Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2022 Conference Schedule

Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference 2022

Austin SCBWI’s 2022 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference schedule consists of keynotes and panels for all attendees, plus breakouts geared for Picture Book writers, Novel writers, Illustrators or Professional Development. You can view the full bios on all our speakers here, and you can register for the conference here. Got questions? Read our FAQ.
NOTE: All sessions are being recorded and will be available for a month after the conference EXCEPT sessions with NR (No Recording) by the title.



5:00 – 7:00 PM
Orientation Happy Hour (Everyone)
Join us online for a chance to test your tech to get ready for the conference and meet and mingle online with fellow attendees


7:00 – 7:15 AM
Welcome! Plus Door Prizes (Everyone)

Join us as we celebrate the start of our conference with announcements and door prizes.

7:15 – 7:50 AM
PAL Debut Celebration (Everyone)

Help us celebrate and honor our PAL members who had their debut book published over the last year. Learn from their experiences.

20-minute break

8:10 – 9:00 AM
KEYNOTE: “Keeping the Fire Burning Through the Storm” with author Joy McCullough (Everyone)

The last few years have battered writers at all stages. How do we keep those creative fires burning, how do we maintain the hope required to survive – even thrive – in this industry, through such turbulent times? Let’s find out!

20-minute break

9:20 – 10:10 AM
BREAKOUT: “Breaking Down Board Books” with author Anne Wynter (Board Books)
Board books are the first books many of us encounter and they can set the stage for a lifetime of reading. But why are they so tricky to create? In this session, we’ll take a look at the challenges of writing board books and explore ways to overcome them. Join us as we explore structure, subject matter, musicality, rhyme and other elements – all through the lens of the youngest readers.
BREAKOUT: “Revise Your YA Novel” with editor Stacey Barney (Novels)
Hone the voice, pace and characterization for your young adult novel.
BREAKOUT: “Perfect Picture Book Pitches: Getting Noticed” with editor Rebecca Glaser (Professional Development)
How do you make your picture book manuscript stand out in a big slush pile of submissions? A well-written pitch can make an editor take notice! Attend this breakout session to learn what to include and how to target a perfect pitch to grab an editor’s attention.

20-minute break

10:30 – 11:20 AM
BREAKOUT: “Let’s Get Serious… Or Not- Using Humor to Make Tough Topics Accessible” with author Adrianna Cuevas (Novels)
Humor is an effective way to make difficult topics accessible to young readers. In this season, attendees will learn the benefits of incorporating humor as well as strategies to do so.
BREAKOUT: From Building a Perfect Portfolio to Reaching Out to the Right People with art director Aram Kim (Illustration)
Having the right pieces in the portfolio showcasing your artistic talent and skills is vital to getting attention from art directors. During the first half of the presentation, I will discuss the details of what art directors look for when looking for artists using many active artists’ samples. During the other half, I will discuss the ways to research the right people – the people who will love your work and will love to work with you – and how to reach out to them.

20-minute break

11:40 – 12:30 PM
BREAKOUT: “Building Your Brand” with agent Maria Vicente (Professional Development)
It’s time to accept this difficult truth: being a professional author or illustrator is just like running a small business. The product (your book, your story, your art) is only the beginning. In this session, we’ll discuss all the big and small things that go into creating a brand for yourself and your work. Topics will include: brand identity, social media strategy, understanding your platform, websites and digital portfolios, media kits, and more.

45-minute lunch

1:15 – 1:30 PM
Announcements, door prizes and BXD Awards

1:30 – 2:20 PM
KEYNOTE: “Your Story Matters” with author-illustrator Arree Chung (Everyone)
How to gain courage to follow your inner voice, use setbacks and become the storyteller that you were born to be.

20-minute break

2:40 – 3:30 PM
BREAKOUT: “Picture Book Vision” with agent Minju Chang (Picture Books)
Is your picture book ready to go to market? We’ll review common picture book pitfalls and the finer points of positioning your book. We’ll also discuss and dissect recent industry standouts and then do a little brainstorming about how to position your projects.

20-minute break

3:50 – 4:40 PM
BREAKOUT: “Learn From Award Winners” panel with authors Varian Johnson, Cynthia Levinson, Adrianna Cuevas and Gloria Amescua (Everyone)
Join these local PAL members who won big awards for their books during the last couple of years. They’ll talk about their books, publishing journeys, and best advice.

20-minute break

5:00 – 5:50 PM
BREAKOUT: “Ask An Agent” panel (Everyone)
Agents Maria Vicente and Minju Chang answer your questions.

5:50 – 6:00 PM
First day closing announcements
After a packed day, we’ll prepare for day 2.

7:00 – 9:00 PM
Austin-area attendees, come join us for some food and drinks. *Pre-registration required.


7:00 – 7:10 AM
Welcome back, Door Prizes

7:10-7:50 AM
GENERAL SESSION: “Ask About Publishing” panel (Everyone)
Editors Stacey Barney, Sarah Rockett and Rebecca Glaser, and art director Aram Kim answer your questions.

20-minute break

8:10 – 9:00 AM
BREAKOUT: “Writing the Verse Novel” with author Rajani LaRocca (Novels)
Novels in verse for young people are becoming more popular among publishers, schools, and readers. Shorter than their prose counterparts, yet not as intimidating to some as pure poetry, verse novels can be a bridge for reluctant readers and can tackle difficult subjects in a way that is accessible rather than overwhelming. But how do you write a novel in verse? Rajani LaRocca, author of RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE (Quill Tree/HarperCollins, 2021) will talk about how to approach writing a verse novel, including: advantages and limitations to the verse novel format; what types of stories are best suited for verse; balancing character, voice, and plot; poetic forms and how to use them; how to write the most powerful “chapters”; imagery and theme; and verse novels to study.
BREAKOUT: “Pencil Pals!” with illustrators Eliza Kinkz, Emma Virján, Patrice Barton and Vanessa Roeder (Illustration)
Live drawing discussion about the process of making Picture Books with Illustrator/Authors, and good friends Patrice Barton, Eliza Kinkz, and Vanessa Roeder with host Emma Virján! They will chat about their journey into the children’s book industry, their processes, inspirations, and favorite snacks. There will be a fun Q&A, and they might even take some drawing requests! So grab your pencil, sketchbook, and join in the fun! Or zone out, and say “Oooooo pretty pictures. Me likey”.

20-minute break

9:20 – 10:10 AM
BREAKOUT: “Adapting Nonfiction to Reach More Readers” with author Cynthia Levinson (Nonfiction)
How to adapt nonfiction from middle-grade to picture book and expository text to graphic novel.
BREAKOUT: “Writing Animals” with author Evan Griffith (Picture Books and Novels)
Calling all animal lovers! Why do animals feature so prominently in children’s books, and why do kids connect so powerfully with animals both on and off the page? Together we’ll explore these questions, looking at the psychology of the child-animal connection (it’ll be fun despite the word “psychology,” I promise!); the different roles that animals can play in our stories, from PBs to novels; and tips and tricks for writing animals in a compelling way.

20-minute break

10:30 – 11:20 AM
BREAKOUT: “Finding Your Character” with author-illustrator C.S. Jennings (Illustration)
As illustrators, we give visual life to words in the characters and illustrations we create. Learn the concepts of finding a character in the words of the manuscript and crafting memorable characters—those the reader (and your art directors) will love.
BREAKOUT: “From Submission to Shelves: How Publishing Works and How You Can Prep for the Process Now” with editor Sarah Rockett (Professional Development)
Publishing as an industry is so often opaque, and while so many writers are hoping to be part of it, so many find themselves adrift when they make it in! This presentation aims to lift the curtain on the inner workings of the industry, particularly the editorial process, and give writers tips and skills for preparing themselves to enter the traditional publishing world.

20-minute break

11:40 – 12:30 PM
KEYNOTE: “Not Overnight: My Long, Winding, and Bumpy Road” with author Rajani LaRocca (Everyone)
Rajani LaRocca has had some remarkable successes recently. She published six books in 2021, including her Walter Award and Newbery Honor winning novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole. But those accomplishments didn’t come easily. Rajani will discuss the trials, tribulations, and years of work that went into her achievements, and how they weren’t overnight at all.

12:30 – 12:35 PM
Keynote and breakouts close


1:15 – 4:15 PM Intensives 1 (3 hours – Choose One)
Novel Track: “What’s Past is Present” with author Joy McCullough
Mining our personal histories, our characters’ histories, and our collective history to build rich, nuanced stories that resonate in the here and now.
Picture Book Track: “Sugar or Spice: What Exactly Are Picture Books Made Of?” with author Leah Henderson
The best picture books combine a little bit of sugar, and often a bit of spice. They are bursting with unforgettable characters, memorable moments; sometimes laughter and sometimes truth. They make us feel, wonder, and hope. They are quiet. They are loud. But they all pull readers and listeners in through illuminating images, engaging words, and irresistible stories.
But how are they made?
Through the use of mentor texts, exercises, and discussion—paying careful attention to voice, word choice, rhythm, and character—we will discover what truly wonderful picture books are made of and how we can attempt to create them ourselves.
Illustration Track: Production Design for Picture Books” with author-illustrator Arree Chung
In this hands-on intensive, you will experiment with styles for your picture book, explore characters, make value & color studies and plan the production of your book. There will be 3 hands on exercises.

20-minute break

4:35 – 6:35 PM Intensives 2 (2 hours – Choose One)
Novel Track:Immersive Worldbuilding” with agent Maria Vicente
Worldbuilding is the construction of an imaginary world. It’s often discussed in connection with speculative fiction, like fantasy or sci-fi stories, but it’s actually an important part of any novel, regardless of its genre. In this workshop, we’ll analyze the ways a variety of published books use worldbuilding to tell a story, apply those methods to your own manuscript, and expand our understanding of what it means to build a world for readers. The goal is to enhance your novel’s setting and make the world in your book—whether it’s based on fact or fiction—feel like its very own character.
Picture Book Track: “Write Your Best PB Text” with editor Stacey Barney
Join Stacey Barney for a study of picture books that make you laugh and make you think and write your best text.
Illustration Track: Art of Dummy Book Making: Do’s and Don’ts of Making Dummy Books” with author-illustrator and art director Aram Kim
Dummy book making is a vital process with which one develops a picture book project. Many artists make multiple dummy books while working on a project. In this course, I will discuss the basic structure of dummy books including various paginations, page counts, story flow, and image compositions using book maps and thumbnails. Essential points to keep in mind for illustrators to work on a book will be discussed as well.
Volunteering attendees will be asked to submit a dummy book in a PDF format before the session for a chance to be critiqued. For the last part of the session, attendees will be asked to make a mini-dummy book using their own story.

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