News & Events

Research & Imagination in Writing for Young Adults

As network rep for the SCBWI Near West Suburban Network, I’m thrilled to be co-hosting  this online event, RESEARCH & IMAGINATION IN WRITING FOR YOUNG ADULTS, with the Chicago Southland’s Network on Thursday October 12 at 7pm. Our presenter, Rachel DeWoskin, is the award-winning author of five novels, including the Gold Medal recipient of the YA Sydney Taylor Book Award and the National Jewish Book Award for SOMEDAY WE WILL FLY (Penguin Random House). She is also a poet, essayist, and Associate Professor of Practice in the Arts and UChicago. See Rachel’s website to find out more. To join the event on 10/12, click here.

Writing Residency and Summer Camp at Write On, Door County


With Jerod Santek, Founding and Creative Director

Until this summer, I had never been on a writing residency, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. In July, Write On, Door County welcomed me to its 59 acre rural sanctuary on the Wisconsin peninsula, opening the doors of its residency house with an invitation to devote my time exclusively to writing.

Who wouldn’t love to spark their creativity by walking the trails behind the Writing Center? Or, unbothered by chores and errands and everyday busyness, luxuriate in story-dreaming at the beach at the end of the road? Or visit the Coop (that’s the chicken-coop-converted-to-tiny-writing-studio of celebrated author Norb Blei, no less) for inspiration?

However lovely the surroundings, what meant more to me was something less tangible. Writers often struggle to keep going, to balance their creative endeavors with the other obligations of life. Here, my work was valued and prioritized. What’s most important, I was being told, is  your creativity, your storytelling, your writing. Don’t worry about anything else.  That external validation, for me, was priceless.

The second part of my stay was much more raucous. Take an enthusiastic bunch of third – fifth graders, give them story prompts and games, plenty of encouragement, plus time to write and wonderful things happen!

These youngsters told stories about baby avocados, family curses, hidden secrets, missing siblings, families torn apart by war, dogs on the hunt for bacon, and ghosts plus much more. They each gathered their week’s creativity into a Big Book of Stories and presented them, fearlessly and with humor, to their family and friends on the final day.

Now back in Illinois, I am home feeling refreshed with a stronger connection to my writerly self, a completed first draft of my manuscript, and many happy memories. Thank you Write On, Door County.

Writing Center at Write On, Door County

Ask Anything About Nonfiction Q&A Panel

Want to know more about writing trade non-fiction children’s books or work-for-hire series? Then join me as I host this SCBWI-IL free online network nonfiction panel with award-winning authors Alice McGinty and Suzanne Slade, where you can get answers to all your questions (we mean ALL!).From picture book biographies to narrative nonfiction to expository nonfiction books, the authors are happy to discuss any and all topics such as tips for submitting, working with editors, revising, research, generating great story ideas, interviewing experts, and much more. Click here for panelists’ bios and information about joining the event.

Kids Wow! Grades 3 – 5 Summer Camp, July 2023

Are you an enthusiastic, budding writer in grades 3 – 5? Could you be the next Jason Reynolds or J.K. Rowling? Come along to flex your creativity with author Sarah Hammond and create your own Big Book of Stories! We will learn how to create gripping plots and discover memorable characters by playing games, reading excerpts, and experimenting with a variety of storytelling exercises. As well as learning effective writing tips, there will be the opportunity to express yourself through illustration and crafts and, most importantly, have lots of fun along the way! To find out more, click here.

Writing for the Children’s Magazine Market

As one of the SCBWI-IL network co-reps, I’m delighted to host this free online event in November. The pandemic has affected most aspects of our lives, and that includes writing for children. Happily, the world of children’s magazines is still robust. Long-term editor Paula Morrow, of both the Cricket group and the Highlights group (not simultaneously, of course!), will share her observations and insights about how the market is changing and why it’s still a great place to submit your work. To find out more about Paula, please check out her website.  To join in our event, please see link on the SCBWI IL Networks page.

Unlocking Memories and Uncovering Stories

As one of the SCBWI Illinois network co-reps, I’m looking forward to hosting this online May event. Author, journalist and teacher Beth Finke will lead a discussion on ways writing memoir and first-person narratives  could apply  –and benefit — the writing we do for children. Through observation exercises and writing prompts, Beth’s workshop will answer common questions about  getting started, the difference between autobiography and memoir, exposing family secrets, using pen names and  pseudonyms, finding and working with publishers. A fun and easy-going workshop to discover ways friends, family, celebrations, milestones, moments and place can be catalysts for unlocking memories and uncovering stories.It’s free and open to the public. To join us, click here.

Inaugural Young Writers’ Conference, hosted by Write On, Door County

Teaching middle school storytellers How To Find A Story Anywhere.

I was honored to be part of a special event last month: Write On, Door County hosted its first Young Writers’ Conference in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Attendees came from several States to join in the fun. How I’d love to have had that opportunity when I was a teenager.

Alongside a talented and inspiring faculty, I taught classes to middle school students about discovering story and creating memorable characters. Waiting for the first group to settle before we started, I asked one of the students whether she had plans for the upcoming Spring Break. The girl looked me in the eye, responding passionately, “This is what I choose to do with my Spring Break. I want to write.” Her answer summed up the enthusiasm for this event from the outset to the lively student open mic at the end.

The selection of workshop options was impressive: from poetry to songwriting to learning about freelance writing and much more. I did not meet the whole faculty but those that I spoke to were exceptional and, after the isolation of the lockdown, proved to be a balm for creative minds. Long may this wonderful event continue. Huge thanks to the organizers, especially Jerod Santek, Write On, Door County’s Founder and Creative Director.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial