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:)



Lin Oliver in conversation with the amazing Judy BlumeI’m back from 2011 SCBWI LA 40th Anniversary conference and it was FANTASTIC!

So many wonderful authors and illustrators. So much great information. Two of my favourite writers, Gary Paulsen and Judy Blume had some inspiring words for all of us.

The inspiring Gary Paulsen

Stay watching! This week I’ll be blogging every day about my amazing LA  adventures and sharing some of the things I learned.

Happy writing:)