I had my very first keynote speech earlier this month, and I am still buzzing! SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) has chapters all over the United States and the world. The Prairie Illinois chapter had an amazing lineup this year, and I'm not just tooting my own horn here. They had established authors as well as up-and-coming authors (<-- that's me!) in addition to publishing-industry professionals like my art director for TUMBLE. I was really humbled to be included in the lineup.
Michael Leali was the first keynote speaker, and I am glad I didn't know that going in because my anxiety may have taken over. Leali is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel THE CIVIL WAR OF AMOS ABERNATHY, and his keynote speech was so very moving and inspiring. I was able to be a fly on the wall for a few of the sessions and learn new things.
At the faculty dinner, I finally met the lovely and personable Sarah Aronson who cross-marketed her book BRAND NEW BUBBE with my book ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN last year. I got to meet illustrator Denise Holmes, too! We've been internet friends since I started making my way back into the art and design world in 2016 or so! Natasha Tarpley shared a bench and some fresh air with me. Denise and Natasha, thanks for being great lunchtime buddies!
I was even able to reconnect with my friend Beth Schneider who lives in the area. Beth and I exhibited our surface pattern and illustration work at Blueprint and Surtex pre-pandemic. Feels like a lifetime ago.
The entire SCBWI IL team, faculty members, and membership were so incredibly welcoming. I couldn't have asked for a better first-time-faculty experience. November is shaping up to be quite a month!