Presenters & Instructors

This page will be updated as more faculty members are confirmed
for the 2022 Philadelphia Writing Workshop.

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Léonicka Valcius is a literary agent at Transatlantic Literary.

At the 2022 online PHL workshop, she is teaching a class and meeting with writers for one-on-one virtual pitches.

“As I build my client list, I will be co-agenting with senior literary agents at Transatlantic.

“I am eager to work with people of color, including (but not limited to) trans people, disabled people, religious minorities, and queer folks.

Adult and Young Adult fiction: “I like books I can read on a beach vacation — fun commercial fiction, romance that ranges from sweet to steamy, otherworldly fantasy, and sweeping historical fiction. For reference, my faves include Kevin Kwan, Alisha Rai, N.K. Jemisin, Philippa Gregory, Nicola Yoon, Marie Lu, and Elizabeth Wein. I do not represent literary fiction, mysteries or thrillers.”

Middle Grade and younger: “I love humour, adventure, and make believe. I also enjoy stories about children navigating their changing relationships with family and friends. I strongly prefer books with at least one human character. My faves include Jason Reynolds, Dan Santat, Dav Pilkey, and Christopher Paul Curtis. I do not represent picture books.”

Nonfiction: “At this time I am accepting non-fiction proposals by referral only.”

Léonicka Valcius was that kid who got in trouble for reading past her bedtime… and while the teacher was talking… and while crossing the street. In 2011 she was able to turn this obsession into an actual career, much to her mother’s relief.

After completing the publishing program at Centennial College, Léonicka interned at HarperCollins Canada before working at Scholastic Book Fairs Canada for nearly 4 years as a book buyer and marketer. She then joined the Online and Digital Sales team at Penguin Random House Canada where she sold ebooks and audiobooks. Léonicka is eager to draw from these experiences to return to her original passion: working with writers.

As the founder of #DiverseCanLit and the first Chair of the Board of the Festival of Literary Diversity, serving readers and writers of colour is the core of Léonicka’s career. She brings this same mandate to her work at Transatlantic. As Assistant Agent, Léonicka will be working closely with Senior Agents with whom she will be co-agenting new clients.

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Elizabeth Kracht is a literary agent with Kimberley Cameron & Associates.

At the 2022 online PWW, Elizabeth is teaching a class and also meeting writers through one-on-one virtual pitches.

Elizabeth joined Kimberley Cameron & Associates in the fall of 2010 to broaden her perspective on the publishing industry. She represents both literary and commercial fiction as well as nonfiction, and brings to the agency experience as a former acquisitions editor, freelance publicist and writer.

Elizabeth’s career in publishing took root in Puerto Rico where she completed her BA in English and worked as a copyeditor for an English-language newspaper. When she returned to the mainland she found her “vein of gold” in book publishing. She thrives on working closely with authors to build their careers.

Elizabeth’s eclectic life experience drives her interests. She appreciates writing that has depth, an introspective voice, and is thematically layered. Having lived in cities such as New York, San Francisco and San Juan, Puerto Rico, she is compelled by multicultural themes and characters and is drawn toward strong settings.

In fiction, she represents literary, commercial, women’s, thrillers, mysteries, historical, and crossover YA. In nonfiction, she is interested in high concept, health, science, environment, prescriptive, investigative, true crime, voice- or adventure-driven memoir, sexuality, spirituality, and animal/pet stories.

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Lesley Sabga is a literary agent with The Seymour Agency.

At the 2022 online PWW, Lesley is teaching a class and also meeting with writers for one-on-one virtual pitches.

Lesley has worked as an editorial assistant and freelancer for multiple publishing houses such as Entangled, Jolly Fish Press and Flux Books, as well as Sourcebooks. She’s also been working for The Seymour Agency since 2014.

Starting out as an eager intern, she worked her way up to being a literary assistant, and in the fall of 2017, Lesley became an agent with The Seymour Agency. Lesley is a member of AAR.

She is seeking: Lesley loves intricate and vivid world-building and character-driven plots. She is acquiring young adult and adult fiction. She is always down to read dark and twisty suspense or thriller featuring strong, female protagonists. She also loves curling up with a good cozy mystery. For non-fiction, Lesley would love to see more self-help, lifestyle, true crime, and pop culture submissions in her inbox. Always open to diversity, Lesley is actively looking for marginalized authors to bring into the literary world.

When she is not rescuing animals or searching for her next debut author, Lesley is a constant occupant at local bookstores in Colorado Springs and is a self-proclaimed coffee aficionado.

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Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 11.51.01 PM.pngLeticia Gomez is a literary agent and the founder of Saavy Literary.

