Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Mid-Year Schedules & Homework

Illustrators IntensiveIllustrator's Homework, Novel Intensive, Picture Book Intensive
Picture Book Workshop, Young Adult Workshop, Middle Grade Workshop, Best Self-Publishing Practices, Common Core Boot Camp



Illustrator's Intensive

(Frank Remkewicz, Sarah Baker, and Marcia Wernick)

9:00 am – 9:15 am INTRODUCTIONS: Group members
9:15 am – 10:30 am

THE ILLUSTRATOR: Frank Remkiewicz

        “Creating the look of your book”




10:30 am – 10:45 am BREAK
10:45 am – 12:00 pm


        “Shaping the look of your book – pulling it together with style”




            AND MORE

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm LUNCH
1:00 pm – 2:15 pm

THE AGENT: Marcia Wernik

        “Taking a look at your book: Helping it stand out in the marketplace

focussing on character, clarity, and connectivity."
2:15 pm – 2:30 pm BREAK
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

FIRST LOOK SLIDE SHOW: Art by class members

        “A friendly critique by FRANK, MARCIA AND SARA”

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm


        “Just for you! What SCBWI offers illustrator members”  

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Q&A: Catch up and wrap-up!

Homework – Part 1:

Complete a *one page illustration for a 7.5 x 10 inch picture book. (7.5 in wide, 10 in tall) Final stage, color art.
(*One page indicates just one page, not a spread)

Choose between these two texts:        

    “That night, Lucas settled into a deep dream.”


    “At school, Annabelle’s classmates could not stop talking about her sweater.”

Leave room for the text, but do not include the text. 

File must be 300 dpi, with crop marks. Provide .25 inches bleed if art calls for it. 

Save file as a Jpeg, labeled as follows: first name_last name.jpg. Email them to no later than May 23. Keep the file size under 9 MB. File must be an attachment in the email, not a link or in the body of the email. Depending on your email browser, you may need to compress or "zip" your file. 

Some decisions that are up to you:  Is the illustration full bleed, vignette, or somewhere inbetween? Where does the text go? What is your color palette? What is the tone of the book and scene? 

Using cues from your artwork, I will layout the art with the text and we’ll discuss how I wound up with the final designed page. I’ll also give tips on turning in artwork.

Homework – Part 2:

Hear the first impressions your pieces make on our artist, designer, and agent guest speakers. Contributing  artists will be anonymous during the review.


Send Jpeg files of 3 illustrations for our First Look slide show. Number them according to which order you would like them to be shown. We will go three rounds if time allows. The format will be wide – good for double spreads! The past couple years our intensive members have enjoyed the feedback and the exposure for their work, so join in!


You might consider putting your homework done for Sarah into the First Look Show to get comments from Frank and Marcia. 


Send Jpeg files to Linda Shute by May 28th.

Novel Intensive

From Finding Your Story to Finding a Publisher and Everything in Between
(Wendy Loggia, Alexandra Penfold, and Deborah Wiles)

9:00-10:00 a.m. Deborah: "WHAT'S YOUR STORY?" Bring your novel in progress with you and calculate how it measures up in terms of what makes a story. Writing exercise: bring notebook and pen for a listing exercise that delves into what you know, feel, and imagine about your own life and story. This will be helpful even if you don't have a current WIP going. It will help you focus on what you want to write about. (See homework below.)

10:00-11:00 a.m. Wendy: CONSTRUCTING THE NOVEL: THE FIRST CHAPTER. Voice, character, pacing, and dialogue—a great novel needs it all and it begins with the first chapter. This session will walk you through these elements with the goal of strengthening your prose. (See homework below.)

11:00-11:15 a.m. Break

11:15-noon Wendy: FINDING YOUR VOICE. What is that elusive quality that editors are always looking for in submissions? A great voice. We'll talk about the fundamental elements of developing a clear, strong, authentic voice that not only grabs readers' attention but stays true to who you are as a writer. Participants are welcome to share a short sample of their work in progress for an on the spot editorial assessment of "The Voice."

Noon-1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00-2:00 p.m. Alexandra: SHOW DON’T TELL. Writers hear the phrase "show don't tell" all the time. But what does it mean? Using examples from classic and modern texts we'll unpack the meaning behind this often dropped phrase. Participants will complete a writing exercise rewriting a paragraph to show instead of tell and share their revisions with the group.

