Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2014 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference Schedule

Austin SCBWI's 2014 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference Saturday schedule consists of keynotes and panels for all attendees, plus breakouts geared to more individual needs. Each breakout period has two writer sessions, one illustrator session and one professional development session. You do not have to pre-register for the breakouts. You can view the full bios on all our speakers here, and you can register for the conference here. Got questions? Read our FAQ.

Saturday Sessions*

8 – 8:45 Registration

8:45 – 9 Welcome, announcements and reading

9 – 9:50 Keynote – Matt de la Peña, "The Other Side of the Tracks: The Importance of Writing Working Class and Multicultural Characters"

Description: Some writers are brilliant. They can sit down at a computer and produce a first draft that is pretty much ready for the world. The rest of us have to clock in and work tirelessly to make something worthwhile. I'll talk about how watching my dad and uncles work construction has prepared me to be an author.

10 – 10:50 Breakouts 1 (Choose One)

Laura Whitaker, "Great Openers: The Importance of a Fantastic First Impression" (novels)

Description: The first few lines and paragraphs of your story are incredibly important—they hook readers into your story and keep them wanting to read more! Join Bloomsbury Kids’ editor Laura Whitaker for an in-depth discussion of how to craft a great opener and make a fantastic impression on readers.

Abigail Samoun, "Plot Tools for Every Story Mechanic" (all writers)

Description: We'll discuss tools you can use to give structure to your story, increase tension, and speed up your pacing.

Bethany Hegedus, "Promotion & Professionalism: How to Handle And and All Breathe Deep Moments" (professional development)

Description: From in person-pitching, cocktail conversation, editor and agent phone calls (before and after an offer has been made)  and other sticky situations, Bethany Hegedus has encountered them all. Join her as she shares tips and tools, of how to be our best selves in the most daunting of professional circumstances.

Laurent Linn and Kelly Murphy, "Collaboration Between Art Director and Illustrator" (illustrators)

Description: This session will focus on the collaborative process of how an illustrator and art director work together, behind-the-scenes, to make the best picture book possible. We'll discuss who has what input, how others are involved (editor, author, marketing/sales, etc.), and balancing the creative process of inspiration/art with realities of publishing a picture book.

11 – 11:50 "Agent/Editor Panel" with Sarah Ketchersid, Laura Whitaker, Madeline Smoot, Abigail Samoun and Liza Pulitzer Voges

Description: Faculty agents and editors will discuss the industry, their jobs and more. Author Lindsey Scheibe will moderate

12 – 1:15 Lunch, including SCBWI PAL member celebration

1:15 – 1:30 Announcements and readings

1:30 – 2:20 Keynote: Kelly Murphy, "Words into Images: Finding Your Voice"

Description: Discussing the struggle to find artistic inspiration and cohesiveness to one's work, while respecting the creative voice of the author as well.

2:30 – 3:20 Breakouts 2 (Choose One)

Liza Pulitzer Voges, "What Makes a Great Book — And Agents Point of View" (all writers)

Description: Listen in on what has proved to be successful books in an agent's career and gather insight into what Eden Street looks for in a submission. Featuring Liza Pulitzer Voges' brilliant client, and local Austin SCBWI member, Keith Graves, author and illustrator of The Orphan of Awkward Falls.

Sarah Ketchersid, "Picture Book Dummy Making for Writers" (picture books)

Description: A hands-on workshop for writers on how to create a picture book turning dummy. Creating a turning dummy of your manuscript is an invaluable way to evaluate its potential as a picture book text, helping you answer such important questions as: Is your text too long? Does it allow for illustrations? Do you have a clear beginning, middle, and end? I’ll be asking for a few brave volunteers to bring a picture book manuscript that they are working on and we can create a dummy for it together.

"School Visits Panel" with Liz Garton Scanlon, Don Tate, P.J. Hoover and Nikki Loftin (professional development)

Description: Authors and an illustrator for picture books through young adult discuss what they've learned talking to readers. Author Cory Oakes moderates

Laurent Linn, "Rethinking the Rules of Bring an Illustrator: A Session for Illustrators of all Experience Levels" (illustrators)

Description: With new technologies and ways to share art with the world, we'll cover many aspects of wanting to illustrate: from how to get noticed (with all the competing websites, new & old techniques, post cards vs. portfolios vs. websites, etc.) to how art is created (digital vs. traditional) to how it's published (traditional print books, digital books, apps, games, etc.) and what all this means.

3:30 – 4:20 Breakouts 3 (Choose One)

Liza Pulitzer Voges, "Keep Readers Coming Back: Crafting a Successful Series" (novels/chapter books)

Description: Learn the different series approaches that authors have made over time to keep readers wanting more!

Liz Garton Scanlon, "Writing Rhyme That Editors Really Want" (picture books)

Description: Why is that so many folks, from critique partners to editors, discourage writing in rhyme? Not because it won’t sell, and not because kids don’t love it, but because it’s hard to do well. In this breakout session, join poetic picture book author Liz Garton Scanlon in a discussion of the most common mistakes made when writing in rhyme — and tools to use to write rhyme well!

Laura Whitaker, "Dating 101: What Makes YOU Desirable to an Editor" (professional development)

Description: Forget and eHarmony! An in-depth discussion of key things editors look for in a submission with the intent to help authors utilize tactics to make their manuscripts—and themselves—stand out in a sea of submissions.

Abigail Samoun, "Becoming a Visual Storyteller" (illustrators)

Description: Using examples from Molly Bang's classic book, Picture This and Uri Shulevitz's Drawing With Pictures, we'll talk about how illustrators can deepen their characterizations, the dramatic elements at play in a given illustration, and the visual pacing of a story through 32 pages

4:20 – 4:40 Cookie break

4:40 – 5:30 First Impressions Panel

Description: Members of the faculty give their initial thoughts about attendees' pre-submitted work, both art and the first five lines of manuscripts. Read more about First Impressions in the FAQ

5:30 – 5:45 Closing announcements, announcement of Portfolio Showcase winners and Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award finalists

5:45 – 7 Book signings, end of Silent Auction, networking time

7 – 9 Networking Dinner (pre-paid ticket required)

*Critiques will be held throughout the day. You will receive your time at registration. Please be at the critique area at least 5 minutes before your critique to make sure you don't miss it.

Sunday Sessions**

8:30 – 9 Registration

9 – 9:15 Welcome, readings

9:15 – 11:15 Intensives 1

Writer Track: Matt de la Peña, "Get Out of My Way"

Description: Most readers want to participate in the novels they read far more than authors allow them to. In this workshop we will talk about the author/reader relationship and the function of the narrator in novel writing. How do we back off and allow the characters to drive scenes and conversations? When is narration vital? We will break it down using examining examples of published work.

Illustrator Track: Kelly Murphy, "Creative Emotive Characters"

Description: How to take a character and make it age-appropriate from board books to young adult.

11:30 – 12:30 Lunch

12:45 – 2:45 Intensives 2

Writer Track: Sarah Ketchersid, "Raise the Stakes!"

Description: The most satisfying stories are usually those where the characters have come through a great trial in order to finally triumph. Through select readings, we’ll explore how children’s book writers have “raised the stakes” and put their characters in danger—both emotionally and physically—and how that danger adds to and deepens the works’ eventual payoff. Then we’ll examine ways that writers can raise the stakes for their own characters in believable and interesting ways.

Illustrator Track: Laurent Linn, "Illustration Intensive With an Art Director"

Description: From a provided picture book manuscript, the first-registered attendees will select one two-page spread to illustrate. Laurent will discuss with the group the attendees' final piece, looking at how it is successful as well as how it could perhaps be improved. The goal is for everyone to learn from each other and be inspired and energized by talking about art with fellow creative people! While attendees may be at different experience levels and perhaps a bit shy of sharing their art in front of others (aren’t we all!), the day will be positive with a good energy of children’s books.

3 – 3:30 Q&A Panel

3:30 – 3:45 Closing announcements

** Pitch/consultations will be held throughout the day. You will receive your time at registration. Please be at your pitch area at least 5 minutes before your pitch to make sure you don't miss it.

View the full bios on all our speakers here, and register for the conference here. Got questions? Read our FAQ.