Monthly Archives: June 2014

It’s Over! Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers 2014

It’s Monday after WIFYR and I feel like I’ve been run through a wringer. Or a wronger. (I am wronger than you.)

My class was amazing.

The mini workshops were amazing.

Next year will be amazing. Yes. I am already working on it.


One of the best things I did in my class this year was read Ann Dee Ellis‘ book The End or Something Like That out loud. This is the 2nd time I’ve read the book (we only read for a total of 50 minutes, so we didn’t finish) and I saw so much good in it. Ann Dee is amazing at literally weaving plot lines together. They come from all angles. This way and that. They side step each other, side swipe each other, inform each other and support each other. I’m not sure how she does it.

Another best thing was my song with Cheri Pray Earl. Yes, we had to start over. Cheri always makes us start over. And yes, I looked like a blue bowling pin. But the lyrics to the song were funny.

Finally the very best thing we did was the dance. One person commented it was weird. Another said never do it again. But I danced and laughed and had so much fun. The best best part, however, was we asked for gently used or new books as a ticket into the dance. These were gathered for the Hopi Community Center (and maybe a library some day?) in Arizona. The good people at Writing and illustrating for Young Readers–Attendees and Faculty and Assistants–gave nearly 400 books. 400!

Thank you to Cynthia Leitich Smith, Greg Leitich Smith, Brodi Ashton, Jen White, Ken Baker, John Cusick, Michelle Witte, Amy Jameson, Sherry Meidell, Cheri Pray Earl, Ann Edwards CannonKristin Ostby, Ilima Todd, J Scott Savage, Shawn Stout, Lisa Mangum, James Dashner, Emily Wing Smith, Jennifer Nielsen, Ann Dee Ellis, Jan Pinborough, Courtney Alameda, Natalie Whipple, and Wendy Toliver. You gave the conference great depth. You were funny, kind and sincerely supportive to the writers and illustrators who came.

Thank you, too, to the assistants who made this possible: Debbie Nance, Becca Birkin, Alison Randall, Michelle Hubbard, Kevin Smith, Joel Smith, Amy White, Bruce Luck, Becca Ogden Jensen, Cindy Stagg, Melanie Skelton, Robin Johnson and Stephanie Moore. I could never have done this without you. I wouldn’t want to.

And finally, Caitlynne Williams and Kyra Williams ran around like crazy helping me. Thank you, Girls. I love you both.

And now, Everyone, start setting aside funds for next year! Yup, we keep doing this crazy event. Or am I the crazy one?


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Filed under Agents, Ann Dee, Character, CLW, Editors, Exercises, Kyra, Plot, Point of View, Publication, Revision, Voice, Writers Block, Writing Marathon, writing process

The Friday Before WIFYR

 by Debbie Nance

This afternoon the WIFYR Committee is meeting at Waterford to set up for the conference, which begins on Monday. We’ll arrange tables and chairs for registration. We’ll arrange tables and chairs in the morning and mini workshop classrooms. We’ll put up signs by the rooms that show the schedule for each day. We’ll put together the handouts and name tags.

We’ll discover whatever we’ve forgotten. (I hope it isn’t anything big.)

What project is your MC involved with or in charge of? Write a scene where she discovers something BIG was overlooked or falls apart at the last minute. What is her reaction? Does she break down and cry? Does she grit her teeth and power through and act like nothing happened? Does she call her best friend and enlist help? Does she confront and blame the person who made the mistake? Write the scene in a way that reveals your MC‘s character.

Okay, that’s it. Next time I write, WIFYR 2014 will be ended.

Have a great weekend and hope to see you bright and early Monday morning.

Happy Father’s Day this coming Sunday!

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Three Things Thursday


I’ll be off all next week.

Working on the conference.

Hope to see you there.

And for sure the following week.


Cheryl Van Eck:

Have you all seen this article in Forbes about The Fault in our Stars?

It’s a debate that’s not only affecting Hollywood but YA as well. The idea that women will go to see movies or read books about men but men won’t do the same for a female protagonist.
However, the concept here is that while that might be true, so many more women go to see female-driven stories that it makes the endeavor more than worth it.
What do you think? Do you want to see more women in movies and YA?
Brenda Bensch:
On Writing Like a Writer!
The morning after WIFYR is over, my husband has to begin driving to California (L.A. area) to stay 2 or 3 weeks caring for an ex-wife who’s having open heart surgery on the Monday after WIFYR. Of course, I’m worried about how tired he’ll be, and how tired I will be. But here’s what I’m going to do about it: really write like A Writer: Saturday, while he’s driving, I’ll take one day off. I’ll plan my days to include blogging, rewriting the novel we workshop at WIFYR, playing with writing some new short stuff, some marketing of essays/articles, and reading. That sounds like too much (and that’s me all over!), but I want to give equal time to reading and writing. I work best if I write for an hour, or slightly over, then take a break. In this case, to read. I’ll have a couple of days a week where the writing will be on the short stuff, the rest will be my WIFYR novel. And short stuff will usually be confined to later each day, leaving my “prime time” for the heavy duty. Evenings, I’m going to quit and pay some attention to the house and things which have fallen behind. Wish me luck: even with timers to let me know when to change (rather like bells at school for all the years II taught in the public schools and colleges) it’s pretty ambitious.
How will you write like A Writer after WIFYR? Or during WIFYR, if you’re unable to attend?

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Challenge and Workshop

Don’t forget to sign up for this year’s Totally Radical Summer Challenge! 

Also, there are still spots left in my voice workshop at WIFYR! You know you want to come. It’s Friday and it’s going to be funky. 

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