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     Here's where you'll find my Coloring Page Tuesdays, contributions to Illustration Friday, Blog Book Tours (interviews with authors and illustrators), movie and book reviews, marketing and illustration tips under Method, Events and Big News (mine and the industry's), and general things I just find interesting. Enjoy!

Monday, October 23, 2006

SCBWI Southern Breeze Fall Conference

     Wow. I arrived home Sunday, unpacked, then fell on my bed. That was all she wrote.
     What a great weekend. This is going to be hard to cover (and I'm still tired so please forgive the sloppy writing), but I'll try.
     My traveling buddy, Liz Conrad, arrived about 2:00pm on Friday and we headed west. The party in Birmingham started almost immediately after we reached the hotel with a faculty dinner followed by a dessert party. The room was filled with fellow writers, and I was surprised and thrilled at how many were already friends, such as Alan Gratz, Robyn Hood Black, Diane Z. Shore, Hester Bass, and Vicky Alvear Shecter. (Pooh, I know I'm missing somebody!) For the rest, I put faces with names from the message boards, and made some new friends too. Ami Blackford was assigned as my "Angel." Too funny, they didn't know we were already friends!
     Saturday started early. I shared a quick breakfast with the dynamic and highly-respected literary agent, Rosemary Stimola. Mary Ann Taylor drove several of us to the school to start our busy day. Editor Alexandra Penfold (of Paula Wiseman Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster), gave a great keynote, and the speakers for the day were introduced. . . including me. I have to admit, I was honored and incredibly humbled to be introduced with this group of amazing speakers. Wow.
     We headed to the classrooms and I gave my "Nuts and Bolts" talk first thing. My handouts were waiting in the classroom, which was soon full of attendees. It's so fun to share this information, and there's so much I want to share! I definitely got my "teacher fix." It's not an "I know so much, I must teach you!" kind of feeling (I swear). It's a "isn't this cool!?" kind of feeling. I would be a teacher if I wasn't doing children's books. I really do love it. Several people came up to me afterwards saying how much they appreciated my talk, so I was glowing.
     From there I rushed in to John Margeson's talk on creating characters. John is the talented book designer for Darby Creek Publishing and designed the award winning "Wild Dogs" written by my bud, Kelly Milner Halls.
     We filled the cafeteria to overflowing for lunch. Afterward, we had a book signing. Each of the published authors (and illustrators) had an assigned seat, and I signed several copies of "Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese." While we were signing, they announced the winners of the recent Southern Breeze Writing and Illustrating Contest. I was surprised and thrilled when they mentioned my honorable mention for "Queen Bea." They also did a call out for Liz's Third Place Illustration contest win. Wippee!
     Back to the classrooms, I attended Alexandra's talk, "Nothing Wrong with Self Promotion." Alexandra came to editing from a background in publicity, and it has made her an astute editor. Kind of like my years of graphic design which help me enormously in my current career, I imagine she has an edge above other editors with her background.
     I also attended Jen Weiss Handler's "Pitch Letters" session. It was a laid back exchange of valuable thoughts and opinions, and I was surprised I learned so much. (Thought I was an old pro - ha!)
     We headed back to the auditorium for a panel discussion with Rosemary, Jen, John, and Alexandra. Again I was humbled as I joined this group to go to our classrooms early for our professional critiques. We ended up with quite a bit of spare time, so hung out talking. I actually had a manuscript critique with Alexandra first, and she was generous with her time and positive comments. How nice!
     I gave three portfolio reviews, all very different. It's such an interesting thing to take a moment and really get inside somebody's work. This is when my seventeen years of experience really shine. It's fun to have to find the words for my opinions. I always have a reason for doing things the way I do them (or believing something), but having to put that reason into words for somebody else is just as educational for me as it is for them. And then again, there's that "teacher fix." I hope I helped them out some. I think I did.
     Back at the hotel, I scraped myself off the bed for yet another party. This time it was at Joan Broerman's house (Joan is the founder of the SCBWI Southern Breeze chapter). Turns out she opens her home every year for a "fall apart" party after the big day. We all signed her guest book (I was so tempted to hang out and see what groovy names were in that book). We spent more time just hanging out and getting to know each other over a great lasagna dinner. After dinner, Hester Bass did a blues number - an adaptation of Queen's "We are the Champions": "We will be published!" - with a young guitarist (son of one of the organizers), and y'know what? She's really good! What a trip! Not that I'm surprised. We finally did a swap of "Glitter Girl" with "So Many Houses," her new book.
     We piled into the party van to return to the hotel, where I slipped into a coma until the next morning. Ahhhhh.
     The drive home was easy and Liz and I compared notes and reminisced about the conference all the way back. What a great time, what a successful event, what an amazing thing. I love that writing has become such a social event with such valuable activities. If you missed this one, try to make the Southern-Breeze Springmingle Conference in Atlanta next March. I'll see you there!



Anonymous Magbeologist said...

Just getting around to reading this - it was so incredible! Atill thinking about it.

Had a blast being your Angel e, you are certainly someone I enjoy calling a fellow illustrator/author pal:o)

Happy Halloween!
Boos and Hisses,
Ami Blackford

6:50 AM  

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