Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


illustrators reviews   launch   faculty volunteers where faqs book




Friday, May 12, 2017 

If you plan to arrive in Brussels on Friday, why not join us for these optional activities? It's a great way to meet old friends and make new ones. 

15:30 – 18:00 SCRAWL CRAWL

A scrawl crawl is an event where you create on the go! Be inspired by your surroundings and draw or write while moving from place to place.

It’s a great way to see Brussels, to meet up with fellow children's book writers and illustrators and spend an afternoon being creative together. We will crawl through the Brussels city center, and scrawl from its highlights and charming treasures.

Indicate your presence by ticking the appropriate box on the registration form. 


19:00 – 21:30 INFORMAL DINNER

All attendees already in Brussels on Friday, May 12 are invited to join us at their own cost for a dinner at a local restaurant. 

Indicate your presence by ticking the appropriate box on the registration form. 


Saturday, May 13, 2017 


(trains from Bruxelles-Central arrive in Braine l'Alleud at 8:21 and 8:40)



Dina von Lowenkraft, Regional Advisor for SCBWI Belgium, will open the second Europolitan Conference and give you a preview on what we have in store for you these two exciting days.


9:30 – 10:00 OPENING KEYNOTE 

Better Together 
with Robin Stevens

Robin will open the conference by talking about how her writing has improved with every new connection she has made – critique partners, agent, editor and readers – and how it's increasingly impossible to function as an author in isolation. The job of an author in 2017 is all about making connections, and the joy of the modern world is the way that authors are able to connect with the people who are shaping their careers like never before.



Join a panel of international publishing professionals, moderated by freelance editor and author Catherine Coe, on a journey to find out the importance of relationships in publishing, how they have evolved over the decades and what closer relationships mean for the industry and the reader.

With agent Gemma Cooper, editor Natalie Doherty, art director Laurent Linn and writer Robin Stevens.  


11:00 – 11:15 COFFEE BREAK



When you sign up, please choose one of the break-out sessions below. 


Get Into Character!
with Laurent Linn, Art Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Participants will have the opportunity to explore character development firsthand. In this workshop, we'll look at various published book characters as well as discuss participants’ art and explore tips and tricks to creating meaningful character illustrations.

PRE-ASSIGNMENT: Before the conference, participants should develop their own interpretation of THE MAD HATTER (from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland). This should be your own, unique version of The Mad Hatter – be creative and have fun!

Then, please bring to the session TWO things:

  1. one page of character development sketches of this character, and
  2. one final, color illustration of this character. (If you work with traditional media, please bring the original. If you work digitally, please bring a color printout.)

By no later than May 1, 2017, please send a jpeg of your final color illustration (for projecting on a screen during the session) to:

As a group, we’ll discuss each attendee’s sketch page and final piece. The goal is for everyone to learn from each other and be inspired and energized by talking about art with fellow creative people! While attendees may be at different experience levels and perhaps a bit shy of sharing their art in front of others (aren’t we all!), the session will be positive with a good energy of creating characters.


Tips & Tricks For Self-Editing
with Gemma Cooper, Agent at The Bent Agency

This workshop is for writers of all levels to hone their writing. Gemma will provide lots of great tips and tricks for self-editing in order to polish your book into a submission-ready manuscript. Participants will be given a worksheet to spot ‘errors’ in texts, and the opportunity to share their own re-written passages with the group.


Pitch Perfect
with Natalie Doherty, Commissioning Editor for Fiction at Penguin Random House Children's 

You’ve finished your novel, and now you want to start pitching it to agents – but your short, snappy pitch is a whole A4 page long. Or perhaps you’re still halfway through your novel, and struggling to describe it concisely when people ask you what you’re writing. A strong, tight, clear pitch that summarizes your story in just a line or two can convince an agent to put your book to the top of their reading pile. It can help an editor who loves your work convey to the rest of their publishing team exactly what it is they want to buy, and where your book would sit on their list. It can lead a marketing campaign and inform a design strategy. More simply, it can help you, as the author, really get to grips with what you’ve written – or even what it is you want to write.

