Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


To print a copy, follow this link:

Download FULL Conference Schedule HERE

We will not have detailed schedules with session descriptions in folders, so if you would like a printed version, please click here




Session Key





Saturday – October 12, 2019



7:45AM – 8:30AM – PRE-CONFERENCE SESSIONS (optional, choose one)

P PB & Young Reader TRACK
I B Illustrator 101: Illustrator pre-session Karen “Kaz” Windness
This session will introduce you to the world of children’s book illustration, the RMC-SCBWI, and offer tips on maximizing your conference experience. There will be time for Q&A, so please bring questions. We’ll also do some warm-up drawings, so bring your sketchbook and drawing tools!


B Children’s Publishing 101 Kim Tomsic
How do I get started in children’s publishing? What’s the “slush pile”? How’s a chapter book different from a book with chapters? Join RMC-SCBWI RA and author, Kim Tomsic, for a short informational tour. She’ll cover some industry terminology, submission etiquette, and anything else she can squeeze in! Recommended for those new to children’s publishing, but all are welcome.




From Reality to Fiction: Crafting Your Own Personal Narratives Angela Dominguez

10:00AM – 10:50AM        BREAKOUT SESSION ONE (choose one)

I Design and Visual Storytelling – Gregory Barrington
The movement, pacing, and overall readability of a picture book are a blend of text, illustration, and… design. While easy to overlook, design is the figurative glue that holds a picture book together. We’ll take a positive look at the negative space (and frustration) of design and how it relates to the crafting and layout of a sketch dummy and ultimately the printed book. In this session, we’ll explore how typography, weight, and negative space control movement, pacing, and readability; we’ll discuss graphic design principles and how they affect design from a single page to an entire book; we’ll cover book structure and production.


P Part 1 of 2: Hooking Your Reader: Crafting the All-Important First Line in Contemporary Picture Books – Meredith Mundy
In this first part of a two-part session (Part 2 on Sunday at 8:30), we will explore what makes a fabulous and unforgettable first line to hook readers and keep them reading. Please bring a notebook or laptop; a favorite first line from a published picture book to share with the group; and TWO COPIES of a picture book manuscript you are working on, preferably with a non-rhyming first line. (Feel free to bring more than one manuscript for workshopping purposes, as long as you bring two copies of each.)


N  How to Write a Successful Synopsis – Devin Ross
Writing a synopsis that grabs the eye of the reader is no easy task, but it’s a valuable one. While synopses are most commonly used as a plotting tool, they can also be useful sales tools. This session will dive into the line-level specifics of writing a good synopsis, as well as the bigger picture uses of this important tool.


M Self Publishing! – Teresa Funke
Is self-publishing the right choice for you? If so, should you start your own press, work with a partner publisher, use a print-on-demand company, or go straight to e-book? So many choices! In this presentation, we’ll start by looking at your personal Self-Publishing Profile and your Goal Identifier. Then we’ll go over the Self-publishing Options Breakdown and clear up all the confusion. You’ll learn the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing as they relate to your individual projects, and get information about every step in the publishing process, including the key components to your success: creating a quality book, embracing a marketing mindset, and selling your book in the ways that appeal to you!


11:00AM – 11:50 AM       BREAKOUT SESSION TWO (choose one)

I Planning Your Ideal Illustrating Career – Ebony Glenn
In this session, we will discuss various goal-setting and planning techniques to create the ideal illustration career tailored to each artist’s—from beginners to seasoned pros—individual needs, abilities and aspirations. I will share insider tips and tricks that have helped me along the way.


P A Fresh Approach to Writing Picture Book Biographies – Andrea Wang
It seems like a new picture book biography hits the shelves every month. How do you make yours stand out from the crowd? Using mentor texts, this session will explore elements of picture book biographies, including choosing a subject, deciding between full vs. slice of life, finding a theme, and using layers of text — all with an eye to making your biography fresh and compelling.


N Tension: What It Is, How to Exploit It, and Why You Want To Elana K. Arnold   
Often, writers focus on building believable characters, painting imagistic settings, and crafting compelling plots. These all matter… but so does the rising and falling pulse of tension that infuses them all with life. In this talk, I will share specific, concrete examples of ways you can infuse your prose with tension and spark life in your stories.


M Ask Me Anything (about publishing!) Molly O’Neill
Molly O’Neill has held multiple roles during her 16+ years in the publishing industry: she’s worked in marketing/publicity, as an editor, as a publishing/tech start-up executive, and now as a literary agent. This diverse background allows her to understand the industry and its processes, trends, and decisions through a unique and deeply-contextualized lens. During the session, Molly will do her best to illuminate your understanding of the aspects of the publishing industry or bookmaking life you find most curious, puzzling, or downright perplexing. *Registrants for this session will be able to submit questions via Google Form.*  Here’s the link:


12:00 PM – 1:20PM          LUNCH: Dream Like a Unicorn

Crystal Kite Award Winner and Keynote Speaker:  Kim Tomsic
Congratulations to Kim Tomsic, winner of the 2019 Crystal Kite Award for the Southwest Division of the SCBWI (SW Division includes Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Southern Idaho, New Mexico). The Crystal Kite Award is a peer-voted honor bestowed for excellence in children’s books upon winners today in 15 US and international divisions. SCBWI members vote to recognize outstanding books written and illustrated by their peers. Over 1,000 books across all categories including picture books, middle grade, chapter books, young adult, and nonfiction were entered in the competition.


1:30PM – 2:20PM BREAKOUT SESSION THREE (choose one)


I Crafting a Fabulous Story Board – Angela Dominguez
Storyboarding is the process of sequentially organizing a story. In this session, Angela will share tips on composition and pacing so you create more compelling storyboards. Attendees will be assigned an assignment prior to the conference. Be prepared to share, critique, and have fun!


P The Nitty and the Gritty, the Ins and Outs, the A to Z: Everything Ever about Making a Picture Book Sylvie Frank
You know me by now, Rocky Mountain friends! Here’s the gist: together we’ll take a close look at the picture book-making process — manuscript revisions, selecting an artist, sketches, typesetting, and at last, the bound book. In taking apart and putting back together a picture book, we’ll see how agents, editors, art directors, authors, and illustrators all work together to create the art that is a picture book. The goal: for you to leave informed and inspired as you craft and revise your own manuscripts.


N My Rocky Road from Pantser to Plotter – Lisa Brown Roberts
Writers love to talk about whether they’re pantsers, plotters, or somewhere in the middle. YA author Lisa Brown Roberts firmly believes there’s no “right” way to write. While writing (and revising…and revising…) six published YA novels, Lisa has morphed from a panicky pantser to an obsessive plotter to a flexible plotser. Join Lisa for an interactive discussion about her experiences with well-known plotting methods, rewriting an entire novel in a month, how she eventually developed a customized plotting method that works for her, and how you can do the same.



Windows, Mirrors & Doors: Fundamentals to Writing Cross-Culturally Tiffany Liao
If you’re supposed to “write what you know,” how can you write convincingly and respectfully from a perspective outside of your own? This workshop is a craft-oriented approach to portraying diverse characters as it relates to character, plot, and voice. We’ll cover several writing exercises, as well as specific dos and don’ts to avoid blind spots and pitfalls.


2:30PM –3:20PM               INDUSTRY PANEL Ballroom Group Gathering


Question & Answer Session with –

Editors:                  Meredith Mundy, Sylvie Frank & Tiffany Liao

Agents:                  Molly O’Neill, Kate Testerman  


3:20PM –3:30PM Attention: Illustrators who registered for Juried Portfolio Contest

Portfolios pre-registered for the juried portfolio contest must be turned in no later than this time slot (3:20-3:30). It’s a thin timeslot, however please be on time in order to qualify for the judging round. Where: When you exit the ballroom, turn left, and you’ll find a volunteer waiting to receive your submission (this is directly opposite of the registration table and to the side of the ballroom). Please pick up portfolio immediately after breakout session four ends. Portfolios will be manned and guarded only up until 4:30.


3:30PM – 4:20PM BREAKOUT SESSION FOUR (choose one)


I Panels and text for your picture book, chapter book or graphic novel Stan Yan
Comic Sans: just say no. Author/Illustrator and graphic novelist, Stan Yan will show you his rules-of-thumb and considerations in creating text style sheets and designing and placing text, speech bubbles, thought bubbles, captions, and sound effects in your art, while composing your panels for maximum storytelling.


P Controlling the Chaos of Picture Book Creation with 8 Essential Questions Jean Reidy  
All too often, producing a publishable picture book seems to require mastery of an endless, arbitrary and ever-changing list of rules, or – more simply – the stars of a thousand universes aligning. Within picture book writing and revision, a writer can feel like Chaos theory is at play. In this session author, Jean Reidy will help you control the chaos by distilling down the picture book process to the most important and enduring questions writers need to ask of their picture book manuscripts and – more importantly – how to get them answered. Please bring a completed picture book manuscript to this session.


N The Value of Versatility – Jenny Goeble   
Sometimes authors get married to a single idea and can’t get past it to write the next book. Others can’t break out of their comfort zones to explore new genres. This presentation includes tips on how to stay afloat by being receptive to feedback, knowing when to move on, and finding ways to experiment with your writing.


M About My Query Kate Testerman
Whether you’re an experienced writer or a newbie, everyone at some point faces the dreaded query letter—bane of aspiring authors everywhere! But don’t fear! Local Colorado agent Kate Testerman of KT Literary, LLC will break it down with simple Dos and Don’ts and review sample queries with participants to help see common mistakes that you can easily fix. Feel free to bring copies of your query letters for your finished manuscripts for a chance to have Kate review them in the session. We’ll also talk about why you need a stellar query, and why you want a literary agent in the first place.


4:30PM – 6:00PM             COCKTAIL & DESSERT SOCIAL: ARTS, EATS, & AUTOGRAPHS (Ballroom)

Come enjoy wine, cheese, desserts, and conversation. 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.

Book Signing: Books will be available at the conference book store. Meet your favorite authors and illustrators, chat, and have your books autographed.

Portfolio viewing: Step up and see work created by the talented illustrators in our chapter.

6:15PM – 7:45PM   Saturday night CRITIQUE CONNECT for Authors and Illustrators

Getting valuable peer critiques is one of the most important steps in becoming a better writer and/or illustrator. This is a live critiquing session in which you will have the opportunity to share your work with other writers and/or illustrators, and receive and give feedback. Who knows, you might just find a new critique partner in the process!  WRITERS: BRING 5 COPIES OF YOUR WORK IN PROGRESS. ILLUSTRATORS:  BRING YOUR PORTFOLIO.


Sunday – October 13, 2019 Session Key
7:30AM – 8:00AM

Meet & Greet! Grab some coffee and a bagel and join us in the ballroom and get to know the volunteers in your region. This is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the Connect volunteer in your neighborhood, meet the LGBTQ Connect coordinator, say hello to our assistant Illustrator Coordinator, or come and ask the Mentor Coordinator a question or three! Each volunteer will have a sign posted at a table so you can mingle from one table to the next if you’d like.





8:30AM – 9:20AM             BREAKOUT SESSION ONE (choose one)

I Strengthening Your Creative Muscle – Ebony Glenn
Creativity is one of the most useful assets an Illustrator can have, and knowing how to keep it in abundance is paramount for our artwork.  In this session, we’ll share ways to stay inspired, tips to keep artist’s block at bay, and exercises we can do to fuel our imagination.


P Part 2 of 2: Hooking Your Reader: Crafting the All-Important First Line in Contemporary Picture Books – Meredith Mundy
In this second part of a two-part session, we will share our original first lines and the revamped revisions—magical transformations nearly guaranteed! We will also discuss ways to apply what we’ve learned from revising the first lines to the revision process for the rest of the manuscript. Make sure to attend part 1 on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. for the full experience.


M First Pages, Two Ways: What Revision Really Looks Like Molly O’Neill      
Agent Molly O’Neill shares first pages of now-published books two ways: as they were first submitted to her by then-querying authors/illustrators, and as they were eventually published by her now-clients. (It’s like a first pages session, but in reverse!) We’ll talk together about the changes, big or small, that were made during the publishing process, and why they were important, and you’ll walk away with new ways of thinking about revision for your books and their beginnings.


N Straight Through the Heart: How to Make Readers Fall in Love With Your Characters Tiffany Liao  
With every book I edit, I always start with one big question: what does the character want? Your character motivation is the heart of the story and will inform every element in your book including voice, plot, pacing, and world-building. I’ll show you how to dig deep into your character to establish a motivation that is compelling, believable, and urgently drives the story forward from page to page.


9:30AM – 10:20AM           BREAKOUT SESSION TWO (choose one)

I Your Illustration Brand – Kaz Windness
This session will give you the tools you need to create a cohesive and standout illustration branding package, sure to wow publishers, agents, and clients. 
P Exploring the Character-Driven Children’s Picture Book – Denise Vega

Successful picture book series’ like Skippyjon Jones, Fancy Nancy, and Olivia all have one thing in common: Memorable, engaging characters. What makes them memorable and engaging? And what exactly is a “character-driven picture book?” In this session, you’ll look at popular, character-driven picture books to determine what makes them special and begin to craft your own characters. If you’ve got an existing character that needs a boost, bring him/her. Let’s create unforgettable characters together.


M How to Succeed at Book Promotion—Teresa Funke
Successful book promotion starts with you. Whether you self-publish or go the traditional route, you will be responsible for marketing your book, so it’s time to develop a positive mindset around book promotion! In this presentation, you’ll learn how to identify your Promotion Personality, the difference between a marketing plan and a promotion plan, the Four Steps to Book Promotion, and what goes through a buyer’s mind when he/she chooses one book over another. Learn to set action items you’ll want to follow through on, and how not to feel overwhelmed by all the choices. Walk away with the steps to create a promotion plan that is manageable, fun, and effective for you!
N Writing Romance for Today’s Readers – Lisa Brown Roberts
YA readers love the swoons, whether the romance is a subplot of a bigger story or the main story itself. Join YA romance author Lisa Brown Roberts for a how-to workshop on incorporating romance story beats into your novel, selecting the right “heat” level for your story, reader and publisher expectations, and an overview of the wide variety of YA romances in the current market. This workshop is geared to YA novelists.


10:30AM – 11:20AM        BREAKOUT SESSION THREE (choose one)

I First Impressions – Molly O’Neill
This group-format session will feature anonymous illustrations reviewed on large screen. Up to four 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. NOTE: See the Illustrator Extras page for details on how to submit your illustrations by the deadline.


P Structure, Story Arc, Spacing, and Other Secrets of Picture Book PacingJean Reidy
Picture book pacing is more than a succession of perfectly-timed and finely-tuned page turns. It’s suspense and surprises and satisfying endings. It’s the language and line breaks that allow readers to notice and wonder and linger a little longer. But how do you create that tempo with only words on the page? Join picture book author, Jean Reidy, as she reveals the often unsung – yet sometimes surprisingly simple – strategies of picture book pacing. Please bring a completed picture book manuscript to this session.


M Why Does Publishing Take So Long? – Kate Testerman & Sylvie Frank
In this session, you’ll enjoy an in-depth conversation (and receive a calendar handout), covering  all the steps involved from querying an agent to your book on shelves in the bookstore, and why all the steps are necessary and good for making sure you have the best possible traditional publishing experience.


N Make it Interesting! – Angela Dominguez
In this craft session, we’ll go over the basic elements of a narrative. Then we’ll focus on ways to enhance your “unique voice” by uncovering those gems that add texture and authenticity to a manuscript. This session also aims to help work through any issues you’re having with your novel’s narrative. Bring in a progress project that you’d like to focus on.


11:30AM – 12:20 PM        CLOSING KEYNOTE:

The Art, Craft, and Business of CreatingElana K. Arnold

‘First, Art.’ This is what I tell myself each day when I sit down to write. Craft and Business matter, too, but each in its own time. I’ll share with you my philosophy and best practices for being an artist, a craftsperson, and a business person in our chosen field of creating books for young people.

12:30 PM – 12:30 PM FAREWELL! 



Those registered for a post-conference intensive, please pick up your boxed lunch now 😊


POST-Conference five options (two novelist options, two picture book options, one illustrator option).   Post-conference intensives are optional, and pre-registration is required as there are a limited number of spaces. Your post conference registration  includes one intensive and one boxed lunch (to be picked up after closing keynote).


2:00PM – 5:00PM


Revision: A Many Legged Beast Elana K. Arnold

Revision: A Many-Legged Beast: Join me as I explore a range of techniques and practices for revising a manuscript of any length, from picture book through full-length novel. You will leave this intensive with practical tools that you can use again and again with each project.



Live Feedback Molly O’Neill

Pre-register for this roundtable for chapter book, middle grade, and young adult novelists, and hear how an agent responds to the first FIVE pages of your work in progress. Space is limited to 15 writers. You’ll meet in an intimate setting and receive live, on-the-spot feedback on the first five pages of your work (yes, it must be pages one through five from the beginning; please see detailed instructions for formatting). Not only do you benefit by receiving direct feedback from an agent on your work-in-progress, but you also grow by hearing constructive comments on everyone else’s work, too.


NOTE: All participants should bring 16 STAPLED copies of the first five pages of work-in-progress manuscript. Format 12 pt. Font, Times New Roman, double spaced, one-inch margins.



Live Feedback Tiffany Liao

Pre-register for this roundtable for chapter book, middle grade, and young adult novelists, and hear how an editor responds to the first FIVE pages of your work in progress. Space is limited to 15 writers. You’ll meet in an intimate setting and receive live, on-the-spot feedback on the first five pages of your work (yes, it must be pages one through five from the beginning; please see detailed instructions for formatting). Not only do you benefit by receiving direct feedback from an editor on your work-in-progress, but you also grow by hearing constructive comments on everyone else’s work, too.


NOTE: All participants should bring 16 STAPLED copies of the first five pages of work-in-progress manuscript. Format 12 pt. Font, Times New Roman, double spaced, one-inch margins.

Coffee Chat  Kate Testerman

During the Sunday afternoon optional intensives, Kate is sitting down with small groups of authors to chat about whatever you want! This is a fantastic opportunity to get face time with a literary agent without the stress of needing to pitch your story, and a chance to have already formed a connection with Kate before you might want to follow up after the conference with your polished query letter. Note: There are two offerings of this session. You may choose either 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m., or 3:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Pricing for one session is $50 and includes boxed lunch (to be enjoyed before the session) and coffee (served when you meet with Kate).


I ILLUSTRATOR INTENSIVE: Creating Your Own Business Plan Ebony Glenn
A creative business plan is the Illustrator’s roadmap to plan for success, measuring progress, and managing goals. In this workshop, we will discuss the importance of having a plan as well as how to create one for your illustration business. You will be developing a business plan outline with everything you need to finish it and implement your goals post-conference. We will also create a vision board for you to visualize your plan and help bring your aspirations to life. Bring supplies to share (magazine clippings, scissors, glue, etc.)!


Pre-register for this special roundtable gathering and hear how an editor thinks. Space is limited to 15 writers each. You’ll meet in an intimate setting and receive live, on-the-spot feedback on the first five pages of your picture book manuscript (please see detailed instructions). Not only do you benefit by receiving direct feedback on your work-in-progress, but you also grow by hearing reactions and comments on everyone else’s work, too.

NOTE: All participants should bring 16 STAPLED copies of a work-in-progress picture book manuscript. Format 12 pt. Font, Times New Roman, double spaced, one-inch margins.