Wild Wild Midwest SCBWI Conference 2016

Naperville, Illinois
Friday, April 29, 2016

Get ready for three inspiring days!

Scroll down for the schedule, and the Intensive and Breakout descriptions.

Conference Schedule
(subject to change)

Friday, April 29

12:00 PM: Registration opens at Chicago Marriott Naperville

1:00 PM: Conference Orientation (especially important for those who are new to the industry)

2:30 – 5:30 PM: Intensives and Portfolio Reviews

5:00 – 6:00 PM: Registration

6:00 – 7:45 PM: Dinner and Keynote with Lisa Cron

8:30 – 10:00 PM: Costume Party and Contest

Saturday, April 30

7:30 – 8:30 AM: Registration, Coffee (breakfast on your own)

8:30 – 9:30 AM: Opening Remarks, Diversity Initiatives Update

9:45 – 11:40 AM: Breakout Sessions 1, 2

12:00 – 1:00 PM: Box lunches

1:00 – 1:45 PM: Keynote by Sarah Aronson

2:00 – 3:55 PM: Breakout Sessions 3, 4

5:00 – 6:45 PM: Dinner on your own

6:45 – 7:30 PM: Keynote by Linda Sue Park and announce winner of Manuscript Competition

7:30 – 9:30 PM: Art Show and Apps, then announce winner of Art Show

Sunday, May 1

Breakfast on your own

8:45 AM – 11:45 AM: Breakout Sessions 5, 6, 7 and Portfolio Reviews

12:00 – 1:00 PM: Box Lunch

1:15 – 2:05 PM: Breakout Session 8

2:20 – 3:25 PM: Closing Keynote by Candace Fleming, remarks, prizes

3:40 – 4:15 PM: Faculty Book Signing 

For a detailed schedule (also subject to change) click here.



THE INTENSIVES
$40 fee, registration required, must be an SCBWI member
Intensives give SCBWI members an extra opportunity to work on areas of interest with industry professionals in a smaller group setting

Voice Lessons with Heather Alexander  FULL 3/8/16
Agents and editors always say voice is the most important thing they look for. But what is voice? Why is it so elusive? Learn the different elements that make up voice and how to use them to make your writing shine. 

Ensnaring the Wary: Engaging the Middle Grade & Young Adult Reader with Cinda Williams Chima
Engaging today’s teens is like speed dating—you have just a few pages to make a good impression. Authors draw readers in with voice, character, conflict, and a compelling opening that delivers some of the above.  Compelling openings keep readers with action, pacing/delivery, mystery, and narrative tension. In this three-hour intensive, explore each of these elements through a combination of lecture, examples, and hands-on exercises designed to hone your narrative to a razor’s edge. 

What Your Reader Really Wants: 5 Steps to Writing an Irresistible Story with Lisa Cron FULL 2/2/16

Every writer wants two things: to tell a story that hooks readers and never lets them go and to find a way to accomplish that without going through the long slog of endlessly writing draft after draft. This workshop will give you actionable ways to meet both goals. Discover the five steps to take before you start writing that will save you months (or years) of hard work, not to mention heartache and frustration. Instead of rooting around in your “plot” for the story, you’ll unearth the key story elements beneath the plot that bring it to life, drive it forward, and give it meaning. These elements have little to do with the surface events or “writing well” and everything to do with what we’re born hardwired to respond to in every story we read. You’ll not only produce a more powerful story, chances are you’ll drastically reduce your rewrite time.
 

Bring An Idea to Life: A Workshop In Which You Start with an Idea and Leave with a Manuscript Road Map with Kristen Fulton

Does writing nonfiction look intimidating, but you have a great idea? Have you ever wanted to begin your story, but felt lost? You need to find your story’s direction, and the easiest way is with Kristen's compass. After all, explorers have been using them for centuries.  In this intensive, you’ll take a story in progress and find the direction to move it from concept to completion. We will break your idea into bite size pieces and uncover the secret, “once upon a time and happily ever after” effect that all good books have. We will discover how to develop your escalation, your back matter, and learn when the middle of the story starts and when it is time to wrap it up. This step by step workshop will show you the secrets that all good picture books hold and how you can add them to both nonfiction and fiction stories. You will leave this intensive with a clear roadmap for your work-in-progress and direction for your future manuscripts. (Primarily for nonfiction picture book writers for all ages from the 32-page picture book to the 64-page picture book format, but also highly relevant to fiction writers.)


