Those who’ve attended the PWC know that it’s great to network and be around other writers. What may get overlooked sometimes is the impact an instructor can have on those who attend the workshops. Here’s how some board members feel about their most memorable classes.



Kelly SimmonsFor my most memorable class, I’d have to go with the “Novel: Character” class taught by this year’s opening speaker, Kelly Simmons in 2011.  Kelly was an excellent teacher, but on the second day of the workshop I read something I had written as part of our homework, and she said something like “I’m probably not supposed to say this, but that was effing awesome.” It was a huge confidence booster to keep pursuing this crazy dream to become an author.  Whenever I feel like maybe I should give up, I think of her saying that it it keeps me going.

– Jim Knipp @knippknopp


Don Lafferty and Jonathan Maberry at Clinton BookshopThe most memorable class I ever attended at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference was the very first class I attended — Jonathan Maberry’s “Nuts & Bolts of Publishing” — a two day feature where he broke down the work a writer must do before and after the writing. About the business of publishing, and the professional expectations of editors and agents. When I attended the PWC for the first time in 2005, it was the first writing conference I’d ever attended. I had no idea what to expect, so when I started off with Maberry, whom I barely knew at the time, I was unprepared for the sheer excellence and relevance of the information he shared with us. I’d been a successful sales executive for years, so his “blocking and tackling” concepts powered by best-in-class business practices made perfect sense, and empowered me to blow the roof off my writing career. It was the information I needed at the right time in my growth as a writer. I have since gone on to attend hundreds of sessions at conferences all over the country, and frequently teach at writing conferences. While every now and then somebody still blows the roof off my writing career, nothing compares to the awakening I experienced in my very first class, at my very first conference, ten short years ago at the PWC.

– Don Lafferty @donlafferty


A few years ago, PWC ran two “NOVEL” classes. Kelly Simmons’s was in the morning, mine in the afternoon; she taught Structure and I taught Character. I sat in on hers with the idea of being able to build on things she said. I was unprepared for the amount of very smart and easy-to-apply information she was providing her class—so much information in fact that I jettisoned maybe half of my prepared lecture and just built out from where she’d begun. It is always a wonderful experience to sit in a class and be surprised, dazzled, and exposed to a whole new way of thinking about your own writing.

– Gregory Frost @gregory_frost


Lynn LevinIf I can only choose one class, it might have to be Lynn Levin’s three-day workshop on the lyric poem. It provided me definition for the form and freedom to experiment. One “homework” assignment led to a published poem. Lynn is an excellent communicator and teacher.
– Dave Kozinsky