Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My (rather overdue) SCBWI 2012 Update

I have so many things to catch you guys up on, and it seems that the second I sit down to type up a proper post, I get whisked out the door again!

I was only home from Europe for 2 days before it was time for the SCBWI annual sumer conference in LA. This conference is my favorite writing event of the year, and I wasn't going to let jet lag and the fact that I hadn't been home in almost a month stop me from attending.

I was amazed at how this conference, my third year, felt so different from my first two. My first conference I shared a room with my friend Heather and I knew literally no one. Heather and I were both pretty new to the whole kidlit world and we were so wide-eyed and overwhelmed. I had major anxiety that year, and I was so thankful that Heather would just walk up to groups of people and start chit-chatting with them. It helped me realize how nice and inviting most of the people in the kidlit world are! (I ended up meeting Liz at that first conference, and now she is one of my CPs and very favorite writing friends.)
Jess and Heather, total n00bs - SCBWI LA 2010

My second conference I knew a lot more people. I didn't feel as nervous talking to people. I got recognized here and there from my blog and from Twitter, and I felt much more confident about everything. Heather and I often had to split up because we were both getting invitations to hang out with various groups of people. I had a book that was almost finished and almost ready to query...I even pitched an agent.
Did I mention that I also met Judy Blume? Because, yeah...that happened. 

Heather and Jess...a little more confident but still just as awesome - SCBWI LA 2011

This year Heather couldn't make it, and I was worried I would feel lost without my conference buddy / writing bestie / conversation with random people starter. But I knew so many people this time, and I had an agent, so some of that pressure was off of me. It was a completely different conference experience, and I can't wait to see how my conference experience continues to evolve as my writing life changes and grows.

I was a total fail at taking pictures, so here are a few I stole from various people.

With my awesome roommate Dana Elmendorf before the Hippie Hop party. I found this hippie dress at a vintage shop in Paris and it was perfect for the occasion!

A major highlight of the Hippie Hop party was the flash mob that was planned as a surprise for Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser. As soon as Age of Aquarius came on, we all started dancing!

With Robin Reul, who happens to be one of the most awesome people ever, at the after party...

...where I was dancing up a storm!

There was so much more to the conference than just the just seems like that's all anyone took pictures of. There was meeting and hanging out with Christa Desir, one of my very favorite blog/Twitter/writing friends. There was chatting with Pam and Quita about life after signing with an agent. There was seeing Barry and Liz and Rachel and meeting Cortney and Morgan and Ryan and Karen. There was hearing Ruta Sepetys talk about writing Between Shades of Grey and me sobbing my eyes out as I listened. There was sitting in on my agent's session and panel and hearing everyone in the crowd comment about what a rockstar she is. There was blowing off one of the keynotes so I could sit in the lobby with my writing buds and brainstorm out the ending to my WIP. There was hanging out with Cynthia Omololu, who befriended me at my first conference when she was an actual author with a book out and I was a lowly newbie (I will never forget this kindness, Cynthia...thank you so much.)

It's hard to sum up SCBWI LA, really. It's so many little awesome moments that make up an incredible, unbelievably motivational experience. I can't wait for next year...hopefully I'll see you there.


  1. With any luck, I'll be back with you next year :) And then you'll have to introduce *me* to everyone *you* know! Glad you had a great time!

  2. Talking to random people is the part I'm dreading about conferences. I'm so bad at introducing myself to people I don't know...

    Glad you had a good time!

  3. I had so much fun! Like you, it was me and Quita's third year. My biggest regret? Not making it to your chocolate and wine party. :)

  4. Yay! I had such a great time. I wish I'd taken photos or something but I'm so bad about that.

  5. I was looking forward to this all year long too :) As a fellow third-year attendee, I'm right there with you on how different things are by your third conference. SO MUCH FUN!!

  6. Great recap! I do love that dress and was just going to ask where you got it. Too bad I'm not going to Paris anytime soon. I'm so glad these conferences are just getting better and better for you. I have a friend getting into the YA writing community and I think she'd love to go to this! It surely helps to know everyone is welcoming!

  7. I love that vintage dress, you looked amazing! I am so happy you had so much fun and were inspired!

  8. This looks amazing and like a lot of fun! I love how you showed the development over the years for you! So glad you had a wonderful time :D

  9. Sounds amazing!!! I am making it my life's mission to be there next year. :)

  10. Looks like a BLAST!!! One of these years I'll get out there. One of these years. :)

  11. That sounds really great. I'm trying to muster up the nerve/emotional energy reserves (not to mention the dough) to start going to writing conferences...I'll probably start a little smaller and closer to home than SCBWI LA, but maybe some year I'll make it out there. Glad you had such a good time!

  12. This was helpful for me to read. I attended the LA conference for the first time this year, and it was quite overwhelming. I met someone new and had some great conversations at all of the sessions, but rarely saw them again! I thought I saw you across the room during the pizza party (it helps that you're tall!), but then you disappeared into the crowds.

  13. Oh my...I just now saw the picture you put up of us and your are so awesome! I'm so glad we met and I had such a blast with you! Already counting down for next year and hoping we find a window somewhere somehow in between!!!! xoxo