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You Are A Writer, So You Want to Write a Children’s Book: Where Do You Begin?

Whether you are still in the idea phase, have put pen to paper, or already have a manuscript, this panel is the chance to hear from seasoned children’s/YA authors as they share what they wish they knew before entering the world of writing and publishing. Featuring a variety of panelists—including those who’ve only written for children, those who write across genres, those who shifted from one genre/medium to children’s—the conversation will provide insights about launching and sustaining a rewarding writing life.



Elana K. Arnold is the award-winning author of many books for children and teens, including The Blood Years, the Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of, and the Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat. She is a member of the faculty at Hamline University’s MFA in writing for children and young adults program, and lives in Long Beach, CA, with her family and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at www.elanakarnold.com.

Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publisher’s Weekly and #1 IndieBound bestselling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages. Many of her more than fifty books have also topped USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists and been published in over twenty countries.

De la Cruz’s novel, The Isle of the Lost, the prequel to the Disney Channel Original Movie Descendants, spent more than fifty weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, fifteen at #1, and has over a million copies in print. De la Cruz is also known for the Blue Bloods series (with three million copies in print), and the Witches of East End series. Her recent book releases include New York Times bestsellers The Queen’s Assassin and the Alex & Eliza series, as well as the graphic novel Gotham High and The Birthday Girl.

Melissa is also the founder and principal of Melissa de la Cruz Studio at Disney Publishing, which will create and package books in every genre and age range but with a focus on middle grade and young adult, from a diverse group of new and established writers that will appeal to all the platforms across the Disney company for a global audience. The projects will reflect Melissa’s humor and taste and range from adventure, romance and fantasy to contemporary stories.

Melissa de la Cruz is the co-director of YALLFEST (Charleston, SC) and the co-founder of YALLWEST (Santa Monica, CA), the two largest and most vibrant young adult book festivals in the country, attracting more than 30,000 readers every year.

Aditi Khorana is an internationally renowned author of critically acclaimed and award-winning Young Adult novels, including Mirror in the Sky (Penguin, 2016) and The Library of Fates (Penguin, 2017). Both are Junior Library Guild Selections and have appeared on many best book lists.

Her debut novel is the subject of a TEDx talk, Harnessing the Power of the Unknown. She teaches Writing for Young People at Antioch University’s MFA program, and also gives talks and teaches classes on the creative capacity of language to shape our world. She’s worked as an entertainment marketing consultant and creative consultant for Hollywood studios, including FOX, SONY and Paramount. She has also served on the board of The House of Beautiful Business, headquartered in Lisbon, Portugal.

In a former life, she worked as a producer at CNN, PBS and ABC News. Her work has been featured on NPR, The Los Angeles Review of Books, NBC News, Buzzfeed, EW, Bustle, Seventeen and Huffington Post. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

Lilliam Rivera is a MacDowell fellow and an award-winning author of eight works of fiction: four young adult novels, three middle grade books, and a graphic novel for DC Comics. Her books have been awarded a Pura Belpré Honor, been featured on NPR, New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, NY Times, and multiple “best of” lists. Her novel NEVER LOOK BACK is slated for an Amazon movie adaptation.

Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Elle, to name a few. Lilliam has also written for the episodic podcast series Love in Gravity. She’s received fellowships and grants from PEN America and the Elizabeth George Foundation.

A Bronx, New York native, Lilliam currently lives in Los Angeles.

This virtual program will be co-presented by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is made possible in part by the support of the Pasadena Literary Alliance and the Authors Coalition of America.