Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

MD/DE/WV SCBWI 2018 Conference Schedule

The full schedule is below. To see suggested tracks by genre or by place in the publishing journey, click here.

Friday, March 16, 2018

3:00 PM: Hotel Checkin begins for those staying in the hotel

5:00-7:30 PM: Dinner served in dining room for those staying in the hotel

7 PM: Happy Hour Social (Hotel Bar Area)

8 PM: Badge Pickup/Icebreakers and Kidlit Games (Auditorium Corridor)


Saturday, March 17, 2018

7:00 AM-9:00 AM: Breakfast served for those staying in the hotel (Hotel Dining Room)

7:45 AM: Registration opens (Auditorium Corridor)

8:00 AM-8:15 AM: Orientation for First-time Conference Attendees (A306); Volunteer Orientation (A306)

8:00 AM-5:30 PM: Conference bookstore (Books With a Past) open (Auditorium Corridor)

8:30-9:30 AM: Welcome/Keynote Address by James Ransome (Auditorium)

9:30 AM – 12:30 PM: Critiques by appointment (Bridge Room); Query or First Page Critiques – drop-in, $10 for 10-minute critique (Break Area); Headshot Photo Sessions by appointment (Courtyard)

9:40 AM – 10:30 AM: Breakout Session A (pick one)

 A1. Writing Like an Illustrator & Illustrating Like a Writer (Laurent Linn): Whether you write for older picture book readers or illustrate for toddler-age books, creating for children’s literature is all about storytelling. By challenging yourself to think in a different way, you can find new tools to tell your unique stories in a deeper way. (Auditorium)

A2. Query Letters (Penny Moore): A tutorial with all the tips and tricks on how to write a knockout query letter that will grab an agent’s attention. (A304)

A3. Marketing and Promotion Forum (moderated by Kathy MacMillan): Once your book is published, that’s just the beginning – now it’s time to promote it! Join us for a fast-paced, interactive sharing of ideas to maximize your pre-order incentives, book festival participation, giveaways, swag, and more! All published authors, traditionally published or indie, are invited to share best practices and learn from others! Notes from the session will be provided on the region’s website after the conference. (A306)


10:40 AM – 11:30 AM: Breakout Session B (pick one)

B1. In the Trenches: From the Query to the Call (Leah Henderson, Courtney Pippin-Mathur, Maria Gianferrari, John Micklos, Jr., moderated by Meera Trehan): You’ve polished your manuscript, you’ve researched agents, you’ve edited your query, and you’ve hit send. Now what? This panel of agented authors will tell you what to expect and what you can learn from the query process, and answer all those questions you might be scared to ask. Whether you’re getting requests, rejections, or radio silence, this panel will help you assess how best you can survive–and maybe even thrive–in the query trenches. (Auditorium)

B2. Social Media’s Role in Your Book Journey (Lakita Wilson): Social Media is an essential element for marketing your book and should be developed as soon as you begin writing your book. In each stage of the book writing and production process, you should spend equal amounts of time developing your online presence and creating an audience. In this presentation, you will learn how to create content that will draw readers to your page, which hashtags you should use to effectively reach a wider audience of readers, and strategies for engaging your followers and keeping them interested in you as a brand. (A304)

B3. The Art of Daydreaming (Raúl Colón): The artist can’t afford to wait around for a perfect concept, a ‘Eureka!’ moment. There are different techniques to stimulate the mind which help solve a visual “problem” in a prompt manner. Raul will demonstrate this by discussing actual projects he produced in editorial, institutional and literary assignments and will also review the means he used to promote himself and break through to get his first jobs in the industry. (A306)


11:40 AM – 12:30 PM: Breakout Session C (pick one)

C1. Their Voice, Their Perspective: Writing Cross-Cultural Stories We All Deserve (Leah Henderson): With the growing demand for diversity in children’s literature, it is more important than ever to depict these characters authentically. Learn strategies and resources to help in creating fully-rounded and authentic characters which mirror a different perspective and find out how to avoid pitfalls and work through false starts. This session is a safe space in which to ask any and all questions in pursuit of telling a more accurate and well-balanced cross-cultural story. (Auditorium)

