Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2022 Fall Conference Class Descriptions

Conference Home | Conference Schedule |  Class Descriptions |  Critiques | Portfolio Showcase

 Faculty Bios | Networking Dinner | Hotel Accommodations | Registration | Conference Do’s & Don’ts 



Breakout Sessions

Writing, Querying, and Selling Your Novel with Rebecca Balcárcel

Learn “tent poles” for your novel’s plot and how to use those to write a logline. See if your main character passes the “Compelling Enough?” Test. Then take a look at a query letter that landed an agent, and learn what  to expect after you get an agent.


Markets and Audiences for Picture Books with Maria Modugno

This session will briefly describe the different markets for picture books and the requirements, formats, and price points for each including big box stores, bookstore chains, independent bookshops, school and library wholesalers and customers.


Making True Stories Sing: The Passion and Craft of Nonfiction Picture Book Biographies with Nancy Churnin 

Nancy Churnin, the award-winning author of 10 nonfiction picture books, will guide you through her journey of identifying subjects, finding themes and crafting page-turning stories that read like fiction, but are true and backed up by research. She will address how you can make a story yours by finding the passions in your subject’s life that align with your own, how to leave room for the illustrator to be a co-creator, how to plan page turns that build suspense and allow for vivid changing scenes, how to create compelling bookends in which endings echo beginnings and considering, before you start, who your audience and allies are and how you can connect with them and elicit their support.


To Co-Author or Not to Co-Author with Nancy Churnin 

To co-Author or not to co-author — that is the question! Nancy Churnin, the award-winning author of 10 nonfiction picture books, will share how her writing journey led her to co-author two books coming out in 2023 and 2024 with the possibility of more to come. Some people co-author because they prefer writing as a team. In Nancy’s case, she was telling the stories of living people and felt a full participation by the person whose story was being told would lead to a better, richer and more authentic book. You will meet or watch video from Shayna Vincent, Nancy’s co-author on WHEN MAMA RINGS THE BELL, a book about Shayna’s journey as a young mother with breast cancer, told from her child’s point of view (Albert Whitman, 2023) and Diana Serna Aguilera, Nancy’s co-author on DIANA WITH AN ‘EE,’ a book about Diana’s fight, as a teenager, for fair treatment for Mexican Americans at her high school in Crystal City, Texas (this contract has been offered and should be signed before the conference for a publication date in 2024). Together, Nancy, Shayna and Diana will discuss the challenges and joys of co-authoring and what needs to be done, emotionally, creatively and legally, to make these arrangements work.


The Goldilocks Approach OR What I’ve Learned From Sitting in So Many Chairs with Sarah Stephens 

Sarah Hines Stephens shares her experiences as a children’s book reader, bookseller, editor, author, ghostwriter, co-writer, and agent and tells how the perspective she’s gained in each of those roles helps her ensure every seat is just right!


The Next Chapter with Alexandra Boiger 

In this powerpoint presentation I will give an overview of my work throughout my career as an children’s book illustrator and author. I will speak about the difference between working as an illustrator and working as an author/illustrator, touching upon my approach to creating a character and story (Max and Marla and my upcoming wordless picture book). I will also highlight the difference between working on a fictional story vs. a non-fiction manuscript.



Creating Successful Picture Book Characters with Maria Modugno: 

This session will describe the key attributes successful picture book characters and give classic and recent examples of titles. It will also provide an overview of characters from trade picture books that have grown into franchises, such as Grumpy Monkey and Uni the Unicorn.


Plotting by the Seat of Your Pants with Sarah Stephens: 

Are you a plotter or a pantser? When crafting your YA or MG novel do you plan each step before you begin or simply start down the path and see where it leads? In this hands-on workshop we will explore the benefits and pitfalls of both methods and learn how using elements of each can help you get unstuck, regardless of your preferred approach. Bring writing tools and your WIP.

Feeling my Characters Title with Alexandra Boiger:

I will guide the students through developing two characters (could be one animal and one child). The workshop starts with finding and feeling the psychology of these characters. Establishing an emotional connection to their world, to each other. Exploring who they are in order to tell a story about them. Next, we’ll create a very simple story arc (3-5 thumbnail sketches). And finally the students will be able to start working on a piece of final art using the medium of their choice. While 2.5 hours are very short to create a whole story, this will be an opportunity for the students to understand a way to get started on developing a story. How to find a way in. You are encouraged to bring your sketchbook and drawing materials.