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writers conference

15th Annual Writers Conference

Writing: From Start to Sales XIV

Download the Brochure

Writers Conference Brochure

UNM Continuing Education offers the Fourteenth annual Writer's Conference. Editors and agents from New York City will join with authors and teachers to explore the latest trends in publishing including short stories, novels, narrative non-fiction, poetry and memoir. In addition individual pitch sessions with agents and editors at no additional cost will be offered to those who register before April 1. Attendees may only choose one person, but may ask questions of other speakers throughout the day.

Save the Date for the 2019 Conference! Saturday, April 13, 2019 8:30am-4:30pm

Location: UNMCE North Building, Albuquerque, NM

Download the 2018 Writers Conference Brochure


Connect with Industry Experts

Learn about the market and the craft of writing. Make contact with editors, agents, and other writers. Socialize with people who care about the same things you do in an inspiring and enjoyable environment. As you prepare for the conference, think of questions you’d like answered during the 90 minute panel. Write them down and be prepared to take the microphone and ask them.
Take advantage of the opportunity to network with other writers, teachers, agents and editors at breaks and during lunch. Move around from table to table and engage in the conversations.
Check out the book table, not only for books written by the participants, but for additional books on the craft of writing in your genre, whether it be historical fiction or poetry or memoir.
Follow-up: Accept business cards and take the time to jot a note on the back of the card about the person who gave you the card, in case you decide to follow up with a new connection.

Prepare Your Pitch

Most writers are nervous. Remember editors and agents are human, they have as much invested in finding a great new writer as you have in being that writer. Be clear, precise, and prepared. Outline the premise of your project. Fiction: Three things will get the agent or editor hooked on your project: Setting, protagonist, and problem. Deliver those briefly, and with punch, and you have a basic pitch. Be brief and focus on the elements that give your story plausibility, inherent conflict, originality, and gut emotional appeal.
If your project is nonfiction, talk about the subject, your unique slant on it, your research, and your qualifications.
Publishing credentials are helpful to include: Prior novel publication, short stories in recognized magazines, journalistic experience, professional articles, and writing all indicate you have professional experience as a writer.
Bring a two-page, single-spaced synopsis and be prepared to give it to agents, editors, and other writers as the opportunity presents itself and seems appropriate. Do not bring your manuscript to the conference.


Conference Topics

  • What You Should Know About Publishing Today
  • Balancing Creativity and Practicality: Working with the Market Without Losing Your Voice
  • Pitch Perfect, Brenda Drake, Featured Speaker

FREE 1-on-1

Attendees who enroll by April 1 will get a FREE one-on-one ten minute meeting with the editor or agent of their choice to “pitch” their writing project! YOU MUST CONTACT LORENA HUGHES BY EMAIL TO SCHEDULE THIS PITCH MEETING. You may only choose one person, but may ask questions of other speakers throughout the day. These meetings will take place during concurrent workshops. After you register, contact Lorena Hughes at loreabedh@gmail.com to sign up for your ten minute pitch.


2018 Workshop Leaders

SUSIE SALOM

I can’t hear you! Finding and Raising Your Voice
Voice is not just something an artist needs to cultivate in order to pull away from the pack during the submission process. It is a fundamental expression of one’s relationship to oneself and how effectively s/he transmits his/her message to the rest of the world. During this workshop, novelist Susie Salom will outline exercises for the continuous discovery and fine-tuning of the chord each one of us is designed to project as s/he enters the cultural dialogue with his/her work. Come prepared to make an actual sound with your speaking/singing voice. Depending on class size, the goal is for everyone to be heard.

JILL ORR

Wait, wait... TELL ME NOW!
Suspense is an essential element of any story. It’s that exquisite combination of anticipation and anxiety that keeps readers turning the pages until the very end. In this workshop, we will discuss the fundamentals of suspense including foreshadowing, pacing, and escalating tension. We will then explore specific strategies you can use to create super suspenseful stories that will positively torture delight your readers and make your book impossible to put down.

JOYCELYN CAMPBELL

Develop Compelling and Realistic Characters Using the Enneagram
The Enneagram is a rich source of potential internal and interpersonal conflict. It can help you develop insight into the hearts and minds of people who are different from you (whether they are real or imaginary), so you understand them so deeply that your readers can’t help but resonate with them. There are other personality typing systems, but the Enneagram is so comprehensive and multifaceted, it allows for plenty of nuance and variation. Typing does not equal stereotyping.

ROBERT F. GISH

When Enough is Enough: When and How to End a Short Story
The purpose or premise of a short story, similar to the thesis in an essay, is organically implicit throughout all of its aspects, most especially the opening and closing. Part to part and part to whole components of coherence and unity depend on integrating title, plot, character, setting and theme. How a story begins points the way to how it will end as either a closed or expansive, anticipated or surprising structure, suggesting and guiding all narrative and descriptive choice.


2018 Conference Agenda

EventTimePresenter(s)
8:30-9:00 Conference Registration and Check-In  
9:00-9:05 Welcome to UNM’s Fourteenth Annual Writers Conference Marie McGhee, Program Supervisor
9:05-9:15 Let SouthWest Writers Help You Sarah Baker, President
9:15-9:30 Introduction of Faculty Lorena Hughes, Conference Coordinator
Instructors: Susie Salom, Jill Orr, Joycelyn Campbell, and Robert F. Gish
9:30-10:30 New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig  
10:30-10:45 Break  
10:45-12:00 Publishing Today: Q & A Panel of Editors and Agents Editors: Colleen Bates, Liz Pelletier, Rhoda Belleza, and Kait Feldmann
Agents: Laura Dail, John Cusick, Sharon Pelletier, and Margaret Bail
12:00-1:00 Lunch with Editors, Agents and Instructors  
1:00-2:00 Featured Speaker: Brenda Drake, Pitch Perfect  
2:00-2:15 Break  
2:15-3:15 Workshops Susie Salom, Finding your Voice
Robert F. Gish, Short Story Writing
3:15-4:15 Workshops Jill Orr, Structure of Suspense
Joycelyn Campbell, Character Development

