Welcome to the Bookshelf Detective, a site for readers and writers of children's literature. Thank you for visiting, and please let me know how this blog served you.
Kim Tomsic

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What Agents and Editors Really Think When Reading Your First Page

DREAM TEAM:  Nick Healy, Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown, Jennifer Mattson, Melissa Manlove

Writers want to know the secret sauce that makes editors, agents and readers turn a first page in a book. Some say authors must get the inciting incident on page one. 

Screenwriting books advise the inciting incident should land on page ten (or for books, the first 10% of a novel). Wendy Loggia of Delacorte Press/Random House once told me it’s hard to care about an inciting incident until we care about the character. She went on to say that many writers want to get to the good stuff first, but it all has to be good.

To further understand the art of the first page, I asked Andrea Brown, president of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency (ABLA), to host a panel session during the Big Sur in the Rockies writing workshop held in Boulder, Colorado. On a rainy Saturday afternoon, participants submitted the first page of their work-in-progress and gathered to hear feedback from a dream-team of publishing professionals—Melissa Manlove from Chronicle  Books, Nick Healy from Capstone Publishing and three ABLA agents Andrea Brown, Caryn Wiseman and Jennifer Mattson.  The panel provided insight on what works and what doesn’t on the first page of manuscripts, everything from picture books to YA novels. 

Here’s what I heard:
Don’t rob readers of experiencing the emotional state of the character. This is another reason agents and editors (and readers) want you to SHOW DON’T TELL. For example, writers should not write George was upset about his report card—that TELLS the emotional state. Write something along the lines of George wadded up his report card and shoved it to the bottom of his backpack

Picture Book Writers—WATCH OUT for clause filled sentence structure. Instead, choose an appropriate sentence structure for your audience. Also let sentences end so readers land on an idea. Simplify your language and let the art carry a good portion of the weight of the story. (And on a side note, it’s a good idea to keep emotional conflict out of bedtime stories).

All Manuscripts—
·        Avoid over choreography.
·        Read your pages out loud and listen for repeating words or repeating a character’s name—fix if you’re over using.
·        Choose active verbs. Instead of using “to be” verbs, choose verbs powerful enough to eliminate adjective and adverbs.
·        Remember that books set in the 1980’s are now considered historical fiction.
·        Don’t lead with generic circumstances that stay generic, stay away from common story line and add something fresh and original.
·        Don’t write a book with didactic intentions and please don’t write with a didactic tone; kids will see right through this. “We don’t go to stories for lessons.” Melissa Manlove  (though please see Melissa’s additional feedback listed at the end of this article).
·        Be careful so that you’re not long and heavy on details. Readers don’t want to wade through the mundane to get to the good.
·        “Many editors dislike prologues and we want you to be as rejection-proof as possible so don’t use them unless you really must.” Andrea Brown
·        Some panel members are not fans of mixing anthropomorphized animals with talking humans. That’s not a rule, just a note of preferences when querying this panel.
·        The Picture Book industry is currently hot on having character-driven picture books, but characters still needs to have a motivation.   
·        Another personal preference from this panel—they don’t enjoy reading first pages with names that are difficult to pronounce (i.e. T’sfard-ma-zia might be a prime example).

Using illustration notes in picture books. Please know this varies between editors (for example, never (never ever) send an illustration note to Beach Lane Books). Per the members on this panel, illustration notes are fine, but only if it is necessary for the editor or agent to get an inside joke or a something that is not relayed in the words. Do not use illustration notes to describe your character or provide unnecessary art direction.

Writing in Rhyme. If you are writing in rhyme, please take a look at any book that’s won a Geisel Award (p.s. fun fact—Andrea Brown worked with Theodore Geisel long ago!).
I’ve attended many conferences and though many agents and editors say they don’t like rhyme, many also say it’s because they don’t like bad and forced rhyme. Furthermore, if a story rhymes in English, that doesn’t mean it’s going to rhyme in French or Spanish, so rhyming books are difficult to sell beyond the U.S.  

Author/Illustrators—if work as both an author and illustrator, you should submit a sketch dummy for your full picture book along with only a couple of pieces of finished art.

**Post workshop Melissa and I chatted, and she states there’s another side to this list of advice. To learn more, I suggest you read her interview titled “Noir and Horror for your Kindergartner” by Maggie Tokuda-Hall posted on the Boing Boing blog 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

BIKE ON BEAR a Summer Reading Sensation

BIKE ON BEAR by Cynthea Liu Illustrated by Kristyna Litten.

