Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Speaker Profile - Mary Cronk Farrell


Region: Inland Northwest
Age Levels: 5-10, 11-13, and 14-17
Will Travel: Anywhere in the world
Skype Visit: Yes
SCBWI Profile: Member Profile
Speaker Email:


I'm an award-winning author of Children's/YA books and former journalist with a passion for stories about people facing great adversity with courage. Writing such stories has shown me that in our darkest moments we have the opportunity to discover our true identity and follow an inner compass toward the greater good.

Both my fiction and non-fiction titles feature little-known true stories of history based on thorough research. Most include an author's note, bibliography and further resources, but they are not dry, scholarly tomes! Confronting grief, adversity and failure in my own life, enables me to write stories with an authentic emotional core.

My books have been named Notable Social Studies Book for Young People, SPUR Award for Best Juvenile Fiction about the American West, Bank Street College List of Best Children's Books, and NY Public Library Best Books for Teens. My journalistic work has received numerous awards for excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists and two Emmy nominations.

Presentation Description:

I help students...

  • see how story structure provides a blueprint for overcoming obstacles in their own lives
  • experience success creating a story’s beginning, middle and end.
  • understand the value of revision and how to dig into it with gusto.
  • see how an author works with primary sources
  • discover that history happened to real people

I help teachers...

  • show students how good writing skills give them power
  • emphasize research strategies that get results
  • explain how details enliven writing and strengthen message
  • present history through the minds and eyes of those who lived it
  • demonstrate how the past links to the present and future

I help librarians...

  • provide little-known stories of heroic women
  • offer angles on American history often given short shrift 
  • grab the interest of reluctant readers

I help Conferences and Organizations...

  • open or close events with a call to courage 
  • create and offer workshops focused on writing skills 
  • create and offer workshops exploring and strengthening the writer’s life
  • engage people around the power of story in our lives

I help writers...

  • cut through blocks and write from their emotional core
  • deal with unwieldy narrative structure in non-fiction
  • gain an insiders view of news media and get TV and radio publicity 

In 2011, I began an important partnership with The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. That’s a mouthful! When you can say SCBWI three times fast, you’re one of the tribe.

SCBWI is a non-profit, world-wide, professional organization for content creators in the fields of children’s/YA literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia.

Taking on the volunteer leadership of the Inland Northwest Region of SCBWI has given me the opportunity to help writers and illustrators in Eastern Washington and North Idaho reach for their dreams.

I love getting to know our members in the region personally, and encouraging professional growth, whether it be in craft or marketing. And this job helped me discover my organizational skills! I enjoy developing workshops and conferences for our region and bringing publishing professionals to visit the Inland Northwest–Near Nature, Near Perfect.

Being in a position to help others succeed in our field is extremely gratifying. Working with our local volunteers to produce quality programming means a lot to me. Stop by our Inland Northwest SCBWI website and say “Hi.”