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Juana Martinez-Neal

New York, New York

 

New York

A visit to New York City the Winter of 2012

 

Oh, New York! I’ve been there a couple of times but this time I fell completely in love with the city.

While there, I attended SCBWI NY Conference. It was good and had a few personal highlights. Listening to Sophie Blackall on Friday was definitely one of them. Her presentation was moving, inspiring, personal and so very humbling. And thanks to my traveling and illustration buddy, Debra Pehrson Haun, I got to shake Sophie’s hand and tell her how much I love her work. Wee!

Another highlight was listening to 12 (out of 13) of the Book Maker’s Dozen on Sunday. A Q&A moderated by Laurent Linn, Art Director of Simon and Schuster. Questions were insightful. Answers were revealing and very often insanely hilarious. The last question to all of them was: “What are the lessons learned? What do you wish you would have known then?” I heard some brilliant quotes worth sharing:

  • Peter Brown – “I’m grateful to everything that happened. I learned from everything.”
  • Brian Floca – “Find a mentor, an editor that you like and cultivate that relationship.”
  • Sean Qualls – “Take the time to embrace the people that embrace your work because they see the potential, the raw talent in it.”

And right after the second “embrace” and before “potential”, I got the third highlight of the Conference: John Rocco embracing Sean Qualls like a child hugs his daddy, with all the strength he has, with all of his body, with the head contortioning so he touches all of daddy’s self. It was so very sweet. Funny, too. But above all, sweet. A moment I will remember from this conference FOR-EVER. I loved it!

Chris Crutcher’s speech was incredible and ended with a standing ovation, impromptu appearance by Henry Winkler was fantastic, Dan Yaccarino’s presentations were impeccable, and, Sean Qualls’ presence was regal. Yes, it was. As much as I wanted to shake Sean’s hand and tell him how much I also love his work, I couldn’t find him after Sunday’s Q&A.

And now a quick list of what resonated the loudest during those 2.5 days of SCBWI NY:

  • “This community is tiny so PLAY NICE.”
  • “Be sure your friends are brutal.” John Rocco
  • “It’s about the long run and not the sprint.” Deb Shapiro
  • “Grassroots. Cultivate channels locally.” Dan Yaccarino
  • “You need talent and determination. And you need grit. Grit is what will get you there.” Kathryn Erskine
  • “The truth that you know is the one that will make you published.” Chris Crutcher

There were also the dinners. There were the lunches. The drinks, the lines, the cabs. The people hugging, yelling, taking charge, trying to learn, getting overloaded, using columns as force-fields. Lots of sub-stories that make the Conference so much of what it really is. I wish I could tell you more about those but I’m too often caught between estimating the distance to my closest column and getting overloaded.

There was one quick lunch at a pub, though. I got to talk briefly with someone really sweet, intelligent and thoughtful. I’m glad I did and I hope that next time I get to talk to her a little longer. One on one. Because, you know what? She seems really awesome. That lunch gave me highlight number four of #NY12SCBWI.

The following days, we checked off all of the items on the NY list. Sunday afternoon, we got to go to the Met. Monday we went to the MOMA. Tuesday we walked Central Park and went to see “War Horse” at the Lincoln Center. The play was absolutely incredible and I fell in love with that goose! Need restaurant recommendations? Try eating at Tao, Cacio e Pepe and Le Paris Bistrot. They were all amazing.

And now, I can happily say NY was schweeeeeet!

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Debra Pehrson Haun and I at SCBWI New York – Winter 2012

 

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Children's book author and illustrator, mami of three, wife, sun aficionado, amateur singer and Margarita lover born in Lima, Peru and living in sunny AZ.

Comments

  • February 21, 2012
    reply

    This is such a wonderful post Juana! I wish I could have been at the conference too, but reading about your experience there is a close second! :)

  • February 21, 2012
    reply

    Looks like you really soaked it in, thank you for sharing!

  • February 22, 2012
    reply

    What a fabulous post, Juana! Love all of the pics, and I can hear the sounds as you’ve written this beautifully. Oh to hear the speakers and soak all of it in, it must’ve been at times so overwhelming, but I’m glad that you got to enjoy the city, the conference and the food and museums (and play!)..that is awesome! Thank you for sharing!!

  • February 22, 2012
    reply

    Lovely post, Juana! So happy that I got to meet you. :)

  • February 22, 2012
    reply

    I always love living vicariously through other conference-goers’ (and travellers’) experiences. :-) Thanks for this great post!

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