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~Francoise Bui, Executive Editor, Delacorte Press

“loved being a guest editor at the writing and illustrating for young readers conference-which I happily attended two consecutive years. Not only were the organizers and fellow faculty fun and welcoming, the Utah setting amazing, but I was very impressed by the attendees and their depth of writing talent. It was easy to give cliques and to offer advice. I highly recommend the conference to spring writers. It’s five days well spent."

~Stacy WhitmanEditorial director TU books

"Writing and Illustrating for Young readers is a combination of all the best kinds of children’s lit events:It’s a workshop, a. Networking opportunity, and a conference, with the feel of a retreat. Utah’s strong children’s. Lit community draws excellent teachers from near and far. One of the best tins you can do for your writing career is to learn from experts-and the experts are at WIFYR."

~Kyra Leigh, author of It Will End Like This and Reaper

“Without the WIFYR conference, I would have never had the confidence to submit my book to an agent. As well, I had the chance to meet him in person because he often attends this conference. Nothing but great things to say about WIFYR! ”

Afternoon Faculty

Our special guests this year are:

Heidi Taylor Gordon (editor from Shadow Mountain)

Amy Jameson (agent A+B Works)

Kelsy Thompson (production editor from Erewhon)

Lori Steel (agent Red Fox Literary)

Lisa Mangum (editor from Shadow Mountain)

Haley Casey (agent Creative Media Agency)

Afternoon Classes

  • Two plenary speakers each day

  • Break-out sessions

  • Hands-on Workshops (HOWs)

… all presented by published authors, agents, and editors

Early Bird Price: $150
($165 After March 31st)

The Power of Yes

Writing opportunities are all around. Saying yes to new challenges gives you the chance to practice your craft and develop your skills. Come learn how stepping out of your comfort zone and developing a growth mindset can make you a better writer. 

Amy Newbold 

Annie Bailey

If You Give a Writer an Idea, She May Not Know What to Do With It

Every story starts with an idea. But when you get that creative spark, what should you do with it? In this class, we’ll talk about generating ideas, keeping track of those ideas and how to decide which ideas deserve your time. I'll share the journey of several of my published books, from initial inspiration to publication, to help you find your own way of taking manuscripts from idea to completion.

How to Write in Rhyme (And Not Get Rejected for It!)

You've probably heard at some point in your writing journey that editors and agents hate rhyme. But in reality, many editors and agents love it--IF it's well written. But writing rockin' rhyme is no easy task. In this class, we'll discuss what makes great rhyme, common mistakes to avoid and tips to give your manuscripts the best possible chance of avoiding rejection. 

Eating the Elephant

You’re in school. A parent. A child. You have a full-time job and a part-time job. You have obligations. Responsibilities. Life is hard. How do you do it all? Including writing, rewriting, and re-rewriting that book that you love so much? There has to be a way! Together we’ll come up with solutions to eating the elephant one bite at a time and, hopefully, leave with an attainable goal or two to accomplish once WIFYR is over.

Carol Lynch Williams

Best Practices in Representation: Why They Matter And How To Start.
What is "inclusive representation"? Why does it matter? And also... why is it so hard to do it appropriately? In this intensive, we'll describe WHAT inclusive representation is, WHY it matters, and HOW to do it appropriately. The class will end with a Q&A. We want attendees to be able to ask any and all sincere questions, but also understand that this topic can be sensitive. Please send questions ahead of time to

Emily Inouye Huey 

Backstory Wounds: How to Use Trauma to Create a Better Story
Every good character has wounds—mental, physical and emotional. In this class, we’ll learn how to create believable backstory wounds that will make your characters more compelling and realistic. By digging deeper into this psychological baggage, you’ll create a stronger plot as your main character faces their trauma, overcomes it, and transforms into the person they were always meant to be.

Erin Stewart

What I Wish I Had Known: Tips For Making Better Illustration

Tips about illustration ranging from compositional techniques to ideas for better character design.

Greg Newbold

Writing Strong Characters
What do you love about your favorite books? Most likely, it's the characters. But now that you're working on your own manuscript, how do you create that character readers will love? Characterization might sound elusive, but it doesn’t have to be. Character is what makes your story worth reading and what leads readers recommending your book to a friend. Author Heather B. Moore will teach the key components of how to make each character in your book memorable, whether they appear for one scene, or serve as a main character.

Heather B Moore

J. Scott Savage

Illustrator and Author Working Together

In this class, award-winning artist Brandon Dorman will remotely join Scott Savage to discuss the relationship between the author and artist creating book covers, inside illustrations, picture books, and hybrid graphic novels.

Creating a Compelling Protagonist

Your main character doesn’t have to be likeable, but they do have to be compelling. How do you ensure that the reader connects with your protagonist(s) early–especially if the character is not a knight in shining armor doing good and saving the world? And how do you keep the reader caring through the course of a character arc that might include bad decisions, mistakes, and eventually growing and changing? 

Building a Sustainable Creative Career

Let’s set the craft lessons aside for a moment and focus on you—the writer! Using a holistic approach, this presentation will discuss the caring and keeping of your inner creative and offer strategies to help you be a healthier, happier, more sustainably creative you.

Julie Olson

Maximizing Character Agency: Balancing Conflict and Choices

Some writers have trouble adding enough conflict in their stories while others add too much. Conflict is necessary for good storytelling. Too little and you have no tension. Too much and your characters lose agency—the capability to choose a course of action that can change their outcome. Without character agency, your reader loses hope that the protagonist can achieve the main story goal. He or she becomes a victim to the plot, rather than the driver of it, and consequently loses reader interest and appeal. In this class, you’ll learn tips to enhance and troubleshoot the critical element of agency in your stories.

Kathryn Purdie  

What to Expect When You're Querying

Krista has spent years slugging it out in the query trenches, and now she wants to teach you everything she knows. Learn how to build an agent list uniquely tailored to your book, manage and keep track of your queries, and ask the most important questions if—no, when!—you get an offer.

Krista Van Dolzer

Class information coming soon! 

Kristyn Crow

Class information coming soon! 

Kyra Leigh 

The Nuts and Bolts of Picture Book Writing

So you want to write a picture book. What are the key elements that hold a great picture book together? We will explore the nuts and bolts of picture book writing from word play to pacing, hook to the “ah-ha” ending. We'll talk about those things that make your picture book text stand out in a crowded field and stand up to the test of time.

Lezlie Evans

Michael Carr

McKelle George


Edit Yourself into Print – Giving your work a professional polish
Otherwise compelling stories can stumble over clumsy prose or repetitive sentence structure. Learn how to add a sophisticated touch to your writing and how to clean up your work to show competence to agents and editors. In addition, we will talk about how to identify flaws in our own writing, when to use beta readers, and ideas for shoring up structural weaknesses.
How to Hook an Agent – From the query letter through the opening pages.
An agent must sift through hundreds, even thousands of queries. Learn what makes an effective query letter and how to write a compelling opening for your sample pages. We will discuss how to write a grabby opening while avoiding the dreaded white room and its evil twin, the cliffhanger.

Getting Graphic: Graphic Novels 101
This class gives an overview of the basics of writing/illustrating comics and graphic novels: from formatting, pitching, pacing, and how the genre came to be.

What Your Illustrator Wants You to Know 
Three artists (Eren Angolini, V. Gagnon, and Megan Hindman) will join via Zoom to do a Q&A session about what they like writers and authors to know when working with an illustrator. 

After the Query: Working with an Agent

You’ve sent off your perfectly polished query letter to a list of potential agents - what happens next? Learn what to expect from an agent, including offers of representation (what to do if you have more than one), signing an agency retainer, submissions to editors, publication offers, contracts, etc. 

Amy Jameson

Rosalyn Eves

Making the Ordinary Come Alive: Pacing Tips for Realistic Fiction

Most writers know how to make high-stakes scenes exciting--the tension already present in the scene makes it come alive. But what about more ordinary scenes that are nevertheless important to the story, such as critical conversations, a bonding moment between friends, a moment of internal struggle? In this workshop, we'll talk about basic scene structure (scene-and-sequel) as well as techniques of microtension to help build tension and strengthen pacing in your book, even if the fate of the world isn't at stake. 

Historical World-Building: Crafting Your Fictional World through Research

One of the joys of historical fiction can be exploring ideas and historical eras we don't know much about--but writing about what we don't know inevitably requires research. In this workshop, I draw on my experience as a PhD researcher and writer of historical fiction to discuss where to find sources, particularly the specific details that help your time period come alive for readers, and how to incorporate that research into your writing to build a believable historical world.

So Your Protagonist is an Actor?

Have you got an actor in your story? Find out how to make them and the situations they are in both real and personal. So much so that an Oscar Winner reading your story thinks you must be in the biz.

Susan Phelan

Tracy Daley

Tiffany Rosenhan photo.jpeg

For the Love: The Writer's Roller Coaster Journey and How We Fulfill Our Passion and Purpose
From the first time a writer dips their toe into the swells of a story to the hundredth battering wave of rejections, writers are plagued by the question, "Should I keep writing?" This class will explore the parts of us that make us writers, the moments that make us want to quit, and the passion that pushes us past the doubt. We'll talk about building a life raft that allows us to ride the ups and downs of the writing reality with hands in the air and joy in our hearts.

7 Tips for Writing Your Fast Paced Thriller

A thriller can be under-thrilling for many reasons: an exaggerated length, a slow pace, and often: clarity. We are not thrilled by that which we do not comprehend, or care little about. In my “twisting turning thriller” debut, GIRL FROM NOWHERE, I used techniques observed from twentieth century spy authors and have now consolidated these observations into simple tips which can be easily adapted to any thriller genre. This course will discuss how to maximize pace and increase the thrill of your plot, all while staying true to the tone, setting, and narration of your story.

Tiffany Rosenhan


Researching & Writing Kids' Nonfiction is Fun!

Today's nonfiction for kids is anything but boring, and the children's nonfiction field is full of opportunity for writers. In this class, we'll review current trends in children's nonfiction publishing. Then we'll walk through how to choose and research a topic, how to find a unique angle, where to submit nonfiction work, and more. This class will also include in-class activities to jumpstart your own nonfiction project.

Sierra Wilson

The Archetype

Don’t leave your character’s growth to chance - Explore the different character journeys as we look at the most common archetypes (and some not-so-common ones). We’ll also discuss how identifying your character’s archetype early in your writing process can have a dramatic, transformative effect on your overarching storyline.

Heidi Taylor Gordon


Irresistible Pitches

Writers frequently need to pitch our books. Query, synopsis, pitch contests--even here at WIFYR. But let’s face it: many of us are just bad at pitches. How do you write one that catches an agent’s attention? What are these stakes everybody wants to see? In this HOW, we’ll discuss the different kinds of pitches, then workshop our own 25-word pitches to make them irresistible.

Aubrey Allie and Scott Rhoades

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