New England SCBWI 2017
Expand & Diversify Your Portfolio
artwork by Sarah Lynne Reul
Expand & Diversify Your Portfolio
SATURDAY Workshops, April 22, 2017
Printer friendly PDF version
of all Saturday Workshop descriptions.
Saturday Morning Workshop Blocks
One 2-hour session: B-Block - 9:45 am - 11:45 am
Two 1-hour sessions:
- 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 ~ Story Bored? with Brian Lies (Illustration)
Templates for sketch dummies are very useful. But do you find an array of boxes on a sheet of paper boring or intimidating? Or does it begin to feel so serious that you worry about ruining your nice sketch dummy template with a “dud” drawing? In this workshop, Brian Lies demonstrates a variety of forgiving techniques to make the sketch dummy template your friend—an opportunity to free up your thinking and be more creative. Includes playing with Post-Its and a unique coding system to keep image files neatly organized, to creating parallel templates working side-by-side (rough and tight), and finally generating a full PDF dummy ready to submit to an editor. This workshop also touches on brainstorming a variety of drawings for each one of those 32 blank rectangles, so you can mix and match your way to the strongest dummy possible. Bring a story you’re working on—so that you can start filling in the boxes!
1-hour session Options:
C-Block - 9:45 am - 10:40 am
C1 ~ Deepen Your Mystery…Look at Your Characters with Sheela Chari (Novel)
Some of our most enduring children’s mystery novels are not only great mysteries but are enriched by the complexity and breadth of their characters. Whether it’s new or emerging ideas of family and self, social justice, disability, or cultural and racial differences, mystery novels offer a unique opportunity to combine an exciting plot with larger artistic and social themes, as seen through the lives of its characters. In this workshop, we will look at the basic structure of the mystery and use that as a starting point to talk about character. Specifically, we will address the following questions: How do I build a mystery that supports emotionally or culturally rich characters? Likewise, how do I develop these characters within the mystery, and what details will lead to their greater authenticity? We will look at examples by published authors, including people of color, to see how they’ve created satisfying mysteries with characters and story lines that reflect our socially and culturally diverse times.
C2 ~ Writing from Folklore with Kevin L. Lewis (Picture Book)
Everything old is new again. Using popular picture books, chapter books, and teen novels—including My Truck is Stuck and The Runaway Pumpkin—we will discuss factors such as structure and theme to explore the use and importance of folklore in creating enduring works for young readers and their families.
C3 ~ Drawing White on Black on White: The Question of Diversity for Illustrators with Hazel Mitchell (Illustration)
The increasing diversity in children’s literature is exciting and sometimes confusing. In recent years we have seen several books dealing with diversity become especially controversial in the marketplace. When it comes to who should be illustrating (and writing) about whom (and how), thoughts can vary widely. In the fast changing whirlpool of opinion, driven by the undercurrent of social media, it can be hard to know what to do. And the decisions you make might hurt your career. The answer to these questions seems theoretically simple. But right now it’s a hot potato. In this session author and illustrator Hazel Mitchell throws the potato up in the air and sees who can handle it. With a look at books Mitchell herself has illustrated (including the award winning Imani’s Moon), and with examples and opinions from other children’s book creators, editors, art directors and agents, the following points will be covered and discussed:
Should illustrators of other ethnicities be illustrating characters of anything other than their own skin color?
*Why is this even a question? And who is asking it?
*Who are the gatekeepers?
*How can we handle illustration of ethnicity of ANY race and color sympathetically?
*There’s room for everyone at the table: style and genre.
*What’s the story? – the path to successful character depiction.
*Hey! Let’s just draw mice!
*Why we shouldn’t be afraid.
*When not to accept a commission.
*Research and knowledge. What do you bring to the table?
C4 ~ Easy Networking Tips for Introverts with Janet Costa Bates (Life & Career)
You’re an introvert? Fantastic! Introversion is a positive trait just as extroversion is a positive trait. The thing is networking is important in this field, and sometimes that’s hard for introverts. In a non-threatening environment, learn ways to ease into networking so you can make attending conferences a much more enriching and enjoyable experience for you.
C5 ~ Writing a Compelling 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.
C6 ~ Who Cares? Injecting your Character With a Dose of Emotion with Dana Meachen Rau (All Writing)
“She was happy.” This might be a sentiment you hope to convey in a certain scene, but does it really evoke any emotion? Happy can mean different things to different people. How does your character really feel? More importantly, how do these words engage your reader? The best characters are the ones that readers connect with on an emotional level. But abstract emotions aren’t easy to capture into concrete words. This workshop will examine the many ways authors can weave together the external arc (plot) and internal arc (emotion) of story. We’ll explore techniques and writing exercises to inject emotion into the page by showing, not telling, readers how our characters feel in a way that encourages empathy as they face the challenges, obstacles, and accomplishments of their stories. Effective emotional writing also means that authors have to empathize with our characters, too. We’ll discuss ways to push ourselves outside our comfort zones, live in a character’s shoes, and research the emotions, not just the physical experiences, of the people populating our novels.
C7 ~ Mindfulness for Writers: Acceptance and Attention with Molly B. Burnham (Life & Career)
The ability to focus on the moment at hand, to set aside all the many distractions and distractors is the key to getting the writing done. This is easier said than done. Our brains zing with thoughts and our emotions bounce around like a rubber ball. All of which means we are less attentive to our own writing and our own journey as writers. As an elementary school teacher, a writer, and obviously a human being, mindfulness has been an on-going part of my life for more than sixteen years, and my mindfulness work has always been an anchor for me.
During this interactive workshop, we will discuss what mindfulness is and how mindfulness supports every facet of our writing life from the craft of writing to the very essence of being a writer. We will share our own experiences of being mindful and of not being mindful, and what happens in those two very different states. We will also practice a number of mindfulness exercises from improv to breathing to writing. Lastly, we will discuss strategies to support your mindful practice so that when you go home you have something in your toolbox.
C8 ~ Whose Line is It, Anyway? On Ghostwriting, Co-writing, and Just Plain Writing-Writing with Chris Tebbetts (Life & Career)
What does it mean to ghostwrite for someone? How about co-authoring? What’s the difference? And what are the pros and cons of collaborative storytelling as compared to working alone? Chris Tebbetts will discuss all three through the lens of his own experience—finding work, executing it, and exploring the unique and universal aspects of writing craft for each.
C9 ~ I'll Buy That: What Makes Your Manuscript Undeniable with Editor Julia Maguire (All Writing)
A discussion about what it is that editors are looking for in the manuscripts they receive. How can you assure that yours makes it to the top of the pile and that an editor will keep reading once they start? We'll talk about the qualities of a manuscript that all editors look for, across all formats and genres.
D-Block - 10:50 am - 11:45 am
**D1 ~ And Then There Were More: The Art of Writing a Series with Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette (Novel)
FULL - waitlist only
So you’ve got a book idea that goes beyond, well, a book. What to do? From outlining, to structure, to character arc, to the challenges of writing-by-multiples, this session will give practical, hands-on tips and techniques for series writers of all stripes. Whether you’re considering a sequel or building a fictional empire, come ready to think (and write) BIG!
D2 ~ Pacing Your Picture Book with Anika and Christopher Denise (Picture Book)
Creating a Perfect Marriage of Words & Art: Husband and wife team Anika and Christopher Denise offer a peek into pacing picture books. From writing with rhythm, to perfect page turns, to wide open wordless spreads—their primer in pacing offers tools both writers and illustrators can utilize to create picture books that read like well-balanced pieces of music.
D3 ~ Figure Drawing Workout with Christina Rodriguez (Illustration)
Get ready to flex those sketching muscles in this fun and highly interactive studio intensive! Through hands-on exploration of figure drawing techniques and useful acting exercises, you’ll learn how to illustrate emotion in a way that connects with the reader and fleshes out your characters. After running through an intense gamut of static and dynamic figure drawing poses, the group will cool down with critiques. Attendees are instructed to bring their own art supplies, and will take turns modeling for the class.
**D4 ~ School Visit! What is It? Creating School Visits that Both Inform and Entertain with Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Marketing)
FULL - waitlist only
School visits can be one of the most satisfying facets of being a children's author. However, they can also be daunting. In this workshop, we will discuss the ins and outs of the school visit—getting gigs, the booking process, handling the paperwork and contracts, suggestions for keeping students attentive, book sales, and designing a school visit that will both educate and entertain.
**D5 ~ Finding the Authentic Voice: Writing What You Don’t Know with Elly Swartz (Novel)
FULL - waitlist only
What happens when the character who pops into your head—the one who is there when you go to sleep and again when you wake-up in the morning, the one who won’t go away until you promise to tell her story—has experienced something you know nothing about? How do you begin to write her story and embrace her authentic voice? Where do you start? These were questions Elly Swartz had to answer when she first met Molly Nathans. Molly is the main character in her new novel, Finding Perfect. And, Molly has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. After much research, Swartz learned that Molly was not alone. Nearly 500,000 kids have it. Swartz knew then that she had to tell Molly’s story. But how? Swartz didn’t have OCD or a child with OCD. How could she capture the authenticity required to tell Molly’s story? In this workshop, Swartz will share the tools she used to research what she didn’t know, to write what she hadn’t experienced, and to ultimately tell Molly’s story. Learn the tools you can use to write beyond stereotypes and embrace authenticity—from cold calling experts, to finding resources, mining YouTube, engaging on Twitter, and digging into old fashioned research. Bottom line, all kids need to see themselves on the page. They’re counting on us to share their voice and their stories. So come close, and when that character comes into your world and whispers in your ear, listen.
D6 ~ Fireside Chat with Melissa Sweet (All Writing)
Join author/illustrator Melissa Sweet in an informal session, something we like to call the Fireside Chat. This is a wonderful opportunity to personally connect with Melissa, go behind the scenes, and ask questions about her 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.
D7 ~ How to Get Published Successfully with Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, The Book Doctors(Life & Career)
It's the greatest time in history to be a writer. The barrier to publishing has been torn down and now anyone can get published. But to get published successfully is a whole other matter. Eckstut and Sterry take you through the entire publishing process. This step-by-step, soups-to-nuts workshop will remove the smoke and mirrors from the murky world of publishing and give writers a compass and map to a successfully published book.
Topics covered include:
*Choosing the right idea
*Creating a blockbuster title
*Crafting an attention-getting pitch
*Putting together a selling proposal/manuscript
*Finding the right agent/publisher
*Self-publishing effectively with ebooks, print-on-demand, or traditional printing
*Developing sales, marketing, and publicity savvy
*Producing a video book trailer and helping it go viral
*Building a following through social media
D8 ~ What the Heck is an Informational Book? with Melissa Stewart (Non-Fiction)
The line between fiction and nonfiction is blurrier than ever before. With terms like "informational book," "creative nonfiction," and "informational fiction," how are writers supposed to know what works and what doesn't when presenting true or mostly true information to children? This practical presentation explains the terminology and discusses how children's book creators are playing with format, point of view, voice, structure, and other elements to present information in exciting new ways.
**D9 ~ Taking Risks and Being True to Yourself as a Writer with Nova Ren Suma (Novel)
FULL - waitlist only
How do you find your voice as a writer—a voice distinct to you and only you? In this crowded publishing market, we must find ways to stand out, and it’s not about chasing trends or trying to please everybody—so much of it is about being honest, brave, and distinctly yourself. In this talk, YA author and writing instructor Nova Ren Suma will share how she came to write her latest novel, The Walls Around Us, for herself first and the risks she took along the way. She will give craft advice on carving out a unique voice for your story and practical advice on building a career that is most true to you.
Saturday Early Afternoon Workshops
F-Block - 1:45 pm - 2:40 pm
F1 ~ Good Romance Writing is Good Character Development
Romance of some sort is part of every YA novel, even if it’s just a small part. In this presentation, we’ll cover 15 dos and don’ts for writing romantic relationships of all sorts into your YA. This presentation is not about how to write a Romance. It’s about how to naturally, realistically, and successfully include romance in whatever it is you’re writing.
F2 ~ Rhythm, Rhyme, and Repetition: A Picture Book Writer’s Three Rs
What a crime to write in rhyme! I fear I do it all the time. Though it seems like a cardinal rule—don’t write in rhyme—it doesn’t have to be the kiss of death to your manuscript. In this workshop, we will go over techniques to perfect your rhyming manuscript. Please bring copies of your rhyming manuscript; we will select a few at random to evaluate as a group.
**F3 ~ First Look for Illustrators
RA Denise Ortakales, Art Directors Lucy Ruth Cummins and
Agent Lilla Rogers
FULL - waitlist only
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. Send us your best piece of work for the chance to have it critiqued by the panel. Only the first 30 people who send in their JPGs will be accepted. 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.
Email 1 (one) image to Denise Ortakales at NorthIC@nescbwi.org,
Image format: JPG
Maximum image size: 2 MB
Deadline for all images: April 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm EST
**F4 ~ Design Your Own Swag, Graphics, and Other Authorly Things with A. C. Gaughen (Marketing)
FULL - waitlist only
Seriously, how do people get gorgeous, on-brand bookmarks that make you want to buy books? What about cool stickers or tattoos, bookplates or postcards? What do you do if you can’t just slap the cover on it because of size ratios but you really, really don’t want to pay a designer? Using Photoshop Elements for basic, inexpensive and EASY editing, this workshop will show you what files you need, how to manipulate them, how and where to print gorgeous swag at great prices, and how much everything costs! Why pay a designer when the best person to promote your books is you?
F5 ~ How to Dissect Your Favorite Books and Steal The Best Parts with Jess Keating (Novel)
Mentor texts aren’t just for kids! In fact, they can be a valuable source of information and inspiration for any writer, regardless of genre. It has been said that good artists copy, while great artists steal, but where do you begin? Understanding what makes your favorite books tick is key to harnessing this magic in your own writing. In this workshop, zoologist and author Jess Keating demonstrates a systematic approach for learning about plot, pacing, and character that will appeal to anyone with an analytical mind looking to improve their writing. Participants can expect to leave with concrete exercises to take home and apply to their favorite books, providing a treasure trove of information they can turn to for their writing.
F6 ~ Picture Book Family Diversity with Megan Dowd Lambert (Picture Book)
Join Simmons College professor and author Megan Dowd Lambert to learn about critiquing, writing, and promoting picture books featuring diverse family constellations, and about her experience writing and sharing her books, A Crow of His Own (winner of a 2016 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor) and Real Sisters Pretend.
**F7 ~ Continuity of Character with Kelly Light (Illustration)
FULL - waitlist only
How you draw = Who you draw. Life lessons from a lifelong cartoon fanatic and character artist in animation and cartoon merchandise. How to visually convey personality through design—along with ACTING!!!! Just acting, with your pencil. There will be cartoon watching!!
**F8 ~ Got Motivation? with Melissa Stewart (Life & Career)
FULL - waitlist only
You’ve probably heard that the secret to completing a manuscript is as easy as BIC—Butt in Chair. But with such busy lives, it can be hard to find the time and, more importantly, the motivation to stick to the writing goals we set for ourselves. How can we make writing a top priority day after day, week after week, month after month—until our manuscript is finally done? In this practical workshop, award-winning author Melissa Stewart reveals the tips and tools she has used to stay motivated while writing 189 books for children. Discover how to stay the course as you pursue a writing life.
F9 ~ Diverse Families: Writing About Characters With LGBTQ Parents with Mary E. Cronin (All Writing)
In this workshop, Mary Cronin 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 transgender parents. Workshop will include examples, anecdotes, and a reading and resource list.
F10 ~ Lying About History with Jeannine Atkins, Burleigh Muten, and Jane Yolen, moderated by Heidi E. Y. Stemple (All Writing)
Historians do, so why not novelists? Three historical writers for children look at the thorny issue of what's true, what is factual, what is a lie of convenience and a lie of omission? And what should we do about it, anyway?
Saturday Late Afternoon Workshops
G-Block - 2:50 pm - 3:45 pm
G1 ~ Fiction and Free Verse: Finding a Home Together with Jeannine Atkins (Novel)
In this workshop, Jeannine will suggest ways to merge the shine of poetry with the pull of narrative. She will discuss what makes stellar verse and a gripping plot and ways these can come together in one book. Her prompts will have you develop imagery and rhythm while pushing along the action in your work in progress, whether it’s a picture book, novel, or verse narrative.
G2 ~ Seven Revision Tips to Take Your PB from WAAH to WOW! with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (Picture Book)
Revising a picture book can be a herculean task, one that is often more daunting than the drafting process. Sometimes, the process is so intimidating that writers don’t even know where to start! This workshop will take participants through seven specific easy-to-master tips to make the revision process easier in terms of trimming word count, accelerating pacing, strengthening character development, and creating better overall cohesion. We will identify common problems and reveal straightforward solutions so that participants leave the room ready to revise.
G3 ~ Old School Digital Illustration with Jennifer E. Morris (Illustration)
Ever hear that your digital paintings look too digital? Can’t figure out why or what to do about it? We will discuss tips and techniques that will help you soften the hard mechanical look that digital art can sometimes fall prey to. Help elevate your images above the medium in which they were created so your audience is focused on what you are trying to say—not what software you used. We will talk about ways to incorporate traditional mediums, creating custom Photoshop brushes, and limiting color brush palettes to give your illustrations a more natural appearance.
G4 ~ It's Not Worse Than Death! Public Speaking 101 for Authors with Jen Malone (Marketing)
When polled, a majority of people list public speaking as their biggest fear (even when "death" is among choices on the survey)! This session will expand and diversify how you can market your book by showing you how to get comfy speaking in a variety of author-ly scenarios (but don't worry—you can hide in the back and just take notes!) Gone are the days of JD Salinger hermit statues for authors; today’s author is expected to hustle his or her books in a multitude of ways that very often involve forms of public speaking. This seminar discusses tips and tool specifically geared to presenting at various “authorly” functions, from book signings to conferences to school visits. We’ll talk about ways to prepare ahead of time to cut down on nerves, strategies for engaging audiences, and opportunities to practice with “low stakes” before going big-time. Prior to becoming an author, Jen Malone led educational workshops around the world, and has presented to audiences as varied as the Canadian Parliament, a commune of hippies in the Swiss Alps, and 2,000 middle school students at once (guess which group behaved best?). As an author, she is a frequent conference and school visit presenter and, if forced, will even do the occasional bookstore reading.
G5 ~ The Butterfly Effect: Connecting the Dots One Scene at a Time. with Trisha Leaver (Novel)
A dip in pacing. Character stakes that aren’t quite high enough. A lull in tension. As authors, we’ve all received this feedback at some point, leaving us staring at our manuscripts wondering how and where to insert more conflict. In this workshop, you will learn how to reverse-engineer your manuscript, micro analyzing it on a scene by scene basis to identify the broken links in the cause and effect relationship between character motivation and action. Using a scene by scene plotting map, we will then look at the manuscript as a whole, ensuring each scene builds upon the previous one, increasing the tension and character stakes in the process.
G6 ~ 20 Modern Picture Books Every Single Author Should Read Right Now with Betsy Bird (Picture Book)
We all love Goodnight Moon and Make Way for Ducklings, but we have to admit that today's market isn't the same as when we were kids. Betsy Bird, public librarian, author, School Library Journal blogger, children’s literature expert, Kirkus reviewer, iced chai latte enthusiast, mother of young children, reader of thousands of picture books per year, and editor of the upcoming anthology Funny Girl will share 20 modern picture books that she believes everyone, especially picture book writers, should make sure not to miss.
G7 ~ Scratching the Surface with Ruth Sanderson (Illustration)
Ruth Sanderson will share her passion for scratchboard with illustrators interested in exploring this medium. Following a short power point presentation on the medium and artists working today in many different scratchboard styles, Ruth will demonstrate her technique, and each participant will practice mark making and then work on a 5x7 illustration in scratchboard. Reference photos will be provided, however, to save time, participants can bring a 5x7 line drawing on tracing paper of an animal or a stuffed toy and a reference photo to work from. A strongly lit photo with a distinct light source is the key to this particular scratchboard style. Participants should bring a sharp #11 Exacto knife—scratchboard paper and transfer paper will be provided for free, but interested students can opt to upgrade during the workshop to a hard scratchboard for $3 for a superior working surface.
G8 ~ Scrivener for Beginners with Dee Romito (Novel)
Chances are you’ve either heard the buzz about Scrivener or you’re already using it yourself. In this session, you’ll see how easy it is to get started with this time-saving writing program and get an overview of the many helpful features that can take your writing to the next level.
G9 ~ From Idea to Publication: The Life Cycle of a Novel with Agent Linda Camacho (Novel)
Why does it take so long for a book to come out? When an editor buys a manuscript, shouldn’t it take a few months to edit it before landing on the bookshelves? If only! As someone who’s seen just about every side of the process, I’ll let you in on the process of taking a book from manuscript to publication, with some insights into the possible timeline before and after.
G10 ~ How to Hear Voices in Your Head: Creating Vivid Characters by Channeling with Susan Lynn Meyer (All Writing)
Some characters come to writers very easily. They pop into your head and you know just what they would say and do at a given moment. Others are much more of a struggle. Why?
When I look back at my characters, I realize that many of the ones that have come to me most easily are based on people I have known well at different stages of my life. Those real people move around, showing different facets of their personalities in different places, even within the same novel. Here’s an aspect of my father—his mischievousness—showing up in a young boy character. Here’s an elderly character who is talking the way my father did as an older man. ; Here’s my daughter’s pre-adolescent verve and talkativeness in a girl character. Here’s my own self-doubt and moodiness in another adolescent character. The characters aren’t truly those people—but flickers of personalities show up in them.
In this workshop we’ll talk about how characters arise in your head and how to make your characters more vivid by channeling very well-known people in your life and imagining them in the situations your characters find themselves in.
Click here to see a LIST of all workshops.