Virtual Young Authors Conference Subscription

2020-2021 Theme: Words Have Power

Words and stories hold tremendous power: they spark imagination, inspire confidence, help heal, honor family, show gratitude, demonstrate kindness, and share truth.

December sessions featuring:

Abby Cooper

Abby Cooper

Behind the Words – What’s Really Being Said?

Live session: December 7 at 1pm
Live Q&A:
December 17 at 1pm

Just like real people, characters in stories don’t always say what they really mean. In this session, we’ll explore fun and interesting ways to develop meaningful layers of emotion in our writing. After all, words have power on AND beneath the surface. Today we’ll dive into both.

Abby Cooper is the author of Minnesota Book Award Finalist STICKS & STONES, BUBBLES, and FRIEND OR FICTION. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, her poodle, and a whole bunch of books.

Myron Medcalf

Read Your Way to Better Writing

The pandemic has had an effect on our normal routines. But it’s also an important opportunity to recommit ourselves to reading, which is the true key to better writing. Writing comes from a love of reading. In this session, I’ll show you how your favorite authors can help you become a better writer.

Myron Medcalf is currently a senior college basketball reporter and nationally syndicated radio host with ESPN. He also writes a semimonthly column for the Star Tribune. He’s a Minnesota State University, Mankato, graduate who has lived in the state for 20 years.


Guy Stewart

MAGIC & WARP – Using the Power of Words to Create Worlds of Fantasy & Science Fiction

I’ve used words to create wildly different Fantasy & Science Fiction worlds in my own short stories. Using exercises to strengthen your imagination by choosing words that will stir up ALL of a reader’s senses, we’ll practice in a famous writer’s world then jump into our own worlds to power them up with strong words!

Guy Stewart is a husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, foster father, writer, and recently retired teacher and school counselor. He keeps a writing blog called POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAYS where he tries to help writers by dissecting his own work and gives weekly ideas for Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror stories.

November Sessions:

Joe Horton

The Power of Surprise

Live session: November 19 @ 1pm

Learn how surprise plays a key role in the writing process and participate in a fun writing exercise that will turbocharge your ability to surprise yourself!

Joe Horton is an artist and rapper known for his work with experimental rap groups No Bird Sing. After receiving an MFA and publishing short stories, Horton turned his attention to visual storytelling with the exhibition of the short film ‘Vessel’ at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2019.

J.M. Lee

J.M. Lee

What is Fanfiction?

Live Q&A: November 16 @ 10am

If you’ve heard of fanfiction and want to know more, this is the session for you! J.M. Lee, writer for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, discusses what fanfiction is, and how it can help you practice important skills to become a better writer.

Born and raised in the great Minnesota north, J.M. spent his formative years searching for talking animals and believing he could control the weather. After pursuing nerdy interests in comparative film studies and screenwriting, he ended up with a degree in linguistics from the U of M.

Laura Purdie Salas

Any Word is a Poetic Word

We’ll explore the power of a single word by choosing a picture prompt, writing a paragraph, and then crafting a first draft of a poem. Our poem will explore both the meaning/idea of the word AND the word itself–its shape and form on the page. Let’s dive deep and get creative!

Former teacher and award-winning author Laura Purdie Salas believes reading and writing small picture books and poems can have a huge impact on your life. This author of Lion of the Sky, Snowman-Cold=Puddle, and many more books loves getting young writers excited about words!

October sessions:
Marie Olofsdotter

Marie Olofsdotter

Poetry: Weave Your Words Into Power

Joy Harjo, the U.S. poet laureate writes, “Remember the dance language is, that life is.” To her, poems are ‘carriers of dreams, knowledge and wisdom.’ Creativity is a powerful force, using tools like metaphor and anaphora, we’ll weave our words into poems full of power.

Marie Olofsdotter is a Swedish artist who lives in Minneapolis where she writes poetry, creates picture books, paints and works in mixed media. Her accolades include a Minnesota Book Award, a Loft Mentor Series Award in Poetry and grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Marie’s work as a teaching artist has inspired young and old alike to be creative for over 25 years.

