Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

(Hawaii • Oahu) Hawaii Conference 2020

Date(s) - 03/14/2020 - 03/15/2020
7:00 am - 5:00 pm

University of Hawaii Law School
2515 Dole Street - Honolulu, HI 96822-2350




As you know, the spread of the CoronaVirus is causing a great deal of concern regarding travel for conferences and gatherings where people from different places are coming together. After consultation with SCBWI Headquarters, and in view of travel advisories and legitimate public fear and the need for social distancing, we have reached the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of public health to cancel our conference. We are working out logistics to plan other options for the near future and we are working with the faculty on possibly doing their presentations online. We will have a new registration on our website for the online option.

For now, we will be refunding all tuition fees. If you paid for a consultation or critique, it will be done through email or possibly Zoom, depending on the faculty member.
If you made a hotel reservation, please contact the hotel to cancel.  Make sure you mention that you are canceling because of the Coronavirus and the subsequent cancellation of our event. Most hotels are adopting a liberal cancellation policy in light of the current situation.
If you made a flight reservation, please cancel and ask for the airline to waive the cancelation fee, most airlines I hear will honor this.

Thank you for your understanding. For questions, please contact



Salina Yoon  Author/Illustrator of almost 200 children’s books

Sara Sargent Senior Executive Editor of Random House Children’s Books

Tiffany Liao Editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Kari Sutherland  Agent at Bradford Literary

Michael McCartney Art Director at Simon and Schuster

Event Schedule: Conference and intensive schedules are tentative and subject to change.

Download SCBWI 2020 Conference Schedule

Download SCBWI 2020 Intensives Schedule


Salina Yoon

Salina Yoon is a Geisel Honor-winning author/illustrator of a dozen picture books and early readers and nearly 200 innovative novelty books, with over 4.5 million books sold worldwide. Kiki and Jax, the life-changing magic of friendship, a picture book she co-authored and illustrated with international tidying superstar and bestselling author, Marie Kondo, released in November of 2019.

Other awards include the Award for Excellence in a Picture Book for FOUND, the New York State Reading Association Charlotte Award for PENGUIN AND PINECONE, Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award for DUCK DUCK PORCUPINE, and many more. You can read more about Salina and her books at:


Sara Sargent
Sara Sargent is a Senior Executive Editor at Random House Books for Young Readers, where she publishes fiction and nonfiction in the picture book, middle grade, and young adult categories. Previously, she was an Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books and an Editor at Simon Pulse (an imprint of Simon & Schuster). Sara has worked with #1 New York Times bestselling authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, as well as New York Times bestselling authors Laurie Hernandez, Abbi Glines, Ainsley Earhardt, Rosamund Hodge, and Lisa Maxwell; internationally bestselling author Lily Collins; National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti; and social media influencers StacyPlays, Matthew Espinosa, and Arden Rose. Sara received her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern University. She lives in Brooklyn.


Tiff Liao
Tiff Liao is Senior Editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. Some of her recent titles include the #1 New York Times-bestseller Children of Blood and Boneby Tomi Adeyemi and its bestselling sequel Children of Virtue and Vengeance, The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen, The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg, I Am Perfectly Designed by “Queer Eye” star Karamo Brown and Jason Brown, and the Peasprout Chen series by Nebula Award finalist Henry Lien. Prior to joining Holt, she was an editor at Penguin Young Readers.


Kari Sutherland

Kari Sutherland, Agent

Kari Sutherland joined the Bradford Literary Agency in 2017 after a decade of experience in publishing from the editorial side. Previously a Senior Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, she has worked with bestselling and critically acclaimed authors on projects such as the #1 New York Times bestselling Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard. With her editorial insight and experience with the entire publishing process, Kari is passionate about helping to polish each manuscript and equip her clients for success.

What she’s looking for:
Picture books, especially by author/illustrators, story or character-driven with heart and humor, and underrepresented perspectives.
Middle grade fiction and nonfiction.
Young adult projects of all genres.
Graphic novels for all ages.
Unconventional narrative structures.
Diverse and underrepresented voices.


Michael McCartney

Michael McCartney
is Associate Art Director for Atheneum, Beach Lane, and Margaret K. McElderry at Simon & Schuster. He designs picture books, middle-grade, and young-adult fiction and non-fiction. He has worked with Brian Floca on many titles, including his Caldecott Medal winner Locomotive and New York Times Best Illustrated Book Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, and with other illustrators such as Ashley Bryan, Ian Falconer, Gris Grimly, and Jillian Tamaki. He designed the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, the Morris and Printz Medal winner Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, the Hugo and Locus Award winner The Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin with Charles Vess, and many others, including books by Avi, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Charlaine Harris, Joanne Harris, Ellen Hopkins, E. L. Konigsburg, Ken Liu, Hilary McKay, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Tamora Pierce, Nic Sheff, and Zilpha Keatley Snyder. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and lives in Honolulu.



Saturday: a 45-minute keynote on creativity
Digging Deep to Uncover Your Most Creative Self
Maybe you are deciding which idea to pursue next. Or you’re feeling stuck in revision. Or you’ve lost your creativity. Come back to the artist within in this session, and learn some new tricks and approaches for sparking creativity once again.

Breakout: First Pages

Sunday: a 3-hour morning workshop on character.
Getting into Character
The characters in our books are the reader’s window into the emotional and human element of our stories. We want dimensional characters that draw in our readers and make them connect with our project. In this session, we’ll explore different character types and talk about what makes a character great, while workshopping your newest idea or revising your current project.


Saturday: a 45-min keynote on inspiration, perseverance, and trust
It’s Harder Than It Looks: What It Takes to Succeed in Publishing
The key to a successful career in publishing is not just about good ideas and talent. It’s MORE about commitment, growth, overcoming obstacles and adversity, accepting and learning from rejections, sowing hope, playing the long game, ability to pivot and reinvent yourself when necessary, and trusting your instincts. These things are much harder to do than writing a book—but once you’ve mastered them, you can succeed in just about anything.

Breakout: Books for the very young(Concept Books)

We’ll examine the essential elements of effective books for the very young, and see what makes them engaging, enriching, and entertaining for repeat readings. It is a genre that will always exist in publishing, which comes in the form of novelty, board, and picture books. The key to a successful concept book is having multiple hooks. Salina will share various examples of them and break down its most important elements. It will encourage writers and illustrators to take their concept book idea to the next level!

I’ll show how I develop a concept book from start to finish. We’ll discuss the many ways one can find inspiration for concept ideas and how I submit them.

Sunday: a 3-hr morning workshop on drafting stories with index cards, plus story prompt challenge!

Drafting Scene by Scene
Visualizing scenes of your story helps you to feel that moment in a way that will help your writing and storytelling. Salina will share her storyboarding technique using loose index cards that is beneficial for both writers and illustrators. This technique will start you off in revision mode and keep you there until the story is polished.
No drawing ability required!


Saturday: 45 minute keynote:

How to not write to a trend 

Publishing is a business where art meets commerce. So, as a creator, how do you balance crafting an original vision while understanding the realities of the market? (Hint: never write to a trend!) How do you protect your creative joy while also pursuing your dreams of publication?
Breakout: Windows, Mirrors & Doors: Fundamentals to Writing Cross-Culturally
If you’re supposed to “write what you know,” how can you write convincingly and respectfully from a perspective outside of your own? We’ll establish a craft-oriented approach to portraying diverse characters as it relates to character, plot, and voice. We’ll cover several writing exercises, as well as specific dos and don’ts to avoid blind spots and pitfalls.
Sunday: a 3-hr afternoon workshop
Straight Through the Heart: How to Make Readers Fall in Love With Your Characters
With every book I edit, I always start with one big question: what does the character want? Your character motivation is the heart of the story and will inform every element in your book including voice, plot, pacing, and world-building. I’ll show you how to dig deep into your character to establish a motivation that is compelling, believable, and urgently drives the story forward from page to page.

Saturday: a 45-minute keynote
Keynote: Lights, Camera, Write It!
Visualizing your story as a movie (or animated short) can help you fine tune your opening, develop your characters, spot pacing issues, and land your ending! We’ll discuss tricks from your favorite TV shows or films to make your chapters and characters addictive and go over how to use a finely-placed page turn to build tension and deliver a satisfying surprise.

