2011 Conference – The Art of Book Craft


April 9th at Merrell Center
8am – 6pm
6301 S. Stadium Lane
Katy, Texas 77494-1057


Download Registration Form

Download Conference Information Booklet

Join us for:

  • Amazing speakers including editors, author, creative director, and agents
  • One-on-one manuscript critique sessions with speakers and local authors
  • Portfolio critiques and showcase
  • Joan Lowery Nixon finalist selections(winner mentored by Newbery Honor Winner, Kathi Appelt)
  • Book signings
  • Mexican dinner social
  • Raffle
  • Door prizes
  • Opportunities to network

All Manuscript Critiques are sold out!
Saturday night dinner sold out.

Check out the chapter website for updates and information. – www.scbwi-houston.org

2011 Speakers

Ruth McNally Barshaw
Author-Illustrator of the Ellie McDoodle SeriesRuth, life-long writer and artist, has worked in the advertising field, illustrated for newspapers, and won numerous essay-writing contests (cash, computers, and a year’s supply of frozen dinners). But all along, she was missing something. She wanted to write and illustrate kid’s books. Little did she know the secret to success was right under her nose: Since age 15 she has kept a sketch journal in hand. From her hundreds of journals and 180 SCBWI Winter Conference sketches sprang a real-life fairy tale with the publishing of Ellie McDoodle, an illustrated journal-style series for middle grade readers with games, crafts, and pranks woven into the storyline. See her online journals and more at her website: http://ruthexpress.com
Kate Fletcher, Editor
CandlewickKate is an associate editor at Candlewick Press, one of the largest independent children’s book publishers in the world. She works on books across all types of genres- -from picture books to young adult novels. Her authors include Meg Medina, Leslie McGuirk, Richard Sobol, and Lark Pien. She is the US editor for Liz Kessler, Allan Ahlberg, Polly Dunbar, Martin Handford and John Burningham, among others. She is also the US editor for the Templar books imprint.
Leah Hultenschmidt
Sourcebook Inc.Leahis a senior editor at Sourcebooks, acquiring romance for the Casablanca imprint and young adult fiction for the Fire imprint. In addition to editing, she has a wide array of experience in publicity,
marketing, and website development from 10 years at Dorchester Publishing. She has worked with a number of best-selling authors
across multiple genres. Her first-ever job was as a library page in a small town near Rochester, NY, and she’s thrilled to now be able to help inspire the love of reading for those of all ages. Catch up with her anytime on her blog, romanticreading.net.
Laurent Linn, Art Director
Simon and Schuster Laurent, Art Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, began his career as a puppet designer in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop. With the Muppets for over a decade, he became the Creative Director for Sesame Street, winning an Emmy Award. Currently, Laurent illustrates; reviews numerous books as a member of the Children’s Book Awards Committee at Bank Street College; and collaborates with noted editors, authors, and illustrators on picture books, middle-grade books, and teen novels at Simon & Schuster.
Sara Megibow, Associate Literary Agent
Nelson Literary Agency, LLCSara has worked at the Nelson Literary Agency since 2006. For three years, her main responsibility was to be the first reader for all queries, sample pages and full manuscripts submitted to the agency. In 2009, Sara was promoted to Associate Literary Agent and is actively acquiring new clients. The Nelson Literary Agency specializes in representing young adult and middle grade fiction, romance, science fiction and fantasy, commercial and women’s fiction (including chick lit) and high concept literary fiction. Nelson
Literary Agency is a member of AAR, RWA, SFWA and SCBWI. Please visit our website www.nelsonagency.com for submission guidelines, and feel free to visit Sara’s Publisher’s Marketplace (www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/SaraMegibow) site to learn more about her personal tastes and recent sales.
Brenda Murray, Senior Editor
Scholastic Brenda is with Scholastic Nonfiction and Reference. Helping and encouraging children to learn has shaped Brenda Murray’s career. Before publishing, she was a 6th-grade math and science teacher. Brenda has been at Scholastic since 2002 and has worked on more than 200 nonfiction titles. She is currently managing a list of approximately 50 children’s books per year. Grades range from PreK-8 and topics include: science and technology, sports, food and cooking, biographies, language and vocabulary, social issues, history, and popular culture. She is always looking for fun nonfiction proposals.
Abby Ranger, Editor
Disney HyperionAbby is an editor at Disney*Hyperion Books. She works on a broad range of genres and formats, from picture books through middle grade and YA fiction. Authors she has the pleasure of working with include Cinda Williams Chima, Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, and newcomers like Victoria Schwab and Kiera Stewart. She was born in Colorado, grew up in British Columbia, and now lives in Brooklyn.
Anna Webman, Agent
Curtis Brown Anna represents a broad range of young adult, middle-grade, and picture-book authors and illustrators. She always is on the lookout for first-time authors and illustrators. Anna’s primary goal is to help her clients, both published and debut, to build and expand long-standing careers. Anna’s ideal picture book is a character-driven, energetic story that kids (and their parents) won’t tire of reading. She particularly is interested in voice-driven realistic fiction, with both historical and contemporary settings and would love to find a young middle-grade series. Anna graduated from The George Washington University and began at Curtis Brown in 2005. She lives in Manhattan with her rescue dog Vinny.

