10-Week Intensive

10-Week Intensive

11 Practicing professionals and industry insiders offer resources on craft and industry topics to take your work-in-progress to the next level. Attend LIVE online every Monday night starting Monday, April 29th. Recorded and available for one month.

  • WELCOME CELEBRATION on April 29th is FREE + OPEN to all who are interested in more information about this event. Click to join Zoom Meeting at 7PM CDT.
  • NOTE: Week 11 intensive program occurs on Tuesday, July 9.
  • See FACULTY for bios and more information on our scheduled presenters, below.

QUESTIONS?: Email Jennifer Wagh, Co-RA



WEEK 1: Welcome Celebration

The WORDS IN THE WOODS Team describes all the opportunities of our 10-week intensive and amenities in the retreat to follow. Your questions, answered. Open to anyone wanting to know more about this hybrid event. Celebrate our Masthead Contest winner, Darcy Day Zoells and Becky Mabry Scholarship winner, Tracie Amirante Padal . LIVE | Recorded | 60 minutes with Q&A

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WEEK 2: How to Give & Receive Supportive Feedback

Join Alice McGinty, longtime organizer of WORDS IN THE WOODS, as she kicks-off our event with celebration, song and advice on how to best create community in kidlit by giving and receiving supportive feedback. LIVE | RECORDED | 60 minutes with Q&A

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WEEK 3: Industry Insider Chat

Join our chat with our online + retreat Industry Insiders Laurel Symonds (agent | KT LITERARY) and Orlando Dos Reis (editor, SCHOLASTIC). Attendees will be asked to pose questions directly to our faculty for a conversational event. This is YOUR chance to ask questions in advance of receiving initial industry insider feedback on your work-in-progress. LIVE | Recorded | 60 minutes ALL Q&A

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WEEK 4: Editor's Craft Presentation

Join Orlando Dos Reis, Senior Editor from Scholastic, for his insights on craft, LIVE | Recorded | 60 minutes with Q&A


WEEK 5: Recognize MEMORIAL DAY | NO Monday Programming

Although we take the night off to recognize the sacrifice of our service personnel, we'll still enjoy WEEKLY CRITIQUE GROUPS on Tuesday and POWER HOURS Tuesday through Friday.

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WEEK 6: Turn Your Manuscript Into a Baby Board Book for Fun, Profit & Revision

Ready to play? Join Denise and Cathy as we help you take your picture book or middle grade/young adult manuscripts and turn it into a 17 word playful baby board book. Why? To help in the revision process. If you can describe your book in 20 words or less, you can do anything! Denise will start by discussing the baby board book market and share why these sweet little books hold a special place in her heart. Cathy and Denise will give examples of stripping your story down to something simple and playful - just for the joy of it! Editing your story to 17 words by creating an entertaining board book can help you get unstuck, brainstorm new ideas, or give you a new perspective on your story. We will spend 30 minutes turning our words into 6-page spreads and show you how to create characters using simple shapes. In the last 15 minutes, we will spend time sharing our creations! LIVE | RECORDED | 60 minutes with Q&A

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WEEK 7: Picture Books as Physical Objects

The youngest of readers interact with picture books in very physical ways—and we’re not just talking about chewing the cardboard or ripping out pages! We’ll consider how interactive elements, line breaks, page turns, and other techniques enhance the reading experience, focusing on picture books for ages 4+. LIVE | RECORDED | 60 minutes with Q&A


WEEK 8: First Look

Join NaShantá Fletcher, PAL Illustrator and Design Director, COTTAGE DOOR PRESS & Jessica Saint Jean, Literary Agent, JILL GRINBERG LITERARY MANAGEMENT for a first look for illustrators. Up to (5) illustrators will present an image for immediate feedback from our industry professionals, with time for a follow up question from the illustrator. Illustrators may sign up for this opportunity during registration at no additional cost. Register early to get your 10-minutes for presentation and feedback. LIVE | Recorded | 60 minutes


WEEK 9: Responsible Representations of Trauma

As a writer, portraying trauma in your work allows for the opportunity to reach a large audience with a story that can provide a reader with an important sense of representation and connection. Trauma-driven narratives help survivors of trauma make sense of their experiences. Responsible depiction of trauma is crucial, ensuring ethical and accurate storytelling. In the session, attendees will learn how to depict the emotional and behavioral responses to traumatic stress across the developmental stages—from infancy to early adulthood-—avoiding exploitative language and stereotypes in mental health portrayal. Important topics such as content warnings, systemic and disenfranchised trauma, and author self-care will also be addressed. LIVE | Recorded | 60 minutes includes Q&A

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WEEK 10: Pacing and Page Turns to Hook Your Reader

Pull out your scissors and glue as we paginate and create the perfect page turns. Together we will take a look at popular picture books, chapter books, and novels to discover what compels the reader to turn the page. What devices can we use as writers to draw readers into the world we are creating? We will explore call and response, alternating points of view, and the rise & fall of action. We will also look at the role art plays in helping the reader become immersed. Feel free to print out your own picture book to paginate or join the group paginating a classic (Custard the Dragon) Recommended Reading List to Come LIVE | Recorded | 60 minutes with Q&A

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WEEK 11: Making Your Writing Personal and Universal—Inviting Readers In

We each come to this creative journey with unique stories to tell. The goal is to write and illustrate in our own one-of-a-kind way so that our stories invite others in. In this session, Rob will share some of the stories he’s told and what led him to those stories. Then, using his own books as examples, he’ll share the three things he thinks invites readers into a story—entry point, structure, and presentation. Once a reader has felt welcomed in, the story becomes their story. One reader at a time, a story can grow a community. We’ll leave ample time for questions and answers at the end of the session. Rob believes that almost every creative has that one question that they feel they must have answered in order to move forward. So, your questions may be about Rob’s presentation, or be a “burning-issues” question. NOTE: TUESDAY, July 9 instead of Monday LIVE | Recorded | 60 minutes includes Q&A

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RETREAT BONUS: Novelty Books-What Have You Been Missing?

You don’t have to be a paper engineer to submit a proposal. There are several types of novelty books for children. This presentation will show the basic formats of several novelty books. Participants will be given a 5 page handout with:A. Would your book idea suit a novelty book format? B. Tackling the moving parts/designing a novelty book dummy. C. A list of publishers who print novelty books. D. A list of “classic” novelty books. LIVE| In-person | NOT recorded