July Conference Registration Now Open!

Brochures are now in the mail, and we are excited to open registration for our July 17 & 18, 2010 Conference, Leaps of Imagination: Fact, Fiction, & Fantasy! If you’ve been reading our previews, you already know that we’ve planned something for all our writers and illustrators.  Read on for all the details and a downloadable registration form.

Join us for 2 days, packed with inspiration and imagination!

Saturday, July 17, 2010 Tentative schedule.

8:00 – 8:50 AM   Registration/Breakfast Snacks/Book Sales/Raffle Tickets/Making Friends
8:50 – 9:00 AM   Introductions & Welcome
9:00 – 9:50 AM   Stephen Fraser—“Leaping into Action: How an Agent Sells Your Book”
9:55–10:45 AM  Michelle Poploff and Edie Hemingway—“Partners In Imagination: The Author/Editor Revision Process”
10:45-11:00 AM  Break / Book Sales
11:00 – 11:50 AM  Morning Breakout Sessions


  • Marc Aronson—“Trends in Nonfiction”
  • Bonnie J. Doerr—“Writing the Eco-Mystery Novel / Balancing Entertainment with Education”
  • Carolyn Reeder—“Look Before You Leap”
  • Amie Rose Rotruck—“Building a Fantasy World”
12:00 – 12:50 PM  Lunch / Networking / Book Sales and Signing
1:00 – 1:50 PM Keynote Speaker, Margaret Peterson Haddix— “Along for the Ride: Taking Readers Where Your Imagination Takes You”
2:00 – 2:50 PM   Afternoon Breakout Sessions
  • Editor/Agent Panel—Michelle Poploff, Louise May, Michelle Corpora, Stephen Fraser
  • Elana Roth (agent)—“The Great Query Caper”
  • Kelley Cunningham and Karen Nelson“Illustrators’ First Look”—See registration page for details
2:50 – 3:10 PM   Cookie Break/Book Sales and Signing/Networking
3:10 – 4:00 PM   Marc Aronson—“The Truth Is… A Question”
4:00 – 4:50 PM   “Steps in the Write Direction: A Panel Discussion on Writing Programs”
4:50 – 5:00 PM   First Day Wrap-up and Raffle

Sunday, July 18, 2010

7:45 – 8:15 AM   (Optional) Regional Chat Session in Dining Room
7:45 – 8:20 AM  Registration/Breakfast Snacks/Book Sales
8:20 – 8:30 AM   Welcome
8:30 – 9:20 AM   Elana Roth—“The Scoop on High Concept”
9:25 – 10:15 AM  Carolyn Crimi—“Baking Chocolate Cake: All the Ingredients You Need To Make Your Picture Book Delicious”
10:15 – 10:30 AM  Break / Book Sales
10:30 – 11:20 AM  Morning Breakout Sessions



  • Teresa Crumpton—“Where Self-Editing and Revision Collide—For Stronger Prose”
  • Mary Bowman-Kruhm and Wendie Old—“Leap into Blogging and Social Media! (Will There Be Time to Write?)”
  • Donny Bailey Seagraves—“Finding Fiction In Our Own Backyards: Creating Home-grown Characters and Imaginary Setting Inspired by Real Life”
  • Karen Nelson—“Taking Your Imagination to the Marketplace” (for illustrators)


11:30 – 12:30 PM  Lunch / Networking / Book Sales and Signing
12:30 – 1:20 PM  Keynote Speaker, Joyce McDonald—“The Transformative Power of Fiction: How Real-life Stories Inform and Shape Our Own”
1:20 – 2:10 PM   Louise May—“Creating Books Featuring Diversity: How Do I Leap In?”
2:10 – 2:30 PM   Cookie Break / Last Book Sales
2:30 – 3:20 PM   Debra Hess and Kelley Cunningham— “Imagination Is Just The Beginning”
3:20 – 4:00 PM   “First Page” Panel
4:00 – 4:15 PM   Raffles and Farewell

General Session Blurbs (in order of presentation)

“Leaping into Action: How an Agent Sells Your Book” –Stephen Fraser


Discussing the simple principle, which an agent uses to sell your book, agent Stephen Fraser of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency talks about some recent sales, how and why they sold, how to succeed in today’seconomy, and how to be your best creative self.

“Partners In Imagination: The Author/Editor Revision Process”—Michelle Poploff and Edith Hemingway


You’ve revised and polished before submitting, but what happens after your manuscript is accepted? More revision! Michelle Poploff, V.P. and Executive Editor of Delacorte Press, and author Edith Hemingway will discuss working together to make a book the best it can be.

“Along for the Ride: Taking Readers Where Your Imagination Takes You”—Margaret Peterson Haddix

So you’ve dreamed up an incredible plot and/or extraordinary characters and/or a fascinating setting. How do you make your readers understand and fall in love with your story, too? And how do you fill in parts of the story that your imagination is still a little vague about?

“The Truth Is…A Question”—Marc Aronson

My books center on questions that I, or an expert with whom I collaborate, want to investigate. Formulating the right questions, figuring out how to answer them, and then bringing the results to young readers require many leaps of the imagination. My session will show the risks that writing non-fiction requires.

“The Scoop on High-Concept”—Elana Roth

We keep hearing agents say they’re on the look-out for this mysterious beast called the high-concept project. But what is it? Is it just the simple Hollywood pitch? Also, if there’s high-concept, does that mean there’s low-concept? And does high-concept have to mean low-quality? In this talk, Elana will demystify this term and give you the scoop on why these high-concept books are so appealing in the market.

“Baking Chocolate Cake: All the ingredients You Need to Make Your Picture Book Delicious”—Carolyn Crimi

Picture books should be as enjoyable and as memorable as that perfect slice of chocolate cake. So why does yours taste more like broccoli? Carolyn Crimi will help you learn to mix, sift, and blend your picture book batter until it’s the perfect consistency. No cooking experience necessary!

“The Transformative Power of Fiction: How Real-life Stories Inform and Shape Our Own”—Joyce McDonald

When our inspiration comes from the news media, the reason we are drawn to these real-life stories isn’t always evident at first.  Sometimes these stories haunt us until we finally confront them through narrative.  We write to understand, and in the act of writing, we often arrive at unexpected places and surprising truths.  In this session, I will talk about the tragic facts that informed my novels, Swallowing Stones and Shades of Simon Gray, and how I transformed them into fiction.


Is it okay to write and/or illustrate across cultures? Do I need to be of the same background as the characters in my story? Do books featuring people of color have to be nonfiction or historical fiction? Is there a place for realistic fiction? What about fun and fantasy in books focusing on diversity? These questions and more pertaining to creating diverse stories for all of today’s young readers will be answered, from the point of view of Lee & Low Books, one of the country’s premier publishers of children’s books “about everyone~for everyone.”

“Imagination Is Just The Beginning”—Debra Hess and Kelley Cunningham

This joint presentation by Highlights Editor, Debra Hess, and Highlights High Five Art Director, Kelley Cunningham, will discuss the practical realities of putting together a magazine—what they actually do on a day-to-day basis and how it all works.

Breakout Sessions (in order of presentation)

“Current Trends in Nonfiction”—Marc Aronson

Marc Aronson will talk about trends in writing nonfiction—what is currently selling and traditional NF voice vs. creative or narrative NF voice, leaving plenty of time for Q & A.

”Writing the Eco-Mystery Novel / Balancing Entertainment with Education”—Bonnie J. Doerr

Follow the unique writing journey of combining environmental science with fiction.  Topics covered include choice of location, inspiration, plot development, research, observation of endangered species, interaction with natural environment, character development, and teaching without preaching.

“Look Before You Leap”—Carolyn Reeder

Historical fiction is much more than a story set in the past. Explore why it’s important to know the history before imagining the fiction, discover ways of bringing the past to life for your readers, and pick up some tips on making your characters authentic.

“Building a Fantasy World”—Amie Rose Rotruck

What color is the sky?  Who’s the king/president/dictator?  What’s the most common tree?  How does the food taste?  Good fantasy is not only about a good plot and interesting characters, but a fully-realized world.  Even if you’re writing urban fantasy set in your own neighborhood, you still have some work to do to make your fantasy world believable.  We’ll look at some examples of well-created worlds, discuss how to find inspiration for your world, and do some world-brainstorming.

The Great Query Caper”—Elana Roth

Querying an agent is often the first step to breaking into today’s market, but even if you’ve written a novel, these brief letters of introduction can be intimidating. Elana will lead participants in a real-time simulation of her slush pile experience, followed with a group critique of those very real query letters she has received and reveal why they worked—or didn’t work—for her.  Please note this is not a pitch session but a chance to learn how an agent thinks and how you can stand out in the crowd.

“Leap into Blogging and Social Media! (Will There Be Time to Write?)”—Mary Bowman-Kruhm and Wendie Old

Award-winning, multi-published authors Wendie Old and Mary Bowman-Kruhm discuss two free blogging platforms (WordPress and Blogger) and strike a glancing blow at other social media.  Bring a laptop or pen and paper and you’ll leave the session with a start on your own blog and basic information about social media.

