Online

Weekend

Flexible

Affordable

Bringing together children’s writers and industry professionals, WOWCON offers a packed weekend programme including…

  • Keynote speeches from leading UK authors on this year’s conference theme, EMPOWER.
  • Two-hour interactive workshops.
  • One-hour live talks with Q&A sessions
  • Panels discussing current publishing topics and analysing manuscript extracts
  • Live pitching event with agent 1-2-1 prize.

How does it work?

  • Buy a £25 entry-level ticket (£15 concession) to access the conference. Includes all three keynote talks, as well as an invite to join this year’s Slack group for socialising with fellow writers.
  • Book onto our live workshops and panels taking place throughout the weekend. These will be recorded and available to ticket holders for up to 1 month after the conference, with live transcription (also available in recordings).
  • For the longer 2 hour workshops, we’ll build in a 10 minute break in the middle, but it’s also recorded too, so if people can only manage an hour live, they can come back for the recorded second hour later.
  • Pay to access the remaining panels, workshops, recorded so you can revisit them after WOWCON (for up to 1 month). For those on low-income, where cost is a barrier, we are self-funding 3 scholarships for the conference. Apply here.
  • If you have any access requirements, please email Emily on emily@write-mentor.com, with details on how we can help support you to access the conference.
  • Keep an eye out on our social media pages for updates and opportunities, and to connect with the WriteMentor community.

How to access the conference….

  • £25 BASIC ACCESS: all 3 keynotes and 6 panels (excluding the first pages and spreads), and access to interactive community, including pitch contest and Saturday night party. You can add individual panels (£15) and workshops (£25) at a later date.
  • £149 FULL ACCESS: All 3 keynotes, 6 workshops, and 8 panels, plus access to interactive community, including our pitch and page contest and Saturday night party (WORTH OVER £200).

Bookings are open

Ready for WOWCON?

Advance your writing skills, gain industry insights, and join a supportive community of fellow writers by booking onto our keynotes, workshops and panels below.

In conversation with…Keynote speeches

Leading Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult authors chat with one another as they reflect on the conference’s theme, EMPOWER, and what it means to them, and their writing and publishing journeys

Keynote description

Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Harry Woodgate discuss their picture books, career journey so far, writing/illustration processes, inspiration, top tips, and more…

Meet the keynote speakers

Rashmi Sirdeshpande writes a mix of fiction and non-fiction picture books and was Picture Book Writer in Residence at WriteMentor in 2022. Her debut picture book with Diane Ewen, Never Show a T-Rex a Book, won the Society of Authors Queen’s Knickers Award and the Anna Dewdney Award and was shortlisted for the Lollies. Her other books have won Children’s Book Council Book Awards in the USA, Books For Topics Book of the Year awards, and have been shortlisted for a number of other awards including Blue Peter, Sainsbury’s and the Jhalak Prize.

Harry Woodgate (they/them) is an award-winning author and illustrator. Their books include Grandad’s Camper, Grandad’s Pride, Timid, Little Glow, Shine Like The Stars, My First Baking Book and The Very Merry Murder Club. Their debut author-illustrator title, Grandad’s Camper, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Best Illustrated Book 2022, Children’s Illustrated Book of the Year at the British Book Awards 2023, and was named a Stonewall Book Award Honor Book by the American Library Association. It was also shortlisted for the inaugural Polari Children’s & YA Prize, and was nominated for the CILIP Yoto Kate Greenaway Award. Harry is passionate about writing and illustrating diverse, inclusive stories that inspire children to be inquisitive, creative, kind and proud of what makes them unique. When not writing or illustrating, Harry enjoys cycling, baking, and exploring independent coffee shops, gardens and bookstores.

Keynote description

Authors Lewis Hancox and Louie Stowell discuss writing for a middle-grade audience, and the rise in graphic novels for younger readers. 

Meet the keynote speakers

Lewis Hancox is an author-illustrator whose trailblazing graphic memoir, Welcome to St Hell, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2023 Older Readers Shortlist. Lewis was also shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards Positive Role Model Award (LGBT) 2022.

Louie Stowell was born in London and has lived there ever since, except for a short stint in Watford to study advertising. She’s worked as a copywriter, cartoonist, PR and in-house non-fiction writer, and was Publisher at Ladybird/Penguin Random House before writing full-time.

Her debut, THE DRAGON IN THE LIBRARY, was published by Nosy Crow in 2019 and Walker Books in the US, followed by THE MONSTER IN THE LAKE in January 2020 and THE WIZARD IN THE WOOD in 2021. OTHERLAND, a standalone middle-grade novel, followed in 2021 with Nosy Crow. The first book in her new series with Walker Books, LOKI: A BAD GOD’S GUIDE TO BEING GOOD, was an instant #3 Sunday Times (UK) bestseller.

Louie grew up on a diet of Tolkien, “Doctor Who”, Ursula Le Guin, live action role play, “Just William”, 2000AD, Elfquest, John Christopher and Nicholas Fisk. She loves comics, science fiction, fantasy and anything funny. At university, she wrote her thesis on comics, and once won a prize for Anglo-Saxon. She likes woods, urban foxes and mythology.

Louie lives in Hackney with her wife, Karen, her dog, Buffy, and a nameless creepy puppet that is probably cursed.

Keynote description

Authors and in-laws Catherine Doyle and Katie Webber discuss the process of co-author a Young Adult novel, plus learn insights about writing and draw inspiration from their publishing journeys. 

Meet the keynote speakers

Catherine Doyle lives in the West of Ireland. She holds a BA in Psychology and an MA in Publishing. Her work, which includes Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, has been published in over 25 languages.

Her award-winning and bestselling middle grade STORM KEEPER trilogy is set on the magical island of Arranmore, where her grandparents grew up. Her modern re-imagining of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, THE MIRACLE ON EBENEZER STREET, was published by Puffin books in October 2020. Her most recent MG novel, THE LOST GIRL KING, was released in September 2022.

Her bestselling YA novel, TWIN CROWNS, co-authored with Katherine Webber, published in May 2022. The sequel, CURSED CROWNS, releases in April 2023

Katherine Webber is originally from California but currently lives in London. She has also lived and worked in Hong Kong, Maui, and Atlanta.

She loves an adventure, whether it is found in a book or in real life.  Travel, books, and eating out are her favourite indulgences.

Her debut YA novel WING JONES/THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES is published by Walker Books in the UK and Penguin Random House/Delacorte in the US. Her next YA novel will be out in August 2018. Katherine also writes the young fiction series SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID as Katie Tsang with her husband Kevin Tsang. 

Katherine is represented by Claire Wilson at Rogers, Coleridge, and White.

Workshops

Practice and develop your craft in a supportive, interactive environment with our two-hour live writing workshops

Workshop description

Join award-winning author Danielle Jawando, in this interactive workshop where you will learn how to develop, craft and hone your authentic voice for middle grade or YA.

Meet the workshop leader

Danielle Jawando is an author, screenwriter and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her debut YA novel, And the Stars Were Burning Brightly, won best senior novel in the Great Reads Award and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the YA Book Prize, the Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize, the Branford Boase Award and was longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the UKLA Book Awards and the Amazing Book Awards. Her other publications include the YA novel When Our Worlds Collided, the non-fiction children’s book Maya Angelou (Little Guides to Great Lives), the short stories Paradise 703 (long-listed for the Finishing Line Press Award) and The Deerstalker(selected as one of six finalists for the We Need Diverse Books short story competition), as well as several short plays performed in Manchester and London. Danielle has also worked on Coronation Street as a storyline writer.  

Workshop description

Create an outstanding chapter book series for young readers.

Meet the workshop leader

Amy Sparkes writes across a variety of disciplines, including picture books, chapter books, middle-grade, reading schemes, non-fiction, film and TV. She is the author of over 20 books for children, including The House At The Edge of Magic series and the picture books for BBC’s The Repair Shop. Amy is keen to support other writers and was given the nickname ‘Story Godmother’. She runs the Writing Magazine Children’s Book Prize as well as offering coaching and mentoring.

Workshop description

Learn the magic tricks that will empower you to write your very best picture books, as well as the ones that will help you to get out of a corner.

Meet the workshop leader

Barry Timms is a children’s picture book editor with over twenty years’ experience. He has also edited preschool books, non-fiction and young fiction works. Barry’s editorial roles include senior and managerial positions at Macmillan Children’s Books, Walker Books and Little Tiger Group, making commercially successful books for the UK, US and international markets. Barry is also an award-winning author of over fifteen picture books. This is NOT a Unicorn!, published by Nosy Crow, won the Stockport Children’s Book Award 2022 and is shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Awards 2023.

Workshop description

From writing your first sentence to holding a physical book in your hands, writer and editor Charlie Castelletti will take you through the steps to getting a book traditionally published, and explore what it means to be both an “author” and an “editor”. Q&A session at the end for more specific questions.

Meet the workshop leader

Charlie Castelletti is a writer and editor. He holds a BA in English Language and Literature from King’s College, London, and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge where he focused on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, period adaptations and queer audiences. He is the author of The Manor House Governess under the pseudonym C. A. Castle and he’s also a picture book author and poetry anthologist. He has compiled anthologies for Macmillan Collector’s Library where he contrasts the old with the new, from zodiacs to modern dating, always with a view to capturing the zeitgeist. He lives in Cambridgeshire.

Workshop description

Thriving as a published author often means approaching your book like a business, which means that, for certain publishing routes, authors must have a commercially-viable idea. Learn from the industry insights of an Editorial Director about to be both commercial and creative so you can write a book that will be noticed by an agent, sell to a publisher and, most importantly, be enjoyed by your readership. 

Meet the workshop leader

Yasmin Morrissey is an Editorial Director working across children’s books at Simon & Schuster Kids. Yasmin has previously worked as a Senior Commissioning Editor at Scholastic UK, a Senior Editor at HarperCollins, and an Editor at Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House.

Workshop description

In a session guided by award-winning book publicist, Amber Ivatt, you will discover the huge part PR plays when publishing and promoting a new book in the market. The session will include an interactive workshop where you can creatively and strategically brainstorm PR angles and events around your own writing, followed by a Q&A.

Meet the workshop leader

Amber Ivatt is an award-winning publicist who has experience of working in children’s books, adult fiction and in agency. She has worked across multiple bestselling books and brands including with authors Marcus Rashford and Carl Anka, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, David Olusoga OBE, Holly Black, Emily Gravett, George R.R. Martin, Chris Riddell OBE and most recently Stephen Mulhern.

Panels

Access our pre-recorded panels during and beyond the WOWCON weekend to watch authors and industry professionals debate current topics and analyse your writing

Panel description

A Picture Book author, an editor, and two literary agents analyse Picture Book spreads written and volunteered by you, our WOWCON writers, sharing their advice and editing processes.

Meet the panellists 

Molly Jamieson joined United Agents in 2017 as an assistant. She is now an Associate Agent and continues to work closely with Jodie Hodges and Emily Talbot on their lists of children’s authors and illustrators as well as building her own list.

She has a particular interest in scifi and fantasy across both adult and children’s books. For a sense of her taste, she has recently read and enjoyed Sistersong by Lucy Holland, Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, and Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. She loves anything with high stakes, characters you would follow anywhere, big stories, expansive worldbuilding, breathless romance, and threads of adventure running throughout.

She is also looking for commercial romantic fiction in all shapes and forms. She has a real soft spot for classic tropes, a great sense of humour, and anything with a clear pitch that makes you sit up and take notice, but in the end it all comes down to chemistry. In this area, she has recently read and loved The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, Book Lovers by Emily Henry, The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, and The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood.

After graduating from the University of Exeter with a degree in English Literature, Lorna Hemingway (she/her) completed her MA in Children’s Literature at Goldsmiths, where she was personally mentored by Michael Rosen.

Lorna Hemingway joined Bell Lomax Moreton in 2019 and is now building her own list while being one of the agency assistants; she runs the social media channels and creates bespoke assets for our clients and publishers.

Rebecca Anastasi is a Junior Editor, Picture Books, at Nosy Crow.

Rebecca studied English Literature at the University of York. After graduating, she enjoyed work experience placements at Penguin Random House and HarperCollins before taking a detour into academic publishing. After four years working on the Politics, Anthropology and Philosophy lists, Rebecca decided that it was time to pursue her dream of working with children’s books. She’s delighted to have flown into the Crow’s Nest and to become part of such a creative and vibrant environment.

Clare Helen Welsh is a former primary school teacher turned writing tutor and children’s author, living in South West England with her husband and two children. Clare does her best writing by the sea (or on the sofa with a dog on her lap!), which is lucky because she lives close to many beautiful beaches and the salty sea air (and has a dog called Hope!)

When Clare isn’t writing stories, she is inspiring children to write their own. She loves visiting schools, libraries, bookshops and festivals in her authormobile, giving her an outlet for her BIG ideas. Once she helped a class make a giant rice crispy cake that was so wide it wouldn’t fit through the door!

But her best idea yet has been putting pen to paper. Clare loves writing whacky, funny books but is also passionate about writing stories that help children deal with big feelings and difficult issues, including dementia, divorce and serious heath issues. She has recently started writing books that are a mix of fact and fiction, interweaving non-fiction with brilliant storytelling.

Clare is the founder of Books That Help – an initiative that aims to celebrate picture books and how they can be used therapeutically to navigate life’s up and downs..

Clare is represented by Alice Williams of Alice Williams Literary.

Panel description

Two literary agents, an editor from a Big Five publisher, and an author analyse the first pages of novel manuscripts written and volunteered by you, our WOWCON writers, sharing their advice and editing processes.

Meet the panellists 

Maddy Belton is an Associate Agent working closely with Chloe Seager while building a list across children’s fiction and non-fiction and adult sci-fi and fantasy.

After graduating from St Andrews University with a degree in English Literature and Art History, Maddy followed her love of literature to an internship at non-fiction literary agency Graham Maw Christie.  At GMC, Maddy worked her way up to Agent and built a list of authors who wrote for both for adults and children, spanning history, tarot, and nature writing. An avid reader of anything magical, Maddy joined Madeline Milburn in 2022 to build a list specialising in SFF.

Saffron Dodd joined the ASH Literary team in 2022 as agency assistant and was promoted to Associate Agent in 2023. She has a background in media and communications and has most recently worked for a children’s education charity. She has always loved reading books for children and young adults, and is currently doing a Masters in Children’s Literature. Saffron is extremely passionate about highlighting and supporting diverse voices in publishing.

Tom Bonnick
Editorial Director at HarperCollins Children’s Books

Aisha Bushby was born in Bahrain and has lived in Kuwait, England and Canada. Now she mostly lives in the worlds of her children’s books. Aisha was a contributing author in the Stripes anthology for BAME writers, A Change is Gonna Come, alongside writers including Patrice Lawrence, Tanya Byrne and Nikesh Shukla. The anthology was awarded a YA Book Prize Special Achievement Award. Aisha’s debut novel A Pocketful of Stars was longlisted for the Carnegie medal and shortlisted for the Branford Boase award. Aisha’s books are always full of heart and have a sprinkling of magic in them.

Panel description

BookTok, a subsection of TikTok, is making waves among bookworms and storytellers around the world. For readers, it’s igniting or strengthening a love of literature and connecting them to their favourite authors and new releases; for authors,  it’s creating a whole new promotional tool for their books that has seen huge success: from attracting publishing deals to rapidly increasing book sales. Four authors discuss their presence of TikTok and the impact it has had on their publishing careers, and share their advice on how you can create new opportunities on this ever-growing global platform.

Meet the panellists 

A lover of the strange, the magical, and the downright spooky, Rosie Talbot writes contemporary fantasy and horror books for Young Adults and Adult readers. Like her, all of her stories are very queer. Her debut YA novel SIXTEEN SOULS releases in 2022. Rosie is a graduate of Curtis Brown Creative and WriteMentor. By day she works as a bookseller. By night, she spends time sewing big skirts with outrageously large pockets and wondering why her family has a suspiciously large collection of cauldrons. She currently resides in a mysterious pocket of the Sussex countryside with a very patient spouse and two cats called Tinkerfluff and Captain Haddock.

Ben Davis writes funny books for older children and teenagers. His first book, The Private Blog of Joe Cowley series has been hailed as a Wimpy Kid for a new generation.

He has also written standalone books for younger readers, like the supervillain tale, Danny Dread, and the critically acclaimed My Embarrassing Dad’s Gone Viral.

Before he became a published author, Ben wrote jokes and sketches for radio shows and various other bits and bobs.

When he’s not writing, he regularly visits schools and leads creative writing workshops.

These days, Ben lives with his wife and son in Staffordshire and in his spare time, likes to put his dog in daft costumes. 

Sarah Daniels is an ex-archaeologist who escaped academia and now writes stories from her home in rural Lincolnshire. Her work has been published in various online magazines and has been nominated for Best British and Irish Flash Fiction and Best Small Fictions.

Holly McLoughlin 

Panel description

Picture Books might be aimed at younger readers, but that doesn’t mean writers should shy away from tough topics. Four authors discuss why Picture Books can be a great way to help small children understand and process their big feelings, and share their advice on how writers can best convey complex and difficult themes within a Picture Book format.

Meet the panellists 

Anna Wilson is a writer for both children and adults. She has written over fifty books for children ranging from picture books to fiction and nonfiction for young readers. Her chapter book series, Vlad the World’s Worst Vampire (Stripes, 2018), has been translated into twelve languages. The stories explore a child’s burgeoning self-awareness and the effects of being seen as an outsider. Anna’s most recent nonfiction title, Nature Month-by-Month: a children’s almanac (Nosy Crow and The National Trust, 2019), was shortlisted for the 2019 ALCS Educational Writers’ award and continues to be updated every year. Much of Anna’s writing investigates the importance of family and identity and also deals with our relationship with the natural world. Her memoir, A Place for Everything: my mother, autism and me (HarperCollins, 2020), was inspired by her mother’s late diagnosis of autism at the age of 72 and the impact of this on her mother’s mental decline and its effect on the wider family. After reading Modern Languages at Cambridge, Anna was a fiction editor for Macmillan Children’s Books and HarperCollins. Since 2013 she has lectured in Creative Writing for Bath Spa University, City University of London and the Arvon Foundation. Her tutoring has seen both undergraduate and postgraduate writers grow in confidence and gain their own publishing deals. She now lives in Cornwall where she is researching and writing about the life of her husband’s grandfather, Dr David Thomson, who spent much of his career developing an early prototype of the flu vaccine.

Tom Percival had an unconventional childhood in a remote and beautiful part of South Shropshire and these formative years are almost certainly what first got him interested in writing and drawing. Tom is now a writer, artist, video producer and musician. He is the author of many bestselling picture books, including the six titles in his award-winning Big Bright Feelings for Bloomsbury (Perfectly NormanRuby’s WorryRavi’s Roar, Meesha Makes Friends, Tilda Tries Againand Milo’s Monster). He lives in Gloucestershire with his partner, their two children and a dog called Luna. tom-percival.com @TomPercivalsays

Dr Wendy Meddour is the Director of Creative Writing at Exeter University, UK; and after gaining her PhD, she spent 8 years teaching English Literature at Oxford University. Her debut children’s book was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award for ‘Outstanding first novel’, and she has gone onto publish over 15 children’s books with leading publishers (many of which have been translated into languages as diverse as Arabic, Hebrew, German, Korean, Turkish, Spanish, Greek and Russian). 

Winner of the International Margaret Wise Brown Award for Children’s Literature in 2020, Wendy’s most recent books include ‘Lubna and Pebble’ and ‘The Friendship Bench’. Wendy is known for writing children’s books that address difficult topics in a thoughtful, heartwarming and uplifting manner. Forthcoming picture books include: ‘Peggy the Always Sorry Pigeon’, ‘Cleo the Completely Fine Camel’ and ‘Sunny and the Birds’.

Clare Helen Welsh is a former primary school teacher turned writing tutor and children’s author, living in South West England with her husband and two children. Clare does her best writing by the sea (or on the sofa with a dog on her lap!), which is lucky because she lives close to many beautiful beaches and the salty sea air (and has a dog called Hope!)

When Clare isn’t writing stories, she is inspiring children to write their own. She loves visiting schools, libraries, bookshops and festivals in her authormobile, giving her an outlet for her BIG ideas. Once she helped a class make a giant rice crispy cake that was so wide it wouldn’t fit through the door!

But her best idea yet has been putting pen to paper. Clare loves writing whacky, funny books but is also passionate about writing stories that help children deal with big feelings and difficult issues, including dementia, divorce and serious heath issues. She has recently started writing books that are a mix of fact and fiction, interweaving non-fiction with brilliant storytelling.

Clare is the founder of Books That Help – an initiative that aims to celebrate picture books and how they can be used therapeutically to navigate life’s up and downs..

Clare is represented by Alice Williams of Alice Williams Literary.

Panel description

From authors to booksellers to literary agents, experts across the publishing industry understand how vital it is to engage a new generation of young readers, and at an early age. So how can we ensure all children develop this habit? Hear from a panel of authors as they discuss how to make books more accessible to children and young adults by changing the perception that reading is uncool. 

Meet the panellists 

Holly Rivers grew up in a real-life children’s book, playing the part of Drusilla in ITV’s The Worst Witch alongside Felicity Jones. She spent her childhood in Wales, wishing that she was Pippi Longstocking, and after graduating spent time working as an actor, broadcaster and cheese-seller, until one day she had the idea to pen a story about a tenacious young inventor named Demelza. Holly’s days are now spent penning new stories as well as leading drama, craft and bushcraft classes for children. She lives in Brighton with her girlfriend and still wishes that she was Pippi Longstocking.

Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian and Trinidadian household. Her first book for young adults, Orangeboy, was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award and won the Bookseller YA Prize and Waterstone’s Prize for Older Children’s Fiction. Indigo Donut, her second book for teenagers, won the Crimefest YA Prize. Both books have been nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Patrice worked for more than 20 years for charities supporting equality and social justice. These themes (along with a serious amount of music) inform her stories. Patrice still lives in Brighton.

Theatre school dropout, ex-999 operator and occasional forklift driver, Jenni writes children’s books with a magical twist. She loves to take real and familiar places and events and add a layer of mystery and hocus-pocus.

She had the good fortune to be selected for the first year of the WriteMentor scheme and mentored by Lindsay Galvin, author of The Secret Deep. As well as her magical middle-grade novels, Jenni writes short contemporary YA stories for reluctant and struggling readers, including Torn and Wanted for Badger Learning.

Jenni Spangler has an Open University degree in English Language and Literature, a 500-metre swimming badge and a great recipe for chocolate brownies. She lives in Staffordshire with her husband and two children. She loves old photographs, picture books and tea, but is wary of manhole covers following an unfortunate incident.

Jenni’s first book, The Vanishing Trick, was published as a lead debut in Spring 2020 from Simon & Schuster Children’s and swiftly became the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month in May and The Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week after publication. Her second book, The Incredible Talking Machine published in June 2021. Her most recent book which she illustrated and wrote, Valentine Crow and Mr Death published in January 2023.

A. M. Dassu is a multi award-winning writer of both non-fiction and fiction including the internationally acclaimed novel Boy, Everywhere, one of The Guardian’s, Bookriot’s, Kirkus’s, American Library Association’s Booklist’s, CLPE’s and BookTrust’s Best Children’s Book of the Year. It has coveted starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly and is also an American Library Association’s Notable Book. Boy, Everywhere also featured as one of The Guardian’s Children’s Best New Novels on publication in October 2020, is on Amnesty’s Books That Inspire Activism list and has been listed for 25 awards including the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and Carnegie Medal, and is the 2021 winner of The Little Rebels Award for Radical Fiction and has been noted by National Literacy Trust experts as one of 50 books every child should read. Her recently launched novel, Fight Back Her has already been listed for 20 awards including the 2023 Carnegie Medal, was a Book of the Month and Best New Novelin The Guardian upon publication, an Independent Bookshop’s Book of the Month across all Indie bookshops in the UK, an ‘Editor’s Choice’ in The Bookseller and is a Waterstones, CLPE, Scholastic Bookclubs‘ Best Book of 2022. It is also a Jane Addams Peace Book Award Finalistfor Older Children in America.

A. M. Dassu is former Deputy Editor, now Advisory Board member of Words & Picturesmagazine for children’s writers and illustrators, and a Director of Inclusive Minds, a unique organisation for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality, and accessibility in children’s literature. A. M. Dassu is patron of The Other Side of Hope, a new literary magazine edited by immigrants and refugees, which serves to celebrate the refugee and immigrant communities worldwide. She is also one of The National Literacy Trust‘s Connecting Stories campaign authors, aiming to help inspire a love of reading and writing in children and young people. 

A.M. Dassu grew up in the Midlands dreaming of becoming a writer but studied economics instead and worked in marketing and project management before realising her dream. She writes books across a wide genre, including non-fiction, that challenge stereotypes, humanise the “other” and are full of empathy, hope and heart. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post, Times Educational Supplement, Scoop magazine, DK Books, Scholastic, Lee and Low, Old Barn Books, Hachette, Oxford University Press and Harper Collins. 

Her latest book, Boot It! was a World Book Day novel and published in February 2023, selling a whopping 175,000 copies and staying in the bestseller chart for over 4 weeks!

Panel description

Often, authors struggle to make enough money from their books alone. Many go down the route of balancing writing with full-time or part-time jobs; others look to diversify their income portfolio with writing-related jobs and projects, often freelance. Mentoring, editing, ghostwriting, journalism, bookselling, writing-for-hire: the options are endless and often overwhelming. Find out three authors manage their income streams; what skills, experience, and personality traits they believe are needed for this type of work; the benefits and the challenges; and, most importantly, how they maintain their focus on writing their books.

Meet the panellists 

Aisha Bushby was born in Bahrain and has lived in Kuwait, England and Canada. Now she mostly lives in the worlds of her children’s books. Aisha was a contributing author in the Stripes anthology for BAME writers, A Change is Gonna Come, alongside writers including Patrice Lawrence, Tanya Byrne and Nikesh Shukla. The anthology was awarded a YA Book Prize Special Achievement Award. Aisha’s debut novel A Pocketful of Stars was longlisted for the Carnegie medal and shortlisted for the Branford Boase award. Aisha’s books are always full of heart and have a sprinkling of magic in them.

Andreina Cordani wanted to be a writer from the age of seven, but got a little bit distracted by the world of magazines. Over the years she has written for titles including Cosmopolitan, Grazia, Good Housekeeping, Prima, that’s life! and Marie Claire. Andreinaspecialises in real life interviews, talking to seemingly ordinary people about their extraordinary lives, and these chats inspired her to put herself in other people’s shoes and imagine how different life can be. She writes young adult thrillers about people in impossible emotional situations, with a little bit of murder thrown in. Her dream is to sit and write books all day then sit and read books all night, but she also loves procrastinating on social media, being sarcastic and swimming in the sea.

Emma Read is the author of Middle Grade debut, Milton the Mighty – shortlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award, published by Chicken House in 2019. She is a mentor with WriteMentor Sparks and runs creative writing workshops for children in KS2.

Florianne Humphrey is an author, freelance marketer, and creative writing workshop leader represented by Chloe Davis at Darley Anderson. Her poem The Blundergaffe is published by Popshot Magazine, her YA short story The Time Tailor is published by Northern Gravy, and her short story ‘Blind Date’ was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She runs face-to-face creative writing workshops for organisations such as New Writing North, Seven Stories and International Women’s Day and independently tutors creative writing online. Florianne’s WriteMentor journey started in 2019 as a mentee on the summer mentoring programme, and now she supports Stuart by designing and promoting content, co-hosting WriteCast, and producing WriteMentor Magazine.

Panel description

Whether a burden or a joy or a simple necessicity, school visits are often an inevitable part of a published authors’ career: an opportunity to connect with an inspire young readers, discuss their writing and publishing insights, and sell more books. And, as with writing for kids, talking to them about your books isn’t always easy, but can be very rewarding – and, if not, certainly memorable. Hear from authors as they share their stories of school visits – the highs, the lows, and everything in between. 

Meet the panellists 

Alexandra Sheppard was born in North London to a Jamaican mother and English father.

When Alex isn’t writing teen fiction, she is a freelance social media strategist with experience working on dozens of award-winning social media campaigns.

Oh My Gods was her first YA novel and was published by Scholastic. Alex then wrote Fly High Crew in collaboration with the Banjo Brothers, which was published by Scholastic in April 2021. Happy Here, an anthology of 10 stories from Black British authors and illustrators featuring Alex published in August 2021 by Knights Of. Alex’s new YA title with Knights Of, Friendship Never Ends, was published in May 2023.

Jenny has been awarded with six mugs, one fridge magnet, one wall plaque and numerous cards for her role as ‘Best Teacher in the World’. While she has not met the rest of the teachers in the world in contention for this title, she believes the evidence is stacking up in her favour. When she is not busy being inspirational in the classroom, she would like nothing more than to relax with her two young boys, but she can’t as they view her as some sort of human climbing frame. In her free time, if she isn’t writing, she can be found doing something sporty.

Jenny Pearson has recently moved to the North East of England and while she has yet to meet Ant or Dec, she has learned how to use canny in a sentence. Which is dead canny, like.

Jenny Pearson’s debut children’s novel The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates (Usborne) was published in 2020. It was subject to a major 8-way auction and has already been sold in 20 languages. It has been shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book of the Year 2020, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the Bradford Boase, the UKLA Book awards and the Lollies. It was also Waterstones Book of the Month, The Times Book of the Year and Sunday Times Book of the Week.

Justin Davies writes middle grade fiction which he hopes will have children laughing their socks off. His debut novel, Help! I Smell a Monster, was a Fantastic Book Awards winner in 2021. Having hung up his flight attendant wings after twenty-five years smiling in the aisles, Justin now splits his time between writing and working in his local primary school. He lives in Scotland with his husband Andrew and greyhound Sally. Justin’s third book, a darkly comic adventure mystery with a dash of paranormal, is out in 2023.

Emily Randall-Jones has worked as a touring actor, an historical interpreter at Hampton Court and for the National Trust, creating events, exhibitions and interpretation. She writes haunting middle-grade mysteries and has won both the Mslexia Children’s Novel and YA competition and the Times/Chicken House Competition. She’s represented by Lucy Irvine at Peters, Fraser & Dunlopand her debut novel will be published in spring 2023. When she’s not writing, she’s busy raising two young children. On days off she can be found near the sea, at the pub or eating cake. Or all three. 

Panel description

Publishing trends come and go, and now Young Adult is once again having its moment. Publishers are snapping up books for a teen audience, and social platforms like TikTok are pushing this popularity. But why is there a YA rebirth? How can authors take advantage of this trend? Should they? And most importantly, is YA here to stay? Cynthia Murphy, who is described as the “new voice of YA horror” chats with a US-based agent and a UK-based editor about this new trend and the dangers and benefits of following it.

Meet the panellists 

Shalu Vallepur is an Editor at Chicken House, a children’s book publishing company.Like many bibliophiles, Shalu found a home reading English literature at university. Never forgetting the magic of exploring new worlds in books as a child, she began to pursue a career in children’s publishing. Starting with writing and editing children’s non-fiction, she found a passion for editing fiction. Primarily a devourer of fantasy, sci-fi and spec fic, Shalu’s reading tastes have no boundaries and she adores everything from horror and heroes, to mythology and manga.
Having swapped Norfolk for Somerset, when she’s not reading she’ll be out hiking, practising yoga or indoors cooking up a feast and playing video games.

Kesia Lupo is an Associate Literary Agent at The Bindery. Kesia grew up in the UK and Germany, studied History at Oxford University and Creative Writing at Bath Spa, then launched her publishing career at Pan Macmillan, London, as an editorial assistant in 2013. She transitioned from adult books to children’s when she joined boutique publisher Chicken House – then from a senior editorial role to agenting when she joined The Bindery in 2023. While her expertise lies in middle-grade and YA fiction, Kesia reads widely across genres, including adult SFF and horror, historical fiction, romance, and non-fiction. Kesia is a new U.S. resident and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband. As well as working in publishing, she’s the author of three YA novels— We Are Blood and Thunder, We Are Bound by Stars (a fantasy duology), and Let’s Play Murder, a horror/thriller, all published by Bloomsbury in the UK. You will normally find her writing if she’s not reading!

Cynthia Murphy is a YA writer from the North-West of England. She has a long-standing love affair with all things scary, reading Point Horrors at primary school before graduating to Stephen King in her misguided teens. Classic 90s and 00s horror movies are definitely her pub quiz strong point and her first love may well have been Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Studying for a degree in Art History and Archaeology meant that she developed a thirst for anything old, beautiful and very often dead. She tries to combine this with contemporary settings in her writing to make unique and chilling modern stories. Cynthia is married to her best friend and they are ruled by a Romanian rescue dog called Loli.

Melissa Welliver writes Young Adult Speculative novels. She works at WriteMentor and runs the Hub. Melissa has been published in two short story anthologies, one with a forward by Jeanette Winterson. She has a self-published novel, The Undying Tower, published in 2021. Her print debut, My Love Life and the Apocalypse, was published by Chicken House in April 2023.
Melissa has completed the acclaimed Curtis Brown Creative Novel Writing Course for children under the tutelage of Catherine Johnson. She has been longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the #BNAKids award, and Mslexia’s Children’s Novel Prize, and she was shortlisted for both the inaugural Hachette Children’s Novel Award in association with New Writing North, and the Wells Book for Children competition. She lives in the Northwest with her Bassetoodle, Zelda, and is represented by  Lucy Irvine of Peters, Fraser & Dunlop

Six of the panels are included in your basic ticket, however the first pages/spreads can be signed up to here:

*please note to buy individual panels you must already have a basic ticket.

First page/spreads Panels

*You must already have a Basic Ticket in order to book these sessions.

TIMETABLE (all times in GMT)

Friday 22nd:

4.45 Opening Remarks
5-7 Workshop: Write a Chapter Book with Amy Sparks
7-8 Panel: Making Books Cool Again
7-9 Workshop: Editing: A step-by-step process with Charlie Castelletti

Saturday 23rd:

9-10 In Conversation: Louie and Lewis (pre-record)
10-11 Panel: First Spreads
11-1 Workshop: Write a Picture Book with Barry Timms
1-2 Panel: Understanding the World of Booktok
2-4 Workshop: Finding your writing voice with Danielle Jawando
4-5 Panel: Tales of School Visits
5-6 In Conversation: Catherine and Katherine
7-8 Panel: The Rerise of Young Adult

8-9 Saturday Night Party

Sunday 24th: 

9-10 Panel: Serious Topics in Picture Books
10-11 In Conversation: Harry and Rashmi
12-2 Workshop: Develop an Author Brand with Amber Ivatt
2-3 Panel: First Pages
3-5 Workshop: Create Commercial Ideas with Yasmin Morrisey
5-6 Panel: Building an Author Income Portfolio

6 Closing remarks

*All sessions in grey are included with your basic ticket. You can book the additional sessions (in orange) to attend. An all-inclusive ticket covers every session.

Why writers love WOWCON…

“WOWCON is an amazing conference. I’m so incredibly grateful that so many writers gave their time and experience to help others in this way. It’s invaluable to be able to access all of this knowledge from the comfort of your own living room while still wearing your pyjamas! What a fantastic weekend of writerly goodness.”

Julie Marney Leigh

“WOWCON was like a fabulous feast – an all you can eat writers’ buffet – and there was so much I’m still going back for more. What’s more, it was delivered to each of our doors and yet we could eat together – all of us, sharing and chatting like one big family!”

Tricia Gilbey

“WOWCON was a writer’s paradise; a weekend of access to some of the best, sharpest, funniest writers for children. The agent 1:1s were a wonderful opportunity, and their encouragement and feedback was so helpful!”

Frances Tosdevin 

“Can’t praise WOWCON enough! Well organised, fabulous speakers/ workshops and superb value for money. WOWCON is totally inclusive – it reaches out to everyone, gives generously and leaves you totally motivated to continue your writing journey, whatever stage you’re at.”

SJ Hopwood

“The best value for money conference in the country, with all the perks of a usual writers’ conference: agent 1-2-1s, talks by industry experts, workshops and writers’ tips – but without the hassle and expense of travelling anywhere!”

Lydia Massiah

“Many people in the writing community face barriers to attending large writing conferences. WOWCON was designed with everyone in mind, and it created a fantastic virtual space for writers to network.”

Louise

“WOWCON offered a fantastic opportunity to interact with other writers, learn from experts, and gain feedback on my work from agents and published writers. All this, from my home. This was the most accessible conference I have attended.”

Julie

“I live in a rural community, separated from the rest of the UK by an expensive stretch of water. For me, WOWCON was a chance to take part in a high quality writing conference without breaking the bank.”

Anna Britton

“WOWCON far surpassed expectations, and the expectations were already high! As a working class single mother, I’m not able to attend many conferences without either financial help or help with childcare. WOWCON levelled the playing field to make all the events affordable and accessible, and I was able to attend workshops and talks at my own leisure while simultaneously looking after my child.”

Jenny Shippen

“WOWCON has been the most amazing weekend. There has been a wealth of information, inspiration and new ideas coming from all angles. As someone who lives in Scotland, works and has 3 kids, heading down south for conferences aren’t always doable. This was perfect in your own home, own comfort zone and no travelling. It didn’t mean there wasn’t friendships made and new people met, I met and connected with several likeminded writers. Now, if only I’d booked them all.”

Susan Mann

“If you want to learn how to write with more insight & skill, at speed, from the luxury of your own living room (or bedroom) then WriteMentor WOWCON is the conference for you. This is a writing conference that celebrates the best of what technology has to offer by joining writers and sharing knowledge. It’s quite simply a force for good and a force for change in opening up the access to ALL writers within the children’s writing community. Bravo Stuart and to all who have contributed to making this groundbreaking conference.”

Natasha Holmes

Join us for a jam-packed writing weekend

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