The Houston Writers Guild Annual Agents & Editors Conference, voted best in Texas!

2015 Conference Now in the Works!

A Conference on NEW PUBLISHING
April 24, 25, and 26
by Houston Writers Guild in
conjunction with Writers League of Texas

The Houston Writers Guild Seeks Conference Organizer, Speakers, and Volunteers

2014 confThe Houston Writers Guild is seeking a conference organizer, speakers, and volunteers for its April 24th-26th, 2015 indie publishing conference.
The conference organizer position is a paid position, and open only to residents of Houston and the greater Houston area. Experience managing teams, organizing literary events, and utilizing online publishing platforms preferred. Speaker positions are both paid and unpaid.
Qualified candidates are encouraged to send their resumes to  Elizabeth White-Olsen by September 20th. Please include a cover letter in the body of your email in which you describe your qualifications and let us know whether you are interested in being the conference organizer, a speaker, or whether you are interested in both positions. Also, please share whether you are solely interested in a paid position, or whether participating as a volunteer interests you. Qualified candidates will be invited to an interview with our board on Tuesday, September 23rd at 4 pm.
For those interested in volunteering, no cover letter or resume is needed, but do please let us know whether you have special knowledge or skills you could contribute.

Interested in becoming an exhibitor for the 2015 Conference?

Complete Exhibitor’s Application form here!

HWG Conference Logo Final

2014 Houston Writers Guild Annual Agents & Editors Conference–

50 Shades Beyond Gray: Color Your Writing, Infuse Your Future

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50 Shades Beyond Gray: Color Your Writing, Infuse Your Future, our 2014 Agents & Editors Conference, will be held on Saturday April 12th. It is $100 for members and $125 for nonmembers. The conference will take place at the Marriott Sugar Land Town Center, 16090 City Walk, Sugar Land, TX 77479.

Nikki Loftin (Penguin/Razorbill author of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy and Nightingale’s Nest) will deliver our keynote. We will also have pre- (Power Revision, editor Meghan Pinson) and post- (Author Platform,  author Joy Preble) conference workshops.

Agent/editor pitch sessions (Eddie Schneider of JABberwocky, Jennifer Udden of Donald Maass, Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron, Stella Riley of Soul Mate Publishing, Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency, and Jessica Kirkland of the Blythe Danield Agency) are ten-minutes long and are $20 each for members and $30 each for nonmembers. Manuscript consultations with a professional editor are 20 minutes long and cost $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers. Please note that Agent Pitches and Manuscript Consults cannot be purchased without conference registration. ON MARCH 29TH, WE WILL OFFER A FULL-DAY PITCH WORKSHOP, $45 MEMBERS/$55 NONMEMBERS!!

Entry into the Writing Contest is $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers.

Parking is free, and meals are on your own.

We will feature concurrent sessions tracks with sessions such as 1) Coloring Your Craft (writing practice for the undisciplined, grammar & punctuation for grownups, story and scene structure, how not to mess up POV, the writer’s notebook [especially good for memoir/narrative nonfiction], REALLY great writing groups) 2) Your Publishing and Promotion Palette (“state and future of the industry” expert panel featuring the agents & editors, Jane Friedman and Christine Munroe, pitches and proposals, the first five pages, writer web and social media savvy, e-books in bookstores and their pricing) and 3) Revving Up Your Writing Ranbow (authentic dialogue, how poetry can make you a better writer, tension and bad guys, effective description, nonfiction research, creating alternate worlds).

We have new presenters committing all the time, and our current roster includes authors Rodney WaltherNikki Loftin, Pamela Fagan Hutchins, Melanie Bragg, Kyle Russell, Jessica Capelle, Elizabeth White, and Fern Brady, Kobo Writing Life US Manager Christine Munroe, and editor Megan LaFollett.

All sessions will be captured as webinars and offered in the months following the conference. Email for more information. Watch for exciting announcements coming soon!

[For book sales & exhibitor rates, see the About/Ads & Sales Rates page.]

