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Spend a Week or a Weekend With Me!

Okay, I doubt that little old me will be the main draw for you with these wonderful opportunities, but I’m surely a bonus. What opportunities, you ask? First, I want to tell you about the weeklong Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers workshop that’s happening June 14th to the 18th, 2010, in Sandy, Utah.

This is an intensive workshop with writers, teachers, illustrators, editors, and agent (me!), for people who want to write kidlit (you!). Instead of a big conference where presenters can only speak for 45 minutes to a huge room of people, this will be an incredibly intimate, concentrated and unique workshop-based experience. Small classes, in-depth instruction, an entire week spent on the craft of kidlit. Faculty in attendance will be Carol Lynch Williams, Sara Zarr, Kevin Hawkes, Sydney Salter, Ally Condie and many more. I’m so excited for this opportunity. Registration is now open, so check out the workshop website.

If you’ve got no time for a Utah getaway but still want this kind of close personal attention from agents, editors and other writers, do check out the Big Sur Writing Workshop, which is hosted by the Andrea Brown Agency. We have one coming up March 12th through the 14th in beautiful Monterey, CA. Myself and some other ABLit agents will be attending, as will several editors and guest authors. December’s workshop was fantastic, and I can’t wait to do critique, meet writers and run workshop groups all over again. Check out the workshop website by clicking here.

These types of conferences are such an important resource for writers and everyone should experience such a process at least once. Huge conferences like the SCBWI nationals are essential, too, but this is a great opportunity to showcase your work, get personal feedback and learn and grow in a very intimate environment. Speaking of conferences, I’ll be at the San Francisco Writers Conference on Valentine’s Day weekend. See you there!


  1. Lynn Rush’s avatar

    Sounds fantastic.

  2. Siski Green’s avatar

    Argh! I can’t attend. But for nice reasons: I’ll be in England in March, then Chile after that – indefinitely! I’ll have to miss out on a lot of great in-person opportunities, but at least there’s a great online community for me to hang out with! Don’t suppose Ablit would like to do a writers’ retreat in South America some time?! Go on, you know you want to…

  3. Candace’s avatar

    I reallllly wish I could attend but alas, I can’t.

  4. @jmartinlibrary’s avatar

    I won’t get to see you in Utah, but I DO look forward to seeing you at the DFWWW conference in April! YAY!

  5. Alison Gresik’s avatar

    I’m so excited to be attending! I signed up for Sara Zarr’s workshop and then was tickled to see you would be there as well, since I started reading your blog several months ago. It’ll be my first real writing conference. I’ve been to Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College many times, but it is the exact opposite of intimate 🙂

  6. mstruitt’s avatar

    Talk about a catch-22. Any aspiring author can see the wonderful benefits of attending such an event. Considering I am a middle school teacher, the funds nor my schedule would allow me to do something like this. I would love to meet with agents, editors, and published writers. How splendid! Alas, I will have to stick to researching on blogs and writing, writing, writing….

    on a side note – as a middle school teacher, I like to think I have some idea of what the YA audience wants. In my school, the vampire craze is slowly on its way out. Now they are into the fallen angel phase (fallen, hush, hush…). I think it will be the next big craze.

    I also feel they want something a little more true to what their lives are really like. I have had five pregnant students in my four years of teaching. I think YA books tend to sugarcoat things, and it is a disservice to the readers.

  7. Don Cummer’s avatar

    I’d love to go to Utah. I’d love to go to Big Sur. But I’m not sure heaven and earth can be moved in time.

    As a big fan of Henry Miller, I see an irony here. I can’t imagine him trekking out from Brooklyn or Paris or Big Sur itself to attend writers conferences. The industry has changed since his day…

    Mind you, I can imagine what kind of mischief he would have gotten into — he and Anais Nin. But then, they wouldn’t be writing kidlit.

  8. Mary’s avatar

    I’ve already signed up for WIFYR in Utah – and knowing you’re going to be there is a bonus. I appreciate all the advice you give on this site.

  9. @jmartinlibrary’s avatar


    “Now they are into the fallen angel phase (fallen, hush, hush…). I think it will be the next big craze.”

    I’m guessing the fallen angel train has already passed. I don’t know what it looks behind an editor or agent’s desk, but at library and book conferences we do see the ARCs and trends about six to eighteen months before the actual books are released. I saw a lot of fae themed and angel themed books last Spring. When I see a trend in ARCs in April, it makes me think the trend will play out within a year or two.

    You never know, though. I wonder what is around the corner.

    Mary, do you see still see a lot of Angel book queries?

  10. Susan James’s avatar

    Oh, I would LOVE to do either of those, but the March time is during my kids’ Spring Break, and we’re taking a family trip. Ditto June. But like jmartinlibrary, I hope to meet you in April.

  11. mstruitt’s avatar

    That makes sense. As a writer, it might be difficult to work into that target audience at this point. But I will say most of these novels are the first in a series. If there are as popular as I think they will be (and the bestseller list seems to prove they will be) they will be around for the next few years. Perhaps longer than a year or two.

  12. mstruitt’s avatar

    of course am I writing a novel about this? No. I am not smart enough to follow that trend. I have one finished novel about a dystopian society and one dealing with death and drunk driving.

    Perhaps I can throw in a angel or two for good measure….

