Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

KSMO SCBWI Middle of the Map Annual Conference

Date(s) - 11/03/2022 - 11/06/2022
12:00 am


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The recording links, submission info, and survey were sent out on Wednesday Nov. 9th. If you believe you haven’t received it, please look in your promotions and/or spam folders.

The subject line of the email was “*RECORDINGS, SUBMISSION INFO, & EVENT SURVEY* for KSMO SCBWI MOTM Conference”

You can use this to search your email. Please do this prior to contacting us.

Thank you!

Our wonderful conference artwork created by our own Jessica Blackburn!

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE PORTFOLIO IN THE ONLINE PORTFOLIO SHOWCASE!! (must be a registered conference attendee or faculty to vote) All votes due by Midnight November 5th.


Please help us celebrate our Regional Talent! Here are our members who were published in 2022!

Thursday, November 3, 2022 by 5:00 pm CT 

   Spread the Word Contest  


Registration is now closed! Those who have signed up for our MOTM conference should have received each webinar link through your personal email on Nov. 3rd. If you do not believe you have, please email us as–but please check your spam first. Looking forward to seeing you all!



This year we are offering a series of webinars. All are included for one great price! Every webinar will be on Saturday, Nov. 5th and be recorded and available through Thursday, January 5, 2023 to registered participants. Recording links will be sent out in an email at one time on or after Monday, Nov. 7.



  Please Note: All times are Central Time (CT). Time frames and descriptions below are approximate and subject to change.
Nov. 3rd 6-8 pm Thursday Socials

(Free for all KSMO SCBWI members but you must sign up!)

Nov. 4th 7-9 pm Friday Night Critiques: If you purchase a critique, the zoom portion will be scheduled for Friday night (these will not be rescheduled, so if you want the zoom portion of your critique, you must be available to log in to zoom Friday, Nov. 4 between 7-9 pm.) 
Nov. 5th   Saturday Schedule:
  9-9:15 am Welcome
  9:15-10:15 am Industry Panel
  10:30-12:00  90 minute breakout (4 sessions)
  12:00-1:00 pm Lunch
  1:00-2:00 pm First Pages (3 sessions: PB, Novel, Illustrators)
  2:15-3:15 pm KSMO PAL author and an illustrator presentations (2 sessions, 60 minute)
  3:30-4:30 pm 60 minute breakout (4 sessions)
  4:45-5:15 pm Keynote: Karly Dizon of Fuse Literary
Nov. 6th 9-11 am Sunday Peer Round Tables
  . Get feedback from your peers on your writing/illustration at the round table critiques! Depending on the number of participants, each “table” will consist of approximately 4-6 people. “Tables” will be organized according to genre, PB, MG, YA, Non-fiction, and illustrations. Manuscripts/illustrations will be sent ahead of time for your review. Then share your feedback with those at your “table”. Picture Book manuscripts should be no longer than 700 words. Novels should be the first 10 pages. No additional fees required.
    More Detailed look at Saturday Nov. 5th Schedule
  9-9:15 am Welcome
  9:15-10:15 Industry Panel:

Join us to hear the latest ins and outs from our industry experts! During this panel they will answer some of the questions that were submitted.

    Alexandra Aceves (Editor: Holiday House)
    Eve Adler (Agent: Red Fox Literary)
    Jemiscoe Chambers Black (Agent: Andrea Brown)
    Catherine Laudone (Editor: Paula Wiseman/S&S)
    Maria Middleton (Art Director: Candlewick)
    We want to know what you want to know! Click this link to send us your questions for the industry panel by November 3, 2022
  10:30-12:00 90 minute Breakout
  Alexandra Aceves (Editor-Holiday House) Character Counts: Tips for Writing a Compelling Protagonist 

Memorable MCs tend to stay with us long after we’ve finished a book. They feel like best friends (or mortal enemies); they inspire mood boards and playlists; they send us off in search of internet quizzes that will tell us how much we resemble them. And acquiring editors are on the lookout for manuscripts with protagonists who will spark these emotional responses. In this session, we’ll talk about some lovable MCs from YA and MG fiction and look at how their creators use voice, description, and subtext to bring them to life. The session will end with a fun and collaborative characterization exercise. To participate, please bring a short (1-2 paragraph) description of your YA or MG protagonist, and, on a separate page, three short excerpts from your manuscript that you feel best exemplify this character. This session is suitable for writers currently working on a MG or YA manuscript. 

  Eve Adler:  (Agent: Red Fox Literary) Finding your writing voice

You’ve probably heard from editors and agents that voice is the most important aspect of your writing. But what is voice? Voice establishes the tone of your story, tells the reader what kind of personality your narrator has, and gives a feeling of time and place. How does one find the right voice, and make it come across effectively? In this workshop, we will demystify the process through critiques and exercises, and you will be supplied with a plethora of advice to take on your voice-finding journey.

  Jemiscoe Chambers- Black: (Agent: Andrea Brown) Shiny first pages to snag an agent and agenting 101: First sentences, chapters, pages, and why they are so important, not just at the query level, but period! AND What does an agent do, not do, and how to choose the best creator-agent partnership.
  Maria Middleton (Art Director: Candlewick) The Art of Illustrated Jackets

Illustrators will receive a comprehensive framework for conceptualizing strong illustrated covers for picture books and middle-grade fiction

  • How to use the anatomy of a book to maximize its potential
  • The interaction of typography and art
  • The impact of white space
  • How to turn on the flow of ideas
  • And crafting a pitch perfect narrative for your intended audience
  1:00-2:00 First Pages: 

Come join industry professionals for a first-pages read!! A moderator will read aloud the first page from anonymous submissions from the audience. Our professionals will be asked to provide comments on these pages and answer the ultimate question, would they want to keep reading?

For our illustrators we have a first impressions session. Industry professionals will comment on work submitted anonymously and answer the ultimate question, would they want to see more?

*** First Pages submission should be emailed by October 14th to:   (PB & Novels)   (Illustrations)


* Please put “First Pages” in email’s Subject Line and whether it’s a pb, novel, or illustration. For example, “First Pages_PB”


Come join industry professionals for a first-pages read!! A moderator will read aloud the first page from anonymous submissions from the audience. Our professionals will be asked to provide comments on these pages and answer the ultimate question, would they want to keep reading?


For our illustrators we have a first impressions session. Industry professionals will comment on work submitted anonymously and answer the ultimate question, would they want to see more?


Submission Instructions:


PB and Novels: Times New Roman, 12 pt, double spaced. up to 250 words, please finish sentence.


Illustrations: 1. Submit a pdf portfolio of no more that 10 images (6MB or less total) labeled with your name (eg: sam_doe_portfolio)

OR  up to ten (10) numbered jpg images (eg: sam_doe_1.jpg……… sam_doe_10.jpg)  (6MB or less total)

OR a pb dummy of no more than 6MB pdf (no page limit) and labeled with your name and dummy (eg: sam_doe_dummy.PDF)..

  1. The illustrations must be original, created by you.

Please know not all submissions will be read due to time and those read will be chosen at random. Thank you!

  PB Agent: Eve Adler (Agent: Red Fox Literary)
    Editor: Catherine Laudone (Paula Wiseman S&S) 
  Novel Agent: Jemiscoe Chambers Black
    Agent: Karly Dizon (Fuse Literary) 
  Illustrator Illustrator agent: Lillian Mazeika (Tugeau2)
    Art Director: Maria Middleton (Candlewick)
  2:15-3:15 60 Minute Creator session
  Lindsay Metcalf Write Like a Journalist: Drawing from her years of experience as a newspaper reporter, editor, and columnist, Lindsay H. Metcalf shares tips and tricks for approaching children’s nonfiction through a journalist’s lens, including how to track down sources; how to prep for and conduct interviews; how to hook a distracted audience; and how to earn readers’ trust in a critical time for information literacy. We’ll focus on nonfiction, but there will be many takeaways for fiction writers who strive for accuracy and authenticity.
  Violet Lemay Find Your Illustrator Voice:

