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Get expert insights from SIX award-winning and best-selling authors

Middle Grade & Young Adult Online Writing Conference
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Join Us for Writer's Digest University's
Middle Grade & Young Adult Online Writing Conference

Writer's Digest University is pleased to present an exclusive online event for middle grade and young adult writers! On November 12th and 13th , our first ever Middle Grade and Young Adult Online Writing Conference will provide expert insights from SIX award-winning and best-selling authors on the finer points of how to write within the middle grade and young adult genres. Spend the weekend learning techniques for honing your craft from six different published authors*, then (if you choose) pitch your novel via query letter to a literary agent specifically looking for material in the middle grade and young adult genres. The agent will provide you with a personalized critique of your query - and maybe ask to see more.

Experience the education, camaraderie, and opportunities provided by a live writing conference without ever having to leave your home!

Pitch Your Middle Grade or Young Adult Novel to a Literary Agent 

Join us for the live event and have a chance to get written feedback on your query letter from a literary agent who works with middle grade or young adult authors (or both). Participating agents are Mike Hoogland (Dystel & Goderich Literary Management), Tanusri Prasanna (Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency), Lauren Spieller (Triada US, Inc.), and Brent Taylor (Triada US, Inc.).

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*Our craft-focused conference schedule is designed to provide the kind of education that all Middle Grade and Young Adult writers can use to take their work to the next level.
SESSION 1: The Self-Centered Author, Or Making Fiction Personal

The best way to connect readers to characters, and their stories, is to make your fiction as personal as possible. In this session, award-winning author John 'Corey' Whaley will discuss how he has used aspects from his own life, things both great and small, to help develop characters and narratives-while sharing tips for others to do the same! Followed by questions.
John Whaley Instructor: John 'Corey' Whaley

John 'Corey' Whaley taught public middle and high school before publishing his debut, Where Things Come Back, which is the only book to be awarded the Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris Awards in the same year. Whaley is also the only YA author ever named a "5 Under 35" honoree by the National Book Foundation. His sophomore novel, NOGGIN, was subsequently a finalist for the National Book Award in Young People's Literature. Whaley's third book, Highly Illogical Behavior, an exploration of mental illness and friendship, published in May 2016.

SESSION 2: Efficient Creativity

This workshop-style seminar reaches across genres and disciplines to challenge participants to reflect on and engage with their creative processes. Drawing on research, psychology, and the ideas of some of the most innovative and creative minds of our time, we delve into the creative process. From Steve Jobs' mock turtlenecks to contemporary research on ants to William Carlos Williams' poems written on the backs of prescription pads, we will question what makes an idea beautiful. Participants will be encouraged to reconstruct individualized creative environments to help generate, incubate and cultivate those ideas.
Juliana Baggott Instructor: Julianna Baggott

Julianna Baggott is the author of over twenty books published under her own name as well as two pen names. Her novels The Seventh Book of Wonders and Pure were both New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her most recent release is All of Us and Everything, a comedic novel about an odd family, written under Bridget Asher. Baggott's essays and poems have appeared in The New York Times Modern Love column, New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, Real Simple, Best American Poetry series, and on NPR's Here and Now, All Things Considered, and Talk of the Nation.

SESSION 3: Creating a Character That Your Readers Can't Forget

Debbie Dadey once made a student cry because she came to his school-he had been expecting the characters in her book, and he was bitterly disappointed that they couldn't make it! Dadey will walk you through four basic steps in creating layered characters that will make your readers laugh, cry, and never forget your stories. And there will be time for questions at the end.
Debbie Dadey Instructor: Debbie Dadey

Debbie Dadey is the author and co-author of 166 traditionally published books, including The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series from Scholastic (listed by as one of Scholastic's top three best-selling series of all time) and Mermaid Tales from Simon and Schuster. She has sold over 42 million books. Her newest Mermaid Tales, Books vs Looks, combines ocean ecology and marine life into a fantasy story. 

SESSION 4: Finding Your Own Superpower: Authenticity and the Art of Writing for Kids

One of the hardest things about breaking into children's publishing is that writers hear so much about "the market." From demi-gods to wimpy kids, writers are sometimes inclined to follow these trends, but in fact, this is one of the worst things a writer can do. Kids, even more than adults, seek authenticity. In this session, award-winning author Laurel Snyder will discuss how best to develop a distinct, authentic voice and how to sell work that feels unusual and unlikely-covering both craft and the art of selling a book, with participants encouraged to ask wide-ranging questions.
Laurel Snyder Instructor: Laurel Snyder

Laurel Snyder is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the author of many books for kids, most recently SWAN, the Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova. Her next middle grade novel, Orphan Island, will be out in 2017. She has been the recipient of an E.B. White Honor, an Orbus Pictus Honor, and the Sydney Taylor Medal.

SESSION 5: The Principles of Plotting a YA Novel

The plot of your book is the underlying structure of its story-the specific events, and the order of those events, that create the novel's emotional effects. But how do you know if you're choosing the right events for your story, setting them in the right order, and achieving the effects you have in mind? Editor Cheryl Klein will guide you through the principles that underlie most YA narrative plotting-a framework on which you can build all sorts of variations-and suggest tips and exercises to craft an exciting and emotionally compelling storyline.
Cheryl Klein Instructor: Cheryl B. Klein

Cheryl B. Klein is the author of The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults and the executive editor at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic. Titles she has edited include the New York Times bestselling Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older; A Curse Dark as Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce; Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork; King Baby, by Kate Beaton; Interference, by Kay Honeyman; and The Great Greene Heist, by Varian Johnson. 

SESSION 6: Deep Play and the Bull in the Bicycle

Play is the brain's favorite way of learning-and storytelling is one of our favorite ways to "play." We'll talk about word play, about the role of curiosity and confusion in discovery, and why raising the stakes for yourself is far more vital than "torturing" your characters. Questions invited!
Blythe Woolston Instructor: Blythe Woolston

Blythe Woolston is the author of little novels about physics and grief, evolutionary biology, terrorism, and loneliness. The Freak Observer earned the William C. Morris Award, and Black Helicopters was a Montana Book Award honor title and a High Plains Book Award winner. Catch & Release and MARTians were great joys to write. She loves nonfiction, first-hand experience, and pretending these buttons she's pushing control a spaceship.

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