My first SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles was an overwhelming experience. Never have I seen so many kindred spirits together – 1,136 writers and illustrators, agents, editors and publishers. Never have I been in such good and fun company. E.B. Lewis‘ words and work left me in awe. Wow, that man knows how to paint a picture! Krista Marino’s master class Finding and Revising Your Protagonist’s Voice in a Young Adult Novel was an eye-opening inspiration. Jon Scieszka: boy, that man is so funny, telling us about the do’s and don’ts of a writer. Here’s a helpful don’t: Once you start writing, stop reading all the blogs and industry magazines and get down to working. Write, write write. But if you’re Jon’s dentist – thinking of writing a book himself – don’t, don’t, don’t. Michael Reisman shot me a cinematic view of life behind the silver screen.
In short: four days of inspiration, packed with seminars, talks, master classes; four days of making tons of new friends. I wouldn’t have survived without SCBWI’s member of the year Christopher Cheng, who guided me, reassured me, introduced me and made sure I felt welcome.


But… after four days I was totally exhausted, inspired for years to come, but exhausted and I needed some time alone to let it all sink in. I stepped out of the hotel lobby into the sun and knew where I had to go. The desert.
I took up residence in Palm Springs and went for a hike in the Mojave desert, up the barren mountain tops and through amazing Joshua tree forests. The desert is where I recharge my batteries, where I restore my balance. It’s where the wind and the sun bring me new stories, where they remind me that the desert’s story is a writer’s story, a story of balance, resilience and perseverance.