Music has always been a vital part of my life. I was the kid who blasted the stereo so loud the house vibrated; the one who hid her radio under her pillow at night to help her fall asleep; the one who danced to songs in her head even when silence was in order.
As a teen I would flip on the car stereo to see what song might come on as a form of musical horoscope, as a “whisper from the universe”.
Okay, maybe I still do.
It’s no wonder that I’ve spent the past thirty years sharing my love of music with thousands of others as a disc jockey.
But I digress.
This past weekend I attended the SCBWI conference in New York. It was, as always, an event brimming with information and inspiration. Our esteemed hosts, Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser, were gracious, warm and funny. The speakers were superb, starting with the keynotes, which included: Anthony Horowitz, Hervé Tullet, Kami Garcia, James Dashner, Laura Vaccaro Seeger…
and the newly “Newberied” Kwame Alexander…
…and finishing with the editor and agent panel and the breakout sessions, where I learned about the relationship between an agent and her client from Heather Alexander of Pippin Properties and The Rules of Picture Book-making and Why We Sometimes Break Them from Jessica Garrison.
Oh! And we mustn’t forget the surprise visit from the dashing Henry Winkler – “Aaaaay!”
Each one offered something special and unique…a snapshot of his/her own journey, a glimpse of his/her own view of the world. A piece of his/her own heart. Each one filled me with awe and pride in the kidlit community. We can, we will, change the world. One reader at a time.
As always, we were encouraged to be true to our own voices, despite rejections (yes, even Kwame had them!). To write from our hearts. To write brave.
Don’t write down to children; let them rise up for you. – Anthony Horowitz
Kidlit is alive and thriving. – editor panel
Write something brilliant. – Barry Goldblatt (agent panel)
Ignore the trends. – James Dashner
You can’t let other people’s “no”s define your yes! – Kwame Alexander
As if this roster wasn’t exciting enough, I got to bring Dragon Baby! Not just the cute little stuffed one, but the full pdf of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN! (Yes! This is worth EXCLAMATING about!) And I had permission from my lovely editor (the incomparable Shari Dash Greenspan of Flashlight Press) to share it with my writer buddies. As you can see, they loved it (even brought tears to some eyes!)
Our new baby is set to release this coming September! I cannot wait! *squeee*!!!
And while all of this was tremendously exciting, I must admit that a huge part of attending this conference – any conference! – is getting to see and hang with my writer buddies (lovingly nick-named The Lobby Rats by my roomie and bestie, the fantabulous Kimberly Sabatini). Some of their gorgeous smiles are pictured below:
You see, these people “get” me. These are the people that inspire me on a daily basis…who celebrate my successes and hug me through the rejections. These are the people who ground me. Who insist it’s not only okay to write what’s in my heart, it’s imperative. They are more than writer buddies. They are family. Our “tribe”. My “yes”. I love them so much and can only hope I give back to them a fraction of what they give to me. (Wishing all of my special peeps could have come to the conference…someday? One can dream.)
So here I was, filled to overflowing with inspiration, information and warm fuzzies. How was I to hold onto it all?
Old Man Winter threatened to dampen my spirits as I left New York (much too soon!) so I flipped on the radio…and what came on? Sara Bareilles song “Brave”.
The universe continues to whisper. And I shall listen.
To everyone who made this weekend possible (including my ever-supportive hubby), thank you for this weekend…and for encouraging me to “say what I wanna say” and let those words fall out – ever BRAVE, ever honest, no matter what the “climate”.