Thursday, June 23, 2011

SCBWI Team Blog: First-time Attendee Pre-conference Interview

As part of our Team Blog interviews, I'll be chatting with several people (published and not) who will be attending an international SCBWI conference for the first time this summer. Those of us who have attended before know it can be both exciting and overwhelming.

This year SCBWI will be offering an opportunity to attended a First-time Attendee Orientation just prior to the open of the conference on August 4. The 45 minute session will provide a bit a of peek into the weekend and offer some insight on how to make the most of conference. If you're already registered, watch your email for more details.

When I inquired on Twitter about who was attending for the first time, Patti Gabrielson was the first to raise her virtual hand, and it was my pleasure to invite her here for a quick chat.

Welcome to Cuppa Jolie, Patti. This will be the first time I've interviewed a first-time conference attendee here. So, thank you for taking the plunge with me. I certainly wish we were in my living room so I could share a true cuppa with you.

Can you share with us a little bit about yourself?

I am attempting to get into illustrating children's books. I started this journey about seven years ago. Like a silly rookie, I had an idea for a children's book when my daughter was about 2 yrs old. I thought I'd write it, draw some pictures and boom. . . "they'd" start calling me, wanting to give me millions of dollars.

About two years ago my journey became more realistic. That's when I joined the San Diego chapter of SCBWI. I am now on a much more realistic path. I have a better understanding of the steps to take and how to take them. My portfolio isn't quite ready, but I'm planning on showing it at the L.A. Conference, along with a book dummy of that idea I had seven or more years ago.

Sounds as though the San Diego Chapter has already been of great benefit to you. I'm guessing then that you've attended regional conferences and events.

Our monthly meetings have been both inspirational and informative. We've had speakers such as Literary Agent, Kelly Sonnack with the Angela Brown Literary Agency talk about contracts. . . before you sign. A panel of some of our self published authors discussed the pro's and cons of self publishing (which runs through many of our minds). Author/Illustrator D.J. MacHale gave a very entertaining presentation at a meeting. Joy Chu of attends all of our meetings and gives us fantastic advice on a monthly basis. And author, Nancy Sanders, was an amazing speaker at one of our meetings. The chapter meetings offer all of this plus so much more.

If all of that doesn't get you excited to write or draw, we also had a one-day conference with literary agents and editors that filled our day with advice, information and insight to the publishing world. And for the illustrators, award winning artist, David Diaz, provided portfolio reviews, more information and humor.

And then there was a workshop this past weekend. We (illustrators) got to spend four fabulous hours with Priscilla Burris as she, and Joy Chu, went over portfolio standards for submission and advice for the L.A. conference. It was so cool!

What I have a hard time believing is that everyone in the world of children's books is so willing to help each other. SCBWI seems like such a well oiled wheel. Everybody is so kind, happy and energetic. As I told my husband, "I've found my peeps".

You have great things happening there in the San Diego Chapter! And I agree, there are no better people than those in children's books and SCBWI. It's a huge reason I LOVE to go the the international conferences, especially the summer conference which is quite social.

What made you decide to go to this summer's conference in L.A.? (It's the 40th anniversary, too. Lots in store!)

I reached the point where I had to stop procrastinating and just go for it. We had just finished our one day conference in February. I was still jumping with excitement, when I decided that I needed to take the next step. The point of no return. (Oh, what have I done!)

You've signed yourself up for a great time, loads of new friends, and a wonderful learning experience plus a super dose of inspiration.

Is there a particular session or part of the conference you are most looking forward to?

Oh my gosh, to pick just one? Many artists have his/her styles well developed. But it's been years since I've drawn on a regular basis. So Monday's Illustrators Intensive is going to be very cool for me. To watch these incredible artists do their thing will be so fun.

I'm also so excited to find out all that I can about e-books and apps. I work digitally and I'm ready to jump into the new digital horizons.

I'm glad you mentioned the Intensives, as this is a new format to the summer conference. And, in case you missed it, Team Blog member Jaime Temairik posted details about the Illustrator Intensive and she also has several great interviews with the faculty. Check 'em out.

But here's the big question: Do you have your pajamas picked out for the 40 Winks Ball?

It's odd, but none of the stores seem to have a pajama section of big, bright, slightly obnoxious pj's. Go figure. But if I can find it, I'll be the one wearing orange and white polka-dot jammies.

Ah, orange and white polka-dot jammies. Appropriate for you! (Check out Patti's website and you'll know why.) I'm so glad to hear you'll be there! It's an event not to be missed.

Do you have one main worry or question about being at the conference for the first time?

ONE? I'd say I have about one hundred. There will be so many attendees that have been doing this for a while, with such great talent. I guess my main worry is that my work will look so lame next to theirs. But I know that's just part of the game!

Not lame, just different. And who would their work to look like another illustrator's. Only you can do Patti!

Thank you so much for chatting with me, Patti. You already have a new friend from the conference and it hasn't even happened yet. I look forward to meeting you in person, and seeing your work.

Let's have a cuppa something together while in L.A.!

If you haven't registered for the conference here's where you need to GO.


Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Nice to hear a newbie to the conference perspective! (You're gonna have a great time.) Thanks to you both,

PattiGabrielson said...


You are a great interviewer! Thanks so much for taking the time to do what you do.

@Lee, thanks. I'm really excited for this!


Patricia Morris Buckley said...

Wow Jolie- this was a great article -- so inspirational to anyone who is thinking of attending the summer conference (or as we call it in our home, "Mommy's vacation").

It's also great to hear that the events we hold in San Diego really do impact others. Go SCBWI!

Thanks for the post!

Cuppa Jolie said...

Thanks, Lee.

Patti, thanks for raising your hand first. :)

Patricia, thanks for stopping by. Glad the great work your doing in San Diego could be highlighted.

See you all in LA!

Joanna said...

This was great, many thanks. SCBWI11 will be my first ever write's conference and i am coming over from France... very excited and nervous too. I do have a question, though, if I may? I have sound up for one of the round tables on Monday and have 3 PB manuscripts at various stages and don't know which to bring... the best (already been through a professional edit) or the one that is least polished? Thanks for any tips.


Cuppa Jolie said...

Hi, Joanna! And welcome. I look forward to meeting you and hope you will join me at the Orientation.

As far as your question, I would suggest you bring your strongest manuscript. Any time you have the chance to get your work in front of an editor or agent you want to put your best foot forward. The feedback you get on your polished work will likely help you to improve those manuscripts you continue to work on.

Hope that helps.

Joanna said...


Many thanks for answering my query and confirming what I thought was probably the case. I will most certainly be joining you on the orientation and look forward to meting you.


Carter Higgins said...

Call me a paranoid eager beaver...or just excited...but if I registered after the early bird deadline will I still get an email about the Orientation?

Found your blog this weekend through Twitter...I'm so glad I followed you because this morning you used my all-time favorite word: eyeball.


Cuppa Jolie said...

Hey, Carter! No need to be paranoid, but eager's great! I'm glad you found me. You haven't missed out on a thing. In fact, an email is just getting ready to be sent out. So watch your inbox. Of course, if you don't see something within the next day, please ping me here or on twitter and I'll make sure you're in the know.