“Where Self-Editing and Revision Collide—For Stronger Prose”—Teresa Crumpton


This fast-paced session is for all writers of fiction from beginner to multiply published professional. Together, we will work through a structured method, which blends general self-editing with deeper revision. Based on a series of strategic worksheets, in a half-session we’ll work through a Structure Analysis Worksheet and demonstrate its power. In the second half, we’ll use a basic Self-Edit Worksheet and note its benefits. Please bring a story or novel (yours or a published one) to work with. Handouts will be provided.

Finding Fiction in Our Own Backyards: Creating Home-grown Characters and Imaginary Settings Inspired by Real Life”—Donny Bailey Seagraves

How do you take a real-life event and turn it into a fictional story? A local family tragedy inspired me to write the middle-grade novel that became my first published book, Gone From These Woods. In this hands-on workshop, we will walk through the real place that became my book’s fictional world and we’ll meet some of the people who morphed into the characters there. Can you make the journey from your real-life event to fictional story? Bring pen and paper and I’ll show you how.

“Taking Your Imagination to the Marketplace”—Karen Nelson

This session for illustrators will focus on the inner workings of a publishing company, art department and the role of the art director.  Learn about marketing tools, approaches that work, and case histories, leaving time for Q & A.

Our Faculty


Marc Aronson earned his Ph.D. in American History at NYU while working as an editor at Harper children’s books. He went on to write the first book to win the Sibert award for best non-fiction in the Newbery ages (Sir Walter Raleigh and the Quest for El Dorado), and to edit this year’s Sibert winner (Almost Astronauts by Tanya Stone). His blog, Nonfiction Matters, appears on the SLJ website. More about his books and approach to writing at www.marcaronson.com .

Michelle Corpora is the editorial assistant for Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. She received an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University in 2008, and interned at both DK Children’s Publishing and Bloomsbury Children’s Books. She also teaches an online course in Literary Publishing at Eastern Connecticut State University. To learn more about Greenwillow, visit www.greenwillowblog.com.

Kelley Cunningham has been the Art Director of Highlights High Five magazine since its beginnings in 2006. In her past lives she has been an advertising art director, a packaging designer, a published humor writer, an award-winning fine artist, a weekend poet and a stay-at-home mother. She has illustrated six books for children and many editorial pieces. She lives in Honesdale, PA with her family and looks forward to the day when she can get back to doing some painting.

Carolyn Crimi received her MFA from Vermont College in 2000. She is the author of thirteen picture books, including Don’t Need Friends (Random House), Boris and Bella (Harcourt), Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies (Candlewick) and Where’s My Mummy? (Candlewick). Carolyn has taught Writing for Children at Spalding University, Harper College and Columbia College. While she may not be the best cook, she does enjoy eating chocolate cake.

Teresa Crumpton holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Spalding University, with a specialty in writing for children. She has published over a hundred feature and news articles in The Detroit News, The Detroit Free Press, The Times Herald, and metroParent Magazine. She has written and edited more than a dozen technical books on network and element management and has published fiction in University of Michigan’s Qua Magazine.  She teaches college-level Technical and Professional Writing and Problem Solving.

Susan Detwiler is an award-winning illustrator whose most recent picture books, Pandas’ Earthquake Escape (2010) and One Wolf Howls (2009), are both published by Sylvan Dell. Besides books, her artwork has also been produced as greeting cards, games, and puzzles, and in Highlights for Children and Ladybug magazines. Susan works from her home studio in Baltimore and received her education from MICA. She is the Illustrator Coordinator for MD/DE/WV SCBWI.

Bonnie J. Doerr, former reading and science educator, outdoor enthusiast, and avid gardener, is the author of the eco-mystery novels for tweens, Island Sting (Leap Books, 2010) and the forthcoming Stakeout. Her work has contributed to environmental education and has been included in literary field guides. Bonnie was born and raised in Hagerstown, MD. Currently, when not researching or writing in Key West, she lives in a log cabin in North Carolina. http://bonniedoerrbooks.com/; http://www.bonnieblogsgreen.blogspot.com/

Stephen Fraser is a literary agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City, a full-service agency which handles both juvenile and adult books. At Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, Stephen edited such creative talents as Mary Engelbreit, Gail Gibbons, Michael Hague, Ann Rinaldi, Kathryn Lasky, Brent Hartinger, Stephen Mitchell, Dan Gutman, Gregory Maguire, and Daniel Pinkwater. A graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, he has a Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College in Boston. Stephen is a popular speaker at writer’s conferences through-out the country.

