Our speakers this year were spectacular and complimented each other beautifully: Ruth Sanderson (award-winning illustrator); Loraine Joyner (Art Director for Peachtree Publishing); Cheryl Willis Hudson (Just Us Books); and Lucy Ruth Cummins (Art Director for S&S/Paula Wiseman Books).
Ruth talked about storyboarding, which was basically a walk-through of how to create a book - fantastic! Loraine mentored twelve of our attendees on a three-month long project building up to ID and she went way above and beyond what any of us expected. Here's the gang with their finished products (click to see it bigger in a new window):
Cheryl talked about diversity in children's books, which was timely and something we all need to be more aware of. Lucy Ruth was hilarious as she walked us through the design process and gave tips for how illustrators can be on ADs radar more. I also gave my 15-minute soap-box about working with self-publishers - what to expect and ask for. We had a panel with our speakers, and once again did our Quickfire portfolio reviews, in which the panel spends two minutes on each portfolio giving knee-jerk feedback - SO informative and educational for everybody!
I've been going through the comments people wrote on their name tags (which they then turned in for the giveaway - a free copy of Ruth Sanderson's kickstarter anthology of her work - GOLDEN DREAMS - a real treasure), and the response has been just gushing about how much everybody enjoyed the day and really learned a ton, which is the whole point!
Cheryl Klein (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine) gave a writer's intensive while I was doing Illustrators' Day and I heard it was like attending a college class for six hours! She's really so good. Jo Kittinger gave a lovely speech about what SCBWI has meant to her, especially now that she's retiring from the Regional Advisor position after eleven years! Claudia gave her a great big hug onstage:
Saturday morning Ruth gave a truly moving speech about her history and how it influenced her illustrating. It all tied together and made so much sense, but there wasn't a dry eye in the room. She's my boss at Hollins University in the MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books - and even though I know her, she blew me away.
Cheryl Willis Hudson's passion for getting books that reflect all races and cultures into the hands of readers was palpable. She was so inspirational and exactly what we all needed to hear, especially with the recent surveys about the dearth of diversity in today's books. (It's one reason I am so proud of my many diverse books.)
The split session before lunch included Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency (MY literary agency), Lucy Ruth, and Jo again. I went to see Lucy Ruth again (yes, it got a bit confusing with two Cheryl's and two Ruths!). I have to say - that girl is hilarious and so in love with what she does. She's really good - and I say this with a degree in Graphic Design under my belt and twelve years of Art Director experience myself). I mean, she's really, really good at what she does. And she has an adorable dog - Penny.
Lunch was exciting as six of us got to talk about our latest releases for a few minutes. What fun to share my own good news with dear friends Robyn Hood Black (three poetry anthologies), Krista Russell (THE OTHER SIDE OF FREE), Susan Rosson Spain (THE DEEP CUT is now in paperback), Trisha Slay (NOT SO LONG AGO NOT SO FAR AWAY), Me, and Vicky Alvear Shecter (ANUBIS SPEAKS). People said I did a great job talking up A BIRD ON WATER STREET, and in fact, the bookstore (FoxTale Book Shoppe) SOLD OUT of it - at least two dozen or more copies!!!!! That's never happened to me before - wow!
After lunch we had our choice of Cheryl K., Cheryl H., or Ruth. Since I missed out on Cheryl's writing workshop, I really wanted to get a little bit of time with her. She was incredibly informative as always. She's so good at breaking down what this writing thing is all about.
Joan talked about wearing several hats as an agent, writer, and mom. Then there was the signing party where I got to sign all those lovely sold copies of A BIRD ON WATER STREET. Another first: I was signing the entire time!!!
Then we had a lovely dinner (I had a blast getting to know Lucy Ruth better - she is awesome!) and the First Looks/First 8 Lines panel, which is always interesting.
Sunday, Lucy Ruth once again shared her hilarious brilliance, Cheryl shared more insight on what publishers want to see and we had another, especially good panel with all our acquiring speakers.
After the giveaways and sad good-byes (and fuzzy hugs) the PAL members (traditionally published) had a lunch meeting to talk about how SCBWI might better help us promote our books and speaking engagements. I think that went very well!
I drove Ruth to the airport and then, as I mentioned, fell into a deep sleep on the couch. Conferences are so invigorating, draining, fun, exhausting. I ate like a horse and actually lost three pounds - crazy.
Thanks to our Co-Regional Advisors Claudia Pearson and Kathleen Bradshaw for doing such a great job, as well as our Assistant Regional Advisor Heather Montgomery (who actually does more than she lets on). And thanks to Lisa Stauffer for planning Springmingle - she's the duck - calm and cool on top and paddling like all get-out underneath. Now I get to dream about when I can next get together with all my writing buds - can't wait!
LINKS that were mentioned this weekend:
MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books - Hollins University
The Cockeyed Caravan
Wes Anderson palettes
Brad Hill - Key Techniques
Brad Bird on How to Compose Shots (For Storyboard & Layout Artists)
Read Other Wrap-Ups:
Robyn Hood Black's Blog
Photos by Prescott Hill, used with permission.
Stephanie Moody put together a fun video of the weekend: