UP!–The Afterglow of Our 2015 NJSCBWI Conference :D


I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again: KidLit events are WONderful! For me, spending time around kindred spirits, regardless of what we’re doing, is very energizing, uplifting, inspirational and just plain FUN!

I’m a big believer in research and being super-organized for an event of this magnitude and importance (certainly for me), and this year I had the added task of creating a new dummy book. I had less time to do it than I would’ve liked, including the development of 9 characters, but I’m happy to report I did finish and was able to complete the other prep in time to pack the car and leave very early Saturday morning 🙂 Of course, I barely slept, but that’s always the way it goes lol

If you are curious as to this year’s smorgasbord of outstanding workshops offered, and the amazing faculty who were available for critiques, portfolio reviews and pitches, you can still view this information though the event itself is over. What you’ll see represents the quality found at the NJSCBWI conference time and again. As an attendee, regardless of how you wish you could clone yourself in order to attend more than one workshop at a time, you must choose one per time period, there being 8 workshops during the course of the two days. The itinerary for our annual 2-day conference is packed and there are so many friends and new people to meet, the time flies. I get so caught up in the experience itself, I forget to take pictures, so I only have a few to share here, and most are blurry, at that!

The first picture I thought to take was not until the workshops on Saturday were done and we were at the Pre-Dinner Social. This was held on the patio located off the main dining room where we had dinner. This is only a portion of the crowd and area:


That morning, after the announcements, and the entertaining and enlightening speech by our opening keynote speaker Denise Fleming, I headed off to my double workshop. I’d always had the desire to create my book characters in 3-D form to serve as models for my illustrations, figuring to make it easier to render them at different angles which is why I jumped at the chance to learn first hand. The very talented Jeff Jantz led us through his process and we spent part of that time trying to create our own models. It wasn’t ’til I was already in class and faced with having to begin, that I finally decided which character to attempt and that was simply because I had with me a printed sheet of him. Having never done this before, I wasn’t confident with what the end product would ultimately be, then time ran out, so I rushed his ears, and couldn’t work on detail, but tried to get in a few fur lines. No matter how many shots I took, I couldn’t get a clear pic, but trust me that the likeness is pretty close:


Rather than try to recap my personal itinerary, I’ll simply mention most of the faculty members I had the pleasure to learn from and/or share a meal with, all of whom are talented, successful and personable, including some dear friends. After playing with clay, my time was well spent with art rep Merial Cornell of Cornell & Co., author and editor Orli Zuravicky (Scholastic), art directors Patti Ann Harris (Scholastic) and Saho Fujii (Little Brown BFYR), Assoc. Publisher/Executive Managing Editor Steve Meltzer (Penguin Random House), agent Alexandra Penfold, and author Jen Malone. I enjoyed all of them and learned new and valuable information in every workshop.

That then brings me to the last workshop I attended and also had the joy of facilitating, which basically means I got to introduce my “wild and crazy” pals, Ame Dyckman and Adam Lehraupt. What a team! They are truly joined at the kidlit “hip.” I wish I’d sat closer and got clear pictures, but this was it, folks. Sorry! They gave a great presentation and they’re both so animated, you couldn’t help but be motivated 😀 :


I can’t not include the other pic I got of them, along with Tammi Sauer, taken the night before, them having wrangled a ride on the golf cart used to transport certain guests from the hotel to the conference center (it’s a long walk across that “bridge”!). Their merriment was infectious!:


As the event neared its close, our spunky, talented Regional Advisor Leeza Hernandez announced she was stepping down now that it was the end of her 3-year term. It was a bittersweet moment, she having done such a great job taking over when former R.A. Kathy Temean left the post after her 10-year reign. Leeza handed the reins over to none other than Cathleen Thole-Daniels, another talented author/illustrator whose competent hands will carry the NJ Chapter forward. A very big, deeply heartfelt “Thank you and Congratulations!” all around 😀 I love you all ❤

Each year we also have a closing keynote speaker. This year agent/author John Cusick graced us with a speech that sparked a standing ovation. His poignant words of wisdom, advise, encouragement and inspiration were dappled with humor, and I don’t know if anyone else in the amphitheatre was moved to tears, but I found myself choked up several times. It was the perfect end to another successful conference. I know, first hand, what it takes to organize this each year, so fully appreciate the many people who work so hard to make it happen.