  13. Mary’s avatar

    Mstruitt and @jmartinlibrary — Fallen angels were a flash in the pan. Yes, it’s important to keep in mind that books out in stores now have been in the works for up to two years. So Fall 09 was definitely fallen angels but people just hoping to get into it have missed the boat by a long shot.

    Now I know this is the part where I’m supposed to make a trend prediction for what’s next but I am keeping mum. 🙂

  14. @jmartinlibrary’s avatar

    Oh no, don’t make a prediction. You don’t want to jinx it! 😉

    Plus, who wants to write to follow a trend? Just write stuff you wanna write.

  15. Mary’s avatar

    @jmartinlibrary — That’s exactly why. I have a pretty good handle on what’s going to be coming around in the next year or so, but don’t want to give writers any ideas.

  16. Jackee’s avatar

    I’m planning on Utah! And I promise we can meet and still be friends if you reject me between now and then. LOL

  17. katie’s avatar

    Well, since I’m currently living in France, doubt i’ll be able to get back to the US anytime soon. But your post did make me look into writer’s workshops and conferences in the area. Holy Cow! Are they usually this expensive? I’m looking at the writer’s workshop in Paris (member of the WC&C) and it’s 650-750 euros per workshop. And an extra 75 euro if I want to sit down with an agent. Spots are limited (only 12 for my prefered workshop)
    Is this the normal way of things? Or am I just lucky because I live outside Paris?
    I think I’ll send in a scholarship submission to the WC&C. It looks like a good opportunity.

  18. Siski Green’s avatar

    Okay, my money is gods and goddesses, or aliens being the next big thing. Am I even close? Anyone else think of anything they think will be the next big thing?

  19. Krista G.’s avatar

    I’ve wanted to go to that Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers workshop ever since I first heard about it, and then, earlier this week, I stopped by their website and discovered, lo and behold, you’re the attending agent!

    My parents (and in-laws) live less than forty-five minutes from there, so I’m still hoping I can swing it. Fingers crossed!

  20. katie’s avatar

    PS, I think werewolves are the next big thing. Teen wolf totally needs to make a come back.

  21. Kristi’s avatar

    I won’t be attending those but I believe an agent from your agency will be at a conference I’m attending in April. Also, I think you’ve had a Big Sur event here in Colorado before so I’ll have to see if any more are planned. I’d love to meet you sometime!

  22. Franziska Green’s avatar

    Katie, I think werewolves are already out there. Isn’t Jonathan Maberry’s The Wolfman one of them?
    PS I’m Siski, but I’m swapping to my full name… long story.

  23. Mary’s avatar

    Katie — ABLit has a very popular werewolf book out right now, SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater. As Franziska points out, it’s already on radar.

    Kristi — Andrea will be doing Big Sur in Colorado again in May. Here’s info:

  24. katie’s avatar

    Cool! Thanks for the heads up! I feel so out of the loop living here sometimes.

  25. Kristi’s avatar

    Thanks Mary!! I’ll check it out.

  26. Cassandra’s avatar

    Wish I could come…too bad I live in So. Cal. and not Utah.

  27. Cassi’s avatar

    I’d love to come to a writing conference someday but they always seem so far away. I live in Southeastern Kentucky, so both California & Utah are out of the picture.

  28. Talia Vance’s avatar

    Let me chime in to say that if you can go to a conference with Mary, you should do it! I attended Big Sur in December, and Mary gave me some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received. Not only was she able to hone in on and articulate the specific problem, she told me how to FIX it. Thanks Mary! I’m still working on the rewrite.:)

  29. Mary’s avatar

    Talia — Aww, thank you so much! Hope the rewrite is going well!

  30. Melissa’s avatar

    Oh, I am dreaming of it. I’m not in the U.S. at the moment, but maybe next year…

  31. Amy’s avatar

    As a Utah resident, I have always wanted to attend the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers workshop. This year, I finally am! I’m excited for the opportunity to meet you and to participate in Sara Zarr’s workshop. See you in June!

  32. Heather Kelly’s avatar

    If ONLY I didn’t live on the East Coast. This sounds wonderful. I’m looking forward to the NESCBWI conference in the spring.

  33. Magan Vernon’s avatar

    Wondering if I could get work to pay for this…no probably not. I’m actually posting this because I feel like an idiot. You sent me a form message to resubmit with my query and first ten pages, so I replyed to that and then sent it again as well with a new e-mail. So after that long schpeel, I was just wondering which one you would prefer, replying directly to that or to send a new one? Or am I just going to end up in the slush pile?

  34. tina lee’s avatar

    This sounds wonderful. With Sara Zarr!!!

  35. Jon Arntson’s avatar

    Wow, what a week that would be! One day, when I have a completed book, I’ll be super excited about this type of opportunity.

    One day.

  36. Mary’s avatar

    Magan — If I ask for a resubmission because the query didn’t include sample pages, it gets back in line in the slush.

  37. anita Nolan’s avatar

    When are you coming East, Mary? We’d love to have you at a NJ SCBWI event!


  38. PL Anderson’s avatar

    I wish so much I could make it to Utah for a week, or Cali for the weekend in march, but I have little kids to take care of and my budget won’t allow it. I’ll be negotiating (i.e. begging) my hubby for an early birthday present and maybe I can make it to Big Sur in December…?

  39. katie’s avatar

    Hmn….what about ‘Historical’ Paranormal?…:)

  40. Alice Beesley’s avatar

    I’m excited to hear you’re coming to wfyr in Utah. I love that conference and have gone before and plan to go again this year.


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