SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Marvelous Midwest Keynotes, Panels, & Breakouts

All of the following are open to all attendees and you do not need to sign up ahead of time for these activities.

Keynotes and General Assemblies

Opening Keynote – Betsy Bird

GAPS IN OUR GOLDEN AGE: HOW CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IS EXPERIENCING UNPRECEDENTED CREATIVITY AND WHAT WE CAN ALL BE DOING BETTER

Few could argue that thanks to societal and technical advances and innovations in the last decade, the world of children’s book publishing is stronger than ever. But before we start patting ourselves on the back, let’s take a good long look at not just how far we’ve come, but also how far we have left to go. What are our ultimate goals and aspirations? Where are we short-sighted? And how might the children’s literary world change in the next twenty-five years? The answers are out there, but prognosticators beware. Nothing is ever simple. All ages/genres.

 

Saturday Morning Keynote – Sarah Hunter

AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT BOOKLIST MAGAZINE

If you’ve seen a blurb on a book jacket, you might recognize the name Booklist, but the path to getting a trade review might be a little murkier. In this session, Sarah Hunter, editor of the books for youth section at Booklist Magazine, will offer insight not only into the process of getting a book reviewed but what Booklist editors look for among the literal thousands of books they receive. She’ll also discuss the purpose of a Booklist review (hint: it’s not just evaluation) and what not to do when submitting a title for consideration. All ages/genres.

 

Saturday Lunch Keynote — Jack Cheng

THE ENCHANTED ROSE: WRITING FOR AND ABOUT CHILDREN IN THE #METOO ERA

Just as gender stereotypes hurt and limit girls, they also hurt and limit boys. Using the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” as a starting point, Jack Cheng will share his personal experiences, highlight both positive and problematic examples, and sketch out the potential of new, more inclusive definitions of masculinity that work in relation to, rather than in opposition against, feminism and femininity. All ages/genres.


Closing Keynote – Sharon Darrow

WRITING AND THE WRITING LIFE:  BECOMING THE PEOPLE WE NEED TO BE TO WRITE WHAT WE NEED TO WRITE

As we go forward into our everyday writing lives, let us take with us renewed energy, faith, hope, and love for our work, our readers, and ourselves. With our imaginations unleashed and our revision-minds honed, we will each leave with a greater sense of self and understanding of how we fit into the writing life ahead of us. All ages/genres.

 

Panel

DIVERSITY PANEL – A 360 DEGREE VIEW OF THE WORLD WE LIVE IN

When Lee & Low Books conducted their Diversity in Publishing: Diversity Baseline Survey four years ago, they found an alarming percentage of diverse groups were underrepresented in children’s literature based on race, gender, orientation, and disability (Lee & Low Books, 2015).  Join moderator Wendi Gu (literary agent at Janklow & Nesbit), Cheryl Klein (editorial director at Lee & Low Books), Kathleen Ortiz (literary agent at New Leaf Literary), Kashmira Sheth (author) and Jacqueline Alcantara (illustrator) for a discussion on diversity within their own projects and/or projects they have worked on. What makes the projects special? What makes the projects a success? How far have we come in four years? What more can we do? Conference attendees can submit questions to the panel on site.

 

 

BREAKOUTS

 

Business track breakouts

LAUNCHING STRAIGHT OUT OF THE GATE: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BOOK IS BEING PUBLISHED Betsy Bird
The simple fact of the matter is if you’re a debut author, chances are you’ll be doing 95% of your own publicity no matter how big your publisher is. What should you do? Join Betsy Bird as she delineates the dos and don’ts of selling your book in as many different venues as possible. From bookstores and libraries to blog tours, book trailers, and podcasts let this session help you make a game plan from Day One.

 

FINDING YOUR AGENT MATCH Carrie Pearson
Hopefully, your agent will be a long term business partner, creative collaborator, negotiations champion, and possibly the go-between for difficult conversations with your publisher. But finding an agent, especially the right agent for youcan be overwhelming. Where do you start? This breakout focuses on preparing for — did you know querying most effectively does NOT begin with your query letter? — and finding the best agent fit for you and your work. It’s not enough to find an agent; the goal is to find your agent match.
 Carrie Pearson’s experience spans 12 years in the children’s book industry as an author, SCBWI Regional Advisor and consultant. She’ll share why she’s had three agents (the third one’s the charm!), help you think differently about your agent match, and give you tools to find him/her.

A CINDERELLA PLATFORM STORY: FROM RAGS TO RHYME REVOLUTION IN 4 YEARS   Angie Karcher
Angie’s “You can do it!” attitude has helped her climb from an unknown published author to one who hosts a children’s book award in New York City every February. Writers and illustrators of all genres and age groups will learn how to network, collaborate, and market yourself so that you are mixing and mingling with amazing authors, agents and editors too. With determination and hard work, the opportunities will begin to present themselves! You must have the courage to say “YES” and then…hang on for the ride!

 

PITCHES  Kathleen Ortiz
Before you dive into pitching your project, you’ll want to craft the perfect pitch that will leave the agent or editor asking for more! In this 50-minute session, Kathleen will break down the essentials of a verbal pitch and give tips on how to make the one-on-one smoother. Pitching tips for all genres and ages will be discussed.

 

CONTRACT VOCABULARY   Kathleen Ortiz
This session will break down common vocabulary you may see in publishing-related contracts. Legal advice will not be given. This is strictly to familiarize yourself with vocabulary you may encounter. This session is for anyone who is ready to sign a publishing agreement (whether it be an agency agreement or publishing contract) or feels they may in the future.

 

CRAFTING THE PERFECT (AND SELLABLE) NONFICTION BOOK PROPOSAL  Wendi Gu
Are you a nonfiction writer looking to increase your proposal sales? Or are you just interested in the nonfiction market? Join Wendi as she gives an inside look into what makes a nonfiction book proposal sell, and what keeps it from getting picked up.

 

PARTNERING TO CREATE AWARENESS AND SALES FOR YOUR BOOK Linda Howard
You’ve signed a contract to have your book published. So, how do you get the word out? Whose responsibility is it to get buzz going and build excitement in the marketplace? The best promotional strategies include effort from both the author and the publisher. Authors who team up with the publisher to promote their books often realize a much greater level of awareness and sales success. Learn how to partner with your publisher to give your book the greatest opportunity to receive the attention it deserves and create sales prospects that could otherwise be missed. Discover specific tactics you can bring to the table that will make you an invaluable part of marketing your book.  Fiction and nonfiction authors, and those who write for all ages will benefit from the strategies and tactics presented.

 

Illustration track breakouts

 

FIRST LOOK FOR ILLUSTRATORS: (Optional)
Two Art Directors and a well-published illustrator will give first impressions of your children’s book illustration in a panel discussion. Three industry professionals will give brief suggestions, comments, and/or advice on the marketability of your work. This opportunity is free and only open to SCBWI members who are registered for the conference.

How to Submit: Send one illustration by APRIL 1st to Kirbi Fagan, michigan-ic2@scbwi.org with email subject heading, “WWMW First Look”

Image specs:
File name: firstname_lastname_state.jpg
Jpeg
72 DPI
No more than 1200 Pixels on the longest side.
Do not sign your art.

Please note we cannot guarantee every submitted image will get a chance to be seen by our panel. We can, however, promise that everyone who watches this panel will leave with a better understanding of what works and why. Please note that entries that do not follow these specs will not be seen by the panel.

 

DO YOU HAVE COMMITMENT ISSUES? (I DO!) : EXPLORING A LOT OF PROS (AND SOME CONS) OF WORKING IN MULTIPLE STYLES AND MEDIUMS Jacqueline Alcántara
We are told that “style is everything”, and “consistency is queen” – but how do we get there? Experimentation, observation, and keeping a “beginners mind” is Jacqueline’s trifecta to happy illustrating. Maybe it’s just commitment issues, but it’s her belief that working in various mediums and styles helps her keep working towards creating her unique “style”, while also providing a range of opportunities.  We’ll explore how to create work that “says” what editors and art directors are looking for, without sacrificing the fun and beauty of the artistic process. This presentation will be best for illustrators working on developing a portfolio.


CHARACTER AND MOTION: BRINGING LIFE TO YOUR ART Jacqueline Alcántara
We’ll explore two of Jacqueline’s favorite things to illustrate – people and motion. We’ll look at different ways of representing the figure (don’t avoid drawing people!) and exercises to get you past your fear of people. Also, we’ll explore motion in illustration, look at different ways it’s represented, and how motion brings life to your characters and story.

 

CUT / FOLD /REPEAT: HOW TO MAKE A POP-UP BOOK Keith Allen  
You may be wondering, “What exactly is a paper-engineer?” Find out when Keith discusses working with paper and his creative process. He’ll be sharing with you his insights on the wonders and challenges of bringing a pop-up book to life. This session is geared toward Illustrators, bookmakers, self-publishers and anyone with a general interest of how things get made. Q&A to follow.

 

ART DEMONSTRATION: SKETCHING & PAINTING John Parra
John Parra profiles his recent picture books, sharing his thoughts, and challenges of each, as well as the inspiration and research behind the work. He will demonstrate his painting technique process and choices to complete the art. John aspires to impart these experiences and work skills that may ignite others to follow their own unique creative path.

 

ILLUSTRATIVE R&D John Parra
Participants will be introduced to professional artist and illustrator, John Parra, as he shares his process for research and sketching his picture books. How he incorporates visual elements and “easter eggs” in his work. Why and what he chooses to include in the book, and on book endpapers and the special meaning behind these elements. Through this research and selection process, we see how a created sense of place, time, and characters are realized within the storybook narrative.

 

PICTURE BOOK ILLUSTRATION PROCESS WALKTHROUGH Debbie Ridpath Ohi
What happens when you after you sign a contract for illustrating a picture book? Based on her experiences illustrating picture books with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Random House, Debbie Ridpath Ohi will go through her process for illustrating a picture book that someone else has written as well as illustrating her own. Although Debbie’s art is mainly digital, her takeaways will focus on process and communication tips applicable to all types of picture book illustration projects as well as tips she wishes she had known from the beginning.

 

PHOTOSHOP TIPS FOR ILLUSTRATORS Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Geared toward illustrators who are new to Photoshop or who are considering using digital techniques for their next project, this nuts-and-bolts session will cover the pros and cons of digital art for picture book illustration, file format basics, things to watch out for, time-saving techniques and other tips that Debbie has learned over the years.

 

FIGURE DRAWING Francis Vallejo
Join illustrator Francis Vallejo as he draws from a live model and explains his approach to quick gestures and longer poses. Vallejo instructs numerous figure drawing and painting courses at The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI and considers it to be an essential practice for a book artist looking to keep their drawing skills sharp. Various handouts will summarize key ideas.

THE 3 YEAR PROCESS FOR CREATING THE ILLUSTRATIONS FOR JAZZ DAY Francis Vallejo
Illustrator Francis Vallejo’s first book Jazz Day, written by Roxane Orgill, took him three years to complete. It paid off as he received the 2016 Boston Globe Horn book award, and was tied for the most stars received for a picture book that year. Join Francis as he details the process that he used to create the artwork for this extensive project from the earliest email, research in NYC, exhaustive photo reference shoot, and final submission of art and beyond.

 

OPTIMIZE YOUR PORTFOLIO Nicole de las Heras
In this session, we will discuss the qualities of a good portfolio from the perspective of an acquiring art director and what makes a portfolio fall flat (for example, showing five pieces of art in five drastically different styles is not going to help you). We’ll include some time for participant Q&A and touch on digital portfolios — the main way most people who hire artists are seeing work today.

 

Independently Publishing track breakouts

 

CHOOSING YOUR SELF-PUBLISHING STYLE: A PANEL
Self-publishing is booming, with each year presenting more opportunities to get your book into the hands of readers. So how can you choose your path? Join Valerie Biel, author of the Circle of Nine young adult series, Keith Allen, creator of the What a Mess! pop-up-book, and Christine Mapondera-Talley, author of the picture book Makanaka’s World as they discuss the steps they took to transform their finished manuscripts into market-worthy books. SCBWI-WI Indie/Self-Publishing Coordinator Silvia Acevedo will moderate.


REACHING READERS: HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK LIKE A PRO Silvia Acevedo and Dave Stricklen
Self-publishers do the heavy lifting when it comes to publicity for their books, but by leveraging your skills and personality, you can create buzz before and after your book’s release. Join SCBWI’s first Indie/Self-Publishing Coordinator, Silvia Acevedo, as she talks about successful crowdfunding, media appearances, and speaking engagements. Then sharpen your pencils for Michigan Indie/Self-Publishing Coordinator David Stricklen as he explains how to use student interaction and creativity to rock your school visits.

 

Nonfiction track breakouts

 

NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS: BIOGRAPHIES AND BEYOND Clelia Gore
It is an exciting time to be a nonfiction picture book author. The market has been open to this genre more so than ever before and it is quickly evolving. Literary agent Clelia Gore will go through different nonfiction picture book genres and share her insight on what’s selling, what could sell and what’s played out in the current market. She’ll also share her current wish list and have a Q&A session.

“AND THEN THEY ALL DIED” Allison Hunter Hill
Do you want to write a non-fiction picture book about a specific person, place, or event but hesitate because, to put it mildly, you know the story doesn’t end well? Walking the line between writing with unrealistic rose-colored glasses and maintaining narrative honesty is a fine line. Together we’ll explore how authors can refine their focus and tailor a story structure to write and submit successful non-fiction for children.


FANTASTIC NONFICTION FORMATS!  Linda Skeers

Do you want to take your nonfiction manuscript to the next level? Want your manuscript to stand out among others on similar topics? Want to grab the attention of an editor or agent? By presenting your information in an unusual or unique way, you can do all those things! Come and explore many fun, fantastic and outside-the-box formats – you just might find the perfect one for your subject!


STEM AND STORYTELLING – PARALLEL PLOT LINES  Ruth Spiro

How can science and engineering help you write a better book?  Many of the skills critical to growing strong readers are also foundational skills in STEM. As writers and illustrators, picture books provide an ideal opportunity for exploring this connection while informing our storytelling process. Using STEM-themed picture books we’ll examine the elements of a story, discuss how they connect to STEM and discover parallels between the engineering design process and the arc of a story. This session will focus on picture books and writing to early childhood through elementary levels.

 

Novel track breakouts

 

WRITE WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW Julie Berry
An energetic and liberating series of writing prompts and exercises to get you out of your comfort zone, with a special focus on character development, motivation, and point of view. Graphic organizers, worksheets, and references are provided to help the serious writer identify and escape old grooves. Come prepared to laugh – kindly – at yourself, and to write feverishly.
This breakout is best suited to writers of fiction, for any age level, though writers of nonfiction may also find these exercises useful. Participants should bring notebooks and pens/pencils, or laptops – whatever helps you write quickly and freely.  

 

AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST: SECONDARY CHARACTERS IN YA AND MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION Julie Berry
Let’s set aside our cosseted main characters for an hour, and not indulge their narcissism. Instead, let’s turn our attention to the ensemble, the unsung sinews of a novel: the secondary characters. They don’t attract as much attention, perhaps, but their authenticity is the novel’s authenticity (or lack thereof). This discussion and workshop will lead participants in plumbing the untapped complexity of secondaries to see what surprises they yield, for the story’s integrity as well as the main character’s arc. We’ll deploy exercises and techniques to polish your secondary characters and uncover their secrets. This breakout is best suited to writers of YA and middle-grade fiction, of any genre. Those wishing to maximize their experience are encouraged to bring a list of secondary characters in their work in progress, starting with the most significant secondaries, on down to the least significant walk-ons in the story. Some index cards or sticky notes may come in handy.

 

ON ‘WRITING THE OTHER’ Jack Cheng
As members of the community of children’s publishing, we want all kids to see themselves adequately represented in the stories they read. Yet as individual authors working on a particular manuscript, writing outside our own experiences of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and (dis)ability can be a daunting task. We may hesitate, or refrain altogether, for fear of misrepresenting our characters. In this session for middle grade and young adult authors, Jack Cheng will lead attendees through an examination of various forms of privilege as they pertain to our work, and outline an approach to sensitively crafting and evaluating characters who are different from ourselves.

GO TO THE WILD STYLE  A. LaFaye

An author’s style is what ultimately sells a piece, so honing your literary style is an essential part of the marketability of your work. In this interactive presentation, author A. LaFaye will explore how a writer of any genre can draw on their natural talent, voice, and knowledge of craft to create an unforgettable style that draws the attention of agents, editors, and readers and leaves them wanting more.

SETTING AS CHARACTER  Kashmira Sheth
The setting is the foundation of a story, which guides the journey of the protagonist(s). How the characters interact with the setting and how the place shapes the characters and their journey are vital elements of a story.  Keeping this in mind, in this session we will examine setting in a broad sense — as a physical place, as a historical moment, and as a cultural milieu. We will discuss how setting provides motivation and action to bring characters to life and to make their struggles believable. We will also look at how it creates emotional responses from the readers and elicits their empathy.  Finally, we will explore how setting lends a unique voice to a story and centers it. In this session, we will do a select reading and a writing exercise.

 

PLOTTING LIKE A PRO: HOW TO USE A THREE-ACT STRUCTURE TO REFINE YOUR NOVEL’S PLOT Eliza Swift
Learn the plotting technique that unites New York Times bestsellers and Hollywood blockbusters alike: the three-act story structure. This session will give an in-depth overview of the three-act structure and how you can use its beats to outline, revise, or rethink your young adult or middle-grade novel. We’ll then workshop our plots using this structure, so come prepared with your concept. The session is best for higher level novelists.

 

IS WORK-FOR-HIRE FOR ME? Eliza Swift
There are plenty of paid writing jobs that exist outside of selling your own novel. In this session, we’ll take a look at the various work-for-hire opportunities available to young adult and middle-grade novelists in all genres, from ghostwriting to working with packagers, and explain the differences. We’ll also break down the various writing techniques that you need to employ for these jobs, so you can realistically assess if this type of work would mesh with your creative style!

 

HOW TO GROW A BOOK: FROM BLANK PAGE TO MANUSCRIPT: Natasha Tarpley
Using the author’s recent middle-grade novel, The Harlem Charade (Scholastic) as an example, this 50-minute session will give participants an overview of the process of building a novel from concept/research phase, to developing plot and characters. How much research is enough research? To outline or not to outline? The workshop will emphasize the importance of cultivating a sense of peace with uncertainty and an openness to change when it comes to an evolving manuscript, as well as a sense ruthlessness when it comes to “killing one’s darlings”, i.e. cutting material that isn’t working—no matter how much you love it. The goal of the session is to provide insights and tips to help you move forward on a new project.

 

Picture Book track

 

PICTURE BOOKS OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES Betsy Bird and Travis Jonker
Do you think there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to picture books? Think again! Get the creative juices flowing as bloggers Betsy Bird (A Fuse #8 Production) and Travis Jonker (100 Scope Notes) dive into the wild world of the most astonishingly unexpected picture books of the last few years. For fiction picture book writers and illustrators.

 

TO RHYME … OR NOT TO RHYME Josh Funk
Rhyming picture books. They continue to get published every year, so why are we told they’re frowned upon? Why are they so hard to write? Josh Funk, author of several rhyming picture books, will explain the most important aspects of writing in rhyme. He’ll share the detailed reasons that make writing in rhyme such a challenge. And of course, he’ll provide secret tips regarding what to avoid, what tools to use, and how to get your manuscript in front of the right editors and agents. Writing in rhyme is not for everyone. But when it’s done right, it adds an extra element of charm that no publisher can resist.

 

HOW TO ASSEMBLE A PICTURE BOOK  Josh Funk
Interested in writing picture books but don’t know where to start? Looking to spice up your existing manuscripts? Have a picture book idea, but intimidated by the short format? Author Josh Funk will share everything he’s learned about writing picture books – from resources to working with illustrators to mentor texts to the stigma of writing in rhyme and more. You’ll leave energized and ready to construct the perfect picture book manuscript!

 

UNFORGETTABLE, FALL-IN-LOVABLE: HOW TO CATCH AN AGENT WITH YOUR IRRESISTIBLE PICTURE BOOK CHARACTER   Wendi Gu
They say brevity is the soul of wit, but how do you catch an agent with just 300-1000 words? How do you distinguish yourself from the pack? Wendi shares some insight from an agent’s perspective on how to land the right publishing industry shepherd for your picture book.

 

SEA-GLASSING FOR STORIES Allison Hunter Hill
How do you know if a story idea is worth pursuing or revising? And once you decide, what’s the best way to make sure it stands out in a sea of submissions? Together we’ll explore how simple, intuitive treasure-hunting principles can inspire your picture book writing, inform your revisions, and polish your submissions– all without making you want to throw your manuscript into a lake.

 

SPARE ME  by Sarvinder Naberhaus
How many words do you really need to tell a powerful story? Sometimes less is more–especially in today’s picture book world, where word counts seem to plummet more often than the stock market. In today’s bearish trend, make every word pack a punch. Come play with words.

 

CRAFTING VOICE IN PICTURE BOOKS  Jamie Swenson
What’s one of the first things that sell an editor on your manuscript? Voice. What immediately connects your book with readers? Voice. What are we going to talk about and learn to revise for in this session? Setting. NO! Kidding. Voice – of course. We’ll read great examples aloud and do hands-on prompts that will inspire you to find and use the voice that best suits your story.

 

GRINS & GIGGLES — WRITING TECHNIQUES THAT TICKLE FUNNY BONES   Linda Skeers
Want to add humor to your manuscript but don’t think you’re funny? No problem! You don’t have to be a comedian to make kids (and editors) laugh. Come and hear about specific writing techniques that will help you add lots of laughs to your work!

 

All Ages/Genres track

 

THE 4HS: WHAT EVERY BOOK THAT MATTERS MUST HAVE Shutta Crum

Novelist and picture book writer Shutta Crum will define and discuss the 4Hs: heart, hurt, hope and humor. She will emphasize heart and hurt, including how sacrifice, forgiveness, and redemption moves us and how these elements can be used in ALL books—from wordless books to 90,000 word YA novels.  Some resources will include REAL COWBOYS (PB), A MONSTER CALLS (MG novel), MINE! (Board book), THE HUNGER GAMES (YA), as well as various other well-known titles. Handouts. All ages/genres.

SOUND, SHAPE, AND SENSE: THE WORK OF OUR WORDS Shutta Crum

Shutta Crum a poet, picture book author, and novelist, will review and discuss techniques that can be used in any genre or format (fiction or nonfiction, verse or prose) to make your words YAWP, bedazzle and glissade.  She will discuss how our words work to create flow and sense by looking at the emotional baggage, cultural upbringing, physical sensibilities and historical demeanor of the words we choose to use. Also, attendees will learn how to create moodscapes and soundscapes using various literary techniques. Shutta asks, “Have you ever heard a blindfolded octopus unwrap a cellophane-covered bathtub?” (Norton Juster) If not, you need to attend this workshop! This is a higher-level course with extensive handouts. All ages/genres.

POV REVISION CHALLENGE  Sharon Darrow

In a short mini-lesson on how to achieve greater emotional resonance and immediacy in first person and third person close-in points of view, Sharon will give you some “rules” to follow and some sentences to rewrite during the session. We will read and discuss the results. Think of this as a group game for practicing and sharing techniques in characterization. All ages/genres.

 

WRITING FOR CHILDREN & TEENS: DO WE LOVE THE WORLD ENOUGH? Stephen Fraser
The speaker will explain why loving the world is an essential element in persuasively writing for children and teens in a constructive way using examples from classic and current literature. Attendees will learn ways to avoid toxic negativity and become more reader inclusive. All ages/genres.

 

 

VISITING (AND VIRTUALLY VISITING) SCHOOLS Josh Funk
The school visit is an important part of any author or illustrator’s repertoire. But how do you connect with schools and set up contracts? And what about Skype (or virtual) visits? What should you talk about? What are teachers looking for? Picture book author Josh Funk has visited or virtually visited over 300 schools since the fall of 2015. In this workshop, he’ll share tips, best practices, and lessons he’s learned along the way to get you on the path to wowing your student audiences. Best suited for PB and MG creators but also helpful for all ages/genres.

