Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 SCBWI Summer Conference LA

This Thursday, August 2nd, I’ll be hopping on a plane to Los Angeles for my sixth SCBWI Summer Conference.  (Yikes! Sixth!? Where has the time gone??) With a myriad of stellar workshops, seminars, keynotes, lunch and dinner dates, and crazy dancing under my belt, I thought I’d share some information to get you breezing through the four days.

Whether you’re a first time conference attendee or veteran, hopefully my vast knowledge on one of the most informative, beneficial and enjoyable writer’s conferences will help you feel more at ease:

For the past few years, I’ve arrived early Thursday to get ahead of the game. This allows a few of us to grab our hotel room and settle in as well as gives us the opportunity to really *see* Los Angeles. With a jam-packed four-day schedule, there’s not much time later on to jet out on the town.

For more information, definitely say hello to the fellow concierge folks – they are EXCELLENT for recommending places and restaurants in the surrounding LA area, calling in reservations or get a taxi.  The computers in front of the concierge allow you to check-in for your flight and print off your ticket as well.

Los Angeles Area
I recommend Don Antonio’s for an excellent Mexican meal complete with tangy salsa and margaritas!

Toast is a great breakfast café and Ketchup has a great classy ambiance to its red and white dinner theme. 

Santa Monica Pier is great for walking along the beach, taking a dip or checking out the local farmer’s market.

Rodeo Drive is walking distance (but definitely a hike!) from our hotel but if you do, make sure you have plenty of time to get there and back as well as shop!

STK is a classy downtown bar where I ran into actor Chad Michael Murray the first year I went to the conference!

All are within a taxi ride from the hotel.

Take part in the Wine & Cheese Party/Book Signing – it’s an excellent way to meet new authors who recently published a book as well as mingle with other attendees.  (Fellow SCBWI –IL member Cherie Colyer will be there signing copies of her novel, Embrace!)

After you rise and shine, you have the option to wither away in the long snake-like line to grab a delicious latte at the hotel Starbucks or opt for the hotel coffee in the basement.  Words of advice: if you go for the Starbucks each morning like I do, plan to get up at least 20 minutes earlier to stand in line or hopefully, beat the crowd.  (You’ll also get a better seat in the main auditorium.)  HOWEVER, a few of us have discovered it’s quicker to go to the Starbucks right outside of the hotel (to the left) across the street.

The Hyatt Regency Century Plaza shopping mall next door provides a plethora of lunch and dinner options ranging from The Bread Bar (think Corner Baker or Panera) to Pink Taco to Rock Sugar (thai/sushi), as well as many other smaller eateries.  Not far from The Bread Bar is Gelsons, a seemingly underground grocery store that comes in handy when you need snacks or beverages for your hotel room or to munch on during the conference. (And is also where some people ran into Paula Abdul last year!)

The corporate building across the street (use the underground tunnel to safely get there) is only open during the work week, so on Friday and Monday, you may want to venture over there for some delicious cuisine and outdoor seating. 

Sandwiches and beverages are also offered for a small fee on the lunch cart in the hotel.

The X-bar at the hotel is perfect for networking with others, getting a drink to wind down or to taste the delicious appetizers such as the Tuna Tar Tar – a staple each time I attend.   The restaurant café, though I have only eaten there twice, has great sushi featuring their own sous chef.

What To Bring (Aside from the Norm)
*A light jacket or sweater for the cold rooms
*Your laptop – inspiration could strike at any moment and you may want to take notes or whip out your manuscript (and don’t forget the charger!)
*A notebook and pen
*Any business/writer/illustrator cards you may have
*A jump drive in case you need to save something (or you can always e-mail it to yourself)
*For us Illinoisans, bring a penny to place in your name tag to distinguish us from the rest!
*Print off your schedule ahead of time so you can figure out which workshops to attend (or download the iPhone app).  I usually go over this with friends during the four hour flight to Cali  – then if there are ones you want to attend but cannot, someone else may be attending that can swap notes with you.
* Don’t forget your swimsuit for some R & R out back in the pool or hot tub!
*Your Saturday night party costume! You’ll be surprised at how creative people can be!

Helpful Last Minute Tips
*Forgot to print something? Want to make a copy? The floor just above the main basement has a small printing shop for you to print, make copies, or use the Internet for a small fee. (Internet access is not free for conference attendees except when in the basement area).

*Bring lots of cash – the SCBWI bookstore sells a bunch of SCBWI affiliated gear (bags, jackets, coffee cups, DVDs, etc.) as well as keynote speaker and author books. If you use cash to purchase any items, you will receive a lovely discount. If you use a credit card, you still receive a discount but a smaller one.  So save room in your suitcase for some awesome reads!

Veterans, if I forgot anything, please feel free to add! 

Have fun, and I hope to meet many of you there! :-)