Friday, February 11, 2022

Recipe For A Successful Conference Experience, With Jolie Stekly

Inspiring quote from Barbara Cook about being yourself, not worrying about competition.

Writer, teacher and former Regional Advisor Jolie Stekly gave an inspiring and informative Orientation For Newcomers (aka Recipe For A Successful Conference Experience), with help from ASL interpreters Jennye Kamin and Brian Truitt. Jolie was recognized as SCBWI's Member of the Year in 2009, and since then, she's been welcoming new conference attendees at both the in-person and virtual SCBWI conferences.

Jolie Stekly and ASL interpreter Jennye Kamin

The text chat was lively as attendees introduced themselves, said where they were from, chatted with each other, asked and answered each other's questions.

Sample shoutouts from text chat.

Jolie pointed out that even if you are not registered for the conference, it's not too late! Even if you end up missing some or all of the live sessions, you can still access video replays through March 31st, 2022 if you are registered for the entire conference.
Jolie Stekly and ASL interpreter Brian Truitt


Just a few takeaways....

Remember you're not alone. We are all at different stages in our journeys.

Be present in the moment. Jolie advises everyone to attend with intention. You can always take notes and watch replays later on.

Set up to three achievable goals for yourself. Don't put unrealistic pressures on yourself. 

Find that one thing you are meant to hear, something that will take your work or mindset to the next level, then decide what you need to do next.

"You are your best thing." - Toni Morrison quote

If you discover areas where you feel you need improvement or would like to learn more about, check out the regional webinars. Jolie also encourages everyone to thank their regional team members since they are all volunteers!

Start with peer connection, don't just focus on connecting with editors, art directors or agents. If you haven't already, check out your local Regional Chapter.

Pencil drawing of Jolie Stekly from Lauren Foster-MacLeod

Remember that you can have a wonderful and successful conference without speaking with an editor, art director or agent. Jolie advised focusing on research: finding out if an agent is the right fit for you and your work, for example. Work on your craft, get your work ready for submission.

Confused about whether your work is ready for submission? You can download Jolie's free Submission-Ready Checklist from her website.

When posting on Twitter, Instagram or other social media, use the hashtags #SCBWIWinter22 and #SCBWIBIRD to share and connect with others. Jolie credited the adorable "newcomer bird" art to Mary Jo Scott.

Hashtags #scbwiWinter22 #SCBWIBIRD

Jolie encouraged artists out there to post bird art along with the #SCBWIBIRD hashtag, and to tag her (@cuppajolie on both Twitter and Instagram); she'd love to see! 

Cute hand-drawn bird from BabydumplingBooks on Twitter

Be yourself. Bring that only you can offer to the table - you will find your place. "There is room for each one of us," Jolie points out.

Help each other succeed instead of feeling like you have to compete with others.

Painted bird by @OurBackPockets on Twitter

Be patient. Do the work. It's the work that matters. It's normal to feel like a turtle in the middle of a crowd of hares!

Jolie also encourages attendees to make the most of the whole conference experience by visiting the Portfolio Showcase and Conference Bookstore (which also offers titles by fellow attendees). 

And even if you're a writer and not an artist, Jolie says writers should not dismiss illustrator-focused programming. Learning about the illustration process can be valuable for writers! 

Contact info for Jolie @cuppajolie and

Where you can find out more about Jolie Stekly:

Jolie's website at

Jolie on Twitter and Instagram (@cuppajolie)

Jolie's classescoaching and consultation services

1 comment:

  1. What a great - and fun - summary of this session! Thanks, Debbie - and cheers for Jolie!