Download the 2018 Writers Conference Brochure


2018 Writer's Conference Speakers


LAUREN WILLIG

LAUREN WILLIG

Lauren Willig is the author of several New York Times and USA Today bestselling works of historical fiction, including The Forgotten Room, The Ashford Affair, and the Pink Carnation series. A graduate of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

BRENDA DRAKE

BRENDA DRAKE

Brenda Drake is a New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1), Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2), Touching Fate (Fated Series #1), Cursing Fate (Fated Series #2), and Thunderstruck. She grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. She hosts workshops and contests for writers such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad.

COLLEEN BATES

COLLEEN BATES

Coleen Bates is the publisher of Prospect Park Books, one of the leading trade publishers in Southern California. Prospect Park publishes fiction, cookbooks, regional, and humor/gift titles. A Los Angeles native who earned a journalism degree from USC, Colleen has a wide range of experience, from radio news writing to editing guidebooks, newspaper editing to magazine feature writing, restaurant criticism to writing books.

LIZ PELLETIER

LIZ PELLETIER

Liz Pelletier is the CEO and publisher of Entangled Publishing. In 2011, Liz channeled her love of romantic fiction and co-founded Entangled Publishing. Her mission statement was simple: offer authors the highest royalties in the industry, combined with an agile publishing program, intense focus on quality, and market-driven analysis. Entangled has gone from a small start-up to a powerhouse romance publisher, with more than 1200 titles released to date.

RHODA BELLEZA

RHODA BELLEZA

Rhoda Belleza is an editor at Imprint, a part of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. She acquires picture books, as well as middle grade and young adult fiction. She loves a story where young people save the world and/or save themselves in any genre or any world.

KAIT FELDMANN

KAIT FELDMANN

Kait Feldmann is an Associate Editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, where she is building a list of picture books, graphic novels, and international books in translation. A few of the titles she worked on include Newbery Honor-winner Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, New York Times bestseller The Marvels by Brian Selznick, and Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sís. Kait is a strong advocate for diverse representation and is always looking for meaningful, character-driven stories with humor and heart.

LAURA DAIL

LAURA DAIL

Laura Dail graduated from Duke University and received her Master’s degree in Spanish from Middlebury College. Her agency, Laura Dail Literary Agency, Inc., has represented fiction and nonfiction for more than 20 years. They represent a wide range of diverse authors, including bestselling authors of children’s fiction, journalists and historians, writers of historical fiction, and literary authors. For more info: www.LDLAInc.com.

JOHN M. CUSICK

JOHN M. CUSICK

John M. Cusick is an agent with Folio Jr. / Folio Literary Management, representing picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels. He is also the author of GIRL PARTS and CHERRY MONEY BABY (Candlewick Press), as well as a regular speaker at writers conferences. His client list includes New York Times and international bestsellers and award-winners. You can find him online at www.JohnMCusick.com and on twitter, @johnmcusick.

SHARON PELLETIER

SHARON PELLETIER

Sharon Pelletier joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret in 2013 after working for Europa Editions and Barnes & Noble. While her interests are broad, Sharon is especially seeking upmarket fiction, including unexpected suspense fiction; smart, complex women’s fiction; and hearty, unforgettable book club fiction. Sharon is eager for compelling, fierce narrative nonfiction by journalists and experts, and emerging voices with a growing platform who can speak to pop culture, feminism, sports, social justice, and/or religion.

Gordon Warnock

GORDON WARNOCK

Gordon Warnock is a founding partner at Fuse Literary, serving as a literary agent and the editorial director of Short Fuse Publishing. His nonfiction tastes are broad, and he especially enjoys self-help, pop-culture, current events, business, and memoir for adults through YA. His fiction list includes high-concept suspense, women's fiction, and contemporary literary fiction for adults through YA. He also represents graphic novels and verse novels for adults through MG.

SUSIE SALOM

SUSIE SALOM

Susie Salom is a former educator, copy editor and columnist. Her contemporary novel, Madame Thunderbolt, was awarded first place in the Mainstream Literary category in the 2012 Southwest Writers’ Annual Contest. Her middle grade novel, Kyle Finds Her Way, was published by AAL/Scholastic in October 2016. It is available wherever books are sold and will be carried by Scholastic Book Fairs in the Spring 2018.

JILL ORR

JILL ORR

Jill Orr is the author of the Riley Ellison mysteries (Prospect Park Books). Her first novel, THE GOOD BYLINE, was published in April 2018 and the second in the series, THE BAD BREAK, will be released in April 2018. Orr is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime and she serves on the board of the Unbound Book Festival. She lives in Columbia, Missouri with her husband and two children.

JOYCELYN CAMPBELL

JOYCELYN CAMPBELL

Joycelyn Campbell has been a Certified Enneagram Instructor for over 20 years, but has always been a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. She presented twice at the International Enneagram Association’s annual conference on Journal Writing and the Enneagram and Creativity and the Enneagram. She has been published in the Enneagram Monthly and the South West Writers newsletter.

ROBERT F. GISH

ROBERT F. GISH

Robert F. Gish is the author of three short story collections and numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction. He is past fiction editor for SHORT STORY QUARTERLY and a contributing editor to THE BLOOMSBURY REVIEW.


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UNM Staff, Faculty & Retirees: You may use your Personal Enrichment Tuition Remission for Writers Conference.

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