2019 Conference Tentative Schedule

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Check-in and Walk-in Registration Open
Conference programs and appointment schedules will be available for registered participants upon check-in.

8 am–6 pm

Preconference Workshops

9–11 am

Appointment Tables Open
If editors and agents have openings, additional appointments can be scheduled for a fee. Changes are not permitted.

11 am–6 pm

Lunch Break

11 am–1 pm

Welcome by College of Extended Studies, SDSU
Introductions by Erin Quinn, Best-selling Author and Conference Director
Opening Session Speaker

1–2:15 pm

Breakout Sessions

2:30–3:30 pm

Breakout Sessions

3:45–4:45 pm

Breakout Sessions

5–6 pm

Opening Night Mixer

6–7:30 pm

You are invited to Practice Your Pitch

7:30–9 pm

Friday, February 1, 2019

Check-in Open

7:30 am–5:30 pm

Continental Breakfast

7:30–8:30 am

Appointment Tables Open
If editors and agents have openings, additional appointments can be scheduled for a fee. No new appointments scheduled after 10 am. Changes are not permitted.

7:30–10 am

Keynote Speaker

8:30–9:30 am

Breakout Sessions

9:45–10:45 am

Breakout Sessions

11 am–12 pm


12:15–1:30 pm

Breakout Sessions

1:45–2:45 pm

Breakout Sessions

3–4 pm

Breakout Sessions

4:15–5:15 pm

Reception for all conference participants and faculty.

5:30–7 pm

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Continental Breakfast

8–9 am

Information Table Open Conference evaluation drop-off.

8 am–12 pm

Conference Choice Awards Presentations

9–9:15 am

Editor and Agent Panel

9:30–10:30 am

Keynote Speaker

10:45–11:45 am

Closing Comments and Farewell — Best-selling Author and Conference Director, Erin Quinn

11:45 am–12 pm


2019 Program

Coming Soon


2019 Speakers

Keynotes / Guests of Honor
Cory Doctorow
William Kenower
Jonathan Maberry
Paula Munier

Presenting Editors & Agents

Jessica Faust
Ariel Richardson
Ann Rose

For full list of attending editors and agents available for Advance Reading Appointments and Consultation Appointments, see Appointment & Faculty Information.


Keynotes / Guests of Honor

Cory Doctorow Cory Doctorow
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist, and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net). He is also the author of Walkaway, a novel for adults; In Real Life, a YA graphic novel; the nonfiction business book Information Doesn’t Want to be Free; young adult novels including Homeland, Pirate Cinema, and Little Brother; and novels for adults including Rapture of the Nerds, and Makers. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is an MIT Media Lab research affiliate, a visiting professor of Computer Science at The Open University, a UK-based free online school; and co-founder of the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, Doctorow now lives in Los Angeles, California.

Keynote: Fiction is Weird


William Kenower William Kenower
William Kenower is the author of Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence, and Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion. He is also the editor-in-chief of Author magazine, and a sought-after speaker and teacher. In addition to his books, Kenower has been published in The New York Times, Edible Seattle, Parent Map, Tifferet Journal, and has been a featured blogger for the Huffington Post. His video interviews with hundreds of writers — from Nora Ephron to Amy Tan and William Gibson — are widely considered the best of their kind on the internet. He also hosts the podcast Author2Author where every week he and a different guest discuss the books we write and the lives we lead.

Keynote: Fearless Writing
Conference Session: Your Life as a Story: The Art of Memoir and Personal Essay


Jonathan Maberry Jonathan Maberry
Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author, five-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, and comic book writer. His vampire apocalypse book series, V-Wars, is in production as a Netflix original series starring Ian Somerhalder (Lost, Vampire Diaries) and will debut in early 2019. He writes in multiple genres including suspense, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and action; for adults, teens and middle-graders. His works include the Joe Ledger thrillers, Glimpse, the Rot & Ruin series, the Dead of Night series, The Wolfman, X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate, and Mars One. Several of his works are in development for film and TV. Maberry is the editor of high-profile anthologies including The X-Files, Aliens: Bug Hunt, Out of Tune, New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Baker Street Irregulars, and Nights of the Living Dead. His comics include Black Panther: DoomWar, The Punisher: Naked Kills, and Bad Blood. He lives in Del Mar, California.

