Skip to main content

Contact Info

Pennwriters, Inc.
PO Box 685
Dalton, PA 18414
info@Pennwriters.org

Online Course

Courses & Testimonials

Connect With Us

Add Me To Your Mailing List
HomePresenter Bios/Classes

2020 Workshops


All of our workshops are open seating. Simply register to attend the conference when registration opens in February then have a seat in whatever workshops interest you the day of the event.




Agent Noah Ballard

Noah is an agent with Curtis Brown, Ltd. He studied creative writing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and began his career in publishing at Emma Sweeney Agency. Noah has appeared at graduate writing programs and writers conferences across the country speaking about query letters, building non-fiction platforms, and submission etiquette. A New Jersey native, Noah currently lives in Brooklyn.
Writing a Memoir Proposal

Have you written a memoir? Do you have the plan for one floating around in your head? Join Noah Ballard of the Curtis Brown agency to learn what agents look for in a memoir and what to submit for your proposal to an agent. (P.S. Noah will also be hearing pitches for memoir during our agent/editor pitch appointments.)




Annette Dashofy

USA Today best-selling author Annette Dashofy writes the multiple Agatha-nominated Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. Annette has been a member of Pennwriters since 2004 and has served on the Board for nearly as long. A meritorious service award winner (2013), she currently holds the position of Coordinator of Area Reps. She also belongs to Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers. A lifelong resident of Washington County, Annette lives with her husband and their social-media-darling cat, Kensi, on what was once her grandfather’s dairy farm. UNDER THE RADAR, the ninth in her series, was released in February.
Workshop: Red Herrings and the Moonwalking Bear

This audience-participation workshop offers methods to create a puzzle that will keep your reader guessing until the end. From red herrings (suspects with motive) to a moonwalking bear (misdirection and hiding in plain sight), you’ll learn to craft a mystery to perplex even the most Sherlockian sleuth.




Don Helin

During his time in the military, award-winning author Don Helin served at a number of stateside posts as well as overseas in Vietnam and Germany. He is the author of six thrillers that draw from his military experience, including three tours in the Pentagon. He writes for TheBurg, a community magazine based in Harrisburg. His novel, SECRET ASSAULT, was selected as the Best Suspense/Thriller at the 2015 Indie Book Awards. His novel, LONG WALK HOME, won a Five Star review at Readers Favorite Awards.
Workshop: Are We Series-ly in Trouble?

If you’ve got questions about how to start and finish a series — plus take care of everything that happens in between — Don has answers. How do you keep a series alive? What makes us love series characters so much? How do you keep your series characters fresh? How do you fit in back story? Does your character change or stay the same? Learn the answers to these questions and many more in this interactive workshop.

Workshop: Point of View: Whose Story Is It Anyways?

Point of View is not only the camera that shows what your characters see, it also determines how close readers can get to your characters. The distance between your characters and your readers helps determine the intimacy of the story. During this interactive workshop we will discuss the three POVs—first person, second person, and third person (omniscient and limited)—then how each can help tell your story.



Tim Waggoner

Award-winning author Tim Waggoner has published close to fifty novels and seven collections of short stories. He writes original dark fantasy and horror, as well as media tie-ins, and his articles on writing have appeared in numerous publications. He’s won the Bram Stoker Award and the Horror Writers Association’s Mentor of the Year Award, and he’s been a multiple finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Scribe Award. He’s also a full-time tenured professor who teaches creative writing and composition at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio.
Workshop: The Art of Suspense

Great novels keep readers on the edge of their seats. Join Tim as he addresses the following topics: Why do readers love suspense? Using time constraints. Creating great heroes and villains. Creating exciting, unpredictable plots. How to increase suspense as your story progresses. Writing with suspenseful pacing. Suspense in different genres.

Workshop: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Horror

This session presents techniques for creating original, effective horror fiction. Topics covered: The difference between dread, terror, horror, disgust, and shock. The horror equivalent of the hero’s journey. Avoiding clichés. Making your horror personal. Taking new approaches to old archetypes. Avoiding clichéd story patterns. What, if any, are the limits in horror fiction? How much – or how little – should you reveal?

Workshop: The BIG Story

AKA techniques for writing kick-ass novels. Topics covered: Novels vs novellas and short stories. Action-Idea. Inciting incident. Classic plot design. Plotting using Scene and Sequel. The Spiral Method of plotting. What to do if your plot starts to sag in the middle. How to keep going for the long haul.




