Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators






A.   Bonnie Bader –  First Impressions Matter: How to write a first chapter that will hook agents, editors, and readers (Part One) THIS INTENSIVE IS ALL DAY  SOLD OUT

This full day, hands-on intensive is designed to help writers refine the first chapter of their un-submitted manuscripts. The class will include tips, writing exercises, brainstorming, polishing, reading, and more! Not suitable for picture book manuscripts. Assignment: Each participant must send in the first chapter of the book they want to work on in this class by July 1st  to 

B.    Kwame Alexander – Like Riding a Bike: Writing Poetry that Jumps off the Page  SOLD OUT

In this energetic, inspirational, and hands-on writing intensive, participants will listen to, and engage in, an exciting culture of poetry. Whether you’re writing picture book poetry, linked poems, or novels-in-verse, this workshop will explore the tools and techniques you’ll need to get on the write road to a career in poetry for young people. Assignment: Bring a poem or two from a work-in-progress.?

C.    Emma Dryden – Robust Revision SOLD OUT

In this session, we will explore a variety of revision techniques and tools to help authors experience their work with fresh eyes and new perspectives. This intensive will be supplemented by several writing exercises and useful handouts. Assignment: This intensive is for authors who have completed one complete draft of at least one manuscript. Authors should have their complete manuscript accessible during the session on a laptop or device (or hard copy, if preferred).  Much of the focus will be on revision of longer manuscripts, but picture book authors and NF authors can and do benefit from the techniques and tools being discussed.

D.   Paul Fleischman – Brainstorming

The ability to brainstorm is the writer's most essential skill.  Newbery winner Paul Fleischman will lead you in exercises across many media and then help you apply what you've learned to the many stages of writing, from creating plot and characters to crafting sentences.  Assignment: Bring writing tools.

E.    Shannon Hale – Building Worlds from the Dust

There's nothing like creating a whole new world inside your fantasy or science fiction novel. We'll examine other fictional worlds and discuss tricks and tips to building your own. Assignment: Come with a page or two describing the fictional world of your work-in-progress and be prepared to discuss some of your favorite world-built novels.

F.    Kristin Nelson – Creating the Road Map for Your YA or MG Novel  SOLD OUT

Writers view their work as art or as an expression of themselves so it feels very personal.  An agent, however, doesn't have that same emotional connection to the work. We can easily break a novel down to its base components and tell immediately what is or is not working when evaluating/reading the beginning pages of a manuscript. Assignment: Bring a synopsis of a work-in-progress.

G.  Alexandra Penfold/Jen Rofé – Speed Pitching Is your work saleable? SOLD OUT

Can you describe it succinctly and entertainingly enough to interest a publisher, an editor, or even a reader? In this small group, practical workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your work to two accomplished children’s book agents. They’ll give you an on the spot reaction with tips to improve your pitch and the interest in your work.  Don’t miss this opportunity to get a direct evaluation on your elevator pitch. Assignment: Attendees should come prepared to pitch a current piece of work that they are hoping to sell or bring to market. Pitches should last between three and five minutes maximum.

H.  Sara Sargent – Inside the Editor’s Brain: Seeing Your Book Edited in Real Time SOLD OUT

Ever wonder about the editorial process—what we choose to edit and not edit, and why? In this three-hour intensive, editor Sara Sargent will line edit live, using one page of each participant’s manuscript to show you how editors think and how they make tough decisions about what stays and what goes.  Assignment: Send in the first page of your MG, YA, or PB manuscript to by July 1st. Please send the full first page of text, no title page needed.

I . Lee Wind/Jim Averbeck – Your Plan for an Effective and Successful Blog: Audience. Content. Discoverability. Synergy.

With exercises, examples, and workshopping feedback you will target your audiences, figure out what you’ll blog about (and how to keep it interesting), strategize reaching your readers, and find the synergy with your writing and/or illustrating. From Twitter hashtags and Facebook likes to book trailers and out-of-the-box content that can plug you into the kidlitosphere, you’ll leave this workshop with a customized plan of action to make your blog a turbo-charged career engine! Assignment: Select your two favorite kid lit blogs – and be prepared to share what you like about them. If you don’t know off the top of your head, spend some time checking out the blog roll and 

J. Dan Yaccarino – Visual Narrative: Let the Picture Tell the Story

In picture books, the pictures do most of the heavy lifting. In this intensive designed for illustrators, picture book veteran Dan Yaccarino shows how to convey a simple straight forward story to more nuanced and complex narrative using mostly (or entirely) visuals. It’s harder than it sounds, but a must for all picture book illustrators. Dan shares early sketches, thumbnails, and finished product, as he guides participants on how to strengthen their visual narrative skills. Assignment: Come with a completed picture book dummy and be prepared to revise it.

K. Andrea Welch – Ten Essential Picture Book Elements: How Does Your Manuscript Measure Up? SOLD OUT

One of our industry’s most proficient picture book editors reviews the essential qualities of the best picture books. This highly-interactive intensive explores ten key elements editors are looking for in books for young children, including voice, pacing, narrative tension, and emotional content—with lots of real-life examples of each. Participants will come away with a clear sense of what makes a project irresistible to an editor.  No Assignment necessary!

L. Alison Weiss – “Let’s Get It Started:” Beginning Your Story with the Right First Steps

This intensive will focus on how to develop the opening of your novel so that it hooks readers from the start. We’ll talk about what goes into a great first page, examine openings that work (and why), and engage in some writing exercises, before digging into the opening pages of your current Work-in-Progress and working (and re-working) the words to get you on your way. Assignment: Submit the first chapter of your novel (chapter book through YA—no picture books, please) no later than July 15 to Come with a copy of your chapter, pencil, paper, and an eagerness to dive right in.


12:15 PM-2:00 PM Lunch (on your own)



A.    Bonnie Bader – First Impressions Matter: How to write a first chapter that will hook agents, editors, and readers (Part Two) SOLD OUT

This full day, hands-on intensive is designed to help writers refine the first chapter of their un-submitted manuscripts. The class will include tips, writing exercises, brainstorming, polishing, reading, and more! Not suitable for picture book manuscripts. Assignment: Each participant must send in the first chapter of the book they want    to work on in this class by July 1st to 

B. Mem Fox/Allyn Johnston – So What is it with Rhythm, and why is it of Paramount Importance in a Picture Book Text? SOLD OUT

A rare opportunity to hear one of the most gifted author-editor teams in the picture book field examine the essential rhythms of successful picture book texts. Assignment: Bring a favorite (published) picture book of less than 500 words. And paper and a writing tool.

C. Stephen Fraser – The Middle Grade Novel   SOLD OUT

The middle grade novel is a perennial staple of children’s publishing. This workshop gives you the chance to perfect your storytelling skills in an all-important genre. Assignment: Come with a one-page synopsis and one complete chapter.  Expect to write a professional-sounding elevator pitch and leave with a polished chapter, with feedback from the instructor and fellow students. Expect perfection!

D. Julie Strauss-Gabel – Choosing Your Next Book Project: How to Decide, Where to Begin  SOLD OUT

Building a career means making hard decisions about your next projects. Who are you as a writer? How do you want to be perceived? What should you write next?  One of our most successful editors will lead a discussion of which of your ideas is most viable, emotionally, market-wise and practically.  Assignment: Bring in a paragraph (or flap copy) about two projects to be shared.

E. Deborah Halverson – Voice in YA/MG: How to Create an Authentic Teen Narrator SOLD OUT

Learn language styling techniques and narrative strategies for crafting teen and tween narrators that reflect young people’s unique perspective, sensibilities, life experiences, emotions, and manners of expression, all mixed-and-matched to create a voice distinct to your story. For writers of MG and YA fiction of any genre, first and third person POVs, formal or casual voices. Includes lecture with examples, individual writing exercises, and group critique. Assignment:  Bring five copies of the first five pages of your novel-in-progress. 

F.    Molly Idle – Anatomy 101 for Illustrators 

Hiding your characters hands in their pockets? Placing your protagonist's feet behind "conveniently" drawn plants? No more! This 3-hour session will step participants through the basics of analyzing and drawing the human form- from head to toe. Assignment: Bring Sketchbook, pencils, erasers. Optional: Bring a copy/print-out of one of your illustrations (finished, or work-in-progress) human/humanoid/anthromomorphized character that's that has posing a problem for you. We'll work though it together.

G. Varian Johnson – What’s the Point (of View)

In this workshop, we’ll discuss tips on how to best determine which point of view is best for telling your story, and will explore ways to get the most of out of each narrative perspective. Attendees should read Tyrell by Coe Booth, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart, and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin in preparation for the class. Assignment: Bring a chapter from a work-in-progress.

H. Arthur Levine – Beginning, Middle, and End SOLD OUT

We all know what constitutes the three parts of a story. But do we know how to make each part successful? Attendees will be required to select in advance and bring to the class ready to present and discuss one each of 1) the best beginning they've read 2) a passage from the middle—why it's developed from the beginning of the book and why it makes you want to read on 3) a fantastic ending.  After analysis, you will revise each element of your work based on what you’ve learned. Assignment: Bring a work-in-progress.

I. Wendy Loggia – Writing a YA Novel That Sells  SOLD OUT

You’re a writer who wants to be a published author. This intensive will walk you through key elements that your manuscript needs [hook, voice, character, pacing, dialogue] with the goal of strengthening your prose and turning writers into authors. The intensive will include writing exercises that focus on brainstorming, rewriting, sharing, & collaboration! Assignment: Please read On Writing by Stephen King and to write the flap copy for his/her book and be ready to share. Writers should have their manuscript/work-in-progress accessible during the session on a laptop/device (or hard copy).

J. Linda Sue Park – Poetry Tricks for Novelists

In this hands-on workshop, we'll explore simple techniques used in poetry to develop and revise your novel. Whether you're working on shaping your story or refining the language, thinking like a poet can help take your writing to the next level! Assignment: Bring at least fifty pages of the draft of a middle grade or YA novel.

K. Jen Rofé – Picture Perfect: Components of a Good Picture Book SOLD OUT

What elements do successful picture books have in common? Jen Rofé will walk you through them, while putting published picture books to the test. Then, we'll put your manuscript to the test. Remember to bring your best one! Assignment: Bring your latest version of a picture book manuscript.

L.  Andrea Welch – Help Your Manuscript Hook an Editor SOLD OUT

We’ve all heard it’s important for a manuscript to have a hook. But what the heck is a hook, anyway? And what makes an editor fall in love with a manuscript on the very first read? With case studies, activities, and lots of conversation, this session will help you zero in on your story’s hook…and help you get it submission-ready. Assignment: Bring a work-in-progress.


Download a Printable Version of the Craft Intensive Schedule (pdf)





Download a Printable Version of the Illustrator Intensive Schedule (pdf)