ALA San Francisco 2015 - friends and books and a lot of walking.

I always enjoy the American Library Association Summer Conference! It's a chance to catch up with what's new, meet publishers and friends old and new. This year, though, was made even more fantabulous by the chance to meet up with some of my Nevada SCBWI Mentor Alumni buddies from 2010/2011. Five us us shared a sweet apartment near the Moscone Centre in San Francisco and you can bet there was laughter, gossip and deep conversations into the early hours ... So often in the book world the friends you make are spread far and wide, only social media keeps you in touch. Even more special was the fact that all of us are now published or agented and several of us had author events at the conference. It was also a lot of fun to go to each other signings! Back in 2010 we were all newbies, mostly unpublished and the raw material. As you can imagine, we celebrated fully! I cannot speak highly enough about the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Programme, I'm proud to be going back as a mentor myself for the coming session (click here to find out more

ALA highlights for me this year included the Caldecott/Newbery/Wilder Awards ... Dan Santat, Kwame Alexander and Donald Crews gave outstanding speeches that had the audience alternately in floods of tears or gales of laughter. (See links below to read the speeches).

Dan Santat

Kwame Alexander

Donald Crews

I leave you with some photos from around the conference. (Click on each for details!)

(Oh and so much walking, SO MUCH!)


New England SCBWI Conference 2015

This year's annual New England SCBWI conference in MA has to rate as one of the best I've ever attended. Come on - keynote speakers included this year's Caldecott winner Dan Santat and Newbery winner, Kwame Alexander! Kudos to the committee on their choices PRE ALA award announcements! (Someone should have taken a photo of me and Marlo Garnsworthy in floods of tears during Kwame's poetry reading ... that man ... wow).

My first conference in New England was back in 2010. Now it's a home coming. So many friends, old and new, laughs to be had and pervading everything a great feeling of community. In a working life that sees most of us spread around the country, beavering away in lofts, back bedrooms and garden sheds, the camaraderie strikes me afresh at every gathering together of children's book creators.

My workshop on building a career in children's illustration seemed to go down well. (Believe it or not I am always very nervous before presenting!). I do worry about attendees missing info because of my English accent ... so I made a transcript available this year. Speaking in a foreign language can be hard ;-).

I was fortunate during my stay to be invited to the Eric Carle Museum, Amherst to celebrate  Dan Santat's Caldecott medal win , what a wonderful afternoon! We were taken behind the scenes to view rarely seen archives - including the dummy for William Steig's 'Sylvester and the Magic Pebble'. This was a dream time for me - looking at the well known images and listening to the thoughts of Tony DiTerlizzi , Dan Santat and Mo Willems as we poured over the art - precious. 

These moments of community are our own 'magic pebbles'. We take them back with us to our solitary time in the studio and turn them over and over in our minds for inspiration.

Thanks to all the organizers of this year's conference! Looking forward to 2016.