Susan Meier

In her thirty years of writing sweet romances, sexy romances, romantic suspense and even a Christian mainstream, Susan Meier has learned the tricks to coming up with story ideas that support an entire novel, creating story tension, and digging deeper into character for stronger stories. Her books have been nominated for and won numerous awards including the Book Buyers Best award for NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE’S TWINS and a nomination for RWA’s coveted Rita award for THE TYCOON’S SECRET DAUGHTER. The author of seventy books and twenty writing workshops, Susan has been married to her husband Mike for almost forty years. She’s also the mother of three children and slave to one very odd cat who thinks she’s human.
Workshop: Taglines, Blurbs, and Covers

Taglines, blurbs, and covers can help write your book AND sell it. Lots of people don’t write their taglines and blurbs or create their covers until they are done writing their book. But taglines, blurbs and covers can not only keep you on track while writing, they can also inspire you. Join Susan as she shows you tricks and tips to write taglines and blurbs that will hook you as well as your reader and how to use them, and your cover, to inspire you to write the best possible story.

Workshop: Keeping the Tension Alive in a Romance Novel

Story tension is the lifeblood of a romance novel—any romance novel. Capitalizing on the intrinsic story tension and finding ways to create new tension are a must. Join Susan Meier as she discusses using the push/pull of conflict and even the characters themselves to tell your story with drama and honesty and create a book that will stay with readers long after they’ve read “the end.”




Nancy Springer

Nancy Springer is a lifelong professional fiction writer who has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, and mystery.  She has collected starred reviews and other honors until it is no use mentioning them anymore, except maybe for those two Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America. Her latest release is “GrandGhost,” women’s literature with a paranormal twist. But her most popular works, no contest, are a series of short novels about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister. The first ENOLA HOLMES feature film is coming in 2020 from Legendary Productions.  Emmy-nominated young actress Millie Bobby Brown stars in the brilliant, devious and daring role of Enola.  Nancy Springer could not be more thrilled.
Workshop: Muddle in the Middle

Ah, the dreaded middle slump—all too common in novels as in people. Indeed, despite your best efforts, your manuscript may be downright potbellied. How do you tighten that thing up? In this class, learn how to get rid of that boring muddle in the middle, sometimes in surprisingly simple ways. And sometimes maybe not so simple… But the goal is to make your novel taut, trim, and irresistibly readable throughout.

Workshop: When to Break the Rules

When learning to write fiction, you take in a lot of suggestions, directions, and rules—and yes, you need to know these. But despite all you may have heard, a good, original story cannot be put together using a formula. It’s not like paint-by-numbers! Yet there are no rules for when to break the rules. So, in this class, the instructor will cite specific examples of having broken the rules, and for what reasons, and whether the results were worth the risks involved. Learn the rules and when to break them!




Kris Smith and Dick Jeffries

Kris Smith is a former police officer with the NYPD, plainclothes details (prostitution and narcotics) and is trained in counter terrorism. She is a second degree black belt in TaeKwonDo, a self-defense instructor, and an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor. Dick Jeffries has been a private investigator for the last 40 years. He holds several certifications in forensics and private security. He is an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor. Morr Range is a family-owned and operated shooting range and store located just south of our venue at 2488 Willow Street Pike.
Workshop: Ask the SMEs: Incorporating Modern-Day Firearms into Your Story

Today’s weapons are complicated, and these days you’ll find them in everything from thrillers to romance. Do you know the basics so you can write a realistic scene? Do you know how or why your character would use a weapon? Maybe your heroine is in trouble and needs to buy and learn to use her first handgun. Maybe your hero is in a firefight and his semi-automatic jams. What weapon would you give a character stranded in the wilderness? Private investigator Dick Jeffries and former NYPD police officer Kris Smith will start with the basics about gun use and safety and then open the floor up for questions specific to your work in progress.