Friday April 11

2-5 p.m. Optimeghan pinsononal pre-conference workshop ($45 for members, $55 for nonmembers)

Novel Revision 101: DIY and Collaborative Revision

Megan Pinson, Workshop Presenter, Manuscript Consults, Concurrent Session Presenter

In this three-hour workshop, you’ll draft a plan to get your novel from first draft to finished manuscript. We’ll break down the stages of writing, revising, and editing, and look at how fear, avoidance, and pride are your worst enemies. I’ll teach you how to test each scene for POV, tone, and tension, and help you know when to get help, where to find it, and what to expect from it. You’ll leave with an editing schedule that starts with you and expands to include critique groups, professionals, and beta readers. Come ready to take notes and ask questions!

Meghan Pinson of My Two Cents Editing is a freelance manuscript editor who works primarily on novels and nonfiction books. She offers comprehensive manuscript critiques and a full range of editing services: copyediting, line editing, substantive editing, content editing, developmental editing, and post-editing cleanup. She also runs writing workshops and retreats that will change your writing if not your life. She’s quite friendly and will help your books become amazing, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you should get in touch with her soon. Don’t take her word for it, see who her clients are and what they have to say.

6 p.m. Optional dinner with agents, editors, and attendees (~$25)

Saturday April 12

8-5 2014 50 Shades Beyond Gray: Color Your Writing, Infuse Your Future, the Annual Houston Writers Guild Agents & Editors Conference

8 a.m. Registration

9 a.m. Keynote Address

nikki loftinNikki Loftin, Keynote and Concurrent Session Presenter

“Fifty Shades of Success” (Keynote)
A few years ago, Nikki Loftin was an unpublished wannabe romance novelist trying to learn the secret to succeeding as an author. Now with three contracts from a Big Five publisher, an award-winning novel on the shelves, and another garnering stellar reviews, she is ready to share her secret recipe for a red-hot writing career … and help you strip away the mindset that could keep you from recognizing your own particular shade of success when it bats its eyelashes (or cracks itswhip!) at you. Be prepared to laugh, blush… and maybe even learn something new about your own deepest writing desires.

Query Q & A (Lecture/Workshop) (Concurrent Session)You’ve written the best novel you can, but now it’s time to write the all-important query letter that will get it into the hands of an agent or editor. In this workshop, participants will pick apart queries to see what works and what doesn’t, and learn how to craft one for their own work that will make New York sit up and take notice! Needed: pen and paper or laptop, and a copy of an existing query, if you have one.

Nikki Loftin is the author of THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY (Razorbill, 2012), which Publishers Weekly called “a mesmerizing read,” and Kirkus Reviews called “deliciously scary and satisfying.” Her newest novel, NIGHTINGALE’S NEST (Razorbill, 2014) comes out in February 2014.

Nikki’s short children’s fiction has appeared in Boy’s Life and Pockets magazines, among others. She also writes literary fiction, poetry, and essays for adults, and has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Her essay will be included in the upcoming anthology, Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves (Zest books, Nov. 2012). Nikki is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary Agency.

A native Texan, she lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband (a Scottish photographer), two sons, and an assortment of dogs and chickens. Her home on the web is

9:45 a.m. Contest winners announced

10 a.m. – 12 noon Concurrent sessions and editor/agent pitches and consultations (Agents, editors, and presenters bios and speech blurbs are below this schedule)

10 a.m.

            Magnolia 1     Elizabeth White, How to Wow Readers on Page One

            Magnolia 2     Fern Brady, Maximize Your Writer’s Notebook

            Magnolia 3     Christine Munroe, e-Books in Bookstores and e-Book Pricing


11 a.m.

Magnolia 1     Rodney Walther, CSI: Creative Scene Investigation

          Magnolia 2     Leah Lax, The Devil’s in the Details”–and, so is the Muse!

          Magnolia 3     Melanie Bragg, Your Carefully Crafted Marketing Plan/Proposal 

12 – 1:00 Break

1 – 4 p.m. Concurrent sessions and editor/agent pitches and consultations

1 p.m.

