Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2020 MayFest Day Long Conference Updated for On-line Event

Date(s) - 05/08/2020 - 05/09/2020
8:30 am - 5:15 pm

This page will be updated with May 8, 2021 information as soon as it is all finalized, check back closer to the event.

URGENT ALL MAYFEST ATTENDEES: 5/6/20 You should have already received emails with the MayFest event Link, an important link to a Zoom training on Thursday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m. and your Workshop link. If you also signed up for a critique, the Portfolio Showcase or the slideshow you should have received separate emails with the links for these. If you have not PLEASE check your Spam or Junk folder for them and if they are not there contact Debbie Snyder at


Conference Etiquette
1. Please mute your microphone when you enter the conference.

2. Type your questions in the chat box.

3. If the host asks for verbal questions, raise your hand. When called upon, lower your raised hand, unmute your microphone, ask your question, After your question has been answered, mute your microphone.

Please understand that we can not help with Technology during the event.  If you are not familiar with Zoom be sure to attend the training meeting being held by your workshop host. They will email the link, day and time to all participants. The training will include what to expect during your critique appointment.

Due to the Coronavirus concerns, its affects on travel and mandated Social Distancing, MayFest will be done as a webinar(s). We intend to have all of the elements listed below with some changes. These changes will affect the submission of manuscripts, art and portfolios for critique and the showcase. Once all the adjustments have been finalized we will update here. Until then please be patient with us.  Thank you.

Annual MayFest Event, May 9, 2020, will be on-line this year from  9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Registration for MayFest, Workshops and Critiques is open. This event has a separate fee, see registration below. Please read and follow the updated Critique Submission Guidelines by clicking here As of 4/23 there are a few critique spots open with Sarah Baker, Priscilla Burris, Steve Mooser, Deborah Halverson and Patricia Nelson.

New Critique Schedule for Late Sign-ups with one of the following: Sarah Baker, Priscilla Burris, Steve Mooser, Deborah Halverson and Patricia Nelson.

April 30th by 7p.m.: Participants upload their files no later than 7 p.m.
April 30 by 11 p.m.: Participants receive an email confirming their file was uploaded. If the file was not uploaded, they will receive an email asking them to resubmit immediately.

San Diego SCBWI MayFest will be held in Zoom meetings and features:  One-on-one Critiques,
keynote with Matt De La Peña, editor and agent panels, two-hour craft workshops, portfolio
showcase, and awards. Participants pick their critique faculty on a first come, first served basis,
so sign up early.

To view the chapter’s refund policy, that has a recent temporary update, click here.

Please note that you will receive a different Zoom link for each MayFest event (critiques, conference, and workshop.)

Critiques-If you paid for a critique, you will receive a Zoom Critique link for each critique by Wednesday, May 6 by 6 p.m.

MayFest Conference will be held in a Zoom Conference meeting from 9-1:45 and 4:15-5 p.m. You will receive Zoom MayFest Conference link on Friday, May 8 by 8 p.m.

Zoom Workshop Link-Workshops will be held from 2-4 p.m. To go to your workshop, you will leave the MayFest Conference Zoom meeting by 1:45 and click on the Zoom Workshop link.

MayFest Schedule

Friday, May8
11 a.m.-3 p.m. Critiques (All times in PST) Use: Zoom Critique Link 

Saturday, May 9, 2020 (All times in PST)
Use: Zoom Conference Meeting Link

8-8:50 a.m. Critiques with Kayla VernonClark

9 a.m. Welcome

9:15-10:15 a.m. Keynote by Matt De La Peña

10:25-11:25 a.m. Industry panel with Kayla Vernon Clark, Andrea Welch, Megan Abbate, & Matt De La Peña

11:35 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Agent Panel with Nicole Geiger, Thao Le, Natalie Lakosil & Patricia Nelson

12:40-1:00 p.m. Meet the Workshop Faculty

12:40-1:50 p.m. Critiques with Kayla VernonClark & Thao Le

1-2 p.m. Lunch & Showcase Slideshow

Use: Zoom Workshop Meeting Link
2-4:00 p.m. Workshops with Megan Abbate, Kathy Bostrom, Laura Taylor Namey, & Andrea Zimmerman

4:15-5:00 p.m. Awards & Thank you to faculty and volunteers.
Please click on the Zoom Conference Meeting Link at 4:15 so that we can give our thanks and present the awards.


When you register you need to choose a workshop* for the afternoon. Then you can choose one (only one) of the optional add-ons for an additional fee of $60.00: 1) A one-on-one critique (author, illustrator or author/illustrator) OR 2) An entry into the Portfolio Showcase which includes a one-on-one consultation.

*(Workshops will be recorded so participants will attend one workshop live, but will be able
to watch all 4 recordings.)

