Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2016 Conference Schedule

Austin SCBWI's 2016 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" panel
Some of our local faculty members who had a book released in the past year — Jessica Anderson, Donna Janell Bowman, Paige Britt, Kari Anne Holt, Nikki Loftin, Carmen Oliver, Liz Garton Scanlon and Jennifer Ziegler — discuss their launches, challenges and lessons learned. Moderated by Samantha Clark

9:15 – 10:05 Keynote: "The Shape of Stories" with author William Alexander
Description: National Book Award winner William Alexander explores the ways that narrative structure in folktales, novels and Dr. Seuss can help usefully structure the writing life.

10:05 – 10:15 Break

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

"Finding Your Voice & Style" with agent Marietta B. Zacker (All Writers and Illustrators)
Description: Who you are informs your work. Doing a little soul searching, we’ll discuss the effect our personal lives have on our writing and illustrating. We’ll also discuss whether or not there is a little bit of you in everything you create and ask why or why not and should there or shouldn’t there be? I'll also give some pointers on what to pay attention to and what to ignore.

"What Happens Next?" with agent Peter Knapp (Novels)
Description: As an agent, Peter Knapp loves to fall in love with great characters and distinctive voices…but they have to do something. There has to be a plot. This presentation will tackle the possibilities and potential pitfalls of plotting your story, covering everything from where to start the story to how to avoid an aimless second act that loses readers' attention or kills narrative tension.

"Work For Hire" panel (Professional Development)
Description: Local authors Jessica Lee Anderson, Donna Janell Bowman and Jennifer Ziegler and illustrator Marsha Riti discuss the books they've done on assignment and how you can get work for hire too. Moderated by Carmen Oliver

"A Conversation With Molly Idle" with author/illustrator Molly Idle and illustrator Amy Farrier (Illustrators)
Description: Austin SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator Amy Farrier talks art origin story, picture book process, and lessons learned with a Caldecott Honor author/illustrator.

11:05 – 11:15 Break

11:15 – 12:05 "Your Publishing Questions Answered" panel
Description: Agents Marietta Zacker and Peter Knapp, editors Claudia Gabel and Stephanie Pitts, and art director Kristen Nobles will discuss the industry, their jobs and more. Moderated by Jessica Lee Anderson

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: "Yes, AND… Setting the Stage for Crazy-Good Creative Development" with author/illustrator Molly Idle
Description: The skills which provide the structure of successful improvisational theatre, are the same skills that inspire great work in any artistic field. Molly Idle takes center stage to discuss incorporating improv into your creative process.

2 – 2:10 Break

2:10 – 3 Breakouts 2 (Choose One)

"Unforgettable Settings in YA/Children’s Literature: How to Create Them, and Why We Must" with author Nikki Loftin (Novels)
Description: Who can forget Terabithia, Narnia, or the Island of the Blue Dolphins? Certain vibrant, unique settings in young adult and children’s literature created unforgettable imaginary landscapes for young readers to carry with them forever. How, as writers, can we create such an unforgettable setting? As a group, we’ll discuss famous settings in children’s literature, explore how the authors brought them about, and establish the importance of using multi-sensory and emotive details in creating a believable setting.

"Once Upon a Time…The End: Picture Book Plots and Structures" with editor Stephanie Pitts (Picture Books)
Description: How do you tell an entire story in less than 1000 words? Schwartz & Wade editor Stephanie Pitts discusses key plot elements, common narrative structures, and how to give shape and direction to a manuscript, among other topics.

"Working With an Agent" panel (Professional Development)
Description: Agent Marietta B. Zacker, her client Paige Britt and authors Kari Anne Holt, Carmen Oliver and Cynthia Leitich Smith discuss what an agent does, how to get one, and more. Moderated by former agent and Writers League of Texas Executive Director Becka Oliver

"The Illustrator as Illuminator" with art director Kristen Nobles (Illustrators)
Description: An introduction to what the art department looks for in an illustrator when pairing them with a manuscript at Candlewick Press. The process of finding the right illustrator internally, the foundation skills you are expected to bring to the table, visual examples of what works and what doesn't, and how we work hands-on with illustrators as art directors and designers.

3 – 3:05 Break

3:05 – 3:55 Breakouts 3 (Choose One)

"Write Before You Write: Outlining, Planning, and Plotting" with author Jennifer Ziegler (Novels)
Do you ever start a manuscript and end up lost in your own story? Do you know your plot but still find that your writing is blocked? Or do you have a terrific idea for a book but are unsure where to start? If your answer is yes to any of the above, you might benefit from some “prewriting” techniques. No matter what your project is – nonfiction, article, essay, short story, or fiction of any genre – prewriting can help you shape your concept, lay out a basic structure, better understand setting and character, and spot potential problems before they can throw you off track.
In this fun, informational workshop, author Jennifer Ziegler will look at:
• Pinpointing problems that can stall a project
• Using outlines, note cards, and other tools to prep structure
• Developing deeper characters
• Exploring and understanding setting
• Hitting upon the right tone or "voice" for a story
• Discovering how YOU write best.

"Poetry From Picture Books to Young Adult" panel (All Writers)
Description: Poetry authors Liz Garton Scanlon and Kari Anne Holt discuss how they create everything from rhyming picture books to novels in verse. Moderated by Nikki Loftin.

"Editorial Letters Exposed" with editor/author Claudia Gabel (Professional Development)
Description: As an editor, Claudia Gabel has written her fair share of editorial letters, and as a writer, she's received plenty of them too. This presentation will cover how editorial letters are crafted and how to use them to make your book better during the revision process.

"Staying Sane in a Torrent of Work" with illustrator Marsha Riti (Illustrators)
Description: Marsha Riti breaks down useful tips and techniques for feeling good and being productive when facing a potentially overwhelming illustration project, whether it's overhauling your portfolio, whipping out a picture book dummy, or cranking out interiors for a chapter book. Whether you are a beginning illustrator or a seasoned professional, this break out session is for you.

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

4:15 – 5:05 General Session: "Are We There Yet?" with agent Peter Knapp
Description: Agent Peter Knapp gives a general presentation on the business of books, on searching for an agent, and on working with publishing professionals.

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: "Stealing From Theater" with author William Alexander
Description: This intensive workshop will use theatrical techniques to create characters for narrative prose.

Picture Book Track: "From Big Idea to Beautiful Book" with author Liz Garton Scanlon
Description: A highly interactive talk and practice session on idea generation, drafting and revision of picture books — the perfect combination of imaginative work and nuts & bolts. Bring paper and pen or a laptop, please.

Illustrator Track: "Evocative Images: Creating Memorable Artwork" with art director Kristen Nobles
Description: What makes a promotional postcard or website opening piece 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? Kristen Nobles believes it's all about memorable imagery. For example: a Buddhist monk in flowing orange robes walks a tiger; hiding behind a tree in the snowy woods while a horse and buggy pull up to a mansion; a little girl out for a stroll with a large fish on a leash; any character with a glint in their eye or expressing authentic emotion—these are some of the visuals that have stayed with her over the years, and often led to contracts. They succeed not only due to content but also perspective, emotional connection, and palette choice. She'll look at some of her favorites including specific visuals that led to Sophie Blackall and Jon Klassen's first book deals.
Prior to the workshop, attendees will brainstorm ideas and share sketches with Kristen by April 1 for feedback on their evocative image. (Unusual newspaper articles or magazine stories are good places for content inspiration.) In the workshop, after presentation of some of Kristen's favorites, she'll look at attendees' final pieces, due May 8, and have an open discussion on why they work or how they could be even more memorable. Maximum of 25 participant's images reviewed (Update: maximum for feedback has been reached). The session will finish with a drawing exercise or two that ensures you are thinking out of the box and always creating artwork that is memorable.

12 – 1 Lunch

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

Novel Track: "First Pages In Reverse" with editor Claudia Gabel
Description: In this intensive workshop, Katherine Tegen Books editor Claudia Gabel will show how to create a stellar opening page when the stark differences between a first draft manuscript and a final published book are revealed.

Picture Book Track: "Writing Irresistible Picture Book Characters" with editor Stephanie Pitts
Description: What makes a new picture book character stand out to an editor? Schwartz & Wade editor Stephanie Pitts discusses using voice to establish character, creating memorable and unique character traits, and writing character arcs.

Illustrator Track: "Motion Pictures to Picture Books" with author/illustrator Molly Idle
Description: Incorporating cinematic sensibilities, and storytelling techniques into your illustrations.

** 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.