Sunday, August 6, 2023

Thanks For Joining us at the SCBWI 2023 Summer Conference


Jolie Stekly, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Justin Campbell, and Jaime Temairik

This very enthusiastic SCBWI Team Blog wants to thank you for joining us at the SCBWI 2023 Conference. We hope you will continue to dive into the goodness within in the days and months to come. Check out THIS post for an index of all that we covered (and to easily find what you're looking for). 

If you somehow missed this conference and wish you could attend, there's still time. The replays will be available until September 10, 2023. Register HERE

And mark your calendars for the SCBWI Winter Conference 2024 in NYC on February 9-11, 2024 at the Hilton Midtown. More details to come soon. 

Live Pitch-off!!!

Today many brave authors pitched their books to either an editor or agent. Each agent and editor then nominated an author who participating in their pitch roundtable to present their pitches live to the SCBWI headquarters staff to choose a winner. 

The pitch-off begins! 

Congrats to the finalists:

Blair Williamson

Jill Stuck

Lori Ubell

Paige Cohen

Susan C Williams

Jordan Wieban

Lori Kase

Brentom Jackson

Mal Malme

Carol McAfee

Wow! What amazing pitches. The judges acknowledge that this is going to be such a difficult choice. As viewers of this pitch-off, there is so much to takeaway about what makes a good pitch and how to pitch. 

And while we wait for deliberations, we get the treat of listening to replay of Kwame Alexander in conversation with Raúl the Third. 

Drum roll please....

The winner is...


And two honors have also been chosen: Brentom Jackson and Mal Malme

Congratulations to all! (You can see all the love and support flying at the corner of the screen.)

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Index : Links to all 2023 SCBWI Summer Conference blog posts

Thank you all for joining us (Team Blog) for the SCBWI Summer Virtual Conference 2023! You can find links to all our posts leading up to and through the conference below. Keep creating!

Leading up to the conference:

Meet TEAM BLOG: Looking forward to #scbwiSummer23

Interview: Druscilla Santiago, SCBWI Summer Conference materials illustrator

The Joy Of Beginnings: Navigating The Conference as A New Bookmaker 

SCBWI Portfolio Showcase: participants, judges, interview with TeMika Grooms

Orientation For First-Time Attendees with Jolie Stekly


Conference Welcome with SCBWI Executive Director Sarah Baker

Keynotes: Lisa Yee - Frank Morrison

Editor/Agent Panel:

Alexandra AcevesFoyinsi AdegbonmireSara Sargent - Deeba Zargarpur - Elise Howard

Art Directors Panel & Illustrators' Advisory Committee Q&A:

Art Directors Panel:

Karina Granda - Miranda Paul (Agent, Author) - Lauren Rille - Zejun Yao

Q&A with SCBWI Illustrators' Advisory Committee

Breakout Sessions:

(Note: This is only a small selection of all the breakout sessions that were available. Registered attendees have access to all 50 sessions for up to a month after the end of the conference!)

Plot Your Novel In One Hour with Naz Kutub

Picture Them! Illustrating Picture Book Biographies with Selina Alko

The Zoom Where It Happens: How A Picture Book Is Made with Sylvie Frank and Ryan T. Higgins

Profit Strategies for Authors with Sara Megibow

Keys To Picture Book Magic with Joy Chu

Make Your Story Take Flight With Torrey Maldonado

Writing From Real Life with e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow-Miller

Making A Living as an Illustrator: Balancing Career, Values, Income, & Play with Susie Ghahremani



Doug Salati - Angeline Boulley

Debut Authors Panel: What To Know About The Path To Publication

Hanh Bui and Levi De La Rosa - Frederico Erebia -  K.X. SongLala Watkins 

Breakout Sessions:

(Note: This is only a small selection of all the breakout sessions that were available. Registered attendees have access to all 50 sessions for up to a month after the end of the conference!)

Time To Play: Revision As A Practice Of Creative Openness with Melissa Manlove

What To Expect When You're Self-Publishing with Katie Carroll

Storytelling by Design with Lee White

Tips To Turn Up Book Promotions That Reach Teachers and Librarians with Alice Faye Duncan

Revise Like An Editor With Krista Marino

Seeking Representation: Next Level Querying With Sera Rivers

The Art of the Pause: Illustrating Graphic Novels with Rivkah LaFille


Sarah Baker's Welcome To Day 2

Illustrated Notes: Part 1 (Stan Yan) - Part 2 (Steve Asbell and Yuko Torii)

Awards and Wrap Up

Live Pitch-off!

Thanks For Joining Us At The SCBWI 2023 Summer Conference

If you want to view these sessions to hear the full content, along with the rest of the conference, register at Replays of the conferences will be available until September 10th, 2023.

Also be sure to check out the Faculty Conference Bookshop and the Portfolio Showcase!

Angeline Boulley Closing Keynote

Author Angeline Boulley gave a perfect closing keynote! 

A highlight being when she shared the origin story of her first book, FIREKEEPER’S DAUGHTER: While still in high school Angeline’s best friend had told her about a new boy at another school that she thought was Angeline’s type, but when Angeline found out the boy hung out with a group of kids that did drugs, she gave the guy a hard pass before ever even meeting him… Only later did she find out he was working ¡undercover! for the police to help do a drug bust. That pre-21 Jump Street plotpoint moment stuck with Angeline for the rest of her life—the ‘what if’ of if they had met and there had been sparks, what would have happened next?  

But Angeline did not pursue creative writing in college, instead she worked in grant writing and education (as a former Director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education) yet all that time she could not stop thinking about that highschool story idea. Angeline is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, a part of the Ojibwe community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The more she thought about that highschool moment, the more she wondered how an Indigenous teen girl like herself might have been needed in such a storyline.

Finally at 44, during a midlife crisis in which she DID buy a red sportscar, Angeline also decided she’d rather live with failure and write the world’s worst draft of her story than live with the regret of never trying.

The rest of the keynote expands on Angeline’s authorial career arc getting even more interesting and fantastic along the way, but a blog post will not do it justice. Angeline's talk was so lovely and so worth experiencing in person (or in Zoom) that it's worth the effort to seek out her next events or interviews, but in summary: You think you know how your path to publication is going to go, but it’s probably not going to turn out that way. For Angeline it did not, but every rejection gave her momentum and she stayed true to writing the story in her heart.

And wow, did staying true pay off: Sold in a 12-house auction, FIREKEEPER’S DAUGHTER became an instant NYT bestseller. And only two weeks after selling the manuscript did the OBAMAS approach her to buy TV/Film rights. You can now find the book in 22 different languages as well as look forward to seeing it on Netflix in the near future. 

Awards and Wrap Up

Time for the awards! 🎉 Starting with...

Stephen Mooser Member Of The Year

This year's winner: Cecilia Yung!

Sarah Baker shared congratulatory messages from Stephen Mooser and Lin Oliver. 

BIPOC Scholarships

Antara Dave - MeiLin Chan - Aleesha Nash 
Marisa Catalina - Casey - Meneka Repka

Student Illustrator Scholarships

General Conference Scholarship

Siyan Lim - Jenna Johnson - Kimáya May Barker
Mark Wilson - Janet Kelly

Portfolio Showcase Awards

Congrats to all the Portfolio Showcase winners! You can find out more about this year's Portfolio Showcase in our recent mini-interview with TeMika Grooms, SCBWI's Design and Illustration Manager. Judges Lauren Rille (Art Director, Simon & Schuster) and Karina Granda (Art Director, Little Brown Books For Young Readers) reviewed 104 portfolios submitted from illustrators worldwide.

Unagented Honor Awardee: Breanna Chambers

More info about Brenna at and Instagram.

Unagented Grand Prize Winner: Amy Kumph

More info about Amy at and Instagram.

Agented Honor Awardee: Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

More info about Marjorie at, Facebook, and Instagram.

Agented Grand Prize Winner: Peili Huang

More info about Peili at, Instagram, and Linkedin.

Be sure to browse all the wonderful art in this SCBWI 2023 Portfolio Showcase at

And to wrap-up (sort of) as Sarah reminds us that tomorrow there will be Pitch Sessions, as well as an Illustrator's Intensive. And don't miss the Pitch-Off (open to all attendees). 

Did you know that SCBWI has a podcast? Be sure to check it out!

