The 2018 Minnesota Writing Workshop: February 17, 2018

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2014 and 2017 events in Minnesota, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2018 Minnesota Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in St. Paul, MN on February 17, 2018.

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (200 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2018 Minnesota Writing Workshop!


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, February 17, 2018, at the Intercontinental St. Paul Riverfront. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents onsite to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s agent & editor faculty so far includes:

  • [NEW ADDITION] literary agent Becky LeJeune (Bond Literary)
  • [NEW ADDITION] literary scout Angie Hodapp (Nelson Literary)
  • literary agent Eric Smith (P.S. Literary)
  • literary agent Michelle Grajkowski (3 Seas Literary)
  • editor Lauren Jablonski (St. Martin’s Press)
  • literary agent Mary Cummings (Betsy Amster Literary)
  • editor Mari Kesselring (Flux and Jolly Fish Press)
  • literary agent Cynthia Ruchti (Books & Such Literary)
  • literary agent Laura Zats (Red Sofa Literary)
  • literary agent Jennie Goloboy (Donald Maass Literary)
  • literary agent Erik Hane (Red Sofa Literary)
  • literary agent assistant Lynnette Novak (The Seymour Agency)
  • editor Yana Makuwa (Graywolf Press)
  • editor Raela Schoenherr (Bethany House Publishers)
  • and possibly more to come.

By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Jessica Bell of Writing Day Workshops, with assistance from local writing groups.


9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, February 17, 2018 — at the Intercontinental St. Paul Riverfront, 11 E Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55101.(651)292-1900.

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What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.

Please Note: There will be 2-3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day, so you will have your choice of what class you attend at any time. The final schedule of topics is subject to change, but here is the current layout:

8:30 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location.

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. A Bird’s-eye View Publishing & Books in the Year 2018 (State Suite). This workshop is quick and easy overview of the publishing industry today, and how it’s changing.

2. The Joy of Self-Editing: How to Hit Delete Before Your Editor Does (Governor 1). Are you willing to learn what it takes to nip-and-tuck your writing to afford it the best possible chance of garnering a contract? You’ll leave this fun (seriously) workshop with practical tips and a new appreciation for the task of self-editing.

3. Tell Me True: Advice on Writing Memoir and Life Stories (Governor 2). This session will address the importance of plot structure and character development; the interplay of truth, memory, and imagination; how to discern what to include in your story and what to leave out; and identifying and finding your audience.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.44.34 AMBLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Query Letter Comprehensive (State Suite). Stand out from the slush and workshop your way to crafting a successful query letter. It’s time to kick the clichés, ditch the info dumps, and get ready to dive deeper than a list of dos and don’ts.

2. Sell Your Books and Yourself — Social Media and Book Marketing 101 (Governor 1). Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, everyone could use some helpful guidance on how to effectively market themselves and sell more books using social media and more.

3. Tips for Writing Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime (Governor 2). This presentation will teach you how to keep readers—including agents and editors—turning pages late into the night.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (State Suite). This is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously — no bylines given) with attending agents commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission.
2.  How to Sell a Nonfiction Book (Governor 1). This session is completely devoted to nonfiction book proposals.

3. Watch Your Language: Picture Book Pointers (Governor 2). Many picture book manuscripts have fun concepts but that fall short in execution. In this session, you will examine some successful, recently published picture books to dissect them for what’s working well.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Talking Fantasy and Science Fiction (Governor 1). A discussion regarding the genres of science fiction and fantasy — how the markets are changing, what writers can do to improve their craft in these genres, and much more.

2.  Twenty Questions You Need Answered Before You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (State Suite). Before you publish your work or query an agent, learn how to submit to agents properly, helpful social media channels, how to launch your book right, and much more.

3. How to Write and Sell Romance in Today’s Market (Governor 2). In this workshop, you will learn not only what’s trending in the current marketplace, but how to research an agent/editor that best suits your needs, and the proper ways to approach them.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1.  Twenty Questions You Need Answered After You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (State Suite). After you self-publish your work or get a traditional publishing book deal, there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to promote yourself, how to keep your career going with multiple books, and much more.

2. Simple Editing Tricks for Enhancing Voice (Governor 1). This workshop is centered on strategies that take minimal editing. Learn how to bring your writing to life and hook the interest of an agent.

3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Governor 2). In this session, attendees will learn the various challenges of writing for teens and pre-teens, and go over attention grabbing strategies for doing so.


At 5 p.m., the day is done. Speakers will make themselves available by the workshop’s bookstore for a short while to sign any books for attendees.

Agent & Editor Pitching: All throughout the day.



Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 12.11.25 AMMichelle Grajkowski [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with 3 Seas Literary. Michelle’s client list includes New York Times best-selling Authors Katie MacAlister, Cathy McDavid, Kerrelyn Sparks and C.L. Wilson. She primarily represents romance, women’s fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction along with select nonfiction projects with a terrific message. She is currently looking for fantastic writers with a voice of their own. Learn more about Michelle here.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.57.28 AM.pngAngie Hodapp [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is the Contracts and Royalties Manager for Nelson Literary. She is attending the conference on behalf of her agency as a talent scout for co-agents Kristin Nelson, Danielle Burby, Joanna MacKenzie, and Quressa Robinson. She wants to hear pitches for fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, upmarket/mainstream fiction, young adult (all kinds), middle grade (all kinds), women’s fiction, romance, thriller, mystery, diverse stories, #ownvoices, narrative nonfiction, and voice-driven memoir with commercial appeal. Get to know more about Angie and her co-agents’ likes here.

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 11.54.31 AMBecky LeJeune [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is an associate literary agent with Bond Literary. She is actively building her client list, and is interested in adult and teen horror, mystery novels, thriller novels, historical fiction, science fiction novels, fantasy novels, and general fiction (both YA and adult). Learn more about Becky as well as her publishing history and more by clicking here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 12.43.08 AM.pngLauren Jablonski [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is an assistant editor at St. Martin’s Press, part of Macmillan. Lauren is interested in acquiring commercial fiction and nonfiction for both young adult and adult. She enjoys contemporary, historical, fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, romance, thrillers and anything with a unique voice — especially works that promote strong female characters, inclusion, and diversity. In nonfiction, she is interested in quirky, gifty, and celebrity projects as well as memoir, pop-science, business, and projects about strong women. She loves being sucked into worlds she knows nothing about. Learn more about Lauren here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 1.34.19 AMEric Smith [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with P.S. Literary. He is eagerly acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in young adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), new adult, and literary and commercial fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of nonfiction, he’s interested in cookbooks, pop culture, humor, essay collections, and blog-to-book ideas. Learn more about Eric here.

Screen shot 2016-05-16 at 5.47.13 PM.pngLaura Zats is a literary agent with Red Sofa Literary. Laura seeks young adult fiction (especially contemporary), middle grade contemporary / adventure, adult fantasy and science fiction (loves non-traditional settings, fast-paced storytelling, anthropological elements, and smart humor; no high fantasy), and romance & erotica (especially contemporary; please no vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, or mermaids). Learn more about Laura here.

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 10.23.20 PM.pngMari Kesselring is an editor with Flux and Jolly Fish Press. She is seeking young adult fiction and middle grade fiction only. In young adult, she’s looking for thrillers, contemporary, SciFi, fantasy, and historical fiction. In middle grade, she’s seeking fantasy, contemporary, action/adventure, humor, mystery, SciFi, and historical fiction. She’s especially interested in strong narrative voices, fast-paced storytelling, #ownvoices stories, engaging characters, and strong female protagonists. Learn more about Mari here.

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 11.42.19 AM.pngCynthia Ruchti is a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Agency. She is also an author and assistant director of writers conferences. At the Minnesota Writing Workshop, Cynthia is specifically looking for writers of Christian nonfiction and fiction. She only seeks books that are somewhere in the spectrum of inspirational/Christian titles. Learn more about Cynthia here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 9.10.51 AM.pngMary Cummings [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent at Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises. She represents fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry for children and teens, from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels, including contemporary and historical, humor, mystery, fantasy, and multicultural. She is particularly seeking middle grade novels as well as picture books with strong story arcs, a spunky central character, and warmth, humor, or quirky charm. In literary nonfiction, her areas of interest include lyrically written science, arts, nature, mindfulness, and social awareness issues. Learn more about Mary here.

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 8.09.55 PM.pngJennie Goloboy is a literary agent with Donald Maass Literary. Jennie is particularly looking for fun, innovative, diverse, and progressive science fiction and fantasy for adults. She thinks that one of the most important jobs of science fiction is to imagine a future we want to live in. Jennie is also looking for nonfiction history for a popular, adult audience. She’s a particular fan of histories of an idea, and narratives about early America. She is not interested in historical novels, or in memoir. Learn more about Jennie here.

Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 10.29.03 AM.pngErik Hane is a literary agent with Red Sofa Literary. Erik is looking for the following: literary/upmarket fiction with an emphasis on plot (as in, nothing too slow/quiet/static); popular and academic/trade science nonfiction, especially evolutionary biology; narrative history and biography; contemporary culture criticism (think Klosterman); sports books, if it’s got a scope that extends past just games and players and into culture/larger issues. Learn more about Erik here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 11.43.46 AMLynnette Novak [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is an agent assistant at The Seymour Agency. She’s seeking fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, romance (contemporary, SF/F romance, romantic comedy), mysteries (traditional, cozy, amateur sleuth), and YA. (Previously, another Seymour Agency assistant, Lesley Sabga, was attending the workshop to take pitches on behalf of the whole agency. Lynnette is taking her place.) Lynnette will also be taking pitches on behalf of all acquiring agents at The Seymour Agency. Here’s what they’re looking for: all romance from inspirational to erotic; all children’s literature, including picture books; self-help, nonfiction, prescriptive, spiritual; mysteries, thrillers, inspirational; history, cookbooks, women’s fiction. Learn more about Lynnette here.

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Raela Schoenherr is an acquisitions editor at Bethany House Publishers. She represents Christian/inspirational fiction. Learn more about Raela here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 1.35.33 AM.pngYana Makuwa is an editorial assistant at Graywolf Press. She is taking pitches for literary fiction, memoir, short story collections, and essay collections. Learn more about Yana here.

Kelly Van Sant is a literary agent with D4EO Literary. Unfortunately, she had to cancel on the event.

        More 2018 agents to be announced as they are confirmed. You can sign up for pitches at any time, or switch pitches at any time, so long as the agent in question still has appointments open. You can pitch as many agents & editors as like you wish.

These one-on-one meetings are an amazing chance to pitch your book face-to-face with an agent, and get personal, individual feedback on your pitch/concept. If the agent likes your pitch, they’ll request to see part/all of your book — sending you straight past the slush pile. It also gives you an intimate chance to meet with an agent and pick their brain with any questions on your mind.

(Please note that Agent/Editor Pitching is an add-on, separate aspect of the day, for only those who sign up. Spaces are limited for these premium meetings, and pricing/detail is explained below.)



$169 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2018 MWW and access to all workshops, all day. As of October 24, 2017, registration is now OPEN.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents or editors in attendance. Use this special meeting as a chance to pitch your work and get professional feedback on your pitch. (Spaces limited.) If they wish, attendees are free to sign up for multiple 10-minute pitch sessions at $29/session — pitching multiple individuals, or securing 20 minutes to pitch one person rather than the usual 10. Here are four quick testimonials regarding writers who have signed with literary agents after pitching them at prior Writing Day Workshops events. (Our bigger, growing list of success stories can be seen here.)

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.20.11 AM.png“I signed with my agent, Patricia Nelson, after
meeting her at the Arizona Writing Workshop.”
– writer Axie Oh

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.07.56 AM.png“I officially signed with agent Renee Nyen of KT
Literary. I met her at the Colorado Writing
Workshop.” – writer Jessie Hilb Akos

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.08.00 AM.png“After taking pitches at the Michigan Writing
Workshop, I signed writer Kyle Prue as a new
client.” – literary agent Veronica Park

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.08.09 AM.png“After taking pitches at the Alabama Writing
Workshop, I met Erin Hollis at a pitch session, and
she is now my newest client.” – agent Julie Gwinn

Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from Brian Klems, one of the day’s instructors. (This rate is a special event value for Minnesota Writing Workshop attendees only.) Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of the specially-priced critique, so they can send out their query letter with confidence following the workshop. Also, if you are meeting with an agent at the event, you’re essentially speaking your query letter aloud to them. Wouldn’t it be wise to give that query letter (i.e., your pitch) one great edit before that meeting?

Add $79 — for an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your novel. Spaces with faculty for these critiques are very limited, and participating attendees get an in-person meeting at the workshop. Options:

  • Children’s picture books: Faculty member Cori Doerrfeld, a published picture book author/illustrator, will get your work in advance, edit your picture book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. There is a maximum of 1,000 words for each picture book submission. The submission can include illustrations or be text only.
  • Thriller, mystery, crime, suspense. Faculty member Allen Eskens, a published thriller author, will get your work in advance, edit your manuscript pages, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss his thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. Only adult fiction please; no YA or MG in these categories for Allen.
  • Young adult (all kinds), middle grade (all kinds), adult science fiction, adult fantasy, adult horror: Faculty member David Oppegaard, a published author, will get your work in advance, edit your manuscript pages, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss his thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Literary fiction, mainstream/general fiction, historical fiction, women’s fiction, and memoir: Faculty member Danielle Bylund, an editor of multiple literary journals, will get your work in advance, edit your manuscript pages, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • More manuscript critique options forthcoming.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email:, and she will provide specific instructions for payment and registration to get you a reserved seat at the event. Payment is by either PayPal or check. Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Minnesota workshop specifically.


Because of limited space at the Intercontinental Downtown Riverfront, the workshop can only allow 200 registrants, unless spacing issues change. For this reason, we encourage you to book sooner rather than later.

Are spaces still available? Yes, we still have spaces available. We will announce RIGHT HERE, at this point on this web page, when all spaces are taken. If you do not see a note right here saying how all spaces are booked, then yes, we still have room, and you are encouraged to register.

How to Register: The easy first step is simply to reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email: She will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by PayPal or check. Once payment is complete, you will have a reserved seat at the event. The MWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Minnesota workshop specifically.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason at any time, you will receive 50% of your total payment back [sent by check or PayPal]. The other 50% is nonrefundable and will not be returned, and helps the workshop ensure that only those truly interested in the limited spacing sign up for the event. (Please note that query editing payments and manuscript editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already edited your work.)

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