Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

CenCal Writers’ Day 2015

Date(s) - 10/17/2015
9:00 am - 4:30 pm

California Lutheran University, Preus-Brandt Forum
60 W. Olsen Road - Thousand Oaks, CA 91360





October 17, 2015

9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 
Doors open at 8:00 a.m.

California Lutheran University,
Preus-Brandt Forum,
60 West Olson Road,
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360




JOHN CUSICK, Agent, Folio Literary Management
CELIA LEE, Associate Editor, Scholastic
KELLY DELANEY, Assistant Editor,
Random House, Alfred A. Knopf
BLUE SLIP MEDIA, Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy 


REBECCA LANGSTON-GEORGE, Author, For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's Story. (Capstone Young Readers)
JULIE DILLEMUTH, Author, Lucy in the City (Magination Press) 
ROBIN YARDI, Author, They Just Know, (Abordale Press)


$129 members, $149 non-members

(Lunch will not be included with registrations made after Thursday, October 8, 2015)


Free Writing Contest
This year we’re taking contest entries via email only. Up to two submissions are allowed, each in a different category. Fill out the Manuscript Submission Form and email it along with your entry as two attachments (one for the submission form and another for the manuscript with synopsis if applicable) to In the subject line give your last name and category (pb, mg, ya). If you are entering two manuscripts please send each one in a separate email and include a manuscript submission form for each. Please name your manuscript attachment with the manuscript title. Contest entries must be received by midnight September 7, 2015. NOTE: your name should only appear on the manuscript submission form.  Remove it from the manuscript before sending. Click here to see how to format a writing contest manuscript.

Writing Contests Categories

  • Picture Book – Send whole, double-spaced manuscript, 12-point type. No book dummies.
  • Middle Grade – Send up to 10 double-spaced pages, 12-point type, plus a 1-page single-spaced synopsis.
  • Young Adult – Send up to 10 double-spaced pages, 12-point type, plus a 1-page single-spaced synopsis.

NOTE: Regardless of whether your entry is fiction, non-fiction or poetry, decide which of the three categories it belongs in (pb, mg, ya). Judges reserve the right NOT to give awards in any category. You must be pre-registered and present to win. Contest manuscripts will not be returned. If you have questions about the contest please contact Rebecca at

FREE Illustrator Portfolio Showcase
Illustrators – You are invited to display a 16” x 20” vertical, self-standing “gallery” of your work. No handouts on the table. Brochures and “gallery” must be contained in same display. Bring it with you on Writers’ Day but be sure to indicate at time of registration that you intend to particpate.

Editors’ Panel and First Pages
Anonymous first pages will be randomly selected and read aloud to the audience, followed by comments from guest speakers. Bring FIVE copies of the opening page of ONE manuscript for our First Pages Panel (double-spaced, 12-point type, copy starts 1/3 down the page ) and paper clip them together. Identify the GENRE but DO NOT put your name on your entry.

NEW! Website First Looks
This year Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy of Blue Slip Media will be doing a randomly selected Website First Look Panel and offering their comments. To participate, send in one screen shot jpeg of your HOME page and one of your BIO page via email to no later than September 7, 2015. Be sure to put “Website First Look” in the email subject line. You must be registered to participate. Questions? Contact Mary Ann Fraser at:

Book Sale & Display
Conference speakers’ books will be for sale by Mrs. Figs Bookworm and there will be a book signing at the end of the day. SCBWI P.A.L. members are invited to bring their latest book to display.

Manuscript and Dummy Critiques
Our guest speakers & published reviewers are available to provide critiques of manuscripts and dummies. All children’s genres welcome.
Written manuscript and dummy critiques will be handed out at the end of the conference day. It is okay to submit a duplicate manuscript of one contest entry. Send full picture book manuscript, OR picture book dummy, OR up to 10 pages plus 1-page synopsis for all others.

The fee for a manuscript or dummy critique is $45 member, $60 non-member.
This offer is available only to registered Writers’ Day participants who attend the event and is limited to one critique per person.
Fill out the Manuscript Submission Form and attach it to the front of your entry. You will be assigned to either an editor, agent or published reviewer, depending on space available. Critique entries must be postmarked by September 7 or they will be disqualified. Do not send via registered mail or any method that requires a signature. If you have questions about critiques please contact Rebecca at

Mail all critique submissions to:
Rebecca Langston-George
Assistant Regional Advisor SCBWI Cen-Cal
5711 Pine Trail Drive
Bakersfield, CA  93313

Click here for Contest and Critique Frequently Asked Questions

Contest, Manuscript Critique, and Website First Looks Deadline: September 7

Questions? Contact Mary Ann Fraser at:
Due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday, the Cen-Cal Writers' Day CRITIQUE deadline has been extended one day. We will accept critiques postmarked by Tuesday 9/8/15.  This extension is for critiques only.  CONTEST entries are still due by 11:59pm Monday 9/7/15 since they are sent electronically.  If you have any questions about Writers' Day critiques or the contest please contact Rebecca at 

John Cusick is an agent for Folio Literary Management and represents picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels. He is also the author of GIRL PARTS and CHERRY MONEY BABY (Candlewick Press), as well as a regular speaker at writers conferences. His clients include New York Times bestselling author Tommy Wallach (WE ALL LOOKED UP, Simon & Schuster), Courtney Alameda (SHUTTER, Feiwel & Friends) and Hannah Moskowitz (A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD, Chronicle Books)


Celia Lee is an Associate Editor at Scholastic, where she has worked for the last seven years in both the Reading Clubs and Trade divisions. Currently she acquires and edits novelty, board, activity, picture books, readers, and illustrated early chapter books for Scholastic’s Cartwheel, Orchard, and Scholastic Press imprints. When she’s not gushing over the latest book she’s read, she likes to bike, hike, or learn about (but never master) the latest DIY trend. She is a graduate of NYU’s Masters in Publishing program and resides in Brooklyn, New York.


Kelly Delaney is an Assistant Editor at Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, where she acquires and edits picture books and middle grade and young adult novels. She's been at Random House Children's Books for five years, and in that time has been fortunate enough to work with many esteemed authors including R.J. Palacio, Markus Zusak, Christopher Paolini, Jeanne Birdsall, Jane Smiley, and Norton Juster, among others. She is always on the lookout for quirky humor, bright characters, and writers that don't underestimate their readers.


Blue Slip Media Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy were the associate directors of publicity for Harcourt Children’s Books for many years before starting their own children’s book publicity and marketing firm. They currently work on projects for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Two Lions/Amazon, and other publishers, as well as for individual authors including Kathi Appelt, Monica Brown, Laurie Thompson, and Lee Wardlaw. They work exclusively with children’s books and have over twenty years of experience marketing to reviewers, teachers, librarians, parents, kids, and booksellers. Well-versed in all aspects of the ever changing marketplace, they enjoy the challenge of helping books and authors find their best audiences.



Julie Dillemuth is a children’s author and spatial cognition geographer. Spatial cognition involves understanding how people think about space and navigate the world around them. As a member of SCBWI with a PhD in geography, Julie is passionate about filling an overlooked but important niche in the market: spatial thinking-themed picture books. She won the 2012 Highlights for Children Fiction Contest, and has published her work in Highlights and Odyssey magazines. Lucy in the City is her first picture book.



Rebecca Langston George is the author of picture book, For the Right to Learn Malala Yousafzai’s Story. Like Malala, Rebecca Langston-George believes “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” She’s penned six books for Capstone Press including Telling Tales, Choice Words: A Crash Course in Language Arts, A Primary Source History of the Dust Bowl, All Dolled Up and the forthcoming Orphan Trains. Rebecca also teaches and serves as Cen-Cal’s Assistant RA. 



Robin Yardi is the author of nonfiction picture books and absolutely-not-nonfiction middle grade novels. She loves animals of all sorts, homemade cakes, and kids. And, she thinks kids are way cooler than grownups, which is why she writes just for them. Visit her at




MRS FIGS BOOKWORM of Camarillo will be offering our presenters' books for sale throughout the day. Authors will be available to sign at the end of the day.