Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


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conference artwork by Vesper Stamper

New England SCBWI 2020

Finding Joy in the Journey


Friday, May 1, 2020 3:00 PM – Sunday, May 3, 2020 3:00 PM (EST)


If you select these items you will automatically be put on the waitlist.

K2, P3, R1, S3
Please email if you’d like to be added to a workshop waitlist.



You must read the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy before registering for the conference.

Click here to see Saturday’s seated lunch menu. Please note that the hotel cannot fulfill special requests for food accommodations during conference meals. If you have SEVERE food allergies, we recommend that you make appropriate arrangements for your own food. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

NESCBWI conference activities are geared for adult writers/illustrators, 18 years of age or older. Conference schedule, faculty, and room designations are subject to change.

Up until April 12, 2020, you will be able to manually change your workshop selections by revisiting the Registration Form; from April 13 and on, you must contact the registrar at to facilitate any further changes. You can use your registration email and password to VIEW your data any time.

The Conference Bookstore will once again sell books from SCBWI members attending the conference. If you are faculty, you don’t need to register your books; the bookstore has already ordered them. If you are a non-faculty SCBWI member and wish to participate, simply complete the appropriate section in your online Conference registration, indicating that you wish to sell your book(s) at the conference. Click here to read the guidelines.

Make this the best conference ever! Smile and say hello to people you don’t know, they might be agents, editors, art directors, or future critique partners. Try attending a workshop you wouldn’t necessarily think of going to – you might be pleasantly surprised!

Click here for a printer-friendly conference schedule.

FRIDAY, May 1, 2020 

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm Conference Registration Table Open for Check-In (2nd Floor Lobby)

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm Assigned Agent Quick Query (AQQ) Critiques, Career Consultations (CC) (Longford, 3rd Floor) and PAL Roundtable Critiques (PAL) (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

NOTE: Attendees must pre-register and pre-pay to receive a critique or consultation.

There is a maximum of 1 critique and/or consultation per person, with the exception of Illustrators seeking both a manuscript and portfolio critique, and PAL roundtable critiques. PAL Roundtable Critiques may be taken on their own, or added to a manuscript and/or portfolio critique, social media consultation, or Saturday career consultation.

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm Conference Bookstore Open (Worthy, 2nd Floor)


Friday Afternoon Welcome Sessions:

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Large Group Session: Come Play! with Jarrett Lerner and Megan Frazer Blakemore (no limit)

As writers, Jarrett Lerner and Megan Frazer Blakemore have found that one way to find joy in the journey is through play. Play can help you become unstuck. It can unlock creative doors you didn’t even know were there. Most of all, it’s just plain fun. In this hands-on session we will share some of the playful activities we use in our own lives and with students. Get ready to draw, play with LEGO people, “deconstruct” graphic novels, “rewrite” your favorite books, and “word vomit!” This will be a low-key session that’s focused on process not product. Our goal is to get your brain thinking in new and fun ways to help move your creative work forward.


Small Group Session: Training Active Bystanders with TAB Trainers (limit 30)

Writers and illustrators often find themselves in public situations such as school and library visits, or conferences and conventions. If you are a bystander witnessing a harmful situation, you have a choice to make. Do you do something? What do you do? The Training Active Bystanders (TAB) program helps participants recognize when they are bystanders, analyze situations, and evaluate the consequences for everyone involved, teaching participants to interrupt harm and generate positive actions.

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm Dinner on your own

List of Nearby Restaurants
Map of Springfield Area
Interactive Downtown Springfield Map


Featured Evening Activity

7:00 pm – 7:30 pm Words of Wisdom with Jane Yolen (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

Come and hear legendary author Jane Yolen share reflections and advice for continuing to find joy in the publishing journey.

Often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America,” Jane Yolen is the award-winning author of nearly 400 books. Her works range from very young rhymed picture books to novels for adults and every genre in between, including poetry collections, early readers, folklore, nonfiction, fantasy, science fiction, board books, and novelty. She writes a poem a day, which she sends out to subscribers, and six colleges have given her honorary doctorates for her body of work. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Yolen finds joy in every part of the process of writing. She was the second person to join SCBW (before there was even an “I”). And, she began the first regional conference–this one.


Friday Evening Activities

7:30 pm – 8:30 pm Meet and Greets (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

Interested in starting or joining an online or a local critique group? Or maybe you just want to meet someone for coffee sometimes? Mix and mingle to meet your New England SCBWI Regional Leadership Team members and find writers and illustrators from your region. Look for others who work in similar genres, who create diverse content, or are interested in marketing to compare notes, brainstorm, and talk about your favorite books.

