Wednesday, February 18, 2015

SCBWI NYC '15 Redux: The Answer is Always YES


The last two weeks have been amazing, guys. A-MAY-ZING. I can't even get into how amazing they have been right now. But I want to share a few of the amazing moments from the SCBWI Winter Conference, because spreading the amazing is something I want to do more of. Since the theme of this conference was Seven Things, I'm going to share seven amazing moments.

Amazing Moment Number One: KWAME!!! Kwame Alexander, who is so nice and generous and wonderful as a human being and as a crafter of words. I attended Kwame's session on writing diverse characters, where he showed us how much work we all have to do to overcome our own biases and preconceptions, and to overcome the stereotypes that we still cling to. (Yes, even the most enlightened of us still cling to stereotypes.) He gave a keynote in which he emphasized the importance of saying "yes" even when everyone around you seems to be saying "no". But also, he remembered me from his session, and he thanked me for coming, and he gave me a hug.

Me and Kwame. Holy Cowpies.
photo courtesy of Hilary Leung

By being who he is, he reinforced the overarching lesson from this conference and from so many other conferences: that we are all in this together, and that by supporting each other and by treating each other as equals, we all rise.

Amazing Moment Number Two: Meeting Jennifer Laughran, who is one of my agent heroes because she is so awesome and so generous online with her advice and her personality and everything, and having a moment to tell her how much I appreciate her blog, and then a split second later seeing her almost cry with happiness when she met Kwame Alexander. Pure awesome. These are my people.

Amazing Moment Number Three: Matisse before dawn.


The words "The MoMA is open all night and I have tickets to see Matisse at 5:30AM!" were nowhere on my list of "Things I Expect My Friends to Say at a Conference," but they rank pretty high on the list of "Things I Am Likely to Say Yes To." I'm just glad to have friends who are as crazy as I am.

Amazing Moment Number Four: Grand Central Station during the non-rush-hour hours. The feeling of sheer SPACE - like being outside, but inside. There was even a pigeon flying around in there.

A picture of my friends taking a picture of my friends...

Amazing Moment Number Five: Hearing James Dashner talk about his first book and how it sold dozens of copies, and realizing that even though we make such a big deal of debuts, those debuts very rarely define an author's career. As someone whose projects range from bug-based non-fiction to quirky science-y superpower chapter books to edgy YA, I really needed that.

Amazing Moment Number Six: Turning to the writer next to me after Herve Tullet's talk and daring each other to re-invent the levelled reader system. To quote Kwame: IT'S ON!

Amazing Moment Number Seven: Hearing Kami Garcia talk about how she and Margie basically wrote the anti-paranormal, and thinking, I can do that. Not the anti-paranormal, because I don't really want to do that right now, but the anti-(insert genre here). I can look at all the books in a genre and say, "Okay, generally speaking: the girl is always like this; the guy is always like this; the problem always centres around this; the setting is always this…" And I can write something that is the opposite of that.

And so can you guys. So, Go Forth! Write the Amazing Things. I can't wait to read them.

(There was another amazing thing, but I said I'd stop at seven, so that will have to wait for another post.

Heh heh heh.)

Happy writing, and thanks for stopping by.


  1. What a happy blast of time and MOMA at 5:30 AM. Amazing.

    1. It was amazing! :-) Thanks for commenting, Frieda.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting, Jennifer! It was fun. And so worthwhile, so inspiring… :-)