back to reality, and on to new heights

Well, I'm back now from the SCBWI Summer Conference... it ended yesterday. I thought I would write some of the thoughts and information I took away from it.
First of all, it was a really fun experience. There's nothing like being surrounded with about 1,000 people who are excited about the same thing you are--creating words and art for children & young adults. It makes you feel so empowered, like you have all these people behind you. You're not alone in what you're trying to do. And the speakers are one inspiration after another. A good place to see some photos and commentary of the conference can be found at the summer conference blog here.
Here's some of what I listened to:

-Stephen Malk (agent) talk on "How To Build Your Illustration Career", which included practical advice like subscribing to the Horn Book Magazine on publishing, finding a career model to look at, different ways of getting my work out there using the web, etc.
-Editors Panel that talked about the changing market and current success stories
-Elizabeth Parisi (Exec. Art Director for Scholastic) talk on Book Covers, which talked about how book covers have become more simple and iconic. Also talked about how most middle grade covers are illustrated, but Young Adult tend to be photo.
-Karen Cushman (author) talk about her way of creating. Some good advice like instead of the old "write what you know", write what you wonder about.
-Krista Marino & Anica Rissi (editors) talk about what's successful in the teen market right now and how the business has changed in the teen realm.
-Holly Black (author, Spiderwick Chronicles) talk about creating good stories
-Alice Pope (editor) talk about practical online promotion: blogging, Facebook, etc.
-Richard Peck (author) talk about why we do what we do.
-Marla Frazee (illustrator,author) talk about creating pictures from an author's words.
-Susan Sherman (art director) talk about looking at great master's art of the past to inform our present work.
-Karen Cushman (author) talk about researching for historical stories.
-Kathleen Duey (author) talk about how to use what we've learned at the Conference after we leave.

As you can see, quite a lot on information. I also participated in the Portfolio Showcase. It was a great opportunity to get my work seen by lots of people, including editors and art directors. I hope to see some good things come out of it and I had a couple of good conversations with people about my art.
I also had a really good time over the whole conference in being there with some of the members of my monthly illustrators' group, OC Illustrators. In fact, our little group is gaining more recognition. Last year's winner of Best Portfolio in the showcase was one of our members, Pat Cantor! Well, this year's winner was our very own Israel Sanchez! Israel and I were both at CSUF together and his work is so good though very different from mine. Congratulations, Israel!! He will be flown out as Pat was to NY to meet with art directors and I expect big things to come of it. I'm definitely in the right illustration critique group!
Well, that's the wrap up. Time for me to try to process some of what I learned and get some stuff done.