2018 Golden Gate Conference

Date(s) - 03/09/2018 - 03/11/2018
2:30 pm - 12:00 pm

Asilomar Conference Grounds
800 Asilomar Avenue - Pacific Grove, California [CA] 93950


If you would like to be on our waitlist in the event of a cancellation, please click here to submit your request.

The 35th Annual SCBWI Golden Gate Conference and Retreat will be held March 9-11, 2018 at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA. Conference attendee check-in begins at 2:30pm. We offer a highly recommended Orientation Session for new members and first time Golden Gate Conference attendees from 3:00-3:45pm. The conference will kick off at 3:45pm sharp. On Saturday, the event runs from 8:30am all day until around 9:30pm. The conference closes around noon on Sunday. A full schedule of the weekend will be posted in the near future! 

IMPORTANT! Please Note: Registration for the Golden Gate Conference requires TWO steps. Your registration here with SCBWI covers conference attendance and optional consultations only (Pricing details are below. On-campus earlybird SCBWI member pricing is $350.00 with additional cost for add-ons). Attendees must then register directly with Asilomar for housing (meal tickets are included). There is an additional cost for housing that is not included in the SCBWI conference fee. Two-night double occupancy at Asilomar is $404.46. Two-night single occupancy is $594.24. See the HOUSING section below for details. 

For questions regarding registration, please contact scbwisf.register@gmail.com


asilomarOver the years, the Golden Gate Conference has gained a reputation as one of the best intimate gatherings of authors and illustrators. Our faculty of speakers includes the industry’s top authors, illustrators, agents, editors, and publishers. 

The conference is limited to a small group of approximately 120 people. The Asilomar grounds are on the Pacific Ocean near Monterey Bay in Northern California, two hours south of San Francisco. Many of the Asilomar buildings are historic, and the famous dining hall, designed by Julia Morgan, provides a friendly, personal gathering place for conference attendees and speakers. You can see the conference grounds in more depth at www.visitasilomar.com.

Candlewick Press editor, Sarah Ketchersid presenting at the 2013 Golden Gate Conference.This year’s conference theme is: THE GREAT BALANCING ACT: Craft, Career, and Self.  How do writers and illustrators find equilibrium in such a changing world and challenging industry? Obstacles are everywhere, and yet, creativity calls. To achieve our personal goals and sustain a career in children’s publishing, we must hone different aspects of ourselves. This year’s focus encourages attendees to nurture all aspects of themselves by focusing on craft, career building, personal growth, self-care and creativity. Join us as we strive for balance on and off the page.




We are thrilled to offer a new “Illustrator Track” to this year’s schedule, featuring:

  • A master class with Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  • Reserved tables at the first night’s dinner for illustrators to gather and meet each other
  • “Stretch and Sketch”, a time to walk around Asilomar and sketch with fellow illustrators
  • NEW optional paid Illustrator Round Table “First Look” consultations. Bring a book dummy work-in-progress, or up to 3 illustrations for discussion. (Each assessment lasts approximately 8 minutes.)
  • Plus, our annual portfolio showcase, a best-in-show award, and more!

​Please direct illustrator-related questions to our Illustrator Coordinator, Sue Rankin-Pollard at sfsouth-ic@scbwi.org.



Gennifer Choldenko GENNIFER CHOLDENKO – Keynote Author
Choldenko is best known for her Tales from Alcatraz series, which has sold more than 2 million copies. Book #1: Al Capone Does My Shirts was a Newbery Honor Book and the recipient of twenty other awards. Book #4: Al Capone Throws Me a Curve is due out in 2018. BookPage said of her most recent novel, Chasing Secrets: “Choldenko’s ability to research obscure yet intriguing topics is uncanny, and as she did with the popular Al Capone trilogy she turns a tough topic into a high interest read . . . a compelling work of historical fiction.”  


Vanessa--her favorite

Vanessa Brantley Newton was born during the Civil Rights movement, and being part of a diverse tight-knit community during turbulent times, Vanessa learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment in shaping a young person’s life. When she read the Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, it was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her the artist she is today–one who represents all beautifully and brilliantly. Vanessa celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work, and hopes to inspire your readers to find their own voices. She first learned to express herself as a little girl through song. Growing up in a musical family, Vanessa’s parents taught her how to sing to help overcome her stuttering. Now whenever she illustrates, music fills the air and finds its way into her art. Vanessa hopes her illustrations bring joy to others, with the same magic of a beautiful melody. 



