July 11-15, 2020

Workshop Particpant Cap: 30

Join Us Online

We’ve reinvented our Summer Camp as an online experience, with five whole days of intensive instruction, mentorship, manuscript feedback, peer community and hands-on activities. We’ve been doing this for over 35 years, and within this year’s unique structure you can expect the same focus on craft, community & mentorship that we’ve always provided. 

Join us for:

  • An immersive experience rich in community, craft, and mentorship that will keep you inspired and accountable this summer.

  • COMMUNITY: Daily informal online meetups with peers and faculty (4 pm EDT) covering topics like submissions, goal setting, establishing writing practices, and more.

  • CRAFT: Daily LIVE online craft breakout sessions with faculty (5 pm EDT), plus daily LIVE keynotes from faculty members (7 pm EDT) followed by a Q&A session.

  • MENTORSHIP: 1:1 online time with your assigned faculty mentor in three parts across the week: 1) written feedback; 2) a 20-minute online video call to review the written feedback; and 3) a 20-minute online video call followup on feedback and goal setting.

Note: Each day you will choose a LIVE breakout session to attend, but all breakouts will be recorded and you’ll be able to view them all. Also, if you have to miss any of the LIVE sessions, you’ll have access to recorded content for 30 days.

What You'll Learn & Experience

At our online Nonfiction Summer Camp, you will:

  • Hear inspirational and educational keynotes by our celebrated faculty.
  • Explore factual writing through a range of topics, including nonfiction voice, biography, memoir, nature writing, science writing, and narrative nonfiction.
  • Receive guidance on how to submit nonfiction manuscripts to the book and magazine publishers who want to see them.
  • Work one-to-one with your faculty mentor.
  • Attend a Q&A with an editor.
  • Participate in daily break-out sessions in voice, narrative structure, character, theme and more.
  • Develop necessary research and interview skills.
  • Discover how to mine personal experiences to enliven your nonfiction.
  • Study the craft of writing nonfiction: voice, narrative structure, character, theme and more.
  • Participate in community GO! sessions to do writing sprints.
  • Attend "Open Hours," with themed informal talks and problem-solving
  • Optional open mic sessions.

Here is a sampling of past breakout sessions:

  • Back Matter Matters
  • Voice, Viewpoint & Verbs
  • Life Sentences: Crafting Stories from Real Life
  • Finding the WHY in Research
  • Narrative Structure and Rhythm in Non-Fiction
  • Writing Inspiration: Using Mentor Texts
  • The Art of Biography, Short Form and Long
  • The Extreme Sport of Research
  • The Art and Craft of Narrative Nonfiction
  • Mining Personal Experiences to Enliven Nonfiction
  • World Building in History

Attend If:

  • You are working on a biography for kids or teens. Our faculty is well-versed in researching and writing about people. They’ll help you find out how to make your biography the best it can be.
  • You are working on a nature or science-themed book for kids or teens. Study with our nature-loving faculty and let them help you craft an engaging book for kids.
  • You are working on an informational article for kids or teens. We will explore the magazine market, too.
  • You think you might have something to submit to the educational market. Our faculty has experience with educational packagers and can help you, too.
  • You love nonfiction and are eager to write TRUE stories. This workshop provides a comprehensive introduction to the world of nonfiction children’s books.
  • You have an in-progress or finished manuscript and would benefit from expert feedback. Faculty mentorship gives you the time to ask questions, get suggestions for revision and get support for your goals.

One month prior to Nonfiction Camp you will be invited to send a complete picture book manuscript, or completed article, or the first 10 pages of a longer piece of nonfiction, or a book proposal with a writing sample.  This submission will be used by your mentor to provide you with your first, written feedback. You will subsequently have two Zoom calls with your mentor to discuss feedback, ask questions and set goals.


12 signs that you are destined to write middle grade nonfiction
Theme in Narrative Nonfiction
STEAMing Into Nonfiction
3 Diversity Fellows Talk About Summer Camp Mentorship
Seven Ways to Make Your Nonfiction Stand Out 
The hard-but-satisfying work of creative nonfiction
True Storytelling


“I’ve never found a more supportive or knowledgeable faculty at any other workshop or conference.”

“The mentoring staff members were amazing. All were open, honest, and encouraging. They didn’t just tell us what we wanted to hear – they told us things to make our writing sizzle.”                                                                                     



Heidi Stemple

Heidi didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn’t until she was 28 years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has more than twenty five books published. Her entire family now writes–together and apart. No one has been harmed yet, so the collaborations will continue. Heidi lives in Massachusetts on a big old farm with two houses, two cats, three barns, and tons of wildlife.


Lesa Cline-Ransome

Lesa Cline-Ransome’s first book was the biography Satchel Paige, an ALA Notable Book and a Bank Street College “Best Children’s Book of the Year. She later created Quilt Alphabet, a collection of alphabet poems, Quilt Counting, Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist, Young Pele, Words Set Me Free, Light in the Darkness, Freedom’s School, Just a Lucky So and So, Germs: Fact and Fiction, Friends and Foes and Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams. Her verse biography of Harriet Tubman, Before She Was Harriet, received five starred reviews, was nominated for an NAACP image award, and received a Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustration. Finding Langston, her debut middle grade novel received the 2019 Scott Award for Non Fiction and the Coretta Scott King Author Honor. The sequel, Leaving Lymon, will be released in 2020. Her newest picture book biography is Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician. Lesa’s books have received numerous honors and awards including NAACP Awards, Kirkus Best Books, ALA Notable, CBC Choice Awards, two Top 10 Sports Books for Youth, a Jane Addams, Christopher Award and an Orbis Pictus Recommended Book. She lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York with her husband, illustrator and frequent collaborator, James Ransome and their family. Visit her at www.lesaclineransome.com.


