Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Harvest: SCBWI Montana’s Fall Virtual Conference

Date(s) - 10/16/2021 - 10/17/2021
8:00 am - 7:45 pm

Join SCBWI Montana for an inspiring two day virtual writing conference. We’re helping you take those great ideas from our Spring “Bloom” Conference to “Harvest.”

We have a spectacular line-up of accomplished authors, agents, and publishers.

Montana’s very own Sneed B. Collard III will deliver the opening keynote address as well as a session on “The Pillars of Great Nonfiction.”

SCBWI member and award-winning author, Teresa Robeson, is presenting on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and Also the Not-So-Rich and Should-Be-Famous: Intro to Writing Biographies.” Everyone’s life is a fascinating story, but how can you tell if it’s a book-worthy one? And if you decide that it is, how do you go about writing it? In this session, Teresa Robeson will take you through the steps of turning the lives of inspirational people into picture books, graphic novels, or novels for MG/YA audiences. She will also discuss how to query agents or submit to editors once your manuscript is completed. Teresa Robeson ( is the APALA Picture Book Award-winning author of QUEEN OF PHYSICS: HOW WU CHIEN SHIUNG HELPED UNLOCK THE SECRETS OF THE ATOM (also an ILA Nonfiction Picture Book Honor and a NCTE Orbis Pictus Nonfiction Recommended Book). Other publications include TWO BICYCLES IN BEIJING and an essay in NONFICTION WRITERS DIG DEEP, edited by Melissa Stewart. Her upcoming works include a nonfiction poem in NO WORLD TOO BIG: YOUNG PEOPLE FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE edited by Bradley, Dawson, and Metcalf, two biographical graphic novels with Penguin Workshop, and an astronomy-themed picture book yet to be announced. She is a regular guest lecturer at Highlights Foundation.

Leah Henderson is the author of the middle grade novels The Magic in Changing Your Stars, a SCBWI Golden Kite Finalist and One Shadow on the Wall, a Bank Street Best book. Her picture books include A Day for Rememberin’, Together We March, and the forthcoming titles Daddy Speaks Love and Your Voice, Your Vote. Leah holds an MFA in Writing and is on faculty in Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing.  Leah will present on “All About the Middle: Writing Middle Grade.”

Elana K. Arnold is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning young adult novels and children’s books, including the Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Ofand Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat and its sequels. Several of her books are Junior Library Guild selections and have appeared on many best book lists, including the Amelia Bloomer Project, a catalog of feminist titles for young readers. Elana teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and lives in Southern California with her family and menagerie of pets. She is giving a session on “Symbolic Language.”

We’ll have a panel of SCBWI Montana writers offering their tips and advice in a session titled “Things I Wish I Would Have Known,” to help us with the joys and struggles of building careers in the creative arts, including Heide Boyden ( who began her writing career as a copywriter, and then owned a film production company penning everything from ad copy to short form documentaries in Southern California. Her picture book, The Jelly Boat Book, was published in 2001 (All About Kids Publishing). She has had numerous articles, essays, short stories and poems published for both the children’s and adult markets. Since moving to Montana, as an empty nester, she’s been enjoying the beauty of nature and working on picture books, YA and middle grade novels. She spends many happy hours photographing and writing for her blog: The Writer, Wonderer, Wanderer. LuAnn Rod is also a guest on the panel. Growing up on a dairy farm in Minnesota, LuAnn M. Rod had three loves: reading, writing, and horses. That hasn’t changed, except for the additions of a husband, son and daughter-in-law, one big cat, and three crazy dogs. Writing and being published has been a longtime dream and she’s thrilled to see her debut novel, “Maddie McDowell and the Rodeo Robbery” in print through Chicken Scratch Books. Now living in Montana under the great Big Sky she enjoys riding her Arabian horses across prairies and mountains, playing with her dogs (most recently tackling sheep herding with the littlest shepherd, Max), and sharing her stories with young readers and kindred dreamers. LuAnn earned her associate’s degree in animal health technology from the University of Minnesota and her bachelor’s degree in English literature through Montana State University. She worked twenty-five years in the newsroom at her local newspaper. Award-winnning Janet Fox, author of Carry Me Home and The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, is also a panelist and will share details of her path to publication (see more about Janet below). Jean Peterson is an award-winning author, freelance writer, and educator. The Big Sky Bounty Cookbook-Local Ingredients and Rustic Recipes, Arcadia Publishing and The History Press and Kind Soup, Little Lamb Books, and her columns in Western Ag Reporter and Raised in the West Magazine are amongst her celebrated books and publications. As a contributing author, Jean also recently released All God’s Creatures, A 60-Day Devotion for Animal Loving Kids, Little Lamb Books. She is excited to share her love for writing with Montana SCBWI.  Jean and her family live on a small farm near the Beartooth Mountains in southern Montana.