Fiona _2FIONA KENSHOLE – Partner and Senior Agent, Transatlantic Agency

Fiona Kenshole loves the midwifery of being an agent, from debuts to movie deals, and maintains close relationships with editors in NYC & London, and film agents in LA; she work with co-agents in 28 countries, selling worldwide rights. Her first job was in a children’s book store, aged 16. After graduating from Cambridge University, she headed up children’s publishing at Oxford University Press, Hodder (Little, Brown UK), and HarperCollins. She has worked with best-selling names including Michael Bond (Paddington), P.L Travers (Mary Poppins),  and was the UK editor for authors including Beverley Cleary, Lois Lowry, Richard Peck, Bruce Coville, Gary Paulsen and Cynthia Voigt. Fiona was nominated for “Editor of the Year” at the British Book Awards. She moved to Portland, Oregon as Vice President at Laika Inc. developing three Oscar nominated films: THE BOXTROLLS, CORALINE and PARANORMAN.


kendra levin headshotKENDRA LEVIN  –  Associate Editorial Director, Viking Children’s Books

Kendra Levin is an Associate Editorial Director at Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, where since 2005 she has worked on a range of children’s literature from picture books to YA novels.  She edited New York Times bestsellers Girls Who Code and Rebel of the Sands, and her books have received a Printz Honor, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal, and more. A regular contributor to “Psychology Today”, Kendra is also a teacher and certified life coach and the author of The Hero Is You. Visit her at kendracoaching.com and follow her @kendralevin.


Linda Camacho Pic

LINDA CAMACHO  –  Agent, Prospect Agency

Linda Camacho graduated from Cornell with a B.S. in Communication and has seen many sides of the industry. She’s held various positions at Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster, Writers House literary agency, and Prospect Agency. She’s done everything from foreign rights to editorial to marketing to operations, and somewhere in between all that (and little sleep), Linda received her MFA in creative writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Now an agent at Gallt & Zacker Literary, she’s seeking middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction across all genres (particularly upmarket and women’s fiction/romance); also seeking select picture book and graphic novel writer-illustrators. Diversity of all types welcome!


Marissa Moss

MARISSA MOSS  –  Editor, Publisher, and Author, Creston Books

Marissa Moss has written more than fifty children’s books, from picture books to middle-grade and young adult novels. Best known for the Amelia’s Notebook series, her books are popular with teachers and children alike. Barbed Wire Baseball won the California Book Award, Gold medal. In 2012, Moss founded Creston Books. The first books came out in Fall 2013 to strong reviews. The small press has earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Booklist, as well as  awards. Each list balances picture book and older readers, debut authors and established names, showcasing the best in children’s books.


Neal PorterNEAL PORTER – Vice President and Publisher, Holiday House

Neal Porter has been in and around children’s book publishing for 40 years, holding marketing, administrative and editorial positions at houses such as Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Walker Books UK, and Roaring Brook Press, which he helped to found in 2000.  He is currently Vice President and Publisher of Neal Porter Books at Holiday House.  Books he has edited have received numerous citations including the Caldecott Medal; Caldecott, Geisel and Sibert Honors as well as Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpré and Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards.  In 2015 he was awarded a Carle Honor in the category of Mentor for his contribution to picture books.


mccarthy small headshotSEAN MCCARTHY – Agent, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency

Sean McCarthy founded his own full-service literary agency in 2013. He began his publishing career as an editorial intern at Overlook Press and then worked at the Sheldon Fogelman Agency as the submissions coordinator and permissions manager before becoming a full-time literary agent. His clients include New York Times Bestseller Zachariah OHora, Hyewon Yum, Mark Fearing, Jamie A. Swenson, Dana Wulfekotte, Andrea Offermann, Kurt Cyrus, and Judith Robbins Rose, 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.


HANNAH MANN – Agent, Writer’s House Agency

Hannah Mann grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and has always loved stories. She got a BA in Narrative Studies from the University of Southern California, where her career goal morphed from doctor to writer to editor to agent. As Steven Malk’s assistant since 2013, she has had the privilege of working closely with a variety of extraordinarily talented bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators. In 2017 she began building her own client list, focusing on character-driven Children’s work, from the youngest picture books to mature YA.



Christy_Hale_4x5CHRISTY HALE  –  Author/Illustrator/Art Director

Christy Hale is the illustrator of the Crystal Kite Award-winning book, Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams a Life in Nature by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Holt. She has illustrated numerous other books for children, including three that she also wrote: The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan and Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building, both published by Lee & Low Books, as well as Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World, A Neal Porter Book forthcoming spring 2018 from Roaring Brook Press. An art director, designer, and educator, Hale teaches Writing for Picture Books at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She lives with her family in Palo Alto, California.


m_hiltonMARILYN HILTON  –  Author

Marilyn Hilton is the author of the middle-grade novels Found Things, which won the SCBWI Sue Alexander Award in 2011; and Full Cicada Moon, which won the American Librarians Association Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for 2015-2016, and was an honor book for the Jane Addams Peace Association Children’s Book Award and the Arnold Adoff Poetry Award for New Voices, both in 2016, was a 2016 California Book Award finalist, and has been on several state award lists. Marilyn has also published two middle-grade nonfiction books and award-winning short stories and poems. Marilyn holds a master’s degree in English/creative writing and a bachelor’s degree in Japanese. She studied the Japanese tea ceremony (“ochado” or “osado”) intensively for three years, one of which was spent at the Urasenke headquarters in Kyoto, Japan. Marilyn also works full-time as a technical editor and writer in Santa Clara Valley and, with her husband, is (almost) finished raising their three multicultural children—though she wonders if that job is ever truly finished. She’s a huge fan of Call the Midwife, the Grand Canyon, and, as a former New Englander, the Boston Bruins.


