Posted by: jeannineatkins | April 27, 2009

New England SCBWI Conference

I’m tired and happy after a weekend at the NESCBWI conference which was run smoothly and energetically by Anna Boll ajboll and Anindita Basu Sempere. who, when I complimented her on how calm she always seemed, said it might come from being a teacher. She told me there she started off telling classes saying, “Sit down, don’t run, don’t yell.” Apparently problems that rose here seemed minor.

I managed to remember to take out my camera a few times. Here are Amy Greenfield historymaven, Ellen Wittlinger, and Nancy Werlin,

The charming palm-sized notebook in Amy’s lap – maybe I loved it because my handwriting even when big is nearly impossible to read — partly inspired this photo, but that didn’t make it into my frame. We had just finished hearing a panel on diversity moderated by the lovely Padma Venkatraman. We heard from Louise May, editor at Lee and Low, Bobbie Combs of Two Lives Publishing, Floyd Cooper, illustrator of many books, including the recent Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford, and agent and bookseller Jennifer Laughran.

Linda Urban lurban and Cindy Lord cynthialord offered advice on ways to rethink theme in our books. And take a look at masterpiece Charlotte’s Web, and better understand why that ending, why that one famous line, made half us grab for tissues.

On a lighter note, Kelly Fineman kellyrfineman (from right in picture), Angela DeGroot angeladegroot and Jenn Hubbard writerjenn kept me laughing through lunch on Sunday. Kelly told us she thinks there’s something in the water that makes New England writers cool, so she ventures north periodically to sip.

I think my poetry workshop went well, and since you never really know, I thank Ellen for saying it was fabulous. (This is who you want to drive home with!) Of course even with two hours there’s so much I want to say, while also giving time to experiment, so there were elements I felt I gave short shrift. Really, though, my hope is if people went home having written even a phrase they liked, and a new way to go about research or line-breaks, that’s pretty good.

There were great workshops, nice smiles in the hallways, and the occasional precious quiet moments, too. I ran into Cindy Faughnan cfaughnan on her way out of one very overcrowded workshop and we decided to go to my room and write. We caught up a little on our wandering way, but door closed, Cindy chose a chair, said a few words, then put a finger to her lips and said, “Now we have to write.”

So of course we did. If Cindy can go home from teaching eighth grade and aim for two hundred words every day, I can, well, not whine. Her presence is one of the things I’m going to try to keep with me here at home.



  1. I have no doubt that your workshop attendees loved your presentation. I don’t doubt for a minute that they walked away with a tool box full of ideas, thanks to you. I just wish I could have joined you–for the workshops, for the socializing, the writing…everything. ‘Cause Kelly’s right: There’s a lot of coolness on that side of the continent. 🙂

  2. It was so wonderful to see you, Jeannine. As always.

  3. I so loved meeting you. I’ll bet your workshop was as fab as Ellen said. She’d know, right?

  4. It sounds wonderful. And how great that you snuck away for a few minutes to actuall write. 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for the wrap-up! It’s great to see photos of LJers :).

  6. It was absolutely wonderful to meet you in person, Jeannine! I’m so sorry to have missed your workshop, but it was a treat to spend time with you during breaks. And thank you for that sharing that lovely writing moment you had with Cindy.
    (And, heavens, what a photo! I look *so* tired — almost as tired as I felt. But being there was worth it.)

  7. Wonderful to see you, Jo. And next time I hope not between critiques and panels; more of a summer pace. xo

  8. I loved meeting you, too, especially in various modes: as smart and funny dinner companion, and in presentation mode — both fabulous!

  9. It is hard to sneak away when there are wonderful people to talk to, but when I start to feel my voice get hoarse, it’s kind of a sign.

  10. Thanks, Jama. Yes, what a photogenic bunch, esp since my camera skills are not so hot.

  11. It felt just like meeting an old friend.
    We were all tired, but me shoving the camera right up at your face, trying to get in everyone in at the angle, isn’t the best photo technique, so I apologize for that; but still, the glow comes through I think.

  12. No apology needed! Even though I was tired, I was happy, and I’m honored to be part of your blog. 🙂

  13. It was wonderful to see you, Jeannine!

  14. It was a wonderful workshop, Jeannine!
    And, thank you for letting me write with you!

  15. Thanks, Jeannine! It was nice to meet you. I had no idea I’d be quoted on the school thing 🙂 For the record, I only had to do this for the first month, and the mantra was “Sit, don’t throw, don’t yell.” They caught on quickly. I love middle schoolers!

  16. Thanks for the affirmation, Cindy. It was great to write with you!

  17. Anindita, it was nice to meet you, too. Well, I had no idea I’d be quoting you on the school thing, but it kind of stuck with me, even if did mess up the mantra, which is a very bad thing to to.
    I do love middle schoolers, too, even if I no longer have the energy for them on a day to day basis. I always remember asking one seventh grader, Billy, to sit still. And he said loudly but dolefully, “I can’t!” And I realized he couldn’t. So he just kept on rocking in his chair through the year. And being honest.

  18. The water doesn’t just make New England writers cool – it also appears to make them all crazy talented!
    It was so lovely to see you!!

  19. It was lovely to see you, too. Last night I was drinking Amherst, MA water which is especially good. We need to meet up there sometime. (let those college searches begin…)

  20. Somehow I missed this post…boy that conference sounds wonderful. and I sure wish I could have been in the audience for your poetry workshop.

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