 New this month, BIKE ON BEAR (Aladdin, June 2, 2015) by Cynthea Liu Illustrated by Kristyna Litten.


Bear can do almost anything. His one-paw pawstand is perfection. He can solve the trickiest of equations. He can even out-build a brigade of beavers. But the one thing Bear can’t do? Ride a bike.

Bear tries everything to help him learn: library books, training wheels and super-cheers from his fellow animal friends. But all of those fail to get poor Bear on two wheels. The situation is looking unbearable, but an unexpected mishap might be just the thing that propels Bear to bike on!

BIKE ON BEAR is packed with clever, fresh and FUNny ideas; plus add on the illustrations and you get a story that’s both gratifying and hilarious. Picture book readers will enjoy the heart and determination in this story, and picture book writers can use this as a perfect “how-to craft book” (a story problem, try-fails, the rule of threes and the bookending style where the story’s beginning and end match so nicely). BIKE ON BEAR is definitely this summer’s bookstore star.

Kirkus Review: "Bear’s supportive friends and family, along with Litten’s warm-hued, cozy illustrations, drape the story in comfort, even during Bear’s many tumbles and spills.This pivotal childhood milestone is often defined by fear, but this variant is for young brooders everywhere. "

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin (June 2, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1481405063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1481405065

Buying Links:
Indie Bound:  Buy from an Indie Store
Barnes and Noble
Boulder Bookstore
Tattered Cover

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Could PRETTY LITTLE WEREWOLF Represent for Diversity Groups?

Welcome, Katie Salidas. Thank you for agreeing to my FAST FIVE interview about your debut YA novel release PRETTY LITTLE WEREWOLF , and Happy Book Birthday! 


All Giselle ever wanted was a family... that can accept her for what she is, a werewolf. 
In a world where supernatural creatures are not out and proud, this has been a problem for 16 year old Giselle. A child of the system, she's been bounced from home to home for as long as she can remember. As soon as the moon calls out her inner wolf, it's back into the system she goes.
Against the odds, a new family is found for Giselle. One that may prove the answer to all her dreams and wishes. But this family comes with a deadly secret that could send Giselle six feet under instead of back into the system.
Amid factions of warring witches and werewolves, and deadly curses with no hope for a cure, the way will not be an easy one, but if Giselle can call upon her skills as a lone wolf, she may just be able to unearth the truth keeping her from the one thing she's ever wanted... family.

Q  Katie, you've written novels and novellas for 5 years, however this is your first novel for the young adult market. What was your impetus and inspiration to write for teens?

A  If I told you I did it on a dare, would that negate the interest in it? I hope not. In all honesty, I’ve had many people over the years tell me I “should” write YA. I’ve always been one to play in the genre pool, so dipping my toes into new waters is something I enjoy. The character, Giselle spoke to me and I found the story developed very cleanly around her. She’s got it rough, trying to find where she fits in, and in a world where supernatural creatures are not “out and proud,” it’s even harder to find where you fit.

Q  What were some of your favorite novels when you were in high school?

In high school, I remember reading The Vampire Diaries, and The Vampire Chronicles. My interests were pretty singular there. I have always been a paranormal fan. Something about the creatures that could possibly exist in our world, under our nose, is intriguing.

If Giselle were given the chance to meet her birth parents, would she take it?

Giselle has spent her entire life wondering why she was dumped into the system. She’d never found her place in the world. The one thing she’s wanted is family. So, yes. If given the chance, Giselle would cross any distance to find out what happened to her family, and she would do anything find them.

If PRETTY LITTLE WEREWOLF was sold to Hollywood, who would you cast in the roles of your main characters?

Oh that’s easy! I’m a never-ending daydreamer, one day hoping to see my books turn film, so all my book files have character dream sheet with them.

Giselle - Lauren Ambrose
Asher - Santiago Cabrera
Damien - Damien Molony
Di - Claire Holt
Taylor - Phoebe Tonkin

Will there be a sequel and what insider information can you reveal here?  

As of right now, I have no sequel planned. The book ends on a HEA [Happily Ever After]. Of course, with all my books there are some threads left out on purpose, so I have fodder to come back to later in potential future installments. For example in this one, Di’s little secret magical contract is teased but never revealed. That could come in to play should readers want to continue to dig deeper into the Hernandez pack and the Thrace pack’s past with the local witch coven.

