My first SCBWI conference as assistant regional advisor has ended! It was a privilege to be able to help choose the faculty and also spend some one-on-one time with them. My brain is still moving slow after the weekend’s abundance of information acquisition, socialization, and, of course, sleep deprivation, but here are some highlights that I can recall (mainly because of the photos):

Regional Advisor Sam Clark, volunteer Christopher S. Jennings, ARA Shelley Jackson and faculty member and author Bethany Hegedus. Bethany was kind enough to donate her Writing Barn for our faculty party on Friday night. Good times!
Dinner with Regional Advisor Sam Clark, volunteer Christopher S. Jennings, me, and faculty member Bethany Hegedus. (Bethany was kind enough to donate her Writing Barn for our faculty party on Friday night.) Good times!
It is super amazing that we were able to start the new mentorship award for writers and name it after the beloved Cynthia Leitich Smith who co-founded the local SCBWI chapter and awes us all with her talent, generosity and time-management skills (how the heck does she do it ALL???). But it is even more incredible that Cynthia, herself, offered to mentor the winner for the first year. So freakin' exciting! Here she is announcing the nominees (they are not all pictured).

This year we started a new mentorship award for writers, named after the beloved Cynthia Leitich Smith who co-founded the Austin SCBWI chapter and awes us all with her talent, generosity and time-management skills (how the heck does she do it all?). And, even more incredibly, Cynthia offered to mentor the winner for the first year. So freakin’ exciting! Here she is announcing the nominees (they are not all pictured).

I heard MATT DE LA PEÑA speak at a VCFA lecture a few semesters ago. I knew then and there that I wanted to invite him to speak to our chapter when I began as an Austin SCBWI regional team member. We couldn't believe our luck when we went to the LA conference, asked him and he said yes. It was just that easy! And Matt totally rocked it with his keynote, critiques and Sunday intensive. He's a phenomenal speaker with the perfect combination of humor, honesty and insight. I can't wait to get writing again, using what I've learned this weekend!

I heard Matt de la Peña speak at VCFA a few semesters ago. I’m so glad he was able to make our conference (on his birthday)! Matt totally rocked it with his keynote, critiques and Sunday intensive. He’s a phenomenal speaker with the perfect combination of humor, honesty and wisdom. I can’t wait to get writing again, applying what I’ve learned from him this weekend!

I knew Bloomsbury Associate Editor Laura Whitaker was going to be a great speaker—smart, knowledgeable and personable (I'd hear things)—but the surprise was how incredibly generous she was with her time and advice, how delightful a person she was and how excited she was to be visiting Austin. Laura's enthusiasm was contagious and we found ourselves talking books while two-stepping after the conference Saturday night. If there was a Coolest-Funnest-Awesomest Editor in the Country Award, I would totes nominate her and I'm pretty certain she would win. Here she is congratulating our Volunteer of the Year Award and 2nd place Portfolio Showcase Award winner, Christopher S. Jennings. FYI, the latter two awards are both real.

I knew Bloomsbury Associate Editor Laura Whitaker was going to be a great speaker (I’d heard things), but we were all surprised by how incredibly generous she was with her time and advice, and by how downright delightful she was! Laura’s enthusiasm was contagious and we found ourselves talking books while two-stepping after the conference Saturday night. If there was a Coolest-Funnest-Awesomest Editor in the Country Award, she would totes win it. Here she is congratulating our Volunteer of the Year and 2nd place Portfolio Showcase Award winner, Christopher S. Jennings. FYI, the latter two awards are both real.

The Portfolio Showcase was amazing. Laurent Linn and Kelly Murphy said they were super impressed! The place looked so professional, thanks to the mad organizational skills of Illustrator Coordinator Amy Farrier!

The Portfolio Showcase was amazing. The place looked so professional, thanks to the mad organizational skills of Illustrator Coordinator Amy Farrier! And the talent of Austin illustrators is top notch!

Illustrator Kelly Murphy and Simon & Schuster Art Director Laurent Linn are rock stars of the children's book world! They both gave amazingly insightful feedback on attendee work, along with craft and business advice. Rock on!

And now for the art rock stars, illustrator Kelly Murphy and Simon & Schuster Art Director Laurent Linn! They both gave amazingly insightful feedback on attendee work, along with craft and business advice. I can’t even tell you how talented, kind and brilliant these two are. Rock on!

It was a bonding moment for Kelly Murphy and I when I learned that she, too, has a 4 pound chihuahua and she learned that I, too, have a gremlin.

It was a bonding moment for Kelly Murphy and I when I learned that she, too, has a 4 pound chihuahua and she learned that I, too, have a gremlin.

One of the best parts of any conference is hangin' with my Girlls. The Girllustrators: LuzMarie Iturbe, Shelley Jackson, Lalena Fisher, Patrice Barton, Amy Farrier and Marsha Riti, with uber-awesome (girl)illustrator Kelly Murphy (center, in black).
One of the best parts of any conference is hangin’ with my Girlls. The Girllustrators: LuzMarie Iturbe, Shelley Jackson, Lalena Fisher, Patrice Barton, Amy Farrier and Portfolio Showcase winner Marsha Riti, with uber-awesome (girl)illustrator Kelly Murphy (center, in black).