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After the SCBWI conference, Aaron and I stayed in L.A. a few days to go sightseeing.

Wednesday was our ocean-themed day. We lunched at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., toured the Aquarium of the Pacific, explored tidal pools near the Palos Verdes Estates, and stood in the Pacific Ocean at Hermosa Beach.

We spent Thursday at Universal Studios (where we took pictures with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee!) and Universal City.

Then, on Friday, we met a friend for lunch and saw the Walk of Fame, the footprints and handprints at the TCL Chinese Theatre, and the Hollywood Sign.

We were total tourists and had an AMAZING time. Here are some of my favorite photographs from the trip.

downloadPriscilla Petting Shark

Penguins in Window

Aaron by the ocean

Down in the Tidal Pool

Look a crab

Crab in Tidal Pool

ocean

Feet in the ocean

Aaron digging at the beach

Universal StudiosMeeting Robots

After Jurassic Park

Jaws

CHinese Theatre

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Thanks for the memories, Los Angeles!

We’re finally home after an incredible week in Los Angeles. I’ll save the vacation part of our trip for another post, but here are some thoughts and pictures from the 42nd Annual SCBWI Summer Conference.

First! Some photographs of the snazziness that is the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza.

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While I was at the conference, Aaron was hard at work on his novel. Here’s how he spent the weekend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo amount of research or planning can prepare a first-time attendee for the magnitude of this conference. Reading “1,200 attendees” on a screen is an entirely different thing than walking into a ballroom filled with 1,200 people.

To quote Giuseppe Castellano, “Damn!”

Fortunately, I had a conference buddy. I was lucky enough to meet Alvina Kwong, a fellow writer and illustrator, on the way to our orientation session.

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Orientation is also where we met the talented Andy Musser! Here we are at the Black and White Gala on Saturday night.

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Later Friday morning we met Lisa Woods and found Suzanne Del Rizzo, a longtime Twitter pal.

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With friends, the crowd felt a little less scary, the faculty a little less intimidating.

Most of my conference prep was devoted to creating and assembling my portfolio for the Portfolio Showcase. On Saturday afternoon, I carefully unpacked it from its case, took a deep breath, and handed it to the organizers. Here, too, the real-life version of the Showcase turned out to be much bigger and louder and more crowded than I imagined.

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After a couple of rows, we realized we wouldn’t see all of the portfolios in an hour, so we began searching for familiar names. We were puzzled because we couldn’t find Lisa’s or Andy’s portfolios anywhere. Then 6:30 rolled around and we found out why: Andy won a mentorship and Lisa won a Portfolio Honor Award!

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Perhaps the sweetest treat of the weekend was meeting my online critique partner Kathy Ellen Davis for the first time. Here we are with Singe Singe, social media expert and sock monkey extraordinaire.

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It turns out I’ve been mispronouncing Singe Singe’s name all these years. It’s not “Sing Sing” like the prison. The “i” has more of an “au” sound, and the “g” is soft like in orange. It took three full days for me to pronounce his name right, which is a little embarrassing. I think I need a pronunciation guide.

And because KE says you should always take a silly photo . . .

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While I don’t have a picture, I also met several members of the #kidlitart crew. It was such fun to finally chat in person and party with them at the Black and White Gala. That group can DANCE!

Oh, I also met Henry Winkler (a.k.a. The Fonz) at the Autograph Party. No big deal.

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Okay, so it was sort of a big deal.

Between the rises of the inspirational keynotes and the falls of doubt, the weekend felt a bit like riding Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios. A week later I’m still processing conference-related emotions and ideas. I am so thankful to Aaron for believing in my dreams and to the SCBWI organizers for putting together this incredible event.

Next time: Sightseeing!

Less than 48 hours from now we’ll be on our way to the SCBWI summer conference!

Following in the footsteps of my pal and critique partner Kathy Ellen Davis (whom I finally get to meet!), here are three tips for recognizing me in real life:

  1. I’ll be carrying a super cheesy owl tote bag. Part of the time I will also be wearing owl shoes.
  2. I am covered in freckles and moles. There are seventeen moles on my face alone. So if you spot a human with lots of dots, that may be me.
  3. I wiggle or bounce when I get excited. I’ll probably be doing a lot of that in L.A.

Oh, and here’s my picture. That might help.

I’ll be at the Illustrator’s Social Friday night followed by the #kidlitart tweet-up. I hope to see you there!