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The Conference held in Los Angeles is nearly  a week long series of meetings, speeches, networking, workshops, parties, eating and possibly chatting with 1,200 great people. You have to enter this conference with a plan, like I posted earlier. Otherwise you can get caught in conference nervosa: the various stages of exhilaration, depression, exhaustion, frustration and giddiness that can kidnap your conference productivity. Since this is the first time I took time away from my “day” job to attend the entire conference, I made sure I was well hydrated, and stayed focused. It was like preparing for a marathon. I needed to know my route, where my stops were to get nutrition and hydrate, and pace myself for the long haul. Its like any journey, or marathon. The best part is the people you meet along the way of the training. Of course, I would have liked getting the prize – a book contract or agent. But that was not my plan – this time!

Candace Fleming signing autographs at SCBWI L.A. Conference 8/5/12

When you’re an  SCBWI regional advisor, illustrator, or assistant, you volunteer your time at the conference. It’s a wonderful way to meet ever more people and get some upfront and personal time. I had the great experience of not only attending Candice Fleming’s (Golden Kite award winning author of Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart) excellent program on non-fiction writing, but also was her autograph assistant during the author signing event.

Matthew Kirby signing autographs at SCBWI Conference 8/5/12

She signed next to author Matthew Kirby, Icefall. Just couldn’t resist this wonderful photo of his adoring young fan.

The biggest takeaway from the conference, aside from 5 pounds of notes, a few more pounds of new books and a head full of new ideas, is prioritizing. That is, putting in order the top things you are going to follow up on after you have just made this investment in time and expense to improve your craft and step up your writing career. So that’s my challenge, getting the time to execute my top things. Where, oh where, is an intern when you need one?

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