Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2021 Virtual Fall Conference – Novel Track

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Novel Track

The Novel Track will be led by Mary Kole. Former literary agent Mary Kole founded Mary Kole Editorial in 2013 and provides consulting and developmental editing services to writers of all categories and genres, working on children’s book projects from picture book to young adult, and all kinds of trade market literature, including fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and memoir. She founded Good Story Company in 2019 with the aim of providing valuable content—like the Good Story Podcast and Crit Collective writing forum—to writers of all categories and ability levels. In 2020, she partnered with literary agent John Cusick to create Upswell Media, an intellectual property company which develops compelling modern middle grade and young adult properties for today’s diverse and dynamic publishing marketplace. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has worked at Chronicle Books, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and Movable Type Management. She has been blogging at since 2009. Her book, Writing Irresistible Kidlit, a writing reference guide for middle grade and young adult writers, is available from Writer’s Digest Books.


Mary Kole will lead Novel Track Attendees in a two-part workshop:


 Crafting Irresistible Characters and Plot for Today’s Market

This dual-prong novel track intensive will deal with four crucial elements of being a contemporary kidlit novel writer: the market, your premise, your character craft, and creating a compelling plot. The workshop will start with a market overview and a broad strokes discussion of premise—the idea behind your novel. Once you learn what it takes to create a compelling and multi-layered story idea, we will break down the necessary ingredients in crafting a dynamic character for young readers, and then putting that character into motion in an engaging plot. Both novel newcomers and seasoned pros will come away with some new ideas to take their story craft to the next level and compete in a shifting contemporary marketplace.


But wait…there’s more! Live one-on-one Critiques

As an exciting bonus, Mary is offering a limited number of critiques. Add one to your registration before they sell out! You’ll submit your manuscript by August 11th and then meet with Mary on Zoom for an insight packed one-on-one. Critiques will be scheduled the week before or after the retreat. Please submit your first ten double-spaced pages as a Word doc using standard 1″ margins and 12 pt font. You may include a one-page single- or double-spaced summary for reference only. Critique submissions must be submitted to by August 11, 2021.

Please do not send any additional notes or materials for Mary. Any additional materials will NOT be passed along. Please use: Subject Line: 2021 Retreat Critique – Mary Kole; File Name: Your Last Name_Mary Kole_Manuscript Title.