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How to Write for Children and Young Adults

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24th February 2018 - 9:30am to 4:30pm


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Are you the next Julia Donaldson? If you want to write for children or young adults, learn from the best with a day of writing workshops and panel discussions with leading children’s publishers and literary agents. 

Meet experts of children’s publishing, and find out how to improve your writing and how best to increase your chances of getting published.

The day includes: a two-hour writing workshop with an author of your choice; plenty of opportunity to network with speakers and fellow delegates; informative and interactive panel discussions with literary agents looking for debut authors to add to their lists.

In the morning, three successful children’s authors offer their advice on how to improve your writing with an engaging and interactive workshop with exercises and feedback. The afternoon sessions will help you navigate the current market, warn you of what to avoid in a submission to an agent and give insight into the minds of leading publishing industry figures. 


09.30-10.00 Welcome coffee and tea 

10.00-10.15 Introduction to the day

10.15-11.15 A writing workshop of your choice: either writing picture books with David Litchfield, writing for middle years with Kiran Millwood Hargrave or writing YA with Patrice Lawrence

11.15-11.25 Short break 

11.25-12.45 Writing workshop continued 

12.45-13.30 Lunch break (lunch not included but teas and coffees available)

13.30-14.30 Author and illustrator Kate Pankhurst on the responsibilities of writing for children 

14.30-15.30 How to submit your work to an agent: panel discussion with leading literary agents Claire Wilson, Penny Holroyde and Julia Churchill

15.30-16.30 Refreshments 

Speaker Profiles

Kiran Millwood Hargrave was born in London in 1990 and studied at both Cambridge and Oxford University. She is an award-winning poet, with three collections published (the first at the age of twenty), and has completed residencies in Banff, Tokyo and Whitstable. Her first children’s novel, The Girl of Ink & Stars, was one of the bestselling children’s debuts of 2016, received widespread critical acclaim and won both the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year. Her second novel, The Island at the End of Everything, published in May 2017. She currently lives in Oxford.

David Litchfield first started to draw when he was very young, creating Star Wars and Indiana Jones 'mash up' comics for his older brother and sister. His first picture book with Frances Lincoln Children's Books, The Bear and the Piano, won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize (Illustrated Book Category) and became a best-seller in the UK and US. It was shortlisted for 8 other awards in the UK including the Sheffield Children's Book Award and the Independent Bookshop Week Award, and has sold in over 20 languages. David has since illustrated lots of books including The Building Boy by Ross Montgomery (Faber & Faber, 2016), and his second book with Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, Grandad's Secret Giant, published in April 2017. David lives in Bedford with his family. 

Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in Mid Sussex. She found her way to east London in the '90s and lives there with a partner, a teenager and a cat called Stormageddon. She has been writing for as long as she has been reading. She loves crime fiction, sci-fi and trying to grow things. Her ideal mixtape includes drum 'n' bass, Bruce Springsteen and Studio Ghibli soundtracks. Music can't help creeping into her books.

Patrice’s debut YA novel Orangeboy was met with a critical and prize-winning storm, including winning the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017, The Bookseller The Bookseller YA Book Prize 2017 and shortlisted for the 2016 Coast Children’s Book Award.

Indigo Donut, Patrice’s second novel, was immediately critically acclaimed, and was Book of the Week in The Times, The observer and The Sunday Times. 

Kate Pankhurst illustrates and writes from her studio in Leeds with her  spotty dog, Olive.She loves a good story, the funnier the better and  gets her best ideas by doodling in hers sketchbook; because even quick  wonky drawings can spark ideas for amazing plots. As a child Kate spent  most of her time drawing silly characters and thinking up funny things  for them to do, she feels very lucky to now do this as her job. In 2016, Bloomsbury published her best-selling Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World.

Penny Holroyde has worked in children's publishing for over twenty years, first in the rights department at Walker Books and then as Director of Rights and Licensing for Candlewick Press in the United States.

She then worked as an agent at the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency for ten years before founding Holroyde Cartey in 2015 with former Hodder Art Director, Claire Cartey.

Holroyde Cartey represents several author/illustrator clients such as Jenni Desmond, Tor Freeman, Debi Gliori, Tim Hopgood, Paul Howard, Chris Mould and Sam Usher but don't insist that all clients can do both. Holroyde Cartey represent texts for picture books through to YA. They're currently looking for picture books and young fiction that is funny, poignant animal stories, middle-grade adventure with a light fantasy touch and sophisticated contemporary YA, anything with an original voice.

Claire Wilson joined RCW in 2007, having previously worked in publishing sales and rights, and became a director in 2015. She now looks after an eclectic list of the best children’s and YA authors, including Katherine Rundell, Sally Green, Sara Barnard, Melinda Salisbury, Cerrie Burnell and Zana Fraillon. The authors on her list have been nominated for or won every major children’s prize, including the Costa, the National Book Awards, the Carnegie and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. She is always open to submissions, and particularly drawn to strong voices, unusual concepts, and humour. .

Julia Churchill joined A.M.Heath in 2013 as Children's Agent, after four years building up the UK side of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and six years at the Darley Anderson Agency where she started the children's book side of the list. She represents some fabulous writers including Sarah Lean, Sarah Crossan and Joanna Nadin. She’s always on the treasure hunt for new writing talent and considers the slushpile to be the greatest place on earth. She’s looking for debut and established authors with storytelling magic, from picture book texts right up to YA fiction. Follow her on Twitter: @JuliaChurchill.

Event details

The event will be held at Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP. Doors will open at 9.30am, with teas and coffees provided upon arrival.

The talks will begin at 10am prompt, finishing at 4.30pm for refreshments.


'Accessible, informative, informal yet well-presented.' Kerry Corden

'It makes the whole publishing world feel more accessible - the spur I needed to keep going.' Tom Jordan

'Feel privileged to land a place on this course - now the rest is up to me!' Charlotte Turner

'Thoroughly enjoyed, very inspirational. Thank you so much for a great day with the right sized crowd and perfectly picked experts to share their knowledge.' Charlotte Scarborough

'I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for a wonderful and inspiring day on Saturday at the Writing for Children Conference. I spent Sunday writing up the notes I made and applying Matt Whyman's practical tips to my own manuscript. It was a pleasure to meet with so many other writers' who feel just as nervous as myself, apparently I'm not alone - who knew!' Shelley Wilson

'A lovely day! Very informative for someone new to the game! I'm super inspired to get cracking and get out there!' Rhiannon Holland

'This was an extremely helpful day, thank you! It was very well organised and informative - just what we needed. I was struck by how incredibly friendly everyone attending and running the workshop was. Being creative seems to bring out the best in people!' Astrid Weber

'Very well organised. Length of sessions was good, lots of variety and chance to ask questions.' Chelle Parker

'The conference offered a well-judged mix of practical advice and inspirational personal stories. The range of speakers – from literary agents, to publishers, to authors – meant that all aspects of the business were covered… [It] has certainly given me the tools to return to my own work not just with renewed enthusiasm but with a sharper editor's eye, too.' Becky Brewis

'Fantastic event. Thank you so much for all the great advice!' Margaret Kim

'Excellent course with so much to think about. Can't wait to get back to my writing.' Zita O'Rourke

'Very professional and friendly, inspiring and realistic. Heading home now to start the search for an agent!' Nikie Forster

'Loved the day, loved the speakers – thank you! Also thought that Alysoun was a perfect host for the day.' Kerensa Jennings


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