Mike_Jung_headshotMIKE JUNG  –  Author

Mike Jung is the author of GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES, UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT, and the forthcoming THE BOYS IN THE BACK ROW. He’s also contributed essays to the anthologies DEAR TEEN ME, BREAK THESE RULES, 59 REASONS TO WRITE, and the forthcoming (DON’T) CALL ME CRAZY. Mike is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family. 




Are you interested in facilitating your own 45-minute creative session at the Golden Gate Conference? We want to hear from you! The SF/South chapter is offering a limited number of spaces for local professionals to present a hands-on creative session on Saturday, March 10, at Asilomar to fellow attendees. These will be considered “break-out” sessions and attendees will participate in one of their choosing. Your topic should focus on the craft of writing and/or illustrating for children’s books from picture books to middle grade to YA or anything in-between. This is not a lecture, but rather a 45-minute workshop where writers and illustrators can experiment, explore, and enjoy a bit of creative output during the weekend. Creative Session leaders are encouraged to encorporate this year’s conference theme–THE GREAT BALANCING ACT: Craft, Career, and Selfinto your session. The position is not paid, but is a great opportunity for you to contribute to an amazing conference and present yourself in front of an engaged audience. You must be registered for the 2017 Golden Gate Conference to apply.

Click here for details and application. Deadline to submit your proposal is January 7, 2018.



PLEASE NOTE: SCBWI does not handle Asilomar housing reservations. Attendees should register ONLINE with Asilomar for room and board through our special SCBWI group rate housing page. After you complete your conference registration, click the link below for housing reservations. 

>> CLICK HERE to continue to Asilomar’s SCBWI housing registration page. <<


Two-night double occupancy at Asilomar is $404.46. Two-night single occupancy is $594.24. 


Asilomar Conference Center allows us a very limited number of off-campus tickets. Thus, off-campus registration is first-come first-serve. However, we have negotiated with Asilomar to provide an alternate option after the first-come, first-serve tickets are sold out. Attendees may pay an additional fee rather than the full housing cost and stay off campus. To work out this special arrangement, please email RA Danielle Sunshine at sfsouth-ra@scbwi.org 


If you registered for an ON-CAMPUS “ticket” for the conference, you must complete your housing reservation with Asilomar within TEN DAYS from when you registered for the conference, or email sfsouth-ra@scbwi.org to request an off-campus housing exception. While we will do our best to follow up with you, if you do not follow this policy we reserve the right to cancel your conference registration with SCBWI San Francisco South, less a $25 fee. The conference may fill up and you may be placed on a waiting list. We appreciate your proactive communication and follow-through, as it saves valuable volunteer hours.

Housing refunds are subject to Asilomar’s terms and limitations, which you can review at http://www.visitasilomar.com/policies.aspx. Additional questions can be addressed to AsilomarSales@aramark.com.

If you have any questions regarding Asilomar room or board, please direct them to:

Vivian Garcia at 831-642-4213 or Garcia-Vivian@aramark.com 
Monday through Friday (7AM-3PM PST). Please do not contact SCBWI or the SF/South regional team with Asilomar housing questions, as we will be unable to assist you.




Each year, we award the annual Golden Gate Writer’s Award–one for a picture book and one for a MG or YA novel. Faculty will choose candidates for the Writer’s Award from those writers who submit their work for a paid manuscript critique. 

Please note: The Golden Gate Portfolio Award is now awarded to attendees of our annual Illustrator’s Day event in September. However, a faculty committee will select “Best in Show” candidates from all portfolios displayed at the Golden Gate Conference.







15-minute manuscript critique with a faculty member. Your manuscript will be sent to the faculty member best suited to critique it. All manuscripts will be reviewed by an agent or editor. You will have an opportunity to indicate your top 3 picks for a manuscript reviewer when you upload your manuscript on our NEW Manuscript Submission Page (click link below for submission details).

PLEASE NOTE: Neal Porter and Kendra Levin will only be holding picture book consultations. Editor Marissa Moss and all three agents will critique middle grade and YA consultations in addition to picture books.

