Guest Post: T.A. Demings on WIFYR

Hi readers! Today I have T.A. Demings here, to talk about the upcoming Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference. She approached me to see if I would post about the conference, but I turned it around and asked her to do a guest post instead. I'm sure you would much rather read her passion for the conference than my rather lengthy streams of rambling thought...kind of like this. ;)
So without further ado:


I’m T.A. Demings and I’m a writer.

Right now I’m in the process of finding a home (i.e. agent/editor/publisher) for my first book, which is a YA contemporary in chopped line (most people refer to this form as “verse”, but I won’t go into why that’s wrong…).

I’ve been working on this book for about two years and I’m getting to the point where I’m almost ready to submit, which presents a lot questions. Where do I look? How do I find an agent or an editor? How do I get them to read my manuscript? How do I get them to like it?

Of course, I don’t know all the answers, but there’s one thing that’s really helped me get my foot in the door of the literary publishing world and that is WRITING CONFERENCES. I’ve had other writer friends tell me that conferences are silly and “why should I have to spend money on a conference when I could figure out the publishing industry on my own?” First, conferences are probably the most useful stepping stones to getting published. Second, to (some of) my writer friends out there: we’ll see who gets published first.

Since there are so many different writing conferences all over the country (and the world) I can’t tell you about all of them. But I’m going to tell you about my very favorite one (of about 5) that I’ve been to. Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers (lovingly referred to as WIFYR). It’s a week-long conference held in Sandy, UT during June (18-22 this year). The conference offers several morning workshops in which writers have a chance to workshop their manuscripts in a group (of about 14) led by a published author. Then there are afternoon presentations where editors, agents, and published authors talk about writing, editing, and publishing.

I first attended WIFYR last year (2011), and, because of my creative writing training in college, I was able to take the advanced morning session class with Kathleen Duey (who has dozens of published books). Her feedback (along with the feedback of my peer writers in the group) was absolutely invaluable, and helped me improve my writing tremendously. From that morning workshop I became a better writer, made some good friends, and absorbed priceless information about becoming a professional, published author.

During  a Q&A part of an afternoon presentation I was able to ask literary agent Mary Kole a few questions. After the session she asked me a few questions too, and then suggested that I submit my manuscript to her (yes, the contemporary YA in chopped line). When I’m finished editing my manuscript, who do you think I’m sending it to? J

This year I’m on the volunteer (with perks) staff for WIFYR. I’ll get to work closely with, and assist published author Greg Leitich Smith as he leads one of the advanced morning workshops (which, of course you should sign up for!).  One of the “perks” of being an assistant is that I’ll get to have a pitch session with one of the agents or editors presenting at the conference. I’m telling you, this is how you make your connections!

Okay. So, I’m not quite published yet. YET. But, I’ve made a lot of connections—with authors, literary agents, editors, and librarians—and I’ve learned that getting published takes a lot work. It takes time. And yes, it takes money.

When I do get published, I know it will be largely owed to my participation at WIFYR conferences.

You want to join in on the fun now, don’t you?

Here’s the info:
June 18-22
Sandy, UT
9 published  authors
2 literary agents
2 editors

Don’t have the money for a conference? Then enter WIFYR’s writing contest to win a $1000 fellowship!
See you in June! ;)

Thanks for your post, T.A. Demings! The conference sounds like a great opportunity for authors and illustrators. Plus, it's in UTAH! I really love my state. :)

About T.A. Demings:
I grew up in Richfield, Utah. Writing is my love. I'm working on a YA novel right now. I believe in love, forgiveness, acceptance, work, and the outdoors. I have a duck fetish. It started out with rubber ducks, but I love pretty much any duck now. My favorite, most well-traveled and well-known is Clyde who I often sleep with at night (yes, technically I am an adult...).

Find T.A. Demings here:   Website   /   Twitter


  1. A duck fetish? Wow. I've never heard of that. Cute though.

    1. not THAT kind of fetish (well, except for Clyde...) I just collect rubber ducks is all...

    2. Haha, that's too funny. I love that you collect ducks!

  2. WIFYR is one of the best writing conferences anywhere! They consistently get top notch faculty and the talk about bang for the buck! I attended a couple years ago, workshopped a picture book story there and fairly soon thereafter had a contract for it! There are still openings for beginning writers with the marvelous and versatile Ann Cannon http://www.aecannon.com/so get 'em while they last! It's going to be fantastic this year!

    1. How awesome that the picture book you worked on at the conference got you a contract. It really sounds like a great conference!

  3. I agree. WIFYR is great! I've only been able to attend afternoon sessions in previous years, but that have been worth the time and money. This year I'm an assistant and will go full days. I'm super excited!

    One of the best things as Tiff said is we will have two editors and two agents. WOW! Anyone who is serious about being a writer should attend.

    1. I'm excited for you! :) Thanks for stopping by, Debbie!

  4. For anyone who's met Mary Kole, getting ask to submit to her is quite an honor. Writing is all about hours at the computer, but getting published is all about attending writing conferences. Great job on the post!

    1. Thanks, Becca! And you are so so right. I might have to quote you about the difference between writing and getting published. :)

    2. I haven't met Mary Kole, but I enjoy reading her KidLit blog when I have the time. You are completely right!

  5. I can't say enough good about WIFYR! It's an incredible experience that will absolutely push your writing forward. For me, it has consistently improved my craft AND my understand of the world of publishing. I love this conference!


Thanks for commenting! I read each and every one, and reply as soon as I can :)

Please note: The Reading Fever is an award-free zone. I am very flattered, but comments are all the thanks I need.


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