SCBWI Asilomar Conference – Day 1

Day 1 at Asilomar – SCBWI Nor Cal Conference

Driving into the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove/Monterey for my first SCBWI Nor Cal SCBWI event brought me back to the ocean smells and ever-present mist of Central California. I never tire of it. Asilomar sits next to the Inn at Spanish Bay just off 17 mile drive. You can see the golf course and hotel from the beach on the Asilomar property which is like dangling ice cream in front of a toddler and saying “Don’t you wish you could have some?”

The grounds are beautiful, quite rustic—and HUGE. During the course of the conference I lost my room on several occasions, once in the dark, which my roommate warned was not good because there are “Beware of Mountain Lion” signs. (On the second day, I saw three deer standing in front of the sign…but no mountain lions.)

What an excellent program San Francisco South put out. Friday launched around 4ish with Ari Lewin of Disney Hyperion taking the audience through the multiple steps an editor must move through with a pitched piece that the editor wants to buy. The number of meetings alone the piece must travel through (sales, acquisition, launch, marketing, blah, blah, blah) makes me appreciate the miracle of each publication. She wrapped up with a list of “don’t evers” and “do-s”. (Don’t ever complain to a bookstore that they don’t have your book and do establish yourself online.)

A shout out to writer Beth Graubert who mentioned the critique time was on the back of my name tag so that I did not miss my Friday session with Ken Wright of Writer’s House which I easily could have done just having just arrived from a fun Thursday night of dancing with my daughter and her friends in San Francisco the night before. Not accounting for the size of the grounds made check in take longer than planned, but having the early time was great. Thanks, Beth, for the heads up.

Every time I have a critique I learn something new. Ken’s encouragement and suggestions were both helpful and inspiring. (Yay! My Young Adult novel First Break is very marketable!) It can be a mysterious industry and it was nice just to be able to sit down with a real live agent and ask questions that roll around a newcomer’s mind in an agent demystified sort of way.

Up after Ari was illustrator Yuji Morales. Her unique and stunning art has won numerous awards. Harvesting Hope is one of my favorites. Can you imagine how beautifully she could illustrate “Sunshine’s Song?” Sadly for the writers of the world, I learned in a conversation later with Yuji that after finishing out her contracts she will stick to illustrating her own writing.

Watching Yuji’s thumbnail sketches transform into images and hearing how she blends mediums using her magic tools (pencil and eraser) then later photo shop and paint, building layers from the background forward, was fascinating. It made me want to be an artist. To hear her in her charming way say that she did not think she could draw anything at one point inspired the audience to its core. I swear you could hear “I think I can, I think I can” and the sound of wheels screeching up a track.

The evening concluded with a cocktail party giving me a chance to meet a couple of the savvy San Fran South organizers, Kristin and Naomi, who were quite warm and welcoming. What a fantastic job they do. I wondered if they start planning next year’s conference today.

After wandering the grounds in search of my room, I arrived back in my room. (I vow never to sleep in a twin bed again in this lifetime). I met my roomie Katharine Wright. The picture is Katharine hard at work editing her photos. Even though she had laryngitis and flashed me an index card saying she couldn’t talk, we managed to stay up until 1:00 talking.

I lay in bed thinking how thankful I was to have been touched by so many creative, talented people during the course of the day.

Next post: Day 2 at Asilomar…when I check into a hotel room.

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