The SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) holds 2 national conferences every year, the winter conference in New York and the summer conference in Los Angeles. I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the 2013 Summer conference.  It was an amazing experience! The long weekend was filled with inspiring speeches from the industry’s most talented professionals! Some of my favorite keynote speakers included the hilarious Mac Barnett (Caldecott Award winning author), the creative David Weisner (Caldecott winning illustrator), and the legendary Richard Peck (best selling author). In between the keynote speeches and group activities, morning and afternoon break out sessions were scheduled. There were about 10 different workshops to choose from during each breakout session. Of the 10, usually 2 of them were geared to illustrators, the rest applied mainly to authors. I really enjoyed the smaller group workshops because you could choose exactly what you were interested in and there was usually time for questions. I attended several breakout sessions with Laurent Linn (art director at Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers), Giuseppe Castellano (art director at Pengiun), and Jannie Ho (Novelty Book illustrator). The workshops were very informative and helpful!

The weekend was also broken up with several social activities to get to know fellow authors and illustrators, I attended a breakfast planned by my regional Southern Breeze Chapter of SCBWI which includes members from Alabama, Georgia and the Florida pan-handle. In all, there were 12 southern breeze members who traveled to the conference in LA. There was also a Black and White Ball on Saturday night, and an autograph party on Sunday afternoon! Here are a few pics from the autograph party!


{Mac Barnett and I – 2013 Caldecott Winner for Extra Yarn}


{Richard Peck signing his book for me! He wrote one of my favorite books A Long Way from Chicago}


{Hilarious duo Mac Barnett and Jon Scieszka co-authors of Battle Bunny, also amazing keynote speakers}


{THE FONZ! The great Henry Winkler signing his book for me.  He has co-authored many funny chapter books with in his Hank Zipzer series}

I had a formal portfolio critique with Laurent Linn, art director at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.  As intimidated as I was to have my work critiqued by someone so big in the publishing industry, Laurent could not have been a nicer person! He was very helpful and his suggestions were greatly appreciated. I have updated many of my portfolio pieces based on his comments and observations.  We were also allowed to display our portfolios in a portfolio competition. This is a great way to get your name out because all of the professionals at the conference look through the portfolios and see your work! Most illustrators display postcards or business cards as promotional materials for you to take home. Check out some of the amazing illustrators who participated!


In conclusion, I met so many wonderful illustrators and friends from all over at the national conference! The knowledge I gained from the workshops and the inspiration I acquired through the keynote speeches was priceless! The conference has already changed my illustration style and improved my work. I hope to be able to continue to work and improve and attend another national conference with an updated portfolio very soon! So long Los Angeles, I hope to see you again soon!