Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sunday at NESCBWI 2010

Completely blank before Sunday, my notebook is now brimming with possibilities. My day at the New England SCBWI conference yielded the following:

Build your career in small, but consistent ways. Do a little each day. It builds over time.

My scrawling on the first page, was the gift of author, Cynthia Leitich Smith during an interview with Melissa Stewart. Though I could not attend on Saturday, I heard that her keynote speech inspired the masses. All I needed, though, was this bit to sustain me. Small consistent steps. Of course! That's all we need to improve in any area of our life--consistency and persistence. Small steps add up. How quickly I forget during times of overwhelm. Note to self: enlarge and make this visible daily.

Use pen tablet.

I thank Jen Morris for this advice that many illustrators may take for granted (read: they are already proficient in the use of said device.). Jen opened her workshop "Photoshop Techniques for Illustrators" with a discussion on the benefits of using a pen tablet. Frustrated with my Wacom, I put it away a couple of years ago, not giving it a fair shake. It's time to dust it off, hook it up, and use it. With clarity and humor, Jen demonstrated ways Photoshop can be used to illustrate rather than simply edit. Her blog is chock full of info. And for more about her workshop, check out Gina's post here.

The verb stands as the quintessential part of speech.

Josephine Nobisso's, "Show Don't Tell: Secrets of Writing" intimidated me at sign up. Here I would be this fumbling beginner, among all these skilled writers. And I might have to share! Still I thought I should venture beyond my comfort zone.

Josephine's presentation was fun, exciting, and empowering. Though I was challenged, the pain I imagined was non-existent. She had us write about Twizzlers (which we got to eat). Sharing was optional. She discussed the function of parts of speech in improved writing.

She demonstrated the power of the verb. Pay attention if you use adverbs. You probably don't have the right verb. For example, "walked softly" becomes "tiptoed."

I left wishing we had more time with her, excited about writing, and thinking next time I just might share.

Help others.

Punctuating her well-organized presentation with humor and surprise, Illustrator Dani Jones gave this tip as one of her "Ten Ways Artists can Improve Their Online Presence." She suggested that we answer questions instead of just asking; contribute and discuss instead of just commenting; and volunteer time, services and knowledge. Dani practices what she preaches. She posts lots of tutorials, tips and tricks, and you can watch videos of her drawing live from 10:00-11:00 a.m. here.

Be brave. Be true.

Jo Knowles spoke these words after providing one of her writing prompts. I wasn't expecting the prompts to become increasingly uncomfortable as the hour went on. But they did. This sweet, friendly-faced author had me squirming in my seat.

I struggled to put words to paper, unsure of myself. I listened to what others wrote, but kept quiet. I felt frustrated in this discomfort. Why did I even sign up for this workshop?

The answer came before me in the last challenge. Jo asked us to write what we want our words to do. We all shared our responses. I want my words to move and empower. This can't be done without bravery and truth.

Looking over my notes from this workshop, I realize that along with the clumsiness of being a beginner, there are seeds of stories planted in my notebook. The most uncomfortable workshop of the day may have offered the greatest reward. Next time I hope to be brave enough to reveal my boo-boos. Some airing may do them good.


  1. What a fabulous post Ann Marie!! Now I feel like was I was at both the IA as well as the other workshops! Yay!! I'm very inspired!

  2. Great post Ann Marie! I wish I was there with you guys this weekend. It sounds like you're so inspired now!

  3. Awesome info Ann Marie! I'm working on the "little steps" part in my life right now, and definitely find that doing something, even if it's tiny, every day helps me feel like I'm moving forward.

  4. I am so sorry I made you squirm. But I am also very inspired by your desire to move and empower. You will.



  5. Hey, you gave away my 'secret'! Just kidding. Thanks for the mention, and I'm glad you enjoyed the workshop. :)

  6. Thanks so much for having taken my workshop! We DID have fun, didn't we?
    Good, good, glorious luck with your lovely work!
    Stay in touch!
    Josephine Nobisso