Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Flyin' Into Los Angeles...SCBWI-LA

I’m just back from the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. I came back on the “redeye,” one of those overnight flights that fool you into thinking you’ve had a night’s sleep.  So I’m into dangerous blogging territory just now. Anything can happen. I’m just sayin’.
            There are noticeably beautiful people in LA. Noticeably. And you look at somebody and you say to yourself, “That must be somebody.” Which, of course, it is. Somebody. Not necessarily somebody famous.
I am terrible at spotting celebrities. The only time I ever spotted a celebrity was one Thanksgiving in Sardi’s Restaurant years ago. Yul Brynner walked in wearing full King and I regalia—bare-chested, with pantaloons.
Exactly. Not much gets past me.
 Somebody told me they saw Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine fame sitting in the hotel lobby. According to IMDB, she is up 35% in popularity this week. 
Probably because she was spotted by over 1100 SCBWI members who then went to the IMDB page.
I signed up for the SCBWI Pro Track this time, which includes perks such as lunch with editors and being honored at a wine and cheese reception/book sale. Here I am at the book sale signing away next to Samantha Berger. Somehow, Samantha talked the bartender out of a second glass of wine for each of us…

Highlights included keynotes by M.T. Anderson, Carolyn Mackler, Jon Scieszka,  and Rachel Vail. Rachel had us all mopping away tears. 
And I must be in love with M.T. Anderson (or Tobin, as we 1100 really close friends call him) because I took seven pictures of him.
Those who spoke about the future of the publishing business were of three minds: 1. this is the best of times, 2. this is the worst of times, and 3. I have no idea what’s gonna happen. I’m in the group that gets tired when I hear about it.
Other things energized me. I learned some key technical enhancements at Bruce Hale’s session on Skyping the School Visit. I loved the panel on Narrative Nonfiction, which included Elizabeth Partridge, Tanya Lee Stone, and Deborah Heligman, whom I know from Kindling Words, along with Susan Campbell Bartoletti and Ken Wright, an agent who reps a lot of nonfiction. Gennifer Choldenko’s Keynote (“Kill the Bunnies: Writing Novels for Today’s Kids”) and her breakout on revision were stellar.
To paraphrase Lin Oliver, SCBWI president, an ill-timed earthquake could have wiped out the flower of children’s publishing.
My editor, Ari Lewin, was there, doing a workshop and critiques. We had an unspoken agreement not to discuss manuscript revisions.
I was able to meet my contacts from two regional SCBWI meetings I am speaking at—Linda Bernfeld from the Florida SCBWI, and Monica Harris and Leslie Helakoski from Michigan. Here is where you can find information about the Michigan conference   and the Florida conference. 
I got to reconnect with my critique partner, Jody Feldman, and we had delicious garlic noodles and seafood at Crustacean in Beverly Hills, where the server looked bewildered when I asked how much the seafood special was. "Ah--I'll check on that," he said. 
Back home again, and got to wrap up that revision of Sword of Hanalea

No comments: