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I adore Carol Lynch Williams. She is not only a talented and prolific writer, but an amazing woman with a wicked sense of humor, and a fine alto to boot. (I know this because I got to sit next to her in church one Sunday during our VCFA residencies). Following graduation, she has continued to write (a lot), teach (a lot), and mentor (a lot) all while mothering her five daughters. And did I mention she blogs?bio-carol

One of Carol’s huge undertakings is directing the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference. It takes place this year June 17-21 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah.

Recently, Carol answered some questions about the conference, her work, and life in general.

Tell us about the WIFYR conference? What makes it special?

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers is all about helping those who want to write and publish for kids and young adults. Our goal is to help your work become publishable — and not just that great first chapter. The conference — which lasts a week long — has all kinds of classes. For example, we have a class if you are struggling with those icky middles, one if your novel is completed and needs fine tuning, one that addressees the first 50 pages of work. There’s an illustrator class and, if you don’t have all day, you can sign up just for the afternoon sessions.

How long have you been running the conference? What made you decide to initiate it?

Many years ago a good friend of mine, Chris Crowe (Mississippi Trial, 1955 and  Getting Away with Murder, just to name a few of his books) called me up. “If you could go to any kind of writing conference,” he said, “what would it be like? What is your dream writing conference?” Chris and I started dreaming together. We’d want editors and agents there. We’d have classes, led by published authors and illustrators. We’d keep those classes small, intimate. We’d focus on craft, on becoming better, stronger writers.  We’d have afternoon sessions all about craft.

I can’t believe it, but we are in our 14th year.

GJ: Who’s on faculty this year?

CLW: Our faculty is pretty amazing. They always are.

We have:

Steve Bjorkman–our illustrator (13 attendees)–this is just a three-day class
Sharlee Glenn–picture book class (13 attendees)
Cheri Earl–working through those icky middles (13 attendees)
Scott Savage–the middle grade novel (13 attendees)
AE Cannon–novel class (13 attendees)
Kris Chandler–young adult novel class (13 attendees)
Matt Kirby–advanced writing class (13 attendees)
Martine Leavitt–advanced writing class (13 attendees)
Carol Lynch Williams–Boot camp class (10 attendees)
Mette Ivie Harrison— Full novel class   (6 attendees)

Steve Fraser is visiting from Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency
Ammi-Joan Paquette from Erin Murphy Literary Agency
Alyson Heller from Aladdin Books

Our keynote is Lance Larson, Utah’s Poet Laurette. The keynote is free to the public.

There is a great closing social, lots of give-aways, and a book signing.

What is most exciting about this conference is that our faculty WANT to help you publish. I am already communicating with members of my class about Boot Camp. They will be doing homework long before we meet, and that week we will work hard, too. And laugh and have fun and improve.

What can a first-time attendee expect?

To be exhausted by the time the week is over. You’ll be working hard the whole week, with about 40 hours of work (including time in morning classes, afternoon sessions, and homework). If you are the faint of heart, this isn’t the conference for you. You can also expect to walk out knowing more about yourself as a writer, more about your writing, more about what makes GOOD writing and that you can do this! You can publish!

What’s new with Carol the Writer? What’s in the pipeline for you?

Let’s see — I have a series for early readers coming out from a new publisher. george and gracie 1The first two books, GEORGE AND GRACIE, JUST IN TIME will debut with Familius Publishing this fall.

Next year I have two non-fiction books coming out, plus THE HAVEN the-haven_carol-lynch-williams_book(which is my dystopian novel) and a happy book (finally) from Paula Wiseman Imprints. THE HAVEN is released in the spring. Not sure about the Paula Wiseman book.

I’ve just sent in a loose proposal for a companion book to another novel I have already published.

Loyal readers of your blog know your philosophy of celebrating in the form of dinner out or a dance after write-a-thons. Give us your top 5 songs on a playlist for a celebratory dance or the menu for a celebratory dinner out.

What a fun question!
Here are a list of songs that I just shared with my WIFYR Boot Camp class, in no particular order:

1. Hallelujah
2. Loverboy (dang it, not the original video from when I was a newborn baby!)
3. Rock Me Tonight (not the best sound, but fun to dance to)
4. The Leaving Song Pt 2 (Don’t ask me what he’s saying. I have no idea. Also, I saw them in concert, and he doesn’t sing this well in real life.)
5. The Kill
6. Mercy Street (This man inspired a book that I later called The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson)
7. Queen of the Night

Okay, I could keep going, but I won’t.

Thank you, Carol! The conference sounds fantastic! 

Friends, if you’re in the west and looking for some writing inspiration (and fun!), be sure to check out the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference June 17-21 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah.