Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I've been attending NESCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators--New England) conferences since 2008. The first two years I attended in Nashua, and I commuted. I dropped my daughter with my parents and only spent the days on site.

In 2010 and 2011, in Fitchburg, even though it's close to home, I convinced my husband that since FOUR of us would be sharing a room, it would be worth it. That I'd get more out of the conference by spending the night. And he believed me. After the first year of conference, I volunteered--first at the registration table, then as a handler.

This year, was my sixth conference. The second in Springfield. Two years ago, Joyce Shor Johnson asked me if I'd like to co-chair with her. Having had conference experience (I chaired the NACA New England--aka National Association for Campus Activities--in 2000), I was interested. I came home from Fitchburg that year with a big question. Did I really want to co-chair this conference?

Well, most of you reading this know the answer. Yes. I did. We hosted Grace Lin, Sharon Creech, Kate Messner, Jo Knowles, Hazel Mitchell, and countless other amazing and talented authors and illustrators. We hobnobbed with agents Jennifer Laughran, Brooks Sherman, Linda Epstein and Lauren MacLeod (and more). Editors Melissa Miller, Allison Weiss, Adah Nuchi, and Taryn Albright graced our conference.

How does it really get better than this???

Well it did.

I spent ten minutes chatting with agent Brooks Sherman outside the Ballroom. Sharon Creech said my name (OMG and she followed me on twitter!!). Joyce and I spent an hour gossiping with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, I ate dinner with Jennifer Laughran, Lauren MacLeod, Brooks Sherman, Sarah Albee, Nova Ren Suma, Taryn Albright, and Linda Epstein...and actually managed not to freeze in the headlights. I mean can you imagine??? I got a chance to see twitter friends for the first time in person. Someone called me fashion plate (and if you know me, you know how unlikely that is!).

The process for NESCBWI is that you spend a year shadowing, then you're co-chair, then you're director. So I'm gearing up this coming year to direct in 2014. I've already got some ideas. If you've got some, send them to me at

Six years and a few months ago, I didn't know this organization existed. How did I ever survive without it?

I've been procrastinating writing this post, because I don't think I can begin to do justice to the awesomeness that was SCBWI - New England this year. As the co-director, the conference went by in a frenetic blur, but people tell me the workshops were awesome, the agents and editors were amazing, the volunteers were kick-ass...I'm so grateful to Joyce Johnson for choosing me as her co-director. Save the date for next year--May 2-4, 2014 in Springfield...FYI, call for proposals will be out in early July.

Some highlights:

Jonathon Arnston came all the way from Michigan.

 And Taryn Albright came all the way from Kentucky.

 And Sharon Creech was one of our keynote speakers (w/ Joyce Johnson, my amazing co-director).
And I got to meet twitter friends in real life (@kiperoo and @MonicaYAWriting aka Kip Wilson and Monica Ropal).
And I went to Nova Ren Suma's workshop on first chapters and met some awesome new writer friends. (And Nova is as wonderful as you would think she is!)

And my friend Ansha had her first signing.
And I'm so excited that NEXT year we'll be working together on the 2014 conference.


Ansha Kotyk said...

You're awesome! I can't wait to work on creating another great NESBWI conference for 2014. It's going to be an awesome year!!!

Laura Pauling said...

Great recap! Can't wait for next year and all the awesome outfits you'll be sporting! :)

Joyce Shor Johnson said...

2014 is going to be awesome! I can't wait!

Jennifer said...

Yay! You both are going to do an amazing job! I had such a fantastic time at my first conference ever, for so many reasons, but the biggest was getting to meet all of you IRL!

Jonathon Arntson said...

Coming all the way from Michigan was a major part of the fun! Landing at Logan was one of the most surreal experiences of my life--it was also the first time I saw the Atlantic from the US.

Anonymous said...

Great recap! Thanks so much for making this such a fun conference; can't wait for next year!

Anonymous said...

Heehee, LOVE this post! Already psyched for next year!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Looking forward to next year! I hear you got JK Rowling as keynote? Kudos! #startingrumors

Marcia said...

This sounds so wonderful. Thanks for sharing.