A Letter of Thanks to SCBWI

Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser,
Co-Founders of SCBWI. I wonder
if they had any idea what they
would actually create!

My Dearest SCBWI,

I love you.

No, no. I really do.

I know. When we first met it was just infatuation. I mean, you were so interesting. So fashionable. So vibrant. You had so many wonderful life experiences behind you. You were a world of art and color, beautiful language, with a focus on making children happy readers; as a mom, teacher, and human, I adored all of these things.

Kristin Russo and
Laurie Smith Murphy

I stepped through your doorway apprehensive. Unsure I belonged. Starry-eyed and naïve but ready to learn. You welcomed me with open arms. Back then, you may have only fed me boxed lunches, but you would end up feeding so much more than just my stomach.

Barbara Johansen-Newman,
Liz Goulet-Dubois and Moi

And the people you knew? I mean the kind of people that when you see them in living breathing form, you just can’t believe it. You introduced me to so many of them and I often got chills when you did. You invited me to your events and made me feel like a part of something special.

Moi and Lucia Zimmitti

I sat in your audience and listened to the likes of Richard Peck, Cynthia Lord, Katherine Paterson, Ellen Wittlinger, Nancy Hope Wilson, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Patricia Reilly Giff. Literary stars that have written the kinds of books that stick with readers—young and old. And you know what? All of these novelists are completely and utterly approachable and down-to-earth. I admire their talents so much, but their warmth, wisdom, generosity, and kindnesses are why the memories of our meetings have lingered. Why I have carried each of them with me on my journey.

Gael Lynch, Ann Haywood Leal,
and Jame Richards

Without you, SCBWI, I would never have met them and spoken with each of them and had been moved by their messages. I would not have had that career-changing conversation with Laurie Halse Andersen about making time to write around our kids’ schedules. I would not smile now, thinking back on how Richard Peck quipped that we’d do signings together one day. I would not have had—back in the very beginning—Patricia Reilly Giff stare, not only into my eyes, but also right through my apprehension. “You should write that book,” she’d said. Those words reverberated as I walked away; perhaps it was easier to listen to her than myself. Can you imagine what it was like to have her do a blurb for my debut novel?

Moi, Mary Pierce, Jeanne Zulick,
Kate Lynch, and Bette Anne Reith

I feel like I’m living within the Hallmark Channel sometimes, I swear. (Shouldn’t Richard Thomas be around here somewhere?) Oh, SCBWI. For this alone, I could love you forever. Chisel you a shrine. Name my next child after you. Tattoo a heart with your name cradled in its center on my arm. But then…

Cynthia Levinson, Tamara Smith,
Anna Staniszewski, Moi,
Ammi Joan Paquette

You gave me even more. Some of the treasures of my life.

My friends and writing colleagues. People that I’ve met in the trenches. People that cared enough to tell me when my writing needed work and kicked me in the butt to get it done. I adore and respect and cherish them. People that make me laugh until my sides ache and bring me to tears with their poignancy. People with hearts as good…and as pure…as hearts can ever be.

My amaaazing agent and awesome agent
mates at Erin Murphy
Literary Agency

Truth is…SCBWI introduced me to myself. The self that I didn’t know I could be (cue 80’s Whitney Houston song here?). I’d found a home for the dreamer/creative side of me and was so grateful—even then. Wanting to give back, I stepped up to organize Whispering Pines, an annual SCBWI Writer’s Retreat in Rhode Island.

Carlyn Beccia, Jenny Bagdigian,
Betsy Devany

At first, I was a bit shy, but forced myself to stick with it and learned that I could do it well. It boosted my confidence in speaking to groups and publishing professionals. (Many of you wouldn’t believe it, but I used to be shy.) That confidence—unbeknownst to me—spilled into my writing craft, as well. My husband and children have always made me so happy but, with SCBWI, I found the missing piece that I hadn’t known was missing. Honestly, the past five years have been some of the happiest of my life.

