This is my home for the next five weeks! This incredible view of Tel Aviv comes with lots of books. While the fact that one of my favorite used bookshops is within walking distance is excellent, this summer began with a bonus. My trip dates happened to coincide with SCBWI Israel’s first international conference, Sail Away. From the talent this conference attracted and the full range of topics explored, it was hard to believe that this was a first for SCBWI Israel.

As is the case with every one of these types of opportunities, I experienced a post-conference burst of creativity and am working on a new picture book manuscript that I began in a Sail Away workshop with author Anna Levine.

The conference kicked off with an inspiring keynote, Writing with Courage: The Power of Your Voice, by Talia Benamy, an associate editor at Philomel Books. In addition to workshops, panel discussions, and keynote addresses, there was a showcase for illustrators and a pitch contest for writers. There was even an opportunity for a critique with a literary agent or editor.

The PJ Library panel was another favorite. While as the founder of PJ Library Hong Kong and a PJ Library mom it’s certainly no secret that I love PJ Library, as a writer it is also exciting to hear about the opportunities that they have opened up within the Jewish KidLit world.

After two days of making new contacts (and friends), catching up with old friends, having my WIP critiqued, and being inspired, it was great to unwind back at the beach with a signed copy of Butterflies, a beautiful YA novel by Susanne Gervay who in addition to being a great writer is a great speaker and educator as well.

Kol hakavod (great job) to SCBWI Israel. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my summer in Israel.