*If the parking lot is full, free parking is available across the street at Notre Dame College.*
9:00-9:30 AM -- CHECK-IN, LIGHT BREAKFAST, HOT DRINKS. In Meeting Room A/B/C.
OPTIONAL, FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN THE FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE AT 1:45 PM: Drop off FOUR COPIES of the first page of your work-in-progress at check-in. (See guidelines below, under FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE at 1:45 PM.)
9:30 AM -- WELCOME & CONFERENCE OVERVIEW. In Meeting Room A/B/C.
Deanna R. Adams, Conference Coordinator
Laurie Kincer, William N. Skirball Writers' Center
9:40-10:20 a.m. -- Keynote: Why Write? Dr. Mary E. Weems, Writer in Residence at the William N. Skirball Writers' Center. In Meeting Room A/B/C.
Dr. Mary E. Weems will discuss the importance of writing, including why she started to write and the significance of practicing all aspects of the craft: reading across genres, writing regularly, developing first drafts, and the editing process, as well as participating in writing workshops, classes, and writing groups.
Dr. Weems is a poet, playwright, author, performer, imagination-intellect theorist and social/cultural foundations scholar. She is the author of 13 books, including Blackeyed: Plays and Monologues; Writings of Healing and Resistance: Empathy and the Imagination-Intellect; and Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect: I Speak From the Wound in My Mouth. Her five chapbooks include white, and she has written numerous poems, articles and book chapters.
Dr. Weems received a 2015 Cleveland Arts Prize for her full-length drama MEAT, and her play Another Way to Dance won Cleveland Public Theatre’s Chilcote Award. Both of her books of poems – For(e)closure and An Unmistakable Shade of Red and the Obama Chronicles – were finalists for Ohioana Book Awards. She has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Note: Sessions with an asterisk (*) include a writing exercise.
10:30-11:30 a.m. -- BREAKOUT SESSIONS, choose one:
1. The Art of Interviewing Sources for Your Nonfiction Book / Christopher Johnston (Nonfiction). Delve into professional interviewing techniques to mine information and colorful stories that are vital to shaping compelling, content-rich books. This workshop will cover how to effectively engage subjects, avoid barriers, and build trust with interview subjects. The session will also zero in on how to employ compassionate approaches to interviewing individuals who have suffered trauma.
2. * Poetry Power! / Dr. Mary E. Weems (Poetry). In this interactive workshop, Dr. Weems will focus on the importance of writing poetry, including to speak truth to power, share life experiences and observations. We will also discuss the importance of writing poetry to help the poet and others heal.
3. * The HeArt of Storytelling / Deanna Adams (Fiction/Memoir). Whether you’re writing fiction or a memoir, your story must mean something to the reader, get them emotionally involved. Deanna Adams will guide you through the key elements of storytelling by discussing how to create memorable fictional characters, or make real-life ones come alive.
11:30-11:45 a.m. -- BREAK & PREARRANGED EDITING SESSIONS. In Writers' Center Writing Rooms.
During four breaks today, winners whose names were drawn March 1st will meet with Judy Allen or Amandah T. Blackwell for an individual 15-minute editing session.
11:45 AM-12:45 p.m. -- BREAKOUT SESSIONS, choose one:
1. World Building in Sci-Fi and Fantasy / Kit Alloway (Fiction). Creating a new universe from scratch can be daunting. Alloway will teach you how to conceive, develop, populate, and decorate your new or future world by considering character, geography, and technology--and then how to keep track of everything!
2. Creating Diverse Characters in a Diverse World / Abby L. Vandiver (Fiction). Learn how to find the voices of your characters to make them authentic and believable, stepping out of yourself and into the lives of those not like you to create characters that look and act like real people.
3. Publishing after 50 / Annie Hogsett (Business): This author of three (so far) mysteries set in Cleveland, found her agent and her publisher in her sixties. In this session, she will share the joys and the challenges of being published after fifty—and beyond.
12:45-1:45 PM -- LUNCH BREAK PLUS BOOK SALE & AUTHOR SIGNINGS
Brown bag or go out. Restaurant map available at check-in table. Lunches may be eaten in the Writers' Center main room today but not elsewhere in the library.
1:30-1:45 PM -- PREARRANGED EDITING SESSIONS. In Writers’ Center Writing Rooms.
1:45-2:45 p.m. -- FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE. Panelists Dr. Mary Weems, Annie Hogsett, and Deanna Adams. In Meeting Room A/B/C.
Submit FOUR COPIES of the first page of your work in progress (prose only, fiction or nonfiction) at the check-in table before 11:00 a.m. Submissions must be double-spaced, Times New Roman-12, with title and genre indicated at the top of the page. DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME. Each panelist will raise a hand at the point where she would stop reading and will comment on what stopped them. Pages will be randomly selected.
