Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

NJ SCBWI Calm Before the Storm 2

Date(s) - 12/05/2021
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The Calm Before the Storm II Members-Only Virtual Critique Day

(New Jersey members have an exclusive 24-hour sign-up window before the event is opened to all SCBWI members)                      

When: Sunday, December 5, 2021, 1-4 p.m.

Registration Opens: Tuesday, November 2 at 5 p.m. EST

Registration Closes: Monday,  November 8 at noon EST

Manuscript uploads due: no later than Monday, November 8 at 5 p.m. (EST), no exceptions.

Format: Zoom video platform

107 critique slots: limited to two per registered member at $95 each


What’s in store for you!

Attendees sign up for a one-on-one, 15-minute critique with the editor or agent of their choice on a first come, first served basis.
Critiques consist of 15-pages plus a 1-page synopsis for novels/graphic novels (middle grade/young adult) or the entire manuscript/dummy for picture books (typically no more than 500 words).
In conjunction with your one-on-one, you’ll also receive written feedback (post event).
An exclusive submission window for faculty (post event).
By signing up for this event, you are personally responsible for all technical aspects involved such as Zoom knowledge, strong wi-fi connection, video/mic capabilities, etc. and uploading your manuscript in the correct format.



Our stellar faculty lineup will help you on your path to publishing success!


Karen Boss Karen Boss is an editor at Charlesbridge. She holds an MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons University and is a mentor for their MFA program. Karen also has an MA in higher education administration and worked at colleges and in the nonprofit sector for 15 years. She edits fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade, and YA. She’s currently looking for picture books with multiple sales hooks, fiction stories based in fact, and strong girl characters are always a plus.


Simon Boughton Simon Boughton (Publishing Director) joined W.W. Norton & Company in 2018 to develop a new children’s and young adult publishing program, Norton Young Readers. Previously, he was Senior Vice President and Publisher of the Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, First Second, and Roaring Brook Press imprints at the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and he has held editorial and publishing positions at Alfred A. Knopf and Crown Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and Kingfisher Books in London.  Simon is considering picture books and middle grade novels only.


Carter Hasegawa Carter Hasegawa (editor) is an editor at Candlewick Press. He also works part-time as a photographer with Long River Photography. Some of his favorite, non-Candlewick books include: The Notorious Benedict Arnold; Jellicoe Road; Clementine; Ender’s Game; Three Times Lucky; Imogene’s Antlers; the Elephant & Piggie books; George and Martha; Good Night, Gorilla; and many, MANY others. Basically, anything that has a great voice, is a good story, and is “unputdownable.” He lives with his wife and toddler son in Boston, Massachusetts.


Aneeka Kalia
Aneeka Kalia (editor) is an Associate Editor at Viking Children’s Books. She acquires and edits picture books, middle grade, and YA, along with graphic novels for all ages and select nonfiction. She enjoys contemporary/realistic, character driven, humorous stories across all ages and formats. When she’s not editing, Aneeka loves to play soccer and tennis, hike, try out all of Brooklyn’s coffee shops, and try her hand at cooking.


 Elizabeth Law In college, Elizabeth Law (editor) dreamed of becoming a children’s book editor, and so she moved to New York upon graduation and did just that. She worked at Viking Children’s Books for 18 years, then Simon & Schuster and Egmont USA before holding her current position at Holiday House. Elizabeth has a soft spot for contemporary middle grade and young adult fiction in particular, such as debut novelist Polly Farquhar’s Itch, and Dan Gutman’s Houdini and Me. She recently acquired a picture book about the Lower East Side called Five Stories by Ellen Weinstein. Elizabeth likes anything funny or scary, and picture books on unusual or interesting topics. Finally, she always has a soft spot for doll and dollhouse books.


Melissa Warten
Melissa Warten (editor) is on the editorial team at FSG Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. She acquires and edits picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and select graphic novels and nonfiction projects. Some of her favorite projects include What Stars are Made Of by Sarah Allen; The Book of Rules by Brian Gehrlein, illustrated by Tom Knight; co-editing We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal; and spearheading the movie tie-in publication for Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time. Melissa is a graduate of Boston College and the Columbia Publishing Course.


Marlo Berliner
Marlo Berliner (agent) is an award-winning young adult author, freelance editor, and bookseller. She joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in March 2018 as an editorial intern after having completed a previous internship with The Bent Agency. Now, she is actively building her list as an associate agent. She is an active member of SCBWI. Prior to her career in the publishing world, Marlo was an accounting manager for a Fortune 500 company. She holds B.S. degrees in Economics and Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University.


Rick Margolis
Rick Margolis (agent) For nearly 15 years, Rick Margolis worked for School Library Journal, the world’s largest reviewer of books for young readers. As SLJ ’s executive editor, he had the pleasure of interviewing many remarkable children’s book creators, including Kate DiCamillo, Mo Willems, Suzanne Collins, Gene Yang, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Jon Klassen. Rick launched Rising Bear Literary Agency to help writers and illustrators do their best possible work, to pair them with the perfect publisher, and to see them develop long, rewarding careers. Rick is excited to work with people who are passionate about creating exceptional books—and who are ready to change the world, one fabulous title at a time. Rick represents everyone from promising newcomers to award-winning authors and illustrators, such as two-time Newbery Honor–winner Gary D. Schmidt, Caldecott Honor recipient Daniel Minter, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award–winner Kate Banks—and he’s especially wild about picture books and fiction for middle graders. Rick is considering picture books and middle grade only.