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the New York Times-bestselling author of more than twenty-five books for kids and teens, including the Missing series, the Shadow Children series, Running Out of Time, Double Identity, Palace of Mirrors and Claim to Fame. She also wrote the tenth 39 Clues book, Into the Gauntlet, which is due out in August. Her website is www.haddixbooks.com.

Edith M. Hemingway (Edie) earned her MFA in Writing for Children at Spalding University. She is the author of Road to Tater Hill (Delacorte Press, 2009), which earned a 2009 Parents’ Choice Gold Award and a place on Bank Street College’s Best Books of 2010 list.  She is also coauthor of two Civil War novels for kids, both of which have been optioned for films. Edie serves as the Regional Advisor for MD/DE/WV chapter of SCBWI.

Debra Hess joined Highlights for Children as a Senior Editor in June, 2009.  She is the author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books for children, including Thurgood Marshall, the Fight for Equal Justice, a NY Public Library Best Books for the Teenage, and Wilson Sat Alone, an acclaimed picture book that was made into a PBS Storytime Special.  Debra was Editorial Director of Weekly Reader Custom Publishing, Editor of Scholastic News, and Senior Editor at Scholastic Library Publishing.  She has been published by Simon and Schuster, Harper Collins, Hyperion and Harcourt.

Louise May is Vice President/Editorial Director of Lee & Low Books, publisher of children’s books that feature diversity. She has been with the company since 1999, and has worked with many of its award-winning authors and illustrators, including Ted and Betsy Lewin, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Pat Mora, Chris Soentpiet, Javaka Steptoe, and Joseph Bruchac. She also helped establish Lee & Low’s successful New Voices Award for first-time writers of color.

Joyce McDonald is the author of several critically acclaimed middle-grade and young adult novels, most notably Swallowing Stones (Delacorte), an American Library Association Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults and Booklist’s 100 Best of the Best 1966 – 2003, and Shades of Simon Gray, (Delacorte) an ALA Best Book and Edgar Allen Poe Award Nominee.  Her most recent novel is Devil on My Heels.  She teaches in Spalding University’s brief-residency MFA in Writing Program.  www.joycemcdonald.net.

Karen Nelson worked for many years as Creative Director at Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., choosing and working with illustrators for adult and children’s books, including board books, picture books, crafts, and classic novels.  She is now a freelance art director and cover designer.

Wendie Old blogs at Wendie’s Wanderings: http://wendieold.blogspot.com, is on Facebook and loves her iPhone, but doesn’t Twitter.  When she isn’t writing or blogging, she works as a children’s librarian.  Her award winning books include To Fly, the Story of the Wright Brothers.

Mary Bowman-Kruhm enjoys blogging at http://marybk.blogspot.com and http://digthiswell.wordpress.com so much that she seldom updates her website www.marybk.com.  Besides writing, she teaches online for Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Technology in Education.  Her latest book is the The Leakeys: A Biography.

Although Old and Bowman-Kruhm write separately, they have done two books together as C. W. Bowie — Busy Toes and Busy Fingers (Charlesbridge).

Michelle Poploff is Vice President, Executive Editor at Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.  Among the books she’s edited are Newbery Honor Winner, “Hattie Big Sky” by Kirby Larson, Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award Winner, “Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It” by Sundee T. Frazier, and Parents Choice Gold Award Recipient, “Road to Tater Hill” by Edith M. Hemingway.                                                         All were first novels.

Carolyn Reeder writes historical fiction for middle grade and YA readers. Shades of Gray, her first published novel, won the Scott O’Dell Award, and her third book, Moonshiner’s Son, won the Joan G. Sugarman Award. Carolyn became interested in writing for young people after seeing how her sixth grade students as well as her own children responded to books—and after enjoying the books they thrust at her, saying “You just gotta read this!”

Elana Roth is an agent with the Johnson Literary Agency (www.johnsonliterary.com), representing picture books through young adult novels. She began her career at Nickelodeon Magazine, followed by 5 years as an editor at Parachute Publishing, a packager specializing in children’s book series. She’s spent the last two years as an agent, and her clients include: Pam Bachorz (CANDOR), David Patneaude (EPITAPH ROAD) and Darren Farrell (DOUG-DENNIS AND THE FLYAWAY FIB).

Amie Rose Rotruck is the author of “Bronze Dragon Codex” (as R.D. Henham) and the forthcoming “Young Wizard’s Handbook.” She holds a self-designed BA in Writing for Children from the University of Pittsburgh, as well as an MA and MFA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. She is also head of the children’s and young adult literature division of the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts. More info available at www.amieroserotruck.com.

