Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

LEAP Forward in 2020 in Erie, PA!

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Date(s) - 02/29/2020
11:30 am - 4:30 pm

Mercyhurst University
501 E. 38th Street - Erie, PA 16546


February 29, 2020

Mercyhurst University, 501 E. 38th St, Erie, PA 16546

Old Main 205, 206, and 207

11:30 am – 4:30 pm

$40 SCBWI members/$50 non-SCBWI members


Lunch from Panera followed by:

Presentation by guest speaker Julia Garstecki

“Publish or Perish: The Need to Adapt”

One-on-one critique feedback with Julia Garstecki

Critique Sessions

Q&A Session

Have you been hoping to join or form a critique group? Are you ready to take your work outside of your journal, sketchbook, laptop, or studio and share it with your peers? Do you want to learn how to strengthen your own work and encourage others to do the same?

Celebrate Leap Day by taking a big leap forward in your creative endeavors! Join us at picturesque Mercyhurst University for a catered lunch and an afternoon of networking and constructive feedback. Following lunch, keynote speaker Julia Garstecki will share her experiences as an author-illustrator with more than 70 published titles to her name!

We’ll then facilitate breakout critique groups to bring you fresh feedback and help you form creative partnerships. Participants should bring up to five pages (12pt, double-spaced) of a work-in-progress, a single picture book dummy, or up to five completed illustration images to share. Remember to bring business cards, if you have them, to exchange with new critique partners. **Note: These group critiques are free. To receive a critique from Julia Garstecki, please purchase one in your registration below. 

Julia will also offer professional critiques of 10 manuscripts and portfolios.  During the group critique sessions, Julia will meet one-on-one with attendees who purchased critiques. **Note: critiques from Julia require an additional fee, paid during registration below. 

To close out the afternoon, the regional leadership team will facilitate a Q&A on giving and receiving feedback, working with editors, marketing, and networking. A limited number of post-event individual critiques (first 10 pages, picture book dummy, or illustrator portfolio) from Julia Garstecki are also available for $60 each.

Our goal is for all participants to leave with industry know-how, encouraging feedback, and new kindred-spirit friendships. Register today, and tell a friend to do the same!


Julia Garstecki has published more than 60 books for young readers. Her STEM book Science in a Jar was a finalist for the American Association for the Advancement of Science / Subaru Prize for Excellence in science books. Julia predominantly writes for the education market, having worked with Black Rabbit Books, Nystrom Social Studies School Service, and Capstone. A former teacher, Julia also writes parenting articles for regional magazines. In addition to writing, she is a writing coach at Daemen College in Amhurst, NY. Julia also assists in the Writing for the Education Market at the Highlights Foundation each June.



Critiques with Julia Garstecki

If you purchase a critique with Julia Garstecki, please plan to submit your query letter AND one picture book/first ten pages of a novel/ portfolio link by February 22, 2020. Send your material to You will receive your time slot at the event on February 29, 2020. Questions about standard manuscript format? Read up on how to submit on pages 9-21 in The Book.


Are you a member of SCBWI?

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Whether Regional events or the International Conference, all members receive a discount.

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Event Registration

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Ticket Information

Non-Member Ticket - $50.00
Includes Catered Lunch (Panera)

SCBWI Member Ticket - $40.00

This price is only available for SCBWI members.

Includes Catered Lunch (Panera)

Event Extras

Critique with Julie Garstecki

    The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy
    To register for an SCBWI event, you are required to acknowledge our Anti-Harassment Policy.
    Scroll to the bottom to read the policy.

    You will then be able to click the checkbox indicating that you have read our policy.


    The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is dedicated to providing a safe and harassment-free environment for all of its members and will take any and all necessary steps to address and prevent harassment at events associated with SCBWI. Harassment under this policy may include verbal comments, written comments, displayed images, or behaviors such as intimidation, stalking, body policing, unwelcome photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome sexual attention or advances, and bullying or coercion.


    The SCBWI Member Anti-Harassment Policy applies to all situations of harassment or intimidation at any SCBWI Event. An “SCBWI Event” is any event, meeting or activity that is authorized by an SCBWI Regional Manager to be sponsored by, or affiliated with, SCBWI. SCBWI events may include, if properly authorized by an SCBWI Regional Manager, the Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles, the Annual Winter Conference in New York, regional conferences, meetings and meet-ups. This SCBWI Member Anti-Harassment Policy also applies to “SCBWI On-Line Interactions,” which include communications and content posted on, or directed towards, SCBWI’s Social Media accounts or sent through any of the communication tools available on SCBWI’s website, SCBWI’s Social Media accounts under this policy include the official SCBWI accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and LinkedIn.



    Code of Conduct

    All participants in SCBWI Events and SCBWI On-Line Interactions, including faculty, staff, and attendees, are required to comply with the following anti-harassment code of conduct. The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy prohibits harassment, including but not limited to the following behaviors:

    • intimidation, stalking, or following.
    • Sustained disruption of talks or other events.
    • Inappropriate physical contact.
    • Unwelcome sexual attention.
    • Abusive verbal comments.
    • Quid pro quo– sexual harassment that occurs when one in an authority position requests sex or a sexual relationship in exchange for professional consideration or favors.
    • Harassment does not include respectful disagreement or reasonable and respectful critique made in good faith. SCBWI continues to welcome and appreciate presentation of appropriate controversial ideas, free speech, and creative artistic expression. SCBWI encourages members to hold one another accountable to the Code of Conduct as stated in this part of the Policy and to take the perspectives of others seriously when a disagreement arises.


    Reporting Procedures

    Any person who believes there has been a violation of the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy can report the offense in one or all of the following ways:

    • Certain SCBWI Events, including the Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles and the Annual Winter Conference in New York, will designate one or more Safety Team Members who will be available during the conference to provide a safe space for members to report an incident. The Safety Team Member will report directly to the conference director or regional advisor in charge.
    • A complainant may submit a complaint under this policy to the Director of Community Marketing and Engagement, the Director of Illustration and Artist Programs and/or your Regional Manager.
    • SCBWI has a dedicated email address for reporting any potential incident of harassment under this policy. Anyone who chooses to report an incident can find the Anti-Harassment Report Form on the SCBWI website (About > Anti-Harassment) or use the following link: Reports should include the substance of the complaint, date, and whenever possible, a list of witnesses or a reference to the relevant URLs, if the offense occurred through an SCWBI On-Line Interaction.


    SCBWI will investigate all complaints subject to the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy. If the policy applies, SCBWI will investigate the matter and take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to prevent a recurrence and protect the environment at SCWBI Events. If a complaint is made anonymously, please note that SCBWI will not be able to follow up on an anonymous report with the complainant directly, as SCBWI will not have contact information for the anonymous complainant. Moreover, anonymous complaints may hinder SCBWI’s ability to investigate the complaint.  SCBWI will take steps to protect the confidentiality of the complaint, to the extent possible.  However, complete confidentiality may not be possible in all circumstances.  SCBWI will make every attempt to respond to a named complainant in a timely fashion.

    If appropriate, SCBWI may report the incident to local authorities.



    The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy prohibits retaliation against a member of the SCBWI community for reporting harassment, intimidation or discrimination, or for participating in an investigation relating to any complaint made under this policy. The sanctions for retaliation are the same sanctions available to address any other violation of the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy.



    SCBWI takes all allegations of harassment seriously. Complaints will be investigated by SCWBI if they fall within the scope of SCWBI’s Anti-Harassment Policy. Depending on the results of the investigation, SCWBI will determine whether a sanction is appropriate.


    Sanctions for faculty, speakers, staff or board members may include any of the following:


    • warning the party involved that the particular behavior is inappropriate and must be ceased;
    • immediate removal from a particular event;
    • denial of access to SCBWI spaces and venues on a temporary or permanent basis;
    • withholding of a contracted honorarium;
    • prohibition from future speaking engagements;
    • prohibition from future faculty appointments;
    • expulsion from SCBWI; and/or
    • removal from the Board of Advisors or Board of Directors, when appropriate.


    Sanctions for attendees, members, and guests can include any of the following:

    • warning the party involved that specified behavior is inappropriate and must be ceased;
    • immediate removal from a particular event, without refund;
    • denial of access to SCBWI spaces and venues on a permanent or temporary basis;
    • termination of SCBWI membership, without refund; and/or
    • prohibition of future SCBWI membership.


    If the conduct at issue involves one of SCBWI’s employees, SCBWI will handle utilize whatever corrective action is appropriate based on the result of the investigation and subject to SCBWI employment policies and practices.



    SCBWI will make every reasonable effort to conduct all investigations into allegations of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in a manner that will protect the confidentiality of all parties and witnesses. Notwithstanding the above, confidentiality is not absolute, and those with a legitimate business reason to know and be informed of the allegations will be so informed. Parties to the complaint should treat the matter under investigation with discretion and respect the reputation of all parties involved.



    If you wish to file a complaint or an anonymous complaint, CLICK HERE to access the Anti-harassment Report Form.


    If you have questions regarding this policy, you may send an email to Please include the words "anti-harassment policy" in the subject line.

    I have read and accepted the SCBWI Anti-Harassment policy.