Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Adventures in Nonfiction-Spring 2018

Date(s) - 04/07/2018
8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Hiawatha Community Center
101 Emmons Street - Hiawatha, IA 52233

Adventures in Nonfiction!

A One-Day Nonfiction Extravaganza

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Hiawatha Community Center, Hiawatha, IA

Children’s nonfiction has drastically changed in the last few years. It’s no longer your grandma’s boring nonfiction, it’s new and improved! Today’s editors are looking for exciting, humorous, unique and creative nonfiction books for kids of all ages. Come explore this incredible genre. You just might like it, and that’s the truth!

Registration will open SATURDAY, January 27 at 9 AM 

About the Speakers:

Kelly Barralas-Saylor is Editorial Director, Nonfiction for Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Books that interest her include new twists on old standards for every age group from board book through YA with topics such as coding, art, cooking, jokes, building/making, performing, biography, history, science, technology, math, holiday traditions, nature, and memoir.
Jackie Briggs Martin is the author of more than 20 picture books for children, including the Caldecott Award-winning Snowflake Bentley. She celebrated the release of two new picture books in 2017—Creekfinding (University of Minnesota Press, illustrated by Claudia McGehee) and Roy Choi and the Street Food Re-mix (Readers To Eaters; co-authored with June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One).

Martin is on the faculty of Hamline University’s M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program.

Marfe Delano is Executive Editor at National Geographic for preschool books and National Geographic Little Kids Magazine. She is also a writer. Her nonfiction books for young readers cover a variety of topics ranging from Albert Einstein to George Washington, from global warming to sea monsters.
Jill Esbaum writes trade nonfiction books for National Geographic Kids, including titles in the following series:  Angry Birds Playground (4), Explore My World (10), Picture the Seasons (5), First Big Book of… (3), and Animal Groups, a picture book illustrated with photos by renown wildlife photographer Frans Lanting. She is also the creator of Picture Book Builders, a group blog of fellow picture book writers and illustrators
 Barb Kramer is the author of 35 books for the educational market working with both publishers and packagers. Many her books are biographies about both historical subjects, such as Thomas Edison, Cleopatra, and Frederick Douglass, and people in the news including Beyoncé, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Oprah Winfrey. She also writes test passages.
 Linda Skeers loves researching and writing about a variety of topics. Her latest book is Women Who Dared:  52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Rebels (Sourcebooks) She’s currently working on the next book in the series. She is also co-founder with Jill Esbaum of the Whispering Woods Picture Book Writing Workshop held each summer at Our Lady of the Prairie retreat facility.


The conference will be held at Hiawatha Community Center, 101 Emmens Street, Hiawatha, IA.

Nearby Hotels:

For those who will be arriving on Friday for the conference or staying over until Sunday, there are several hotels in the area including:


  • Cost for SCBWI members before February 17: $50.00
  • Cost for Non-Members before February 17: $65.00
  • Cost for SCBWI Members after February 17: $60.00
  • Cost for SCBWI Non-Members after February 17: $75.00



Payment can be made online during registration with a major credit card or sent by check to Eileen Boggess, 6732 Northview Drive, Urbandale, IA 50322


There will be a selection of baked goods served from 8:00-9:00 AM and complimentary water and soda served throughout the day.

Lunch is off-site and not included in the cost of admission. There is a DQ Chill and Grill nearby or bring your own lunch to eat at the community center.


Off-Site Critiques:

Critiques are assigned as first-come-first-served basis and are $40.00 per critique.

Kelly Barralas-Saylor: 10 critiques

Marfe Delano: 10 critiques

Jill Esbaum: 5 critiques

Linda Skeers: 5 critiques

Submit the first 10 pages and a synopsis or one complete picture book and synopsis in standard manuscript format as an email attachment to by 5:00 PM on Thursday, March 1, 2018. Your subject line should include your first and last name and the title of your manuscript. (Example: Eileen Boggess, The Sloth Exercise Guide). Please use .doc, not a pdf.

If there is any back matter or research material included in the finished book, please list this information in the synopsis. (Example: finished book will include a timeline of events and a glossary of scientific terms.)


Submissions to Editors:

Both editors will accept submissions from attendees after the conference.


Both Linda Skeers and Barb Kramer are offering a one-year mentorship. The two writers chosen for mentorships will have the opportunity to submit a manuscript or revision to the mentor each month for helpful and encouraging feedback.

Submit a manuscript of no more than 500 words and a short statement as to what the mentorship would mean to you. Please do not put your name on the manuscript. Instead, include a cover page with your name and the title of the manuscript. Send hard copies of your entries to K. Hodge, 1412 10th St., Marion, IA 52302. Winners of the mentorships will be announced at the conference. Must be present to win. Deadline for mentorship manuscripts is March 1, 2018.


Tentative Conference Schedule:

8:00-8:45 Registration.

A selection of baked goods will be provided as well as water and soda throughout the day.

8:45-9:00 Welcome

9:00-10:15 Skype with Marfe Delano Executive Editor for National Geographic Kids Books

Marfe will answer questions and share information about the type of manuscripts she’s seeking.

10:30-11:30 Skype with Kelly Barrales-Saylor Editorial Director, Nonfiction for Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

In this question and answer session, Kelly will talk about all the exciting series she’s working on, current trends in nonfiction and what she looks for in a manuscript.

11:30-12:00 Linda Skeers – A Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes of a Series 

12:00-1:00 Lunch

Lunch on your own. Bring your own lunch or pick up lunch at a nearby restaurant. The DQ Chill and Grill is a quick walk across the parking lot from the conference site and offers boxed lunches for $5. They include a sandwich, chips, drink, and a small sundae. A list of other options will be available at registration. There is a refrigerator on site for those who bring their lunch.

1:00-1:30 Linda Skeers and Jill Esbaum – That’s a nonfiction book?

Linda and Jill will present a fun overview of the types of nonfiction and the many ways a writer can break into this exciting genre.

1:30-2:30 Barbara Kramer – Writing for Educational Publishers

Writing for educational publishers is a great way to break into publishing, build your resume, and enjoy steady work. AND the market is constantly expanding! Barb will talk about how to find publishers and how to get assignments and keep getting them. There are also opportunities to write fiction for educational publishers and Barb will highlight those as well.

2:30-4:00 Jacqueline Briggs Martin – Writing Picture Book Biographies

Jacqueline will talk about writing memorable and award-winning picture book biographies for both large and small publishers. Want to take your writing to the next level? Then you do not want to miss this session!

4:00-4:30 Wrap Up

Awarding the mentorships and time for questions.

Download a PDF with this information:

Adventures in Nonfiction