New England SCBWI 2016: The POWER of (RE) INVENTION

Springfield, Massachusetts
Friday, April 29, 2016

New England SCBWI 2016 


artwork by Julia Anne Young

New this year! 
SCBWI members who register up until February 29, 2016 
may have 1-2 books sold in the conference bookstore. 
(Conference book signing is still for FACULTY ONLY.)

To prevent conference communications from being marked as SPAM, 
please ADD the following email addresses to your contacts:

If you would like to learn more about the National
SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) 


*Important Parking Information*:

There is limited parking in the area due to construction. PLEASE plan on arriving early to the conference hotel so you have time to drop off your bags and continue on to parking. 

Possible Garages (free w/conference validation):

Sheraton Monarch Place Garage: 1 Monarch Place, Springfield MA
Columbus Center Garage: 150 Bridge St., Springfield, MA
Interstate 91 South Parking Garage: 1600 E Columbus Ave., Springfield MA
Interstate 91 North Parking Garage: 1870 E Columbus Ave., Springfield MA 
Riverfront Parking Lot: Hall of Fame Ave., Springfield, MA
Taylor Street Parking Garage: 41-43 Taylor St., Springfield MA

For $10 a day:

Tower Square Parking Garage located above Springfield Marriott


Printer friendly workshop descriptions.

FRIDAY Workshops, April 29, 2016

Friday's Workshop A Intensives (2-4), #AskAMentor (3-4:30), Agent Panel (4:30-5:20), and Conference Orientation (4:10-4:30) may overlap.

A-Block - 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

A1 ~ Setting Up the Dominoes - Inventing a Far-Reaching Marketing Plan with Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Linda Crotta Brennan (Marketing)

While an author prepares for a book’s release it is easy to fall into becoming a full-time marketer and let writing fall by the wayside. How do you avoid this? How do you best market a book without burning yourself out?

In this workshop, the first 75 minutes will be a presentation about marketing strategies and some ways for attendees to explore the best approaches for them as individuals. Topics will include, keeping your sanity, blogging, branding, marketing from a platform, establishing an online presence, book trailers, school visits, group marketing, and the pros and cons of blog tours. We will also talk about staying a happy author because this affects every facet of your career—including writing.

During the second part Lynda Mullaly Hunt and SCBWI New England Marketing Group Coordinator, Linda Crotta Brennan, will facilitate groups where attendees will brainstorm practices that have worked for them and the best ways to get the word out without burning out. Hand-outs will be provided.

A2 ~ Drawing Racially Diverse Children with Anne Sibley O'Brien (Illustration)

In 2016, when more than 50% of our kindergarteners are children of color, being comfortable and skilled at drawing racial differences is a necessary skill for 21st-century illustrators. This hands-on drawing workshop will include demonstrations, sketching time, and group critique to increase your prowess at portraying racially diverse characters. Through slides, demonstration, sketching and group critique, we'll discuss why it's so essential and practice how to create respectful, authentic and appealing portraits of children from various ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Bring a single sheet of sketches of racially diverse children for a group display and general critique.

A3 ~ Swipe Right: How to get an Editor to Keep Turning the Pages with a Killer Opening with editor Aubrey Poole and author Jess Keating (Novel)

Do editors ever nix a project based on the first five pages? In theory, we’d like to say ‘no.’ But in practice, the answer is ‘yes.’ Just like a first date, the opening pages of a manuscript is your opportunity to make a good first impression. Can a bad opening be overcome? Sure, if he is cute, if we are intrigued enough by the concept, we might keep reading and get to know the “real” you. But it is a risk. Maybe an even cuter manuscript is flirting with us from the submission folder. Maybe we have had a string of unsuccessful first dates opening chapters and we are fed up. Find out how to WOW an editor with your openings and get that second date publishing contract.

A4 ~ Reinvent Your World: Setting that Serves the Story with AC Gaughen (Novel)

When you are building a world, there is a ridiculous amount of information that needs to be processed. For example, we live in a country that was founded by a revolution. But for most characters in a contemporary novel, that is not something that really defines the setting of their story. In a realistic setting, how do you isolate what is necessary to include in your story? For a simulated or fantasy setting, how do you make it all up? We will discuss the tools to make your setting strong and essentials that cut across genre!

A5 ~ Reinventing Your Career in Five Years or Less: Long-Term Planning Strategies to Turn Dreams into Reality with Francine Puckly (Life & Career)

In this two-hour, hands-on workshop, writers and illustrators have the opportunity to turn their long-term creative hopes into concrete goals over a five-year period. Participants begin the workshop by defining five-year visions for their careers. But just as the idea for a novel doesn’t turn into a book without a plot and outline, our careers must have detailed roadmaps delineating the work that must be done, at what pace, and in what order. Five-year visions are turned into annual goals, and those annual plans give way to quarterly, monthly and weekly tasks. Participants will leave the workshop with plans that incorporate all aspects of projects, including (but not limited to): topic research, number of drafts required, editor/agent research, submission goals and tracking, skill acquisition (conferences, workshops, writing retreats), and social media strategies/website development needs.

A6 ~ Become a Scrivener Ninja: Practical Application of Scrivener in Your Writing Life with MarcyKate Connolly (Novel)

Heard of Scrivener, but don’t get what it’s all about? Don’t think you need yet another program? Think it sounds way too complicated? It is a powerful tool that can keep your writing life organized and streamlined from plotting to revising, and polishing that final draft. Learn the basics of how to navigate Scrivener, as well as tips & tricks for practical application to best use this software to your advantage and writing style. It is recommended participants download the free 30-day trial of Scrivener just prior to the conference weekend so they can participate in the walk-through activities.

A7 ~ The Emotional Heart of Picture Books with Anna Staniszewski (Picture Book)

Does your picture book have strong characters and a fun premise, but it's still not quite working? Maybe it needs a heart transplant. In this hands-on workshop, we'll break down how giving stories an emotional heart can pull readers in and keep them engaged through the last page turn. We'll look at examples of picture books that do it well and identify ways to pump up your own story's emotional heart in order to bring it to the next level.

A8 ~ Make it Snappy! Strategies for Developing a Funny, Engaging, Nonfiction Voice with Sarah Albee (Nonfiction)

It is an exciting time to be a nonfiction writer. Editors are actively looking for nonfiction submissions on high interest topics written with a dynamic voice—from humorous and high-energy to suspenseful and dramatic.

Using mentor texts and myriad examples, nonfiction author Sarah Albee will propose tools and strategies for revision that will help you hone your voice and add energy and humor to your writing. We will discuss rhythm, word choice, and specific literary devices that will help you channel the funny, entertaining, charming side of you onto the page.

SATURDAY Workshops, April 30, 2016

Saturday Morning Workshop Blocks:

One 2-hour session:    B-Block - 9:45 am - 11:45 am


Two 1-hour sessions:  C-Block -   9:45 am - 10:40 am
AND     D-Block - 10:50 am - 11:45 am

2-hour session Options:

B-Block - 9:45 am - 11:45 am

B1 ~ Revising Like a Pro: Tweaks, Edits, and Gut Jobs to Take Your Work to the Next Level with Erica Orloff (Novel)

What do editors and agents see when they read your pages? How do you stand out in a sea of other writers? How do you grab from page 1 and never let go? This unique workshop will present writers with “Ah-ha” moments in a hands-on way no book on writing could. Ten workshop participants will be chosen at random for their first five pages to be edited. Then, in the warm environment created by your enthusiastic instructor, together those attending will learn word by word, line by line how to take the writing to the next level. You will learn everything from streamlining your writing and getting lean and mean, to character development, dialogue, and what, precisely, agents and editors mean when they use the word “organic.” Most of all, the Story will be the sacred work—and together the class will learn how to avoid those errors that take readers out of it, and instead captivate them until “the end.”

Please send in the first five pages of your novel (exactly five, double spaced) as a word attachment to (with “B1” in the subject line) by March 22nd. Ten excerpts will be randomly selected to be edited during the class!!

B2 ~ Drawing from Writing from Drawing with Calef Brown (Illustration)

For those who think of themselves primarily as visual artists, what are some strategies for writing picture book manuscripts?
This will be a small intensive workshop dealing with generating stories, characters, and worlds out of a daily sketchbook/journal practice. Bouncing back and forth from sketching to writing, identifying characters and themes that can be expanded upon, and finding an appropriate voice will be investigated. Calef will discuss his own process and approach to these ideas, and lead some exercises designed to inspire and open possibilities.


1-hour session Options:

C-Block - 9:45 am - 10:40 am

C1 ~ School Visits That Will Leave Them Buzzing with Jen Malone (Marketing)

Dynamic school visits can educate and entertain and, most importantly, inspire students. In this seminar we will discuss all the ins and outs of school visits, from landing a booking to leaving them wowed. Middle-grade and young adult author Jen Malone is the Author-in-Residence at a Boston-area middle school as well as for the Massachusetts Council of the Girl Scouts of America, presenting dozens of seminars for elementary through high school aged students annually. In this workshop, she will discuss all aspects of a school visit from pursuing bookings, to contract line-items you will want to include to ensure a smooth visit, to advice and examples for how to effectively engage students once on site.

C2 ~ A Crash Course in Hands with Ernie D'Elia (Illustration)

Are hands the bane of your artistic existence? This workshop will help participants get a grip on drawing hands. Improve your understanding of how hands are built, and how they move. Bring a sketchbook, there will be drawing!

C3 ~ Writing Tween with Anna Staniszewski (Novel)

What is “tween” fiction, anyway? Anna Staniszewski, author of three tween series, breaks down the definitions of tween (with examples) and its main characteristics, focusing specifically on how to create a believable and engaging tween voice. This hands-on workshop will give attendees a chance to develop their tween characters’ personalities and make their unique voices shine through.

C4 ~ Reinventing your Query Letter with Kristine Carlson Asselin and agent Kathleen Rushall (Life & Career)

Reinventing your Query Letter (not really)...

When it comes to Querying, you can’t reinvent things too much. There are certain standards that apply universally. However, it is possible to make your query letter stand out from the rest of the slush pile and tailor it to target the agent of your dreams. Get the inside scoop about querying from both sides of the desk from Author Kristine Carlson Asselin and agent Kathleen Russell (Andrea Brown Literary Agency).

We will talk about queries that work (and why!) and perfecting the elements of your query. We will cover the easy-to-use “Hook, Book, & Cook” method. Discover what works, what doesn’t work, and when it is okay to “think outside the box”.

See examples of real queries that landed an agent and later, a book deal. Be inspired! In this seminar, you won’t hear vague advice—you will get tangible tips to create an effective, concise query letter.

C5 ~ The Art of Giving—and Receiving—Critique with Erin Dionne (Life & Career)

Do you belong to a critique group? Do you want to? Are you meeting with an agent or editor while at the conference? Part of being a good writer is being a good reader/editor—knowing how to give feedback on a critique partner’s manuscript, and how to listen to and evaluate criticism given to you on your own work. In this session, we will identify specific story elements that you should be looking for in your critique partner’s (and your own) manuscripts and learn how to comment on them effectively. We will also discuss receiving comments and feedback from others: are you ready for criticism? How do you deal with a “harsh” critique? What should you be listening for? What are the strategies for using the feedback you receive? Attendees will leave with specific elements to look for in others’ work, tools for editing their own work, and an understanding as to how to accept and use feedback from others.

C6 ~ We Need Cross-Group Books with Anne Sibley O'Brien (All Writing)

Cross-group books portray two or more featured characters from different racial groups (or other differences) having positive interactions. Recent psychological studies have demonstrated that cross-group books are effective in reducing prejudice in school-age children. The problem is, there are actually very few American picture books depicting cross-racial friendships. We'll look at successful examples of cross-group titles and research findings on how these books work and why. Then we'll explore a variety of exercises to generate ideas for new stories.

Bring a journal and/or sketchbook for brainstorming ideas.

C7 ~ Beginning, Middle, End with Tara Lazar (Picture Book)

This session will break down the three parts of a picture book, from the curious beginning, through the tension-filled creamy middle, right through to the twisty end. You will leave more confident knowing that you can keep ‘em turning the pages with awe and excitement.

C8 ~ Back Matter Matters: What to Include, Why it's Important, and How to Do It Right: Panel with Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Susannah Richards, Julie Bliven, and Sarah Albee (Nonfiction)

A panel about back matter, marginalia, comic strips, boxed additional material, chips, and author's notes. Why are they so popular and who is doing it really well? Do they make books better? And, how teachers are using them in a classroom setting.


1-hour session Options:

D-Block - 10:50 am - 11:45 am

D1 ~ How to Make Your Own Awesome Book Trailer for $5 with Stacy DeKeyser (Marketing)

Do you have a million reasons NOT to create a trailer for your book? Not tech-savvy? No talent for design? No money? No problem! With just a few simple tools, your own photos or video, and a few hours of free time, you can design an inexpensive, compelling trailer for your book. Stacy DeKeyser will guide you step-by-step through creating and sharing an awesome book trailer for as little as $5.

D2 ~ What’s Your Angle?  Using Perspective, Light and Shadow to Create More Dynamic Illustrations with Brian Lies

Trapped in “bird’s eye view?”  Bored with your straight-on drawings?  In this workshop, students will see numerous examples of unusual perspectives and lighting schemes which create energy and interest in illustrations, and will engage in hands-on exercises designed to stretch thinking about composition.  Come with a sketchbook or paper pad, drawing tools, and a fresh eye!

D3 ~ Getting Outside Your Zone of Comfort: The Hero’s Journey applied to Character Development with editor Aubrey Poole (Novel)

A memorable character(s) is essential for a memorable book. But a well-drawn character is just the beginning – because if he or she is the same character at the end of the novel, then you haven’t done your job. In this workshop, Editor Aubrey Poole will discuss the importance of character development and how the character arc ties into the plot. For all writers with novels in-progress.

D4 ~ Taming the Synopsis with agent Ammi-Joan Paquette (Life & Career)

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 drafts, whether rough or polished, and let's get those wild beasts tamed, groomed, and ready for display.

D5 ~ An Honest Look at Self-Publishing – Nuts, Bolts, Guts, and Gore with K.R. Conway (Life & Career)

This is a class for the brave. For those who are debating tackling the self-publishing route (whether you are traditionally published now or unpublished entirely) and who wish to be successful at it. But there is a myth surrounding self-publishing that states that doing it yourself is faster, easier, and Amazon can walk you through it. Technically the myth is true . . . if you only want to sell a handful of copies. But if you want to sell thousands, yearly, you better ditch the myth and truly understand what it takes in terms of time, money, and marketability. Which genres sell well in the self-publishing world and which ones make the climb ten times harder? Why are picture books and middle-grade novels so much harder to sell as a self-pub, and is there a sneaky way to make them sellable on an indie platform? This class takes a long, hard look at what it takes to be a successful self-published author and why it is both harder than the traditional route, but equally rewarding.

D6 ~ Picture Book: From Concept to Print with art director Jim Hoover, author and illustrator Deborah Freedman, and editor Kendra Levin (Picture Book)

Author and illustrator Deborah Freedman joins her team at Viking (editor, Kendra Levin and art director, Jim Hoover) to discuss each stage of a picture book’s development, from the first spark of an idea to the book shelf. Topics will include the editorial working relationship as it phases into art direction, the process of storyboarding, how to hit final art deadlines (spoiler alert: it involves lots of caffeine) and the truth about why they are important, working with the printer to ensure quality, and coordinating with other departments within the publishing machine to successfully launch a book. This exciting discussion will truly be a comprehensive one led by three industry veterans. What makes a compelling picture book beginning? How do you capture the imagination immediately? How do you wade through the middle without losing the reader? What kind of ending leaves the kiddos (and caregivers) not only satisfied, but wanting more? READ IT AGAIN! WHERE’S THE SEQUEL?

D7 ~ Working Backwards: From Fiction to Nonfiction with Cynthia Levinson (Nonfiction)

Narrative nonfiction is an increasingly important segment of the children’s lit marketplace. Fiction writers, however, can feel daunted by the prospect of “all that research!” Where do you start? Then, there is the problem of not being able to make things up. How do you fill in the blanks when the sources dry up? Finally, there is the challenge of putting it all together in a way that pulls readers through, as if they are turning pages in a novel—except it is all true. How do you turn factual tidbits into stories? One way to get started on this revealing and worthwhile journey is to look at what works in fiction and apply it to nonfiction. In this session, participants will discuss scenes from favorite middle-grade and YA novels, determine what the authors would have needed to know IF the scenes were true, propose ways that the authors might have been able to obtain the information, and apply these techniques to nonfiction topics that interest them.

D8 ~ Locate, Lure, and Land the Right Agent with Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, The Book Doctors (Life & Career)

In many ways, it is much harder to find a great agent than it is to write a great book.  Arielle Eckstut, agent to Newbery Medal-winner, Kwame Alexander, gives you the perspective from her 20-plus years behind the desk.  David Henry Sterry, professional writer and actor for over thirty years, shares his strategies from the other side, which have resulted in partnerships with dozens of agents.  Using exhaustive research methods, surgically pinpointed query letters, and gentle (but persistent) follow-up techniques, Eckstut and Sterry show you in easy-to-follow steps exactly how to find, approach, and land the literary agent who is right for you.<

Saturday Afternoon Workshop Blocks:

One 2-hour session:    E-Block - 2:15 pm - 4:15 pm


Two 1-hour sessions:  F-Block - 2:15 pm - 3:10 pm
AND     G-Block - 3:20 pm - 4:15 pm

2-hour session Options:

E-Block - 2:15 pm - 4:15 pm

E1 ~ The Nonfiction Triumvirate with Melissa Stewart (Nonfiction)

Today's nonfiction is more creative than ever before. Discover how understanding and experimenting with nonfiction categories, writing styles, and text structures can strengthen your nonfiction writing.

E2 ~ Picture Dictation with Sergio Ruzzier (Illustration)

Guaranteed to make you draw compulsively, this fast-paced workshop will help you turn simple concepts into sequences of original illustrations. These will spark off picture-book ideas. While bringing pen & ink and smooth paper is recommended, you can also decide to bring any other drawing tools of your choice (pencils, ballpoint pens, fountain pens...).


1-hour session Options:

F-Block - 2:15 pm - 3:10 pm

F1 ~ You Will Be Googled: Building & Fostering Genuine Relationships through Social Media with Jess Keating (Marketing)

In today’s publishing industry it is not enough to be a wonderful writer, and publishers often expect authors to take the reins on their promotional efforts and marketing. With the number of self-appointed ‘social media gurus’ out there, it is easy to get lost in someone else’s shuffle and forget that the whole point of social media is not to sell books, but rather to create a tribe and community of real connections with readers. How can we build beneficial relationships online and keep true to ourselves? What can we do before selling a book to create a positive experience for agents and editors who will Google you? (Because they will!) Jess Keating shares her philosophy of using social media to grow as a writer and gain readers in a genuine way, without the headache or pushy marketing.

F2 ~ First Look: Your Illustration Challenge Critiqued with RA Denise Ortakales and art directors Jim Hoover, Irene Vandervoort, and illustrator agent Talia Levitt (Illustration)

Ever wonder what that art director thinks when your promotional postcard crosses their desk?

Watch as an experienced panel of industry professionals shares their first impressions of artwork submitted by conference attendees. See how your piece stacks up against your peers' in a theatre-style critique setting. We will be opening up attendance to at least 60 people, as all illustrators will benefit greatly from hearing the art directors critique other artists' work. Again this year, all entries must follow the same assignment as the Illustration Challenge. You may enter First Look and/or the Illustration Challenge with the same artwork. Only the first 30 people who send in their jpgs will get critiqued. You will be notified if you make it onto this list. 

Participants will walk away from the event with: 
  • A beneficial peek at the work of other illustrators, including their artistic triumphs and mistakes.
  • Insight from a panel of professionals in the industry as they quickly critique a range of styles and illustrations. 

Only attendees who register for the workshop can submit an image for consideration.

It is simple — Re-Invent Jules Verne. Choose anything written by Jules Verne and reinvent it, bring it into the 21st century. Anything goes.

Email 1 (one) image to Denise Ortakales at

Image format: JPG

Resolution: 150dpi

Maximum image size: 1-2 MB

Deadline for all images: April 18, 2016 at 4:00 pm

The images will be compiled into a randomized slideshow to be displayed in front of the panel and audience. Each image will get between 1-2 minutes of critique by the panel (as time and number of entries permit), with the moderator auditing for time and guiding discussion as needed.

F3 ~ Antagonists: The Hero of Another Story with AC Gaughen (Novel)

Hitler got rejected from art school. I had this written on my wall for a long time to remind me that the most horrible villains are complicated; they have frustrated hopes and dreams. More than that, they ALWAYS believe what they are doing is right, because like it or not, they have to be the hero of their own story. So how do we go about making our antagonists and villains just as complicated as our heroes? This workshop will look at the real thing making your main character shine—your antagonist!

F4 ~ Writing a Gripping Opening with agent Brooks Sherman (Novel)

How do you craft the right balance of character, setting, and plot in your manuscript's first pages to hook an agent, editor, and reader? Literary agent Brooks Sherman discusses the characteristics that make up a compelling opening for your middle-grade or young adult novel, pointing to concrete examples from published (and soon-to-be-published) works.

F5 ~ Surviving Slush: How To Get Out of Slush Unscathed with editor Zaneta Jung (Life & Career)

The slush pile is a notorious place where most unsolicited manuscripts go and sit. But how do you ensure your manuscript stands out among the hundreds of other manuscripts? And best of all, how do you make sure your manuscript actually gets read and possibly even acquired? "Surviving Slush" will give you a brief overview of the acquisition process and provide you with tips and tricks on getting your unsolicited manuscript noticed.

F6 ~ Blueprinting Your Novel or Short Story with keynote Wendy Mass (Novel)

I found an approach to organizing a novel that works for me. I call it blueprinting rather than outlining, because essentially you are building your novel from the ground up. If you don't lay the foundation first, the whole thing topples down and you're left with (shudder!!) the blank page. This method works for fiction of all lengths, and nonfiction, too. It helps you see connections and to quickly organize your thoughts. Prepare to blueprint a chapter of a novel or short story during the workshop, either one you're already working on, or something new.

F7 ~ Make Picture Book Characters Come Alive with Jane Sutton (Picture Book)

In 500 words, how can you possibly show who a picture book character is? Especially if you are not the illustrator! It is tough, but it can be done, and it is vital because “character matters,” even in the shortest of picture books. This workshop will explore how careful choices of verbs, stealthy use of adjectives and even the occasional adverb can reveal personality traits and emotions, allowing picture book characters to come across as individuals. We will discuss examples of well-defined characters, and writing prompts will provide practice in making characters come alive.

F8 ~ Marketing Using the Free Short Story or Prequel with Natasha Sass (Marketing)

Learn how and why self-publishing a short story can boost your sales, whether you are traditionally or indie published.

Giving a free taste of how you write invites readers to become part of your audience. Use a freebie to add to your newsletter's email list, to promote your backlist, or introduce readers to a new series. Indies have known for years that this is an ideal way to help your audience find you. I will share with you how to go about creating your short story and putting it up for sale on Amazon. With a great free-short you can test the theory for yourself; that the act of giving, gives back, in sales!


1-hour session Options:

G-Block - 3:20 pm - 4:15 pm

G1 ~ Branding Your Author Website: How to Get the Most Out of Your Online Calling Card with Jen Malone (Marketing)

Whether it is an editor researching you before making an offer, a reader looking to learn more about their favorite new author, or a teacher hoping to book you for a school visit, these days your website is your public calling card and it needs to portray an instant message about you and your author brand. Sure, you can hire a designer to build your site, but you will still need to determine what content belongs there, and this class will help you do so.

In this workshop, Jen Malone, a published kid-lit author and former marketing executive with 20th Century Fox and Miramax Films, will marry her author experience to her positioning experience to discuss author branding and how this can translate to your own online presence. She will show you examples of authors who have honed their brands and lead you through exercises designed to help you cement yours. Once you have ideas for the tone of your site, she will discuss the fundamentals every author site should include and then explore through example a myriad of options to expand upon the basics. Each class will include both a lecture and time for discussion/brainstorming.

G2 ~ Design and the Picture Book with Deborah Freedman (Illustration)

Successful picturebook illustration does not just sit pretty on the page — it adds layers to text by telling its own story. How does it do that? And how can design, specifically, affect the pace, arc, and “voice” of that story? Through a presentation of a wide range of published picture books, and fine art, I will focus on the important role that different aspects of design — such as line, shape, tone, color, movement, and composition — play in illustration. I will discuss how a picture may be creatively structured before it is rendered, and how thoughtful design can enhance a book’s emotional resonance.

G3 ~ What A Character! The Art of Character (Re) Invention with Jo Knowles (Novel)

How do you make a character memorable from the first page? How much should you reveal about your character and when? What is a "strong voice"? How do you "invent" or "(re)invent" (if necessary) original, unforgettable characters (both primary and secondary) that come alive, grab your reader's heart, and won't let go? We'll explore all these questions and more in a fun, interactive workshop meant to help you discover what makes your characters unique and special—and how to convey those qualities on the page.

G4 ~ Meeting Young Readers Halfway with Keynote Patrick Carman (Novel)

Patrick Carman has been finding new ways to reach distracted young readers for a long time - because he was a very distracted kid himself. For Patrick, it was skateboards, lots of cheesy 70's TV shows, and the Atari 2600 that got in the way of books. The distractions have changed, but the problem remains the same: how do we get our most reluctant readers to turn pages? Mr. Carman will share his secrets about how to reach these kids, and pull back the curtain on 39 CLUES, SKELETON CREEK, and VOYAGERS in the process. And bonus, you'll get to hear a lot about Patrick's formative years and laugh at him as much as you want (encouraged!).

G5 ~ Flipping Fairy Tales: Pulling Inspiration from Classic Stories and Myths with MarcyKate Connolly (Novel)

You know the saying that every story has already been told? That may be true, but every writer also brings his/her own unique perspective and style. Fairy tales and myths provide wonderful fodder for modern retellings or can simply be mined for inspiration of elements to include in your work. This workshop will examine a few retellings and fairytale inspired books and the different ways they have used those elements to create a fresh new tale so participants can apply those strategies to their own work. Registrants will also participate in a “fairy tale flip” activity as a leaping off point for reimagining a fairy tale on their own.

G6 ~ Anxiety and the Modern Writer: Common Pitfalls, Problems, and Solutions with Jess Keating and agent Kathleen Rushall (Life & Career)

Writers are no stranger to anxiety. Drafting, querying, submitting, seems like every step on a writer’s path is fraught with the potential for frazzled nerves and mental anguish. If publishing feels like a roller coaster, join us for your dose of Dramamine!

In this session, agent Kathleen Rushall and author Jess Keating examine common sources of stress for writers, and offer concrete solutions and tips to help participants stay grounded and productive through each stage of publishing.

We will discuss how to navigate “the waiting game” at various stages of publishing, as well as methods to adopt a healthy mindset regarding competition, positivity, and flexibility that will serve you well through your growing career (and make you all the more appealing to agents and editors!). We will also consider helpful goal setting (rather than goals that can actually hold you back), and the importance of maintaining boundaries with various aspects of your work to ensure a happy and creative outlook. Finally, we will tackle your specific questions, providing insights from both agent and author sides of the desk.

G7 ~ Generating Picture Book Ideas: PiBoIdMo ... in April with Tara Lazar (Picture Book)

Where do book ideas come from (except from your brain)? How do we get ourselves ready to accept creative lightning? In this session, we will try brainstorming exercises from the everyday to the absurd. We will also learn which ideas are good, which ideas are AWESOME, and which ideas need a little more simmering. Your concept sells your picture book, so ensure it is a winner!

G8 ~ Rabbit in the Moon: Stepping into Writing Across Cultures with Terry Farish (All Writing)

The rabbit in the moon is an image in mythology that appears in many cultures from Mexico to Asian countries. I use it as a symbol of kinship among cultures but also of variations on meanings from culture to culture.

Workshop topics include:
1) the benefits of portraying children of different cultures including the fact that educators seek books that enable students to see themselves and their world more clearly;
2) ways to research a culture to understand, from creating a playlist of music, to tapping into a culture's folktales or mythology;
3) examples of ways characters are portrayed in picture books and middle-grade and young adult fiction; and
4) quick writes from prompts that focus on portraying characters with authenticity.

We'll explore pitfalls of writing across cultures:
• the falseness of cliché and stereotype, forms that we might see in popular media and advertising;
• Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's admonition in her talk, "The Danger of a Single Story;"
• Finding that a detail might be authentic but is not accepted by people of that culture;
• The possibility that with good intentions, we might get it wrong and that our learning is ongoing.

SUNDAY Workshops, May 1, 2016

Sunday Morning Workshop Blocks:

One 2-hour session:    H-Block - 9:45 am - 11:45 am


Two 1-hour sessions:  I-Block -   9:45 am - 10:40 am
AND     J-Block - 10:50 am - 11:45 am

2-hour session Options:

H-Block - 9:45 am - 11:45 am

H1 ~ Draw Them In with Sarah S. Brannen (Illustration)<

Illustrators need a strong portfolio and an interesting web site; we also need to send out regular postcards or emails to editors and art directors. What makes an editor stop and take the time to visit your web site? What kind of postcard gets put up on an art director’s bulletin board?

Sample art has a special set of needs, somewhat apart from the art we do to illustrate books. The two-hour workshop will start with a look at what makes a sample piece a “grabber,” and what might not work. Then we will start drawing; bring a piece you are working on and we will talk about what might make it into a perfect piece of eye candy.

Attendees should bring whatever they sketch with - sketchbooks and pencils, laptops, or tablets - plus a work-in-progress meant for a portfolio piece. Be prepared to share your work with the group. We will finish with some talk about getting postcards printed, and what looks good online.

H2 ~ Writing in Reverse with K.R. Conway (Novel)

Sixty-five thousand words? Eighty thousand? More than one hundred thousand? All word counts can seem daunting to a writer. Even worse, trying to write from the first page to the last can cause some major issues in the arc of your story (and your sanity). But what if you wrote in reverse? What if you took your epic climax and shook out all the possible scenes from that one moment, lining them up backwards? In this class you will learn how to WRITE IN REVERSE (WIR). How does WIR strengthen your characters and your story? How does it eliminate dull parts of your manuscript, while tossing in more devious breadcrumbs? In this class, participants get to use their own climax scenes and learn to walk backwards, building the framework of a great novel in reverse. Expect to participate and expect to crank your inner storyteller to life.

H3 ~ Reinventing a Picture Book Manuscript with editor Harold Underdown (Picture Book)

When tweaks or critiques or "letting it sit" just aren't enough, a picture book manuscript needs to be reinvented, and a new direction found. With the help of some picture book classics and recent titles as mentor texts, I'll present a number of ways to reinvent a picture book story, including reinventing characters, voice, point of view, and setting. You'll try these out in the workshop and take home techniques you can continue to use. Beyond these practical techniques, I hope to get you thinking outside the "box" you might have around what you think is possible in a picture book.

Bring a picture book manuscript to use in hands-on exercises, as well as writing implements and your notebook or a laptop.

Classic mentor texts (read these in advance if you can): Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes, The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, and A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams.

There will be a resource list, handouts, and a highly recommended text to use to take lessons learned farther: Ann Whitford Paul's Writing Picture Books.


1-hour session Options:

I-Block - 9:45 am - 10:40 am

I1 ~ An Educator's Perspective: 10 Things I Wish Authors and Illustrators Knew with Donalyn Miller (Marketing)

Acclaimed educator Donalyn Miller will offer tips that can help authors and illustrators better serve the needs of classroom teachers. She will also explain why she thinks students should choose the books they read, why she co-founded The Nerdy Book Club, and why she thinks creating reading communities is so important.

I2 ~ Marketer Turned Agent Talks Craft: Writing a Manuscript That Gets and Keeps Everyone’s Attention with agent Linda Camacho (Novel)

Manuscripts are vetted at so many levels. They pass from the eyes of agents to editors to marketing to sales, and while there are some variables outside of the writer's control, craft is not one of them. In the end, publishing folks seek the same thing: A good story. Every good story has certain key elements that I looked for as as a marketer at Random House and even now as an agent. If the manuscript falters on any of these counts, it's a pass. In this workshop, I'll talk about several key story fundamentals that not only grab an agent or editor's attention, but that of the acquisitions board as well.

I3 ~ High Concept: Doctor Who, Sherlock – and learning to write like Steven Moffat with Natasha Sass (Novel)

Learn what we mean when we say “high concept” and why it creates books movies that are the most read and watched by our audiences. I will draw parallels with Steven Moffat’s work in Doctor Who and Sherlock, two very popular series, are you a fan? In class we will engage in an exercise where we will walk through a process that will help you to create your own unique high concept ideas.

