Happy Saturday, everyone!
In two days, registration will be open for our March 29, 2014 conference, Spring: Nature’s Revised Draft held at the Bishop Claggett Center in Buckeystown, Maryland! (Don’t know about you, but I’ll certainly be ready for spring by then!)
Once again, we have a stellar line-up of speakers and sessions which includes three editors, three authors, two agents, one art director, and one author/artist, oh my! Check out their bios/session descriptions either on our website or below, and for those interested in critiques, the deadline is February 28th! Don’t wait until the last minute, because slots are filled on a first come/first served basis.
Need some help with your critique submission? It’s cool, we have your back–here’s some workshop sessions that might help:
- Workshop #1: Opening Lines
- Workshop #2: Amazing Manuscript First Pages
- Workshop #3: Formatting
- Workshop #4: Surviving Your First Critique
- Workshop #5: Perfecting Your Book Pitch
Spring: Nature’s Revised Draft Speaker Bios/Class Descriptions
Revving Your Story Engine: The Essentials of Crafting an Unforgettable Plot
During this two-hour workshop, we will discuss strategies for constructing a plot that compels your reader to keep turning pages. Through guided exercises, participants will have the opportunity to begin outlining a new story or workshop the plot of a work-in-progress.
Alex Arnold works on young adult and middle grade fiction. She is especially interested in quirky and heartwarming middle-grade; voice-driven, contemporary YA; strong friendship stories; and historical with a fresh hook in both middle-grade and YA.
Art Director, Penguin Group USA
A Children’s Book Art Department: An Inside LookIn this segment, attendees will be introduced to Giuseppe Castellano and the imprints he oversees at Penguin Group including Grosset and Dunlap, PSS!, Warne, and the Penguin Young Readers.
We will get a look into what his department looks for in illustrators and what methods they use to find them. The segment will also cover best practices in illustrating children’s books as well as discussing formats. This section of the seminar is meant to offer attendees a deeper insight into the day-to-day inner workings of the children’s book art department.
Giuseppe Castellano is an award-winning designer, illustrator, and art director at Penguin Group USA, with over 14 years of experience in book publishing. He oversees the imprints of Grosset & Dunlap, PSS!, Frederick Warne, the Penguin Young Readers, and Poptropica.
Read more from Giuseppe, including his popular #artips series for illustrators, on Twitter: @pinocastellano.
Associate Agent, Talcott Notch Literary
How to Query and Find an Agent
We work hard writing our novels, and after the first draft is finally complete and you and your critique group have reviewed it over and over again, what’s the next step in the process? This breakout session will talk about the nitty-gritty of finding an agent through querying and addresses questions such as: What are good query letter examples? How can you get your submission noticed? What are the mistakes newcomers make, and how can you avoid them? Bring a copy of a query letter you want critiqued (names x’ed out), and we’ll review a few during our session.
Sara D’Emic is an agent with Talcott Notch Literary based in Milford, CT, though she spends her time all over the CT/NY/NJ area. She represents adult and young adult fiction with an emphasis in mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She earned a BA in writing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College in Boston. She is excited to be here with her client, Rori Shay, author of The Elected Series coming out in April.
Social Media 101 for Authors – presented with Sara D’Emic
Moreso now than ever before, agents and editors expect authors to already have a platform and a presence on the Internet. Whether you’re a social media novice or expert, this session will give you ideas you can use as an author to increase your presence and make the most of social media. You’ll learn how you can interact with other authors, and the answer to social media success riddles such as which author got a publishing deal after she acquired 36K twitter followers? Which self-published author got a film offer from a prominent producer after he saw her tweets and website? We can all learn from tales like these and hope you’ll come prepared to ask and answer questions of your own.
Rori Shay lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and two proficient hair shedders – Misch the cat and Gerry the ninety lb black lab. She studied public relations and marketing at the University of Maryland and received an MBA from George Washington University. Besides writing, she likes to travel, run, read (of course), go pumpkin-picking and snow-shoe! Her first book in The Elected Series, releases April 22nd, 2014.
Associate Editor, Aladdin, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing
Session: Description coming soon!