2:00-2:45 p.m. Deborah: "REVISION FROM THE GROUND UP." How to work with a critique group or an editor in truly Re-Visioning your work in progress, or "how I learned what revision really was and how to do it." There will be an exercise in "re-visioning" here. (See homework below.)

2:45-3:00 p.m. Break

3:00-3:45 p.m. Alexandra: I WROTE A NOVEL, NOW WHAT? Is your submission ready? How do you know when to hit send? And once you do, what happens next? We'll discuss getting you novel submissions ready and strategies for getting it out into the world.

3:45-4:30 p.m. First Page Critiques

4:30-5:00 p.m. Q&A


  • Write a one-sentence synopsis of what your story is about. What does your hero/heroine want?
  • Bring the first chapter of a work in progress and a 1-3 sentence synopsis of your project.
  • Bring a short passage from your work in progress that you would be willing to re-envision. We will share these out loud as we see what works and what can be improved or re-envisioned.
  • Bring in an anonymous first page of a manuscript for possible critique.

Picture Book Intensive
(Carter Hasegawa and Leslie Helakoski)

9:00-9:15 a.m. Introductions

9:15-10:15 a.m. Storyboarding Exercise: Now that your book has been acquired, what happens next? We will act as editors and book designers as we work with a classic picture book text and lay it out in spreads.

10:15-10:45 a.m. Editing from layouts discussion.

10:45-11:00 a.m. Break

11:00-noon: Idea Generator—What’s worth pursuing? Everyday life can offer up lots of ideas. Learn how to determine which ones have what it takes to turn into a full-length picture book?

12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00-2:00 p.m. First-page critiques.

2:00-2:45 p.m. Word Choice:
All words are not created equal. There are many reasons besides information to choose specific words: rhyme, double meaning, length, humor, and more.

2:45-3:00 p.m. Break

3:00-4:30 p.m. Story formatting: We’ll look at real world examples of the “ways” in which you can tell a story.
POV exercise: Whose voice should tell your story?

4:30-5:00 p.m. Q&A



Picture Books
THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF PICTURE BOOKS: Why Some Topple Over and Others Stand Taller Than the Rest
(Leslie Helakoski, Alexandra Penfold, Frank Remkiewicz, Marcia Wernick)

8:30-9:00 a.mGeneral Assembly (All groups in large room before workshops start.)

9:00-10:15 a.m. PICTURE BOOK TRAITS, Leslie Helakoski: We’ll look at why some books sell and others fall flat. Using a specially designed diagram and scoring points in eighteen categories, we will see which tools writers and illustrators have used to score big.
Exercise: We will apply this point method to one of your own works to learn how you can raise your score. (See homework.)

10:15-10:30 a.m. BREAK

10:30-11:15 a.m. PICTURE BOOK BREAKDOWN, Marcia Wernick: We’ll do an analysis of the different picture book structures in traditional narratives, retellings, concept, and nonfiction picture books to see how they function and what they need.

11:15-noon PICTURE BOOK PACING, Alexandra Penfold: We'll take a look at a couple of picture books as they went from manuscript to published book and discuss the changes that made the stories soar.

Noon-1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00-2:15 p.m. WEAVING A PICTURE BOOK WEB, Frank Remkiewicz: We’ll learn how to use Web, or Spider, outlines as a tool to organize content around a central theme or title. We’ll examine how this platform can trap all sorts of elements and styling cues, which can then be integrated into your manuscript.

(See homework. Pages will be chosen randomly.)

2:45-3:00 p.m. BREAK

3:00-3:45 p.m. AGENT TALK, Marcia Wernick and Alexandra Penfold: What you need to know about getting and keeping an agent.

3:45-4:00 p.m. Q&A

4:00-4:15 p.m. General Assembly (All groups in large room)

Bring one of your own picture book manuscripts for Leslie’s scoring exercise.
Bring first page of picture book (anonymous) if you’d like a possible critique.

As the Page Turns…

Picture books are written to be read aloud and pacing is a critical component of creating a story that readers will want to return to again and again. Good pacing is essential to keeping your readers engrossed in your story. Sounds carry extra emphasis and the page turn is a unique device that can be used to heighten the drama, change perspective, show the passage of time or unleash the unexpected.

Before our workshop session I’d like you to look at some of your favorite picture books and pay close attention to how the author and illustrator make use of page turns. Answer the questions below and feel free to bring your books as examples for our session.

1.     Find a picture book where page turns are used to heighten tension in the story. Describe the book and how the page turn(s) are used.

2.     Find a picture book where page turns are used to change perspective. Describe the book and how the page turn(s) are used.

3.     Find a picture book where page turns are used to show the passage of time. Describe the book and how the page turn(s) are used.

4.     Find a picture book where page turns are used to surprise the reader. Describe the book and how the page turn(s) are used.

5.     Of all the page turn examples you’ve discovered which is your favorite and why?

Download the Picture_Book_Track_Homework-HERE

Young Adult
From Rejected to Accepted: Making Your YA Project Acquisition Ready
(Wendy Loggia and Marjetta Geerling)

8:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m.: General Assembly

9:00 a.m.-9:15 a.m.: Introductions of Presenters and Participants

9:15 a.m.-9:45 a.m.: From the Editor’s Desk: An Editor’s YA Perspective and the Acquisitions Process

9:45 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: What Makes an Editor Stop Reading?

  • Tales from the Trenches
  • Writing Exercises

10:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m.: Break

10:45 a.m.-11:15 a.m.: First Page Critiques, part 1

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: What Makes an Editor Keep Reading?

  • What Makes a Manuscript Stand Out
  • Writing Exercises

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Lunch

1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.: First Page Critiques, part 2

1:45 p.m.-2:30 p.m: The Writing Fix

  • Revision Strategies to Make Your Manuscript Shine
  • Writing Exercises

2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.: Break

2:45 p.m.-3:30 p.m.: Bringing It All Together

  • Participants work on their own scenes
  • Individualized instruction
  • Share and Discuss

3:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m.: Q & A

4:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.: General Assembly

Homework: Bring one scene of a current project to work on. Bring a first page for first page critiques. 

Middle Grade
Using Research to Create Authentic, Relatable, and Diverse Characters and Stories
(Deborah Wiles and Carter Hasegawa)

8:30-9 a.m. General assembly. (All groups in large room before workshops start at 9 a.m.)

9-10 a.m.
 Deborah: "EVERYTHING IS A REMIX." Understanding and accessing what you know, what you feel, and what you can imagine—that’s research. So is more formal investigation, of course. Everything from how long it takes chicks to hatch (LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER) to how fast flash floods appear (EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS) to how to describe a baseball game in colorful, appropriate lingo (THE AURORA COUNTY ALL-STARS) to "what was the Cuban Missile Crisis?" (COUNTDOWN) and more, requires research to make your story vivid and alive and believable. So is the personal excavation of your life—it’s all part and parcel. (See homework below.)

Exercise: bring notebook and pen and be prepared to learn personal research techniques. This will work for ALL genres of middle grade fiction.

10-11 a.m.
 Carter: “RESEARCHING THE FANTASTIC.” We all have the general sense that realistic/historical fiction needs to be well-researched—but what about fantasy and sci-fi? From monsters to wizards; from dystopian governments to cute, fluffy bunnies; from servants to heroes—we will look at how you can create authentic and relatable characters and build worlds that your readers will love. (See homework below.)

11-11:15 a.m.

11:15-noon Deborah and Carter: Guided writing exercise using the research techniques discussed above.

 Noon-1 p.m.

1-2 p.m.
Deborah: "WRITING ABOUT HISTORY AND THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE HEART." Move beyond your own history and into the larger picture time and place. This is not just a "how to research as a writer" session, although that's part of it. It's also about how to take the larger framework of a historical time (which can be undefined, such as my Aurora County books, which are labeled "realistic fiction") or geographical place and mesh it with your characters' storylines so that you're not just giving the reader "history" or "geography." You want to tell a terrific story that comes from your heart. This will work for ALL genres of middle grade fiction, even fantasy, as well as memoir. You will also be able to see how it tracks across to non-fiction as well, especially creative non-fiction. (See homework below.)

Exercise: We'll be asking and answering questions about your WIP or time-and-place and tweaking what you brought with you. You should leave full of ideas of what to do next.

2-2:15 p.m.

2:15-3:15 p.m.
 Carter: “REDSHIRTING ‘THE OTHER’: NOT A VICTIMLESS CRIME.” Perspectives of race, ethnicity, gender, class, disability, sexuality, and language in fiction are often portrayed in negative ways outside our intentions. We will explore ways to improve our writing and character development so that we can be proud of all our characters. No homework but please be prepared to participate in discussions.

