Yolanda Ridge

Middle Grade Author

Big Sur Writing Workshop

With help from an Access Copyright Foundation Professional Development Grant, I travelled all the way to Big Sur, California this weekend to attend a writing workshop hosted by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and the Henry Miller Library. It was an illuminating and inspiring experience that was at times overwhelming (and exhausting).

Photo compliments of TripAdvisor (I travelled too light to bring a camera)

On the craft side, I brought two contemporary middle grade manuscripts – one that’s been through many rounds of revision (but still not totally working) and one that’s brand new (so new that the first draft isn’t completely written). I got great feedback from my critique groups. Not only did I come away with strategies for moving both stories forward, I also know where to focus my energy next. (Spoiler alert: stay tuned for more information about PLUS ONE GIRL).

Beyond these two manuscripts, I met many talented writers and made lots of new friends. The faculty (top-notch agents, editors and professional writers) were all extremely knowledgable and graciously made themselves accessible to all attendees. My only regret is that I didn’t have time to fully explore the beautiful surroundings. But one thing is for certain – I will be back!!

Photo credit: John Henry (partner of a fellow attendee)

 

More TripAdvisor (but I did drive over this bridge and it really is that spectacular!)

 

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Highlights Whole Novel Workshop

I can not thank the Access Copyright Foundation enough for helping me attend the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop through their Professional Development Grant.

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Attending this workshop was quite simply the best writing experience I’ve had. Here are the “highlights” (pun intended):

16 amazing participants – a diverse collection of creative people who take writing for young people seriously. I enjoyed getting to know every single one of them. I look forward to keeping in touch, being part of this new community of writers, and seeing all their middle grade and young adult books on the shelves!

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4 talented mentors – I learned so much from these amazing authors who gave so freely of themselves and their craft. I’m currently reading and enjoying all of their published titles and encourage you to check out the websites of Sarah Aronson, Nancy Werlin, A.M Jenkins and Jennifer Jacobson. I am especially thankful for Jennifer, a kindred spirit who writes about themes similar to my own, who found things in my novel that I didn’t know were there and encouraged me (okay, sometimes it was more like forced me) to dig deeper into the core of my story.

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2 great workshop leaders – extremely knowledgable, approachable, and encouraging, Nicole Valentine and Rob Costello gave us so many great resources, cultivated connection, and set the tone for the entire week.

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Lots of time to write – It was amazing to be able to immerse myself in my story and not have to worry about cooking or cleaning or keeping track of kids (thanks Grandma and Papa!) The food was amazing and the scenery spectacular.

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I will do everything in my power to return to this magical place one day. In the meantime, I feel very grateful for the opportunity. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!

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Star Struck in LA

Today on From the Mixed up Files of Middle Grade Authors I posted Star Struck at SCBWI-LA which reviews my experience at the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference in August.

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I do not have the words to express how grateful I am to the Hairston family and the Martha Weston Grant Committee for giving me the opportunity to attend this conference.  It was absolutely amazing.  I’m writing an article about it for the SCBWI Canada West newsletter and will share other tidbits as I continue to absorb all I learned  and experienced.  I’m sure the words will come to me eventually – I am a writer after all!

 

Pictured here with Kari-Lynn Winters, author of On my Walk.  Photo courtesy of Debbie Ohi, illustrator of I’m Bored.

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