  • Find your unique style while simultaneously keeping up with current trends.
  • Drawing style vs. medium—which defines your illustration style?
  • Find variety within your style.
  • Use social media to experiment, find inspiration, and get work.
  • Tailor samples to a particular client.
  • Different looks for different age groups.
  3:30-4:30 pm 60 Minute Breakout
  Alexandra Aceves (Editor-Holiday House) Is Verse Worse?: Why Editors Advise against Writing in Rhyme (And How to Do It Anyway) 

It’s not uncommon to see some variation of “NO RHYMING PICTURE BOOKS” among editors’ submission guidelines or on their manuscript wish lists. And yet, numerous rhyming picture books are published every year. So, what’s the deal? In this session, attendees will hear an editor’s perspective on what makes rhyming picture book manuscripts difficult to acquire. And, since every rule has an exception, we’ll look at some outstanding rhyming picture books and talk about how they make the verse format work.  

  Karly Dizon (Agent: Fuse)  

Raising the Stakes
In order to see our characters at their best, we must put them through their worst. This session will discuss how raising the stakes for your protagonist will keep the readers invested not only in the character but glued to the pages.
  Catherine Laudone (Editor-Paula Wiseman/S&S) Let’s Go for a Ride: Discovering Tools for Building and Dispelling Tension in Picture Books:

Everyone has a favorite ride. Some love fast roller coasters while others prefer gentler ones. But what do all of these rides have in common? They have moments of building tension with climbs or unexpected turns, and moments of releasing that tension with dips or more turns. And we, the riders, get to experience all these thrilling ups and downs and turnarounds from the safety of our seats. The same experience can be recreated in picture books, too. Building and releasing tension in stories allow young readers to go on a fun ride within the pages of a book, all from the safety of their schools, libraries, and homes. In this interactive breakout session, we’ll look at how writers can use refrains, page turns, humor, and emotional touchstones as tools for building and dispelling tension in picture books and ultimately creating a satisfying reading experience. Whether you are new to writing picture books or a veteran, I invite you: let’s go for a ride—and explore these craft tools together!

  Lillian Mazeika (Illustrator Agent -Tugeau2) What to submit to an agent to make your work stand out

This talk would be geared towards illustrators ready to submit their portfolio to agencies. We will go over how to know if you are ready for an agent, not just in terms of ability but in terms of becoming a working artist. I will speak to finding an agency that is right for you. Next, I will discuss how to set up your portfolio for submission (what to include, what not to include, what pieces will stand out). This will also be a place where I will discuss what makes a robust portfolio. Then, we will discuss what to put in a query letter and what not to put in a query letter. Finally, we will discuss the outcomes of querying in terms of how to deal with rejection and keep moving forward. Or, on a more positive note, what questions to ask a potential agent and how to know if they are a good fit for you.

  4:45-5:15 KEYNOTE
  . Writing is an accomplishment in its own right, but finding the motivation, keeping the passion, and continuing to practice your craft during the pandemic makes you a badass. 
    Karly Dizon (Fuse Agency)




****SUBMISSIONS CLOSED**** Take part in FREE ONLINE PORTFOLIO SHOWCASE! The Portfolio Showcase offers illustrators a chance to display their work to faculty and conference attendees. Portfolios will be on display online during the KS/MO Middle of the Map Fall Conference, November 3-6, 2022.  They will be open for viewing by all conference attendees and faculty. Portfolios in the Showcase are eligible to win a $30 art supply gift certificate, and will be judged by all conference attendees.

Each illustrator who submits will get their own space in our online showcase. In this space, three images that will appear under your name and there will be a link to your personal gallery or website. More information here



Come join us for a few munchies and some kidlit chit-chat two days before the conference!

(No conference registration required, but please click here to register for the social of your choice so we know who to email). 

Most socials will be between the times of 6-8 pm. Specifics will be sent to you closer to the event. All are subject to cancellation if unforeseen circumstances present, so please keep an eye on your email for any updates.


LocationsCape Girardeau area, Kansas City Area, Springfield Area, St. Louis Area, Wichita Area, and an Online Social.



Early Bird registration opens Monday, August 22, at 7 p.m. and closes Monday, September 5, at 11:59 pm Central Standard Time. Regular registration will begin September 6th. Make sure to sign up early and get the early bird price!


Registration closes Thursday, Nov. 3rd 11:59 pm. Webinars will be recorded and available until Thursday, Jan. 5, 2022 to registered attendees. SCBWI members receive a discounted price for registration.




Early Bird Member price (Aug 22-Sept. 5th): $ 45

Member price (Sept. 6-Nov. 3): $ 60

Non-Member Price: $100

Manuscript Critiques/ Portfolio Reviews (Due by Sept. 25th in order to give faculty time to give feedback) : $75



Please click here to visit our faculty page for bios. 



Critiques and Portfolio review submissions are due by Sept. 25th! Cost is $75 and includes a filled out Gold form and a 10 minute zoom with faculty member of your choice. Prices have increased due to SCBWI HQ specified minimums (this takes a lot of time for faculty to do and we must pay them for their time and talent or they will decline participating. Thank you for your understanding!)


Please note: You are only allowed one critique.  FIRST COME FIRST SERVE! If the critique opportunity isn’t showing up after you’ve selected the critique option, that faculty member’s critiques are sold out.

When signing up for a critique, you must click the faculty person & then also the ticket with the price for it to show up in your cart!


When critiques are SOLD OUT, they will be listed here:

*Maria Middleton, art director at Candlewick is not offering portfolio reviews.

* Eve Adler, agent at Red Fox Literary

*Catherine Laudone, Editor at Paula Wiseman/S&S

*Jemiscoe Chambers-Black, agent at Andrea Brown Literary

*Karly Dizon, agent at Fuse Literary


Manuscripts and portfolios are due Sunday, September 25th by 5 pm. You will receive written feedback a couple of days in advance of your Zoom meeting so that you can read over the comments and come prepared with any additional questions. Zoom meetings will be scheduled Friday, November 4th between 7-9 pm CST.


Please click HERE for instructions on how to submit your manuscript/portfolio.


Make sure you check the box at the bottom of the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy prior to continuing, or you will be booted back to this page.




You will receive an email with instructions for accessing the conference by the evening of Friday Nov. 4th. There is a new version of Zoom, please update your browser prior to Saturday Nov. 5th.  If you have any questions about this webinar or registration, please contact the Kansas/Missouri Regional team at

We do not have enough volunteers to troubleshoot technical difficulties on each individual’s connection. But please remember, sessions are recorded and will be available through Jan. 5th, 2023 if you miss a live event.


Congratulations to our 2022 Scholarship winners who have won free admission to this online conference! 


Promising Picture Book Scholarship – Devyn Douvier


Novel Scholarship – Paul Ullom-Minnich


Illustration Scholarship – Bernadette Lamb 


Middle of the Map Cover Art Contest Winner – Jessica Blackburn


If you are not on this list, and have not won a scholarship in the past, but are a KSMO SCBWI member, please consider entering next year!



Don’t miss out on the opportunity to win a free mentorship with our faculty author and local PAL member, Lindsay Metcalf known for her non-fiction picture books including Beatrix Potter, Scientist, Farmers Unite!, Planting a Protest for Fair Prices, and No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History! The 2023 KSMO Writer’s Mentorship will focus on Non-fiction manuscripts.  Applications will be accepted Nov. 6-Dec. 4. Winner will be announced in January 2023! Check out details here.



Don’t miss out on the opportunity to win a free mentorship with our 2023 KSMO Illustrator Mentor, Violet Lemay! Known for her books Let’s Be Friends, Healthy Healthy Love Love Love, and Babies Around the World.   Applications will be accepted Nov. 6-Dec. 4. Winner will be announced in January 2023! Check out the details here.



Online Conference Bookstore 




Conference attendees are allowed to submit one manuscript (or query for agents) to faculty members following the conference if your work fits the editor’s or agent’s guidelines. Note that Paula Wiseman is usually closed to unsolicited submissions but will accept a submission from conference attendees. Specific submission guidelines for each faculty member will be provided in an email to attendees following the event.



If you have questions not covered in the conference information included on this website, email