Work With an Art Director on a 32 Page Picture Book Dummy with Semadar Megged

Bring any text to work with – written by the illustrator, a classic tale, or a new visual interpretation to a favorite story.  (A note on working on your own text: if the text is not there yet, the work will end up dealing with the text more than the art.) Discover various approaches to creating and developing dummies with the art director and the editor to a full book (about 30-45 minutes). Then examine some participants’ dummies (depending on the number willing to have their dummies discussed publicly).  Then work hands-on to revise with Semadar and discuss individually those dummies who were not presented. We’ll finish with showing and discussing the revised dummies. Bring materials handy for making revisions, with enough to try more than one way, including: scissors and tape, plus extra paper, or laptop, if working digitally.  Best to have few copies of the art in various sizes to experiment with zooming in and out. 

 Revision for Novels with Linda Sue Park FULL 2/7/16

In this hands-on workshop, discover ways to take your writing to the next level, using simple but crucial techniques. How can you identify and eliminate unnecessary words? How does paying attention to nouns help unify a story world? How can examining clichés—yes, clichés!—help make your work sparkle? Participants will be revising their own work, so please bring at least twenty-five pages of a middle-grade or YA novel manuscript.
 

Develop an Online Marketing Strategy & Practical Editorial Calendar with Casey Valiant

Walk through the steps for creating a plan for your online footprint: knowing what you want to accomplish online, how to develop your audience, how to choose which platforms to use, and what your website must contain. Learn how to create and maintain a schedule to keep you on track to reach your goals. 

This crazy, high-speed, filling-your-mind workshop is right for you if: 

·       you are on social media, but aren't seeing the results you want

·       you want to try a new platform, but don't know how to start

·       you want your existing online efforts and profiles critiqued

·       you aren't sure which platform is right for you

·       you want to stop spinning your wheels on social media and see some actual results

You'll leave with a plan (yes, an actual marketing plan) customized for you, which you’ll be able to implement as soon as you want. You'll leave with an editorial calendar to help keep you on track to reach your desired audience. If you want your online presence critiqued, email caseyvaliant@gmail.com by April 15, and tell me which of your profiles you want to have reviewed. 

 

Picture Book Boot Camp with Lisa Wheeler FULL 3/8/16

Does your fiction feel flabby?  Do your sentences sag?  Does your happily-ever-after seem long-ago-and-far-away?  If so, it's time to pump up your pages and exercise your editing power!  Award-winning children's author Lisa Wheeler will help you strengthen your picture-book writing.  You'll learn to: trim the fat, cut unnecessary word calories, and add muscle to your manuscript and develop a lean, muscular body of work.


THE BREAKOUTS
Throughout the weekend, choose the breakouts that fit your needs and interests.
No pre-selection is required when you register.

All-Genre
Conference Orientation with Miranda Paul
If you’re new or need a refresher on everything from conference etiquette to navigating the schedule, join author and SCBWI Regional Advisor Miranda Paul as she shares an informative (and humorous!) overview of expectations and advice for maximizing your experience this weekend. There will be time for questions!

In the Beginning: Start with Character with Sarah Aronson
Most writers access story through characters, which is no surprise, because characters are the foundation of every story. They are what drive the plot forward; they are what give the story life. In this fun discussion (that will start with a very embarrassing story), Sarah Aronson will introduce you to a variety of methods and theories for uncovering and developing authentic characters. She will help you think about your story in terms of conflict, stakes, and your· characters' desires. Whether you have just an idea or your first full working draft, discover what you can learn about your story by thinking about the inner lives of your characters and how they connect to each other.

Dialogue: The Engine of Fiction with Cinda Williams Chima
Dialogue differs from real speech. It mimics/represents conversation, but is more streamlined and does more work than real speech. Used properly, dialogue can be a powerful tool. In this workshop, learn how to use dialogue effectively to build character, advance the plot, and speed up or slow down the pace while avoiding the deadly sins of bad dialogue.

A Reader’s Manifesto: Thirteen Hardwired Expectations Every Reader Has for Every Story with Lisa Cron
Story is the language of the brain; it’s how we make sense of the world around us. Thus it’s no surprise that there’s a set of specific hardwired expectations that every story must meet in order to engage us, and so fulfill its evolutionary purpose: to give us inside intel for navigating the world. But we’re often unaware of exactly what they are.  Here’s a hint: they have very little to do with “writing well” and everything to do with writing an effective story. Meet these expectations, and readers won’t be able to put your novel down.

Flap Copy as a Tool for Revision with Rebecca Schwarz
Writing flap copy is generally seen as a step that comes after a book has been bought by a publisher, after the major revisions are done. But this selling tool can be used by authors earlier on in the process, namely to give added focus and clarity to their work. Editorial assistant, Rebecca Schwarz, will show you how condensing your work can help you gain mastery of your characters, content, and hook and hone in on what sets your book apart from any other: the heart of the story.

Become a Story Genius: A Template for Concretizing Every Scene, Layer by Layer, Before You Write It with Lisa Cron
Here's a clear cut step-by-step method for blueprinting every scene based on what readers are hardwired to crave, giving it the power to move the main storyline, several subplots, and the protagonist’s inner struggle, forward in one fell swoop. This will ensure that each scene is an integral part of your novel’s escalating cause-and-effect trajectory. The goal? To enable you to write riveting scenes, establish your novel’s internal logic, and make sure your story has the rising conflict that keeps readers riveted.

Motivating Idea and Personal Truth with Melissa Manlove
The most satisfying stories are almost always the ones that don't just have a story to tell; they also have a truth to offer us about ourselves. Learn how to discover truth in the stories you write and preserve it, the important difference between motivating idea and moral, and the magic that writers create when they allow readers to find themselves in books.

How to Use Scene to Build a Compelling Story with Linda Sue Park
No matter what kind of novel you're writing, the SCENE is the basic unit of structure. Linda Sue will use her middle-grade fantasy book, Forest of Wonders, middle-grade fantasy novel (Wing & Claw series, Book One), to talk about how she uses scene to build a compelling story.

Again and Again (and Again): Thoughts on Writing Series Books (especially Chapter Books) with Jill Santopolo
From Nancy Drew to The Babysitters Club to Junie B. Jones, kids have loved reading series books for decades. Discover what it is about series that makes them extra appealing. Learn how you can capitalize on that. We'll be looking at episodic series more than trilogies or sagas that have an overarching plot arc.

Getting Into Character: Theater Tricks to Bring Your Characters to Life with Jill Santopolo
Get ready to shed your own personality and take on your characters’! With the help of character questionnaires and the traditional theater game Hot Seat, you'll find out more about your character than you ever thought you'd know. Your story will be deeper and richer for it. Leave your inhibitions at the door, and get ready to have some fun.

Finding Your Voice & Style: How Who You Are Informs Your Work (And Some Pointers On What To Pay Attention To and What To Ignore) with Marietta B. Zacker
Discuss the effect your personal life has on your writing and illustrating. Is there is a little bit of you in everything you create? Why or why not? Should there or shouldn’t there be?

Business

Your Agent at Work with Heather Alexander
There’s a lot of information available about how to get an agent, but what happens after you’ve signed with one? Find out what you can expect from the relationship including protocols, etiquette, and whether you may phone at 3 am. See how decisions for representation are made, how editors' wants are discovered, how they are selected for certain projects, and where the next big ideas are sometimes found.

Illustrator Branding with Heather Alexander
Have you ever wondered whether your portfolio should showcase one style or ten? How should you hone your style(s)? What is the best way for illustrators to use social media? Learn how to brand yourself to catch the eye of agents, art directors, and editors.

500 Squirrely Second-graders and You with Troy Cummings
How to plan a successful school visit and come back in one piece. Discover strategies for lining up visits, designing your presentation, and convincing a gym-load of grade schoolers to remain seated criss-cross-applesauce for your entire assembly. (HINT: booger jokes)

A Share-and-Tell PR RAZZAMATAZZ with Esther Hershenhorn
Calling all PAL and Indie-published children’s book creators! Come share your #1 World’s Best PROVEN PR Idea – Show-and-Tell style!  Let fellow Midwestern authors and illustrators see and hear about that one nifty offering, that one keen strategy that got your book out there and set it apart, razzle-dazzled Gatekeepers, and jazzed up your readers.  We’re planning to package all ideas for easy future access, so be sure to download the #1 World’s Best PROVEN PR Idea Template here , complete it fully and bring it along.

Behind the Scenes at Acquisitions (Chronicle's List and How We Choose) with Melissa Manlove
Explore what acquisitions look like at Chronicle Books, and bring your questions! We’ll outline the process at Chronicle, and we’ll talk about agents, the slush pile, who decides on acquisitions and what gets discussed at that meeting, P&Ls, offers, author platforms, seasons and scheduling, a sampling of recent acquisitions and why they were selected, and more.

Blending Palettes: A Look at an Agent-Illustrator Relationship with Rachel Orr
You know the willingness and ability to collaborate is essential in any relationship, but it’s especially important when working on creative endeavors. Hear about a variety of agent-illustrator partnerships—new and longstanding. Learn about the current illustration market in general and some tips as to what to show in your portfolio. Discover questions to ask yourself when researching the right agent for you and your work.

Finding Your Way with John Sanford
Participate in an interactive discussion about navigating the current world of children’s publishing with a seasoned veteran. Explore the questions that are on the mind of newer authors and illustrators as well as those who are considering transitioning to other formats. John will be a fire-starter for active conversation on at least the following topics:Should I self-publish or go the traditional route? Ebook or paper? Big publishers or small? How do they figure royalties? How can I get a publisher to look at my work? Someone wants to pay me $10 for each illustration. Should I do that?

Reputation Management with Casey Valiant
Online reputation management entails knowing, controlling, and reinforcing your online footprint. Discover practical ways to take control of your online reputation.  (For published authors and illustrators)

It Takes Two to Tango: An Agent and Client Talk About Their Collaboration … and Show You Some of Their Moves! with Marietta Zacker and Jennifer Reinhardt
Hear two professionals discuss some best practices in finding an ideal partner, understanding and respecting each other’s roles in the process and keeping each other in check (as well as continuously dancing). Learn about some commonalities in agent/client teams and learn the nitty-gritty about the process of publishing children’s books.

“Wish I'd Known. . . " Three Authors Share What They've Learned About Getting Published with Chicago Panel: Kate Hannigan, Michele Weber Hurwitz, and Wendy McClure
If you want to see your book on a shelf, this session is for you. Three authors with multiple titles share the roller-coaster ride of their journeys from idea to publication.
This 60-minute panel discussion and Q&A will address:
            •   The best and worst advice we've received
            •   Ten take-away tips for getting your manuscript ready
            •   How to shape your ideas and learn the market
            •   Editorial feedback + effective revision
            •   Writing and honing your skills
            •   Countdown to publication: what to do when
            •   Promotional and professional skills
            •   Social media, websites, school visits and you

            •   What to do INSTEAD of watching your Amazon numbers

Succeeding in traditional publishing has become more difficult in recent years, with the consolidation of major publishers and the growth of self-publishing. To rise above the slush pile, your manuscript must be as good – if not better – as the best fiction being published today.  This session will give you the tools you need to accomplish your goal. Walk away with a game plan, invaluable tips, and inspiration.

Illustration


Collaboration with an Art Director—Character Development to Picture Book Jacket with Semadar Megged

Discover the flow of character development, final art style and the process of arriving at a picture book jacket as a collaboration of art direction, editorial input and the illustrator.
 
Blending Palettes: A Look at an Agent-Illustrator Relationship with Rachel Orr
You know the willingness and ability to collaborate is essential in any relationship, but it’s especially important when working on creative endeavors. Hear about a variety of agent-illustrator partnerships—new and longstanding. Learn about the current illustration market in general and some tips as to what to show in your portfolio. Discover questions to ask yourself when researching the right agent for you and your work.

Behind the Scenes of Illustration with Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Join Jennifer as she yaks about yaks and flounders her way through the epic fails and joyful hallelujahs involved in illustrating the picture book, Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs. Explore the collaboration between art director, editor, and illustrator, and discuss some of the interesting challenges an artist faces with each unique book project.

The Language of Pictures with Eric Rohmann
Join Caldecott medalist Eric Rohmann in a fast-paced presentation detailing the ways children not only see, but use pictures as language.  Discover how the combination of pictures and words create a book that taps directly into the young reader’s imagination.
 
The Mind’s Eye with John Sandford
Discover ways to work with your story and an active visual narrative. Many modes can be used to tell an interesting story. We'll talk about design, pacing and flow, perspective, style, color theme. We'll look to other media for inspiration, and share our insights.
 
Digital Illustration Has Come a Long Way! with Kristi Valiant
Kristi creates her illustrations from sketch to finish on her computer, but some of her art directors and editors don’t realize it. Can you tell the difference? In this session, learn ways to mimic traditional media in Photoshop. Kristi will also demonstrate her technique in Adobe Illustrator for drawing black & white realistic line drawings for educational work. All without the hazard of knocking dirty painting water over.

Trade vs. Educational Illustration with Kristi Valiant
Have you been told that your illustrations don’t have a trade book look? Maybe they look too educational or too mass market. Wondering what that means? Using lots of samples, we’ll discuss the differences among the various markets. If you’d like the group to assess which market your illustrations are best suited for, email a couple samples of your illustrations to kristi@kristivaliant.com. Depending on how many are submitted, all samples may not be seen.


Nonfiction

Clever & Creative Nonfiction Picture Books by Miranda Paul
Nonfiction picture books that read like fiction are desirable in today’s marketplace. Merging fact-based subject matter with fun, fresh or engaging text can be challenging. This presentation will focus its lens on exemplary creative nonfiction picture books to reveal craft-based tools, strategies, and practices that make certain titles stand out.


Nonfiction Panel 
How to Break Into Work for Hire and Nonfiction Writing:
From Gandhi to the First Big Book of How, One Plastic Bag to A Warm Winter Tail and the Patriot Guard Riders 
This panel of nonfiction experts will share a wide range of knowledge in traditional and work for hire projects. From idea to research, writing and the business of nonfiction, this jam-packed breakout will jumpstart your own project. Join authors Alice McGinty, Jill Esbaum, Miranda Paul, Connie Heckert and moderator, Carrie Pearson.

Bring ‘Em Back Alive:  Writing Biography for Children with Candace Fleming

What does it take to write a biography kids love?  See Candace Fleming’s research and writing process as she tries to “bring ‘em back alive.”  In this fascinating presentation, learn about the special editing and design considerations that go into creating her signature “scrapbook biographies,” and see what she calls her “adventures in research.” Adventures include: uncovering forgotten historic documents in a New York attic, attending a memorial service for a former First Lady, and learning to walk a tightrope. 


Novels

Plotting Out Your Middle-Grade Novel with Rachel Orr
Because plot is an essential ingredient in any middle-grade novel, join Rachel to examine classic and modern novels, and discuss the difference between character-driven and plot-driven stories, between internal and external action, and the need for conflict.  Learn about the importance of chapter endings and other techniques that can help in pacing your middle-grade novel.

How to Stand Out in the Sea of Submissions: Ten Tips from Someone Who Reads Them with Rebecca Schwarz
You’ve heard the stories: the horrors of the slush pile trenches and the joy of a slush pile success. But what is it like to be on the other side, reading all of the submissions that editors receive? Editorial assistant, Rebecca Schwarz, will share her experience as a reader on the front lines as well as ten tips for how to stand out of the pack and catch an editor’s eye. 
 
Again and Again (and Again): Thoughts on Writing Series Books (especially Chapter Books) with Jill Santopolo
From Nancy Drew to The Babysitters Club to Junie B. Jones, kids have loved reading series books for decades. Discover what it is about series that makes them extra appealing. Learn how you can capitalize on that. We'll be looking at episodic series more than trilogies or sagas that have an overarching plot arc.
 
Getting Into Character: Theater Tricks to Bring Your Characters to Life with Jill Santopolo
Get ready to shed your own personality and take on your character's! With the help of character questionnaires and the traditional theater game Hot Seat, you'll find out more about your character than you ever thought you'd know. Your story will be deeper and richer for it. Leave your inhibitions at the door, and get ready to have some fun.
 
Writing on the Dark Side: What I look for in an Edgy, Dark Novel with Victoria A. Selvaggio
Discover requirements of writing on the dark side: having the ability to question and cross boundaries of acceptable behavior, while balancing/containing inappropriate content, is just as important as crafting all those elements of a plot. Learn about the originality, characterization, reality, mystery, and so much more that Victoria looks for. An edgy, dark novel should be just that—edgy…dark…compelling the reader to reflect further, long after the reading is done. (The presentation will also include, as time allows, a bit about The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency and Victoria’s overall agent goals).
 
Novel First Pages Panel
Faculty members will provide comments on writers' works during a First Pages Panel. To participate, send one filled page of your novel text. These programs are so popular that it is impossible to feature every first page received. Send your most polished work to be considered. Good luck!    
  • 12-point font 
  • Times New Roman, Courier or similar        
  • 1-in margins        
  • Double-space        
  • To save space, use a header for name, contact information, title and genre        
  • Please begin story text at the top of the page to ensure you fill the page        
  • The postmark must between February 1 and February 28 
Where to send your piece: 
Wild, Wild Midwest Conference
 c/o Lisa Morlock 
7501 Hickory Lane Urbandale, IA 50322
 (It’s the same address for critiques, so please feel free to put both in one envelope, clearly marking CRITIQUE or FIRST PAGES.)

Picture Books

Making a Smart Dummy with Troy Cummings
 See a step-by-step guide to putting together a picture book proposal. Walk through the entire process: from concept to draft to manuscript to completed book dummy. Learn bonus tips on how/when to use art notes, writing with page breaks in mind, and common mistakes to avoid. (For writers and illustrators of all levels)
  
Children, Children, What Do You See?
Introducing the Whole Book Approach, or How Learning Basic Elements of Book Design and Production Can Enhance Your Stories, Build Rapport with Editors and Art Directors, and Spice Up Your School Visits with Yolanda Scott
In a world of rapid digital change, the picture book is a powerful reminder of why traditional bookmaking matters. There’s something important in a book’s very physicality and the way it brings together adults and children in a shared reading experience. This workshop teaches proper picture-book terminology and will help you become comfortable discussing a book’s visual elements such as trim size, orientation, jacket, cover, and endpapers as you come to understand how these components enhance, underscore, and otherwise interact with the text. You’ll learn how to speak the same language as publishing professionals as well as discover an exciting, interactive new alternative to traditional story time: The Whole Book Approach.

Writing Character-Driven Rhyming Picture Books with Jill Esbaum
 Experience the craft of writing a character-driven rhyming story.  Learn about effective openings, characterization, rhythm selection, pacing, packing the most into every line, and Jill’s favorite revision strategies.

Together and Apart:  The Collaborative Process of Creating a Picture Book with Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
Sneak a behind-the-scenes look at Oh No! -- their first picture book together.  It’s rare for an author and illustrator to communicate with each other when a manuscript is being created.  So how do they bring differing opinions, talents, and tastes to the project, and how does this affect the finished book?  Sit back and enjoy as they lead you through their journey of discovery with energy, humor, and candor.
  
Pitch Perfect with Kristen Fulton
A pitch, a sentence, a promise—they are the same thing. It is that one sentence that tells what your story is about and entices someone to read on. But how do you capture your story in just one sentence when there is so much to say? What should you leave out? What do you include? Is it that important to have a pitch ready on the tip of my tongue? Join Kristen and find out the answers. (For all picture book writers from fiction to nonfiction.)
P.S. Kristen signed a multi-book contract with Simon and Schuster because of a pitch at an SCBWI conference.
  
The First Critique with Kristen Fulton
Before an editor, an agent or even your critique group, you are responsible for your first critique. Bring a set of eight different-colored highlighters, colored pencils, or crayons and your latest rough draft. Discover: Is your manuscript tight? 
Are your verbs active? Are you showing, not telling? Do your words act as stop signs? Is your main character carrying the story? Find out how YOU can take your manuscripts to the next level.
(For all picture book writers from fiction to nonfiction.)
  
