SCBWI Tokyo and Hong Kong

It is with great pleasure that I share the following pictures from my wonderful visits to the Tokyo and Hong Kong SCBWI chapters. The first picture is me and the group from Tokyo. We met at the lovely Yokohama International School the Saturday before Halloween and then spent one long day talking about the marketplace, queries, craft, and the submission process. The Q&A session included concerns for the Aussie writers in attendance (there were several!) and, of course, curiosity about the digital changes coming to the publishing industry.

Overall, a talented group of writers and illustrators — and quite a few guys representing the SCBWI in Tokyo! (You don’t usually see a large male population at children’s writing conferences, though that’s not to say that there aren’t wonderful male children’s writers, both published and aspiring.) This brave crowd, well, braved about seven straight hours of talking, first pages, query analysis and Q&A from yours truly…

And then we all went out to dinner to celebrate the end of a long day! The only person missing from the above sea of beautiful faces is Holly Thompson, the intrepid leader of the Tokyo SCBWI chapter, as well as the author or the exquisite verse novel ORCHARDS, out from Delacorte.

Holly was kind enough to take me to the Sankeien Gardens in Yokohama after a more relaxed day of one-on-one critiques on Sunday. Because so much of my Japan trip revolved around food, here’s a picture of me from that afternoon with a soba noodle trio. I’m so grateful to her and all the SCBWI Tokyo members for the hospitality!

I’m so blessed to work from home and be able to add travel time to my conference duties. After ten nights in Japan, I flew over to Hong Kong on Thursday, November 3rd. There, I was greeted by Mio Debnam for critiques first thing Friday morning, then a delicious Shanghainese lunch. What a lovely introduction to a city that’s all about food. I would’ve posted a picture of the sea cucumber and abalone that we devoured, but it was gone too quickly. (A heads up: Sea cucumber does not stay on chopsticks well, and therefore doesn’t make very graceful eating. Sorry, Mio!)

On Saturday, I did another marathon day of talks, first pages, query critiques, and Q&A with the Hong Kong members. Here we are, below:

Everyone is looking pretty relaxed in those plush leather chairs. I’m glad you can’t see my feet in this shot, because this is probably after I took my shoes off. (That’s Kole Code for: “Now I mean business…”) Something about public speaking always makes me want to go barefoot.

I eventually shut my mouth and put my shoes on for a lovely post-conference dinner at the China Club with Mio, several members of the Hong Kong chapter, and Kathleen Ahrens, the International Coordinator for the entire SCBWI. She has the fascinating job of helping regions all over the world develop chapters and programming, and I also owe her a huge debt of gratitude for this amazing opportunity.

Here we all are at dinner. Mio, our gracious hostess, is wearing red in the back, and Kathleen is my gray-attired bookend on the opposite side of the bottom row. It was fantastic getting to know these writers over delicious soup dumplings.

Overall, the trip was wonderful. Truly the opportunity of a lifetime. And it was so great to meet writers in the larger SCBWI community. I’m still processing everything — and trying to find the energy to upload all of my pictures to share with friends and family.

Just as I was ready to go home this past Wednesday, my overseas adventure refused to sink quietly behind the International Date Line. My plane from Hong Kong took off in bad weather and suffered some kind of damage. They tried to fix it in the air for a few hours but were unsuccessful. The pilot decided he didn’t want to risk the trans-Pacific flight back to San Francisco. The plane was full up with enough gas for a 12-hour flight — a long-ish haul for a 747 — and we were too heavy to land, so we flew out over the ocean and dumped fuel for about two hours. That was a bit unnerving. In case anyone doesn’t have the memo, I’m an uneasy flier (even though I do it at least once a week…and, because I’m a glutton for punishment, apparently, I was home a day before jetting off to Southern California for the weekend, got back yesterday, and am flying again tomorrow). With jet fuel spraying out of the wing right outside my window and the plane shuddering from the aforementioned bad weather…let’s just say I was a bit on edge.

Long story short: We returned to Hong Kong, were rebooked on new flights, and I was back in the air about seven hours later c/o Singapore Airlines. I’m so happy with how it went, overall, and the United’s decision to turn around and be safe, even though it was the longest day I’ve ever had (40 hours). And that little hiccup was nothing compared to the absolutely tremendous time I had exploring Japan and Hong Kong and meeting my fellow children’s book enthusiasts across the globe!

I’m still having trouble sleeping because of jet lag, but I’m back stateside, baby, and ready for Big Sur, client business, and lots of new and awesome projects in my inbox! 🙂 If you’re still curious about my food adventures, head on over to my older post from Chowlit. I plan to add a Hong Kong edition tomorrow, if I ever get all those pictures organized…

13 Replies to “SCBWI Tokyo and Hong Kong”

  1. Wow. What an amazing time for you. I’m so glad you shared these pictures.

  2. Looks like a great trip. And I’m glad you made it back safely! What a freaky and scary airplane adventure.

  3. Glad you made it back safe, Mary. And thanks for sharing these awesome pics. Looks like such a fabulous trip. 😀

  4. KDuBayGillis says:

    I really had no idea flying bothered you. That stinks, given your jet-setting lifestyle. Can’t wait for installment on Chowlit.

  5. Kathryn Patten says:

    Wow,overall it sounds like it was a great trip, Mary, and I must say that after reading this post, I’m now hungry! Previously a flight attendant, I’ve experienced my fair share of in-flight airplane issues, so I know how disturbing those can be. I’m just glad you made it home safely! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Sounds like it was an awesome trip. Thanks for giving us a little peek into the adventure! And welcome home!


  7. Holy cow! That’s crazy. Jet fuel spraying from the air…::shudder::

    Glad everything went well and I’m jealous you got to chill in HK! My mom moved to Guangzhou several years ago and it’s hard and long to see her!

  8. You ARE blessed to be able to work from home. That is my dream…lol…what surprises me most about the pics is that I don’t see much in the way of Asian folks, depicted. Kind of expected a lot more considering where you are…

  9. It looks like you had a wonderful trip other than the return trip. I’m glad you got home safely. 🙂

  10. Wow, it sounds like you had an amazing experience, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it all! Sorry to hear about the plane incident, but at least it has proved that you *can* fit 40 hours in a day 😉


  11. “concerns for the Aussie writers in attendance.” What concerns? Am I meant to have concerns that are specific to being an Australian writer? Now I’m worried that I’m not concerned enough.

    Just thinking about your return flight makes me feel sick.

  12. Awesome pictures. Thanks for sharing! So glad you had an inspiring–and safe–trip! 🙂

  13. Thanks for sharing your pictures with us, it looks wonderful! I hope you had a few books for all that extra flying time 🙂

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