And, of course, it’s nearly impossible not to leave without a hoard of books, though the shallow pocketbook made it a small hoard lol I came away with a few books signed by my pals Ame Dyckman, Doris Ettlinger and Karen Romagna. You’re all so special and gifted 🙂

books I bought


I also came home with this complimentary copy from my friend, the very lovely and talented author, Robin Newman, to give to my wonderful “teacher” daughter-in-law, Suzanne :)…

Carrot Cake - Robin

For more recaps of the conference, by other amazingly-talented author and illustrator friends who actually took photos 🙂 , you will want to visit Tara Lazar, Darlene Beck Jacobson, Katey Howes, Robin Newman and Kathy Temean, too!

So now that this has come and gone, normalcy (what is that? lol) will gradually settle in and my social media and blog-following activity (I’ve missed everyone!) will slowly recommence 😀 But, needless to say—I’m already looking forward to NJSCBWI June Conference 2016!

If any of you attend conferences, NJSCBWI or otherwise, I’d LOVE to hear about them so please do share…




36 thoughts on “UP!–The Afterglow of Our 2015 NJSCBWI Conference :D

  1. I heard great things about this conference from Joanne Fritz, who attended even though she’s a Pennsylvanian, like me. But then, I ALWAYS hear good things about NJSCBWI conferences. Unlike … well … I’ll just shut up and not say any more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oh, Dianne, you’re so funny lol Ours are terrific and if you can swing coming, you should try. You never know when there may not be an actual conference to go to, so grab it while you can 🙂 It’s typically in June every year.


  2. I really feel like I missed out now, I will most certainly experience one of these events one day, I just love to learn and mingle and maybe I will turn up in a t shirt with my own face on, just to make my visit more memorable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ste, I would just love it if you actually came over here 🙂 If you think you’d enjoy being around kidlit people (generally speaking, they’re the BEST), our conference is the place to do that, in my opinion 😀 I’ll be sure to let you know next year and will help you in making decisions on how to go about it since you’re green with this venue 😀 And I’m SURE that if you had a t-shirt with your own face on it, it would increase your mingling potential 😉


  3. I’ve gone to the SCBWI conference in L.A. a couple of times so I totally understand that afterglow feeling. Sounds like you had a wonderful time connecting with other writers and learning from amazing people – that’s what it’s all about!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Sherrie! Yep, it’s a wonderful experience, though I’ve never attended a national one. I’ve repeatedly heard they are much bigger and can be overwhelming. It’s a different type animal than ours, though I believe we still may have one of the biggest as far as chapters go. Not sure! Thanks for commenting, my dear 🙂 I’m trying to get back into the blog-following world so will be stopping by soon, too 🙂


  4. Welcome back! Lovely to see you back in the blogosphere. I’ve missed you. Sounds like you had a fantastic time at the conference catching up with ‘old’ and new friends and learning lots to boot. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great recap, Donna, and yes, I was choked up a few times during John Cusick’s keynote as well. I also took a great workshop with him on Saturday. So much to absorb compacted in such a (relatively) short amount of time. It was so nice to see you. Shall we plan our outfits match-matchy again next year? LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jeanne 🙂 A simple recap.

      I took one of John’s workshops a few years ago and it was fantastic! I wanted to again this year, but as you know, we have to make choices and can’t be at all the good ones at the same time (clone, anyone?). And yes, the black bottoms were easy enough, but our tops could NOT have been a closer match in color! lol Loved seeing you, too! 😀 oxox


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