Complete Picture Book Workshop with Sylvie Frank, Danielle Smith, and Jessixa Bagley

Date(s): March 23, 2017 6:00 PM – March 26, 2017 10:30 AM
Cost: Workshop with Onsite Lodging: $899, Workshop Only: $699
Faculty: editor Sylvie Frank, literary agent Danielle Smith, and author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley
Maximum Class Size: 10 lodging / 15 off-site local
How to Apply:Click Here to Apply

Editor at Paula Wiseman Books / Simon & Schuster Sylvie Frank
Lupine Grove Creative, agent Danielle Smith
and esteemed author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley
March 23-26, 2017



it was fantasticOur 2014, 2015 and 2016 Complete Picture Book Workshops SOLD OUT and each intensive has resulted in a writer (or two) being signed by the visiting agent (See Writing Barn Success Stories) with manuscripts being sold and turned into books, which were read in their draft stages at the Writing Barn podium!

These weekends are intimate gatherings where deep work is done and deep bonds are formed.

Do not miss our 2017 Complete Picture Book Intensive where three industry professionals will work directly with the writers to transform their work! Published authors and illustrators are also encouraged to apply as well as picture book novices and those-on-the-verge. The lecture/workshop and one-on-one critique format allows for deep instruction for all levels. 

(To apply, fill out the application form here.)


12819327_1003678319670793_4730165147479774266_o2017 Lectures and Workshops:

Dummies for Smarties: From Manuscript to Bound Book and Everything In-Between with editor Sylvie Frank from Paul Wiseman Books

So you’ve written a picture book—now what? In this session, editor Sylvie Frank will demonstrate how book dummies help her to edit a text. You’ll get the inside scoop on the start-to-finish editorial process with an example of real-life, published book. Then, get a chance to cast a revisionist eye on your own work-in-progress by making a picture book dummy. We’ll be paying particular attention to word count, page turns, pacing, and plot.

All participants should bring a work-in-progress manuscript, four pieces of standard printer paper, scissors, and a glue stick to this session. 



Telling Your Story from the Start with Danielle Smith

Each of us brings something unique to the table, be it years of experience writing or simply loving the craft, but we all have a passion for children’s literature. Whether you are pre-published author, an award winning illustrator, a best-selling author or simply starting from the beginning, your story matters! But knowing how and sometimes which book to put forward is the toughest choice of all. How is your book going to be discovered? By agents? By publishers? By librarians and booksellers? By bloggers and readers? Knowing how to talk about your book is crucial — and somewhat different — at every step in the process.
In this hands-on presentation packed with examples and exercises Red Fox Literary agent, Danielle Smith, will explore ways in which you as a writer can not only follow your writing heart, but also find success in your endeavors. With the end goal being that you will leave energized, prepared and in love with what you have to offer the world.

Both Sides of the Picture Book: An Illustrator’s Approach to Story and Art; Independently and Together with Jessixa Bagley
Writing picture books and illustrating picture books are about joining two worlds together on the page and in the reader’s experience. Though art and story are complex and have their own unique challenges, the process of writing and illustration are intertwined. Considering both art and text as you are writing, will aid you in developing your story. Illustrators will learn how to approach a story of their own creation from the inside out and writers will explore looking through the eyes of the illustrator as a way to help bring your picture book to life.


At this picture book intensive weekend, you will join with the prestigious faculty in an intimate setting to investigate the form, practice the craft, and help give your manuscripts the edge they need to make it in today’s marketplace and reach an eager, young audience. You can look forward to:

  • The study of successful picture books: where behind the scenes publishing information is shared13245274_1056951461010145_2931944392714617262_n
  • Writing exercises and hands-on revision practice
  • Transform quiet texts into MUST HAVES
  • Pacing and page turns
  • Character development secrets
  • Read aloudability
  • Evening visits from Austin authors/illustrators
  • In-depth critiques of your work from your one-on-one faculty instructor
  • Evening readings around the fire pit or on the party porch
  • Delicious vegetarian meals
  • Dinners at local Austin eateries (*not included in price of the weekend)
  • A relaxing and inviting environment to create
  • Meeting writers from around the country
  • Bonding with faculty over board games, evenings around the fire pit, and chatting on the party porch.


All participants will be asked to:

  • possibly pre-read a selection of picture books
  • submit a manuscript for a one-on-one critique
  • prepare and bring a draft for in-class exercises.


Faculty Bios: 


Sylvie Frank  is the editor of award-winning and critically acclaimed books including Breathe by Scott Magoon;Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo; Miss Mary ReportingThe True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber by Sue Macy, illustrated by C. F. Payne; Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught; and Storm by Donna Jo Napoli. Since joining Paula Wiseman Books in January 2013, Sylvie has been on the prowl for literary, character-driven middle grade and kid-focused, snappy picture books. She is drawn to original voices across all genres. One of her favorite pastimes is browsing agents’ and illustrators’ websites for new talent. When she’s not reading, Sylvie can be found running while listening to audiobooks.




Danielle Smith is founder of Lupine Grove Creative and former agent at Red Fox Literary. Danielle began her career as the well-known blogger behind the online review site There’s a Book.  Her children’s book reviews have also appeared in top online and print publications such as Parenting Magazine and Women’s World.   Smith’s expertise in children’s literature led her to a career as an agent eager to work with many more talented authors and illustrators.  Danielle’s most recent sales include WILD BLUES by Beth Kephart (CAITLYN DLOULY/S&S 2018), THE QUEER HISTORY PROJECT: No Way, They Were Gay? by Lee Wind (Beyond Words/September 2017), WALK YOUR DOG by Elizabeth Stevens Omlor and illustrator Neesha Hudson (Putnam Children’s/Summer 2017), THE GREAT INDOORS by Julie Falatko (Disney Hyperion/2019) and of course SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR books one and two by Julie Falatko.  When she’s not got her nose in a book Danielle can be found spending time with her two kiddos and husband exploring the town they love.


Jessixa Bagley is an author and illustrator who has been making her own picture books since she was 8 years old. She has a BFA in painting and printmaking and has worked as fine artist, comics creator and illustrator since 2002. Her comics have been in numerous publications ranging from The Chicago Reader and The Seattle Weekly to Nickelodeon Magazine. She has also been featured in New American Paintings for her fine art drawings. Jessixa was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Her debut picture book Boats for Papa (Roaring Brook Press) was a Junior Library Guild selection, an ALA Notable Book and garnered four starred reviews. Her third picture book with Roaring Brook, Laundry Day, is due out in 2017 and she is currently collaborating on the picture book Vincent Comes Home with her husband, Aaron Bagley, due out 2018. She lives in Seattle, WA with her loving husband in a castle in the sky surrounded by books, fake food and miniature toys.




Who Should Apply for The Complete Picture Book Workshop?

  • picture book writers and illustrators who are getting personal rejections from agents and editors
  • published/agented picture book writers and illustrators looking to deepen their work
  • novelists who are wanting to learn more about the picture book genre
  • poets who want to try their hand at the picture book format
  • SCBWI members  and WLT members, and others who have attended classes, workshops, and conferences routinely
  • lovers of the picture book form, including artist and illustrators (though the focus of the weekend is on writing a picture book, not illustrating.)
  • those who have taken Picture Book I & II at The Writing Barn.
  • Authors/Illustrators wanting a book dummy review
  • Illustrators wanting a portfolio review


Fees and Pricing: 

This event is limited to 25 participants. There are two pricing options. One with onsite lodging and another for locals, or out-of-town attendees once the onsite lodging at The Writing Barn is full.

photo27WORKSHOP with ONSITE LODGING: $899, 10 of these registrations available. Includes:

  • Lodging on The Writing Barn grounds.
  • 1 dinner, 3 breakfasts, and 2 lunches. All vegetarian. (2 additional dinners will be held off-site at local Austin area eateries and not included in the price of the workshop.)
  • Unlimited snacks and beverages, wine and beer included.
  • Airport shuttle to and from The Writing Barn for those traveling to Austin, at pre-arranged times.


WORKSHOP ONLY:  $699, 15 of these registrations available. Includes:

  • Locals not staying on The Writing Barn grounds.
  • Out-of-town attendees, once the on-site lodging is full.
  • DOES NOT include airport shuttle, but will include transportation to off-site dinners.




Once you are notified of your acceptance to the workshop, a 50% deposit is due. If there is a waiting list for this event, and you have to cancel, all but a $30 application fee will be returned to you if you cancel 6 weeks before the event. If there is no waiting list, and the spot is unable to be filled, the 50% deposit is non-refundable.

Payments may be made via check or credit card. Credit card payments have an additional 3% service charge added.

The remaining 50% is due 6 weeks before the event.


If you care to extend your stay at The Writing Barn or Book House to retreat/write after the event, please inquire about discounted stays.

If you wish to have a Writer Massage in your room, during an evening, with one of Austin’s top massage therapists, the cost for an hour, full body massage is $100.

If you wish to schedule a headshot session with Author Headshot Photographer, Sam Bond of Sam Bond Photography on the arrival day, please contact her at

APPLICATIONS:  To apply, fill out the application form here.