8:30 pm – 9:30 pm Icebreaker Pitch Party (Ballroom South, 3rd Floor) 

If someone asks you what you’re working on, wouldn’t it be nice if you knew what to say?

Come join us for some fun Friday festivities! Bring your pitch on an index card or memorize it if you prefer. It doesn’t have to be perfect–we will help you practice and polish your pitch in an easy and entertaining way. By the end, your pitch will be glistening and you’ll leave glowing and glad you came!

Maybe this will help you get started:

Fill in the blanks:

After _______________, <main character> must ______________or risk ______________ in order to _________________.


Think about it this way:

After <inciting incident>, <mc> must <primary action>, or risk <struggle internal or external> in order to <end goal/big want or why/resolution>.

Get your pitch powers activated!

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm   Quiet Room (Stonehaven, 2nd Floor) 

A place to meet in a quiet atmosphere designed for those who desire a quieter place to network.



SATURDAY, May 2, 2020

7:15 am – 8:30 am Continental Breakfast (3rd Floor Lobby)

7:15 am – 8:45 am Conference Registration Open (2nd Floor Lobby)

7:30 am – 8:00 am Conference Orientation with Northern Regional Advisor (RA) Shawn Anderson and Southern Regional Advisor (RA) Stacy Mozer (Longford, 3rd Floor)

New conference attendees are strongly encouraged to come to conference orientation; seasoned conference veterans are welcome as well.

Is this your first NESCBWI conference? Worried about who to talk to and how to network? Come meet the conference directors and find out how to get the most out of your conference weekend. Seasoned conference-goers are welcome to share their advice and experiences.

7:30 am – 8:30 am Illustration Challenge Entries Due (3rd Floor Lobby)

Participants drop off entries.

8:15 am – 8:40 am Welcome and Opening Ceremonies (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

8:30 am – 6:30 pm Conference Bookstore Open (Worthy, 2nd Floor)

8:30 am – 3:30pm Illustration Challenge on Display (3rd Floor Lobby)

8:40 am – 9:35 am Keynote with Kate Messner (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

When Kate Messner made a list of the dozen books she has publishing in 2020, she noticed two things. First, that they were wildly different from one another in terms of content, genre, and age group. And second, that they all had something in common–the stories emerged out of what Kate likes to call “open-hearted curiosity,” that big wondering that invites us to look more closely at the world around us, one another, and even ourselves. Her keynote will be an invitation to wonder, even when it’s not easy, and a challenge to turn that wondering into art.

9:30 am – 3:30 pm Prep & Support for One-on-One Critiques & Consultations (Boardroom, 3rd Floor)

Nervous before your one-on-one with an agent, editor, or art director? Don’t know what to ask in your face-to-face with an editor or other professional? Join us to talk through how you want to present yourself and what you want to ask in those extra moments. Remember, you’re interviewing the professional just as much as they are interviewing you. Feeling overwhelmed after your one-on-one? Come in to see a friendly face and decompress.

9:45 am – 3:20 pm Assigned Manuscript Critiques, Portfolio Critiques, Social Media Consultations, and Career Consultations (Longford, 3rd Floor)

NOTE: Attendees must pre-register and pre-pay to receive a critique or consultation.

There is a maximum of 1 critique and/or consultation per person, with the exception of Illustrators seeking both a manuscript and portfolio critique, and PAL roundtable critiques. PAL Roundtable Critiques may be taken on their own, or added to a manuscript and/or portfolio critique, social media consultation, or Saturday career consultation.


Saturday Morning Workshop Blocks:

K-Block:    9:45 am – 10:40 am

L-Block:  10:50 am – 11:45 am

11:50 am – 12:50 pm Lunch (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

12:50 pm – 1:05 pm Announcements (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)


Saturday Afternoon Workshop Blocks:


One 2-Hour Session

M-Block:   1:15 pm – 3:15 pm


Two 1-Hour Sessions

N-Block:   1:15 pm – 2:10 pm


P-Block:   2:20 pm – 3:15 pm

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm  Coffee Break (3rd floor Lobby)

3:30 pm – 4:20 pm  Keynote with Mike Curato (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

Mike Curato is the author-illustrator of everyone’s favorite polka-dotted elephant, Little Elliot. Mike’s debut title, Little Elliot, Big City has won numerous awards and has been translated into over ten languages. There are now four additional Little Elliot books – Little Big Family; Little Elliot, Big Fun; Little Elliot, Fall Friends, and Merry Christmas, Little Elliot.

Mike is the illustrator of Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, and What if…by Samantha Berger. His two upcoming books include The Power of One by Trudy Ludwig and his debut YA graphic novel, Flamer.

Mike was born and raised outside of New York City, and earned a BFA in illustration from Syracuse University. He currently lives in Northampton, MA.

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm Faculty Book-Signing (3rd Floor Lobby)

Please note that this is the ONLY all-faculty book-signing of the conference.

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm Portfolio Showcase Entries Due (Mahogany, 2nd Floor)

Participants drop off entries.

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm Portfolio Showcase Open for Viewing (Mahogany)

While we encourage everyone to mingle with industry professionals at the Meet and Greet later in the evening, this is a time for attendees to view the portfolios without a big crowd.

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm Dinner on your own

List of Nearby Restaurants
Map of Springfield Area
Interactive Downtown Springfield Map


Saturday Evening Activities

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm Panel: Activism in Publishing with agents Saritza Hernandez (Corvisiero Literary Agency) and Quressa Robinson (Nelson Literary Agency), editor Julie Bliven (Charlesbridge), and author-illustrator and keynote speaker Mike Curato, moderated by author Lisa Bunker. (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

Is there space in publishing today for the social, environmental, and world issues we are passionate about? What are the topics that publishers are (or should be) looking for? How can book art contribute? Our panel of industry professionals talks about how authors and illustrators can approach activism in their work to raise awareness of these themes and bring hope and courage to young readers.

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm Quiet Room (Stonehaven, 2nd Floor)

Meet in an atmosphere designed for those who desire a quieter place to network.

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm   Agent/Editor/Art Director Meet & Greet, and Portfolio Showcase (Mahogany, 2nd Floor) 

We encourage everyone to stop by and meet our critique faculty at the Portfolio Showcase Meet and Greet before heading over to other evening activities.

Join our critique faculty at the bar for a healthy dose of schmooze. It’s all about the networking, so come prepared to chat with other writers and illustrators. Don’t forget to practice your pitch, someone just might ask you what your book is about!

The Portfolio Showcase is a fantastic opportunity for the illustrators who attend the Conference to have a showcase of their work for members of the publishing community.

8:30 pm – 10:00 pm Peer Critiques with NESCBWI Critique Group Coordinators (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

Are you interested in getting feedback from fellow writers and illustrators? Are you currently in a critique group, or looking to join one? This is the event for you!

Bring a picture book manuscript or dummy or up to five pages of a novel for on-the-spot feedback from your peers. After a brief presentation on group rules and expectations for giving and receiving feedback, critique groups will be set up based on genre, and then set on their way. Support and guidance will only be a few steps away, as Rajani, Sally and Cindy will circulate to offer tips and tricks. In past years, participants have found long-term critique partners during this event, so bring your work and an open mind and get ready to connect!

8:30 pm – 10:00 pm   Open Mic with Matt Forrest Esenwine  (Highland, 2nd Floor)

Come show off your stuff! Share what you’ve been working on: children’s poetry, picture book manuscript, maybe a song or a few pages from a novel…all genres of children’s lit (from PBs to YA) are welcome. Did you know that some material shared in the past has eventually been published?  You never know what to expect, so let’s hear your WIP!



SUNDAY, May 3, 2020

7:15 am – 8:30 am Continental Breakfast (3rd Floor Lobby)

8:00 am – 8:30 am Conference Registration Open (2nd Floor Lobby)

8:30 am – 2:00 pm Conference Bookstore Open* (Worthy, 2nd Floor)

*The Conference Bookstore closes at 2:45 pm. If you’d like to purchase books, be sure to do so before then.

8:30 am – 8:40 am Welcome and Announcements (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

8:40 am – 9:35 am Keynote with Nikki Grimes (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

New York Times bestselling author Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2017 Children’s Literature Legacy Award for substantial and lasting contributions to literature for children, the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.  The author of Coretta Scott King Author Award-winner Bronx Masquerade, and recipient of five CSK Author Honors, her most recent titles include the much-honored Words With Wings, Garvey’s Choice and Boston Globe-Horn Book honor, Between the Lines, and One Last Word, winner of the 2018 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.  Her much anticipated memoir in verse, Ordinary Hazards, released in October 2019.


Sunday Workshop Blocks:


One 3-Hour Session

R-Block:   9:45 am – 1:00 pm


Three 1-Hour Sessions

S-Block:     9:45 am – 10:40 am


T-Block:   10:50 am – 11:45 pm


V-Block:    12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

1:10 pm – 2:45 pm Buffet Lunch, Awards & Announcements (Ballroom, 3rd Floor)

2:45 pm Conference Closes

Please remember to return your badge holder and lanyard before departing.