Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI-Michigan Spring 2021 Conference: Your Story, Start to Finish April 23 – 25, 2021

logo by Michigan artist Tim Kleyn

Join your SCBWI-Michigan community and neighbors from around the world for

“Your Story, Start to Finish”

an all-virtual weekend conference

logo by Kara Marsee


This virtual conference will provide guidance to writers and illustrators throughout the entire journey of creating a manuscript, from brainstorming to marketing. Helpful content will be provided for writers and illustrators who are at the beginning of their careers to those who are more advanced in their skills — all with the goal of moving your work forward immediately.

Seventeen speakers will share their expertise and experience throughout the weekend. They represent all aspects of the children’s bookmaking industry including writing, editorial, illustration, agenting, and promotion.

Conference Fee: $125 SCBWI members, $160 not yet members. Click HERE to become a member. Your savings on this conference ALONE is equal to half your annual membership fee!

Highlights INCLUDED in the conference fee:

  • 5 Keynotes
  • 21 Breakout Sessions
  • 2 Morning Coffee Chats
  • 2 Journey Story Sessions
  • 2 Socials: one hosted by the Equity & Inclusion Team and one hosted by the SCBWI-MI Regional Advisors
  • Bookstore for attendee and speaker books
  • A Special Surprise worth the price of admission!
  • All sessions recorded and available for viewing for 30 days

Extras You Won’t Want to Miss:

  • 2-hour Intensives, so you can really dig in (fee: $25 members/$50 not yet members, one intensive per attendee, live only, no recordings)
  • Written Manuscript and Query Letter Critiques (fee: $45 members only, critiques will be held AFTER the conference so attendees can infuse their projects with new understandings)
  • Portfolio Reviews (fee: $45 members only, not recorded)

DRAFT SCHEDULE (subject to change)

Friday Afternoon/Evening

Bookstore Open All Day

2:30-2:45 PM Welcome, Faculty Introductions

3:00 – 5:00 PM

  1. Novel Revision Intensive: Linda Sue Park
  2. Picture Book Biography Intensive: Barb Rosenstock
  3. Humor Intensive: Cate Berry
  4. Illustration Intensive: Rebecca Green

7:00-8:00 PM Social: Creators One and All hosted by Michigan’s Regional Advisors


8:00 – 8:30 AM Coffee Chat with Author Kathie Allen: What’s So Special About Board Books?

8:45-9:00 AM Opening Remarks

9:00-9:50 AM Keynote 1: Barb Rosenstock, Ten Things Learned in Ten Years                                       Keynote 2: Rebecca Green, Ingredients For a Rewarding Illustration Career

10:00-10:50 AM Breakouts A
Session 1 (Novel) TBA
Session 2 (Pb, NF) Capturing the PB Voice: Jonah Heller
Session 3 (Il) Stylizing Face Anatomy for Children, Tweens, Teens & Adults: Kirbi Fagan

11:30-12:30 PM Lunch Together and Journey Stories #1: Several Michigan Creators

1:00-1:50 Breakouts B
Session 1 (N)  Plot and Structure: Erin Brown
Session 2 (All) Hey Editor! Hey Agent! Your Journey To Yes! (Quality, Marketability, And Subjectivity): Barb Rosenstock
Session 3 (GN/ IL) Creating Storyboards for Graphic Novels: Maria Vicente

2:00-2:50 Breakouts C
Session 1 (N) Creating Characters Readers Root For: Jasmine Warga
Session 2 (All) Stealing Comedic Bits: Cate Berry
Session 3 (Il) Acrylic Gouache Painting: Rebecca Green

3:30-4:45 General Assembly: Maria Vicente, Pitch Package for Graphic Novels and Agent Q&A

5:00-5:50 Break and Breathe

6:00 – 7:00 Keynote: Linda Sue Park, Writing Outside Your Lane

7:00-8:00 Social: hosted by Equity & Inclusion Team


8:00-8:30 AM Coffee Chat with Author Deb Gonzales: There’s A Place for You On Pinterest: A Q&A Session

8:45-8:55 AM Housekeeping

9:00-9:50 AM Keynote: Maria Vicente, Thank You, Next: Motivation Through Rejection

10:00-10:50 AM Breakouts D
Session 1 (N) TBA
Session 2 (All) Humor Roundtable: Cate Berry
Session 3 (Il) World Building and Discovering your Characters: Betsy Bauer

11:30-12:30 PM Lunch Together and Journey Stories with Michigan Creators #2

1:00 – 1:50 Breakouts E
Session 1 (N) Behind the Scenes at A New YA Imprint And How You Can Be Part of It: Jonah Heller
Session 2 (PB) Real World Revision: Barb Rosenstock
Session 3 (All) Story, Plot, & Theme: Which One Is Your Elevator Pitch? Jay Whistler
Session 4 (Il) How an Art School Drop-Out Became a Full Time Illustrator: Brittany Jackson

2:00 – 2:50 Breakouts F
Session 1 (PB, N, GN) Finding Your Agent Match: Carrie Pearson
Session 2 (PB, N, GN, I) Visual Thinking: Maria Vicente

2:50 – 3:30 Break and Breathe

3:30-4:30 Breakouts G: Tech Talk
Session 1 (PB, N, GN) Extending Your Writer’s Voice Into Your Digital Marketing: Suzette Garvey
Session 2 (All) If You Build it They Will Come: Content Marketing & SEO: Kathy Cowley
Session 3 (Il) Choose Color Palettes: Rebecca Green

4:40-5:40 Keynote (ALL): Jonah Heller,  The Final Draft: How Do You Know Your Creation Is Ready?

5:45-6:00 Goodbyes and Wrap Up




To affirm the need for increased representation in the children’s and YA book industry, we are offering a full scholarship to the 2021 SCBWI MI Spring Conference awarded to an attendee/s who identifies as part of ​the LGBTQ+ community that has been traditionally marginalized by the publishing industry. This scholarship has been funded by a gift from one of our faculty members who has chosen to remain anonymous. This scholarship is open to an SCBWI Michigan member or non-member. The application window opens on March 15. For more information and to see the application, click HERE.

Here are the questions that are on the application. PS. there are no right or wrong answers; we just want to get to know you and your goals.
1. Tell us about you. What’s your current job or life situation? Have you attended an SCBWI event before?
2. Why do you want a career in children’s literature? What are your goals?
3. What do you hope to learn or do as a result of this scholarship?

opens February 15, 2021. The registration website will be open prior to that date and linked here.

Looking forward to seeing you there!