SCBWI Fall Workshop & Critique

Oct 14, 2023


Join us for a day of learning and opportunity! Sign up for one of four morning workshops taught by four special guests: art director Mallory Griggs, agent Lynnette Novak, and editors Jennifer Thompson and Jennifer Adams. In the afternoon, you’ll join a 3-hour peer critique session facilitated by a published children’s author or illustrator of your choice. You can also choose an optional add-on consultation or pitch with one of our special guests for an added fee. Located in Millcreek, Utah.

Workshop Descriptions

Select one of the four workshop options below when you register. You'll spend the first 3 hours of the day in this workshop.

The Power of Mr. Potato Head

In this hands-on workshop, students will explore different ways to bring depth, emotion, and personality to their character designs and add depth to their world-building. Students will actively be drawing in this workshop and they should bring their primary method for creating artwork if it's suitable/portable enough to bring to a classroom. Inexpensive newsprint/sketchbooks and your medium of choice are ideal: we'll be pulling pages out of the sketch books to hang on walls. Pencils, markers, pastel, conte, charcoal, watercolor, crayons, etc. are all welcome—you do not need to buy new supplies for this workshop, whatever you use at home is great. Please bring painter's tape to hang sketches on the wall during class. iPads are welcome, though it may be more difficult to share work for critique with the wider group during critique sessions.

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Taught by Mallory Grigg

Mallory is the Senior Art Director at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group where she's had the pleasure of working on Mike Curato's graphic novel, Flamer, Katy Rose Pool's Age of Darkness series, and Karamo Brown's I Am Perfectly Designed. She's also worked on a number of NYTimes bestsellers, including Natalie Portman's Fables and Emmanuel Acho's Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy. Previously, Mallory has worked at Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Alloy Entertainment, and Cider Mill Press, and has lectured at SCBWI, CBIG, the Highlights Foundation, and universities across the country. A sixth-generation Texan who's forsaken the motherland to live in Brooklyn, NY, she loves boxing, cooking and baking, going to comedy shows, writing, and playing fetch with her rescue pup, Birdie. Mallory uses she/her pronouns.

Unraveling the Mystery of GMCs (Goals, Motivations, conflict) and Pitches

Do you struggle to determine your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts? Do you know the difference between internal and external GMCs? Are your stakes high enough? What about pitches? Are they tough to write? While GMCs may seem intimidating and overwhelming, I can help you have a better understanding of what ultimately is the skeleton to your story. Once that’s in place, you’ll see creating a pitch—be it high-concept, elevator, short, or a query pitch—isn’t as hard as you might think. This is a hands-on workshop, so bring pitches to work on in small groups.

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Taught by Lynnette Novak

Prior to joining The Seymour Agency, Lynnette spent seventeen years freelance editing. She worked with new writers, advanced writers, as well as New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors. Lynnette earned a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba, where she specialized in English and French. She excelled in Advanced Creative Writing in university and studied writing for children and teens through the Institute of Children’s Literature. Although Lynnette was born and raised Manitoba, Canada, she now lives in Minnesota with her husband, twin girls, and many pets. Her personal interests include reading, writing, exercising at the gym (okay, that’s a love/hate relationship), working on an assortment of crafts, all things having to do with animals (if she could own a farm, zoo, and animal shelter, she would), and enjoying time with family and friends.

Editing and Writing Across Children’s Literature Genres

Overview on the editorial process for each genre, tips for writing in each genre (picture book, middle grade, young adult), and writing exercises.

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Taught by Jennifer Thompson

Jennifer Thompson holds a Masters in Publishing from Pace University. She is an Associate Editor at Scholastic working in the trade department as well as with Scholastic Library Publishing and has spent five years in the publishing industry thus far.

Picture Book Palooza

This workshop will cover many elements that contribute to good picture book writing, including character, humor, structure, setting, page turns, and more. We'll have writing prompts, current best-selling and award-winning picture book reviews, and plenty of time for Q&A. Bring your questions, best ideas, and something to write with!

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Taught by Jennifer Adams

Jennifer Adams is the author of more than 60 books, including literary nonfiction, picture books, and board books. Her board book originals include the best-selling BabyLit series, which introduces young children to the world of classic literature. She has worked as an editor at Deseret Book, Gibbs Smith Publisher, Quirk Books, and Sounds True. Jennifer has a BA in English Literature from the University of Washington and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She's currently working on a multitude of picture book manuscripts and just finishing her first young adult novel. She also works weekends as a bookseller at The King's English Bookshop.

Afternoon Critique Faculty

Select one critique leader when you register. You'll spend the afternoon in a peer critique group facilitated by your chosen faculty member. If you sign up for an optional add-on consultation or pitch, you will be pulled out of the critique group briefly for that meeting.


Angie Lucas

Angie Lucas used to edit magazines, compose ad copy, and ghostwrite articles for tech CEOs. Now she writes little stories about big childhood challenges, in hopes of sparking essential conversations between kids and their caregivers. She's the author of three picture books: My Big, Dumb Invisible Dragon (SoundsTrue, 2019), My Big Embarrassing Elephant (Marble Press, 2023), and Rafa and the Wrong Legs (Marble Press, 2024). A lifelong language lover and unapologetic word nerd, Angie also loves yoga, freshly sharpened pencils, fresh mountain air, and volunteering in her faith community. The mother of one child through marriage, one through adoption, and one through birth, Angie lives with her precious patchwork family in Bluffdale, Utah. Follow Angie on Instagram @angielucas

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Celesta Rimington

Celesta Rimington is the award-winning author of The Elephant’s Girl and Tips for Magicians, published by Crown Books for Young Readers and Random House Children’s Books. Celesta has visited with thousands of elementary and middle school children across the country in assemblies and classrooms, encouraging them to write their own stories. She holds a degree in sociology from Brigham Young University and is a graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature. She's an elephant advocate, a musical theater performer, and an active participant in the writing community. Celesta now lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband, two children, and a five-pound Yorkie named Winston. Find her online at

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Erin Stewart

Erin Stewart writes relatable, realistic fiction for tackles tough topics. Her most recent novel, THE WORDS WE KEEP, received the Schneider Family Book Award from the American Library Association for its portrayal of the disability experience. Erin’s debut novel, SCARS LIKE WINGS, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, Amazon Editor’s Pick and winner of BookPal’s 2019 Outstanding Works of Literature award. Erin has new young adult and a middle-grade novels coming in 2025.

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Janet Sumner Johnson

Janet Sumner Johnson writes both picture books and middle grade novels. Her debut picture book, Help Wanted: Must Love Books, was the winner of the 2021 CLEL BELL Read Award and was nominated for the Children’s Choice Book Awards in Colorado (2022) and Washington (2023). Her most recent books include The Recess Genius: Open for Business, and A Bad Case of the Almosts. The first book of her upcoming middle grade mystery series, The Winterton Deception: Final Word releases in October 2023. After living in all four continental US time zones, she now lives in northern Utah with her husband, three kids, and a dog. When she isn’t writing, she loves eating cookies, playing the piano, and singing along with the radio at the top of her lungs. Visit her online at

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Jennifer P. Eichelberger

Jennifer Pearson Eichelberger illustrates anything from picture books to graphic novels to book covers. From a young age books have always been a source of enchantment and delight. She seeks to unfold the magic and wonder she remembers from her childhood and defend the innocence of youth. You can find her at

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Julie Olson

Julie graduated from Brigham Young University with a BFA in Illustration in the late 90’s and recently earned an MFA in Design degree as well. Right after college, she began her freelance illustration career, illustrating everything from books, to magazines, to games, and more. Julie’s name first appeared on the cover of a picture book in 2001. Since then, she’s illustrated over 20 books and authored 3. Julie continues to work on books, but she also works part-time as an artist/designer for Covenant Corp and teaches adjunct at UVU. Julie also loves riding bikes, reading, and spending time with her family.

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Kelsy Thompson

Kelsy Thompson is a freelance writer and editor from Ogden, Utah. She has served as managing editor at distinguished literary journal Weber—The Contemporary West, acquisition editor for North Star Editions and its children’s imprints, Flux and Jolly Fish Press, and a production editor at Erewhon Books. Kelsy has edited everything from award-winning, traditionally published novels to passion projects. She specializes in young adult, new adult, fantasy, and romance, and loves working hand-in-hand with authors to make their manuscripts shine.

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Lezlie Evans

Lezlie Evans is the award-winning author of numerous picture books including Vroom, Vroom Beep-Beep! A Crash Course in Kindness (2023), I’m a Feel-o-saur (2021), Daddies Do (2018), and Finding Christmas (2017). Lezlie has been writing for children for over twenty years and has appeared/presented at The National Book Festival, NCTE, ALA, SCBWI regional conferences, and schools and libraries all over the country. Her books have been translated into multiple languages, have been featured in the Book of the Month Club and the Scholastic Book Order, and have been part of the Toys R Us Signed by the Author Program. Lezlie is the mother of six and grandmother of eleven. She recently moved from the Washington DC area to Midway, Utah where she happily spends her days performing in plays, playing pickleball, and working on her stories.

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Manelle Oliphant

Manelle’s love of art and stories began with the books and movies she enjoyed as a child. It was a happy day when her mom finally let her get her own library card. (Then she accidentally ran it through the washing machine, but that’s another story.) Her love for storytelling had only grown as she found ways to share ideas through illustration and writing. She received a bachelor’s degree in illustration from BYU-Idaho and since then has illustrated many children’s books both working with publishers and through self-publishing. She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and two cats who are named after the weather (Muggy and Drizzle). She enjoys spending time with her family and watching Korean dramas. See Manelle’s work at

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Shawna Tenney

Shawna J. C. Tenney grew up in a world of fort building, hand-me-down dress ups, and fairy tales. Her love of creating her own imaginary worlds with the pencil grew over the years, and she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration from Brigham Young University. She loves telling stories through color, composition, and whimsical characters. Shawna is the author and illustrator of Brunhilda's Backwards Day, Pirates Don't Dance, and Anonymoose (Fall 2024). She is currently the Illustrator Coordinator for the Utah/Southern Idaho SCBWI region, and teaches a Children's Book Illustration class at Utah Valley University. Shawna lives in Eagle Mountain, Utah.