiant Darkness, came out a few weeks ago, and is a retelling of the Persephone myth. It's currently at the top of my stack!

Oh yeah. Frankenstein was there too:
And a couple of mad scientists on stage. And I don't have photo documentation, but I also sighted Nancy Pearl, who is the model of the librarian action figure you have probably seen at one time or another.

Eek! My battery just turned red. Must hit Publish. More soon!

[next day] Whew. Computer's plugged in now, but I'm still too lazy to put in all those links above. You can google what interests you :-) I just wanted to add how inspiring SCBWI energy is, and how I always leave conferences so full of ideas and anxious to get to work. Arriving on Friday, seeing all the familiar faces in the hotel lobby, it was just such a joy. And each conference: new faces are added, folks I will be happy to see at future events and hear their good news as they continue on their publishing journeys.

Some words of wisdom from my scant conference notes:

"If you don't make mistakes, you won't make anything." -- a rug company ad (ha ha!)

And Ellen Hopkins said: "People will tell you that you can't sell books right now [in the current economic market] but you can. You can't sell mediocre books now, or maybe even good books. You can sell great books."

There was a fair amount of discussion of the market, and the general vibe from the conference faculty was: publishers are still buying books, because if they didn't, they'd have no product! Do your part: keep buying books!

Here, the irreverent Jon Scieszka incites kids to "salaam" his ambassador medal in a church in Nebraska:
tee hee!


Heather said...

I'm quite jealous that you got to hear Adam Rex AND hung out with Justina Chen Headley. "North of Beautiful" is easily one of my favorite books of the year. When I finished it I ran around the library INSISTING my co-workers check it out! Perhaps it should move to the top of your "to be read" pile - you know, after all those baby books! :-)

jone said...

Loved both North of Beautiful and Radiant Darkness. Sounds like a great weekend. maybe next year.

KJ said...

It was an amazing conference. The speakers were awesome. Here is the information about the store with baby clothes made from funny adult t-shirts. The store is called X Marks The Tot
and is located in Gilman Village in Issaquah

Shelli said...

I officially have conference envy

Susan said...

You are so right, Laini. A great conference full of serendipity and sunshine (though we missed most of it, trapped inside the Marriott). A new friend, Jennifer Mann, won the top prize for her portfolio and had an A.D. express interest in acquiring her picture book! So, magic happens at these things, but you must show up with the goods.

Cuppa Jolie said...

As always, loved seeing you and Jim (and this time the sweet baby bump too). xoxo

lkmadigan said...

Sounds wonderful! I so wish I could have seen (and heard!) Adam Rex. My son and I loved SMEKDAY. There was a particular page in there that made my son laugh hard for about five minutes.

Maybe next year ...



Christine Fletcher said...

Next year maybe for me, too! Looks like a wonderful time and wonderful folks...and who couldn't use more of both? :)

Narnian Girl said...

It was a fabulous conference! I had conference let-down on Monday! But I am left with tons of notes, inspiration and a nagging desire to go to the L.A. conference in August...
I was so happy to see that you are expecting a baby!
(I came to your talk on Fantasy last year and loved it. Hope you'll be presenting again in the future.)