We are seeing an unprecedented number of stories written for children and young adults that are unique, diverse, and unafraid to take risks – and students across the country are clamoring for more.
The Writing for Children and Young Adults (WCYA) track at Sierra Nevada University is:
One of the only programs of its kind on the West Coast.
The only program in the country in which every student works with an editor in their entire final semester.
Dedicated to fostering each writer’s unique voice.
Boasts a faculty of some of the most successful, cutting edge authors and professionals in children’s literature.
Children need to see themselves in books; they need to be connected to the uniqueness of their own stories. At SNU we train writers to go out into the industry upon graduation armed and ready to meet those challenges.
The MFA is a two-year degree program that consists of five weeklong residencies, in early January and early August, and four distance semesters. For the first three semesters students work with the award-winning authors on our faculty; for the final semester each student works closely with a professional editor who ushers them through the final stages of their manuscript.
Residencies are held on the stunning SNU Tahoe campus, at 6200′ above sea level in the the Sierra Nevada mountain range. In summer, the shoreline of Lake Tahoe is an easy 10 minute walk. In winter, heated sidewalks wind through tall pines. One of every five residencies is held overseas, with the 2017 winter residency in Jamaica.
There is no formula to writing compelling work for children and young adults; the program is dedicated to fostering each writer’s unique voice and craft. The WCYA track at SNU Tahoe is a safe place to challenge yourself to write without fear and from your deepest creative self. We are all writers here. We all have a voice that needs to be heard.
Writing for Children & Young Adults Faculty
Our faculty are creators and editors of award-winning, New York Times bestselling, and groundbreaking books of literary and commercial quality for children and young adults.
- BA in Creative Writing, University of California, San Diego
Joanna Cárdenas is an editor at Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. She acquires and edits picture books, chapter books, and middle grade (including graphic novels). Joanna has edited books by Julie Falatko, Tim Miller, Margaret Mincks, Mac Barnett, Greg Pizzoli, Celia C. Pérez, Christopher Weyant, Aaron Reynolds, and Pablo Cartaya, among others.
Joanna is also on the steering committee for Latinx in Publishing, a nonprofit organization committed to supporting and increasing the number of Latino/a/x in the publishing industry, as well as promoting literature by, for, and about Latino/a/x people.
Jess Regel is a literary agent at Foundry Literary + Media who represents New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors in both the children’s and adult literary market. Originally from Iowa, Jess was working at her local library when she was offered a job at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency and immediately packed up for New York City.
She spent eleven years at the Naggar Agency before moving over to Foundry in 2013. Some of her books include: Amber Smith’s New York Times Bestseller The Way I Used to Be (Margaret McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster), Emily Danforth’s award winning The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins), Linda Liukas’ international bestseller Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding (Feiwel & Friends/MacMillan), Nora McInerny Purmort’s national bestseller It’s Okay to Laugh (Dey Street/HarperCollins), and Bryn Greenwood’s New York Times Bestseller All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (MacMillan/Thomas Dunne). She is a graduate of Hunter College with a degree in English Literature.
- MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts
- MA in Writing, Rowan University
Joe McGee is the author of the picture book, Peanut Butter & Brains (Abrams 2015), about which the Kirkus Review said “Run, don’t shamble to get this original zombie tale.” The New York Times praised it for “amusingly unit[ing] the seemingly unrelated contemporary obsessions of zombies and food,” and The Washington Post noted “Joe McGee keeps the story moving with flowing and engaging text.” Peanut Butter & Aliens, a sequel, was published in August, 2017, and Peanut Butter & Santa Claus will be released in 2019.
Joe’s writing has garnered many awards, to include the 2014 Vermont College of Fine Arts Holy Smokes! short story award, the 2013 Vermont College of Fine Arts Critical Essay award, and a Vermont College of Fine Arts merit scholarship. He was the recipient of the 2012 Medallion Award for the outstanding graduate writing student at Rowan University and the winner of the 2012 Denise Gess Literary Prize for Poetry. He has been awarded 1st place honors in fiction, short story writing, YA/teen writing, and poetry from The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. His short story, Ink Soul, won 2nd place in the 2011 national Writer’s Digest genre fiction awards. Los Angeles Book Prize winner and Printz Honoree, A.S. King, called Joe’s short story, Leaves of Brass, “one of the best short stories” she’d ever read. National Book Award finalist and Newberry Honor recipient, Kathi Appelt, said of Joe’s short story, Tooth Fairy, that it was “one of the most authentic child’s voices” she’d ever read.”
He teaches several Creative Writing classes at Rowan University. He is a former airborne Army platoon leader and the father of three boys, ranging from high school to middle school to elementary school. He is an amateur cartoonist, has flown fixed-wing aircraft, and hiked an active volcano. Joe lives along the river, in a scenic and historic part of New Jersey with his fiancé, also a children’s writer.
- BA in Writing, Loyola Marymount University
- MFA in Writing, Vermont College of Fine Arts
Pablo Cartaya is the author of the acclaimed middle-grade novel, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora (Viking Children’s Books/Penguin Random House). He is a Publisher’s Weekly “Flying Start” and has received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly. For his performance recording the audiobook of his novel, Pablo received an Earphone Award from Audiofile Magazine and a Publisher’s Weekly Audiobooks starred review. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora was named one of the best books of the month by Amazon and Barnes and Nobles and one of the “50 Most Brilliant Books of Summer” by Scholastic Library. His novel Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, also with Viking, is set for publication in summer 2018, with two forthcoming titles to follow in 2019 and 2020. He is the co-author of the picture book, Tina Cocolina: Queen of the Cupcakes (Random House Children’s Books, 2010), a contributor to the literary magazine, Miami Rail; the Spanish language editorial, Suburbano Ediciones; and a translator for the poetry chapbook, Cinco Poemas/Five Poems based on the work of the poet Hyam Plutzik.
Pablo has been a guest speaker at Florida International University’s Exile Studies Program, University of Miami’s Lowe Museum, and has visited schools throughout the US. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA from Loyola Marymount University. He currently serves as lead faculty at Sierra Nevada College’s low residency MFA in the Writing for Children and Young Adults track. He calls Miami home and Cuban-American his cultura.
- BA in English, California State University, San Bernardino
- MA in English Composition, California State University, San Bernardino
Isabel Quintero is a writer and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She was born, raised, and resides in the Inland Empire of Southern California. She earned her BA in English and her MA in English Composition at California State University, San Bernardino. Isabel also sits on on the board for a non-profit literary arts organization, PoetrIE.
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces from Cinco Puntos Press, her first novel, is the recipient of the 2015 William C. Morris Award for Debut YA Novel, the 2015 Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the California Book Award Gold Medal for Young Adult, the 2015 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, Grades 7-12, and the 2015 Peggy Miller Award for Young Adult Literature. Gabi was a finalist for the 2015 Elizabeth Walden Award, the 2015 Cybils Award, and received an honorable mention from the NACCS Tejas Young Adult Fiction FOCO Award. In addition, the book has been included on the Amelia Bloomer Project List of Recommended Feminist Reading for ages 0-18, one of School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014, 2015 Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens, is one of Booklist’s Best Books of 2014, one of Kirkus’ Best Teen Books of 2014, and a 2015 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, among other lists.
Her forthcoming chapter books, the first two in a series for young readers, Ugly Cat and Pablo, will be released in Spring 2017 from Scholastic, Inc. Her first graphic novel, Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide a biography about photographer Graciela Iturbide, will be released by Getty Publications Fall 2017. In addition to writing fiction, she also writes poetry and her work can be found in The Great American Literary Magazine, Huizache, As/Us Journal, The Acentos Review, The Pacific Review, and others.