Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

May 1, 2021 MayFest Conference Schedule, Information and Registration

Date(s) - 05/01/2021
9:00 am - 5:45 pm

May 1, 2021 (Please Note this is the First Saturday in May, not our usual second Saturday)

9:00 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. (Pacific Time) Registration will close on Monday, April 26th at 8:00 p.m. (PT)

1) MayFest Conference Attendees getting critiques should have received their appointment Zoom link as of  Friday evening, 4/23/21. 

2) All MayFest attendees should have received the Zoom links for the: Friday Night Social, the Main room speakers, the afternoon Workshop they chose and the Wrap-up award announcements Wednesday, 4/28/21 by 8:00 p.m. (PT). 

3) If you do not receive the links, please contact ARA Debbie Snyder at no later than Thursday, 4/29/21 9:00 p.m. (PT).

4) Once MayFest activities begin on Friday, 4/30/21, all of the regional team will be unavailable to monitor email questions due to responsibilities to the event.

5) All of MayFest is going to be recorded and all registered attendees will receive the links to all of the recordings by the following Tuesday or Wednesday evening, May 4th or 5th and you will have 30 days to watch the recordings from the date they are emailed to you.

Our annual MayFest features an amazing faculty, agent’s and editor’s panels, four separate workshops and many opportunities for attendees to enjoy a one-on-one critique of their work. Add to that a MayFest Social on April 30 from 7-8:30 p.m. (all times are PST) and a popular year-end event is one you don’t want to miss.

Registration will open on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. for SCBWI members from any region (please remember to log in on the SCBWI page to be eligible for member sign up and pricing) and on Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. for non-members (all times PST). After registering, participants will select their critique faculty on Jan. 27 on a first-come-first-serve basis, so register early!

MayFest will be held on Zoom and be recorded so attendees will attend one breakout session live, but will be able to view a recording of all four workshops and two panels.

Everyone who wishes to attend MayFest will need to register for this event as there is a separate charge for the conference, and for the optional In-person Critique and the Portfolio Showcase.  PLEASE be careful to complete your payment when you register – If you do not and you are registering for a critique or to be in the Portfolio Showcase you will not be added onto the qualifying list until the day and time your payment is completed. 

This event has a multi-step registration (see bottom of page.)

MayFest Schedule (Pacific Time): 

MayFest Social

Friday, April 30 from 7-8 p.m. 

This is an opportunity for attendees to be randomly put in break-out rooms and enjoy time talking about creating works for children and perhaps engaging in a fun ice-breaker activity. While we can’t meet in person, we can still get together online in smaller groups and make connections!

Saturday, May 1

9:00-9:15 a.m. Welcome

9:15-10:15 a.m. Keynote 

10:15-10:25 Break

10:25-11:25 a.m. Editor Panel

11:25-11:35 a.m. Break

11:35 a.m.-12:35 p.m. Agent Panel

12:35-1: 45 p.m. Lunch and Showcase Slideshow

 2-4 p.m. Four Break out sessions

4:15-5:15 p.m. Winners announced (Portfolio Showcase and Critique), thank you to Faculty and Introduction of Volunteers

MayFest Zoom Conference Speakers:

Keynote: Brian Lies, author & illustrator – Topic: Just Keep Paddling:  I’ve stayed afloat for 30 years in children’s publishing. . . and so canoe!

Over three decades of navigating the waters of children’s books and magazines, 2019 Caldecott Honoree and two-time Crystal Kite winner Brian Lies has learned a lot about tricky currents, hidden rocks, and charting your own course to get to your destination.  He’ll discuss some of his key learnings about how words and pictures work together or apart, finding a unique creative voice, and not tipping over your own canoe during the journey.

Editor Panel: Megan Ilnitzki, Editor, HarperCollins Children’s Books

                             Andrea Welch, Editor, Beach Lane Press

                             Esther Cajahuaringa, Associate Editor, Little, Brown and Company, Books for Young Readers

Agent Panel: Erin Casey, Agent, Gallt & Zacker

                            Karen Grencik, Agent, Red Fox Literary

                            Paige Terlip, Associate Agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency

Four Breakout Sessions: MayFest will be recorded. Each participant will attend one breakout session live, but will be able to VIEW a recording of all the workshops and panels.

  • 4 Minutes of Fame Pitching session with Megan Ilnitzki, Editor, HarperCollins Children’s Books. Give a 2-minute pitch to an editor and receive 2 minutes of feedback from the editor to help you fine-tune your pitch.
  • How to Craft a Page Turning Picture Book with Ellice Lee, Associate Art Director of Philomel Books, which is an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. Participants will learn how to revise their picture book idea or manuscript in this hands-on workshop.
  • How to Research, Write, and Sell Non-Fiction  Writing & Selling Nonfiction Children’s Books 101 – with award winning author, Meeg Pincus – She will guide you through the basics of writing and selling kidlit nonfiction. She’ll explain the difference between the two markets for children’s nonfiction books and how to start writing and submitting in either or both. Be ready to write during short exercises designed to help you take first steps into this in-demand genre.
  • MG/YA: Where the Market is Today and How to Stand Out with Linda Camacho, Agent, Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency – Young adult and middle grade literature have undergone quite the evolution over the last several decades. In the latest golden age of the category, we’ll evaluate what defines YA and MG, the past and current trends, and discuss how to make your work stand out in today’s saturated market.

MayFest Optional Opportunities:

Judged Portfolio Showcase ($10 option)Sarah Baker, Associate Executive Director of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Ellice Lee, Associate Art Director of Philomel Books.

Art Slideshow during lunch

     For more information and directions about entering the Showcase and to participate in the Art Slideshow during lunchclick here

Certificates for best manuscript from each critique faculty

     For more information and directions about getting a critique, whether it’s a manuscript or art, click here 

Certificates for best portfolios

Optional: 15-Minute Zoom Critiques with editors, agents, authors, illustrators, and industry professionals. Please check the website, click here to ensure you select a faculty who accepts your genre and you are able to attend the dates and times they will be available for critiques. We have 173 critique spots available! Each person will be able to purchase ONE critique. If we have additional critiques available, we will email attendees. Those interested will be able to purchase a limited number of second critiques.

AS OF FEB. 2 ALL CRITIQUE SLOTS ARE FULL Critique Dates and Times (Pacific Time): (Each faculty person will be available on one or more of these dates, but not all of the dates. To verify each persons genres and times, and for Manuscript and Portfolio submission guidelines and timelines click here)

Tuesday, April 27  from  3-5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 27  from  7-9:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 28 from 3-5:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, April 28  from  7-9:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 29 from 3-5:30 p.m. 

Sunday, May 2 from  Noon-2:30 p.m. 

Sunday, May 2 from 3-5 p.m.

Critique Submission Timeline All times are PST (For Manuscript, Portfolio, PB Dummy and single Illustrations submission guidelines click here)

Jan. 25 by 7 p.m. Participants will receive an email with their time (between 7-9 p.m.) on Jan. 27 to select their critique faculty on the Google spreadsheet. 

Jan. 27 from 7-9 p.m.: Participants select their ONE critique faculty and ONE critique date and time. (Once they have selected their faculty, date, and time, the administrator will hide that selection from view.)

March 27 by 7 p.m.: Participants receive a link to their Google Folder. 

March 29 by 7 p.m.: Participants upload their manuscript no later than 7 p.m.

March 30 by 7 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.

April 1 by 7 p.m.: Faculty will receive the manuscripts.

April 25 by midnight: Faculty will upload the Gold Critique Forms.


On Jan. 27 we will send to those who are on the in-person critique list a “Pick Your Critique Person and Time” sign-up sheet. You will receive it on a first-come, first-serve basis determined by when your on-line payment completed.  On Jan. 25 we will send you your time slot so you can watch for your opportunity to pick your critique person and time. 

To see a condensed list of what each person is willing to critique and the times they will be available to do critiques, click here

We have an amazing MayFest critique faculty of editors, agents, an art director, award winning author/illustrator and an SCBWI executive board member. We can’t’ promise everyone they will be able to select the critique who is their first choice. However, all of the faculty have been highly recommended for their insightful critiques. Additionally, participants will receive submissions guidelines enabling them to submit to the critique faculty, most of whom are closed to unagented authors/illustrators.

In the past, Regional Team members carefully placed each manuscript with a critique faculty. For the second year in a row, participants are able to select their faculty. Please help us continue to offer this wonderful opportunity by understanding that in accordance to the no refund policy on our website, we are unable to offer a refund to people whose preferred critique faculty times were already taken.


MayFest Faculty:

  Sarah Baker, 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 member benefits for illustrator members and art directs the website and all SCBWI publications. She works closely with the regional Illustrator Coordinators, and is acting representative for SCBWI on the Authors Coalition of America. Before coming to the SCBWI, 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 the Hudson Valley, NY, with her husband, two young daughters, and an adorable dog.

