Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

  • We hosted our 6th Falling Leaves Master Class Retreat November 15-17th at Silver Bay on Lake George in the Adirondacks of New York State.  This year our theme was novels and we had a record number of applicants.  Our editors and their presentations were terrific.  The Heart of the Matter -- Kathy Dawson   In this time when High Concept is king, what editors really want is something much deeper.  Does your novel have it?  If it does, are you conveying it clearly in your communication?  If it doesn’t, where can you start digging? In this workshop, we’ll talk about the various levels of your novels, and see what we can discover.     Happy Hookers: Hooking Readers with your First Page - - Michelle Poploff   Michelle will give a brief overview of what she looks for from the get go in voice/setting/details, and will read a variety of first pages from debut books she acquired. Participation and feedback is encouraged as attendees provide an elevator pitch synopsis of their work followed by reading the first page of their manuscripts. Plot and Pace: Revising for More Emotional Payoff – Katherine Jacobs   Rhythm and beats, cliff-hangers and red-herrings, climax and resolution—we’ll discuss all of these plot elements and more. Never write novels that are described as “quiet” but construct narratives that elicit an emotional response in your readers. Do you know your character? Writing intensive on character development --Aubrey Poole   A memorable character(s) is essential for a memorable book – one that will stick with your readers and demand discussion. But just how well do you know your character(s)? What secrets is he hiding? What fears or dreams motivate her? What color is her nail polish? Boxers or tighty whities? In this writing intensive we’ll use fun, creative ways to explore your character(s) from personality tests to acting techniques and more.  But you can’t stop there. A well-drawn character is just the beginning – because if he or she is the same character at the end of the novel, then you haven’t done your job. So we’ll also discuss the importance of character development and how the character arc ties into the plot. For all writers with novels in-progress.   Mythbusters: The Publishing Edition -- Mallory Kass   Do editors REALLY hate prologues? Is anything over 75,000 words an automatic deal breaker? Will publishers slay my vampire novel through the heart? What’s more valuable: 100,000 twitter followers or an MFA? Join Editor Mallory Kass as we separate fact from fiction and discuss the best ways to get your project the attention it deserves. All were informative and well presented! Attendees received a one-on-one crit of 20 pages from one of the editors.   In addition,  attendees enjoyed group critiques Saturday morning and we hosted an open mic read  -- Have Your Cake And Read It Too — on Saturday evening. The Inn is always beautiful, accommodating and serene — but in November the weather can be a bit cool.  Not this year.  We had a gloriously warm weekend making it just perfect!   Groups have already begun forming to follow up with each other  ---  I love seeing how writers connect at these SCBWI retreats.   All in all a great weekend.  Next year  --- PICTURE BOOKS!  One editor already asked if she could come!  
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  •    We sailed into inspiration from our home port at the Fishkill Ramada on September 21 and embarked on a wonderful weekend! The fantastic, icon Jerry Pinkney opened our conference. The fabulous Betsy Bird gave the evening keynote during our dessert café and the award-winning Steve Sheinkin closed the conference on Sunday.   All were outstanding!!!!! We hosted three amazing intensives on Sunday morning -- all included in our conference registration fee. Harold Underdown presented an intensive geared to PAL members on marketing and extending your career. Kendra Levin (Viking) presented an intensive on characterization extending the guided visualization workshop she did for us a few years ago at our Falling Leaves retreat. Semadar Megged (Philomel) presented an intensive for illustrators on portfolios – very hands-on, extremely generous. Semedar and Harold (Nuts and Bolts for Beginners) also presented pull-out sessions on Saturday and did critiques.  Jerry Pinkney also presented a Q&A pull-out session on Saturday which was an absolute treat for our illustrators. In addition, we had a packed session on the nuts and bolts of acquisition with super-agent Jennifer Laughran and Algonquin editor Elise Howard. We hosted a debut author panel moderated by the ever-enthusiastic and smart Kimberly Sabatini — and an agent panel moderated by the ever-popular and awesome Jennifer Laughran that included literary agent Amy Boggs and illustrator rep Melissa Turk. It was a fantastic weekend -- Thanks go out to all who volunteered - especially Lois Huey, Kyra Teis and Kimberly Sabatini!  


Along with our annual Falling Leaves Master Class Retreat in Silver Bay on Lake George–we have a host of other activities to keep writers and illustrators in the publishing loop! Visit our upcoming events page.

Attend our free monthly Shop Talks! While writing and illustrating children’s books is often a

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DSC_0061             Falling Leaves  Retreat

2019 Falling Leaves Master Class: Picture Books November 1-3, 2019 at Silver Bay YMCA of the Adirondacks on beautiful Lake George. Applications open June 5, 2019. 

Applications due by July 15, 2019!