SCBWI soul - Julie Chibbaro

Spring comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s just in your soul.

When I first started writing seriously, I genuinely, with all my heart wanted to be a mix of James Baldwin and Richard Brautigan (two very different writers, one raw, stark emotionally challenging, the other a damn hippy). I wanted to be Maya Angelou and Barbara Kingsolver. In short, I wanted to be an adult novelist.

I got my agent with my third completed novel that was written in the voice of a 12-year-old girl. Dear Jill told me that my novel could be categorized as something called “young adult,” which I interpreted as ‘children’s.’ That didn’t go over too good with my inner James Baldwin.

That first novel did get published as YA, and I published a second YA novel, and now am writing a third. Until recently, I was still grappling with these labels, YA and adult (maybe I will always resist labels. I don’t think I’m the only one.)

But I had a spring-like revelation recently. I’ve been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ( for about 3 years now, and I haven’t much attended any of their events (feeling somewhat resistant to the whole thing). But a couple of weeks ago, I went to a Shoptalk at the Barnes & Noble near me, and it really put the wind back in my sails. I felt like I met folks like me, people who just wanted to put down the stories in their heads, and labels be damned. And I found out that SCBWI is an organization full of brilliant people who are talented and warm and funny. They help you, they care. Shoptalk was the perfect therapy for me, an opening of the petals of my heart. I’m grateful to all the wonderful members for helping me bloom. I hope I can return the favor.

For any aspiring “children’s” book authors out there, I highly recommend joining SCBWI. It’s worth the $80 a year.


  1. Your timing is impeccable! I wrote myself a note last October, "Join SCBWI." I finally did two weeks ago and it just so happens their New England conference is next Saturday and I'm going! I can't wait! I'm so glad you think it's valuable, makes me ever more excited.

  2. I agree, Julie. I can't imagine doing this without SCBWI!

  3. I am in love with the SCBWI and I am thrilled that you felt so great about our little Shop Talk. We loved having you in our tribe. <3

  4. Great, Jenny! It took me so long, but I'm so glad I joined. Yes, Vicky, it's a great group, and I aim to go to more stuff in the future. Kim, your kindness and humor are unsurpassed!

  5. Julie, so glad that brilliant, talented you joined our Shop Talk last month! Your contribution to our discussion was much appreciated!

    And yes - labels be damned! Except that I've found that SCBWI & kids/YA writers are super supportive & caring in ways that I hadn't found in any other kind of writing/publishing.

    As someone who always felt that I was a writer for "adults" too - until about 10 years ago - I am so glad that I found SCBWI & have connected with & been inspired by so many excellent writers. Glad to add you to my list of them! :)

    Hope to see you at another Shop Talk again soon! :)


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