Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Our Own Backyard

Date(s) - 01/11/2020
9:00 am - 3:30 pm

Redwood Building
1001 Anderson Road - Davis, California 95616

Kick-off the New Year with us as we launch our brand-new annual event, Our Own Backyard!

(Registration ENDS December 31, 2019 at 11:59 pm.)

Every January one or more local PAL members (living in “Our Own Backyard”) will be invited to speak, teach, or participate on a panel. For our first event in 2020, our “Paths to Publication” panelists will consist of Lisa Schmid, Joanna Rowland, and Stephanie Garber, who will discuss their individual journey as writers, how SCBWI helped them, and offer their best advice, including a Q&A and book sales. In addition, the panelists will offer a limited number of written critiques.


9:00 am – (Optional) New Member Chat and Publishing Orientation with the Regional Team: Co-Regional Advisors Nikki Shannon Smith and Kristen Schwartz, and Assistant Regional Advisor, Shirley Espada Richey –

10:00 am – “Paths to Publication” Panel

11:00 am – Q&A/Book Sales

12:00 pm – Lunch Break on your own

1:30 pm-3:30 pm – (Optional) Self-guided Critique Carousel


Lisa Schmid

Lisa Schmid is the author of debut middle grade, Ollie Oxley and the Ghost, released this year. Lisa is a stay-at-home mom, pug wrangler, and serves as the Social Media Coordinator for our region. When she is not scaring up ghostly adventures, she is most likely scaring up fun with her husband and son. She lives in Folsom, California, home of the 1849 Gold Rush. Learn more about Lisa and her book at



Joanna Rowland is the award-winning author of The Memory Box: A Book About Grief; Stay Through The Storm (2019); Always Mom; Forever Dad; and Monstructor. Joanna is an elementary school teacher by day and a writer by night. Joanna is also the Membership Coordinator for our region. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Northern California. Learn more about Joanna and her books at



Stephanie Garber

Stephanie Garber is the #1 New York Times and #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of Caraval, Legendary, and Finale. When she’s not writing, she teaches Creative Writing at a private college in Northern California. She loves Disneyland because it’s the one place on earth where she feels as if the fantastical stories she loves to write about could actually come to life. Learn more about her and her books at



Event Cost: $20 (members), $35 (non-members)

Optional: Written Critiques by the Panelists (members only):  $50

Registration Deadline: With paid critique – December 1, 2019 at 11:59pm; Without paid critique – December 31, 2019 at 11:59 pm.

Critique Information: Critiques are an optional add-on to the event and cost $50. You will have the opportunity to add a critique during the registration process. Critiques sell out fast, so register early! (Critique submission deadline is December 7, 2019.)

Two optional, free add-ons include:

  • A New Member Chat and Publishing Orientation session led by our Regional Team. If you’re new to SCBWI or are not sure how to get the most out of your membership, this session is for you!


  • Those registrants who wish to participate in our self-guided Critique Carousel will reconvene after lunch. Just bring your work the day of the event. Find out more about Critique Carousel and how it works here: 



All submissions must be sent electronically, via email. To submit a manuscript for critique, please follow the directions below: 

1. Register and select the critique option. Choose either Picture Book critique with Joanna Rowland or Middle-Grade critique with Lisa Schmid.

2. Manuscripts are due by 11:59 pm PST on December 7, 2019. (You may register after that date without a critique.)

3. Pay your registration and critique fees ($20 registration + optional $50 critic fee) no later than December 1, 2019.

4. Manuscripts should be double-spaced, size 12, Times New Roman or Arial font, with one-inch margins. Your first line should begin halfway down the page, and you should have 10-12 lines of text on the first page.

Picture books: Submit the entire manuscript, no longer than 5 double-spaced pages. (If your manuscript is longer than 5 pages, cut it. Virtually all picture books are within the 5-page limit, especially now that editors are looking for shorter picture books.)

Longer fiction: Submit a one-page, single-spaced synopsis, and the first chapter or first ten (10) double-spaced manuscript pages (even if it cuts off mid-chapter), whichever is less. Your synopsis must follow the margin and font guidelines above, but you may single-space.

5. Send your manuscript as a Word Document attachment via email to Shirley Espada-Richey at no later than December 7, 2019 at 11:59 pm PST.

6. Critiques will be distributed after the panel session closes.

CANCELLATION POLICY: Due to high demand refunds are limited. We can only offer refunds minus the non-refundable Paypal processing fee of $5 until December 15th. There are no refunds after that date. No refunds for manuscript critiques regardless of cancellation date. We are a nonprofit organization, and our region is run completely by volunteers. Refunds create additional paperwork, time, and PayPal fees for the region, so we thank you for understanding this non-negotiable cancellation policy.

Additional Location Details:

The venue is located next to the tennis courts and Cesar Chavez Elementary School.