Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 17, 2012

California Writer’s Seminar – Whole Manuscript Critique

Are you an accomplished novelist, seeking a “different” type of workshop or other self-growth?

Our seminar for 16 writers offers editor or agent feedback on selected whole-novel manuscripts—including two in-person consults (45 minutes each, on different days). We also offer team-taught, editor and agent critiques on polished, opening chapters. All in a serene setting, with lodging in luxurious beachfront townhomes. Perfect writer’s retreat or working vacation!


All critiques are done in an intimate, supportive master-class format, so that several writers benefit simultaneously from in-depth faculty feedback to the author. Enrollees critique peers’ manuscripts in advance (as many as they choose) and ultimately contribute to the collegial-style discussion.


Simon Boughton – senior vice president/publisher of Roaring Brook Press and Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Simon Boughton is senior vice president and publishing director of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.  He is publisher of three of its imprints: Farrar, Straus & Giroux BFYR, First Second (graphic novels), and Roaring Brook Press. Previously, he worked at Knopf Books for Young Readers. While Simon’s credentials and successes are impressive, he still offers authors an “old-fashioned, small-shop kind of attention.”

“I look for confidence, vision, voice, and an awareness of audience,” Simon advises our 2012 seminar enrollees. He is seeking “the very unusual—books that are eye-opening and original.”

That’s exactly what characterizes Roaring Brook Press, which Simon launched in 2002. RBP quickly became known for its innovative, high-quality fiction and nonfiction for toddlers through teens. Since its early years, many RBP books—written both by debut and well-known authors—have won an array of awards and honors.

Launched in 1954, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG) Books for Young Readers has garnered an impressive backlist of prestigious national awards. A few of their many respected authors are Natalie Babbitt, Madeleine L’Engle, Suzanne Fisher Staples, and Tim Wynne-Jones.

Both imprints are editor- and author-led hardcover programs. Simon notes, “We look for fiction that combines literary and commercial appeal; we don’t have a lot of series or high concept fiction; we generally don’t acquire by category or genre, but by author.” Fiction titles that define FSG include Elsewhere (Zevin), Holes (Sachar), Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester (O’Connor) and the Escape from Furnace series (Smith). Some typical Roaring Brook fiction titles are Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading (Greenwald), Birthmarked (O’Brien) and Revolver (Sedgwick).

Simon will attend our seminar “looking for authors I respect and can learn from, whether established or new, whom I will enjoy working with. This seminar sounds like a great program; I’m happy to participate.”

Emily Sylvan Kim – President, Prospect Agency

“I am actively looking for new clients in both YA and middle grade,” Emily notes, “so I’m a great agent to meet if you’re seeking someone experienced who is also eager to discover new talent.”

Emily’s agenting career started at Writers House. When she founded her own agency in 2005, she took inspiration from nearby Prospect Park, with its urban beauty and the diversity of those who run its paths. Her goal was to create a “community-centered haven for authors and illustrators… taking a leadership role in creating bold, innovative literature.”

Prospect Agency fosters such a community, where writers, artists, editors, and agents share ideas and grow together. Client relationships are built to last the length of a career. At Prospect Agency, they “see the forest and the trees.”

Those trees include adult and YA fiction, as well as nonfiction. Emily focuses exclusively on fiction. She is drawn to a wide range of genres, from realistic stories of any time period to fantasies grounded in everyday reality. Above all else, she admires well-crafted writing. Emily has a special interest in edgy, mature stories with a strong commercial hook—for example, Tracy Deebs’ Doomed, based on the Pandora myth, in which Deebs’ Pandora opens an attachment and ends technology as we know it.

Emily also has a soft spot for subtle beauty. She loves strong literary works such as Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, a 2008 National Book Award Finalist which explores the fate of a teenage alcoholic. Emily is seeks books that appeal to both genders, but equally loves unabashedly girl-oriented stories that channel the spirit of Laura Ingalls Wilder or Jane Austen.

 An AAR member, Emily brings a great love of reading and writing to her agenting career. She has written Publishers Weekly reviews, as well as her own fiction and poems. She’s very open to new talent; a large percentage of her clients are debut authors.

The above qualities make Emily a great “prospect” for a rich give-and-take at our seminar. Emily accepted the invitation because “I am intrigued by the idea of reading and discussing entire novels from advanced novelists. I also hope to find new clients. And it sounds like such a fun event that I just don’t want to miss it!”

Joe Monti – Barry Goldblatt Literary

Barry Goldblatt Literary is a leading U.S. literary agency headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. Barry Goldblatt founded the agency in September 2000. Joe Monti came on board in 2009 and is making waves fast.

Joe’s first dream was to be an editor. He was the middle grade and YA buyer at Barnes & Noble for nearly 11 years, where he helped create the vibrant YA category that we know today. Joe was also a sales executive at Houghton Mifflin. He developed further expertise as an editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. There he acquired National Book Award nominee and Michael L. Printz award winner, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Today Joe is an “editorial” agent whose clients’ books have become New York Times bestsellers.

Joe’s focus is on children’s and YA literature, as well as some adult genre fiction: “Specifically I love work that breaks new ground, a work that is subversive or enlightening by utilizing a different approach.”

He’s an “unabashed lover” of genre fiction; especially fantasy, science fiction, and magical realism. Joe frequently “weeps over dramatic plot points and unrequited love.” He’s also looking for cultural diversity in any genre, with protagonists who are people of color or LGBT, because “I come from a mixed-race family, and my son is an even bigger mutt than I am. Additionally, I’m interested in non-genre science fiction aimed at a young male readership… I’m a big believer that the widely-held belief that boys over a certain age do not read’ is nonsense. Guys read, especially if they have a range of materials to read from that interests and speaks to them.”

Joe’s tip for writers: “Don’t hold back from your passion,” meaning don’t let what the marketplace supposedly demands make you lose sight of your own vision. Joe relishes the idea of meeting our enrollees; he’d “love the opportunity to provide more than a brief window of time” to work with writers in-depth. We’re happy to offer an opportunity to those who share Joe’s interests and passions.


Annemarie O’ Brien – MFA Vermont College of Fine Arts; Knopf author, 2013.


Applicants for whole-novel critiques are selected by faculty. Those selected may apply for our Faculty Mentor Program, in which revisions are reviewed after the event. Our 3- to 4-day Novel Writer’s Retreat is open to seven writers, with the option to attend selected seminar sessions.

A concurrent Teen Readers & Writers Workshop offers optional target-age feedback for adults.

DATES:  Enrollment is open until we fill. Early Bird applications (for $30 discount) are due May 25.

Whole-novel critiques: Enroll with 30 sample pages by June 25; full manuscripts are due on staggered dates throughout July and August.

Partial-novel critiques: Enroll by August 25.

FEES:  Basic seminar is $799 and up (whole-novel critique is additional). Includes three nights beachfront lodging and most meals. Teen workshop (teen condo lodging) $469+ with possible scholarships. For Retreat-only fee and all other info, visit

Space limited, inquire ASAP!

Talk tomorrow,


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