Monday, June 6, 2016

The NJ Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference Wrap Up

Yes, I skipped last week. It was Memorial Day Weekend and I had a conference to prepare for, relatives to celebrate the coming of a new baby with, and work around the house that demanded to get done. A writer can't always live at the keyboard.

But the conference was great! If you EVER aspire to be a children's book author/illustrator, you NEED to attend this conference at least once. (After that, you'll be hooked. I just have to get you in the door once...)

So many wonderful things happened- making new connections, friends, giving/attending workshops, facilitating events for attendees/editors/agents, socializing, signing books, cheering on the successes of members, and simply getting back to the joy of our community.

It wasn't all sunshine and butterflies- a few glitches, a few heartbreaks, but we powered through them. Here's a gander at the fab people you meet at an SCBWI event (people came from so many different states and other countries; we MUST be doing something right!):

Unfortunately, my cat Mink was VERY disappointed he couldn't go; he even packed his mousie in my suitcase. Sorry Mink, this conference is for writers, illustrators, editors, and agents only!

This is our fabulous regional advisor, Cathy Thole-Daniels (doesn't she look familiar? Yes, she's also the illustrator for my Indie project, Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines). She and the rest of the committee of which I am very proud to be a part of, pulled off a wonderful conference yet again. We're getting a reputation for being one of the best conferences in the US. (That's why YOU need to be here if you want to get serious about your writing/illustrating).

This is my gal pal, Marlo Berliner, who debuted her The Ghost Chronicles novel. She'll also be in a number of Barnes and Noble Teen Author events. Look her up!

The irrepressible Tracey Baptiste! Her fiction books are The Jumbies and Angel's Grace. She's always good for a big happy smile! Events with Tracey are just plain FUN.

Fellow committee member, tech wizard, and good person is Laurie Wallmark who not only sold another picture book on Grace Hopper (computer pioneer), but is the recipient of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. Couldn't go to a nicer, more deserving person! Yay Laurie!

So much I owe to Kidlit Authors Club founder, great person, and talented writer Nancy Viau. Among her books are Storm Song, City Beat Street, and forthcoming Just One Thing! She truly 'gives back' to the children's writing community through Kidlit Authors Club and helping newbies like I used to be get started on the grind that is marketing.

My Writing Wenches and gal pal Yvonne Ventresca, awaiting the debut of her second novel, Black Flowers, White Lies (and did you know she put me in the dedication of her first book, Pandemic?).

(Don't you hate selfies?) But I loooove Darlene Beck-Jacobsen! We were table mates at the NJ SCBWI Book Signing. She's waiting to hear about siblings to keep her novel Wheels of Change company on the bookshelf... *fingers crossed!

This is the fabulous, awesome, amazing, gracious, sweet, I-want-to-keep-her Suzi Ismail, who was the closing keynote speaker. Her presentation on Writing Across Cultures OPENED my eyes. I just can't love her anymore than I do!

Finally, a big hug, kiss, and shout of thanks to Mike Ciccotello! He entered the above piece in a juried art contest. I told him that I saw the piece and it just 'spoke' to me. So he gave it to me! It will hang in my office and be the perfect inspiration piece when I write MG fiction (since I'm writing from a boy's perspective) and it will remind me of the joy of my own sons' childhood. Check out Mike's stunning works (especially his coffee cup doodles!) here and fall in love.

Although it's a frantic weekend and exhausting, waiting a year to do it all again seems so very long. I hope to see these fine people again sooner. In the meantime, if you want to polish your skills, get an agent, get published, get involved in the world of publishing for children, this is the place to start. So mark it on your calendar to start checking in February about date announcements. The conference sells out fast, so don't wait! In the meantime, attend author/illustrator events; we love to talk about writing/illustrating and are happy to help the newcomer.

Now I seriously need another cup of chai because I couldn't get any at the conference and I have a ton of work to do.

Enjoy the day, the possibilities, and all that's good-


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