Then I went to the RT meeting and had to try to remember how long I have been part of the NESCBWI team (6 years?).
It was FREEZING in NYC, but nothing could stop me from walking down the block to check out the Library Hotel and the Bookmarks Bar with some other early attendees. Thank you to Kris Asselin and Heather Kelly for getting everyone together.
On Friday, I had some free time so I sat in the lobby and worked on revising some work in progress. It was wonderful to have the time to focus solely on the work before the events started. Then it was off to a meeting with the New England Regional Team before attending the annual volunteer event.
The next day started early with a welcome from Steve and Lin. We found out that there were a record number of attendees at the conference and people from many professions, including someone who claimed to be able to tell the future. I bet she was pretty popular with the aspiring authors and illustrators!
The first keynote was William Joyce, who shared some of the amazing things he's been doing to make his picture books come alive, from designing apps that work when you point them at one of his books to creating short films and full length animated movies. The work he did with The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is pretty incredible and I highly recommend checking the book and the app out. You can learn more about it here.
Next up was a panel on The Big Picture of Children's Publishing. The best news the panel shared was that children's publishing is no longer considered the forgotten step-child of the book industry. In many houses, childrens is where the money is currently being made.
After the panel it was time for breakout sessions. I was so glad I picked Saleable and Memorable Middle Grade Fiction with Sarah Davies, even if she did give some of the book I had been reading at that time away.
Lunch was on our own in the lobby, and as usual, the hotel removed the chairs forcing us to find places to sit on the floor. The lines were so long, I ended up skipping my next session and returning to hear from the wonderful Rainbow Rowell. I enjoyed hearing about her writing process, especially since it is very similar to mine. She starts with a character and has a basic idea of where the character will end up. But much of what happens on the journey is a surprise.
Linda Urban and Kate Messner had the closing keynote, ending our day with Music, Mountains, and Mocha Lattes.
The final event of the day was the Gala Dinner where I met people from all over New England and talked to them about forming critique groups in their area. We even had a chance to take a picture of the New England Regional Team (along with two special guests).
Once the event was over, it was off to the lobby to spend time with my conference tribe, The Lobby Rats. The only problem - the lobby was freezing! Instead of hanging in our usual spot, we found all the missing chairs in a back hallway. We may have gotten some odd looks as people visited the restrooms behind us, but it was worth it to get a chance to spend time with these amazing people.
Sunday started bright and early with a keynote from the incredible Rita Williams-Garcia. She shared her author journey, along with a page from her first published manuscript. The picture is clear. The pink are the corrections and comments from her editor. She said there were 200 more pages just like this.
I had to run outside quickly at the end of the speech to help pass out SCBWI's Valentine's Day present, a nice new SCBWI bag. That was followed by Jacquelyn Mitchard, an acquisitions panel, and finally a heart-felt keynote from Gary Schmidt.
The conference ended with a book signing from all of these amazing authors. I was so excited to get books signed for my children, my students, and my children's teachers. The amazing Rita Williams-Garcia even let me tape her saying hello to my daughter's class since they are just finishing One Crazy Summer. One of my favorite volunteer jobs at the conference is to help authors with their signing and this year I helped out Matt de la Pena and had a chance to talk to him about his Newbery win.
Overall, as always, it was an amazing conference. I loved spending time with author and illustrator friends while being inspired by the many keynotes. For the minute by minute words of wisdom, you can go to twitter and look back on the conference posts from #NY16SCBWI.
I will end this year's post by leaving your with one of my favorite conference moments. One of my Lobby Rat friends, Scott Hammon, won the joke contest for the very first time. Here are pictures of his reaction.
Do you have conference questions? Do you have your own favorite moments? Talk to me in the comments.