Posted by: jeannineatkins | May 16, 2010

New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference

Sunday at the NESCBWI conference began with Melissa Stewart asking great questions to novelist and picture book writer Cynthia Leitich Smith who gave thoughtful, often humorous, and always generous answers about how and why she’s changed the focus of her work, collaborations with her husband Greg Leitich Smith, teaching, multicultural books, Dracula, and many other things.

Kelly Fineman kellyrfineman spoke intelligently and clearly about free verse, surprising none of us who read her blog, offering definitions and examples of building blocks like line breaks, stanza breaks, alliteration, and metaphor. In between she gave us great writing prompts that let us work with these concepts. Some people left with whole poems, and more of us with pieces, but all feeling as if we’d put in some good work with hope for more ahead. And she did assign homework. (And Marjorie marjorielight may frown on students passing notes in her class, but I’m very happy about the note she slipped to me.)

I attended a panel about blogging that Kate Messner kmessner kept well organized. Jo Knowles jbknowles brought her signature kindness and Carrie carriejones added her wacky and warm sense of humor. Actually all three were wise and sweet, but there was talk of a blog presence, how a persona comes across so I can’t resist the adjectives. All talked about how they chose topics, how often they write, the blogs that inspired them, ways readers find their blogs, and pitfalls to avoid. They showcased other people’s blogs, practicing what they preached: that blogging is not about me, me, me but the community many of us have found here and treasure.

It was lovely to end the day writing from prompts given by Jo jbknowles Her good ideas and faith made us all write more bravely than we might have without her. You can click on the link above to read her Monday morning prompt and follow the beautiful way she ended the workshop, opening us to more committed writing ahead.

Conference organizers Greg Fishbone and Anindita Basu Sempere arialas have the gift of making it look easy. Thank you, everyone for another great conference!



  1. Thanks for coming, Jeannine! In my nervous state, I often found myself looking to your reassuring face.

  2. She *does* have a reassuring face, doesn’t she? It’s full of sweet.

  3. It was great seeing you, Jeannine!

  4. Aren’t you sweet? Not that that’s news, of course. But thank you for your kind words. It was a joy to see you today (er, yesterday)!

  5. It was all my pleasure!

  6. Nice to see you, Kim, and write a bit of poetry in the same room!

  7. Kelly, the workshop was fabulous! We all left beaming.
    And sorry the picture tinted you a bit green. My camera did not seem to like the lighting there: my picture of the blogging panel came out even worse. But I love your flying hands!

  8. I’m so sorry I missed you, Jeannine!

  9. I’m sorry I missed you, too, Loree! I was only able to come on Sunday. It was kind of nice to be one of the untired ones, though the tired ones all had a glow. I know I missed a lot.

  10. I’m sooo sad I missed it all!
    I’m happy it was wonderful and thank you for sharing, Jeannine!

  11. Awesome photo of Greg and Anindita! Great to see you!

  12. I loved hearing about Kelly’s presentation, and the presentation on blogging. I’m so glad you had a great time and that you left feeling rejuvenated and inspired. I had fun at my first SCBWI conference over the weekend, too — I met seven people, five of whom invited me to join their critique group (I’d met three members of this critique group a couple of weeks ago at a Highlights dinner), and learned so much from the presentations. A good weekend for writers, I think. 🙂

  13. Re: I’m sooo sad I missed it all!
    I hope you can make it, or some of it (as I managed) next year.

  14. Nice to see you, too. And glad I caught them outside of the fluorescent lighting, which did a number on a few other photos I tried!

  15. I’m so glad you had a good time at your first SCBWI conference, and I hope the critique group works out. One of the women I drove with also returned with the names of two or three people she hopes to add to her critique group which could use some new energy. Kate mentioned in the blogging panel how you can never predict what kind of good will come, but that she believes good will come if you enter with that spirit. And I think that’s true of these conferences, too. We all come back with different gems.

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