Main Menu
writers conference

15th Annual Writers Conference

Navigating the Publishing Landscape

Download the 2019 Brochure

Writers Conference Brochure

UNM Continuing Education offers the fifteenth annual Writers 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. After you register, contact Lorena Hughes at to sign up for your ten minute pitch.

As of February 7th, all the slots for agents Stacey Glick and Annie Hwang have been filled for the pitch sessions.

Tuition: $199

Date: Saturday, April 13, 8:30am-4:30pm

Location: UNMCE North Building, Albuquerque, NM

Download the Writers Conference Brochure

Register for the Conference

This event is covered under tuition remission for UNM staff and faculty, and students receive a 20% discount.

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. 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. For 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. For nonfiction projects, 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, and professional articles. Do not bring your manuscript to the conference.

Conference Topics

  • What You Should Know About Publishing Today
  • The Best Writing Lessons Learned From 10 Years of Interviewing Bestsellers
  • How to be an Overnight Success in 30 Years or Less

FREE 1-on-1

Attendees who enroll by April 1st 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 to sign up for your ten minute pitch.

Workshop Leaders

Chuck Greaves

E. L. Doctorow famously likened writing a novel to driving a car at night; you can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. In this interactive workshop we’ll take a birds-eye view of the process, from trip planning to navigation, from basic mechanics to full-throttle driving, all while avoiding the potholes, dead ends, and breakdowns that threaten our arrival.

James McGrath Morris

You can’t get away any longer with being boring in non-fiction. This workshop will provide proven non-fiction narrative techniques to give energy, suspense, and propulsion to your prose.

Susie Salom


There are as many ways to approach the telling of the story as there are writers to tell it. Author Susie Salom believes that stories are fully-formed creatures waiting to be heard, first and foremost by their writers. During this workshop, she will lead a highly-interactive question-and-answer session on what it means to trust your story to tell itself through you.

Amanda Searcy

You put in years of hard work trying to get your foot in the publishing door, but what happens when that door finally opens? Authors are often caught off guard by both the publishing process and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with being a published author. From getting “the call” from an agent to seeing your book on the bookstore shelf, we’ll talk about the second half of the publishing journey from the author’s perspective.

Conference Agenda

8:30-9:00 Conference Registration and Check-In  
9:00-9:05 Welcome to UNM’s Fifteenth Annual Writers Conference Loree Nalin, Program Supervisor
9:05-9:15 Let SouthWest Writers Help You Rose Marie Kern, President
9:15-9:30 Introduction of Faculty Lorena Hughes, Conference Coordinator
Instructors: James McGrath Morris, Chuck Greaves, Susie Salom, and Amanda Searcy
9:30-10:30 Keynote Address  Jessica Strawser, Novelist and Editor-at-Large at Writer’s Digest
10:30-10:45 Break/Book Signing with Keynote Speaker and Faculty
10:45-12:00 Publishing Today: Q & A Panel of Editors and Agents Editors: Stephen Hull, Haley Weaver, Kristine Swartz, and Laura Stanfill
Agents: Stacey Glick, Jessica Watterson, Annie Hwang, and Margaret Bail
12:00-1:00 Lunch with Editors, Agents and Instructors  
1:00-2:00 Featured Speaker: Darynda Jones, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author  
2:00-2:15 Break / Book Signing with Featured Speaker and Faculty  
2:15-3:15 Workshops Chuck Greaves, Writing the Novel: From Concept to Outline to Final Draft
Susie Salom, The Story Knows
3:15-4:15 Workshops James McGrath Morris, Ten Keys to Successful Narrative Nonfiction
Amanda Searcy, All the Things I Wish I’d Known about Publishing
4:15-4:30 Book Signing with Faculty

Download the Writers Conference Brochure

Writer's Conference Speakers

Jessica Strawser


Jessica Strawser is the editor-at-large at Writer’s Digest, where she served as editorial director for nearly a decade and became known for her in-depth cover interviews with such luminaries as David Sedaris and Alice Walker. She’s the author of the book club favorites Almost Missed You and Not That I Could Tell, a Book of the Month selection and Barnes & Noble Best New Fiction pick for March 2018, and Forget You Know Me. She has written for The New York Times Modern Love, Publishers Weekly and other fine venues. She lives with her husband and two children in Cincinnati.

Daryna Jones


Darynda Jones is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author who has won numerous awards for her work, including a prestigious RITA®, a Golden Heart®, and a Daphne du Maurier. With her work translated into over 17 languages, Darynda was born a storyteller. She lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.

