Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Annual Spring Fever Conference 2019

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Date(s) - 03/23/2019 - 03/24/2019
8:00 am - 5:30 pm

Embassy Suites-Destiny USA
311 Hiawatha Blvd. West - Syracuse, NY 13204


Sorry…Registration for this event has closed.

Please review our other forthcoming events.

Take Advantage of the Early-Bird Registration Fees for SCBWI Members — Honored Through December 24th, 2018. General Registration Fees will go into effect on December 25th, 2018.

Even though our Faculty Critiques are SOLD OUT, there’s other opportunity to receive feedback on your projects! Also, you won’t want to miss our craft sessions that will help you polish your work.

Conference Faculty

Featured Speakers:

 Grace Lin, Author/Illustrator (Keynote)

Recipient of a 2019 Caldecott Honor for “A Big Mooncake for Little Star.”

Grace Lin, a NY Times bestselling author/illustrator, won the Newbery Honor for “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” and the Theodor Geisel Honor for “Ling and Ting.” Her 2016 novel “When the Sea Turned to Silver” was a National Book Award Finalist. Her most recent book “A Big Mooncake for Little Star” (August 2018) received starred reviews from Kirkus, BCCB, and School Library Journal, along with other high praises from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, among others. Grace is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. Visit her website:


           Patrick Collins  
Creative Director, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Patrick art directs and designs picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. Some of the recent picture books he has worked on are: A Boy, A Mouse and A Spider illustrated by Lauren Castillo; Brave! Poems about Amazing Hispanics illustrated by Rafael Lopez; Cricket in the Thicket illustrated by Melissa Sweet; and Dogosaurus Rex illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. His recent novel projects include Bloooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel and In the Shadow of Liberty. Patrick studied art at Northeastern University in Boston. Patrick is accepting a limited number of critiques. See “Faculty One-on-One Critiques” below.


Steven Salpeter
Literary Agent, Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Steven joined Curtis Brown in 2013 and is now actively building his own list, seeking literary fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers, young adult, and authors who can blend elements of these genres. Steven is also interested in narrative nonfiction, gift books, history, humor, and popular science. In Chapter Book, MG and YA Steven would be particularly excited to see more of the following: fictional or nonfiction stories that explore tough topics in accessible ways, #ownvoices across any genre; fantasy with unique magic systems; historical novels; thrillers; second world fantasies with no magic; witches; dragons; rogues; pirates with morals; larger-than-life geniuses up against tragic circumstances perhaps of their own devising; average teens with big hearts or big problems; complex characters; laugh-out-loud contemporaries; romcoms; heartfelt contemporaries with literary voices;  non-western inspired mythology; unique retellings; graphic novels of all kinds; and more. Visit his website: Steven is accepting a limited number of critiques. See “Faculty One-on-One Critiques” below.


                                                                             Alyson Heller
Senior Editor, Aladdin/Simon and Schuster

Alyson joined the Aladdin team in 2008 after a two-year stint in the Simon & Schuster Associates Program. She acquires picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and the occasional YA, but her heart is in contemporary middle grade. Aly is actively looking for non-fiction projects as well for her list. On both the non-fiction and fictional side, she has a particular affinity for strong female characters who kick butt and take names, stories that represent the under-represented and stories that take on tough stuff in the middle grade space. Tweet her @EditorAlysonH.  Alyson is accepting a limited number of critiques. See “Faculty One-on-One Critiques” below.

Honored Guest:

Bruce Coville, Author

Bruce Coville joins us this year as our special invited guest. Award-winning children’s author and long-time member of the West-Central Upstate regional SCBWI chapter, Bruce graciously brings his industry knowledge and mastery of craft to our 2019 Spring Fever Conference on Sunday, March 24th, where he will moderate our Featured Speaker Panel Discussion.


The Spotlight is ON our Additional Guest Showcase Faculty!


