Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2017 Conference Schedule

Austin SCBWI's 2017 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*

7:30 – 8:30 Registration (8 – 8:25 Conference orientation and Q&A with P.J. Hoover)

8:30 – 8:40 Welcome announcements

8:40 – 9:10 General Session: "New Books" celebration
We celebrate and hear about some of the new books that have come out of our community in the past year. Moderated by Samantha Clark

9:15 – 10:05 Keynote: "Safety Nets and Other Myths" with author Coe Booth
Description: The everyday risks (and unexpected rewards) of a creative life.

10:05 – 10:15 Break

10:15 – 11:05 Breakouts 1 (Choose One)

"Publishing Diverse Children's Books for All" with agent Stefanie Von Borstel (All Writers)
Description: This presentation will cover how to write and publish books that feature diverse characters and viewpoints for all readers. The need for diversity of every kind in children’s books is greater now than ever. There is room for all. Yet, we need to publish diverse books that sell well, win awards, and reach as many readers as possible. Creating wildly successful books is our best secret weapon to wider representation of writers and artists in publishing – and building both empathy and empowerment in today’s young readers. Some of the examples we will discuss together include Waiting for the Biblioburro/Esperando el Biblioburro by Monica Brown illustrated by John Parra, Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle illustrated by Rafael López, Confetti Girl by Diana López, The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla, and Taking Flight by Michaela and Elaine DePrince, among many others.

"What's the Point (of View)?" with author Varian Johnson (Novels)
Description: In this presentation, we’ll discuss all the major points of view (POV) that authors use to tell their stories, including first person, second person, limited third person, and omniscient third person. We’ll cover the strengths and weakness of each POV, and will discuss how to best determine which POV is best for telling your story. We’ll also explore how other storytelling tools such as authorial/character voice, setting, tense and word choice impact POV.

"A Simple Guide to the Law for Authors and Illustrators" with author and law professor Jacqueline Lipton (Professional Development)
Description: Can I quote song lyrics in my novel? Am I allowed to write about real people? How do I prevent someone from stealing my idea or my story? What is fair use and how does it apply to my work? Do I have to register my manuscript or artwork at the Copyright Office to be protected? Legal issues are becoming increasingly relevant for authors and illustrators, particularly those who self-publish without the benefit of an agent or attorney. The most common legal issues that impact these creators in the publishing industry are copyright, contract, and, to some extent, trademark, defamation and privacy law. This 90-minute workshop provides an introduction for both self-publishing and traditionally published creators to basic legal issues they may confront when writing and marketing their work. It also explains what legal situations authors and illustrators can most easily handle on their own (e.g. copyright registration) versus when, and how, to seek affordable legal information and assistance.

"Three Dimensions for Picture Book Illustration" with author/illustrator Jeff Crosby (Illustrators)
Description: Jeff Crosby will discuss how and why to use models and maquettes as a tool for character development and creating environments for picture books. He will lead illustrators in an exercise using polymer clay to create their own character models to draw from. Clay and materials will be provided.

11:05 – 11:15 Break

11:15 – 12:05 "Your Publishing Questions Answered" panel
Description: Agents Linda Camacho and Stefanie Von Borstel, editors Kendra Levin and Melissa Manlove, and art director Giuseppe Castellano will discuss the industry, their jobs and more. Moderated by Lindsey Lane

12:05 – 1 Lunch, including SCBWI PAL member celebration and Betty X Davis Award winners

1 – 1:10 Announcements and door prize drawing

1:10 – 2 Keynote: "How to Publish the Unpublishable" with author/illustrator John Hendrix
Description: John Hendrix, author and illustrator, will talk about his work in books illustration over the past 10 years. A case study of his kids book about John Brown: His Fight for Freedom (Abrams 2009) will help illuminate advice about pitching you dream project and bring impossible book ideas to publishers.

2 – 2:10 Break

2:10 – 3 Breakouts 2 (Choose One)

"Writing Across Genres" panel with authors Varian Johnson, Kathi Appelt, Lindsey Lane and Cory Putnam Oakes (All Writers)
Writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade and young adult require different skills and sensibilities, yet many writers choose to create books for these different audiences. Our faculty members will discuss how they approach these different types of books and how writing across genres affects their entires career. Moderated by Carmen Oliver

"Fact Meets Feeling" with editor Melissa Manlove (Picture Books)
Description: Writing narrative nonfiction that informs, entertains, moves, and convinces audiences.

"I Have An Agent! Now What?" with Linda Camacho (Professional Development)
Description: You’ve landed the literary agent of your dreams! Now you’re on your way to fame and fortune, right? Well, maybe so…But first, you might want to consider the agent-author relationship and how to get the most of it. This workshop will go over how to best work with your agent, particularly what an agent actually does and how you both can work in tandem to build a fruitful career.

" The Ins and Outs of a Children’s Book Art Department " with art director Giuseppe Castellano (Illustrators)
Description: When you send promotional mailers, it may feel like you’re tossing them into the dark abyss. But Executive Art Director, Giuseppe Castellano, assures us that they do end up on his desk. He’ll explain what happens to your mailer as he takes us through the ins and outs of a children’s book art department. You will gain a broader understanding of the industry as he discusses—among other topics—the countless formats he art directs; the methods he uses for finding artists; and the practical and creative steps he thinks artists should take. A Q&A will follow.

3 – 3:05 Break

3:05 – 3:55 Breakouts 3 (Choose One)

" Marketer Turned Agent Talks Craft: Writing a Manuscript That Gets and Keeps Everyone’s Attention " with agent Linda Camacho (Novels)
Manuscripts are vetted at so many levels. They pass from the eyes of agents to editors to marketing to sales, and while there are some variables outside of the writer's control, craft is not one of them. In the end, publishing folks seek the same thing: A good story. Every good story has certain key elements that I looked for as a marketer at Random House and even now as an agent. If the manuscript falters on any of these counts, it's a pass. In this workshop, I'll talk about several key story fundamentals that not only grab an agent or editor's attention, but that of the acquisitions board as well.

"Picture Book Spirit Guide: Shaping Your Story with the Illustrator in Mind " with author/illustrator Shelley Ann Jackson (Picture Books)
Description: Collaboration between words and pictures is at the heart of the successful, engaging picture book. But how does a writer collaborate with an illustrator before the latter even enters the partnership? What does it mean to “leave room for the illustrator"? What visual opportunities is an illustrator looking for in your manuscript? And how do you prepare your manuscript to guide the eventual illustrator? This lecture will explore the writer-illustrator relationship and give practical tips to the writer looking to get the most out of this asynchronous collaboration.

"A Guide to Financial Awesomeness" with author Susie Kralovansky (Professional Development)
Description: Most people write, and write, and write, for possibly years, with no guarantee of a sale and zero income. This session is for both published and pre-published authors, and will show you how to organize, prioritize, and start earning money immediately.

"Step-by-Step Building a Children's Books Illustrator" with agent Stefanie Von Borstel (Illustrators)
Description: From art students to established fine artists, Full Circle has launched many exciting illustrators into the children's books world! This presentation will cover the basic steps to present your artwork to agents and publishers, from creating a successful Portfolio to networking and promotion. Next, we will take a look at opportunities available to illustrate books for toddlers to teens. Finally, making the move from illustrator to author+illustrator when you are ready to write and illustrate your own book.

3:55 – 4:15 Cookie break (Last chance to bid on Silent Auction items)

4:15 – 5:05 General Session: "Be the Hero of Your Creative Process" with editor and life coach Kendra Levin
Description: Penguin Executive Editor and life coach for writers Kendra Levin will reveal how the classic Hero’s Journey can be a metaphor for the artistic process and offer tips for using it to jumpstart creativity, conquer distractions, and overcome obstacles in writing, art, and life.

5:05 – 5:20 Closing, including announcement of Portfolio Showcase and Emerging Voice Illustrator Mentorship winners and the Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award finalists.

5:20 – 6:45 Book signings, Silent Auction winners announced (Purchases MUST be collected during this time)

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

*Critiques and consultations will be held throughout Saturday. You will receive your time at registration. Please be at the critique area at least 5 minutes before your critique or consultation to make sure you don't miss it. Missed critiques or consultations can NOT be rescheduled.

Sunday Sessions**

8:30 – 9 Registration (for Sunday-only attendees)

9 – 12 Intensives 1 (3 hours – Choose One)

Novel Track: "The Family Assessment" with author Coe Booth
Description: In this workshop, we will gain a better understanding of our protagonists by focusing on their families and the home lives that shaped them.

Picture Book Track: "Plotting, Pacing and Page Turns" with author Kathi Appelt
Description: We'll look closely at the structure of a picture book, at how to use pacing (including the use of poetic forms) and how to take advantage of page turns. P.S.–it'll begin with characters!

Illustrator Track: "Drawing is Magic: Discovering Yourself in a Sketchbook" with illustrator John Hendrix
Description: Based on my book of the same name, I'd like to walk folks through some of the thinking and exercises in the book. I'll start with a short lecture on the value of a sketchbook and why drawing is about more than your wrist. In fact, ideas usual come more from actions than thoughtful consideration. So, together we'll do a combination of 3-4 visual games and drawing exercises that not only build drawing skills, but create a visual universe that lends itself to the exploration of stories and ideas.

12 – 1 Lunch

1 – 3 Intensives 2 (2 hours – Choose One)

Novel Track: "Write Bravely" with editor Kendra Levin
Description: Are you ready to take risks, step out of your comfort zone, and surprise yourself? Kendra Levin will lead participants in a hands-on novel writing-and-revision workshop full of exercises and discussions that will help you look at your current projects and your writing process in new ways, and leave you with new ideas as well as road-tested tips to help you keep pushing yourself to write bravely after the weekend is over.

Picture Book Track: "Exploring Voice in Picture Books" with editor Melissa Manlove
Description: In this playful and hands-on writing intensive, we’ll unpack the many elements of voice, listen to and compare examples of picture book voice, and then we’ll turn to your own work to discover how the tools and techniques of voice can serve and celebrate your narrative. Assignment: bring up to 500 words of a picture book text.

Illustrator Track: "Illustrators Café" with art director Giuseppe Castellano
Description: Bring your coffee and your sketchbook! In this informal two-hour workshop, Giuseppe Castellano will provide attendees with a series of drawing challenges to help stretch our creative muscles. Then, following prompts, attendees will get a head start on their next illustration or picture book—but with a surprise twist…

** Pitch/consultations will be held throughout Sunday. You will receive your time at registration on either Saturday for full-conference attendees or Sunday for Sunday-only attendees. Please be at your pitch area at least 5 minutes before your pitch to make sure you don't miss it. Missed pitches can NOT be rescheduled.

You can view the full bios on all our speakers here, and you can register for the conference here. Got questions? Read our FAQ.