Sarah’s Critique preferences: Portfolio, PB Dummy, PB

  Esther Cajahuaringa is an associate editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. As a former educator and non-profit organizer, Esther draws upon her experiences working directly with kids when thinking about today’s readers. She’s had the pleasure of working with Joe Cepeda, Deborah Underwood, Jyoti Rajan Gopal, Rhode Montijo, Andrea Tsurumi, Marc Brown, and Mo Willems to name a few creators. She’s avidly seeking picture books and graphic novels. She loves stories where young readers are introduced to characters and protagonists who are unequivocally themselves and are entertained while discovering new truths about themselves and the communities they inhabit. She has her master’s degree in Curriculum & Teaching with an emphasis in literacy from Teachers College, Columbia University. Originally from Southern California, she’s made the East Coast home for the last seven years. Esther is a daughter of immigrant parents and truly believes in the power of storytelling, because it changed her world.

Esther will not be doing critiques for MayFest

  Linda Camacho, Agent, Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency. 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.

Linda’s Critique preferences: PB, PB Bio, MG, YA, Graphic Novel, SF, Fantasy, Dummy

  Erin Casey, Agent, Gallt & Zacker. She graduated from Hamilton College with a B.A. in Creative Writing and an ever-growing list of books to read. She is open to all kid lit age groups, from picture books through YA, and is particularly drawn to work that shows the author’s world- and character-building ability. She also wants to see authentic, thoughtful representations of all people so that every kid can find a book that speaks to them. When she walks into a bookstore, she always starts in the SFF section, then takes a peek at MG adventure, graphic novels, and YA contemporary sports books before finally sitting in the picture book section reading as many new releases as possible before she has to leave.

Erin’s Critique Preferences: Board book, PB, PB Biography, Rhyming PB, Chapter Book, MG, Non-Fiction, YA, Graphic Novel, Novel in Verse, SF, Fantasy, Dummy, Poetry, Portfolio


  Heather Crowley, Assistant Editor, Disney-Hyperion.  She previously worked on the School & Library Marketing team. She’s always on the lookout for distinctively voiced, character-driven stories and is especially drawn to lyrical picture books that beg to be read aloud, narrative nonfiction with a fresh perspective, and humor of any kind. Some of the gifted creators she has worked with include Lorena Alvarez, Lily Anderson, Matthew Cordell, Kallie George, Ryan T. Higgins, Julie Leung, Doreen Rappaport, and Riley Redgate. Heather grew up in California and now lives in New York, where she walks slowly through museums, hunts for secret gardens, and watches The Great British Bake Off on repeat. Find her on Twitter @heatherecrowley.

Heather’s Critique Preferences: Board Book, Picture Book, Picture Book Biography, Rhyming Picture Book, Chapter Book, Middle Grade (including fantasy or science fiction), Dummy, and Poetry


 Sylvie Frank, Senior Editor,  Paula Wiseman Books, a boutique imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division. She is the editor of award-winning and critically acclaimed books including Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo; I Have a Balloon by Ariel Bernstein, illustrated by Scott Magoon; The Power of Her Pen by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by John Parra; The Crossroads by Alexandra Diaz; and OCDaniel by Wesley King. Since joining Paula Wiseman Books in 2013, Sylvie has been on the prowl for kid-focused, snappy picture books and literary, character-driven middle grade. She is drawn to original and diverse voices across all genres. One of her favorite pastimes is browsing agents’ and illustrators’ websites for new talent. When she’s not reading, Sylvie can be found running while listening to audiobooks.

Sylvie’s Critique Preferences: PB, PB Bio, Rhyming PB, PB Dummy

  Karen Grencik, Agent, Red Fox Literary – Karen Grencik became a literary agent because of a man she admired. She wanted the world to know his story, so she set out to make that happen. In 2001 she accomplished her goal when Double Luck, Memoirs of a Chinese Orphan, written by Lu Chi Fa with Becky White, was published by Holiday House. Double Luck received many awards, including The Parents’ Choice Gold Award for Best Nonfiction. Karen’s next sale, George Hogglesberry, Grade School Alien, written by Sarah Wilson, was acquired by a brand new editor, Abigail Samoun, at Tricycle Press. George Hogglesberry went on to win the coveted Golden Kite Award for Best Picture Book Text. Many other award-winning titles followed. In June 2011 Karen joined forces with Abigail Samoun to open Red Fox Literary, LLC, a boutique agency that specializes in children’s books for all ages and genres. She focuses primarily on narrative nonfiction and Own Voices picture books, and she loves matchmaking authors and their manuscripts with just the right editors in order to create the magic that is at the heart of children’s books.

