Conference Schedule

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Conference Event Schedule Descriptions

Below you'll descriptions of all of our presentations. For a detailed downloadable copy of our schedule with times, registrants need to check their email for the one titled: Registration Confirmation for ALL Y’ALL Conference. Nearly all of our presentations will be recorded and available for viewing until May 19, 2024 for all in-person and all online attendees. So plan now which events you want to attend live! All sessions that will NOT by recorded will be marked as LIVE ONLY.

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On Saturday we have 4 different general sessions spread throughout the day. Although almost all of the following presentations will be recorded and available for attendees to view through May 19, 2024, a few of our presentations will only be available live. Those will be marked LIVE ONLY.

Keynote Speeches


SARWAT CHADDA — Embracing Your Passions

Free up your writing from the rules and trends. Learn how to use your life, your interests and loves to create something from your heart.


MOLLY IDLE — Collaboration is Key(note)

A chat about how the collaborative process can influence and inspire creativity, and strengthen your work.


PJ HOOVER — Side Quest Success

The path ahead is like a video game. It's full of quests to complete and bosses to defeat. But often, it's in the side quests full of surprises, some pushing you ahead and some testing your limits, where you learn to navigate through and enjoy the journey!

Industry Insider Publishing Panel

Join our agents, editors, and art director as they talk about publishing, the querying and submission process, and what they look for in a submission.


Arely Guzmán

Arely Guzmán is a book lover from the Tijuana/San Diego area. They are an assistant editor at Levine Querido and before that they worked as an editorial assistant at Knopf BFYR and Make Me a World, where they have assisted on the creation of books such as Mama's Home, Snow Angel Sand Angel, and Joyful Song, and edited the graphic novel duology, The Boy from Clearwater. During their free time, Arely enjoys moonlighting as an essayist, playing on their Switch, and spending time with their pets, Matcha and Stringbean.


Kevin Lewis

Agent, EMLA — Kevin Lewis plays with words like kids play with blocks. He can arrange them in rhythmic rows (CHUGGA CHUGGA CHOO CHOO, 1998), stack them up (THE LOT AT THE END OF MY BLOCK, 2001) and then knock them down again (THE RUNAWAY PUMPKIN, 2003). He takes them on the car (MY TRUCK IS STUCK, 2002), to the playground (DINOSAUR DINOSAUR, 2006), in the tub (TUGGA TUGGA TUG BOAT, 2006), and he’s even been known to use them to get his own way (NOT INSIDE THIS HOUSE, 2011). His most recent books are BROWN SUGAR BABY (2022) , BROWN SUGAR BABY CHRISTMAS JOY (2023), and BROWN SUGAR BABY SWEETEST LOVE (2023). Kevin has worked as an editor for 25 years at companies like Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and Disney. He lives in a large, 200-year old farmhouse in New York’s Hudson Valley with his husband and a dog named Kat and two cats named Rue and Prim.


Alvina Ling

VP and Editor-in-Chief, Little,Brown for Young Readers — Alvina Ling is VP and Editor-in-Chief at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers where she has worked since 1999. She edits children's books for all ages, including A Big Mooncake for Little Star and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier, The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer, The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Troublemaker by John Cho, The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. She co-hosts the podcast Book Friends Forever with author Grace Lin and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two cats.


Laurent Linn

Art Director, Simon &Schuster — Laurent Linn, Art Director at Simon & Schuster, collaborates on picture books, middle grade, and teen novels with both celebrated and new illustrators. He is also the author/illustrator of the YA novel, Draw the Line. Laurent is on the SCBWI Advisory Council and is Artistic Advisor for the Original Art exhibit at the Society of Illustrators in New York. Laurent began his career as a puppet designer/builder in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop, creating characters for productions including the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island films, eventually becoming Creative Director for the Sesame Street Muppets, winning an Emmy Award.


Molly O'Neill

Agent, Root Literary — Molly O’Neill is an agent with Root Literary. She loves the creative process and early-stage project development, is invigorated by business strategy and entrepreneurial thinking, and is fascinated by the intersections of creativity, commerce, innovation, storytelling, and community. Over the course of more than twenty years in publishing, she has worked as a marketing expert, and publishing-adjacent tech start-up executive, and as an editor and agent of multiple award-winners, #1 New York Times bestsellers, and publishing phenomenons; all of these skills now power her expertise as a literary agent and advocate for her clients and their careers. Her client list includes both emerging and established authors, illustrators, and graphic novelists.


Trinica Sampson-Vera

Trinica Sampson-Vera (they/she) is a literary associate at New Leaf Literary & Media. She is passionate about championing diverse voices and particularly loves speculative fiction; adventurous, character-driven stories with largely emotional stakes; stories featuring Caribbean characters/settings; and stories where queer characters find happy endings. Trinica studied Creative Writing and French at Antioch College. Before they joined New Leaf, they worked as an independent editor with Salt & Sage Books and Writing Diversely.


MODERATOR — Lynne Kelly

Author of Song for a Whale — Lynne Kelly’s career as a sign language interpreter has taken her everywhere from classrooms to hospitals to Alaskan cruises. Her 2019 novel Song For a Whale, about a deaf girl named Iris who forms an unlikely bond with the “loneliest whale in the world,” has been described as “finely crafted,” “important,” and “uplifting” by reviewers from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and School Library Journal. Song For a Whale received the 2020 Schneider Family Book Award and was named one of the best books of the year by New York Public Library. Her next book, The Secret Language of Birds, will be released in April 2024. She lives near Houston, Texas. Find her on Twitter/X @lynnekelly.


On Saturday we have 4 different breakout sessions with 4 different presentations to chose from during each session. Although almost all of the following presentations will be recorded and available for attendees to view through May 19, 2024, a few of our presentations will only be available live. Those will be marked LIVE ONLY. Choose which ones you would like to view live on Saturday May 4.

Breakout Sessions #1 (9:40-10:30)


Finding Your Mentor-text Mojo — presented by Romy Natalia Goldberg

Mentor texts can play an essential role in helping us go from blank page to submission ready picture book manuscript. During this session we will do a deep dive into how to find and use mentor texts to improve your picture book manuscripts and hone your writing process. Romy will provide a behind the curtains look at how mentor texts were used in the development of her upcoming picture book THE GOODNIGHT SHIFT. We will also share and compare reading resources for staying up-to-date on mentor texts without breaking your book bank.


Deep Character Immersion Workshop for Chapter Books, Middle Grade and YA Authors and Illustrators — Presented by Britta Jensen

Do you feel like your character isn’t fully speaking to you? Inhabit your character’s world and emotional reality in this immersive, hands-on workshop where we use Britta’s signature Character Mincer to dive deep into the mindset, psychology, motivations and relationships of your characters.


5 Ways to Illuminate You in the Picture Book You're Illustrating — Presented by Erika Lynne Jones

In this presentation I share how my journey to picture book making influences my art and my writing. I guide participants in exploring how their values and experiences and even their favorite childhood books can inform how and why we tell the stories we tell. I talk about why shining a light on yourself as a creator is a value add to any story you create; and how when I consciously decided to infuse more of myself into my work my career truly began.

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Real Talk: How to be a Children’s Content Creator for Life — Presented by Molly Blaisdell

This is an overview of children’s content creation from a veteran creator. Expect practical tips and surprising inspiration to help launch your creation journey or supercharge the journey you are already on. My challenges include illness, disability, parenthood, and a full-time job. You may face similar or even more daunting challenges. On top of that, the ever-shifting children's market requires you to rethink your trajectory again and again. Writing for children is a process of invention and reinvention. Let me give you some tools so you can build a roadmap to your success.

Breakout Sessions #2 (10:40-11:30)


Picture Book Beginnings and Endings: How Authors Can Do the Gymnastics…From Getting Right On and Keeping your Balance, to Showing Flare and Sticking the Landing — Presented by Kris Tarantino

When a gymnast mounts the balance beam, they do it quickly and then leap right into their routine. Like a gymnast, picture book authors need to enter and exit a story quickly, with polish and flare. But how? Children’s book author Kris Tarantino will share her experience on creating hooky titles, crafting “grab-the-reader” first lines, and finally sticking the landing. She’ll talk about helpful resources as well as show examples from picture books, including her debut book – Be My ValenSLIME (WaterBrook/Penguin Random House), which received a starred review from School Library Journal and praise from Publishers Weekly.


Seven Ah-has for Adding Ha-has to Your Writing — Presented by Lori Z. Scott

Even if you don't have a strong funny bone, this presentation can help you learn how to add humor to you writing through exploration of playful puns, ridiculous situations, and other giggle worthy techniques.


Mixing Traditional and Digital Illustration — Presented by Breanna Carzoo

Tips, techniques, and inspiration for mixing traditional and digital art from paper cut collage author-illustrator Breanna Carzoo. Breanna will share how she approaches creating book illustrations using traditional and digital art diving into the tips and techniques that she's explored and learned while making her first three picture books. Topics include materials, supplies, digital tools, techniques, challenges, myth busting and more.


Thinking Like Your Editor — Presented by Alvina Ling

A peek into the head of an editor and the things that they deal with on both a day-to-day basis and in terms of each book acquired. We’ll be talking about acquisition through finished book and beyond, and what the role as an editor is during each stage of the process.

Breakout Sessions #3 (2:40-3:30)


Based on a True Story: Crafting Compelling Picture Book Biographies — Presented by Arely Guzmán

Activists, singers, and chefs, oh my! The subjects of picture book biographies are as numerous as the children they inspire. But how can you make sure that a book about an adult figure is not only appealing to children, but also engaging, original, and relevant? Join Arely as we explore award-winning examples and craft elements to consider when introducing your heroes to their youngest and newest fans.


All About Plotting Your Novel — Presented by Alvina Ling

There’s no one right way to plot a novel. In this session, we’ll discuss different strategies for plotting your book.


Behind-the-Scenes: The Ins & Outs of Illustration and Publishing In Today’s World — Presented by Laurent Linn

As with many aspects of life, the events of the past years have affected children’s books and illustration in profound ways, some negative but many quite positive. In this session for illustrators and illustrator/writers, Laurent Linn will discuss the current state of both the craft and business of creating art for children’s literature for all ages and what that may mean for you. Please come prepared with questions.


The Chapters In-Between: How to nurture your reader engagement between and beyond your books — Presented by Caroline Leech

In this workshop, YA author and presentation skills coach Caroline Leech will guide all you published authors through key strategies so you can keep your readers captivated, even in the intervals between your book publications. From strategic author branding and effective communication to community building and exclusive content creation, this workshop covers all the essential activities for you to ensure a vibrant and enduring connection with your audience, but still leave you time to write the next book. Explore the art of interactive events, gather insights through reader surveys, and discover the power of collaborations. Elevate your authorial journey by mastering the delicate balance of sustaining reader engagement, fostering a lasting relationship that will extend far beyond the pages of your next book, and refining your approach to social media so you can build and maintain a thriving literary community around your work.

Breakout Sessions #4 (3:40-4:30)


The Picture Book Defined: What to Consider Before You Create — Presented by Kevin Lewis

Offering a broad artistic, commercial, and social understanding of the picture book format as a medium. THE PICTURE BOOK DEFINED is an objective discussion of the fundamentals of craft, the realities of commerce, and the expression of an ever evolving culture as reflected on the illustrated page. This presentation will be grounded in the speaker’s professional experience and personal observations gathered during three decades as a corporate editor, freelance writer, and current literary agent.

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First Pages, Two Ways: What Revision Really Looks Like — Presented by Molly O'Neill and Lynne Kelly

Literary agent Molly O’Neill shares first pages of now-published books two ways: as they were first shared with her then-querying authors/illustrators, and as they were eventually published by her now-clients. (It's like a first pages session, but in reverse!) We’ll talk together about the big and small changes that were made during the publishing process, why they were important, and you'll walk away with new ways of thinking about revision for your books and their beginnings. Molly will be joined by special guest, client, and local Texas author, Lynne Kelly!


Making the Jump from Illustrator to Author/Illustrator — Presented by Rachel Más Davidson

This session is intended for illustrators who would like practical tools for making the jump from illustrator to author/illustrator. When I started my picture book journey, I truly doubted I had what it took to write my own books. As I worked on my art, I realized I had stories I wanted to tell. Those stories rarely came to me in words; they came in pictures. Through hard work and productive failure, I was able to improve my writing, and I'm now the author/illustrator on two picture books.


Questions, Questions and More Questions: Revising from an Angle of Curiosity — Presented by Arely Guzmán

So you've finished your manuscript and now it's time for revision. But where should you begin? Pacing? Prose? World building? There are so many elements to storytelling tahat the task can feel daunting. In this session, we'll break down basic revision into three elements--plot, character development, and pacing-- and learn the questions we can ask ourselves for an effective revision that is more interested in aligning with the purpose of your story than having all the answers,


Feedback Opportunities (Critiques, Pitches, and Portfolio Reviews)

Throughout the day on Saturday, faculty will be providing critiques and portfolio reviews as well as pitch opportunities for those in-person attendees who choose to add these sessions to their registration for an additional fee. You may need to miss a presentation in order to attend your feedback session. Spots cannot be moved or changed since they are determined by faculty availability. For more information, see our page on Feedback Opportunities>>

Portfolio Showcase

The Portfolio Showcase runs all day Saturday. Illustrators setup their portfolios first thing in the morning and retrieve them at the end of Saturday. To be included in the Portfolio Showcase, you must sign up for it when you register for the conference (must be attending in-person). There is a $10 fee. When you sign up, you are automatically entered into the judging for the showcase contest. If you do NOT want to be included in the judging, please email to let us know. Maximum size for standard portfolio: up to 15″ width (unopened) and height. For liability reasons, no electronic portfolios, such as iPads, will be allowed as part of the showcase. If you only bring an electronic portfolio, it will not be displayed and your reservation fee will not be refunded.

