Annual Conference 2019

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Friday afternoon Intensive Session

Chuck Sambuchino
Chuck Sambuchino

Everything You Need to Know about Agents, Submissions, Queries, and First Pages – Chuck Sambuchino

If you want to get a major publishing deal, you need an agent. This course will tell you everything you need to know to find a representative and give yourself the best chance of a successful writing career. Chuck will provide an in-depth exploration of what an agent is and what they can and can't do for writers. He'll also describe resources for finding agents, tell you how to identify the best agents for you, give you advice on how to submit, and go over the do's and don't's when dealing with representatives.

As time permits, Chuck will also critique attendees' query letters and first pages. See if yours can make it past the slush pile, and benefit from hearing other submissions examined for their strong and weak points.

Attendees will also have the chance to have their query letters and manuscript first pages critiqued live by Chuck Sambuchino. See if your submission (query and first page) can make it past the slush pile, and also hear other attendees’ submissions examined from their stengths and weaknesses. Chuck will examine as many items as possible in the time allowed. 

About Chuck: Chuck Sambuchino is a is a freelancer editor, bestselling book author, and former longtime staffer for Writer’s Digest Books. For many years he edited the Guide to Literary Agents and the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrators Market. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog was one of the largest blogs in publishing, and he wrote the platform guidebook Create Your Writer Platform. He is a successful freelance editor of queries, synopses, and manuscripts—seeing dozens of clients get agents or book deals following his consultations/edits. He loves meeting new writers. Find out more at He will also be giving the Saturday lunch keynote address.

Sunday MORNING Intensive Sessions

Crystal Wilkinson
Crystal Wilkinson

The Thin Line: Writing Memorable Characters – Crystal Wilkinson

Everyone has within them an automatic piece of fiction. What do we tell? What do we keep to ourselves? We’ll write toward a balance of the sacred and the memorable. Each participant will leave this working session with the impression of a new story—characters that are deeply felt—a rough draft of a story that is ready to be crafted. The best fiction “occurs at the intersection of imagination, curiosity and experience. And the best stories must have all three. . . All good fiction comes from a developed premise that begins with “suppose” and extends to “what if.” So I invite you to come write with me to do some character excavation of your own, stories that might be waiting in your heart and gut, ready for you to write them.

About Crystal: Crystal Wilkinson is an award-winning feminist poet, novelist, memoirist, and professor from Indian Creek, Kentucky. A founding member of the Affrilachian Poets Collective, she is currently Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of Kentucky. Wilkinson’s latest book The Birds of Opulence, won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, The Judy Young Gaines Prize for Fiction, The Appalachian Book of the Year and the Weatherford Award. She and her partner, Ron Davis co-own and run the beloved independent bookstore, Wild Fig Books and Coffee in Lexington, Kentucky. She will also be giving the Friday dinner Keynote Address.

Harrison Demchick
Harrison Demchick

Point of View IS ABOUT MORE THAN PRONOUNS – Harrison Demchick

A story can be told from different perspectives—first-person, third-person limited, third-person omniscient, and more—but point of view is about far more than the pronouns you use. What are the pros and cons of each? How can point of view be used to focus your narrative? And what perspective best reflects the story you want to tell? Developmental editor, author, and filmmaker, Harrison Demchick, of the Writer’s Ally guides you through the ins and outs of point of view in his latest offbeat but informative talk on the craft of writing fiction.

About Harrison:  Harrison Demchick came up in the world of small press publishing, working on more than 70 published books in genres as diverse as literary fiction, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, young adult, memoir, and everything in-between. Harrison is known for quite possibly the most detailed and informative editorial letters in the entire universe. As a screenwriter, his first feature film, Ape Canyon, is currently in post-production. He’s also the author of the novel The Listeners (Bancroft Press, 2012). His newest short story, “Magicland,” appears in the eighth issue of literary magazine Phantom Drift. He’s accepting new clients at the Writer’s Ally (

Rick Ollerman
Rick Ollerman

The Comprehensive Short Story Rick Ollerman

This workshop examines not only what makes a successful short story, but how using voice and theme make writing short stories different than writing novels. We will look at beginnings, language (e.g. strong vs. weak verbs), characters, dialogue and exposition are used to give us the "voice" of the story, and how knowing our theme or point of the story gives us that all-important ending. For everyone who thinks short story writing is too hard—or too easy—this workshop will help answer your questions as to what make short fiction work.

Rick Ollerman is the author of four novels–Turnabout, Shallow Secrets, Truth Always Kills, Mad Dog Barked–and the collection, Hardboiled, Noir and Gold Medals: Essays on Crime Fiction Writers From the ’50s Through the ‘90s. He edited and contributed to Paperback Confidential, containing 132 bios about writers from the paperback original era through the present. He is the editor of the crime fiction magazine Down & Out: The Magazine, the anthology Blood Work, and two more planned for 2019. His fifth novel, No Bad Days, will be released in 2019 as a sequel to his last two books.



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