Jacob Souva,  Illustrator

Jacob Souva is a picture book illustrator born and raised in Syracuse, NY. He earned his BFA in illustration from Syracuse University and worked as a graphic designer for over 10 years. He loves to make kids laugh and think with his illustration work. Jacob sketches constantly and finishes his work digitally, placing a lot of emphasis on simple shapes, color, and lots and lots of texture. He is represented by Astound illustration agency. Jacob’s debut picture book, Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story is due out February 2019.

                                                                                                           Sandra Athans, Author/Researcher

Sandra enjoys writing about high-interest adventures that blend remarkable real-life quests with scientific discovery and exploration. Tales From the Top of the World documents her brother’s SEVEN summits of Mount Everest, and Secrets of the Sky Caves follows an international team of scientists into remote, hand-carved cliff caves. Sandra also writes extensively for the educational market, including early reader fiction, reader’s theater skits, informational texts, and teacher resources. Sandra is a practicing National Board Certified literacy specialist.


Clara MacCarald, Writer

Clara MacCarald is a freelance writer with a master’s degree in ecology and natural resources who writes nonfiction books for the educational market. Her recent titles include The Standing Rock Sioux Challenge the Dakota Access Pipeline, How Do Wildlife Crossings Save Animals?, and Bringing Back Our Deserts. Clara is the co-leader of the Ithaca SCBWI Shop Talk and a member of the National Association of Science Writers.


                                                                                                            Dee Romito, Author 

Dee Romito is a former elementary teacher and an author of books for young readers from picture books to middle grade. And while she does her best to be a grown-up most of the time, giggling with her BFFs is still one of her all-time favorite things. You can visit her website at


Cynthia Cotten, Writer

Recipient of a 2019 Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Award

Cynthia Cotten  has been writing fiction and poetry for young people for more than 30 years. She has published several critically-praised picture books, including Snow Ponies, This Is The Stable, and The Book Boat’s In, and has poems included in numerous collections, including America at War, Jumping Off Library Shelves, and World Make Way, all edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  She lives in Lockport in a house beside the historic Erie Canal.


                                                                                                                           Erin Nowak, Illustrator

Erin McKenna Nowak is a graphic designer, writer, artist, and the illustrator of the May 2018 release, The Silent Nightingale, a dual-language picture book published in both Arabic and English. When she’s not creating art or mothering her 3 kids, Erin works in the Book Buddies program coordinating community volunteers who read with Syracuse City School District K-2nd graders. You can visit her portfolio and website at



Gary Allen VanRiper, Writer


Gary Allen VanRiper is co-author with his son, Justin, of The Adirondack Kids® chapter books with more than 150,000 copies sold in the self-published children’s series so far. Gary speaks at public schools and conferences on a regular basis about reading and writing and at seminars on self-publishing.




Session TOPICS Include:

  • Avoiding Pitfalls When Pitching to an Agent
  • Techniques for Revising & Editing Your Picture Book
  • My Journey to Contract; An Illustrator’s Story
  • Developing Plot Know-How; The Basics
  • How to Craft a First Chapter
  • Investigating Alternative Paths to Publishing – The Educational Market
  • Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing
  • Self Marketing for PALs; Expectations & Options
  • Exploring Illustration Technique and Style
  • Many More topics to be announced…Stay Tuned!


NEW This Year:

  • Friday Evening: Welcome Meet & Mingle Reception – Light Snacks & Ice Breaker Activities!
  • New & Improved Critique Opportunities
  • Illustrator Portfolio Showcase
  • More High-Interest Breakout Sessions
  • Quick & Easy Access to PAL Bookstore & More Browsing & Signing Times
  • New Panel Session with Featured Speakers (Sunday)
  • Illustrator Craft Share
  • Night Owl & Early Bird Informal Chat Sessions – informal sessions are hosted by SCBWI participants on wild-card topics
  • Next Steps – News & Updates from Headquarters, Staying Connected Contact Info Swap & Post Conference Support