Carol Silvis

Carol Silvis is the author of nine college textbooks and business books published by Cengage, “Time Management for Writers” in the 2012 Writers Market, an inspirational piece, and a dozen creative nonfiction stories in magazines. She was interviewed for ABCNews.com, CBSMoneywatch.com, AARP online, and Yahoo.com, and appeared on local television programs. Carol has a Master’s in Adult Education She is past-president of Pennwriters, former vice president, former author advocate, conference coordinator multiple years, and was awarded the 2008 Meritorious Service award. She has presented at multiple conferences and for various writing groups.
Workshop: Nonfiction Book Proposals That Stand Out

When it comes to nonfiction books, the sky is the limit. The variety and number of these books continue to soar. If you have a good idea for a nonfiction topic, come learn how to write a proposal that will get noticed. This workshop will address writing proposals for various nonfiction niche markets such as textbooks, business books, self-help books, and more. Discussion will include addressing timely issues, choosing appropriate titles, researching the topic, interviewing experts, meeting a publisher’s needs, and submitting a proposal. As a bonus, you will receive tips for writing the accompanying query letter. Handouts included.




Bobbi Carducci

Bobbi Carducci is the Vice President of Pennwriters and a successful freelance writer published in magazines, newspapers anthologies, children’s book, and creative nonfiction. Her blog, The Imperfect Caregiver, provides information to help those caregiving for someone with dementia.  She and her husband, Mike, host the RodgerThat.show,  a podcast dedicated to guiding you through the haze of dementia.
Workshop: New to Writing? Start Here.

What you don’t know about writing and publishing can hold you back. Attendees will learn about publishing for the first time including information on contracts, marketing dos and don’ts, how to start selling your book before it’s written, preparing for that exciting first book signing, and more.




Angie Karcher

Angie is the author of five children’s books, including two 2020 publications, A CLEAN SWEEP and SIDELINE SLUGGER. Her debut national sale, THE LADY OF LIBERTY, comes out with Sleeping Bear Press in 2021. Angie is the Indiana SCBWI Regional Advisor. She hosts the Rhyme Revolution writer’s event each April and the Rhyme Revolution Conference. Angie is the founder and host of The Best in Rhyme Award held in New York City annually in February. She often presents at schools, conferences, and other kid-lit events.
Workshop: It’s All About the Rhyme Story

This session is for writers who aspire to write in rhyme but need direction on what else must be included to create a successful and publishable rhyming picture book. Perfect rhyme is important, but if the story isn’t well-written, it won’t matter. A traditional picture book needs a catchy hook, an interesting setting, clever characters, rising tension, a peak moment or problem to be solved by the main, child character and a satisfying ending urging the child to read it again. Plus, it will need perfect rhyme and perfect meter.

From Rags to Rewards: Create a Platform That Works

Angie’s “You can do it!” attitude has helped her climb from an unknown writer to one who hosts an annual children’s book award in New York City. Learn how to network, collaborate, and market yourself so that you are mixing and mingling with amazing authors, agents and editors too. With determination and hard work, the opportunities will begin to present themselves! You must have the courage to say “YES” and then . . . hang on for the ride!




Maria V. Snyder

Meteorologist turned novelist, Maria has been writing since she was tired of writing air pollution reports and needed something creative to do. Well over a dozen published novels and numerous short stories later, Maria’s learned a thing or three about writing. She’s been on the New York Times bestseller list, won over a half-dozen awards, and has earned her MA degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University where she’s been happily sharing her knowledge with the current crop of MFA students. When she’s not writing, she’s either playing volleyball, traveling, taking pictures, or zonked out on the couch due to all of the above.
Workshop: Writing a Marketing Plan

Once you publish your book, then what? This workshop will focus on writing a marketing plan for your book release and will review the pros and cons of book tours, blog tours, book trailers, conferences, swag, author events, and other ways to get the word out about your book.

Workshop: Can You Hear Me Now? Audio books 101

As life’s pace increases daily, more and more readers are listening to audio books as they commute to work, do household chores, exercise, and during long drives. This module will focus on all things audio books, from deciding if you should give your publisher audio rights or do it yourself.

Workshop: Emotion Is Not a Dirty Word

No matter how complex your plot is or how beautiful your descriptions are, or how well you can use a metaphor, if your readers don’t care about your characters, you’ve lost them. Many writers are reluctant to incorporate emotions and emotional reactions for their characters for fear of being called out on writing “purple prose,” or for being “overly dramatic.” This workshop will help guide you in adding in a layer of emotional complexity to your stories.




Brent Maguire

Brent Maguire, PhD, is a psychologist with a consulting, psychotherapy, and graduate teaching background. He is writing a thriller series with a psychologist protagonist.

Workshop: Wait. He Did What? That’s Not Right!

