Presenters & Instructors

This page may be updated as more faculty members are
confirmed for the 2017 Philadelphia Writing Workshop.

Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 4.45.16 PM.pngJanice Gable Bashman is the Bram-Stoker-nominated author of PREDATOR and WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE (w/New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry).

At the 2017 workshop, she is meeting with writers of adult science fiction and fantasy novels for a critique of their first ten pages.

Janice is publisher of The Big Thrill (International Thriller Writers’ magazine). Her short fiction has been published in various anthologies and magazines. Janice has written for Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, Writer’s Digest magazine, The Writer, and many other publications.  She is a speaker and workshop leader at writers conferences, including ThrillerFest, Pennwriters, The Write Stuff, Stoker weekend, and others. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, and the International Thriller Writers, where she serves on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology. See her website here.


Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 12.15.26 AM.pngJessica Bell is the executive coordinator of Writing Day Workshops, which organizes one-day writing conferences. These events take place mostly in the U.S., but can happen elsewhere.

If Jessica could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. This is not only because she spends most of her time in Athens, Greece, but because of her life as a 30-something Australian contemporary fiction author, award-winning poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs she’s written.

She started as a poet, drawing from her musical background and etching her thoughts and feelings into verse. Those stanzas soon turned into sentences and paragraphs, and eventually into published books. Her literary voice is said to overflow with “lyrical descriptions, unique metaphors, tight dialogue, and an abundance of sensory detail.” She has also been told she has the ability to take a seemingly ordinary three-chord type story and turn it into a main stage event.

In addition to her novels about unique dysfunctional families, poetry collections, and her best-selling pocket writing guides (Writing in a Nutshell series), she has published a variety of works in online and print literary journals and anthologies, including Australia’s Cordite Review, Writer’s Digest, and the anthologies 100 Stories For Queensland and From Stage Door Shadows, both released through Brisbane, Australia’s, eMergent Publishing.

One of Jessica’s proudest moments was when, in November 2013, her poem, Sugar (which was published in a poetry anthology called Women’s Work, edited by Libby Hathorn) was broadcast on ABC National Radio’s Poetica program.

Jessica Bell is the Publisher of Vine Leaves Press, and she makes a living as a Book Cover Designer for indie authors, and an editor/writer for English Language Teaching publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

As of October 2016, she is the singer of Keep Shelly in Athens.


Screen Shot 2016-11-26 at 1.34.18 PM.pngKimberly Brower is a literary agent with Brower Literary & Management.

Kimberly is interested in commercial and upmarket fiction, with an emphasis in general/book club fiction, psychological thrillers, contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and young adult (all genres). However, she is always looking for books that she wants to stay up all night reading, unable to put them down, regardless of what genre an author classifies it as. She loves stories that bring her into a world she doesn’t want to leave and characters that have strong character arcs.

In addition to taking pitches from 2017 attendees, Kimberly is also teaching the workshop “How to Write and Sell Romance in Today’s Market.”

Kimberly fell in love with reading when she picked up her first Babysitter’s Club book at the age of seven and hasn’t been able to get her nose out of a book since. She holds a BS in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge and received her JD from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. Although she loves all things romance, she is also searching for books that are different and will surprise her, with empathetic characters and compelling stories. She takes great pride in her client list, from the debut authors to #1 NYT bestsellers, and likes to consider them all her favorite authors. She previously worked for over two years at Rebecca Friedman Literary before starting her own agency. After spending 14 years in California, she is thrilled to be back on the east coast living in New York City. Connect on Twitter: @KimberlyBrower


Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 12.26.46 PM.pngMerry Jones is a published mystery novelist. (See her website here.) At the 2017 workshop, she will be teaching the classes “Ten Tips for Writing Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime Fiction” as well as “Talking Craft and Revision.” In addition, she will be critiquing attendees’ novels in the genres of crime, suspense, mystery, and thriller.

All of Merry’s work deals with interpersonal relationships, particularly their unanticipated aspects. For several years, she approached this topic through light humor (including the best-selling I LOVE HIM, BUT…) and serious nonfiction (including BIRTHMOTHERS: WOMEN WHO HAVE RELINQUISHED BABIES FOR ADOPTION TELL THEIR STORIES). Now, she has moved into a genre she loves: shadowy mysteries.

Merry’s most recent mystery is CHILD’S PLAY (January 2017). She has also authored several other successful mystery novels, many of which have been published abroad in different languages.

A member of The Philadelphia Liars Club, The Authors’ Guild, Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, Merry lives with her husband in the Philadelphia suburbs, teaching writing part-time at Temple University. The mother of two, Merry is an avid competitive rower, sculling out of Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia, and a member of the Masters Rowing Association.


Screen Shot 2016-12-06 at 2.07.32 PM.pngAnne Kaier (see her website here) is a published memoir writer and will be teaching the speech “How to Write and Sell Your Memoir” at the 2017 event.

Anne’s memoir, Home with Henry, was published by PS Books. One of her essays, “Maple Lane” was mentioned as A “Notable” in Best American Essays 2014.

Her essays and poetry have been published in venues such as The Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Kenyon Review, Referential and Beauty is a Verb: An Anthology of Poetry, Poetics, and Disability which is on the American Library Association Notable Books list for 2012.

Holding a Ph.D. from Harvard University, she teaches creative writing and literature at Arcadia University and Rosemont College. She serves on the Fulbright Creative Writing Student Screening Committee. Anne lives in Center City, Philadelphia.


Karen Maneely has been a self-published author since 2008. Her first novel was titled Fire and Ice. Since then, she ventured into the other side of self-publishing at BookBaby, where she helps other authors self-publish their own works. 

While her own creative focus is still firmly in novel length romances, she has seen the world of self-publishing evolve into what it is today.

At the 2o17 workshop, she is teaching the class “How to Self-Publish Your Book and Do It Right.”

Being able to straddle both sides of the self-publishing world has not only opened her eyes to the entire publishing process, but helped her realize a responsibility to protect her fellow authors from all the lessons she has learned over the years.


Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 3.48.36 PMAmy Sue Nathan is a novelist and blogger. She will presenting the speeches, “Author Social Media and Blogging,” and “Get Rid of Negative Talk and Naysayers.”

In addition to presenting, she will also be doing add-on critiques and meeting with attendees during the event. The genres she will critique include women’s fiction, chick lit, literary fiction, memoir, and personal essay.

Amy’s second novel, THE GOOD NEIGHBOR, will be published by St. Martin’s Griffin in October 2015. Her debut novel, THE GLASS WIVES, was published by St. Martin’s Griffin on May 14, 2013. She’s represented by Danielle Egan-Miller of Browne & Miller Literary Associates.

Amy has been blogging since 2006, and launched the Women’s Fiction Writers blog in March 2011. She teaches workshops for Writers Digest University and freelances as a fiction editor and writing coach. Her stories and essays have appeared in print and online in over two dozen publications such as The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Parent, Writer’s Digest, Huffington Post, and online in New York Times and Washington Post blogs.

She was born and raised in Philadelphia and am a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism (a degree she actually uses). In addition to being a writer, editor, and blogger, she is a dog-lover, vegetarian, not-so-secret crafter, and lover of all things wine and chocolate.

Visit her website here.


Screen-Shot-2014-01-08-at-1.09.19-PMChuck Sambuchino (, @chucksambuchino) is the former longtime editor of Guide to Literary Agents as well as the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market (both Writer’s Digest Books). His authored books include Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript; Create Your Writer Platform, which was praised by; and How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, which was optioned for film by Sony. During his past time at WD Books (through 2017), he oversaw one of the biggest blogs in publishing: the Guide to Literary Agents Blog. He is a freelance editor who has seen dozens of his clients get agents and/or book deals, and he has presented at more than 140 writing conferences and events over the past eleven years.

At the workshop, Chuck will be presenting the session, “Everything You Need to Know about Agents, Pitching, and Queries,” “Your Publishing Options Today,” and more.

He is doing attendee query letter critiques over e-mail prior to the event as an add-on element.


Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 12.53.46 PMEric Smith is a literary agent with P.S. Literary.

In addition to taking pitches throughout the day, Eric will also be teaching the session “Awesome Speculative Fiction: Tips on Writing (and Selling) Fantasy and Science Fiction.”

Eric began his publishing career at Quirk Books in Philadelphia, working social media and marketing on numerous books he absolutely adored. Eric completed his BA in English at Kean University, and his MA in English at Arcadia University. A frequent blogger, his ramblings about books appear on BookRiot, The Huffington Post, Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine’s books section, and more. A published author with Quirk Books and Bloomsbury, he seeks to give his authors the same amount of love his writing has received. Follow him on Twitter: @ericsmithrocks

Eric is seeking: Eric is eagerly acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in young adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), new adult, and literary and commercial fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of nonfiction, he’s interested in cookbooks, pop culture, humor, essay collections, and blog-to-book ideas.


Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 11.12.28 PMMadeline 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.