Networking Event — SOLD OUT

This is an offsite event happening Saturday evening where those attendees that purchase tickets have the opportunity to mingle and talk with faculty.

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On Sunday we have 8 different intensives with four available in the morning and four in the afternoon. You will be able to attend two of them live on Sunday either in-person or via zoom.

Although almost all of the following presentations will be recorded and available for attendees to view through May 19, 2024, a few of our presentations will only be available live. Those will be marked LIVE ONLY.

Morning Intensives (8:30-11:30)

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Picture Book: From Dream to Reality — Presented by Molly Blaisdell

Do you dream of writing a picture book? Do your picture books seem like short stories? In this intensive, we will delve into into picture book forms, powerful page turns, and basic structure. You learn how to generate viable ideas, add value to your content, and tool language to create lyricism in stories. We will go through a dozen exercises to help you find your voice, your direction, and your best structure to showcase the story you want to share. Finally, in a workshop format, we will generate an idea, thumbnail it and dummy it to practice picture book creation.


When to Show, When to Tell, When to Feel — Presented by Sarwat Chadda

Reviewing stories and discovering the tempo to your writing. How do you get the strongest reaction from your reader?


Anatomy — Presented by Molly Idle

Hiding your characters hands in their pockets? Placing your protagonist’s paws behind “conveniently” drawn plants? No more! This session will step participants through the basics of analyzing and drawing human and animal forms from head to toe… or tail.

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Nurturing Your Career and Yourself: A Holistic Approach for Sustaining Growth and Beating Burnout — Presented by Britta Jensen and Caroline Leech

Embark on a transformative journey to sustainable growth as an author and/or illustrator with this intensive workshop for published creators, led by Britta Jensen and Caroline Leech, two experienced YA authors who are also much sought-after editors and coaches. Learn how to cultivate your thriving creative practice, navigate career milestones, and prioritize your well-being to achieve sustained success over the next year and beyond. Share their best tips and tricks to make it feel easy to leverage social media, secure media opportunities, and engage with your audience and your community via email and live events. They’ll strategize with you as you create a plan that will work for your unique life, creativity and career.

Afternoon Intensives (1:30-3:30)


Pitch Perfect Picture Books — Presented by Jessica Lee Anderson

Besides helping to sell a book, writing a pitch (short synopsis) can be a tool to give a picture book succinct and purposeful focus even at the beginning stages. In this intensive, we’ll be taking a close look at crafting pitches to write stories along with discussing elements that make pitch perfect picture books. We’ll also delve into writing pitches that sell books, a useful skill when it comes to querying, entering social media competitions, writing compelling back cover copy, book marketing, and more.


From Rough Draft to Finished Product: Self-Editing Essentials — Presented by PJ Hoover

No matter what stage you are in your writing, learning to self-edit is critical. Whether traditional publishing or self publishing (or both) are in your future, your best chance at success is putting your best foot forward. From the mundane grammatical stuff to the deep analysis of the character's arc, we'll cover it all in this manuscript intensive. Bring whatever you're working on, and be prepared to edit its many different layers.


Beyond the Expected: Creating Narrative Art with Depth and Meaning — Presented by Laurent Linn

In this illustrator’s intensive we will explore how to bring even more emotion, narrative, and deep meaning to your art, translating your own lived experiences and memories into visual storytelling that can be universal. Getting away from cliché and so-called trends, we’ll discuss tips and techniques to help make your illustration stand out to agents, art directors, editors, and most importantly, readers. IN ADVANCE: Please send two of your illustrations: one that you consider to be your most successful and one you feel is your weakest. Both should be intended for children’s book illustration (as opposed to a portrait, landscape, etc.)Laurent will show all images in the session and discuss new, helpful ways to think about your art. The images should be either JPEGs or PDFs. Please send images to by 4/15/24 THE DAY OF THE INTENSIVE: Please come to the session ready to sketch with pencils, paper, iPad . . . however you sketch best. (If bringing a digital device, please be sure it is fully charged as power outlets will not be available during the session.)


Self-Publishing 101: For Debut and Established Creators — Presented by Madeline Smoot

Whether you are publishing your first book or want to publish your out of print traditionally published backlist, join as we work through the basics of self-publishing picture books & novels.