The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is a dynamic community of professionals and aspirings. Read on for a member’s story about how SCBWI has influenced their work and connected them to publishing professionals, life-long friends, and the tools they need to share their stories with children of all ages.
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has changed my life for the better in many ways. It’s hard to explain how a group of book writers and illustrators can do that, but they have. I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll start at the beginning: I’m a writer, who also draws. I worked in animation for many years and have recently worked in children’s books both as a writer and an illustrator.
In the summer of 2012 I joined the SCBWI and then, boom, my father died. I was broke and I couldn’t afford to do anything, or go to anything. I was not only devastated emotionally, but financially as my job also ended that spring.
I sent Steve Mooser an email the following year saying, “I don’t understand how any of this works, and haven’t been to any events.” He re-sent me The Book, a welcome package, and renewed me. He suggested that I get involved; I did. I jumped in headfirst and went to a critiquenic with the CenCal group. Then, I signed up for their Writers’ Day. Both those experiences blew me away, and while I was getting great and helpful feedback on my writing, the best part? The people who I now call “my tribe,” my SCBWI friends and family.
I became close with people who I know will be in my life forever. I now have connections with other writers and illustrators who are all doing what I do. It’s beyond amazing. I feel like I can do anything with them.
I had written adult books and was part of Romance Writers of America. I also did a lot of work for hire writing for FarFaria and also some ghostwriting, but I wanted my own YA books out there. Being part of SCBWI has helped me meet so many people and learn more about this industry than I ever did on the other side. I also worked as a screenwriter and TV writer, script doctor, reader for the studios, and judged many screenwriting contests, but my heart was always with teen books. I just didn’t ever feel like part of a group until Alexis O’Neill, Rebecca Langston-George, and Mary Ann Frasier made me feel so welcome. The following spring I attended the L.A. group’s Writers’ Days. Since then, I have attended about 20 events, including all the Writers’ Days for both regions close to me, Illustrator & Art Director days, 5 national conferences, 4 regional conferences, and many other one day events in OC, San Diego, and online.
Now, I can’t imagine my life without the SCBWI in it. It’s a part of who I am. It has introduced me to other groups such as Highlights and online classes that I wouldn’t know about. Our tribe is always open, giving, loving, supportive, amazing and really they are all my family now.
At the beginning of the summer conference Lin always asks the faculty to give one word. My one word is GRATITUDE!
Stephanie Olivieri has been an SCBWI member since 2012. She’s an illustrator and a writer, illustrating cartoons by day and writing gritty YA by night. Find her at www.stepholivieri.com.
Photos and illustrations provided by Stephanie Olivieri.