The final day of the conference started off with the Portfolio Awards. Big congrats to all the winners! I was glad to have been able to meet honor award winner, Pat Cantor, who's portfolio is stunning!!
It was an especially exciting moment when Cecilia Yung announced that my conference buddy Leeza won the Tomie dePaola Grand Prize Award!!! Her work is amazing! I can't wait to see her books on the shelves. :)
Our first speaker of the day was brilliant author extraordinaire, Bruce Hale, who treated us to a song. I recorded a portion of it on my little camera, and asked Bruce's permission to post it on Youtube. To which he replied that it was ok as long as he didn't hit any clunker notes. I didn't hear any, and thought it was a fabulous start to a great speech. You can view it here. One thing I realized at the conference is that besides illustrating I would like to write my own stories, and after being amongst so many talented writers I know that to do that I have a lot to learn about how to write a good story. So, Bruce also sent me a link to sign up for his newsletter filled with writing tips to keep me inspired. In his speech, Bruce said that during his childhood he lost someone very important to him. His tv died. His parents said they couldn't afford a new one, and that's when he learned that a book can be a man's best friend. Kimberly J. Sabatini, who I met just briefly in the lobby when she and her friends were coming back from dinner with Jay Asher, wrote up a great recap of Bruce's 8 recommendations to middle grade writers.
The agents panel consisted of Michael Sterns, Edward Necarsulmer IV, Alyssa Eisner Henkin, and Michael Bourret. It started with a discussion of the topic that is on everyone's mind this year, the economy, and how it will effect the industry. On the plus side, children are the last ones that people are willing to scrimp on. It was pointed out that John Steinbeck found a way to profit from the depression, and that, "Most people don't realize that there is as much money to be made from the wreckage of a civilization as the building of it." That's a bit grim, but maybe inspiring as well?
The wonderful Richard Peck then took the stage, and reminded us that "We can't be fired. We're unemployed." He gave us eloquent words of encouragement, and story writing advice. He said at some point the story needs an epiphany. He says he only gets one idea at time, so he always thinks this one will be the last. He said a manuscript is like a sick friend that you don't want to leave alone for too long. Richard said, "We hunt. We gather. We observe. We listen to other's stories and research."
Jack Gantos was our final speaker. Jack Gantos is one of those people I could listen to all day. He has such a distinct, colorful inflection to his voice, and a wonderful way with words into which he injects tons of great humor. He said the best part of a story is when the character is affected by change. I'm afraid I don't have more notes from his talk because it was our checkout time. You can find more at the Official SCBWI 1oth Annual New York Conference Blog. You can also find some better photos there.
We wrapped up the day at the Autograph Signing where Jarrett Krosoczka signed my copy of his 'Punk Farm On Tour', and Jay Asher signed his 'Thirteen Reasons Why' which I'm glad I bought the day before since they sold out. (see pics in last post).
With hungry overtaking us, I walked over to Pershing Square with Andy, Leeza, and Sara, and we had an early dinner, and reflected on the last few days. We were all feeling the conference 'buzz'. I'm so glad I went. It's a great introduction to the business, and provides more then any Google search can. It's also very honest. No one told us that it would be easy. To be successful takes an enormous amount of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, and most likely a bumpy road with setbacks and disappointments. But, if you truly want to write and illustrate for children that passion can be is it's own reward.
Something about being in that SCBWI crowd felt right, so I plan to keep working to be a part of that world, and to go to more conferences to meet more great friends!!