Thursday, March 30, 2017

SCBWI Meeting #2 March 2017: Columbus Edition

As I mentioned in my last post, this month features TWO SCBWI meeting summaries!  The March meeting in Columbus featured Middle Grade author, Jennifer Maschari.  Jen is the author of The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price and the upcoming Things That Surprise You.  She spoke to our group about the publishing process and craft of writing--and which is more important to focus on when you're getting started.

Jen began by saying that the first step in any writer's journey is to WRITE A BOOK!  Aspiring authors have a tendency to think about writing more often than they actually sit down and write something.  Jen reasoned that you'll never have "enough time" (or whatever other excuse you fall back on), so just do it.  DO IT NOW! 

But then what do you do once you have poured your heart into your pen or triumphantly typed, "The End?" 

Jen admitted that she jumped into querying and focused on the publishing process as soon as she finished her first book.  But looking back, she wishes that she'd spent more time on her craft and less time researching agent response times.  It took her many rejections to realize that her manuscript wasn't strong enough to be published yet.  This is a very common situation that new writers find themselves in.  But don't fret!  Writers can strengthen their work by reading current published books, joining critique groups, and...


To Jen, revision is the heart of writing.  She gave a list of the many things that she's done to her books during the revision process including cutting characters, changing tense, changing point of view, and even starting over.  It's okay if you don't get things right the first time; revising allows you to approach your story in new ways, discard what doesn't work, and add elements that will make it stronger.  Jen also emphasized how important it is to find a network of writer friends.  These may be people you meet at a conference, in online groups, or even at your local SCBWI meeting.  They'll help you get through the bad times and celebrate the good times of your publishing journey, all the while helping to improve your writing so it becomes the best it can be.

Lastly, Jen talked about how writing is hard work--really really hard work.  It's a dream, but it's also a job.  But by putting in the time and work (and not fretting over agent response times), you can achieve success!

A big thank you to Jen for sharing her writing and publishing wisdom with the group!  You can find out more about Jen and her books at     

If you want to learn more about COSCBWI, be sure to visit the group website at  I hope to see you at the next meeting!

Note: Cover image is from Jen's website at  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

SCBWI Meeting #1 March 2017: Cincinnati Bound!

This month is extra special because I'll be blogging about TWO SCBWI meetings!  The Central & Southern Ohio chapter of SCBWI encompasses a large chunk of the Buckeye State including Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton.  Since I'm in Columbus, I attend the monthly meetings there.  But Cincinnati is home to our chapter's Assistant Regional Advisor, Andrea Pelleschi, who also holds meetings in her corner of the state.  With the winter weather receding, Regional Advisor, Jody Casella, and I took a road trip to attend the March Cincinnati meeting and connect with our southern SCBWI siblings.

The SCBWI meetings in Cincinnati are held on the 2nd Tuesday each month at 7:00 pm at the Sharonville Library.  They feature a mix of critique meetings and speakers, and you can always find the details at  Jody and I were thrilled to meet 30 members from Cincinnati, many of whom we'd connected with via email and Facebook over the years.  (It's always wonderful to put faces to names!)
The Sharonville Library.  We even arrived before dark!

Jody and I started the meeting with an overview of the happenings in Columbus and how the Cen/South Ohio SCBWI Board is trying to better serve and connect members across the region.  (Like our website improvements, our in-the-pipeline plans for published members, and our awesome new members-only Facebook group for artists: Cen/South Ohio SCBWI Illustrators.)  Jody and Andrea also reminded the group that SCBWI is an organization made up of volunteers, and everyone is invited to get involved.  So if you want to see more events or critiques in your hometown, don't hesitate to volunteer and see what a difference you can make in Ohio's children's lit community.

After the overview, Jody took the stand as the month's guest speaker to give a presentation on her publishing journey.  I always find road-to-publication stories so inspiring.  Like many aspiring authors, it took Jody a long time to publicly admit that she wanted to be a writer.  (It's so much easier to keep those dreams quietly to oneself!)  NANOWRIMO was a big turning point for her, forcing her to get ideas down quickly instead of fretting over every little word.  It also made her realize that often you don't know what your story is about until you get to the end of it and see what you have.  (Her main character for her published novel Thin Space wasn't even planned--he popped up in her draft and stole the show, taking her story in a direction she'd never intended.)  Once you have everything on paper--from your carefully-planned plot points to your unexpected surprises--THEN you can go back and work on making the story the best it can be. 

Jody also warned about two big pitfalls for writers: being Arrogant and Insecure.  She admitted that she fell into the camp of being Arrogant when she started and thought she knew more about writing than she did.  It took her a while to realize that she still had a lot to learn, but once she did, her newfound openness to workshops and critiques provided a big boost to her work--and ultimately her career.  On the flip side, Jody cautioned that being Insecure can be equally damaging.  Some writers have a difficult time believing in their own abilities, and she has seen many that are afraid to share their work with the world.  But if a writer is too cautious, he or she can miss great opportunities and run the risk of never going anywhere.

Jody's parting advice to the group was to never give up.  The journey can be tough and full of surprises, but success comes to those who persevere!

A big thank you to Jody for her inspiring presentation!  You can learn more about Jody and her writing (and follow her wonderful blog) at:

I'd also like to send a huge thank you to the Cincinnati members for giving us such a warm welcome!  We had a blast and can't wait to come down to see you all again!  

Me (Kathryn Powers), Andrea Pelleschi, and Jody Casella