Why did you join SCBW in 1985?
I fell in love with children's literature when I was a teenager reading Winnie the Pooh to my babysitting charges. The passion grew during my years as a preschool and elementary teacher. When I was home with my own three daughters, I decided to try writing for children. I took an extension course at Brown University. When it was over, I looked for other opportunities to educate myself. SCBW offered those opportunities through its conferences and publications.
What have you gained by being a member of SCBW(I)?
I have gained a wealth of knowledge about the craft of writing and the publishing process. I owe my success as a writer to this organization. More than that, I've made lifelong friends who have been my support through the ups and downs of the writing journey.
Do you think SCBWI membership is also valuable to published authors and illustrators?
Yes, because SCBWI helps writer and illustrator stay on top of changes in the industry. It's a great place to network with other professionals, and it offers the support of compatriots who understand the struggle.
What is your favorite SCBWI memory?
It's hard to choose. Here are a few:
- Brainstorming new programs to suit our New England member's needs with Anita Riggio and her team of RAs
- The glamour of attending the SCBWI Conference in LA as RA from New England
- Picking the faculty's brains on a Saturday night during a Whispering Pines Retreat.
I could go on and on…
What do you consider your most important contribution to SCBWI New England?
Starting the Whispering Pines Retreat. I envisioned it as an event to nurture the dedicated writer–the person who put in the time and effort to hone their skills and just needed a little boost to secure a publishing contract.
I had attended the weeklong Highlights Foundation Chautauqua Workshop on scholarship, and I was hoping to capture some of that same sense of intimacy and support between faculty and attendees. I think Whispering Pines has succeeded in doing that.
Laurie Murphy and I hunted for a site that would provide a getaway where attendees could focus on their craft. We found it at the idyllic Whispering Pines Conference Center, on the University of Rhode Island's Alton Jones Campus.
We initially limited attendance to twenty-five. Each person had the opportunity for a half-hour critique with a faculty member. The faculty included an established author and an editor. Later, we added an illustrator to the faculty, who would give a talk on Sunday. Faculty and attendees spent the weekend eating and chatting together in Whispering Pines's rustic cabins.
A number of our alums have gone on to great success–Amanda Marrone, Barbara Johansen Newman, and Naomi Zucker come to mind.