Dear Person (who should be) sitting to my left at this year’s SCBWI Intensive:
I apologize I can’t be there. That I can’t sit by your side, your right side, during this year’s Intensives. I attended the first. I attended the second. Both were a great experience, and you shouldn’t miss it for the world. But both times, the person to my left, hit the big time in our writerly world—you know, with one of those elusive book contracts (oh yah, and an agent).
In 2007, an adorable woman sat to my left and shared the first 500 words of ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER (May 2009). I loved her writing and we hit it off, even in such a strange and stressful situation. Ann Leal Haywood and I bumped into each other constantly over the weekend and struck up a friendship. We then realized we had an enormous (scary enormous) amount in common. Like the fact that we were both teachers. And that we both used to teach in the same school district. And that we student taught at the same school. And that we student taught the same grade WITH the same mentor teacher. Crazy, huh? Talk about small world. Well, I knew that Ann was going places, so when I saw in Publishers Lunch that she sold her book, the same one I heard at the Intensive, I did a little dance for her. Really, I did.
In 2008, another adorable woman sat to my left. I read first. It went well. Very well. Liz Szabla (Feiwel and Friends) was the editor leading our table. She asked if she could keep my writing sample. My time was over (phew!) and ended on a great note (yay!), so I sat back and relaxed, listening to the others. Jill Alexander, sitting to my left, was next. She read the first 500 words of her novel THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTRY (titled something different at the time) and I knew I had another star sitting to my left. AGAIN. Two years in a row. After that first session, I told Jill that I had no doubt things would happen for her and that she was sitting in a good spot. Literally, it was the spot to my left, the lucky spot. Sure enough, Jill met her agent later that day and sold her manuscript to Feiwel and Friends. Watch for her book to hit shelves this fall.
Okay, person-who-should-be-sitting-to-my-left this year. I know it’s not me, but this has been fun. And I really, really wish that I was meeting you this year. Both of these wonderful woman have stayed in touch and had faith that I would get there, too. And I am getting there. Because of last year’s Intensives, specifically Liz Szabla, I now have a complete manuscript and have signed with Stimola Literary Studio.
So to the person who should be sitting to my left in 2009, I’m so very sorry I can’t be your right-hand-good-luck charm. But GO and ENJOY. SCBWI conferences are amazing events, filled with possibilities. And when you’re there, take a breath and don’t be afraid to chat with your fellow writers and illustrators. You never know who might be sitting to your right (or left!).
PS. Go read Jill’s latest blog (a new blog!) post about last year’s intensive and read about the other super-cool writer Kristin O’Donnell Tubbs who was sitting at our table, too.