I returned to the SCBWI Winter Conference after not going last year. I went on a whim and, wuddayaknow, it was my best experience yet.
The first two times, I went as an illustrator. This year, I switched sides and went as a writer. It’s cheaper to go as a writer. Illustrators have to spend money on a physical portfolio and there’s even an extra fee to participate in the illustrators’ showcase, the event where New York’s art directors come to look at work.
After dinner on Saturday night, I went to the illustrator’s mixer and got a contact for an illustrators sketch group that meets monthly here in Brooklyn. I also talked to Peter Brown. I met him years ago when he gave a talk at the Brooklyn Public Library, and he remembered me. Or at least he faked remembering me really well.
I had two wins at the conference. My first win was for one of my entries to the themed joke contest. That recognition went a long way towards convincing me that this group can get my sensibilities. After making that connection, I noticed just how friendly everybody was. It’s a totally supportive environment. Vicious people don’t write books about bunnies and frogs. The second win was a door prize, a subscription the Horn Book Magazine.
Again, they had some big names give keynote talks. Kami Garcia and James Dashner did the most for me. I used the $15 gift certificate I won in the joke contest to buy Dashner’s The Maze Runner. Then I went to the library and found Garcia’s Unbreakable. The synopsis on the back was laugh-out-loud preposterous, but in the best way.
I hear that the Summer Conference in L.A. is even bigger. Maybe I’ll go.