What have you gained by being a member of SCBW(I)?
Everything I've learned about publishing and children's literature was through SCBWI.
I began with Sue Burgess's critique group in Westwood, MA, when it was one of the few in New England. That's how I got involved with the SCBWI-NE NEWS. Back then, Sue was doing everything–RA, newsletter editor, critique group coordinator. Everything!
I have belonged to four or five critique groups. I used to drive 240 miles to Jane Yolen's critique group in Hatfield, Massachusetts, because she is such an amazing mentor. One group, which began in the late 1980s, was very dedicated. When we began, no one in the group was published. When we disbanded four or five years later, we all were. My current group began in 1998 as an off-shoot of a class I taught on children's books at the Attleboro Arts Museum. It's now stronger than ever, thanks to the able leadership of Pat Blackman.
Why do you think people who are interested in writing or illustrating children's books should join SCBWI?
Because you learn the truth. Once you realize writing and illustrating is hard work, then you are supplied with the information that will help you succeed.
Do you think SCBWI membership is also valuable to published authors and illustrators?
There are opportunities to present at conferences, do book signings, and offer workshops. Volunteering is important too. I volunteer because it provides new opportunities to meet other authors, art directors, editors, and publishers, as well as sell more books.
What is your favorite SCBWI memory?
I have two. One was winning the work-in-progress grant for a story that was ultimately published in 1996. The second was when my painting Lion and Lamb was selected for an auction at the New York conference. Steve Mooser purchased it and presented it to Marvin and Karen Terben.
What do you consider your most important contribution to SCBWI New England?
I've been the editor of the SCBWI-NE NEWS since 1990 (with a short break in 2006). I have helped out at nearly every conference since then. I also organized the 2001 Illustrators Day with Jennifer O'Keefe at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.