And an ANNOUNCEMENT! The in-person New York City conference will take place February 9-11, 2024 at the Hilton Midtown. Watch for more to come. 

Sarah leaves us with this: "If there's one thing you take away from this conference, please remember that no mater what challenges you face, and what hurtles you might have....please keep going. The world needs your stories."


Register for the SCBWI Summer Conference at Replays of the conferences will be available until September 10th, 2023.

Seeking Representation: Next Level Querying with Sera Rivers

Seeking Representation: Next Level Querying with Sera Rivers

Learn how to craft a successful query letter that stands out from the rest, how to find the right agents to query, and what to do/next steps when an agent is interested in your book. This workshop includes: examples of successful queries from real clients, handouts of resources for agent research, publishing timeline examples from query-to-rep-to-publication, and Q&A at the end of the presentation.

During the Breakout Session, Sera covered:
  • How to write a successful query letter
  • What to include in your query packet
  • How to find the right agents to query 
  • What to do when an agent makes an offer of representation

"The purpose of a query letter is to grab the immediate attention of an agent!"

Your pitch should be specific, not vague! 

The pitch provides specific, concrete details of the project that:

-Includes a compelling hook that paints a clear snapshot of the project in as few words as possible

-Introduces the main character and grounds the reader in the setting

-Presents the MC's main want/goal, the obstacles the MC needs to overcome to achieve that goal, and the stakes at risk

"Universal but Distinct"

A successful query letter must include the genre and word count and should include:

-Compelling hook

-Short, specific description of project (the pitch)

-Succinct and relevant author bio

A Next Level Query also includes:

-The reason for querying that specific agent

-A personal connection to the project

-Two comparable titles; TV shows/ movies count

A successful author bio:

-Highlights resume stats ONLY when relevant

-Provides a personal connection to the project when relevant

-Includes other relevant details

A successful synopsis is 1-2 pages, double-spaced, and must include:

-The main characters of the book

-All the major plot points of the book, including the dramatic and emotional stakes

-The ending--most important

The next step is:
Research, research, research!

When you find an agent, then it's time to do a thorough Google search! 
Get to know if the agent is right for you! 
"It is like dating!"

Here are some questions to ask:

1. Agency
-Is agent affiliated with reputable agency?

2. Clients
-Have clients that write in same genre or similar topics/categories as you?

3. Manuscript Wish List (MSWL)
-Does MSWL match the types of books you write?

4. Social Media feed 
-MSWL mentions
-Agent updates (on vacation; closed to queries)
-Anything else that informs querying process

More can be found in an attachment that will be available with the replays of the conference.

If you want to view this session to hear the full content, along with the rest of the conference, register at Replays of the conferences will be available until September 10, 2023.

Sera Rivers

Sera Rivers is a Literary Agent at Speilburg Literary. She holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. She represents middle grade, young adult, graphic novels (author/illustrator only), and select picture books. Check out her MSWL and submission guidelines at Prior to agenting, Sera worked as an editor in educational publishing for seven years. Follow her on Twitter @writeloudly.

Revise Like an Editor with Krista Marino

Krista Marino is a VP & Senior Executive Editor at Delacorte Press where she acquires and edits Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. Among her list are bestselling series, like the Maze Runner; literary gems, like Kathleen Glasgow’s Girl in Pieces; genre-bending classics, like Rory Power’s Wilder Girls; trendsetters, like Karen M. McManus’s One of Us Is Lying; and masterful works of fantasy, like Amélie Wen Zhao’s Song of Silver, Flame like Night. Whether it’s an original voice, a unique world, or a compelling plot, she’s looking for stories you can’t stop thinking about.

Krista says that, just like children, every book is unique, and every revision is also going to be unique. Krista will share some tools that can help. Including one from the editorial process: the Title Information Sheet, which includes; 

  • Position Statement
  • Short Description
  • Key selling points

Before you share your manuscript, Krista recommends getting distance--to put your manuscript down for a week, at the very least. Then before you pick it up again, write a position statement. The position statement crystalizes the book you're writing in a sentence or two. It tells who the book is for, the genre and why the reader will want to read it. It's essentially the elevator pitch. Here's a couple examples: 

Next you'll write flap copy (which is the brief summary on the Title Information Sheet). It's essentially a summary of your book, written in a stylized way, which will intrigue the reader, but not give too much away. It should include:
  • What is the set-up?
  • Add your conflict.
  • What are the stakes?

