Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Conference Schedule

MD/DE/WV Regional Conference 2017: From Dreaming to Doing


Friday, March 17, 2017

4 PM: Participants staying in rooms onsite may check in after 4 PM in the lobby of the Christiane Inn.

6:15 PM: Dinner in the dining room for those staying at the Inn.

7 PM: KidLit Games in the lobby of the Christiane Inn.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

7:30 AM: Full breakfast for those staying in the Inn

8:00-9:00 AM: Registration and refreshments in the Monocacy Hall lobby.

8:30 AM: Continental breakfast for all other attendees in the hallway

8:30 AM-4:30 PM: Curious Iguana bookseller open (lobby near dining room)

9:00-9:55 AM: Welcome and Introductions/Keynote (Monocacy Hall)

Keynote Address by Bruce Coville: The Dance of Plot and Character

Writers are concerned about plot. Writers are concerned about character. But what we should really be concerned about is the ways in which plot and character intersect – how plot reveals character, and how character drives plot. In this presentation, Bruce Coville will focus on these dual, intertwined aspects of storytelling, as demonstrated in his famous “Puddle Story.”

10:00 AM- 1:00 PM: Critiques (by appointment) in the Tidball and Walker Rooms (Christiane Inn); Query or First Page Critiques (drop-in, $10 for 10-minute critique) in the Lobby of the Christiane Inn


10:05-10:55 AM: Breakout Session A (pick one)

A1. Ask an Editor (Leila Sales) – Potomac Room.  Come prepared with any and all questions about the book publishing process! Leila Sales has worked at Penguin Young Readers since 2006, first in marketing and now as an editor, and she's written kids' books published by Simon & Schuster, Chronicle, and Macmillan. Whatever insider info you want to know, she'll tell you. (And what she doesn't know, she'll make up!)

A2. Small Press, Large Press (Veronica Bartles) – Monocacy Room.  Small press vs. Big 5 publishers … is there really a difference? And how do you know which choice is right for you? Veronica's first book was published with a very small press and her second book was published by Harper Collins, so she's seen both ends of the spectrum, and she's seen pros and cons of both sides.

A3. Creating Nonfiction with Zest (Susan Stockdale) – Shenandoah Room. Common Core standards are driving the demand for compelling nonfiction for children in both books and online material. Join award-winning author and illustrator Susan Stockdale as she demonstrates how she introduces young readers to scientific concepts through rhythmic, rhyming text and accurate but stylized illustrations. Learn how she engages children with her nonfiction topics, conducts fastidious research with scientists and works with editors and art directors.


11:05-11:55 AM: Breakout Session B (pick one)

B1: Internet Stalking without Being Creepy: Research, Networking, and Becoming a Priority (Jessica Sinsheimer) – Potomac Room. We all know social media is important—but for those of us who prefer cardigans and cats to huge social functions, it can be daunting. This class will show you how to mentally rebrand this process as community building rather than salesmanship. We’ll discuss how to research—how to appear interested, but not TOO interested, in agents’ lives—and how to use that knowledge to appear smart, business savvy–and like the ideal new client.

B2: Passions Projects as Self Promotion (Alyssa Nassner) – Monocacy Room. Creating work that you love is one of the best ways to build a portfolio and share your passions. This session will help you understand how developing a self-initiated project and setting a schedule is an easy way to say motivated and get your work seen by art directors. We'll explore the passion projects of a few illustrators and discuss how those side hustles developed into impressive portfolios, and ultimately, paying jobs.

B3: How to Write Inclusively (Mary Fan) – Shenandoah Room. The call for diverse books was heard loud and clear, but how can authors respond? Particularly when writing outside their lanes? While there’s no one way to “do diversity right,” keeping certain things in mind can help you write more inclusively without falling into the traps of tokenism, stereotyping, etc. This workshop will provide tips for how to incorporate diversity into your writing and how to avoid common pitfalls even the most well-meaning authors can stumble into.


12:05-12:55 PM: Breakout Session C (pick one)

C1: Common Mistakes to Avoid (Andrea Morrison) – Potomac Room. When you look for an agent, you're looking for an advocate who will not only help you hone the first project that will be submitted to publishers, but who will hopefully be your career-long partner-in-crime. You want to make sure you've done your research, and you also want to be sure you submit your strongest possible work and pitch yourself accurately, with attention to guidelines and detail. This breakout session will cover the elements we look for in strong query letters and submitted materials, and common practices that are turn-offs, or that might prevent writers/illustrators from successfully getting to the next stage of the process.

C2: Picture Books and Reviews (Panel with Minh Le, Julie Dietzel-Glair, Alyssa Nassner, Leila Sales, Susan Stockdale, and Calef Brown) – Monocacy Room. Join this panel of accomplished authors, illustrators, agents, editors and reviewers as they discuss everything you need to know (or at least as much as they can cover in 50 minutes) about the picture book review process and the reality of what it's like to have a book out in the world.

C3: Break the Mold (Patricia Hruby Powell) – Shenandoah Room. Research—whether for fiction or nonfiction—gives the writer details, word banks, authenticity, new directions, next ideas, and is a shipload of fun. Primary sources and interviewing can make your work unique (and authentic). Listening to your characters’ voices, listening to their music, listening to your music, all lends an emotionality to your work and can give you (rhythmic) inspiration to create your voice. Break the mold. Draw readers into your story.

1:00 PM: Lunch in the Sugar Loaf Dining Room for everyone

2:00 PM – 4:00 PM: Critiques (by appointment) in the Tidball and Walker Rooms (Christiane Inn); Query or First Page Critiques (drop-in, $10 for 10-minute critique) in the Lobby of the Christiane Inn

2:00-2:50 PM: Breakout Session D (pick one)

D1: The Art of Revising (Thao Le) – Potomac Room. Learn how to effectively revise a book. Presenter will discuss what an R&R request means, how to make the most of the opportunity when an agent requests an R&R, and ten tips on how to tackle a revision.

