2019 New England SCBWI Conference: The Golden Brick Road

Springfield, Massachusetts
Friday, May 03, 2019

New England SCBWI 2019 
The Golden Brick Road
artwork by Neesha Hudson

This event is now closed. Thank you for your interest.

Save the date:  May 2-4, 2020
We hope to see you at next year's conference!

Please read the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy.
You will not be able to register for the Conference
until you have read this document.
If you have any concerns at the Conference,
please speak to a member of our Safety Team:
Regional Advisors (RAs)
Stacy Mozer, Denise Ortakales, and Kristine Asselin. 

Please read these online registration tips to help make the online registration process as smooth as possible!

Saturday Workshops:
J6  K1  K7  K9  M8  N4  N5
  N6  (email reg.nescbwi@gmail.com to be added to waitlist)

Manuscript Critiques

Headshot Photo Opportunities
Portfolio Critiques
Career Consultations
Social Media Consultations

Click here for all related HOTEL information; click here for PARKING information.

The New England SCBWI Conference is run entirely by volunteers. 
If you are interested in volunteering, please click on the link below.

Click to View Volunteer Opportunities on SignUp.com

If you'd like to learn more about the National SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), click here.

Follow the Brick Road  

Saturday May 4, 2019
Workshop Descriptions

Due to the volume of people attending the conference and adhering to fire code regulations regarding room capacity, we must know in advance the number of attendees for each workshop offered. Please choose your workshops at the time of online registration. If you change your mind prior to the conference, just email the registrar at reg.nescbwi@gmail.com to facilitate the switch. Please note that SWITCHING WORKSHOPS AT THE CONFERENCE is ONLY allowed if you CLEAR IT WITH THE REGISTRAR to ensure we're not overloading a room. Thanks for understanding.

Workshops fill up quickly once online registration opens.  Please review these workshop descriptions and make a note of ALL the presentations you would like to attend; knowing this information in advance will allow you to proceed more quickly through the online registration process. It will also ensure that, regardless of which workshops have already filled up by the time you register, you will still be able to fill your schedule with presentations of interest to you.

Printer friendly PDF version of all Saturday Workshop descriptions.
Printer friendly PDF version of ALL Workshop Descriptions.
Printer friendly PDF version of Workshop Schedules.

Saturday Morning Workshop Blocks

One 2-hour session:       I-Block - 9:45 am - 11:45 am
Two 1-hour sessions:     J-Block - 9:45 am - 10:40 am
AND             K-Block - 10:50 am - 11:45 am   

2-hour session Options:

I-Block - 9:45 am - 11:45 am

I1 ~ Revision, Revision, Revision with Lisa Yee


Revision can make or break your book. This two-hour workshop will help you learn the secrets to making your manuscript even better than you ever expected.


I2 ~ Speak Between The Lines: How to Use Dialogue to Build Character and Emotion with Jo Knowles


This workshop will study how dialogue can be used to develop character and build tension and emotion. We'll look at examples from mentor texts, then work on exercises meant to help writers practice this important skill.


1-hour session Options:

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

J1 ~ And Then What Happened? with Sarah S. Brannen


In order for a publisher to hire an illustrator, they need to see good sample pieces of art appropriate for children's books. Whether the art is in your portfolio or on your website, each piece needs to tell a story. Anyone looking at it should ask themselves: What just happened? What's going to happen next? In this workshop, we'll talk about how illustrators can up the narrative content in their work, both by showing examples and by brainstorming about ways to improve our own work. Attendees should bring their portfolios.


J2 ~ What is “Voice”, Why is it so Important, and How do I Find Mine with Eve Adler (Senior Editor, Sterling Children’s Books)


You’ve probably heard from editors and agents that voice is the most important aspect of your writing. But what is voice? Voice establishes the tone of your story, tells the reader what kind of personality your narrator has, and gives a feeling of time and place. How does one find the right voice and make it come across effectively? In this workshop, we will demystify the process through critiques and exercises, and you will be supplied with a plethora of advice to take on your voice-finding journey.


J3 ~ Perfect Proposal with Nancy Castaldo


What comes next after that lightning bolt idea for a terrific nonfiction book? The proposal! Crafting a proposal will not only help you obtain a contract, but will help you flesh out that great idea and serve as a map for writing the book. Award-winning nonfiction author Nancy Castaldo will lead you through the nuts and bolts of preparing that perfect proposal.


J4 ~ 10 Things I Wish Authors and Illustrators Knew with John Schu (Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic)

(Writers and Illustrators)

John Schu will offer tips that can help authors and illustrators better serve the needs of school librarians. He will also describe his personal mission as a librarian and explain the role of school librarians as champions of independent reading, connectors of the school family, and advocates for all students.


J5 ~ We Got the Beat: Pacing the Picture Book with Deborah Freedman 

[Note: J5 is repeated Sunday morning as T8]

(Writers and Illustrators)

Why do some picture books cha-cha-cha, and others go ka-thunk? How does the pacing of words with pictures through the pages of a book affect its story arc? In this session, we will dissect some published picture books for what they can teach us about pacing. We will talk about the importance of storyboarding to picture book pacing, and demonstrate how the structure, pace, and placement of the words and pictures on each page can all affect a story. We will see how we can add oomph to a story by boldly choreographing its verbal and visual dance.


J6 ~ The Golden Age of Children's Books with John Sandford (Senior Art Director, Cricket Media) ** FULL

(Writers and Illustrators)

The Golden Age of Children's Books started with the advent of better printing technology in the late 19th century, causing a creative boom in the early 1900s. In the decades since, with changes in technology, creativity, and society, how do things square up in present day publishing?


J7 ~ Story Bored? Techniques for Making a Sketch Dummy Your Friend with Brian Lies


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 important that you worry about ruining your sketch dummy template with a “dud” drawing?  In this workshop, Brian 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. From computer resizing and a novel coding system to keep image files neatly organized, to having parallel templates (rough and tight) working side-by-side, and finally generating a full PDF dummy, ready to submit to an editor.


J8 ~ Mirrors & Windows: A Continuation with Jennifer Baker


Continuing on her workshop from 2018, Jennifer Baker focuses on how to better recognize issues of works that present stereotypes. She examines what to consider, as well as how to apply tools, when writing those outside and within our own experiences, emphasizing that character and world building is not only about inclusivity but craft.

J9 ~ Agent-Author Relationship with Rajani LaRocca and Brent Taylor (Agent, Triada US)


As an author, what should you be looking for in a prospective agent? What kinds of questions should you be asking? What do agents look for in prospective clients? And how do you make your working relationship the best it can be? Come hear an author-agent team talk about their road to success. Bring your questions and be ready to collect a golden brick for your collection.


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

K1 ~ Leading the Reader to the Art with Frank Dormer ** FULL


In exploring the interplay of words and pictures, attendees of any level will be challenged to see beyond the words. To fill in that beautiful white space with the next emotion on the journey of creating a picture book, attendees will work on connecting words with just the right image to forward a spread. Think of this as a conversation, not a class. Authors welcome! Bring your pencils, your imagination, and an open mind.


K2 ~ Ideas About Picture Book Ideas with Julie Bliven (Editor, Charlesbridge)

(Writers and Illustrators)

What do some authors have to say about where their ideas come from? How can we examine successful picture books to understand and appreciate why the idea worked? What’s the difference between a good idea and an idea that might not stand out? (And how can a writer tell?) Why do we see similar ideas appearing again and again, in new ways? And what are some steps picture-book writers can take to turn a good idea into a satisfying story arc or a memorable piece of nonfiction?


K3 ~ What is Middle Grade? with Tricia Lin (Editor, Simon & Schuster)


Middle grade is often referred to as the Golden Age of reading. But what does it mean to write for this age group? In this workshop, we will examine central themes in middle grade and clarify the parameters of writing for this audience.


K4 ~ Getting Feedback from Others with Harold Underdown (Independent Editor)

(Writers and Illustrators)

You don't have to be a genius at self-editing or hire a freelance editor to find the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript—if you're willing to ask for help. Come find out how critique groups work and what they can do for you. If you've been in one or are currently in one, learn how to get more out of your group. We will also look at beta readers and child “consultants” in this practical presentation. The workshop session includes instruction in setting up a critique group around "focus questions." Participants can then use these in an optional Saturday evening session (from 8:15 pm to 10:30 pm), during which we will set up and run model critique groups. Bring a picture book manuscript or up to 5 pages of a novel or other longer work on which you want feedback if joining the evening session.

K5 ~ Four Mistakes Your Character SHOULD Be Making with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen


In order to write a compelling plot, the author must create a charismatic character and then have him DO something. Often, we think of that as doing something that directly furthers the goal, but most characters spend the bulk of a book doing the wrong things and making mistakes. Not every character will make the same mistakes. In fact, the kinds of mistakes a particular character makes—or is even willing to make—defines him as much as how he acts in the wake of a given mistake. This workshop looks at developing character and plot through four classes of mistakes to get your book on the right track.


K6 ~ Does Your Picture Book Story Really Need to Rhyme? with Rob Broder (Publisher, Ripple Grove Press)


Do you have a fun and original concept written in rhyme? Would it work better, and read better, if it didn't rhyme? Rob Broder of Ripple Grove Press will explore how to assess whether a manuscript should be written in rhyme Using real examples, he will demonstrate how to transform a rhyming manuscript into a non-rhyming picture book editors will love.

K7 ~ What’s Your Angle? Using Perspective, Light and Shadow to Create More Dynamic Illustrations with Brian Lies ** FULL

Trapped in “bird’s eye view?” Bored with your straight-on views? 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.


K8 ~ Dialogue at Its Best with Jennifer Baker


How do writers of children's lit use dialogue (and internal monologues) to convey emotion and the world around them. How do they establish voice without overtelling, being verbose or redundant in the work itself? Do these young characters (and their elders) sound authentic to the story? How do we use dialogue to build voice and character overall?


K9 ~ Perseverance in Publishing with Brent Taylor (Agent, Triada US) ** FULL

(Writers and Illustrators)

Publishing is a tough business: writers face constant rejection and are in passionate pursuit of their dreams in an industry that moves slowly. As a writer, it's incredibly important to know why you're writing, what is motivating your dream of becoming a published author, what you're setting out to accomplish, and the tools you need to achieve your dream. In this presentation, Brent will talk about his unconventional path into publishing (how his persistence led to his dream job), he’ll tell stories of his clients who persisted (example: the story of how he sold a book to an editor who rejected that same manuscript 9 years prior), and he'll discuss the tools and methodology that writers can use to encourage themselves to persist in publishing and never give up on their dreams.

Saturday Afternoon Workshop Blocks

One 2-hour session:       L-Block - 1:15 pm - 3:15 pm
Two 1-hour sessions:     M-Block - 1:15 pm - 2:10 pm
AND             N-Block - 2:20 pm - 3:15 pm   

2-hour session Options:

L-Block - 1:15 pm - 3:15 pm

L1 ~ If I Only Had a Brand: Successful Branding for Creative Professionals with Jessica Southwick

(Writers and Illustrators)

Good branding can set you apart and build recognition for your work in the wacky world of children’s book publishing. In this crash course, Jessica will lead you down the (yellow brick) path to creating the brand that’s right for you, from business naming to logo design to keeping an eye on your branding shelf life. She’ll discuss where to put your marketing dollars (and where not to); the important and tricky role of typography, timing, and trends; and how to avoid branding pitfalls. Participants are welcome to submit their current marketing materials (logo, business card, website, postcards, etc.) to Jessica before the conference. She'll choose several to review and discuss during the workshop. Those interested may n e-mail their samples/URLs/etc. by March 31, 2019, to jsouthwick@jesswick.com, using "NESCBWI19 Workshop Submission" in the subject line. For those folks submitting business cards/postcards/other collateral, Jessica will respond to their e-mails and request they also send a hard copy, if they can (so she can discuss paper stock, matte vs. glossy finish, etc.)



L2 ~ Illustration Portfolio Workshop with Mary Jane Begin


A portfolio is the delivery system that an illustrator uses to get their work seen, with the ultimate goal of becoming published. In the first hour of this workshop, Mary Jane will review the elements that comprise the portfolio and how to maximize its potential to connect to editors and publishers. Items such as websites, business cards, mailers, press kits, as well as the physical portfolio and it’s organization will be reviewed both in a slide presentation and with hands-on materials. Resources for creating materials will be provided, as well as a guide to preparing a submission package. In the second hour of the workshop, Mary Jane will review 6-8 portfolios, discussing organization, style, recommendations for additional work, focusing on fundamentals to be addressed (color, drawing, character development, composition, etc.) and make specific suggestions to strengthen the portfolio for the best possible outcome. The goal is to provide concrete recommendations that will assist all participants in reflecting on the best ways to strengthen their own work for pursuing future publication.


1-hour session Options:

M-Block - 1:15 pm - 2:10 pm

M1 ~ Fish of Destiny with K.R. Conway


Are you stuck in your storytelling journey? Is there a hole in your plot? A character missing a motivation? A scene you can’t twist in just the right way? If you are ready to throw in the towel over a manuscript or story idea, have no fear: the Fish of Destiny is here! This fast-paced storytelling tool is one of the key classes at the Cape Cod Teen Writers Conference. Utilizing a group mentality, the Fish becomes the engine that drives the story, being tossed to different people who ask critical questions of the author so he or she can uncover new twists, motivations, and plot points. Hands down, this one storytelling tool will entirely change how you write, and might just save a manuscript from the trash can.


M2 ~ Creative Collaboration: Authors and Illustrators and Editors . . . Oh My! with Vivian Kirkfield 

[Note: M2 is repeated Sunday morning as R8]

(Writers and Illustrators)

There are many different schools of thought when it comes to collaboration between author and illustrator. Some editors don't want them to even speak with each other because they feel the illustrator needs to bring his/her own vision to the text without interference from the person who wrote it. Others encourage communication. In Vivian’s experience, collaboration wins hands down! Vivian explores how author and illustrator can collaborate to create a better book.


M3 ~ Developing a School Visit Program with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

(Writers and Illustrators)

All kidlit authors and illustrators know that school visits can make a huge difference in our careers. They provide income, marketing opportunities for specific books, and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to develop a fan base. This workshop discusses the characteristics of successful school presentations and techniques to create a program unique to each individual.


M4 ~ Social Media and Web Presence with Greg Fishbone

(Writers and Illustrators)

You have a professional website and social media presence. That's great, but...what comes next? This workshop will walk you through the creation of an online strategy. You will learn to establish sets of specific, achievable, measurable goals for your campaigns; how to turn those goals into a targeted strategy for every element of your online presence; how to set up a calendar of actions; and how to measure the results. You’ll also learn how to analyze the outcome of your efforts to make regularly scheduled adjustments to your ongoing planning. You've put a lot of time and effort into establishing an online presence, now let's make it work for you!


M5 ~ Start Where Your Story Starts: How to Develop Strong Openings with Jo Knowles


In this workshop we'll look at several examples of strong beginnings in picture books through YA, and discuss the basic elements that make the best first pages—then try writing our own!


M6 ~ Recipe for great Nonfiction with Nancy Castaldo


You’ve baked a cake—shopped for ingredients, mixed the batter, preheated the oven, baked, and iced it—right? Well, Nancy Castaldo demonstrates how those same steps correlate to writing a tasty nonfiction cake. Ooops, I mean book. Join us as award-winning author/photographer Nancy Castaldo discusses nonfiction book creation from the spark of an idea to proposal to writing the text to adding the images.


M7 ~ Fireside Chat with Keynote Speaker Lynda Mullaly Hunt

(Writers and Illustrators)

Join our keynote speaker, author Lynda Mullaly Hunt, in an informal session, something we like to call the Fireside Chat. This is a wonderful opportunity to personally connect with Lynda, 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.


M8 ~ Evocative Images: Creating Memorable Artwork with Kristen Nobles (Art Director, Page Street Press) ** FULL


What makes a promotional postcard stand-out? How can you be sure your work resonates with an art director or editor? Most importantly, how do publishing teams make the leap from your portfolio to a book contract? I believe it's all about memorable imagery. For example: a Buddhist monk in flowing orange robes walks a tiger; you - the viewer - are hiding behind a tree in a snowy woods while a horse and buggy pull up to a mansion; a little girl is out for a stroll with a large fish on a leash -- these are some of the visuals that have stayed with me over the years, and often led to contracts. We'll discuss the specific illustrations that led to Sophie Blackall's and Jon Klassen's very first picture book contracts as well as some of the portfolio pieces that inspired us to collaborate with debut author-illustrators at Page Street Kids.


M9 ~ A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Publishing a Picture Book with Rebecca Roan

(Writers and Illustrators)

You sold a book! But no one ever told you what to expect. Author Rebecca Roan will share with you a behind-the-scenes look at the book process from after you sell your picture book to when it hits store shelves.


N-Block - 2:20 pm - 3:15 pm

N1 ~ Singing on the Golden Brick Road: Writing Poetry and Verse Novels with Padma Venkatraman


Whether you're writing fiction, non-fiction or poetry, you can learn a lot by looking at how poets distill emotion, use imagery and move their readers using spare (but not sparse) language. Award-winning author Padma Venkatraman will share her thoughts on the continuum from poetry to verse novels to prose, and discuss how she and other acclaimed poets and verse novelists evoke emotion, develop character, capture dialogue, create images and convey setting. What concrete steps do they take to craft their work and make informed choices as they revise? What elements of language do verse novelists incorporate into their work and how might these techniques inform writers and help them hone their work—whether its poetry, fiction or nonfiction? Attendees will engage in an exercise that shows how to cut words without cutting out the heart of a scene, gain concrete tips on adding lyricism to their work, and receive an informative handout containing suggestions for further reading and writing.


N2 ~ Persistence: How to Keep Going in this Tough Business with Linda Camacho (Agent, Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency)

(Writers and Illustrators)

There are many talented writers out there, but not all of them will be published. The difference between the published writer and unpublished writer? Persistence. This workshop will show you how to maintain persistence in the face of an ever-changing publishing market. We’ll discuss how get in the right mindset, develop a routine, and deal with rejection.


N3 ~ Chapter Books: Writing for the Readers in Between with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen


As picture books aim at younger readers and novels become more sophisticated, chapter books have become a growing segment of publishing. This workshop draws lessons from all genres to help participants craft manuscripts that work for chapter book readers. We will discuss how to create characters that the reader can invest in, how to craft plot lines that are surprising yet still accessible, and how to approach world building with supporting art, as well as discussing marketing opportunities for these manuscripts.


N4 ~ Character-Driven Pitch Plotting with K.R. Conway ** FULL


Often the back jacket of a book (aka, the pitch) is written after the manuscript is completed. In this class, storytelling itself takes center stage and participants craft their pitch first as a way to map the story. This pitch is then grafted to characters whose personality traits are composed on a character wheel, which then shakes out motivation and drive. The combination of these unique story crafting tools allows the writer to organically create twist and Easter Eggs while avoiding fatal slow spots in a manuscript. A spectacular way of crafting unforgettable characters and unputdownable books.


N5 ~ Last Chapters, Last Lines: How to Write Endings That Resonate With Your Readers with Ellen Wittlinger ** FULL


Do you start to panic as the end of your novel approaches? How will you tie it all together? Is your climactic scene dramatic enough? Is the denouement emotionally satisfying? We all hope our readers will heave a big sigh on the last page and then turn to the beginning to start the journey again, but how do we make that happen? This workshop will help you write endings that linger in your readers' memories.


N6 ~ The Power of Pencils with John Sandford (Senior Art Director, Cricket Media) ** FULL


We put a lot of time, thought and effort into our portfolios, but is this the best way to show our ideas and storytelling acumen? Let's talk this out!


N7 ~ Uh-oh! Show, Don’t Tell (What the Heck Does this Mean, Anyway?) with Erin Dionne


Are your characters telling too much? Are they stating how they feel instead of showing us? In this session, we’ll take a close look at the difference between showing and telling—and how to avoid this common writing pitfall. First, we’ll identify what it actually means. Then we’ll go over ways to avoid it. Lastly, we’ll take a look at times when it’s okay to break the rules. We’ll feature examples from published works and do some exercises to apply to our own writing. Participants will leave a with a solid understanding of what this writing maxim means, and will be able to identify it in their own work.


N8 ~ Non-fiction, From Idea to Publication with Michelle Cusolito

[Note: N8 is repeated Sunday morning as T3]


How do you know if your idea warrants a whole book? And what do you do once you decide it does?
Geared toward newer writers, this workshop provides an overview of ways to:
•        Evaluate your idea, research the market, and decide if it should be a book.
•        Research deeply and become an expert in your subject.
•        Organize your research so you can answer questions from your editor and properly cite sources.
•        Structure your manuscript to be engaging for young readers.


N9 ~ Bookflow: A Flexible Framework for Crafting an Outline and Draft with Lisa Papademetriou 


Lisa Papademetriou uses her signature humor to reveal a flexible, functional workflow for going from idea to revised draft. Based on the concepts that underlie her new digital product (bookflow.pub), this workshop explores how writers can start with plot, character, or theme, and how those things interweave in the writer's process.

Click here to see a LIST of all workshops.


Contact Information

Payment Instructions

  • Payment by AMEX, Discover, MC, VISA, Diners Club, or check.

    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 Kristine Asselin
        19 Rita Lane
        Littleton, MA 01460

    Conference cancellations up until April 19, 2019 will be refunded in full. 
    After April 19, 2019, refunds will only be given when proof is given to support military service or a death in the family.

    Full Conference:
      Member/Non-Member: $290/$345
    Saturday (includes Friday):
    Sunday Only:
      Member/Non-Member: $140/$160
    Critique (MS/PF):
      Member/Non-Member: $50/$60
    Career Consultation (CC):
      Member/Non-Member: $45/$55
    Social Media Consultation (SMC):
      Member/Non-Member: $45/$55

    Headshot Photo Opportunity (HPO):
      Member/Non-Member: $65/$75
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