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 Back in 2010 we were all newbies, mostly unpublished and the raw material.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!)


Nevada Mentor Program

I am thrilled to have been asked to be a mentor on the celebrated Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program this year. I was part of the program as a mentee back in 2010/2011. It's pretty special to be asked back and to work with 2-3 mentees myself. The program was probably the one thing I did that really set my career on it's way. The friends and contacts I made are still strong and very much part of my life. Ellen Hopkins and Suzanne Morgan Williams did a marvellous job starting this program and it's as great as ever! Check out the line up of mentors for yourself. Maybe I will see you there? Applications are open ... spaces are limited. What are you waiting for?

Old Friends, New Friends, Part 2 (or DOING'S IN VIRGINIA CITY)

As promised here's some thoughts on the NV SCBWI Mentor Programme I have been part of this last six months. NOT 'MENTAL programme'as some of you who can't understand my version of English imagine I'm saying.

This is the 'New Friends' of the title. A lot of good stuff came out of this programme, but making so many new friends was the best. I cried buckets when we all said goodbye.

But here's the thing - more than half of us will be meeting up at SCBWI Summer Conference in LA ... oh me oh my ... the party is going on the road ....

OK, seriously, (always hard for me). Why do this programme? First because you get to work with a great mentor in the children's publishing industry for six months for less than the cost of a week's holiday. (My mentor was Priscilla Burris) ...

Here we are at brekky, along with Teri Sloat.

The programme kicked off last October with our first meet-up in Virgina City Nevada (hell of a place! The atmosphere really gave an extra dimension to the whole thing ... so much better than a dull hotel.) You may have read my previous post covering that. Included in the cost was the NV SCBWI conference weekend.

For six months each mentee (about 30 of us) worked with a mentor (about 3 mentees per mentor). Different genres were covered: YA, MG, picture book and illustration. Each mentee received 3 reviews on the progress of their work with critiques during the six months.

Every mentee took away a different experience, but I know that we all benefited tremendously from being around such excellent mentors - these included Ellen Hopkins, Emma Dryden, Harold Underdown to mention a few. Check out NV SCBWI site for more information and details on how you can get on the programme.

All too soon we descended for our final wash-up weekend in Nevada. St Mary's Arts Centre in Virginia City is an excellent venue ... an old hospital (haunted no less!) housed most of us. The cozy feel of the place, big kitchen and dining room made for a convivial feeling.

For the final weekend we had a guest editor (Alvina Ling from Little and Brown and the first weekend we were lucky enough to have Cheryl Klein from Arthur A Levine onboard.) Along with meetings with our mentors, breakout sessions and workshops we also each had time to present our work and receive feedback from Alvina.

The goal of the programme was not to find a publisher, but rather to develop our skills and knowledge as writers and illustrators. However I KNOW there are going to be some high flying authors coming out of 2010/2011 and look forward to cheering them on!

During the weekend mentor Terri Farley  arranged Mustang Safaris ... they were wonderful. We got to see the wild horses, and I got to do a little sketching ... if you want to know more about wild horses check out Terri's website.

And, of course, ... we partied ... I believe that authors and illustrators are among some of the unsung heros of partiers in the modern world. Long may it continue .... I give you a selection of photos ...

 Workshop with Terri Farley

 Alvina Ling - Karaoke Extraordinaire

Harold Underdown hitting the caffeine
Emma Dryden and Craig Lew - note the Hollywood smile (Emma, not Craig!)

Me, posing for photo which I hate

Antics at the breakfast table with Priscilla Burris

Lee Wind and Craig Lew. Note the Hollywood Smile (again)

Sunset over Nevada

Pizza Night

Sarah Mcguire and Nathalie Mvondo

Oh yeah baby, Karaoke

Suzy Morgan Williams and me singing 'On Ilkley Moor B'hat' in honor of Yorkshire.

Terri Farley and Lee Wind getting right down to some teaching
Terri Farley, Tracey Clark and Susan Hart Lindquist being beautiful

Here are two memories I will take away with me ... exiting a liquor store and being chased by a Pitbull, pulling a newstand, followed by an irate redneck lady. I did not drop the liquor though.

Visiting 'Doo-Dads' in search of liquor. I never did find out what they sold, possibly crack. But I did mystify the old boys in the back playing banjo and guitar. I will never be certain they understood my request for liquor as they pointed back down the street with that look on their faces 'You ain't from round here'. They were probably pointing me in the direction of the local brothel and or gold mine.

So that's it for Nevada. Until LA in summer. I think it's an experience in my life I will treasure. Especially the after schmooze. Oh yeah.

I HAVE been working since I returned ... beavering away on 'Hidden New Jersey'. Here is the cover image!

More soon!
aka The Wacky Brit

Ont he Bedside Table

Lousy Rotten Grapes by Margie Palatini and Barry Moser
Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer - Carol Brendler and Ard Hoyt
My Friend the Starfinder - George Ella Lyon and Stephen Gammell
I Know an Old Teacher - Anne Bowen and Stephen Gammell
Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse - Judy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones - Judy Schachner