Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2020 Conference Schedule

 Friday, March 13, 2020

3:00 PM: Hotel Check-in begins 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 14, 2020

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

7:45 AM: Registration/continental breakfast opens (Auditorium Corridor)

8:00 AM-8:15 AM: Orientation for First-time Conference Attendees (A306); Volunteer Orientation (A304)

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

8:30-9:30 AM: Welcome/Keynote Address by Linda Sue Park (Auditorium)

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

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

 A1. Lies, Goals, and Truths: Using Characterization to Fuel your Plot (Melanie Conklin): Plot is the foe of many a writer. Often, we know our characters need to grow or change in a certain way, but we don’t know HOW to choose the path that will lead there. The good news is, your characters can and will choose their path for you, if you let them. In this workshop, we’ll explore our characters’ Lies, Goals, and Truths and how characterization can fuel the plot of your story. (A304)

A2. Playing with Picture Book Structure: How Changing Things Can Spark a Story (Sue Fliess): Sue will talk about 9 types of picture book structure, how exploring them can inspire creativity, and how experimenting with a different structure can help you develop your characters more fully and inform your story—and even surprise you along the way. (Auditorium)

A3. How to Make Nonfiction Fun! (Chris Hernandez): In this nonfiction book survey, we’ll look at how publishers and authors are approaching nonfiction books in a fun, exciting, and interesting way to make their books stand out from the crowd. (A306)


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

B1. Diversity in Children’s Literature: A Discussion of Representation vs Appropriation (Susan Muaddi Darraj): Lucille Clifton said, “The literature of America should reflect the children of America.” But does it? In 2043, the United States will be a majority-minority nation, experts predict. And yet, roughly 20% of children’s books featured people of color; an even smaller percentage of books were written and/or illustrated by people of color. We will discuss the importance of authentic representation and diversity in literature for children, as well as how to avoid the pitfalls of appropriation. (A304)

B2. Finding an Agent (Susan Hawk): Agent Susan Hawk of Upstart Crow Literary takes you through the process from A to Z. (Auditorium)

B3. Skip the Pitch (Work-for-Hire Writing Assignments) (Annette Whipple): Get published! If you enjoy writing about new topics, both fiction and nonfiction, consider writing for the educational market. Participants will learn about this market and how to approach publishers with a work-for-hire package. Get publishing experience with books and other resources for children (K-12) without the slush pile.. (A306)


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

C1. Published Authors and Illustrators Forum: Once your book is published, that’s just the beginning! Join us for an interactive session addressing the concerns of published authors and illustrators. All published attendees, traditionally published or indie, are invited to share best practices and learn from others (A304)

C2.  Query Letter Mingle (Rebecca Evans and Kathy MacMillan): Learn how to create a great query letter. Bring your own query letter in progress (on your laptop or on paper) and receive peer feedback. (Auditorium)

C3: Ask an Art Director! (Maria Middleton): Ever wonder what an art director actually does? In this workshop, you’ll get an inside look at how an art director finds, hires, and works with illustrators to ultimately create an entire book package from cover to cover. (A306)


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

1:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Critiques by appointment (Bridge Room); Query/First Page/Illustration Critiques – drop-in, $10 for 10-minute critique (Break Area)


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

D1. Real Talk: Nonfiction (Angele McQuade, Annette Whipple, Lakita Wilson; moderated by Kathy MacMillan): A panel of nonfiction writers discuss writing for small pressed versus large presses, writing nonfiction for different age groups, aspects of craft, and promoting nonfiction titles. (A304)

D2: I’ve Got the Power: How to Use Character Agency to Make Your Story Satisfying (Rachael Stein): Conflict is a vital component of any good children’s book, from picture books to young adult novels. But which characters actually make the decisions and take action to resolve that conflict? In this breakout, we’ll discuss character agency, why it’s important for your main character to have control over their story, and how a character’s actions and decisions make the story especially satisfying for readers. (Auditorium)

