Wild Wild Midwest SCBWI Conference 2016

Naperville, Illinois
Friday, April 29, 2016

BOOKSTORE Anderson's Bookstore will offer opportunities at various times during the conference to buy books by our speakers, by P.A.L. members, and by independently published attendees. The bookstore will accept Visa, MasterCard and cash - no checks. If you are a P.A.L. (Published And Listed) or an independently published member of SCBWI attending the conference, you may enter one book title to be available in our conference bookstore. All titles must be provided through this registration system by April 1st, 2016. 

 All member illustrators attending the conference are invited to exhibit one unpublished illustration suitable for children’s books on their own small tabletop easel (or book stand) along with postcards or business cards. There is no extra charge, but you must register for this when you register for the conference. Each illustrator is limited to a tabletop space 18” wide. The displayed illustrations will be judged by the faculty and a winner will be announced at 8:30 pm during the Art Show and again during lunch on Sunday. The winner receives an onsite face-to-face portfolio review by the two art directors at the conference.

When you arrive at the conference, you will be directed when and where to drop off your mounted illustration, your own small tabletop easel labeled with your name, and postcards (optional). Bring a color copy of your illustration - not the original - as we cannot guarantee the safety of your work. Art Show questions: 

MANUSCRIPT CONTEST (02/02/16 this option is full and no longer available)
see Guidelines tab for submission information
Members may submit the first 1000 words of a manuscript to the Manuscript Contest. Each judge will select the "most promising" manuscript in one of four categories. The winner in each category will be invited to submit a full manuscript to that judge. Judges and categories are: 
* Picture Books: Karl Jones, Assistant Editor, Grosset & Dunlap, Penguin Random House Young Readers Group        
* Middle Grade: Wendy Loggia, Executive Editor, Delacorte, Penguin Random House Young Readers Group     
* Young Adult: Viana Siniscalchi, Associate Editor, Balzer + Bray, HarperCollins Children’s Books
* Nonfiction: Kathleen Merz, Managing Editor, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Free to SCBWI members, First Look and First Pages:

The work sent in for the First Look (Illustrators) and First Pages (Writers) panels may be used for comment during the panels. Sending in a piece does not guarantee it will be used during the session, however, much can be learned from how professionals respond, whether their comments are directed toward your piece or someone else's. 

No charge and only open to SCBWI members who are registered for the conference
This is a fabulous way to have your work reviewed by illustration industry professionals in a First Pages format! Two Art Directors and a well-published illustrator will give first impressions of your children's book illustration in a panel discussion. Send one illustration (see spec guidelines below) in advance of the conference. At the conference, without having seen the work earlier, a panel of three industry professionals will give brief suggestions, comments, and/or advice on the marketability of your work. Please note we cannot guarantee every submitted image will get a chance to be seen by our panel. We can, however, promise that everyone who watches this panel will leave with a better understanding of what works and why. Use specs below:
  • Send one image (or a sequence that fits on one page) in jpeg (or jpg) format as an attachment in an email with the subject heading, "WWMW First Look" to ruthexpress@aol.com before April 14, 2016.
  • Image should depict action and be appropriate for a children's book.
  • Image must be no larger than 2MB and must fit on an 8.5 x 11 page.
  • Use this file name format for the image: firstname_lastname_state.jpg to help us track submissions.
  • Panel will not see image name or artist name.
  • Please don't sign the art.

The projector we use to present the art to the panel will likely display some color differences from your own computer monitor. Please note that entries that do not follow these specs are unlikely to be seen by the panel.

No charge and only open to SCBWI members who are registered for the conference 
Busy editors and agents have very limited time to read manuscripts. Some say the "make it or break it" window is thirty seconds per manuscript. During this session, agents and editorial faculty will react to first pages of manuscripts read aloud. What makes them compelling? What is a turnoff? What does a first page/image need to make an editor or agent want to keep reading?  To participate, send one filled page of your picture book text or longer work. You may end your page in the middle of a sentence if necessary. These programs are so popular that it is impossible to feature every first page received. Use the guidelines below. Questions? Contact Lisa Morlock at 

  • 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, age category and genre if appropriate.
  • 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.)
Select registrant type:
SCBWI Member Registration

Intensives Session Information
For SCBWI members only. All Intensives are $40

Voice Lessons with Heather Alexander

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.


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 a 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 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.

Lessons with Heather Alexander

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.


  • Voice Lessons: Heather Alexander: $40.00 (0 remaining)
  • Ensnaring the Wary: Cinda Williams Chima: $40.00 (17 remaining)
  • What Your Reader Really Wants: Lisa Cron: $40.00 (0 remaining)
  • Find Your Direction: Kristen Fulton: $40.00 (32 remaining)
  • Work With an Art Director on Your Dummy: Semadar Megged: $40.00 (0 remaining)
  • Revision for Novels: Linda Sue Park: $40.00 (0 remaining)
  • Develop an Online Marketing Strategy: Casey Valiant: $40.00 (21 remaining)
  • Picture Book Boot Camp: Lisa Wheeler: $40.00 (0 remaining)
  • No Intensive


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