DIY Master Class

Have you ever looked for a course on some aspect of craft, but couldn’t find what you were looking for? Maybe you don’t have time to dedicate to a class, or finances keep you from signing up. Create your own!

This presentation offers hands-on, practical strategies and activities that will allow you to create a class just for you, tailored to address your questions, needs, interests, and time. Whether you want to expand to a new genre or become more knowledgeable in your current one, you can study craft and improve your writing in your own self-guided DIY master class.

Buckle Up and Enjoy the Ride!: Pacing Tips, Tools, and Techniques

Whether on a road trip or reading a story, every journey benefits from pauses to ponder as well as the pull of speed. For a story, momentum is crucial if you don’t want to lose the reader at a rest stop. Does your manuscript drag, or stall, or put-put along? Put yourself in the driver’s seat with a range of tools and techniques to keep the story moving and give your readers a journey they’ll want to take again.

Go Ahead…Make a Scene!: The Intersection of Plot and Character

The building blocks of narratives, scenes are the portals that take the reader to new places, experientially and emotionally. What is a scene, and why is it key to engaging readers? How do scenes partner with summary and transitions for effective storytelling? This session will explore the basics of scenes, the power of scenes to lift a manuscript out of mediocrity, as well as the challenge of creating scenes in nonfiction and how thinking in scenes can transform the writing process.

Make a Splash with Memorable Read-Aloud Events

Are you just dipping your toes into the publishing pond? Or are you already riding the waves of literary success? Get ready to dive deep into the art of captivating young audiences with your picture book storytime event. From mastering the art of expressive reading (no robotic monotones here!) and interactive participation, let’s ensure your storytimes are as lively as a pool party and as engaging as a pirate ship adventure. Together, we’ll unlock the secrets to crafting read-aloud events that’ll have kids giggling and clamoring for more—because, let’s face it, snoozefests are for sleepyheads. Together, we can make waves!

Showing up! Allyship as a Creative: Social Justice on the Page

Dive into the intersection of allyship, social justice, and creativity as a creative- writing and illustrating. Explore how to authentically incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into your storytelling while engaging young readers. This session welcomes creators at all levels passionate about using their craft as a platform for positive change. Discover strategies for crafting impactful narratives that resonate with audiences and empower own voices.

Drawing A Blank: Tap Into Your Inspiration

Inspiration drives us forward as creatives. But where do we get it? And how do we use it to create compelling stories? In this session we will discuss ways to practically gather inspiration from the world around you and how you can utilize it to figure out what type of story to tell.

Yakkity Yak: Animals in Picture Books

Here, we’ll look at the wide range of animals in picture books—both anthropomorphic and in the wild. We’ll discuss the benefits of casting an animal as your protagonist (and when it’s best to use humans), the appearance of animals as minor characters, and animal subjects that tend to be overdone. We’ll also take a look at the animal books that I’ve recently sold, as well as the role of animal stories—both classic and current—in today’s marketplace.

Getting Graphic: How To Choose Novel or Graphic Novel

What does making a graphic novel entail? Are you allowed to author-only a graphic novel? Let’s dive into the graphic novel boom and why you’d choose to make your novel a graphic novel. Join Eisner-Nominated author and illustrator Lily Williams as she discusses what makes a good graphic novel and why comics can sometimes be the best medium to tell a story.

Composition for Emotional Impact

In this illustration focused breakout I’ll cover the basics of composition, pacing, and visual storytelling and show how you can use the design of the page to help convey emotion. For illustrators of all levels.

Problem Solving in Picture Book Illustrating

Illustrating picture books is not an easy task! Using examples from her many past and current projects, Dow Phumiruk will share how she overcame problems she encountered in illustrating picture books. From technical issues (such as figuring out how or what to illustrate when subject matter is abstract or adding drama to spreads that need more “wow” factor) to personal circumstances (like feeling overwhelmed upon facing a daunting task or the dreaded burnout). She’ll talk about her thought process in getting started, revising, and pushing through to final art.

