Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Playing With Words and Pictures

Date(s) - 09/12/2022 - 09/17/2022
12:00 am


No Categories

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

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.


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Whether Regional events or the International Conference, all members receive a discount.

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Ticket Information

Playing with Words and Pictures - Nonmembers - $100.00

Playing With Words and Pictures - Member - $75.00

This price is only available for SCBWI members.

Saturday In Person Event Only - $30.00
If you are planning to attend Saturday ONLY, select this ticket. If you are plan to attend the Zoom sessions throughout the week, purchase this as an add-on.

The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy
To register for an SCBWI event, you are required to acknowledge our Anti-Harassment Policy.
Scroll to the bottom to read the policy.

You will then be able to click the checkbox indicating that you have read our policy.


The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is dedicated to providing a safe and harassment-free environment for all of its members and will take any and all necessary steps to address and prevent harassment at events associated with SCBWI. Harassment under this policy may include verbal comments, written comments, displayed images, or behaviors such as intimidation, stalking, body policing, unwelcome photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome sexual attention or advances, and bullying or coercion. 

The SCBWI Member Anti-Harassment Policy applies to all situations of harassment or intimidation at any SCBWI Event. An “SCBWI Event” is any event, meeting or activity that is authorized by an SCBWI Regional Manager to be sponsored by, or affiliated with, SCBWI. SCBWI events may include, if properly authorized by an SCBWI Regional Manager, the Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles, the Annual Winter Conference in New York, regional conferences, meetings and meet-ups. This SCBWI Member Anti-Harassment Policy also applies to “SCBWI On-Line Interactions,” which include Zooms, Webinars, online meetings, communications and content posted on, or directed towards, SCBWI’s Social Media accounts or sent through any of the communication tools available on SCBWI’s website, SCBWI’s Social Media accounts under this policy include the official SCBWI accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and LinkedIn.


Code of Conduct

All participants in SCBWI Events and SCBWI On-Line Interactions, including faculty, volunteers, staff, and attendees, are required to comply with the following anti-harassment code of conduct. The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy prohibits harassment, including but not limited to the following behaviors:

  • Intimidation, stalking, or following;
  • Sustained disruption of talks or other events;
  • Unwelcome sexual attention or advances;
  • Abusive verbal comments;
  • Quid pro quo– sexual harassment that occurs when one in an authority position requests sex or a sexual relationship in exchange for professional consideration or favors;.
  • Harmful or prejudicial verbal comments, written comments, or visual images related to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, religion, socio-economic status, disability, age, appearance, body size, or other personal characteristics;
  • Inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images
  • Unwelcome or uninvited attention or contact
  • Physical assault (including unwelcome touching or groping);
  • Real or implied threat of physical harm;
  • Real or implied threat of professional or financial damage or harm;
  • Body policing, unwelcome photography or recording;
  • Doxing
  • Harassment does not include respectful disagreement or reasonable and respectful critique made in good faith. SCBWI continues to welcome and appreciate presentation of appropriate controversial ideas, free speech, and creative artistic expression. SCBWI encourages members to hold one another accountable to the Code of Conduct as stated in this part of the Policy and to take the perspectives of others seriously when a disagreement arises.

We expect all participants at SCBWI activities, meetings, and networking events to abide by this Anti-Harassment Policy in all venues, including sanctioned events, ancillary events, unofficial events, and social gatherings.


Reporting Procedures

Any person who believes there has been a violation of the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy can report the offense in one or all of the following ways:

  • Certain SCBWI Events, including the Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles and the Annual Winter Conference in New York, will designate one or more Safety Team Members who will be available during the conference to provide a safe space for members to report an incident. The Safety Team Member will report directly to the conference director or regional advisor in charge.
  • A complainant may submit a complaint under this policy to the Director of Community Marketing and Engagement, the Director of Illustration and Artist Programs and/or your Regional Manager.
  • SCBWI has a dedicated email address for reporting any potential incident of harassment under this policy. Anyone who chooses to report an incident can find the Anti-Harassment Report Form on the SCBWI website (About > Anti-Harassment) or use the following link: Reports should include the substance of the complaint, date, and whenever possible, a list of witnesses or a reference to the relevant URLs, if the offense occurred through an SCWBI On-Line Interaction.

SCBWI will investigate all complaints subject to the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy. If the policy applies, SCBWI will investigate the matter and take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to prevent a recurrence and protect the environment at SCWBI Events. If a complaint is made anonymously, please note that SCBWI will not be able to follow up on an anonymous report with the complainant directly, as SCBWI will not have contact information for the anonymous complainant. Moreover, anonymous complaints may hinder SCBWI’s ability to investigate the complaint.  SCBWI will take steps to protect the confidentiality of the complaint, to the extent possible.  However, complete confidentiality may not be possible in all circumstances.  SCBWI will make every attempt to respond to a named complainant in a timely fashion.

If appropriate, SCBWI may report the incident to local authorities.



The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy prohibits retaliation against a member of the SCBWI community for reporting harassment, intimidation or discrimination, or for participating in an investigation relating to any complaint made under this policy. The sanctions for retaliation are the same sanctions available to address any other violation of the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy.



SCBWI takes all allegations of harassment seriously. Complaints will be investigated by SCWBI if they fall within the scope of SCWBI’s Anti-Harassment Policy. Depending on the results of the investigation, SCWBI will determine whether a sanction is appropriate.

Sanctions for faculty, speakers, volunteers, staff or board members may include any of the following:

  • warning the party involved that the particular behavior is inappropriate and must be ceased;
  • immediate removal from a particular event;
  • denial of access to SCBWI spaces and venues on a temporary or permanent basis;
  • withholding of a contracted honorarium;
  • prohibition from future speaking engagements;
  • prohibition from future faculty appointments;
  • expulsion from SCBWI; and/or
  • removal from the Board of Advisors or Board of Directors, when appropriate.

Sanctions for attendees, members, and guests can include any of the following:

  • warning the party involved that specified behavior is inappropriate and must be ceased;
  • immediate removal from a particular event, without refund;
  • denial of access to SCBWI spaces and venues on a permanent or temporary basis;
  • termination of SCBWI membership, without refund; and/or
  • prohibition of future SCBWI membership.

If the conduct at issue involves one of SCBWI’s employees, SCBWI will utilize whatever corrective action is appropriate based on the result of the investigation and subject to SCBWI employment policies and practices.



SCBWI will make every reasonable effort to conduct all investigations into allegations of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in a manner that will protect the confidentiality of all parties and witnesses. Notwithstanding the above, confidentiality is not absolute, and those with a legitimate business reason to know and be informed of the allegations will be so informed. Parties to the complaint should treat the matter under investigation with discretion and respect the reputation of all parties involved.


If you wish to file a complaint or an anonymous complaint, CLICK HERE to access the Anti-harassment Report Form.

If you have questions regarding this policy, you may send an email to Please include the words "Anti-Harassment Policy" in the subject line. 


I have read and accepted the SCBWI Anti-Harassment policy.