Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 9, 2011

New Jersey SCBWI Announcement – Laurie Wallmark

I would like to let everyone know that Laurie Wallmark, who is the New Jersey SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor, is stepping down.  In the last four years Laurie has become, not only my right arm in running the New Jersey Chapter, but she has become a cherished friend.  She is also the perfect ARA, since she is dependable, hardworking, nice and her strengths were my weaknesses and vice versa.  She would always give me her honesty opinion, but let make the final decision and never got mad.  Everything we did was considered and discussed, so we could come up with the best scenario for the members.  I never regretted for one minute having Laurie by my side and thanked the heavens every day for sending her my way.

I am taking this very hard, but I love Laurie and when you love someone you want the best for them. I know stepping down is the right move for her.  It is wonderful to know we helped so many people get published, but it is also  hard to accept that all the good work being done does not allow a minute for us to write, illustrate or submit anything.  So I am giving you a heads up that the New Jersey Chapter will be going through a transitional phase as I try to sort things out.

The year that Laurie started, I had planned a one and a half day conference.  I didn’t think adding a half a day would add a lot of work, but it did.  Even with Laurie’s help with the things she could do, I did so much work that I ended up in bed for two months afterwards with pneumonia.  It almost killed me, so I wanted to go back to a one day conference.  Laurie said she thought she had learned enough during that conference that she would be able to increase her work load.  I said, “Okay, but if it almost kills you, we are going back to a one day conference.”

Those were the years when we held our conferences at the Princeton Theological Seminary; the years where we were a sweaty mess by the end of the event.  I remember barely being able to lift a fork when went to dinner afterwards.  Since then we moved the Summer Conference to a hotel with air-conditioning.  Last year, we moved to a bigger hotel and expanded the conference to two and a half days.

I have signed the contract to do the conference at the same hotel this year, so we are locked into doing a two and a half day conference.  Laurie is willing to stay until the conference and will help train volunteers who may be willing to help do the things she did.  This transitional phase will determine how the chapter goes forward.

I am cancelling all first page sessions in 2012 and I am cancelling the Mentoring Workshop we normally hold in March, in order to focus on the 2012 June Conference.  After the conference, I will evaluate how many members stepped up to the plate and how well they handled their assigned jobs.  Pre-Laurie, I had members volunteer to help and then throw up their hands half way through the job or at the last-minute and say, “This is too hard,” then throw the job back on my lap.  I had to drop all the things I had on my assigned tasks and work non-stop over Memorial Day Weekend and the other days leading up to the event.  By the time the conference started, I was exhausted.

This year we are planning to have online registration that will let attendees pick their editors, workshops, pitch sessions and lunch tables.  This one thing should eliminate weeks of work and will provide you with the same level of interaction with the editors and agents that our conference attendees have grown to love.  I already have a large amount of the faculty invited, so our conference should still be able to end up better than the previous year.  No one should think it will be lacking in any way.  The only thing that will be lacking is the other events I had planned to do and will show up in the SCBWI Bulletin. Please ignore anything scheduled under the New Jersey Chapter, other than the June 8th, 9th and 10th conference.

So I am looking for volunteers who can do the job they volunteer to do and are serious about helping.  Laurie and I will break up the tasks and I will post them to see if we have volunteers for each of the jobs.  Hopefully, I will find the next Laurie and thus, the next Regional Advisor to step into my shoes.

Thank  you, Laurie for all the time you donated to the New Jersey SCBWI Chapter.  We will all miss you very  much.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I have said, many times, that all the hard work you and Laurie have done is amazing and appreciated beyond words, but the amount of hard work it requires drastically affects your quality of life to the point where you barely have one 😦

    It will take many people to fill Laurie’s shoes, and the day you step down, too, Kathy, it will require a task force of great magnitude. Others have said it and I’ll repeat it: those are BIG shoes to fill!

    Kathy, what you’re doing and how you’re handling this situation is what needs to be done and I, for one, definitely accept and support your decisions. The NJ Chapter is something we can all be proud of, and it will continue to be.

    Laurie, though you will be stepping down, I’m sure you won’t be stepping out. I can’t imagine not seeing your smiling face, regardless of whether or not you hold a title 🙂

    Here’s hoping the transition will allow you, and other staff members, the time you haven’t had to devote to your OWN work. After all, that’s what got you involved in the first place! 🙂

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for everything…


  2. I often tell people that the NJ chapter of SCBWI is amazing and that I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of work that you and Laurie and your volunteers put into it on a daily basis – year round. I, too, hope that Laurie will still be around with feathers in her hair and her dry humor 😉 And I hope that you, Kathy, will be around for a long, long time. I feel so lucky to be able to call you both friends.