Alyson Heller edits everything from picture books to middle-grade novels for the Aladdin list. Some of her upcoming projects include The XYZs of Being Wicked, Lucky Me and I Thought This Was a Bear Book by faculty member Tara Lazar. Alyson also edits many of the books within the Aladdin MIX line and several ongoing series. Whether it’s for someone 2 or 12, she loves strong characters with distinctive and true voices, and a fun/unique commercial hook. Tweet her @EditorAlysonH.
Fantasy Writing: From World-Building to Querying
How do you come up with unique ideas for a fantasy project and create compelling characters in today’s competitive market? Christa offers her ideas along with tips on world-building and writing within the genre for middle grade and YA audiences. The difference between writing for adult and middle-grade/teen audiences within fantasy, and suggestions on querying, word count etc will also be addressed.
Christa Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. since 2009 where she is looking for picture books, middle grade and young adult projects and is currently building her list.
NONFICTION: Why it isn’t just “not” fiction
What separates fiction from nonfiction? What is narrative nonfiction? Is it the same thing as creative nonfiction? What is an expert review? Is a bibliography really necessary? Do I need to worry about the common core standards? What about POV? How do I know where to send my story? Does it matter if I make up dialogue? (YES!) Do you care if my grandchild loved my story? (NO.) Who are the great writers in this genre today? Learn the ins and outs of how to research, write, and sell your nonfiction manuscript.
Debra Hess joined Highlights for Children as a Senior Editor in June 2009. She is the author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books for children, including Thurgood Marshall, the Fight for Equal Justice, a NY Public Library Best Books for the Teenage, and Wilson Sat Alone, an acclaimed picture book that was made into a PBS Storytime Special. Debra was Editorial Director of Weekly Reader Custom Publishing, Editor of Scholastic News, and Senior Editor at Scholastic Library Publishing. She has been published by Simon and Schuster, Harper Collins, Hyperion, and Harcourt.
Writer, artist, MD/DE/WV Critique Group Coordinator
Shelley Koon is a writer, artist, photographer, web developer, serial MMO player, lover of Halloween and all things that go bump in the night. She loves horseback riding, long walks in the rain, kittens, puppies and manipulating people and their worlds in both Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Word. She is also a co-blogger for As The Eraser Burns and the Critique group Coordinator for the SCBWI MD/DE/WV region and having just completed the critique group database is now working on an online critique forum for the region.
Class description coming soon!
Author and PiBoIdMo Creator
From Manuscript to Dummy for Picture Book Writers
What makes a solid picture book manuscript? We’ll examine topic and theme to ensure you’ve got a compelling hook and talk “high-concept”. We’ll then dig into our own manuscripts to hone our beginnings, middles and endings. Confused about art notes and how to “leave room” for an illustrator? We’ll look at how popular books balance text and art. Finally, we’ll learn about picture book construction and try plugging our stories into a dummy. Do they fit? How is the pacing? Scene changes? Page-turn surprises? A simple book is not simple to write, but by the end of this 2-hour workshop, you’ll leave more confident than ever in your ability to create a sellable picture book manuscript.
Tara Lazar is a children’s book author, foodie, mother and boogeyman assassin (currently booked at 3:00 a.m. nightly). She writes quirky, humorous picture books and founded Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). Her debut The Monstore released in 2013, with I Thought this was a Bear Book to come this September. Tara lives in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters. Discover original stories, book reviews, giveaways and boogeyman extermination advice at taralazar.com.
He Continues to Make a Difference: The Story of Matthew Shepard
Lesléa Newman uses poetry from October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard as well as photographs and guided imagery to show how we, as children’s book writers, can and must make a difference to make the world a safer place for our youth.
In the Flesh: Fleshing Out Our Characters
Characters live in bodies, and teens, in particular have a very intense relationship with their physical selves. In this workshop, we will explore the importance of physical description and what our characters’ bodies say about them through several writing exercises.
Lesléa Newman is the author of 65 books for readers of all ages, including the novel-in-verse, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, which was named a 2013 ALA Stonewall Honor Book. Among her published works are also the middle grade novel, Hachiko Waits; the YA novel, Jailbait, and the picture books A Sweet Passover, Just Like Mama, Donovan’s Big Day, and Heather Has Two Mommies. She teaches in Spalding University’s brief-residency MFA in Writing Program. Learn more at www.lesleakids.com
So remember, registrations starts on Monday, January 27th! Can’t wait to see you at the conference!