NESCBWI Recap and Wings

Wow! Those New Englanders know how to do it!

BH and I spent a high-energy weekend at the New England chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrator’s” conference. It was HUUUUUUUGGGGGEE!. I think someone said there were 550 people there. Amazing. And incredibly well-organized. They even had vegan lunches for people who didn’t want beef or turkey or tuna. I was impressed.

I gave the keynote Saturday morning. It was a poignant moment for me. When I started writing for kids, all I had was a handful of dreams and a lot of ambition. Along the way I made every mistake possible, and a few that no one had heard of before. And somehow, I’ve moved from the newly-hatched dreamer in the audience to the person standing (well, pacing) behind the podium. Very, very strange and wonderful.

During the speech, I held up my rejection file, and read a few of those dastardly polite letters that hurt so much. I will never forget what it feels like to get those in the mail. I remember the tears and doubts and the fears. What am I talking about – I still have them!

That is the cool thing about writers’ conferences. It doesn’t matter where you are on your creative journey – published or pre-published – we all sit on the same raft in an ocean of doubt. Thank you to everyone for such a warm welcome and much-needed boost of camaraderie.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Mitali gave a wonderful workshop about using the Internet to promote books. She should know: she has a wonderful site and a delightful blog. I took many, many notes! She is one of the forces behind Readergirlz which is featuring my book PROM in June. You’ll be hearing more about that later.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Enjoyed dinner with Sarah Aronson (left) and Tanya Lee Stone (right), who has a great picture book biography about Elizabeth Cady Stanton out soon. Also saw Kate Messner there, and Kelly Fineman, and Harold Underdown (I’ll be talking about his new book in a couple of weeks), and Debra Garfinckle, who graciously signed one of her books for me.

Jo Knowles – were you there? Did we talk? I could be blanking here (I’m still pretty tired). Help me out. What did you think of the conference?

I also hung out with my buddies Nancy Werlin and Toni Buzzeo, but my camera messed up their photos. Go to their websites to see their shining faces.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Like I said, the conference was packed!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic They had to turn away people at the door to keep the fire marshals happy.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Here are a couple of the hard working souls who put the conference together: Jan Kozlowski, Sally Riley, Janet Arden, and J.L. Bell, who writes one of my favorite blogs: Boston 1775. The other organizers kept moving so fast, they appear in photographs as a blur. BH and I thank you all for a wonderful weekend!

The theme of the conference was “Stretch Your Wings”. I am flapping mine with great vigor as I head back to the Cave of Revision.

How was your weekend?

29 Replies to “NESCBWI Recap and Wings”

  1. wow! glad to hear you had a good time this weekend! my weekend was pretty low-key. i stayed home and studied a lot because i have a psychology exam tomorrow. and i watched a really good movie on lifetime called the memory keeper’s daughter. it’s very good. it’s based on the book by kim edwards. have you read it? if not, you definitely should when you get the chance; it’s a real page-turner. it’s about a couple and they have twins and one is born healthy and the other is born with down syndrome. the father gives the girl who has down syndrome away, and the story is about how both the parents and the twin and the girl’s new mom are affected by the choice the father made for about 20 years. it is a good read though. i highly recommend it. the movie was really good but i kind of like the book better. hope the revision goes well and have a great week! =) ♥

  2. Ooh, vegan lunch–they would have a friend in me!

    If only I lived remotely close to something exciting. Oh well, perhaps one day, if I ever finish my edits, I’ll have the money to travel to something like that.

    *Snort* I hate editing. But it’s a necessary evil.

  3. Hi Laurie,

    I’m so sad that I didn’t see you. I didn’t actually attend the conference because I used the time to write instead, but I was in the crowded hallways several times and was crossing my fingers that I’d see you and be able to tell you in person how much I love your books, your blog, and all that good stuff.

    Some students who were in my class last semester attended the conference and told me how AMAZING your talk was. You’ve inspired them (and me) in so many ways. Thanks for all that you do.


  4. Non-writing: We went to the traveling Our Body exhibit at our local science museum. Check out We expected it would be interesting, but it was far more amazing than we dreamed.

    Writing: I pulled out the stack of my journals from nearly 30 years ago to see if I could winnow out a succinct storyline that would explain my divorce to my kids. I read through a few scattered entries and became so thoroughly disgusted by how vulnerable and wimpy I was then that I couldn’t do it. I put them all back in the cabinet. Is there hope that I will ever be able to do this? How does one keep objectivity with stuff like this?

