Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Open Registration: 2020 Spring Fever Annual Conference

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Date(s) - 03/21/2020 - 03/22/2020
12:00 am

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



PLEASE NOTE: During this period of public health concerns, SCBWI had modified its cancellation/refund policy as follows: If you are sick and cannot attend an event, you will be able to receive a full tuition refund up until the day of the event so that you can stay home, take care of yourself, and prevent the spread of illness. This policy is in effect until September 1, 2020. Be well.

Please note this event has been cancelled

General Registration is NOW OPEN!

 Early Bird Registration has closed.

Spaces fill quickly. Don’t delay…Register Today!

A Few One-0n-One Critique Spots are also Open…But They Won’t Be For Long!

Conference Theme: From Buds to Blooms — Growing Our Craft!

TAKE A LOOK at our Additional Faculty…


Conference Faculty

Honored Guest:

Bruce Coville


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 2020 Spring Fever Conference on Sunday, March 22nd, where he will moderate our Masterclass in Marketing Panel Discussion.



Featured Speakers:         

Kelsey Horton (Opening Keynote Speaker)*

Editor, Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

Kelsey Horton is an Editor at Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, where she edits both commercial and literary fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Her list of authors includes Lynne Kelly (Song for a Whale), Dana Alison Levy (It Wasn’t Me), Kelly Coon (Gravemaidens), Holly Jackson (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder), Namina Forna (The Gilded Ones), Diana Kapp (Girls Who Run the World: 31 CEOs Who Mean Business), Beth Reekles (The Kissing Booth series), Laura Ellen Anderson (the Amelia Fang series), Jen Calonita (The Retake), Kereen Getten (When Life Gives You Mangos) and Sophie Kinsella (the Fairy Mom and Me series). Prior to joining the team in 2017, she began her editorial career at HarperCollins upon graduating from the Columbia Publishing Course. She lives in Brooklyn. Find her on Twitter @KelseyMHorton. Kelsey is accepting a limited number of critiques. See “Faculty One-on-One Critiques” below. 

*We welcome Kelsey Horton who has replaced Sara Sargent in our Spring Faculty lineup.


Kevin Lewis

Literary Agent, Erin Murphy Literary Agency


Kevin Lewis is the author of many children’s picture books for toddler and early elementary grades including the classics Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo and My Truck is Stuck (both illustrated by Daniel Kirk). For over two decades, he was been one of the most highly regarded children’s book editors in the industry. He worked with Dav Pilkey on the original Captain Underpants, Laurie Halse Anderson (Fever 1793, Chains), Tony DiTerlizzi, Holly Black, Angela Johnson, Kadir Nelson, Matthew Cordell, LeUyen Pham, Loren Long, and many others. These days, Kevin is an agent for the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, primarily focusing on writer-illustrators and diverse voices. Kevin is accepting a limited number of critiques. See “Faculty One-on-One Critiques” below.


Laurent Linn (Closing Keynote Speaker)

Art Director, Simon & Schuster

Author, Illustrator

Laurent collaborates on picture books, middle grade, and teen novels with both celebrated and new illustrators. He is author of the acclaimed YA novel, Draw the Line; is on the SCBWI Board of Advisors; and is Artistic Advisor for the annual Original Art exhibit at the Society of Illustrators in NYC. Laurent began his career as puppet designer/builder in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop for productions (including the Muppet Christmas Carol film), becoming Creative Director for Sesame Street, winning an Emmy Award. Laurent is accepting a limited number of critiques. See “Faculty One-on-One Critiques” below.


Aneeka Kalia   

Assistant Editor, Viking Children’s Books

Aneeka acquires and edits a wide range of picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels, including graphic novels. Aneeka looks for humor and character driven stories for all ages. In addition to her work at Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, Aneeka regularly conducts critiques with writers through the Manuscript Academy. Prior to coming to Viking in 2017, Aneeka was an Editorial Intern at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and graduated from Connecticut College in 2016 with a double major in English and South Asian Studies. Hobbies include playing soccer and tennis, traveling, and eating spicy food. Aneeka is accepting a limited number of critiques. See “Faculty One-on-One Critiques” below.


Amy Guglielmo

Author, Artist, Educator, and Arts Advocate

A self-appointed STEAM Queen, Amy is focused on telling stories about art, artists, makers, and strong women. She is co-author of the Christopher Award-winning POCKET FULL OF COLORS: The Magical World of Mary Blair Disney Artist Extraordinaire (Atheneum 2017) and How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine (Atheneum 2018) with Jacqueline Tourville. Her solo titles include CEZANNE’S PARROT (Putnam 2020) and JUST BEING DALI, about surreal artist Salvador Dali (Putman 2021). Amy’s board books include, the Touch the Art Series (Sterling 2006, 2009, 2010) and the Peek-A-Book Series: GOODNIGHT, STARRY NIGHT (Cartwheel 2019) and LOVE (Cartwheel 2021) with Julie Appel. Amy currently teaches high school art in the Adirondacks and she is co-founder of Outside Art: The Plattsburgh Public Art Project. She lives on the Adirondack Coast with her husband. Amy is accepting a limited number of critiques. See “Faculty One-on-One Critiques” below.



The SPOTLIGHT is ON our Additional Guest Showcase Faculty!


  Yuko Jones 



Yuko Jones was born and raised in Japan, and spent much of her childhood drawing and painting. After completing her degrees in English, Psychology, and Human Development, she embarked on her career in early childhood developmental research. While working with children, she realized how picture books can play a crucial role in their development, and she wanted to become part of the positive impact. Yuko believes everyone has special abilities to make this world a better place, and she hopes her work will inspire children to embrace their unique gifts. Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites (FSG 2021) is her debut illustrated picture book. 



Cory Leonardo


Cory Leonardo grew up believing she’d replace Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune . . . but when that didn’t pan out, she decided she’d turn letters and phrases in a different way. Her first novel, The Simple Art of Flying, published in North America, and Call Me Alastair, published in the UK, has been awarded a Parents’ Choice Silver Medal and has been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Award. A born and bred upstate New Yorker, she currently lives in the Syracuse area with her husband, a collection of snow shovels, and her three plucky children.


                                                                                                             Brian Montanaro


Brian Montanaro, under his pen name David Aro, is the author of a five-volume hi-lo fiction series Alton Heights All-Stars: Meet Me on the Court (2018), Nothing But Net (2019), Swish (2020), Fast Break (2020), and Big Shots (2021). The first volume in this series, Meet Me on the Court, was recently a finalists in the Central New York Book Awards Children’s category. In addition to this series for West 44 Books, he is also the author of the picture book Slam Dunk Sammy (Windmill Books) and four short stories (Rosen Publishing) that are currently in the process of being published. Brian continues to pursue his interest writing in MG  works.


Session TOPICS Include:

  • Marketing via social media, community events, and more! 
  • How to Get an Agent’s Attention
  • Writing for the Very Young
  • The Writing-Illustrating Connection
  • An Aspiring Editor’s Wish List
  • Developing Character
  • Grabbing Reader’s From the First Page
  • Finding Spark & Inspiration
  • Sustaining Publishing Power After the First Book
  • Exploring Illustration Technique and Style
  • Many More topics!


FAVORITES … Continued This Year:

  • Even Bigger & Better Critique Opportunities
  • Friday Evening: Welcome Meet & Mingle Reception – Light Snacks!
  •  Illustrator Portfolio Showcase
  • More High-Interest Breakout Sessions
  • Quick & Easy Access to PAL Bookstore & More Browsing & Signing Times
  • Power Panel Session  (Sunday/moderated by Bruce Coville) – Masterclass in Marketing
  • Night Owl & Early Bird Informal Sessions – hosted by SCBWI participants on wild-card topics
  • Next Steps – News & Updates from Headquarters, Staying Connected Contact Info Swap
  • Open Mic Night


AGENDA Items…Call for an Equity & Inclusion SCBWI Member Committee & MORE!

  • The West-Central Upstate New York SCBWI calls for the formation of a committee to take action on and guide our efforts to welcome, invite, and address inclusivity in our region. The mission and actions of our Equity & Inclusion Committee will align with the broader directives and initiatives of our global SCBWI Organization. Among our most immediate goals, we would like to establish conference scholarships and on-going support for writers and illustrators from under-represented backgrounds. On Saturday, March 21st from 4:30 – 5:30 (Embassy Suite location to be determined), we call together our regional members who wish to volunteer their time to serve on this Committee. We are delighted that Linda Sue Park will be assisting us via a brief Skype discussion during this first call to order at our Spring Fever Conference.
  • Shop Talk Facilitator Breakfast – Sunday, March 22nd, 7:30 – 8:15 am (Embassy Suite location to be determined).
  • STEM Meet Up. This is an informal gathering for members interested in discussing all things STEM – Saturday, March 21st, 8:30 pm (Embassy Suite location to be determined)


Schedule (subject to minor updates)

Friday, March 20th

5:00 pm Welcome Meet & Mingle Reception


Saturday, March 21st

8:00 – 8:45 am Registration & Continental Breakfast
8:45 – 9:00 am Welcome & Introductions
9:00 – 10:00 am OPENING KEYNOTE: Get Inspired, Get Creative, Get Working! Kelsey Horton,


10:15 – 11:00 am How to Get an Agent’s Attention (Kevin Lewis, Agent)
11:15 – 12:00 am BREAKOUT (Session 1 )

A. Grabbing Readers From the First Page (Kelsey Horton)

B. Creating Books for the Very Young (Kevin Lewis)

C. Writing Like an Illustrator & Illustrating Like a Writer (Laurent Linn)

12:00 – 1:20 pm LUNCH/Bookstore Open/Signing by Speakers & PAL Authors

(Special Honor to Regional PALS with New Releases; April 2019 – March 2020)