          Magnolia 1     Robin Davidson, How Poetry Can Transform Your Writing

Magnolia 2     Pamela Fagan Hutchins, Love at First Sight: Creating Your Own Book Launch Marketing Plan

Magnolia 3     Melanie Bragg, Effortless Marketing: Putting Your Unique Qualities to Work

2 p.m.

Magnolia 1     Nikki Loftin, Query Letter Q&A         

          Magnolia 2     Larry Leech, G.R.E.A.T. Writing

          Magnolia 3     Megan LaFollett, Undercover: Interior Book Design for Self-publishers

3 p.m.

          Magnolia 1     Kyle Russell, Creating Alternate Worlds

          Magnolia 2     Larry Leech, Say What? How to Write Snappy dialogue

Magnolia 3     Jessica Cappelle and Sharon Morse, Software Will Save Your (Writing) Life: Using Scrivener Effectively

4 p.m. Agents & editors Q&A Panel

5 p.m. Optional Happy Hour with agents, editors, and attendees

Sunday April 13

9-12 p.m. Optional post-conference workshop, Author Platform ($55 members/$65 nonmembers) by author Joy Preble

Building Your Author Platform (And yes, you need one)


Whether you are a multi-published author, a debut novice or working to break into the business, if you are a writer, you need to develop an author platform. But what does that mean? In this workshop, you’ll learn that your platform is more complex than just shameless self-promotion. Come ready to talk about how to build a unique online presence, how to cultivate your abilities and create an ever-growing set of opportunities to keep yourself relevant in the writing community, and keep your readers coming back.


Houston-based young adult author Joy Preble will present her own experiences and career development from unknown debut author to author with numerous books and series with three publishing houses and regular appearances at festivals and conferences and other events.
Each participant will be challenged to develop a plan of action for how to expand and maintain their visibility and connectedness as a writer and part of the arts community.



Joy Preble is the author of the DREAMING ANASTASIA series (Sourcebooks) and the SWEET DEAD LIFE series (Soho Press), a YA Texas makeover of the angel book.A contemporary mystery/romance, FINDING PARIS, arrives in Spring, 2015 from Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins. A former English teacher, Joy grew up in Chicago, where she dreamed of being a back up singer but settled for becoming a writer so she could get paid for making up stuff. She now lives with her family in Texas, where when she’s not writing, you can find her eating guacamole, watching trash TV, and embracing her inner nerd. Want to know more? Go to

Joy’s DREAMING ANASTASIA series (DREAMING ANASTASIA, HAUNTED, ANASTASIA FOREVER – all from Sourcebooks) blends YA paranormal romance with historical fiction. DREAMING ANASTASIA was nominated for a Cybil Award in the Teen Sci-Fi/Fantasy Category in 2009. It was named a Best Book for Children, Teen Category in 2009, and was featured in Justine Magazine. Joy’s THE SWEET DEAD LIFE series (THE SWEET DEAD LIFE and the forthcoming THE A WORD, May 2014, both from Soho Press) are part of the new Soho Teen imprint. Kirkus hailed THE SWEET DEAD LIFE with “Hallelujah! A paranormal tale of angels that’s not a romance, making it a novel that breaks the mold.” Booklist observed, “There’s a whole lot going on here: poisonings, blackmail, sibling relationships, romance, and abandonment, in addition to angels, but the unifying thread is Jenna’s clever, bitter, self-aware, and loving voice… Preble’s lively descriptions and unusually well-drawn, caring sibling relationship (a topic not usually explored in teen fiction) are especially noteworthy.”

Joy is a member of SCBWI and RWA and speaks and presents widely on writing, books and literacy. Joy earned an English degree from Northwestern University and has held a variety of jobs including: English teacher, youth education director, JV girls’ volleyball coach, and some positions in the fast food industry that are best left unmentioned. She still knows how to make change and has a deep regret for the incident with the milkshake machine.


Agents, Editors, and Presenters

Pooja Menon, Agent taking Pitches, Q&A Panel
@friscodreamer on Twitter Twitter

my picPooja Menon joined Kimberley Cameron & Associates in the fall of 2011, and began building her own list in the fall of 2012. As a relatively new agent, she is eager for submissions by debut novelists and veteran writers. She represents fiction and non-fiction for both Adult and YA markets. She’s looking for writing that has an easy flow and timely pacing, along with unique perspectives and strong voices.

In fiction, she is interested in literary (within a solid plot framework), historical, commercial, book club, mysteries, thrillers, and high-end women’s fiction. She’s also drawn to stories with an international flavor, vibrant characters, multi-cultural themes, and lush settings. In YA, she’s looking for voice-driven contemporary fiction (romances, mysteries, horror, dark psychological thrillers, issues that are prevalent to teens today), science-fiction set within a contemporary setting, fantasy, magical realism, paranormal, multicultural stories, and historical fiction. In fantasy, she’s looking for original, layered plots with worlds as real and alive as the ones that were created by J.K Rowling, Philip Pullman, and Tolkien. In non-fiction, she’s looking for adventure & travel memoirs, journalism & human-interest stories, and self-help/memoirs addressing relationships and the human psychology from a fresh perspective. It’s also important for the authors of non-fiction to have a strong platform.

Pooja holds a B.A. in Literature and Media from Nottingham and an M.F.A. from Otis School of Art and Design. Pooja will be taking pitches and participating in the agent & editors Q&A panel.


 Jennifer Udden, Agent taking Pitches, Q&A Panel

Jennifer Udden joined the DMLA in 2010. She represents speculative fiction (both science fiction and fantasy), urban fantasy, and mysteries, as well as historical, erotic, contemporary, and paranormal romance. She is originally from Houston, TX. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and previously worked in nonprofit arts fundraising. She is actively seeking diversity in projects and in authors, including (but not limited to) diversity of gender, sexuality, ability, background, and race. She can be reached at Jennifer will be taking pitches and participating in the agent & editors Q&A panel.

 Eddie Schneeddie schneiderider, Agent taking Pitches, Q&A Panel

Eddie Schneider is the Vice President of JABberwocky Literary Agency, which he joined in 2008, back when the nerve center was still Joshua’s living room.

Five years on, the agency has an office with a coffee machine, which helps to fuel Eddie’s pursuit of great authors, both new and new to JABberwocky.

Eddie (Twitter: @eddieschneider) is an Iowa graduate, where he studied fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction (mentors include Macarthur Fellow Yiyun Li and G.C. Waldrep). He also holds an M.S. in Publishing from New York University.

He has also been, at various points in his life, a magazine editor, computer salesman, short-order cook, archery instructor, freelance graphic designer, and ultramarathoner. Eddie will be taking pitches and participating in the agent & editors Q&A panel.


dawn dowdleDawn Dowdle, Agent Taking Pitches, Q&A Panel

Dawn started Blue Ridge Literary Agency in 1/09 because of her love for helping authors, especially new authors.  One of her goals with the agency is to be more responsive and approachable by authors.  She represents mostly romances and mysteries as well as some women’s fiction and young adult. Blue Ridge Literary is in Lynchburg, VA.  She used to facilitate a local writers’ group and enjoys a close relationship with my family.  She is an avid reader of cozy mysteries for fun and loves attending Malice Domestic when she has the chance.

Dawn will be taking pitches and participating in the agent & editors Q&A panel.

a-stella-riley-105x150Stella Riley, Soul Mate Publishing, Acquiring Editor taking Pitches, Q&A Panel

Born a stone’s throw from the Acropolis, transplanted to the Texas Gulf Coast, Stella is descended from refugees and rednecks. She’s looking for compelling characters, tension, new situations, and a story that resonates. “Give me a character I can feel, then drop them in some hot water. Now get them out. I love tension. Any kind of tension—inner and outer.” She welcomes authors with a fresh voice or a new approach. All heat levels, all story lines are acceptable. Contact Stella at

Stella will be taking pitches and participating in the agent & editors Q&A panel.


Jessica Kirkjessica-kirkland-175x274land, Agent Taking Pitches, Q&A Panel

Jessica Kirkland is a Marketing and Literary Agent with  the Blythe Daniel Agency. She recently acquired a project with abortion survivor Claire Culwell, whose story is one of three stories that the movie October Baby is based upon. Jessica is acquiring and representing adult fiction, young adult fiction,and some non-fiction. She is also the CEO of Christian Apps For Kids, LLC ( She graduated Cum Laude in 2004, with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications and a minor in Marketing, from Sam Houston State University. Jessica is a mentor and writer to mother’s at The Mom Initiative and her own website, Jessica lives in Livingston, Texas (near Houston) with her husband, Robb, and 5-year-old triplets. Jessica will be taking pitches and participating in the agent & editors Q&A panel.

Megan LaFollett.resizedMegan LaFollett, Editor, Consulting on Manuscripts and Concurrent Session Presenter

Undercover: Interior Book Design for Self-publishers

After writing, revising, hiring an editor, and polishing some more, your story is ready for publication – on your terms. Except it’s in Times New Roman, double-spaced, and maybe you used the tab key to create those beautiful indents. In this session, we’ll cover the fundamentals of how to use MS Word to turn your manuscript into a print-ready pdf suitable for publishing via CreateSpace. You’ll learn that section breaks are your friend, why you should love “find and replace all”, and the reason you should never, ever, press that one-click “Publish on Kindle” button at the end of the process.

Megan LaFollett, freelance editor and owner of Meraki Editing, has been helping authors turn their stories into books since 2007. She’s loved books from before she could recite the alphabet, and that passion has developed into editing with soul, heart, and creativity. Available services include content editing, developmental editing, and manuscript critiques. If your vision includes publishing independently, she also offers comprehensive layout, design, and formatting services for both print and e-books. The story is yours. Now let’s make a book. Megan will be providing manuscript evaluations as well as presenting on formatting your book for CreateSpace.

Christine Munroe, Presenter, Q&A Panelcmunroe

e-Books in Bookstores and e-Book Pricing

Christine Munroe is the US Manager for Kobo Writing Life (KWL), a highly successful self-publishing platform that is part of global eBook retailer Kobo Inc. She works directly with authors of all levels to help them find success through KWL, speaks at conferences about digital publishing, and organizes bookstore events bringing together local independent authors, booksellers, and readers. Visit the KWL platform to reach millions of readers in over 190 countries, waiting to discover your eBook!

Christine will be presenting on “e-Books in Bookstores” and “e-book pricing,” as well as participating in the agents & editors panel.


PP02 Pamela Fagan Hutchins, Author & Publisher, Presenter

Love at First Sight: Creating Your Own Book Launch Marketing Plan

Whether you publish indie or traditional, the marketing and promotion of your book is up to you, and the launch is critical. Bestselling (Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iTunes), nationally-distributed indie author Pamela Fagan Hutchins will lead a hands-on workshop as you create a launch timeline, budget, and marketing plan for “your” book. Pamela will pull from her experience as President/chief mentor of the Houston Writers Guild, her many indie workshop presentations, and the launch of her own three romantic mysteries and six nonfiction books, as captured in her USA Best Book award-winning how-to, What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?  Bring your funny bone and a sharp #2 pencil (or laptop), as well as a book/manuscript (yours or someone else’s), with the blurb/description, genre, market, sales formats, a general budget, and price in mind.

Pamela, President of the Houston Writers Guild, is an employment attorney and workplace investigator by day, who by night writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mystery/suspense (Saving GraceLeaving Annalise, and Finding Harmony) and hilarious nonfiction (How to Screw Up Your KidsWhat Kind of Loser Indie Publishes?, and others) by night. In 2013 she squeezed in a 60-cities-in-60-days nationwide RV book tour and 100 book events, nationwide. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship and her oddball urban family: good-looking husband (1), offspring (5), dogs (4), goats (4), ducks (2), and heifer (1). She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.

Pamela and her husband Eric run SkipJack Publishing.

