Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

ENCORE! South for Writers 2019

Date(s) - Saturday, September 14, 2019
9:00 am - 4:15 pm

Mark Twain House
351 Farmington Ave. - Hartford, CT 06105

ENCORE! for Writers 2019

ENCORE for Writers is where all the best writer workshops from the past two conferences will be reprised. Our full day includes continental breakfast, lunch, five presentations on writing, and optional tours of the Mark Twain House.


9:00 – 9:30
Breakfast and Meet and Greet
Please arrive between 9:00 – 9:30. If you arrive sooner you will need to wait outside or in the lobby if it is raining.

9:30 – 10:30
Themes, Threads, and the Core with Erin Dionne
What ideas/concepts are at the heart of your story? What is it really about? In this workshop, Erin will discuss the Big Ideas lurking in your manuscript, beyond plot or character, and work with reinforcing them. She’ll help you uncover running themes and ideas, and get at the center of your story—the thing that makes your book unique. This is more than a simple look at plot and character development; it’s a sophisticated exploration of the deeper themes in your book. Through discussion and exercises, you will leave with concrete ways to make your book stronger and more resonant.

Erin Dionne’s latest book for tweens is Lights, Camera, Disaster (Scholastic 2018). She’s the author of 5 other books for young readers, including the 2014 Edgar Award finalist Moxie and The Art of Rule Breaking (Dial 2013). Her first picture book, Captain’s Log: Snowbound, will be released in 2019 from Charlesbridge Publishing. She teaches at Montserrat College of Art and lives outside of Boston with her husband, two children, and a very indignant dog.

10:45 – 11:45
Show Don’t Tell Your Manuscript’s Opening with Jen Malone
“Show don’t tell” is a nebulous concept but an essential writing skill, and nowhere is it more important than in a book’s opening, which needs to entice a reader with action while also grounding them in the world and character with a deft weaving in of backstory. In this workshop, we’ll use television pilot episodes as a gateway to examining strategies you can apply to your own story’s opening to walk that fine line with authority.

Jen Malone writes YA fiction with HarperCollins and MG adventures with Simon & Schuster. Jen’s published titles include The Art of the Swap (with Kristine Asselin), Changes in Latitudes, Best Night Ever, The Sleepover, the You’re Invited series (with Gail Nall), At Your Service, Map to the Stars, Wanderlost, and Follow Your Art (a collaboration with Dreamworks Animation and Penguin Random House on a companion story to the animated film Trolls). She once spent a year traveling the world solo, met her husband on the highway (literally), and went into labor with her identical twins while on a rock star’s tour bus. You can learn more about Jen and her books at Find her on Twitter and Instagram @jenmalonewrites.

11:45 – 12:45
Lunch and Tours of the Mark Twain House

12:45 – 1:45
Lie Your Way to Greatness: Using a Synopsis to Create a Revision Plan with Tara Sullivan
Finished a draft of your novel? Know that there’s something wrong but no idea what it is or how to fix it? Nothing reveals the strengths and weaknesses of a novel more than its synopsis—and it’s an essential component of that all-important query letter you’re considering, too. In this hands-on workshop you will learn how to create a killer synopsis for your novel (that may or may not be reflective of what you have already written!) that can double as a revision plan. Moreover, having figured out a path forward, you’ll leave with a targeted toolbox of editing tricks that will help you hone voice, pace plot, pump up your setting, and improve character relationships. Come with a draft one-page synopsis and your sleeves rolled up ready to start working!

Tara Sullivan is an award-winning author of MG/YA novels that address current human rights issues. Her first book, Golden Boy, was selected as a YALSA top-ten book of 2013, a best book of the year by Kirkus Reviews and the Wall Street Journal, and won the 2014 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People Award. Her most recent novel, The Bitter Side of Sweet, garnered five starred reviews and is a Children’s Africana Book Award honor book of 2017. Tara currently lives and writes in Massachusetts.

2:00 – 3:00
A New Starting Place: Maps, Vision Boards, and Blank Pages with Lisa Papademetriou
Novels often require world-building on a scale both large and small. Cultures often grow out of relationships—to other cultures, to the land, to trade, to water—and these relationships influence both the societies and the individuals within them. Cartography offers writers a unique view of the countries (and sometimes planets) their characters will inhabit. This unique hands-on workshop will give writers a chance to think beyond the page by engaging with their world via collage and map-making. Writing prompts will grow from these exercises as attendees explore the deeply bidirectional relationship of character and setting.

Lisa Papademetriou is the author of A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic (a South Asia Book Award Highly Commended Title), the NY Times-bestselling novel Middle School: My Brother is a Big, Fat Liar and Homeroom Diaries (both with James Patterson), the Confectionately Yours series (over 750,000 books in print), and many other novels for MG and YA readers. Her books have appeared on many prestigious lists, including Bank Street Best Books of the Year, the NYPL Books for the Teen Age, and the Texas Lone Star Reading List, and have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Polish, Italian, Portuguese, and Japanese. Her latest title, Apartment 1986, was a School Library Journal Popular Pick.

3:15 – 4:15
If I Only Had a Brand: Successful Branding for Creative Professionals with Jessica Southwick
Good branding can set you apart and build recognition for your work in the wacky world of children’s book publishing. In this crash course, Jessica will lead you down the (yellow brick) path to creating the brand that’s right for you, from business naming to logo design to keeping an eye on your branding shelf life. She’ll discuss where to put your marketing dollars (and where not to); the important and tricky role of typography, timing, and trends; and how to avoid branding pitfalls.

Jessica Southwick is the force of nature behind Jesswick Creative Studio, LLC, which offers graphic design, illustration, writing, and marketing services. Jessica helps her clients create bespoke branding solutions, from logo and identity system design, to copywriting, site organization, and all sorts of other nifty creative marketing projects. Jessica is also an author/illustrator. Her most recent title, The Nutcracker: An Enchanting Pop-Up Adaptation (author), was released last fall, and The Mitten: A Classic Pop-Up Folktale (author) was recognized as a “Best Book” by Parents Magazine, and has been translated into French and Japanese.


This event is now full and registration is closed. 

Email Stacy at with questions. If you need to cancel, please let us know right away. Refunds cannot be guaranteed after August 31 without emergency circumstances.