learning and absorbing

I know most of what I’ve gained from the SCBWI regional conference hasn’t completely sunk in yet. But there is so much rattling around in my head that I feel compelled to write down some initial reactions.

In all I’ve developed five new literary crushes:

1. Dan Santat, illustrator. His keynote made me cry and I certainly wasn’t the only one. His story describes how incredibly hard work can lead to a breakdown… and a meaningful career.

2. Victoria Jamieson, picture book author/illustrator. I ended up in two of her workshops because they were so damn applicable. She read us the letter of rejection that became a turning point in her new book, Olympig, and her honesty inspires me to think more critically about my work. Although she used Mo Willem’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus as an example of a satisfying ending, she also talked about Miss Nelson is Missing and I forgave her right away.

3. Deborah Wiles, an author and amazing speaker. She taught me how Maslow’s five basic human needs apply to the best children’s literature.

4. Anne Moore, the art resource coordinator at Candlewick. She is so softspoken, yet sharp. She loves the “satisfaction” of a well designed book and she shows amazing examples.

5. Martha Mihalick, an agent at Greenwillow. She has good advice and good taste. And she’s cute.

I went to see Justin Chanda speak about THE FUTURE:

He is the Vice President of three imprints at Simon & Schuster and he was recently quoted in the NY Times proclaiming the death of Picture Books. I learned that the future holds vampire-mermaids. But that was a joke, I hope. He also gave props to Amos McGee, which automatically makes you an endearing person.

On day 2 I ventured into a Query Letter Intensive. Although I didn’t submit a letter of my own, I thought it would be interesting to see what agents Joe Monti and Martha Mihalick had to say.

I learned that you can’t expect to get away with convoluted synopses and run-on sentences.

This will have to be part one because this is just the tip of the iceberg. So stay tuned.

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