C2. First Looks Panel (Raúl Colón, Laurent Linn, James Ransome, moderated by Rebecca Evans): Our panelists give open feedback to anonymous illustrations submitted by conference attendees. To submit your work for review on the panel, email up to 3 jpg files of your illustrations to by March 1, 2018. Please make sure your name is not visible on the illustration images themselves. Illustrations will be presented anonymously in the order they are received and the panel will view as many as they are able to in the time allotted. (A304)

C3: Facts Can Be Fun: Writing and Selling Nonfiction (John Micklos, Jr.): With standards calling for increased use of nonfiction texts in classrooms at all levels, the genre is gaining more and more attention. Learn how to find fun facts, cool quotes, and intriguing anecdotes to help bring nonfiction to life, and find out more about opportunities for writers in the commercial and education book and magazine markets. Nonfiction can indeed be fun–and professionally rewarding! (A306)


12:30 AM – 1:30 PM: Lunch (Hotel Dining Room)

1:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Critiques by appointment (Bride Room); Query or First Page Critiques – drop-in, $10 for 10-minute critique (Break Area); Headshot Photo Sessions by appointment (Courtyard)


1:40 PM – 2:30 PM: Breakout Session D (pick one)

D1. The Character Iceberg (Alex Ulyett): The best books are portable friends, with characters that challenge, comfort, and surprise. But how to create characters who leap off the page, who seem to go on living long after the story ends? The “iceberg” is a metaphor that gets thrown around a lot—from Hemingway’s passage on writing (“The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water”) to Freud’s apocryphal quote on psychology (“The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water”)—but how can we use this idea to create characters with rich inner lives and histories? In this workshop, we will explore the iceberg model to find specific strategies for crafting complex, memorable characters. (Auditorium)

D2. The Online Pitch Contest Phenomenon (Tamara Girardi, Laura Shovan, Meg Eden, Pintip Dunn): Online contests like #Pitchwars and #Pitmad are becoming an increasingly common way for authors to find agents and enter the publishing market. But what exactly are these online contests, how do they work, how do participants benefit from them, and what are the best ways to make your submission stand out? This team of writers, contest participants and mentors will discuss their experiences and answer questions about online pitch contests. (A304)

D3. Research Tips Every Nonfiction Writer Needs To Know (Sue Macy): Writing nonfiction is a constant process of digging for information, both for the underpinnings of the book and the specific tidbits to illustrate the narrative. Learn tips for doing effective interviews, library research, and Internet searches that help move your writing forward and make it unique, and tried-and-true sources for photographs and other images that are essential to any successful nonfiction writing for kids. (A306)


2:40 PM – 3:30 PM: Breakout Session E (pick one)

E1. The Market of Picture Books (Celia Lee): We all love creating picture books . . . but who is reading them? And who buys them? In this breakout, we look at who picture book readers (and their gatekeepers) are today and how that can shape and inform the books we create (if at all). We’ll also briefly discuss curriculum themes, parenting trends, and cultural touchstones and how they affect book publishing for this younger age group. By the end of the session, attendees will have a firm understanding of how to position their own stories in an ever-changing market. (Auditorium)

E2.And Still We R(ev)ise (Laura Gehl, Carollyne Hutter, Megan Wagner Lloyd, Sue Macy, Lakita Wilson, Moderator: Suzanna Banwell): A panel of authors from various genres discuss their tried-and-true techniques for making their work better with each draft and how to handle the emotional ups and downs of the revision process. (A304)

E3. Q and A with an Agent (Quressa Robinson): Participants will have a chance to ask their most pressing questions about the querying/publishing process. (A306)


3:40 PM – 4:30 PM: Agents and Editors Panel with Celia Lee, Penny Moore, Quressa Robinson, and Alex Ulyett (Auditorium)

4:30 PM-4:45 PM: Prize Drawings (Auditorium)

4:45 PM: Book signing (Auditorium Corridor)

5PM-7:30 PM: Dinner served for those staying at the hotel (Dining Room Salons F, G, H, I). Conference attendees who are not staying in the hotel may purchase dinner tickets at the hotel front desk for $26.00 each.

