2020 Kidz Lit Schedule

 

PLEASE NOTE: Our schedule is not exact. We are adding classes and the times of these workshops may change.

Thursday March 19, 2020

1:00 Registration Begins

3:30 – 4:30

Pitch Studio with Tessa Emily Hall
In this studio, you’ll learn how to craft a perfect pitch. Whether you’re pitching a nonfiction book, a children’s series, or a novel, the mechanics of the pitch are the same, and so are the results. From the introduction of the main character to the hook to the promise of the premise, Tessa will walk you through what makes a powerful, memorable pitch. She’ll also share how to make the most of those 15-minute appointments with the editor you’ve been stalking.

 

4:30 – 5:00 Faculty Meeting

5:00 Dinner

7:00 Opening Session with Getting-to-Know-You Games

8:00(ish) Late Night Workshops with Michelle Medlock Adams

The Basics of Writing for Children: In this session (great for those just venturing into the land of kidslit), Michelle will discuss children’s books—from board books to YA, and everything in between. You’ll learn the proper word counts for various kinds of children’s books, layout, submission formatting and useful tips that will answer questions such as: “Where does my book fit?” and “How do I break into the world of children’s books?” If you’ve got questions, she’s got answers! Aspiring children’s writers will love this session!

 

Friday, March 20, 2020

7:30 – 8:30 Breakfast

9:00 – 9:45 General Session / Praise & Worship / Introduction of Faculty Members

10:00 – 11:00 Workshops

Leslie Santamaria
From Llama Llama to Twilight: An Introduction to Children’s Books: Board books, picture books, picture storybooks, easy readers, early readers, leveled readers, chapter books, middle grade, and more…what’s the difference? In this lively, hands-on session, we’ll examine all the types of books for kids at different ages and grade levels and discuss the unique aspects of each so that you can figure out the best formats for your great ideas. Level: Beginner

Nancy Lohr
Make or Break Qualities in Novels for Children: Writing for children isn’t as easy as it looks. We will take a broad look at the middle grade/tween market (with application to books for younger and older readers) including some myths and unique challenges. We will discuss some aspects of writing that can make or break a manuscript for young readers. Topics will include plots, the opening sentence, strong dialogue, cadence, and more.

Taryn Souders
How Public Speaking and School Visits Can Become an Author's Best Friend (Part 1): If you thought authors can only make money selling books, you’re wrong. Supplement your income by doing school visits! Schools often look for writers to come speak to students about the writing/publishing process. But have you ever listened to a presentation you’d just as soon sleep through . . . or sneak out of? Don’t be that speaker! Learn some do’s and don’ts of public speaking as Taryn Souders shares what she’s learned from years and years of doing school visits and teaching at conferences. Or maybe public speaking doesn’t bother you, but you’re not sure how to put together a school visit. Great news—this workshop will culminate with Taryn doing one of her favorite school presentations, hopefully giving you some fun ideas to create your own program. So come watch—and maybe even learn how to do math-magic tricks!

11:15 – 12:00 Workshop

Jesse Florea 
Jesus Wants You to Paddle: Writing is like whitewater rafting. We can’t sit back and enjoy the ride; we have to paddle! Anecdotes include how he got into writing books and various setbacks or embarrassing moments he’s experienced in his career. Jesus doesn’t promise us an easy road, but it’s a blessed one if we trust and follow Him. Listen as Jesse shares humorous stories and things we can learn from the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus.

Noon – 1:00 Lunch

1:30 – 2:20 Workshops

Michelle Medlock Adams
Ten Misleading Myths About Writing for Children: In this workshop, Michelle teaches the 10 most misleading mindsets concerning the world of children’s writing, and she also shares the truth. And let’s face it—the truth will set you free and put you on the road to publication!! Don’t be fooled anymore. Find out the real deal and begin selling those children’s stories and books!

Sally Apokedak
Breaking In With Board Books: In this workshop, Sally maps out the way her best selling board book writer has built a full-time career writing short books. This class will give you an inside view from an agent's perspective. What makes books marketable? Exceptional writing is important, but that's not enough. You also have to meet publishers' needs. In this workshop, we'll spend some time researching markets and brainstorming ideas.

Courtney Lasater
Writing Devotions for Children: As a writer, you can use your storytelling skills to teach kids about Jesus and encourage them in their faith. You don’t need to be a parent or a youth ministry worker or even consider yourself a “children’s devotional writer.” You just need to be willing to share God’s story with kids, one chunk at a time. Learn the do’s and don’ts of children’s devotional writing and how you can make a difference in the spiritual lives of kids ages 6-12.

 

2:30 – 3:20 Workshops

Leslie Santamaria
The Best of Two Worlds: Writing Biographical Picture Books: One of the most popular nonfiction categories for kids, biographies are in great demand for all grade levels. We’ll look specifically at biographies written as picture books. What makes a good subject for a biography? How does a writer summarize a life in so few words? What type of research is needed? What back matter should accompany the manuscript? Writing a picture book biography allows you to combine storytelling techniques with cool factual info. It’s creative nonfiction at its best! This presentation is part of Leslie Santamaria’s MFA graduation lecture and uses PowerPoint slides and published examples. 

Ramona Richards
Why Did I Get Rejected?: A View from Behind the Desk: Editors don’t look for a reason to buy the novel you’ve struggled with for months—or years! They look for a reason to reject it. Don’t give them one. This workshop provides a glimpse from behind an editor’s desk: what they look for, why talent is not enough to get your manuscript published, and traps to avoid in such areas as format, presentation, and the development of character and story arcs. 

Taryn Souders
How Public Speaking and School Visits Can Become an Author's Best Friend (Part 2): If you thought authors can only make money selling books, you’re wrong. Supplement your income by doing school visits! Schools often look for writers to come talk to students about the writing/publishing process. But have you ever listened to a presentation you’d just as soon sleep through . . . or sneak out of? Don’t be that speaker! Learn some do’s and don’ts of public speaking as Taryn Souders shares what she’s learned from years and years of doing school visits and teaching at conferences. Or maybe public speaking doesn’t bother you, but you’re not sure how to put together a school visit. Great news—this workshop will culminate with Taryn doing one of her favorite school presentations, hopefully giving you some fun ideas to create your own program. So come watch—and maybe even learn how to do math-magic tricks!

 

3:30 – 4:20 Workshops

Tessa Emily Hall
YA Christian Fiction: What Teens Really Want to Hear—and What They Don’t: The YA fiction genre in the general market is more popular than ever. So why does YA Christian fiction seem to be suffering? Perhaps it’s because teens assume Christian fiction is cheesy or preachy. Although books can be powerful tools to reach lost youth, teens search for good stories that offer escapism—not a sermon. In this workshop, Tessa will teach how to deliver a story that appeals to the heart of youth while avoiding major pitfalls that YA Christian fiction writers sometimes make. You will leave this workshop with a greater understanding of how to write an inspirational yet authentic story for teens, whether it’s geared toward the general market or the Christian market.

Jesse Florea
By Hook or By Crook: How to Engage Young Readers:  Studies show you have less than 15 seconds to grab a young reader’s attention. A creative lead could also be the difference between publication and rejection. This workshop will discuss different ways to begin a story . . . and then how to keep a reader’s attention. We’ll also look at the editorial needs and different kinds of stories that appear in Focus on the Family Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines. 

Jill Roman Lord
Picture Book Proposals: Just like children are not small adults, children’s book proposals are not the same as adult book proposals. We’ll go over every important nuance in proposals, from one sheets, to comparables, to discoverability and more. We’ll dig deep into the secrets of writing children’s book proposals that will knock the socks off an editor and get your project noticed.

4:30 – 6:00 Free Time

6:00 – 7:00  Dinner

7:30  General Session / Praise & Worship / Keynote Speaker (Michelle Medlock Adams) followed by author book signing event!

 

 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

7:30 – 8:30 Breakfast

9:00 – 9:45 General Session / Praise & Worship / Keynote Speaker (Michelle Medlock Adams)

10:00 – 11:00 Workshops

Sally Apokedak
Picture Book Basics: In this workshop, we'll talk about character, voice, and plot. All three are vital for fiction picture books, even for books aimed at toddlers. We will discuss how to take characters on satisfying journeys and we'll talk about using picturesque language that will make your work stand out. 

Nancy Lohr
Novels For Children (Part 1): Writing for children isn’t as easy as it looks. Take a look at an overview that includes the reading needs of children, some myths about writing for children, and the challenges of writing for children in the 21st century.

Dori Harrell
Navigating Indie-Publishing for Kid Lit: Indie publishing kid lit is not as simple as writing a story and hitting Publish on Amazon. As much as possible, we recommend following the route of established publishers and indie authors, and this workshop walks you through the necessary steps to successfully self-publish a children’s literature book—from reasons to indie publish to the different levels of editing (oh yeah—all levels of kid lit need content editing, including picture books) and styles of illustrations—and more. This workshop includes a list of resources.

11:15-12:00 Workshop

All Faculty Panel: Ask Us Anything! 

Noon – 1:00 Lunch

1:30 – 2:20 Workshops

Ramona Richards
Why Does It Take SO Long?: The Publishing Process from Submission to Contract: The path of a manuscript from the moment it arrives on an editor’s desk through a contract offer. Bonus: Advantages of seeking a traditional publisher.

Courtney Lasater
7 Pitfalls in Children’s Devotional Writing: Writing devotions is a great way to use your gifts to help kids learn the truth of God’s Word. However, certain things can creep into devotional writing that might give readers the wrong message or keep them from fully engaging with your story. Learn some of the common pitfalls in children’s devotional writing and how to avoid them so your devotional stories will shine.

Sally Apokedak
Compelling Characters Work Hard: Sally's #1 reason for rejecting manuscripts is that the characters are not actively seeking a goal. If you want readers to love your protagonist and worry about him, he must be working to gain something. We aren't enthralled by basketball players on the sideline. And we don't care when they are practicing free throws, either. We root for them as they play real games with stakes. In this workshop, we'll talk about characters who are fighting for something. 
 

2:30 – 3:20 Workshops

Leslie Santamaria
One Fish, Too Two Fish, Red Fish, Blew Blue Fish*: Self-Editing for Kidlit Writers: You’ve captured a draft manuscript for kids that you think has potential. Now what? How do you make sure it’s the best it can be to sell well and inspire young readers? Is it the right length? Are the vocabulary and syntax on the appropriate reading level? Does the dialogue sound like real kids today? We’ll discuss the special considerations for revising and polishing your story or nonfiction piece for kids, including who should critique and beta read your work and how to find those people. This presentation uses PowerPoint slides and published examples.
*by Dr. Seuss

Michelle Medlock Adams
Promotion, Publicity, & Platform, Oh my!: (Yes, platform is important in children’s writing, too!) Promotion, Publicity, and Platform are important at all stages of the publishing process—while you’re shopping your book proposal to various publishers, before you finish writing your book, and after your book releases. In this workshop, best-selling author Michelle Medlock Adams will cover the importance of creating a buzz about your book for a successful book launch; ways to promote your book that won’t have that “buy my book” in your face feel; how to give more than you take when building your platform and promoting yourself, your book, and your message; ways to use evergreen events, holidays, trends, and newsworthy tidbits to gain publicity for your book (even if it’s not a new release) and more. If promotion doesn’t come easily to you, then join Michelle for a fun, encouraging, and practical workshop. She will give you the push you need to become a promotional machine!

Jill Roman Lord

Rhythm and Rhyme Workshop: The only thing worse than writing bad rhymes is reading bad rhymes. Nothing makes a children’s editor cringe more than having to sift through them. Jill’s class will teach the science of rhythm and the art of rhyme so that verses come out perfect every time.  

If you want to write in rhythm and you want to write in rhyme.
There’re secrets you should know so that it’s perfect every time.
So, if this is your passion and it’s all you want to do
Then slip into Jill’s class for a fun rhyming rendezvous!

3:30 – 4:20 Workshops

Tessa Emily Hall
Create a Marketing Plan You’ll Actually Follow!: Marketing isn’t exactly every author’s best friend. But successful authors understand, if they wish to create a sustainable author career, they must invest time (and money) into introducing their books to readers. But how is that possible for those who have zero marketing experience? Furthermore, how can an aspiring author create an impressive marketing plan to include in their book proposal—all in an effort to land a book contract? In this workshop, Tessa shares the marketing plan template her clients use for their releases. You will be given the opportunity to draw from your marketing passions and strengths and leave with the first draft of the marketing plan for your book (published or unpublished). The purpose of this is to help you create a targeted plan that you will actually follow. Besides, after investing so many hours into writing your book, don’t you think it deserves some attention?

Jesse Florea
Be a Child to Write for Children: Kids are creative, funny and thoughtful little humans. To write for children, your stories should be like them—creative, thoughtful and funny. This workshop will help you think and be like a child. We’ll talk about who kids are, look at cultural trends, capturing a reader’s attention and playing by the rules. By being a child, you’ll have a better chance of creating stories that will catch an editor’s eye and eventually entertain a child.

Ramona Richards
They Want What? Working with a Traditional Christian Publisher Before and After Contract: This workshop focuses on the relationship of authors with the editorial and marketing teams of a publisher. What happens between submission and rejection/acceptance? What do they need in a proposal and why? What happens once the contract is signed? What do they expect from authors along the production journey? If you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of the publishing process, bring your questions to this session. (novice and intermediate)

4:30 – 6:00 Free Time

6:00 – 7:00  Dinner

7:30  General Session / Praise & Worship / Awards / Keynote Speaker (Jesse Florea)

 

Sunday, March 23, 2020

7:30 – 8:30 Breakfast

9:15 – 9:45 General Session

10:00 – 10:50 Workshops

Nancy Lohr
Novels For Children (Part 2)Writing for children isn’t as easy as it looks. Take a look with Nancy at an overview that includes the reading needs of children, some myths about writing for children, and the challenges of writing for children in the 21st century.

Tessa Emily Hall
How to Sell Your Book to an Agent: What to Do and What to Avoid: It’s no easy feat to attract the attention of a literary agent, especially when it seems as though they’re searching for a reason to reject your manuscript (which isn’t a far stretch from the truth). How can your submission stand out in the midst of an agent’s slush pile? What you can you do to avoid having your submission deleted as soon as the agent opens your email? Come to this workshop and discover how you can increase your chances of signing with a literary agent.

11:00 – 11:50  Workshops

Jill Roman Lord
Picture Book Secrets: In Jill’s class, you’ll learn how to turn your picture book idea into a publishable book! We’ll discuss what makes a picture book a picture book. We’ll examine the basics, how to add gusto to your children’s book, and how to make it sing! We’ll consider query letters, proposals, and other important secrets behind publishable picture books.

Michelle Medlock Adams
Write Successful Holiday Books for Children:
  As the author of several holiday board books that have sold millions, Michelle will lead participants through some of her favorite holiday children’s books, share the key components of successful holiday books, and offer tips for writing your own!

 

Noon: Lunch

1:00 Head home, filled and happy and ready to write for the Lord!