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
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 party...it 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.