Let SCBWI Work for You

Ron Hirschi has written 72 books for children, which
are listed on
Goodreads. Hirschi visits kids in schools
around the country to build awareness about nature.
Seya's Song is one of Hirschi's most popular children's books.
Hirschi also writes books for adults.

By Linda Wilson   @LinWilsonauthor

    One of the best things that ever happened to me in my journey as a children’s writer was to become a member of the worldwide, professional organization, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI. I learned about SCBWI from the award-winning nature author, Ron Hirschi.

    I met Hirschi while working as a correspondent for the Dayton Daily News during a break from teaching elementary school. I had written an article about him during one of his nature visits at an elementary school in Dayton, Ohio. Before I let him go, I asked his advice on how to become a children’s writer. He said the best recommendation he could give me was to join SCBWI. That was back in March, 1992. I’ve been a member ever since. 

The cost for membership in SCBWI is reasonable, and there are countless benefits for both new and experienced children’s writers. 

Your Local Chapter

    SCBWI New Mexico—my chapter—consists of the state of New Mexico and western Texas. And thanks to the dawning age of Zoom, our chapter has expanded. Now our members also come from North Carolina, Oregon, New Zealand, India, and more. All are welcome.

    The SCBWI-New Mexico E-lerts newsletter, written and compiled by member Jennifer Bohnhoff, published every Friday, is the go-to place to learn about our members, activities, and events. Here is a sample of ways members can participate:

  • Enchantment Show, typically an annual event: Authors and illustrators have an opportunity to join together to write and illustrate an impromptu story. The coordinator begins by matching an artists’ illustration to individual authors who have signed up. The authors create a story to match their interpretation of the illustration sent to them. All work is turned in by a deadline, and authors and illustrators meet for the first time. This year the theme was “The Journey.” The stories and illustrations are mounted in frames. This year's project is currently being displayed at the Albuquerque Main Library.
  • Virtual Coffee House: Regularly scheduled Zoom meetings on Wednesdays, at 4:00 PM, take place for anyone wanting to have a casual conversation about topics on craft, publishing in general, and other topics of interest. Participants are given the chance to set accountability goals to help motivate and stay on task.
  • Third Saturday Critique Zoom Meetings: On the third Saturday of each month a group of writers gather together on Zoom to critique each other’s work. Five pages, double-spaced or entire picture books are sent by Wednesday of that week. The stories are critiqued on Saturday, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. 
  • Announcement of Events: All types of events that members are involved in are announced, including events from other SCBWI chapters, Highlights webinars, and much more.
  • Writing Workshops: Workshops in person and online are announced, such as the current workshop "Advanced Plotting: Keep Those Pages Turning," offered by Chris Eboch, editor and author of over 100 books for children, which include nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. 

Your National Organization: The Global Community for Children’s Book Creators

Visit the global SCBWI website and discover all that the organization has to offer. If you have the interest and have taken the time to read this post, dear reader, then you possess the heart and soul of what writing for children is all about. Children need and love our stories and artwork. SCBWI is there to help.

The quote that appears on the global SCBWI welcoming page explains SCBWI’s role best: 

“The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators provides the resources, professional networking, and community-building opportunities that support writers, illustrators, and translators throughout their careers.”

What SCBWI has Done for Me

    While working as a substitute K-12 teacher, like many authors, I wrote articles on the side. To begin, I taught myself how to write by studying how-to books that I borrowed from the library and purchased. On the night my first article, “Stories Put Worlds in Touch,” Albuquerque Journal, June 5, 1989, about the stories a blind storyteller shared with her audiences, was accepted I couldn’t sleep. I wondered if I had captured the storyteller’s truest profile and gave her the credit she was due. Fortunately, the article turned out to be a success in the storyteller's eyes. Her dream was to purchase a Xerox/Kurzweil Personal Reader, which I mentioned in the article, a purchase she couldn't afford at the time. She called to thank me. A relative had read the article and purchased the reader for her. That was the beginning of the many, many rewards I’ve received from being a writer.

When I decided I wanted to learn how to write for children, I lived in a small town and had only the library and internet to help me. I began by writing a few children’s novels. Well, we all know where our first attempts sometimes land—in the drawer. (Those attempts are still there. Maybe one day, with the knowledge I have now, I’ll find a way to resurrect them.)

    It wasn’t until I moved to Albuquerque and was able to attend SCBWI-New Mexico meetings that the real learning began. I took a few creative writing courses while attending SCBWI meetings; and best of all, I joined a critique group. The rest is history. The combination of the SCBWI programs and critique groups I've taken part in has given me the tools I needed to create my books.

    I wish you all the best in your own writing journey. Be assured that SCBWI is there to guide you along the way.   

My next picture book, my fifth,
will be a teddy bear story,
including the true story
of Norman D. Bear, a program
in Dayton, Ohio that I took part in.
The program provided teddy bears
for children caught in
difficult circumstances.

Linda Wilson is the author of the Abi Wunder Mystery series and other books for children. Her two newest releases are Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! (2022) and Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere (2023). You’ll find Linda on her Amazon author page, on her website at LindaWilsonAuthor.com, and on Facebook.

Click the links for free coloring pages and a puppet show starring Thistletoe Q. Packrat. While you’re there, get all the latest news by signing up for Linda’s newsletter.  Connect with  Linda: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram


Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, I've belonged to SCBWI since around 2008. It is a great source for children's authors. I've also taken several of their workshops, online and off. Membership is well worth the small yearly investment. And hope you get to resurrect those 'in the draw' manuscripts. Thanks for sharing this!

Linda Wilson said...

Thanks, Karen. It was fun reminiscing how my journey started, and thinking about how much SCBWI has helped me grow into the writer I am today.

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