Schedule (subject to minor updates)

Friday, March 22nd

5:00 pm Welcome Meet & Mingle Reception

Saturday, March 23rd

8:00 – 8:45 am Registration & Continental Breakfast
8:45 – 9:00 Welcome & Introductions
9:00 – 10:00 KEYNOTE: The Path of a Storyteller Grace Lin (Author/Illustrator)
10:15 – 11:00 The Keys to Successful Picture Book Illustration Patrick Collins (Art Director)
11:15 – 12:00 The BIG Reveal; The Biggest Pitfalls Writers and Illustrators Miss in Revision Steven Salpeter (Agent)
12:00 – 1:30 Lunch – Bookstore Open & Book Signing by Grace Lin & PAL Authors
1:30 – 2:45 BREAKOUT (Session 1)

A. An Illustrator’s Journey; From Post Cards to Publication (Jacob Souva)

B. Pitch Perfect: Strategies to Successfully Query, Pitch, and Talk about your Writing and Illustration Work (Steven Salpeter)

C. Crafting a First Chapter (Alyson Heller & Dee Romito)

3:00 – 4:15 BREAKOUT (Session 2)

A. Illustrate This! Illustrator Assignment Session with Patrick Collins (instructions sent separately)

B. Evolution of a Picture Book: Revising & Editing with a Dummy (Alyson Heller) (bring your work-in-progress pb)

C. Plotting Basics (Grace Lin) (bring your work-in-progress in outline form)

4:30 – 5:15 Speed Dating for The “Perfect Match” (Critique Partners) – Writers & Illustrators – Primarily designed to find new critique partners. If you already have a critique group, plan ahead to use this time for a productive meet up. (instructions sent separately)
5:30 – 6:30 Free Time/Cash Bar – Portfolio Showcase Viewing & Bookstore Open & Book Signing by Grace Lin & PAL Authors.
6:30 – 8:00 Dinner on Your Own
8:00 – ? ·      Open Mic – read aloud, seek feedback as you wish!

·      Night Owl Informal Chats

(Shared by those in-the-know with those who want-to-know. What topic would you like to share? Submit a brief description to us.)


Sunday, March 24th

7:00 – 7:45 am ·      Early Bird Informal Chats

(Shared by those in-the-know with those who want-to-know. What topic would you like to share? Submit a brief  description to us.)

8:00 – 8:30 Registration & Continental Breakfast
8:30 – 8:45 Welcome & Introductions
9:00 – 10:00 BREAKOUT (Session 3)

A. Illustration Review by Creative Director, Patrick Collins  (instructions sent separately)

B. An Alternative Path to Publication; The Educational Market (Sandra Athans & Clara MacCarald)

C. Marketing: Expectations & Options for Not-Yet-Published, Newly Published, and PAL Authors & Illustrators  (Dee Romito)

10:15 – 11:45 ROUNDTABLES – A PAL member will guide the process of peer group feedback.

Critique Roundtable … for Writers (Please make your table group selection at the time of registration (drop down menu will appear). Table # assignment and further instructions will be forwarded in advance of the Conference. (instructions sent separately)

A. YA Author Group

B. MG Author Group

C. Picture Book Author Group

D. Picture Book/Illustrator Group

Illustrator “Craft Share” Roundtable … for Illustrators – Illustrator attendees who select this option will share/demo for 5 – 10 minutes a skill or medium they use or apply in their artwork. (instructions sent separately)

12:00 – 1:20 Lunch – Bookstore Open & Book Signing by Grace Lin & PAL Authors

(Special Honor to Regional PALS with New Releases; April 2018 – March 2019)

1:30 – 2:15 PANEL Discussion with Featured Speakers (Grace Lin, Patrick Collins, Steven Salpeter, & Alyson Heller)

·      State of the Industry

·      Direction of the Industry

·      Working Habits

·      Social Media

2:30 – 3:15 Closing Session: To Self-Publish, or Not to Self-Publish, “That is the Question”  (Cynthia Cotten, Erin Nowak, Gary VanRiper)
3:15 – 3:45


3:45 – 4:00

Next Steps (News & Updates from Headquarters, Staying Connected Contact Info Swap & Post Conference Support): PALs, Illustrators, New Members, Soon to be Published Members

Goodbyes & Door Prizes


Registration Fees

Nov. 26 – Dec. 24, 2018
Members Only: $190. (both days); $120. (single day – Saturday or Sunday)

Dec. 25, 2018 – March 8, 2019
Members Only: $215. (both days); $135. (single day – Saturday or Sunday)
Non-Members: $265. (both days); $175. (single day – Saturday or Sunday)
Full-Time Students (18 and over): $75. (Saturday only)

 No onsite registration will be available. We are unable to refund payment if you are unable to attend.


Faculty One-on-One Critiques — All Sold Out

A limited number of One-on-One manuscript and artwork critiques are available on a first-come first-serve basis. Sign-ups will appear (while they last) when you select a Registration Ticket. Registrants may sign up for one critique only (while they last).

Manuscripts and artwork for critiques are due March 1st by 5 pm.

Writers, please submit your manuscript to with the following subject line and document title: FacultyLastName_Title_YourLastName. For example, if your name is Jane Doe and you are submitting a manuscript entitled Best Book Ever for critique with Alyson Heller, you would title your document and the subject line of the email as follows: Heller_BestBookEver_Doe. Manuscripts should be in Times New Roman, 12 point font, double-spaced, using standard manuscript formatting. You may submit the following:

Alyson Heller:  Critiques Sold Out

  • PB (picture book) = one complete picture book of approximately 500 – 750 words
  • MG (middle grade) = 15 pages with a one page query (query should be single-spaced)
  • CB (chapter book) = 10 pages with a one page query (query should be single-spaced)

Steven Salpeter: Critiques Sold Out

  • YA (young adult) = 20 pages with a one page query (query should be single spaced)
  • MG (middle grade) = 15 pages with a one page query (query should be single-spaced)
  • CB (chapter book) = 10 pages with a one page query (query should be single-spaced)
  • Narrative Nonfiction (within YA, MG, or CB ages) = up to 10 pages with a one page query
  • Author/Illustrators for Graphic Novels = as little as 2 pages and up to 20 pages of art, sketches, or script with pitch or general description (send in PDF format)

Illustrators, Patrick Collins will critique either one dummy or a portfolio. Please submit to with the following subject line and document title: FacultyLastName_ artwork (dummy or portfolio) review_YourLastName. For example, if your name is John Doe and you are submitting a dummy to Patrick Collins, you would title your material in the subject line of the email as follows: Collins_dummy_Doe. All artwork should be submitted in PDF format. Critiques Sold Out


Manuscript Submissions Following the Conference

Conference attendees are allowed to submit materials to faculty members following the conference if your work fits the editor’s or agent’s guidelines. Specific submission guidelines for each faculty member will be provided at the conference.

Hotel Information

The conference hotel is the Embassy Suites – Destiny USA in Syracuse. Rooms are available at a discounted group rate of $149. (plus taxes and fees) per night. Lodging expenses are not included in the registration fees. Please contact the hotel to make your reservation. Call 315.303.1650 or use this booking link (you may need to copy and paste the entire link into your browser):  Group Name: SCBWI

The registration fees include the cost of the Conference as well as a light continental breakfast and a buffet salad/sandwich lunch each day. The lunch includes a selection of healthy and tasty choices. Should registrants have special dietary restrictions, there is an option to request a vegetarian, gluten free, or vegan meal. Please email your request to: (include in the subject line “dietary meal request”) immediately after you’ve registered and/or to make us aware about outstanding allergies.

If you have questions not covered in the conference information included on this website, email: