NESCBWI Conference in Nashua, NH


Just got back from the springtime funfest known as the New England SCBWI Conference! This is the first time lovely husband Eric (also an illustrator/designer) came to the conference with me. Somehow he eluded the camera for the whole conference! We went to different sessions operating on the “divide and conquer” theory of info gathering. Well, sometimes, anyhow!

At top you can see Marilyn Salerno, Conference Director, informing us about the cornucopia of events about to unfold. But how could we have known that THIS would unfold:


That’s writer/illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien and her editor at Charlesbridge, Yolanda LeRoy performing. They regaled us with the musical version of the emotional rollercoaster of book acceptance and contract negotiation, in true full-blown Broadway style.

Zowie- I must say, I did NOT expect that! And they were GOOD! Very, very brave of them- but they are both clearly multi-talented!

But that wasn’t all, no-


This is the one-and-only Sid Fleischman performing a magic trick on Janet, a willing but wary “volunteer” from the audience. She survived! And then it was time for:


Oh, yeah- rockin’ writers and illustrators, and a few kids with some very fine moves! Good music was on tap, like “YMCA” and “Dancin’ Queen” (possibly requested by a certain Disco Goddess who shall remain nameless).

Morning came early after that, but keynote speaker Bruce Coville was first up- and you simply CAN’T sleep thru that- he was totally funny and engaging, ocasionally jumping on chairs to prove a point. I seem to recall Laurie Halse Anderson saying at Whispering Pines that “if you get a chance to see Bruce Coville speak, do it.” Now I know what she meant! Sorry, I was too far back to get a picture! Next up:


Here’s Anne Sibley O’Brien again, this time in a slightly less musical atmosphere, talking about graphic novels. She’s done an interesting book that is a synthesis of a traditional picturebook and a graphic novel called The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea. She’s a very good speaker; friendly and casual. She made a good point- graphic novels are a good bridge between traditional books and stuff like TV, video games, internet, etc. for today’s media-driven kids. Books that can move along sequentially hold their attention more by “making” them flip that page!


Here’s our Photoshop and Painter Guru pal Carlyn Beccia during her presentation called “Digital Painting: Dirty, Lazy Pixels.” I find Carlyn’s work fascinating, not only for it’s gorgeously grungy excellence, but for how freakin’ different it is from mine! We use some of the same programs, but oh Lordy, in very different ways! She loves that well-worn “dirty” look that serves her book extremely well- it’s all about the gritty, bygone days of the circus, previously blogged here. Bonus! She somehow managed to do this session with a dislocated shoulder- way to go, Carlyn!

The afternoon keynote on Saturday was Sid Fleischman, who has been writing for at least 70 (70!!) years. There are not too many people out there who can give you an overview of publishing that spans that long; right thru WWII and beyond. Needless to say, things have changed a LOT, but Sid’s still there in the picture, actively writing. Now that’s inspirational.

Well, whattya know! I won a door prize!


Here’s me and Shennen with my prizes. Killers and naughty schoolgirls! YES!! Perfect for the girl who draws bunnies and writes for 3-year-olds! I guess this is, once again, nature’s way of telling me to read more YA books. I won a big batch of them at Whispering Pines, too!


Here’s Sunday’s keynoter Cheryl Zach at the podium. Cheryl always wanted to write books that were compelling, that kids wanted to read under the covers after they were told to go to bed. She gave us a good overview of the genre, which was interesting to me because I have never read or written mysteries per se. But now I realize that some books that pull you along actually have mysterious elements in them.


Here’s Mark Peter Hughes, Sid Fleischman, and moi, getting my books signed. I believe that is Jacqueline Davies in the lineup, too.

Mark gave a FABULOUS hands-on session about plotting a middle grade/YA novel. I am glad I went to this, despite my lack of writing for this age group (see: bunny writer, above). Knowing the how to jack up the angst of your protagonist thru suspense and how to satisfyingly resolve conflict in your story- well, it’s all good. Eric went to this session, too- high marks from Team Dubois! Another good session that Eric went to was the one John Bell gave about dialogue. You’ll need to revisit that one again, John, so more of us can hear it, too!


That’s Laura Fry, Shennen Bersani, and moi, giving the thumbs up for a good conference! It was great meeting new folks and seeing friends again while soaking up some inspiration.

Alas, now that I have spent my night blogging, I need to put the inspiration on hold for a few days and get a bunch of work done! Wah.

5 comments on “NESCBWI Conference in Nashua, NH

  • on Monday, May 21, 2007 at 11:39 am, Shennen said:

    Hi Liz – what a great update of the conference and its events! It was a delight seeing both you and Eric – and I want to thank you both again for looking over my latest dummy and giving it your critiques! A million thanks!

  • on Monday, May 21, 2007 at 12:50 pm, John Nez said:

    Oh what fun! Thanks for sharing… your photoshop magic adds to the pictures!


  • on Monday, May 21, 2007 at 1:15 pm, Paula said:

    How fun Liz, thanks! Shennen always has cool jewelry. What are those pins on your jacket Liz?

  • on Monday, May 21, 2007 at 1:27 pm, Liz said:

    Ha- Shennen DOES always have cool jewelry- and you have an eye for accessories, Paula! The pins? Hmmm… a vintage bunny reading a book, a vintage Donald Duck, a pinball machine, a lunchbox, and a flying horse.
    A random assortment, I assure you!

  • on Friday, May 25, 2007 at 1:25 pm, Sandra Alonzo said:

    Very cool info about the conference, Liz. Your description was fun as usual. A close second to being there!

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