Use these as exercises to help guide your narrative and your focus. 

Next: Map your novel. Make a list of what happens scene by scene. Break it down by chapters. 
Review your map to see: 
  • Can you identify scenes that don't move the plot forward? 
  • Can you identify characters that don't move the plot forward?
  • Can you identify subplots that don't impact the main plot?
  • Can you find plot holes?


If you want to view this session to hear the full content, along with the rest of the conference, register at Replays of the conferences will be available until September 10, 2023. 

The Art of the Pause: Illustrating Graphic Novels with Rivkah LaFille

Rivkah LaFille (pronounced “lah-fee”) is a children’s writer, illustrator, and graphic novelist who currently teaches online at Kids Comics Unite while also working on a graphic novel about Creative Writing with First Second as well as a YA graphic novel with Candlewick.

Rivkah's session was the perfect one-hour craft class—I was blown away by how well paced the session (on pacing!) was—and am sure session attendees will all become comics pacing experts (a reminder the Zoom replays of all the breakout sessions are free to all registered conference attendees for up to a month after they've been posted). 

If you're reading this before September 9, 2023 then you may still have the excellent opportunity to sign up for SCBWI Nebraska's amazing sounding, virtual 16-week(!) graphic novel writing workshop with Rivkah.

Rivkah's session explored the many ways pacing can be controlled in a comic. To start I loved the way she used the repeated image of a ticking clock to simply and elegantly show how you could speed up or slow down a reader's time on a page by adjusting panel size and amount per page. That variation alone lets the comics maker achieve different visual rhythms per page similar to how authors vary sentence length in prose to vary reading tempo:

Real world examples of various visual rhythms like in FRIZZY by Claribel Ortega and Rose Bousamra

And in Jen Wang's fantastic THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER

Besides panel frequency and sizing, Rivka shares with attendees the other key ways comics makers can control the speeding up or slowing down of a scene, for example how and where lettering and/or speech bubbles are placed in a layout using, among others, pages from Vera Brosgol's BE PREPARED and Raina Telgemeier's GUTS:

Rivkah also shared a really cool drawing and writing exercise attendees could do at home to try out on their own work to vary and improve pacing. Excellent session for any comics creators wanting to learn how to make humorous scenes more effective, dramatic scenes more tense, gain better control over action scenes, and have better control over a book's tone and pacing in general.

Really hope to check out Rivkah's next workshop:

Tips To Turn Up Book Promotions That Reach Teachers and Librarians with Alice Faye Duncan


Alice Faye Duncan
is a National Board Educator, who writes books for young learners. Her latest titles include This Train is Bound for Glory, Coretta's Journey, Traveling Shoes, and Yellow Dog Blues--a 2022 NYT/NYPL Best Illustrated Children's Book. You can find out more info about Alice at, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Alice says that there are fewer book reviews being published these days, but she said there are other ways to introduce books to teachers and librarians.

If you want a successful kidlit creator career, it's in our best interests to find ways to connect with educators and librarians. Alice says it makes a big difference.

Just a few of Alice's suggestions:

Join state and local school library associations. Alice suggests picking three states near you or your state and two states tied to your book in some way. She suggested researching the AASL.

If you're a member, you'll have more opportunities to let other members know about your upcoming books, possibly resulting in speaker invitations. 

Join state and local literacy associations. Alice gave an example of the International Literacy Association. As a result, Alice was invited to speak and promote upcoming books.

 Join Facebook Groups where teachers, librarians, and parents amplify children's books. Post helpful resources tied to your book and include your website link in your posts. "Always do more giving than taking."

IG Live: Follow Instagram influencers who are teachers, librarians and home school leaders. After connecting with them, organize IG Live Events. "Instagrammers are always looking for great content."

Contact school districts and make them aware of school visit opportunities. Prepare a set program and have a price set.'

Don't be afraid of contacting your publisher for "marketing collateral": teacher guides, bookmarks, ARCs for book and library influencers, conference sponsorships. Your publisher may not offer, so Alice encourages us to be proactive and ask. "They might say no...but they night say YES."

