A Busy Bookish Los Angeles Trip

Right after my book launch celebration for THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST, I headed to Los Angeles for the annual Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Summer Conference and a bunch of other bookish activities.

Henry Lien, Kim Tomsic and Samantha M Clark at The Last Bookstore.

Henry Lien, Kim Tomsic and me at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles.

I’ve been attending the SCBWI LA conference for the past five years as the Regional Advisor of the Austin chapter. At the event, I get training for my RA volunteer duties, swap notes with other RAs, and check out potential speakers for the events I’m organizing. It’s always a busy and amazing weekend, but this year, it was even more busy and amazing because I was there for the first time not just as an RA but also a published author. 🙂

I flew in early Wednesday morning and visited Los Angeles bookstores to meet the booksellers, thank them for carrying THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST and sign store copies. It was my first time at Vroman’s and Skylight Books, and these are now among my favorite indies. Vroman’s in Pasadena in huge and covered with fantastic decorations. The children’s area has a wonderful mural on one wall and paper ships flying from the ceiling. Skylight Books has an eclectic and diverse selection, carefully curated by the staff. And the best part: The store has a tree growing in its middle! Since the environment is so key to my book, it seems perfect that THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST is there. I also visited the Barnes & Noble at The Grove, which is massive and was somewhere my husband and I visited a lot when we lived in L.A. I never dreamed that one day a book of mine would be in that store, and now it has signed copies!

Thursday was SCBWI training, including me teaching other RAs in two sessions. Then the conference began early Friday morning with a wonderful keynote from author Daniel Jose Older. Other highlights included keynotes with illustrator Ekua Holmes, author Linda Mullaly Hunt, author Libba Bray, and the conversation with author and SCBWI executive director Lin Oliver and the amazing author Lois Lowry.

And that night, for the first time, I was able to sell THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST at the conference Member Book Sale. SCBWI provides refreshments as conference attendees shop and chat with the authors and illustrators. I’ve bought so many fantastic books over the years at this event. It was a thrill to be able to finally participate as a seller and not just a shopper. 🙂

Saturday morning, I skipped over to another amazing Los Angeles indie, The Last Bookstore, where I taught a free kids writing workshop with fellow middle-grade authors Henry Lien (PEASPROUT CHEN: FUTURE LEGEND OF SKATE AND SWORD) and Kim Tomsic (THE 11:11 WISH). We revealed 12 Magical Writing Tips to a host of fun young readers and future writers, including a birthday party. Afterwards we answered questions and signed copies of our books, then treated ourselves to a tour of the shop. The Last Bookstore is like a museum, fun house and bookstore all rolled into one. Next time you’re in LA, don’t miss it!

Sunday and Monday I listened to more amazing keynotes and breakout sessions at SCBWI’s conference, then flew home Monday afternoon filled with inspiration and exhausted.

Next year’s SCBWI Summer conference will be Aug. 9-12. I hope I’ll see you there.

Check out more pictures from my LA trip…

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