This workshop will focus on concentrating an idea or synopsis into the most appealing, concise pitch possible, with some examples of the pitches that have grabbed Natalie's attention or made an acquisition possible.





When you sign up, please choose one of the break-out sessions below. 


Behind the Scenes: Balancing Art & Business
Laurent Linn, Art Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

In children’s books, authors and illustrators are creating unique works of art, and publishers want those works to sell. A behind-the-scenes look at a publishing house and how we all collaborate with the shared goal of making the best books possible. This presentation is suitable for all writers and illustrators.


Generating Your Next Idea
with Gemma Cooper, Agent at The Bent Agency

Suffering from writer's block? Wanting to write into a different age or genre and looking for a fresh concept? In this presentation, Gemma will offer suggestions for how to think differently when you approach concept creation. It will include some writing exercises to take away, an explanation of what a high concept really means, and how to build a series from a one-line pitch.


Behind the Book: Making Editing personal
with Natalie Doherty, Commissioning Editor for Fiction at Penguin Random House Children's

The author-editor relationship is often the most personal and complex in the whole publishing process – one of mutual trust, support and artistic understanding. This presentation will give an insight into Natalie's take on each stage of the editorial process, from what she's looking for at that first meeting, to acquisition and an offer, to the multiple stages of editing, to launch and beyond. 


14:45 – 15:00 COFFEE BREAK



When you sign up, please choose one of the break-out sessions below.


Friends, Family & Romantic Pursuits: Perfecting Relationships in Every Manuscript
with Angela Cerrito

Writers are told to write with emotion, but how (exactly)? This workshop will dig deep into the relationships that exist in your novel to build tension, show emotion and uncover conflict. By taking a closer look at your main character’s connections with others, you will analyze the type of relationships and how they relate to the plot. Do some strong connections appear weak on the page? Are there opportunities to explode the emotions of a relationship in an unexpected way? How do these interactions define your character and the action of the story? Experiment with growing, developing, defining and destructing relationships to provide insight into character motivation and plot. This workshop is suitable for writers at any stage in their process from outlining before the first draft to polishing a final version. There will be time for discussion, brainstorming and quick exercises. The goal is that every participant will leave full of ideas for the next round of revision. 


The Art & Craft of Story for Picture Books and Middle Grade on Difficult Issues
with Susanne Gervay

In this workshop, Susanne will discuss how to tackle difficult issues in an age-appropriate manner. First, she will examine what difficult issues are, and explore whether they are inherently taboo or not. Next, she will look at how to deal with these issues. Some of the ways that will be discussed include: ensuring that issues are age relevant; treading lightly; use of humour; creating characters that young readers identify with; illustrations that welcome engagement; never being didactic; showing, not telling.

So bring your tough issue, your storyline and questions to the workshop and make difficult issues accessible! 


From Brain to Book
with Chris Mould

The author/illustrator is a combination loved by publishers and, of course, readers. And it feels like a fairly comfortable place for creatives, too. But where on earth do you start if you want to be both author and illustrator? How do those things work in tandem – and how do they differ? Bring along your sketchbooks and get ready for some hands-on words and pictures work as Chris unravels the process that goes from brain to book and reveals the numerous secret stages inside his own sketchbook.


Making a Mystery
with Robin Stevens

What’s in a mystery? Whether you’re writing a mystery or not, so much of the plotting techniques can be applied to other genres and help provide structure and tension in a story. In this interactive workshop, Robin will take you from creating a basic mystery outline to honing your plan, walking you through her own process and helping you discover what works for you and your book.


