2009 NESCBWI Conference

That’s right! I just came back from this year’s New England SCBWI conference. This year’s theme was “Many Voices,” and that turned out to be very fitting! On Friday night, there were many voices at the Muse Jazz Club Meet & Greet:


Very fun to catch up with a lot of friends, and of course, to have that experience of saying,”Hmmm.I know I know you…where have we met before?” It happens a lot at this conference!

Here’s Barb Johansen Newman, Carlyn Beccia, Moi, and Maryann Cocca-Leffler. And a basket of snacks.

There a was a big wall to draw on. Here’s John Bell adding something to the wall near one of Barb’s famous kitties.

This year was different for me. I was a member of the “faculty,” and I had two presentations of my own to present on Saturday. So I did get to hear the keynoters, but mostly missed the other sessions! The morning keynote speaker was the fabulous Cynthia Lord:


What a way to start the day. She was very inspiring, talking about the power there is in personal stories. She gave excellent pointers on finding the emotions in your own experiences and integrating them into your work, even if your book is pure fantasy. The emotions involved in recalling real people and experiences can add the needed depth to your characters and stories. Everyone came away from this talk feeling inspired. Everyone.


I was able to catch most of Kirsten Cappy’s session on creating marketing plans for your books that tap into each story’s unique theme. The idea of creating an individualized marketing plan for each of your books is great, and she showed some very cool examples of others who had done this.


Here’s me becoming one with my first-ever Power Point presentation. My first session was called “Books and Beyond: The Many Markets for Children’s Illustration.” I was nervous. But then, I got to talk about all the stuff I love and have been doing for a long time: magazines, toys, fabric, stationery, licensing, and everything else that requires an illustrator with a knack for children’s art. It’s a big, big, world out there, and there was not really enough time to get into it all…but I did my best!

Barb, Janet Montecalvo, and me at lunch.

Let’s see, I think I can rememeber everyone at the table! Alice (A.C.E.) Bauer, Nicole Tadgell, Charlene Willing McManis (who had the best Native American jewelry ever), Alisa Libby (who has a book that actually bleeds!), Greg Fishbone (webmaster!), Barb, the unseen Janet Montecalvo (as seen above), and me.


The lunchtime keynote speaker was Floyd Cooper. Wow. Just wow. His work is luminous and stunning, and even though he did a piece right in front of us with a kneaded eraser, I can’t fathom how he does it. Check out his website. I appreciated that he has worked in many other genres, too.


My second session was called Fun Reads: Board Books and Other Novelty Formats. As you can see, my board book session was in the Board Room (very Donald Trump!). You can picture the chairs actually filled with people, right? Mildly intimidating! But again, I got to talk about that which I love, and I brought a lot of examples of books (both my own and others) to play around with. I pretty much ignored my Power Point presentation. Oops. I sort of forgot it was there. Oh, well, no matter!


Here’s the Diversity Panel: Louise May from Lee and Low, Bobbie Combs from Two Lives Publishing, Jennifer Laughran from Andrea Brown Literary, and Floyd Cooper. Moderated by Padma Venkatraman.What an excellent, topical discussion. It was good to hear “many voices” speaking up about the challenges and necessity of getting diverse books into kids’ hands.


Here’s the adorable Kathy Weller, with her prize-winning poster! I just adore this piece she did…a favorite of mine, and obviously a crowd favorite, too! Kathy also did a great rundown of the sessions she went to on her blog, WellerWishes. She also happen to go to one of my sessions, so you can read about it from the other side…thanks, Kathy!


I wrapped up Saturday at the booksigning…here’s me and Barb and our adoring throngs of fans…LOL!
I had a blast seeing everyone there, and I hope everyone had a great time on Sunday, too!
Next year’s conference will be at The Courtyard Marriott in Fitchburg, from May 14-16. Mark those calendars!