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Children's Book Writers
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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)


Printer friendly PDF version of all Saturday Workshop Descriptions.
Printer friendly PDF version of all Sunday Workshop Descriptions.
Printer friendly PDF version of ALL Workshop Descriptions.
Printer friendly PDF version of a LIST of ALL Workshops


Due to the large number of people attending the conference, and having to adhere to fire code regulations regarding room capacities, we must know in advance the number of attendees for each workshop offered. Conference registration Part 1 (personal info, critique/consultation interest, payment) opens at 2pm on Sunday, February 16th, 2020. Conference registration Part 2 (workshop selection) opens March 1st, 2020. You may select your workshops via the Conference Registration Form as of 2pm on Sunday, March 1st, 2020;  you may make changes to these workshop selections up until April 12, 2020. If you wish to make any workshop changes after that time, or any other changes to your registration data, please email the registrar at reg.nescbwi@gmail.com.

Please note that SWITCHING WORKSHOPS AT THE CONFERENCE is ONLY allowed if you CLEAR IT WITH THE REGISTRAR to ensure we’re not overloading a room. Thanks for understanding.

Each workshop is tagged with an INTENDED AUDIENCE and EXPERIENCE LEVEL. For example, workshop K1 (The Do’s and Don’ts of Visual Storytelling with J. R. Krause) is tagged with “(*IL PB-GN; ALL)”, meaning it is best suited for Illustrators interested in Picture Books and Graphic Novels, and it is open to participants of all experience levels.

**FULL – WAITLIST ONLY**  K2, P3, R1, S3



 

SATURDAY, May 2, 2020

Printer friendly PDF version of all Saturday workshop descriptions.

 

Saturday Morning Workshop Blocks

 

Early Morning Session

 

K-Block: 9:45 am10:40 am

K1 ~ The Do’s and Don’ts of Visual Storytelling with J. R. Krause
(*IL PB-GN; All)
Clear, concise and compelling visual storytelling is vital for picture books and graphic novels. Here we will learn about the do’s and don’ts of visual storytelling by examining narrative art masterpieces as well as through collaborative group exercises.

K2 ~ Introverts Unite!: Self-Promotion in the Face of Shyness, Social Anxiety, and Impostor Syndrome with Chris Tebbetts
(ALL; All)
**FULL – waitlist only**
There’s a kind of cruel joke in the world of publishing. This is an industry full of people who thrive on working in quiet isolation, only to then be asked to turn around and shout “LOOK AT ME!” in the most convincing voice possible when it comes time to share that same work with the world. It tends to bring up an insecurity or two. Or three. It also speaks to one of the most common themes in book creators’ lives: the tension between self-promotion and introversion. This discussion-driven session will look at ways in which we can support ourselves — and one another — through the process of rolling out a book, navigating a career, getting through a public speaking engagement, or even just facing down a roomful of fifth graders. We’ll share strategies and coping mechanisms with an eye on gaining from a sense of shared experience; finding ways of being truly ourselves as we shift into “sales” mode; and stocking the toolbox for when we’re back out there in the world, plugging away at our careers.

K3 ~ Does my book need Backmatter? with Heidi E.Y. Stemple
(PB; All)
Do our books need Backmatter? This workshop will discuss what is backmatter, and which authors and publishers are doing it well.

K4 ~ Making Magic with Perseverance: How to Crush What Crushed You with Agent Liza Fleissig and Editor Samantha Gentry
(ALL; All)
Offering a perspective from both sides of the couch, Agent and Editor will show what can happen when they find (and follow) joy in a manuscript/project. Together they will chart the course of a book they both immediately fell for at a time when the market pushed back, but how that lead to the birth of another project, opened new doors for the author, and then ultimately brought them back to the original project where it found its rightful home. They will each share additional anecdotes about other success stories that would shock authors to know almost never saw the light of day. They will then open the floor to questions and offer suggestions and possible work arounds for industry hurdles.

K5 ~ Let’s Start at the Very Beginning: A Very Good Place to Start with Lesléa Newman
(MG-YA; All)
Every word in a book counts, but none so much as the opening lines. It is estimated that the average reader takes about fourteen seconds to decide whether or not to purchase a book at a bookstore, and the pattern is: look at the front cover, look at the back cover, scan the flap copy, and then read the first few lines. So what makes a compelling start to a story? We will look at and discuss many different types of beginnings: a snippet of dialogue, description of place, action, introduction of character, question, etc. Each participant should bring two examples of “story starts” he or she felt particularly drawn in by and be prepared to explain why each one is so compelling.

