Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 11, 2013

NJSCBWI June Conference Review

The theme for this years artist exhibit and contest at the NJSCBWI Conference was “Down the Rabbit Hole” There were four different awards. Below is Deborah Cuneo’s winning illustration. She was the winner of the Members Choice Award. Anyone who didn’t attend missed a wonderful display of talented illustration pieces.


The 259 people who attended the NJSCBWI conference this past weekend included 30 auth/illus speakers. Additionally, we had 32 industry professionals on the faculty. They came from 18 states, various Canadian provinces and one from South Africa.

karen, connie and leezaI just have to sing the praises of RA Leeza Hernandez, ARA Sheri Oshins, former ARA Laurie Wallmark, ICC Karen Romanga and their wonderful committee and volunteers. I had forgotten how much fun attending a conference could be. Having the opportunity to see things from the attendee side gave me the time to talk to the many friends who would not be in my life had I not volunteered to run the chapter for ten years. What a treat it was to be able to enjoy their company!

sheri, halle, Connie150It was a privilege to read and critique a few writer’s manuscripts and share my thoughts about improving their stories. I conducted a workshop on marketing and gave everyone who attended a plan on what to do at every stage in their career, which I hope motivated them to start thinking about what they could do right now and start laying out a plan to be prepared for the successes that will come on the road to publication. Plus, I laid out what to do once they have signed a contract with a time frame on how to prepare for that book launch and after.

To be able to go to a workshop without having to run out to put out fires was fabulous. This gave me time to learn from the great editors, agents, and authors who shared their expertise. I even got to do my first pitch ever with agent Louise Fury from L Perkins Literary Agency – love Louise’s voice and her energy.

Louise was just one of the “New To NJSCBWI Conference” faculty. The conference was a good mix of conference veteran editors and agents and first time faculty members like: 

Elizabeth (Betsy) Bird, Librarian, NYPL/SLJ
Melissa Faulner, Editorial Assistant, Abrams
Louise Fury, Agent, L. Perkins Agency
Julie Ham, Editor, Charlesbridge
Erin Harris, Agent, Folio
Janine Hauber, Agent, Sheldon Fogelman
Lexa Hillyer, Editor/Co-Founder, Paper Lantern Literary
Janet Kusmierski, Art Director, Scholastic
Tricia Lawrence, Agent, Erin Murphy Literary
Rotem Moscovich, Editor, Disney/Hyperion

Jessica Regel, Agent, Jean V. Naggar Agency
Martha Sikkema, Senior Designer, Charlesbridge
Jenne Abramowitz, Senior Editor, Scholastic


Vin Vogel was the winner in the Published Illustrator category for the above illustration. He was featured on Illustrator Saturday in December. Here’s the link:

Connie and Amy150Ame Dyckman picked up her Crystal Kite Award for BOY+ BOT before funny and nice-guy Author/Illustrator, Peter Brown kicked off the conference. Shared his artwork as a child and his colorful illustration of his “Mommy.” Peter has promised to be featured later this year on Illustrator Saturday. I was disappointed that I didn’t grab his Creepy Carrots book on Saturday, because they were gone on Sunday. I’ll just have to buy it at Amazon.

Tara Lazar (The Monstore) followed by sharing her publishing journey and the pitfalls of battling Multiple Sclerosis. Tara is proof that you can overcome anything if you have to in order to get published – very inspiring.

sudipta, tara and connieI signed up for Stephen Barbara and Lauren Oliver (Delirium, Pandemonium, Requiem, Before I Fall, Spindlers ) workshop, but Lauren was sick with the flu, so she stayed in bed and pumped up the antibiotics, so she would be able to show up for the ending keynote on Sunday. Luckily Lexa Hillyer (Ex- Razorbill editor and Lauren’s partner at Paper Lantern was at the conference and could step-in without a hitch. Lexa was the hidden jewel at the conference.

Stopped in to learn from ultra successful author (25 books) and New Jersey member Wendy Mass talk about how she builds a book chapter by chapter.

laurie,annie,kim,connie,christine150Wanted to attend Laurie (Boys of Wartime) Calkhoven’s workshop on writing scenes and her mediation workshop, who everyone raves about, but I was doing my workshop during the mediation workshop and I only caught the end of the scene writing workshop. I am sure that Laurie will repeat both of these next year or another time during the year. Laurie always give a good workshop on every topic she does.

