Missouri Writers' Guild

Bringing Writers Together

2016 Conference Schedule


2016 Conference Schedule (subject to change)

Click here for online registration page:
Click here to download mail-in registration form:

Click here for faculty biographies:

NOTE: Both the Saturday lunch AND banquet are included in the tuition price.

Designating a “track” on registration helps with space planning and room sizing. But you may attend any session regardless of your professional interest.

Sessions will be 45 minutes including time for question and answer from audiences.

**Shark Tank Pitches and First Pages sessions are full.**
New requests will be added to the wait list.
FRIDAY – April 29, 2016

Registration Opens

Dinner on your own…

5:45 pm

6:00 pm
What It Means to Be Published – Janell Walden Agyerman (Marie Brown Literary Agency)

Writing a story is often considered the hardest part of the process. But once your manuscript is finished, the real work begins. Come learn what it means to be published, and what expectations agents and publishers will have of you once you’re acquired.

7:00 pm
First Pages Read (FULL)

First Pages will be read anonymously with feedback from the faculty. Would the faculty turn the page? What could you change to make the editor or agent hunger for more. This session is open to all attendees.
Limited space available: First come first served based on advanced registration.

8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Reception (Cash bar)
Meet and mingle with attendees and faculty.


SATURDAY – April 30, 2016

7:30 am
Registration opens

8:30 am – Opening Session
Jose Faus, Poet

9:00 am – Breakout Sessions

  1. It All Depends On Your Point Of View – Tom Averill
    Point of View in fiction should be a choice made wisely, before beginning a short story or novel.  Let’s get more familiar with five fictional points of view, and discover the strengths and weaknesses inherent in each.
  2. Writing for Magazines in a Digital World – Deborah Reinhardt
    Most print magazines today offer some type of digital content, whether on a branded website, a tablet version of the publication or something else. Freelance writers can expand assignment opportunities by working with editors to provide digital content for these outlets. Deborah Reinhardt, managing editor of AAA Midwest Traveler and AAA Southern Traveler, will suggest best practices for working with magazines in providing quality content, why writers would want to pursue these assignments, and a few writing tips that will prove useful when developing articles for digital placement.
  3. From Zero to Series – Rachel Renee Russell/Crystal Allen
    While publishing a series may sound like a dream, the behind the scenes process requires work, negotiation and stamina. Rachell Russell and Crystal Allen will discuss the path from being unpublished to signing major book contracts for Middle Grade children’s series. The negotiation process, when to hold and when to compromise, the pitfalls of writing a multi-book series and how to manage the process through editorial and marketing. It should be noted that Crystal’s first contract occurred after reading a Sunday workshop assignment at the 2006 MWG annual conference. Two editors then began bidding for the story.

10:00 am – Breakout Sessions

  1. How I Met The Travelocity Gnome – Pam Grout
    New York Times best selling author and travel writer Pam Grout will discuss her 25-plus years roaming the globe as a travel writer. She’ll discuss how the genre has changed dramatically in the last decade and give tips on the best way to get started.
  2. Character Development Through Dramatic Action – Terry Allen
    Characters can be revealed in several ways, including what they say about themselves, what other people say about them and what they do; however, if these revelations are at odds with each other, we tend to believe the truth lies in what they do.  We also understand that novice writers often make a mistake in describing their characters rather than showing them in action.  After all, what a person does in order to obtain both large and small objectives will make for richer characters and pull the reader deeper into the stories we want to tell.
  3. Reform School (Poetry) – Eric McHenry
    Rewriting a free-verse poem in a traditional form, or vice versa, can lead to all sorts of discoveries.
  4. What Makes An Award Winning Children’s Book – April Roy, Napthali Faris
    Get inside the head of two prominent librarians to find out what it takes to be noticed as a potential award winning book. What are the common mistakes. What makes a librarian’s/juror’s heart sing. How do you get on their watch lists and how they decide which books to advance and which won’t make the cut. April Roy has served on the Caldecott committee for Best Picture Book as well as the Coretta Scott King committee for African American literature. Napthali Faris served as Chair of the Printz committee for best Young Adult Literature.

11:00 am – Breakout Sessions

  1. Shark Tank (Adult Literature) –  FULL – 90 second pitch of your project in front of faculty.
    Instead of jockeying for limited one-on-one sessions with a single faculty, now you can pitch your project to all of them at once (subject to their schedule). Practice, polish. You only have one chance to make a first impression. (First come, first served based on date of registration)
    This session is closed – Each pitch will be private.
  2. The Sincerest Form of Flattery (Poetry) – Erick McHenry
    One foolproof way to find poetic inspiration is to borrow it from someone else. Let’s discuss poems that take other people’s poems as their starting points: satire, the cento, translation, and the “forgery” (I’ll explain).
  3. Thickening the Plot (Fiction) – Tom Averill
    Whether you’re writing profluently from a known beginning, or plotting backward from a known ending, or borrowing a known structure, it’s the unknown that contains the surprise and satisfaction of plot.  Join a discussion on plot, subplot, the plot of metaphor, and the plot of ideas in fiction.
  4. Writing Childrens and Young Adult Nonfiction – Gwendolyn Hooks
    One of the most overlooked genres for writing is nonfiction. Discover how it works, what clients and publishers look for in the Trade market, and how you can often supplement or sustain your writing income by writing “work-for-hire” projects.

12:00pm – Luncheon
Keynote Speaker – Pam Grout, NYT’s bestselling author
Creating Magic and Miracles in the Writing Game

1:00 pm – Roundtables
Casual discussion and professional networking (possible book signings)

2:00 pm – Breakout Sessions

  1. Is It Funny Yet? (Nonfiction) – Jen Mann
    Humor is a necessary and effective tool in all genres of writing. Humor can defuse a tense situation or topic, it can keep your reader engaged, and it makes your work memorable. This class will teach you how to include humor in your work.
  2. Dramatic Dialogue (Fiction) – Terry Allen
    Good dialogue is more than people talking.  It is like a piece of music with beats, rhythms and melodies that conveys conflict, attitudes and intentions.  It advances the narrative and reveals character.  When dialogue succeeds, the result is exciting.  The good news is that writers can learn to have a better ear for dialogue.  So, what is good dialogue and what is bad dialogue?  Let’s find out.
  3. Saving Grandpa’s Stories And Grandma’s, too! (Nonfiction) – Janet Sutherland
    History isn’t just made by the people in the record books. It’s made by ordinary people living ordinary lives and telling the good parts. Perhaps you have a collection of stories about your children. Maybe you’re a grandparent. Your stories about you, your children, or grandchildren are stories worth saving as a family legacy. This session includes tips on writing such as how to find your opening and how to build details onto the bones of a story. She will give tips on where and how to get published. And she’ll help you decide the purpose of your collection of stories. A family memento? A personal memoir? A cookbook with stories? She will also give tips on how to jog stories from parents or grandparents who may have memory loss. They haven’t forgotten the old stories! You’ll learn how to use simple tools like a digital camera or a smartphone to capture those stories.
  4. Navigating the Agent Author Relationship (Childrens/Young Adult) – Angela Cervantes, Adriana Dominguez
    Angela and Adriana will talk about the process of seeking, acquiring and working with an agent or author. How they met at a local Kansas City conference and how it eventually lead to a major series at Scholastic publishing. May include discussion on the time it took from first meeting to actual working relationship, how to work with publishers, what role the author and agent play in the process and what things authors can do to make themselves more attractive as candidates for acquisition.

3:00 pm – Breakout Sessions

  1. Shark Tank overflow session II (Adult Literature) – FULL
    Instead of jockeying for limited one-on-one sessions with a single faculty, now you can pitch your project to all of them at once (subject to their schedule). Practice, polish. You only have one chance to make a first impression. (First come, first served based on date of registration)
    This session is closed – Each pitch will be private.
  2. “The Story Center: a resource for writers” – Andie Paloutzian,  Cody Croan
    Join us for an informative session on resources from the Story Center at the Woodneath Public Library to help you improve, share, print, or publish your work. We will offer a demonstration our eBook platform: SELF-e, answer questions about printing with the Espresso Book Machine, or publishing with the Woodneath Press. As well, we will highlight upcoming classes at the Story Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
  3. Panel:  How To Write a New York Times Best Seller – Pam Grout, Jen Mann
  4. Crafting Voice in Young Adult Novels – Georgia McBride, Publisher Month 9 Books,
    Often, the weakest element in a manuscript submissions is voice. Come learn about crafting a voice that will resonate with a editor and connect to the target reader. Learn what mistakes an editor sees in submissions and what you can do to create the strongest submission possible.

