Prairie Writer's and Illustrator's Day 2014

Palatine, Illinois
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Prairie Writer's and Illustrator's Day 2014
Saturday, November 15, 2014 9:00 AM - 6:30 PM

Wojcik Conference Center, Harper College
(847) 348-5100
1200 W. Algonquin Road
Palatine, Illinois 60067
United States

Map and Directions
Sorry you missed Prairie Writer's & Illustrator's Day 2014! Information for PWID2015 will go online August 1st and registration for the event will begin September 1st. 

From Inspiration to Perspiration to Publication

Ready for more? This year’s Prairie Writer’s and Illustrator’s Day offers more faculty members than ever before, more critique spots than ever before, and abundant opportunities to grow your career. SCBWI-Illinois is bringing you the industry professionals you need to meet for a day of inspiring discussions, informative presentations, and crucial networking. 

This year the focus is on rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. Let's face it: turning your inspired idea into a published book requires elbow grease. Our speakers will help you revise your work, find your voice, flesh out secondary characters, hook an agent or editor, craft an effective portfolio, and more!

All attendees are encouraged to bring pages of a Work-in-Progress to reference and notate throughout the day. 

Hope to see you there!


2014 Faculty

Caroline Abbey,  Senior Editor, Random House Children's Books

Jordan Brown, Senior Editor, Walden Pond Press & Balzer + Bray

Brett Duquette, Editor, Sterling Children's Books

Karen Grencik, Agent, Red Fox Literary

Esther Hershenhorn, Author/Writing Coach

Loraine Joyner, Senior Art Director, Peachtree Publishers

Rachel Orr, Agent, Prospect Agency

Eliza Wheeler, Author/Illustrator

Noa Wheeler, Editor, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers


Be inspired...


Caroline Abbey
recently joined the Random House Children’s Books team as a senior editor and is excited to acquire chapter books through YA. She loves contemporary stories and magical realism at all age levels. She’d love to find a great school-based chapter book series (think Louis Sachar’s SIDEWAYS STORIES FROM WAYSIDE SCHOOL) and she’s always drawn to contemporary YA. Some of her titles at Bloomsbury were commercial chapter book series PRINCESS PONIES, by Chloe Ryder, humorous middle grade series SUNNY SWEET, by Jennifer Ann Mann, Erin Jade Lange’s dark YA, BUTTER, and Lindsey Leavitt’s hilarious and heartfelt YA, GOING VINTAGE. She sometimes refers to herself as a “reluctant reader” meaning she needs a strong hook to go along with strong writing. But beyond that, she’s open to most types of stories for boys and/or girls! That said, Caroline is not the best fit for high fantasy.


Jordan Brown
is a senior editor for Walden Pond Press and Balzer + Bray, two imprints of HarperCollins Children’s Books.  Over the course of his ten-year career, he has had the pleasure of working with such esteemed authors and illustrators as Jon Scieszka, Anne Ursu, Gris Grimly, Chris Rylander, Laura Ruby, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Steve Brezenoff, Lois Metzger, Christopher Healy, M. Sindy Felin, Mindee Arnett, Dan Wells, and Greg Ruth.  Amongst the books he’s edited are New York Times bestsellers, ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Indiebound Indie Next List Picks, and National Book Award finalists.  It is a love for authors telling unexpected stories in new ways that brought Jordan to children’s books to begin with, and working with such authors continues to be his passion.

Brett Duquette
originally began his publishing career in the adult trade division at Sterling Publishing, but at the first opportunity, he quickly moved to where the fun is… children’s books! As an Editor at Sterling Children's Books in New York, Brett has acquired everything from licensed media tie-ins and novelty books, to traditional picture books, non-fiction educational titles, and middle grade novels. Brett came to publishing by way of academia. He has a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. After graduate school, Brett was a professor of English Literature and Writing at Essex County College in Newark, NJ for three years before moving to Manhattan and joining the exciting world of publishing. (Brett is an alumni of the great Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois, so he’s very pleased to be a part of this SCBWI.)

Karen Grencik
became a literary agent in 1999 because of a man she admired. She wanted the world to know his story, so she set out to make that happen. Within a year she’d accomplished her goal. Double Luck, Memoirs of a Chinese Orphan, written by Lu Chi Fa with Becky White, went on to win The Parents’ Choice Gold Award for Best Nonfiction. Karen’s next sale, George Hogglesberry, Grade School Alien, a picture book edited by Abigail Samoun at Tricycle Press, went on to win the coveted Golden Kite Award for Best Picture Book Text. Karen had found her passion and her purpose in life and hasn't looked back. In June 2011 Karen joined forces with ex-Random House editor Abigail Samoun to open Red Fox Literary, and she currently represents authors of picture books, early readers, chapter books, middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction. Karen was one of the top-selling children's book agents in 2013.

