Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2015 Austin SCBWI Conference Schedule

Austin SCBWI's 2015 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 – "What Publishers Won't Tell You" with author Jennifer Nielsen

Description: Things to know now about the publishing industry.

10 – 10:50 Breakouts 1 (Choose One)

"Art and Text: The Invisible Bonds of Collaboration" with agent Victoria Wells Arms (picture books)

Description: Rookie writers so often get worried about having to "supply" art for their stories, and nothing could be further from the truth. How the author/editor/illustrator/art director circle works and why.

"Getting Outside Your Zone of Comfort:  The Hero’s Journey applied to Character Development" with editor Aubrey Poole (novels)

Description: A memorable character(s) is essential for a memorable book. But a well-drawn character is just the beginning – because if he or she is the same character at the end of the novel, then you haven’t done your job. In this workshop, Associate Editor Aubrey Poole will discuss the importance of character development and how the character arc ties into the plot. For all writers with novels in-progress.

"Publishing Contracts 101" with Authors Guild attorney and author Stevie Fitzgerald (professional development)

Description: When first presented with a publishing contract, many authors feel so overwhelmed that they throw-up their hands and sign whatever is in front of them. But, I'm here to tell you that there is no need to do that. There are three important categories for an author to focus on: your rights, your money and your warranty and indemnity provisions. I will walk you through all of these categories, so you have the tools to successfully negotiate a publishing contract.

"Author/Illustrator Collaboration" with author Chris Barton and author/illustrators Don Tate and Tom Lichtenheld (illustrators)

Description: Christopher Jennings moderates a conversation between illustrators Don Tate and Tom Lichtenheld and the author they've both worked with, Chris Barton.

11 – 11:50 "Your Publishing Questions Answered" panel with agents Victoria Wells Arms and Jill Grinberg, editors Andrea Welch and Aubrey Poole, and art director Kristine Brogno

Description: Panelists will discuss the industry, their jobs and more.

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

1 – 1:15 Announcements and door prize drawing

1:15 – 2:05 Keynote: "Tom's Top Ten Tips for Picture Book Creator" with author/illustrator Tom Lichtenheld

Description: Tom will present some of his “rules to create by” for both writing and illustrating a great picture book.

2:15 – 3:05 Breakouts 2 (Choose One)

"Writing and Illustrating Diverse Children’s-YA Literature Panel" (all writers)

Description: Cynthia Leitich Smith will moderate this panel, featuring Jessica Lee Anderson, Bethany Hegedus, Don Tate, Emma Virjan, and Jo Whittemore.

"What Makes a Picture Book Work?" with editor Andrea Welch (picture books)

Description: During this interactive session, we’ll discuss five successful picture books and identify why they’ve become favorites.

"A Writers Guide to Social Media" with author Cory Putnam Oakes (professional development)

Description: A discussion of why participating in social media is important for writers at all stages of their careers, and a detailed discussion of how to make some of the most popular sites work for you.

"Breaking the Rules" with agent Victoria Wells Arms (illustrators)

Description: Sometimes to make the magic you have to break the rules. Just be sure you know why.

3:15 – 4:05 Breakouts 3 (Choose One)

"Who They Are and Why You Care: Writing Nonfiction That Wows Editors and Readers Alike" with author Chris Barton (all writers)

Description: Advice from the author of The Day-Glo Brothers, Attack! Boss! Cheat Code, and Can I See Your I.D.? on what makes for great nonfiction projects and how to get those projects through the gatekeepers (agents, editors, librarians) and into the hands and hearts of readers.

"Ten Essential Picture Book Elements" with editor Andrea Welch (picture books)

Description: We’ll dig a little deeper in this session, exploring in detail the elements—such as pacing, language, and great characters—that editors (and readers!) look for in picture books.

"Revealing the Acquisitions Process: How an Editor Acquires a Manuscript" with Sourcebooks editor Aubrey Poole (professional development)

Description: So, you’ve written an amazing pitch letter and submitted the Next Best Seller to an Editor. Good news – she loves it! Now what? How a manuscript goes from an Editor’s inbox to an offer…or rejection – the acquisitions process revealed! Associate Editor Aubrey Poole will talk about the acquisitions process at Sourcebooks: what an acquisition meeting looks like, what materials are used to present a project, the criteria used to evaluate a project. Everything to goes into get the Yes or No from the publisher.

"Words + Pictures/Pictures + Words: What's the Difference?" with art director Kristine Brogno (illustrators)

Description: Picture books are the perfect marriage of text and art, but sometimes you need more of one and less of the other to make the book as strong as it can be. We'll look at examples of picture books and picture book design where text and image play off each other successfully and talk about why they work so well.

4:05 – 4:20 Cookie break

4:20 – 5:00 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

5:00 – 5:15 Closing announcements, announcement of Portfolio Showcase winners and the Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award and the Emerging Voice Illustrator Mentorship finalists

5:15 – 6:30 Book signings, end of Silent Auction, networking time PLUS the Typewriter Rodeo will be creating impromtu poems

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**

9 – 9:30 Registration

9:30 – 11:30 Intensives 1

Writer Track: "Plots: The Tangled Webs We Weave" with author Jennifer Nielsen

Description: This is a hands-on workshop that explores the structure of plot and weeds out the common problems in creating story.

Illustrator Track: "Exploring Dan Santat’s Tenet: You’re not an Illustrator, You’re A Designer Who Can Draw" with author/illustrator Tom Lichtenheld

Description: We'll look at picture book design and illustration as a single entity, from spot illustrations to full spreads to the visual dynamics of an entire book. There will be a 20-minute presentation, an hour of work time and 40 minutes of group critique. 


* Your favorite example of a dynamically designed picture book and a book you think could have been done better.

* 6B pencil, sharpener, kneaded eraser. The fatter the pencil, the better.

* 20-30 sheets of large drawing paper, 11×17 or larger, nothing too fancy but it should have some tooth (not smooth)

* A manuscript to work from; something you're working on, something from a writer or an existing book you think could be more dynamically designed and illustrated.

* Your best drawing skills

11:30 – 12:30 Lunch

12:30 – 2:30 Intensives 2

Writer Track: "Character Building:  Focusing on character as a way to jumpstart the editorial/revision process and problem-solve your manuscript" with agent Jill Grinberg

Description: This 2-hour presentation/workshop looks at character as a starting point for evaluating one's fiction and figuring out how to make it great.  As an agent, I am drawn to authenticity in a book, and by “authenticity,” I mean authentic characters and voice.  Whether one is writing Young Adult or Middle Grade novels, chapter books, or picture books, focusing on character is a supremely helpful vehicle for pinpointing and solving problems with a manuscript.  My talk will include a select number of character-related writing exercises and an opportunity to ask questions at various points in the presentation.  I will present editorial “case studies” to illustrate how discussion of character has been at the heart of the editorial/revision process for a great many books I’ve represented and sold.

Illustrator Track: "Working With An Art Director" with Kristine Brogno

Description: This 2-hour session will include a pre-conference assignment with attendees sending sketches for feedback from Kristine by Feb 2, then using the comments to create a final piece for critique during the intensive.

** 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.

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