2014 Mentees! Winners of the Mentor Awards!

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The judging! More than 200 portfolios!

When they finally let us in to see the portfolios, I was trying to see each one but the room was very crowded with excited people as we bumped elbows, clamoring to see the work on each table. I was lost in the sea, about half way through from A to Z, when they began to call out the names of the winners.

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I kept looking at the portfolios, and clapping. Clapping very loudly and squealing with happiness when I heard them call Suzanne Kaufman’s name! YAY!! I was so happy for her. Suzanne and I had attended the Seattle SCBWI conference each year, as well as the monthly meetings.

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I never expected to hear my name called next as one of the six mentees for this year, but the last name called was me! I was and am so incredibly grateful for this wonderful honor and opportunity.

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A steady line of people filed past to congratulate us! It’s hard to describe the feeling, but I knew in that moment my life shifted. It was a powerful shift. I was pretty sure it was some cosmic mistake that I was up there instead of the people who did the beautiful portfolios I had looked at that evening, but I figured for as long as it lasted, I would soak it up! And meet the challenge!

The Mentors pulled us outside shortly after that to explain what had just happened to us and give us a run down on how the rest of the conference would go. We were to meet them the next morning for round table critiques. . . fifteen minutes with each mentor!

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I suspect my shiny shoes may have had something to do with the win. I think they may have hypnotized one of the mentor judges.

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Debbie Ohi may have taken the photos above.

me in LA as winner
Photo by Michèle Griskey

Shortly after I heard my name called at the portfolio awards, I dressed for the Tomie dePaola “Old Italy” party and wandered down by the pool. The beautiful wisp of a jacket is beautifully embroidered down the back. I felt that if I were to lay down in the grass, someone might mistake me for a tea party. haha!

And I’m pretty sure my feet were not touching the ground! Michele Griskey saw me and snapped this great shot to send out to my well wishers back home. You would be hard pressed to find photos of me from the last six years, so I was a bit nervous about having something sent out that I did not get to see first. But I am just so happy with this photo! Look at the honest joy on my face. No fake smiling there!

During the Awards Luncheon on Sunday we were invited to stand and receive kudos from our peers. Peers that in my opinion are just knock your socks off good!

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All of the mentees this year and from the previous years are extremely hard working successful illustrators, so be standing there at that moment, well. . . it as one of those life moments. The kind of moment that says, ok, I could die happy, feeling I had accomplished a significant mark that I had not even imagined to have considered a goal. BUT if given another day, and another and hopefully another, I will take this opportunity and keep pushing up hill as long as I’ve got breath left in me. One of the mentors said we were selected because we are on the cusp of greatness. Think about that. Imagine someone saying that to you and feel both a tremendous weight being lifted, and yet an equally heavy burden of responsibility being placed back on. To him who much has been given, much will be required, is something my mother taught me. Resting on laurels was not in our vocabulary!

This image was up on the big screens. Up on the big screen. . . has a nice ring to it!

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After the conference a group of the mentees gathered for a quick dinner by the pool before we headed out of town. I look like I am starting to turn back into a pumpkin at this point.

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And I believe the photo is from Debbie Ohi 
who did a fantastic job of documenting the whole event.

A whole flock of mentees! I was delighted to just be standing close to them, so much more to become part of their ranks! Wowee! I had poured over the posts written by them on how to create a strong portfolio presentation and I followed it as best as I could. I made my portfolio check list from their suggestions. You can tell from the look on my face I am having fun with my WWA sister Suzanne Kaufman who was also awarded the mentorship award this year. Suzanne and I were in round table critiques at the SCBWI conferences in Seattle more than once so it’s been fantastic to see our level of work increasing exponentially. See kids, hard work pays off! Like I always say, Never give up, never give in! And I say it a lot. Out loud. Sometimes through my tears.

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Another photo taken by Debbie Ohi as we handed off cameras.

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And lastly our illustrious mentors! The professionals, in full color!

David Diaz, Cecelia Yung, Paul O. Zelinsky, E.B. Lewis, Priscilla Burris and Laurent Linn (being adored by fellow characters from Old Italy). I pulled these shots from the SCBWI site so I’ll have to find the photographer’s names.

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4 thoughts on “2014 Mentees! Winners of the Mentor Awards!

  1. Great to see these pictures again. At least some of them, as I’ve been following you all throughout this WONDERFUL WELL DESERVED happening!! Glad to hear those words ” on the cusp” pertaining to YOU!!

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