Fantastic Fairfield Ladies!

But, you weren’t quite finished with me, were you? By providing avenues for meetings with editors and agents, tons of information, critique group partners, encouragement, nuts-and-bolts writing instruction, and the message that hard work and persistence are key, you cleared the way for me to become a published author. Wow. I am so, so grateful for having reached this level and can’t wait to get out and talk with kids everywhere about writing. A dream come true.

Thanks, SCBWI!

And, yes. Getting published is just…Well, “amazing” is a thin word to describe it, I think. I have only held an ARC of ONE FOR THE MURPHYS in my hands thus far, but I can tell…this ride is going to be fun! Honestly, though, the contract is just the cherry on the sundae–albeit a Jupiter-sized cherry!

Because suppose I’d never been struck by publishing lightning? Suppose I’d just had all the blessings of these people of SCBWI and never gotten published? Suppose my writing career had never led me to the amaaazing people of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency?  This answer I know—from the tips of my Sharpies down to the base of my office chair.

Jeopardy! at Whispering Pines.
This is me being shy.

Without a contract, I still would have died complete. A blessed woman. However, if I were to reach the end of my time here not having known these fellow writers and artists that are now such an integral part of my life—knowing their hearts the way I do. Learning so, so much more than just writing from each of them. Well, if that were to be my fate, I would leave this earth feeling less. Being less…than I will now.

A lot less, actually.

With love and undying gratitude to SCBWI and its splendid members,

Lynda Mullaly Hunt

From L to R: Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Padma Venkatraman, Linda
Crotta Brennan
, Regional Advisor~Sally Riley, Betty Brown,
Cheryl Kirl Noll, Marlo Garnsworthy, Sarah Hemenway,
Julia Boyce, Mary Pierce, and Sue Fraser Perrotta
(Bottom center: Willow the Golden Lab!)
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Categories: SCBWI, writing | 47 Comments

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47 thoughts on “A Letter of Thanks to SCBWI

  1. I love the SCBWI too!!! Great post and wonderful tribute to a group that changed my life. ❤

  2. Oh, Kim! I got chills reading your comment. Because it *really did* change mine! But, I guess you know that since I went on and on about it above. 😉

  3. Sally Riley

    What a nice post, Lynda! And I must say, from my perspective, New England SCBWI could write you a letter of thanks for all you do for our region.

  4. What a fantastic love letter to S.C.B.W.I. Couldn’t agree more! Giving back to this organization is a joy. In fact, I echoed your sentiments in my recent blog post — 40 Reasons I love S.C.B.W.I. http://donnagephart.blogspot.com/2011/12/40-reasons-i-love-scbwi.html.

    • Oh, Donna! I love your list format–very cool. It’s funny to see that we borrowed the same picture from the SCBWI site–but, then again, not too surprising as it is a great picture!

      SO glad that you have gotten as much friendship and richness from SCBWI as I have. I know that there are many, many more out there–just like us! People who don’t even have agents or editors yet that will move mountains with their words. It’s likely that SCBWI will be their compass as it has been mine.

      Thank you SO much, Donna, for taking the time to write and share your link!

  5. This is lovely, lovely, lovely. Thank you for this. I’m sitting in a coffee shop where earlier I met with an SCBWI friend. Iold her the two best decisions I made for myself in my early writing years were joining SCBWI and buying a laptop. Both decisions proved I was serious and ready to view myself as a professional. SCBWI was there to show me I wasn’t alone. xo

    • Thank you so much, Caroline! I’m so glad that you met with your SCBWI friend today–I’m seeing mine this weeek, too!

      I love my Class of 2k12 friends as well who also give me great gifts (besides support and advice)–their wonderful books–MAY B, LOVE AND LEFTOVERS, THE GATHERING STORM, and NEVER EIGHTEEN! And many more to come!