Keynote: Confessions of a Professional Daydreamer
Preconference Session:
The Ticking Clock: Constructing a Nail-Biter of a Thriller
The Short Story: Unlocking All the Doors in the House of Your Creativity



Guest of Honor

Paula Munier Paula Munier
Paula Munier is a literary agent, writer, and teacher who’s published several books, including the bestselling Plot Perfect, The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings, Writing with Quiet Hands, and the acclaimed memoir Fixing Freddie. The first novel in her mystery series, A Borrowing of Bones, debuted from Minotaur of St. Martin’s Press in September 2018. In her fabulous day job as senior literary agent and content strategist for Talcott Notch Literary, she represents many great writers. Munier’s specialties include crime fiction, women’s fiction, upmarket fiction, MG and crossover YA, high-concept SFF, and nonfiction.

The Hero’s Journey: Creating Character-Driven Plots



Presenting Editors & Agents

See Appointment & Faculty Information for the full list of editors and agents available for Advance Reading Appointments and Consultation Appointments.


Jessica Faust Jessica Faust
Jessica Faust founded BookEnds Literary Agency because of a love for discovering new books and her desire to bring them to readers. More than 15 years later she is still seeking out books in mystery, suspense, thriller, women’s fiction, and upmarket and literary fiction. In addition to building her own list, Faust has been working hard to build BookEnds into an agency for everyone. BookEnds now has 10 agents representing a range of nearly all genres in fiction and nonfiction for adults and children of all ages. When she’s not representing her clients or building BookEnds, Faust likes to cook, read, travel, watch kids sports, and laugh with friends. She also tweets under @BookEndsJessica.

What Can You Expect from the Author-Agent Relationship


Ariel Richardson Ariel Richardson
Ariel Richardson is an editor in children”s at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. She primarily edits board books, picture books, and formats/novelty, working on titles such as Bunny Slopes, This Is How We Do It, Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets, and Masha and Her Sisters. She loves books with a global perspective, books about religious literacy and intersectionality, books that celebrate the power of the imagination, and books that push the boundaries of traditional bookmaking. She’s a children’s bookseller in her spare time, and has a master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College.

From the Page-turn to the Flap: The Children’s Book as Object


Ann Rose Ann Rose
Ann Rose is one of Prospect Agency”s newest agents, but she isn”t new to publishing. Not only has she penned two published novels, Road to Eugenica and Not Innocent, but over the last few years has been working and mentoring with literary agents in various capacities. Everything she has experienced, from editorial work to the magic of finding the perfect match between author and editor, has strengthened her resolve to join this wonderful profession. Now she”s thrilled to be building her own list and is actively seeking clients ready to grow amazing careers with her. Rose”s perfect manuscript is a character-driven story that isn”t afraid to push boundaries. She also loves an unlikeable character

Quelling Your Query Conundrums



Presenting Writers and Industry Professionals


Jim Azevedo Jim Azevedo
Jim Azevedo is the marketing director at Smashwords, the largest distributor of self-published ebooks, serving 140,000 independent authors, publishers, and literary agents. Since 2008, Smashwords has helped authors around the world release nearly 500,000 titles and distribute their work globally to top ebook retailers, subscription services, and public libraries. A proud SDSU graduate, Azevedo earned a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in English, and played on the Aztec Rugby team. Smashwords can be found online at www.smashwords.com or via Twitter @Smashwords.com. Azevedo can be reached via Twitter @Jazzervedo.

How to Hit the Best-seller List with eBook Preorders
Introduction to eBook Self-Publishing
The Secrets to eBook Publishing Success


Lindsey BarrettBarrett
Barrett — writer, editor, teacher, speaker; clothing, costume, and handbag designer — received her M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her craft essays, book reviews, and short stories have been published in many fine journals and have been honored with awards. Her “Writing Beyond Good” series can be found online in the Missouri Review’s dispatches. Barrett lived the first half of her life in sunny San Diego, but now avoids the sun like a vampire, so is well suited to life under a canopy of fir and cedar in the cool gray light of the Pacific Northwest.

Hungry for Connection
Pitch Perfect: Shark-free Swim Lesson
The Art of Pacing


John Burke John Burke
John Burke is the co-founder of Pub Site and the vice president and COO of FSB Associates, a digital marketing firm specializing in books and authors. He has worked for a number of publishers including Crown, McGraw-Hill, Addison Wesley, and John Wiley & Sons. He left the position of sales director at Springer Publishing in 1996 to join FSB Associates to launch its website development efforts. Their first website — one of the first author sites on the web — was for Sue Grafton. Burke co-founded Pub Site in 2017 to offer an easy-to-use website builder for books and authors.

Author Websites Made Easy


Aaron Clark Aaron Clark
Aaron Philip Clark is a novelist and screenwriter from Los Angeles, California. His work has been praised by James Sallis, Gar Anthony Haywood, Gary Phillips, Eric Beetner, and Roger Smith. In addition to his writing career, he has worked in the film industry and law enforcement. Clark currently teaches English and writing courses at a university in Southern California, and he is a doctoral candidate working to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Writing Fiction for a Multicultural World


Rich Ehisen Rich Ehisen
Rich Ehisen is managing editor of the State Net Capitol Journal, a LexisNexis publication that covers state public policy issues and trends nationwide. He also writes a monthly column called “Discourse” for Comstock’s magazine, a Q&A conversation with some of the capitol region’s legislative leaders and key decision makers. Ehisen’s work has appeared in a number of regional and national publications, including Government Technology, Sunset, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Capitol Weekly. He hosts and moderates the Writers Coffeehouse, a monthly networking group of writers, reporters and editors in the Sacramento area.

The Art of the Interview: There Is No Such Thing as Being Too Prepared


Kim Fielding Kim Fielding
Kim Fielding is pleased every time someone calls her eclectic. Her books span a variety of genres, but all include authentic voices and unconventional heroes. She’s a Rainbow Award and SARA Emma Merritt winner, a LAMBDA finalist, and a two-time Foreword INDIE finalist. She lives in California, where she’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full-time. She also dreams of having two teenagers who occasionally get off their phones, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a cat who doesn’t wake her up at 4 am. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others.

Crime, Cops, and Convicts: Criminal Justice for Authors
The Unexpected Hero


Henry HerzHenry Herz
Henry Herz is a children’s book author and SCBWI member represented by Deborah Warren of East/West Literary Agency. He’s written Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes (Pelican, 2015), When You Give an Imp a Penny (Pelican, 2016), Mabel and the Queen of Dreams (Schiffer, 2016), Little Red Cuttlefish (Pelican, 2016), Cap’n Rex & His Clever Crew (Sterling, 2017), Good Egg and Bad Apple (Schiffer, 2018), How the Squid Got Two Long Arms (Pelican, 2018), Alice’s Magic Garden (Familius, 2018), Two Pirates + One Robot (Kane Miller, 2019), and Sherlock Chick and Bunny Watson (Pelican, 2019).

Writing Extraordinary Picture Books


Lacey Impellizeri Lacey Impellizeri
Lacey Impellizeri is a publicist, graphic design artist, and aspiring author. As project manager at Acorn Publishing, she assists authors in the process of publishing their books, and helps them with 854 other thing, from designing websites to setting up social media accounts. She is also the marketing director and contact for all Acorn-related PR.

Acorn Publishing is a highly selective boutique, hybrid publishing imprint. Writers accepted into the collective pay a one-time-only up-front fee for services and to publish under the Acorn imprint. In exchange, authors keep their rights, profits, and creative control while being given the opportunity to publish with a group of award-winning, best-selling authors who will help ensure their novels’ success.

Introduction to Hybrid Publishing — Get Your Story Out!


Holly Kammier Holly Kammier
Acorn Publishing co-founder and best-selling author Holly Kammier is a former journalist who has worked everywhere from CNN in Washington, D.C. and Channel 13 News in Los Angeles, to the NBC affiliate in small-town Medford, Oregon. She is an accomplished content editor and writing coach. Several of her newbie authors have gone on to become USA Today best-sellers. The UCLA honor grad lives in her hometown of San Diego, close to family and friends. She recently completed her third book, Choosing Hope, the story of a perfectly beautiful love affair gone terribly wrong.

Acorn Publishing is a highly selective boutique, hybrid publishing imprint. Writers accepted into the collective pay a one-time-only up-front fee for services and to publish under the Acorn imprint. In exchange, authors keep their rights, profits, and creative control while being given the opportunity to publish with a group of award-winning, best-selling authors who will help ensure their novels’ success.

Introduction to Hybrid Publishing — Get Your Story Out!


Karen An-hwei Lee Karen An-hwei Lee
Karen An-hwei Lee is the author of Sonata in K (Ellipsis 2017). Her book of literary criticism, Anglophone Literatures in the Asian Diaspora: Literary Transnationalism and Translingual Migrations (Cambria 2013), was selected for the Cambria Sinophone World Series. She earned an M.F.A. from Brown University and Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, she lives in San Diego, where she serves in the university administration at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Avant-Garde Science Fiction as Social Critique and Resistance


BJ Robbins Stephen-Paul Martin
Stephen-Paul Martin has published many books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. His most recent books of fiction are The Ace of Lightning (FC2/University of Alabama) and Changing the Subject (Ellipsis). Between 1980–1996 he edited the literary journal Central Park in New York City. He is currently a fiction-writing professor in San Diego State University's MFA program.

The Benefits and Risks of a Creative Writing Master’s Program


Rod Martinez Rod Martinez
Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Rod Martinez was attracted to words early in life. His first book, The Boy Who Liked To Read, was created in grade school, where his teacher used it to encourage creativity in class. Eventually he discovered comic books, but his high school English teacher pressed him into short story writing. Martinez, the recipient of the 2017 Jerry Spinelli Scholarship from the Highlights Foundation and the 2018 Professional Development Artist Grant from the Tampa Bay Arts Council, wrote the middle-grade adventure, The Juniors. It was picked up by a publisher, and the rest is history.

Character Kickstart
Dialogue: It Isn’t Just About Talk


Judy McSweeney Judy McSweeney
With over three decades of marketing experience for clients ranging from celebrities to storytellers, Judy McSweeney develops customized marketing plans, web copy, and events for authors so they can concentrate on their craft. At Kane Miller EDC Publishing, she is on the editorial and marketing team, promoting children’s books worldwide. With a son on the verge of college enlightenment, a daughter on the verge of dating, and a husband on the verge of a nervous breakdown, McSweeney enjoys avoiding reality by writing middle-grade novels.

A Storyteller’s Marketing Secrets: Simple, Silly & Savvy Steps to Promote Children’s Books


BJ Robbins Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Jennifer Minniti- Shippey is the managing editor of Poetry International literary journal, director of Poetic Youth, and a lecturer at San Diego State University. Her poetry collections include Done Dating DJs, winner of the 2008 Fool for Poetry Chapbook competition; Earth's Horses & Boys; and After the Tour.

Creating Community through Writing


Rachel Moore Rachel Moore
Rachel Moore, LMFT, is a licensed psychotherapist based in San Diego. She specializes in helping writers and other "creative types" overcome anxiety and trauma. Her undergraduate degree is in creative writing. Moore worked as a copy editor for 14 years in the newspaper industry, including at The San Diego Union-Tribune. (She estimates she wrote about 50,000 headlines over the course of her journalism career.)