Thank you, Katie! On a final note, in the current campaign for diverse books in the young adult market, I can't help but notice PRETTY LITTLE WEREWOLF  represents a paranormal group that's not "out and proud". Perhaps this a nod to the We Need Diverse Books campaign and the many under-represented minority groups.

PRETTY LITTLE WEREWOLF buying links below:

Pretty Little Werewolf. 
Kindle USA - 
Kindle UK - 
Nook - http://tinyurl.com/mk6cjfg
Kobo - http://tinyurl.com/n8qn2m6
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/…/show/25373764-pretty-little-wer…
iBooks - https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id986657617

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Win Advance Copy of SWITCH by Ingrid Law, the Third Book in the SAVVY Collection

win this copy!!!
Would you like an early peek at the third book in Ingrid Law’s fervently awaited SAVVY collection? Read on to learn how to receive my copy of this ARC.

Just when you thought you had “savvies” figured out, author Ingrid Law adds a wily twist to the Beaumont family’s gifts. Her newest novel SWITCH (Dial Books for Young Readers, September 2015) reveals what happens when savvies get topsy-turvy and—just like life—spiral upside-down and out of control.

JACKETFLAP: Gypsy Beaumont has always been a whirly-twirly free spirit. So on her thirteenth birthday—the day everyone in her family gets a magical ability—she hopes for a savvy that will let her fly, or dance up to the stars. Instead, she wakes up with blurry vision…and starts seeing flashes of the future and past. But what she doesn’t see coming is the announcement that their downright mean grandma Pat has Alzheimer’s and is coming to live with them. Even more surprising? Suddenly her savvy—along with her whole family’s—switches to its topsy-turvy opposite!
                Now it’s total savvy mayhem, and Gypsy’s in for a fiery, wild, suspense-filled journey as she struggles to control her unpredictable new talent, and to save her family from a future she never wanted to see.

Booklovers who enjoy Ingrid Law’s unique, Gypsy-esque perspective of the world and fresh approach to retro-language—wackadoo, rabble-rouser and collywobbles—will once again fall in love with her writing. Middle School readers are guaranteed to have a blast with the humor and escapades in SWITCH, but they’ll also be inspired by the pluck of her diverse and authentic characters. Adult readers will savor the nostalgic undertones and layers of eccentrics. But no matter your age, pages will flip faster than you can say muddy-river-magic, because the spirals in SWITCH keep you on your toes and invested in the suspense-filled, magical adventure.  
SWITCH is the eagerly anticipated third installment in the SAVVY collection. SAVVY debuted in 2008 (a 2009 Newbery Honor book), and SCUMBLE released in 2010 (a New York Times Bestseller and Smithsonian Notable Book).  
I had the happy privilege of experiencing an early read of SWITCH, and now you can, too! I’d love to pass on my Advance Reading Copy to you…if you’re the lucky winner.
Entering to win this ARC of SWITCH is a two-step, super-simple process:
1.      copy paste and Tweet:  “I hope I win an ARC of SWITCH by Ingrid Law given away at http://bit.ly/1G7kCwr   #What’sYourSavvy?”
2.      Leave a comment on this blog, telling me your Twitter handle (and something fun, too, if you’d like).
Then I’ll put your name in a hat. **If you don't have a Twitter account, please leave a comment and tell me about another source of social media where you can comment.
Good luck! SWITCH is dedicated to Law’s parents whose anniversary is June 15th, so on June 15th I’ll draw the name of one lucky winner. Cross your fingers! You will love SWITCH, but winner be warned—do not try and read SWITCH in a quiet zone, because it’s packed (PACKED!) with irrepressible, laugh-out-loud moments.  

***June 15th UPDATE:  Congratulations Amy Nelson Green, you are the winner!***

·         Age Range: 8 - 12 years
·         Grade Level: 3 - 7
·         Hardcover: 368 pages
·         Publisher: Dial Books (September 1, 2015)
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 0803738625
·         ISBN-13: 978-0803738621


Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Mystery of Landing a Publishing Deal Revealed--Interview with Author Ana Crespo

Sleuthy Seven with Ana Cresposeven answers on how to land a picture book deal (AND unveiling the mystery of the illustrator, illustration notes, etc., too!)

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, Ana! Thank you for agreeing to an interview and congratulations on your debut picture book THE SOCK THIEF (Albert Whitman, March 1, 2015).  I adore your story set-up—Felipe sneaks through his sunny, Brazilian town, stealing all the socks, but why? He doesn't even need socks, since he wears flip-flops every day. Kids will love solving the mystery of THE SOCK THIEF. I know I'm buying a copy for my nephew, today!

