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 you can attend when it suits YOU


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:

Sessions recorded and available for viewing for 30 days (except for intensives)

5 Keynotes

21 Breakout Sessions

2 Morning Coffee Chats

2 Book Journey Story Sessions

2 Socials: one hosted by the Equity & Inclusion Team and one hosted by SCBWI-MI Regional Advisors

Bookstore to sell attendee and speaker books

And, a virtual Goodie Bag filled with links and resources from our faculty to extend your learning!

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)
All times are Eastern Time

Friday, April 23 Afternoon/Evening

Bookstore Open All Day

2:30 PM-3:00 PM: Welcome & Faculty Introductions

3:00 PM-5:00 PM: Intensives:

  • Building Illustrations Through Play with Rebecca Green
  • Finding Your Funny DNA with Cate Berry
  • Writing the Picture Book Biography: Real People’s Stories Rock with Barb Rosenstock
  • Language in Service of Story: A Hands-On Workshop with Linda Sue Park

7:00 PM-8:00 PM ET: Social — Creators One and All

Saturday, April 24

8:00 AM-8:30 AM Coffee Chat: The Beauty of Board Books with Kathryn Madeline Allen

8:45 AM-9:00 AM Opening Remarks/Tech Check

9:00 AM-9:50 AM Keynotes:
(IL) Ingredients for a Rewarding Illustration Career with Rebecca Green
(N, PB) Ten Things Learned in Ten Years with Barb Rosenstock

10:00 AM-10:50 AM Breakouts A:
(N) Opening Strong: What Editors Look for in Your Novel’s First Pages with Trisha de Guzman
(PB) Capturing the PB Voice with Jonah Heller
(IL) Anatomy of Ages with Kirbi Fagan

11:30 AM-12:30 PM Lunch Together & Journey Stories #1

1:00 PM-1:50 PM Breakouts B:
(N, PB) Hey Editor! Hey Agent! Journey to Yes! (Quality, Marketability, & Subjectivity) with Barb Rosenstock
(GN) Creating Storyboards for Graphic Novels with Maria Vicente
(N) Plot and Structure Master Guide: How One Simple Document Can Make Your Story’s Structure Strong with Erin Brown

2:00 PM-2:50 PM Breakouts C:
(N) Creating Empathetic Characters That Readers Will Root For with Jasmine Warga
(ALL) Steal Like a Comedian with Cate Berry
(IL) Acrylic Gouache Painting with Rebecca Green

3:30 PM-4:45 PM (GN, All) Keynote — Pitch Package for Graphic Novels and Agent Q&A with Maria Vicente

5:00 PM-5:50 PM Break and Breathe

6:00 PM-7:00 PM (ALL) Keynote — Writing Outside Your Lane with Linda Sue Park

7:00 PM-8:00 PM Social: Hosted by the Equity & Inclusion Team

Sunday, April 25

8:00 AM-8:50 AM (ALL) Coffee Chat –There’s a Place for You on Pinterest: A Q&A Session with Deb Gonzalez

8:45 AM-8:55 AM Housekeeping

9:00 AM-9:50 AM (ALL) Keynote — Thank You, Next: Motivation Through Rejection with Maria Vicente

10:00 AM-10:50 AM Breakouts D:
(ALL) Comedy Roundtable with Cate Berry
(IL) World-Building and Discovering your Characters with Betsy Bauer

11:30 AM-12:30 PM Lunch Together & Journey Stories #2

1:00 PM-1:50 PM Breakouts E:
(N) Behind the Scenes at a New YA Imprint and How You Can Be Part of It with Jonah Heller
(ALL) Real World Revision with Barb Rosenstock
(ALL) Story, Plot, and Theme: Which One Is Your Elevator Pitch? with Jay Whistler
(IL) How an Art College Dropout Became a Full-time Illustrator with Bea Jackson

2:00 PM-2:50 PM Breakouts F:
(PB) Visual Thinking For Picture Book Writers with Maria Vicente
(PB, N) Finding Your Agent Match with Carrie Pearson
(N) The Road to Publication: The A to Zs of Publishing a Children’s Novel with Trisha de Guzman

2:50 PM-3:30 PM Break and Breathe

3:30 PM-4:30 PM Breakouts G:
(ALL) If You Build It, They Will Come: Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization with Kathy Cowley
(PB, N) Extending Your Writer’s Voice Into Your Digital Marketing with Suzette Garvey
(IL) Choosing Color Palettes with Rebecca Green

4:40 PM-5:40 PM (PB, N) Keynote — The Final Draft: How Do You Know Your Creation is Ready? with Jonah Heller

5:45 PM-6:00 PM (ALL) Wrap Up and Goodbyes




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 February 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, at 8:00 AM.  Click HERE for the registration website.

*Closed captioning and/or Live Transcript will be available on live presentations and recordings.*

Looking forward to seeing you soon through the magic of Zoom!