Presenters & Instructors

This page may be updated as more faculty members are
confirmed for the 2018 Philadelphia Writing Workshop.


Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 3.23.45 PM.pngBrian A. Klems (@BrianKlems) is the former online editor of His blog during his tenure there, The Writer’s Dig—which covered everything writing and publishing—was one of the largest blogs in the writing community.

Brian’s first book, Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Guide to Raising Daughters (Adams Media) was released in April 2013. It received high-level buzz and praise from some of the funniest writers alive, including Dave Barry and Bruce Cameron.

Brian is also a proud graduate of the Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, a husband, softball infielder, perennial fantasy sports underachiever, and father of three lovely little girls.

At the 2018 Philadelphia event, he is teaching classes on what to do before you submit, what to do after you submit, writing nonfiction books, voice and writing well, and the state of the publishing industry today. He is also critiquing queries for attendees.


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Fran Wilde is a a published speculative fiction author.

At the 2018 Philadelphia workshop, she is teaching on writing science fiction & fantasy, and also critiquing sci-fi and fantasy manuscripts for attendees.

Fran’s novels and short stories have been nominated for three Nebula awards and two Hugo awards, and include her Andre Norton- and Compton-Crook-winning debut novel, Updraft (Tor 2015), its sequels, Cloudbound (2016) and Horizon (2017), and the novelette “The Jewel and Her Lapidary” ( Publishing 2016).

Her short stories appear in Asimov’s,, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Nature, and the 2017 Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. She writes for publications including The Washington Post,, Clarkesworld,, and\


Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 12.23.39 AMRaised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist who earned her MFA in Creative Writing from American University.

At the 2018 DC workshop, Greer will be teaching a speech on characters, and also critiquing manuscripts for the genres of literary fiction, mainstream fiction, memoir, historical fiction, short stories, and general fiction.

Her debut novel THE MAGICIAN’S LIE was a USA Today bestseller, an Indie Next pick, and a Target Book Club selection. It has been optioned for film by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films.

Her new novel GIRL IN DISGUISE, about America’s first female private detective, has been called “a superb story” (Publishers Weekly) and “a rip-roaring, fast-paced treat to read” (Booklist).


screen-shot-2017-11-07-at-10-13-48-am.pngMarie Lamba is a literary agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

At the 2018 Philly workshop, Marie is teaching on revision your manuscript.

Marie Lamba ( is author of the young adult novels What I Meant… (Random House), Over My Head and Drawn, of the picture book Green Green: A Community Gardening Story (Farrar Straus Giroux), and of the upcoming picture book A Day So Gray (Clarion). Her articles appear in more than 100 publications, and she’s a frequent contributor to Writer’s Digest. Marie has worked as an editor, an award-winning public relations writer, a book publicist, and has taught classes on novel writing and on author promotion.

What she is looking for: “I’m currently seeking middle grade and young adult fiction and non-fiction, 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. I’d love a fresh non-gory ghost story for any age. I’m fascinated with hidden treasures, artifacts and with discovering ancient civilizations right beneath our feet. I’m a huge fan of folklore and fairy tales, and, while I wouldn’t want a retelling, I always enjoy those elements woven into a story in a unique way. Overall, books that are original, moving and/or hilarious are especially welcome. I’m NOT interested in Christian fiction, adult non-fiction, horsey books, genre science fiction or high fantasy (though I am open to speculative elements, especially in middle grade fiction), erotica, category romance (though romantic elements are welcomed in novels), or books that feature graphic violence. Some favorite titles on my reading shelf include Searching for Caleb by Anne Tyler, Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger, The Once and Future King by T.H. White, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Shug by Jenny Han, and Dogzilla and Hallo-weiner by Dav Pilkey.”


Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 2.17.48 PM.pngMichael Callahan is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine and the author of two critically acclaimed novels of historical fiction: Searching for Grace Kelly (2015), and The Night She Won Miss America (2017), both published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

At the 2018 Philly workshop, Michael is teaching a class on writing great historical fiction. He is offering manuscript critiques for writers of historical fiction or short story collections.

Harper’s Bazaar said of Searching for Grace Kelly: “Michael Callahan weaves together the lives of three young women who discover Beat New York City while dorming at the famed Barbizon Hotel—sorority of sorts that brought up some of the city’s most storied starlets-to-be—in a novel we won’t be putting down.” In its review of The Night She Won Miss America, People magazine declared, “Inspired by a true story, this delightful novel is like an old black-and-white movie translated to the page, perfectly capturing the era as it serves up breathless romance and a heart-pounding plot.”

An adjunct professor of writing at Temple University, Callahan is also a contributing book critic for The New York Times Book Review. His work has appeared in numerous national magazines, including Elle, The Hollywood Reporter, Garden & Gun, ESPN The Magazine, and Town & Country. He is currently working on his first coffee-table book, a history of the glamorous Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood, to be published next year by Story Farm Books.


