Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Playing With Words and Pictures

Date(s) - 09/12/2022 - 09/17/2022
7:00 pm - 3:30 pm


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Join us for our September hybrid event,

Playing with Words & Pictures

The online portion of our event will take place Monday, September 12th – Thursday, September 15th.

On Saturday, September 17th, we will conclude our event in Buffalo, New York with our own local authors. Buffalo is a separate event at $30. REPLAYS will be available for a month.

Rachel DiNunzio and Judy Bradbury.

Monday, September 12th:

7:00 pm – 7:55 pm Barbara DiLorenzo, Author/Illustrator

Creating Picture Books with Sensitive Subject Matter

Barbara DiLorenzo’s first picture book was Renato and the Lion, which received a starred reviews. In her new book, Last Thursday, she directly relates to how children process anxiety, and how this book was inspired by real experiences. Barbara is represented by Rachel Orr at Prospect Agency. She is open for written critiques and will accept 15 illustrations or a portfolio weblink. Those seeking critiques should submit them to Annie Zygarowicz at by August 29.


8:00 pm – 8:55 pm Eric Velasquez, Author/Illustrator

Octopus Stew Explained, from Sketches to Publication

Eric’s presentation will focus on the process of creating his book, OCTOPUS STEW, including initial sketches and book dummy. He will also discuss about the inspiration behind the story. Eric is open to written critiques and will accept 5 illustrations. Those seeking critiques should submit them to Annie Zygarowicz at by August 29.

Tuesday, September 13th:

7:00 pm – 7:55 pm Elana K. Arnold, Author

Parataxis, Hypotaxis, and Other Fun Words: A Close Look at Syntax, and Why it Matters

Join award-winning author Elana K. Arnold on an exploration of how we choose our words, and why attention to these line-level choices impacts our work. Whether you are working on a picture book, a middle grade novel, a nonfiction work, or anything else, your writing will benefit from paying closer attention to the words you choose, and how you use them.


8:00 pm – 8:55 pm Eric Smith, Literary Agent at PS Literary

Query Letters 101

Eric explains elements of that perfect query letter. He’ll share examples of query letters and will highlight what made them stand out…or not! Eric will save plenty of time for questions, so come prepared! Eric is open to critiques. If querying Eric Smith, provide a query letter and the First 10 Pages of your manuscript. Send your submissions to Tina Shepardson at Submissions will be forwarded to Eric for his review. Eric will provide feedback within two weeks, and will be completed by September 27.

Wednesday, September 14th:

7:00 pm – 7:55 pm Maria Middleton, Senior Art Director at Candlewick Press

Digital Portfolio Building

As Senior Art Director at Candlewick Press, Maria’s presentation covers how to craft, edit, and organize your best work in a suitable online platform; creating a cohesive catalog of images that includes more than one style, plus personal and professional work; the dos and don’ts of portfolio basics and what an art director looks for when viewing potential work. Maria is open to 10 Portfolio Reviews and will provide a live critique a week later. Those seeking critiques should submit their Portfolio weblink to Annie Zygarowicz at by August 29.

Thursday, September 15th:

7:00 pm – 7:55 pm Christa Heschke, Literary Agent at McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

Writing an Engaging Mystery: Atmosphere, Tension, Pacing and Premise

An engaging mystery successfully melds together a creepy or foreboding atmosphere, swift pacing, mounting tension to an exciting conclusion, and a killer premise. She will provide tips on making sure your premise stands out, how to add surprising twists and keep your reader in suspense as they eagerly turn pages, and create a captivating cast of characters. Christa is open to critiques. If submitting a middle grade or young adult manuscript, Christa will accept the First 10 Pages. If submitting a picture book, attendees may submit the full manuscript. Christa will respond in writing within two weeks, to be returned by September 15. Submissions for Christa should be sent to Julia Garstecki at by August 29.

Saturday, September 17th

Join us in-person as we meet and mingle, have a light lunch, admire the work of our regional illustrators, and learn from Rachel DeNunzio and Judy Bradbury.

10:30-11:00 Welcome

11:00-11:55 Rachel DiNunzio

12:00-12:55 Light Lunch and Illustrator Showcase

1:00-1:55 Judy Bradbury

2:00-3:30 Peer Critiques

Rachel DiNunzio

Author Visits 101, Creating Engaging School Visits

Rachel will share all there is to know about creating author visits for schools, libraries, community centers, and beyond.

Judy Bradbury

From Cannonballs to Glitter Pens: Researching the Details that Thread your Story

Judy is an award-winning children’s author and literacy specialist whose books open minds and hearts, initiate conversations, and expand possibilities.