The 2020 Minnesota Writing Workshop: March 7, 2020

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019 events in Minnesota, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2020 Minnesota Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in St. Paul, MN on March 7, 2020.

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 2020 Minnesota Writing Workshop!


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, March 7, 2020, 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 Weronika Janczuk (Janczuk Literary)
  • literary agent Essie White (Storm Literary)
  • literary agent Rachelle Gardner (Books & Such)
  • literary agent Lesley Sabga (The Seymour Agency)
  • literary agent Eric Smith (P.S. Literary)
  • literary agent Kelly Peterson (Rees Literary)
  • literary agent Savannah Brooks (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • editor Anni Liu (Graywolf Press)
  • literary agent Kelly Van Sant (Red Sofa Literary)
  • literary agent Jennie Goloboy (Donald Maass Literary)
  • literary agent Mary Cummings (Betsy Amster Literary)
  • literary agent Catherine Hedrick-Armstrong (The Purcell Agency)
  • literary agent Stephanie Hansen (Metamorphosis Literary)
  • 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 Chuck Sambuchino of Writing Day Workshops, with assistance from local Minnesota writing groups.


9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, March 7, 2020 — 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. Crafting Dynamic Characters for Young Adult and Middle Grade (Governor 1). Geared toward YA & MG novelists, but also applicable to picture book writers, this workshop explores use of interiority — or an exploration of your character’s thoughts, feelings, inner struggles, and reactions.

2. How to Write a Damn Good Query Letter (State Suite). In this session, literary agent Eric Smith will teach you the no-nonsense approach to writing a query letter that works.

3. Social Media for Authors (Governor 2). In his class, you will learn how to identify your readers and mingle with them on their social media channels of choice. We will talk about what to post online, how to engage new readers, and the differences between social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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

1. Structure in Memoir (Governor 2). In this class, we’ll discuss chronology and beginnings, weaving narrative threads, and various ways to keep your writing from feeling episodic.

2. Ten Keys to Writing Success (State Suite). Learn 10 things you can be doing right now that will help get your book(s) published and have more control over your writing destiny.

3. Incorporating Research in Fiction (Governor 1). Plot is what drives a narrative forward, but oftentimes the most compelling aspects of a story are the characters and the setting. This presentation focuses on how to bring in research to make those aspects as authentic and compelling as possible.

(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. Elevating Your Work: How to Create Children’s Books That Are Not Just Entertaining, but Transformative (Governor 1). Discover how to create books that will impact children in a lasting way while embracing the transformative power of your work.

3. How to Sell a Nonfiction Book (Governor 2). This session is completely devoted to nonfiction. So if you are trying to create an awesome nonfiction book proposal, this presentation is for you.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Three Laws and Ten Pages: How to Use Newtonian Physics to Add Momentum to Your Fiction (Governor 1). In this session, we’re going to throw rules out the window and, using Newton’s Laws of Motion, reframe the beginning of your book in a way that won’t stifle your creativity but will keep your readers clamoring for more. 

2. Improve Your Writing And Deepen Your Characters With the Craft of Empathy (Governor 2). In this class, we will discuss the ways that writing with empathy in mind can help us create complex and believable characters, and we will discuss the power of writing your younger self with empathy.

3. 18 Frequently Asked Questions About Publishing All Writers Should Know (State Suite). Before you publish your work or query an agent (and after), there are plenty of things you need to know.

(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. The Timeline of a Book, Explained (State Suite). This workshop will examine what happens between the time you submit your query to an agent to the time your book is finally published.

2. How to Create Awesome Worldbuilding for Your Science Fiction and Fantasy (Governor 1). Crafting living spaces that act as both character and location not only sets the stage for a good fantastic tale, but also adds a layer of world-building that can make any story stand out from the crowd.

3. Conquering the Dreaded Synopsis (Governor 2). This class is designed to help you understand what makes up an effective synopsis.


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 2020-03-02 at 2.11.37 PMWeronika Janczuk [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent and founder of The Janczuk Literary Agency. “I am not, and have never been, a single-genre reader. I am eager only for the best-told stories, building out a list of talented novelists and writers in many genres.” She is seeking: young adult, fantasy & sci-fi, literary fiction, commercial fiction, women’s fiction, romance, crime, mystery & thrillers. memoir and nonfiction (innovative ideas & research; projects with a potential for social & cultural impact, etc.). Learn more about Weronika here.

Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 5.18.42 PM.pngSavannah Brooks [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. Savannah is primarily interested in acquiring middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction. She’s interested in books that focus on friendship, conflicting identity, and the theme of truth and is always drawn in by a protagonist venturing into a realm where society says they don’t belong (think swapping gender norms). Characters with weird obsessions are a weird obsession of hers—teach her strange new things, and she’s yours. She’s all about magical realism, mythology, and modern retellings but isn’t the best fit for high fantasy or science fiction. Mostly, she’s invested in representing the diverse world in which we live and would like to see that reflected in a cast of characters. Learn more about Savannah here.

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 5.26.03 PMLesley Sabga [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with The Seymour Agency. Lesley loves intricate and vivid world-building and character driven plots. She is actively acquiring middle grade sci-fi & fantasy, and young adult sci-fi & fantasy. For adult fiction, she seeks fantasy, sci-fi, dark and twisty suspense / thrillers featuring strong female protagonists, classic happily-ever-after romance, or a good mystery. She is also interested in acquiring narrative nonfiction. Learn more about Lesley here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-04 at 9.04.19 PM.pngRachelle Gardner [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Agency. For adult fiction, she seeks submissions in both the general and Christian markets — for women’s fiction, mystery, suspense, thriller, family saga, historical, legal, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, and romance. For nonfiction, she seeks both Christian market and general market projects: memoirs, home life, current affairs, health & diet, narrative nonfiction, popular culture, self-help, women’s and issues. Platform is important, so be sure to highlight it in your pitch. She occasionally looks at devotionals. Learn more about Rachelle here.

Screen Shot 2019-10-29 at 8.50.51 PMEric Smith [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with P.S. Literary. Eric is seeking: Eric 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 2016-02-02 at 9.58.43 AM.pngKelly Peterson [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Rees Literary Agency. Kelly seeks manuscripts in various genres within Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult age ranges. In Middle Grade, she loves fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary that touches on tough issues for young readers. Her Young Adult preferences vary from contemporary to high fantasy, sci-fi (not the space kind) to paranormal (all the ghost stories, please!), and historical all the way back to rom-coms. Kelly is proud to continue to represent Adult manuscripts in romance, fantasy, and sci-fi. She is very interested in representing authors with marginalized own voices stories, witty and unique characters, pirates, witches, and dark fantasies. Learn more about Kelly here.

Screen Shot 2020-02-24 at 5.15.59 PMStephanie Hansen [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent and founder of Metamorphosis Literary. Stephanie enjoys prose that flows as smoothly as poetry, unforgettable plot twists, and well-rounded characters. She is actively acquiring thrillers (YA & Adult). She is also on the hunt for the following on behalf of her fellow Metamorphosis agents: #OwnVoices, picture books (STEAM), middle grade (STEAM), young adult (contemporary, mystery, & SFF), romance (any kind), cozy mystery, women’s fiction, LGBTQ+, literary fiction, and nonfiction (stories rooting for the underdog). She is most interested in fiction with unexpected antagonists. (She is representing her agency in replacement of Mark William Norby, who was previously scheduled but is no longer attending.) Learn more about Stephanie here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 10.37.40 AMKelly Van Sant [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Red Sofa Literary. She says, “I am seeking middle grade, young adult, and very limited women’s fiction across all genres — including fantasy, science fiction, adventure, historical, and contemporary. I love character-driven stories with intricate plots, and am always drawn to explorations of friendship and found family. I am especially interested in #ownvoices, inclusive narratives, and diverse writers.” Learn more about Kelly here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-04 at 4.32.01 PMAnni Liu is an editorial assistant at Graywolf Press and has previously served as poetry editor for the Indiana Review.  She is taking pitches for the following genres and categories: Personal essay collections, critical longform nonfiction, lyric essays, and literary fiction. Learn more about Anni here.

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 8.09.50 PM.png Jennie Goloboy is a literary agent with the Donald Maass Literary Agency. 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. As a fan of character-driven novels, she wants to be desperate to know what happens to your hero by the time she’s finished your writing sample. Romance and humor are always a plus. If your book combines an oddball premise with a compelling protagonist, she wants to read it. Adorable body horror? Quirky intentional communities? Please send them on! 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 2016-10-13 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. She is particularly seeking picture books with love themes (love for parent, for another, for the world in general) and middle grade novels set in the real world of present day or near past. In ya novels she’s looking for a strong, but not romantic, bond between main characters. 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 2019-02-01 at 3.25.19 PM.pngCatherine Hedrick-Armstrong is a literary agent with The Purcell Agency. Though her reading tastes are somewhat eclectic, Catherine is especially drawn to issue-driven Young Adult and New Adult fiction, ranging from the heart-wrenching stories of kids trying to navigate the difficult hallways of their high schools to the heartbreaking, yet empowering, stories of overcoming the odds when life throws you a curve ball. In the New Adult category, she can’t get enough of Jamie McGuire’s Maddox Brothers series, and anything written by Colleen Hoover or Rachel Van Dyken. She is not interested in science fiction or fantasy in YA or NA. Learn more about Catherine here.

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 6.42.01 PM.pngEssie White [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent and founder of Storm Literary Agency. She specializes in children’s picture books. She also represents some middle grade fiction and middle grade nonfiction. Learn more about Essie here.


        More 2020 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.)



$189 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2020 MWW and access to all workshops, all day. As of fall 2019, 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 2018-11-26 at 11.11.29 AM.png“I met my client, Alison Hammer, at the Writing
Workshop of Chicago and just sold her book.”
– literary agent Joanna Mackenzie of Nelson Literary

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.47.54 PM.png“Good news! I signed a client [novelist Aliza Mann]
from the Michigan Writing Workshop!”
– literary agent Sara Mebigow of KT Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 12.56.10 PM“I signed author Stephanie Wright from
the Seattle Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 9.07.44 PM“I signed an author [Kate Thompson] that I
met at the Philadelphia Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 2.54.50 PM.png“I signed novelist Kathleen McInnis after meeting her
at the Chesapeake Writing Workshop.”

– literary agent Adriann Ranta of Foundry Literary + Media

Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from Chuck Sambuchino, a longtime editor for Writer’s Digest Books and one of the workshop’s former 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 $89 — 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:

  • Young adult, middle grade, picture books, nonfiction, memoir: Faculty member Dawn Frederick, a literary agent, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your 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. If you are getting a picture book critique, please submit 1,000 words maximum, and your submission can come with or without illustrations.
  • Young adult SF/F, adult science fiction, adult fantasy, adult romance: Faculty member Laura Zats, a literary agent, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your 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. (Laura has currently reached her limit for in-person 10-minute meetings at the MWW as of Feb. 5, 2020. What this means is she’s happy to take on more critiques, but for new attendees who sign up and choose to meet with her, the discussion of her critique will not be in person on March 7, but rather by phone/Skype in the week to follow after the event. Please make sure you’re OK with this before signing up.)
  • Memoir and essay: Faculty member Kate Hopper, a published author, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your 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.
  • Literary fiction, mainstream fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, mystery, thriller, crime, suspense: Faculty member Eve Porinchak, a freelance editor and former literary agent, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, and pass along written critique notes. Unlike the other critquers at the Minnesota event, Eve will not be there in person. Instead Eve is happy to have her 10-minute meetings with writers over the phone or Skype, either before or after the event.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Chuck Sambuchino via email:, and he 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 Chuck 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 Chuck Sambuchino via email: He 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 Chuck 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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