Additional (Optional) Fees:

One-on-One Critique $60: Please read and follow the updated Critique Submission Guidelines by clicking here
● Ten minute Zoom Critique
● SCBWI Critique Gold Form with written notes
● Attendees select their critique faculty in order of registration.
● Awards for most promising work.
Illustrator Showcase $60. Fee includes (Showcase & One-on-One Critique):
● Juried Showcase: Awards for most promising work.
● Showcase Slideshow: A slideshow containing 1 art slide per illustrator will run during the
lunch break allowing the faculty and participants to view and leave chat comments.
● One-on-one Critique: Illustrators may submit a portfolio, dummy, promotional postcards,
graphic novel, or a manuscript (with or without art samples). (See additional notes

IMPORTANT: Please read each faculty’s critique guidelines stating what they will and will not read before making your selection. If a participant does not follow the critique guidelines, that manuscript will be placed with an appropriate faculty by the SCBWI regional team.

With this change, we are hoping to recruit four more faculty, probably from New York. For that reason, we have pushed back the deadline to submit as follows:

April 20: Faculty Guidelines posted on the website and emailed to those registered (Be sure to check your junk or spam email file if you haven’t received expected email). Click here to see list of critique preferences.
April 22: Participants receive a link to select critique faculty. (Again, be sure to check your junk or spam email file if you haven’t received an expected email)
April 23: Dropbox links emailed to participants. (And again, be sure to check your junk or spam email file if you haven’t received an expected email) 
April 24: Dropbox links emailed to critique faculty.

Participants will be allowed to pick on a first-come, first-serve basis. Be sure to watch for your e-mail regarding your time for choosing.

Please read and follow the updated Critique Submission Guidelines by clicking here

Portfolio Showcase We are excited to announce the first MayFest Juried Portfolio Showcase for an additional fee of $60.00 that will include a one-on-one consultation. Portfolios will be judged by three industry professionals. During the Showcase viewing, portfolios will be displayed for editors, agents, and attendees. Certificates will be awarded to the top portfolios. In addition, each illustrator will receive a one-on-one portfolio consultation. The showcase is a wonderful opportunity for you to get feedback on your work. Spaces are limited. Please read and follow the Portfolio Showcase directions by clicking here. Until then refer to the changes listed under Critiques. You will need to print a copy of the Portfolio Release form here to submit with your portfolio. 

Portfolio Showcase and Lunch Slideshow Timeline All times are (PST)
April 30 by noon: Portfolio Showcase Dropbox and Lunch Slideshow links emailed to participants.
April 30 by 7 p.m.: Participants upload their files no later than 7 p.m.
April 30 by 8 p.m.: Participants receive an email confirming their file was uploaded. If the file was not uploaded, they will receive an email asking them to resubmit immediately.

All the Workshops Are From 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. So You Can Only Attend One (If a workshop has low enrollment we reserve the right to cancel and/or change the topic.)

  1. The World Within: Building Captivating Characters in Middle Grade and Young Adult  with Laura Taylor Namey, author of The Library of Lost Things. Do you want to create characters that editors and agents will say “leap off the page?” Through guided teaching, examples, discussion, and a writing activity, attendees will learn tips and tricks for designing unique characters by applying some of the methods fantasy authors use in creating unique worlds. Attendees should bring: A notebook or paper for note taking, pens or pencils.
  2. Dummies Aren’t Just for Illustrators with Andrea Zimmerman, author/illustrator . When writing picture books one of the most helpful and least used tools is a dummy. In this hands-on workshop participants will use a story they have written to create a dummy as a tool to visualize their work as a finished book, evaluate it, and find ways to improve it. Supplies Participants Should Bring: To prepare, please have these supplies close by:
    Two copies of a double-spaced picture book manuscript, Pencil, Scissors, Scotch tape. Please make the blank dummy ahead of time using: Sixteen sheets of white typing paper, Two sheets of colored typing paper for the cover (if you don’t have any colored paper handy just use white for the cover) To put the dummy together, staple all 18 sheets together in landscape orientation. Number the white pages 1-32 (in other words, excluding the cover)      
  3. Workshop on The ABC’s of Writing Poetry for Children with Kathy Bostrom, author of 50+ books. Learn the basic building blocks of writing poetry: diction, tone, voice, line, stanza, rhythm, punctuation. We’ll explore some well-known poems for children and dissect what makes them work. There will also be interactive exercises to work on poems that don’t work. If you’d like to submit a poem for consideration to share in the workshop, email Kathy Bostrom at No guarantee, but we will try to include a few poems to workshop together!
    Also, if you have questions prior to the workshop or want to be sure a specific question of yours is addressed, just email Kathy.
  4. Pitching – Four Minutes of Fame with Megan Abbate. Participants have two minutes to pitch
    their story idea and receive two minutes of feedback to help them “perfect” their pitch. Attendees
    should have: a pitch, query letter, or synopsis they can read in two minutes. (limited to 25 attendees)

The conference will wrap up at 4:00 p.m. in the main room where we will announce winners of the Portfolio Showcase and Critique Honorable Mentions, and attendees will be able to thank the faculty and chapter volunteers.


 Matt de la Pena, award winning author

Matt will critique Board Books, PB, Rhyming PB, NF PB, PB Bios, MG, YA, Upper Grade NF, Novels in Verse


 Megan Abbate is an Assistant Editor for Roaring Book Press, where she acquires across all categories for children. She is most drawn to classic, timeless voices in stories grounded by fresh contemporary hooks, as well as books that build empathy. As a former teacher, she is always interested in books that can connect to school curriculum in interesting ways and books that could make for great classroom read-alouds. Books she’s edited include HOW NOT TO ASK A BOY TO PROM, THE PRETTIEST, BEN BRAVER AND THE VORTEX OF DOOM, and I’M NOT A GIRL, among others. Originally from Pittsburgh, she is a huge sports fan and also a theater lover.

Megan (Critique spots full) will critique PB, NF PB, MG (no high fantasy – magical realism OK), YA (realistic contemporary only), Upper Grade NF, PB Dummy, Manuscript with art samples and Graphic Novels


  Kayla VernonClark is an editor for Kane Miller Books, as well as a member of the marketing team. She is committed to the company’s mission of bringing perspectives the world over into the hands of children.

Kayla (Critique spots full) will critique PB, NF PB, Chapter book, MG, YA, Fantasy, SF and Historical Fiction


Andrea Welch Executive Editor, Beach Lane Books, a San Diego-based imprint of Simon & Schuster. She has the pleasure of working with a long list of wonderful authors and illustrators, including Liz Garton Scanlon, Denise Fleming, April Pulley Sayre, and Ekua Holmes. Recent celebrated books she has edited include Life by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel; The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Terry & Eric Fan; and the New York Times bestselling LMNO Peas series.

Andrea (Critique spots full) will critique exclusively picture books and PB Dummies.


  Nicole Geiger has spent her career making books and is thrilled to take the next step as a literary agent with the Full Circle Literary team!  She has 30 years of experience in publishing and has worked in just about every capacity in the industry. As an agent, she is focusing on both fiction and nonfiction in board books, picture books, young chapter books, and middle grade. Nicole’s Wish List: Authors & Author/Illustrators: Engaging and idiosyncratic nonfiction, both prescriptive and descriptive: Is there something new under the sun, or maybe just a new way to present it? How do you plan to change the world? Graphic bios intrigue me, still.

Nicole (Critique spots full) will critique fiction and nonfiction in board books, PB and PB Dummies through middle grade, but No YA. 

  Thao Le is a literary agent at the Dijkstra Agency since 2011. She represents KidLit (i.e. picture books and graphic novels by author-illustrators, Middle Grade fiction, and Young Adult across genres) as well as Science-Fiction/Fantasy and select Romance for adults. In general, she loves beautiful literary writing with a commercial hook and tight plotting. She is actively seeking underrepresented voices (including, but not limited to, all ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental and physical health, and socioeconomic status) to her client list. Her authors include various NYT bestselling and Indie bestselling authors such as Roshani Chokshi, Sandhya Menon, Emily Duncan, Jessie Sima, and more.

Thao (Critiques spots full) will critique PB, PB Dummy, MG, YA, Fantasy and SF

  Natalie Lakosil is an agent at Bradford Literary Agency. Her specialties are all ages (PB, chapter book, MG, YA) of children’s literature, both fiction and nonfiction, adult cozy mystery/crime, female-driven thrillers, and upmarket women’s/general fiction. She also represents illustrators and select adult nonfiction. She likes historical (primarily 1800s-1920s), multi-cultural, own voice representation, magical realism, LGBTQ, strong female leads, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, and horror. In picture books, she likes short-texted (500 words or less), emotionally-resonant, quirky or character-driven. She likes softer, lyrical bedtime books that are beautifully written, humor, strong voices, strong characters, and texts with fun, clever and unexpected twists at the end. She looks for unique perspectives and fresh ideas in nonfiction, STEAM topics, feminist, social issues, and nonfiction featuring under-represented voices.

Natalie (Critique spots full) will critique Board Books, PB, Rhyming PB, NF PB, PB Bios, PB Dummy, Portfolio, Manuscript with art samples, Graphic Novels, Chapter book, MG, YA, Fantasy, SF, Upper Grade NF and Historical Fiction

  Patricia Nelson is a literary agent with Marsal Lyon Literary Agency representing all genres of young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as women’s fiction and romance. Her clients include bestselling and award-winning authors, and her recent children’s sales include books placed with Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Bloomsbury, and Candlewick, among others. She holds master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California and has previously taught literature and writing at the college level.

