We love our volunteers at SCBWI and couldn’t exist without them! “Volunteer Spotlight” is a great way to get to know them for yourself and learn more about what they do and how you can volunteer too. Now meet Jill Tuckman, digital artist and the Los Angeles region’s webmaster.
I am humbled, honored, and still a little bit surprised to be the Webmaster for the SCBWI Los Angeles Region. I joined SCBWI immediately upon discovering the organization, as it seemed the perfect place to learn about the children’s publishing industry.
It took me nearly a year to find the nerve to attend an event, however. That event was the big Summer Conference of 2012. So many people. As I entered the Hyatt, everyone seemed to know exactly what they were doing while I didn’t have a clue. It didn’t take long for me to find out how extremely nice everyone was. Shy little me spent the entire weekend having fun, easy conversations with complete strangers. I still marvel at the easygoing friendliness of the members and leadership of SCBWI.
Being a volunteer has allowed me not only to meet more authors and illustrators, but to get to know agents and editors on a personal level. I’ve learned that they are sometimes just as nervous in their roles as we authors and illustrators are in ours.
At one after-event dinner, two agents were talking about a critique they had with an author that day. I knew they were talking about a friend of mine (because she had also told me about the critique), so I cut in and told them that I knew her with the hope that I could put in a good word for her. But the agents quickly stopped and looked worried. Both of them asked, “Did she feel like our advice was helpful?” They leaned back with relief when I said that she did.
My top goal for the Los Angeles Region website this year is to upgrade the Critique Exchange. Though I am still pre-published, my writing has improved ten-fold thanks to my critique groups and I would like to help all of our members receive the same benefit. Last year, I wrote to approximately 30 people who signed up for our current Critique Exchange to ask about their experiences. Thanks to their detailed feedback, I hope to have a new and improved Critique Exchange ready within the next few months.
So why am I surprised to be a volunteer? In 2014, I attended the LA Working Writer’s Retreat and as I was sitting down for lunch, our then fearless leader Sarah Laurenson was at the table asking if anyone was a webmaster. I raised my hand and said, “I know how to do websites.” (I worked professionally as web designer and programmer from 1998-2009.) Sarah asked if I could look at a technical problem they were having with their site and then I blinked and was anointed the new Webmaster. In two years, I haven’t regretted it for a minute. So if you want to become a volunteer, all you have to do is raise your hand. Sometimes they’ll snatch you up even when you aren’t looking.
You can learn more about volunteering with SCBWI, all the great perks and freebies it entails, and what positions are open from the links below. We need everything from graphic designers to social media coordinators to event hosts. If you want to give back, we’ll find a place for you!
Jill Tuckman is a freelance Digital Artist working in graphic design, web programming, motion graphics and 3D animation. She hopes her work on the SCBWI LA site will help encourage people to attend events and join the community. For more information about Jill, visit http://www.jilltuckman.com and http://www.jilltuckman3d.com.