Do your characters behave in a manner that is, well, out of character? Or does their behavior reflect inner dynamics (think symptoms) that are consistent with psychological disorders? This workshop will plumb the depths of psychiatric diagnosis (the process and the classification) and highlight some unique psychiatric disorders that could stimulate character development.

Workshop: Hitting the Writing Wall: Dealing with Procrastination, Motivation, and Rejection

Writing is like running. It doesn’t matter whether you’re sprinting through short stories or long-distance running to complete a novel. It’s about getting started, sustaining momentum, staying the course, and finishing. Sometimes a writer hits one of these issues; on bad days, all of them. This workshop will borrow from such fields as cognitive behavioral therapy, neuropsychology, and positive psychology, to develop strategies to address these potential hurdles.




Heidi Ruby Miller

Heidi Ruby Miller is a travel writer turned novelist. She uses research for her stories as an excuse to roam the globe. Her books include the popular AMBASADORA series (Dog Star Books), MAN OF WAR (Meteor House), which is a sequel to Science Fiction Grandmaster Philip José Farmer’s novel TWO HAWKS FROM EARTH, and the international award-winning writing guide MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT (Headline Books Inc.). In between trips, Heidi teaches creative writing at Seton Hill University, where she graduated from their renowned Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program the same month she appeared on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Follow Heidi’s writing journey with her husband, Jason Jack Miller, and their two cats in the newsletter Small Space, Big Life and find her on YouTube, her website, and Instagram all as Heidi Ruby Miller.
Workshop: Pick Your Punk

You’ve heard of steampunk, and maybe even cyberpunk, but what about analogpunk or biopunk or elfpunk or. . . . You get the picture: there are a lot of punks in the SF world and we’re going to visit all of them.

Workshop: Space Opera Is Still the Queen

Amidst Disney opening up two theme park lands devoted to Star Wars, the blockbusterdom of Guardians of the Galaxy, successful streaming series like The Expanse, and Amazon proving that readers will still devour alien empires and interplanetary sagas, publishers are still putting out the call for space opera.




Jason Jack Miller

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 (Raw Dog Screaming Press). 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. Jason also had the honor of being the Keynote Speaker for the 2019 Pennwriters Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. 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.
Workshop: Rural Noir

From Raylan Givens to Sookie Stackhouse, there’s a lot of action taking place away from bright lights and tall buildings. We’ll start this module by defining the parameters of the genre and discussing some great regional fiction and ‘rural’ fantasy that have popularized the trend. Then we’ll top it all off with a crash course in working ‘rural noir’ into our own stories while avoiding negative stereotypes and some of the more obvious tropes.

Workshop: Folk Yeah!

The Brothers Grimm stumbled onto something when they began cataloging Europe’s dark old tales. But why do these stories STILL resonate, and how can a writer utilize folkloric tropes and plot structures to enhance their own work? This module will include an overview of some less familiar folklore, some tools writers can use to explore the mythology on their own, and a look at the classic plot structures and twists that can feel as fresh today as they did when Jacob and Wilhem first pulled them out of the Black Forest.




Stacey Rubin

Stacey H. Rubin M.N, APRN, IBCLC is a neonatal nurse practitioner and lactation consultant with over twenty years of experience caring for patients in a variety of settings. She was an Active Duty Army Nurse and served in a field hospital during Desert Shield/Desert Shield. Stacey H. Rubin is a neonatal nurse practitioner with a Master’s degree from The University of Florida. Her experiences helping mothers and babies are captured in THE ABC’S OF BREASTFEEDING: EVERYTHING A MOM NEEDS TO KNOW FOR A HAPPY NURSING EXPERIENCE, published by AMACOM books in 2008. Stacey has MFA from Seton Hill University and writes women’s fiction.
Workshop: Stat! Medicine in Your Manuscript

Is your character mildly ill, suffering from an incurable disease, or is she mortally wounded? Learn when your character needs emergency-room treatment or if a Band-Aid will suffice. PA-C, APRN, RN or MD: Who will your character meet in an urgent care clinic or a hospital ER? This workshop explores what writers need to know about basic anatomy, medical lingo, and the daily reality of hope and heartbreak behind hospital walls.

Workshop: Forging Her Own Path: The Heroine’s Quest

The Heroine’s Journey differs from the Hero’s Journey. This workshop explores the unique stages of the heroine’s journey and how it differs start-to-finish from the traditional hero’s journey (based on the work of Joseph Campbell). We will explore the practical application of the heroine’s journey in popular fiction and discuss its application to your manuscript.




Hana Haatainen-Caye

Hana Haatainen-Caye is a voice-over talent, editor, and award-winning writer and blogger. She is multi-published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies and has published 100 digital children’s books with iStoryBooks. She leads a monthly writing group in Pittsburgh and teaches writing for the Osher program at Carnegie Mellon University.

Workshop: From Victim to Victor: Exploring Trauma Through Writing

In this session, we will discuss the healing benefits of putting our traumatic experiences on paper and then fictionalizing how the story ends. Participants will be encouraged to rewrite the incident so they can free themselves of the burden of being a victim. There will be in-class writing exercises (not related to anyone’s specific trauma) and discussion time.



Cathy Teets

With 34 years of publishing experience and over 400 titles in print, Headline Books titles have garnered 623 national / international book awards including Independent Publisher of the Year (2010-2018), 73 Mom's Choice Awards, Eric Hoffer Award, Book of the Year Finalist ForeWord Review, 34 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and Winner for Best Fiction at the Paris, London, and New York Book Festivals. It currently has 110 active authors who travel, speak, conduct workshops at conferences, seminars, and do personal appearances at Book Festivals, Conferences, and Fairs. Looking for: fiction, nonfiction, and children's books in all genres. Does not accept: erotica or poetry.







Misty Simon

Misty Simon always wanted to be a storyteller…preferably behind a Muppet. Animal was number one, followed closely by Sherlock Hemlock… Since that dream didn’t come true, she began writing stories to share her world with readers, one laugh at a time. Touching people’s hearts and funny bones are two of her favorite things, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter, and two insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel.
Workshop: Mindmapping

From plotters to pantsers to plantsers, this easy method to work out the details before you get started or even while you’re in the process can streamline your writing. While in class we will craft a story together, sometimes it gets a little crazy and I’ll show you how to get out of your own way and jot down the ideas that will get you writing better, faster, and hopefully more creatively when you already have a framework.

Workshop: Structure Swap: From Cozy Mystery to Romance

Cozies and romances have far more in common than some people think they do. They both have something that must be overcome and the author has to keep you on the edge of your seat through the entire book. using red herrings, the usual suspects and the monologue we all breathlessly wait for at the end, you can sharpen your skills and make thinking through your story a true masterpiece.




Susan Sofayov

Susan Sofayov is the author of three novels, published by Black Opal Books. She holds a BA in English Literature and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA in Teaching from Chatham University. She spent two years in Tel Aviv bonding with her husband’s outrageously large family. Today, she lives in the occasionally sunny Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her novel Jerusalem Stone won first place in the I Heart Indie Contest and her novel, Defective, is featured on the International Bipolar Foundation’s website. She won first place at Moth Story Slam.
Workshop: The Devil Is in the Details: Plugging Plot Holes Using Logic

This session will focus on using logic to plug plot holes. We risk losing our readers when logic is absent from our story. If your POV character discloses a nut allergy in Chapter 1, she can’t make almond cookies in Chapter 12. Is your character’s reaction to the action logical? Break a leg—holler. Learn your wife is divorcing you—not so simple. Attendees will review slides and handouts showing situations where the writer drifted away from a logical action or reaction. This applies to all genres.




Suzanne Mattaboni

My work has appeared in anthologies and won major contest titles since 1981. My stories, essays, and poems have appeared in “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” the “Stories Through the Ages” series, “The American Poetry Anthology,” the women’s studies anthology “What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Relationship Like This?” and multiple writers’ group anthologies, in addition to Huffington Post blogs. I’ve won recognition in competitions including the National Council of Teachers of English Award for short fiction, Seventeen Magazine’s Art and Fiction Contest, the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, the New Millennium awards, Gotham Writers flash fiction contest, and I’ve been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for short fiction.
Workshop: Anthologies and Contests: Opportunities for Short Fiction

This session will outline opportunities to get your short stories, poetry, or essays recognized in venues including anthologies, contests, award competitions, and select recurring magazine features, including providing a list of ongoing prizes and outlets. We’ll outline some of the benefits of spotlighting your work in these media, including opportunities for publicity. Topics include blind submissions, submission fees, logo use, resources, and post-contest press releases.




Diana Dru Botsford

Author of Stargate SG-1 novels and short stories, Diana Dru Botsford’s screenwriting credits include RASCALS for Star Trek: TNG, EPILOGUE, the award-winning SF web series, and the cult favorite animated SF series, SPIRAL ZONE. Her TV/Film work includes projects such as TERMINATOR 2, DUSK ‘TIL DAWN, and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET VI. A graduate of Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program, Botsford founded and continues to teach for the critically-acclaimed Missouri State University’s screenwriting program.
Workshop: Screenwriting: An Intense Intro to Writing for Film and TV

An intensive introduction to the world of writing for television and film. Gain an understanding of how the script process affects the development of plot, character development, and theme. Through discussion, viewing, and hands-on exercises, you’ll learn how to use the visual (and aural!) medium to tell your story beyond the printed page. Topics will include Characterization through action and imagery, Rules of the Road with Dialogue, Plotting Scenes & Sequences, Script Formatting Basics, and How to Heighten the Script Reader’s Experience.




DJ Stevenson

D. J. Stevenson, Executive Vice President of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, chairs the Scribe Awards and Pennwriters’ writing contest. An author, editor, and publisher, she’s published twenty-two novels and over eighty short stories, and contributed to several volumes of Outside In from ATB publishing. Ms. Stevenson has worked as a technical writer and translator, written for corporate newspapers and magazines, and co-edited the international anthology Strife & Harmony for S&H Publishing. She’s a doting mom to her beloved, rambunctious, totally adorable cats.

Workshop: Playing in Someone Else’s Universe

Media tie-in novels and short stories are based on pre-existing properties including films, TV series, games, famed literary properties, and even songs.  They regularly top the national bestseller lists, and they’re sold everywhere from Barnes & Noble and Amazon to drugstores and gift shops. In this workshop, D. J.  Stevenson (Executive VP of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers) and Diana Dru Botsford (author of Stargate SG-1 novels) will share what it means to write in someone else’s universe, how to break in, and what to expect when working with not only an editor and publisher, but with the Intellectual Property licensor as well. Topics will include what separates media tie-ins from fanfiction, what makes tie-ins uniquely difficult yet also easier to write, how to pitch an original story and/or adapt an existing tale while staying true to a franchise, and how to research and network with potential licensors and publishers.



Jon Sprunk

JON SPRUNK is the author of Book of the Black Earth fantasy series (BLOOD AND IRON, STORM AND STEEL, BLADE AND BONE) and the Shadow Saga (SHADOW’S SONE, SHADOW’S LURE, SHADOW’S MASTER). SHADOW’S SON was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award and a nominee for the David Gemmell Award in two categories. Jon attended Lock Haven University where he received his BA in English. He set out after graduation to become a “serious writer.” When his first fantasy novel failed to find a publisher, he sought gainful employment in the real world. After a decade of numerous jobs and much soul-searching, he returned to writing and joined Pennwriters. In June 2009, he signed a multi book deal with Pyr Books, finally enjoying some long awaited success. Jon lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and son. When not writing, he enjoys travel, collecting medieval and ancient weaponry, and pro football.
Workshop: Pitching to Agents and Editors

Before you deliver your pitch to an agent or editor at the conference — which can be the most terrifying ten minutes of your life, or the best part of your conference experience — test it out here in a “safe space” with our Saturday keynote. Jon will start out with some information on the basics — what to do, what not to do — then open the floor to anyone who wants to run a practice pitch by him. Get some great feedback, calm your nerves, and be ready for the real thing. (This class repeats Friday and Saturday mornings.)

Workshop: Worldbuilding 2020




Larry Schardt

Workshop: Rock the Room: Public Speaking for Authors

As an author, odds are high that you’ll be asked to talk about your work. Maybe it’s a presentation at a school or a speech for Rotary; maybe it’s an interview for a podcast or local news program. Whatever the invite, you’ll want to make a great impression. This workshop will address tips for overcoming any trepidation you might feel when speaking in front of groups. What you say matters, but how you say it matters even more. Create excellent presentations and keep your audience engaged. Make it more than “a talk.” No more “Death by PowerPoint.” No more rambling. No more spewing information that people won’t remember. Make every presentation an inspiration for your audience, a dynamic learning experience, an exciting event, . . . You will leave this workshop with powerful tools to create excellent presentations!