Visit her website,, for excruciating detail about her life and writing.

rodney waltherRodney Walther, Author Presenter

CSI: Creative Scene Investigation

Award-winning author Rodney Walther explores how to write effective scenes, the essential building blocks of a good story. Perhaps Rodney has been influenced by too many Law & Order episodes, but his presentation will lead the audience through a detailed investigation of the “scene”. He will discuss scene planning and execution, POV characters, the importance of character filter, and cliffhanger endings. He’ll confront scene killers such as clunky dialogue, boring “info dumps”, and throwaway description–then offer alternatives to give a scene some zing. Writers of all levels should pick up some useful tips.

For those who remember Rodney’s debut novel (Broken Laces – the story of a widower’s journey to reconnect with his young son through the experience of Little League), you’ll be excited to learn that he has a new book: Space in the Heart.

“It’s been a whirlwind few years,” he says, reflecting on the numerous writing contest awards he’s won and the tremendous sales he’s enjoyed with Broken Laces. That first novel hit the Paid Top-150 of all Kindle e-books during 2012 and still remains in the top 1% of all Kindle sales.

Now Rodney’s back, along with a widowed former astronaut, a paralyzed teenage daughter, and an idealistic TV news anchor, whose paths cross in the emotional family drama Space in the Heart. “It’s a story about facing past regrets,” he explains, “and learning to move forward.”

Rodney has certainly found a niche in the universe dominated by the likes of Jodi Picoult and Debbie Macomber. He’s not only brought a fresh, male voice to the genre but also delivered solid writing skills. His new novel reached the top 5% in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Publishers Weekly called the story “Sweetly uplifting.”

melanie with bookMelanie Bragg, Author, Presenter

Effortless Marketing: Putting Your Unique Qualities to Work


Every writer’s dream is to communicate a powerful message.  On the journey, successful authors have mastered a variety of skills in order to accomplish this goal. This inspiring and motivational workshop will explore Bragg’s effortless marketing formula that will enable you to achieve your goal of becoming a successful published author no matter what genre you choose or what publishing path you take.  Bragg shares her journey to becoming a bestselling author and gives you a template to keep you focused and organized on your path to literary success. Dream big and never give up!


So I am published, what now? How Your Carefully Crafted Marketing Plan/Proposal Will Carry You Through To The Finish Line and Beyond


Bragg did 21 events in 90 days last Fall after her first novel, Crosstown Park, was published.  In this informative and engaging workshop Bragg will discuss how a carefully planned marketing plan/proposal done at the outset of your writing project will make the journey after publication more stress-free and enjoyable.  Learn from her experiences as she gives you the format for a great marketing plan/proposal to guide you through the process.  Rather than wait until your book comes out, Bragg shows you how doing little things all along will pay off in the long run and make your publishing efforts worth all the effort.

Melanie Bragg is an attorney and the author of Crosstown Park, s a social/legal thriller with a spiritual twist.  Alex Stockton’s impulsive decision to represent Jose catapults her into an unfamiliar world and an impossible trial.  Her perfect record and judicial future depend upon the outcome.

When she’s not writing, Melanie devotes her time to her work with the ABA Solo, Small Firm & General Practice Division, mentoring young lawyers, and other charitable causes.  On Friday afternoons, you can see her at the local movie theatre catching a new movie.  If you look real hard you will see a big smile on her face.


fern bradyFern Brady, Author & Publisher, Presenter

Maximize Your Writer’s Notebook

In this session, we will explore how to develop and use a writer’s notebook. Whether you write narrative nonfiction or fiction, this session will teach you how to dig deeper and discover new ideas that can bring new vitality to your writing. This session will be hands-on, so please bring your writer’s notebook, as we will be practicing writing in ways that will help us maximize our prose.