D3. Thinking Outside the Bear (Timothy Young): Winnie the Pooh, Corduroy, The Berenstain Bears. There are so many classic books about bears, not to mention cats, dogs and mice. Are you writing a book about one of these animals? Does the world need another book about a bear? This session looks at other possibilities, explores under-used animals and looks at recent trendy animals like sloths, narwhals and blobfish. Are there any animals left? Let’s find out. (A306)


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

E1. Nonfiction Forum: An opportunity to network and share best practices with fellow nonfiction writers. All nonfiction creators at all stages of their careers are welcome. (A304)

E2: Building a Kidlit Career (Melanie Conklin, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Linda Sue Park; moderated by Tracy C. Gold): It’s not just about one book – it’s about building a career. Authors at various stages of their career discuss how craft, promotion, and more have evolved. (Auditorium)

E3. Dummy Book Development (Mike Malbrough):  A crash course aimed at helping participants turn an idea into a submission-ready book dummy. Mike will cover a wide range of topics including pagination, pacing, the relationship between images and text, and best practices for getting your work seen by agents and editors. This workshop is a must for illustrators with stories to tell and a great tool for writers who want a better understanding of the book development process from a unique perspective. (A306)


3:40 PM – 4:30 PM: Agents, Editors, and Art Directors Panel with Susan Hawk, Chris Hernandez, Rachael Stein, and Maria Middleton (Auditorium)

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

4:45 PM: Book signing (Auditorium Corridor)

5PM-7:30 PM: Dinner served (Dining Room Salons F, G, H, I). Open Mic Night will take place during dessert. NOTE: Dinner is NOT INCLUDED in conference registration or hotel reservations. If you wish to attend dinner/Open Mic Night, you must purchase a standalone dinner ticket at the hotel front desk for $38.00.

8 PM: Mix and Mingle Social (Hotel Bar Area)


Sunday, March 15, 2020

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: Cash and Creativity: How Cleaning Up Your Finances Can Spark New Creative Success (Angele McQuade): Uncertainty or fear about money can smother your creativity in unexpected ways. In this three-hour workshop, financial author Angele McQuade will show you how to excavate the truth about your finances, tie up energy-draining financial loose ends, and organize and manage your money using simple, efficient routines. You’ll also learn the most critical things you should know about the financial side of publishing, as well as strategies for tying up creative loose ends, prioritizing your projects, dreaming big dreams, and crafting a plan to turn those dreams into reality. Be prepared to leave inspired to take action financially and creatively! (A302)

B: Real Time Revision (Linda Sue Park): Linda Sue Park will introduce revision strategies, techniques, and tips for participants to practice in real time. The aim is to develop a critical eye for your work so you can become your own best editor. Bring at least ten pages of a work-in-progress on a laptop. (A few of the exercises can be done on paper, but the workshop is designed for laptop use.) (A300)

C: Setting as Character (Susan Hawk): Learn how to make setting come alive and become an integral part of your story and your characters’ emotional journey. (A304)

D: Drawing on Discovery (Maria Middleton): Discovery is the act of finding something unknown. A discovery can be magical, terrible, humorous, wonderful, shocking, inspiring—or anything in between! Using a character of your own invention, draw them in the act of discovery. You will create a series of preliminary sketches that focus on character development and world building and share your finished artwork as either a picture book spread or middle-grade cover to be critiqued as a group at the conference. Maria is also offering a limited number of optional pre-conference critiques to get 1-on-1 feedback of your work in progress ($40 each). (A306)

E: First Impressions School and Library Visit Workshop (Veronica Bartles, Matthew Winner, Cheryl Womack-Whye, Timothy Young): Take your school and library visits to the next level! Working authors and illustrators will demonstrate samples of their school and library visits and receive live feedback and tips from our distinguished panel: Author Veronica Bartles, teacher/author Cheryl Womack-Whye, School librarian/kidlit podcaster Matthew Winner, and author/illustrator Tim Young. You may choose to register to perform (space limited) or simply observe and ask questions of the panel. (Auditorium)


12:00 Noon: Luncheon and Closing Keynote with Marc Tyler Nobleman. Book signing to follow. (Hotel Dining Room, Private Salons F, G, H, I)




2020 Conference Faculty Bios

2020 Conference Registration

2020 Conference Critique Information

2020 Conference Suggested Programming Tracks