Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2020 SCBWI SoCal Writers and Illustrators Day ONLINE

Date(s) - 10/03/2020
8:00 am - 6:00 pm

2020 SCBWI SoCal Writers and Illustrators Day ONLINE

Fiction/Nonfiction Picture Book & Middle Grade & Young Adult

Online via the magic of ZOOM

October 3rd, 2020

As you write your novel, do you feel lost in the woods? Are you in need of a compass to guide you? Does your story need more adventure? Well, join us for our one day conference with guidance from professionals and fellow writers.


Linda Camacho, agent Gallt & Zacker Literary

Miranda Paul, agent Erin Murphy Literary

Stacia Deutsch, NY Times bestselling author

Sharon Langley, author A Ride to Remember

Jim Hoover, Art Director Penguin Random House


additional written critiques by

***Elizabeth Law, Backlist and Special Projects Editor Holiday House Publishing

***Kelly Van Sant, agent for KT Literary

PAYMENT INFORMATION: when you complete the registration process and accept the non harassment policy, it will take you to a payment choice. You MUST choose PAYPAL, but don’t worry! Once it takes you to PAYPAL, you will see you have the choice of paying with a credit card or debit card if you don’t wish to pay via Paypal. Do NOT choose any form of payment other than PAYPAL for this first step.

Faculty Bios

Linda Camacho, agent Gallt & Zacker Literary

Linda Camacho is an agent at Gallt & Zacker Literary. She moved over to agenting after holding various positions at Penguin Random House, Dorchester, Simon and Schuster, and Writers House. Linda is looking for MG, YA, and adult fiction across all genres (especially upmarket, women’s fiction/romance, and literary horror). She also has an MFA in creative writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and a short story in the upcoming anthology Every Body Shines by Cassandra Newbould.

Her Presentation:

Saggy Middle: How to Prevent a Saggy Middle by Getting to Know Your Character — When you wrote the opening of your manuscript, were you all fired up, only to have your energy flag when you approached the murky middle? Then when you’re in the thick of it, so many things are going on that you’ve lost sight of where your story was headed? If that’s the case, you need to work on getting to know your characters even better. Understanding your characters pave the way to understanding the plot possibilities ahead of you and I’ll give you tips on how to tap into their psyche.


Miranda Paul, agent Erin Murphy Literary

Miranda Paul holds a B.A. in English from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and has worked with students (and campers) in every grade from Pre-K through college. A co-founding member of the nonprofit organization We Need Diverse Books, Miranda currently serves as its Mentorship chairperson. Miranda occasionally makes faculty appearances at SCBWI conferences, The Writing Barn, and Highlights Foundation (Nuts and Bolts of STEM writing) and has presented at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center. In her other lives, Miranda has worked as a freelance writer and journalist, and is the award-winning author of more than a dozen picture books including One Plastic Bag, Water is Water, 10 Little Ninjas, I Am Farmer, Nine Months, and Little Libraries, Big Heroes. She has her sights on prolific writers and writer-illustrators who are able to craft geeky-yet-wildly-entertaining manuscripts that bring science to lay audiences, make her laugh out loud, or have a strong social justice bent; and novels, memoirs, or nonfiction that are philosophically and emotionally gripping. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, author Baptiste Paul, two children, four rescue cats, and a fluctuating number of gill-bearing aquatic animals.

Her Presentation:

Surviving the Slush Pile: Tips for Submitting Your Work

Stacia Deutsch, NY Times bestselling author

Stacia Deutsch has written more than 300 books. In addition to her award-winning creative chapter book series entitled BLAST TO THE PAST, Stacia has also ghostwritten for a popular girls’ mystery series, published non-fiction texts, and penned a young adult romantic comedy called IN THE STARS. She has also penned popular titles for GIRLS WHO CODE: THE FRIENDSHIP CODE and SPIRIT: RIDING FREE.

Additionally, Stacia has written junior movie tie-in novelizations for summer blockbuster films, including HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, the New York Times Best Seller: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS JR. MOVIE NOVEL, and THE SMURFS MOVIE NOVELS.

Her Presentation:

Through the Side Door: Alternative Pathways in Children’s Publishing

Sharon Langley, author A RIDE TO REMEMBER


Sharon Langley is a Baltimore native who became known as the first African American child to enjoy Gwynn Oak Amusement Park when it opened to the public without segregation on August 28, 1963.  A RIDE TO REMEMBER, co-authored with Amy Nathan and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, is her debut picture book. She is also a poet: her upcoming chapbook is a collection of poems written during the pandemic.   Her next book for children, FREEDOM SONGS TO SING ALONG, features social justice songs for young allies and activists. Sharon is a former elementary school teacher and literacy/intervention coach.

Her Presentation:

“You Gotta Have Friends”


Heather Montgomery, nonfiction author of sixteen books

Heather L. Montgomery writes for kids who are wild about animals. Since joining SCBWI, Heather has published 16 nonfiction books including: Bugs Don’t Hug: Six-Legged Parents and Their KidsWho Gives a Poop? Surprising Science from One End to the Other, and Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill. Heather is the PAL Coordinator for Southern Breeze SCBWI.

Her Presentation:

An overview of Nonfiction and what exciting things are being done in this field



 Elizabeth Law, Backlist and Special Projects Editor Holiday House Publishing
I worked at Viking Penguin, and at Penguin’s divisions Puffin Books and Frederick Warne & Co, for 18 years, leaving to become Associate Publisher of Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.  And in 2007 I left there and became the first publisher of Egmont USA.  At Egmont I got to help create a company from the ground up, which taught me, among other things, to think creatively about ways to get attention for books when you’re competing against other books’ huge marketing budgets.  From 2013-2017 I worked as a consultant, with writers and artists and people who just love children’s books as much as I do.  I’ve kept that work up as I took a role at Holiday House Books for Young Readers as their backlist and special projects editor. I continue to acquire and work on terrific books, including the recent debut title Itch by Polly Farquhar, which has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist.
 Kelly Van Sant, agent for KT Literary
 NOTE: CONTRARY TO WHAT THE KT LITERARY SITE SAYS, Kelly Van Sant is interested in FICTION both MG and YA. She is NOT interested in NONfiction.
Kelly has over a decade of experience in the publishing industry. She cut her teeth in New York working at esteemed literary agencies such as Writers House and Harold Ober Associates, where she developed an eye for compelling, emotionally resonant stories, honed her editorial skills, and soon grew adept at contract vetting. She quickly gained expertise in subsidiary rights management, with focuses on audio rights, foreign rights, and permissions.
After relocating to Minnesota, Kelly joined Llewellyn Worldwide as their Contracts Manager across all three imprints and then moved to Quarto Publishing Group USA where she led the contract department. She has worked as a freelance editor with various publishers and is a teaching artist at the Loft Literary Center. She also blogs about writing and the publishing industry at Pub(lishing) Crawl and co-hosts their weekly podcast. 
Kelly’s career came full circle when she realized that her true passion was advocating on behalf of authors. She is now an agent and contracts manager at KT Literary and actively building a client list.

Additional Instructions for Attendees Participating in a Written Critique, Portfolio Showcase, Portfolio Critique, First Pages Panel, Pages Contest:


Written Critiques: 

If you sign up for a written critique, please email 10 pages of your manuscript and one-page synopsis to  by Wednesday September 2nd, midnight. Your manuscript must be saved as a Word document (NOT pdf or Pages, etc.), double-spaced, Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and must have a header with your name and page numbers. In the email SUBJECT box, write GENRE (PB,MG, OR YA) CRITIQUER NAME YOU SIGNED UP FOR,  your FIRST LAST NAME.   The synopsis may be single-spaced, one-page, one-inch margins. TAKE NOTE: The critiquers are hoping to have the critiques back by Oct 3rd, but it is possible some of you will not receive the critique until up to a week AFTER the conference. This is to ensure you get quality feedback that is not rushed. If this is an issue, do NOT choose a written critique option. Deadline: Wednesday September 2nd, midnight.

Portfolio Showcase: 

Anyone signed up for the conference is eligible to participate in the portfolio showcase. Your portfolio must be ready to go by Monday, September 14th, midnight. If you are an SCBWI member, you can use your SCBWI member profile portfolio. Or, you can create a Tumblr page. To create a Tumblr page, watch the tutorial we created showing you step by step instructions, which include the theme we want you to use. Follow the links to the YouTube videos. How to use Tumblr to build your portfolio – & How to Create the Thumbnail Image – If participating in the showcase, please click here and fill out the form. Deadline: Monday, September 14th, midnight.

First Pages:

If you wish to participate in our first pages panel in which we read aloud your anonymous first page and the panel gives their off-the-cuff feedback, please submit to  with the same formatting as for the written critiques listed above. In the email SUBJECT box, write FIRST PAGES, GENRE (PB,MG, OR YA), your FIRST LAST NAME . Deadline : Sunday September 6th, midnight.

Portfolio Critique:

For those who signed up for Jim Hoover’s portfolio critique, send an email to Cynthia at  with the link to your online portfolio. In the email SUBJECT box, write PORTFOLIO, your FIRST LAST NAME. Deadline: Wednesday September 2nd, midnight.

Pages Contest:

To be judged by genre: one winner for Picture Book, one for Middle Grade, and one for Young Adult. Submit 5 pages max  if MG or YA, or the entire story if PB to    In the email SUBJECT box, write GENRE (PB,MG, OR YA), PAGES CONTEST, your FIRST LAST NAME. Follow the format guidelines listed in Written Critiques box above. For the document header for the actual pages, do NOT put your name. Only STORY TITLE, PAGE NUMBER. The judges need the pages to be anonymous. Deadline : Sunday September 6th, midnight.