This past weekend I attended my 5th year of Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Los Angels Conference, filled with encouragement, inspiration and craft.  Woven between each keynote speech and workshop session were unforgettable moments with friends.  We laughed. We cried. We learned from one another. But most of all, we reminded each other that we are not alone.

It's not a surprise that I gleamed from the talent and love for our craft that was oozing from the California Ballroom stage and throughout the Century Plaza conference rooms all weekend. From the moment SCBWI founders, Steve Mooser and Lin Oliver welcomed us, I listened and watched and learned from authors, illustrators, publishers and agents. Here are just a few moments that inspired me.


Your job is to defend, protect, and celebrate childhood. - Laurie Halse Anderson

Don't put kids to sleep, for God's sake. Wake'em up. - Jon Scieszka

Do the unexpected. - Deborah Halverson

We hold a mirror to [our readers], but behind them is a world of fiction. - Peter Lerangis

Look right into the eyes of your audience; children. Know what they are going through and what inspires and excites them. - Michelle Markel


Editors Panel, moderated by Lin Oliver, with
Nami Tripahi, Andrea Pinkney, Donna Bray, Claudia Gabel, Allyn Johnston, Melissa Manlove
This was the best editors panel I've ever heard. Everyone spoke candidly and was full of heart.

The story about Nico and his whale. - Mac Barnett

Read every line you write, out loud, standing up. - Richard Peck

Enjoy your writing. Don't worry about perfection. - Carolyn Mackler

You just have to sit down and work or nothing's ever going to happen. - David Wiesner


Agents panel, moderated by Lee Wind
 The bar has been raised for all of us. - Steve Malk
Keep trying. Don't let rejection hold you back. - Jenny Bent
Publishers want to put out a personality. - Mela Bolinao
You can't force yourself to be a different person. - Ginger Clark
Know the market. Read books. Know what others are doing. - Joanne Volpe

If the story deviates from the image, ditch the image and follow that story! - David Wiesner

We are in an age where we compete with media. We need genre breakers. Attention grabbers. - Andrea Pinkney, author and editor at Scholastic

The craft of writing is getting your brain to bleed directly onto a blank page. - Richard Peck

History is cool. Nonfiction is a way to remember truth. - Jeri Chase Ferris, Golden Kite Winner for Nonfiction

We live in a world where awful things happen, but sometimes there are things that are so atrocious that happen to kids and
we can't fix them. We create magic, wonder, escape.
- Jarrett Krosoczka, author of the Lunch Lady book series

Fellow writers, Meg Lentz and Bridget Casey, building characters through improve
in our intensive workshop with Henry Winkler

Don't overthink. It's all in your mind. You need to let it out.
- Henry Winkler

And a few more fun moments...

Joanne Rocklin, Golden Kite Winner for fiction

Mo Willems won the Sid Fleishman Award for humor, but unfortunately
he was tied up and couldn't be at the awards luncheon.

Meg and I enjoyed laughing with Marla Frazee at the book signing on Sunday

After Mike Jung signed a copy of his new book for my son, a lucky few of us
had the opportunity to enjoy our own personal concert as Mike played
the ukulele and sang with Arthur Levine.

You never know who you're going to spot in line at Starbucks. 
Meg and I met Jarrett Krosoczka on Monday.

Having a blast at the Black and White Gala with Lori Degman and the "checkered people"
(I later found out that they were Jessica Freeburg and Jay Asher)

This photo truly summarizes the weekend for me. Hanging out with my peeps. My tribe. My family.
I don't know what I'd do without the friends who help me through the ups and downs of this crazy literary journey.
I have a heart filled with gratitude to be a small part of the best organization in the world,
including many of you who were unable to attend the conference this year.

 I love you SCBWI!!!

Please be aware that the inspirational moments in this post were taken from my conference notes and may deviate from the speakers exact quotes.
All photos are copyrighted material and may only be used with direct permission.
(But, I'm pretty cool, so just ask.)