My People -- NY SCBWI 2011 -- by Katy

Katherine Longshore 2 Thursday, February 03, 2011
Touching down at New York’s La Guardia airport, I felt like a newbie.  New to New York, certainly (the last time I was there as a teenager with the Girl Scouts – not really the same sort of experience).  But a newbie conference-goer as well.  This was my first conference with a book deal.  It changed the whole experience.

I had entirely new criteria for the breakout sessions in which editors patiently spoke at length and answered questions.  Sometimes repeatedly.  But it seemed so much more necessary for the true newbies, people just starting out in the business, to have a chance that I just sat back and listened.  And remembered.

So for me, the emphasis, the true body of the conference shifted.  To the people. The writers and illustrators and agents and editors I met and with whom I had real conversations.  In those few short days (and nights) they enriched my life enormously, so I have to take a little time to mention them.

Jackie and Katy in Times Square
Donna and Bret, of course, were there for me every step of the way.  From breakfast before my very first meeting with my own agent, Catherine Drayton, through fabulous keynotes and occasionally enlightening breakout sessions to the high-flying performance of American Idiot (complete with Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt) on Broadway on Sunday night.

I’d met my roommate, Jackie Garlick, several times before, but hadn’t gotten to know her well until this weekend.  Boy, had I wasted my time!  Luckily, I feel now that I’ve known her for years (I think the late nights girl-chatting helped) and wish she didn’t live so far away.  I also wish I could attend the conference she’s planning in Niagara May 13-15 (at which our very own V. is going to be part of the faculty).  I wish I could be a conference junkie. 

I met three sister Apocalypsies, as well.  For those of you who don’t know, the Apocalypsies are a group of authors for young people whose books are debuting in 2012 (the year the Mayan calendar ends – thus the apocalypse).  I sat through most of the keynotes with AC Gaughen (author of SCARLET, a retelling of Robin Hood), and she didn’t seem embarrassed when I cried during Sara Zarr’s speech.  That’s a true friend.  Brodi Ashton (author of EVERNEATH, a modern Persephone tale) gave up eating dinner to come out for drinks with the “gang” late Saturday night.  And KM Walton (author of EVERYTHING’S NOT LOST, a contemporary YA about bullying and redemption) introduced me to writer friends and hugged me warmly when she left.  We never managed to have our own get together, but I’m so pleased I got to put real faces to names.

Tracy Clark, as always, offered a cheerful smile and encouragement.  I loved meeting Stasia Ward Kehoe and am even more excited to read AUDITION in October.  I met Christina Lee (blogger at Write-Brained), hugged Ellen Hopkins, had a wonderful conversation with picture book writer Aimee Reid.  More names, more faces, some I recognized, some were completely new to me.  The weekend was a whirlwind.  But one worth braving.

Sara Zarr seemed to be speaking directly to me when she said to find the people who will support you.  That you will know when you find the ones.  I know I’ve found some.  I’m lucky to know the Muses.  But I think my circle is expanding.  In layers, like an onion.  And for that I’m grateful.

But here I am.  Alone again.  And it’s good.

Because as Linda Sue Park said on the last day, in the last keynote, it’s all about the work.  I love conferences.  I’m so grateful to all the people who gave their time and friendship so willingly and graciously.  And thanks to them, their support and encouragement, I’m ready to get back to work.


Ahhhhhh! So great to get to know you better too, Katy! And you're right...about the circle, I know mine just added a new layer/ring??? I too feel like we've known each other forever, and am feeling the alone thing now I'm home, but like I said before, you're stuck with me now.

Oh, and thanks for the Niagara Conference plug...smiling J

So great to hang out with you! Well worth missing dinner.

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