December 1-3, 2017 Workshop at Big Sur Lodge


Susan Van Metre: Editorial Director, Abrams Books for Young Readers Editor van-Metrle“I consumed books as a child,” notes Susan Van Metre, whose surname rhymes with “reader.” As soon as she finished one book, she’d start another immediately, because “I had a terror of being in-between books.” Susan’s love of stories has continued through adulthood. She majored in literature at Mount Holyoke, spent a year studying Victorian literature at Oxford.

Susan is senior vice president and publisher at Abrams Books for Young Readers (BFYR) and its imprint, Amulet Books. Abrams publishes bestselling and award-winning fiction and nonfiction books for children and middle grade readers. Amulet Books encompasses both fiction and nonfiction for middle grade and teen readers. Its premiere list includes Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Sisters Grimm. “The breadth of my reading has given me wide-ranging tastes as an editor,” Susan says. She will consider acquiring fiction genres such as contemporary, historical, multicultural, and fantasy.

Susan also teaches at The New School University in New York, which offers an MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Susan’s students applaud her approach: “Taking her class is like getting an intense workout and eating dessert at the same time,” says graduate Caron A. Levis, author of the forthcoming The Blooz (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).



Melissa Manlove is a children’s book editor for Chronicle Books and a children’s melissaManlovebookseller. Special talents include reading and walking at the same time, batting her eyelashes (but only ironically), and making killer desserts. She has no nicknames, but several toddlers know her only as a puppet alligator.







Stacey Barney
is a Senior Editor at G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young staceybarneyReaders Group. She acquires middle grade, young adult and select nonfiction and picture books. She has edited the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, as well as the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award-winning Firebird by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers. Stacey also has the pleasure of editing New York Times bestselling Traci Chee (The Reader) as well as award-winning authors Kristin Levine (The Lions of Little Rock), Tara Sullivan (The Bitter Side of Sweet) and Sheila O’Connor (Sparrow Road).





Mitali Perkins ( has written ten novels for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near(longlisted for the National Book Award), Rickshaw Girl (chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the top 100 books for children in the past 100 years), Bamboo People (an American Library Association’s Top Ten Novels for Young Adults), and Tiger Boy (winner of the Charlotte Huck Honor Award and the South Asia Book Award.) She was 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 United States. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area where she is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California.





Having never grown up, Eric Elfman writes books for middle graders and young adults. His latest, the Accelerati Trilogy, a MG series (co-written with Neal Shusterman, author of UNWIND), comprised of TESLA’S ATTIC (2014), EDISON’S ALLEY (2015) & HAWKINGS HALLWAY (2016), was published by Disney-Hyperion Books. (Eric and Neal are currently adapting Tesla’s Attic as a TV series.) Eric’s other books range from a series of offbeat almanacs published by Random House (including ALMANAC OF THE GROSS, DISGUSTING & TOTALLY REPULSIVE, an ALA Recommended Book for Reluctant Readers, now in its 6th printing), to three YA X-FILES novels for HarperCollins. As a screenwriter, Eric co-wrote CLASS ACT, based on the true story of a sixth grade teacher who ran for Congress, which was set up at Dreamworks with Halle Berry attached to star. He also co-wrote AS YOU LIKE IT (REVISITED), an adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy for Walden Media, and the sequel to CURIOUS GEORGE: THE MOVIE for Universal. His interviews with contemporary screenwriters have appeared in Creative Screenwriting magazine, and he has contributed articles to Dwell, mental_floss, and Disney Adventures Digest.Eric is also a private writing coach with a number of NY Times best-selling and award winning authors among his clients. He has worked with writers at the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop, directed by Andrea Brown and sponsored by the Henry Miller Library, a number of times. He has also spoken at national and regional writing conferences, including SCBWI East Bay and the Ventana Sierra Writers Workshop established by Ellen Hopkins. Please contact him at’s an interview with Eric: 



