Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2022 Regional Conference Novel Intensive


Novel Intensive


with Rajani LaRocca, Saritza Hernández, and Eileen Robinson




This intensive will provide tips and techniques to write, revise, and query your chapter middle, middle grade novel, or young adult novel, including choosing an intriguing premise, creating compelling characters, making your plot move and enthrall, sharpening your revision skills, and business-related information about the kidlit industry. Award-winning author Rajani LaRocca, agent Saritza Hernández, and editor Eileen Robinson will lead this informative, hands-on intensive and show participants how to take their manuscripts to the next level and find their place in the children’s literature market.


Glossary of Writing Terms

We know there’s a lot of information and jargon tossed out during conferences, so we’ve prepared a handy definition guide to help you. To access the Glossary of Kidlit Terms, CLICK HERE.


Homework for Participants:

•   Bring to the intensive at least one novel work-in-progress or idea needing development. We recommend bringing a printed/hard copy of the first 10 pages of the manuscript.

•   Bring the first page of a manuscript for possible critique. For formatting guidelines and more information about a first-page critique, CLICK HERE.





9:10-10:10—Premise, Character, Setting, and Plotting Your Novel with Rajani LaRocca

Every writer begins the process at a different point—the premise, an unforgettable character, a unique or timely setting, or a stellar plot twist. Wherever you begin, all these components are needed and must then work in harmony to create a page-turning-can’t-put-it-down story. Using examples from her own writing and writing exercises, Rajani will help you evaluate, refine, and polish your premise, main character, setting, and plot.


10:10-10:45—Voice, Theme, and Revision with Rajani LaRocca

Voice is a mystery. Theme is often a conundrum. Revision might seem like an enigma. In this helpful and practical session, Rajani will help demystify three of the most quagmire-inducing components of creative writing. Learn how voice reveals who you are, how theme reveals what your character is all about, and how revision can take a draft to a submission-worthy manuscript. Get your questions ready because you’ll have a chance to take what you learn and go deeper via Q&A with Rajani.




11:00-12:00—Perfecting Your Synopsis with Saritza Hernández


How do you write a synopsis that generates excitement, enthusiasm, and inspires an agent to ask to see more? How do you condense the who, what, where, when, why, and how of your novel into a succinct, yet powerful synopsis? How much do you tell and what do you hold back? Saritza will share the ins and outs and the dos and don’ts of writing a synopsis in this informative session. Remember—even when you are agented, you still often need to write a synopsis to entice your agent or for your agent to send to an editor.




1:00-1:35—7 Steps to a Successful Query Letter: Mad Libs Edition with Saritza Hernández

Querying agents with your work is an ongoing part of being a novelist. At first, the query is your way to hook an agent, but once you’ve signed with an agent, they may ask that you provide ideas for future projects that can best be pitched to them via a query. Writing a query letter may not be as easy as 1, 2, 3 but with the help of Saritza’s 7-Step Process, and some fun Mad Libs, it could be a lot more fun than you think.


1:35-2:35—Think Like an Editor: How an Editor Approaches Your Manuscript with Eileen Robinson


Imagine if you could be your own editor. What if you knew how an editor views a manuscript, what they look at and look for, how they prioritize what needs to be addressed, how they dig into revision and edits, or what they feel could turn a submission into a project an acquisition team would get behind? Eileen believes you can think like an editor and that once you do, how you approach your writing, revision, and editing will change forever. This session will help you learn how.




2:45-3:15—First-page Critiques

You may bring a formatted first page for an anonymous critique by our three intensive faculty members. For formatting guidelines and more information about a first-page critique, CLICK HERE.


Disclaimer: Our faculty will do their best to accommodate all who submit a first page but may not be able get to all submissions due to time constraints.


3:15-3:45—An Intimate Conversation with Saritza and Rajani Led by Eileen Robinson

Finding a way for your unique voice to be heard in the crowded world of publishing has never been more important. Three pros in kidlit publishing sit down together to discuss where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.