Jacket Flap:Brazilian boy Felipe doesn't have a soccer ball. So, when it's his turn to take one to school, he uses a little bit of creativity… and a few socks. Felipe is the sock thief, but finding socks is not that easy and the neighborhood pets make it even harder. "Au, au, au!" a dog barks in Portuguese. Felipe wonders if he'll play soccer with his friends today or if he will be caught by a tattle-tale parrot? Along the way, Felipe leaves delicious mangoes in exchange for the socks he steals. After he swipes each pair, he twists and turns them into an ever-growing soccer ball. At the end of the day, he returns each pair of socks with a note to say thank you.

And now, getting answers to solving the mystery of scoring a publishing deal.
Ana Crespo author of THE SOCK THIEF

Q –Ana, you’ll probably get this question during every school visit, but I’m dying to know—how did the idea of THE SOCK THIEF story unfold?

A –It’s a bit of a long story – several years long.  When I was little, my father used to tell me stories about his childhood years.  One of these stories happened to be about how he and my uncle would sneak into my grandmother’s bedroom, get her stockings, stuff them with newspaper, and make a soccer ball.  The story stuck to my mind and came back when I started to pursue a career in writing for kids.

Q –How long have you been writing picture books, and how did you meet your editor (the fabulous Kelly Barrales-Saylor of Albert Whitman)?

A –I started writing seriously in 2012, so I haven’t been writing for a long time – I am one of the lucky ones. I met Kelly during my second Rocky Mountain Chapter SCBWI conference, in 2013.  I was probably one of the first people (if not THE first person) to sign up for the conference and was lucky enough to get a manuscript critique with Kelly.  The critique spots go away quickly, so you really have to pay attention to the registration dates.  The manuscript she critiqued was THE SOCK THIEF.  However, despite meeting Kelly for the manuscript critique, I think we really connected during the post-conference workshop, when we realized our views about picture books were pretty similar.

Q – I understand you have a five-book deal with Albert Whitman, so here’s the question every writer really wants to know—how did you score your publishing contract? (Details, please! How did you score this one, the other four, etc. Tell us the steps from contact to contract).

A –The offer for THE SOCK THIEF came after I sent Kelly the manuscript with revisions. I don’t have an agent right now, so I had to deal with all the aspects of the contract negotiation.  It was a bit of a headache, but everyone at Albert Whitman was wonderful.  They answered all my questions, helped me figure out what I didn’t understand, and etc.  I’ve been pretty happy with the process so far.  After the contract for THE SOCK THIEF was signed, I sent Kelly a list of some manuscripts I had available, including this small series about JP, a very imaginative little boy who is still learning how to deal with his own feelings.  It turns out they were looking for new stories about feelings and the JP books were the perfect match.  We signed a 4-book contract.  The first two books – JP AND THE GIANT OCTOPUS and JP AND THE POLKA-DOTTED ALIENS – are pretty much ready and going to print soon.  They look amazing!

Q –So, you landed the deal. The contract was signed. Now tell us about next steps and how the editing process worked between you and Kelly (and others).

A –Like I said, Albert Whitman is wonderful, and the editing process was just as wonderful.  I was included in most of the steps.  From the very first sketches, they welcomed my comments.  I offered a different, honest point of view, while always keeping in mind that the final decision belonged to Kelly and her team.  And I liked it that way.  It was a great learning experience.  Then, came the marketing.  Again, Albert Whitman has been extremely supportive.  I was lucky to land a contract with such a professional publisher.

Q –THE SOCK THIEF was illustrated by Nana Gonzalez—she did a beautiful job creating fun,
Illustrator Nana Gonzalez
lively, and authentic spreads. People always ask picture book writers if they did the illustrations, too. Obviously you did not. Although there are many author/illustrators out there, there are also many authors who are not illustrators, and the publishing house hires the illustrator. Did you have any input on picking the illustrator?

A –No, I didn’t.  However, as soon as Kelly knew who would be illustrating the book, she let me know.  Nana is from Argentina and, as it turns out, her grandfather used to make sock balls as well.  It was the perfect match.  Her illustrations are beautiful. 

Q –MORE on illustrations. So we know you wrote the text; Nana Gonzalez created the illustrations; And Albert Whitman found Nana; And you and Nana never met before you wrote THE SOCK THIEF. Since I only have seven questions, I’ll do a sneak-around and divide this question into two parts.
Part one—I’ve heard many editors say that it is typical that the author and illustrator never have a single conversation, and that is done by design—the publisher wants the illustrator to create their vision without being impinged  by the authors vision—keeping the two apart generally creates a richer finished product—was this true for you—were you and Nana kept apart (as in no phone calls or emails with one another during the creation of the book)?
Part two—I’ve heard editors provide mixed responses regarding authors providing illustration notes. What was your experience with this—did you give any art notes prior to or after the creative process?

A –I didn’t have any contact with Nana, but that didn’t bother me.  Albert Whitman was a filter between the author and the illustrator, but I still feel like I participated in the illustration process through my comments.   In fact, that brings us to the answer to a previous question.  The final decision in regards to the book belongs to the editor and its team.  If the author and illustrator exchange ideas, there is a chance the author’s message will contradict the editor’s message.  I am a very practical person.  The way I see it, the editor wants the book to succeed just as much as I do.  Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t share my opinions, especially when I feel strongly about something.  However, I feel comfortable leaving the decision to the editor.  If I trusted my work to that editor, I must trust her decisions, too. 

Regarding the illustration notes, I have also heard different accounts about what is too much and what is okay.  In my opinion, it really depends on the story.  In THE SOCK THIEF, for example, illustration notes weren’t necessary, except to mention the story was set in Brazil and to describe how to make a sock ball.  On the other hand, the JP stories wouldn’t make sense if it weren’t for the illustration notes.  In JP AND THE GIANT OCTOPUS, for example, JP spends most of the story talking about a giant octopus that lives only in his imagination.  If I didn’t use illustration notes to reveal what the giant octopus really was and what it was doing, the story wouldn’t make sense.  So, I guess authors must be careful not to constrain the editor’s imagination (because that will likely turn into a rejection) and later the illustrator’s imagination by being too detailed about the illustration notes, but they are necessary in certain cases.

Q –Where and when are your book signing events?
Right now, I have two signing events scheduled in Colorado Springs, but there may be some more coming up.  You may find an up-to-date schedule at http://www.anacrespobooks.com/#!appearances/csw1.

Thank you so much for this interview, Kim!  It was a pleasure sharing with you and your readers.  I hope everyone enjoys the book.

Buying Links for THE SOCK THIEF: 

Editorial Guidelines for submitting to Albert Whitman & Co. Publishing:

Friday, February 6, 2015

Children's Book Writing Workshop with Andrea Brown Literary Agency


May 22-24, 2015
Chautauqua Park in Boulder, CO
Update:  SOLD OUT

On this page:  (1) Why take this workshop (2) Faculty (3) Link for additional info (4) Registration Form

Why join us for this workshop?

For the past seventeen years, writers have gone to the Big Sur Writing Workshops in California for an intensive weekend of working on manuscripts with publishing professionals who are dedicated to helping new writers. Literary Agent and Executive Director of the Big Sur Writing Workshops Andrea Brown and RMC-SCBWI are bringing that workshop to Boulder, Colorado.

The workshops are designed for writers who have a finished or partially finished manuscript that needs critiquing, revisions, editorial help, and guidance. Our workshop provides tools needed to prepare one’s work for publication as manuscripts must be totally polished to sell in this tight market. The format of the weekend program is different from other conferences and workshops. Writers meet and work closely with faculty members throughout the weekend, from agents to editors to authors. The ratio of faculty to writers is mostly six to one or better.

No two writers have the same experience, and it is the unique nature of our workshops that have made them so popular that a large number of attendees return year after year. The number of writers is limited so there is an intimate feel to the weekend and writers get many opportunities to talk, share information and work with each other, as well as the faculty. The weekend is filled every moment with small critique groups, panels, rewriting time, and delicious meals. The faculty are all established book professionals and wonderful people who know how to target weak spots and help writers polish their works because they care about giving back.

We are proud of our over 20+ success stories (see http://bigsurwriting.wordpress.com/faqs/).  Add the magical setting of beautiful Chautauqua Park at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, and we know you will have an unforgettable, rewarding experience. Our goal is to have writers leave on Sunday with the knowledge needed to see their works published.

What makes the Big Sur Children's Writing Workshops unique?

, the format of the weekend is different from other conferences and workshops.  Ratio of faculty to writers is mostly six to one or better.

Second, the weekend is limited to 70 writers -- just enough people to share valuable information and not too many so each writer feels special.

Third, the weekend is packed with critique groups, rewriting time, panel discussions, delicious meals, and much sharing of information. Writers devote the entire time to focusing only on their writing.

Fourth, the faculty are all children's book professionals and wonderful people who know how to target the weak spots and help writers polish their manuscripts.

May 22-24, 2015 FACULTY

MELISSA MANLOVE  is an Editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. She has been with Chronicle for 10 years. Her acquisitions tend to be all ages in nonfiction; ages 0-8 for fiction. When acquiring, she looks for fresh takes on familiar topics as well as the new and unusual. An effective approach and strong, graceful writing are important to her. She has 17 years of children’s bookselling experience. P.S. Chronicle reads all unagented submissions as a matter of course, but conference attendees will be able to bypass the slush pile and submit directly to Melissa. More information on that will be given to each attendee.

NICK HEALY is a senior managing editor for Capstone, a children’s publisher with headquarters in North Mankato, Minnesota, and offices in Minneapolis, Chicago, and Oxford, England. He has been with Capstone for ten years. For much of that time he was the editorial director for imprints primarily sold into school libraries, but as Capstone’s trade business grew in recent years, his focus shifted. Nick has helped launch two new imprints, Capstone Young Readers (picture books and middle grade fiction and nonfiction) and Switch Press (YA fiction and nonfiction), and he now works exclusively on trade projects. He is also the author of It Takes You Over, a short-story collection that received a 2013 Friends of American Writers Literary Award, and an adjunct faculty member in creative writing at Minnesota State University.    


is the President of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.  Founded in New York City in 1981, it was the first literary agency to represent both children's book authors and illustrators. Prior to opening her own firm, Andrea was an editor at Alfred A. Knopf, and worked in the editorial departments of Random House and Dell. In 1990, she moved her literary agency to Northern California. Her literary agency has sold over 2,000 books to just about every publisher, from toddler board books to serious, award-winning young adult.  Several have been New York Times bestsellers in the top ten list of children’s books.  Author of Writers’ and Artists’ Hideouts: Great Getaways for Seducing the Muse, Andrea has published numerous articles for Writer’s Digest and other publications.  She is the executive director of the Big Sur Writing Workshops.

CARYN WISEMAN is a Senior Agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She has been with the agency since 2003 and has sold over 250 books. She represents children’s books only:  young adult and middle-grade fiction and non-fiction, chapter books, picture books (fiction and non-fiction). No matter the genre, Caryn is looking for books with emotional depth and a strong voice; excellent writing in a tightly-plotted story; and characters that stick with her long after she has closed the book. In YA she gravitates toward books that make her think and toward books that make her cry; in middle grade, chapter books, and picture books, laughter tends to be the common thread. Caryn holds an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA, and a BS from the University of Virginia. To learn more about Caryn’s taste or about deals she’s recently represented, please visit:  http://www.andreabrownlit.com/agents.html

JENNIFER MATTSON has been an agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency for six years, and began working in the children's book industry immediately out of college -- including five years as an editor at Dutton Children's Books and five years as a Books for Youth reviewer with Booklist.  She represents authors and author-illustrators, all audiences and genres, and looks for clients who bring a deep professionalism, an open mind, and a distinctive, well-developed point of view to their work.  Recent sales include verse picture book Still a Gorilla by Kim Norman to Scholastic; verse picture books Tucked in Tight and Rise and Shine by Linda Ashman, to Disney*Hyperion; narrative picture book Good Morning, Squirrel!  Good Night, Bat! by author-illustrator Paul Meisel, to Boyds Mills; and two more books in the middle-grade Cupcake Cousins series by Kate Hannigan, to Disney*Hyperion.  To give a further sense of her book personality, her favorite titles by non-clients include Marla Frazee's The Seven Silly Eaters; anything by Russell Hoban, Arnold Lobel, or Beverly Cleary; Chris Barton's Shark vs. Train; Noel Streatfield's Ballet Shoes; Esther Hautzig's true survival story, The Endless Steppe; and Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. For more about Jennifer recent sales, please visit: http://www.andreabrownlit.com/agents.html


DONNA COONER is a former teacher and school administrator, who now teaches future teachers at Colorado State University. Donna is the author of over twenty picture books. She has also written children's television shows for PBS and textbooks for future teachers. Donna’s debut novel, SKINNY, was named an ALA's Best Young Adult Fiction Award, BEA's Young Adult Buzz Book, and a Bankstreet College's Best Children's Book of the Year. Her new book, CAN'T LOOK AWAY, was released this fall and is a Teen Choice Nominee.

ANNA-MARIA CRUM has published one YA science fiction novel, 19 grade school readers for several educational publishers, and has illustrated over 50 books. She’s a three-time Colorado Book Awards finalist, co-hosts the SCBWI Denver Schmooze, and is a board member for the Picture Book Artists Association. For the past four years she has run Plot Doctors with Hilari Bell because they enjoy helping writers with ailing stories—brainstorming about plot problems is like eating dessert first. Anna-Maria lives in Denver with her dog, Bo, who sometimes sneaks into her illustrations.

LINDSAY ELAND knew she wanted to be a writer ever since the fifth grade, when she won an honorable mention for her book What Can You Learn From A Giflyaroo. Now, twenty-plus years later, she is the author of two middle grade novels, SCONES AND SENSIBILITY (Egmont USA) and A SUMMER OF SUNDAYS (Egmont USA) which was a finalist of the 2014 Colorado Book Award and The Hoosier Award. A true romantic, an avid espresso drinker, and a lover of all that can make her laugh, Lindsay lives in Breckenridge, Colorado, with her husband, their four kids, three dogs, one chameleon, one bearded dragon, and the various bears and foxes that venture into their yard. Her next book, SIX TIMES REVENGE (Greenwillow) will release in Summer 2016.

DAVID MEISSNER is an author, educator, and consultant who has developed creative educational programs, written twenty books for the school market, and interviewed dozens of children’s book authors and illustrators for Reading Rockets. David’s first trade book, Call of the Klondike, won SCBWI’s 2014 Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction and was nominated for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. His website provides a free educators’ guide and tells the story behind the book, including his research trip and historical hike from Alaska to Canada. After seven years in DC and NYC, David is now happily settled in Boulder, Colorado, where he teaches Spanish and is the director of International Programs at the Alexander Dawson School.

JEANNIE MOBLEY writes middle grade and YA fiction. Her debut novel, KATERINA'S WISH (Margaret K. McElderry Books), won the 2013 Colorado Book Award, is on the 2014-2015 William Allen White Award Master List, and represented Colorado at the 2013 National Book Festival.  Her second novel, SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS released September 2, 2014, and has been nominated to the Amelia Bloomer List for Feminist Literature. When not writing or reading fiction, Jeannie is a mother, wife, lover of critters, and an anthropology professor at Front Range Community College, where she teaches a variety of classes on cultures past and present.

JEAN REIDY is a children’s author and two-time winner of the Colorado Book Award. She’s written six picture books  -- Too Purpley!, Too Pickley!, Too Princessy!, Time Out for Monsters!, All Through My Town and Light Up the Night.  Jean is a frequent presenter on the topics of literacy, picture books and picture book revision. She writes from her home in Colorado and is represented by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. You can visit Jean at www.jeanreidy.com.

DENISE VEGA is the award-winning author of six books for kids, from toddler to teen, including her “blog” books: Click Here (to find out how i survived seventh grade) – a Colorado Book Award winner – and Access Denied (and other eighth grade error messages) as well as Fact of Life #31 (Colorado Book Award winner) and Rock On. Her picture books include Build a Burrito, and the award-winning Grandmother, Have the Angels Come? and her latest: If Your Monster Won't Go to Bed (Knopf/Random House, 2017). Denise is on faculty at Lighthouse Writers Workshop, teaching a range of classes on children's books and is a former Co-Regional Advisor of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SCBWI. She lives in Denver with her family, and can’t stand cheese so hey, no cheese, please. Find out more at www.denisevega.com.

LINDA ARMS WHITE has written 11 published books, fiction and non-fiction, which have won many awards.  Her book I Could Do That: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote won the prestigious Christopher Award bestowed on media that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.”   Through SCBWI and Children’s Authors Bootcamp, White has taught hundreds of writers how to write for children.   Her books include Too Many Pumpkins, Comes A Wind, and Cooking on a Stick.


• Registration is
$485.00 for SCBWI members and $535.00 for non-members. This includes the entire workshop, plus dinners and lunches from Friday dinner through Sunday lunch. (Breakfasts are on your own). 

Conference cancellation policy: 75% REGISTRATION REFUND IF CANCELED THREE WEEKS PRIOR TO STARTING DATE.  After that, no refund.

• Registration does not include lodging. Want to stay overnight? Cottages on the grounds of Chautauqua Park may be booked for the weekend through Chautauqua’s Lodging Office. Make your reservation directly at
lodging@chautauqua.com or call 303-952-1611. It’s a holiday weekend, so I advising making your reservation soon.  Four sizes of cottages (efficiency, one-, two-, and three-bedroom) are available starting from $185 per cottage per night, plus 12.3% lodging tax.  All cottages have fully equipped kitchens. For more information, see http://www.chautauqua.com/lodging/reservations/ Book early and mention you are with the RMC-SCBWI workshop.

Chautauqua cottage cancellation policy: Please verify on your own with Chautauqua lodging for updates on prices and cancellation policy.
• If you would like to bring a guest for dinner on Friday evening, extra dinner tickets are $55 per person.  For Saturday evening, extra tickets are $35 per person.



1.  Print and fill out the Registration Form at the end of this brochure.
Make your check payable to “RMC-SCBWI” and send with registration form to: "Big Sur in the Rockies Children's Writing Workshop"  c/o Jerilyn Patterson, 1610 Pace Street, Suite 900 BOX #315, Longmont, CO 80504. Your manuscript submission will not be considered until payment has been received.

2.  Submit the first two pages of one manuscript (maximum 500 words) to:
ktomsic@gmail.com with “Big Sur workshop submission” in the Subject line.  Send the submission in the body of the email, not as an attachment.  If sent as an attachment, it will not be read. You will receive notification that your document has been received. If you do not receive notification that your document has been received and is under consideration, please double check email address and resend.

Deadline for submission is April 2015 (specific deadline date coming)

Note: Works may not be accepted if the content falls outside the faculty area of expertise, or if the executive director feels the work and writer would not benefit from attending the workshop. You will be notified as soon as possible, with a full refund of registration fee, should your work not be approved. Notification of acceptance or non-acceptance is via email.  If you have not heard by close of registration, please contact the registrar. 

QUESTIONS: write to  Registrar@RMCSCBWI.ORG

Register early.  Space is limited so we can keep the workshop small for personal attention.


You will meet with two different faculty members, one leading a first critique group and the other leading a second critique group.  Each critique group will meet twice.  Each critique group meeting will last two hours. 

  • 7 copies of a short manuscript or chapter to work on in your first critique group.  There may be time to work on more than one project, so feel free to bring another manuscript or a different section of the first manuscript. (Think in terms of sections that can be discussed productively in 20-25 minutes; up to five pages usually works well.)

  • 7 copies of a short manuscript or chapter to work on in your second critique group.

  • 5 copies of a query letter, cover letter, first pages or pitch to work on in panel sessions. Check back for more details.

  • Plan to write, so bring works-in-progress and writing equipment.    
Note:  For printing and photocopying, a FedEx Office is located at 2616 Baseline Road, one mile away (east) in the shopping center at the corner of Baseline Road and Broadway Street.

  • A flashlight (for walking at night) and comfortable shoes.  Nearby trails lead into The Flatirons foothills.   

Big Sur in the Rockies Children’s Writing Workshop
May 22-24, 2015

Name __________________________________________________________________
City  ____________________________________  State ___________Zip____________
E-mail address __________________________  (for confirmation and other information)
Phone ( _____ ) _________________________

I am a:   q  RMC-SCBWI member  (Colorado and Wyoming)  q  other SCBWI region’s member  
q  not yet an SCBWI member

$_____ SCBWI member  $485.00             
$_____ Non-SCBWI member  $535.00
$_____ Extra Friday dinner ticket(s) for guest(s) @$55                                   # ___ Friday
$_____ Extra Saturday dinner ticket(s) for guest(s) @$35             #___ Saturday 
$ _____ TOTAL

q  Please include vegetarian entree options for me.
q  Please include lactose-free entree options for me.
q  Please include gluten-free entree options for me.

I’d prefer a critique group with writers of (check a maximum of two, i.e., 1 for each of your 2 groups):
      q  Picture books
      q  Early readers and Chapter books
      q  Middle-grade novels
      q  Young Adult novels
      q  Nonfiction
      q  Combination
[PLEASE NOTE:  we’ll do our best, but we’ll be limited by the distribution of workshop attendees.]

q  I have fellow critique group members also attending this workshop.  If possible, please put us in
       different groups.  Names of fellow members: ____________________________________________

REGISTRATION:  Print and fill out this registration form.  Make your check payable to “RMC-SCBWI” and send with registration form to:  “Big Sur in the Rockies,” c/o Jerilyn Patterson, 1610 Pace Street, Suite 900 BOX #315, Longmont, CO 80504