  3. Laurie will be missed but I’m sure she will be around! Very kind way to honor her work and your charming partnership. I know I joined SCBWI fairly recently but it was easy to recognize the dedication you both gave to the chapter. Good luck in whatever direction the future takes you! =)

    ❤ Tory


  4. I cannot imagine a seminar, conference, or first page session without Laurie there to help guide us. Laurie, please tell us you will still be attending and Good Luck with all your own goals. I am sure you will relish the amount of time you have to dedicate to them.
    Kathy, I’d be bawling so hard I wouldn’t have been able to even write this post. I support whatever you feel needs to be done for the transition. I have been so blessed to move to NJ and attend so many great NJ-SCBWI events.
    I’ll help.


    • Yay, Kim 🙂 Help is what’s always been needed, and not just the “direct, hands-on” type. ALL members can contribute by generally being more attentive during the different processes like registration, etc. No one realizes how much work it creates when instructions aren’t read or emails aren’t answered, etc. Sometimes things can’t be helped, and occasionally things CAN be confusing, but a lot of work created for the advisors has to do with these type things. Can you imagine averaging 300 emails per day and having to spend hours every day answering them, when so much of that could be avoided? I know I wouldn’t want to spend my time that way! Every little bit counts! 🙂

      Our chapter has become what it is, with all the wonderful opportunities, because of Kathy’s initiation, innovation and hard work, with Laurie as her “right arm.” This has involved working a “salaried” job (which means LOTS of overtime) without the salary! To me, it doesn’t seem fair that it all rests on a few shoulders and that everyone else benefits by such total sacrifice by these extremely generous souls.

      I use this analogy in addressing how the chapter SHOULD be:

      Scenario #1: When a hostess has a big gathering at their home, she buys all the food, cooks it, serves it, cleans the house and makes everything wonderful so all the guests can have a good time. The guests show up not having to anything buy enjoy themselves.

      Scenario #2: Pot luck dinner! EVERYone brings a dish, it’s a doable amount of work for each person, no one is exhausted and everyone has a good time, including the hostess!

      Although, in running the chapter, there has to be one hostess, it would be much more fair if it were more like Scenario #2, with a lot more people pitching in 🙂 If it doesn’t happen, we will ultimately lose what has been accomplished over these 8 years 😦



  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you-both. Very best of everything to Laurie.


  6. What Kat said, times 100.


  7. NJ SCBWI Conference is the BEST because of people like Laurie, and you Kathy, and all of the other hard working volunteers. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication! My best to you Laurie, in all of your adventures. Carole


  8. WAIT! WHAT? Boy, are we going to miss you Laurie!!!! And Kathy – anything you need – I’m there. You have given so much – it’s time we pitched it on back to you. Love you both – with all my heart and gratitude.


    • Yay, Bettelynn!!! 🙂


  9. It’s astonishing what events and education Kathy and Laurie have given us! thank you, Laurie, for staying to get us through the next conference. You and Kathy have been each other’s yin and yang, which has blessed the members. I hope, as you two reorganize the chapter, you find a way to not only replace Laurie, but to relieve Kathy of various tasks so she can continue being our spiritual leader without getting killed. And the rest of us need to step up to carry on the great work of the chapter.

    Good luck, Laurie!!


    • My thoughts exactly, Mary 🙂


  10. Laurie, if this is what you need to do, I’m sure every member of the NJ chapter is sending you luck and love, but man, will we miss you! So don’t disappear, okay?

    Thank you for all that you’ve done for the chapter (I’ll try not to panic on Kathy’s behalf) and for me personally. Your sharp eyes helped The CRANKAMACALLIT become what it is today, a whacky iPad app 😉
    So we’ll always have that!




    • OK, I don’t have an ipad, but there’s no way I can NOT know what a CRANKAMACALLIT is!!!! 🙂


  11. HI Kathy,
    I live in Arizona and can tell you that I have envied the writers/illustrators who live in the N.E. and can participate in the most amazing writers’ sessions I’ve ever seen. The hard work that you and Laurie have done is obvious even to those who don’t attend. To me, you are like an angel sitting on writers’ and illustrators’ shoulders.
    I wish you the very best and pray for you as you navigate all the changes in your life. My best to Laurie, too.
    Pam Bickell


    • What a nice compliment, Pam 🙂


  12. I, also, want to thank Laurie for all her hard work and years of volunteering. She’s been great to know and wonderful for the chapter. I hope, Laurie, you’ll remain active and look forward to seeing you soon.


  13. Thank you both for the amazing and tireless work you have done for the SCBWI members. Many of us are published because of the work you have done behind the scenes. It’s always a fabulous experience to attend the June conference and we all know it’s because of you two. thanks. Jeannine


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: