Children’s book readers, lovers and those who aspire to write them are the target audience of Write On, Door County’s first ever Children’s Literature Conference in Sturgeon Bay next month.
Following in the footsteps of last year’s successful two-day poetry conference, the children’s literature conference April 6-8 will bring together some of the region’s best authors of picture books, chapter books and young adult literature for a weekend full of presentations and workshops.
Write On, Door County Executive Director Jerod Santek curated the lineup of writers, illustrators, editors, publishers and young readers to cover a range of topics, including starting a small press, illustrating, traditional and self-publishing, and marketing, and a range of styles, from young adult nonfiction to picture books.
“It’s a great lineup, it’s a diverse lineup, which I’m really excited about,” Santek said. “Different perspectives in children’s literature and how to break in from self-publishing to traditional publishing.”
The conference represents a partnership between Write On, Door County and the Wisconsin chapter of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), which will host its annual luncheon in Sturgeon Bay on the Sunday afternoon following the conference. The luncheon will include a keynote address by Catherine Laudone, assistant editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. (Registration for the luncheon is separate from the conference.)
The Children’s Literature Conference offers a unique opportunity for the children’s writing community, as it will be one of two major conferences presented in the state this year – the other being SCBWI’s annual fall conference. Children’s author Miranda Paul, regional co-chair of SCBWI and a scheduled conference presenter, points to the conference as reflective of the state’s robust and under-the-radar children’s literature community.
“We have a very vibrant community of people who write and illustrate for children,” Paul said of Wisconsin. “We have more than 300 members just in our society and we have more than 80 published authors or illustrators who live in our state, which is pretty incredible. These are just writers and illustrators for children and teens so we have a wealth of writers; some of them are hunkering down in a cabin working on their next book and some of them are very public, they’re visiting schools in Wisconsin. A number of them are award-winning, and I don’t know if everybody’s aware of how many of us live here in the state.”
Santek has noticed an upward trend in locally written and illustrated children’s books in recent years, and credits two things for that trend: the visual arts community seeing connections between their art and children’s stories, and strong family bonds.
“Given the population of Door County, I think that there are a lot of people who want to give something more meaningful to their grandchildren,” Santek said. “To create something their grandchildren will read and carry on.”
In that respect, the conference is intended for writers of all skill levels and interests. It is restricted to the first 70 registrants, to encourage greater opportunity for interaction between attendees and presenters.
“If anybody is even thinking about writing for children as a hobby or as a career and they want to get better at it and they want to write a book that will stand the test of time, the faculty lineup for this conference is a remarkable one and it would be an opportunity missed if someone was thinking about it and on the fence,” Paul said. “…Even if there are writers out there that don’t think they want to write for young audiences, for children, for teens, they just want to write, I still think that they’re going to learn something very valuable about writing by attending the craft-based workshops.”
Registration for the conference is $120 before March 16. After March 16, registration is $150. To register for the conference, visit writeondoorcounty.org. To register for the SCBWI luncheon, visit wisconsin.scbwi.org/events/spring-luncheon-2018.