To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. – Winston Churchill
We here on the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference Board will never claim to be perfect (we’ve all read enough Classic Literature to know the dangers of hubris!), but we always want to keep improving and adapting to put together the best conference. This year – our 67th – is no different, and we’ve assembled an impressive team of workshop leaders and speakers to share their knowledge, experience, and what they’ve learned in this ever-changing writers’ world. Find out more after the break!
Our opening speaker, the immensely talented Sara Shepard, is an excellent example of someone who has embraced and thrived with that change. Sara has been writing for over a decade, and has tapped into the rising Young Adult wave with a purpose. Her “Pretty Little Liars” and “The Lying Game” series of novels have both been turned into television shows, and really represent the expanding juxtaposition between the literary world and the visual medium. Sara is even going to stick around to teach a Friday workshop on converting and selling your work to television and movies, and later will be holding a book signing open to all.
Stephen Fried, our keynote speaker, has pretty much seen everything change during his over thirty years as an investigative journalist. Since his first book, 1993s “Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia” (the television adaption of which gave the world Angelina Jolie), Mr. Fried has tackled everything from the pharmaceutical industry to the inner minds of husbands and fathers, and has won nearly every journalistic award there is, including two National Magazine awards (the journalist equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize).
One thing that doesn’t change is our commitment to bring the finest authors from the Philadelphia area to teach our Three-Day Workshops and Master Classes. Solomon Jones (The Dead Man’s Wife) and Suzanne Palmieri (The Witch of Belladona Bay) lead our novel classes, with Solomon focusing on plot and Suzanne discussing characters. Fran Wilde, whose short work has appeared in Asimov’s, Nature, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, heads up our Short Story workshop. We have two genre workshops this year, with Jon McGoran (Deadout) teaching a course on what makes effective Thriller and Mystery stories, and Judi Fennel (The Manly Maids series) discussing (among other things) how sex sells in her Romance workshop. Catherine Stine (Dorianna) shares all she knows about the continuing Young Adult phenomena and how to join it.
We have some great Philly area poets in the house. Anna Evans opens her “Poet’s Toolbox” and exams the import of meter and verse in making your poetry sing. Ken Pobo starts a great discussion on blank verse and the importance of finding different voices in your poetry. Christopher Bursk leads the Master Class on Poetry, and lights on a poem’s ability to confront and be shaped by the challenges and successes we find in life.
Last year Lu Ann Cahn inspired us by describing how she used personal challenges to expand and enhance her life and work. She liked us so much, she returned to lead our Non-Fiction workshop. First time workshop leader, Tom McAllister, author of “Bury Me in my Jersey”, discusses how to make events in your life meaningful to your readers in his Memoir class. Playwriting workshop leader Anne Hamilton shows how to breathe life into the characters who will walk your stage; and Susan Beth Lehman (Directors: From Stage to Screen and Back Again) leads our Master Screenplay Class, and talks about the importance of learning the language of the screenplay to allow your words to be truly heard.
Finally, we’ve heard your call for more on Social Media and – for the first time ever – we offer a three day workshop. Super-successful “SmallBizLady” Melinda Emerson, shows you how to enhance your career using the power of the internet in her “How to Become a Social Media Ninja” workshop. Remember, all three-day workshops (except social media) allow you to submit a short piece for your workshop leaders to critique. So dust off those sentences that have been giving you trouble and submit them for review.
Our single day workshops provide a wide offering of entertainment and information. Improvisational comedian and author Dan Stabb talks about using improvisation to enhance your writing. Yours truly will bring his Cards Against Humanity inspired Apples to Writers prompt game back for the second year. Randall Brown shows us how to get a lot of meaning into a little bit of space with his Flash Fiction Workshop.
We delve deeply into the tools for writing, with Dan Maguire sharing his techniques for finding inspiration, Merry Farmer teaching us the rules for self-publishing, Janice Gable Bashman (Predator) providing tips on how to perform effective research, and Stuart Horwitz walking through the basics of his Book Architecture Method of writing and revising.
As always, there is lots to do outside the workshops. We have an excellent stable of agents and editors available for five minute speed dates early on Friday. Join them Friday night as they discuss the publishing world at the Agents and Editors buffet. After the buffet, we’ll have our Friday Night raps where you can discuss your work and get feedback from your peers. Our raps are being led by Greg Frost and Lisa Lutwyche. The Open Mic Lunch is back, so bring your brown bag and your favorite piece and share (the piece, not the lunch). Our Closing Sunday panel, led by Anna Evans, will discuss what it’s like publishing in a world that is growing increasingly more digital every day.
Don’t forget the Words on the Wall contest. Bring your pieces to hang on the wall, get votes, win prizes. It’s that simple! And speaking of contest, be sure to check out Miriam’s piece on our contests, including the Spring Warm Up – which closes on March 22nd. While you’re there, check out Ed Krizek’s excellent article on all the scholarship opportunities the PWC offers. These are excellent programs that don’t get used very often, so be sure to take advantage. One new change, the Student Scholarship is now open to ALL students. If you are attending a Philadelphia area accredited college or university, you get in for half-price. Just provide us some proof of student status, and the 50% discount will be automatically applied.
After last year’s discussion on the importance of the writing community, we’ve put some things in place on the registration site makes it easier to connect. Make sure you check out the Attendees page to see who is coming and what they’re interested in. And if you ever wondered what it would like to attend the conference as a pack, this is the year to find out. For the first time ever, we’re offering a group discount. Any group off seven or more people that registers together gets 20% knocked right off the top.
So lots of good stuff. Be sure to check out our registration website for lots of information on the workshops, our speakers and workshop leaders, and all the other great things we have happening this year. See you in June!