The 2018 Philadelphia Writing Workshop: November 17, 2018

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2016 and 2017 events in Philadelphia, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2018 Philadelphia Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in Philadelphia, PA on November 17, 2018.

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (200 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2018 Philadelphia Writing Workshop!


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, November 17, 2018, at the Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown Rittenhouse Square. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents onsite to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s agent faculty so far includes:

  • [NEW ADDITION] literary agent Lucinda Karter (Jennifer Lyons Literary)
  • [NEW ADDITION] editor Rahiem Jerome Brooks (Prodigy Gold Books)
  • [NEW ADDITION] literary agent Michelle Lazurek (Wordwise Media)
  • literary agent Moe Ferrara (BookEnds Literary)
  • literary agent Stephany Evans (Pande Literary)
  • literary agent Marie Lamba (Jennifer Di Chiara Literary)
  • editor Lauren Jablonski (St. Martin’s Press)
  • literary agent Amelia Appel (Triada US Literary)
  • literary agent Nadia Cornier (Firebrand Literary and Firebrand Publishing)
  • literary agent Kelly Peterson (Corvisiero Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Damian McNicholl (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • literary agent Alyssa Eisner Henkin (Trident Media)
  • literary agent Cari Lamba (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • literary agent Anjali Singh (Pande Literary)
  • literary agent Alec Shane (Writers House)
  • and possibly more to come

By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Jessica Bell of Writing Day Workshops, with administrative assistance from regional PA writing groups.


9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, November 17, 2018, at the Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown Rittenhouse Square, 1800 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. (215)561-7500.

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What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.

Please Note: There will be 2-3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day, so you will have your choice of what class you attend at any time. The final schedule of topics is subject to change, but here is the current layout:

8:30 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location.

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. A Bird’s-eye View Publishing & Books in the Year 2018 (Wyeth C). This workshop is quick and easy overview of the publishing industry today, and how it’s changing.

2. Create New Worlds: A Guide to Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy (Wyeth A). Let this session help you understand worldbuilding, the differences between sci-fi and fantasy, the tropes of both genres, when you should follow the rules, when you should break the rules, and more.

3. Revise Your Novel: Self-Editing Tips and Tricks (Wyeth B). Author and literary agent Marie Lamba will break down the revision process, revealing how you can systematically self-edit your manuscript.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.44.34 AMBLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Tips on How to Write Like the Pros (Wyeth A). This workshop is a thorough crash course concerning craft, style and voice.

2. How to Write A Successful Query Letter (Wyeth C). You’ll be guided through tips and tricks for creating your best query, then given time to create/edit your own and even share with a beta reader or two.

3. The Secrets to Crafting an Unforgettable Mystery (Wyeth B). In this session, learn how to create a compelling sleuth and a worthy villain; construct a plot rich in twists, red herrings, and misdirection; ring the story to a satisfying conclusion; sharpen characters and optimize pace during revision; and seek publication through both traditional and indie paths.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (Wyeth C). This is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously — no bylines given) with attending agents commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission.
2.  How to Sell a Nonfiction Book (Wyeth B). This session is completely devoted to nonfiction book proposals.

3. Writing for the Little Ones: How to Craft an Amazing Picture Book For Kids (Wyeth A). In this session, we’ll discuss questions to consider before sending a picture book manuscript out in the world.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Twenty Questions You Need Answered Before You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (Wyeth C). Before you publish your work or query an agent, there are plenty of things you need to know. Learn in this session.

2. Developing Compelling Characters (Wyeth A). Learn what the most interesting characters have in common across all genres, as well as practical strategies to take your characters from paper dolls to fully-fledged people.

3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Wyeth B). Writing for children isn’t all that different from writing for adults.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule page here.)

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Twenty Questions You Need Answered After You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (Wyeth C). After you self-publish your work or get a traditional publishing book deal, there are plenty of things you need to know. Learn in this session.

2. Yesteryear This Year — The Art of Writing Great Historical Fiction (Wyeth A). Transporting your reader back in time, whether that’s centuries, decades, or just a few years, presents unique storytelling challenges. In this class, you’ll learn how to ensure that whatever era you’re writing in, your characters, settings, and dialogue will authentically reflect it, and that your readers will be fully immersed in your story.

3. How to Write and Sell Romance in Today’s Market (Wyeth B). This session will address important topics and tips for writers of romance.


At 5 p.m., the day is done. Speakers will make themselves available by the workshop’s bookstore for a short while to sign any books for attendees.

Agent & Editor Pitching: All throughout the day.



Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 12.24.27 AM.pngMoe Ferrara [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with BookEnds Literary Agency. Moe is interested in books for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers in most genres–especially science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, and light horror. The right contemporary or paranormal romance (sans-vampires of course) will spark her interest. She’s LGBTQ friendly, so send her that male/male erotic romance in your back pocket. Learn more about Moe here.

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 7.23.47 AM.pngLucinda Karter is a literary agent with Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. “On the fiction side, I am looking for upmarket commercial fiction, be it a thriller or a literary novel. I also represent historical or literary young adult novels and am seeking young adult nonfiction. I also have a few children’s book authors. I do not represent fantasy or science fiction. I seek out strong voices and good style and pacing. I am also looking for serious nonfiction, in either memoir, biography, or economics/finance. That said, an important current events book or a true crime book would interest me too. I’m also interested in works about food and health.” Learn more about Lucinda here.

Screen Shot 2018-09-23 at 12.13.50 PM.pngRahiem Jerome Brooks heads Prodigy Gold Books, a small traditional press, as CEO and Publisher. Prodigy Gold Books is seeking: commercial YA and adult projects in the following genres: speculative fiction (horror, science fiction, fantasy, and all sub-genres), African-American fiction, mystery/suspense, thrillers, historical fiction, and general/literary fiction. “We’re looking for strong plots that are ninety-percent complete and needs the Prodigy team to bring out that last ten-percent.” Learn more about Rahiem here.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 11.36.04 PM.pngMichelle S. Lazurek is an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. Personally, she seeks Christian nonfiction for adults, and picture books (secular and Christian) for children. That said, she is taking pitches for her entire agency and co-agents, and is happy to hear pitches for science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. Nonfiction areas of interest for the agency include theology, Bible studies, religious/inspirational, professional, church issues, social/cultural issues, career, and reference. She takes both secular and Christian submissions. No erotica or very vulgar manuscripts, please. Learn more about Michelle here.

Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 5.45.50 PM.pngDamian McNicholl [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary. He is seeking: great nonfiction and fiction that appeals to a wide audience and makes people think, laugh and sob. “In fiction, my interests are novels that hit the sweet spot between literary and commercial and select offbeat/quirky. Nonfiction interests are memoir, biography, history, investigative journalism and current events especially cultural, legal and LGBTQ issues that can help lead to meaningful change in society.  Please do not pitch him genre fiction. That means no mystery, thriller, romance, science fiction, or fantasy. Learn more about Damian here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 1.01.25 PM.pngAlec Shane [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Writers House. “On the fiction side, I love mysteries, thrillers (although I’m experiencing a bit of terrorist fatigue at the moment), bad-ass protagonists with a chip on their shoulders, beautifully told historical fiction (The Vietnam War, the Maccabees, and The American Revolution fascinate me in particular), well-researched adventure stories, and great horror. In terms of children’s books, getting boys to read again is especially important to me, and thus I’m particularly on the lookout for a fun middle-grade adventure series, ghost story, or anything else geared toward younger male readers. On the nonfiction side, I’m attracted to odd, quirky histories, military history, biographies of people I didn’t even know existed (but definitely should have), ‘guy’ reads, humor, narrative nonfiction that sheds light on under-the-radar events and lifestyles, and all things sports.” Learn more about Alec here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 4.24.02 PM.pngStephany Evans [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Pande Literary. Stephany has represented nonfiction writers in the areas of health and wellness, spirituality, lifestyle, food and drink, and sustainability, running and fitness, memoir and narrative nonfiction. She also represents a range of women’s fiction, from literary to upmarket commercial, to romance, as well as crime fiction (mysteries, thrillers), and the occasional literary or commercial novel not aimed at a female market. She is looking for fine, accomplished writing, whether the work is by a first time or established author. She loves to be told a great story!​ Learn more about Stephany here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 1.10.15 AM.pngAmelia Appel [SOLD OUT OF PITCH SESSIONS] is a literary agent with TriadaUS Literary. For adult fiction, she is most interested in literary fiction, mystery, thriller, upmarket women’s fiction, science fiction and fantasy, and horror. Projects with a smart, distinct voice, a fantastic setting to jump into, and/or a witty protagonist are all up her alley. She is not looking for romance novels. For adult nonfiction, she is primarily looking for creative (narrative) nonfiction, humor, sports, how-to, pop culture, and true crime. She is not looking to represent memoir. For YA, she is particularly interested in stories with a savvy protagonist and a slightly dark tone that deal with serious coming-of-age issues well. Learn more about Amelia here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 12.43.08 AM.pngLauren Jablonski [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is an assistant editor at St. Martin’s Press, part of Macmillan. Lauren is interested in acquiring commercial fiction and nonfiction for both young adult and adult. She enjoys contemporary, historical, fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, romance, thrillers and anything with a unique voice — especially works that promote strong female characters, inclusion, and diversity. In nonfiction, she is interested in quirky, gifty, and celebrity projects as well as memoir, pop-science, business, and projects about strong women. She loves being sucked into worlds she knows nothing about. Learn more about Lauren here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 10.13.48 AM.pngMarie Lamba is a literary agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. What she is looking for: ​”I’m currently seeking middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, especially with diverse points of view, or a STEM tie-in. I also want general adult fiction and women’s fiction. I’d love to find an original women’s novel that would inspire the next smart and funny chick flick. I want memoirs with strong voices and unique, inspiring stories (especially foodie memoirs, or ones with a celebrity or pop culture connection). I also represent a select number of established illustrators and picture book authors.” Learn more about Marie here.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 9.58.43 AMKelly Peterson [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Corvisiero Literary. She represents middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult. In middle grade, she seeks adventure, fantasy, and sci-fi with a lot of humor. In young adult, she seeks all sub-genres with an emphasis on fantasy, sci-fi, and diverse voices. In new adult and adult, she seeks contemporary romance that makes her sob uncontrollably. She specifically loves strong and witty voices, independent female characters, and a lot of action. Learn more about Kelly here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 6.50.23 PM.pngAlyssa Eisner Henkin [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary with Trident Media. She represents the entire spectrum of kidlit: picture books, middle grade, and young adult. In middle grade and young adult fiction and memoir, Alyssa craves tight plotting, lyrical prose, rich regional flavors, and unexpected conclusions. She especially enjoys mysteries, period pieces, contemporary school-settings, issues of social justice, family sagas, eerie magical realism, and retellings of classics. On the picture book front, Alyssa is considering texts alone as well as fully-illustrated dummies. She adores rhyming stories when they gracefully roll off the tongue. She’s also drawn to biographies, fresh spins on seasonal themes, and inventive premises that make one stop, think and laugh. In kidlit nonfiction, history and STEM/STEAM themes are always intriguing. Alyssa would also love to find a series with the interactive spirit of a trivia game. Learn more about Alyssa here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 10.02.37 AM.pngCari Lamba [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. Children’s novels: “I’m interested in middle grade fiction with wacky plots (Roald Dahl is a favorite of mine) and characters that drive the story. I would also like contemporary stories that are both humorous and heartfelt. Both fiction and nonfiction picture books are welcome. I’m looking for unique ideas with fun and quirky elements as well as sweet, endearing picture books. In nonfiction I’m especially looking for strong female role-models. For adult fiction, “I’m looking for commercial fiction with original plots and clever characters. While I’m not interested in romance novels, elements of romance are welcome. I also have particular interest in mystery/detective fiction, and novels with culinary ties. I’m NOT interested in science fiction, horror, high fantasy, Christian fiction, political novels, or books with extremely violent elements.” Learn more about Cari here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 4.32.35 PM.pngAnjali Singh [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Pande Literary. As a literary agent, she is looking for new voices, character-driven fiction or nonfiction works that reflect an engagement with the world around us, literary thrillers, memoirs, YA literature and graphic novels. She is a member of the International Committee of the Brooklyn Book Festival. Learn more about Anjali here.

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 12.24.39 PMNadia Cornier is a literary agent and the founder of Firebrand Literary, and is also taking pitches on behalf of Firebrand Publishing. “As an agency, we are looking for amazing women’s fiction, romance, and middle grade fiction. Nadia really loves historical romance with witty banter and swoon-worthy heroes. Cristi likes smart, sassy characters and a tightly woven plot. For Firebrand Publishing, Nadia looking for amazing nonfiction and is open to considering middle grade series (although that would be new for the imprint). Nonfiction interests: Christian, cooking, health & fitness, relationships, business (especially online business), software design-related texts, and anything to do with homesteading. The imprint pays a small advance and excellent royalties. Learn more about Nadia here.

        More 2018 agents to be announced as they are confirmed. You can sign up for pitches at any time, or switch pitches at any time, so long as the agent in question still has appointments open.

These one-on-one meetings are an amazing chance to pitch your book face-to-face with an agent, and get personal, individual feedback on your pitch/concept. If the agent likes your pitch, they’ll request to see part/all of your book — sending you straight past the slush pile. It also gives you an intimate chance to meet with an agent and pick their brain with any questions on your mind.

(Please note that Agent/Editor Pitching is an add-on, separate aspect of the day, for only those who sign up. Spaces are limited for these premium meetings, and pricing/detail is explained below.)



$169 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2018 PWW and access to all workshops, all day. As of October 24, 2017, registration is now OPEN.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents or editors in attendance. Use this special meeting as a chance to pitch your work and get professional feedback on your pitch. (Spaces limited.) If they wish, attendees are free to sign up for multiple 10-minute pitch sessions at $29/session — pitching multiple individuals, or securing 20 minutes to pitch one person rather than the usual 10. Here are four quick testimonials regarding writers who have signed with literary agents after pitching them at prior Writing Day Workshops events. (Our bigger, growing list of success stories can be seen here.)

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.07.49 AM.png“I signed with my agent, Patricia Nelson, after
meeting her at the Arizona Writing Workshop.”
– writer Axie Oh

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.07.56 AM.png“I officially signed with agent Renee Nyen of KT
Literary. I met her at the Colorado Writing
Workshop.” – writer Jessie Hilb Akos

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.08.00 AM.png“After taking pitches at the Michigan Writing
Workshop, I signed writer Kyle Prue as a new
client.” – literary agent Veronica Park

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.08.09 AM.png“After taking pitches at the Alabama Writing
Workshop, I met Erin Hollis at a pitch session, and
she is now my newest client.” – agent Julie Gwinn

Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from Brian Klems, one of the day’s instructors. (This rate is a special event value for Philadelphia Writing Workshop attendees only.) Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of the specially-priced critique, so they can send out their query letter with confidence following the workshop. Also, if you are meeting with an agent at the event, you’re essentially speaking your query letter aloud to them. Wouldn’t it be wise to give that query letter (i.e., your pitch) one great edit before that meeting?

Add $79 — for an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 pages of your novel. Spaces with faculty for these critiques are very limited, and participating attendees get an in-person meeting at the workshop. Options:

  • Adult fantasy and science fiction: Faculty member A.C. Wise, a published speculative fiction author (science fiction and fantasy), will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your manuscript, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Young adult / middle grade / chapter books: Faculty member Madeline Smoot, a children’s book editor, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. No picture books, please.
  • Historical fiction and short stories: Faculty member Michael Callahan, a published historical fiction author, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your manuscript (or short story collection), meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss his thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Literary fiction, mainstream fiction, general fiction, and memoir: Faculty member Greer Macallister, a published author, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your manuscript, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Mystery, crime, thriller, and any books with African-American themes. Faculty member Rahiem Jerome Brooks, a published author, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your manuscript, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss his thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email:, and she will provide specific instructions for payment and registration to get you a reserved seat at the event. Payment is by either PayPal or check. Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Philadelphia workshop specifically.


Because of limited space at the Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown Rittenhouse Square, the workshop can only allow 200 registrants, unless spacing issues change. For this reason, we encourage you to book sooner rather than later.

Are spaces still available? Yes, we still have spaces available. We will announce RIGHT HERE, at this point on this web page, when all spaces are taken. If you do not see a note right here saying how all spaces are booked, then yes, we still have room, and you are encouraged to register.

How to Register: The easy first step is simply to reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email: She will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by PayPal or check. Once payment is complete, you will have a reserved seat at the event. The PWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Philadelphia workshop specifically.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason at any time, you will receive 50% of your total payment back [sent by check or PayPal]. The other 50% is nonrefundable and will not be returned, and helps the workshop ensure that only those truly interested in the limited spacing sign up for the event. (Please note that query editing payments and manuscript editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already edited your work.)

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Thank you for your interest in the 2018 Philadelphia Writing Workshop.


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Caitlin McDonald of Donald Maass Literary

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 9.58.57 PM.pngCaitlin McDonald is a literary agent with Donald Maass Literary Agency.

She is looking for:

– All types of science fiction and fantasy for adult, young adult, and middle grade, especially secondary world fantasy and alternate history
– Genre-bending or cross-genre fiction, and stories that examine tropes from a new angle
– Diversity of all kinds, including (but not limited to) race, gender, sexuality, and ability, in both characters and worldbuilding

Caitlin joined DMLA in 2015, and was previously at Sterling Lord Literistic. She represents adult and young adult speculative fiction, primarily science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and related subgenres, as well as contemporary fiction about geeky characters. She also handles a small amount of nonfiction in geeky areas, with a focus on feminist theory/women’s issues and pop culture. Caitlin grew up overseas and has a BA in Creative Writing from Columbia University.

She does not want to see women’s fiction, crime fiction, Christian fiction, picture books, or young reader chapter books.