Posted by: jeannineatkins | April 28, 2017

Joy at the NE-SCBWI Conference

The New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference last weekend was wonderful. I gave three workshops and was on a panel, so I didn’t have as much time as I’d have liked to attend other offerings, and was too preoccupied with what was coming and going to take many pictures. But talking about verse novels, poetic forms, and the intersections of history and imagination reminded me of what I know and can strive for, so I’m writing with a bit more conviction this week.

I was also happy to stand before my friends to acknowledge the SCBWI Golden Kite Honor for middle grade/young reader books for Finding Wonders. Here’s how I began my talk:


I’m so grateful and happy for this honor, for as we read in Charlottes Web, “It is deeply satisfying to win a prize in front of a lot of people. But of course the medal Wilbur wins at the fair is not the point of the novel, which is about friendship, the seasons, and writing — to save a life. We writers are Charlotte, and illustrators, for that spinner was an artist, too. We spend a lot of time looking for the right word – maybe asking for help from our friends. Other writers have always been my first readers. After giving the members of my critique group my manuscript, I wait through those first sentences, which are kind, thoughtful, and usually sooner rather than later contain “but” … I grit my teeth, grumble in the car driving home, but I listen, and go on because the friends who find flaws also say we must and we can.

I enjoyed being on a panel called Lying About History with Burleigh Muten and Jane Yolen, moderated by Heidi Stemple.


And in a workshop about how imagination can shape the past.


It was fun to meet old friends like Nancy Castaldo.


And meet new ones. I look forward to reading Leah Henderson’s first novel, One Shadow on the Wall, which comes out from Atheneum in June!


Writing is sometimes fun and sometimes tough. Sometimes the subjects pull you in, and sometimes you feel itchy and lonely. Always, I’m grateful for our community!


  1. Hearty congrats to you, Jeannine! So well deserved!! ❤ 🙂

  2. Oh, Jeannine, I so wish I could have heard your talk and cheered you on. How wonderful to start out with a reference to the work of E.B. White, a model if ever there was one. I’m so grateful for your model as a writer – your diligence and the beauty of your words.

    • You are so sweet, and your support means so much to me. I’m glad to do this work with you.

  3. I wish I could have attended that conference, although I was sick and coughing up my lungs. So you’re probably happy I didn’t. I took a break from my writing today and blasted through your Stone Mirrors. I just loved it! Poetry was the right form, such beautiful words and images throughout. Parts of it broke my heart. Just wanted you to know how much I love it.

    • Brenda, That’s so kind of you to let me know you liked Stone Mirrors. As you know, we authors can get a wee bit insecure. Such a comment that someone took to thought and time to make help! I’m sorry you couldn’t make the the conference, but hope you’re feeling much better now and finding some inspiration in spring. Best wishes to you!

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