Friday, January 21, 2022

It Starts with Hello with Lisa Wheeler

You’ve read about our new Outreach program, It Starts with Hello, in Carrie’s and Jodi’s monthly newsletters. Here it is! We kick-off the program with a post written by Lisa Wheeler. Our plan is to post these shared memories monthly throughout 2022, so please send me your submissions, 300 words or less, at:

We hope you’ll enjoy reading these mini-essays from your SCBWI-MI friends and may it inspire you to reach out to others in our organization. From “It Started. . . “ to “It Starts. . .”
we can continue to build and strengthen our relationships today through social media and online connections. We need each other’s support and encouragement more than ever!

Thank you, Lisa, for being the first to submit your Hello story! Each time I read it, it feels like a warm fuzzy! (Yes, going retro on you, but it fits!)

Stay tuned for our next Hello and the story behind the story!

--Isabel Estrada O’Hagin, SCBWI-MI Outreach Coordinator


It Started with Hello

Lisa Wheeler

Back in the summer of 1997--when dinosaurs roamed the earth--I went online. The first thing I did was look for My People. Typing the words 'children's writers' into the search engine brought forth a beautiful yellow message board (Anyone remember those?) for children's authors and illustrators. I started reading and fell down the rabbit hole. I was closer than ever to finding My People.

A week later, a message on the board said something like: If you live in SE Michigan you are invited to the SCBWI Schmooze!

I wrote to the poster immediately.

What's SCBWI?

What's a schmooze?

Can I come if I haven't sold a book yet?

The answers came back swiftly and that Sunday, I drove to the house of our very own Kathie Allen in Beverly Hills, MI. I walked in the door and knew, without a doubt, I had found them--My People!

We all spoke the same language--children's books! Everyone was so kind and helpful. Rhonda Gowler Green gave a talk where she shared her first two books. I appreciated learning that it takes time and that I was on the right track.

That week, I joined SCBWI and learned more in 6 months than I had on my own in 3 years.

So to all of you newbies who are reading this, "Hello! Come on in and meet Your People!"

Submitted by Lisa Wheeler

You can follow Lisa online at:

Instagram: @littlelisais6

Twitter: @lisawheelerbook

Facebook: Lisa Wheeler Children's Books  


  1. I'm so glad you found SCBWI because that's how I found YOU! Thanks for sharing, Lisa.

  2. Of course, Vicky! I've met you and so many other wonderful friends through SCBWI-MI.

  3. What a wonderful and welcoming, "Hello," Lisa! You were so very welcoming to me, years ago, when I started (waveringly) with SCBWI! I remember wondering if I belonged there at one of the early conferences I attended, and you sat down NEXT TO ME(!), SPOKE to me(!) so kindly, and really put me at ease - even though I knew you were already a writer whose books we had at our school library! And you continue to be your kind and welcoming self! Thank you!

    1. So nice of you to say this, Elizabeth! I feel as if in the last few years, I've been disconnected from everyone--not just SCBWI--so it's good to remember that at one time, I was much more involved.
      All my best to you,

  4. I am a newbie. I had zoomed a bit in 2021 getting acquainted with so many wonderful people. This fall, I decided to be brave and try an in-person in Lansing. Everyone was so welcoming. When asked about my background, I said I was a wanna-be writer. Ruth McNally Barshaw was quick to ask if I write, and I said "Yes." She said, "Then you're a writer." I had told them that you, Lisa, had critiqued one of my manuscripts and how gracious and helpful your comments and suggestions were. At our last in-person LAST (Lansing Area Shop Talk) meeting, we brought and discussed favorite books or books that have impacted us. I brought along "Uncles and Antlers," a favorite of yours. I got even more insight as we all discussed the way the art and story fit together. Sharing our thoughts around the circle was very inspiring. Wishing all that connection along the journey. We are Zooming on Saturday (29th). Hope to see you all there!
    Kathleen Clark-writer :)

  5. Thank you, Kathleen. I'm feeling the love! I miss in=person events and cannot wait until we can all safely get our grooves back.
    All the best as you begin this journey,