ST. GEORGE — Never judge a book by the age of its author. This is the thinking behind “Tween Author Boot Camp,” the first writing conference for youth ages 9-12 to be held at Dixie State University Oct. 29.
“Nobody should underestimate what kids are capable of writing,” Lois Brown, founder of the Tween Author Boot Camp, said.
One of the most well-read books of all time was written by a 13-year-old girl barely out of grammar school. “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” has been published in nearly seventy languages and has sold tens of millions of copies.
Following the success of a similar writing conference in northern Utah, the Tween Author Boot Camp will bring youth from surrounding areas such as Cedar City and Kanab. The conference is sponsored by the Dixie State University English Department as well as the Utah Humanities Council’s annual Book Festival.
“We held a tween writing conference like this up north last spring” Brown said, “and I was amazed at the quality of writing we saw. The kids are so much ahead of where I was at their age.”
Brown is an author of three middle grade books herself.
Ami Comeford, an English professor at Dixie State who is heading up the project, said that when she was approached by the Humanities Council and Brown about the university hosting the event, she got really excited.
“What most young authors need is some focus and a boost of confidence,” Comeford said. “This writing conference will do both. When freshman college students come to school able to write well, they are so much more successful in all of their other classes. Hopefully this event will help kids learn to love the art of writing — regardless if they become actual authors or not.”
The boot camp will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The morning will start with several breakout classes that will introduce the kids to sensory writing, how to generate story ideas, stage writing and the element of conflict. The kids will share a lunch with the authors where they can ask them specific questions.
The afternoon keynote speakers will be Chad Morris, author of “The Inventor’s Secret” published by Shadow Mountain Publishing, and Shelly Brown, author of “Ghostsitter” published by Future House.
The pair are used to speaking to kids — they happen to be married to each other and have six children, including a pair of twins.
There is a writing contest as part of the boot camp. Entries are due on Oct. 14.
Cost of the conference is $25 before Oct. 11; $30 after. The price includes a backpack, notebook, lunch, all classes and entrance into the writing contest, which has cash prizes.
For more information visit Tween ABC online.
- What: Tween Author Boot Camp.
- When: Oct. 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Where: Dixie State University, 225 S. 700 East, St. George.
- Cost: $25-30
- Register online
- Resources: Tween ABC online