Heading to NESCBWI 2015 (Reflecting on ’14)

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At Russ Cox and Renee Kurilla Zulawnik’s fantastic sketchbook presentation

What a year it has been!  As I’m packing for this year’s New England Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators conference, I wonder what the weekend will hold.  I can count on learning a lot from the amazing presenters and keynote speakers.  There will be catching up and laughing with friends who I get to see too rarely.  There will be oodles of artwork to inspire and inspire self-doubt.  But what else?


With Ruth Sanderson Receiving the R. Michelson Emerging Artist Award – Pretending not to be nervous.

Last year’s conference was an otherworldly experience.  When Ruth Sanderson called my name as winner of the R. Michelson Emerging Artist Award, I had to look at my pal, Russ Cox, to make sure I wasn’t hearing things.  To my horror, he looked at me and began to clap.  I quickly had to turn on the tunnel vision to step in front of a room of hundreds (the spotlight not being my perfect space).  My name was quickly called again for another honor that I didn’t even hear – tunnel hearing as well – and the world started spinning.  My conference experience quickly shifted from collegiality and education to congratulations from strangers, talking with agents, and attention I could not have prepared for.  My friends peppered me with jokes, and I even received a slow clap when stepping into the hotel watering hole.  If you’ve never received a slow clap while walking into a bar, well, I highly recommend it.  Thanks for that, Sean Bixby. Th is was just the beginning of a remarkable year, but that’s a post for another day.


Holding up some paper with Marlo Garnsworthy. 🙂

So while I pack my bag, trying not to forget my laptop or socks, I wonder what will happen this weekend.  Who’s name is going to be called this year?  Who will be swept up in a whirlwind of attention and excitement.  I know so many who are deserving, and I root for them all.  No matter how things shake out, it’s always such a worthwhile experience.  Here we go NESCBWI 2015!

Bonus Illustration – Created for Zachary Barry Vasconcelos