Sunday, April 17, 2011


Every year I put the SCBWI Summer Conference dates on the calendar. Every year, at some point, I cross them off. Maybe next year. The reasons for crossing off the dates? It's a long way to travel, a chunk of change and a lot of logistics, but even more importantly - it's a huge commitment I don't want to make unless I'm ready and the conference line-up fits me.

This year my portfolio is more ready than ever. Never have I anticipated the opening of SCBWI Summer Conference registration the way I did this year. I was so eager to see the line-up. Would this be the year? April 15th was the day to find out.

That morning I went about my business, but had my eye on the clock as it ticked closer to opening time at 10:00. The conference web page was already on my computer. Twitter was alive with the same kind of anticipation. And then…finally…it was 10:00. ACK! Nothing happened. I stared even harder at the screen while clicking refresh. Refresh! Refresh! Nothing. With some navigation I finally got to another page with the information I was waiting for.

The workshop that immediately jumped out at me was Creating Book Cover Art by Laurent Linn. Exactly what I've been looking for and as a bonus I know how great Laurent Linn is at presenting his expertise in an encouraging way. There were also speakers like Jerry Pinkney, Paul O. Zelinsky and Richard Jesse Watson - all illustrators who have elements in their work I greatly admire. As if that weren't enough - the list of illustrators, authors and publishers went on and on to fill up 3 full days. It was an amazing line-up, but I knew it would be the fourth day of optional illustrator intensives that made the final decision.

Clicking to the Intensives Page I found that 7 illustrators would be giving 7 hours of demonstrations with time for questions. HOLY SMOKES! As I saw the names, the dates etched themselves deeper and deeper into my calendar. For me, Kadir Nelson topped the list. His illustrations in Ellington Was Not a Street, Coretta Scott and Henry's Freedom Box are favorites of mine. If he alone were giving a demonstration, that would have been enough, but Jerry Pinkney, Paul O. Zelinsky, Richard Jesse Watson, Marla Frazee, David Small and Denise Fleming would also be giving demos. But wait! The list of demonstration moderators was equally impressive with E. B. Lewis, David Diaz, Priscilla Burris, Pat Cummings and Cecilia Yung.  I couldn't see straight!

Everything about the conference fit, just how the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program fit two years ago. And everything about the cost didn't fit. Just like the Mentor Program. Money can always be a reason for not doing something, but I don't think it's a good enough reason to give up before even trying - especially when the opportunity is so great. I pondered this as I stared at the registration form on the screen. It auto-filled from my SCBWI membership information. Just for fun, I clicked the conference options I wanted - Individual Portfolio Consultation, Juried Portfolio Showcase, Post-Conference Intensive for Illustrators. The cursor flashed, the submit button loomed large. I closed the window and walked away…four times. But I came back. And although I could feel that I was beginning to hyperventilate slightly, I hit the submit button, made sure my email receipt arrived and shut the computer.

A sense of elation filled me, along with a woozy hot feeling and the continuing urge to hyperventilate. (I think that woozy hot thing was because I was actually sick.) I still have to figure out how to pay for the conference, travel and lodging. Am I worried? Judging by the way I didn't sleep, yes. I was crunching numbers and formulating plans all night. I have some ideas and a month to figure it out before the penalties of canceling become too great.

So, here I am once again approaching a stream crossing like I did two years ago. Is it time to turn up the volume and take another chance on the unknown? Or will I dip a toe and go back to what's familiar? Stay tuned...


  1. Yippee! I'm so excited for you, Kristen. It sounds like so much fun and so much to learn.

  2. Thanks Angelia! I can't not go. It's too perfect. Lots of figuring, but I'll make it happen!