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16 April 2014

Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival Wrap-up

Last week I finally got to experience the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi - slightly outside of my typical roaming area. I was especially excited to meet Ellen Ruffin of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, where some of my work is archived. She headed up the event and boy can she throw a party!
      My mission was two-fold. I was there to represent the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators as we (Southern Breeze region members) transition representation to the newly formed Louisiana/Mississippi region and host a get-together one night. (Mississippi used to be part of our region.)
     For those interested in volunteering - it's not just about SCBWI, events like these are also a great opportunity to showcase your own work. I was able to proudly feature A BIRD ON WATER STREET as well as the MFA in Writing and Illustrating program at Hollins University where I teach each summer.

     Heather, Jo, and Laurel Snyder gave a talk on "The Book in You." I also gave a talk on "Saving the Earth, One Book at a Time." I'm still new to talking about ABOWS so I was a wee bit nervous. But I got great comments from everybody. (That was followed by a book signing which was prepared so nicely!)

      I also got to meet the fantastic Regional Advisors in charge of Louisiana/Mississippi. Here's our gang: Heather Montgomery (our ARA), Pat Hefler, Cheryl Mathis, Jo Kittinger (our RAE), and me. (And Virginia Howard - not shown.)

     The keynotes were folks I've rarely if ever had the chance to hear: Christopher Paul Curtis (such a nice guy), Kathy Appelt (so gracious), and M.T. (Tobin) Anderson. I had to get a book signed by him! (And of course, I forgot to bring all the books I already own by all these wonderful people - gads.) I had to leave Friday morning so sadly missed Leda Schubert (love her!) and David Small and Sarah Stewart. (We're trying to get David and his wife to come speak to our region - cross your fingers it works out!)
     Sarah Frances Hardy (below, left) and Katie Anderson (below, right) are dear friends who I've gotten to see rise up in the biz with fantastic book deals of their own. I couldn't be a bigger cheerleader for them both and was thrilled to attend their talk, "From Brain to Book: The Publishing Process in Ten Easy Steps." They did such a great job and we hope to have them speak at our WIK conference soon!

     Of course, that meant I had to miss Sarah C. Campbell's talk on "Finding Fractals/Making Fractals" - she was just on my blog too. But Heather and I tried to divide and conquer since they were speaking at the same time. Pah!
      It was also amazing to be able to help celebrate the winners and honor winners of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and Illustrator Awards. (I've been invited for years but finally got to attend the official party!) I got to congratulate fellow EMLA author (we're represented by the same agency - the Erin Murphy Literary Agency) Pat Zietlow Miller in person for SOPHIE'S SQUASH (Honor Winner) - I featured her on my blog recently. What a well-deserving book!
I also got to meet the awesome Linda Davich (I LOVE YOU, NOSE, I LOVE YOU, TOES!), Amy Dyckman (TEA PARTY RULES), and Christian Robinson (RAIN!) - who was way younger than I expected for his amazing and mature artwork. (I featured his book, JOSEPHINE, recently and I think he's going to be around for a while!) Here I am with Pat, Linda, one of the committee heads (sorry!), and Christian at their awards banquet in the lovely train depot downtown.

     I hate that I didn't get a photo with Ellen. But all said, it was an excellent affair, and I was surrounded by friends (which is really why I love to go to conferences and festivals above all else). Ellen and all the organizers did a bang-up job - truly. THANK YOU's to all! If you ever get the chance to go, I can highly recommend the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival!

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