The submission policy is as follows:

– One picture book manuscript of up to six pages in length (1,200 words max). You may only submit ONE picture book manuscript per paid consultation, regardless of the length.

– Or, for MG/YA novels, up to 10 pages (2,500 words max). You may include a brief one page optional synopsis in addition to your 10 page sample.


20-minute illustration portfolio critique with our keynote illustrator. Please bring your portfolio to the conference. Maximum size: 11″ x 17″. Do not bring original art.

We will be hosting our annual illustration portfolio display, so we encourage you to bring your illustration portfolio even if you choose not to purchase an individual consultation. All portfolios of illustrators who attend the conference will be eligible for “Best in Show” awards. Again, please note: The official Golden Gate Illustrator’s Award is now awarded at our annual Illustrator’s Day event in September in San Francisco.

NOTE: Select only ONE Round Table option. Editor and Agent Round Tables happen simultaneously during the conference.

The First Pages round table consultations will be held with up to six participants and one agent or editor. Each participant will bring to the conference 6 copies of the first full page of their manuscript (up to 275 words max of either a novel or picture book). Text should begin at the top of the page, double-spaced, 12 pt. font. Please include your name, title and genre. You will be paired with like-genre, if possible. The submission will be read at the beginning of the session and commented on openly by the agent or editor. Each writer will be given the opportunity to ask questions for clarification after the agent or editor comments on his/her piece, but otherwise, writers are asked to remain silent while listening to the faculty member’s valuable feedback. In this way, you will have the opportunity to receive your own feedback and listen to the consultations of others.

NOTE: Select only ONE Round Table option. Editor and Agent Round Tables happen simultaneously during the conference.

The First Look round table consultations will be held with up to six participants and one agent or editor. Bring a book dummy of a work-in-progress, or up to 3 illustrations from your portfolio for discussion. 

Due to limited availability, attendees may select only ONE round table in total. In other words, you cannot attend an Author round table AND an Illustrator round table. We want as many attendees as possible to enjoy this unique opportunity. 

If you have any questions regarding Illustrator round tables, please contact our Illustrator Coordinator, Sue Rankin-Pollard at sfsouth-ic@scbwi.org.


For questions regarding registration, please contact scbwisf.register@gmail.com

SCBWI members receive the Earlybird registration price of $350 until December 7, 2017. Starting December 7, 2017, the regular ticket price for members will increase to $375. NOTE: If you are an active SCBWI member, you must be logged into your account on the www.scbwi.org website in order to register at the exclusive SCBWI member Earlybird rate. 

For those unable to attend the full weekend, we are offering a limited number of Friday Night Only tickets. See the registration options below. That evening, we will have a TED Talk style program featuring three local authors, Marylin Hilton, Mike Jung, and Christy Hale. A social event and local author book sale will follow. PLEASE NOTE: Consultations and Round Tables are not available to Friday Night Only attendees.

The SCBWI registration system accepts VISA or MasterCard.

After you have made your registration selections below, click Continue. In a few seconds, you should see a pop-up window with confirmation of your information. NOTE: You will need to scroll down inside that pop-up window to see all information and enter your credit card number. If the pop-up window does not appear, you may need to allow pop-ups in your internet browser’s preferences or switch to a different browser. 

SCBWI is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Membership dues support big-picture functions of the international organization such as the website and many online resources, award programs and scholarships, as well as the hard-working and visionary HQ staff.

Local conferences, such as Asilomar, are carefully priced to cover expenses. For all SCBWI events, members are given the lowest-cost tuition for attendance. The earlybird tuition for SCBWI members for the 2018 Golden Gate Conference is $350.

Our hope always, as your volunteer regional leadership team, is that as many of our members as possible will be able to join us at our yearly local Conference. Our primary goal is to continue to build community among the members of the SF/South region of SCBWI and the Golden Gate conference is a huge part of that effort! Whether you’re pre-published, traditionally or independently published, a picture book, middle-grade or YA author or an illustrator, we are confident that year after year our exceptional faculty will inspire you, develop your craft, and support your career growth.

There will be no refunds after January 7, 2018, unless we can fill your spot from a waiting list. There will be absolutely no refunds after January 31, 2018. All refunds will be minus a $25 processing fee.

Due to popularity, event extras such as manuscript consultations and roundtables fill up very quickly. If you really want an event extra, we recommend taking an available option at that time rather than opting to wait. PLEASE NOTE: Once you complete registration, your waitlisted item(s) will appear with prices on an itemized invoice. BUT, your credit card will ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NOT be charged for waitlist items. We will contact you if a waitlist item becomes available and arrange for payment.


If you would like to be on our waitlist in the event of a cancellation, please click here to submit your request.

For questions regarding registration, please contact scbwisf.register@gmail.com



This event is fully booked.