Advanced Writer Weekend: The Art of Editing & Storytelling with author/editor Leila Sales and FSG editorial director Joy Peskin

Event Type:
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Sunday, October 21, 2018

Times: Begins at 5:00 pm on Thursday, ends at 10:30 am on Sunday
$925 lodging, $725 local

Leila Sales & Joy Peskin

Class Size:

Our Advanced Writer Weekends routinely sell out and make for inspiring success stories! This fall, join author and editor Leila Sales and FSG editorial director Joy Peskin for a long weekend of lectures, craft exercises, and workshop in Austin, TX.  You won’t regret it!

Lectures to Look Forward To…

The Keys to Storytelling with author/editor Leila Sales

Although every story is unique, they all share similar goals: a beginning that hooks readers, a character whom readers will want to follow, a high-stakes conflict, a pacey middle, a resolution that feels fulfilling and surprising, and some kind of take-home point that will leave readers thinking about it after they turn the last page. Depending on the project, you may struggle to achieve some or all of those goals at different points in your writing career. Fortunately, because these are goals that every story shares, there are also strategies for achieving them that every story can use. And some of these strategies you already know, because you have used them in previous writing projects, or enjoyed them in books that you’ve read.

Using skills that she’s developed as an editor at Viking Children’s Books for the past ten years and the author of six middle grade and young adult novels, Leila Sales is going to make some of these storytelling strategies explicit. You will come away from this workshop more able to identify when your story is failing to reach one of these goals, and with more resources to turn to when that happens. You will learn how to be your own first editor; that is, how to ask yourself the sorts of guiding questions that an editor would ask to help shape your story. Leila will speak about how she uses her “editorial brain” to improve her writing (and vice versa!), and how you can do the same.

The Art of Editing: The Ins and Outs of the Author/Editor Relationship and Making it Work for You with FSG editorial director and editorial director Joy Peskin

The author/editor relationship is crucial. Sometimes an editor is a bit like a therapist, gently coaching an author to work through story issues to raise the bar of excellence on the already contracted book. Other times an editor is like a trusted friend, celebrating an author’s successes and holding her hand when things don’t go as planned. At its core, though, the editor/author relationship is a collaboration.

The art of editing is helping authors write good books that reflect their visions. And the business of publishing is helping those books get into the greatest possible number of hands. It’s the editor’s job to juggle both art and commerce, opening her editorial toolbox to determine the most productive way of working with each author despite the fact that many authors face the same story challenges: flat minor characters, plotting and pacing issues, deepening world building, as well as building empathy and connection between the reader and the main character

In this talk, Editorial Director, Joy Peskin, will discuss the keys to a strong author/editor relationship: chemistry, communication, trust, respect, and common goals. Joy will open the often closed curtain to the author/editor relationship, delving into how the author/editor relationship can go wrong, ways to pick the right editor for you (when you have multiple options), and ways to trouble-shoot issues that may crop up with your editor. Sharing working examples from personal experience with 100+ authors over her accomplished twenty-year career, Joy’s editing expertise will teach us all how to get what we want and need as novelists, for ourselves, and for our books

Featured Faculty

Leila Sales was born outside of Boston, Massachusetts, graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Chicago, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of a number of middle grade and young adult novels, including If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say (2018), Once Was a Time (2016), and This Song Will Save Your Life (2013), the last of which has been translated into twelve languages and optioned for TV and theater. Since 2006, Leila has worked at Penguin Young Readers Group, where she edits fiction and nonfiction for children and teens, including the New York Times bestselling series The Last Kids on Earth, the New York Times best illustrated book Tricky Vic, and the international bestseller Half Bad. To learn more, visit, follow her @LeilaSalesBooks, or see a list of books she’s edited at

As editorial director of Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, Joy Peskin manages a department of five editors and edits a range of books for children and teenagers. Books she has edited for FSG BYR include The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater, which has received three starred reviews and was named to 12 best-of-the year lists; Ava Dellaira’s Love Letters to the Dead, which has been published in 24 foreign territories, as well as the author’s forthcoming book In Search of Us; and Speak: The Graphic Novel, written by Laurie Halse Anderson with art by Emily Carroll, which will be published in February, 2018, and has received two starred reviews to date.

Before joining Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers in February, 2012, Joy was the associate publisher of Viking Children’s Books and an editor at Scholastic. Her favorite type of books, both to read and to edit, are contemporary, literary, realistic stories about real people facing and overcoming real challenges.

Joy has also taught writing to aspiring authors, homeless youth, incarcerated women, and teens in a juvenile detention center.

Who Should Apply for this Advanced Writer Weekend Workshop?

  • MG and YA writers on the verge.
  • Published MG and YA novelists.
  • Agented writers.
  • Those receiving personal rejections from agents and editors.
  • Those looking to add tools to their writer toolboxes.
  • SCBWI members and WLT members, and others who have attended classes, workshops, and conferences routinely.
  • Those looking to give and receive thoughtful and critical creative feedback.

Applications: To apply, fill out the application form here. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis so APPLY EARLY. Final deadline to apply is September 7, 2018. Workshop materials will be due September 14, 2018.

Book House compilation



  • Lodging provided Thursday through Sunday morning on The Writing Barn grounds at The Book House in one of five bedrooms: Pulitzer, Booker, Printz, Newbery, and Caldecott, (no single occupancy rooms  if the event sells out). The Pulitzer and Booker have two full-sized beds, all other rooms have two single beds. Each bedroom has a private bathroom. If you and a friend are both applying, please specify roommate request on your application form. Please see HERE for pictures of the rooms and grounds.
  • One dinner, three breakfasts, and two lunches, mostly vegetarian. (Three additional dinners not included in the price of the workshop will be off-site at local Austin area eateries/food trucks.)
  • Unlimited snacks and beverages, wine included.
  • Airport shuttle to and from The Writing Barn for those traveling to Austin, at prearranged times.

WORKSHOP ONLY with lunches: $725


  • Locals not staying on The Writing Barn grounds.
  • Out-of-town attendees, once onsite lodging is full.
  • DOES NOT include airport shuttle, but will include transportation to off-site dinners.


  • Once you are notified of your acceptance to the workshop, a 50% deposit is due. If there is a waiting list for this event, and you have to cancel, all but a $30 application fee will be returned to you if you cancel 6 weeks before the event. If there is no waiting list, and the spot is unable to be filled, the 50% deposit is non-refundable.
  • Payments may be made via check or credit card. Credit card payments have an additional 3% service charge added.
  • The remaining 50% is due 4-6 weeks before the event.


  • If you care to extend your stay at The Writing Barn or Book House to retreat/write after the event, please inquire about discounted stays.
  • If you wish to have a Writer Massage in your room, during an evening, with one of Austin’s top massage therapists, the cost for an hour, full body massage is $100.
  • If you wish to schedule a headshot session with Author Headshot Photographer, Sam Bond of Sam Bond Photography on the arrival day, please contact her at

Applications: To apply, fill out the application form here. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis so APPLY EARLY. Final deadline to apply is September 7, 2018. Workshop materials due by September 14, 2018.