 

CHRISTIAN PUBLISHING: WHAT’S WORKING, WHAT’S NOT, AND WHAT DO PUBLISHERS WANT FROM YOU? Linda Howard
How can you be successful in Christian publishing? Themes, values, and content need to reach an audience with a specific mindset and belief system. How do you reach that audience? What are the current trends and what are publishers looking for today? Come explore the landscape of Christian publishing, find out how you can get your proposal in front of the right editors, and get closer to reaching your publishing goals. We’ll talk about board books through YA, and cover fiction and nonfiction. Attendees will come away with tools to track trends and research the market on their own.

 

FIRST STOP FOR FIRST-TIME FAIRGOERS Esther Hershenhorn
How best to revel in this weekend’s sights and sounds while making sure you leave smarter and inspired? In this pre-Fair one-hour session for first-time conference-goers, veteran conference-goer Esther Hershenhorn knows and shows the way.  Ground yourself in the Fair’s banner-waving offerings! Identify the opportunities! Imagine the possibilities! Learn time-proven navigation tips to glean what you need, connect with the crowds and maximize the experience! (Note: all questions welcomed!) All ages/genres.

 

BEYOND ‘BIRD BY BIRD’: BEST BOOKS FOR BOOKMAKERS  Travis Jonker
Become a children’s lit expert for the price of a library card (aka FREE). We’ll cover a wide range of books that will help you learn about the craft – some expected and some not. For writers and illustrators creating fiction picture books through middle-grade fiction.

 

18 REVISION TIPS Cheryl Klein

You’ve completed the first draft of your manuscript. What do you do next? In this fast-paced talk for both novelists and picture-book writers, you’ll get 18 practical techniques you can use to see your draft afresh, analyze its strengths and weaknesses, and implement necessary changes for an effective and excellent revision. All ages/genres.

 

WRITE YOUR HEART Dandi Daley Mackall
How do we survive in this crazy, fast-changing publishing world? I’m not famous; many of you haven’t heard of me. But after 40 years and 500 books, I’m still here. I’ve made a living from writing. I’ve survived—and I believe we can all survive—if we write our hearts. In this session: 1) We’ll play at writing. You’ll rediscover the joy in creating a world of words and remember why you wanted to write. 2) You’ll do exercises and venture out of your comfort zone. 3) We’ll discuss how to handle those rejections and low sales and 4) We’ll share insights about a lifelong career, including how to build editor and agent relationships. PS. If I’d stuck with one genre, one age group, maybe you’d have recognized me as that Edgar Award-winning YA mystery writer, or the horse writer of multiple series, or the rhyming picture book lady. But I would have burned out by now. Our purpose for a career in writing can’t be simply to publish. We need to write our hearts. All ages/genres.

 

CONTROL THE CREATIVE CHAOS Ruth Spiro
In 2013, ten years after her first (and only) picture book sale, Ruth realized her work habits weren’t effective. Changing course, she applied five lessons she learned in business school and advice gleaned from business books to her writing practice. Within 15 months she had signed with an agent, sold a board book series and also a picture book series, at auction. This level of organization and goal setting may feel counterintuitive to the creative process, but it will help make your creative time more efficient and focused. By making a few changes and applying some simple strategies, you may be increasing the likelihood of making your publishing dreams come true. When you look at it that way, isn’t it worth the effort? Attendees will leave with tools and techniques to create their own personal action plan. All ages/genres.

 

HIGH CONCEPT, HIGH POWER Allison Remcheck
It’s the elusive buzzword that everyone talks about, yet it’s so hard to put a finger on. What does high concept mean, anyway? Allison Remcheck will lead this session about the meaning of high concept — recognizing it in picture books and novels, using this idea to structure your own book into a high concept piece, and finally, pitching your concept to agents. All ages/genres.

 

Magazine track

 

MAKE IT IN MAGAZINES Tracy Vonder Brink
Curious about writing for children’s magazines? Wondering where to send submissions and what editors really want? Then join Tracy Vonder Brink, contributing editor for Click, ASK, and Muse magazines, and a frequent contributor to Highlights, Spider, and Cricket. You’ll learn if magazine writing is right for you, where to find magazine market guides, and what to expect from a magazine contract. There will also be plenty of professional tips from both sides of the desk—writer AND editor! All writers, from picture books through YA, both fiction and nonfiction, can be published in children’s magazines. Come find out how!