Haley Weaver


Haley Weaver is an Assistant Editor at Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. She has worked with a number of New York Times bestselling authors including Lisa Jewell, Jennifer Weiner, Lucinda Riley, and Janet Mock. For her list, she is looking for innovative and compelling stories representing a diverse array of experiences, including those of LGBTQ+, people of color, and diverse religious backgrounds. She loves sharp wit, dynamic plot structures, distinctive voices, and shocking twists.

Kristine Swartz


Kristine Swartz is a graduate of New York University and joined the Berkley Publishing Group in 2012. In 2015 she won the RWA NYC Chapter’s Editor of the Year award. She is currently an Associate Editor. She’s looking to acquire in all genres of romance, women’s fiction, and fantasy, with a particular interest in diverse stories.

Laura Stanfill


Laura Stanfill is a novelist and the publisher of Forest Avenue Press, which she founded in 2012. She is interested in acquiring unagented literary fiction and amplifying underrepresented voices. She keeps her catalog small to maximize the hands-on attention she provides to her authors. Laura earned a full scholarship to the 2018 Yale Publishing Course from the Independent Book Publishers Association. Publishers Weekly named her a 2017 Star Watch Honoree.

Stephen Hull


Stephen Hull is Director of the University of New Mexico Press. He began his publishing life at Little, Brown & Co. in 1982, and has held positions in sales, editorial, marketing, and management. He has worked for “big five” publishers, small independents, university presses, and for eight years owned his own company. UNM Press publishes select fiction and poetry; biography and memoir; history, anthropology, Latin American, and Native American studies; sports, and popular culture.

Stacey Glick


Stacey Glick joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret in 1999 after working in film and television development for five years. She’s worked at PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, where she looked for book projects to be adapted into feature films, and as a story editor at Hearst Entertainment, where she scouted material for television movies. Stacey is a former child actress who appeared on television, in theater, and in feature films. She has a wide-ranging and eclectic client list, and is interested in many subjects: memoir, parenting, cooking and food, psychology, science, health and wellness, lifestyle, current events, pop culture, and select adult contemporary fiction. On the children’s side: YA, middle grade, nonfiction, and picture books.

Jessica Watterson


Jessica Watterson has been an agent with Sandra Dijkstra and Associates Literary Agency since 2013. Jessica is always on the hunt for new and diverse projects, and is most interested in all genres of romance, millennial women’s fiction, young adult, middle grade, and select picture books. She’s drawn to fun, fresh voices, and character driven stories that keep a reader turning the page needing to know what happens next.

Annie Hwang


Annie Hwang is a literary agent at Folio Literary Management where she represents literary fiction and select nonfiction. She is actively building her list and gravitates toward high-concept literary fiction featuring diverse voices; rich historical fiction where the setting takes on a life of its own; literary thrillers with dark psychological grit; and nuanced speculative/science-fiction that questions what it means to be human in the age of technology. Underrepresented voices occupy a special place in her heart and she is particularly drawn to braided narratives, complex characters, and layered plots. A California native and former journalist, Annie is constantly on the hunt for gifted storytelling that stretches its genre to new heights.

Margaret Bail


Margaret Bail is an agent with Fuse Literary. With years of experience editing manuscripts and teaching English, she looks forward to working with new and established authors to help develop their voice and craft. Margaret is interested in adult fiction in romance (no Christian or inspirational), soft science fiction, mystery, thrillers, adventure, historical fiction (no WWII era), and fantasy. In nonfiction, she’s interested in memoirs with a unique hook, and cookbooks with a strong platform.

Chuck Greaves


Chuck Greaves spent 25 years as an L.A. trial lawyer before turning his talents to fiction. He has been a finalist for most of the major awards in crime writing including the Shamus, Macavity, Lefty, and Audie, as well as the New Mexico-Arizona, Oklahoma, and Colorado Book Awards. He is the author of five novels, most recently Tom & Lucky (Bloomsbury), a Wall Street Journal “Best Books of 2015” selection and finalist for the 2016 Harper Lee Prize.

James McGrath Morris


James McGrath Morris is a Santa Fe writer whose books include the New York Times bestselling Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, The First Lady of the Black Press, which was awarded the Benjamin Hooks National Book Prize for the best work in civil rights history, and Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power. He is currently working on a biography of Tony Hillerman.

Susie Salom


Susie Salom is a former educator, copy editor and columnist. Her middle grade novel, Kyle Finds Her Way, was published by AAL/Scholastic in October 2016. It is available wherever books are sold and through select Scholastic Book Fairs.

Amanda Searcy


Amanda Searcy is the author of young adult psychological thrillers The Truth Beneath the Lies and Watch You Burn (Random House/Delacorte). She works in collection development and acquisitions for a large public library system and loves chocolate, cats, and curling up with a good book.

UNMUNM Tuition Remission

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

Learn more about UNM Tuition Remission