Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2021 Biannual Conference Schedule and Workshop Descriptions

The conference will be presented on three different zoom channels: blue, yellow and red. Links will be sent out in the conference packets with all the information you need between June 7th and 11th.


Friday Evening


Time Blue Zoom    

6:00 pm


Welcome and Introduction of Faculty

6:30 Opening Keynote Address by Dan Yaccarino    





Time Blue Zoom Yellow Zoom Red Zoom
















Veronica Bartles:
Selling Yourself (without Selling Yourself Short),
pt 1
Minju Chang:
Picture Book Vision
Sarah Hokanson:
Developing Characters, An Art Director’s Perspective,  pt 1


9:45 – 10:45 Veronica Bartles:
Selling Yourself (without Selling Yourself Short),
pt 2
Christa Heschke:
Picture Books 101
Artist Panel: With Sarah Hokanson, Dan Yaccarino, and Diana Toledano


11:00 – 12:30


Elizabeth Law:
Behind the Editor’s Desk: 8 Things You Didn’t Know about the Acquisition Process
Feather Flores:
Exploring Change Through Picture Books
Dan Yaccarino:
Essentials of PB Dummies




Editor & Agent Panel


2:30-3:00 Announcements & Farewell for Now




3:30 – 4:45 Roundtables & First Glance Sessions

*must preregister








Blue Zoom



Yellow Zoom



Red Zoom


8:00-8:20 Welcome





Minju Chang:
You Put a Spell on Me


Feather Flores:
Take What Works: Navigating Critiques, Feedback,  & Revision Like a Pro


Sarah Hokanson:
Developing Characters, pt 2

9:30-9:45 BREAK

9:45 – 10:45

Christa Heschke:
Writing an Engaging


Kat Yeh:
The Art and Heart of Writing Picture Books


Erin Casey:
Querying from Start to Finish

10:45-11:00 BREAK

11:00 – 12:30
Erin Casey:
World Building 101: If You Build It, They Will Come
 Elizabeth Law:
The Hook’s The Thing

 Diana Toledano: Daring Composition






1:30-2:30 Closing Keynote address by Kat Yeh
2:30-3:00 Fond Farewells





  • Veronica Bartles: Selling Yourself (Without Selling Yourself Short!) part 1: Sensational School Visits & Other Phenomenal Presentations

Before you can reach out to schools & libraries to set up events, you need a presentation to offer. How do you know if your presentation will be sensational enough? Do you really have something important to share? (spoiler alert: Of course you do!) These exercises are designed to help you discover the presentation that only you could offer!


  • Veronica Bartles: Selling Yourself (Without Selling Yourself Short!) part 2: Reaching Out to Schools, Libraries, & Bookstores

You have your book. You’ve put together a sensational school visit program. You’re ready for your first event! But the phone isn’t ringing, and your inbox is growing cobwebs … How do you let schools (& libraries … & bookstores) know you’re available to do events? And can you really expect to get paid for your presentations, even if you’re new at this? (hint: the answer is YES!)


  • Erin Casey: World-Building 101: If You Build It, They Will Come 

Every book contains its own world, whether it be a simple contemporary backyard or a completely foreign, fictional world. You, the author, must choose what’s important to mention, what the context of the world is for your story, and how to most effectively communicate that to your readers. Let’s chat about and practice all the fundamental things that you need to make a world believable and interesting, without slowing down your narrative, in any genre. 


  • Erin Casey: Querying from Start to Finish

For anyone who is querying for the first time or back in the trenches and wants a refresher, let’s talk about the entire querying process from start to (hopefully happy!) finish. What to do, what not to do, and all the subjective stuff in between.


  • Minju Chang: You Put a Spell on Me

Why are some stories so enthralling and addictive? Let’s discuss and dissect our favorite unputdownable MG and YA reads and pull back the curtain to identify the tools and techniques our favorite writers employ to weave their spells.


  • Minju Chang: Picture Book Vision

Is your picture book really ready to go to market? We’ll review common picture book pitfalls and the finer points of positioning your book. Attendees should bring their works in progress and elevator pitches and be prepared to do a little online research.


  • Feather Flores: Take What Works: Navigating Critiques, Feedback, and Revision like a Pro

Applicable to writers and illustrators both agented and querying, this talk focuses on three concrete moments, with emphasis on moments two and three: (1) the critique itself, (2) deciphering and processing feedback afterward, and (3) moving forward with revision. From getting to the heart of feedback (what do comments like “feels quiet” mean, anyway?) to recognizing the difference between structural and line edits—and the different approaches to take in each case—this talk offers an empowering way of thinking about story development at every stage, as well as a window into the editorial process.


  • Feather Flores: Exploring Change Through Picture Books

Description Coming Soon!


  • Christa Heschke: Writing an Engaging Mystery: Atmosphere, Tension, Pacing and Premise

An engaging mystery successfully melds together a creepy or foreboding atmosphere, swift pacing, mounting tension to an exciting conclusion, and a killer premise. I will provide tips on making sure your premise stands out, how to add surprising twists and keep your reader in suspense as they eagerly turn pages, and create a captivating cast of characters. **Many of the tips here apply to any genre!**


  • Christa Heschke: Picture Books 101

From coming up with an idea to querying, this introduction will cover all the basics from word counts, rhythm and rhyme to what’s working in the current market and beyond.


  • Sarah Hokanson: Developing Characters: An Art Director’s Perspective (Part 21

Great memorable characters are an essential part of any illustrated story. In this workshop, I will talk about the process of visually developing characters for picture books. Through examples of illustrated books that I have art directed over the years, I will showcase some fun stories and visuals that have brought many a great character to life.


  • Sarah Hokanson: Developing Characters: An Art Director’s Perspective (Part 2)

In this second half of the workshop on developing characters, we will look at your completed homework assignments as a group. My hope is that your assignment finals will be great pieces for your portfolio!

Click here for the homework assignment


  • Elizabeth Law: Behind the Editor’s Desk: 8 Things You Didn’t Know about the Acquisition Process

Take a peek into the life of an editor as she works to acquire and publish your creation.


  • Elizabeth Law: The Hook’s the Thing

How to “Posterize” your book so people get it.


  • Diana Toledano: Daring Compositions: When Text & Illustrations Work Together

What do board books, picture books, chapter books and graphic novels have in common? They use both words and pictures! We’ll learn to create compositions full of impact by challenging the way words and pictures interact on the page. And we’ll harness the power of layout as a narrative tool.

*Supplies: copies, plain paper or notebook, pencil, eraser, black marker
*Optional supplies: grey or another mid-tone neutral color marker


  • Dan Yaccarino: From Inspiration to Publication: The Essentials of a Picture Book Dummy

A picture book isn’t just drawings depicting text, but images and words uniquely intertwined to create a story. This presentation teaches the fundamentals of picture books, from format, character development to basic storytelling.


  • Kat Yeh: The Art & Heart of Writing Picture Books 

Whether they are funny, sad, silly or warm & fuzzy, the picture books that we hold dearest have one thing is common: Heart.  During this breakout, we’ll start at the very beginning and go through all the steps you’ll need to help navigate your way to creating a picture book manuscript that tells your story and holds your heart.


Opening Keynote by Dan Yaccarino: SAY YES!

By meeting challenges and opportunities with the simple 3-letter word, YES, Dan has enjoyed a successful 25-year career as a children’s book author/illustrator, television creator/producer, commercial illustrator, and public speaker. In this funny, yet inspiring presentation, Dan shows through slides and animation how he was able to reach the next level of his career by saying YES!


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