Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators








All Keynotes will be recorded and available to all attendees until November 23rd.

Keynote with Award Winning Author/Illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton
Keynote with John B. Herrington, PhD, CDR, USN(Ret) Astronaut, STS-113



John B. Herrington, PhD CDR,                                  Vanessa Brantley Newton
USN(Ret) Astronaut STS-113 & Author                       SCBWI PAL Author-Illustrator


All Craft Breakouts will be recorded and available to all attendees until November 23rd. (60 minutes)

Secondary Characters Get the Spotlight with Sarah Aronson

In this session, let’s pay attention to the characters that illuminate the main character’s story, the non-POV characters: the villains. The parents. The friends. Sarah Aronson will discuss her process for creating and revising a full cast of characters that are interesting and memorable (but don’t steal the story).

Picture Book Craft Breakout with Vanessa Brantley Newton
      Description forthcoming.

Thought BubblesUnderstanding the Basics of Graphic Novel Writing with Kate Hannigan

Kate Hannigan talks about reading, writing, and understanding the mechanics of graphic novels, from thinking like an artist to scripting like a director. She’ll discuss nonfiction, fiction, and series, and offer advice for newbies on how to approach this form of storytelling gleaned from the pros.

Making Story,  Narrative Non-Fiction Picture Books with Barb Rosenstock

Congratulations! You’ve researched a nonfiction topic; maybe drafted a picture book. But is it a story, a narrative? Do you want it to be? Learn about writing scenes, tips for productive revision, and what to keep in mind when writing for an illustrator. Writing like a reader means asking yourself a lot of questions…learn why “So what?” is the most important.

Finding the Heart of Your Story with Cozbi Cabrera

What does to mean to arrive at the heart of story visually? Let’s explore what’s in your toolkit to forge the deep heart connection with your reader, to provide the body language for the story you are illustrating, to extrapolate what’s written between the lines. 


All attendees may attend each Craft Breakout Office Hour. Pre-registration NOT required. 
(60 minutes; NOT recorded)

Attendees are invited to ask a question and a follow-up of the faculty Craft Breakout presenters. Attendees enter into virtual breakout rooms with the faculty and a SCBWI-Illinois Interactive volunteer moderator. As with traditional office hours, attendees will “drop-in” and leave at any time during the specified hour. Please view Craft Breakouts before attending LIVE Office Hours.


Novel/Seconday Characters Office Hours with Sarah Aronson

Picture Book Office Hours with Vanessa Brantley Newton

Graphic Novel Office Hours with Kate Hannigan

Narrative Non-Fiction Office Hours with Barb Rosenstock

Illustration Office Hours with Cozbi Cabrera


Choose one Chat, Look/Voice or Pitch Session. See descriptions below:

All LIVE Chats will be recorded for the benefit of all attendees and available to watch until November 23rd. (Only 40 attendees each; 60 minutes)

Join the Illinois Interactive Team for an intimate chat with our stellar faculty. Each session will be limited to 40 attendees with the opportunity to ask your questions about publication and beyond. Learn what makes manuscripts shine and illustrations sparkle. 

Session 1 Chats

Esther Cajahuaringa, Assistant Editor, Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Rick DeMonico, Art Director, Albert Whitman

Ellice Lee,  Art Director, Philomel Books, an Imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group

Andrea Tompa, Executive Editor, Candlewick Press

Session 2 Chats

Claire Draper, Literary Agent, The Bent Agency

Meghan McCullough, Assistant Editor, Levine Querido

Jas Perry, Associate Agent, KT Literary


First Pages, First Look & Voice Sessions 
All FIRSTS & VOICE SESSIONS will NOT be recorded. (Only 40 attendees each; 60 minutes)

First Pages with Editors: Esther Cajahuaringa, Meghan McCullough and Andrea Tompa  

Is your first page as thrilling as a Mission to Mars? Editors Andrea Tompa, Meghan McCullough, and Esther Cajahuaringa will give immediate feedback as our SCBWI-Illinois Interactive Moderator reads your first page. Pages need to be submitted by Sept 29th. All submitted pages may not be commented on, but all will be shared with the session’s faculty.

Voice Session with Agents: Jas Perry and Claire Draper  

A strong voice in your manuscript can rocket it to publication. Literary Agents Jas Perry and Claire Draper will comment on the  first page (or a favorite page) of you ms for VOICE. Your work-in- progress will be read by a SCBWI-Illinois Interactive Moderator. Pages need to be submitted by Sept 29th. All submitted pages may not be commented on, but all will be shared with the session’s faculty.

First Look with Art Directors Rick DeMonico and Ellice Lee & Author-Illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton 

Illustrators submit a completed art piece for a chance to receive immediate feedback from Art Directors Rick DeMonico and Ellice Lee and author-illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton. All submitted pieces may not receive comments, but all will be shared with the session’s faculty. Both illustrators, authors and author-illustrators are invited to register for this session and learn to shoot for the stars as we create for children. Submission Due by Sept 29th. Please send as 2400 x 3600 pixels. Jpeg LAST_First_First look

All PITCH SESSIONS will NOT be recorded. (only 9 attendees each; 60 minutes)

Pitches with Editors: Andrea Tompa, Meghan McCullough, and Esther Cajahuaringa
Pitches with Agents: Jas Perry and Claire Draper 

Attendees will have up to 2 minutes to “pitch” a log line or theme from their work-in-progress to receive immediate feedback from an Editor or Agent. This is your chance to shine like a star or add some sparkle to your already stellar project! Pitches need to be submitted by Sept 29th.


For no added fee Contests & Extras, Online Bookstore and Socials, see navigation pane at upper right.



Event Chairperson: Jennifer Wagh

Manuscript Critiques & Contest, Videos: Rachel Ruiz

First Pages/First Look/Voice & Pitch Submissions: Deb Aronson
1:1 Dummy & Written Portfolio Reviews/Portfolio Showcase/ Illustration Contest: Cedric Gliane
Virtual Folder & Orientation: Rich Green
Registration & Cancellation: Darcy Zoells
Bookstore / Socials/ DEI Initiatives: Deborah Topolski
Event Evaluation & Crystal Kite Gala: Lisa Bierman
Social Media Contests & Chats: Sarah Hammond