Wednesday, August 4, 2010

SCBWI LA 2010 in Pictures

I'm back from the SCBWI conference in L.A. with a suitcase full of books and a head full of revision thoughts. In particular, Linda Sue Park's Master Class in Middle Grade Fiction lit a few lanterns along the twisty path of taking a MG novel from draft to crafted book. I took a nap and slugged tea every afternoon so I could be extra alert for it. My favorite thing she said? Her definition of middle grade fiction:

"Life isn't fair;
 what are you going to do about it?"

I keep taking my favorite MG novels and running them through that definition. It's my new mantra. 

Beyond that, instead of blogging the weekend, I'd like to make a list of what I'm grateful for.

1) I'm grateful that Newbery-winning writers like Linda Sue Park and Gail Carson Levine still come to conferences like these, even though their careers definitely don't require them to.
With Gail Carson Levine.
(I heard she rocked the dance floor, but sadly, I missed that.)

2) I'm grateful that illustrators like Dan Santat are willing to pose with writers they do not know if only because we share the same editor.
With Dan Santat, illustrator with mad skillz
The caricature drawing he did of Cheryl Klein is brilliant.
3) I'm grateful that even though two years pass between meetings, writer pals can fall right back into the easy laughter of friendship.
My friends, the RockSugarBeets at the Heart and Soul Party:
 Deborah Freedman, Elise Murphy, Jill Corcoran, me, Amber Lough, Jacqui Robbins, and Cindy Pon

4) I'm grateful for every writer and illustrator who shared thoughts about craft, including the above-mentioned Linda Sue Park and the following three authors, of whom I have pictures. There were so many more that inspired me, including Rachel Vail; the entire rocking non-fiction panel of Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Deborah Heiligman, Elizabeth Partridge, and Tanya Lee Stone; and Ashley Bryan, who closed the conference with the gospel of poetry. (Imagine a room of a thousand people chanting the poetry of Langston Hughes.)

Deborah Halverson,
 author of the forthcoming Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies.
My roommate, author Val Paterson (The Other Side of Blue) and I are writing up her talk for the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI newsletter. Look for it! I'm also grateful for Val, the kind of roomie who shares her oatmeal and her heart.

M.T. Anderson. I look remarkably calm.
As you'd expect, he's a brilliant speaker, but did you know he could sing?
He ended his keynote with an operatic rendition 

Ahem. I had to post this picture again.
 'Cause you know, me, Jon, little green army guy...
And Jon, if you're reading this, I expect updates on where the LGM has been housed and what he is up to.
5) I'm grateful that L.A. was not sticky and hot like D.C., and therefore, I was able to run twice---and one of those runs was with the marathon-training author Jacqui Robbins, who did not ditch me. Also, I'm grateful I got to see the ocean, sit outside, and eat funnel cakes.

At the Santa Monica Pier

Funnel cakes taste extra good when they are toasty hot and you are chilly from an ocean breeze
6) I'm grateful that Sonya Sones volunteered to take author photos of anyone who signed up for the Pro Track of the conference. I don't have the photo to share yet, but I'm convinced that the secret to a great author photo is a photographer who makes you feel at ease. Sonya was that and more. Because I was coming to the photo session straight from the Pro Lunch, she even whipped on her glasses and checked my teeth for embarrassing debris. Thank you, Sonya!

7) I'm grateful that I'm part of a world that writes books, reads books, buys books, talks books, and shares books. I'm grateful that even when life is not fair, writers and artists do something about it.
A portion of the haul.
 I read Schooled on the plane home. Classic Gordon Korman---fast-paced with humor and a bang-up ending. The woman next to me was very curious about it and finally asked if she could see my book and then promptly handed it over the seat to her grown daughter to view. I think I made a sale for you, Gordon!

For more posts about the 2010 conference, see the SCBWI Team Blog. (I've made it easy; where I could, I've linked to the Team Blog writeup for each author or event mentioned in this post. Go! Click!)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Freak out

SCBWI L.A bulletin: Yesterday I met and spoke to Jon Scieszka. Author of The Stinky Cheese Man. Star of the fabulous autobiography Knucklehead. Former children's literature ambassador and champion of Guys Read. Smartest troublemaker I know.

Turns out he's read Operation Yes.

Freak out.

Can you see the little green army man? His bazooka is being gallantly aimed away from my face by Jon.