Why did you join SCBWI in 2000?
In 2000, my first child was one year old. I had always written poetry but as I experienced my infant son, the images and words accumulated and poured onto the page. The more I read picture books the more I knew that my poetry would fit nicely in the picture book format. I joined SCBWI to find out more about the children's book industry and to find a critique group of like-minded writers.
What have you gained by being a member of SCBWI?
SCBWI has been the source of important industry information but even more significant is the community of writers–people I never would have met without NE-SCBWI conferences and events. Writing and illustrating is solitary work, and my SCBWI acquaintances have become dear friends who are available for a read through, to critique an image, or to commiserate about another rejection letter. If not for my SCBWI friends, I would have stopped submitting a long time ago.
Why do you think people who are interested in writing or illustrating children's books should join SCBWI?
SCBWI is an industry organization. It disseminates important legislative, business, marketing, and craft information about the children's publishing world. The redesign of the website includes amazing resources. Joining an SCBWI critique group that you feel comfortable in is an important step to taking your writing/illustrating seriously. SCBWI conferences allow you to meet new friends who can challenge your ideas and help you grow your art and craft. I have to say that SCBWI is only as good as its volunteers. If members feel that they are not getting what they need, then it is important for them to volunteer and help make changes.
What is your favorite SCBWI memory?
After a year of very hard work directing, organizing, and planning the 2009 Many Voices conference, I stood in the ballroom and looked out on all the participants who were so jazzed to be there. Many of them were personal friends. It was a thrilling moment to know that I had played such a large part in creating that huge event. Really, the many volunteers and I had created a college for a weekend. I led the whole ballroom in a giant human wave. It was fun, and crazy, and just perfect for how I was feeling at that moment.
What do you consider your most important contribution to SCBWI New England?
The work I did as the co-director of the 2008 and 2009 conferences. I feel great about the increased number of offerings for illustrators, especially the Illustrators' Academy, which I created. I really wanted to attend the event by the same name at Ringling College. However, it lasted all summer, and it was very expensive and far away. So I created a similar event for SCBWI-NE members. During my tenure as conference director, I transitioned the conference registration to an online registration, worked to increase diversity in our conference faculty and membership, and reduced our carbon footprint by collaborating with the hotel on recycling.