Houston’s Very Own!

If this is the first professional critique for a particular manuscript, consider registering for a critique with one of our featured authors. They can give you pointers for making your manuscript publishable and save you from sending in a manuscript before it’s ready to catch an editor or agent’s attention. And remember, as a conference attendee you will be able to submit to the editors and agents after the conference when you have had time to polish your story.

Non Fiction

Ana María Rodríguez writes nonfiction for children and adults. Her favorite topics include science, nature, cultures, biographies, and memoirs. Before she became a writer, Ana María was a scientist doing research at university laboratories for about 20 years. Her latest books include the Animal Secrets Revealed! Series and Autism and Asperger Syndrome. A new series about animals living in extreme environments and her first young adult memoir, The Iron Butterfly, will be released early in 2011. Check her website at www.anamariarodriguez.com.
Mary Dodson Wade spent 25 years as an elementary librarian, beginning her career as an author prior to retirement. Now with more than 50 books in print, the vast majority of them biographies and other nonfiction related to Texas, she is trying her hand at fiction. She does not find this jump so unusual since she has spent a lifetime reading and evaluating picture books and fiction.

Middle Grade / Young Adult

Sherry Garland is the critically acclaimed author of twenty-eight books for children, teens and adults.  In addition to winning over forty awards and honors, her books have appeared on the Reading Rainbow TV program and on HBO. Ms. Garland has spoken at schools and conferences throughout the United States and traveled to Asia three times to speak at international schools. Before becoming an author, she worked in university libraries for many years.
Jenny Moss is an author of MG/YA historical fiction and fantasy. Her novels are Winnie’s War (Bloomsbury/Walker), Shadow (Scholastic Press), and Taking Off (Bloomsbury/Walker; Jan 2011). Ms. Moss has worked as a NASA engineer and an adjunct writing instructor, but currently writes full time. Check her website at www.jenny-moss.com.

Picture Book

Kathy Duval is the author of The Three Bears’ Halloween and The Three Bears’ Christmas(Holiday House) which received a starred review in Booklist and was selected as a Bank Street Best Book of the Year.Upcoming is, I Think I See A UFO (Disney Hyperion, Spring, 2012). Her poetry appears in the anthologies, I Invited A Dragon to Dinner ( Philomel)andLadybug, Ladybug and Other Favorite Poems(Cricket Magazine Group).
Warren Hanson has written and/or illustrated 26 books for children and adults, including NYT Bestseller A Cup of Christmas Tea. Some of Warren’s other books are The Next Place, Kiki’s Hats, Raising You Alone, Bugtown Boogie, Reading with Dad, the popular Peef books, and many more. His most recent titles are The Sea of Sleep and Today’s Special. Warren has many years of experience with large and small publishers. He lives in Spring, Texas.

Joan Lowery Nixon Memorial Award

The Joan Lowery Nixon Memorial Award was established to honor the writer who so generously shared her time and talents with our members. Joan volunteered to mentor a writer whose manuscript submitted for the SCBWI-Houston conference was deemed nearest publication. Following Joan’s death in 2003, Kathi Appelt, Newbery honor winner for “The Underneath,” graciously took over the role of mentor.

Each speaker will choose one manuscript that they think is closest to publication. Kathi Appelt will select one of the seven manuscripts and mentor the writer for a year. This is an incredible opportunity! To learn more about the Kathi, please visit www.kathiappelt.com.


Critiques are available to registered participants on a first come first serve basis.

