Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


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Saturday – September 22, 2018 Session Key
7:30AM – 8:45AM


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 your questions. We’ll also do some warm-up drawings, so bring your sketchbook and something to draw with!


B Children’s Publishing 101Kim Tomsic
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 RA and author, Kim Tomsic, 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! Recommended for those new to children’s publishing but all are welcome.


9:00AM – 9:50AM KEYNOTE:

Creativity is a Wild Mind and a Disciplined Eye  – Laurie Halse Anderson

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

I The Importance of Eyebrows! – Brooke Boynton Hughes
In “The Importance of Eyebrows: Proportion, body language, and facial expression for illustrators” we will discuss common stumbling blocks in character design and ways to overcome them. I will go over standard human proportions and suggest tools to help keep characters consistent throughout a book, as well as ways to make characters more dynamic and less stiff. I will also discuss ways to create a wide range of subtle and varied facial expressions. This presentation will be most beneficial for beginning and intermediate illustrators.


P What Makes a Good Picture Book? –  Alvina Ling
“Good” can be subjective, but in this session, Alvina will discuss what makes a book good in her opinion, as well as discuss the picture book market and what helps make a “marketable” picture book.


N What is the Point of POV –  Jeannie Mobley
Point of view is more than just a set of rules to follow; POV is a tool we can use to get the reader right where we want them. We will start this session with a quick review of what point of view is, and then move to a discussion of how the different points of view impact the reader’s perception of your story and character. Finally, we will talk about when and why you might want to break the rules of POV.


M Taming the SYNOPSIS – Ammi-Joan Paquette
If there is one word that can strike mortal terror into the hearts of writers far and wide, it is this: synopsis. But what is this dread beast? How does it live and what does it eat? (Hint: It’s not writers!) In this interactive workshop, we’ll explore all things synopsis, including detail on elevator pitches, thumbnails, outlines, and more. Come armed with your own synopsis efforts—whether rough or polished—and let’s get those wild beasts tamed, groomed, and ready for display.


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

I Best Practices for Working with Art Directors and Editors – Laurent Linn
In this advanced session for illustrators, we will discuss practical and productive ways to create relationships and collaborate with publishing professionals, covering both the craft and business sides.


P Sharks, Carrots, and Rocks: The ABCs and 123s of Picture Book Characters –  Sylvie Frank
From kittens to dust bunnies, elderly folks to robots, the possibilities for the kinds of picture book characters you can create are endless! But what makes some characters series-worthy? Why are some characters beloved by generation after generation? In this example-filled and hands-on presentation, we’ll look at the ins and outs of creating a picture book character with staying power.


N Improv for Writers Sara Jade Alan
This fun and interactive workshop will get you out of your head and into your body. Using the games and techniques of improvisation, you’ll be guided to explore the world of your story and its characters in a way that’s only possible when you get up out of your chair. Don’t worry: you won’t be put on the spot! But you will leave with more confidence and new tools to help you cut through blocks both social and literary with a fresh perspective on your writing, too.


M Query Letters Kristin Nelson
Agent Kristin Nelson will walk you through how to write a standout query letter while avoiding common pitfalls.


12:00 PM – 1:20PM          LUNCH and Crystal Kite Award If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed

Crystal Kite Award Winner and Keynote Speaker:  Denise Vega
Congratulations to Denise Vega, winner of the 2018 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 M Harnessing the Power of the Internet – Lily Williams
Lily landed her first deal for If Sharks Disappeared thanks to her infographics about what would happen IF sharks disappeared. The infographic went viral and made it to the screen of editor Emily Feinberg who reached out and said, “let’s make a book!” In this session, Lily will discuss how to catch that lightning in a bottle—Lily went from one book to four and created a “Disappeared” series.


P Anatomy of a Picture Book –  Tim Travaglini
From story arc to page turns, we’ll examine the flesh and bones of a successful picture book.


N The Promise of Chapter 1 – Ammi-Joan Paquette
Some people judge a book by its cover, while others open the first page to begin their judging by the printed word. In this talk we’ll discuss the promise of chapter one, from the first line onward, and how the way you begin your book can—and should—influence where your story goes and what the reader will expect to hear. Come armed with the first line of your WIP for optional group discussion.


N The Circle of Friends in YA/MG Writing –  Sara Jade Alan
Whether it’s the central concern of the main character in your YA/MG novel or not, friendships play a vital and pressing role in the lives of readers on and off the page. Through examples, discussions, and writing exercises, you’ll define and refine your supporting cast with compelling choices that with powerfully reveal your protagonist and help you create a memorable and kick-ass character arc.



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


Question & Answer Session with –

editors:                  Sylvie Frank & Alvina Ling

agents:                   Peter Knapp,  Kristin Nelson, Ammi-Joan Paquette, and Tim Travaglini  


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 Activism, Art, and Storytelling for Illustrators –  Lily Williams
Are you passionate about equal rights? Is animal rescue close to your heart? In this session, we will discuss how art and activism are closely connected and how you can turn your voice as an illustrator into a children’s book that makes a difference in the world.




Structure & Sparkle: Writing the Transitional Chapter Books – Claudia Mills  
Chapter books for the transitional reader (5000-15,000 words) give children a first opportunity to experience a substantial story, in both content and length, as independent readers. And they are such fun to write. This session explores the unique requirements of this challenging and rewarding form. You will leave wild to write a chapter book – and well equipped to do it.


N Time and Your Novel Peter Knapp
Whether you’re writing a contemporary standalone or a sprawling fantasy series, time will weave its way into your story. In this session, we will look at the relationship between time and your novel, its characters, and its voice by examining the relationships between past events, present events, and events that loom in the future.


M Hispanic or Latino? Get Your Facts Straight and Avoid Stereotypes Ana Crespo
If you are adding Hispanic or Latino characters to your manuscript but are not part of those communities, this might be a good opportunity to ask questions and learn more about it. This presentation will provide an overview of the differences between Hispanic and Latino, some of the stereotypes to avoid, and the diversity within the Hispanic/Latino community. Special focus will be placed on those of Brazilian heritage, but other nationalities will also be mentioned.


4:30PM – 4:40PM             Welcome to the Party REMARKS & ***DOOR PRIZES***

4:40PM – 6:00PM                         ARTS, EATS & AUTOGRAPHS  (Ballroom)


BOOK SIGNING  (Ballroom)

The authors and illustrators’ books are for sale in the conference bookstore. Meet, chat, get your books signed



This is a chance to see work created by the talented illustrators in our chapter.



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.


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 may just find a new critique partner in the process!  WRITERS: BRING 5 COPIES OF YOUR WORK IN PROGRESS. ILLUSTRATORS:  BRING YOUR PORTFOLIO


Sunday – September 23, 2018 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.


7:30AM – 8:00AM


8:00AM – 8:20AM



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

I Color, Composition, Texture and the Secret to Working Fast! –  Karen “Kaz” Windness
This session is designed to help you take your kid-lit art to the next level. You’ll be provided with tips, tricks, a live demo, and take-home tools for creating beautiful children’s book illustrations with modern appeal in less time than you thought possible. Traditional and digital techniques will be discussed. Bring sketch supplies. Great for all levels.


P Plots, Page-Turns, and Pith: All About Picture Book Pacing –  Sylvie Frank
What does pacing really mean? What does it mean for a picture book to be “snappy”? And how does plot function in picture books, anyway? Using mentor texts and real-life examples of the editorial process, we’ll examine the elements that create a well-paced book and how you can employ them when revising your own manuscript.


M Emotional Journey: The interconnection of Character and Plot Nancy Bo Flood and Wendi Silvano
Unforgettable characters are characters we have come to care about. As readers, we follow their journey as they respond to challenges and obstacles, interior and exterior. In this workshop, we will look at the elements of “characters readers care about” and how to create them. We will follow a character’s journey and examine how plot and the emotional development of a character are interconnected – the heart of every good story. Bring a character from a favorite book and characters from your current work – fiction or nonfiction, picture book or novel. We will write, share, and enjoy a fun time.


N Plotting the Novel – Alvina Ling
In this session, Alvina will discuss the importance of plot, how to set about plotting your novel, and the things that she looks for when reviewing submissions, and editing manuscripts.


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

I  Creating Compelling Setting – Brooke Boynton Hughes
Early in Brooke’s career she loved creating characters but was totally intimidated by creating settings for her characters to inhabit. She faced her fears and, after lots of experimentation, discovered that drawing and painting settings are some of her favorite aspects of illustrating children’s books. In this presentation she’ll discuss some of the most important elements of creating a compelling setting, including composition, POV, light and mood, details, and color palette. This presentation will be most beneficial for beginning and intermediate illustrators.


P Word Wizardry – Nancy Bo Flood and Wendi Silvano

The sound and rhythm of words we choose often say more—and has more effect — than the meaning of the words. Sentence pattern and length, pauses, and even punctuation, can make a scene scary, exciting, funny, sad or soothing. The way we use language can affect pacing, increase tension, create tone or mood and evoke an emotional response in our readers. Award-winning authors, Nancy Bo Flood and Wendi Silvano will share examples from both novels and picture books to demonstrate and then discuss these word-wizarding techniques and how to use them to maximum effect.

M Ask an Agent Anything!– Peter Knapp and Tim Travaglini
This is your opportunity to gather insights from two agents. Come and ask your burning questions!


N Blood, Bone, and History –  Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson shares everything she’s learned from researching and writing historical fiction for 25 years.


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

I First Impressions – Laurent Linn
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 Illustrators Extras page for details on how to submit your illustrations by the deadline.


P Writing with Illustrations in MindAna Crespo
We keep hearing that picture books must be short, but how do we write a story with less than 500 words? Part of the answer is ‘writing with illustrations in mind.’ Ideally, the images of a picture book will not only illustrate the text but will also add to the story. During this presentation, Ana will discuss some of the ways an author who does not illustrate can use words and “images” to tell a story. Ana will draw examples from books by authors who are not illustrators.


M Story Openings that Spell Trouble!– Kristin Nelson
After reading hundreds of thousands of queries and opening pages over the last 16 years, we here at NLA have identified several story openings that usually spell trouble for aspiring writers who are looking for representation. I bet that got your attention! This breakout will tackle the nine types of openings to avoid because we see them so often that they’re no longer fresh or original. Avoid them, and you automatically increase your chances of standing out in the slush pile! (side note: Take everything we are going to highlight in this series with a grain of salt. If a writer has mastered craft, he or she can get away with any type of opening and make it work—even one of the nine types we are going to suggest that you avoid! So much depends on a writer’s mastery of voice.)


N Middle Grade or YA– Jeannie Mobley
Have you ever been halfway through a manuscript (or farther) and found yourself unsure of whether it was middle grade or YA? In this session we will discuss aspects of character, story arc, voice, plot and subject matter as they relate to either middle grade or YA fiction, to help you know how to align your novel with the expectations of your target genre.



11:30AM – 12:20 PM       CLOSING KEYNOTE: How to Have a Wonderful Creative Career in an Hour a Day  Claudia Mills

Having written close to 60 published books while maintaining a full-time job and raising a family, “the queen of shortcuts” will share how she was able to manage or eliminate competing demands to harness her creativity more quickly and effectively. Claudia will share proven techniques for a balanced and productive publishing career.


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. $85 includes one intensive and one boxed lunch (to be picked up after closing keynote).


2:00PM – 5:00PM


Revision Without Tears Laurie Halse Anderson

Bring your manuscript and all your hard questions for a deep dive into the revision process.



Live Feedback Kristin Nelson

Pre-register for this roundtable for chapter book, middle grade, and young adult novelists and hear how an editor responds to the first THREE pages of your work in progress. Space is limited to 10. You’ll meet in an intimate setting and receive live, on-the-spot feedback on the first three pages of your work (yes, it must be pages one through three 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 11 STAPLED copies of the first three pages of their work-in-progress manuscript. Format 12 pt. Font, Times New Roman, double spaced, one inch margins.




Plotting your Novel: Blending Character and Plot William James Limon

Have an exciting opening but can’t figure out what’s next? Love that character but don’t know his/her story? Have a manuscript that lacks punch or has “holes”? Solve these problems by blending character and plot in a structure that satisfies on all levels. Learn how the four Plot-Character Layers guide dramatic tension, develop character, and illuminate theme. Bring a 1-page plot outline. If you only have an idea, brainstorm: 1) Who is in your story? 2) What happens? 3) When and where? 4) Why do you want to tell this story? Don’t worry if you can’t figure it all out. You’ll get new insights to make your story better. This workshop is for writers of all levels, from beginner through published.”


Exploring Your Illustration Style

What is an illustrator’s style? It’s more than art materials used, genre (realistic, animation-influenced, etc.), format (traditional media, digital, etc.), or subject matter. Style shows the artist’s vision—their way of taking all the tools in the illustrator’s toolbox (composition, line, color, contrast, emotion, narrative storytelling, research, etc.) and creating art that is singularly them. It doesn’t look like anyone else’s art and shows the unique way in which that artist sees the world.


Pre-register for this special roundtable gathering and hear how an agent 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.