Leticia has been working in the publishing industry for more than two decades. During this span of time, she has published her own newspaper, authored and published three books, edited numerous fiction and nonfiction manuscripts written in both English and Spanish that have gone on to publication. Thus far in her career as a literary agent she has placed close to 200 books with independent and mainstream traditional publishers.

At the present time, Savvy Literary Agency is interested in reviewing compelling and commercially viable book proposals and manuscripts written in English or Spanish in the following genres:

Fiction: Adventure, Chick-lit, Fantasy, Historical, Humor, Multi-cultural, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult and Middle-grade.

Nonfiction: Advice/Relationships, Biography, Cooking, Diet, Health, History/Politics/Current Affairs, How-to, Humor, Lifestyle, Memoir, Parenting, Religion/Spirituality and True Crime.

In January of 2007, she launched Savvy Literary, becoming one of a highly select group of agencies in the world that specializes in the Latino book market and offers literary representation in English and Spanish. Since its inception, the agency’s prime directive has been to professionally, diligently, and tirelessly represent Latino and other ethnic minority writers since oftentimes they are misrepresented or worse yet not represented at all in the publishing and film/television industry. Although Savvy Literary has evolved through the years and is now an industry leader by also specializing in Business and Self-Help, Suspense/Thriller, and the Young Adult market, championing the work of minority authors continues to be a top priority for the agency.

At the 2022 online PWW, Leticia is teaching a class. She is also meeting with writers for one-on-one virtual online pitches.

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Joel Brigham is the founder of Brigham Editorial, a fiction-editing service that has helped writers find agents and agented authors prepare for submission and publication.

He also is an editorial consultant for The Purcell Agency, a literary agency based out of Chicago, Illinois. As an author, he writes YA contemporary fiction and has two books on submission, both represented by agent Tina P. Schwartz.

He also edits content for Basketball News and spent 12 years covering the NBA as a senior sportswriter for HoopsWorld and Basketball Insiders. He has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and a master’s degree in English Education and has taught high school English for 18 years.

At the 2022 online PHL workshop, he is offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

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Laura Zats is a literary agent and founder of Headwater Literary.

At the 2022 online PHL event, she is teaching a class.

For over a decade, Laura has worked with books in every way from bookselling to editing to self-publishing. A literary agent since 2014, she finds the most joy in working closely with authors to build their long-term careers in ways that contribute positively to their financial and mental health, as well as the greater community. Since 2016, Laura has hosted Print Run, a publishing podcast, with Erik Hane and is increasingly passionate about teaching, mentorship, and the role books play in the fight for social justice.

In her spare time, Laura plays tabletop role-playing games, cooks elaborate meals, follows long-distance dogsled racing, and drinks a lot of tea. Connect with her on twitter @LZats.

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Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 11.40.52 PM.pngTara Bailey is the founder and CEO of Bailey Publishing House.

Tara founded Bailey Publishing House, LLC in 2016. She serves as Chief Executive Officer and Senior Editor.

At the 2022 online Philadelphia Writing Workshop, Tara is meeting virtually with writers for add-on manuscript critiques.

Tara is a ghostwriter and author of Dracula of the West Side and Number Seven (2018). She’s the author of the dark comedy play, “Deadbeat” (2017). The play premiered on May 21, 2018 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater, downtown Pittsburgh. The production was produced by Wali Jamal Abdullah and directed by Kim El.

She was the featured speaker at the Celebration of Reading in June 2017 and Pittsburgh’s Write On: Black Book Expo in November 2017. Along with speaking at book festivals, BPH hosts an annual writers workshop. She’s been a featured guest on WAMO 100 radio programs and Soul Pitt Quarterly wrote an article about her company in Summer 2017 edition. In addition to her commitment to BPH, she is also Editor-in-Chief for a personal care home monthly magazine in Pennsylvania.

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Alex Barba has experience as a fiction editor, literary agent, book scout, script doctor, and magazine and nonprofit editor. At the 2022 online PWW, she is offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

“For the majority of my career I’ve worked on YA and romance stories – first love, love denied, coming-of-age, friendships and adventures, and spicy feminist romance. My main area of expertise is in young fiction fiction in the following genres: contemporary/realistic, rom-com, contemporary (“low”) fantasy, and paranormal fantasy.

What I’m most passionate about is helping to make a good story even better. I enjoy working with writers who are looking to take their work to the next level. I bring a thorough, careful eye to each project and enjoy working with authors in all manner of developmental stages.

