The 32nd Annual Pennwriters Conference features three days of workshops, panels, networking and learning to help you learn, grow, soar! Friday, Saturday and Sunday feature an open attendance slate of one-hour workshops on all things writing. The schedule is structured with open attendance, so you can take whichever classes appeal to you. Attendees will have 40+ hours of sessions to choose from. Our faculty is comprised of published authors, literary agents and editors, and other writing industry professionals. Pitch appointments are available at no additional fee.
Meet our Keynotes
The All-Time Best Writing Lessons Learned From a Decade of Interviewing the All-Time Best Writers
Friday evening keynote 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, now new in paperback, and Not That I Could Tell, a Book of the Month selection and Barnes & Noble Best New Fiction pick for March 2018 (both from St. Martin’s Press). Her third novel, Forget You Know Me, is forthcoming in 2019. She has written for The New York Times Modern Love, Publishers Weekly and other fine venues, and is a popular presenter at writing conferences and book festivals. She lives with her husband and two children in Cincinnati.
Jason Jack Miller
What Writers Make
Saturday luncheon keynote Jason Jack Miller knows it’s silly to hold onto the Bohemian ideals of literature, music, and love above all else. But he doesn’t care.
His own adventures paddling wild mountain rivers and playing Pearl Jam covers for less-than-enthusiastic crowds inspired his Murder Ballads and Whiskey Series. He wrote Hellbender as a student in Seton Hill University’s prestigious Writing Popular Fiction program, where he is now a mentor and adjunct instructor. The novel won the Arthur J. Rooney Award for Fiction, the MacLaughlin Scholarship, and was a finalist for the Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award.
When Jason isn’t writing, he’s with Heidi, his wife, either in Paris, perusing the bouquinistes or in the Cinque Terre trying to taste all of the focaccia. And for the rest of the year he plays the role of Mr. Miller, mild-mannered science teacher at Uniontown Area High School.
Meet our Thursday Pre-Conference Intensive Faculty
The Crafts of Fiction: The Nuts, the Bolts, and Hoisting the Girders into Place
Timons Esaias is a satirist, poet, essayist and short fictionator. His works have appeared in twenty languages. He won the Asimov’s Readers Award and the Louis Award for poetry and was a finalist for the BSFA. He teaches in the Seton Hill University MFA in Writing Popular Fiction.
Author Marketing Master Class
Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach with thirty-plus-years of marketing and publicity experience. Her book, WRITE BRAIN/LEFT BRAIN, bridges the gap between creative writer and marketing author. Her approach to author marketing is creative, unique, and teaches the difference between selling, and allowing readers to buy
Coroner Lyell P. Cook
Coroners: Their history, What they do, What they see
Lyell P. Cook is the Coroner for Erie County, Pennsylvania. He was elected in 1999 and oversees one of the largest Coroner’s Office in PA. He served as Deputy Coroner for 16 years and has overseen in excess of 6,000 death investigations and autopsies for Erie and 13 other counties in northwestern Pennsylvania during his career. His office investigates all sudden and suspicious deaths and all deaths due to violence, which include suicide. He has given over 100 interviews including Primetime with Diane Sawyer, BBC, Japanese National Media, Australian Television, Limbaugh and O’Reilly radio shows, Nancy Grace, and the New York Times.
Meet our Friday Networking Luncheon Speaker
Listen for the Lyrics
JD is a wordsmith by profession and a speaker/educator by trade. Her background is an eclectic blend that incorporates time served in industry with General Electric Company; in community service, as the Director of the Clarion Chamber of Commerce; and private business, Advertising Manager for a local jeweler. A Penn state employee for three-decades, she is the director of the transformative state leadership program, the Pennsylvania Rural-Urban Leadership Program (RULE). She is an international public speaker on leadership & communication topics. A member of the National Speakers Association, she has been featured in keynotes in five countries and 20 states. A 10-year trustee of the State System, JD is the Chairwoman for Clarion University Council of Trustees.
JD has published articles on leadership and communication for magazines as far away as Australia and as close as local governance publications.
JD is a leadership grower. She views her job as an opportunity to help others find their voice. A once avid marathoner, she cross trains by boxing and weight lifting. She has been directed by a personal trainer for 25 years. She lives in an Amish built home called the Happy Valley Villa with her new husband, Hank, and Whiskey River (canine, not libation).
Meet our Friday Published Penns Luncheon Speaker
Your Next Big Idea: Developing and Heightening the Plot of Your WIP
Siobhan Vivian is the New York Times best-selling author of STAY SWEET, THE LAST BOY AND GIRL IN THE WORLD, and THE LIST. Her novels have been translated for publication in more than 15 countries worldwide. She is a former editor at Alloy Entertainment, one of the most successful commercial book packagers in the United States (SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS, GOSSIP GIRL, etc.). She currently teaches creative writing at The University of Pittsburgh. Visit her online at www.siobhanvivian.com.
Meet our Agents, Editors, Publisher
Kaitlyn Johnson, agent, Corvisiero Literacy Agency
After receiving a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, Kaitlyn refused to leave the concept of nightly homework behind. As well as being a junior agent for Corvisiero Literary Agency, she is also a freelance editor at her own company, K. Johnson Editorial, and has worked as a copyeditor for academic publisher codeMantra, a YA editor for Accent Press, and a Conference Assistant for GrubStreet, Boston. She has written various articles for Writer’s Digest and has had a flash fiction story published in the anthology A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed.
Amy Bishop, Agent – Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC
Amy Elizabeth Bishop joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret in 2015 after interning for them in 2014. After a short stint as the financial & subrights assistant, she started assisting Jane Dystel, and in addition to managing her own list, now also oversees the office and the interns. Her list is wide-ranging, encompassing both adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as YA. She’s always on the lookout for fiction from diverse authors, stories with a darker edge, and smart narrative nonfiction that’s historical in bent or addresses issues of politics and feminism. You can find her on Twitter at @amylizbishop.
Bibi Lewis, Agent – Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency
Bibi Lewis is an associate agent and subsidiary rights manager at the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. She is actively building her list in Children’s Fiction and Non-Fiction and Adult Fiction. When she isn’t working she is probably knitting.
Danielle Dieterich, Editor – G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Random House
Danielle Dieterich is an associate editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Random House. After graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in English, she began her career in publishing in the publicity department of Dutton Books, and joined Putnam in 2015. She is interested in suspense and psychological thrillers, as well as book club fiction and smart women’s fiction, both contemporary and historical. She is drawn to stories with distinct voices, dark themes, and a strong sense of place, and enjoys high-concept or speculative twists. She has worked with bestselling and award-winning authors such as Clive Cussler, Jan Karon, Lisa Gardner, Lisa Scottoline, C.J. Box, Chloe Benjamin, and Jeffery Deaver. She lives in Manhattan with her husband.
Rhonda Penders – The Wild Rose Press
Rhonda is President and Editor-in-Chief of The Wild Rose Press. She and her business partner, RJ Morris, opened the company back in 2006 and continue to be the sole owners today. TWRP, as it is affectionately known, is home to authors worldwide and currently has over 3000 active titles. Although started as a romance only publisher, they opened their garden gate to adult mainstream fiction (including historical fiction, science fiction, erotica, thrillers, etc.) in 2013. They also publish YA but do not work with children’s books, cookbooks, memoirs, or poetry. They publish in ebook format as well as print and audio. In January 2018 TWRP was named Best Publisher of the Year by an independent study for the 9th year. Rhonda lives in Upstate New York in a picturesque hamlet nestled along the Erie Canal. She and her husband, Scott, have been married 33 years and have three adult sons, a cat and an annoying spoiled Siberian Husky. She enjoys writing, boating, cooking and baking and is never happier then when all her sons are home and around her table.
Click here to meet the rest of our 2019 Pennwriters Conference Faculty and view workshop descriptions.
One-on-one agent/editor/publisher appointments available at no additional fee
Our agents, editor and publisher will be leading workshop sessions and participating in panel discussions. Bring your questions about the publishing process and hear these experts talk about the state of the industry.
Register for the Friday night read and critique sessions and get feedback on your writing from industry pros and published authors.
Pittsburgh Airport Marriott Hotel, May 17-19.