Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Submission Spring Cleaning (Virtual Event)

Date(s) - 03/30/2020 - 04/07/2020
12:00 am



Has There Ever Been a Better Time for a Virtual Critique Event?

This entirely remote event matches writers and illustrators to PAL members, who will provide detailed critiques of polished works (a query letter AND a picture book/first ten pages of a novel/a portfolio link). 

When you submit a work for critique, you will be able to choose a PAL member in your genre/category to review your submission. The reviewer will give detailed feedback using the SCBWI Gold Form. We have an exceptional roster of PAL members participating this season! Scroll down to check out which experts are available to provide critiques of your work.

The cost for Submission Spring Cleaning is $60 per submission, which will allow our region both to support our PAL members and to provide more great programs for all our members.

Submissions will be accepted from Tuesday, March 31, 2020 through Tuesday, April 7 at 10:00 p.m. EDT. Here’s how the event will work:

  • Between March 31 and April 7, register to submit your work for critique. Choose which faculty member you would like to provide your critique.
  • After you register and pay, you will receive an email with how to submit your work.
  • Submit your work via email before 10:00 p.m. EDT on April 7. Manuscripts must be submitted in standard submission format.
  • You will receive your critique via email by Friday, May 1.


**No refunds will be available after Friday, April 10. If you purchase a ticket and decide you do not want to use it, you must submit your request before 5 p.m. EDT on April 10.**


Faculty Biographies (listed alphabetically)

JOSHUA DAVID BELLIN (2 slots, Young Adult)

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). A college teacher by day, Josh has published numerous works of science fiction and fantasy, including the Querry Genn Saga, the Ecosystem Cycle, and the deep- space adventure Freefall. In his spare time, he likes to read, draw, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.


NICK COURAGE (3 slots, Middle Grade)

Nick Courage is a New Orleans-born writer (and aspiring skateboarder and baker) who splits his time between Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, where he lives with his wife and two cats. His work has recently appeared in The Paris Review DailyStory, and Writer’s DigestThe Loudness was his first novel for young readers. Delacorte Press (Penguin Random House) published his second novel, Storm Blown, in the summer of 2019 with a paperback edition forthcoming from Yearling in 2020. His next book, Snow Struck (Delacorte Press), will be published in 2021!


LULU DELACRE (10 slots, Picture Books)

Portraits of Lulu Delacre. (HMH/Paul Morigi)

Bilingual author illustrator Lulu Delacre was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Her books have won the Pura Belpré Honor, the Orbis Pictus Honor, and made the New York Time Bestseller List. Her 42 titles include Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America, in print for over 30 years, and Us in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos. She’s the illustrator of Turning Pages by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The RIF Champion of Literacy author’s latest title is Luci Soars. Lulu has exhibited at the Carle Museum, the Zimmerli Museum, and the Cato Institute among other venues. She loves to read, garden, cook, travel, visit with students, and learn new things. More at


SABRINA FEDEL (10 slots, Young Adult)

Sabrina Fedel is an award winning writer from Pittsburgh. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University with a concentration in Writing for Young People. Her debut YA novel, Leaving Kent State, from Harvard Square Editions, has won gold medals in the Literary Classics Book Awards and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous literary journals and she is a Pushcart Prize nominee. You may learn more about her at


ERIN FRANKEL (5 slots, Picture Books)

Erin Frankel is the author of several picture books including the highly acclaimed Weird Series and Nobody! (Free Spirit Publishing, 2012/15) as well as Remembering Barkley (Albert Whitman & Company, Fall 2020). She has an MA in English Education and is passionate about teaching and writing. Erin was a longtime resident of Spain before moving to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband and three daughters. She currently teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh. 


REBECCA E. HIRSCH (6 slots, Picture Books and Nonfiction)

Rebecca E. Hirsch is an award-winning author of more than 80 books on science and nature for children and young adults. Her picture book, Plants Can’t Sit Still, earned multiple starred reviews, a Riverby Award for nature writing, and a Maryland Blue Crab Young Readers Award. Her latest nonfiction book, Where Have All the Bees Gone? Pollinators in Crisis, was named a Junior Library Guild selection and was recently featured as Booklist’s Review of the Day. Upcoming releases include Night Creatures, a picture book about the animals that creep out during a backyard sleep-out, and the nonfiction book, Living Fossils: Survivors from Earth’s Distant Past, both from Millbrook Press. She lives in State College, Pennsylvania.


LAUREL HOUCK (10 slots, Young Adult)

Laurel has been writing since the age of six, when Crawls the Caterpillar inched across her side-lined notebook paper propelled by a fat yellow pencil. After an off again, on again, love affair with the written word, she began to write full time fifteen years ago. Laurel has no genre of choice, preferring to go wherever her imagination leads. Her work has been published in newspapers, magazines, and blogs. The Girl With Chameleon Eyes, a Young Adult novel, is published with Inkspell Publishing. Her second book, Love is a River, was just released. When she’s not writing, Laurel travels the world on medical missions. Exotic locations such as Nepal, Kenya, and Indonesia provide a backdrop for stories yet to come. She lives outside of Pittsburgh with her husband and their fur baby, Mabel. And she’s the world’s biggest fan of chocolate milkshakes.


