The conference hath come and gone. But its effects linger like a happy hum bouncing around between my head and my heart.
I’m not the only one who thought it was great. Here’s what some people have been saying about it:
“Houston, you did it again! A great conference of outstanding speakers and lots of fun.” Kathy Whitehead.
“I’ve been to a lot of conferences . . . and I’ve learned a lot at each one. But this Houston one was the best! I learned so much. The Sunday Intensive was fantastic.” Beth Cross
“The birdhouse auction was also extremely successful. Everyone was bowled over by the display of artistic talent.” Vicki Sansum, Regional Advisor.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that many ear-to-ear grins in one room.” Linda Leschak (yeah, so. I quoted myself. I can do that, can’t I?)
I wish I could say I was one of the ones picked for the Joan Lowery Nixon Memorial Award. This is where a talented, up-and-coming writer is selected to be mentored by Newbury Honor writer, Kathy Appelt for the next year. (And did I mention in my post about Daughter of Smoke and Bone that its author, Lanie Taylor, names Kathy in her acknowledgments? What could that possibly mean?! If I were to guess, it might mean that she too was mentored by the famous Kathy Appelt! And how cool is that?!)
Back to the conference – as much as I’d love to be sharing news of my own nomination, I cannot. (Insert bottom lip being dragged across floor). However, I’m so incredibly excited for those who were nominated! One of them is my new friend, Tayyba Kanwal. Good luck Tayyba! And good luck to the other nominees as well! The next step is for Kathy to look at the seven or so manuscripts and choose the writer who she’ll mentor. It’ll be me someday, I know it . . . I can feel it in that happy hum.
The Kathy Appelt mentoring is only one aspect of our conference that lends itself to awesomeness. There were three (if I’ve counted high enough) people whose manuscripts were requested by an agent. It was so much fun watching them try to walk around the rest of the day while their feet were somewhere off the ground. The fact that our conference offers opportunities to get noticed by editors and agents is another thing that bubbles it to the surface of awesomeness. The critique process itself was smooth as whipped frosting thanks to Arno Bommer and his magical scheduling powers. Arno moved 155 conference critiques through twelve minute sessions with thirteen critiquers. Many of us wonder what we would ever do without Arno!
We had a killer silent auction too. Chantee Hale put together a team of volunteers to run it. The offerings ranged from packages of signed books to marketing consultations, all things donated by local authors, artists and businesses. Chantee did an incredible job pulling everything together and the auction was a huge success.
Vonna Carter worked with the Blue Willow Bookshop to make sure all the books mentioned during the conference and those written by local authors were available for purchase that day. Vonna created a streaming video showcasing the local artists and illustrators which was played on the overhead during breaks and lunch. She also coordinated the end-of-day book signing where our speakers as well as local authors and illustrators signed their books for us!
And the list goes on.
Diandra Mae, our Illustrator Coordinator came up with the genius idea of designing birdhouses and then offering them in a silent auction.
And look! I’ve got pictures of a lot of them!
Last but certainly not least were the two Sunday Intensives, offered for the first time here in Houston. Heather Alexander, Editor at Dial, conducted the four hour author intensive on finding one’s voice in writing. Author/Illustrator Dan Yaccarino led the intensive for illustrators, offering up his expertise on picture book dummies. Each workshop was a huge success! Something we hope to repeat next year. I perched myself in the second row of Heather’s packed house and took copious notes during the morning. And I have to agree with Beth, the intensive was fantastic!
With the conference over, we have a limited amount of time to submit our work to the editors and agents who joined us as speakers. Yet another awesome advantage to attending the conference! All the more reason to stop blogging and crack open those Heather Alexander notes! Ain’t no rest for the weary, right?
Months ago, when I was asked by our Regional Advisor if I’d consider acting as Co-Chair to the conference, I was pretty intimidated. I wondered,why me? I’m just a newbie in this arena? But now, having “been there and done that,” I know what an honor it was to have been given the chance to participate at that level. It was an incredible experience that allowed me to work with an amazing array of talented people. Something I’ll never forget.
Thank you SCBWI Houston. It was a great weekend!