We have a panel of agents ready to talk about “Writing Catchy Queries.” Abigail Frank is an agent with Sanford J. Greenburger Literary. Abigail is passionate about stories for young people, especially those that are hilarious, poetic, quietly heartbreaking, and/or swoon-worthy, and she cares about voice, above all. She gravitates towards picture books that feel entirely original, chapter books with big personalities, and novels about unforgettable teens falling in love. She is committed to advocating for the work of authors and artists with historically marginalized identities, and she’s actively looking for stories that allow young readers to recognize themselves in the books they love. She is also looking for select adult projects, including narrative nonfiction (especially if it explores pop culture and/or is poetic in nature) and rom-com-y commercial fiction. Abigail graduated with a degree in English Literature from Swarthmore College and worked in healthcare before pursuing her passion for books. Find her mostly retweeting @abigailcrfrank. Rick Margolis worked for School Library Journal for nearly fifteen years, the world’s largest reviewer of books for young readers. As SLJ ’s executive editor, he had the pleasure of interviewing many remarkable children’s book creators, including Kate DiCamillo, Mo Willems, Katherine Paterson, Gene Yang, Rita Williams-Garcia, Markus Zusak, Rebecca Stead, and Jon Klassen. He launched Rising Bear Literary Agency, LLC, specializing in what he most loves: picture books, early- and middle-grade fiction, young adult literature, and adult novels with unforgettable teen characters. Rising Bear aims to help writers and illustrators do their best possible work, to pair them with the perfect publisher, and to see them develop long, rewarding careers. They are excited to work with people who are passionate about creating exceptional books—and who are ready to change the world, one fabulous title at a time. They offer a full range of services that include foreign, film, and merchandising rights in all forms of media. Rick’s clients include two-time Newbery Honor–winner Gary D. Schmidt, Caldecott Honor recipient Daniel Minter, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award–winner Kate Banks, and Society of Illustrators’ Original Art Gold Medalist Jennifer Yerkes, as well as many promising newcomers—and he’s especially wild about picture books and fiction for middle graders.
Sean McCarthy founded his own full-service literary agency in 2013 after working at Overlook Press and Sheldon Fogelman Agency. His clients include New York Times Bestseller Zachariah OHora, Hyewon Yum, Mark Fearing, Jamie A. Swenson, Dana Wulfekotte, Margaret Chiu Greanias, and Junghwa Park. Sean graduated from Macalester College with a degree in English-Creative Writing, and is grateful that he no longer has to spend his winters in Minnesota. He is drawn to flawed, multifaceted characters with devastatingly concise writing in YA, and character-driven stories or smartly paced mysteries and adventures in MG. In picture books, he looks more for unforgettable characters, off-beat humor, and especially clever endings. He is not currently interested in message-driven writing or query letters that pose too many questions.

Sandra Sutter of Little Gnome Press will present “Behind the Scenes: A Publisher’s View on the Submissions and Acquisitions Process.” You did it! Your query is sent and now rests in the cozy confines of a publisher’s submission inbox. You patiently wait. Then wait some more. Doubt creeps in. Was the query good? Did you forget something? Why is it taking so long to hear back from them? Listen in on one publisher’s perspective of the submissions and acquisitions process with specific tips and examples to help you increase your chances of finding the right publishing house for your story. Sandra Sutter is the owner of Gnome Road Publishing, where they seek stories with the “R” factor . . . Re-Readability! Sandra is also the author of The Real Farmer in the Dell and Stan’s Frightful Halloween (Spork). These experiences blend well with her past roles as an attorney and counselor to effectively work with creative talent. She shares insights on what it’s like behind the scenes to demystify the process for anxious authors and illustrators. Check the GRP website for wish lists and open submissions periods. Follow them on Twitter @gnomeroadpub.

 Erin Casey will give a session on “What to Ask on an Agent Call.” Erin has been at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency since 2015 when it was still Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, working her way up from intern to associate agent. She represents children’s literature and is particularly drawn to genre fiction – fantasy, magical realism, fabulism, and speculative specifically. She loves work that shows the author’s world- and character-building ability and wants to see authentic, thoughtful representations of all people so that every kid can find a book that speaks to them. If she’s going to read a contemporary story, it will probably have sports or animals or a mystery element, and it should reflect the diversity of our world. Erin loves dogs, ultimate frisbee, and Cheerios.


SCBWI Montana’s celebrated Janet Fox is delivering the closing keynote address. Janet is an author, mom, outdoor enthusiast, and former teacher. She’s been to the bottom of the ocean in a submersible, and had a brief fling with rock stardom. Her novels are written for children and young adults but have won her fans of all ages. Her newest middle grade novel, Carry Me Home, is out from Simon & Schuster in August 2021, and she has more books in the pipeline, including a picture book Wintergarden from Neal Porter Books in 2023. The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle (Viking 2016), which received a whole bunch of stars and the Crystal Kite Award, is a gothic middle grade historical fairy tale set in Scotland, and is followed by a sequel, The Artifact Hunters (Viking 2020). She lives in Bozeman, Montana and is repped by Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Find out more at

Sessions will be on Zoom and will be recorded and available for attendees to view until November 2, 2021.

Watch for more great presenters to be added to our website soon!

We’re offering a small number of live critiques with an agent or editor. Live critiques will be on Zoom on Sunday, October 17, 2021. To register for a live critique, select the box on the registration menu. *Cost is an additional $50 and all critique participants must also be registered for the conference. Manuscripts will need to be mailed to by September 1, 2021. No more than 10 pages of YA or MG or one PB manuscript.

Conference Registration Fees: $65 for SCBWI members. $85 for non-SCBWI.
Live Critique: $50  (plus conference registration fee)

**Please note that our region does not accept PayPal payments. All registration fees must be paid with debit or credit card.

The conference schedule, including Zoom links, will be emailed to all paid attendees, on October 15, 2021.