Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Sat. June 16th, 8:30 – 5, Middle Grade Masterclass Intensive

Date(s) - 06/16/2018
8:30 am - 5:00 pm

The Corte Madera Inn
56 Madera Blvd - Corte Madera, CA 94925

Middle Grade Masterclass Intensive

If you would like to be on the wait list, please email Colette at

Workshops to Dig Deeper Into Your Writing
Join our faculty of accomplished best selling authors for a full day of deep craft sessions  The sessions will provide practical direction and lessons on story structure, making your dialogue rich and deep, crafting a series, and writing suspense and mystery with skill and gusto. This Masterclass is a small intimate event for advanced Middle Grade writers, meaning you have completed at least one rough draft.  You’ve had your work critiqued or participate in a critique group, and have participated in professional writers conferences/programs, or are published writers. Register early to avoid disappointment.





What is it about a wonderful children’s book that a kid just can’t put it down? What makes a kid stay up late reading with a flashlight, dying to find out what happens next? The secret is a structure! Great characters, obstacles, and goals make for a great plot. This workshop will go deep into the nuts and bolts of story structure. All the venerated story theorists from Aristotle to Joseph Campbell were describing the exact same monomythic structure. The stories that truly connect with mass audiences, from Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings, all follow the same Hero’s Journey. We will identify and dissect this timeless structure, drawing from the secrets and strategies of Hollywood screenwriters. If your story loses momentum and does not grip a reader, you are probably not following these important principles!


Mitali Perkins — DIALOGUE: Crafting Conversation in Fiction for Middle Grade Readers

Writing excellent dialogue is crucial with an audience of young readers, who are finely attuned to the way both adults and peers converse with each other. In this hands-on, interactive workshop, participants practice writing lively conversation and learn to avoid seven common dialogue busters. Bring one scene from your work-in-progress that includes dialogue and you will revise it using these tips.



In this workshop we will identify what type of series you’re writing and discuss why knowing your ending (most of the time!) is key to the submission process. We will also identify the unique challenges series pose for your main character’s internal and external journey. Additionally, we will examine how to reference the main action/plot items in previous books — how much detail, where it might be, etc. You are encouraged to spend time working on a synopsis for your book (and brainstorm a synopsis for a possible book 2) prior to this workshop.


Kathryn Reiss — THAT PRICKLE AT THE BACK OF THE NECK:  Plotting Suspense Fiction for Middle Grade Readers

You suspect you have a mystery novel in you–or are already well into a manuscript.  This workshop will help you deepen your plot structure, create believable characters, and enhance your scare-raising techniques. Our focus will be on crafting your middle grade suspense novel–discussing narrative style and creative vision, as well as offering tried and true techniques for outlining a complete novel and tips for developing nail-biting moments and page-turning scenes.  Taught by Kathryn Reiss, award-winning author of twenty novels of suspense for YA and middle grade readers.


Our Faculty


Jonathan W. Stokes

Jonathan has written screenplays on assignment for Fox, Paramount, Universal, Warner Brothers, New Line, Sony, and Indian Paintbrush, and for actors such as Will Smith, Jeremy Renner, and Hugh Jackman.  Jonathan’s last four spec screenplays were all recognized on The Black List, an annual survey of Hollywood executives’ favorite screenplays. He is a children’s author with a three-book deal at Philomel Books and a four-book deal at Viking Press, both published by Penguin Random House.
Jonathan has washboard abs, incredible taste in dishware, and 96% accuracy with high-fives. For updates on his current projects, visit the press page…



Mitali Perkins 

Mitali Perkins has written several novels for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award) Rickshaw Girl (a NYPL best 100 Book for children in the past 100 years), Bamboo People (an ALA Top 10 YA novel), and Tiger Boy, which won the South Asia Book Award for Younger Readers. She has been honored as a “Most Engaging Author” by independent booksellers across the country and selected as a “Literary Light for Children” by the Associates of the Boston Public Library. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the Bay Area with her family. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the East Bay.



Jenny Lundquist

Jenny was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA, where she spent her time unsuccessfully learning how to surf. When she was younger, she wanted to be either a rock star or a published author. After she taped herself singing and listened to it on playback she decided she’d better opt for the writing route. Jenny is the author of multiple titles including Seeing Cinderella and The Charming Life of Izzy Malone, as well as the forthcoming The Carnival of Wishes and Dreams (Spring 2019). Visit her online at




Kathryn Reiss

Kathryn is the author of 20 novels of suspense for middle grade and young adults readers. Message in the Bottle is her latest release. Paint by Magic, a time travel mystery, won a place on the YOYA’s “Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers” and is an International School Libraries Association honor book. Time Windows was selected by the American Library Association as a “Best Book for Young Adults” award and the State of Maryland’s “Blackeyed Susan Young Reader Medal.” Dreadful Sorry, also a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults, was a featured selection of the Library Guild and was named “Pic of the Crop” in The School Library Journal starred Review. Pale Phoenix and PaperQuake were nominated for the Mystery Writers of America’s prestigious “Edgar Allen Poe” award. She’s author of many of the popular American Girl books. Kathryn has been a Writer in Residence for the Princeton Arts Council, a recipient of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Grant for Writer. She’s a graduate of Duke University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. She’s an English professor at Mills College teaching courses on creative writing and writing for children.



Fees & Cancellation Policy

Before May 7th
:SCBWI members: $139  
Non-members: $169
After May 8th
: SCBWI members: $159
  Non-members: $189  SAVE AND JOIN SCBWI
Refund Policy
: Full refund less $25 admin fee until May 7th. From May 8th to June 2nd, refund of $100 if spot can be filled. If the spot cannot be filled there will be no refund.
After June 2nd no refunds except in extreme circumstances.

8:30 – 8:50        Registration
8:50 – 9              Welcome
9 – 10:15             Jonathan Stokes — The Structure of Story
10:15 – 10:25     Break
10:25 – 11:40     Mitali Perkins — Dialogue: Crafting Conversation in Fiction for Middle Grade Readers
11:40 – 1:00       Lunch (Walk across the street to the Town Center Mall)
1:00 – 2:15         Jenny Lundquist — Writing and Selling Your Middle Grade Series: It Begins at the End.
2:15 – 3:30         Kathryn Reiss — That Prickle at the Back of the Neck: Plotting Suspense Fiction for Middle Grade Readers
3:30 – 3:40        Break
3:40 – 4:10        Speaker Panel / Open Questions
4:10 – 4:20        Closing Remarks
4:20 – 5:15         Book Signing at Barnes and Noble, Town Center Shopping Center,

Lunch & Snacks:

Tea, coffee, water and light snacks will be provided.
 Please bring your own lunch or plan on going out to one of the many wonderful restaurants in the TOWN CENTER shopping center across the street from our meeting room.

Post Event Signing:

Barnes and Noble, located across the street in the TOWN CENTER shopping center will be hosting our post event signing.

Post Event Critiques

Written Email Manuscript Critiques – put what you’ve learned into practice, and have your first 10 pages critiqued by a faculty member and emailed to you. All attendees will be contacted with a special code for the opportunity to purchase a written critique for $45, post conference.

Free Parking around the hotel

Program is subject to change without notice, although we will make every effort to let you know.
Any questions: Contact Colette Weil Parrinello, Co-Regional Advisor,

This event is fully booked.