How to Crush Creative Anxiety


Julia Roberts Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts helps writers predict and prevent writer’s block. She is an engaging and fun workshop leader on a mission to bring the science of creativity to writers whose voices are stifled by creative resistance. Whether writers have a hard time getting started, sticking to one project, finishing, or creatively marketing their work, Roberts delivers science, insights, and self-knowledge about their strengths and struggles so they can adjust their approach and get ‘er done. She has addressed worldwide audiences live and on webinars, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio shows and a dozen TV talk shows. Roberts has three published books including Sex, Lies & Creativity — Gender Differences in Creativity, and earned her Master’s in Science in Creative Studies from Buffalo State College.

Write Without the Fight: 5 Things You Need to Know to Write with Ease and Flow


Penny C. Sansevieri Penny C. Sansevieri
Penny C. Sansevieri, founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is also an adjunct professor teaching self-publishing for NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry, developing innovative, social-media book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet." AME has had dozens of books top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.

The Reason Why (Your Book Isn’t Selling)


Nevien Shaabneh Nevien Shaabneh
Nevien Shaabneh is an American novelist, certified diversity and inclusion specialist, public speaker, and educator from the Chicagoland area. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s in English Education, and from Saint Xavier with a Masters of Arts. Shaabneh is a member of The Society for Diversity and serves as a consultant for the Muslim Women’s Alliance. In addition to debuting her novel, Secrets Under the Olive Tree (Nortia Press) and completing a second novel, she speaks nationally on matters relating to diversity and inclusion, the writing process, minority voices in writing, Muslims in America, the Arab-American experience, and the Muslim woman narrative. She also serves as a key contributor in interfaith discussions and diversity training.

Writing in Color


Judith Starkston Judith Starkston
Judith Starkston has spent too much time exploring the remains of the ancient worlds of the Greeks and Hittites. Early on she went so far as to get degrees in classics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cornell. She loves myths and telling stories. This has gotten more and more out of hand. Her solution is her brand: Fantasy and Magic in a Bronze Age World. Hand of Fire was a semifinalist for the M.M. Bennett’s Award for Historical Fiction. Priestess of Ishana won the San Diego State University Conference Choice Award. Starkston is represented by Richard Curtis.

Less Is More: Editing with Your Best Critical Eye



Panels & Breakout Sessions



Fiction is WeirdCory Doctorow
Fiction is a cognitive illusion that tricks readers (and weirder still, writers) into having involuntary emotional responses to imaginary events. The more you think about it, the weirder that gets — and the more you can clarify why certain writing works for readers, and how writers can approach it.

Fearless WritingWilliam Kenower
Learning the craft is only the beginning of a writer’s journey. After your story is told, you must share your work with friends, classmates, agents, editors, and readers. This is what we call being an author, and it is what beginning and experienced writers alike find most challenging in their working lives. Based on his popular book, Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence, Kenower will lead a roundtable discussion on the real barriers to writing success — questions of voice, intelligence, time, money, and talent.

Confessions of a Professional DaydreamerJonathan Maberry
Learn the art and science of finding stories everywhere you look, how to develop them, and how to turn them into salable stories.


Preconference Session

Join New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry for a two-hour deep-dive into crafting the page-turner.

The Ticking Clock: Constructing a Nail-Biter of a Thriller
The thriller genre has never been hotter. Thrillers dominate the best-seller list, they get optioned for breathtaking movies and TV shows, and they are career-makers for authors. But what makes a novel a thriller? New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry deconstructs the thriller to show how they’re built. This insider’s view of thrillers covers plot and structure, how to do the research that super-charges your thriller, character development, timing, pacing, building tension, and writing dynamic action scenes. Maberry will also discuss how to pitch and market your thriller.

The Short Story: Unlocking All the Doors in the House of Your Creativity
The short story market has never been healthier, and it can not only build your career and increase your professional income, it can also help you stretch as a writer. Short stories offer more creative opportunities than any other form of writing. We’ll discuss the short story structure, tips on finding killer opening hooks and powerful endings, strategies for finding paying markets, and much more.


Editor/Agent Panels

Children’s Panel: Tamar Brazis, Karen Grenck, Ariel Richardson, Ann Rose

Fiction/Nonfiction Panel: Betsy Amster, Jenny Chen, Joe Monti, Paula Munier, Dana Newman, Angela Rinaldi, BJ Robbins, Zoe Sandler

See Appointment & Faculty Information for the full list of editors and agents available for Advance Reading Appointments and Consultation Appointments.



Hungry for ConnectionBarrett
In an increasingly disconnected world, we turn to books to find connections to our fellow humans. The secret to creating the kind of book readers get lost in is emotional resonance. Tap into literary techniques to strengthen, deepen, and expand the readership for your manuscript. Topics include developing the theme, finding apt metaphors, subtle and meaningful use of symbolism, expanding your story world by careful selection of setting and time period, and techniques to make your reader feel. Whether memoir or fiction, mainstream or genre — romance, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, thriller — today’s devoted book buyers crave a deeper dive into the world you create.

The Art of PacingBarrett
A common problem in many unpublished manuscripts is pacing. It’s sometimes too fast, where the author doesn’t allow the emotion of a scene to develop; more often toooo slooooow, where the prose lags. Learn how to evaluate your manuscript for pacing issues, as well as an excellent technique for slowing while creating emotional connection, and some seemingly silly but effective techniques for speeding things along.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Writing Fiction for a Multicultural WorldAaron Clark
Get a comprehensive approach to developing characters, plots, and storylines with consideration to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Learn how to recognize and avoid stereotypes and culturally insensitive writing that fails to reflect a multicultural world. By incorporating cultural competency, you will craft works that are inclusive and foster a wide and diverse readership.

The Art of the Interview: There Is No Such Thing as Being Too PreparedRich Ehisen
Nonfiction and fiction authors alike often depend on gleaning key information from expert sources. But getting someone to talk to you is only the first step to success. Learn proven tools and tactics to maximize every opportunity to connect with the experts and sources you need to make your story a winner.

Crime, Cops, and Convicts: Criminal Justice for AuthorsKim Fielding
Sooner or later, most of our characters are going to come in contact with the criminal justice system. Get a crash course on the U.S. criminal justice system with special emphasis on subjects authors often get wrong — or need to take special care with. Leave with a better idea of how to get your characters into and out of trouble, while finding a few juicy plot bunnies along the way.

The Unexpected HeroKim Fielding
The real heroes in our world aren’t all straight, white, able-bodied, and rich — why should the heroes in our fiction be? Learn different dimensions of diversity when creating protagonists, and ways to let innovative characters and atypical voices take a leading role. But what are the risks of incorporating characters who break the mold? We’ll also consider the hazards and rewards of writing outside our own cultures and experiences. No matter the genre, unexpected heroes can make even the oldest tales fresh again; inclusive and original heroes can help us speak to the beautiful variety our world has to offer.

Writing Extraordinary Picture BooksHenry Herz
Through an analysis of selected picture books, learn what writing elements make them inspiring to young readers: theme, characters, setting, language, topic, symbolism, and possibilities. Be inspired to step out of your comfort zone and up your writing game to achieve commercial and literary success.

Your Life as a Story: The Art of Memoir and Personal Essay — William Kenower
Your life is a story, and if told correctly, a very interesting one. There is an art to taking the sprawling events of your life and distilling them to a personal essay or memoir. Using Kenower’s unique inside-out approach to writing, we will look at how to tell the fine difference between telling a story about your life, and using your life to tell a story.

Avant-Garde Science Fiction as Social Critique and ResistanceKaren An-hwei Lee
This presentation will highlight various approaches to writing science fiction as a critique of social ills, i.e. racism, sexism, materialism (capitalism), and technocracy. Approaches may include satire, allegory, utopian versus dystopian settings, anachronisms, and other techniques. This presentation is geared toward beginning writers of literary, innovative sci-fi for indie presses rather than mass market fiction.

The Benefits and Risks of a Creative Writing Master’s ProgramStephen-Paul Martin
Should creative writing be an academic subject? Can people really learn in a classroom to write fiction and poetry? While there is no simple answer to these questions, they raise important issues. Examine the limits and dangers of the writing workshop process, the generative site of so much of what passes for literary production in the 21st century.

Character KickstartRod Martinez
Fiction opens the mind of the reader to a whole new world; think Hogwarts, Marvel Universe, Panem, and Gotham City. You’re creating a “real” world that the reader will accept, and the characters should also be “real,” as they are what drive the storyline. Learn how to kick start characters, with exercises that include the Character Fill in the Blank game. Starting with a blank slate, you’ll build a credible bio of your character that leaves no stone unturned — from favorite color to who taught him how to shoot a gun. You’ll never look at your characters the same way again.

Dialogue: It Isn’t Just About TalkRod Martinez
Dialogue is as important to writers of fiction as are scenes, characters, and plot. Unless your book is about two cars that go “Vroom” in the night, you are stuck in the dilemma we all face. Delve into the wonderful world of character conversation with exercises that will stimulate your approach to dialogue and make it believable.

Creating Community through WritingJenny Minniti-Shippey
Learn practical ways to create community with other writers, whether in the context of an MFA program or in your individual creative practice. Topics include editorial work, civic engagement through the arts, and nurturing ongoing connections with other writers.

The Hero’s Journey: Creating Character-Driven PlotsPaula Munier
The best stories are true marriages of character and plot. Using famed mythologist Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey as your inspiration, you can learn to write well-rounded characters and compelling plots that challenge them on every level from page 1 to The End. Agent and author Paula Munier shows you how.

Writing in ColorNevien Shaabneh
Hidden biases can impede on the creation of authentic characters and put a writer’s credibility at risk. Understanding one’s hidden biases is the best preventative measure in avoiding the trap of throwing in "diversity" without understanding the nuances involved. Learn how to avoid clichés, stereotypical depictions of marginalized groups, and well-intentioned but poorly executed "savior" stories. This session will enhance your research, understanding, and appreciation of a culture, religion, ethnicity, or lifestyle that differs from your own; and enhance your ability to write authentic characters. You’ll also learn how to navigate the world of sensitivity readers.

Less Is More: Editing with Your Best Critical EyeJudith Starkston
In early drafts, good writers let everything flow. In subsequent rewrites, good writers add layers, depth, details and nuance. Eventually, all that richness needs to be winnowed down so that only the gold is left. That kind of editing requires careful, focused, trained examination. It takes time and effort — and you’re unlikely to get enough of that depth of editing from someone else, whether you’re traditionally or independently published. Learn how to do close study editing, a skill that will reduce word count, speed up your pacing, intensify your character development and smooth/refine your style.



Author Websites Made EasyJohn Burke
It’s indisputable: The most important element of an author’s or small publisher’s marketing strategy is a mobile-friendly website. With more than 20 years of experience building author and publisher websites, including sites for Sue Grafton, Tom Clancy, and Readers’ Digest, John Burke will take you through design, content, interactivity and functionality options for creating a successful and easy-to-maintain website. Topics include:

  • The various platforms for building a site
  • Domain names
  • Search engine optimization
  • How to integrate social media and mailing lists
  • Bookselling and ecommerce
  • Marketing tools that help enhance a website
  • Pub Site, a new website platform developed just for books and authors.

What Can You Expect from the Author-Agent RelationshipJessica Faust
Get an agent perspective on the ideal author-agent relationship. Learn what authors should expect and how they can work to build a partnership that lasts for the course of a career. Faust will also empower authors to establish a relationship of equals.

A Storyteller’s Marketing Secrets: Simple, Silly & Savvy Steps to Promote Children’s BooksJudy McSweeney
You’re a writer and you’ve honed your skills, but marketing your book? That’s a whole different story. Discover why promoting children’s books is unique. Learn inside tips from successful authors, agents, editors, and publishers. Get started on your personal marketing plan for promoting your book with a simple handout. Come ready to work hard and play harder.

How to Crush Creative AnxietyRachel Moore
In this workshop, you will learn you’re not alone when it comes to feeling anxious about your work. Learn tools and tricks for how to manage your fears around failure, success (yes, really), and anything else that keeps you stuck.

Write Without the Fight: 5 Things You Need to Know to Write with Ease and FlowJulia Roberts
If you’re a writer, you’ve been stuck. It comes with the territory. This session offers vital information about the creative process in general, and how your creative strengths and struggles interact within the process. Come away with new tools for getting back on track and finishing your projects with less doubt, downtime, or delay.

Quelling Your Query ConundrumsAnn Rose
Dread no more and tame the query beast. Learn the do’s and don’ts of querying so your submission will rise above the slush. If your query could use a spit shine, send it in the body of an email to amroseauthor@gmail.com with “SDSU Writers Conference” in the subject line. Names will be withheld and all queries will remain anonymous. Optimize your chance of an offer of representation.

The Reason Why (Your Book Isn’t Selling)Penny C. Sansevieri
If an author isn’t selling books, there’s usually a reason why. In this workshop, learn eight ways that an author might be missing out on sales — and what to do to fix them.



How to Hit the Best-seller List with eBook PreordersJim Azevedo
Imagine if you could press a magic button that would make your next ebook release land higher in the best-seller charts. Imagine no more. The magic button is real and it’s called the ebook preorder. Learn about the advantages of preorders, how to effective plan and execute one, as well as promotional tips to help make your next book launch more successful. You’ll leave the session with actionable information you can put to immediate use.

Introduction to eBook Self-PublishingJim Azevedo
In this jargon-free primer to ebook self-publishing, you’ll get an checklist covering everything you need to know to get started. The workshop will begin by providing an overview of the latest market trends impacting the book publishing industry, dive into the advantages of ebook self-publishing, and conclude with guidance on ebook creation.

The Secrets to eBook Publishing SuccessJim Azevedo
Come learn the best practices of the most successful self-published ebook authors. While there’s no single magic bullet to suddenly land an author on a best-seller list, this workshop will unveil the many simple, yet important strategies to help make your books more accessible, more discoverable, and more desirable to readers. Indie authors and publishers will leave the workshop having learned how to self-publish with greater pride and professionalism.

Pitch Perfect: Shark-free Swim LessonBarrett
Does the thought of pitching your book feel like the time the mean kid pushed you in the deep end of the pool before you knew how to swim? Oh how different it is when the nice lady takes you by the hand, just to the top step, and you practice putting your face in the water. Come and learn how to pitch in baby steps, then go for a float with your fellow pitch-practicers. If you have a pitch ready, bring a hard copy to share.

Introduction to Hybrid Publishing — Get Your Story Out!Holly Kammier and Lacey Impellizeri
In today’s evolving publishing industry, you have more options than ever to get your story out. But which path is right for you? Learn more about the five major types of publishing options: traditional, self-publishing, small press, vanity press, and now, hybrid publishing — a new concept in the industry. Acorn Publishing is a highly selective, boutique hybrid publishing imprint. Writers accepted into the collective pay a one-time-only up-front fee for guidance and services. In exchange, they keep 100% of their rights, profits, and creative control while having the opportunity to publish with a group of award-winning, best-selling authors under the Acorn imprint. Hybrid publishing offers the best of both worlds. Authors get the control and profits, yet still have the cover appeal and expertise that comes with an established publisher.

From the Page-turn to the Flap: The Children’s Book as ObjectAriel Richardson
Whether your passion is picture books, board books, or other novelty products, thinking about the book as object will help it stand out in the market as well as ensure a more engaging reading experience. How will the physical book feel? How will it be read? Learn how the folks at Chronicle Books think about material and book innovation — from picture books like Open This Little Book and Flora and the Flamingo, to board book successes like the You Are My Baby series and Tiny Town & Tiny Farm. In a hands-on activity, you’ll also mock up your own book.


Past Keynote Speakers