I4 ~ Bleeding Onto the Pages: Crafting Emotionally-Driven Fiction with Trisha Leaver (Novel)

A good story takes the reader on an emotional journey. We are drawn to books that force characters to confront their darkest fears, reveal a hidden secret, or challenge their moral code. Yet as writers, we are often so afraid of creating melodrama that we pull back on our characters emotions, rendering them flat, their reactions feeling forced. This workshop will go beyond the show-no-tell, scene-by scene analysis and teach you how to look at your entire manuscript as an emotional canvas, singling out plot points, character behaviors, and setting details that will enhance the emotional resonance or your manuscript.

I5 ~ How to Create A Reader & Educator Guide with Cindy L. Rodriguez (Marketing)

Authors are often encouraged to plan school visits, but this can be tough for writers who continue to work full-time. Still, making connections with educators and getting your book into school classrooms and libraries should be a part of your marketing plan. So, what can you do if visits aren’t an easy option? Start with creating a Reader and Educator Guide with questions and activities linked to the Common Core State Standards. Book club leaders use the questions during their meetings, and teachers and librarians use the questions and activities with their students. As a teacher and author, I am well versed in the Common Core and understand first-hand how books are used in schools and which are likely to be adopted into the curriculum. Creating a Common Core-aligned guide can be intimidating for non-educators and can be costly if you hire someone to do it. In this workshop, I will break down the Common Core into understandable language, show examples of good Reader & Educator guides, walk participants through how to create their own, and offer suggestions about how to get them into the hands of teachers and school librarians.

I6 ~ How Novel! Novelty Books with editor Celia Lee (Picture Book)

Let’s celebrate the glorious book as object in this interactive workshop all about books that fold, shout, move, and more! We will take a look at the range of interactivity in novelty and picture books today, and then do a deep dive of how you can incorporate these elements in your stories (if you dare). Learn to think outside the box…and into the world of interactivity!

I7 ~ Re-imagining Families: Writing about characters with GLBT parents with Mary E. Cronin and Bonnie Jackman (All Writing)

In their quest to meet the need for more diverse books, many writers of children’s and YA stories seek to include a variety of family structures within their works, including writing about families with GLBT parents. In this workshop, Mary Cronin and Bonnie Jackman will offer insights and strategies for writing about families with same-sex and single parents, focusing on gay and lesbian-led families as well as those with bisexual and transgendered parents. How can writers realistically portray characters with parents who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? How will these various family structures affect our characters (from early childhood to middle grade through adolescence)? We will discuss many variations of GLBT family, including children in two-parent and single-parent families, blended families, mixed-race families, and adoptive families. Workshop topics will include: children who are the biological children of one parent, blended families with children from previous relationships, gender roles in parenting, and what happens when children face challenging social situations with regard to talking about family (Who is your real mom? Mother’s Day/Father’s Day) We will share examples, anecdotes, and a reading and resource list.

I8 ~ Verse Novels Crossing Borders with Holly Thompson and Padma Venkatraman (Novel)

Verse is a powerful vehicle for global stories, a magic carpet that can transport readers across international borders. In this workshop, verse novelists who have authored middle-grade and young adult verse novels set outside the U.S., will discuss the medium of verse as a means of enabling readers to connect with a story set in regions possibly unfamiliar to them. With poetry enabling emotional resonance and bicultural expressivity, verse becomes a bridge tool for conveying readers into the realms of international stories encompassing cultures, countries, landscapes and languages around the globe. Panelists will share techniques and tools for writing stories in narrative verse that crosses all sorts of boundaries.


1-hour session Options:

J-Block - 10:50 am - 11:45 am

J1 ~ An Elementary Teacher's Perspective: 10 Things I Wish Authors and Illustrators Knew with Colby Sharp (Marketing)

Nationally-renowned educator Colby Sharp will offer tips that can help authors and illustrators better serve the needs of educators.

J2 ~ Missing the Middle Grade Mark: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them with editor Alison S. Weiss (Novel)

You probably fell in love with reading because of those stories that swept you away to other world when you were eight to twelve. You longed to go to Willy Wonka’s dazzling factory with Charlie or escape to that magical world of Narnia along with the Pevensies. And now you want to write your own stories to cast the same spell on today’ s middle grade readers. But writing middle grade is hard. How do you capture an authentic voice when you can’t even remember back to life in single digits? Is there such a thing as tween? Are crushes okay, let alone kissing? Can I use that latest boy band (and should I), so the kids think that I am cool and know what I am talking about? This workshop will cover common mistakes that tend to send a project straight to the pass pile. From discussing audience to dialogue to diction, we will cover the basics that make agents and editors balk, and how you can avoid them. Time will be reserved for a Q&A period to ensure that attendees have an opportunity to air and share the issues they are struggling with in their own middle grade projects.

J3 ~ Writing Character through Genre with agent  Rebecca Podos (Novel)

A discussion on building believable characters within a genre novel. Whether your MC is a space fighter, a junior sleuth, or a were-tiger, you can use elements of sci-fi, mystery, fantasy, etc. to tell an ultimately human story.

J4 ~ How to Date Your Work: Reinventing How You Approach Writing with editor TJ da Roza (All Writing)

Pixar has a great concept launchpad: “What if X had feelings?” What if toys had feelings? What if bugs had feelings. What if feelings had feelings? This workshop will explore, “What if books had feelings?”

TJ da Roza, the Editorial Director at Jolly Fish Press, discusses his unique approach to writing, editing, and pitching that will help you identify how you can improve your relationship with your novels and, in turn, better them in the process. He draws the analogy of treating your book like a date, a boy/girlfriend, a fiancé, a spouse, and, yes, even a lover. In treating your novel like a relationship, you will learn how to start your novel, grow with it, complete it, edit it, and pitch it. And, who knows, you may pick up some relationship advice along the way.

J5 ~ Rhyme for the Rhythm Impaired with Paul Czajak (Picture Book)

Trying to write in Rhyme but you have no idea what you are doing? Welcome to the club! Go take your Iambic and stick it in you Anapest. Syllables, Feet, Meter, knowing what they are is one thing HEARING the rhythm is another.
In this class you will learn the basics of writing in rhyme:
The Do’s
The Don’ts
The Traps
and Some Tricks
By the end of the class you may not know what the name of the meter you are using but you will be able to hear it and know what sounds right and what sounds wrong.

J6 ~ Fireside Chat with keynote Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Life & Career)

Join author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka in informal session, something we like to call the Fireside Chat. This is wonderful opportunity to personally connect with Jarrett, go behind the scenes, and ask questions about his work. It's also a great time to discover your own process, ask questions about your own stories and illustrations, and perhaps share a story of your own. Bring a cup of tea, sit back, and get ready for an inspiring hour.