Fern Brady began her professional career in 1995 as a foreign correspondent for the Mexico City Daily Bulletin.  Realizing her love was teaching, she began her 15 year service as a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher in 1998.  In June 2013, she decided to move her life in a new direction by becoming a full-time Realtor.  As owner and Senior Partner of Inklings Publishing, Fern hopes to help author’s not only achieve their dream of publication, but to hone their writing skills through workshops and retreats.  Her children’s picture book The Smiley Face Blatoon will be debuting Summer 2014.  She lives in Houston, TX with her husband and their 3 dog babies – Arwen (German Shepherd/Lab Mix), Grace (German Shepherd), and Merlin (Great Dane/Lab/Bloodhound Mix) – all of whom are rescues.  Contact her at:

jessia capelleJessica Capelle and Sharon Morse, Authors, Presenters

Software Will Save Your (Writing) Life: Using Scrivener Effectively

Think Microsoft Word is sufficient for your manuscript? Wondering if you need specialized creative writing software? Downloaded Scrivener but not sure where to start? Using Scrivener but want to take it up a level?

Regardless of where you are, Jessica Capelle and Sharon Morse will help ease you out of your comfort zone and see how much easier your writing life can be with Scrivener, whether you’re starting from scratch on a new project or importing an existing one. They’ll cover how Scrivener can help with every step of the writing process from brainstorming to formatting for e-books, demystifying the program and helping you get the most out of it.

While previous knowledge of Scrivener is not a requirement, it would be helpful to go to and read about Scrivener’s features and/or download a trial version. Jessica and Sharon will cover basic and intermediate level tips for both PC and Mac.

Jessica Capelle writes YA and MG of the fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, and paranormal variety. Occasionally she writes zombie short stories, which have been published in the anthologies UNDEAD IS NOT AN OPTION (2011) and UNDEAD: UNCENSORED (2012). In the writing community, she serves as a co-founder of the Houston YA/MG Writers Group and a Moderator for and is a member of SCBWI. She has attended many workshops and conferences, studying with authors such as Gabriel Cohen, Francisco X. Stork, and Sara Zarr and editors such as Cheryl Klein and Heather Alexander. She was recently selected to attend the YA Novel Workshop and Retreat at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, led by author Nova Ren Suma. When she’s not writing fiction, Jessica practices law, performs technical writing and editing services, and tutors junior high and high school students. She lives in Houston with three Italian cats and a muse named Lucinda who can usually be found on vacation.

sharon morseSharon Morse lives in Houston with her husband and two tiny humans where she writes young adult and middle grade novels. She’s a member of SCBWI, The Houston YAMG writer’s group, The Writer’s League of Texas, and has attended various writer’s conferences and workshops including the Backspace Writer’s Conference in New York, the Big Sur Writer’s Workshop, and learned from amazing authors like Sara Zarr and Francisco X. Stork at The Writing Barn in Austin. When she’s not writing, you can catch her doodling in her art journal, wrecking her house with her latest craft project, or chugging lattes with her critique partners.

elizabeth whiteElizabeth White, Author & Editor, Presenter

How to Wow Readers on Page One

To get an agent’s or an editor’s attention, yes, you need a “hook” that draws them in. Yes, you need flawless prose. And, yes, you need a style of your own and an idea so unique, your readers won’t let go. And, you need something else: you need a terrible problem that catches any reader’s heart, and a character whose pain and desire are achingly evident from the start. Come learn to let the deeper elements of character arise in your first words, so that you hook not just readers’ minds, but their souls.

Elizabeth White is a creative writing coach with The Writers’ Studio of Houston. She has two M.F.A.s, one in Poetry and one in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She teaches creative writing workshops at Inprint, and is at work on a young adult novel. Most recently, she was named a finalist for the Hunger Mountain Journal Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing.

kj russellK.J.Russell, Author, Presenter

Creating Alternate Worlds

Science fiction author K J Russell discusses the importance of living, changing worlds. Learn how to create a fictional setting that works for you, speaks to your readers, reacts to your characters and is present in every level your story.

K.J. is a horror/speculative fiction writer (Absolute Tenacity, from Max Avalon Shorts) and editor of and contributor to the upcoming Houston Writers Guild Sci-Fi anthology. From Kyle: As someone who has been known to literally write on the walls (albeit sane enough to put up paper first), I’ve always thought the primary difference between myself and a madman scrawling fantasies on the floor of a padded cell is that I have an audience. That is to day, there is a sort of postmodern dependence that a writer has on his readers. A writer writes, but if it isn’t read, he might as well be shouting his narratives at shadows, and that’s no kind of identity. You read, therefore I am.

leah laxLeah Lax, Presenter

The Devil’s in the Details”–and, so is the Muse!

Details are not simply embellishments to a story. They are the story, since the real story is one of experience. No details =no oxygen. A sense of urgency comes out of that–for our characters so they can breathe, touch, taste, smell, live, and for us as writers since we live our characters as we write them. Come learn to find details that breathe life into your story and into your writing life.

Leah Lax’s short fiction and nonfiction have won awards in national contests. Her most recent work was a script for a production in Jones Hall with the Houston Symphony honoring Houston’s civil rights heroes, featuring rapper Bun B and actress Alfre Woodard. She is working on a novel set in Houston. Leah is represented by Brandt and Hochman Literary Agency.

Larry Leech, Ghostwriter, Novelist, Writing Coach, Manuscript Consultations and Concurrent Session Presenter larry leech

Larry J. Leech II began his professional writing career in 1981 at age 18 and spent twenty-three years writing and editing at daily newspapers and magazines. With thousands of published articles under his belt, Larry moved into freelance book editing and writing in 2004. He has ghostwritten more than a dozen books and coached a number of aspiring writers through their projects. Larry teaches at numerous conferences nationwide each year and has become a much sought after writing coach. Upcoming releases in 2014 include two novels and two ghostwriting projects, one of which is the memoir of Dr. Raymond Damadian, the doctor who invented the MRI.

G.R.E.A.T. Writing

In this hands-on workshop, you’ll learn the key elements of G.R.E.A.T writing: Grammar, Red flags, Extra words, Adjectives and Adverbs, and Tricky words. Both fiction and nonfiction writers are encouraged to bring a work-in-progress for fine tuning on your work-in-progress.

 The sessions will feature instruction on:

• The key elements of proper grammar

• How to find red flags and determine whether to eliminate or rewrite

• How to find and eliminate extra words

• Understand the proper use of adjectives and adverbs

• Tricks to determine which word is correct

Say What? How to Write Snappy dialogue

Dialogue is not two people talking with each other. Dialogue is about demonstrating character through conflict, either internal or external. In this hands-on workshop you’ll learn how to write believable dialogue, evoke senses, and, most important, how to create tension, even between allies.

robin davidsonRobin Davidson, Poet/Author/Presenter

How Poetry Can Transform Your Writing


Human empathy is at the heart of all great writing, and poetry, in particular, is the enactment of profound human contact. A poem welcomes the many shades of imaginative possibility to unfold within its borders, and this breakout session will explore how poems get at these multiple truths of our lives and how we as writers (in any genre) might most splendidly share those truths with readers.

Robin Davidson, born in Trieste, Italy to American parents, holds a BA in French from the University of Texas at Austin, and MA and PhD degrees in creative writing from the University of Houston.  Her poems and translations have appeared in such American literary journals as 91st Meridian, AGNI, Gulf Coast, Literary Imagination, The Paris Review, Poet Lore, qarrtsiluni, Tampa Review, Words Without Borders, as well as the Polish literary journal Fraza.  She is the author of Luminous Other (Ashland Poetry Press, 2013), which won the 2012 Richard Snyder Memorial Prize for poetry, and two chapbooks, Kneeling in the Dojo (Finishing Line Press) and City that Ripens on the Tree of the World (Calypso Editions).  Davidson served as a Fulbright scholar at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, and is co-translator, with Ewa Elżbieta Nowakowska, of The New Century: Poems by Ewa Lipska, translated from the Polish (Northwestern University Press).  She is the recipient of an NEA fellowship in translation, two Houston Arts Alliance awards in poetry, and the Abiko International Poetry Prize in Japan.  She currently teaches creative writing as an associate professor of English for the University of Houston-Downtown.