Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 7, 2011

NJSCBWI Weekend in Review

The New Jersey SCBWI had our first Free Craft Afternoon this past Saturday. Over 145 novel writers, picture book writers and illustrators showed up to in the hopes of learning more about their craft. Editor Chery Klein from Arthur A. Levine give an in-depth talk about developing your writing voice. Everyone was riveted to her every word. Cheryl had two hours, but her brain is so jam-packed with needed information, that everyone wanted to take her home with them. Since she wouldn’t go along with that, all the smart people lined up to buy her book, SECOND SIGHT AN EDITOR’S TALK ON WRITING REVISING & PUBLISHING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS. My copy is sitting on my desk and staying there.

Author/editor Anita Nolan warmed up the crowd at the first two-hour novel craft workshop. Anita always does an excellent job of breaking down the mechanics of writing. She had everyone submit a first page beforehand and critiqued each one prior to the workshop. During the workshop, Anita went over the things you should and shouldn’t do in your first page and pulled out examples for each from the first pages submitted. Participants got to ask questions and give their opinions during the discussion. Everyone hungry for every nugget of information discussed. Good job, Anita! Everyone there should thank her, since she donated her time to help the novel writers.

While all this was going on, Ame Dyckman, author of BOY & BOT, coming out this April is a great picture book. It is everything a picture book should be and it is illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. Everyone should buy her book to see perfection. And I am not saying that because she is a friend of mine or that everyone who knows her loves her, ir really is perfect. Anyway, I asked Ame if she would come in (again for free) to talk about other great picture books. Everyone brought in a picture book they thought was wonderful and this spurred the two-hour workshop. Since I was in the novel workshop, I missed all the insightful discussion, but it was a good workshop the feedback was exceptionally good.

Then Editor Daniel Nayeri from Clarion Books came in and showed the picture book writers how an editor works with the art direction, writer and illustrator. He shared artwork and layouts with everyone. There again, I missed out on this one, too. I am sure everyone wishes they could have attended both.

Afterwards, Daniel joined Cheryl to sell his book Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow: Four Novellas. He also gave me a copy of the new book that he wrote with his sister titled, ANOTHER PAN. I’m looking forward to reading it. The front cover says, “An ancient evil awakes under the halls of the Marlowe School.”

Of course, we did not forget the illustrators. Artist extraordinaire and illustrator of 20 books, Adam Gustavson came in an did a workshop with the illustrators where you demonstrated oil painting techniques. Wish I could have sat on this one, too. In fact, I bet that most people would have found his workshop fascinating. But at least, we only have one body.

Author/illustrator Leeza Hernandez spent the following two hours working with the illustrators on perspective. Again, I feel like I missed out here, too.  Leeza is our NJSCBWI illustrator coordinator and she is both talented, perky, filled with knowledge, and willing to share that info with everyone around her.  Leeza also, donated her time to help her follow members.  Thanks, Leeza!

Adam and Leeza joined Cheryl and Adam to sell their picture books.  I bought seven.  Cheryl’s book to help improve my writing.  Daniel’s book for pleasure and to give me clues on what works.  And five picture books illustrated by Adam. All bought to own a little bit of his wonderful art.  You ask, what about Leeza?  Well, I have all of Leeza’s books, so the next one I will buy and get signed will have to wait until the 2012 June Conference.

Not only will reading books help you be a better writer, but if you buy someone else’s book you are helping to promote the publishing of more books.  We all want as many books as we can get published and buying a book contributes to getting that job done.  Also, envision yourself with your first book.  Yes, there you are with a pile of shiny new books sitting on the table in front of you, praying someone will walk up and act excited about buying your book.  When you can give that joy to a fellow writer.  What goes around comes around.

The day ended with a lovely dinner with 72 people and a funny inspiring talk by Agent Stephen Fraser from Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency to cap off the night.  Well, a few people may have capped off their night  in the hotel bar, but my lips are sealed.

Thank goodness for the clocks being turned back.  I really need that extra hour of sleep.

Sunday was filled with one-on-one critiques, group critiques, first page sessions, illustrator art exhibit, portfolio critiques and lots of networking with the editors and agents and art director.  Philomel Editor – Tamra Tuller, Simon & Schuster Sr. Editor – Alexandra Cooper, Running Press Books Editor – Lisa Cheng, Arthur A. Levine Sr. Editor – Cheryl Klein, Clarion Books Editor – Daniel Nayeri, Jennifer DeChiara Agent – Stephen Fraser, Prospect Agency Agent – Teresa Keitlinski,  Abram’ Books Art Director – Chad Beckerman, and Illustrator Adam Gustavson did an outstanding job sharing their expertise with the 63 three members who came from around the country and Canada.

Thank you to everyone who came out. I hope we will have the opportunity to see again at an event.   For those of you who I haven’t met yet, I hope our paths cross in the future.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. All I can say is I had a fantastic day on Saturday (and I was one of the “dirty stay-outs” though I don’t drink!). Thank you to the NJ Chapter for enabling so many of us to enjoy a jam-packed day of amazing stuff, and for FREE! Granted, we can’t expect it every year, but we CAN hope 🙂

    I remember when signing up for Craft Day, I wished I could clone myself because I desperately wanted to attend ALL the workshops!

    Thank you, Kathy and Laurie, for doing this. The work that goes into it we are only partially aware of.


  2. It was another fantastic NJSCBWI event thanks to you Kathy! I had a great time and learned a ton, as usual!

    Thank you for all of your hard work, everybody was talking about it in the—at the end of the night 😉



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: