Friday, September 16, 2011

Connecting With Colleagues: SCBWI

In Chicago, my office was in the basement—ensconced in classic ‘70s knotty pine paneling, glass block windows and an uneven cement floor just perfect for roller skating on and busting your head open. Here in Connecticut, my office is a writer’s dream, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and quaint half-shuttered windows. Oddly, I’m still located right by the washer/dryer. And it’s still just me, sitting here, alone, typing away and not doing laundry.

One of the most wonderful aspects of Hamline is connecting to a strong writers community. Another great place to find colleagues is the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Most folks know about the many conferences and events organized by SCBWI each year. In addition, regional chapters provide a variety of opportunities for personal and professional growth:

- Check out the Illinois chapter’s autumn issue of The Prairie Wind. Besides being chock full of information, publications like these provide opportunities for publishing and editing experience. Hamline alumna Jodell Sadler is writing a regular PW column that analyzes craft elements in books. I’ve been assistant editor for the last four years—a boon to both my skills and résumé.

- Hamline alumni Amy Laughlin, Kristin Aker Howell and Naomi Kinsman Downing are collectively the regional advisors for the San Francisco South chapter. Contributing in any capacity to planning and executing programs often offers a deeper perspective on our industry.

- Many chapters have listservs of some variety, where members can cheer each other on and swap advice on everything from the writing process to skyping school visits. Publishers know about these networks too, and sometimes circulate job opportunities or “wish lists” for manuscripts.

The best part of all is having colleagues, and the camaraderie of working together--no matter how far apart our desks are in their various basements and book-filled nooks.


  1. Cheryl, it's nice to know that we are both writing and not doing laundry, though on opposite coasts.

    Locally, it's is nice to have someone to meet with face to face. I'd wilt without my SCBWI friends.

  2. Minnesota SCBWI (headed up by Hamline-ite Quinette Cook) has a conference coming up next month. Check it out:

  3. Marsha Qualey, our very own Q, is coming out to Spokane to our SCBWI conference this weekend to talk about developing characters in novels. Nobody better. And she is staying at my house. Lucky me.

  4. And just think, Claire, y'all can have a pillow fight if you can't agree about character arcs and such...

    Alicia Williams and I will commune at SCBWI-Carolinas this weekend. :0)