Break out: Q&A on common mistakes in querying or what agents are looking for

Sunday: a 3-hr afternoon workshop
Show, Don’t Tell: The Nitty Gritty of How to Do That
It’s the basic building block everyone tells you when you start writing. But how, exactly, do you do that? Through exercises and examples we’ll discuss how to make your writing immersive from world-building, to characters, to plot, and down to line-by-line writing.



Sunday: a 3-hr afternoon workshop
Everything Is Illustrated: expand your knowledge about the industry and how to make your art more appealing
Take a look around and you will see that illustration is in high demand. Especially in publishing, illustration is everywhere and it is for everyone, from picture books to adult novels, marketing to motion graphics. There are ample opportunities for you as an artist to take advantage. We will discuss how to expand your scope and your portfolio in ways you may have never imagined. We will cover the many formats of publishing in particular—picture books, board books, novelty books, middle-grade, graphic novels, illustrated non-fiction, boxed sets, and young-adult—so that you are equipped with useful knowledge of the industry that will make you a more versatile and desirable artist. If you want to know how to spark the imaginations of agents, editors, and art directors looking for a good artist, broaden your view of commercial art to learn what will make you more appealing—without being overwhelmed by the possibilities.


Saturday First Pages/First Looks Critiques 

Our faculty will share their reactions to first pages and postcards/illustrations submitted anonymously by participants. No advance sign-up is needed, and there is no extra cost. Depending upon the number of submissions, we may not have time to review them all. In order to be fair, we will have a blind drawing for pages/illustrations to be reviewed. In order to be in the drawing, you must comply with the formatting instructions:

Manuscript formatting: Bring the first page of your manuscript, double-spaced, 12-pt. type, one page only (starting at the top of page) to the registration desk. Include the title of the piece and category (picture book, middle grade, young adult) at the top. Do not include your name.

Artwork formatting: Post cards or illustrations that fit on one page (un-crowded please). No original artwork.

All submissions will be returned.


Optional Manuscript and Portfolio Critiques

Critiques by members of our faculty are available to conference attendees for an additional fee, paid at the time of registration.

Due to the limited amount of spaces available, critiques are limited to one per attendee. If the spaces have not been filled, we will open more slots for critiques on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please add the name of your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice in your submission email

Electronic submission only. Submission will be rejected if not in the correct format. We advise you to submit early, so that any issues with formatting can be corrected before the deadline.


  • Must be an MS Word .doc or PDF file.
  • Ten-page maximum. No artwork except for author/illustrators submitting a dummy.
  • Format: double-spaced, 12-pt. Arial or Times New Roman, one inch margins. Story begins halfway down the first page. On subsequent pages, header should contain the title of the manuscript, author’s last name, and page number, formatted to the right.
  • Use your name as the file name. Example: EricCarle.doc


  • Must be a PDF file.
  • Author/illustrators and illustrators may submit a manuscript OR dummy, but not both.
  • Use your name as the file name. Example: EricCarle.pdf

PORTFOLIO CRITIQUES: Bring your portfolio to the conference.

Send Critiques to

Formatting your manuscript for submission, PDF

Portfolio Showcase

Illustrators please bring your portfolios to be on display and be entered to win the portfolio showcase. Winner will create a new banner for our website and also receive a discount on our next paid event.


For those of you who are coming from out of town, We have suggested the hotel Aqua Palms Waikiki, It is across the street from the Hilton Rainbow Tower conplex and has Kamaaina rates available.
Aqua Palms Waikiki





And if you are on a budget, and don’t mind staying in a dorm room, You can contact the University of Hawaii’s Conference housing. If you have a group the cost is less, only one person in the group needs to sign up.



Registration Instructions

If you are an SCBWI member, don’t forget to sign in to receive substantial discounts on all events. Not a member? Sign up now!

Students (from any institution) and UH faculty receive a 10% discount. To receive your discount, please email Once your student/faculty status is confirmed, you will receive a coupon code applicable to this event, only.

Conferences are wonderful for networking, staying up to date on the ever-changing publishing industry, and absorbing craft-related instruction. To some, the most important benefit of attending a conference is the potential to connect with publishing proffessionals. Below is a link to a PDF of DO’s and Don’ts of Conference Etiquette.

Conference and Critique Etiquette (abridged) PDF