Don Tate

Don Tate is an award-winning author, and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children, including Carter Reads The Newspaper (Peachtree Publishers); No Small Potatoes: Junius Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas (Knopf), Stalebread Charlie and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band (Houghton Mifflin), The Cart That Carried Martin(Charlesbridge); Hope’s Gift (Penguin); and Ron’s Big Mission(Penguin). His most recent illustrated titles include The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans, 2015); Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (Charlesbridge, 2016); Swish!: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters (Little Brown, 2020). Don is also the first and only two-time winner of an Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for writing: It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started To Draw (Lee & Low Books, 2102; EJK New Writer Honor winner, 2013); Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree, 2015, EJK Book Award New Writer winner, 2016), in addition to receiving a 2016 Christopher Award. Don’s forthcoming books include Stalebread Charlie and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band (illustrator, Clarion, 2017); andStrong As Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became the Strongest Man on Earth, (author-illustrator, Charlesbridge, 2017). Don is a founding host of The Brown Bookshelf, a blog dedicated to books for African American young readers; and a member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.


Dana Meachen Rau

Dana Meachen Rau has written more than 350 books for children in a variety of genres—early readers, picture-books, historical fiction, biographies, cookbooks, and nonfiction on scientific, historical, geographical, and other popular topics. Her early reader Robot, Go Bot! (Random House), was included on Kirkus’s list of Best Children’s Books of 2013, named an ALSC 2014 Notable Children’s Book, and listed by Bank Street as one of the 2014 Best Books of the Year. Other accolades include: The Inside Story (Marshall Cavendish), named one of Booklist’s Top 10 Early Literacy Series; Our Solar System Series (Compass Point Books) winner of Learning Magazine’s Teachers’ Choices Award; and A Star in My Orange (Millbrook Press) named one of Booklist’s Top 10 Sci-Tech Books of the Year. Since graduating from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, with degrees in both creative writing and art history, she has worked in the publishing world as a writer, illustrator, and also as an editor of both fiction and nonfiction with Scholastic/Children’s Press. Since attending Vermont College of Fine Arts for her master’s degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults, she has taught creative writing at the Mark Twain House, Hartford, CT, and currently teaches writing and literature at the University of Hartford. Visit Dana at www.danameachenrau.com.


Rob Sanders

Rob Sanders is a writer who teaches, and a teacher who writes. A native of Springfield, Missouri, he has lived in Texas, Alabama, and Tennessee. After earning a B.S. in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Religious Education, Rob worked for fifteen years in children’s religious educational publishing as a writer, educational consultant, trainer, editor, editorial group manager, and product developer. In 2006, Rob moved to Florida and began working as an elementary school teacher. Soon he was serving as a district writing trainer and resource teacher. These days you’ll find him teaching kids about books and words, and reading and writing with them at Mintz Elementary School in Brandon, Florida. Working daily with children inspired Rob to pursue his own writing career. He is the author of Cowboy Christmas, Outer Space Bedtime Race (Crystal Kite Award), Ruby Rose–Off to School She Goes, Ruby Rose–Big Bravos, and Rodzilla (Florida Gold Medal for Younger Children’s Literature). Rob’s nonfiction writing includes: Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights, and in April 2019 his book, Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution will release. Four other books are current under contract, but are top secret at this point. Rob also coordinates the Rising Kite Writing Contest for SCBWI Florida, organizes meetings for SCBWI Florida members in the Tampa Bay area, and coaches and critiques other picture book writers. Rob is represented by Rubin Pfeffer.

Special Guest

Yvonne Dennis

Special Guest Yvonne Wakim Dennis is an award winning author of nonfiction books for children and adults including A Kid’s Guide to Native American History (Moonbeam Gold and Silver Awards), Children of the United States (Bank Street Best Books) and Children of Native America Today (CCBC Choices, Notable Books for a Global Society, Top 100 Books of the Century). Dennis adores being a member of Bank Street Writers Lab, which helps set standards for excellence in children’s literature. She interweaves environmental justice into all she writes and credits her diverse family (Cherokee/Sand Hill/Syrian) with her commitment to making an inclusive and multicultural world. She is the Education Director for the Children’s Cultural Center of Native America and serves on the boards of While We Are Still Here and Coopdanza. In 2014, she received the Smithsonian National Arab American Museums’s Best Children’s Book of the year (A Kid’s Guide to Arab American History) and is now on the awards selection committee. Dennis feels both humbled and blessed to be recognized for her writing and also grateful to be honored for her community work by receiving a Sanaka Award, a David Chow Humanitarian Award, and the Drums Along the Hudson/NYC Parks Service Community Lifetime Achievement Award. Her latest book, Native Landmarks and Festivals, A Traveler’s Guide to Indigenous United States and Canada, takes tourists on a culturally accurate tour to fascinating places hosted by First Peoples. Although Dennis visited many of the sites in the book, but she is itching to experience the rest.

Special Guest

Daniel Nayeri

Special Guest Daniel Nayeri is the publisher of Odd Dot, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, where he oversees a team of designers, editors, and inventors creating joyful books for curious minds. Daniel was born in Iran and spent several years as a refugee before immigrating to Oklahoma at age eight with his family. He is the author of several books for young readers, including EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE and STRAW HOUSE, WOOD HOUSE, BRICK HOUSE, BLOW: Four Novellas. He is a former professional pastry chef, and if he’s not writing or baking, he’s likely playing board games, or riding motorcycles.

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