Submission-Ready with Heart: A Hands-On Workshop for Author/Illustrators

October 19 - November 11, 2021


Online (October 19-November 11)

  • 3 week online course with live Zoom lectures on Tuesday evenings
  • 1:1 sessions scheduled at your convenience with valuable faculty manuscript and dummy feedback/critique
  • Focused studio time on Thursday evenings




Submission Ready workshop
A tightly revised manuscript, guided by art, can tell a story with beautiful simplicity. The right amount of illustration can lift the narrative, adding richness and layers.

So how do you put together a powerful submission package with the right amount of manuscript revision and finished art? How do you achieve that delicate balance authentically, staying true to the story you want to tell? And how do you use your submission package to spark the imagination of a decision maker, so that your story can reach the hands of children it can inspire?

That’s what this workshop is all about. Together we’ll examine these ideas, and apply them in real-time with studio sessions and meaningful feedback to get your dummy submission-ready with author/illustrator Daria Peoples and author Brittany Thurman.

Together, you will:

  • Explore strategies to simplify your writing with your art
  • Examine mentor texts for examples of picture book language and structures with heart
  • Learn more about the query process, picture book ranges for submission, submission packages, and portfolios (including what’s in, what’s out, and what’s in between)
  • Find new ways to strike balance in work/creative/and family life
  • Get valuable faculty manuscript and dummy feedback/critique, plus additional peer critique experience
  • Participate in focused studio time to deepen your sense of community and get your project submission-ready


  • You’re a picture book author/illustrator preparing to go out on submission, or an illustrator who is adding authorship to their repertoire.
  • You have a sketched out a dummy or thumbnail sketches of a work in progress, but don’t have it finalized yet and want some guidance to get there in the final push.
  • You don’t quite know what a submission package looks like, including what to do about your digital portfolio.
  • You’re looking for an interactive, virtual studio community to get feedback/critique and encourage creativity and accountability.

Note: When you register for this course, please tell us about where you are in the creative process and what type of background you have so that we can meet your needs and pair you with the right faculty mentor.


  • Tuesday/Thursday live meetings for lectures and studio time
  • Individual consultation with faculty during Week 1 on your work in progress
  • Individual consultation with faculty during Week 4 on your submission package
  • Peer critique throughout

Note: If your schedule does not allow you to attend the live sessions and you would still like to register, that’s OK! You’ll have access to the recordings. They’re usually posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through December 15, 2021.


Week One
Individual consultations with faculty on your work in progress

Tuesday, October 19, 7pm Eastern (Live Session)

  • Welcome
  • Picture Book Language Needs Heart, with Mentor Text discussion
  • Overview of studio time and critiques

Thursday, October 21, 7pm Eastern (Live Session)

  • Optional open studio time
  • 30 minute Q & A + work time on projects
  • Breakout rooms available for peer critiques

Week Two
Tuesday, October 26, 7pm Eastern (Live Session)

  • What is a submission package? What does it mean for your WIP
  • Queries, picture book range for submission, submission packages, and portfolios

Thursday, October 28, 7pm Eastern (Live Session)

  • Optional open studio time
  • 30 minute Q & A + work time on projects
  • Breakout rooms available for peer critiques

Week Three
Tuesday, November 2, 7pm Eastern (Live Session)

  • Revision (Simplify)
  • The Big Picture: How Creativity Fits with Work and Family

Thursday, November 4, 7pm Eastern (Live Session)

  • Optional open studio time
  • Where do we go from here?

Week Four
Individual consultations with faculty on your dummy/submission package, scheduled at a mutually convenient time


The work between “draft” and “submission-ready package” is perhaps most crucial in giving your story the kind of heart that can propel it into the hands and minds of young readers.



Crafting a Picture Book Dummy
How to Write a Picture Book (When You’re An Illustrator)
Breaking Through Those Creative Blocks
Illustrator Inspiration from Shadra Strickland & Kelly Light (video)

Daria Peoples is our 2021 Artist of the Year and her art will be displayed at the Barn throughout the year. At one of our #HFGathers, Pat Cummings had a great conversation with Daria about art, race, mentorship and more. Here are some video clips of Daria from the Gather:
How to see as an artist
Childhood inspiration in art
Finding your creative flow
Holding space for black and brown children
Turning personal experiences into books
From personal story to a book
Subtleties of color and imagery
Children as professional picture readers


Daria Peoples

Daria Peoples’ first job was at nine years old in the children’s section of her hometown library in Paso Robles,…
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Brittany J. Thurman

Brittany J. Thurman has always listened in on the stories told by her grandmother. These same stories hold space in…
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