I attend Julie Hedlund’s workshop on App’s, but that is a big subject to tackle in a 45 minute window. I know I would be interested in an intensive on this subject. Julie took some of her unpublished picture books and developed apps of them which can be bought on Amazon.

charlotte150Charlotte Bennardo (co-author Sirenz) did a fantastic workshop about what type of swag you could use to promote your book and individualized it for everyone who attended. I am sure she will repeat it again next year, so if you attend in 2014 – DON’T MISS IT!

It was nice to hear Charlotte remind everyone (what I always emphasize) that we are all in this together and should try to support each other by buying each others books and attending each others book signings when possible. What goes around comes around, so do unto other as you would have them do unto you. When your house starts getting run over by books, give them away to schools or friends.

Idea: Laurie Wallmark has a book swapping party at her house once a year where she gives away books and takes what isn’t picked up to the schools in the area.

More Tomorrow.  I will share the long list of people who came up to me at the conference to let me know about their successes. If something good has happened with you, please email me. You do not have to have been at the conference. I love to hear them and I think we can all draw inspiration from sharing in their successes.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. Though I already knew, from our conversation today on the phone, how much you enjoyed the conference (Yay for the conference “team” effort!), I’m SO glad you posted pics! So many familiar faces and those of friends—it makes me miss them even more :/ I’m certainly sorry I missed all the speakers, too; the keynotes and special guest speakers are ALways wonderful. I hope I can make it next year. It sure felt weird (and sad) not being there!

    A BIG “Congrats!” to Ame, the Blue Fairy 🙂 And I REALLY wish I could’ve seen all the wonderful illustrations. Thanks for posting these couple. I LOVE the idea that there was an actual theme for them! What fun and YAY to those winners, too 😀

    I have to say, though—I don’t think I’d be too easy to attend a book-swapping party; one of my greatest joys is being surrounded by all my books! lol

    Glad everyone had a good time and all went well. I was concerned about everyone traveling in that horrific weather! And here’s hoping it won’t be long when you’ll receive news to post about some success stories that come from the opportunities afforded over the weekend 😀


  2. Great post, Kathy! Wish I had been there. What I loved most about this was learning how you were able to relax and enjoy the conference from another angle. I look forward to 2014!


  3. As a first timer, the conference was amazing. I managed to get my hands on The Monstore before it was sold out, but also missed Peter Brown’s book. Picked up two of Wendy’s books for my kids-they were thrilled.


  4. Such an enjoyable conference. You New Jersey ladies know how to do it!


  5. Great post, Kathy! Thanks for sharing the highlights of some of the sessions for those of us who couldn’t be there.:) Too bad I didn’t know how fabulous SCBWI conferences were when I was young and foolish and lived in NYC. Having just come back from the SCBWI conference in Singapore (Asian Festival of Children’s Content was the cover name for the 5-day event…two of the days were SCBWI sessions), I understand how valuable it is…to attend workshops and connect with the incredible people you meet. 🙂

    I’m with Donna about the books…although I do give lots of books away…I replace them before the space they left is cold.:) Brought back so many from Singapore, I was afraid my suitcase would be penalized for weight.:)


    • Wow, Singapore! I know SCBWI arms have a long reach, but Wow! lol


      • It was an amazing event…5 days, 2 of which were devoted to SCBWI sessions, awards, etc.


  6. did you see our photo in my blog? 😉 such a nice time in every way…..


    • Well, I just did, Chris, and was glad to see them 🙂 Wonderful pic of you and Kathy together, and of course, Steve Meltzer. He is one of my favorite people 😀 I never saw him with his hair cut so short! I think it’s hard not to have a good time when you’re around kindred spirits 🙂


    • Chris,

      I did. You look so nice in the picture. I have a link to your post on Wednesday’s blog post. I am so glad you were able to join us this year. I only wish I could have attended both the illustrating and writing workshops.



  7. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    More great news and photos from the Children’s Writer and Illustrator Conference.


  8. Thanks for the great post, Kathy — agreed, another fabulous NJSCBWI conference — and you were the one to pave the way for us! (that smiling gal with the polka dot dress looked vaguely familiar — wasn’t that “Constance Mary MyBad?!?! LOL!)
    It was so wonderful seeing all of my old buddies and equally wonderful making new friends. Had a blast giving the First Timers workshop (great addition with the stickers so we could show some lovin’ to everyone with a “heart on”!) and I was honored to hear from a number of attendees that they loved my Magazine Writing workshop and learned lots — now go forth and get some contracts!!!


  9. Congratulations on pitching to Louise Fury!
    Love the rabbit hole illustration.
    Wished I lived closer, then I’d be able to attend such a wonderful conference.


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