K6 ~ Back Up and Let Me Be Me: Giving a Character’s Voice Space to Grow with Leah Henderson
(ALL; All)
We’ve all heard it. The voice is the soul of the story. The element that can magically pull us in with only a few words. Agents, editors, and readers want it — that undeniable, unputdownable voice. As writers we want nothing more than to execute this, but when we ask how to develop it, we’re often met with shrugs and blank stares. By looking at the delicate dance between the relationship of an author’s voice and a character’s voice, we will explore how elements like rhythm, life experience, and word choice play into letting a character’s voice grow into that undeniable, unputdownable soul of story.

K7 ~ Rhyme or Reason with Editor Rob Broder
(PB; Beginner-Intermediate)
A continuation of the 2019 workshop “Does Your Picture Book Story Really Need to Rhyme?”, Rob will dig deeper into what Agents and Publishers feel when reading a rhyming manuscript. How it’s hard to edit, difficult to structure and change characters and setting, and would be much easier if it didn’t rhyme. The workshop will discuss why we gravitate toward rhyming when writing, and how we can overcome this obstacle and dig deep into writing a really wonderful story, whether it rhymes or not. Rob will recap manuscripts he has personally rewritten with the authors that have become top-sellers.

K8 ~ Say What? Writing Realistic Dialogue with Erin Dionne
(MG-YA-GN; Beginner-Intermediate)
How our characters speak to one another brings our story to life. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll look at the tools and tips needed for writing strong dialogue. We’ll discuss speech patterns, slang, verbal quirks, and the fine line between how we speak in real life and how to make our characters sound real. Bring up to four pages of dialogue-heavy material from your work to use in the session. Attendees will leave with a variety of tools to make their dialogue pop off the page.

K9 ~ Nonfiction Joy in the Educational Market with Editor Andi Diehn
(MG-YA; Beginner-Intermediate)
Nonfiction kids’ books are some of the most joyful literature out there. Did you know scientists recently discovered a new species of pocket shark? Did you know scientists are growing chili peppers in space? Joyous! Writing nonfiction books for the educational market can be a great way to break into the published author business while keeping yourself hopeful about the state of the world. We’ll cover topics such as what editors are looking for, what research to do before you query, what makes a great nonfiction children’s book, how to nurture a healthy author/editor relationship, tangential work you can do to support your books, and more.

K10 ~ School Visits — a Vital and FUN part of the Journey with Lynda Mullaly Hunt
(ALL; All)
For Lynda Mullaly Hunt, school visits are the very best of the author gig. They are an important — and FUN — part of getting the word out about your book, but they can be stressful. How do you find them in the first place? And once you book a visit, how do you navigate book sales and contracts and invoices? When you get there, what should you actually talk about? How can you engage kids for 60 minutes? How do you create a presentation that engages, entertains, and educates? Should it be interactive or not? What can you do if the kids get antsy or don’t behave as you’d hoped? There is a lot to navigate but we will cover it all!

 

Late Morning Session

 

L-Block: 10:50 am11:45 am

L1 ~ What a Character! with Dan Yaccarino
(*IL PB; All)
How do you create a memorable children’s book character? Go behind the scenes with picture book author and illustrator (Giant Tess, Unlovable, Doug Unplugged, etc.) and TV producer Dan Yaccarino (The Backyardigans, Oswald, Willa’s Wild Life) to see how he creates his unforgettable picture book and TV characters. He also shares tips on how to strengthen an existing character or how to create characters from scratch.

L2 ~ Marie Kondo Your Scenes with Lisa Papademetriou
(MG-YA; Beginner-Intermediate)
Every scene hangs on a pivotal moment, yet often must also sustain several different plot elements. What makes a moment? Explore how to craft scenes so that actions and reactions have maximum emotional impact while ensuring that the reader keeps turning pages.

L3 ~ Powerhouse Marketing Strategies with Josh Funk
(ALL; All)
So, you’ve got a book coming out. Maybe it’s even your debut. So how do you start marketing your book? That’s a loaded question. Luckily, picture book author Josh Funk has your answers. He’ll discuss what you can expect from your publisher, ways to build your in-person and online networks, the benefits of activity kits and teacher’s guides, developing book trailers, utilizing newsletters, creating swag, all leading up to your fabulous book launch — and beyond. It’s never too early to begin marketing your book — so why not start now?

L4 ~ Putting the Play Back in Wordplay with AC Gaughen
(MG-YA; All)
There is definitely a time to knuckle down and revise, but this business can quickly take the fun out of writing. How do you keep the joy and keep the productivity? How do you find a new story after you finish writing one? This session will help you generate new story ideas, play, and remember that writing is supposed to be fun!

