REGISTRATION and Light Breakfast:  9:00 - 9:45 am

WELCOME:  9:45 am

MORNING KEYNOTE:  10:00 - 10:50 am

Get Out! Get better at what you write by getting out of your writing comfort zone with Lisa Romeo: Specialization is superb, but sometimes jumping into different literary sandboxes can make you even better at what you do—improving writing skills, boosting confidence, ramping up productivity, and enhancing writing enjoyment. Skeptical? Good.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

SESSION A:  11:00 - 11:50 am

In A Flash:  Writing (Very) Short with Christina Kapp:

What is flash fiction?  Is it just a short story, or is it a form of its own?  This session will begin with a discussion on the various ways editors define flash fiction, and grow into an exploration of how the elements of craft - complex characters, vivid settings, and interesting story arcs - can be incorporated into efficient and powerful short forms.  We will also experiment with exercises and techniques for writing micro-fictions and mosaic narratives, as well as consider ways more traditional linear plots can fit into a shorter framework.


MEMBERS Online Registration 

Register until Sept. 20>

NON-MEMBERS Online Registration

Register until Sept. 20> 

Conf. Schedule & Critique Guidelines >

Find the RIGHT Agent - Maximize Your Query's Potential with Leslie Zampetti:

Confused about how to find an agent? Frustrated by queries that receive no response or form rejections? Just what does agent- speak like "character-driven," "genre-bending," and "intersectional" mean? This interactive workshop will teach you strategies and show you resources to find the best agents for you and your work. A former librarian, Leslie uses her expertise with research and readers' advisory to show you how to target your query to the right agents for you.

The Buzz about Online Bylines with Lisa Romeo:

Want to get your nonfiction essays, articles, and short memoir works published in online venues? Already getting pieces picked up, but want to land bylines more frequently, in more desirable markets? Learn to find venues, determine a good editorial fit, make submissions, pitch editors, and other tips and tricks.

So You Have A Book Deal, Now What? What to Expect from a Publishing Contract with Jessica Felleman:

Once you have a book deal it can be tempting to relax into the creative process, but even with your agency looking over your book contract, you should read it through as well, so you understand exactly what the publisher’s rights are and what’s expected contractually from you. From deal points to subrights, royalties and out of print clauses, we’ll talk the basics of understanding your publishing contract as it applies to the actual process of writing and then publishing your book.

SESSION B:  12:00 - 12:50 pm

Your Creative Source with Lori Lynn Meader:

Join Lori for an experiential journey, allowing your mind to rest. Tap into the wisdom of your body where all creativity and imagination live. As writers (and artists of all kind), there are bound to be times when blocks and blanks arise. This session will give you an opportunity to tune into your creative source where every idea begins. Gentle movement that anyone can do will be involved.

First Pages* – Children’s (PB, MG, YA) – Leslie Zampetti & Maya Marlette


First Pages* – Prose – Jessica Felleman & Christina Kapp    

     *If you sign up for either First Page Session - please see notes below.


Captivate Young Readers with a Dynamic Plot with Elissa Matthews:

Even the littlest children are ruthless critics when it comes to a good story. Whether it's a picture book, a chapter book, or a young adult novel, a story that portrays the classic elements of the dynamic plot pull the reader back time and again, while stories that don't measure up get put away and forgotten. This program will lay out the elements of a classic plot, and we'll discuss how the presentation varies as we move across the age groups. We will take apart some of our most beloved children's classics, discuss their key elements, and what it takes to edit your own books into a captivating story.

LUNCH:  12:50 pm - 2:10 pm (on your own -- explore lovely downtown Madison)

SESSION C:  2:10 - 3:00 pm

That's Funny! Writing Humor that Doesn't Fall Flat with Maya Marlette:

This panel is for writers of picture books, middle grade, and YA, though there is a particular emphasis on novels. Discover what makes humor work, and learn to find your character's unique (and hilarious!) voice. There will be practical advice on writing comedy for children.  

How to Fire up a Dynamic Plot (Prose writers) with Elissa Matthews: 

In a good story, the characters act and react, they struggle for something, they fight and win, or they fight and lose and rise again. This is called, boringly, “the plot”. When put together by a captivating storyteller, the plot comes to life as a dynamic page-turner that we go back to again and again. We all know the problems of early drafts, though, where we realize we’ve written a scene that goes nowhere. This program will show you why that happens, and how to deal with it. We will take apart some of our most beloved story classics and line up their key elements against the plot structures laid out in popular writing textbooks. In the end, we’ll have a common framework for a dynamic plot that you can build into your own storytelling.

Crossing Boundaries: Hybrid Forms that Challenge the Definitions of Poetry and Prose with Christina Kapp: 

In this session, we will look at hybrid and experimental works in both fiction and nonfiction that defy categorization and blur the lines between genres. Beginning with some sample readings that show the flexibility of both prose and poetry, we will consider possibilities that grow out of challenging traditional labels and thinking more expansively about language and form. If you have a work that you’d like to try in another form, feel free to bring it with you, but all are encouraged to come prepared to write, experiment with language, and have some fun.

AFTERNOON KEYNOTE:  3:10 - 4:00 pm

The Self-Marketing Author's Checklist with JR Bale:

Many aspects of book marketing are often overlooked by authors, particularly self-published ones. However, even traditionally distributed authors are being required by the big publishing houses to do more to market their books. J.R. Bale will specifically discuss marketing issues to consider when creating a book, building an author’s platform and engaging in cooperative marketing.

CLOSING REMARKS, Prizes, and Refreshments:  4:00 - 4:20 pm





If you signed up for either selection of First Pages in Session B you need to do the following:

  • Bring four copies of the first page of a single manuscript with you to the conference and place it in the designated bin upon arrival. It will be located near the entrance.  As many first pages as possible will be read aloud by a volunteer reader and two editors/agents will give their critiques. First Pages will be read in the order in which they are received.

  • It must be the very first page of your work, not the first page of a later chapter. Do not put your name on the paper, but do include a title and indicate the genre (picture book, chapter book, middle grade, young adult, adult). Your manuscript must fit on a single sheet of paper (begin at the top of the page). If you submit a second page, only the first page will be read.

  • Formatting - Use standard manuscript formatting—double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman or Courier font, one-inch margins all around, half-inch indents for each new paragraph, single column of text. You may include up to the first 23 printed lines (not sentences!) of text from your manuscript.