Rahiem Brooks.jpgRahiem Jerome Brooks heads Prodigy Gold Books (PGB) as CEO and Publisher, an up-and-coming small traditional press headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. PGB is devoted to the business and promotion of novels.

Raheim is a crime novelist and a member of the Mystery Writer’s of America. His debut thriller, LAUGH NOW, won 2010 African-Americans on the Move Book Club’s (AAMBC) Book of the Year & he earned 2011 AAMBC Author of the Year. LAUGH NOW also won the Most Creative Plot at the DMV Expo’s Creative Excellence Awards. Rahiem was also nominated at the 2011 & 2012 African-American Literary Awards for Mystery of the Year for Con Test and Murder in Germantown.

At the 2018 conference, Rahiem is taking pitches and Prodigy Gold Books is seeking: commercial YA and adult projects in the following genres: speculative fiction (horror, SFF, 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.”

Rahiem is also doing critiques, for writers of mystery, crime, thriller, and any books with African-American themes. And at the 2018 Philly conference, he is teaching on thriller/mystery writing.


Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 5.43.24 PM.pngMoe Ferrara is a literary agent with BookEnds Literary. At the 2018 workshop, she will be taking pitches, and also teaching on romance writing.

Becoming a literary agent was fitting for the girl who, as a small child, begged her dad to buy her a book simply because “it has a hard cover.” Growing up, she had a hard time finding YA books outside of Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine, and instead tackled Tom Clancy or her mom’s romance novels. Though her career path zigzagged a bit—she attended college as a music major, earned a JD from Pace Law School, then worked various jobs throughout the publishing industry—Moe was thrilled to join the BookEnds team in May of 2015 as a literary agent.

A Pennsylvania native, she is mum of a rambunctious corgi who is a master at stealing treats. When not reading, she is an avid gamer and always awaiting the next Assassin’s Creed or Destiny release. You can follow Moe on Twitter at @inthesestones.

Moe is interested in books for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers in most genres–especially science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, romance, and light horror. The right contemporary or paranormal romance (sans-vampires of course) will spark her interest. She’s LGBTQ friendly across all age groups and always looking for more #ownvoices clients as well. She is also interested in select narrative nonfiction titles in the areas of LGBTQ studies, musical theatre, and classical music. At this time she’s not looking women’s fiction or cozy mysteries.


Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 5.45.50 PM.pngDamian McNicholl is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary. At the 2018 Philly workshop, he is taking pitches from attendees, and also teaching how to write a nonfiction book proposal.

Damian grew up in Northern Ireland and moved to the US in the early nineties. A former attorney, he’s the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel A SON CALLED GABRIEL (CDS Books/Perseus Books Group). Tremendously interested in the business side of publishing as well as the creative, he attended the initial meeting with the publisher armed with a marketing plan that helped convince the publisher to add his novel to their list. The novel was a Lambda Literary Awards debut fiction finalist and an American Booksellers Association Booksense Pick (now known as Indie Next List). Sold in the UK to independent publisher Legend Press, he negotiated the sale of a second novel, Twisted Agendas, to them. A screenplay he wrote of his debut novel was a quarterfinalist in the Nicholl Fellowships organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Damian has appeared on television and radio in the US and UK to discuss his work. His latest novel, The Moment Of Truth from Pegasus Books, was a Houston Chronicle summer read selection when it first released in hardcover. A new version of A Son Called Gabriel with an Author Afterword, republished by Pegasus Books, was well-reviewed by the New York Times Book Review. Damian is now keen to utilize his experience to help talented published and unpublished writers achieve their goals.

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. No genre fiction at this time. As a guide, examples of novels I’ve enjoyed include The Kitchen House, The Help, Water for Elephants, My Year of Meats, Watership Down, Cold Mountain, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Atonement. Admired nonfiction authors include David McCollough, Tim Pat Coogan, Eric Schlosser, Augusten Burroughs, and David Sedaris.”


Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 9.58.43 AM.pngKelly Peterson is a jr. literary agent with Corvisiero Literary.

At the 2018 workshop, Kelly is taking pitches and also teaching on query letter writing.

Kelly has spent her whole life with a book in her hands. Whether it’s from reading, writing, or day dreaming, her mind has always been up in the clouds wishing her fantasy stories would come true. A graduate of West Chester University, she earned her B.S.Ed. in English. When not working one of her three jobs and being a nerd, Kelly can be found dancing, riding horses, perfecting her yoga technique, blogging, and writing.

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.


Screen Shot 2018-05-01 at 9.54.11 AMMadeline Smoot is the publisher of CBAY Books and former editorial director for children’s books of Blooming Tree Press. She runs the Buried in the Slush Pile blog.

At the workshop, Madeline will be presenting the session, “How to Write Amazing Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction” and well as “How to Write and Sell Picture Books for Children.”

She is critiquing young adult and middle grade submissions as an add-on element for attendees.

Madeline lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, son, two cats, a dog, and more books than should fit in any normal person’s house. Visit her website here.