Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Little Secret, a Little #NESCBWI16, and a Little #TEDTalk: Megan Washington and Why I Live in Mortal Dread of Public Speaking

I have a secret.

It's not a big secret--and it's probably a secret many of you share with me.

I hate public speaking. Well, more accurately, I hate being in any sort of spotlight. I don't want any eyes on me. Not even on my birthday. :)

People sometimes say that you need to do the things that you fear most. I don't agree with this. I'm not planning on jumping out of any airplanes just because I fear it. But I do think that you have to do the thing that you fear most if it stands between you and your life successes.

Don't let your fears hold you back.

There's a lot to fear in the writing profession. Rejection. Having your innermost thoughts placed on display in your works. Being judged or criticized. Being in the spotlight, either online or at speaking events. I'm sure there are fears I'm forgetting.

This year, for the #nescbwi16 conference, I've decided to set the theme as The Power of (RE) INVENTION.

Reinvention can encapsulate a lot of ideas, all worthy. About changing ourselves so we can be successful.

But most importantly, I think we need to reinvent ourselves around our fears.

I spent some time up at the podium at #nescbwi15. How did I workaround my fear of standing in the spotlight? Well, I told myself that nobody really came to see me (totally true!), but I also reminded myself of the reason I was up there. My purpose was always to impart some information to the group.

I like to help people. I like to be useful. So I focused on everyone else and their needs, and not on my fear. For the most part that worked. I'm not saying I'm going to be the world's greatest public speaker, but if I can convey information to people in a way it can be heard, then I'm doing my job.

See how I'm white-knuckling that podium?! :) Thanks to Pam Vaughan who took conference photos!

I hope that even if public speaking is your fear, that you put that aside and submit a workshop proposal for the 2016 conference. Workshops are the backbone of our conference, and we recently put out the call:

The Call for Workshop Proposals: NESCBWI 2016 Spring Conference
The Power of (RE) INVENTION
April 29th through May 1st, 2016, in Springfield, MA.

Being successful as a writer or illustrator means changing what doesn’t work, and that means reinvention.

That’s why our theme this year is The Power of (RE) INVENTION.

We want to empower our conference attendees to reinvent their brand, their work, or their tools, and leave the conference ready to take the next step in their kidlit career.

We’re looking for workshops that span the gamut from solid craft workshops to workshops that delve into a re-inventive aspect of publishing, writing, or illustrating. For instance, how to reinvent a career by writing in new genres, using inventive technology to pull in reluctant readers, or reinventing brand to start up a stalled career. Be creative and inspire us with your workshop proposals!



We receive hundreds of proposals each year. There are always exceptions, but the majority of workshops we accept are from New England SCBWI members who submit as a single presenter and give more than one workshop at the conference. Feel free to submit three or four workshops so we have choices.

We start building our supportive community now, and we give preference to presenters who have been respectful, honest, and thoughtful to the needs of our conference goers in the past. We also love to bring in some new authors, agents, editors, art directors, and workshop presenters. 


The job of faculty at the conference is to impart their expertise in a way that attendees can hear it.

Submissions open for SCBWI PAL members on June 1, 2015.
Submissions open for everyone on July 1, 2015.
Submissions close at midnight on August 1, 2015.

We will let people know the status of their submission by the end of October, 2015.

Before you start the submission process, please have the following information handy:

1. Your bio. We post bios online with our conference information. Your bio must be under 125 words, or we will trim.

2. A great title and workshop description. These will also be posted online at our registration website. This description must be under 250 words and must convey everything an attendee would need to know to chose your workshop.
3. Learning outcomes—three or more concrete lessons or tangible tools that attendees can gain from your workshop.
4. Name and email of your co-presenter, if you have one.
5. Outline or longer description of your workshop so we have a clear view of what you will be discussing.

Please write and edit this information ahead of time, then copy and paste the answers in our online form so the information is free of typos and mistakes. We pull accepted workshop proposal information from this form and post it online in our registration website.


If you are an agent, editor, or art director who would like to attend our conference, please sign up through the workshop proposal form as well.

See our FAQ through here.

Questions? Please email nescbwi16(at)gmail(dot)com.

Again, I hope that even if public speaking is your fear, you will consider imparting your expertise to the #nescbwi16 crowd, and submit a workshop. Don't let fear stand in the way of your success!

And, here's the promised #TEDTalk, with Megan Washington and Why I Live in Mortal Dread of Public Speaking. I love it when she says, "it's impossible to stutter when you sing." What an amazing workaround she found, which led to her life's work!



Oh, yeah, we're wearing the same outfit. :) Isn't she great?! So, what's your fear? What's your workaround? Can't see the #TEDTalk? Click here.

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