This year I kept my camera stowed most of the time and concentrated on just relaxin', helping out where I could, and getting to know people.
Someone I really enjoyed getting to know was Holly Black. She's one of the modern-marvels in this biz, so I had no idea what to expect. But she's just so...wonderful! Very kind. Always ready with a warm smile. It makes me happy to know that there are so many kids and teens out there who love her.
Here she is (far off in the distance) giving her keynote speech...
During lunch, I enjoyed the traditional rubber chicken meal (it actually wasn't that bad, but it's been a running joke at this conference for years) with some good friends. That's Rita Crayon Huang to the left of the empty space, Greg Pincus to her left, Ann Haywood Leal to the right of the empty space (which was where I sat, by the way), and several other cool tablemates.
I was really looking forward to the final keynote speech, delivered by Kathleen Duey. Ms. Duey has been a mentor of mine since 2000 (you'll find her name listed at the back of Thirteen Reasons Why as one of my inspirations). That's when I attended my very first SCBWI conference, and I was lucky enough to have my manuscript critiqued by her. It was my very first professional critique and I was so nervous and so full of hope. Ms. Duey nominated that manuscript for the Sue Alexander Award, which it won, earning me a free trip to NYC to meet with editors. So it meant a lot to watch someone who's been so important in my life and career giving this closing speech.
This year, for the first time, I sat on the other side of the table and gave critiques (or, as they refer to them, "manuscript consultations"). During each 30-minutes session, I tried to remember how I felt during my first critique, as well as each one I've had since. There was something about the "coming full-circle" aspect of this conference that made those critiques my favorite part of the four days. I enjoyed my time with each writer, and I hope they got a lot out of our visits.
And best of all...I got to nominate someone for the Sue Alexander Award! I knew how special it felt for me to get nominated, so I was bubbling with giddiness at the chance to do the same for someone else. In fact, I went up to the staff in charge of critiques and told them to let that author in early if she was waiting. Because I couldn't wait anymore!
Sometimes I get way too excited over these things. But...oh well!
Its good to get excited for other people, especially if you understand what's in store for them. I hope that author was happily surprised. =]
Trust me, this author was so happily surprised she was speechless. Then she proceeded to blab about who knows what for twenty-five minutes (she talks a lot when she is shocked and excited). But Jay was a good sport about it and listened and answered questions. Thanks again, Jay. I’m honored :)
Glad you had a great time at the conference and got to throw some good karma back into the world of fledgling YA authors!
Great to see you and hear that Kathleen Duey story! So cute. AND, I sat on the shuttle next to the girl who you nominated this year! Too weird.
Anyhoo... have a great week!
Good story, Jay.
It was great seeing you Saturday!
I can't imagine being on the other side of that table, giving the critiques. It must've been so surreal.
I really like your coming full circle comment. Nice!
Great to see you,
Namaste and a hug,
You critiqued manuscripts?! Gasp ... I would've looked like a deranged person, sitting there trying to figure out something to say that didn't sound all crazy stalker fangirl'ish. Kind of like I did with Ellen Hopkins. And uh ... Holly Black (who is so amazingly nice!). And Thalia Chaltas. Being a conference virgin is like being hooked up to twenty IVs that are all pumping different stimulants into your blood at once. My biggest regret from this year? Not signing up for the MS critique. Sigh ... *off to save up dough for next year ...
p.s. You should come to the Florida conference!! See? That sounded crazy-stalker-fangirl'ish. I'll try harder next time. Ahem ... So, uh, ya know. Florida has this little conference thing. Yeah, I was thinking of going myself, but I have to see if it fits in the sched-aka-budget. If you're not busy you should roll through. I hear they're trying to get Kathleen Duey to speak (for real).
Nope. Now I sound like I'm asking you out.
*gives up and goes to bed*
Hi Jay -- your critique was so helpful. I left this conference totally jazzed to keep on writing. Hope to see you at a future conference!
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