"Be bold, brave, and benevolent," encourages Alice, calling these the Be-Attitudes.

Full of energy and enthusiasm, Alice shared so many fantastic examples of ways that children's book creators can connect with educators and librarians in authentic ways. Thank you, Alice!


If you want to view this session to hear the full content, along with the rest of the conference, register at Replays of the conferences will be available until September 10th, 2023.

Keynote: Doug Salati

Keynote: Doug Salati

What a way to start off the second day of the conference! After the wonderful introduction by our Executive Director, Sarah Baker, Doug took us on his wonderful journey!

Doug's art is known for its beautiful line work, textures, and stunning visual narrative.

Having moved to NYC 16 years ago, Doug had NO idea what to do when he arrived but knew-

He wanted to tell stories.

So after moving in with a friend in Brooklyn (shoutout to BK! OwOw!), he promised himself one thing... figure it out.

Once, he dreamt that he was in his bed, but instead of pillows, he slept on a pile of dogs. It was the best night of sleep. So from that moment on, he decided to document everything.

A big fan of people-watching, and location drawing, Doug took inspiration from everything around him.

He got an office job at SVA, where he would doodle and draw on office memo pads, post-its--any paper he could get his hands on.

He was in a creative environment and wanted to capture it all.

Art is like a time capsule. It is a snapshot of where you were as a person, who you were artistically.

He soon enrolled in Continuing Education courses, a perk of working at SVA full-time, and began to experiment with storytelling and narrative...

Silk Screening...




He didn't know what he wanted his artwork to be like but explored, nonetheless.

"How do I make my illustrations into sequential imagery?"

He continued to experiment during his SVA courses.

"The power is in the doing! Make it, move on, try something different."

He continued learning and building community. He participated in fellowships, worked on his art, drew on location, embraced change, and pursued his Masters, all in the pursuit of bettering his craft. 

One day, while on vacation on a beach, Doug met Charlie, an energetic dog who was so happy to just be at a beautiful place on a beautiful day. 

On the train home, Doug drew some thumbnails of Charlie. Like his dream, he just wanted to document it.

After working on "In a Small Kingdom" by Tomie Depaola, and "Lawrence in the Fall" by Matthew Farina, Doug, with nothing yet on the horizon, decided to revisit, the then-titled, "Charlie and the Island."

"The first two projects help me learn what I needed to learn to be able to create this story. Without those, I couldn't have made Hot Dog"

While you are waiting, go back to your writing, drawing, reading, favorite movies and shows, etc. Get back into your creative habit. Work like you have something people are expecting from you.


Doug fleshed out the story.

He worked on textures, linework, shape, and form, refining his ideas.

He expanded the story and developed the relationship between the dog and his human.

Doug even returned to the beach to see what Charlie saw.

Doug ended with a quote from Marshall Arisman:

"You either follow what you do or you try to lead it.
And I stopped trying to lead it. 
I follow it.
I'll do anything to get rid of my rational brain. 
So I play these games in hopes that some other part of me will come out and talk for a minute."

"Instead of pulling, see if there is a way to follow your ideas in a giving, imaginative, and playful way."- Doug Salati

Doug's keynote was beyond inspiring. Being given the chance to listen to his story, see his beautiful artwork, but to also hear how much work he has put into his personal growth was something to behold! 

Congratulations to Doug and we can't wait to see what else you create!

f you want to view this session to hear the full content, along with the rest of the conference, register at Replays of the conferences will be available until September 10, 2023.

Check out the SCBWI Bookshop!

Doug Salati


Doug Salati is the author and illustrator of the 2022 picture book Hot Dog, recipient of the 2023 Randolph Caldecott Medal. His first book was In a Small Kingdom by Tomie dePaola, and his second, Lawrence in the Fall by his partner, Matthew Farina, was a 2020 Ezra Jack Keats Illustrator Award Honoree, a Society of Illustrators Original Art Show selection and Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection. Doug graduated from the MFA Illustration As Visual Essay Program at the School of Visual Arts in 2014. He was a 2015 Sendak Fellow. He lives and works in New York City.