Encore, Encore! (A recap of NESCBWI Encore 2017)

By Sarah Lynne Reul

As you might remember, I absolutely love the Spring conference run by the New England chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (NESCBWI). It’s an action-packed three-day-event with tons of resources on improving and refining our craft. Other Writers’ Rumpus authors agree, as you can see from these excellent past posts:

Top 3 Things I Learned at the NESCBWI Conference

Planning the New England SCBWI 2016 Conference: The Power of (RE) INVENTION

Intentional (RE)Invention: #NESCBWI16

NESCBWI 2015 Conference: And My Fantasy Acceptance Speech

However, the costs of the whole weekend can really add up between conference fees, meals, two nights in a hotel, and critique fees (all of which I’ve found to be totally worth it, but sometimes difficult to squeeze into a budget). In addition, sometimes I feel oversaturated with all of the incredible info – when I return to my studio, it can be difficult to incorporate what I’ve learned into my working routine.

Enter the NESCBWI Encore event! A Best-of-the-Best compilation reprising the top 5 presentations from the last spring conference, this one-day event is an excellent refresher or entry point to writing workshops.

This year, the five presenters included:

  • Dana Meachen Rau (Who Cares? Injecting your Character with a Dose of Emotion)
  • Molly B. Burnham ( The Anatomy of a Giggle: Humor & Writing Funny)
  • A.C. Gaughen (Mad Cap Character Building)
  • Chris Tebbetts (Improv & Play for Writers)
  • Erin Dionne (Quirky Revision Techniques)

I took tons of notes! Usually I use my sketchbook, but I’ve realized that once the sketchbook is filled up & stashed on the shelf, it’s hard to locate old notes. This time, I switched it up – using the free pads of paper from the conference center and different colored pens, I’ve created neat little packets that make it much easier to reference my notes post-event.


There are some differences in format from the big conference. Since it’s a much shorter event, there’s less time to meet & socialize with attendees, and I don’t believe there were any editors, agents or art directors there (although I’ve heard that the Fall Agent/Editor day is also a fantastic event).

While the big NESCBWI conference is split between larger, ballroom-size keynotes and smaller, individual workshops of about 30 people, all of the Encore workshops were presented in the ballroom format. At first I was concerned that this would be less effective than the smaller sessions, but the speakers were so well-organized and their presentations were so engaging that it wasn’t a problem. But I definitely needed the stretch breaks in between the speakers!

I’ve referenced my notes from Encore several times in the last few weeks, and some of the insights have helped me break through some issues on current projects.

Have you attended an event like this? How have you incorporated what you’ve learned into your regular work?

Sarah Lynne Reul is an illustrator, writer and award-winning 2D animator who likes science, bright colors and figuring out how things work. Learn more at reuler.com.


  1. With so many conferences, getaways, and (fill-in-the-blank) vying for our money and time, Encore is a win-win. Highly rated sessions from the Spring conference in one day and room, lunch, snacks, and drinks included: just $50 for SCBWI members. Now that there are TWO Encores to choose from, everyone can go! In fact, if you’re not ready to experience the big Spring NESCBWI conference (which I also love), this is a great place to start. Thanks, Sarah, for re-posting some of the helpful and hilarious past posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Encore is definitely on my To Do list for the future!
    I use those little conference paper pads as well – easier to use when you are scribbling on your lap at a crowded banquet table. My only tip is to number the pages before the speaker begins, so if the glue strip fails, you can reorganize the notes later on! A lesson learned from personal experience. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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