Donny Bailey Seagraves is a native of Athens, Georgia and lives in the nearby small town of Winterville with her husband Phillip. She studied journalism at the University of Georgia and has been a freelance writer for many years with publications in numerous regional and national newspapers and magazines. Gone From These Woods, her debut middle grade novel, was published in 2009 by Delacorte Press. For more information, visit www.donnyseagraves.com.

Lois Szymanski is the author of 17 books for children including her most recent, Grandfather’s Secret, a middle grade ghost mystery. She is a former MD/DE/WV SCBWI Regional Advisor and a Global Author in Residence for two schools in Wicomico County. She has written dozens of stories for children’s magazines, including Highlights for Children, U*S*Kids Magazine, and Turtle Magazine for Preschoolers. Twice a year she teaches classes for aspiring writers at Carroll Community College in Westminster, MD. Visit her on the web at www.loisszymanski.com.

Manuscript and Portfolio Critiques


Limited critiques are available, so reserve yours early!

Participants must register and pay for the conference before being assigned a review. Critiquers include editors, agents, and published authors experienced with critiquing. Second critiques will be assigned only after all first critique requests are filled and if received by the deadline, June 26, 2010.


For manuscript critiques: (1) register for the conference and include an extra $50 (per critique) in your payment, (2) email up to FIFTEEN double-spaced pages of one manuscript including age group, genre and brief summary to Naomi Milliner at naomiwm@verizon.net, (3) mail a printed copy to:  Naomi Milliner, Box 253, Olney, MD 20832 before Saturday, June 26, 2010. Email her with questions.

For art portfolio critiques: include the $45 fee with your registration. Send Susan Detwiler (susandetwiler@comcast.net) an email to receive your critique time. Do NOT send original artwork in the mail.

Prior to the conference, you will be assigned a 15-minute time to meet with your reviewer.


Directions to The Bishop Claggett Retreat Center

The Claggett Center is located near Buckeystown, Maryland, on a bluff overlooking Sugarloaf Mountain and the Monocacy River Valley.  The conference will be held in Monocacy Hall.


A block of rooms has been reserved at Hilton Garden Inn of Frederick, 7226 Corporate Court, Frederick, MD 21703.  Phone is 240-566-1500. Mention SCBWI to get the special rate of $109.00 per night or go to this link to reserve online. Book by June 18th to receive reduced rate.

Special Opportunity for writers and illustrators:

First Page Panel–

“If the first page doesn’t grab me, I stop reading.”  How many times have you heard an agent or editor say this at a conference? And how does your first page measure up? Would you like a chance to find out? Bring the first 24 lines – NOT sentences! – of your favorite work-in-progress, double-spaced, 12 pt Times New Roman. Please include age group and genre on top, but no names or titles. We’ll collect entries on Saturday and select as many as we can for the Sunday panel of esteemed agents, editors – and maybe even a surprise guest! WARNING: Not for the faint-hearted. Our panelists will try to be kind as well as constructive… but there are no guarantees!

Illustrator’s First Look–Send 3 jpeg images at 72 dpi, each 10″ maximum on a side, to susandetwiler@comcast.net with First Look in subject line by June 26, 2010.

Click here for a downloadable registration form.2010JulyRegForm

About ediehemingway

I am an author of children's middle grade novels and the Regional Advisor for the MD/DE/WV SCBWI chapter.
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11 Responses to July Conference Registration Now Open!

  1. Pingback: Leaps of Imagination: Fact, Fiction, & Fantasy! « Laurie J. Edwards ~ Author, Artist, Dreamer…

  2. Larry Tagrin says:

    It’s about time for me to re-join SCBWI and start writing seriously again. So I’m registering for the conference.

  3. ediehemingway says:

    Great! I hope to see you there, Larry.

  4. Carol Saucier says:

    I’m really looking forward to the conference. I always get inspired by the speakers, but the best part is networking with other writers and illustrators. I met a writer who encouraged me to send my manuscript to her publisher, and my science book for middle-schoolers will be published next spring!

  5. ediehemingway says:

    I’m so happy you had this success, directly related to attending one of our regional conferences!

  6. I am looking for an illustrator for my next children’s book.

    • ediehemingway says:

      I would suggest submitting your text to an editor and leaving it to the future publisher to find the illustrator, which is the general practice unless the author is also an illustrator. I’m sure Kristen Nobles’ (Art Director at Candlewick Press) will touch on this topic during her presentation at our March 12th conference.

  7. I cannot thank you enough for the article post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.

  8. Pingback: Coffee and Conversation with Quinlan Lee « As the Eraser Burns

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