1:30 – 2:30 pm Igniting Your Story Spark: Using Your Interests to Write a Story that Sparkles! (Amy Guglielmo)
 2:45 – 3:45 pm  BREAKOUT (Session 2)

A. Books Are Like Pizza: How to Make Sure Your Novel’s Plot Has All the Pieces of the Pie  (new session with Kelsey Horton)

B. My Dream List: Trends I watch… Evergreens I Admire…and What Makes a Great Manuscript! (Aneeka Kalia)

C. Landing a Picture Book Deal (and What Happens After?) with 2021 debut illustrator Yuko Jones.

4:00 – 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 Speakers & PAL Authors.
6:30 – 8:30 Dinner on your own
8:30 – ? ·      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 22nd

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 – 10:15 BREAKOUT (Session 3)

A.  Surviving Self-Doubt; Seeking Positive Twists & Turns to Help Shape the Direction of Your Writing/Illustrating Career (Brian Montanaro, Author)

B. Fabulous Follow-Up: The Ingredients for Success with Book 2 and Beyond (Cory Leonardo, Author)

C. Trade Illustration vs. Mass Market: What Are They and Where Do You Fit In? (Laurent Linn, Art Director)

10:30 – 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

12:00 – 1:20 Lunch – Bookstore Open & Book Signing by Speakers & PAL Authors
1:30 – 2:15 Power Panel – Masterclass in Marketing 
2:30 – 3:30  CLOSING KEYNOTE: More than Words and Pictures: Digging Deep into Why We Create and How We Thrive Laurent Linn (Art Director, Author, Illustrator)
3:30 – 3:45 Next Steps (News & Updates from Headquarters, Staying Connected Contact Info Swap & Post Conference Support):




























Please note this event has been cancelled

Registration Fees

Nov. 29 – Jan. 1st, 2020
Members Only: $215. (both days); $140. (single day – Saturday or Sunday)

Jan. 2, 2020 – March 8, 2020
Members Only: $240. (both days); $160. (single day – Saturday or Sunday)
Non-Members: $290. (both days); $190. (single day – Saturday or Sunday)
Full-Time Students (18 and over): $90. (Saturday only)

 *The registration fees include the cost of the Conference as well as a light continental breakfast and a buffet salad/sandwich lunch each day. 

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

Faculty One-on-One Critiques

A limited number of One-on-One manuscript and artwork critiques are available on a first-come first-serve basis for $40. each. Sign-ups will appear (while they last) when you select a Registration Ticket. Registrants may sign up for one critique only (while they last). As in past years, you will receive your one-on-one critique time assignment in your Conference Folder at Registration.

Manuscripts and artwork for critiques are due February 21st by 5 pm.

Submission Directions: Writers & illustrators, 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 Kevin Lewis, you would title your document and the subject line of the email as follows: Lewis_BestBookEver_Doe. Manuscripts should be in Times New Roman, 12 point font, double-spaced, using standard manuscript formatting. You may submit the following:


Kelsey Horton:

Kelsey is assuming all critiques arranged with Sara Sargent. Submission materials include either a 250-word query letter OR a 250-word first page in all genres including: PB, MG, YA (both fiction & nonfiction). The Submission Directions detailed on the website and the deadline of February 21st remain in place.

  • First 250 words – either a query letter OR a first manuscript page. Please submit your material according to the “Submission Directions” above.


Kevin Lewis: 

Kevin is providing a 15 minute critique of your submission according to the following guidelines:

  • PB (picture book, illustration) = one complete picture book dummy and portfolio
  • PB (picture book, text) = one complete, vetted picture book manuscript with query letter
  • 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 (MG, CB, PB) = up to 10 pages with a one page query
  • Author/Illustrators = portfolio link*, portfolio, or illustration samples* in PDF format (*1 up to month in advance) 


Laurent Linn:

Laurent is providing a 15 minute critique of your portfolio according to the following guidelines:

“The most successful way I do portfolio critiques is to find out the goals of the person and share my reactions on the spot. So no need for me to receive anything in advance—they only need to bring their portfolios to the critique. I help illustrators best when I can have a discussion to know what they want as I assess their art and help them know next steps.”

Participants requesting a one-on-one critique with Laurent are responsible for bringing their portfolio to their one-on-one critique.


Aneeka Kalia:

Aneeka is providing a 15 minute critique of your submission according to the following guidelines:

  • 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)
  • YA (young adult) = 20 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 that includes an overview of the entire project.
  • 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)


Amy Guglielmo:

Amy is providing a 15 minute critique of your submission according to the following guideline:

  • Picture Books & Board Books (fiction, nonfiction & narrative non-fiction, including biographies) = one complete picture book of approximately 500 – 750 words

Amy’s critique includes a story reading and review, comments, questions, proofreading, suggestions, and one-page letter with thoughts on the work, overall strengths and weaknesses, and market insights.

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 (and use the code SC2) or use this booking link

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: