Report Your Points! The New Jersey SCBWI Totally Unofficial Conference Challenge


To all my readers who are not children’s book writers and illustrators, I’m sorry. This post is going to be a little nerdy and weird for you.

Forgive me. Nerdy and weird is what I do best. Especially when spending the weekend at the New Jersey Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference for my third (and most fabulous) time. Being surrounded by “my tribe” – people passionate and excited about creating kids’ books and about developing and supporting one another in that process – it’s a great feeling.

And as some of you know, this is the second year I’ve hosted a sort of scavenger hunt at the conference. It’s called the #TUCC, or Totally Unofficial Conference Challenge. You can find all the challenges – from thanking a volunteer to starting a flash mob – in this pdf: 2016 NJ SCBWI Challenge.

For those of you who attended the conference – it’s not too late! Print out a copy and see how many points you got. You’d be amazed at the things you did that earned you points – from collecting pins to talking with agents.  Sure, there were some serious challenge warriors out there this weekend – racking up points with mime leans and multi-cardigan photos, but there are SO MANY PRIZES that you stand a great chance of winning one.

And of course, the best prize is that you came out of your comfort zone. You made a new friend, an important connection. You asked a question you were afraid might be dumb, and instead discovered it opened up a new world of information that LOTS of people wanted to know about. You laughed until you fell down. (It’s ok. It happens to the best of us.)

So, conference attendees, don’t be cheaty and don’t be greedy, but add up your points. Honor system, folks. If you feel like you captured the spirit of the challenge, give yourself the points. We’re writers and illustrators here, we respect artistic interpretation of the rules.

Here’s the important part. In the COMMENTS SECTION, leave:

  1. Your Name
  2. Your Point Total
  3. A favorite conference moment
  4. A way for us to reach you.*

Entries close on June 12th. Shortly thereafter, we will announce the winners, who will get to choose their prize in order of point total.

(*If you prefer not to leave contact info in the comments, you can email it to Katey at

The Prizes include (in no particular order)


  • Multimedia consulting session from author, filmmaker and All The Wonders co-founder Blake Hamilton (Includes review of your current multimedia content and 30 min Skype chat!)
  • One of three amazing coffee cup doodles from Mike Ciccotello! (not for beverage purposes, you guys! This is art!)
  • Manuscript critique by author and PiBoIdMo founder Tara Lazar
  • Manuscript critique by author (and Nerdy Chick) Marcie Colleen
  • Picture book manuscript critique by picture book/chapter book author Ariel Bernstein
  • Picture book or rhyming manuscript critique from author Lori Degman
  • Picture book critique from author Katey Howes (that’s me!)
  • Picture book manuscript critique from author Annie Silvestro
  • Query critique from agent Essie Whiteof Storm Literary Agency
  • Picture book AND query letter critique from author Julie Segal-Walters
  • First 10 pages critique (MG/YA) from author Jen Malone
  • First 10 pages critique (MG/YA/NF) from author Charlotte Bennardo
  • First chapter (MG/YA) critique from former editor/current author Hannah Barnaby (to be redeemed in September 2016.)
  • 10 pages critique (MG/YA) from author Marlo Berliner
  • Chicks Run Wild cake BAKED FOR YOU by author/Nerdy Chick Sudipta Bardhen-Quallen
  • Signed copy of  Mr. Particular from author/illustrator Jason Kirschner
  • Land Shark prize pack from author Beth Ferry
  • Autographed copy of Cat Napped! by author/illustrator and former NJSCBWI Regional Advisor Leeza Hernandez.
  • Signed copy of Wheels of Change by Darlene Beck Jacobsen – plus an opportunity to be featured on her blog!

HUGE thanks to everyone who donated prizes, played along, and to the FANTASTIC conference planners. You guys are worth your weight in gold. Bonus 50 points if you were on the conference staff.

We can’t wait to hear from you about your experiences at NJSCBWI 2016!

Your Challenge Co-Hosts

Katey Howes and Mike Ciccotello