L5 ~ Poetry & Pointing the Lens: The Art of Crafting Crisp, Lyrical Picture Book Biographies with Anika Aldamuy Denise
(PB; Beginner-Intermediate)
Not all picture book biographies begin at the beginning (she was born in…) and end at the end. How do you decide where to point the lens on a person’s life while crafting a full story arc that is compelling and satisfying to young readers? This session will help writers of nonfiction to think visually, write lyrically, and create evergreen picture book biographies that engage and inspire!

L6 ~ A Decent Proposal: How to get in bed with a Publisher without losing your shirt with Agent Saritza Hernandez
(ALL; All)
Contracts can be a snooze-fest, until you’re facing one and suddenly have no idea what any of the contract clauses mean. And what if you’re co-authoring your books? Should you have a contract? Spoiler: Yes!

L7 ~ Writing From Childhood with Susan Tan [Note: L7 is repeated as S5 on Sunday at 9:45am]
(MG; All)
Flannery O’Connor writes: “If you’ve survived your childhood, you have enough material to write about for the rest of your life.” Childhood memories offer potent material for stories, and are particularly powerful resources for authors writing about children, for children. In this workshop, we’ll explore how to use our own childhood experiences and memories as the basis for fiction. Get ready to revisit your child self, to recapture the vividness of childhood journeys and joys, and to practice listening for your own childhood voices. Together, we’ll explore how memory can fuel and texture narrative with exercises, writing, and lots of chocolate!

L8 ~ Writing Kick-Ass Heroines for YA Readers with Christina Bauer
(YA; Beginner-Intermediate)
With over one million books sold, author Christina Bauer has written more than fifteen works of YA romantic fantasy, all of them featuring kick-ass heroines. In this workshop, Christina will deliver hands-on advice and proven writing tools for creating a short story (or a full novel!) that tells the story of a fierce female heroine. In addition, this workbook takeaway delivers step-by-step exercises, outlines, and forms, as well as a list of additional reading materials.

L9 ~ Stick with Your Buddy! The Benefits of Collaboration with Heather Kelly and Kristen Wixted
(ALL; All)
Ever feel like writing a book is overwhelming? Working with partners can help in many ways: it can unlock creativity, help you stay focused and accountable, keep you organized, and more. In this unique workshop, you’ll see that whether your project is MG or YA, a picture book, or an illustrated anthology, you don’t have to do it alone. This includes big projects and little ones, both traditional publishing and self-publishing, for writers and artists. Write with a friend (or relative!) or make a book with a whole group of writers and artists. Kristen Wixted and Heather Kelly, co-editors of An Assortment of Animals: A Children’s Poetry Anthology, have done just about all of it, including co-authored picture books, MG novels, and YA series. They’ll show you how you can, too. Leave the workshop inspired and with a blueprint of how to get going and collaborate!

L10 ~ Use Setting to Raise the Stakes with Alison Green Myers
(MG-YA; All)
Setting does more than ground us in the world of your character. It pushes, pulls, lifts, and levels your character, too. Examine three ways your setting can work harder in your novel: side-to-side, up-and-down, and power-to-powerless. This is a hands-on workshop.

 

 

Saturday Afternoon Workshop Blocks

 

CHOOSE

One 2-Hour Session:       M-Block: 1:15 pm–3:15 pm

OR

Two 1-Hour Sessions:     N-Block: 1:15 pm–2:10 pm

                                             AND

                                                         P-Block:  2:20 pm–3:15 pm

 

2-Hour Session Options

 

M-Block: 1:15 pm–3:15 pm

M1 ~ Tag-Team Revision with Linda Urban and Keynote Speaker Kate Messner
(MG-YA; Advanced)
Linda Urban and Kate Messner are award winning children’s authors and friends who love to teach and mentor other writers. Between the two of them, they’ve written more than forty books, presented at over a dozen state and national conferences, and consumed approximately four hundred mocha lattes. In this session, Kate and Linda will teach writers how to use different lenses during the revision process — looking through a wide-angle lens to address big-picture issues as well as a zoom lens for fine tuning voice, point of view, and sentence-level writing. Please bring a completed (or well-underway) MG or YA novel, chapter book, or work of narrative nonfiction.

M2 ~ Using the Procreate Application on the iPad Pro with Priscilla Alpaugh and Jamie Harper
(*IL; All)
Ever since Apple introduced the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil, Illustrators have experienced a completely new method of creating artwork. Using the iPad Pro with the Procreate application is similar to working with Photoshop on a desktop machine in terms of functionality. The big difference is that you’re unplugged and can take it anywhere. It means you can curl up in your favorite chair, sit outdoors, and sketch or paint digitally. It’s great for everything from initial sketches to thumbnails all the way to finished art. In this workshop, you will gain an understanding of the basic tool sets within ProCreate. We will show examples of different styles of work that are possible and share some examples of work we’ve done as well. Please bring a notepad and pencil. If you have an iPadPro and Apple Pencil, please bring them fully charged.