Building and Presenting a Portfolio that with Catch Publishers’ Eyes

There might be no such thing as a perfect portfolio but there are certainly great portfolios that will catch publishers’ eyes. Selecting 10-12 pieces for a portfolio is not an easy task. Based on my experience as an art director who receives numerous portfolios every day from agents and artists, I will talk about practical tips for building a great portfolio such as what to include, what not to include, what kind of pieces showcase one’s ability to carry on the entire book, and so on. Come with burning questions about building a portfolio!

First Looks

Editors, art directors, and agents are all busy people who review many images in a minimum of time. What do they see when they look at your portfolio or postcard? Join us as art director, illustrator, and author Aram Kim shares her first impression of attendee work.

How it works:

Attendees who hope to participate in First Looks will be invited to submit three illustrations. The Illustrator Coordinator will combine your three images into a single slide. All slides will be randomized, then viewed anonymously, in order, as time allows. Aram Kim will take a brief moment to look at the slide, then provide her immediate thoughts. A timer is used so we may view as many slides as possible.

You are welcome to attend this session without submitting images, but if you do submit, you must attend.

Submission process will be posted here. 

Breaking the Rules on Picture Books: New Approaches to an Old Form

Explore innovative techniques and unconventional storytelling methods with Nyasha Williams toward getting noticed by agents and publishers. This breakout session challenges the taught conventional norms and encourages participants to push boundaries creatively. Suitable for writers and illustrators seeking fresh perspectives on getting your work out into the world.

The Art (and Heart) of Humor

Many editors and agents say they are looking for funny picture books, but humor is so subjective! How do you write yours to give it the best chance of appealing to a broad audience while still being “fresh?” This presentation will cover three ways – the element of surprise, letting the illustrations do the heavy-lifting, and making sure the story has an emotional core. We’ll do this by analyzing some the side-splittiest picture books published in the past few years.

Structural Engineering….For Your Nonfiction

In architecture and in writing, the right structure is the essential foundation for a strong project. Come explore the amazing innovative text structures in today’s nonfiction and start thinking about which structure(s) best fit your manuscript or new idea. In this interactive session we’ll explore some of the many text structures in children’s nonfiction using mentor text examples. Together we will brainstorm how different text structures can serve a single topic in different ways, thus demonstrating how to approach selecting text structures for one’s manuscript. Target audience – nonfiction authors of PBs-YA at all experience levels.

Crafting Dynamic Narrative Nonfiction

In this intermediate breakout session for authors and author/illustrators I will cover what narrative nonfiction is and how you can use scene, voice, pacing and emotional connection to create an engaging story that kids won’t want to put down.

Figuring Out Feedback

Join Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez to review types of feedback that authors often receive about character, voice, word count, etc. Then, we will talk about how to approach editing based on that feedback.

A Picture Book Writing Safari

Get your hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen all set for a trek through picture book writing advice. What does the advice mean? What does the advice NOT mean? We’ll review examples and talk about how to apply advice to your own work.

The Power of Virtual Book Tours for Children’s Book Creators

Whether you’re a debut author or a seasoned writer, this session will illuminate the significance of virtual book tours in reaching and inspiring young readers. Discover how tours can amplify your book’s exposure and engagement with readers. Explore the advantages of expanded reach, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Gain practical tips and strategies for planning and executing successful virtual tours, including Q&A sessions and sharing activities tailored to captivate and inspire your audience. Whether you’re embarking on your publishing journey or seeking to expand your reach, this session will illuminate the importance of including virtual book tours in your book marketing plan.

Are You READY?: Looking at Your Work with a Critical Eye

This is a frank talk on how to know if you’re ready to start querying agents. We’ll take a look at different feedback that writers and illustrators might be receiving (those that stem from editorial concerns, as well as business concerns), and we’ll also talk about the kind of responses you might eventually expect from an agent once you’re getting close to representation.