Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

L.A. Writers Day 2021

Date(s) - 06/12/2021 - 06/13/2021
8:30 am - 3:15 pm

SCBWI-Los Angeles presents:
A Luminous Future Awaits – Virtual Writers Day 2021

Registration is closed

When: June 12th and June 13th, 2021
Where: Online

Experience a wealth of know-how and rediscover your enthusiasm with our fabulous line-up of presenters on Saturday, June 12th. Follow that with an optional Sunday one-on-one, ten-minute pitch with an agent of choice, June 13th.  Saturday’s sessions will be recorded to ensure each and every speaker can be viewed. Paid manuscript reviews are available but please note, these reviews will not be returned until after event day. Contest entries are now being accepted, deadline extended to May 10th. 

Please note the specific instructions below for the 3 different categories as each one is handled by a different volunteer team member:

Paid Manuscript Reviews
Contest Entries
Virtual Live One-On-One Agent Pitches

Saturday Schedule:
8:30 Registration & Zoom Room Social
9:00 Welcome and Announcements
9:15 – 10:15 Keynote Presentation with Primo Gallanosa and Marie Lu
10:15 – 10:30 Break
10:30 – 11:30 Breakout Session #1: Choose Rachel Orr or Sara Schonfeld
11:30 – 12:15 Brunch
12:15 – 1:15 Afternoon Presentation with Jessica Brody
1:15 – 1:30 Break
1:30 – 2:30 Breakout Session #2: Choose Mary Ann Fraser or Jorjeana Marie
2:30 Contest Winners and Wrap-Up Announcements
2:45ish – 3:15 Zoom Room Social

Sunday Schedule:
If you register for an Agent Pitch Session, you will be emailed a Zoom link and your 10-minute time slot.

Time slots for Dara Hyde, Hannah Vandals and Charlotte Wenger will be between 9:30am and 12:00pm.

Time slots for Lindsay Auld, Rachel Orr, Jen Rofe and Nephele Tempest will be between 1:00pm and 3:30pm.

Exact schedules are subject to change

– Saturday Conference: $50
– Saturday Conference and Sunday Agent Pitch Session: $100
(There is not an option to sign up for the Sunday Agent Pitch Session only.)
– Manuscript Review: $50

We are proud to support indie bookstore, Once Upon A Time.
Click here to browse our event book lists.
Keynote Presentation
Primo Gallanosa and Marie Lu
“Two Perspectives on the Creative Life”: A YA author and video-games-turned-picture-book creator talk about storytelling, creativity, what creates sparks, and what really drives them.
Afternoon Presentation

Jessica Brody
Why Do We Care? Creating Story-Worthy Heroes with Jessica Brody
Character is at the very center of your story’s universe. It’s the brilliant sun around which all other plot elements orbit. But what makes a character worthy of this important role? In this engaging, one-hour presentation, Jessica Brody, author of the #1 bestselling novel-writing guide, Save the Cat Writes a Novel, reveals the three essential building blocks of all story-worthy heroes and shows writers how to use them to successfully develop characters and plots that will leave readers riveted.

Breakout Session #1

While registering, choose one of the following live sessions to attend. All sessions will be recorded and available to watch at your leisure after the conference.

Rachel Orr
SEE ME! READ ME! LOVE ME! BUY ME!: Querying and pitching in today’s market
Have you polished up your manuscript? Are you getting ready to submit to agents after the conference? Rachel Orr of Prospect Agency will discuss the process of querying publishing professionals. She’ll cover query letters for all types of children’s book submissions, including picture books, novels, nonfiction and illustrations. She’ll show examples of query letters from her current clients—pointing out what caught her eye—and talk about what kind of information to avoid in query letters as well. Rachel will also speak about the difference between queries and pitches, and discuss the best time in your career to start the querying process.

Sara Schonfeld
How to “Connect”: Avoiding Common Rejections from Agents and Editors
What does it mean when an agent or editor says they didn’t “connect” to your work? How can you avoid this feedback, and what can you glean from these sorts of rejections? Covering general writing advice from character to voice, and specific tips and tricks like “The Day Before” and “The Pause Button”—and based on six years of experience in editorial at two major publishing houses and freelance editing unagented manuscripts—this talk will delve into ways to make sure your story is something readers can connect to!

Breakout Session #2

While registering, choose one of the following live sessions to attend. All sessions will be recorded and available to watch at your leisure after the conference.

Mary Ann Fraser
Promoting Your Book: Make it a Team Effort
Talk description: Virtual Book Promotion is here to stay, but the process can be overwhelming. The good news is there’s no need to go it alone. Instead, discover how to team up with other creatives to form a marketing group and learn about resources and tools that can best help you get the job done all while keeping your sanity.

Jorjeana Marie
You are an Idea Machine!
Harness the creative power of improvisation exercises that are guaranteed to ignite any writer’s idea machine! Learn tips and tricks on how to come up with ideas in a brand new way. Jorjeana will go over the laws of improv and offer prompts and games to bypass blocks. Get ready to come up with ideas, characters, setting, dialogue, etc. Learn secrets to help bypass writer’s block and generate infinite ideas. Leave feeling renewed and equipped with a new writer’s toolbox.

NOTE: This is not a performance class. We’ll be writing throughout, please bring pen/notebook or laptop.

Meet the Faculty!

Jessica Brody


Jessica Brody is the author of the #1 bestselling novel-writing guide, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel and the founder of the online writing school, Writing Mastery Academy. She has also written over 20 novels for teen, tweens, and adults including The Geography of Lost Things, The Chaos of Standing Still, A Week of Mondays, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, Better You Than Me, the Unremembered trilogy, and the System Divine series which is a sci-fi reimagining of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, co-written with Joanne Rendell. Her books have been translated and published in over 23 countries and several have been optioned for film and television. She lives with her husband and three dogs near Portland, OR.

Visit her online at:
Follow her on Twitter @JessicaBrody or Instagram @JessicaBrody.

Mary Ann Fraser


Author and illustrator Mary Ann Fraser makes books about the things she finds interesting—things like kid inventors, bizarre animals, shy yetis, paintings on walls, ice-fishing otters, and other neat stuff to do with nature, history, and the stuff that goes bump in her head at night. Sometimes people even give her awards for having all that fun. Who knew? She used to live in California where she could explore the redwoods and poke around tidepools. Now she lives in Idaho beside the Boise River with her husband and four box turtles. She also has three grown boys, collects marbles, books, and old ink bottles. To learn more visit

Primo Gallanosa


Primo Gallanosa is an author-illustrator. He graduated from CalArts with an animation degree and has worked in the mobile video game industry as an artist for over ten years. He’s now the Art Director and co-owner of an award-winning children’s app called Pocket Worlds. He wrote and illustrated his debut picture book Hey, Who Made This Mess with Penguin Random House and is currently illustrating a picture book written by Melissa de la Cruz, titled The Little Old Lady Who Ate Leftovers. When he’s not working on his stories and games, he loves to surf, kickbox, and most of all spending time with his amazing author wife, his super-genius toddler, and their adorable little chihuahua.

Marie Lu


Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Legend, The Young Elites, Warcross, and Skyhunter. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic) with her husband, author/illustrator Primo Gallanosa, their son, and their Chihuahua-monster mix.

Jorjeana Marie


Jorjeana Marie is a television writer on the forthcoming Disney show Mickey Mouse FunHouse, a nationally touring comedian opening for Richard Lewis, Kathleen Madigan and Louis Anderson and the author of Improv for Writers (Penguin Random House/Ten Speed Press 2019). She is an award-winning voice actress you may have heard on Nickelodeon or Disney and has narrated over 400 audiobooks.

Her desire to create work for herself led to becoming an award-winning playwright, creating and performing three one-woman shows in NY and LA: “Ally, MaryJane & Me”, “NY, I Love” and “JoJo and Friends” – a sold-out solo sketch show with animation, puppets and stand-up. She is currently working on her own comedy special (more puppets!), writing her next book and trying to keep crumbs off the countertop.

Sara Schonfeld

Speaker & Manuscript Reviewer

Sara Schonfeld joined Katherine Tegen Books in 2019 after starting her publishing career at Penguin Random House. Her list encompasses picture book, middle grade, and teen novels from authors including Alice Walker, Ally Malinenko, and Cristina Fernandez. Her favorite stories are uplifting and affirming for young readers and show the power of relationships, identity, and self. She also writes books for children and freelance edits. When she’s not reading (which is what she does most of the time!) she loves watching anything Marvel, kickboxing, or baking.

Rachel Orr

Speaker & Agent Pitch Session & Manuscript Reviewer

Rachel Orr is celebrating her fourteenth year at Prospect Agency, where she represents both authors and illustrators in projects ranging from board books through YA. She previously worked for eight rewarding years at HarperCollins Children’s Books and uses those editorial skills to help prepare her clients’ work for submission. Her clients include Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (Purrmaids/Penguin Random House), Cathy Carr (365 Days to Alaska/Abrams), Mike Ciccotello (Beach Toys vs. School Supplies/FSG), Samantha Clark (Arrow/S&S), Cori Doerrfeld (The Rabbit Listened/Dial) and Leeza Hernandez (Mia Mayhem/S&S). Rachel lives with her husband and two children in Hoboken, New Jersey, where she enjoys dancing, running—and reading, of course.

Lindsay Auld

Agent Pitch Session

Lindsay Auld is an agent at Writers House. She is based in Southern California, and is seeking books in the picture book, middle grade, and young adult categories, including illustrated and graphic novel submissions. She’s particularly drawn to mysteries, fantasy, historical fiction, friendship stories, romance, magical realism, adventure, and books with humor–light or dark or both.

Dara Hyde

Agent Pitch Session

Dara Hyde is a Senior Agent at the Hill Nadell Literary Agency in Los Angeles. While representing many types of fiction and nonfiction, her primary focus right now is on adult literary fiction, YA and MG, in both prose and graphic novel formats. She’s drawn to stories that examine social issues in unique ways, and voices that have been historically under-represented in publishing; stories that explore the bonds and complexities of both blood and chosen families; stories with crossover appeal, whether that’s YA/adult or blending genres in surprising ways. While she adores being hooked by a high concept and a clever premise, that creative vision also needs strong character development and an attention to every word. She finds imperfect characters more interesting than those that start off with all the answers, and wants to walk away from every book having learned something new. On the young reader side of her list, she works with award-winning and bestselling writers and illustrators such as: Angie Cruz, Justin Eisinger, Gene Ha, Jen Hickman, Soo Lee, Mariah McCourt, Matt Mendez, Jordan Morris, Amber Padilla, Samuel Sattin, and Lilah Sturges.

Twitter: @dzhyde @hillnadell

Instagram: @dzhyde @hillnadell


Jennifer Rofe

Agent Pitch Session

Overall, Jennifer seeks masterful writing, distinct voices and perspectives, and richly developed characters (if she is completely consumed by your characters, she will follow them anywhere). Middle grade has always been Jennifer’s soft spot and she’s open to all genres in this category – literary, commercial, contemporary, magical, fantastical, historical, and everything in between. She especially appreciates stories that make her both laugh and cry, and that offer an unexpected view into the pre-teen/teen experience. In picture books, she likes funny, character-driven projects; beautifully imagined and written stories; and milestone moments with a twist. She longs to have an emotional response to the ending of a picture book – be it a guffaw, hurrah!, or a heart-tug. In illustration, she seeks unique voices and perspectives that have a voice so strong that it’s immediately recognizable as belonging to the creator. You can follow her on Twitter @JenRofe.

Nephele Tempest

Agent Pitch Session

Nephele Tempest joined The Knight Agency in January, 2005, opening the Los Angeles-area office. As an agent, she loves to help her clients hone their skills and build their careers. Nephele initially worked on the editorial side of the publishing business before leaving to try other industries, including sales and finance. She spent a number of years at several major New York investment firms, first as a financial advisor and later a marketing and communications writer. This broad experience provided her with insight into multiple aspects of the publishing industry.

Nephele continues to actively build her client list and looks for fiction with both strong, well-developed characters and a story that pulls her in and won’t let go. She primarily represents women’s contemporary or historical fiction; contemporary, paranormal, and historical single-title romance; urban and secondary-world fantasy; and young adult and middle grade fiction of all sorts. She takes submissions in these genres on a rotating basis, so please check the current wish list for up-to-date details. More generally, Nephele always looks for work with diverse cultural influences, #ownvoices projects, and stories that inspire and/or make her think.

Hannah VanVels

Agent Pitch Session

Hannah VanVels is an agent with Belcastro Agency. Hannah has worked various bookish jobs including a stint as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble, a freelance editor for scholarly and academic essays and journals, and most recently as the acquiring editor at a young adult imprint with HarperCollins Publishing. Hannah loves working closely with authors and coming alongside them to make their vision come to life on page. She lives on Lake Michigan with her partner, two German Shepherds, and two cats.

Charlotte Wenger

Agent Pitch Session

Charlotte Wenger is a literary agent in the Boston area with Prospect Agency. Prior to joining Prospect, she was an associate editor at Page Street Kids. She has her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons College (now University) and serves on the national advisory board of the Mazza Museum, the world’s largest collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators. Charlotte is drawn to children’s literature and art for all ages—board books through YA, but especially picture books. You can find her on Twitter at @WilbursBF_Char.

Talia Benamy

Manuscript Reviewer

Talia Benamy is an associate editor at Philomel Books, where she focuses on everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels. She has worked on books by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, Sonia Sotomayor, Kamala Harris, Temple Grandin, Jane Yolen, Abigail “Astronaut Abby” Harrison, Julie Hedlund, and Dev Petty. She sees books as having the amazing power to shape the way kids see the world around them and their ability to impact it, and she looks for character-and voice-driven manuscripts that have the potential to do just that.

Sophia Jimenez

Manuscript Reviewer

Sophia Jimenez is an Associate Editor at Atheneum Books for Young Readers, a division of Simon & Schuster. She’s thrilled to be working with bestselling and award-winning authors including James Howe, Cynthia Levinson, and Beth Vrabel, and is acquiring picture books, middle grade, and YA. Across genres, Sophia loves voice-driven and character-driven books with tons of atmosphere, and always looks to spotlight marginalized perspectives. She’s drawn to stories about children of immigrants and bicultural families; fantasy and magical genre-benders inspired by non-Western traditions; and stories about little-known history, or better-known history told from underrepresented perspectives. And humor is always a plus!

Sophia previously worked at the Junior Library Guild, reviewing children’s books in English and Spanish, and in editorial at S&S’s adult flagship imprint, where she was fortunate to work on several New York Times bestsellers. She grew up in Austin, Texas, and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Denver Publishing Institute. Follow her on Twitter @SophiaJay42.

Eric Smith

Manuscript Reviewer

Eric Smith is a literary agent and Young Adult author living in Philadelphia. As an agent with P.S. Literary, he’s worked on New York Times bestselling and award-winning books. His latest novels include Don’t Read the Comments and the forthcoming You Can Go Your Own Way, both with Inkyard Press. You can get to know his taste and his list via his website,