D2: Introverts, Extroverts, Ambiverts, Oh My!: Personality Types in Publishing (Panel with Katy Kelly, Veronica Bartles, Jessica Sinsheimer, Patricia Hruby Powell, Bruce Coville, and Liz Kossnar) – Monocacy Room. A panel of professionals of varied backgrounds and personality types discuss how to succeed in publishing and remain true to yourself.

D3: Historical and Biographical Nonfiction: It's About the Story (Erin Hagar) – Shenandoah Room. Nonfiction is more than a set of facts strung together. Like good fiction, nonfiction books need characters we care about, a problem to solve or a question to answer, and vivid details that place us right in the thick of the action. In this interactive session, we'll explore how to weave the strands we gather from our research into a compelling story.


3:00-3:50 PM: Breakout Session E (pick one)

E1: Like Me, Follow Me, Tag Me (Liz Kossnar) – Potomac Room. No matter which stage of the publishing process you are at, it's important to get your name (or #brand) out "there." This may seem daunting, especially for authors who'd rather write than self-promote, and because there are so many types of social media nowadays. This presentation will take you through the basics of establishing a platform that will help you throughout your writing career.

E2: The Evolution of a Cover (Chad Beckerman) – Monocacy Room. The Evolution of a Cover (Chad Beckerman) – Monocacy Room. How do your favorite novel covers get made? What goes into a successful cover? We will explore the evolution of covers including Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Terrible Two, El Deafo and more.

E3: Writing Funny is a Serious Business (Katy Kelly) – Shenandoah Room. Kids are the most honest of audiences. They won't humor the author. They won't hang around waiting for the joke to unwind. And while a 30-year-old and a 60-year-old find the same things funny, a three-year-old and a six-year-old do not. Author Katy Kelly shows you how to tune into and deliver kid humor from picture books through YA.


3:50-4:15 PM: Book Signings (Monocacy Hall)

4:15 PM-4:50 PM: Agents, Editors, and Art Directors Panel with Chad Beckerman, Liz Kossnar, Thao Le, Andrea Morrison, Alyssa Nassner, Leila Sales, and Jessica Sinsheimer (Monocacy Hall)

4:50 PM-5:00 PM: Prize Drawings and Closing

6:00 PM: Dinner in the dining room for those staying at the Inn.

7:00 PM: Open Mic Night/Mix and Mingle Social


Sunday, March 19, 2017

8:00 AM: Breakfast in the dining room

All guests must be checked out of the inn by 10 AM.

9:00 AM-12:00 Noon: Intensive Workshops:

A: Finding Your Visual Voice (Chad Beckerman) – Walker Room (Inn): A sketchbook is an essential tool for the growth of any aspiring artist, but its blank pages can be daunting to even the most motivated. Obsessed with perfection, many wind up treating their sketchbooks more like portfolios than playgrounds.  In this workshop, aspiring and advanced artists alike will explore their unique visual voices and learn how to become creative daredevils.  Through freeing, offbeat exercises, drawers learn a sophisticated philosophy of creative thinking—in a way that is totally accessible and fun.

B: All School Visits Great and Small (Calef Brown and Laura Shovan) – Shenandoah Room (Conference Center): School visits are a great way for children’s and YA authors to meet their readers. But how do authors put together an engaging presentation, whether they are meeting 30 students or 300? In this session, authors Calef Brown and Laura Shovan will share their approaches and experiences with school visits, from small classroom workshop to large auditorium presentations. The intensive will include tips, best practices, and models to help make your school visits a success. After Laura and Calef discuss their presentation strategies individually there will be time allotted for Q&A and interaction with attendees.

C: The Light Fantastic (Bruce Coville) – Blue Ridge Room (Conference Center): Fantasy is one of the most beloved branches of children’s literature. In this session veteran fantasy writer Bruce Coville (JEREMY THATCHER, DRAGON HATCHER) will provide an in-depth look at the hows and whys of writing fantasy, starting with an “annotated storytelling” of two chapters from the first book in his acclaimed Magic Shop series and concluding with a series of concrete tips to apply to your own writing.

D: The Hero's Journey (Katy Kelly) – Tidball Room (Inn): You've written, edited, re-written. Still, your hero isn't presenting as heroic. The solution: The Hero's Journey. This narrative pattern, first realized by scholar Joseph Campbell, then streamlined by then-Disney writer Christopher Vogel, is the foundation for all hero stories including ancient myths, "Charlotte's Web," Gary Paulsen's "Hatchet," Batman. "Pride and Prejudice" and all Disney movies. The step-by-step guide takes the hero through an adventure, challenges, psychological/ spiritual growth and a triumphant return. Learn to apply this tool to your own writing.

E: Crafting the Perfect Query Letter (Andrea Morrison) – Potomac Room (Conference Center): Jumping off of the Common Mistakes to Avoid breakout session: once it's clear what not to do, how do you create the perfect submission package? What should a query letter look like? What information is most important, and what's okay to leave out? How do you best pitch and frame your work? This intensive will help you transform material you have into a submission package that will impress readers.

F: The Logic of Storytelling (Leila Sales) – Monocacy Room (Conference Center): How do you build a story that keeps readers engaged from start to finish? How do you create a character whose goals are so compelling that readers will follow her anywhere she goes? How do you give readers a conclusion that makes the journey worth it? In this workshop, we’ll consider these questions and more by breaking down the storytelling process. We’ll focus on novels, with additional benefit to picture book and nonfiction writers.


12:00 Noon: Lunch in the dining room.




Presenter Biographies

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