May Lee-Yang

May Lee-Yang

Scavenging for Poems

Live Session: October 8 at 1pm
Live Q&A: October 28 @ 1pm

Words are so powerful that they can have several life cycles. In this workshop, we will learn and create erasure poetry, a process of scavenging for poems in pre-written words.

May Lee-Yang writes poems, stories, and plays. Her plays have been produced at Theater Mu, Intermedia Arts, and other places. One of her poems was recently published onto sidewalks in St. Paul. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota.

Geoff Herbach

Killer Concrete Details

In this fiction session, we will work to get rid of general language and build a wicked character and a great scene out of the assortment of odd, personal objects and particular emotions the character has and feels. This is the basis of painting a picture in your readers’ mind, a major part of great story writing.

Geoff Herbach is the author of a bunch of books, including Stupid Fast and Hooper. He has received the Cybil’s Award for best YA fiction, the Minnesota Book Award, and Outstanding Book by a Wisconsin author. He teaches creative writing and chairs the English Department at Minnesota State, Mankato.

Virtual YAC Subscription includes:

  • Two recorded and one live session led by published authors and writing instructors. Sessions will run approximately 30-45 minutes including writing activity. Also included is an online gallery for students to share what they’ve written during the sessions;
  • Q&A with local writers that is topic-specific (for example, developing characters, sports writing, dialogue, the writing life);
  • The weekly blog will consist of videos created by members of the Minnesota writing community sharing their creative writing passions, tips and tricks, highlighting new and bestselling YA and children titles, and more.

Monthly Book Club Resource with Desdamona!

You know her as the open mic emcee at YAC, Spoken Word Artist and performer, Desdamona! Each month, Des will select a MG or YA title and create a 10-15 minute recorded video for teachers. Desdamona will model what a virtual book club meeting could look like. Videos will feature questions related to theme and characters, as well as writing prompts and conversation starters.

October: Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott
Blended by Sharon Draper

Desdamona is an international award-winning spoken word and hip-hop artist who has been performing, teaching and producing work for over 20 years. She has opened for Wyclef Jean, GURU, Bahamadia, Sly & Robbie, and Saul Williams. Desdamona has worked in over 200 schools in the Midwest and has visited schools in France conducting workshops and performances and has been featured on a number of French releases. In 2014, Des was featured in a national “Back to School” ad campaign for Kmart and in 2016, Desdamona released her 4th solo release entitled, No Man’s Land featuring a cast of women from the Twin Cities. Currently, Desdamona is working on a t-shirt line inspired by her music. 

Red Balloon Bookshop & SBC

If you’ve been to the Young Authors Conference at Bethel University in the past, you already know about the AMAZING bookfair that Red Balloon Bookshop provides us every year. SBC has partnered with Red Balloon Bookshop for many years now and we couldn’t stand not having them be a part of this new, virtual year. When you shop at Red Balloon Bookshop online, enter the code “YAC2020” for a portion of your sale to go to Success Beyond the Classroom.


  • Full-year subscription (October-May)
    • $30/student for Metro ECSU member schools/districts
    • $50/student for non-member schools/districts
    • $55/individual student/household registered by parents/guardians
  • Two-month subscription (must be consecutive months)
    • $15/student for Metro ECSU member schools/districts
    • $30/student for non-member schools/districts
    • $35/individual student/household registered by parents/guardians
YAC Student

To learn if your school/district is a member, view the Metro ECSU 2020-2021 Membership List.


For more information about how your students can participate or if you are interested in presenting, contact Colleen Feller at 612-638-1511.

Need a printable flyer to share our subscription options in detail with your administrator or other teachers? Find one here.

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Phone: (612) 638 – 1500

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Arden Hills, MN 55112

SBC is located in the lower level of Bethel University’s Anderson Center.