Patricia (Critique spots open) will critique MG, YA, Fantasy, SF, Historical Fiction and Novels in Verse


  Deborah Halverson is the award-winning author of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies and Writing New Adult Fiction, the teen novels Big Mouth and Honk If You Hate Me, the picture book Letters to Santa, and three books in the Remix series for struggling readers. Formerly an editor at Harcourt Children’s Books and now a freelancer specializing in Young Adult/Middle Grade fiction, New Adult fiction, and picture books, Deborah has been working with authors—bestsellers, veterans, debut, and aspiring—for almost twenty-five years. She is also the founder of the popular writers’ advice site and serves on the advisory board for the UC San Diego Extension “Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating” certificate program. Twitter: @Dear_Editor; Insta: DearEditorDotCom, DeborahHalversonBooks; Facebook: DearEditorcom, DeborahHalverson

Deborah (Critique spots open) will critique PB, Rhyming PB, NF PB, PB Bios, Chapter Books, MG, YA, SF, Upper Grade NF, Historical Fiction, Novels in Verse 

  Steve Mooser is the co-founder of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, having begun the organization with Lin Oliver in 1971. As President Emeritus he continues to edit the SCBWI Bulletin and consults on SCBWI programs and initiatives. He holds a Bachelor degree in film and a Master degree in Journalism both from UCLA, has published over 60 children’s books, and is the recipient of The Eric Carle Mentor Award, The Southern California Children’s Literature Council Dorothy McKenzie Award and the Christopher Medal for The New York Kids Book. He is a frequent speaker at domestic and International Conferences on issues related to children’s literature, and in particular the digital revolution and what it means for the future of children’s books.

Steve (Critique spots open) will critique Board Books, PB, Rhyming PB, NF PB, PB Bios, Chapter book and MG


  Sarah Baker is the Associate Executive Director of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In addition to guiding the organization with executive director, Lin Oliver, Sarah runs all programs and benefits for illustrator members, and art directs all SCBWI publications. Before coming to the SCBWI eight years ago, Sarah designed children’s books at Penguin Young Readers Group. She graduated from UCSB with a focus in fine art, and currently lives, illustrates, and throws pottery in sunny Los Angeles with her husband and two young daughters.

Sarah (Critique spots open) will critique Board Books, PB, Rhyming PB, NF PB, PB Bios, PB Dummy, Portfolio, Art samples, MG?YA Cover Art and Illustrated Chapter book and MG

  Priscilla Burris is an author/illustrator and serves the SCBWI as the
U.S. Illustrator Coordinator & Advisor, and Portfolio Showcase Director for the International Conferences, winter and summer. She is on the Board of Advisors for the SCBWI.
Priscilla is the illustrator for the Heidi Heckelbeck, Henry Heckelbeck, and the Humphrey’s Tiny Tales series. Recent books include Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music by Michael Genhart, 1-2-3 My Feelings and Me by Goldie Millar and Lisa Berger, Natsumi! by Susan Lendroth, and Hello School!, which she wrote and illustrated. Sabrina Sue will be her first book in a new Ready-to-Read series for beginning readers, coming in Summer 2021.

Priscilla (Critique spots open) will critique Board Books, PB, Rhyming PB, Chapter Books, PB Dummy, Portfolio, Manuscript with Art samples, Art samples, Illustrator Postcards


  Laura Taylor Namey, author The Library of Lost Things. Laura is a Cuban-American Californian who can be found haunting her favorite coffee shops, drooling over leather jackets, and wishing she was in London or Paris. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two superstar children. This former teacher writes young adult novels about quirky teens learning to navigate life and love. Her debut, THE LIBRARY OF LOST THINGS published October 2019 from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins. Her #ownvoices sophomore project, A CUBAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO TEA AND TOMORROW is coming October 6, 2020 from Atheneum Simon and Schuster.

  Andrea Zimmerman, PB author and educator. She loves creating picture books, both as a writer and as an illustrator. Her many titles include TRASHY TOWN, ALL BUCKLED UP, and the DIGGER MAN series of books. She often works together with her husband, David Clemesha, to develop the stories and pictures into fiction, nonfiction, and concept books for young children.

  Kathy Bostrom, author and pastor. Her books (50+) have sold over two million copies. Her Little Blessings series is printed in 20 languages, including Russian, Indonesian, and Afrikaans. Stories from the Bible is also published in many languages, the most recent being Korean. Kathy is past president of the Presbyterian Writers Guild. She is also a member of the Author’s Guild, PEN, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, San Diego chapter.