2:45-3:00 p.m. -- BREAK & PREARRANGED EDITING SESSIONS. In Writers' Center Writing Rooms.
3:00-4:00 p.m. -- BREAKOUT SESSIONS, choose one:
1. Ins and Outs of the Publishing World / Brandi Larsen (Business). In this session, Brandi will talk about different types of publishing houses, what editors expect, and the roles at a traditional publisher.
2. * Writing & Submitting Your Short Stories / Marie Vibbert (Fiction). How do you fit a compelling emotional arc in one thousand to five thousand words? This session will cover plot structure, beginnings and endings, and common pitfalls new writers make in crafting story. Learn about the different genres of short stories, the lengths to shoot for, and how to follow a story from initial idea to final sale.
3. * Breaking into a National Magazine as a Freelance Writer / Mark Oprea (Nonfiction). Explore the ways in which a writer just starting out can build their way into national publications. Mark will share valuable tips and advice for getting the attention of editors and other professionals in the business. There will also be a “pitch prompt”—a writing exercise to get you on your way to publication!
4:00-4:15 p.m. -- PREARRANGED EDITING SESSIONS
4:00-4:30 p.m. -- DOOR PRIZES, BOOK SALE & AUTHOR SIGNINGS. In Meeting Room A/B/C.
Deanna Adams is an award-winning writer, speaker, essayist, and author of eight books, both fiction and nonfiction. She is the longtime coordinator of this conference, the “Book Whisperer” for Cuyahoga County Public Library, and teaches online writing courses for the Pennwriters organization. Her book, The Writer’s GPS: A Guide to Writing & Selling Your Book, instructs aspiring writers how to get their book written from beginning to end. Her website is deannaadams.com.
Judy Allen has worked as a copywriter and freelance writer for 15 years, editing manuscripts for fiction, non-fiction, young adult, children's, and other genres. Her goal is to edit your manuscript with all of the enthusiasm and integrity it deserves. She has been an editor for this conference since 2012. Visit www. zoneexcel.com/editing/ for more information on her editing services.
Kit Alloway writes sci-fi and historical fiction for teenagers. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Spalding University, graduated from the Feminist Leadership Academy of Cincinnati, and owns Belonging Books, a small feminist romance press. She is also an accomplished mixed media artist and an award-winning quilter.
Amandah Tayler Blackwell is a creative, servant leader, content and digital marketing professional, published author, editor, and screenwriter who provides editing and content and digital marketing consulting services. Additionally, she has written several nonfiction books and screenplays and participated in the 48 Hour Film Project. Amandah is developing children's picture books and painting Sci-Fi, tech, travel, animal, and seasonal-inspired abstract art. Visit Savvy-Writer.com for more information.
Annie Hogsett is the author of the “Somebody’s Bound to Wind Up Dead Mysteries," published by Poisoned Pen/Sourcebooks. She lives (and writes) ten yards from the shores of Lake Erie in Collinwood with her husband, Bill, and their cat, Cujo. She has never won a $550 million lottery jackpot. The Devil’s Own Game is third in her series.
Christopher Johnston is a freelance journalist, playwright, and director. He has published 3,000+ articles in publications including American Theatre, Christian Science Monitor, and Scientific American. He teaches playwriting and creative nonfiction for Cleveland State University, Literary Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Public Library's Writer’s Center. His book, Shattering Silences: Strategies to Prevent Sexual Assault, Heal Survivors, and Bring Assailants to Justice (Skyhorse) was published in May 2018.
Brandi Larsen is a writer, speaker, and coach who connects creative people to each other. Her publishing expertise helped create New York Times bestsellers, her journalism accomplishments received Emmy nominations, and her chutzpah propelled her to persist in spite of the impossible. Learn more at https://brandilarsen.com/.
Mark Oprea is a journalist based in Ohio City. He’s written for the Cleveland Magazine, OZY, Narratively and the Pacific Standard, and worked as a foreign correspondent in Mexico in 2018. His work has been featured in the Reader’s Digest, Longreads and The Week.
Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Abby L. Vandiver has written as an indie as well as a traditionally published author. Abby has written more than twenty self-published books. Penguin Berkley will publish the first book in her new cozy mystery series, Ice Cream Parlor Mysteries, beginning May 12.
Marie Vibbert has sold over 40 short stories to professional publications such as Analog Science Fiction & Fact, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Vice's Motherboard, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, and more. Her works have been translated into Chinese and Vietnamese. By day she is a computer programmer at Case Western Reserve University.