Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Just returned from the big international SCBWI conference in New York (or, as I keep telling people it's supposed to be pronounced, "nyork"). 
I'm motivated and inspired and excited. I have a full sketchbook of 150 sketches of the journey -- both to, from, and in New York, and also my personal, emotional journey to new and renewed literary friendships and improved work.

Three great things I heard at the VIP party -- all from editors:
- You can DRAW! I love your card! 
- I know Ellie McDoodle -- YOU do that series??
- I am THRILLED to meet you!
That last one is my awesome editorial team at Bloomsbury! I have a new editor and she introduced me to some of the great people there. Really, seriously, fantastically great people -- it was a thrill for me to meet them, too.
(I wrote these things down verbatim in my sketchbook because I want to remember them forever.)

I'm sharing two spreads of sketchbook pages here.
This page is one of the most exciting moments of the conference, on the left. It started small and turned into a life-changing opportunity. More on this in a future blog.
And on the right it's one of my favorite little bits of the national conference, where Lin Oliver talks about the funny contest entries and Tomie dePaola talks about the Tomie contest entries (YAY for Michigan writer-illustrator Nina Goebel who placed and who also came to this conference) and the air is buzzing because of all the great stuff that's already been shared in the previous days, and Sunday's our last big day at the conference.

This is a little part of the return trip to Michigan

I pushed myself at the conference. 
I acted like an extrovert even when I didn't quite feel like one.
I walked miles around the city every day even though I'm still nursing a Hapkido knee injury from a year ago.
I worked -- volunteered -- as SCBWI-Michigan's Illustrator Coordinator, even taking on extra jobs at the conference, and pushing myself to become more familiar with the people who (expertly, beautifully, sacrificingly, exhaustingly, fantastically) run the show.
I made up a great postcard before coming and handed it out everywhere, with this image on the front and an Ellie McDoodle image on the back (and of course all my contact info) --

After 9 years of concentrating on 
highly-illustrated middle grade novels,
I'm getting into picture books now.

I introduced myself to everyone around me again and again and again (not the same people three times!).
All that pushing paid off.
I'm so thrilled to have gone to NYC and this conference and I got SO MUCH out of it that I have vowed I am ***definitely*** going to the next international SCBWI conference in Los Angeles, this summer.

First order of business: Sell a book. I have 5 great picture book ideas percolating. Some of them my agent loves. I have a plan. :)
It'll be tricky working on books while I'm doing school visits -- we're at a new school 4 times per week and sometimes on the weekends. But I am motivated!!