STACY INNERST (4 slots, Illustrator Portfolios)

Stacy Innerst is an artist, illustrator and arts educator. He was born in Los Angeles and grew up in New Mexico and Pennsylvania. His picture books for children have earned a host of starred reviews as well as numerous awards, including the Sydney Taylor Award (The Book Rescuer), the NY Times/NY Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award (Ruth Bader Ginsberg), the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration (for The Music in George’s Head), the BCCB Blue Ribbon, several Parents’ Choice Gold Medals and recognition by the NY Society of Illustrators, the Smithsonian and the American Library Association, among many others. M is for Music was named a 2003 Best Book of the Year by the School Library Journal and Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2011. His latest release, Saving Lady Liberty by Claudia Friddell, BMK, was released in March 2020. His paintings and prints have been exhibited widely in New York, California and throughout the U.S. and abroad. He lives in Pittsburgh.

STEPHANIE KEYES (5 slots, Young Adult)

Stephanie Keyes is the author of over a dozen of YA Fantasy titles. Her most recent, The Spellbinder’s Sonata, a Beauty and the Beast meets Phantom mash-up, was an Amazon #1 new release and won the RONE Award for Best YA Book of 2019. Spellbinder’s also took 2nd place in the Athena Awards For Excellence in NA & YA Fiction. Keyes is the webinar and online education coordinator for The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She also writes contemporary romance as Gemma McKay. Steph is a seasoned critique group leader, teacher and presenter, and would love to help you make your opening pages shine!


CARLA MOONEY (5 slots, Nonfiction)

Carla Mooney loves to explore the world around us and discover the details about how it works. An award-winning author of numerous nonfiction books for kids and teens, she hopes to spark a healthy curiosity and love of science, social studies, and history in today’s young people. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and dog. When not writing, she can often be spotted at a hockey rink for one of her kids’ games. Find her at, on Facebook @carlamooneyauthor, or on Twitter @carlawrites.


JEANINE MURCH (3 slots, Illustrator Portfolios)

Jeanine Murch is a freelance illustrator & designer who specializes in art and hand lettering for children’s books, magazines, and greeting cards. She earned her BFA in illustration from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and began her career in children’s publishing at Penguin Books and Simon and Schuster, where she collectively spent over 10 years as a designer and art director. She’s directed award-winning illustrators on many middle grade covers and picture books, as well as illustrated books for Little Brown, Sterling, Sleeping Bear Press, Sourcebooks, and I See Me! Books, among other clients. This allows her to offer a unique perspective from both an art direction and illustration standpoint.


LEAH PILEGGI (3 slots, Middle Grade)

Leah Pileggi grew up in Kane, Pennsylvania, a tiny town in the middle of the Allegheny National Forest. While she didn’t have many books as a child, she now has more than one person probably should. She studied creative writing at Chatham University and professional writing at Carnegie Mellon University. Her work has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Chautauquan Daily, Mental Floss, The New York Times Magazine and Hopscotch Magazine. Her middle-grade historical novel, Prisoner 88, has been on three state reading lists (Vermont, Nebraska and Arkansas), the Indies First list, and was a National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) notable book. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

ELLEN ROTEMAN (10 slots, Middle Grade)

Ellen Roteman is the author of three books. Her middle grade series, The Five Star Detectives, from Menucha Publishers, includes The Case of the Disappearing Chanukah Candles, published in 2018, and The Case of the Unfair Science Fair, due out in June 2020. Her first novel for young adults, Production!, will be released in fall 2020, also by Menucha. Ellen enjoyed a decades-long career as a writer/editor/marketing professional, most recently serving as Marketing Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. She has written brochures and annual reports, composed website copy, contributed to international blogs, penned speeches, and developed scripts and musical parodies. She has received several awards for work ranging from newspaper and magazine articles to marketing strategies. For more than eight years, since embarking on the journey to fulfill a life-long dream of writing for children, she has been a member of SCBWI and participated in a weekly critique group.


SHADRA STRICKLAND (10 slots, Picture Books and Illustrator Portfolios)









Shadra Strickland studied design, writing, and illustration at Syracuse University, and completed her M.F.A. at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2009 for her work in her first picture book, Bird, written by Zetta Elliott. Shadra is passionate about promoting positivity through her work, and her ultimate goal as a picture book author and illustrator is to teach children how to live their dreams. Her style is a whimsical blend of reality and imagination, and she loves to create stories that children can see themselves in. Shadra travels the country conducting workshops and sharing her work with children, teachers, and librarians. She currently teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.