Please see the registration form for critique categories and fees.

For each critique please submit one piece, up to 10 pages. Include a cover letter (no longer than a half page) addressed to your critique. If submitting a young adult or middle grade manuscript, please include a synopsis (limited to one page). The synopsis and cover letter are in addition to the 10 pages. Your submission should be in standard manuscript format. Formatting guidelines can be found at www.scbwi.org. Each session is twelve minutes of one-on-one face time.

Register early to secure your slots. All manuscripts must be postmarked by February 18, 2011. After this date, no manuscripts can be accepted and NO REFUNDS can be given. Instructions for sending manuscripts will be included with your confirmation.

Portfolio Critiques

The portfolio can be leather or vinyl with page sizes from 8″x10″-11″x14.” It should contain no more than 10-15 representational pieces of your BEST artwork and any dummies that you may wish to show.  If you are bringing a book dummy, remember to attach it to your portfolio.

Remember NO ORIGINAL ARTWORK should be included in your portfolio. Have high-quality color copies of your art in your portfolio instead. Please label all artwork as well as the portfolio case.

Do NOT send your portfolio in advance; bring it to the conference. You will receive your critique time at morning registration. Further instructions regarding portfolio critiques and portfolio contest will be emailed to you by the Illustrator Coordinator.

First Pages Panel

Writers are invited to submit their best first page of a manuscript to be read and commented on by the panel of speakers. Submissions must be postmarked by February 18, 2011. Please mail to:

Varsha Bajaj
906 Ivory Ridge Lane
Houston, Texas 77094

No submissions will be accepted after February 18, 2011. The speakers will select which manuscripts to be read; therefore, there is no guarantee that your manuscript will be reviewed. Only one submission will be accepted per registered participant.

Your first page must be formatted according to publishing standards, including your name. Authors will remain anonymous. In summary, the manuscript starts half-way down the page; approximately 100-115 words will fit in the space. Formatting guidelines can be found at www.scbwi.org. Only properly formatted manuscripts will be read.


Hotel rooms are available at the Hilton Garden Inn. They are located at 2409 Texmati Drive, Katy, Texas, 77494. The conference rate is $107/night(includes complimentary hot breakfast) . To book a room, please call 281-644-2400. A block of rooms will be held under “Writers Conference”. The conference rate is available until March 25, 2011.

Mexican Dinner Social

There will be a social/ Mexican dinner immediately following the conference at Los Cucos. The restaurant is minutes from the Merrell Center at 5305 Bell Patna, Katy, Texas 77494.  The cost of dinner and non-alcoholic beverages is $16. Alcoholic beverages can be purchased separately that evening. There is limited seating and will be given to the first 70 participants who register for conference and send in payment.


If you have questions, please email:

Vicki Sansum, Houston Regional Advisor (vsansum@earthlink.net)- Varsha Bajaj, Conference Chair (author@varshabajaj.com)

Conference Schedule

  • 8:00 – 8:30 – Registration and breakfast
  • 8:30 – 8:45 – Opening remarks
  • 8:45 – 9:30 – Ruth McNally Barshaw, Author-Illustrator
  • 9:30 – 10:15 – Leah Hultenschmidt, Editor (Sourcebooks Inc)
  • 10:15 – 10:30 – Break
  • 10:30 – 10:45 – Announcements and door prizes
  • 10:45 – 11:15 – Laurent Linn, Creative Director (Simon and Schuster)
  • 11:15 – 12:00 – Sara Megibow, Agent (Nelson Literary Agency)
  • 12:00 – 1:00 – Lunch and portfolio viewing
  • 1:00 – 1:45 – Brenda Murray, Senior Editor (Scholastic)
  • 1.00 – 2:45 – Breakout session for illustrators with Laurent Linn
  • 1:45 – 2:00 – Announcements and door prizes
  • 2:00 – 2:45 – Kate Fletcher, Editor(Candlewick Press)
  • 2:45 – 3:00 – Break
  • 3:00 – 3:45 – Anna Webman, Agent (Curtis Brown)
  • 3:45 – 4:15 – First pages panel
  • 4:15 – 5:00 – Abby Ranger, Editor (Disney Hyperion)
  • 5:00 – 5:15 – Announcements and door prizes
  • 5:15 – 6:00 – Autograph session with authors
  • 6:15 – Dinner

Download Registration Form

Download Conference Information Booklet