  6. SCBWI changed my life, too. I went from misfit to author and illustrator of books for kids. From unhappy to happy. From alone in my art to thousands of peers, acquaintances, friends and soul mates who share my deepest loves, fears and trials. Sure, I had a hand in the transformation, but SCBWI was the catalyst:
    Because I joined the writer and illustrator groups on Yahoo, I joined SCBWI. Because I joined, I attended booksignings. Because I attended those, I met Tomie dePaola. He told me to go to the SCBWI-NYC conference in 2005, so I did. Came home with a sketchbook, put it all online — and from that I got a book idea and an agent. And amaaaazing agency mates, like you.
    And now I have a career I love, and a future.
    I ❤ SCBWI, always will.

    • Yes, Ruth~You and I had similar paths. WHen I look back on those early days, it stuns me how little I understood myself. How I was thirsty for somehting that I couldn’t quite label. One of those things was to find other people who are similar to me–creative types. 😉 I’ve found them in SCBWI, Classof2k12, Apocalypsies, AND EMLA! How I LOVE my agent sisters and brothers–what a blessing. And a turn of events I could never have imagined ten years ago… xoxo

  7. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    My first ever SCBWI event was in Munich–I was living in Italy and feeling so far from in-person writing communities. The conference was small and fabulous–Markus Zusak was the keynote, and I’ll never forget the feeling of inspiration as I walked out of that room.

    Congratulations on your new blog, Lynda!

    • Hey, Natalie!! Thanks so much for commenting! Wow–Markus Zusak! (Does his voice sound like the voice in THE BOOK THIEF? Man! That is a voice in a book that sticks with you!)

      I am so, so glad that you attended the SCBWI conference that day and ended up in EMLA! I can’t wait to grab FLYING THE DRAGON with both hands! See you soon. 😉 xoxo

  8. Wonderful post, Lynda! This brings back wonderful memories and an appreciation of how lucky we are to have this great organization. Kathy

    • Hey, Kathy! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I have to admit that I enjoyed my stroll down memory lane in writing this. There are a lot of great people in SCBWI–all over the country!! Hoep to see you this July!! xoxo

  9. Beautiful post, my friend! You got me a little teary-eyed, and you KNOW I’m not a crier! Can’t wait for ONE FOR THE MURPHYS!

  10. Bette Anne Rieth

    A wonderful tribute to SCBWI. And the new blog looks great!

  11. Awesome post, Lynda. Congratulations on the new book. I can’t wait to hold it in MY hands! Thanks for all your volunteer work to make our region so relevant.
    Hugs,
    Anna

    • Hi, Anna! And thank YOU!!! Goodness knows an organization largely run on volunteers is run by people who are investing and do it out of love! That’s us! 😉 Hugs back!

  12. Genetta Adair

    Thank you, Lynda, for your beautiful tribute to SCBWI. Our paths are similar except that I’ve not experienced the agent or book contract. Perhaps they aren’t my fate. Yet I am so very grateful to the camaraderie of SCBWI and the wonderful friends I’ve made through this fabulous organization!

  13. Hey, Genetta! I love hearing from all of you that feel the same way about SCBWI as I do. AS far as the contract, I encourage you to move forward as if it IS YOUR FATE! I worked hard on my craft but didn’t really think lightning would strike; it was more an act of love than anyhting. Then, BAM! So, you never know… Keep at it! If you have any questions, let me know…

  14. What a wonderful post! SCBWI has changed my life, too 🙂 Every writer should join!

  15. Beautifully said and echoed in the souls of many, many others, including myself!

  16. Stephen Mooser

    What a wonderful post. The SCBWI has had a file for 40 years called nice letters to the SCBWI. Yours will go to the head of the class. And talk about changing lives-Without the SCBWI I never would have had this wonderful forty year journey in the company of such amazingingly talented, creative and caring people. How lucky can all of us be to have friends(real friends who will be there for you) scattered around the globe from Mongoiia to Montana and New Zealand to Next Door. Thanks Lynda, you are certainly one of those best friends

    • OMG!! Stephen Mooser?! I can’t believe it! Thank you so very much for taking the time to comment here. Really–what an honor. As my post suggests, I am so very grateful to you and Lin for what you have created in SCBWI. What I’ve learned in the last couple of days from comments here–and many e-mails–is that so many of us feel the same way. I have wondered if the two of you ever had an idea of how big–and treasured–it would become. How you would transform lives with four–and then five–little letters.

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Can’t say it enough.

  17. Lynda, Thanks so much for expressing what’s in my heart. I couldn’t have said it any better! 🙂

  18. Lynda,
    What a lovely post. And I so agree. I tell people all the time, ‘Even if you never get published, you couldn’t hang out with a better group of people.’ It speaks volumes that I had to attend my last conference in a wheelchair (post surgery) and felt completely comfortable doing so because I knew I was going to a safe place where I would be surrounded by friends. And I was! It ended up being a healing weekend for me on so many levels. We all have so much invested in this dream of being published, its the glue that holds us together – cheering each other’s successes as if they were our own. Truly, my life has also been made so much better by being a part of SCBWI.
    Sincerely,
    e
    Elizabeth O. Dulemba
    Illustrator Coordinator, Southern Breeze SCBWI

    • No surprise that you were cared for so well at your SCBWI conference! People in this organization are the best! And you’re right–we do cheer each other’s successes and I think that is very telling.

      Hope you are feeling better!

  19. Mary Pierce

    Lynda, this post makes me SO happy!! Happy, because it makes me pause and think about how much SCBWI has meant to me, too, and how not only my writing, but the very core of my being has evolved and flourished, and I get to meet people who are passionate about children and words and they’re all so nice, fun to be with, creative, accepting, and . . . . (and if I don’t stop now, I’m afraid I’ll break out in song). So, thank you, Lynda, for this OUTSTANDING post. You ROCK!

    And so does SCBWI!!

  20. Great post, Lynda! And, as Lin says, isn’t it great to have found one’s “tribe”!

  21. What fantastic, thoughtful words. I relate completely and love the friends I have found and career path I have been led down because of SCBWI 🙂 Follow your bliss! [look forward to bumping into you at a conference]

  22. Thank you, Mary! YOU are one of the brightest spots in SCBWI for me. Thanks! xoxoxo

  23. Hey, Alexis! “Finding my tribe.” Yup. That about sums it up! 😉

  24. Hey, Kirsten! Thanks so much for dropping by! Looking forward to running into you as well!

  25. I’ve heard Ruta Sepetys talk about SCBWI before and now reading your post (which she linked on her facebook) I am really interested in joining. I still have to go searching around the website to figure out everything about SCBWI but hearing your experience makes me want to start on that journey too.

    • Hey, Hannah! Way back when, I jumped into SCBWI knowing no one at all. Looking back on it, it was strange that I joined, I guess. Anyway, I suppose that it was just meant to be. I encourage you to jump in. I don’t think you’ll ever regret it! 😉 Keep in touch!

  26. What a wonderful post! SCBWI changed my world as well!

  27. Pingback: Anna Boll: Member Monday: Ten Reasons to Register for NESCBWI Annual Spring Conference « NESCBWI Kidlit Reblogger

  28. This is a beautiful post! I love SCBWI too, and much of that comes down to our lovely little chapter. I’m going to share this link with our members here in Western Australia. Congrats on your book, too. Now that I know I love your writing, I’m going to keep my eye out for it.

  29. Hi, Meg! Thanks so much for reading and making such lovely comments. Australia!? Wow! I’m honored that my post has reached the other side of the world! Take care and good wishes wishes with YOUR writing!

  30. What a wonderful letter! You always make me smile. Keep up the great writing, it makes our world a better place. xo Betsy

  31. Pingback: Remembering the Query Daze – a Writer Looks Back with Gratitude | Be someone's hero. No cape required.

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