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Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 1.31.06 AM.pngRicki Cardenas is the author of two humorous women’s fiction novels, MR. RIGHT-SWIPE (2017) and SWITCH AND BAIT (2018), both published by Grand Central (Hachette) under the name Ricki Schultz. Among other publications, she has contributed to Writer’s Digest Books, and she is also a freelance editor. She has molded the minds of tweens & teens as a teacher in both the CLE and the ATL, and she’s taught writing and communications at the college level as well. She’s back in Cleveland now living la vida loca with her husband and two crazy hound dogs, and her writing is represented by Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

At the 2022 online PHL conference, she is critiquing manuscripts for women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, young adult, and middle grade.

Ricki earned a B.A. in English and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

In addition to freelance writing and editing, she has spoken at writers’ conferences and was formerly the coordinator of the now-defunct online writing community, the Write-Brained Network.

Her writing is represented by Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

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Latoya C. Smith is a literary agent with Arthouse Literary Agency.

At the 2022 online PWW, Latoya is teaching a class. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitching.

In fiction, she seeks high-concept women’s fiction; high-concept mystery, thriller and horror, romance (contemporary, romantic suspense, cowboys, historical, LGBTQ, paranormal, sweet), comedy / romantic comedy, and young adult (no SF/F). In nonfiction, she is strictly seeking platform and market-based books in the areas of memoir, how to, advice, relationships, health, wellness, politics, current events, history, sports, pop culture, and business.

“Having worked for corporate New York publishing houses, independent and boutique presses, and with self-published authors, I have a well-rounded knowledge of book publishing with a core network of relationships with authors, literary agents, and other publishing professionals. I graduated Cum Laude from Temple University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a minor in African American Studies. I have been featured in Publishers Weekly, Forbes, and USA Today, as well as on various author, book conference, and book blogger websites. I am the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple Award for Editor of the Year, the 2017 RWA Golden Apple Award for Agent of the Year, and the 2017 Literary Jewels Award for Editor of the Year. In early 2014, I appeared on CSpan2 where I contributed to a panel discussing the state of book publishing.”

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Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 8.16.11 PMChuck Sambuchino (@chucksambuchino) is a freelance editor, bestselling book author, and former longtime staffer for Writer’s Digest Books. For many years he edited the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN’S WRITER’S & ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog was one of the largest blogs in publishing, and he wrote the platform guidebook CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM.

His humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. Chuck’s books have been mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Variety, New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, Mental Floss, New York magazine, and many more media outlets.

He is a successful freelance editor of queries, synopses, and manuscripts—seeing dozens of clients get agents or book deals following his consultations/edits. He loves meeting new writers.

Chuck is the lead coordinator for Writing Day Workshops. At the 2022 online PHL workshop, he is teaching a class.

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Sera Rivers is a literary agent with Martin Literary Management.

At the 2022 online PWW, Sera is meeting with attendees for one-on-one pitches. She is also teaching a class.

Sera is currently accepting queries for middle grade and young adult fiction and graphic novels, as well as the occasional picture book. (Learn more here.)

In 2007, Sera joined SCBWI when her best friend insisted that Sera belonged in the kidlit world. She now attends SCBWI conferences and workshops every year. She’s volunteered for the New England chapter since 2012, co-directing NESCBWI’s 2017 and 2018 annual spring conferences. In 2009, after immersing herself in the kidlit community, she decided to pursue her passion—a career in the children’s book industry. She went back to college, earning her bachelor of arts degree in Creative Writing and Journalism Studies from the University of Massachusetts and her master of fine arts degree in Writing for Children, with a concentration in young adult novels, from Simmons University. Her young adult memoir THE WICKED ONES won the 2016 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award.

Sera worked in educational publishing for seven years and launched Avenue A Books, a children’s graphic novel imprint at Center for Responsive Schools. As Avenue A’s acquiring and managing editor, she worked with new and established children’s book writers and illustrators to create picture books and middle grade novels. She loved helping writers and illustrators hone their craft to produce their best work. Now, as an agent, Sera provides editorial feedback to help clients get their manuscripts submission ready.

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Miranda Stinson is a writer and editor originally from the Midwest. After interning at Writer’s Digest, she headed east to pursue her dreams of working in the publishing world. 

Since settling in New York, she’s done everything from conference planning to being an agent assistant to working in children’s book publishing at Penguin Random House.

Now, Miranda is part of the Writing Day Workshops team.

At the 2022 online PWW, Miranda is teaching a speech.

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Laura Biagi is a freelance editor with 13 years of experience in editing and agenting memoir, adult fiction, young adult fiction, and children’s books.

At the 2022 online PHL event, she is available for add-on manuscript critiques.

Previously, she was a literary agent with the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, where she turned her clients’ books into New York Times bestsellers. She has an MFA from the University of Houston and is currently Editor-in-Chief of Southeast Review.