Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: San Francisco North & East Bay Region and Around.
As the Co-Regional Advisor for this region of the outstanding worldwide organization, check out my tips, suggestions and organization links!


Getting Local, Familiar and Out of “Shy-Space”

half shyEven though I have spoken nationwide and consulted with firms around the world, children’s writing is a totally different animal. It has taken me awhile to absorb and take to heart the wonderful advice and experiences from other published writers. It’s not that I don’t believe them, nor didn’t understand how to implement their good advice.  I think there was a bit of shyness in putting myself forward in a new industry, new endeavor, and new role.

images-1I’m sure many of you are in the same “shy-space.” Your day job is one persona, your writer life may be another.

So at last, with the help of my work with SCBWI, I’ve introduced myself to my local librarian, local independent bookstore, local Girl Scouts, etc. SCBWI is a wonderful resource and tool to use. Plus since I decided to do promotion for Ginger Wadsworth’s Girl Scout bookstore meet & greet on 4/18, this gave me the impetus visit our local elementary schools, contact audience targets, and more.

The more new steps, the better.

Book Signing of “First Girl Scout” for Girl Scouts, Leaders & Former Girl Scouts

cover-first GS hi res IMG_3309_JPGI am bringing Ginger Wadsworth, author of First Girl Scout, and Yosemite’s Songster, to our SCBWI Marin County April 18th Marin Meeting at the Depot Bookstore & Cafe in Mill Valley. It seemed that if we’re having her for an evening meeting, perhaps she could do a book signing earlier. The Depot thought that was a good idea, so now she will do a booksigning at 4pm. I contacted our region’s Girl Scout coordinator and she was so kind. She will let all the troops know. I am promoting through locals papers and blogs. But perhaps reaching local schools would be good too. If anyone has other ideas, let me know. This will be a fun event. Here is the Poster.

Programs are on A Roll

SCBWI is a wonderful organization of talented volunteers. I am biased. I think our region has among the best. We have some terrific programs starting off the year for writers and illustrators to learn, hone their craft, and get inspired to keep on plugging (as we all know that there is not a lot of money in children’s lit unless you wrote Harry Potter.)

Right around the corner:

Sat. March 23rd, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, award winning author/illustrator Ashley Wolff will speak at Sun Gallery, Hayward. Learn More

Fri, March 29th, 7 – 9pm, author Natasha Carter Yim will speak at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol. Learn More

Thurs, April 18th, 7 – 9pm, award winning author Ginger Wadsworth will speak at the Depot Bookstore & Cafe, Mill Valley.

See you there!

Getting the Calendar Going for 2013

It’s been pretty crazy since our terrific, super crowded conference in October, 2012. I think it took the conference team a month or more to recover. We ended the year with two more fun events in December, one free for members at the lovely, historic Depot Bookstore & Cafe in Mill Valley, and the other event in Walnut Creek featuring 4 debut authors and illustrator.

Now it’s January already. We have a couple of upcoming events, our writers and illustrators retreat at Green Gulch at Muir Beach, and a meeting in Walnut Creek. Check out our home page for more info.

Meanwhile, I am gearing up to attend the New York SCBWI Conference on Feb. 1. I am So looking forward to the speaker lineup and bringing back some good ideas for new programs and speakers!

Yippee, now SCBWI Co-Regional Adviser for SF North & East Bay

We have a great region and I have had a blast working with Margaret Speaker Yuan as her assistant regional adviser for over 4 years. She is a super hard worker, like I am, and we have got a region of terrific volunteers. When a SCBWI region reaches a certain size (like pretty big in membership) the region may split the regional adviser job and also have an assistant regional adviser.

So a little happy dance. I am now the CO-REGIONAL ADVISER. Pretty cool. And Keely Parrack in Contra Costa County, developer of the Beyond the Bay program in Walnut Creek, is our new assistant. And now we also have Brian Bowes as the Illustrator Coordinator, which is super fun. We just keep kicking up more and more programs for children’s writers and illustrators. We are fortunate to have so much talent in our region who want to improve their craft to excellence!

Be sure to sign up for our conference on October 20th at Only a few seats remaining!

SCBWI Los Angeles Conference Kicks Your Rear

The Conference held in Los Angeles is nearly  a week long series of meetings, speeches, networking, workshops, parties, eating and possibly chatting with 1,200 great people. You have to enter this conference with a plan, like I posted earlier. Otherwise you can get caught in conference nervosa: the various stages of exhilaration, depression, exhaustion, frustration and giddiness that can kidnap your conference productivity. Since this is the first time I took time away from my “day” job to attend the entire conference, I made sure I was well hydrated, and stayed focused. It was like preparing for a marathon. I needed to know my route, where my stops were to get nutrition and hydrate, and pace myself for the long haul. Its like any journey, or marathon. The best part is the people you meet along the way of the training. Of course, I would have liked getting the prize – a book contract or agent. But that was not my plan – this time!

Candace Fleming signing autographs at SCBWI L.A. Conference 8/5/12

When you’re an  SCBWI regional advisor, illustrator, or assistant, you volunteer your time at the conference. It’s a wonderful way to meet ever more people and get some upfront and personal time. I had the great experience of not only attending Candice Fleming’s (Golden Kite award winning author of Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart) excellent program on non-fiction writing, but also was her autograph assistant during the author signing event.

Matthew Kirby signing autographs at SCBWI Conference 8/5/12

She signed next to author Matthew Kirby, Icefall. Just couldn’t resist this wonderful photo of his adoring young fan.

The biggest takeaway from the conference, aside from 5 pounds of notes, a few more pounds of new books and a head full of new ideas, is prioritizing. That is, putting in order the top things you are going to follow up on after you have just made this investment in time and expense to improve your craft and step up your writing career. So that’s my challenge, getting the time to execute my top things. Where, oh where, is an intern when you need one?

Conference excitement, but get the pay off

There are so many good reasons for writers to attend conferences. But go with a plan, though. The national August SCBWI conference in Los Angeles is amazing. Even with an economy that stumbles along, this conference continues to grow. The speakers, peer camaraderie and critiques of your work all can give you a big kick in the rear. But your investment is only as good as your conference goals and your specific plan on what you need to get out of the conference for your stage of work. Otherwise, you end up with a big fat folder, stacked in a corner of your office.

Be forthright with yourself. This is your  investment in your writing career. The same goes for regional conferences as October SCBWI Fall Conference. Be realistic. Be prepared with your elevator pitch and  business cards. Here are some great tips from SCBWI blogger Jane Makuch about conference preparation. Most importantly, set goals.

Artwork by Brian Bowes