Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


Saturday – September 17, 2016

Download FULL Conference Schedule HERE

Download CONDENSED Conference Schedule HERE


 B   Beginner  P    Picture Book Track   Advanced Novel Track 
  I   Illustrator   Novel Track  M  Marketing & Industry



7:45AM – 8:30AM    PRE-CONFERENCE SESSIONS (optional, choose one)
 B   I    Hybrid! A Buzz Word in Publishing – Roberta Collier-Morales  
Welcome to the hybrid world of publishing. Whether you're a writer, illustrator or both, the landscape of our profession is changing daily as the digital evolution opens doors unheard of less than a decade ago. What do we need to know, what skills do we need to have, and how do we navigate these changes? We will discuss the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing; what it means to have an agent; and we will take a look at some of the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Benjamin Franklin and Newbery winners plus share favorite illustrator blogs, online classes and programs that are helpful as we continue to hone our skills.

 B  Children’s Publishing 101 – Lindsay Eland  
How do I get started in children's publishing? What's the "slush pile"? What's the difference between a chapter book and a book with chapters? Join RMC-SCBWI Regional Adviser and author, Lindsay Eland, in a short informational tour. She'll cover some of the terminology of the industry, the types and levels of children's books, submission etiquette and the process of submitting, manuscript formatting, and anything else she can squeeze in! Come with questions and an empty hand for handouts. Recommended for those new to children's publishing but all are welcome. 

8:40AM – 9:00AM       WELCOME & ANNOUNCEMENTS                  

9:00AM – 9:50AM       KEYNOTE

SCBWI and YOU: Past, Present and Future – Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser

10:00AM – 10:50AM   BREAKOUT SESSIONS (choose one)
  I    Character Bibles – Judy Schachner
For every book I do, I first create a character bible. In this session I will show you how I intuitively collage my way to story structure, character development, voice, and art style, in one stress-free, inspiring journal. This process is especially cathartic for those of us with ADD.

 P    Growing a Picture Book – Minju Chang
Hooray, you have a great idea for a picture book! Where do you go from there? In this session we'll take a closer look at how picture books develop from idea to concept to story. 

 N   First Drafting – Now 96% Faster! – Tara Dairman
Does the process of writing a first draft of a novel stretch out endlessly for you? Do you wish you could learn some tips and tricks to make it go faster? "First Drafting: Now 96% Faster" will teach novelists how to use prewriting, outlining, goal-setting, and anxiety-management techniques to get their novel-drafting schedules form years down to weeks. Attendees will come away with resources and strategies that will help them become much more efficient on future proects. 

 M  Virtual Visits–Vitually Painless – Jean Reidy  
Author and illustrator visits get kids excited about reading, writing, art and more. They also show kids that people who write and/or illustrate books are real people. But with shrinking school budgets and high-stakes curriculum demands, scheduling in-person author or illustrator visits may seem impossible. Virtual visits to the rescue! Whether you're published or pre-published, virtual visits are a great way to build your platform, connect directly with your audience and make good friends in school communities. Learn how to land them and the tips and tools to make them effective and easy!

11:00AM – 12:15PM   BREAKOUT SESSIONS (choose one)
  I   Adventures in Space: A Lighthearted and Understandable Lesson in Perspective Drawing – Benjamin Hummel  

Understanding perspective is beneficial because it allows your illustrations to maintain a professional quality, and it gives you the confidence to start brainstorming and thinking with unique and challenging points of view. In order to keep this course engaging (because let’s face it, people sign up for perspective like they sign up for a root canal), Benjamin introduces humor and wit to his instruction, hammering home on core principles of understanding perspective basics through repetition and pneumatic devices. These are the same techniques he uses in the book he wrote on the subject. One-Point, Two-Point, Grids… by the end, you will have a better handle on all of these concepts.

Please bring the following supplies:
Pencil & Eraser * Tape * Drafting Triangle * Paper 1-2 sheets * T square (optional) 

P   Picture Book First Pages – Andrea Spooner and Minju Chang  
Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall as editors and agents read that crucial first page of your picture book manuscript? In this session, you will see and hear an agent's and editor's initial reaction to actual first pages submitted by conference attendees. See the Author Extras page for details on how to submit your first page at the registration table. 

 N  Novel First Pages – Sandra Bond and Kat Brzozowski 
Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall as editors and agents read that crucial first page of your novel? In this session, you will see and hear an agent's and editor's initial reaction to actual first pages submitted by conference attendees. See the Author Extras page for details on how to submit your first page at the registration table. 

 M  Brave New Digital World – Steve Mooser 
In this session, Steven will discuss strategies for success as an independent publisher. Learn about achieving your goals while avoiding the pitfalls in writing, designing and marketing your book. 

12:30PM – 2:00PM      LUNCH BREAK & KEYNOTE

TALK TO ME: Giving Voice to Characters & KidsJudy Schachner
After spending over 25 years as a professional eight year old in the business of making picture books, Judy Schachner knows a few things about creating characters that not only speak to children but inspire children to speak right back.

2:00PM – 2:50PM        BREAKOUT SESSIONS (choose one)
  I   Watercolor Nitty Gritty for Nervous Cats – Ruth Harper 

Buckled paper? Tired of paint staining? Can’t get that soft bleed or paint to stay where you put it? Why use masking fluid? Where’s the white?!?  A beginner/intermediate watercolor play-along. Ruth is a Signature Member of the Colorado Watercolor Society and will ease you into painting organic life and soft color movement into your illustrations, with basic materials and simple techniques. DARE to play along! A short supply list will be provided, plus in-class supplies. Learn about basic supplies plus simple methods of preparation, masking, controlling paint, bleeding, techniques like salting, and layering/glazing. No need to be a fraidy cat any more!

Please bring the following supplies:
Pencil & Eraser * Palette any kind/size (bigger is better) * Brushes large wash (to slap down water), #8 or #10 round watercolor (synthetic blends work well) * Paper 1-2 sheets (9×12, max) 140 or 260 lb Arches, Fabriano, or other; 1 small stretched Arches sheet provided; Pre-stretched paper is a great idea, and/or a drawing already done * Paints Windsor & Newton or comparable (not student grade) any 3 favorite colors * Water pot Quart size

 P   Once Upon a Time…The End: Picture Book Plots and Structures – Stephanie Pitts
How do you tell an entire story in less than 1000 words? Topics to be discussed include the classic plot structure, other common narrative structures in children's books, including cumulative tales and circular tales, and how to give shape and direction to any manuscript. We will also discuss writing nonfiction that reads like fictions and different ways to approach a picture book biography.  

 N  Shaping the Story from the Opening Line – Richard Peck   
Bring with you the first page of your current work as we look for a better beginning.  

M  Looking for an Agent and the Do's and Don'ts of Query Letters – Sandra Bond
Sandra will take you through the process of searching for an agent and why you do or do not need one. Shewill also share tips on what makes a query letter a success or failure.  

3:00PM – 4:15PM        INDUSTRY PANEL         
QUESTION & ANSWER SESSION- Sandra Bond, Kat Brzozowski, Minju Chang, Sylvie Frank, Stephanie Pitts, Andrea Spooner, Len Vlahos 


RMC-SCBWI is celebrating our 40th Anniversary with a special video celebrating our events and speakers from the past 40 years! Publishing successes from the past year are included as well!


This is a chance to see the talented illustrators that we have in our chapter. At the end of this time, illustrators may submit their work for a juried portfolio review.

4:30PM – 5:00PM      BOOK SIGNING
The authors & illustrators behind the books for sale in the conference bookstore will be available to chat & sign books. 

Getting valuable peer critiques is one of the most important steps in becoming a better writer. This is a time to connect with other writers and/or illustrators in your area and start up a critique group or partnership. 

What is better than writing, illustrating, networking, desserts, cocktails, and fun? You're right…nothing! Networking is an extremely important and often overlooked part of writing and illustrating for Children. Here is your chance to get to know and connect with other writers, illustrators, and faculty members. 

Sunday – September 18, 2016



Crystal Kite Award Presentation – Melanie Crowder

8:30AM – 9:20AM       BREAKOUT SESSIONS (choose one)
 I   Storyboarding, Sequential Art, and adding Visual Rhythm to Your Book – Benjamin Hummel

Brought to you by the People Who Want to Stop Boring Storyboards! The challenge for most artists is how to keep the flow of their books consistent and natural from page to page, yet adding enough dynmaic impact to give the book a strong visual interest. Tapping deep into the basic principles of design, we'll go over that very challenge, and how we can use the ideation and storyboarding process to develop strong visual rhythm and pacing to enhance the story and the illustrations of the book.  

Please bring the following supplies:
Pencil & Eraser * Tape * Drafting Triangle * T square (optional) * Paper 1-2 sheets 

 P  Keeping "The You" in Your Art – Judy Schachner 
In this age of digital and derivative art (everybody wants to be the next Mary Blair), it is sometimes difficult to tell the work of one illustrator from another. This session will be in praise of raw art, originality, and human imperfection. Editors and art directors are looking to discover somethign unique and personal, so don't be afraid to show them "the you" in your art. 

  Speak Up, I Can't Hear You: Writing Voice – Kat Brzozowski
You've come up with a plot. You've created characters. You have a setting. Now how do you make your readers feel like these characters are really speaking to them? Voice is one of the most important elements of fiction and one of the hardest to master. We'll talk about how other authors craft voice successfully and how you can do it too!    

 A  Writing Effective Dialogue – Lin Oliver   *Advanced Novel Track*
We communicate naturally everyday of our lives, so why is it so hard to write the spoken word for our characters? Just as good dialogue helps us understand and connect with a character, bad dialogue yanks us out of the story. In this session for advanced novelists, Lin helps separate the good techniques for writing dialogue from the bad and the ugly. 

9:30AM – 10:20AM       BREAKOUT SESSIONS (choose one)
  I   Eat the Elephant – Ruth Harper

Overwhelmed? About to begin a project or half way through? The very idea of illustrating on a deadline while working full time or having kids at home, can fling anyone into nausea. So, how would you EVER tackle eating that elephant? Ruth explores different working styles/brains and offers specific ways to plan the book out, break it down, organize and where to focus, stay creatively fueled when sails fall flat, keep up momentum, and balance the craziness – in other words, one small bite at a time! 

 P   Polishing Your Proposal to a Shine: Ten Steps to a Better Picture Book – Andrea Spooner
One of the most frequent reasons editors cite for rejection is "I loved the idea, but the execution fell short." In a crowded and competitive marketplace, polish matters in order to pass through the acquisitions process. In this practical workshop, Learn about key elements and techniques picture book editors focus on in the editing process: from how to think visually and aurally, to sharpening your story's takeaway, to minding your frontmatter and backmatter. 

  The "Hero's Journey" and Novel Structure – Len Vlahos
You have a great character with a great voice and a great idea for a plot. But how do you create a structure to tell your story? We'll use Joseph Campbell's Hero's Jouney to dissect well known stories to see how to create structure. 

 A  Making Your Setting Sing – Tara Dairman    *Advanced Novel Track*
Whether it takes place in a fantastical world, in an era long past, on foreign soil, or on the terra firma of contemporary American reality, setting is a key dimension of your story. How can you make your reader feel truly immersed in it? Delving into examples from many genres in YA and MG literature, we will learn how to create vibrant settings, integrate them seamlessly with the other elements of our stories, and even use them to heighten emotion and suspense. Master setting, and bring your story to life!

10:30AM – 11:20AM   BREAKOUT SESSIONS (choose one)
  I   First Impressions – Stephanie PItts 

This group-format session will feature anonymous illustrations reviewed on large screen. Up to three images per illustrator will be reviewed. Each submission will be evaluated for: marketability, effectiveness for age group and book type, overall strengths and weaknesses, suggestions for improvement, possible publisher recommendation for style. Additional illustrations will be critiqued as time permits. Join fellow illustrators and take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to learn from publishing leaders. See the ILLUSTRATOR EXTRAS page for details on how to submit your illustrations by the deadline. 

 P   Revising to Resonate: Taking Your Picture Books from "so-so" to "Sold" – Jean Reidy  
Has your picture book manuscript been cursed with the “like but don’t love” rejection? Maybe it’s missing that invisible element that connects to readers at the deepest level and demands the reread. Resonance is the most familiar, relatable or soulful aspect of every great picture book – from concept books to classics to hilarious best sellers. Yet, it can be difficult to nail down. Learn revision techniques for creating stories that speak to the heart and make agents, editors, booksellers and young readers fall in love with a picture book. Participants must bring a completed picture book manuscript to this session.

  What's So Funny: Writing Humor for Every Age – Lin Oliver 
Everybody loves a good laugh, especially kids. Join Lin in a laugh-out-loud session where you’ll learn how to tap into your unique sense of humor to tickle a young reader’s funny bone.

 A  Killer Endings: How to Discover a Great Ending to Your Story – Todd Mitchell   *Advanced Novel Track*
There's an old adage in publsihing that "the beginning sells the book; the ending sells the next book." In this session, we'll discuss what a good ending must do, as well as tips and techniques for accomplishing this with style. Then we'll put these approaches into action wtih a fun activitiy so we can practice pulling off an ending that's "unexpecte yet inevitable." 

11:30AM – 12:10PM   KEYNOTE 

Creating the Story the Textbook Doesn't Tell – Richard Peck
Never have schools–and colleges–lived farther from the world of evolving history than today, giving real books, not textbooks, new opportunities. 


(Optional, for an additional fee. Pre-registration required and limited number of spaces)

1:30PM – 5:00PM    INTENSIVES

  I   ILLUSTRATOR INSTENSIVE with Judy Schachner  

Under the Influence of Imatination! 
This no-pressure, fun-filled, workshop is guaranteed to loosen up the hand, the heart, and the mind. Reference imagery, music and words will be provided for the purpose of inspiring a series of quick multi-media studies. Be aware that you may need a designated driver at the end of the 3 hours. 

NOTE: Participants are required to bring their own non-digital art supplies such as pencils, pastels, watercolor, gouache, scissors, collage materials (decorative papers and magazines) glue sticks and a journal.


Earning the Transformation
Join award-winning author Todd Mitchell for this three hour interactive session focused on the most helpful and effective techniques he’s found for increasing conflict, revealing characters, and writing stories that readers (and editors) won’t be able to put down. Topics covered will include:

• Developing sticky stories and elemental plots
• Spotting the difference between a story and a situation
• Creating effective hooks and discovering ways to begin in medias res
• The three most important things to know about your characters
• Pulling plot from character, and using plot to reveal character
• Increasing conflict, and manifesting internal conflict through external events
• Visualizing plot and character arcs 
• Pushing your character to the end of the line to earn the transformation
• Techniques for plotting novels (plot/counter plot, snowflake method…)
• Developing an effective story map (not a straight jacket)

An extensive packet is included with the session, as well as worksheets so you can immediately apply concepts to your stories and get feedback during the session. By the end of the session, participants will have a broader understanding of how to structure novels and how to make their characters’ journeys both compelling and believable.


NOTE => Each roundtable intensive will open with a 30-40 minute presentation by the facilitator. The remaining time will be devoted to participants reading 3-5 pages of their manuscripts and receiving a critique from the editor (and other participants as time permits). Each participant will have approximately 10 minutes for read and critique.

EACH PARTICIPANT BRINGS sixteen (16) copies – enough for each participant, plus you and the editor facilitator to receive a copy – of a properly formatted manuscript (one-inch margins, double spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman, printed on single side, three to five stapled pages. Keep in mind, a timekeeper will be present, so if you use all your minutes reading, you cut into your time to receive valuable feedback.

 P  Picture Book Roundtable: Writing Irresistible Picture Book Characters – Stephanie Pitts
What makes a new picture book character stand out to an editor? Topics to be discussed include using voice to establish cahracter, creating memorable and unique character traits, writing charater arcs, and writing characters for nonfiction. 

P  Picture Book Roundtable: Dummies for Smarties–Taking "Good Design Fosters Good Reading" to Heart – Sylvie Frank
Picture books are typically thirty-two pages—but why? And why does this matter to an author? In this jam-packed session, editor Sylvie Frank will dive into the details of the physical picture book, taking a close look at how production and design elements affect the text. Once we’ve explored picture book production and design, we will put our new-found knowledge to use by making picture book dummies out of works-in-progress. We’ll take a look at how a dummy can help to improve plot and pacing and show where to cut words. Finally, we will do a workshop on revising and selecting just the right words. **All participants should bring a work-in-progress picture book manuscript, scissors, glue stick, and 4 pieces of blank 8 1/2" x 11" paper to this session.** (Audience: This breakout will be most informative to authors, and less so for illustrators and author-illustrators.)

 N  Novel Roundtable:  Games to Unlock Your Writers Block – Kat Brzozowski  
Are you stuck and you can't get unstuck? Have you fallen down the Twitter rabbit hole? Is your Netflix queue exhausted but your keyboard remains untouched? In this intensive, we'll have some fun and play games that will help reignite your creative spark and get the words flowing.  

Download FULL Conference Schedule HERE

Download CONDENSED Conference Schedule HERE