 First Page Critiques

3:45-4 p.m.
 Q&A and wrap-up

4-4:15 p.m.
General assembly. (All groups in large room.)


  • Read the “look inside” feature of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Dianna Wynne Jones on Amazon for a conversation about researching “outside the box.” Fantasy writers may want to purchase the book for its valuable insights to the genre.
  • Bring your work in progress or your ideas and be prepared to answer some research questions about it.
  • Bring either your WIP or an idea about a time and place you've always wanted to write about.
  • Bring in an anonymous first page of a manuscript for possible critique.

Best Self-Publishing Practices
(Stephen Mooser and Jaimie M. Engle)

8:30-9:00 a.m. General assembly. (All groups in large room before workshops start at 9:00 a.m.)

9:00-10:00 a.m. Self-Publishing Overview, Past, Present, Future—Going In With Eyes Wide Open: Stephen Mooser and Jaimie M. Engle

10:00-11:00 a.m. First Page/Marketing Ideas Critiques: Jaimie M. Engle and Stephen Mooser

11:00-11:15 a.m. Break

11:15-noon Tips on Marketing and School Visits: Jaimie M. Engle and Stephen Mooser

Noon-1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00-2:00 p.m. The Business Side of Self-Publishing: Jaimie M. Engle

2:00-2:15 p.m. Break

2:15-3:30 p.m. Letting the Market Determine Your Next Project: Stephen Mooser,
Writing Workshop to Generate Ideas. Followed by critiques and suggestions for new or ongoing projects: Stephen Mooser and Jaimie M. Engle

3:30-4 p.m. Q&A and wrap-up

4-4:15 p.m. General Assembly. (All groups in large room.)

Homework: Bring in the first page of your manuscript (anonymous and no more than five samples) for possible critique, a page with marketing ideas, and a self-published book if you have one.

Common Core Boot Camp
(Sandra Markle, Tamar Mays, and Melissa Stewart)

9:00-9:15 a.m. Introduction of presenters and participants

9:15-9:45 a.m. Common Core: What’s it All About? –Melissa Stewart (Introduction to Common Core and Q&A)

9:45-10:00 a.m. Common Core—Successful Nonfiction Inside And Out—Tamar Mays (What a good Common Core book should include; Look at successful exemplars)

10:00-10:15 a.m. Common Core—Successful Fiction Inside And Out—Tamar Mays (What a good Common Core book should include; Look at successful exemplars)

10:15-11:00 a.m. Reverse Engineering—Let Promotional Activities Guide Your Writing—Sandra Markle (Let promotional activities with Common Core connections guide your revision or launch your next book)

11:00-11:15 a.m. Burning Questions—ROUND ONE—The Team

11:15-11:30 a.m. Break

11:30 a.m. – noon Critiquing Homework— ROUND ONE Tamar Mays/The Team

Noon-1:00 p.m. Lunch Break

1:00-1:30 p.m. Ten Ways Fiction and Nonfiction Authors and Illustrators Can Help Educators With Common Core—Melissa Stewart (Specific things to do during school visits; Marketing and promotional ideas; how to work Common Core into Teachers Guides/Discussion Guides or Blog Posts)

1:30-1:45 p.m. Last Group Standing—We’ll group up for some creative fun developing promotional activities with Common Core connections for well-known favorite books—Sandra Markle

1:45-2:30 p.m. Power Up!–Small groups develop promotional activities for each group member’s published book or WIP. Then groups take turns sharing for positive feedback and idea stretchers from the whole group–The Team

2:30-2:45 p.m. Break

2:45-3:00 p.m. Burning Questions–ROUND TWO—The Team

3:00-3:30 p.m. Critiquing Homework—ROUND TWO Tamar Mays/ The Team

3:30-3:45 p.m. Q&A from the Floor

3:45-4:00 p.m. Wrap Up—The Team

4:00-4:15 p.m. General Assembly

Bring the one “Burning” question you hope to have answered by this workshop. Make this a big picture question likely to benefit everyone.

*Also, please bring one page for critique about the book you’ve written and want to promote or the WIP you hope to promote once it’s published.

Please include the following:

  • Your book’s title, target audience (picture book, early reader, chapter book, middle grade, or YA), any special features
  • Brief paragraph summarizing what the book is or will be about
  • Ideas you’ve developed for promoting the book

*Those selected will be read aloud and critiqued