Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Volunteer Chronicles: Lorraine Elkins

This month’s Volunteer Chronicles features fabulous volunteer Lorraine Elkins. Lorraine hasn’t been a volunteer for an exceptionally long time, but she has packed a huge amount of volunteerism into a short time! From the annual conference to book clubs and more, Lorraine is always busy behind the scenes of our wonderful group.

Thanks for joining us, Lorraine!


Can you tell us a little bit about your volunteer role(s)?

Last April, I was a volunteer for the first time at the Austin 2018 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference as part of the Silent Auction team. In that role I helped to set up auction items at the start of the conference, and at the end, to retrieve the purchased items for winners.

Recently, I took over moderating responsibilities for the chapter’s Middle Grade Book Club when Gayleen Rabakukk became the chapter ARA. As book club moderator, I maintain the group’s membership list and post discussion-starter questions on the group’s Facebook page for each month’s book club selection. Beginning in January 2019, I’m testing a new format for the Middle Grade Book Club to enable our many, very busy, members to be more actively involved.


What interested you about volunteering for SCBWI initially, and what have you gotten out of the experience?

As a relative new member of SCBWI, I wanted to get a quick feel for the organization–how it’s run and who runs it. I knew that getting involved behind the scenes would give me a view of things that being a non-volunteering member would not. In addition, being an SCBWI volunteer has given me extra opportunities to meet other chapter members and to feel the gratification of being a part of various support communities within our chapter.


We have a wide range of volunteers, from those just starting out in writing to published authors and everything in between. Where in the writing journey are you?

I feel as if I’m just starting out, though I’ve been writing since I was a child, all through grade school, and into college, where I minored in writing at the University of Maryland. But now that I’ve discovered the unique critique groups of SCBWI, I feel my writing, with the help of my critique partners, has started to jell into something marketable.


What surprises you most about this writing life?

It’s soooo hard! Maybe I’m just being a perfectionist, but it really takes a lot of work to create something good and nourishing for children. I have a full-time+ job, and carving out time to write is a true challenge. I admire writers who’ve been able to work full-time (and/or raise a family) and have a writing career, as well. I’m still trying to figure out how to do it!


Do you have any favorite craft books, courses or resources?

THE WRITER’S JOURNEY by Christopher Vogler, based on the hero’s journey research of Joseph Campbell. I’ve been a longtime fan of Campbell’s work, and it was a godsend to discover Vogler’s book at a time when I was struggling with the creation of my WIP’s cast of characters. While the hero’s journey is known for its plot paradigm, the book’s study of the archetypal characters who populate the journey has proven a great help to me. Without it, I may still be searching for an appropriate bad guy for my hero!



What was your favorite childhood book? Have you read it again as an adult?

THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster. I first read the book as a kid during one of my summers in Salem, Ohio, and whenever I think of that book, I think of those beloved summers. I’ve read it again as an adult, but not recently. I’m due.


Quick Fire Questions


Would you rather go to the beach in the winter or the mountains in the summer?

The mountains in the summer.

Unicorn horn or squirrel tail?

 My inclination is to say unicorn horn, but I think a squirrel tail would be much more useful in the end (ha ha), so squirrel tail.


Would you rather start a colony on another planet or be the leader of a small country on Earth?

The leader of a small country on Earth.

Travel to the future, or travel to the past?

Travel to the past.