4:00 pm – Breakout Sessions

  1. True Stories Well Told (Nonfiction) – Jen Mann
    Nonfiction doesn’t have to be boring! Just because it’s true, doesn’t mean it’s dull. Everyone has a story to tell, learn how to tell yours.
  2. The Feature Story – Deborah Reinhardt
    While informative, it’s not all about the facts. A good feature will inform, entertain and even motivate a reader. In this fun hands-on session, participants will hear about the common pitfalls to feature writing, as well as learn how they can employ three steps to writing a sweet story.
  3. Writing Great Fantasy Fiction for Adults (Fiction) – Philip Martin, Crickhollow Books, Crispin Books
    In recent years, fantasy books featuring hobbits and elves, dragons and magicians, set in places from Middle Earth to Narnia to Hogwarts, have sold hundreds of millions of copies. At the same time, fairy tale-based literature and magical realism wins major literary prizes. How do fantasy stories draw us in to their remarkable worlds? Why do these stories resonate with us? How can we use their structure to improve our stories? This presentation, by the author of A Guide to Fantasy Literature, The Purpose of Fantasy, and How to Write Your Best Story will unravel the secrets of successful fantastic fiction for emerging writers.
  4. Shark Tank (Children’s/Young Adult) – Acquiring Faculty
    Instead of jockeying for limited one-on-one sessions with a single faculty, now you can pitch your project to all of them at once (subject to their schedule). Practice, polish. You only have one chance to make a first impression. (First come, first served based on date of registration) Due to faculty schedules we may include Children’s first pages reads at the  this session.

5:00 pm – Missouri Writers Guild Annual Member’s Meeting

6:30 pm – Show Me Spotlight Awards Banquet
Keynote Speaker, International bestselling author – Rachel Russell.


SUNDAY – May 1, 2016

9:00 am – 11:45 am
INTENSIVE WORKSHOPS (Advance registration required. $50 with tuition or as a standalone session.)

  1. Applying Powerful Storytelling Techniques to Your Fiction – Phil Martin, Editorial Director, CrickHollow Books, Crispin Books
    In this in-depth session, we’ll look beyond the skeletal structure of fiction to what makes a work of fiction come alive and become appealing. How do you create empathy and engagement in readers (including agents & editors), especially using classical tricks of the storytelling trade? “A good writer is basically a storyteller,” said Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer. Another Nobel winner, Alice Munro said, “A story is not like a road to follow . . . it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while . . .  discovering how the room and corridors relate to each
  2. Building a Nonfiction Book – Jen Mann
    If you have a nonfiction book in mind, find out how to actually get the darn thing planned, written, and then submitted for publication.
  3. Poetry: Finding The Remains – Jose Faus
    In this workshop participants will explore the sensation of absence, both emotional and physical, by describing the absence of a loved one through actions, routines, objects, remains, a snapshot absent any description of the person. If time permits participants will engage in analysis and revision.
  4. Writing For The Young Adult Market – Georgia McBride, Publisher, Month 9 Books
    Young adults novels are much different than younger novels in terms of the subjects and the motivations of the protagonists. Publisher Georgia McBride will conduct a workshop on what editors look for in YA manuscript and how you can bring your work to life.
  5. Children’s Middle Grade Book Revisions – Eileen Robinson, Publisher, Move Books
    Eileen will reprise her nationally known workshop to provide hands-on revision exercises and advice for making your middle grade novel shine before submission. Learn what to do and how to avoid common mistakes.

Writing Off Into The Dark with Harvey Stanbrough has been cancelled.
 It has been replaced by the workshop on Powerful Storytelling by Phil Martin.


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