BEST CONFERENCE EVER! New Jersey SCBWI Annual Conference 2017


I say this every year, but cross my heart it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The New Jersey SCBWI Annual Conference is the BEST conference ever!

What makes it great? I’m so glad you asked. Here goes my laundry list:

Critiques, first pages, workshops covering every imaginable kidlit topic from picture books to YA, pitches, connecting with editors and agents, and more editors and more agents, getting solid feedback on your stories and illustrations (the good, the bad, and the sad ugly truth), inspiration galore, and lifelong friendships. Shall I go on?

Here are a few photographic highlights:

Behind the scenes the day before the conference.

Opening Keynote with Stephen Savage


Blake Hamilton and Matthew Winner


Sheela Chari and Leslie Zampetti


Me with Detectives Wilcox and Griswold on the job


Anita Arakelian and me (Mawrters in the house – Anassa kata ’89)


Virginia Law Manning, me, Leslie Zampetti


Leslie Santamaria


The Liza Royce Crew!

(Left to right: Me, Laurie Wallmark, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Liza Fleissig, Leslie Santamaria, Yvonne Ventresca)


Me and David Lubar


(Top row, left to right: Kathy Temean, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, me)

(Bottom row, left to right: Katey Howes, Jody Staton, Colleen Rowan Kosinski)


Me and Hallee Adelman


Cathleen Thole Daniels and Rosanne Kurstedt


Anita Arakelian




Heather Montgomery


Stephen Savage, Mike Ciccotello, Annie Silvestro


Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen


Cathleen Thole Daniels, Kirstine Erekson Call, me


Closing keynote with David Lubar

I’d like to shout out a HUGE THANK YOU to the amazing, incredible, you-take-my-breath-away NJ SCBWI team, including but certainly not limited to, Cathleen Thole Daniels, Rosanne Kurstedt, Karen Romagna, Annie Silvestro, Kelly Calabrese, Charlotte Bennardo, Guy Olivieri, Mike Ciccotello, Linda Bozzo, Tami Charles, and to all the incredible volunteers.

And do you want to know a little secret? If you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and cross your fingers and toes and hope the publishing gods are on your side, you’ll notice the hint of publishing contracts in the air. How could any conference ever get better than this?


Happy Birthday, KidLit TV!


It was a wonderful year of firsts for KidLit TV. Founded by Julie Gribble, KidLit TV is the first multimedia website created to aid parents and educators explore the world of children’s literature. It received its first big award, the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and it is currently in the process of launching KidLit RADIO.

“KidLit TV is an exciting and informative destination for authors, illustrators, teachers, publishers, and anyone with a passion for children’s literature.” — Children’s Book Council

“Visitors are almost guaranteed to find something interesting and useful, whether they are consumers, producers, or curators of children’s literature.” — Parents’ Choice on KidLit TV

Authors, illustrators and fans of all ages came out in droves to celebrate KidLit TV’s BIG ONE.

Here are some photographic highlights:


Julie Gribble and Katya Szewczuk


Adam Lehrhaupt and Ame Dyckman 


Roxie Munro and spouse


Kelly Light and Kat Yeh


Nick Bruel and me 


Beth Ferry, Annie Silvestro, me and Kelly Calabrese


Annie Silvestro, me, Katya Szewczuk, Beth Ferry and Ame Dyckman 


Katya Szewczuk, Dan Yaccarino and Julie Gribble 


Katya Szewczuk, Julie Gribble and Nick Bruel 


Katya Szewczuk, Julie Gribble, Rocco Staino and Tad Hills

Rocco Staino and Kelly Light


Paul Zelinsky, Adam Lehrhaupt and Katya Szewczuk

And as part of this jubiliant celebration, KidLit TV teamed up with Tad Hills and ArtWorks for Youth (AWFY). AWFY provides free visual art instruction, academic support, and mentoring to students in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. To learn more about this wonderful program, please visit: 

Happy Birthday, KidLit TV! I suspect that the BIG TWO is going to be even bigger and better.

For more information about KidLit TV, please visit: