The SCBWI summer conference flew by last weekend. It was incredible! The first year that I went, I made so many incredible friends and I loved all the talks that I went to. The second year that I went, I got to hang out with friends and make new ones, but as a whole I only liked the talks. The third year--this year--was INCREDIBLE! One after another, all the keynote speakers knocked it out of the park and left me wanting more. 

Some of my highlights:

Mem Fox, oh how I could listen to her for hours! I love reading and I love picture books, but she has this love for words that makes me want--even a smidgen more eloquence to my vocabulary, and she definitely puts rhythm and page turn in a whole new light. 

Dan Santat and Molly Idle were incredible in so many ways, which I knew going in since I obsessively read what interviews and blogs I can about them. But it was even more interesting to uncover how clearly their picturebooks reflect THEM more than anything and how their lives influence their stories on so many layers from ideation to character design to workflow. 

Shannon Hale was delightfully witty and still heart-wrenchingly honest when she provided her insights on feminism in unexpected ways, including turning it onto it's head when she reflected how pigeon-holing something as "for girls" leads to "exclusion of boys." 

Varian Johnson and Kwame Alexander know how to spin a phrase. I repeat the word I used for Mem: eloquence. Incredible eloquence and motivational speaking. Kwame knows how to read an audience and play off all the speakers who came before him. 

Adam Rex. He liked my pig. 'nuff said.

The portfolio review was lots of fun, particularly when Molly Ruttan, one of my illustration friends, won one of the mentorships and Corinna Luyken, won an Honor award! So happy for them both! I was proud of what I had accomplished this year, and I was happy with my personal growth even though I KNEW that my portfolio was not ready to win awards. It'll get there, slow and steady. and with a whole lot more STORY.