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Marvelous Midwest Member Intensives

Two and a half-hour intensives give SCBWI members an extra opportunity to work on areas of interest with industry professionals in a smaller group setting. $50 fee, registration required, must be an SCBWI premium member to register for an intensive.

Member Intensive Options


The Nuts and Bolsts of Work-For-Hire: An Author's Perspective + An Illustrator's Perspective with Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia (Author) & Candace Camling (Illustrator)

This intensive will look at the Work-for-Hire (WFH) process from both an author’s perspective and an illustrator’s perspective. Topics to be covered: pro and cons of WFH, proposals, sample texts and sample portfolios, how to put yourself and your work out there through social media and other avenues, and current publishers and companies open to WFH. Please come with ideas, questions, and get ready to talk through some mock proposals and work on your own proposals. Liz and Candace hope to provide you with the tools you need to help your work stand out in the WFH world.

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The Little Engine that Should: Using Character Wants to Drive the Story with Sherri L. Smith

How many times have you started writing a great story and gotten bogged down in the middle? How often have you chugged up that hill of rising action, only to lose steam? There’s nothing wrong with your story idea. You just haven’t asked the big question: what does my protagonist want? Character Want is the engine that drives the story forward. Without this key bit of information, you can’t start the journey, throw believable obstacles in the way, build tension, or convince your readers to root for your character’s success. Without a want, it’s hard to know what success even means. In this workshop, we’ll examine character wants in film and fiction. We’ll also do some hands-on exercises to help you excavate you characters’ deepest desires, so you can rev that engine and get on with the story. Come with your protagonist in mind and be prepared to write.

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Picture Book Masterclass with Carter Hasegawa

What makes a picture book incredible? We’ll look at real-life examples, discuss current trends, review the plots/descriptions of actual books that have been acquired but are not yet published, and together we’ll come up with some general “rules” or guidelines of what we need to do as writers to make our picture books stand out from the pack. We’ll continue the conversation as we identify the major components of a successful picture book (voice, character, etc.). And finally, we’ll dive into “voice” using your current works-in-progress and applying what we learn from in-class writing prompts to expand our revision toolbox. This class is for anyone who writes narrative picture books and who has written at least one manuscript so far (does not need to be published). Please bring a printout of a current work-in-progress and be prepared to discuss, write, and take notes.


How to Overcome Your Fear of Creating Art, Using Collage with Rahele Jomepour Bell

Let’s enjoy creating art without inhibition by reducing a story to a synopsis (to not get caught up in the details) and executing it through collage (to not get caught up in technique). Attendees will read a basic story synopsis and create art based simply on the mood and main concept, filling in the story with their own imagined details. You just need to bring your sketchbook to this workshop. Collage materials will be provided. Attendee experience: Newer illustrators in the book-making world.


Those Small Craft Elements That Matter So Much: Staging, Timing, and Tonality with Gary D. Schmidt

As writers, we often come to a novel or short story thinking first of the two big elements: Plot and Character. And of course, those elements are indeed huge. But they are not everything. In this intensive, we focus on three elements that support plot and character, and which often create and enhance the meaning and texture of the work of fiction. For example, we'll look at the ways that setting may mirror--or conflict with--characters' responses to action. And we'll examine alternatives for treating the passage of time in the plotline. And we'll explore the creation of tone that may augment meaning. In short, this intensive--designed for more experienced writers of middle grade and YA fiction--aims at giving writers tools that change these less dominant textual tools from missed opportunities to vital parts of the text.


Your Title As Your Hook with Jennifer Swanson

As we all know top-notch nonfiction needs a BIG hook. First, we will take a deep dive into the different types of nonfiction by looking at structure, tone, voice, and more. The structure of your book can also be a great hook. But an even better hook is your title. We'll look at some books whose titles absolutely helped to sell them and see how we can do that to our own manuscripts. So feel free to bring your WIP title ideas to this hands-on workshop, where we will stretch our minds and turn things upside down and inside out to find the perfect title/hook combination.

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A State, A Tooth and a Doughnut Walk Into a Book. . . with Laurie Keller

We’ll explore the joys of creating new worlds using inanimate objects and how to anthropomorphize and give emotion to just about anything! This will be an interactive class so please bring something to draw with and on.


Book Promotion Workshop: Marketing and Publicity Tips For Authors and Illustrators with Linda Stephen

Every author and illustrator needs to know how to promote their books. Whether launching your first book or your 100th book, you hold the key to getting the word out about your book (or presentation or exhibit). Marketing and promotion don’t come naturally to a lot of people, but children’s book publicist Linda Stephen is here to help. How can you get your book in front of your target audiences? Do you need a press release for your book (yes and no)? Any strategies for promoting nonfiction title vs. fiction? Stephen will share tips and templates for children’s book authors and illustrators. We’ll cover what to do before, during and after a book launch or other event to get your book maximum exposure. Workshop will cover: What an author or illustrator needs for their “media kit”? How to get the most attention by working with a publisher’s publicity team Evaluating your connections. Who should know about your book? Who will share news about you? Who can/will write a book blurb? Countdown to book launch. Ideal timeline – six months or more of marketing outreach before pub date Working with the press – do’s and don’ts Beyond book reviews – who should know about you, your book and its themes? Speaking out – Using book talks and presentations to reach diverse audiences Making connections: partners and publicity beyond the press release When/how to write a local press release about an event Online and social media – prioritizing time How to identify news outlets or other partners that may cover your event Maximize events: how and why to help a host organization/venue do your publicity for you Plus, you’ll receive template handouts, have time to brainstorm and get feedback, ask questions and more! This workshop is for experienced authors and illustrators who are traditionally published or independently published. Publishers, new and pre-pubbed authors are also welcome. Stephen has launched national and local campaigns for more than 100 children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction, from board books to young adult novels. She shares case studies, advice and lessons learned to help publishers, authors and illustrators get the most results from limited budgets and time.