Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2022 Regional Conference Breakout Sessions


Breakout Sessions

(More information coming soon!)



Session #1: Saturday, May 14, 1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

Choose 1

Aneeka Kalia
Authenticity Readers in Children’s Books
As the industry seeks to diversify its story offerings for young readers, authenticity readers are essential during the writing and editorial process. When authors are writing outside of their experience, feedback from experts within the communities they’re writing about is crucial. In this session, we’ll discuss how authenticity readers can offer new perspectives on your writing to make your story stronger. We’ll also look at the role of authenticity readers in the writing and editorial process, Aneeka’s experience of working with them as an editor, and what it’s like to be an authenticity reader.


Baptiste Paul
Mining Memories as a Creative Tool
In this breakout session, participants will dig deep into their own memories in order to generate new story ideas or make significant emotional connections to their current character(s)/subjects. Through these exercises, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the emotional landscape of their characters and find words to best express those experiences.


Jacqui Lipton
Publishing Law 101
While authors and artists spend much of their time on creative pursuits, publishing is also a business. And where there is business, the law is never far behind. During your creative life, you are likely to come across various forms of legal issues from contracts—largely with agents and publishing houses—to copyrights, and even occasionally wandering into the waters of defamation, privacy, or trademark law. This breakout session will introduce participants to the basics of the laws that relate to the business of publishing, with user-friendly examples to illustrate how stuff works in the legal arena.


Catherine Laudone
Let’s Go for a Ride: Discovering Tools for Building and Dispelling Tension in Picture Books
Everyone has a favorite ride at Disney World. But what do all of these rides have in common? They have moments of building tension with climbs or unexpected turns, and moments of releasing that tension with dips or more turns. The same experience can be recreated in picture books, too. Building and releasing tension in stories allows young readers to go on a fun ride within the pages of a book, all from the safety of their schools, libraries, and homes. In this interactive breakout session, we’ll look at how writers can use refrains, page turns, humor, and emotional touchstones as tools for building and dispelling tension in picture books and ultimately creating a satisfying reading experience. Whether you are new to writing picture books or a veteran, let’s go for a ride—and explore these craft tools together!


Taryn Souders – PAL Session 1
How Public Speaking and School Visits Can Become an Author’s Best Friend
If you thought authors spend their time creating books, you’re wrong. Many also spend a great amount of time doing school visits! Schools often look for writers to come talk to students about the writing/publishing process. But have you ever listened to a presentation you’d just as soon sleep through . . . or sneak out of? Don’t be that speaker! Learn some do’s and don’ts as Taryn Souders shares what she’s learned from years of doing school visits and teaching at conferences. Or maybe public speaking doesn’t bother you, but you’re not sure how to put together a school visit. Great news—this workshop will culminate with Taryn doing one of her favorite school presentations, hopefully giving you some fun ideas to create your own program.
Note: Attendance limited to PAL members only.



Session #2: Sunday, May 15, 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM

Choose 1

Dan Santat
Writing from an Illustrator’s Perspective
Dan will break down the process of his award-winning books, Beekle, After the Fall, and Are We There Yet?, to examine how the picture book is made from the writing perspective of an illustrator. Dan engineers his text using a reverse process of creating a wordless picture book and adding then text in order to keep manuscript text minimal while also effective. 


Rajani LaRocca
Writing the Verse Novel
Novels in verse for young people are becoming more popular among publishers, schools, and readers. Shorter than their prose counterparts, yet not as intimidating to some as pure poetry, verse novels can be a bridge for reluctant readers and can tackle difficult subjects in a way that is accessible rather than overwhelming. Rajani will discuss the advantages and limitations of verse novels; what types of stories are best suited for verse; how to balance character, voice, and plot; poetic forms; writing powerful “chapters;” imagery and them; and mentor texts.


Miranda Paul
FROM BOLD TO SOLD! Taking Risks in Writing and Art
Writers and illustrators are often filled with more ideas than they’ll ever have time to work on. So how do we know which ones are worth our precious time? With so many creative choices ahead, the myriad paths from idea to manuscript are vast—and other creators may be tackling similar topics. So how will you revise and shape your story to stand out in today’s crowded publishing market? Bring your most original ideas, your WIPs, and a dash of courage to this breakout session as you evaluate your projects and ways to play, pitch, and position your manuscripts and dummies in even bolder ways. 


Brett Duquette
Telling Truth That Matters: Finding Your Voice in Nonfiction Picture Books
Nonfiction picture books are perhaps the most important staple in children’s literature. Telling truths, often hard truths, to children is complicated but necessary. In this breakout session, we will review some modern classics and what makes them special, while also discussing and workshopping ways to focus your interests and talents into nonfiction storytelling. 


Chris Krones
Pay No Attention to the Editor Behind the Curtain! A Look Inside the Day-to-Day of Chris Krones
What happens to your manuscript after it’s submitted? What do editors do all day? In this presentation plus Q & A, Chris Krones dives specifically into their day-to-day, discusses process, and gives you a look into what’s happening on the other end of your submission. (Hint: it’s not all reading manuscripts!) 



Session #3: Sunday, May 15, 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

Choose 1

Laurent Linn
The Key to Standout Illustration: What Is Your “Illustration Style”?
When we think about one’s illustration style, we tend to think of art mediums, book formats, or other limiting terms. But your style is so much deeper than that—it is who you are and how you see the world. In this session, we will explore not only how to better define your illustration style but how to embrace it to create art like no one else. 


Eileen Robinson
Seize the Reader: Writing for Emotional Impact
Children’s literature comes in a variety of forms and structures. Whether the narrative is character-driven or action-driven, there is no story without an emotional hook. Some editors say emotion or lack of it, is the difference between acquiring or passing on a manuscript. In this breakout session, you will get to the heart of your story by embracing who you are as a storyteller and what your book needs to grab a reader’s heart. We’ll look at emotion as transformative and how it impacts readers long after they’ve read the last page. 


Saritza Hernández
Finding, Vetting, and Working with an Agent
Many authors will agree that having the right agent can make or break one’s career. After all, an agent is an author’s connection to the larger world of publishing. There are lots of resources that will lead you to discover possible agents but finding the one who is the best for you and your writing is not easy. Saritza will help you discover ways to vet an agent, what information you need to know before you sign on the dotted line, and maybe, most importantly of all, how to work successfully with an agent once you have one. 


Pat Zietlow Miller
It All Starts With Structure: Finding the Perfect Framework for Your Picture Book
There are SO MANY ways to structure a picture book. And, choosing the right one is as important to your story’s success as choosing the right design when you’re building a house. Pat will share common picture book structures, tons of book recommendations, and tips for making your structure sing. You’ll leave with knowledge of a variety of picture book structures and be equipped to try on a new structure that may better fit your WIP. 


Sophia Gholz – PAL session 2
Maximize Your Marketing
These days authors are expected to wear many hats. But swapping those hats doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Join Sophia as she discusses tips for developing an author brand, growing your online presence, connecting with other industry pros, designing innovative marketing materials, and optimizing social media across platforms. This presentation will include examples, handouts, and an open table Q&A.
Note: Attendance limited to PAL members only.