Picture Books Scores! with Leslie Helakoski
This session will look at why some books sell and others fall flat. Using a specially designed diagram and scoring points in 18 categories, we will see which tools writers and illustrators use to score big. Bring a manuscript along so you can apply this method to your own work and learn how to raise your score.
  
Collaboration with an Art Director—Character Development to Picture Book Jacket with Semadar Megged
Discover the flow of character development, final art style and the process of arriving at a picture book jacket as a collaboration of art direction, editorial input and the illustrator.
  
When Less is More ... Cutting the Fluff to Find What You Really Want to Say with Pat Zietlow Miller
You’ve heard that when it comes to picture books “shorter is better.” But how do you say everything you need to say in such a small space? Learn nine tips to make your manuscript leaner, tighter and more powerful. Examples will show you exactly how it’s done. You’ll never even miss those words.
  
My Picture Book Apprenticeship: How I Taught Myself What I Needed to Know to Become a Published Author with Pat Zietlow Miller
Pat wanted to write picture books more than anything. But she really didn't know where to begin. So she created a picture book apprenticeship for herself. Since completing it, she's sold 10 picture books and won the Golden Kite Award, the Crystal Kite Award, an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor, and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor. Pat will describe what she did, how long it took ,and why she feels the program has helped her sell manuscripts.

  
Write, Draw, YAK! with Linda Sue Park and Jennifer Black Reinhardt
YAKS YAK is a new picture book written by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. Learn about the entire journey to create this book: the initial inspiration, the writing and revising (including practical tips and techniques you can use for your own work); then the visual concept, sketching, revision, and creation of the final art. Authors and illustrators are usually on separate 'tracks' at conferences: Linda Sue and Jennifer are excited about this unusual opportunity to present together! Write, Draw, YAK!
  
The Language of Pictures with Eric Rohmann
 Join Caldecott medalist Eric Rohmann in a fast-paced presentation detailing the ways children not only see, but use pictures as language.  Discover how the combination of pictures and words create a book that taps directly into the young reader’s imagination.
  
First Dates for Picture Books with Lisa Wheeler
Like a good first date, a good picture books need to grab your attention from line one. (You had me at Hello.) But what if that first pick-up line falls flat? Will you open the Mystery Date door to a dud or a stud? Whether this is your first date or you've been around the block a few times, this breakout session will help you spice up your pick-up lines.
  
Creating Memorable Picture Book Characters with Lisa Wheeler
You know a character with no personality is an empty body—a chess piece, being pushed around a storyboard to serve the plot. And what about anthropomorphism? Personification? Adults as characters? Are these taboo in picture books? Hear ways to breathe life into those empty shells.
  
Picture Book First Pages Panel
Faculty members will provide comments on writers' works during a First Pages Panel. To participate, send one filled page of your picture book  text (fiction or nonfiction). These programs are so popular that it is impossible to feature every first page received. Send your most polished work to be considered. Good luck!
  •  12-point font 
  •  Times New Roman, Courier or similar        
  •  1-in margins        
  •  Double-space        
  •  To save space, use a header for name, contact information, title and genre        
  •  Please begin story text at the top of the page to ensure you fill the page        
  •  The postmark must between February 1 and February 28 
 Where to send your piece: 
 Wild, Wild Midwest Conference
  c/o Lisa Morlock 
 7501 Hickory Lane Urbandale, IA 50322
 (It’s the same address for critiques, so please feel free to put both in one envelope, clearly marking CRITIQUE or FIRST PAGES.)

Publishing Independently 

Independently Published Panel
Join a Q&A session with the 2015 Spark Award winner, W. Nikola-Lisa, writer/journalist Silvia Acevedo, and author/artist Andrea Skyberg as they share their journey to publishing independently and provide tips, terms, and advice for anyone considering this exciting option -- or for those who are actively publishing. This is a special opportunity to ask an expert, so come with questions! Moderated by Trina Sotira, indie writer, editor and assistant professor.

 Agents and editors always say voice is the most important thing they look for. But what is voice? Why is it so elusive? Learn the different elements that make up voice and how to use them to make your writing shine.

 

Ensnaring the Wary: Engaging the Middle Grade & Young Adult Reader with Cinda Williams Chima
Engaging today’s teens is like speed dating—you have just a few pages to make a good impression. Authors draw readers in with voice, character, conflict, and a compelling opening that delivers some of the above.  Compelling openings keep readers with action, pacing/delivery, mystery, and narrative tension. In this three-hour intensive, explore each of these elements through a combination of lecture, examples, and hands-on exercises designed to hone your narrative to a razor’s edge.

 

What Your Reader Really Wants: 5 Steps to Writing an Irresistible Story with Lisa Cron

Every writer wants two things: to tell a story that hooks readers and never lets them go and to find a way to accomplish that without going through the long slog of endlessly writing draft after draft. This workshop will give you actionable ways to meet both goals. Discover the five steps to take before you start writing that will save you months (or years) of hard work, not to mention heartache and frustration. Instead of rooting around in your “plot” for the story, you’ll unearth the key story elements beneath the plot that bring it to life, drive it forward, and give it meaning. These elements have little to do with the surface events or “writing well” and everything to do with what we’re born hardwired to respond to in every story we read. You’ll not only produce a more powerful story, chances are you’ll drastically reduce your rewrite time.

 

Find Your Direction with Kristen Fulton

Are you stumbling and fumbling over your story? Are you struggling to find enough facts? Do you ever want to just toss it? You need to find your story’s direction, and the easiest way is with a compass. After all, explorers have been using them for centuries.  In this intensive, you’ll take a story in progress and find the direction to move it from concept to completion. (For nonfiction picture book writers for all ages from the 32-page picture book to the 64-page picture book format.)

 

Work With an Art Director on a 32 Page Picture Book Dummy with Semadar Megged

Bring any text to work with – written by the illustrator, a classic tale, or a new visual interpretation to a favorite story.  (A note on working on your own text: if the text is not there yet, the work will end up dealing with the text more than the art.) Discover various approaches to creating and developing dummies with the art director and the editor to a full book (about 30-45 minutes). Then examine some participants’ dummies (depending on the number willing to have their dummies discussed publicly).  Then work hands-on to revise with Semadar and discuss individually those dummies who were not presented. We’ll finish with showing and discussing the revised dummies. Bring materials t handy for making revisions, with enough to try more than one way, including: scissors and tape plus extra paper, or laptop, if working digitally.  Best to have few copies of the art in various sizes so zooming in and out can be experimented with. 

 

Revision for Novels with Linda Sue Park

In this hands-on workshop, discover ways to take your writing to the next level, using simple but crucial techniques. How can you identify and eliminate unnecessary words? How does paying attention to nouns help unify a story world? How can examining clichés—yes, clichés!—help make your work sparkle? Participants will be revising their own work, so please bring at least twenty-five pages of a middle-grade or YA novel manuscript.

 

Develop an Online Marketing Strategy & Practical Editorial Calendar with Casey Valiant

Walk through the steps for creating a plan for your online footprint: knowing what you want to accomplish online, how to develop your audience, how to choose which platforms to use, and what your website must contain. Learn how to create and maintain a schedule to keep you on track to reach your goals. 

This crazy, high-speed, filling-your-mind workshop is right for you if: 

·       you are on social media, but aren't seeing the results you want

·       you want to try a new platform, but don't know how to start

·       you want your existing online efforts and profiles critiqued

·       you aren't sure which platform is right for you

·       you want to stop spinning your wheels on social media and see some actual results

You'll leave with a plan (yes, an actual marketing plan) customized for you, which you’ll be able to implement as soon as you want. You'll leave with an editorial calendar to help keep you on track to reach your desired audience. If you want your online presence critiqued, email caseyvaliant@gmail.com by April 15, and tell me which of your profiles you want me to look at. 

 

Picture Book Boot Camp with Lisa Wheeler

Does you fiction feel flabby?  Do your sentences sag?  Does your happily-ever-after seem long-ago-and-far-away?  If so, it's time to pump up your pages and exercise your editing power!  Award-winning children's author Lisa Wheeler will help you strengthen your picture-book writing.  You'll learn to: Trim the fat.  Cut unnecessary word calories.  Add muscle to your manuscript and develop a lean, muscular body of work.

 

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