7 PM: Happy Hour Social (Hotel Bar Area)

8 PM: Open Mic Night/Mix and Mingle Social (Auditorium/Auditorium Corridor)


Sunday, March 18, 2018

7:00 AM- 9:00 AM: Breakfast served for those staying in the hotel (Hotel Dining Room)

9:00 AM-12:00 Noon: Intensive Workshops (pre-registered)

A. Developmental Editing: Being Your Own Editor (Quressa Robinson): A developmental edit looks at the structure and content of your book, and addresses issues with tone, audience, and character arcs. In this intensive, participants will learn how to do a developmental edit on their own work as well as that of their peers. (A302)

B: A Rhapsody of Color (Raúl Colón): Raúl will bring his watercolors, and Prismacolor pencils, and demonstrate how he mixes his watercolors and uses multiple layers of colored pencil to make his visuals vibrate with life. He will carry a half-finished piece and will work directly on the visual laying colors and explaining what it takes to get a desired effect or color. Attendees will produce thumbnail color studies with multiple layers of color to get desired effects that cannot be simply explained. A good deal of the process is instinctual. Learn to use color in different ways and creating your own color voice. Attendees should bring: a set of Prismacolor pencils, translucent watercolor paints in Aureolin Yellow, Cobalt Blue, and Rosemadder Genuine (Windsor & Newton is recommended, but other brands are fine), Soft Fabriano or Arches cold press watercolor paper (140 lb. sheet or two divided in four), palette and cup to hold water. (A303)

C: Exploring Your Illustration Style (Laurent Linn): What is an illustrator’s style? It’s more than art materials used, genre, format, or subject matter. Style shows the artist’s vision—their way of taking all the tools in the illustrator’s toolbox 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. This assignment will be to create a finished illustration by challenging you to use your own style in interpreting a classic work of art from a selection of masterpieces. Registrants will receive an assignment to complete and bring to the workshop. (A304)

D: First Pages Plus (Penny Moore and Alex Ulyett): Agent Penny Moore and Associate Editor Alex Ulyett speak about what they look for in the first pages of a manuscript—and what they don’t. Then, they’ll review YOUR anonymous first pages live. All attendees who submit a first page are guaranteed to have it reviewed at this event. At the end, Penny and Alex will answer any questions you might have about first pages, writing, publishing…or anything else you want to ask them! (A306)

E: Picture (Book) Perfect: A two-part workshop for writers of picture books.

Leaving Room for the Pictures (Laura Gehl): If a picture book writer is doing his or her job correctly, the words are just one (albeit important) part of the story. Conversely, a professional illustrator has so much more to contribute than simply drawing illustrations that match your words. Learn how to leave room for art in your manuscript—and room for an illustrator’s talent to shine—while avoiding the unnecessary illustration directions that editors hate.

Your Picture Book Voice (Megan Wagner Lloyd, Courtney Pippin-Mathur, Maria Gianferrari): Three picture book authors share how they stay true to, develop, and refine their unique voices throughout drafting and revision. Author Megan Wagner Lloyd (Finding Wild, Fort-Building Time) will discuss her discovery of her lyrical creative voice. Author Maria Gianferrari (Coyote Moon, Terrific Tongues, Hawk Rising) will show the strategies she uses for structuring and polishing her nature-focused narrative non-fiction voice. And author/illustrator Courtney Pippin-Mathur (Maya Was Grumpy and Dragons Rule, Princesses Drool) will share how she stays true to her humorous and slightly fantastical artistic voice while incorporating both art and text revision feedback in the publication process. Followed by a Q&A. (Auditorium)


12:00 Noon: Luncheon and Closing Keynote with Hena Khan: Writing with Love. Book signing to follow. (Hotel Dining Room, Private Salons F, G, H, I)