If there was one thing I didn’t like about the amazing SCBWI LA conference it was that there were too many fantastic sessions on at the same time and I could only attend one of them. So on the first afternoon I attended Katie Davis‘ session on Podcasting Your Path to Success.

Podcasting was something I hadn’t really considered much but one of the things that appeals to me about it is that it’s just audio so if you’re self conscious about staring into a video camera, this could be the medium for you.

Unfortunately, there was only an hour for this session so Katie had to cram a lot in, but she did provide a great handout.

I’m still trying to get my head around all this so I can’t report much about it as yet but I have come to some conclusions. Podcasts have many benefits:

  1. They offer international coverage
  2. They are free
  3. They are educational
  4. They are exciting
  5. There are many free resources available to help you including and Talkshoe

Katie recommended another great resource for people interested in podcasting at

That night there was a PAL Member cocktail party and book sale where I sold about half the books I’d brought with me, my reassurance that coming close to the luggage limits was worth it.

This year’s SCBWI LA conference was a complete sellout for the first time ever. Over 1300 people were booked in to attend and 45 of these were international delegates (including me). Australia/New Zealand was sending the largest contingent ever (11 people).

On the first night, an international get together was held. It was great to meet fellow writers and illustrators from different parts of the world and hear about how they do things in their home country. I also got to meet online writing buddy from the Netherlands, Mina Witteman

Also on the Friday night there was a PAL booksale where published SCBWI authors and illustrators could sell their books.

I loved looking at all the different books and seeing how the styles vary so much from place to place.


Next day it was up at 6.30 and I went for a walk up and down Avenue of the Stars to try and clear my head. I ran into some minor trouble because the traffic lights all along the other side of the road had their buttons removed so I had to walk a fair way before I could cross back to my hotel.

Donna Jo Napoli on the big screen

First keynote speaker of the day was Donna Jo Napoli who talked about censorship in books and How Writing About Terrible Things Makes Your Reader A Better Person.

Seeing as I write issues-based contemporary YA her talk really resonated with me. She talked about how the number of requests to ban a book had increased 7 times since 1999.

It made me wonder whether more people were complaining or whether it was the fact that more books are now being published where authors tackle serious issues.

Donna Jo Napoli’s  talk was very moving. She talked about how books can help children in hardship. She called them the ‘unprotected children’.

When a child reads about another unprotected child, it can be wonderful – you realise you’re not alone. Children can blame themselves and feel guilty, feel unworthy if you are alone.

Then you meet someone in a book and you become that person in a book. You are not alone; it’s not your fault. Children see a good character in a book that bad things can happen to.

Most children don’t have the power to change their world. Don’t have control over people who are hurting them.

They read about someone in that situation who still holds on to dignity and can be helpful. It helps you find a way to live decently inside your world, even if it’s just inside your head.

These books are of crucial important to unprotected child.

Donna also talked about how books that handle difficult subject matter can be useful in creating empathy in children who come from a privileged background.

Her Keynote speech was the first of so many inspirational pieces that day. David Small who spoke next also moved me to tears, but more about that tomorrow.

Happy Writing:)



  1. Thank you so much for the mention of as a resource for podcasting with a link back to my site. That was very generous of you.

    BTW, You mentioned some other services out there and you mentioned TalkShop. That’s actually TalkShoe at

    So glad to hear that Katie got your mind thinking about the possibilities that exist with podcasting. If you get a chance, please check out

    Hope you have a blessed week.

  2. Many thanks, Dee and Cliff.

    I’m sure podcasting is fun as well as useful when you are enthusiastic about your subject matter. It’s definitely something I’ll consider more seriously when the present rush is over – new deadline, Aug 31.

    I also greatly appreciate your other conference reports, Dee. I think I should print them off and put them on a noticeboard behind my computer screen.

    All best wishes


  3. Thanks, Alison,

    Not everyone is happy with the way I ended Letters to Leonardo, but I thought it was important to be true to my characters and the story. Life doesn’t always have happy endings, especially for kids…and sometimes they just have to find a way to cope – sometimes things happen that aren’t their fault, but they blame themselves anyway. I guess I just wanted to get all this across. Have to say I’ve had fantastic responses from teen readers and they only ones who have ever questioned the ending have been adults.


  4. The Donna Jo Napoli talk was awesome, Dee, just as it was to meet you in real life.
    I agree with you on endings: you have to be true to your story and not all stories end well. I think it’s much better to not paint our children a picture of a world with only happy endings. That’ll crush them when they meet reality.


  5. Thanks, Mina,

    It was amazing to meet you too. I felt like I had known you for a long time:) Donna Jo Napoli’s talk was important, wasn’t it? I can’t believe how many books seem to get censored.


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