Top Kid’s Book Conference — March 2013

Photo by Katy Pye

The Big Sur Writing Workshop for children and young adult authors is coming up, March 1st to 3rd, on the legendary Monterey, CA coast. Co-hosted by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and the Henry Miller Memorial Library, this is the big time without the big attitude of larger conferences.

Last year, after four years writing drafts, absorbing critiques from family, friends, and fellow writers at home, I decided it was time to leave my safe chair. Time to brave, first hand, the rapidly changing world of agents and publishing. To my delight and relief I discovered the client/agent relationship is rarely Toto vs Miss Gulch.  Oz Miss Gulch

The large group lectures served up valuable insights about today’s publishing world — hello, reality checks — what goes into choosing cover designs, and what to expect when your hot book property heads to Hollywood. The small group workshops (5-6 people) sent me back to my room after dinner with good ideas to fine-tune my manuscript for the next day. Social events before and during meals gave me a chance to talk to other authors and several Andrea Brown agents, one-on-one, in a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. I came home renewed and more confident in the future of my writing and my first novel. 

My workshop leaders were Andrea Brown Senior Agent Laura Joy Rennert, and wide-ranging and prolific author, Catherine Ryan Hyde

Laura is the author of two picture books. New this fall is ROYAL PRINCESS ACADEMY: DRAGON DREAMS

Cover: Royal Princess Academy: Dragon Dreams-Laura Joy RennertPrincess Emma has real princess problems–she’s clumsy, insecure, hates pink, doesn’t reign supreme at school, and, if she loses the big All-School Princess contest, there could be trouble. Melanie Florian’s illustrations humorously capture Emma’s come-here, go-away princess predicament.

Laura’s first book, BUYING, TRAINING, AND CARING FOR YOUR DINOSAUR, is the ultimate, how-to book. Great read-aloud fun and Marc Brown’s cheerful illustrations will delight both kids and adults. Cover: BT&C for Your Dinosaur-Laura Joy Rennert

One of my favorite Catherine Ryan Hyde books is BECOMING CHLOE.Cover: Becoming Chloe-Catherine Ryan Hyde

A beautifully crafted story of acceptance, hope, and redemption, Hyde’s crisp, immediate prose creates a complex world of emotional depth for her characters and their situations. The sensibilities of the story resonated with parts of a long-ago me. 

Check out Catherine’s website for a slew of great YA and adult books, including her latest U.S. release, WHEN YOU WERE OLDER 

Cover: When You Were Older, Hyde

Her international best-seller, PAY IT FORWARDspawned a movement and a touching movie. But read the book first! The Pay It Forward Experience website documents how people, including some astounding kids, are daily re-imagining and energizing the book’s (Catherine’s) core idea of transforming lives and the world.

Thanks to Laura, Catherine, and my fellow workshop authors (talented writers, all) for their generous and supportive feedback. 

The Big Sur Writing Workshop: Children to Young Adult, is now taking registrations for March 2013. This year’s faculty of agents, editors, and author presenters is here. It fills quickly. If you write for kids, give yourself a gift and go.

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