June 2018 

Lesa Cline-Ransome's first book was the biography Satchel Paige, an ALA Notable Book and a Bank Street College “Best Children’s Book of the Year.” She later created Quilt Alphabet, a collection of alphabet poems; Quilt Counting; Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist; Young Pele; Words Set Me Free; Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson; Light in the Darkness; Freedom’s School; My Story, My Dance; Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong; and Germs: Fact and Fiction, Friends and Foes. Her verse biography of Harriet Tubman, Before She Was Harriet received five starred reviews, was nominated for an NAACP image award, and received a Coretta Scott King Honor for illustration. Her newest titles, Finding Langston, her debut middle grade novel, and the picture book biography Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams, will be released this summer.

Lesa’s book have received numerous honors and awards including NAACP Awards, Kirkus Best Books, ALA Notable, CBC Choice Awards, two Top 10 Sports Books for Youth, and an Orbis Pictus Recommended Book. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband, and frequent collaborator, James Ransome and their family. Visit her at www.lesaclineransome.com

Title: “Writing from the Inside Out” Constructing Creative Non-Fiction Picture Books

Explore character through observation, research, and memory. Ask questions of your characters and let their answers guide voice, point of view and narrative. Hands-on exercises will focus on perspective/voice and how our own stories help determine or drive our perspective or point of view, and the importance of being selective in word choice and the power of each word.

Bess Cozby is an Editor at Tor/Forge books, where she is building her list with a focus on historical fiction, thrillers and contemporaries for adult and YA readers. She also serves as Web Editor for DIYMFA.com, where she manages a team of columnists working on a variety of topics related to writing and publishing. She is also a YA fantasy writer, represented by Brooks Sherman at Janklow & Nesbit Associates.

Title: “Creating Worlds” Building Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Dystopian Novels

Successful YA speculative fiction places dynamic, engaging characters in a high stakes plot set in a fully realized world. When these three elements work together, they create an immersive reader experience and illuminate powerful themes. In this two-hour workshop, we’ll analyze successful YA fantasy and science fiction as a jumping off point for exercises focused on integrating your character’s journey with plot, and building your story’s world. Whether you have a book you’re currently working on, or looking to get new ideas, come prepared to get creative! There will also be a short Q & A. 


Photo by Doug  Dundas
Jennifer Donnelly is the author of Fatal Throne, a collaborative retelling of the story of Henry VIII’s six wives; Lost in a Book, a New York Times Bestseller; the Waterfire Saga, the first book of which, Deep Blue, won a Green Earth Award; These Shallow Graves, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults book; Revolution, an ABA Young Adult Book of the Year; and A Northern Light, winner of the Carnegie Medal, the LA Times Book Prize, a Printz Honor, and named “One of the 100 Best Young Adult books of all Time” by Time Magazine. Her Rose trilogy –The Tea RoseThe Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose – has been optioned for film. She is currently at work on Stepsister, a novel that reimagines the story of Isabelle, one of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters. Jennifer lives in the Hudson Valley. Visit her at www.jenniferdonnelly.com, or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at jenwritesbooks. 

Title: “Making History Come Alive” Writing Historical Fiction in Novels

Join Jennifer as she discusses how she researched and wrote her historical young adult novel A Northern Light – winner of the Carnegie Medal, the LA Times Book Prize, a Printz Honor, and named “One of the 100 Best Young Adult Books of all Time” by TIME Magazine. The two-hour workshop will include a Q & A and writing exercises.

Gary Giolo is a visual artist, musician, and psychotherapist. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling JIMI: Sounds Like A Rainbow – A Story of Young Jimi Hendrix, recipient of a 2011 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. His other books include When Bob Met Woody: The Story of the Young Bob Dylan; Spirit Seeker: The Musical Journey of John Coltrane; and Bird & Diz, about the creators and creation of Bebop jazz. His most recent book, Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song, is about the origin and debut of the legendary anti-lynching song, a cornerstone of the Civil Rights Movement. Gary’s books have received multiple starred reviews and Best Books honors from Kirkus, SLJ, Bank Street College, CCBC, and the New York Public Library. His forthcoming titles include Carlos Santana – Sound of the Heart, Song of the World; Smile – How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry); and Dark Was the Night – Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars. Each of these books highlights an artist’s roots and influences, promoting the idea that artist are models of persistence and commitment, embodying values of imagination, hopefulness, and self-acceptance. Gary grew up in Dobbs Ferry and lives in Briarcliff Manor.

Title: “Sharing True Lives” Bringing Biographical Stories to Children and Young Teens

Sarah LaPolla joined Bradford Literary Agency as an agent in 2013 after working in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown, Ltd., where she became an associate agent in 2010. Sarah received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School in 2008 and has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Ithaca College. Representing MG, YA, and Adult fiction, Sarah is especially drawn to the following genres: contemporary/realistic fiction, literary thriller, sci-fi or speculative fiction, magical realism, low fantasy, and horror. No matter the genre or market, Sarah’s authors tend to address larger themes in a character-driven story, reflect diversity in all aspect, and offer a challenge to the status quo. Blog: http://glasscasesblog.wordpress.com Twitter:@sarahlapolla

Meredith Mundy has been editing books for young readers for 23 years and hopes to continue doing so for at least 23 more. She has had the pleasure of working with such talented authors as Tammi Sauer, Kim Norman, Linda Ashman, Tara Lazar, Jim Arnosky, John Briggs, and Karen Kaufman Orloff. Following more than a decade at Sterling Children’s Books, she is now Executive Editor at Abrams Appleseed, where she is acquiring books for ages 0-5 – board books, novelty books, and very young picture books. She is specifically seeking concept books with a twist (see Hippopposites and Llamaphones), and books with a holiday tie-in (any holiday!). 

Originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Meredith went to Smith College for an undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature/Studio Art, and to NYU for an MFA in Creative Writing, which gave her the best possible glimpse of what life is like on the other side of the desk. She lives in Putnam Valley, NY with her graphic designer husband, Richard, and their red tabby, Martha. 

Title: “Hooking Your Reader” Crafting the All-Important First Line in Contemporary Picture Books

In this workshop, we will explore the first lines of numerous published picture books, and will then break into small groups to re-work the first lines of your original manuscript. Magical transformations guaranteed! 

Please bring: 
1. One or two picture book manuscripts that you are working on, for workshopping purposes.
2. Scratch paper or notebook.
3. A favorite first line from a published picture book to share with the group.

Barbara Paulding is the Editorial Director of Peter Pauper Press in White Plains, NY. Before that she worked in editorial for book packagers in New Canaan and Greenwich, and at Viking Penguin Junior Books. During the course of her 35 years in publishing, she’s also written several books, including children’s activity books, travel photo books, and gift books. 

Early on, after graduating from Mount Holyoke College with an English/Anthropology major, she was a freelance reader for publishers and literary magazines. She took many graduate courses in Writing at Manhattanville College as well.

Susanna Reich is an award-wining author of fiction and biography for children and young adults. Her recent books include Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music and the Path to Justice;Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatlesand Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia child and Her Cat. She received the Tomás Rivera Award and an International Latino Book Award forJosé ! Born to Danceand an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor for Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso. Susanna is the winner of the 2018 Rip Van Winkle Award, given by the school librarians of Southeastern New York for outstanding contributions to children’s literature, as well as the 2018 Alice Curtis Desmond Award. She is Immediate Past Chair of the Children’s Book Committee of PEN America. Susanna grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson and lives in Briarcliff Manor. 

Title: “Sharing True Lives” Bringing Biographical Stories to Children and Young Teens 

This will be a joint session with Gary Giolo.