Sean McCarthy Sean McCarthy (agent) founded his own full-service literary agency in 2013 after working at Overlook Press and Sheldon Fogelman Agency. His clients include New York Times Bestseller Zachariah OHora, Hyewon Yum, Mark Fearing, Dana Wulfekotte, Margaret Chiu Greanias, and Junghwa Park, among others. Sean graduated from Macalester College with a degree in English-Creative Writing, and is grateful that he no longer has to spend his winters in Minnesota. He is drawn to flawed, multifaceted characters with devastatingly concise writing in YA, and character-driven stories or smartly paced mysteries and adventures in MG. In picture books, he looks more for unforgettable characters, off-beat humor, and especially clever endings. He is not currently interested in message-driven writing or query letters that pose too many questions. WISH LIST: I read broadly and generally, so there’s nothing specifically that I’m looking for, other than the best possible work from authors and illustrators (I like to be surprised!). I tend to respond most to character-driven work, and humor and heart are always welcome. I am extremely selective in YA and rhyming picture book manuscripts, and may not be the best match for romance.


Anna Olswanger Anna Olswanger (agent) launched her own literary agency Olswanger Literary, LLC in 2014 after nine years at Liza Dawson Associates in New York. Her clients’ books have won the Newbery Honor, Asian Pacific American Award for Literature Honor, Flora Stieglitz Strauss Award for Nonfiction, Orbis Pictus Honor, PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing, Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Honor, Sydney Taylor Silver Medal, Boston Globe Horn Book Nonfiction Honor, and been Junior Library Guild Selections and on The New York Times Bestseller list. She is herself the author of the middle grade novel Greenhorn and the picture book Shlemiel Crooks. Anna is considering author-illustrated picture books and graphic novels only, or art from illustrators who want help creating text.


Quressa Robinson Quressa Robinson (agent) joined the Nelson Literary Agency in 2017 after working at a previous agency and as an editor for five years. She is originally from San Francisco but has been living in New York City for over a decade. As a New York based agent, she is eager to build her MG, YA, and Adult lists. Quressa is also a member of the 2017-2020 WNDB Walter Grant Committee and holds an MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction from Columbia University. In 2020, she was named a Publisher’s Weekly Star Watch finalist. In 2021 she was named an influential gatekeeper in Book and Film Globe’s inaugural Publishing Power 30 list alongside phenoms like Reece Witherspoon, Celeste Ng, and Lisa Lucas.


Michaela Whatnall Michaela Watnall (agent) joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret in 2019 as the assistant to Michael Bourret in the West Coast office. After graduating from Emory University with a degree in English and linguistics, Michaela completed the Columbia Publishing Course. Their background in school and library marketing accounts for their strong interest in children’s literature, from picture books up through middle grade and young adult novels and graphic novels. In the adult fiction space, they are particularly seeking character-driven speculative fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, and other genre fiction that features historically underrepresented characters. They are also interested in nonfiction for both children and adults, especially narrative nonfiction in the areas of history, the creative arts, and lifestyle.


You will receive the link to upload your manuscript in your registration confirmation email. Confirmation emails are automatically generated by the registration system and sent from If you do not receive a confirmation email, check your spam folder and/or use your email search function for mail from

Double spaced lines, left justified, 12 point Times New Roman or Courier font.
Allow one-inch margins all around, half-inch indents for each new paragraph.
Put your name and full contact information on the first page.
On subsequent pages, put your name, title (shortened if necessary), and page number in a header or footer.
Include the entire manuscript for picture books (typically no more than 500 words). (Picture book dummies in PDF format accepted.)
Submit up to 15 pages of a chapter book/novel, plus 1-page synopsis (pasted at the end of your 15 pages). Chapter breaks need only be several lines of obvious separation, not starting on a new page. For graphic novels, include 15 pages of panels (or the text for 15 pages of panels) and a 1-page synopsis.
For portfolios, include 10-12 images in a single pdf with your name on each page. Include your name and contact information on the first page of the pdf. (This can be in addition to the 10-12 images, but the total number of images to be critiqued should not exceed 12). A link to your website can be submitted instead of a pdf portfolio.
Before uploading be sure your file is saved with the correct naming convention:
For example: RosanneKurstedt-Daisy-Zampetti


★ ★ How to find your time slot after registration: ★ ★

After registration, you can use these steps to check your timeslot.

> Log into SCBWI.
> Click on My Home at the top.
> Scroll down on the left and click on Event History.
> Select the event (in this case, Calm Before the Storm II) and click View Event Registration on the right.
> Scroll down and you will see your critique selection, including the faculty member name and your time slot.

Registration Instructions

1. You must be a SCBWI member to register. Enter your SCBWI username and password, and login.

2. Fill in the fields in the Event Registration section.

4. Critique Section: Select an editor or agent. If you want to change your selection, you must first uncheck your current selection before selecting a new one. (Note: If an editor’s or agent’s name is grayed out or doesn’t appear, all slots for that person are taken.)

6. The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy: Scroll to the bottom to read the policy. Click the checkbox to indicate acceptance.

7. Payment: Click the “Continue” button. You will be prompted to enter payment information.


Manuscripts must be uploaded by 5 p.m. Monday, November 8.

You will receive the link to upload your manuscript in your registration confirmation email.

This event is fully booked.