  5. great conference and thank you!

    Yes, it was a fantastic conference. Your keynote, and the morning interview, were highlights. I’m also so glad you signed a few books for me. My daughter was thrilled with the VET VOLUNTEERS book, and THANK YOU, SARAH.
    Thanks for all the inspiration!

  6. Featured in your photo

    As someone who has read your blog and enjoyed your snapshots of the crowds who attend your events, I’m especially tickled to find myself in a photos above! (Little brown girl in a red sweater next to my friend in bright green.)

    Thank you for the energizing speech and chat session (and for signing my copy of your book.) I’m glad I finally kicked my butt into gear and joined the community of genuine, funny, and gregarious writers such as yourself -what a treasure! I hope we pass one another again on the writing-road soon.

  7. Ever since I met Hillary Homzie as one of my profs at Hollins (who talked lots about you) I’ve been reading your blog. I only got to hear your interview at the conference (to keep said fire marshals happy) but it was wonderful just the same.

    Your words and spirit were very encouraging!

    Cheers from NE!


  8. The woman who write memory Keeper’s daughter is from Central new York. I’m going to try and read it this summer.

  9. I mised the exhibit when it was in Rochester. It sounds amazing.

    Writing suggestion: try a scene or two about a different woman going through divorce. Not you. Don’t try to explain the divorce, don’t describe yourself or him. Just write a scene – maybe she’s waiting for him to come home, putting up with his daily crap, packing… anything. Just try a scene.

  10. That is SO WEIRD. I was actually thinking of Hillary in the car on the way to the conference. If you are in touch with her, please give her my very best.

  11. wow that’s so cool! i hope you do get a chance to read it over the summer. let me know what you think! =) ♥
    p.s. i love the new by the way! my favorite was the new biography section.

  12. Your talks were so inspiring! I love your books and it was good to hear that I am following a somewhat similar path to yours– writing every day, doing many drafts, learning to plot by writing for a packager, writing for different genres and age groups, turning off the TV (well, I watch about 2 hours a week), and lucking out in the husband lottery. Of course, I’m not *quite* as successful as you (haha), but you set a wonderful example for a career to aspire to. And the most inspiring thing is your great generosity. Thanks for buying my book.

  13. Than _you_ for adding to the wattage. I’m still drawing on that high energy. Two days of 15 minutes so far. (Last night my BH was late getting home from work, so I actually snuck in an hour of revisions. Woo!)

    Kathy Q.

  14. Thank you!!

    LOVED your Keynote as well as the Sunday Q and A. You had me in stitches. I laughed very hard and there were times I felt like crying too. THANK YOU so much for keeping it real. You are a treasure!!


  15. I loved when you took a picture of the crowd Laurie. It made me realize that you really were totally giddy to be standing up there at the podium. Thanks for the inspiring words–and showing off your big, fat reject folder! I took comfort in that 🙂 Not alone!!

  16. Thank You Laurie

    Dear Laurie,
    Thank you for helping to make our conference such a huge success. I loved meeting you and Scot. (One T) I felt a little like a bride at a wedding who doesn’t get to hang out with the people she’s invited. I wish we’d had more time to talk. Of course you have an open invite to my home in Maine or wherever else I land in life. I’m checking off my 21 days in red on my calendar and checking in with my writing partner everyday. One question I’d hoped Melissa would ask during the interview is this: Speak in a novel in verse and was one that really sparked interest in this genre. I’m afraid that some of these are not poetry at all, but prose with line breaks. What is your opinion? Maybe this could be a blog entry some time.
    Anna Boll
    Conference Co-Director

  17. Thanks

    Thanks again for your words, written and spoken. You have touched my life and you are an inspiration to me as a writer. I’m so happy I was able to meet you at the conference.

  18. Thanks for such an inspirational (and realistic) keynote speech and interview. The first thing I did when I got home was turn on the TV just so I could turn it off like you advised. See, we were listening!

    I told my husband about the bartering plan I suggested to you … his computer services in exchange for a little light carpentry courtesy of your husband. Just think, if we took it online, the Hubby Work Exchange Program (HWEP) might even become the next MySpace 🙂

    All kidding aside, it was great to hear that even well-established authors struggle with many of the same issues that aspiring writers do. Thanks for your words of wisdom as well as for the humor with which you imparted them.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.