16:30 – 17:00 CLOSING KEYNOTE

Facing Challenges and Finding Hope Through Your Story for Young People 
with Susanne Gervay

"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." – G.K. Chesterton

The world is filled with dragons and children are afraid. Story provides young people with weapons to beat the dragons. The weapons of humor, imagination, insight, discovery, friendship, inclusion and a safe place to rest, recover, think. Susanne is the child of refugees, and faced divorce, sole parenting, cancer, serious illness of her daughter and a myriad of life issues. These challenges have driven her passion to write for children. Story is a lifeline in an uncertain world, empowering young people with their greatest weapon – hope. Susanne shares her journey and the challenges to publication.



If you are interested in having a one-on-one session with a faculty member, you must sign up for it in addition to registering for the conference. Attention! 15 minute One-on-Ones limited to 5 per faculty member.

Also from 17:15 – 18:30:

Groups of illustrators/author-illustrators and writers (PB/MG/YA) will be organized to encourage networking.



Cocktail Party, Portfolio Showcase and Book Sales with Treasure Trove


Sunday, May 14, 2017

8:30 – 9:00 WELCOME COFFEE

(trains from Bruxelles-Central arrive in Braine L'Alleud at 8:21 and 8:40)  



Stephanie Amster and Laurent Linn will announce the winners of the Illustrators Showcase and discuss with us some of the differences between what works in the UK market vs what works in the US market.

We will also announce the winners of our fabulous door prizes*!

*Please note: you must be present to win


9:30 – 10:00 OPENING KEYNOTE

Discovering the Imagination 
with Chris Mould

Is there really such a thing as a good imagination? If so, where does it come from and more importantly, how do we hold onto it and what can we do with it? What happens to the untapped creative side of the brain if it is left to sleep? Chris talks about his own route into creativity, holding on to the imagination, and how we can tackle the void in artistic development. In this fascinating keynote, you'll find out what your drawing age is and how you might (re)discover your imagination.



Join a panel of international publishing professionals, moderated by editor and author Catherine Coe, to discover how concepts develop and evolve in the process of reaching the reader, the variance in how much creatives consider the reader when developing their work, and the different relationships that professionals have with the reader and how this impacts their work and the wider industry.

With agent Penny Holroyde, editor Kendra Levin, creative director Stephanie Amster, author/illustrator Chris Mould and bookshop manager Muriel Gazeau.


11:00 – 11:15 COFFEE



When you sign up, please choose one of the break-out sessions below.


Scissors & Paper: A Hands-on Exercise in Storyboarding
with Stephanie Amster, Creative Director Bloomsbury 

This workshop is a very hands-on exercise in pacing and story boarding. In groups, you will work on paginating an existing text, breaking it down across a 32-page extent and storyboarding the illustration content in thumbnails to accompany the text breakdown. The workshop will include how to go about choosing the style of illustration to best suit the text, as well as ideas on character style and context. The group will have a brainstorming session which considers commercial titles and thumbnail cover designs. All group work will be reviewed.


Picture Books, the Glamour Puss of Children's Publishing
with Penny Holroyde, founder Holroyde Cartey

Picture books are the glamour puss of the children’s publishing arena, which perhaps explains why they are so elusive. They’re short, so they must be easy, right? Wrong! In this interactive workshop we will forensically analyze one or two global bestsellers to unearth their secrets. We will hear from major picture book editors and art directors about what they think is the winning formula and Penny will read aloud real texts that have recently sold at auction for discussion as a group. We will also have a live show and tell of current works-in-progress from amongst the group so don’t be afraid to bring texts for sharing and bring questions.


Life Coaching for Writers
with Kendra Levin, Executive Editor Viking Children's Books

Are you ready to take risks, step out of your comfort zone, and surprise yourself?  Executive editor and life coach Kendra Levin will lead participants in a hands-on writing-and-revision workshop full of exercises and discussions that will help you look at your current projects and your writing process in new ways, and leave you with new ideas as well as road-tested tips to help you keep pushing yourself to write bravely after the weekend is over.





When you sign up, please choose one of the break-out sessions below.


Once Upon A Time and Happy Ever After (and all the pages and everything in between)
Stephanie Amster, Creative Director Bloomsbury

In this honest and in-depth presentation, Stephanie Amster will talk about her own personal approach to art direction and picture book design, from beginning to end. She’ll discuss matching illustration to texts and how she goes about choosing the right illustrator for the job, the process of working with illustrators on characters, roughs through to final artwork, giving advice on all aspect of the design, and how she guides and supports her illustrators through the creative process. She’ll end with a look at some finished book projects, and a look at Stephanie’s varied portfolio – her highlights and personal favorites.


What Agents Do
with Penny Holroyde, founder Holroyde Cartey

What exactly is it that agents do (and should do)? In this frank and enlightening talk, Penny will discuss the ins and outs of how agents work for authors, and debunk some of the myths about agents – they’re scary, they’re too busy, and they’re always having lunch! She’ll talk about her specific style and also delve into details that are often discussed but perhaps not understood – such as what advances and royalties really mean, and what to expect when you get a book deal. There’ll also be an extensive Q&A to delve deeper and answer any specific questions attendees have.


Be The Hero of Your Own Writing Process
with Kendra Levin, Executive Editor Viking Children's Books

Writing conferences are a wonderful experience, but it can be hard to apply everything you’ve learned when you get back to your desk. In this motivational talk, Kendra will explain how the classic Hero’s Journey model of myth-making can be a valuable tool, not just for craft, but for making a personalized, more effective creative process that will keep you writing – and feeling good about it – long after the conference is over. Blending secrets from bestselling authors, tips from psychologists, and her own advice, Kendra will send you off with a solid plan for how to finish your manuscript and do your very best writing.


14:45 – 15:00 COFFEE



Join a panel of writers, editors and a former judge, moderated by author and Regional Advisor SCBWI Belgium+Luxembourg Dina von Lowenkraft, to discover how the biennial writing competition changed their lives and how to give yourself the best chance of winning a place in Undiscovered Voices 2018!

With UV winner Rose Deniz, UV winner Patti Buff, UV winner Andrea Renner Ipaktchi, UV longlisted Jeannine Johnson Maia, and UV editor and former judge Catherine Coe.



Your Creative Life 
with Angela Cerrito

Reflections on the importance of bringing art into the world as well as strategies to bypass roadblocks and break through barriers to your creative process. Sticking with what is possible and practical, together we will define what living a creative life means to you. More essential than goal setting and more real than life hacks, create a plan with a purpose in order to determine, defend and protect your creative life from this point forward.


16:40 – 17:10 WHAT NEXT?

Join the members of your Regional Teams for a sneak preview of the events we have lined up for you after this conference, but also of the next SCBWI Europolitan Conference. Learn what SCBWI can do for you with regard to awards, grants and extending your professional network. And we'll talk about what to do next, how to maximize the contacts made at the conference and other strategies. 



If you are interested in having a one-on-one session with a faculty member, you must sign up for it in addition to registering for the conference. Attention! 15-minute one-on-ones limited to 5 per faculty member.



Join us for a final coffee, chance to chat or find your next new read at Treasure Trove's Mobile Bookstore. If you have a published book, you can join the other members at specially designated tables to sell your books*.

*Please note: neither SCBWI nor Treasure Trove can be responsible for any of your books or sales.


Monday, May 15, 2017

10:00 – 12:30 PEER CRITIQUE CAFÉ

The Peer Critique Café is the ideal moment to partner up with like-minded children's book makers to form critique groups. Whether you are an illustrator, writer of children’s books, middle grade or young adult, we will team you up with peers to discuss your work. Each group (PBs, MG + YA, illustrators) will be lead by a moderator, who will also discuss best critiquing practices.

The Peer Critique Café will take place at Le Wolf, Rue de la Violette 18, in central Brussels. If you wish to participate, please check the appropriate box during registration. You will be contacted by the coordinator in a separate email with further details.