WriteMentor invites you to WOWCON, our annual, online conference for writers of children’s fiction that encapsulates our values of accessibility, affordability, community, and diversity.

What’s on offer?

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, ‘Perseverance
  • Two-hour interactive workshops on craft topics
  • One-hour live talks with Q&A sessions
  • Panels discussing current publishing topics and analysing manuscript extracts
  • 1-2-1 meetings with literary agents to discuss children’s fiction manuscripts

How does it work?

  • Buy a £12 entry-level ticket to access the conference. Includes all three keynote speeches and three panels (On submission to publishers, the art of networking, and COVID-19: the impact on publishing), as well as an invite to join this year’s Slack group for socialising with fellow writers.
  • Book onto our live workshops, talks, and agent 121s 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 of your choice, pre-recorded so you can revisit them after WOWCON (for up to 1 month).
  • Keep an eye out on our social media pages for updates and opportunities, and to connect with the WriteMentor community.
  • Is the cost a barrier to you attending? Apply for a scholarship to attend here.

Ready for WOWCON?

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

Or click here to book your tickets (remember to check the timetable before booking talks/workshops).

Keynote speeches

Hear from three leading authors in children’s publishing as they reflect on their personal journeys of perseverance

Your time will come

Keynote description

‘Perseverance and tenacity within creativity, and the power of positive representation’

Building a career in the creative industries may feel overwhelming, especially if you’re part of a minority group or you’re championing a different narrative. But the world needs more stories, more art, more insight and more brilliance from multiple viewpoints and diversities, and that is the reason you must stay.

Biography

Cerrie Burnell is a writer and actor best known for her work on Cbeebies, a role that has earned her critical recognition and a devoted fan-base, where she overcame prejudice to become one of the most celebrated disabled presenters on children’s television. In 2011 Cerrie was named in the Observer’s top ten children’s presenters and the Guardian’s 100 most inspirational women. Cerrie played Miss Green in the final season of Grangehill and Penny Stevens in Doctors. She has also appeared in Eastenders, Holby City and Comedy Lab. Cerrie is the author of twelve children’s books, she has been writer in residence for Great Ormond Street and Booktrust and is a patron of Polka children’s theatre. Her most recent documentary Silenced aired on BBC2 in January.

I wish I knew what I know now

Keynote description

A letter to Catherine’s newly published self nearly 30 years ago, and what she would do differently if she could – attitude, agents, schools, kids – and the highs and lows that come with it.

Biography

Catherine Johnson has written several books for children and young adults, including A Nest of Vipers, the story of Cato Hopkins, the youngest member of a group of expert fraudsters. Her next book, Sawbones, was published in October 2013 and won the Young Quills Award for Historical Fiction. The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo, published by Penguin Random House in 2015 was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016 and the YA Book Prize. Her most recent books are Freedom, nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2019, and Race To The Frozen North. She is also included in Margaret Busby’s anthology of Black Women’s writing, New Daughters of Africa.

Catherine also writes for film, television and radio. In 2005 she co-wrote the highly acclaimed feature film Bullet Boy, followed by a number of commissions for Century Films, Working Title and Channel 4. Her TV work includes Rough Crossings for Simon Schama and Holby City.

She is currently working on an adaptation of Miranda Kaufmann’s Black Tudors for Silverprint Pictures.

Perseverance in publishing

Keynote description

Catherine will talk about her career in publishing, both illustrating and writing, the highs and lows over the years, and her drive and passion to continue.

Biography

Multi- award-winning author and illustrator Catherine Rayner has written over 20 books for children and illustrated many more for other well-known authors including Julia Donaldson and Michael Morpurgo. Her books have been adapted for musicals, television and theatre. Catherine studied illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. She fell in love with the city and still lives there with her young family and a small menagerie of creatures including Shannon the horse, Ena the cat and a goldfish called Richard, all of whom inspire her work. Catherine won the Best New Illustrator Award at the Booktrust Early Years Awards for Augustus and His Smile and has been awarded the prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. Catherine’s other titles for Macmillan include the critically acclaimed Solomon Crocodile and the award-winning Smelly Louie.

