heartland writers archive

2003 Children's Writers Workshop a Success

By Dorinda Miller
(from the July 2003 Heartland Writers Journal)

As the coordinator, I was pleased with the interest shown in our first HWG children's writer workshop. The participants benefited from real life experiences of an editor, Julia Messina, and two published writers, Jeanie Stewart and Sheila Wood Foard. Each gave the audience very specific information concerning writing for the children's market, including expectations from the publishing industry.

My greatest hope was to help fan sparks of interest from the publishing industry toward writers in the Heartland. Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas were represented with a total of 58 writers in attendance. I believe this region is rich in history and stories that have yet to enlighten and entertain interested readers. In order to bring the best publishers to this area, writer's organizations, like HWG, must continue offering quality workshops and conferences.

I recently spoke with Messina . She was excited that several writers had already sent articles to her less than a week after the workshop. Obviously, area writers are eager to be heard, and well known publishers, like those in the internationally known Carus Publishing Group, are willing to listen.

Finally, I'd like to share some attendee reactions to the workshop.

  • " I feel renewed in my waning enthusiasm for writing! Thanks!"
  • " Congratulations on HWG's preparation-such fine speakers-for a very special day!"
  • " ...enjoyed the day...picked up many ideas and lots of information."
  • " Very well planned-very well executed."

June 14, 2003


Registration and Continental Breakfast

Welcome and Introduction

9:00-10:30 :
Julia Messina, Associate Editor for the Cricket Magazine Group

10:30-10:45 :

10:45-11:45 :
Sheila Wood Foard, Freelancer and instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature

Book Sales and Autographs


1:00- 2:30
Jeanie Stewart, Published Children's Author


Informal small group critiques activity-first page of manuscripts only

Door prizes and Dismissal

Note: Individual session times will be assigned at registration.

Manuscript Guidelines and Submissions Policy

  1. Please review CRICKET'S guidelines at www.cricketmag.com
  2. Manuscript means stories to 2,000 words maximum, compliant with publishing standards of formatting.
  3. Only the first twenty manuscripts received will be critiqued by Mrs. Messina. Results of the critiques will be discussed in ten minute one on one sessions at the workshop with Mrs. Messina.
  4. Individual session times will be assigned at registration.
  5. Critique fee is $20 per manuscript.
  6. Only one manuscript per person, please.
  7. Please mail manuscript and its fee separate from registration fee so manuscripts over the first twenty can be returned unopened.

    Note: The informal small group critique activity is strictly based on voluntary participation. Each attendee is encouraged to bring the first page of a manuscript to discuss its strengths and weaknesses among peers.

Meet Our Speakers:

Julia Messina came to CRICKET via business, politics, academics, law, and publishing. Mrs. Messina is an Associate Editor with CRICKET, where she is responsible for content development of the December, March, June and September issues. She also provides proofing, copyediting, and promotional services. Along with her many tasks, Mrs. Messina is also coordinating the nationwide celebration of CRICKET'S 30th anniversary, where authors who have published in Cricket Magazine Group over the past thirty years are reading their Cricket magazine stories in their favorite bookstores and libraries. Cricket is promoting the event by publishing a monthly Calendar of Reading Events in the magazine and on its web site throughout its anniversary year. Program title: "An inside look at CRICKET."

Sheila Wood Foard has sold stories, articles, essays, and poems to more than 60 publications including Cricket, Spider, Cicada, Ladybug, Highlights for Children, WeeOnes, Teen, Country Home, and numerous others. She was a teacher of high school English, creative writing, and journalism for over twenty-five years. She is also an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature. Program title: "Every writer needs a writing coach."

Jeanie Stewart is a former high school teacher. Since 1996 she has written eight novels in a popular young adult series, four hi-lo's, three chapter books, and one picture book. Ms. Stewart is also the Director of the Conran Memorial Library in Hayti, Missouri. Program title: "Strategies designed to break into the publishing world, including ghost writing and educational materials."

* This year the HWG would like to extend a Thank You to the Southern Illinois Writer's Guild for their promotional assistance with this workshop.

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