J7 ~ Don’t Dis Disability: Writing What You Don’t Know with Amitha Knight, Carrie Banks, and Padma Venkatraman (All Writing)

The NESCBWI has been part of a larger conversation in the children’s literature community about diversity. This panel will be devoted to one aspect of diversity – disability. We will talk research and resources, interviewing techniques, and strategies to avoid stereotypes. We will share unusual methods we have adopted as “outsiders” or “insiders” to incorporate diversity into our works with respect and responsibility. Drawing from our diverse backgrounds, we will discuss the many interesting ways that multiculturalism and disability can intersect to create multi-layered stories. Workshop goers will leave with a resource list of award-winning contemporary books to read and suggested writing exercises and tips for creating outstanding characters with disabilities who resonate with readers of all abilities. If times allows, we will also open up the panel to discussion and questions from the audience.

J8 ~ Research - It's not just a nonfiction sport with Nancy Castaldo (All Writing)

Use research to add depth, character, and life to your fiction, nonfiction and illustrations. Participants will learn how to practice this "extreme sport" through examples, activities, and resources.

Sunday Afternoon Workshop Blocks:

One 2-hour session:    K-Block – 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Two 1-hour sessions:  L-Block -   2:00 pm - 2:55 pm
AND     M-Block - 3:05 pm - 4:00 pm

2-hour session Options:

K-Block - 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

K1 ~ Working the watercolor with Courtney Pippin-Mathur (Illustration)

A hands on watercolor workshop that's all about the unpredictable oops and fun of the medium. We will create several small projects that combine watercolor and many other mediums (alcohol, oil, sponges, salt and plastic wrap) to create new textures and ideas for future projects.

K2 ~ Improv for Writers: (Re) Inventing Your Approach to Writing "Just for Fun" with Jo Knowles (All Writing)

Get ready to WRITE WRITE WRITE! This workshop will be a fun, rapid-fire series of exercises to surprise and inspire writers at all stages. Writers will be encouraged to push themselves in new and challenging directions—and free their writing minds. The goal is to help you discover hidden talents and spark new story ideas. From the serious to the silly, these exercises will explore dialogue, point of view, free verse, fantasy, realistic fiction, and more. Think you can only write one way? Think again! Your hidden talents are waiting to be discovered.


1-hour session Options:

L-Block - 2:00 pm - 2:55 pm

L1 ~ A Bookseller's Perspective: 10 Things I Wish Authors and Illustrators Knew with Elizabeth Bluemle (Marketing)

Elizabeth Bluemle, an award-winning children’s book author and co-owner of The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont, will offer tips that can help authors and illustrators work more effectively with booksellers. She will also describe some of the most successful events her store has ever hosted.

L2 ~ The Connect-the-Dots Novel Outline with Stacy DeKeyser (Novel)

Intimidated by the thought of writing an entire novel? Does your first draft feel unfocused? A connect-the-dots outline can help by breaking a story into smaller chunks with distinct goals and landmarks that will carry your novel from beginning to end. This method helps with pacing and can keep you from getting sidetracked by too many characters, dead-end plot lines, or a saggy story middle, while still allowing plenty of room for discovery, spontaneity, and flashes of genius. A connect-the-dots outline can be used for a brand-new book, or to help revise and tighten a finished draft, or anywhere in between. It can also help you summarize your novel for a synopsis, a query letter, or a book trailer.

L3 ~ Hearing Voices and Reinventing Them with Padma Venkatraman (Novel)

What sort of voice comes naturally to you? Is your writing formal or informal? Lyrical or fast-paced? Do you tend to write long sentences or sentence fragments? Do you use short, simple words or large, uncommon ones? Do you want your reader to laugh, cry, or both?

When asked why they discard some manuscripts immediately, but keep reading others, editors almost invariably reply that it comes down to ‘voice.’ Yet, this vital aspect of writing almost defines definition.

I’ll hone in on this elusive aspect of writing by discussing timeless voices created by classic and contemporary novelists (such as Austen, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Coman, Yolen, Stroud and so on). I’ll look at how voice informs other aspects of craft, such as character, dialogue and even pacing.

You’ll examine your character’s voice and study the kind of voice that you are most often inspired to write.Through a quick hands-on activity, you’ll be encouraged to explore voices that you’re comfortable with and pushed to “reinvent” yourself by experimenting with voices that make you uncomfortable.

L4 ~ Counterfactual Fiction Exploiting the Weak Links in History with Trisha Leaver (Novel)

While history gives the author a rich backdrop against which to set their prose, the fundamental rules of good story-telling still apply. Laden your prose with inconsequential facts and you risk boring your reader. Leave out necessary cultural references or disregard the political sentiment of the era and you risk your own credibility. The creative retelling of historical events is a balancing act. It is a dance between fiction and fact, the two facets woven so tightly together that even the reader is no longer sure which version to believe. In this workshop, you will learn how to blend fact and fiction, using the ambiguous side of history as your launching pad for creative retellings. It is less about creating alternate realities and rather finding the holes in an existing set of facts and reshaping them to fit your characters plight.

L5 ~ Finding a Home For Your Manuscript: Changes in the Industry and Where and How to Submit with editor TJ da Roza (Life & Career)

With the advent of the e-publishing boom and other changes in the industry, authors are needing to find new ways to publish, market, and sell their books. Editorial Director TJ da Roza discusses each of these changes and how it affects you as authors and why it is a great time to be a writer. With so many ways to publish your book, he also discusses how to find the best home for your manuscript. Self-publishing, traditional publishing, and small press publishing all have something different to offer you and your novel, and he talks about what each can do for you. Once you decide what the best home for your manuscript will be, he gets into the nitty-gritty of how to present your novel to publishers and offers a few tips on marketing for self-publishers.

L6 ~ Humor Trends in Picture Books with Tara Lazar (Picture Book)

What’s funny these days? How do you make ‘em laugh? We’ll examine best-selling picture books and dissect the humor. We’ve seen a trend in shorter picture books over the last few years. How do authors and illustrators tickle the funny bone with fewer words? You might hear the word “quirky” thrown around—just what does that mean?

L7 ~ Free Yourself with Free Verse Poetry! with Matt Forrest Esenwine (All Writing)

It’s one of the best-kept secrets that’s never really been a secret: poetry doesn’t need to rhyme!

Many new writers hear the words “children’s poetry” and erroneously assume they need to be the next Shel Silverstein. The problem with this line of thought is that it pigeonholes a writer into thinking he or she needs to write like someone else. The truth is, poetry doesn’t need to be funny, it doesn’t need to be metrical…it doesn’t even need to rhyme! How’s that for a kick in the head??

Children’s writers – whether they write poetry, picture books, or even longer works – might be surprised at what they can learn by studying free verse poetry. Attendees will be taught the basics of free verse (yes, there are some rules!) and will be challenged to improve their own creativity with on-the-spot writing exercises.

There’s no need to feel trapped in a world of rhyme. Free yourself – and your writing – with free verse!

L8 ~ Pictures First! Draw Out Your Story with Dan Moynihan (Picture Book)

For visual thinkers, a story idea often begins with pictures. If you’re an illustrator who also writes (or wants to write) or a visually-oriented writer, come explore a pictures-first approach to creating stories. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to develop a story though drawing and try your hand at it. Bring a sketchbook with some drawings that you’d like to explore.


1-hour session Options:

M-Block - 3:05 pm - 4:00 pm

M1 ~ A Children's Literature Advocate's Perspective: 10 Things I Wish Authors and Illustrators Knew with Susannah Richards (Marketing)

Susannah Richards will offer tips that can help authors and illustrators better serve the needs of a wide range of educators and other book advocates. She will also describe her ideas about why igniting, delighting and cultivating literary thinkers is so important.

M2 ~ The End: Big Bows, Loose Strings, and Cliffhangers with Erin Dionne (Novel)

Writers know that beginnings are important, but it’s the end—how it ends, why it ended that way, and how it felt—that sticks with a reader. This session will be an intensive focus on how to write a strong ending. We’ll investigate different types of endings, assess why authors might use them in certain situations, and talk about how to bring together all the threads in a story to create a powerful ending that leaves your reader feeling exactly how you want them to feel. Using examples from published works, we’ll evaluate the effectiveness of various endings and learn how to apply them to our stories. Attendees will leave with concrete examples, tools to apply to their own novels, and a better understanding of how to wrap up their story—or continue it to the next book in a series.

M3 ~ Write Faster - How Small Changes Can Lead to Big Wordcount with Natasha Sass (Novel)

Learn the strategies that can help you optimize your own word count output. We’ll discuss the importance of focus and how the brain functions, the use of pomodoros and the possibilities of dictation. Can you envision 5k a day?  How about 3k an hour? It’s possible, find out how in this class.

M4 ~ Chapter Books: The Forgotten Genre with David A. Kelly (Novel)

Conferences, book reviews, and award lists are full of children’s picture books, YA page-turners, and even middle grade novels. But where are the chapter books? While chapter books such as Junie B. Jones and the Magic Tree House are a big part of the children’s book market, they often don’t get the visibility that other genres do. But they will here! In this workshop, we'll explore what makes a chapter book and how they differ from middle grade novels and picture books. We’ll also look at the basics of chapter books: age ranges, lengths, plot, voice, and language, and the challenges of selling into a confusing and often poorly defined children’s chapter book market. For real-life examples, I’ll share some of my experiences developing my Ballpark Mysteries chapter book series, as well as my new multi-sport Most Valuable Players chapter book series. We’ll take a look at what’s worked, and what hasn’t!

M5 ~ Part-Time Writer, Full-Time Mom: A Discussion on Parenting and Creating Books with Amitha Knight (Life & Career)

Many successful children’s authors and illustrators are parents who have squeezed in time to cultivate their craft between school pickups, diaper changes, and interminable loads of laundry (not to mention, you know, that pesky day job). How in the world did they find the energy to do it? Using tips from successful children’s author/parents, we’ll talk strategies for staying fulfilled as a creator while also being present for your kids. We’ll discuss multi-tasking, querying stories inspired by your children, and if time permits, we’ll touch briefly on navigating the challenges of writing about your kids while maintaining privacy for them.

Please bring your own tips and tools (and opinions) to share with the group and be prepared for an active discussion. Stay-at-home-dads, other caregivers, and soon-to-be-parents most definitely welcome!

M6 ~ Revamp Your Picture Book with Paul Czajak (Picture Book)

Even though a picture book is only 400 words revising it can be daunting. Don't be married to your manuscript. Learn how to step away and revise in a meaningful way.

This class will focus on revising the Language, the premiss of a Story and the Pacing.

Some revise with a hammer some with a scalpel, I say use both.

M7 ~ The Angel’s in the Details:  Going Beyond First-Order Thinking in Illustration World-Building with Brian Lies

Would storybook mice really use sofas made of cheese?  Do your human dwelling illustrations look more like a 1950’s sitcom set than a real, lived-in home?  In this workshop, we’ll explore how unusual, unexpected details work to create a more compelling image, no matter what your illustration style.  Be prepared to brainstorm—and come with sketchbook or paper pad and drawing tools.

M8 ~ Work-for-Hire: Reinventing Your Genre with Kristine Carlson Asselin (Life & Career)

Reinventing yourself sometimes means taking a risk in a different genre. Fiction writers: Have you ever thought about writing nonfiction? Work-for-hire requires attention to detail, managing deadlines, and working with an editor--without the risk of rejection, since you're already contracted. On the other hand, you are not solely in control of the project. Is it for you? Kristine Asselin, author of 16 nonfiction work-for-hire projects, will share her journey and offer suggestions and advice for getting your own projects.


Contact Information

  • Conference Co-Directors: 
    Heather KellyJosh Funk and Marilyn Salerno

    Registrars: Shirley Pearson & Sandy Budiansky
    Volunteer Coordinator: Sera Rivers

    Find us on Facebook at
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    Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place
    (413) 781-1010
    One Monarch Place
    Springfield, Massachusetts 01144
    (Rooms at $119.00 USD per night)

    In addition to this conference hotel, for your convenience we have also reserved space at the Springfield Marriott, directly across the street from the Sheraton. Rooms are available at the Marriott for $135.00 USD per night. Please call (800) 228-9290 and ask to make a reservation in the Springfield Marriott SCBWI New England Regional Conference Room Block.

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Payment Instructions

  • If you have chosen to pay by check, please send your payment, along with your confirmation number or a copy of your registration invoice to:
        SCBWI New England
        c/o Marilyn Salerno

        30 Midfield Drive
        Rockland, MA 02370

    Conference cancellations up until February 29, 2016 will be refunded in full. 
    After February 29, 2016, refunds will only be given when proof is given to support military service or a death in the family.

    All 3 days: Member Price: $290, Non-Member Price: $340
    2 days - Fri/Sat: Member Price: $225, Non-Member Price: $275
    2 days - Sat/Sun: Member Price: $230, Non-Member Price: $280
    2 days - Fri/Sun: Member Price: $175, Non-Member Price: $225
    Friday only: Member Price: $85, Non-Member Price: $110
    Saturday only: Member Price: $140, Non-Member Price: $165
    Sunday only: Member Price: $90, Non-Member Price: $115
    Critique: Member Price: $50, Non-Member Price: $55
    Agent Quick Query (AQQ): Member Price: $25, Non-Member:$30
    Career Consultation: Member Price: $40, Non-Member Price: $45
       (payment by AMEX, Discover, MC, VISA, or check)

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