Denise Doyen studied creative writing and art design at Stanford University (BA) and denisedirecting at the American Film Institute (Masters). For many years she worked in the world of children’s television where she directed the beloved Disney TV series “Welcome to Pooh Corner” and “Dumbos Circus” as well as other productions for children including the video collection “The Mother Goose Treasury”. Leaving show biz to raise her two boys, she worked part-time as a graphic designer. But her first love was writing. So, when her oldest son set off for college, Denise set off on a new career and studied writing for children at UCLA.Her first book, Once Upon a Twice, a rousing nonsense adventure reminiscent of Jabberwocky debuted in 2009 to starred reviews, was a Junior Library Guild selection and included in several ‘best of’ lists including Kirkus Reviews “Best Children’s Books of 2009”. It was awarded the 2010 “EB White Read Aloud Honor”.



ERIC J. ADAMS is a producer, screenwriter, journalist and author. He wrote the scriptEric-J-Adams and produced (consulting) the feature film “Supremacy” (2015), starring Danny Glover and Joe Anderson, and he co-wrote and produced “Archie’s Final Project” (aka My Suicide) (2011). Archie’s Final Project won 21 major international film festival awards, including the Crystal Bear in Berlin.

Eric is also the author of six books, including the suspense/thrillers Birdland (Hodder & Stoughton) and Plot Twist (St. Martin’s Press). He wrote and directed “To Save A Child,” an award-winning documentary on suicide, as well as a number of other documentary and short films. As a journalist, Eric has written for dozens of national and regional periodicals, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Wired, and Salon.

Eric relies on his journalism background to develop film projects that explore contemporary social issues while remaining commercially viable. In recognition of his efforts, Eric was recently named a Djerassi Screenwriting Fellowship finalist by the San Francisco Film Society.



TAMARA IRELAND STONE writes young adult and middle grade novels. Her New York Times bestseller, Every Last Word, won the Cybils Young Adult Fiction Award, the Georgia Peach Book Award, the Buxtehuder Bulle German Youth Literature Award, and was a YALSA Teens’ Top Ten pick. She is also the author of Time Between Us, which has been published in over twenty countries; its sequel, Time After Time; and Click’d, the first book in her new middle-grade series.

Before she began writing fiction full time, Tamara spent twenty years in the technology industry. She co-founded a woman-owned marketing strategy firm where she worked with small startups as well as some of the world’s largest software companies. When she’s not writing, she enjoys skiing, seeing live music, watching movies, and spending time with her husband and two children. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her at

Hear what Tamara says in an interview about Big Sur:



Andrea Brown is the President of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. Founded in 1427997974New York City in 1981, it was the first literary agency to represent both children’s book authors and illustrators. Prior to opening her own firm, Andrea was an editor at Alfred A. Knopf, and worked in the editorial departments of Random House and Dell. In 1990, she moved her literary agency to Northern California. Andrea has published articles and published a chapter about the children’s book field in THE PORTABLE WRITER’S CONFERENCE, published by Quill Driver Books. She has been quoted in the NEW YORK POST,, Yahoo News, FORBES, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING and REUTERS NEWS SERVICE. More at:
It is worth listening to this interview with Director Andrea Brown:


Laura Rennert, Executive Agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency, has been with the1427997926 agency since 1998. A “literary omnivore,” she specializes in all categories of children’s books, from picture books to young adult, and in up-market fiction and narrative nonfiction. She represents award-winning and best-selling authors, including #1 NYT bestsellers Ellen Hopkins, Jay Asher, Lauren Kate, #1 NYT bestseller and Printz Honor Finalist Maggie Stiefvater, NYT Bestseller and #1 Digital Bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde, and National Book Award Finalist Kathleen Duey, as well as brand new, first-time authors. More at:’s Laura talking about her work, the workshop, the business, the passion for storytelling, and more!


Caryn Wiseman has been an agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency since 2003, 1427998220and she has sold over 275 books. She handles children’s books only: young adult and middle-grade fiction and non-fiction, chapter books, and picture books (fiction and non-fiction). She represents NYT bestselling authors, award-winning authors, debut authors, and authors at every stage in between. No matter the genre, Caryn is looking for books with emotional depth and a strong voice; excellent writing in a tightly-plotted story; and characters that stick with her long after she has closed the book. In YA, she gravitates toward books that make her think and toward books that make her cry; in middle-grade and chapter books, laughter tends to be the common thread; in picture books, it’s lyrical story-telling and heart. She loves books that are intellectually challenging and that take risks, but in a very logical way. More at:


Jennifer Laughran began her career in agenting after working as a long-time children’sPicturebookseller and buyer. She is also the founder of the extremely popular YA event series “Not Your Mother’s Book Club”. She joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency in 2007. Always on the lookout for sparkling YA and middle grade fiction with unusual and unforgettable characters and vivid settings, she is drawn to all kinds of books, whether realistic comedies or richly imagined magical adventures.However, the common thread in her favorite stories is an offbeat world-view. Jennifer adores simplicity, but she is not interested in the conventional, predictable, mechanical, gimmicky or ordinary. Jennifer loves funny books, thrilling books, romantic books, books that make her cry, and all-around un-put-downable books… and her true favorites are all of the above. More at:







Jennifer Rofé represents projects ranging from picture books to YA. Middle grade is her jensoft spot and she’s open to all genres in this category, especially the tender, hilarious, or zany. She is always looking for fresh and distinct voices; stories that simultaneously tug at her heartstrings and make her laugh out loud; and “adorkable” heroes. As for YA, Jennifer is drawn to contemporary works; dramatic, funny, or cringe-worthy romance; and urban fantasy/light sci-fi. She’s especially interested in smart stories that are layered, complex, and unexpected, and she appreciates big, developed worlds. In terms of picture books, she is interested in character-driven projects and smart, exceptional writing. Jennifer also represents illustrators and author-illustrators. More at:







PictureJamie Weiss Chilton represents all categories of children’s books, specializing in novelty books, picture books and teen novels with a special eye toward contemporary, thriller, science fiction, comedy, horror, and memoir.

She is actively seeking INTENSITY across all genres. She wants to feel like she’s been kicked in the heart and smacked upside the soul. She’s seeking manuscripts that stay with her and enrich her life. This could mean sweet-intensity, like crying at an “I love you” picture book, or shocked-intensity, like reading a YA that explores an essential part of the teen experience in a way she’s never considered. Underrepresented, unique viewpoints and new takes on perennial topics interest her. In the younger genres, she always looks for the hook that will make a book a must-have parenting or educational resource.

Picture book, board book, and novelty titles Jamie represents include Jean Reagan’s #1 NYT bestselling HOW TO CATCH SANTA and her other NYT Bestsellers in this series, beginning with HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDPA (all Knopf/PRH); Salina Yoon’s picture book BE A FRIEND, her picture book series beginning with PENGUIN AND PINECONE, and her Bear and Floppy picture book series that begins with FOUND (all Bloomsbury); Rebecca Janni’s Cowgirl series including EVERY COWGIRL GOES TO SCHOOL (all Dial/Penguin); Janee Trasler’s board book series beginning with BEDTIME FOR CHICKIES and POTTYTIME FOR CHICKIES (HarperFestival/HarperCollins), and Trasler’s picture book series beginning with MIMI AND BEAR IN THE SNOW (FSG/Macmillan); and Megan Bryant’s original novelty series beginning with MY SNOW GLOBE (Scholastic). In YA fiction, Jamie represents the Edgar Award nominated thrillers FAKE ID and ENDANGERED by Lamar Giles (HarperCollins); Holly Thompson’s novels in verse including ORCHARDS (Delacorte/PRH); Jennifer Castle’s contemporary YA novels including WHAT HAPPENS NOW (HarperCollins); Kristen Chandler’s YA novels including WOLVES, BOYS, AND OTHER THINGS THAT MIGHT KILL ME (Speak/PRH); genre-reinventing YA horror/psychological thrillers BLEEDING VIOLET and SLICE OF CHERRY by Dia Reeves (Simon Pulse/S&S); and BAD FOR YOU, a graphic novel by co-creators Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham (Holt/Macmillan).






Jennifer Mattson‘s background in children’s book publishing includes five years reviewiPictureng children’s literature at Booklist magazine, and five years as an editor at Dutton Children’s Books.In the picture-book arena, Jennifer is interested in authors and author-illustrators who bring a distinctive, well-developed point of view to their work; at this time, she is not seeking illustration-only clients. She is particularly drawn to fiction for middle graders and YAs, especially richly imagined fantasies that depart from old-hat heroic quests (portals entered by protagonists who fulfill prophecies don’t tend to be for her). The most dogeared books in her childhood library tended to be fantasy-adventures, survival stories, and sprawling, atmospheric tales with Dickensian twists and satisfying puzzles. She still gravitates to all of the above, but contemporary realistic fiction can work for her, too, especially if it’s voice-driven and carefully structured. More at:










PictureLara Perkins represents all categories of children’s literature, from picture books to young adult. She has been with the agency since 2010 and is also the agency’s Digital Manager. She is not currently accepting queries.

Lara is a fan of insightful, page-turning, voice-driven young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as quirky, witty picture books. In middle grade, she’s particularly looking for compelling, unexpected mysteries, stories set in fascinating, unexpected worlds (real or imagined), and stories that hit home in their depiction of ending/changing friendships or family shifts. Humor is always welcome. In young adult, Lara is looking for heart-breaking but very funny contemporary realistic and contemporary with a fantasy twist. She loves a bittersweet romance when it’s solidly grounded in reality between believable, memorable characters. She’s also drawn to character-driven fantasy with striking world building that would appeal to non-fantasy readers, and whip-smart, page-turning psychological mysteries. In the picture book realm, Lara is drawn to picture books that take a small but universal experience of childhood and draw out something beautiful or hilarious, and an endearingly flawed main character is central for her. With her art background, she loves working with author/illustrators, and she’s drawn to a wide range of illustration styles. More at:






Kathleen RushallPicture comes to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency after agenting for nearly five years with the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She represents writers and illustrators for picture books (both fiction and non-fiction), middle grade, and young adult literature.

When it comes to picture books, Kathleen loves to laugh and have her heartstrings pulled, and likes quirky character driven stories with heart. Kathleen is also actively building her list of nonfiction picture books. She would love to find more biographies and what some call “ficinformational” picture books (books with a fictional story that ties into the Common Core).

Kathleen is actively looking for fresh middle grade across all genres. She has a soft spot for heartfelt stories, as well as humorous contemporary with a relatable voice. She particularly enjoys middle grade with strong friendship themes. She would be happy to find a middle grade fantasy, adventure, historical, or a high stakes story with a twist of magic. For YA novels, Kathleen loves voice-driven contemporary (and is especially fond of magical realism), compelling fantasy with unforgettable characters, historical fiction, and romance with lots of chemistry. Additionally, she is always on the lookout for something smart and edgy that pushes the envelope.

Kathleen’s YA list includes Laurie E. Flynn’s boundary-pushing contemporary FIRSTS (St. Martins/Macmillan); Lisa Maxwell’s spellbinding UNHOOKED (Simon Pulse/S&S); Marci Curtis’s heartfelt contemporary THE ONE THING (Disney*Hyperion); and Breeana Shields’s gripping fantasy, POISON’S KISS (Random House/PRH). Some of her middle grade titles include Lois Sepahban’s moving PAPER WISHES (Margaret Ferguson Books/Macmillan); and Jess Keating’s humorous My Life is a Zoo series (Sourcebooks). Recent picture book releases include Josh Funk’s riotous LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST (Sterling); Lori Alexander’s imaginative BACKHOE JOE (HarperCollins); and Jess Keating’s clever PINK IS FOR BLOBFISH (Knopf/PRH).