Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2022 Midsouth Conference Schedule

Use #SCBWImidsouth22 in your social media posts to win a bookstore gift certificate!


FRIDAY, March 25th


Pre-conference intensives are available on Friday for an additional fee. Registration is limited. To register for intensives, please check the appropriate box when registering for the conference online. Intensive registrations are non-transferable, and there will be no refunds.

11:30 a.m.—12:00 p.m. | Registration

12:00–2:00 p.m. | C.J. Redwine—The Art of Deep Characterization ($55)
Memorable stories are stories whose characters resonate with the reader. But how do you create a cast of unique, vivid characters that linger with readers long after the story is done? New York Times best-selling author C.J. Redwine teaches her process for deep characterization using your characters’ primary fears. Watch your characters come to life! Limit 32.

12:00–2:00 p.m. | Lori Degman—What’s So Funny?! ($55)

When asked what types of picture book manuscripts they’d love to see, editors often put “humorous” on their lists – yet many authors shy away from writing humor.  In this intensive, we will use mentor texts to examine what it is that makes picture books funny (e.g., exaggeration, wordplay, slapstick, twists on the familiar . . .).  We’ll discuss methods for writing humorous stories that will appeal to both children and adults.  Attendees will complete exercises to apply what they’ve learned to a WIP(s) that could use some punching up. Limit 32.

1:30 a.m.—2:00 p.m. | Registration

 2:30–4:30 p.m. | Adib Khorram—Unpacking the Edit Letter ($55)

Edit letters are scary. But once you’re done lying on the floor crying, how do you take those insightful comments and questions and turn them into a better book? Participants will discuss strategies for making edits happen; discuss common problems in the editorial process; look at real examples of edit letters in the YA and Picture Book space; and come away energized to tackle their next edits. Limit 32.

2:30–4:30 p.m. | Karina Granda—Illustrating a Middle Grade Cover ($55)

Admit it, we’ve all judged a book by its cover and now it’s time for you to create a dynamic book cover of your own! We’ll go behind the scenes and see what goes into making a successful book cover that gets the book and your artwork noticed. We will cover storytelling, composition, color palette and much more. Art Director Karina Granda will work with full participants from thumbnails to final art during this intensive, culminating in a final review. Participating illustrators can click here to download the project information. Limit 12. (Want to observe this intensive? Illustrators wishing to observe only may do so for a fee of $25. Observe-only Participants will not participate in creating sketches and a piece but may participate during the final critique. Just check the “observe only” box when you register for the conference online. Limit 20.)

5:30–6:00 p.m. | Registration

5:30–6:30 p.m. | Embassy Suites Happy Hour
The Embassy Suites happy hour takes place in the hotel atrium.


SATURDAY, March 26th

7:30–8:00 a.m. | Registration

8:00–8:20 a.m. | Welcome

8:20–9:05 a.m. | Opening Keynote—Adib Khorram

9:05–9:25 a.m. | Break

9:25–10:25 a.m. | Session I (Click here for more detail on breakouts!)

A.    Susan Eaddy and Mary Uhles—Writing and Illustrating Picture Books 101: What beginners need to know about writing and illustrating for children.

B.   Midsouth Mentor Panel: Discussion and Q&A—a deep dive into writing community for EVERY stage of the journey.

C. Leslie Zampetti—Middle Grade and Young Adult 101: Leslie will address the differences between both categories, their audiences, and address the gap of “upper middle grade”/”young YA.” 

D.    Karina Granda—How To Become Your Art Directors Best Friend: How to establish great working relationships withdesigners and art directors so they want to work with you again and again.

10:25–10:40 a.m. | Break

10:40–11:40 a.m. | Session II (Click here for more detail on breakouts!)

A.  Mary Cummings—Is it Working? Take any manuscript from “Is this working?” to “I’ve nailed it!”

B.  Leslie Zampetti—Standing Out in a Crowded Market: Current trends in the MG and YA markets—make your story stand out and use curriculum to add impact to your submissions.

C.    Brent Taylor—Navigating the Agent Relationship: What to expect and how to maintain a successful and rewarding partnership.

D. Jim McCarthy—Dealing With ‘Almost’: How to handle kind rejections and what to do with them.

11:40 a.m.–1 p.m. | Lunch (optional $29)

1.  To purchase a box lunch for Saturday, please select that option when you register. You will need to pick up your box lunch at the registration desk on Saturday between 11:40 and 11:55 a.m. Feel free to eat in the hotel atrium with other conference attendees. This is your chance to get to know each other!

2. If you choose NOT to order a box lunch when you register, you should plan to either:

A. bring your own lunch (to eat in the hotel atrium or elsewhere)


B. purchase lunch in the hotel bar or at a nearby restaurant. (See the Midsouth dining map!)

Be aware that you only have 80 minutes for lunch! You do not want to be late for First Pages!

1:00–1:45 p.m. | First Pages
First Pages sessions offer conference attendees the unique opportunity to witness an agent’s first impression when reading a new manuscript. Anonymous first pages will be chosen at random and read aloud to the group. Then faculty will discuss the ever-important question: Would I read more? They will offer specific suggestions on how to improve the appeal of a story’s opening. (First page submission is not required to attend this session, and not all first pages/materials will be read. Attendees may pre-register for one session only.)

A. Picture Book—with agent Mary Cummings

B. Middle Grade—with agent Jim McCarthy

C. Young Adult—with agent Brent Taylor

To submit a first page, please bring three paper-clipped copies of the first page of one PB, MG, or YA manuscript to Saturday morning registration. First pages must have NO AUTHOR NAME on them, but may include the title. They must be double-spaced in a 12-point font, printed in black ink on white paper, and should not exceed 200 words (excluding the title). Only a selection of properly formatted submissions will be read and discussed.

1:452:00 p.m. | Break

2:00–3:00 p.m. | Session III (Click here for more detail on breakouts!)

A. Lori Degman—Writing in Rhyme is Not a Crime—Unless You Butcher it! Strategies for writing and editing a winning story with perfect rhyme and meter.

B. Adib Khorram—Dismantling Toxic Masculinity Through YA Literature: How authors across different YA genres have used their craft to examine, explain, and dismantle toxic masculinity.

C.   C.J. Redwine—Managing Anxiety and the Creative Life: 13 easy-to-use anxiety management techniques that work for the creative life.

D.   Dow Phumiruk—Not an Imposter: It’s Time to Call Yourself an Artist! Discover ways to avoid pitfalls of self-sabotage and stay out of the hole of self-doubt.

3:00–3:20 p.m. | Break

3:20–4:15 p.m. |  PAL Author and Illustrator Panel—Midsouth Success Stories and Best-Practices for Building a Lasting Career

4:15 p.m. | Closing Announcements

5:00–6:30 p.m. | Midsouth Cocktail and Autograph Party with Portfolio Showcase
Come mingle with us before the gala dinner! Check out illustrator portfolios and purchase that special book you want to have signed by a faculty member or an SCBWI author. Bring your drink coupon, cash, or credit card to use at the cash bar.

Click HERE for PAL opportunities for this party!

Click HERE for Illustrator opportunities for this party!

7:00–9:00 p.m. Once Upon a Time Gala Dinner
Saturday concludes with the Once Upon a Time Gala Dinner for both conference attendees and faculty. The gala will include a full sit-down dinner, as well as a presentation of contest honors (fiction, illustration, social media, portfolio showcase, and the 2021 Midsouth Crystal Kite). As always, our gala is costume optional! If it’s your thing, dress up as a favorite character, creator, or figure from story! Mythology, folklore, your favorite book (or even from your own work!). The theme of this year’s conference is “Together Again: Let’s Get LIT!”, so consider literally brightening up your costume or dinner attire. Have fun with it! This is a great opportunity to unwind after a long, productive day and socialize with both attendees and faculty. (The cost of dinner is included with your conference tuition.)



SUNDAY, March 27th

7:30 a.m. | Bookstore open!

8:15–9:15 a.m. | Session IV (Click here for more info about breakouts)

A. Jiton Sharmayne Davidson—Immersive or Deep POV for Novelists: Close the gap between your point-of-view character and the reader by eliminating authorial intrusion, “she said.” Practice immersing your reader in the character’s experience.

B.   Mary Cummings—The Next Big Steps: Reaching Out to Agents—Everything about landing an agent, from “When am I ready to query?” to “How do I revise based on agent comments?”

C. Lori Degman—You’ve Sold Your First Manuscript…Now What? From working with agents and editors to launches and royalties, Lori discussed what she learned when publishing her first book.

D. Karina Granda—Beyond the Picture Book: The art of novel covers, interiors, graphic novels, maps, hand-lettering and more! Tips on how to retool your portfolio to attract even more attention.

9:15–9:25 a.m. | Break

9:25–10:25 a.m. | Session V

A. Jim McCarthy—Eight Ways to Hook Your Reader ASAP: What makes an agent’s interest perk up, and how do you capture a reader as quickly as possible?

B.   Brent Taylor—Agent Tips for Navigating the Querying Process: Dissect and discuss best practices of the querying process.

C. Jiton Sharmayne Davidson—HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY! Pre and Postnatal Marketing: Congratulations! Your beautiful baby is a potential bestseller. What can you (Proud Author) do to help guide your book in pre and post publication marketing?

D. Dow Phumiruk—When There’s an Offer in Your Inbox: Follow the course of a project from offer to completed book.

10:25–10:45 a.m. | Break

10:45–11:45 a.m. | Agent /Art Director Panel

 11:45–12:00 p.m. | Break

12:00–12:10 p.m. | Door Prizes and Announcements

12:10–12:50 p.m. | Closing Keynote—C.J. Redwine

12:50–1:00 p.m. | Closing Remarks