Friday, April 1, 2011

SCBWI Retreat Recap

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my local SCBWI chapter's Spring Retreat at South Coast Winery in Temecula. As I mentioned, I went to this retreat last year, and it was my very first writing event ever.

Friday night was a reception with the four editors. They set it up so everyone there had 10-minute meetings with two of the editors. The meetings weren't solo, but it was just you and one other person, so it was a great way to get some face time with the editors, introduce yourself, etc.

In the time you weren't meeting with the editors, you had time to snack (or, if you were me, wolf down prosciutto like it was the last food on earth), grab some wine, and meet some of the other attendees. I was happy to see some faces I recognized. The ever-present Shannon Messenger was there, and I always love running into her at local events. I also got to meet Dana Elmendorf who I know from Twitter and her blog. After the reception, Dana (who is RAD) and I headed over to Yard House for some late-night drinks, which was awesome. Here are two women enjoying drinks at the bar, but if you got close enough to us you would hear us talking about YA books the whole time. Tee hee.

Saturday was a LOOOOONG day. We had presentations from each of the editors on different aspects of writing, lunch with editors at our tables to chat with, a critique session, and some first pages with the editors. I was so happy that my first pages got nothing but good feedback from the editors, and I got some really helpful feedback from the critique session. The editor presentations were great, too.

My husband brought the dog and hung out with me on Saturday night, which was a nice mental break. We found a Korean BBQ place and I ate like the world was coming to an end. I had been FREEZING all day at the conference (even with a sweater and a scarf) so it was nice to be so close to an open flame. It really warmed me up. I passed out on my hotel bed all fat and happy.

Sunday we had some more first pages, then presentations by some really awesome authors. I was excited to meet Mary Pearson, author of The Adoration of Jenna Fox, the book I'm reading aloud to my students this year. They love the book and look forward to hearing it during class, so it was fun to tell her that.

I was excited that Robin, one of the amazing ladies in my online crit group, won first place for her AWESOME MG story. I'm so in love with this story of hers, and I was thrilled when I heard her name announced. No contest wins for me, but I never really expect that my silly story about geek love is going to win anything. I was just super pleased with my positive first pages comments and my great critique!

After the retreat was over, Husband, Gunner, and I hit some of the local wineries. We got a baked brie bowl at one, did a tasting at another, then headed back to South Coast to have lunch with some friends who live in the area.

It ended up being a super amazing weekend. I always get so pumped at these writing events; they are just so energizing. Now I don't have anything on the agenda until the LA SCBWI conference in the summer. Is anyone planning on going to that one?

Oh, and I'll leave you with a silly confession: Last year I noticed a girl (I love how I call people girls when I am in my 30s and I am talking about people around my own age...I guess I never grow up) who just seemed so confident and like she knew what she was talking about and, I don't know, I could just TELL she was a good writer. And if you remember, I mentioned I was really nervous and intimidated last year. Well, this year, that girl came up and talked to me. Like I knew what I was talking about or something. And it just made me feel COOL. It's funny and ridiculous how those high school feelings never go away, isn't it? I recognize how silly this is, and I couldn't help but laugh at what a YA I am at heart. So, thanks Heather for making me feel like I was sitting at the cool kids table this year. It meant a lot.


  1. Wow, sounds like just an incredible weekend--so happy to hear that! So fantastic that you got such positive feedback, that must be so energizing. so happy for you!!

  2. oh fun, I'm planning to come to LA though nothing is set yet.

  3. Sounds like such a great experience. Congrats on the first pages feedback! That's great to hear.

  4. YAY FOR GEEK LOVE! Glad your first pages got good feedback, I know you've been working hard on them.

    I'll def be at the SCBWI summer conference so I'm sure we'll see each other there.

  5. Sounds like a great weekend--clever to reward yourself with winery visits after putting yourself through the critiques :) Congrats on the positive feedback! I'll be at SCBWI this summer too, looking forward to it.

  6. Sounds like a great retreat (and yes, those high school feelings don't completely go away). I'll probably come to LA this summer.

  7. Hiya, Jessica. It was fun to relive the retreat through your post. I agree it was pure inspiration. I'm definitely going back next year. Hop over to my blog, I gave yours a shout out.

  8. Congrats, Jessica! I'm so thrilled for you. Sounds like an amazing weekend. All a heavenly combination!

    I'm in my 30s and still a YA at heart, too!

    Thanks for sharing all the lovely details of your weekend. Really makes me want to look into the SCBWI in my area.

  9. Aww... Thanks a bunch for sharing this with us, and yes those high school feelings never completely go away.

  10. Back at you sweets! You are awesome to hang with. Anytime you head my way, give me a call and we'll have drinks again. LOVED Heather too btw (she totally has that cool chick vibe you like want to be in the glow of. I totally get your high school, i feel cool she talked to me state of mind.)...if you have her contact info or email or blog, I'd love to keep in contact with her.

    Tweet or email me if you go to any other local (or not local) retreats, conferences and maybe I'll go too. (Now I sound like a stalker. Ugh.)