Saturday, April 28, 2012

SCBWI Western Washington Conference 2012

I spent last weekend at SCBWI Western Washington's 21st Annual Writing & Illustrating for Children Conference, "A Parade of Words and Pictures."

I enjoyed the entire weekend, but one of my favorite parts was Matt de la Peña's pre-conference fiction intensive on dialogue. Mr. de la Peña gave us so much to think about--both inside and outside the quotation marks--while writing scenes. I was extremely impressed with his approach to craft. I read WE WERE HERE last  year, and it's a book that comes to mind again and again--which says a lot about his writing. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him and learn from him, go for it!

The Editors/Agents/Art Directors Panel was great. Moderator Kim Baker asked excellent questions, and the panelists' genuine love of kid lit could be felt when favorite children's books were discussed. It was very cool.

Melissa Sweet's keynote
was super inspiring to me. She showed a video as she spoke, and we saw her wonderful studio. She had so many great things to share, but one item really stuck with me: when she's inside her studio, she is working. Simple, right? But after a slightly crazy winter when I was studying for a teaching exam (and passed!) and my family had an extra amount going on, my writing hours became harder to keep. Melissa Sweet's talk and Bruce Hale's keynote completely motivated me to return to my get-to-work-right-away and no-e-mail-while-writing schedule. I'm actually pretty excited about it.

I loved reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures. Next time I'll do better!

Nothing to do with the conference, but it has been sunny here in Washington! Woo-hoo! I'll end with a photo of my husband, Jim, and Thistle, the shameless sun worshiper. We often stop at a coffeehouse on the weekend, and we bring the dogs. Pepper loves the idea of going, but her fear of dogs keeps her on edge--and near our feet. (She seems to think she and Thistle are human beings.) Thistle, on the other hand, spreads out, assuming people will step around him. And people are so nice, they do--and they even smile at him as he hogs up the sidewalk.

Thistle and Jim relaxing in the sun

What have you been up to the last couple weeks? Could you, like me, push yourself a bit more with your writing schedule or are you already in a good place? Is it warm where you are?


Anonymous said...

It's been raining a lot where I am. :(

I believe I heard Matt de la Peña speak at an ALAN conference.

I don't want to push myself anymore with my writing. I can do that during summer break when I'm off.

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Medeia! Crazy weather, huh? I normally like our rain, but this year has been sooo wet...I'm really appreciating the sunny days!

Yay that you heard him speak! Isn't he awesome?!

I've been following your revision updates, and you're already incredibly productive--even when you're teaching. I'm happy for you, getting more time this summer. My goal is to be more efficient with my office hours, the way I was last year and in years past. This winter jumbled my routine.

Hema P. said...

I'm glad you got so much out of the conference!

Love your dogs and their antics - Pepper thinks she's human? How cute!

We're enjoying a beautiful (and surprisingly long) spring here.

Kim Baker said...

Great post, Dawn! I loved Matt's dialogue intensive as well. I've been thinking about it a lot this week.

It was great to see you at the conference!

Flying Selki said...

I'm reading We're Here, now. I didn't go to the intensive but was inspired by his keynote speech and it was entertaining!

Laura Pauling said...

I love that conferences are so inspiring! The New England one was too. I think they were the same weekend!

Barb Davis-Pyles said...

I was so glad that I attended this year's conference. Not only did I get to reconnect with great people like you(!), but I found it incredibly inspiring, too. I'm ready to push it just a little bit harder.

Dawn Simon said...

Thanks, Hema! I enjoyed your post about spring. Your yard is beautiful. :)

Kim, it was great to see you, too! Just think: you'll be on next year's success panel! You guys put on an amazing conference! Thank you!!

Andrea, his keynote was super entertaining. What a cool guy. Nice to see you and meet your daughter!

Laura, yay that you were also absorbing conference inspiration! In New England, eh? I love it there. I tend to come home from conferences slightly dazed for a day or two, and then the fire ignites and I feel fueled. It's great!

Barb, it was great to see you! I'm ready as well! :)

Faith Pray said...

Dawn, how could people not be nice to such beautiful dogs! I love their names, too. I am intensely motivated by the conference, especially by hearing Bruce Hale talk about Art as War. I'm trying for the war thing, but I think my result will look a little bit more like a crab ambling sideways. I loved seeing you at the conference. You are such a gift to that entire writing community. Definitely to me!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

It was so awesome to see you, Dawn! I'm sorry I'm so late commenting here. But I agree, Matt de la Pena was amazing. I wish I could have gone to his fiction intensive! I'm sure it was fabulous.

We're having typical spring weather here. One day hot, next day freezing. When we drove back from Seattle after the conference, it was 94 degrees in Prosser! Now it's back down in the 50's. :/ But I leave for California on Saturday, so I'm not complaining. :)

Dawn Simon said...

Faith, you are soooo sweet! THANK YOU! I feel the same way about you! xo

Amy, 94! Yowza! Our rain is back, and I wore a wool sweater today. I loved seeing you! How cool to go a conference agented. Feels different, huh? In a fabulous way. :)

Dawn Simon said...

Amy, I meant to write, "How cool to go TO a conference agented." Oops!