Chicago author Esther Hershenhorn writes award-winning picture books and middle-grade fiction, teaches Writing for Children classes at the Newberry Library and the University of Chicago’s Writer’s Studio and coaches children’s book writers of all ages to help them tell their stories.  Her latest book is TXNTG MAMA TXTNG BABY (Sleeping Bear Press). An SCBWI member since 1978 (!), a former SCBWI Board of Advisor member and SCBWI-Illinois Regional Advisor Emeritus, Esther blogs at  Visit her website at

Loraine Joyner
is senior art director (and often book designer) at Peachtree Publishers in Atlanta where, for the past 21 years, she has worked with both seasoned, well-known illustrators and with first-time illustrators in developing children’s picture books, middle readers, and young adult titles in both fiction and non-fiction.

During this time, Peachtree’s books have consistently won recognition for excellence in both editorial and design/illustration such as Bologna’s Regazzi, Christopher Award, Pura Belpre, CA Annual, and numerous Society of Illustrators awards including a Gold Medal in their 50th Annual Exhibition. 

Loraine has served as faculty member for eight of SCBWI’s regional chapters. She was one of five judges for Communication Arts magazine’s 49th Illustration Annual.

Prior to joining Peachtree, Loraine lived and worked in Germany for three years as a visual information specialist for the US military’s European edition of the Stars and Stripes newspaper distributed to American forces throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. 

During her early years as a graduate fresh from Georgia State College (now University) in Atlanta, she worked as graphic designer, illustrator, and, later, art director for Montag social stationery and Mead school supplies. Following that, she established and was sole proprietor of her own independent graphic design business, serving clients in interior, industrial, and residential design-and-build fields, consumer paper products manufacturing, advertising and public relations, and art directing a monthly regional outdoor recreation and leisure magazine.

Rachel Orr is celebrating her seventh year at Prospect Agency.  She previously worked for eight rewarding years at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and now uses those editorial skills to help prepare her clients’ work for submission.  Her clients include a wide-range of picture-book authors, illustrators, and middle-grade /YA novelists, including Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS), Cori Doerrfeld (MATILDA IN THE MIDDLE), Jennifer Latham (SCARLETT, UNDERCOVER) and Kit Alloway (DREAMFIRE).  Rachel also teaches an online Middle Grade Novel Writing course through Mediabistro, and serves on the council for the Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference in New Brunswick, NJ.

Rachel lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband and two young children.  She has no spare time—but, if she did, she would spend it dancing, running and reading, of course.

Eliza Wheeler is the author-illustrator of MISS MAPLE'S SEEDS (Penguin), which debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list. She is also the illustrator of the Newbery Honor winning novel by Holly Black, DOLL BONES (Simon & Schuster), and Mara Rockliff's picture book THE GRUDGE KEEPER (Peachtree). Eliza is the recipient of numerous Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators awards, including the Grand Prize Award for best portfolio at the 2011 SCBWI National Conference. Eliza is a northern Wisconsin native, and currently lives with her husband in Los Angeles, California. See her work at

Noa Wheeler is an editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. She edits of a wide range of books, including the New York Times-bestselling Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, Firebug by Lish McBride, and Eat Like a Bear by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins.  

Now for a little perspiration...


Speaker's Book Lists:

Caroline Abbey,  Senior Editor, Random House Children's Books  
Sunny Sweet Is So Not Sorry
, by Jennifer Ann Mann
Thursdays with the Crown, by Jessica Day George
Dead Ends, by Erin Jade Lange
The Chapel Wars, by Lindsey Leavitt
The Enchanted Sisters series from the Jim Henson Company
The A Circuit series, by Georgina Bloomberg and Catherine Hapka
Butter, by Erin Jade Lange
Princess Ponies series, by Chloe Ryder

Jordan Brown, Senior Editor, Walden Pond Press & Balzer + Bray  
The Real Boy
by Anne Ursu
Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein illustrated by Gris Grimly
Ruins by Dan Wells
Avalon by Mindee Arnett
A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger
Guys Read: Other Worlds edited by Jon Scieszka
Codename Zero by Chris Rylander
The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy
Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Minion by John David Anderson
Guy In Real Life by Steve Brezenoff