Karen’s Critique preference: PB of All Types

 Adria Goetz, Literary Agent with Seattle-based Martin Literary & Media Management, specializing in picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction, as well as gift books and devotionals. She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis, as well as the Columbia Publishing Course. In 2019, she was selected as a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree. She was recently proud to represent Taste Your Words by Bonnie Clark, The Ugly Doodles by Valeria Wicker, The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho, and No Ordinary Thing by G.Z. Schmidt. Adria lives in an old Victorian farmhouse with her husband Alex and their two darling cats, Maple and Mulberry. To learn more about Adria and what she is (and isn’t) looking for, check out her wish list at com, and her agency’s website She tweets at @adriamgoetz.

Adria’s Critique Preferences: PB, PB Bio, Rhyming PB, MG, Graphic Novel, Novel in Verse, Portfolio, Dummy.

  Megan Ilnitzki, Editor, HarperCollins Children’s Books. She edits picture books through young adult titles, with an emphasis in middle grade. She is looking for character-driven picture books, commercial middle grade fantasy, and voice-driven contemporary middle grade and teen fiction. Across all age levels, she’s particularly drawn to joyful, magical and inclusive stories from diverse voices. Her list includes Caroline Carlson, Alysa Wishingrad, M.O. Yuksel, Jason June, Rochelle Hassan, Jacquetta Nammar Feldman, Samantha Berger, Breanna Carzoo, and more. She also works on programs for Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, and C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, and is part of the team for Soman Chainani’s New York Times bestselling School for Good and Evil series.

Megan’s Critique Preferences: PB, Rhyming PB, MG, YA, SF, Fantasy, Portfolio and PB Dummy

  Ellice Lee, Associate Art Director of Philomel Books, which is an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. Ellice joined the team in 2017. She holds a BA in Sociology from UCLA and a BFA from Art Center College of Design. Ellice has worked with award-winning talent including Alexandra Boiger, Rafael Lopez, Loren Long, Le Uyen Pham, Christian Robinson, Kadir Nelson, Ed Young, and Floyd Cooper. Titles she has worked on have appeared on the New York Times best-seller lists (most recently, Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor and She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton), featured in New York magazine, TIME magazine and have won Caldecott honors, Coretta Scott King awards, as well as being a finalist for the National Book Award. Ellice loves working with talent who have a compelling story to share—from the political to the social to the inane.

Ellice’s Critique Preferences: Art for the following: Board Book, All Types of PB, Chapter Book, MG, YA, NF, Graphic Novel, Novel in Verse, Portfolio and Book Dummy

  Tiffany Liao, Senior Editor, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. Previously, she worked as an Associate Editor at Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House. A Bay Area native, Tiffany now resides in Brooklyn where she continues to pine for a good avocado. She (mostly) tweets about bookish things at @tiff_liao.

Tiffany’s Critique Preferences: PB, PB Bio, Riming PB, MG, YA, Non-Fiction, Graphic Novel, Novel in Verse, Poetry, SF, Fantasy

  Brian Lies, author & illustrator. Children’s book author/illustrator. Brian Lies has created over thirty children’s books, including his 2019 Caldecott Honor book, The Rough Patch, the New York Times bestselling bat books (Bats at the Beach, Bats at the Library, Bats at the Ballgame and Bats in the Band), and many more.  He has three new books coming out in 2021 and 2022. His work has been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, named as a top ten book of the year by Time/CNN, and read aloud on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday by Scott Simon and Daniel Pinkwater. In addition to his children’s books, he has worked with children’s magazines, and has done educational market work, and political illustration for newspapers. A graduate of Brown University, Brian attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, focusing on drawing and painting. He spends part of the school year traveling throughout the United States to work with students and encourage them in their goals.  He lives with his family in Duxbury, Massachusetts. A longtime member of SCBWI, he loves the generosity of the children’s book community, and its openness to sharing information and mentoring.

Brian’s Critique Preferences: Board Book, PB, PB Bio, Rhyming PB, Non-fiction, Graphic Novel, Portfolio, dummy, poetry

  Paige Terlip, Associate Agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She represents all categories of children’s books from picture books to young adult, as well as select adult fiction and nonfiction. She is also actively building her list of illustrators and is especially looking for author-illustrators and graphic novel illustrators. Across age categories, Paige is drawn to high concept novels with captivating hooks, snarky characters with hearts of gold, creative magic systems, complicated relationships, and found families. She loves well-plotted twists, being a little bit scared, and stories that explore the fluidity of gender and bring queer experiences to light. Regardless of genre, she is seeking inclusive, intersectional voices and gorgeous line-level writing with emotionally compelling narratives. On the adult side she is open to thrillers/psychological suspense, fantasy/sci-fi, upmarket fiction, cozy mysteries, as well as narrative nonfiction and self-help that centers the mind, body, and spirit. She loves stories that make her feel a range of emotions, even if that means she ugly cries while reading. She wants a narrative that will stick with her long after reading. Prior to becoming an Associate Agent, Paige was a Senior Assistant for Executive Agent Laura Rennert, and has been with ABLA for over three years. She comes to agenting with a background in marketing, design, and freelance editorial. She’s worked at Charlesbridge Publishing, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and a ranch in the Rockies. She has an MA in Children’s Literature and an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. If she’s not reading, you’ll find her practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, re-watching the Great British Baking Show, or hiking with her Husky-Shepherd mix. You can find her on Twitter @pterlip and Instagram @pterlip.

New faculty member, just added on Jan. 28.

Paige’s Critique Preferences: All PB’s, GN, Author-Illustrators, MG and YA


  Andrea Welch, Executive Editor at Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. She has the pleasure of working with a long list of wonderful authors and illustrators, including Liz Garton Scanlon, Ashley Wolff, and April Pulley Sayre. Books she has edited include What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? by Chris Barton, illustrated by Ekua Holmes; 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 by Keith Baker.

Andrea’s Critique Preference:  Board book, PB, PB Biography, Rhyming PB, Dummy, Poetry

Workshop Faculty 

  How to Research, Write, and Sell Non-Fiction – Meeg Pincus is the author of 25 nonfiction picture books about “solutionaries” helping people, animals, and the planet—including the award-winning, Kirkus starred-reviewed Winged Wonders and Miep and the Most Famous Diary; 2021 releases Cougar Crossing (a Junior Library Guild selection) and Ocean Soup; and the Itty Bitty Bios series. Meeg is a long-time nonfiction writer/editor, educator, diverse books advocate (see her blog:, and a San Diegan. Learn more at

  How to Craft a Page Turning Picture Book – Ellice Lee, Associate Art Director of Philomel Books, which is an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group (See her bio above)

  4 Minutes of Fame Pitching session with Megan Ilnitzki, Editor, HarperCollins Children’s Books (See her bio above)

  MG/YA: Where the Market is Today and How to Stand Out with Linda Camacho, Agent, Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency (See her bio above)


Registration will open Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. Pacific Time for SCBWI Members from all regions. Registration will be open to Non-Members on Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. Pacific Time.

MayFest 2021:

Member with a Season Ticket – $65

Member without a Season Ticket – $70

Non-Member with a Season Ticket – $80

Non-member without a Season Ticket – $90

Critique is an additional fee:  (You must be registered for MayFest to sign up for a critique.)

Member with a Season Ticket – $65

Member without a Season Ticket – $70

Non-Member with a Season Ticket – $75

Non-member without a Season Ticket – $80

Critique Dates and Times (PST): (Which faculty will be available when has yet to be determined)

Tuesday, April 27 from 3-5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 27 from 7-9:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 28 from 3-5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 28 from 7-9:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 2 from Noon-2:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 2 from 3-5 p.m.



Everyone will need to register for this event as there is a separate charge for the conference. It is a multi-step registration.

After you do the first two steps the options for a critique and/or to enter the Portfolio Showcase will open.

The first steps in the registration: (You must do the first two steps to open up the Critique and Portfolio Showcase options)

1) Click on which MayFest enrollment you qualify for (EX: Member with a Season Ticket)

2) Next you will need to pick one of the four workshops (Ex: 4 Minutes of Fame Pitching session) to attend live the day of the conference. (But don’t worry, all the workshops will be recorded for everyone to see for two weeks after the conference.)

After you have done the first two steps there will be two optional additions (previously grayed out) that you can choose for an additional fee:

3) To enter Portfolio Showcase.

4) To receive a critique for one of the following – writing, illustrations, PB Dummy or a full Portfolio.

PLEASE be careful to complete your payment when you register – If you do not and you are registering for a critique or to be in the Portfolio Showcase you will not be added onto the qualifying list until the day and time your payment is completed. 

Any questions contact Debbie Snyder at


If you are not a member of SCBWI and would like to join go to  Our Season Ticket is separate and does not cover joining SCBWI.