Workshops

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

Staying in Character

Workshop description

A dissection of what makes a character memorable, believable, and relatable, while learning how to build a cast of characters from the ground up.

Biography

Dave Rudden is the author of the award-winning Knights of the Borrowed Dark series, as well as the Doctor Who anthologies Twelve Angels Weeping and The Wintertime Paradox. He enjoys cats, good beard maintenance and being cruel to fictional children.

From Ideas to Outline

Workshop description

Understand the process of turning a story idea into a full elevator pitch, outline and blurb, building out the details required for querying agents, and how to use a synopsis as a tool when writing and editing your manuscript.

Biography

Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels, including The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe and The Quiet at the End of the World. She is also a Creative Writing lecturer, freelance editor, screenwriter, and the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League. Her upcoming release is Green Rising, a climate change thriller.

Write a Picture Book in 2 hours

Workshop description

From concept to creation, go on a whistle-stop tour of how to write a picture book, with a focus on compelling characters, engaging plots and clear, emotional take-aways.

Biography

Clare Helen Welsh is a picture book author, writing tutor and WriteMentor’s Picture Book Writer in Residence 2021. She loves dreaming up stories for young readers and their families to enjoy, be that fictional, non-fiction or a blend of both. For many years she was a primary school teacher, which ignited her love of storytelling, reading and role-play. Clare lives in Devon with her husband, two children and her dog, Hope. When she isn’t imagining new worlds and creating characters, she enjoys walking on the beach and in the countryside, taking lots of inspiration from the natural world.

Editing: Breaking it down

Workshop description

Editing is a crucial skill for writers to master but approaching your own manuscript can seem daunting. This workshop will break down the editing process and equip writers with the tools they need to make their writing sparkle. Ideal for writers at any stage of the writing process.

Biography

Alexandra Sheppard is a children’s author from North London. Her debut novel Oh My Gods was published by Scholastic and received coverage in Refinery29, Buzzfeed and The Guardian’s Summer Reading List 2019. She also runs WriteMentor’s WriteMaster course.

World-building

Workshop description

A Whole New World

A fun and relaxed guide through the epic journey of fantasy world building, to help you create the perfect backdrop to your own unique world.

This workshop is text-based on Slack. Instructions on how to use Slack will be sent with your conference invite email in September.

Biography

Raised on a healthy diet of fantasy and fairy tales, Bex Hogan has spent much of her life lost in daydreams. Writing her stories down was a natural progression and now she enjoys sharing her time between living in the real world and escaping to her imagination. A Cornish girl at heart, Bex now lives in Cambridgeshire with her husband, two beautiful daughters and a fluffy cocker spaniel. She might be found riding horses, talking to her plants or eating marzipan. Or not.

Voice

Workshop description

Take part in a series of writing tasks and discussions to explore narrative voice and point of view. Explore dialogue and how to fall in love with writing it. Consider what is said, how it’s said and what’s left unsaid – sometimes the strongest voice of all. Gain an introduction to techniques to make your writing sing, and how to maximise each character’s moment in the spotlight of speech. No experience or preparation needed. Please feel free to email Liz with any preferred learning styles or needs in advance.

Biography

Liz Flanagan is an award-winning author based in Yorkshire. She writes for children and young adults and her books include Eden Summer, Dragon Daughter and Rise of the Shadow Dragons.

Talks

Authors and publishing professionals lead one-hour live talks on a variety of topics with advice, insights, and a Q&A

Insights into indie publishing

Talk description

Releasing a book with an indie or small press is a good middle ground, offering a similar publishing experience to big name publishers with the flexibility and personalisation of self-publishing. Gain first-hand insights into indie publishing from the perspective Knights Of author Elle McNicoll and her role as a neurodivergent author.

Biography

Elle McNicoll is a children’s author from Scotland, now living in East London. One of the most exciting new voices in children’s publishing, Elle is a Neurodivergent writer and is passionate about disability rights and Own Voices representation. Her debut novel A Kind of Spark was published to critical acclaim in June 2020 and won the 2021 Blue Peter Book Award for Best Story, was Blackwell’s Book of the Year, and has recently been shortlisted for this year’s Branford Boase Award. It was also shortlisted for the 2020 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards. Her second book, Show Us Who You Are, is a gripping story set in the near-future with a platonic love-story at its heart; an organisation called Pomegranate is using AI to create holograms of people – with sinister consequences.

Writing a series

Talk description

Serena Patel shares how she developed a cast of characters with series potential, things to think about when planning a series, and challenges and benefits of writing a series.

Biography

Serena Patel is the author of the Anisha, Accidental Detective series which launched in 2020. The first book in the series won the Sainsbury’s award for Children’s Fiction and was shortlisted for a Book of the Year award at the British Book Awards. The second book in the series, Schools Cancelled was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award for Fiction.

Writing historical fantasy fiction

Talk description

Ross Montgomery explores the subgenre of historical fantasy fiction from his perspective of writing The Midnight Guardians, a book set during World War II that weaves magical fables with real-life events.

Biography

Ross Montgomery started writing stories as a teenager, when he should have been doing homework, and continued doing so at university. His debut novel, Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door, was nominated for the Costa Children’s Book of the Year and Branford Boase Award. It was also selected as one of the Sunday Times’ “Top 100 Modern Children’s Classics”. His latest book for 8-12s, The Midnight Guardians, was Waterstones Book of the Month and chosen as a Children’s Book of the Year for The Guardian. He lives in London with his girlfriend and their cat, called Fun Bobby.

Writing in rhyme

Talk description

Children love reading rhyme, but writers can find it a hard skill to master. What is metre? What is scansion? How do you create a rhythm?Picture book author Catherine Emmett discusses the key elements to rhyming well, and why perseverance is important.

Biography

Catherine Emmett spent 15 years working in the City before realising that she needed to find a job she loved. She packed up her young family and escaped to the countryside to start writing children’s books. Now she writes rhyming picture books with twisty plots and endearing characters and LOVES talking about rhyme. She also leads WriteMentor’s WriteRhyme course.

How to stand out to editors and agents

Talk description

Gain advice on how a writer can stand out and get noticed by an agent/editor from the perspective of Eishar Brar, Editorial Director of children’s publisher Knights Of, who finds and champions new voices in often untraditional ways.

Biography

Eishar Brar is Editorial Director at Knights Of, an inclusive publisher focused on publishing underrepresented voices. In her role she creates space for non-trauma led narratives and aims to widen the scope of Own Voices publishing through her commissioning.

Inclusivity and sensitivity reading

Talk description

Professional sensitivity reader Hamza Jahanzeb shares their overview of the updated landscape as to how the publishing industry is doing, what it has done and how it can be better in terms of diversity. Plus, understand the important role of sensitivity reading – what it is, why it’s important, and advice on how to ensure authenticity and nuance in stories, be it in one’s voice, characters, and/or settings.

Biography

Hamza Jahanzeb is senior marketing executive at Icon Books. Hailing from Lancashire in North West England and as a Queer Muslim of British-Pakistani background, he is passionate for equality in the Publishing industry and spotted the potential in the idea for Remember Me? by Shobna Gulati (dinnerladies, Coronation Street). Hamza has worked at international publishers, including Penguin Random House N. Asia, Pan Macmillan and Hachette UK. A staunch advocate for #BookJobTransparency and member of the Pride in Publishing initiative, he is a proud campaigner and change-maker who seeks inclusive hiring practices/promotions and retention of marginalised communities in the UK Publishing industry. Additionally, he was also chosen as a Bookseller Rising Star in 2020.

Writing science fiction and fantasy

Talk description

Climate change is at the forefront of many of our minds, and whether in our world or a secondary one, may end up working its way into our fiction. In this talk, Sunday Times bestselling author, Laura Lam, details some of the climate change research she’s done from writing near-future thriller Goldilocks, as well as a Youtube channel CYOTopia. She will give tips and tricks on using climate change science to create believable, rich worlds to become the backdrop to your stories. 

This workshop is text-based on Slack. Instructions on how to use Slack will be sent with your conference invite email in September.

Biography

Laura Lam is the Sunday Times bestselling author of SFF books like Seven Devils, Goldilocks, Pantomime, False Hearts, and more. She also lectures at Edinburgh Napier on the Creative Writing Masters.

The author/illustrator relationship

Talk description

If you’re writing books for younger readers, at some point you might work with an illustrator – but it’s often a lesser-known part of the publishing process. Author/illustrator pairing Emma Perry and Rikhin Parekh discuss how an author’s picture book concept is materialised by the illustrator, bringing the words to life through art. 

Biography

Emma Perry can be found either writing books, reading them or teaching them. It’s always been that way. In fact, her first two picture books are about… yep, books.

Rikin Parekh is a children’s book Illustrator based in North West London. He also works as a LSA (Learning Support Assistant) in primary schools.

Mental health and wellbeing

Talk description

An ‘in conversation with’ event talking about the rise in understanding and interest in mental health and wellbeing for teens and where Sara draws her inspiration from.

Biography

Sara Barnard lives in Brighton and does all her best writing on trains. She loves books, book people and book things. She has been writing ever since she was too small to reach the ‘on’ switch on the family Amstrad computer. She gets her love of words from her dad, who made sure she always had books to read and introduced her to the wonders of second-hand book shops at a young age. She is the author of the bestselling Beautiful Broken Things and won the YA Book Prize for her novel Goodbye, Perfect.

The author/agent relationship

Talk description

Author Alex Page and her agent Christabel McKinley discuss their journey so far working together. How Christabel came to represent Alex, how they developed and eventually submitted her work, how they continue to work together. Includes helpful information for writers looking for agents or wanting to know more about navigating agenting relationships, with anecdotes drawing on Alex’s upcoming books as examples.

Biography

Alexandra Page is a writer of picture book texts and young fiction. She grew up between England and Zimbabwe, making up stories to entertain her younger sisters and brother. After studying English Literature she settled in London and worked for several years in the production departments at Penguin, Puffin and Walker Books, before becoming a freelance project manager in the City. She loves to travel, swim and spend time with her husband and daughter in her favourite place, Budapest. In 2019, Alexandra’s early middle grade novel, Wishyouwas, was shortlisted for the Times Chicken House prize and won the WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award. It will be published in September 2021 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books. Her debut picture book, The Fire Fox, will be published the following month by the Two Hoots imprint at Macmillan.

Christabel McKinley joined David Higham Associates in 2018, having previously worked in translation rights and at a scouting agency. She graduated with a degree in Russian and English Literature from Trinity College Dublin, after which she spent a year teaching English in South Korea. At DHA, she is building a list of exceptional writers for children across all age groups, from picture books to Young Adult.

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

Picture Book first spreads

Clare Helen Welsh (author), Alice Williams (agent), Tegen Evans (editor)
Panel description

A Picture Book author and two publishing professionals analyse Picture Book spreads written and volunteered by you, our WOWCON writers, sharing their advice and editing processes.

Panellists biographies

Clare Helen Welsh is a picture book author, writing tutor and WriteMentor Hub‘s Picture Book Writer-in-Residence 2021. She loves dreaming up stories for young readers and their families to enjoy, be that fictional, non-fiction or a blend of both. For many years she was a primary school teacher, which ignited her love of storytelling, reading and role-play. Clare lives in Devon with her husband, two children and her dog, Hope. When she isn’t imagining new worlds and creating characters, she enjoys walking on the beach and in the countryside, taking lots of inspiration from the natural world.

Alice Williams set up her agency in 2018 after representing children’s books for over ten years at David Higham Associates. She’s a passionate champion of the writers and illustrators she works with. She welcomes submissions from writers for young people of all ages – picture book to YA, including non-fiction – and illustrators of picture books and young fiction.

Tegen Evans edits and writes picture books and non-fiction at Nosy Crow. She loves laugh-out-loud comic capers, lyrical stories that make you feel something important, ingenious twists or magical page-turn moments, clever new approaches to familiar themes, and books that help children to understand the world around them.

Novel first pages

Melinda Salisbury (author), Lucy Irvine (agent), AM Dassu (author), Aisha Bushby (author)
Panel description

Two children’s fiction authors and a literary agent analyse the first pages of novel manuscripts written and volunteered by you, our WOWCON writers, sharing their advice and editing processes.

Panellists biographies

Melinda Salisbury is the three-time Carnegie nominated and bestselling author of multiple young adult novels, including the Sin Eater’s Daughter series, the State of Sorrow duology, and Hold Back the Tide. Her first novel, The Sin Eater’s Daughter, was the bestselling UK YA debut novel of 2015, and collectively her books have been nominated and shortlisted for multiple national and international awards and accolades, including the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the YA Book Prize, the Edgar Awards in the United States, the 2016 and 2019 and 2021 Carnegie medals, YALSA Best YA 2022, Eason’s YA Book of the Month, and more. Her books have been published in fifteen countries, to date. August 2021 will see the publication of Melinda’s first non-fiction book, The Way Back Almanac, a modern spin on the traditional almanac, aimed at people who are looking for a way back to a lost love of nature. She lives on the East Sussex coast and is a passionate vegan and amateur naturalist.

Lucy Irvine is a literary agent working primarily on PFD’s children’s list. After graduating from University College London with an MA in Issues in Modern Culture in 2017, she interned at Agora Books, PFD’s publishing arm, before becoming assistant to CEO Caroline Michel. She began building her own list in 2019 and was promoted to Agent in June 2021. Alongside building her own list of clients, Lucy sells foreign rights in children’s and YA titles in Eastern Europe and Russia, and handles audio narration rights for the agency.

A. M. Dassu is a writer of both nonfiction and fiction, including the internationally acclaimed novel Boy, Everywhere, which is one of The Guardian’s, Bookriot’s, CLPE’s and BookTrust’s Best Children’s Books of 2020, has been given starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist and Publishers Weekly in the US, and is on Amnesty’s “Books That Inspire Activism” list. She is Deputy Editor of SCBWI-BI’s magazine Words & Pictures, and a director of Inclusive Minds, an organisation for people who are passionate about inclusion and diversity in children’s literature. She is also one of The Literacy Trust‘s Connecting Stories campaign authors which aims to help inspire a love of reading and writing in children and young people. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post, Times Educational Supplement, SCOOP Magazine, Lee & Low Books, DK Books and this year by Harper Collins. When she isn’t battling emails or writing, she mentors aspiring authors and loves to shout about other people’s books.

Aisha Bushby was born in Bahrain and has lived in Kuwait, England and Canada. The first novel she ever worked on was a piece of fan fiction, based on her favourite book series, which she stayed up all night to work on when she was thirteen. Aisha now writes children’s books, sometimes with a little bit of magic in them. Her next novel, Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found, is out in August.

On submission to publishers

Jenni Spangler (author), Maisie Chan (author), Emma Norry (author), Jenny Pearson (author)
Panel description

Securing a literary agent for your book is only the beginning. Four authors discuss their varied experiences of the often lesser-known but equally important next step: going on submission to publishers to sell your book and finally see it on the shelves.

Panellists biographies

Theatre school drop out, ex-999 operator and occasional forklift driver, Jenni Spangler 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 was part of the first year of the WriteMentor mentoring programme, mentored by author Lindsay Galvin. 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.

Maisie Chan is a children’s author from Birmingham. She has written early readers (Hachette) and had short stories published in various books such as Ladybird Tales of Superheroes (Penguin) and Stories From Around the World (Scholastic). In 2018, she started the Bubble Tea Writers to support and encourage new British East Asian writers in the UK. She enjoys writing cross-cultural tales that often feature generational misunderstandings; this is partly due to her background as a transracial adoptee and her experience caring for her elderly parents. She has a Masters in American Film and Literature and has an interest in race and representation. She currently lives in Glasgow and is on the Writers Advisory Board for Literature Alliance Scotland.

Emma Norry sometimes writes under Em or E. L, has a BA (Hons) in Film and an MA in Screenwriting and has been writing for over twenty years. She loves writing for children, and has written everything from historical fiction set in Victorian Times, to her latest book, Amber Undercover – a contemporary action adventure for 10+, based on a teenager who gets recruited to be an Undercover spy. She also writes non-fiction. Emma lives in Bournemouth where she works part time as an academic support assistant at Bournemouth and Poole College working with 16-26 years olds, and she writes at night and weekends, often inspired by her two children.

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 was Waterstones Book of the Month, The Times Book of the Year, Sunday Times Book of the Week, shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book of the Year 2020, the Bradford Boase, the UKLA Book awards and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. It’s a super funny, heart-warming adventure of three boys, one summer holiday, and a few miracles along the way. Her second book – The Incredible Record Smashers – is out now.

COVID-19 impact on publishing

Kesia Lupo (editor & author), Patrice Lawrence (author), Chloe Seager (agent), Alexandra Sheppard (author)
Panel description

As with most industries, COVID-19 has impacted publishing, as well as the individuals who write, edit, print, and sell books. Hear their perspectives and experiences of the pandemic, how they’ve adapted, and what the future holds.

Panellists biographies

Kesia Lupo joined Chicken House in 2015 as Junior Editor – she is now Senior Editor, commissioning and editing fantastic authors including Costa-winning Jasbinder Bilan. She has a BA in History and an MA in Creative Writing, and previously worked in editorial for Pan Macmillan. Her YA fantasy novels, We Are Blood and Thunder and We Are Bound by Stars, are published by Bloomsbury.

Patrice Lawrence writes for children, young and older adults. Her books include Orangeboy, (shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award and winner of the Bookseller YA Prize and Waterstones Prize for Older Children’s Fiction), Indigo Donut (winner of Bristol Crimefest YA Prize), Rose, Interrupted and Eight Pieces of Silva (Winner of Woman and Home Teen YA). Her most recent YA book, Splinters of Sunshine, was written during lockdown. Patrice was awarded an MBE for Services to Literature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021.

Chloe Seager is a Children’s & YA agent and author. She joined the MM Agency in 2019 from Northbank Talent where she spent four years building a children’s and YA list from scratch, selling rights in the UK, US and internationally. Whilst there she worked with Carnegie nominated author Emily Critchley, the children’s tie-in titles of Rachel Wells’ bestselling Alfie series, and discovered many debut authors including Anna Fargher, Ben Oliver and Inky Willis. Chloe has penned the Emma Nash books, a YA series published with HQ, and is currently collaborating on a new middle-grade series.

Alexandra Sheppard is a children’s author from North London. Her debut novel Oh My Gods was published by Scholastic and received coverage in Refinery29, Buzzfeed and The Guardian’s Summer Reading List 2019. She also runs WriteMentor’s WriteMaster course.

The Art of Networking for Authors

AM Dassu (author), Candy Gourlay (author), Kathryn Evans (author)
Panellists biographies

A. M. Dassu is a writer of both nonfiction and fiction, including the internationally acclaimed novel Boy, Everywhere, which is one of The Guardian’s, Bookriot’s, CLPE’s and BookTrust’s Best Children’s Books of 2020, has been given starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist and Publishers Weekly in the US, and is on Amnesty’s “Books That Inspire Activism” list. She is Deputy Editor of SCBWI-BI’s magazine Words & Pictures, and a director of Inclusive Minds, an organisation for people who are passionate about inclusion and diversity in children’s literature. She is also one of The Literacy Trust ‘s Connecting Stories campaign authors which aims to help inspire a love of reading and writing in children and young people. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post, Times Educational Supplement, SCOOP Magazine, Lee & Low Books, DK Books and this year by Harper Collins. When she isn’t battling emails or writing, she mentors aspiring authors and loves to shout about other people’s books.

Candy Gourlay was born in the Philippines, grew up under a dictatorship and met her husband during a revolution. Growing up, she wondered why books only featured pink-skinned children who lived in worlds that didn’t resemble her tropical home in Manila. It took her years to learn that Filipino stories too, belong in the pages of books. Her latest book is a comics biography (with illustrator Tom Knight) of the explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who happens to be credited with “discovering” the Philippines. Her novel Bone Talk was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Prize in 2019 – it is set in the moment when headhunting tribes in the Philippines come face to face with American invaders. Her picture book, Is It a Mermaid, lushly illustrated by Francesca Chessa, was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Her novels have also been listed for the Waterstones, the Blue Peter and the Guardian Children’s Book Prize. She lives in London with her family, where she wages war on the snails in her garden.

Kathryn Evans is an award winning and Carnegie nominated UK YA author. Her debut, More of Me, has been optioned for a film and her latest book, Beauty Sleep , won the Crime Fest Award for a YA novel. A popular speaker in schools, Kathryn also haunts social media like a well meaning aunty. She’s been a member of SCBWI for more than 15 years, and for 8 of those has volunteered as finance co-ordinator for British Isles.

Moderators

Our lovely moderators, who will host and moderate Slack and Zoom for the live talks and workshops

Moderators: From top left to bottom right: Melissa Welliver, Philip Kavvadias, Rachael Davis, Rachel Faturoti, Emma Bradley, Marisa Noelle, Marie Day, Emma Finlayson-Palmer

Want to find out more?

Hear from WriteMentor and WOWCON founder Stuart White as he explains the origins of WOWCON and this year’s conference theme.

Timetable

For a quick overview:

DayTimeKeynotesWorkshopsTalkPanels
Friday 24th5-6pmOpening Remarks
6-7pmCerrie BurnellTalk: Insights into indie publishing with Elle McNicoll
7-8pmWorkshop: World-building with Bex HoganPanel: First Spreads
8-9pm
Saturday 25th9-10amCatherine JohnsonTalk: Writing in rhyme with Catherine Emmett
10-12Workshop: Voice with Liz FlanaganPandemic Impact
12-1pmTalk: Inclusivity and sensitivity reading with Hamza Jahanzeb
1-3pmWorkshop: Staying in Character with Dave Rudden
3-5pmWorkshop: Editing: Breaking it down with Alexandra SheppardNetworking
5-6pmTalk: Mental health and wellbeing with Sara Barnard
6-7pmTalk: Genre-Bending: Writing historical fantasy fiction with Ross Montgomery
7-8pm
Sunday 26th 9-10amCatherine RaynerTalk: The author/agent relationship with Alexandra Page and Christabel McKinley
10-12Workshop: Write a Picture Book in 2 hours with Clare Helen WelshPanel: First Pages
12-1pmTalk: How to stand out to editors and agents with Eishar Brar
1-3pmWorkshop: From Ideas to Outline with Lauren JamesOn Submission
3-4pmTalk: The author/illustrator relationship with Rikin Parekh and Emma Perry
4-5pmTalk: Writing a series with Serena Patel
5-6pmTalk: Writing Science Fiction with Laura Lam
6-7pmClosing Remarks

*Please note that the keynotes and panels are pre-recorded, so if you have a live talk or workshop at the same time, you watch the panel/keynote at your leisure.

Black and White version to print off and colour code with the events you are signed up for? See below:

DayTimeKeynotesWorkshopsTalkPanels
Friday 24th5-6pmOpening Remarks
6-7pmCerrie BurnellTalk: Insights into indie publishing with Elle McNicoll
7-8pmWorkshop: World-building with Bex HoganPanel: First Spreads
8-9pm
Saturday 25th9-10amCatherine JohnsonTalk: Writing in rhyme with Catherine Emmett
10-12Workshop: Voice with Liz FlanaganPandemic Impact
12-1pmTalk: Inclusivity and sensitivity reading with Hamza Jahanzeb
1-3pmWorkshop: Staying in Character with Dave Rudden
3-5pmWorkshop: Editing: Breaking it down with Alexandra SheppardNetworking
5-6pmTalk: Mental health and wellbeing with Sara Barnard
6-7pmTalk: Genre-Bending: Writing historical fantasy fiction with Ross Montgomery
7-8pm
Sunday 26th 9-10amCatherine RaynerTalk: The author/agent relationship with Alexandra Page and Christabel McKinley
10-12Workshop: Write a Picture Book in 2 hours with Clare Helen WelshPanel: First Pages
12-1pmTalk: How to stand out to editors and agents with Eishar Brar
1-3pmWorkshop: From Ideas to Outline with Lauren JamesOn Submission
3-4pmTalk: The author/illustrator relationship with Rikin Parekh and Emma Perry
4-5pmTalk: Writing a series with Serena Patel
5-6pmTalk: Writing Science Fiction with Laura Lam
6-7pmClosing Remarks

Can’t attend live? Or find the length of the events too long?

  • All our talks/workshops 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.
  • Why writers love WOWCON

    “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

    “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

    “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 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

    “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

    “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

    “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

    “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 

    “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 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

    “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

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