I’ve discovered a new favorite conference and — HOW CONVENIENT — it’s in my town, Spokane. This was the first year I attended this Inland Northwest SCBWI event and it was sublime!

Why you ask? Because it was small, with only 70 or so writers and faculty which made for ample opportunity to mingle and connect without feeling overwhelmed or lost. That and it didn’t hurt that I just rolled out of my own bed and went. No airfare, no hotel, & excellent company.

Many thanks to Rachel Hamby and her team who put together the conference and gave me the opportunity to volunteer. Getting behind the scenes was amazing and I loved working the book sale table!

I met authors like Martha Brockenbrough whose book, THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH is romantic and filled with jazz and Seattle in 1937. Martha gave a fantastic keynote speech that moved me to tears. She is one of those speakers for whom time stands still when they talk. She was funny and insightful and if you have the chance to hear her speak, YOU MUST GO!

There were local Spokane area authors like Kelly Milner Halls (who is giving a talk at Auntie’s bookstore in town on 10/2. Hope to see you there!) And I even had time to talk with the three of agents that attended, Adria Goetz, Cortney Radocaj, and Laurel Symonds. Try getting time to talk with an agent at a larger conference and not seem like a stalker, cornering them in the bathroom.

The best part of hitting the SCBWI conference was getting to interact with authors and illustrators at all stages of their writing journey. It’s really made me want to reach out to help aspiring writers make connections, and to give back to the community that has given me so, so, much.

I’m definitely going to the next one. And who knows, with THE NAMES WE TAKE coming out next year, maybe at the next conference I’ll get to be on a panel. SQUEEEEEE!