Keynotes, Panels & Breakouts

Keynotes, Panels, and Breakouts


Tameka Fryer Brown (Opening Keynote)

Saturday, April 27, 2024

9:30 a.m.

Award-winning author Tameka Fryer Brown will deliver our morning keynote, sure to inspire us for the day ahead.

Gordon C. James (Closing Keynote)

Saturday, April 27, 2024

3:30 p.m.

Never Stop Creating

Being creative has always come with pressures. Sometimes they might be familial or financial. Now, in addition to those age-old forces, we face technological leaps like AI that threaten to take our jobs and political forces seek to silence our voices. As we do our best work, how can we also push back? Why is it important that we as members of the creative class do so? This new climate may just be an incredible source of motivation and inspiration.


The day's events will include two panels that feature industry professionals:

·      First-Pages Panel (for writers)

·      Quickfire Portfolio Review Panel (for illustrators)

Breakout Sessions

Choose three (3) of twelve available breakout sessions and one (1) of two panel sessions for a day tailored to you!

Breakout Descriptions:

Kristen Terrette

Query Don'ts: What NOT to do in your query (that everyone seems to do)!

Kristen will also show some queries that "worked" by authors from the query trenches who became her clients.


What to Do in the Waiting

Publishing is a slow journey. Here are some tips on how to keep moving forward in your publishing career while you are in a time of waiting-- whether your book is on submission or you are in the query trenches.

Tameka Fryer Brown

Writing True North

Where do our best stories come from? Do we choose them or do they choose us? How will the books we create influence our personal brand? To what extent do (or should) these questions matter in the creative process? In WRITING TRUE NORTH, Tameka Fryer Brown will examine how inspiration, intentionality, and authorial integrity all play a role in crafting stories that impact readers in a meaningful and enduring way.

Mallory Grigg

Discover Your Publishing Niche: Unpacking Formats to Figure Out Just Where You Fit In

Most illustrators think that to succeed or get into publishing you have to illustrate a picture book—but there is so much more that the industry offers up in terms of the types of projects available for illustrators. In this presentation, I explore the wide range of illustrators I hire: from picture books to non-fiction artwork, opportunities in graphic novels, middle grade, and beyond. This session is all about how illustrators can highlight their strengths and get them into the right hands, rather than trying to fit into what they think the industry wants. (This session comes with fun book giveaways for attendees)

Frances Gilbert

These “Rules” Aren’t Rules: How to Free Your Books from Formulaic Writing

Stop worrying about word count, stop doing everything in threes, stop setting up contrived problems to solve, stop listening to people who tell you there are rules for writing, stop writing the same stories as everyone else, and stop stressing. Come listen to an editor who’s tired of rejecting formulaic writing. Free yourself and your stories.

Gordon C. James

Emotion in Storytelling: Feeling all the Feels

What are the factors that establish the mood of a page or of an entire project? How do you capture a feeling to support the text or fill a need in it. We will discuss how we create using color, composition, medium, our lived experiences and other storytelling tools a techniques to tell stories that truly emote.

Carol Hinz

Poetry Can Be: An Expansive Look at Incorporating Poetry in Fiction and Nonfiction Picture Books


Standout Submissions: How to Catch an Editor’s Eye When Submitting (All Formats and Age Levels)

This session is intended to be broad enough to appeal to all writers and will cover fiction and nonfiction picture books, MG nonfiction, MG and YA novels, graphic novels, and YA nonfiction.