If you haven’t already signed up for or — gasp! — heard about the Austin SCBWI conference next month, take a look at this. I understand that this may not be for you — not everybody likes to have a great time, get inspired, and learn a lot.

Not that I’m trying to convince you or anything, but here are a few of my more memorable experiences from local conferences past:

  • During a critique session with an editor, the perfect ending to my then-unfinished middle-grade manuscript popped into my head — right then, while I was talking to the guy. It was all I could do not to cut the conversation short and go sequester myself so I could scribble it down.
  • At that same conference, I believe, a Candlewick editor mentioned that another editor was looking for a manuscript about a goldfish. I’m assuming that other Candlewick editors also spread the word, because that editor got what she was looking for.
  • One year, the highlight was hearing the terrific back-and-forth — and seeing it in the form of marked-up manuscripts — between an author and her editor. It was a rare, funny glimpse into what can be a very personal relationship, and I found it as inspiring as could be. I wanted one of those relationships.
  • At my very first SCBWI conference, I tried to foist a manuscript off on the visiting editor at the end of the day. Yes, I was that guy. And while the editor could have justifiably offered any number of colorful suggestions as to what I could do with my manuscript, she politely declined for the reason that she was flying directly to the Caribbean for vacation. (The manuscript, by the way, was The Day-Glo Brothers — the 6,200-word incarnation. And when I met the editor again years later — at ALA this past January — I took the opportunity to apologize for my greenhornish lapse in protocol.)
  • By the time of last year’s conference, I’d started my blog, so you can read my account of that day here, here, and here.