SCBWI Canada East Blog

October 9, 2013

10:43 AM 5
I'm feeling stretched and torn and challenged. I am a mom. I work from home illustrating and designing and writing sentences that run on and on until they hit a wall. And then I revise them. I homeschool my kids. I'm pretty involved in our greater homeschooling community. My social life consists of trips to farms and museums and factories and theatres with other homeschooling families. And I love it.

And then there is this community of writers and illustrators called the SCBWI.

My experience with this organization can only be described as, well, beautiful. Perhaps it's the KidLit industry in general, but I have a feeling that there's nothing else out there quite like it. It's a safe haven for both established and very green writers and illustrators, and it's very much like an incubator - all warm and bright, nourishing and inspiring. What is required of you is that you show up with your work in hand and a certain degree of vulnerability, handy for giving and receiving feedback.

Recently I attended the SCBWI Canada East conference in Montreal organized by Lizann FlattAlma FullertonPeggy Collins, Michelle Jodoin and Rachel Eugster. These women put out so much time and energy pulling together this fabulous event, and I cannot say thank you sufficiently. Well done.

Friday night at Babar en Ville. Peggy Collins reading her picture book. 
This was my third SCBWI conference in four years. Some of us who had met at previous conferences were pondering whether we would still feel as though attending such a conference would be "worthwhile" if we had already been to many and had "heard it all before". It's no small time and financial investment, after all.  Urve Tamberg noted that even if she had heard everything to be said, at the moment of hearing it again, she would consider it within her current body of work. How did that information apply to her WIP right then?  How would that information help her dig in deeper? Smart woman, she is. I find it's easy to dismiss things if we feel we've heard it or experienced it before, but we can forget that what we do with that information - how it may impact us - is ever changing and largely dependent on where our perspectives happen to be lodged at any given time. And besides that, the conferences aren't just about the information (which is always top notch, by the way). My most favorite part is meeting new people, seeing old friends, and discovering that the movers and shakers in the industry are simply super-humans, just like the rest of us.  After such a revelation, seemingly unattainable dreams become more tangible. You might even say, do-able. As in, "I can do this." Really.  You can't help coming away from an SCBWI conference (especially the smaller regional events) feeling like you really belong. What you have to say and be and do matters, and we all prop each other up on our way to wherever it is we are headed. And while my crazy life pulls me in all directions, I know my desire to work on my craft will always be welcome and fostered by the good folk who plug in to the SCBWI.

Below are my photos from last weekend. Feel free to use them on your own blogs (Please link them back here or name me (Julie Prescesky) in the credits).

The venu - in Chinatown! Montreal.

A parade wanders by during lunch, celebrating the National Day of China. Lucky us!

Laurent Linn critiquing illustrators' pre conference assignments. 

Laurent Linn revealing the actual book that the illustrators had had a crack at in our own styles for the pre conference assignment.

SCBWI Canada East Illustrators with Laurent Lin and David Diaz. Photo taken by the lovely Debbie Ohi.

This year's faculty super stars: Jill Santopolo (Philomel/Penguin), Linda Pratt (Wernick & Pratt agency), Bonnie Bader (Grosset & Dunlap, Price Stern Sloan/Penguin), Laurent Linn (Simon & Schuster), Debbie Ohi (author/illustrator). David Diaz had to jet a tad early. 

The wonderful women of the SCBWI Canada East.  Peggy Collins, Lizann Flatt, Alma Fullerton.

Sketch Crawl through Chinatown.

Julia (in the red jacket) from Montreal Drink and Draw joined us for our sketch crawl. 

Chris Jones, Niall Eccles and Robin Walton.

Christine Tripp and Ellie Arscott.

Peggy Collins and Hilary Leung.

Niall Eccles suggested this fun 'icebreaker' game. It's kind of like Telephone, but on paper.  Someone writes a few descriptive words and the next person has to draw a picture to match. That person folds over the words to the back, leaving only the image. The next person sees only the image and must write a few descriptive words about it, then fold the image to the back and pass it on to the next person. And so on and so on. At the end, you have a funny comic strip. 

Chris Jones, Niall Eccles,  and Hilary Leung. It's a bromance. I'm pretty sure. 

Hey look, it's me!

If you are looking to connect with a community of creative movers and shakers, check out the SCBWI! And find me at my blog,


  1. This is fabulous! I missed the icebreaker game but it looks fun.

  2. Love the icebreaker game, thanks for explaining it all to those of us who weren't there. You really caught the energy of the weekend with this post - and I'm tickled pink you caught Laurent Linn talking about my work! I can't stop telling folks about this weekend and keep hearing snippets from the conference speakers in the back of my mind giving advice on how to make images stronger.

    1. Hi! Thanks. Yes, there was a lot of valuable information that came out of the weekend. Plenty to chew on.

  3. Julie, better late then never, love your post, and the pics are a wonderful reminder of the weekend... because I can barely remember half of it, there was so much going on, to listen to, to learn!