The 32nd Annual Pennwriters Conference will be held at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott on May 17-19, 2019. Preconference intensives are May 16th, 2019. Here is your first look at the keynote speakers and the content of the intensive workshops. Stay tuned for more information about all the terrific offerings of this year’s conference.
Friday evening keynote Jessica Strawser
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.
Saturday luncheon keynote 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.
Twitter and Instagram @jasonjackmiller
Jessica is doing the following workshops:
- Building Suspense by Acting Out of Character – Once you’ve established who your characters are, you can thicken your plot by giving them reasons to act out of character. (Think of the meek heroine who suddenly lashes out, the reliable parent who runs off, or the villain who shows an unexpected kindness—they all make you want to know why.) Learn how this underutilized technique can be used on a large scale (propelling an entire novel’s plot) or a small one (adding twists, turns and interest) to create page-turning stories sure to satisfy.
- How to Become a Regular Contributor to Any Publication – Becoming a regular contributor is the dream scenario in terms of steady paychecks, easier-to-come-by assignments, and more byline opportunities for freelance writers, and yet so many freelancers go about this the wrong way. This session teaches you how to make ANY assignment the first of many, build relationships with editors, recognize opportunities other writers miss, earn more money with less effort, and strengthen your freelance writing career without driving yourself query-crazy.
Jason is doing the following workshops:
- Writing Anthropologically – How do we incorporate elements of different cultures into our writing? By being respectful, and by understanding how culture works. In this module we will examine the effects of language, tradition, religion, and art on culture, and develop ways to incorporate them into our worlds, whether real or imagined.
- A Fantastic Geography – A good setting relies on the drama of place to add additional layers of tension. In this module, we will look at some of Earth’s most amazing locales, the science that created them, and ways to get them into your stories. Includes a research component and writing exercises to make this directly applicable to your current work in progress.
THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2019
All Day Intensive with Timons Esaias (9-4 lunch included)
Morning Intensive with Deborah Riley-Magnus (9-12)
Afternoon Intensive with Lyell Cook (1-4)
Full Day – Timons Esaias
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.
The Crafts of Fiction: The Nuts, the Bolts, and Hoisting the Girders into Place
This instructor thinks vague writing advice doesn’t help you put words on the page, and he knows that what folks really need are Tools That They Can Use. This workshop will emphasize a wide variety of specific procedures to get the story on the page, and then rewrite it into a publishable product. There will be exercises, examples, tricks, and warnings. The plan is to touch on ALL the major crafts that go into fiction, and to take actual steps toward mastery.
Subjects to include:
- A variety of approaches to the First Draft, because there is no single path
- Finding a Plot [using Orson Scott Card’s MICE Quotient, and elements of my “Muddle in the Middle” workshop]
[with very specific devices]
[again, with specific devices]
Point of View [which is the whole shooting match, for crying out loud] & Tim’s POV Voice Chart Non-neutrality
[which includes injecting Conflict, because the life of a fictional
character must be hard]
Diction [Using the right word doesn’t mean using a word from the Thesaurus that you don’t actually understand] & Dialogue Those pesky final edits Exercises on most or all of the above
Workshop benefits include an Esaias critique of ten manuscript pages for each registered participant [submitted either before or after the workshop], and access to a number of Esaias’s written lecturelets. Also malt balls, for participation.
It is suggested that participants bring some of their own text to work on during the workshop.
Half-Day (Morning) Deborah Riley-Magnus
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.
Author Marketing Master Class
Time to learn real marketing. This new, intense, informative Author Marketing Masterclass tops anything you’ve tried before. It not only teaches proven Author Marketing techniques, but makes sure you master those techniques BEFORE you leave.
Standing Apart and Above
- What makes your book different?
- Unique Hook guidance (©SuperGenres)
- Who to market to, and why
- The difference between Selling, and Allowing People to Buy
- Powerful ©StimulusPosts
Platforms World Tour & Best Practices
- Unique Hook social media marketing
- Interlock the RIGHT social networks for best results
- Simple Author Social Network Marketing Time Management
Living it up with Live Events
- It’s more than a launch. Why author events work, and which kinds of events work best
- Unique locations for live and online events
- Locating the decision maker and crafting the perfect query/proposal
Half Day (Afternoon) Lyell Cook
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. The Coroner’s office is also authorized to investigate all deaths due to contagious disease constituting a public health hazard. Lyell is a past president of Pennsylvania State Coroner’s Association. He is a Certified embalming instructor and lecturer to EMS, fire departments, hospitals, funeral directors and physicians. Lyell is a graduate of Pennsylvania Coroner’s Academy and is certified by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators and International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners. He was appointed by Governor Corbett to Pennsylvania Coroner’s Education Board. 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.
Coroners: Their history, What they do, What they see
- The History of Coroners – where it all began and why
- Difference between a coroner and a medical examiner
- How to determine the circumstances, manner, and cause of death
- Unusual ways some people died
- Slide presentation of different causes of deaths, entry/exit bullet wounds, knife wounds
- How to estimate the time of death
- When and how an autopsy is performed
- Statistics on causes of death
- Procedures for collecting evidence at the scene
- Interesting cases he has worked on
Mr. Cook encourages attendees to ask lots of questions, general and specific, related to whatever book they might be working on. His presentation is packed with his extensive knowledge of the duties of a coroner and his good sense of humor.Share this: