I believe very strongly that we writers and illustrators have a responsibility to the children who will be accessing our books to produce the best possible books we can. Children deserve high quality, well-written books.

There are many ways to ensure that we are giving kids the quality reading experience that we strive for every time we put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, stylus to tablet. We can take classes, either locally or online, classes such as Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write for Kids, or Anastasia Suen’s online workshops in various genres. We can join groups such as SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, or Emma’s Children’s Book Hub. We can go to conferences. I have blogged about my experiences at both last year’s SCBWI LA, and this year’s Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference. We can hire a freelance editor such as Emma Walton Hamilton, the editor I work with, or Emma D. Dryden to do manuscript evaluations and line edits. (Note: The Emmas are just two of many such freelance editors. SCBWI has a Directory of Freelance Editors at the website, for members’ perusal.)

All these ways of bringing our writing and/or illustrating to the next level are invaluable. But… they all cost money, and that is a stumbling block for many people, putting such things out of reach.

However, there is another option, and it’s free! (My favorite price.) Click the magic words to learn more:

WriteOnCon — Writers Online Conference — is a FREE online conference (just as the name would suggest) for children’s writers and illustrators. There is a plethora of opportunities for learning, for receiving critiques, for attending workshops, just as in a regular writers’ conference, but it all happens online. You can attend in your pajamas if you want to. And if you can’t attend a session live, you can still get the benefit of the information through the online archive at a time convenient to you.

I participated last year for the first time (the conference started in 2010 — the archived sessions from both previous conferences are available on the website). It was an excellent experience, and I learned a great deal. I anticipate that I will learn much from this year’s sessions as well.

This year’s conference begins tomorrow — the conference dates are August 14 and 15, and all sessions are on Eastern Daylight Time (New York time, in other words).

One of the live forum events that I benefited from last year, and that I’m looking forward to this year — even though I have to be online at 6:30 a.m. to participate live — is Emma Walton Hamilton’s picture book query feedback session. Writers may submit their picture book queries today (there will be a notice on the website of how and when to do that), then beginning at 8:30 a.m. EDT tomorrow, Tuesday August 14, Emma will give feedback on the wording, format, and impact of the queries.

There are also sessions with published writers, with agents, with editors. All the learning experiences of a regular “brick and mortar, flesh and blood” writer’s conference without the expense and without leaving the comfort of your computer chair.

The full schedule is available here. To register, all you need to do is become a member of the Forum, which will allow you access to all the sessions..

I’ll be there, bright and early tomorrow morning. Will you?

P.S. Don’t forget the GIVEAWAY! Anyone who comments on any of my posts throughout August will be entered in a draw for one copy of Emma’s Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment, an excellent resource for encouraging a love of books.


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