 

OR

 

1-Hour Session Options

 

N-Block: 1:15 pm–2:10 pm

N1 ~ From Inspiration to Publication: The Essentials of a Picture Book Dummy with Dan Yaccarino
(*IL PB; Beginner-Intermediate)
A picture book isn’t just drawings depicting text, but images and words uniquely intertwined to create a story, greater than the sum of their parts. This presentation teaches the fundamentals of picture books, from format, character development, to basic storytelling.

N2 ~ Writing Graphic Novels for Young Readers with Editor Tricia Lin
(GN; Beginner-Intermediate)
These days, more young readers than ever are showing interest in graphic novels. But how does writing a graphic novel differ from writing a novel in straight prose? In this session, we will explore the art of writing graphic novels for kids of all ages — including a general overview, common parameters, and things to keep in mind as you write your own scripts.

N3 ~ Beginner’s Guide to Query Letters with Alison Green Myers
(ALL; Beginner-Intermediate)
The heart of your story becomes the pulse of your query letter. Come with your finished story, leave with a draft query letter. This is a hands-on session for those ready to start the submission process.

N4 ~ Extreme Research: If You Dare with Sera Rivers
(ALL; Advanced)
What’s it like to crawl on your belly in complete darkness through a narrow passageway 150 feet below ground? What does the mouth of an active volcano look and smell like? Books, videos, audio clips, and the Internet make it possible to research just about anything — but the knowledge you gain is second hand. If you really want to know what your characters experience, you must live in their worlds. See what your characters see with your own eyes, feel what they feel, trace their steps as they journey to new lands. Find out how extreme research can strengthen your world building, plotting, and character development.

N5 ~ Every Step A Journey: Planning a Series with Lisa Papademetriou
(MG-YA; All)
Different kinds of series offer the writer distinct challenges and opportunities. Whether you’re planning a character-based, linked, or standalone-title series, this workshop will show you how to construct the essential elements, build mystery, and map out plot milestones as you move forward.

N6 ~ Finding the Right Visual Voice for a Manuscript with Barbara McClintock
(*IL PB-GN; All)
Barbara McClintock has brought a variety of stylistic approaches to the 40+ picture books she’s illustrated. Following Maurice Sendak’s theory that it’s important to have a variety of illustration styles to allow the artist to “walk in and out of books”, Barbara talks about how she approaches each new manuscript with fresh visual ideas, to honor the text and reflect the authors’ voice. Be prepared to break out of your usual mode of drawing and try one or two different techniques, just for fun (and possibly profit!). Participants are asked to bring their preferred drawing implements — sketchbook, pencil, pen, marker, iPad — whatever they’re most at home with.

N7 ~ Top Ten Layers of Picture Books with Julie Hedlund
(PB; Beginner-Intermediate)
Sure, you know picture books have to tell a complete story with the fewest amount of words. But HOW do you do that well so you end up with a book that will sell? The key is understanding the most important layers all great picture books include and how to incorporate them into your own work.

N8 ~ Marketing Your Books with the Buddy System with Anika Aldamuy Denise and Jamie Michalak
(ALL; Beginner-Intermediate)
Critique partners and good friends Anika Denise and Jamie Michalak share tips for marketing and promoting your books by leveraging partnerships with kid lit pals, crowdsourcing publicity, and having FUN while you’re doing it! From joint book tours, to debut book groups, to shared school visits — they’ll offer creative ideas for how to get by with a little help from your friends and find JOY in the journey along the way.

 

AND

 

P-Block: 2:20 pm–3:15 pm

P1 ~ Tackling Mature Themes in Middle Grade with Janae Marks
(MG; All)
The middle grade market is booming, and more and more books are tackling mature themes, like incarceration and systemic racism (as in Janae’s debut From the Desk of Zoe Washington), the #MeToo movement (as in That’s What Friends Do by Cathleen Barnhart) and drug addiction (as in The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner). While these subjects are no longer taboo in middle grade, they still must be handled with sensitivity and care. In this workshop, attendees will learn how to incorporate these types of themes into their own middle grade stories in an age-appropriate manner.

P2 ~ The Whole Book Approach for Authors and Illustrators with Megan Dowd Lambert
(PB; All)
Join Simmons College professor and author Megan Dowd Lambert to learn about the Whole Book Approach, a co-constructive (interactive) storytime model focused on the art and design of the picture book, developed in association with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Drawing on her book, Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See (Charlesbridge 2015) attendees will learn about the picture book as a visual art form and will consider the difference between reading with children and reading to children. Megan will discuss how the Whole Book Approach has informed her work as a picture book author in order to provide insights to other writers and illustrators, and active participation throughout the session will allow everyone to reflect on a diverse array of picture books in order to add Whole Book Approach tools and techniques to their own storytime practice for author visits.

P3 ~ Is There a Story Behind This Image? with Senior Designer Aram Kim
(*IL; All)
**FULL – waitlist only**
The main goal of this presentation is to help illustrators be well-informed in both the artistic and business side of publishing to get their foot in the door of this highly competitive field. As an author/illustrator and a senior designer at a publishing house, Aram Kim sees both perspectives. The presentation will cover: 1) The best practice of making great portfolio pieces that will capture the industry professional’s eyes; 2) Overview of various genres of books (board books, picture books, chapter books, middle-grade novels) and what illustrators should be aware of when making portfolios for each genre; 3) How to stay connected to the field before being published.

P4 ~ Making Your Picture Book Text More Poetic  with Heidi E.Y. Stemple and Jane Yolen
(PB; All)
In this workshop, authors Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple will discuss how we can make our picture books more poetic.

P5 ~ Getting Unstuck: Four Approaches for Moving That Project Along, No Matter What with Chris Tebbetts
(ALL; All)
Writing is a perpetual balancing act between willful acts of creation and spontaneous moments of discovery. Somewhere in there, characters and story are born. And sometimes — often — it all feels as though it takes way more effort than it’s “supposed” to. So it’s no wonder we commonly find ourselves procrastinating, walking away, and/or giving up on the project that some other part of ourselves is so hot to get to. In which case, what are the things we can do to overcome that resistance? How can we up our own productivity, whatever that might mean for each of us? Using Mary Oliver’s Romeo metaphor as a jumping off point, this session will focus on identifying strategies for getting unstuck, and looking at four things we can always do — yes, always — when we’re feeling stalled at any phase of the creative process.

P6 ~ How to be Original with Lisa Bunker
(ALL; All)
With 7.4 billion people and counting on the planet, it keeps getting harder to do anything that a bunch of other people haven’t already done. Author Lisa Bunker (Felix Yz, Zenobia July) is inordinately proud of the fact that she’s gotten Goodreads reviews saying “I’ve never read a book like this before.” She doesn’t have an advanced degree in being original, but she has given the matter a good deal of thought, and she invites you to come hear some ideas. Geeky storycraft glee guaranteed.

P7 ~ Making Space for Social Media with Matthew C. Winner
(ALL; All)
How important is it (really) to be on social media and what do you do once you get there? We’re told that having a social media presence is important, but who exactly is it serving? Join school librarian and podcaster Matthew Winner in a workshop centered on making social media work for you, from healthy habits to life-giving practices. We will explore determining what social media tool is right for you and how to maximize your impact in that space without forfeiting time to write and create. No experience or online presence necessary to join.

P8 ~ Point of View: Whose? with Lesléa Newman
(MG-YA; All)
It is often said that “voice” is the most important aspect in a novel so one of the very first decisions a writer must make is, who is telling this story? And how is this story being told? In first person, second person, or third person? In present tense or past tense? Is the narrator omniscient or closely following one character? Will the story be told in diary form, through emails and tweets? What about alternating points of view? What about a “Greek chorus” style of narration? In this lecture, the pros and cons of various points of view will be discussed using examples by Laurie Halse Anderson, David Levithan, Jo Knowles, and others.


 

SUNDAY, May 3, 2020

Printer friendly PDF version of all Sunday Workshop descriptions.

 

Sunday Morning Workshop Blocks

 

CHOOSE

One 3-Hour Session:            R-Block: 9:45 am–1:00 pm

OR

Three 1-Hour Sessions:     S-Block: 9:45 am–10:40 am

                                    AND

                                                             T-Block: 10:50 am–11:45 am

                                    AND

                                                             V-Block: 12:00 pm–1:00 pm

 

3-Hour Session Options

 

R-Block  9:45 am1:00 pm (includes a 15-minute break)

R1 ~ Developmental Editing Intensive with Agent Quressa Robinson
(MG-YA; All)
**FULL – waitlist only**
Quressa Robinson will conduct an intensive developmental editing/self-editing class for writers. Participants can bring in 2-3 copies of the first 20 pages of a work in progress. Limited to MG and YA writers.

R2 ~ The Joy of Revision with Emma D. Dryden
(ALL; All)
This workshop will guide authors on a deep-dive exploration into an array of revision tools and methods to assist authors in revising their work thoroughly and confidently. We will focus on many aspects of craft, including: the balance of first lines & last lines, how to establish and retain voice, character development and depth, world building, and lots of revision methods. This workshop will include writing exercises & handouts.

 

OR

 

1-Hour Session Options

 

S-Block   9:45 am–10:40 am

S1 ~ What Happens Next?: Writing an Effective One-Page Synopsis with Agent Jennie Dunham
(ALL; All)
If you struggle to write a one-page synopsis of your story, this workshop is for you. After crafting your manuscript sentence by sentence, it can be difficult to pull back and distill your story to a one-page, birds-eye recap of events. This workshop will teach the important elements to include, and what to leave out to make a strong one-page synopsis.

S2 ~ Revising with an editor with Carrie Firestone and Editor Stephanie Pitts
(MG-YA; All)
What is it really like to revise with an editor? What does an editor expect from an author in a successful revision? Author Carrie Firestone and editor Stephanie Pitts take you through the editorial process for Carrie’s middle-grade debut Dress Coded — from first draft to final book. We’ll demystify the editorial letter and reveal how an author interprets and responds to an editor’s feedback.

S3 ~ Picture Book Cover Illustration with Art Director Saho Fujii [limit 10]
(*IL PB; Beginner-Intermediate)
**FULL – waitlist only**
Art Director Saho Fujii will ask participants to choose one story to illustrate from The Lion and the Mouse; The Tortoise and the Hare; or Three Billy Goats Gruff. Participants should be prepared to submit sketches by 3/10/2020. Saho will then send sketch comments and participants will have a few weeks to revise/finish the cover art. Participants should bring their final cover art to the workshop and Saho will review them in front of the group. This class is limited to 10 participants.

S4 ~ Help! I’m on Draft 39! with Marcie Colleen
(PB; All)
Marcie’s first picture book sale, Penguinaut! (Scholastic, 2018) sold after 2.5 years and 39 drafts. Drawing from her own personal experience, Marcie will share her concrete tips on how to re-imagine and revise your manuscript so you can get unstuck no matter what draft number you are on.

S5 ~ Writing From Childhood with Susan Tan [Note: S5 is repeated as L7 on Saturday at 10:50am]
(MG; All)
Flannery O’Connor writes: “If you’ve survived your childhood, you have enough material to write about for the rest of your life.” Childhood memories offer potent material for stories, and are particularly powerful resources for authors writing about children, for children. In this workshop, we’ll explore how to use our own childhood experiences and memories as the basis for fiction. Get ready to revisit your child self, to recapture the vividness of childhood journeys and joys, and to practice listening for your own childhood voices. Together, we’ll explore how memory can fuel and texture narrative with exercises, writing, and lots of chocolate!

S6 ~ Giving Characters Life and Voice with Agent Charlotte Wenger
(PB; Beginner-Intermediate)
What makes a story character-driven? How can you get your characters to jump off the page? What elements create a successful character with a distinct voice? Utilizing techniques and examples from both theatre acting and children’s literature, we’ll explore these questions and unpack tools to build rich characters with standout voices and unique personalities.

S7 ~ Five Plot Tools that will Bring More Tension to Your Narrative with Agent Abigail Samoun
(ALL; Beginner-Intermediate)
Literary agent Abigail Samoun discusses five plot tools that will help bring more tension to your narrative.

S8 ~ Read to Write Better with Loretta Kapinos and Editor Rob Broder
(PB; Beginner-Intermediate)
Attendees will need to come prepared with at least the first page of their picture book or story. Publisher-Creative Director Rob Broder (Ripple Grove Press) and author Loretta Kapinos will demonstrate how published picture books can improve an already great story and make it stand out. In this interactive workshop attendees will be given time to write, read and discuss structure all with the focus of improving craft.

S9 ~ World-Building Tips and Techniques in Sci-Fi/Fantasy with Kristy Acevedo
(MG-YA; Beginner-Intermediate)
Building a vast universe for characters can be messy, intimidating, and fun. Where do you begin? How far do you go? When is it enough to tell your story? Kristy will guide you through circular mapping techniques using cause and effect to help you brainstorm and conceptualize your world on micro to macro levels. Get ready for thought-stimulating, idea-swirling tips to bring your unique setting to life.

S10 ~ Their Voice, Their Perspective: Writing Cross-Cultural Stories We All Deserve with Leah Henderson
(ALL; All)
With the growing demand for added diversity reflected in children’s books, it is more important than ever to depict these characters authentically. Pulling from personal experience, the presenter will share various strategies and resources that can help in creating fully-rounded and authentic characters which mirror a perspective that is different from the writer’s own experience. The pitfalls and false starts many writers encounter will also be discussed as well as approaches to avoiding and working through them. This session is a safe space in which to ask questions in pursuit of telling a more accurate and well-balanced cross-cultural story.

 

AND

 

T-Block   10:50 am–11:45 am

T1 ~ Imbuing Animals with Real Life with Brian Lies [Note: T1 is repeated as V1 on Sunday at 12pm]
(*IL PB; All)
Imbuing Animal Characters with Real Life will help illustrators deal with environments, facial expressions and “props” to make animal characters more convincing and evocative.

T2 ~ So You Want to Write a Chapter Book? with Agent Elizabeth Bennett
(MG; Beginner-Intermediate)
In this session, we’ll talk about the differences between early readers, chapter books and middle grade. We’ll look at what makes a good chapter book work. We’ll explore the chapter book market. And then, we’ll talk about how to prepare a chapter book series proposal for submission.

T3 ~ Picture Book Pacing with J. R. Krause
(*IL PB-GN; Beginner-Intermediate)
Properly pacing a picture book will strengthen the elements of surprise, delight, humor, anticipation, momentum and emotional resonance. Here we will learn how to pace several different types of picture books along with creating dynamic page turns.

T4 ~ Creating an Author/Illustrator Platform with Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu [Note: T4 is repeated as V4 on Sunday at 12pm]
(ALL; All)
Building a platform and becoming familiar with social media is an important part of an author’s or illustrator’s career. This workshop, run by Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu from resource website Kidlit411, will explore: (1) what is an author platform and do you need one anyway?; (2) online components of a platform: website, newsletter, blogs, and social media presence; (3) social media sites useful to authors, with a special focus on Facebook and Twitter; and (4) ten signs of a successful platform. We’ll also talk about what the KEY thing to know about social media and how authors should decide where to focus one’s energy.

T5 ~ Singing with Joy on the Journey with Padma Venkatraman
(ALL; Advanced)
This workshop explores the difference between writing “free” verse and writing poems that challenge the poet to conform to certain rules. Author Padma Venkatraman will provide examples of excellent work that conforms to the boundaries set by a form (such as poems by Nelson, Grimes, Woodson, Engle, Wong, Yolen, and others), and compare these to examples of free verse written by the same authors. We’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using free verse, as well as common fallacies (such as how “free” free verse really is). Attendees will then be encouraged to choose one of three oft-used short Asian poetic forms (haiku, tanka, sijo) and rewrite an old free verse poem or create a new poem that follows the rules set by that form. We will finish with a Q & A that explores themes related to writing poetry such as writing collectively versus alone, writing verse novels versus poems, and of course writing using rhyme, rhythm and meter, and participants will leave with a handout with suggestions for further reading that emphasizes diverse poets and authors.

T6 ~ Bits of Brilliance: Flash Fiction as a Writing Practice with Dana Meachen Rau
(ALL; All)
You’ve heard the phrases “short and sweet” and “less is more,” but how do these apply to writing? Flash fiction is a term coined in the early 1990s to define stories of only a few hundred words. Since then, writers have experimented with this “short short story” format to create compelling pieces with the fewest and best words possible. Isn’t this what we hope to achieve as children’s authors as well? This workshop will introduce flash fiction — a modern genre with some guidelines, but very few rules. We’ll engage in writing exercises and learn how to apply flash fiction techniques of compression, description, and ambiguity to create moments with emotional impact. We’ll explore the importance of micro-moments in details, dialogue, setting, and scenes to help reflect themes of longer narratives. By incorporating flash fiction as part of their writing practice, authors will find they will be able to use just a few words to echo deep emotion, layered characters, and extensive stories.

T7 ~ Virtually Visiting Schools with Josh Funk
(ALL; Advanced)
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.

T8 ~ Plot Meets Character with Editor Kate Prosswimmer
(MG-YA; Beginner-Intermediate)
Explore existing approaches to outlining plot structure and character development to understand how finding the intersection between these elements is the key to an optimized and satisfying story (for novels only).

T9 ~ Landing a Literary Agent with Janae Marks and Agent Alex Slater
(ALL; Beginner-Intermediate)
Literary Agent Alexander Slater (Trident Media Group) and his client, middle grade author Janae Marks (From the Desk of Zoe Washington), demystify the querying process and offer tips & resources for aspiring kidlit authors. Whether you’re an aspiring author who’s been in the querying trenches for months/years, or a newbie looking to gain querying insight from various perspectives in the industry, there will be helpful tips for everyone. Alex and Janae will also talk about what happens after you sign with a literary agent, from going on submission to navigating the author/agent relationship.

T10 ~ What You Need to Know to Make It with Agent Rick Margolis
(ALL; Beginner-Intermediate)
Before Rick Margolis launched Rising Bear Literary Agency, he was School Library Journal’s longtime executive editor. The best part of his job? Interviewing many of the greatest children’s book authors and illustrators, including Kate DiCamillo, Mo Willems, Markus Zusak, Suzanne Collins, and John Green. Rick shares some of the lessons he learned about living a creative life, what it takes to make it in publishing, and what you need to know when you start your agent search.

 

AND

 

V-Block   12:00 pm–1:00 pm

V1 ~ Imbuing Animals with Real Life with Brian Lies [Note: V1 is repeated as T1 on Sunday at 10:50am]
(*IL PB; All)
Imbuing Animal Characters with Real Life will help illustrators deal with environments, facial expressions and “props” to make animal characters more convincing and evocative.

V2 ~ Enhancing your work with pictures, found objects, and vision boards with Carrie Firestone
(ALL; All)
This hands-on workshop will add layers to your work-in-progress, inspire a new story, or help you “unstick” the part of your story that isn’t working. Using magazines, found objects, and other materials, we’ll do some fun writing prompts and build photo files and inspiration boards for our work.

V3 ~ The Art of Reinvention: Diversify Your Work to Grow Your Career with Erin Dionne
(ALL; Advanced)
In today’s publishing climate, it’s hard to write one type of book for the length of your career. But publishers want authors and illustrators to stay on-brand. This workshop will discuss the ways authors and illustrators can build upon their core work to diversify and stretch into different age groups, genres, and styles. We’ll do some strategic planning, creative exercises, and goal setting to develop an action plan to broaden your creative portfolio.

V4 ~ Creating an Author/Illustrator Platform  with Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu [Note: V4 is repeated as T4 on Sunday at 10:50am]
(ALL; All)
Building a platform and becoming familiar with social media is an important part of an author’s or illustrator’s career. This workshop, run by Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu from resource website Kidlit411, will explore: (1) what is an author platform and do you need one anyway?; (2) online components of a platform: website, newsletter, blogs, and social media presence; (3) social media sites useful to authors, with a special focus on Facebook and Twitter; and (4) ten signs of a successful platform. We’ll also talk about what the KEY thing to know about social media and how authors should decide where to focus one’s energy.

V5 ~ The Picture Book Process: Life Cycle of a Picture Book with Art Director Saho Fujii
(*IL PB; Beginner-Intermediate)
Art Director Saho Fujii talks about the picture book process and the life cycle of a picture book. This workshop will also discuss trends in children’s books and what we look for in illustrators at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

V6 ~ From Personal to Publication: How to use your own experiences to inspire your writing with Rajani LaRocca
(PB-MG; All)
This workshop discusses how to mine your own interests/expertise/experiences and translate them into books, using examples from the presenter’s work and others’. We will do exercises to help people discover these topics. We will also learn how even in fiction, tapping into a core of truth and using this very specificity is the key to making a story universal.

V7 ~ Conflict and Crisis: Avoid Mushy Middle with Agent Jennie Dunham
(MG-YA; Beginner-Intermediate)
You know how to grab readers’ attention at the start of your story. And you’ve figured out how to wrap up the ending. But what about the middle? Does your story get stuck in neutral? Come find out how to keep your story taut and tense so that your story drives readers right into to the climax.

V8 ~ Crafting the Chapter Book with Marcie Colleen
(PB-MG; All)
Marcie will share her own journey on how she became an “accidental chapter book author” of The Super Happy Party Bears series (Macmillan) and breakdown exactly what a chapter book is, providing six easy tips to begin crafting a series of your own today!

V9 ~ Writer Envy: Drop the Shame. Tame the Beast with Julie Hedlund
(ALL; All)
It’s a fact. All writers experience envy to some degree or another throughout their careers. But nobody really talks about it openly. Find out why ALL writers are envious of other writers at some point, why envy doesn’t go away after you get published, how to get out of an envy “funk.” Learn why excessive envy is a creativity killer and how you can use envy (yes, you can!) to fuel your own work.

V10 ~ In Conversation with Characters with Matthew C. Winner
(ALL; All)
How well do you know your protagonist and what drives them to make the choices they make? Have you ever tried asking your character and listening to how they respond? Join school librarian and podcaster Matthew Winner in an interactive workshop designed to get you thinking about your characters beyond the pages of your story. Well-crafted characters have qualities we may never know as readers unless, of course, you ask their authors. After all, how can we write memorable, multifaceted characters without first knowing who these individuals are and what led them to this place in time in the story. In this workshop attendees will hear 3 characters interviewed (as voiced by their authors) and we will discuss how to know you’re asking the write questions when penning characters that will connect with readers. Let’s hear what your characters have to say!