A Writer’s Best Friend

fig 1This was me a couple years ago, embarking on my new career as a children’s fiction writer. You can tell I’m just starting out by the untouched keyboard and the distressed look on my face. Because aside from loving kids and feeling inspired, I had no clue how to proceed.

fig 2This is me today. The difference is obvious. I look cooler. I look happier. I have much better hair. But the important thing to notice is my calm. I know you’re wondering where that came from.I’ll spell it out for you. SCBWI.

I stumbled onto the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators about a month into my writing career. Imagine! An international professional group offering resources, conferences, networking, and my all time favorite, discussion forums. I jumped in with both feet. It was through the discussion boards that I found short-term critique partnerships and long-term critique groups. It was perfect. I was writing. I was learning from other authors.  I was giving and getting constructive feedback. For a while, this was all I needed. I’m sad to say I was an SCBWI fair-weather friend.

But lately the weather has changed. No, I don’t mean the polar vortex that’s been hitting the nation in recent weeks. I’m talking about my own inner storm. That frazzle-haired distressed me is creeping back. Because I want to continue to hone my craft through additional education and need to target exactly the right course. Because I’m ready to query and need help on how to proceed. Because I need to know as much as I can about the publishing process. So I looked up my old friend and what do you know? While I’ve been improving as a writer, SCBWI has been improving too. In October 2013, the website underwent an upgrade.  It’s more attractive. It’s more robust. It’s better than ever. Have a look.

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SCBWI has cleverly managed to provide more resources than ever. Like podcasts, an enhanced illustrators gallery and enhanced discussion boards, which have merged with Verla Kay’s Blue Boards, offering a much richer discussion environment. All this, while retaining the members-only features for SCBWI members. Like the conferences.  The Annual Winter Conference in New York on February 21-23, 2014 promises two jam-packed days of inspiration and the latest on what’s happening in the field of children’s literature from top editors, agents, art directors, authors, and illustrators!  And the NESCBWI 2014 Spring Conference in Springfield MA on May 2-4, 2014 boasts a fabulous array of workshops, agents and editors. The full breadth of member benefits can be had for under $100. Like the true friend it is, SCBWI is there for me with exactly what I need.

I realize now that my SCBWI membership is an asset I was underutilizing. But not any more! My fair-weather friend days are over. I log in two to three times a week without fail.

How about you? Are you a member of SCBWI? Do you take full advantage of your SCBWI membership? What are your favorite SCBWI features?

14 comments

  1. SCBWI is definitely my best friend. My favorite feature is the Bulletin and I love the discussion boards as well, although I don’t look at them as I have in the past. I love to keep informed on craft and the industry and these allow me to do that. Also, it is through the Bulletin and boards that I saw call for submissions which led to my first two book contracts. I am a big fan of SCBWI. Thanks for your thoughtful post, Liz.

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