Karen Grencik, Agent, Red Fox Literary
Double Luck, Memoirs of a Chinese Orphan by Lu Chi Fa with Becky White
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl
by Tanya Lee Stone
Elizabeth Leads the Way
by Tanya Lee Stone
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
by Natasha Yim
Big River's Daughter
by Bobbi Miller
The Lake Where Loon Lived, by Brenda Reeves Sturgis

Esther Hershenhorn, Author/Writing Coach
Written by:
Txtng Mama Txtng Baby
Little Illinois, illus. Michael Glenn Monroe
S is for Story, illus. Zachary Pullen
The Confe$$sion$ and $ecret$ of Howard J. Fingerhut, illus. Ethan Long
Chicken Soup by Heart, illus. Rosanne Litzinger
Fancy That, illus. Megan Lloyd
There Goes Lowell's Party, illus. Jacquline Rogers

Loraine Joyner, Senior Art Director, Peachtree Publishers
The Grudge Keeper by Mara Rockliff & Eliza Wheeler
Rodeo Red,
by Maripat Perkins & Molly Idle (2015)
The Cheshire Cheese Cat,
Carmen Agra Deedy, Randall Wright & Barry Moser
Where Is Baby?
by Kathryn O. Galbraith & John Butler
Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester Laminack & Henry Cole
The King of Little Things by Bil Lepp &  David T. Wenzel
14 Cows for America, by Carmen Agra Deedy, Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah & Thomas Gonzalez

Rachel Orr,
Agent, Prospect Agency
Never Play Music So Close to the Zoo
by John Lithgow, illustrated by Leeza Hernandez (representing the illustrator)
Ten Tiny Toes by Todd Tarpley,
illustrated by Marc Brown (representing the author)

Eliza Wheeler, Author/Illustrator
Written and Illustrated by:

Miss Maple's Seeds
Illustrated by:
The Grudge Keeper,
written by Mara Rockliff
Doll Bones,
written by Holly Black
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book IV: The Interrupted Tale,
by Maryrose Wood

Noa Wheeler, Editor, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
Firebug by Lish McBride
Uncrashable Dakota by Andy Marino
Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee

Online Resources:

Caroline Abbey,  Senior Editor, Random House Children's Books
Twitter: @CarolineAbbey
* Caroline recently moved from Bloomsbury to Random House. The following interviews preceded this move.

Jordan Brown, Senior Editor, Walden Pond Press & Balzer + Bray
Twitter: @thisjordanbrown

Brett DuquetteEditor, Sterling Children's Books
Twitter @brettduquette
Not too much out in the blogosphere about Brett…
(just a little bit of info)

Karen Grencik, Agent, Red Fox Literary
Twitter: Karen Grencik of @RedFoxLit

Esther Hershenhorn, Author/Writing Coach
You can find a treasure trove of information about Esther, as well as her wonderful writing advice at the Teaching Authors’ blog:

Loraine Joyner, Senior Art Director, Peachtree Publishers
Twitter: Loraine M Joyner AD of @PeachtreePub
Two spots for the same 2013 interview:

Rachel Orr, Agent, Prospect Agency 
Twitter: Rachel Orr of @prospect_agency

Eliza Wheeler, Author/Illustrator
Twitter: @WheelerStudio
npr Wisconsin audio link:
Inspiration and advice for young authors and illustrators:

Noa Wheeler, Editor, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers 
Twitter: @noawheeler


Professional and Courteous Conduct Expected
By signing up for PWID 2014, you acknowledge that audio taping, video taping, and/or transmitting or aiding in any of the foregoing, of any part of the event (including, but not limited to, presentations, individual sessions and networking events) is prohibited. Additionally, the content of materials, including but not limited to, all handouts and presentations is copyrighted and may not be reprinted, blogged, tweeted, written, orally transmitted, and/or reproduced without written permission of the copyright holder.

We think it is great when bloggers and tweeters share their thoughts about their overall experience, offer a personal anecdote, and/or briefly talk about something that resonated with them. However, it is equally important that they not give away that which is not theirs to give. The fair use policy issued by SCBWI above refers to speakers' rights, authors' rights, and illustrators' rights, under any circumstances and it pertains to the content of our speakers' talks, workshops, and/or handouts. This falls into the category of protecting intellectual property. Again, personal impressions, a quote that is cited and/or a general overview would be considerate. However, it would be a breach of copyright law to give away a detailed report of a presenter's material. Thank you in advance for taking this policy into account.

Your professionalism is greatly appreciated.


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