WIFYR 2018

I finally returned to the greatest writing conference on this side of the U.S. for the second time (my first was 2012) with a new story ready to critique! My first book was published because of WIFYR, so I knew this was a worthwhile investment. I took pages of notes, made great friends, and received terrific feedback during my new story's 20-minute in-class critique.

So what is WIFYR? 
(Writers and Illustrators For Young Readers)

WIFYR brings renowned published authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, editors etc., who specialize in children's picture books, middle-grade novels, and young adult novels together for five eight-hour days to teach, inspire and help anyone seeking to polish their craft of writing and illustrating. Networking is a huge plus.

Picture Book Workshop

"Books for young children are usually short. Young children themselves are usually short. This leads to an assumption that children have small brains and that writing for them is easy. The reverse is true. Young children have large, active brains, and writing for them is enormously difficult." 
- Mem Fox

I signed up for the incredible Picture Book Workshop with the fabulous author Sharlee Glenn.

We spent 4 hours every morning critiquing each others' manuscripts (20 minutes per story) and receiving invaluable instruction from Sharlee on the complicated DO'S and DON'TS of writing for young children.

I'll share a few with you!


PRACTICE RUSH WRITING: For a short limited time (10 minutes), spew whatever comes out of your pen, no stopping allowed. No editing or time for grammar or rhyme or reason allowed. Just write. This process can override the logic center and produce a story you wouldn't have ever come up with otherwise.

WRITE FOR FUN: Not everything you write will get published. Maybe you never will. Make sure your end goal is not publication. Write for the pure joy of writing.

REVISION: There is no such thing as "good writing." Ther is only good rewriting.

READ THE GENRE YOU WRITE: "Nobody but a reader ever becomes a writer."

  1. Audience age typically 2-6
  2. Keep your stories at 500 words or less.
  3. Make your book really sweet or really funny
  4. Use playful unique language. The sounds words make are new and exciting for children, so play it up.
  5. Create situations that inspire great illustrations
PACING: A great pic book for young children is performance arts between two covers. Turning pages is an integral part of the pic book experience and pacing is key. Every word in a pic book has to count for something.

BROAD AUDIENCE: The picture book has the broadest audience - you are writing for every age.

NON-FICTION: This genre is selling like hot-cakes and publishers are hungry for them. Have an idea for a non-fiction picture book? Write it! But don't slack on the necessary research and time it takes to craft a good story with interesting and accurate facts.

RULE OF THREE: In picture books, there is something cognitively satisfying about threes. If you are going to introduce something twice, then do it a third. When it feels like you have too much of something, try condensing to three.

ADVERBS: Are definitely positively absolutely not your friends. Avoid at all costs.

Random Things

One talented classmate sitting next to me attended while in labor the last day, breathed through contractions, went home at noon and delivered a beautiful baby girl by noon the next day.

Author/illustrator Julie Olson accompanied me on a personal "business lunch" and let me pick her brain about publishing, writing and illustrating picture books. Thanks, Julie!

Sharlee said I'm a skilled rhymer!  :D  (yay)

My class laughed at my story. You always hope your work is as funny as you think, but you just never know til you put it to the test.

That's it for now! Until next time.

Thank you Carol, thank you Sharlee, thank you Julie, and thank you to my classmates / new writing friends Mattie, Kristy, Kirstin, Laya, ShaundaCathy, Whitney, Lilia, Sylvia, Leslie, Stephanie, Cheryl, and Amy. <3

Sharlee and Me


  1. I was at the conference too, and I agree that I learned so much!

    I just went and checked out You Should, You Should, and it is adorable!! I also love your WIFYR illustration!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Thanks girl! Glad you enjoyed it too. I learned so much, I couldn't possibly put it all in one blog post. I'm sure you know what I mean. ;) Thank you for the compliment on my book! <3


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