This page will be updated as more faculty members are
confirmed for the 2023 Minnesota Writing Workshop.
Denise McConduit is a published Children’s Book Author. At the 2023 MWW, she is offering add-on critiques for attendees.
See all of her kidlit books here.
Denise lives in New Orleans, Louisiana the birthplace of jazz and other unique customs like Mardi Gras, Jazz Festivals, and Debutante balls. Denise grew up in a large family of thirteen children. As a child she used to entertain her siblings by reading and putting on plays. She began writing poetry at an early age and then studied art. Her first magazine article was published in 1982 in Black New Orleans magazine. Later she had articles published in Essence Magazine and the New Orleans Tribune magazine. She currently writes a weekly column for the Times Picayune newspaper focusing on the recovery of her neighborhood after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Preserving cultural traditions through family stories is important to Denise. It’s how she grew up and it’s what she passes on. Her first book, “D.J. and the Zulu Parade” is about the adventures of her son, “D.J” when he rode in a Mardi Gras Parade. That book led to two other stories about the intrepid boy: “D.J. and the Jazz Fest” and “D.J. and the Debutante Ball”. McConduit feels that writing culturally rich books are essential because it’s important for children see themselves in literature.
Her newest book is titled, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Read. In this book young readers will meet Robbie, a stubborn little boy who doesn’t like to read. His wish is granted when a magic sorcerer removes the words from everything and that’s when his world gets topsy-turvy! He soon learns that life without reading is nothing to wish for! Denise often advises aspiring young authors, “Do you have any interesting or funny characters in your family? If you do, you may want to write a story about them. I did!”
McConduit has four children, Crishelle, Monique, Erika and D.J. It was her son D.J.’s experience as a page in the Zulu Parade that gave her the idea for the first book in the series. Denise has always been an avid reader and writer. Her personal mission is to write fun and meaningful stories for children.
S.Z. Estavillo is a writing coach, social media instructor, and former literary agent.
At the 2023 MWW, she is critiquing manuscripts as an add-on for conference attendees.
She has a master’s degree in television, radio, and film and a bachelor’s degree in film. She has also worked with studios and agencies critiquing manuscripts and greenlighting film screenplays.
“My specialty is directing content from concept through completion. I have extensive professional writing experience that marries well with content direction, management, strategy, and social media marketing. The content creation, production process, and utilizing social media for marketing are what I absolutely love to do. I not only direct, write, create multi-media and social content for companies but also in my free time because it is my passion. “
USA Today bestselling author A.S. Green lives in chilly Minnesota and spends the all-too-short summers on Lake Superior, which is the muse for her paranormal and contemporary romances. She writes complex characters, action-packed plots, and snarky in-your-face banter. And, of course, loads of steamy love scenes.
At the 2023 MNWW, Anne will be giving a speech and also meeting with writers in person for add-in manuscript critiques.
When she’s not writing romance, she’s probably watching Outlander or pleading (unsuccessfully) with her husband to don the kilt she bought him last summer.
You can find her on most social platforms at @asgreenbooks.
James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on mind-bending journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories.
He’s the best-selling, Christy Book of the Year, Carol, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award winning author of ten novels, co-owner of The Rubart Writing Academy, and an audio book narrator. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. See all of his books here.
At the 2023 Minnesota workshop, he is critiquing manuscripts as an add-on for attendees.
Shelli R. Johannes is the author of 18 books (out and forthcoming). She is the coauthor (with Kimberly Derting) of the popular CECE LOVES SCIENCE series and PENNY (An Engineering Tale of the Fourth Pig). In addition to her tween and teen novels, she is also the author of the THEO THESAURUS series and SHINE LIKE A UNICORN. Her new chapter book in Chelsea Clinton’s “She Persisted” series on FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE comes out in March 2023. See all her kids books here and all her teen novels here.
At the 2023 MWW, Shelli is offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.
Shelli can often be found on highways and country roads saving strays and other jaywalking critters or volunteering with animal conservation groups. After earning a master’s to follow her passion of writing.
She lives in Atlanta with her own pack of unicorns: a British husband, two teens, two Goldendoodles, one sassy bird, and the many loud characters that “live” in her head. Shelli is addicted to exclamation points, puns, unicorns, and anything sciencey. You can always count on her to laugh at her own jokes, at least once.
Swati Hegde is a desi adult romance and YA author. By day, she’s a mindset coach and freelance editor. She is also a self-proclaimed coffee shop enthusiast who lives in Bangalore, India, and can usually be found at the nearest café with a hot mug of tea.
At the 2023 MNWW, Swati is offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.
Swati is represented by Rachel Beck at Liza Dawson Associates. Her debut romantic comedy novel MATCH ME IF YOU CAN is out 2024 from Ballantine Bantam Dell, Penguin Random House.
“I write funny romance novels featuring strong heroines, sweet-as-honey heroes, and happily-ever-afters that will make you tear up and laugh all at once. Oh, and did I mention they’re all desi characters? I live in Bangalore, India, and my writing always centers people like me living in my home country. Right now, I’m working on MATCH ME IF YOU CAN, my desi romantic comedy out 2024 from Random House, ft. an aspiring matchmaker heroine, a pub owner hero, and tons of mis-matchmaking and misunderstandings.” See her website here.
Deidra Purvis is the acquisitions editor for Free Spirit Publishing, the leading publisher of books to support young people’s social-emotional learning and wellbeing.
At the 2023 MN event, she is meeting with attendees for one-on-one pitches. She is also teaching a class.
She’s looking for new board books, picture books, and nonfiction books for kids and teens.
Before joining Free Spirit Publishing, Deidra gained market insight as a bookseller of books for children and teens. Deidra has a B.S. in Secondary Education in English and is finishing up her MFA in Creative Writing, with expected completion in May 2023.
Lindsay Flanagan of Tobias Literary Agency is an agent assistant, editor, and author living in Utah. As of 2023, she is now taking on her own clients.
At the 2023 in-person MNWW, Lindsay is teaching a speech. She is also meeting with attendees one-on-one for pitches.
Lindsay earned her Master of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing and has spent the last decade reading, writing, and editing–basically, living her dream. Her debut novel, a young adult fantasy titled ANNAGREY AND THE CONSTELLATION, comes out in August 2023.
She’s personally looking for adult work only in fantasy (all categories), mystery, thriller, romance, women’s fiction, upmarket, and maybe even a thriller. Her dream acquisition would have been The Night Circus. She likes work that has hints of magic and a bit of darkness. She is open to all voices and is seeking a diverse list of authors to represent with a particular interest in seeing work from Indigenous creators.
Cathie Hedrick-Armstrong is a literary agent with The Purcell Agency.
At the 2023 MN event, Cathie is meeting with attendees for one-on-one pitches. She is also teaching a speech.
Cathie is an Oklahoma native transplanted in Minnesota for nearly 30 years. A proud alumnus of The University of Oklahoma, she holds a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in History and is a rabid fan of OU Sooners Football.
A prolific reader of many genres, Cathie represents Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary and Historical Romance, Upmarket Women’s Fiction, Mysteries, and Thrillers. She deliberately keeps her client list small to give her authors the attention each deserves while still allowing herself time for her own writing career as an author of issue-driven young adult and women’s fiction. Her own authored titles include the young adult novel, Roam, and the women’s fiction title, The Edge of Nowhere.
Cathie looks for manuscripts that catch her attention within the first few pages. If you can evoke an emotional response in the opening pages—make her laugh out loud, cause her pulse to race, make her cry—you’ve got a winner.
Cathie is never interested in Science Fiction or High Fantasy in any genre; however, fantasy with paranormal/supernatural elements IF GROUNDED IN THE REAL WORLD are often a good fit. (Examples: Victoria Laurie’s Ghost Hunter series, Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mysteries series, Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series, or Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse or Harper Connelly series).
Erin Casey Westin is a literary agent with Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.
At the 2023 MN event, Erin is teaching a class, and also meeting with attendees one-on-one for in-person pitches.
Erin graduated from Hamilton College with a B.A. in Creative Writing and an ever-growing list of books to read.
She is open to all kid lit age groups, from picture books through YA, and is particularly drawn to work that shows the author’s world- and character-building ability. She wants to believe wholeheartedly in the world of the book, whether the setting is familiar or fantastic. She wants to see authentic, thoughtful representations of all people so that every kid can find a book that speaks to them. She wants even the simplest lines of dialogue to pluck at her heartstrings because they’re so perfectly written for that character. Erin loves that startled feeling you get upon reaching the end of a chapter in a really good book. You forget you’re reading when you’re so busy living, you know?
Savannah Brooks is an agent with KT Literary.
At the 2023 MN event, Savannah is taking pitches, and also meeting with attendees for one-on-one in-person pitch meetings.
Savannah started in agenting as an intern with the Jennifer De Chiara team in 2017, moving to associate agent in 2018. In 2022, she joined the incredible team at KT Literary as an agent, where she represents all of kid lit and adult contemporary fiction, romcoms, thrillers/mystery/suspense, and horror. She’s especially interested in stories that teach her something new, add to a larger sociopolitical conversation, and highlight underrepresented identities and cultures. She earned her MFA, focused in creative nonfiction, from Hamline University and her BS in marketing management from Virginia Tech and worked on the editorial side of publishing for two years prior to joining JDLA. As well as agenting, she works as a publishing and literature lecturer at the University of Minnesota and a teaching artist at the Loft Literary Center. She lives in Minneapolis and can regularly be found at one of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes — yes, even in winter.
- picture books
- chapter books
- middle grade
- young adult (fiction and nonfiction)
- adult fiction (contemporary/commercial, romcoms, thrillers/mysteries, and horror)
Laura Zats is a literary agent with Headwater Literary.
At the 2023 MN conference, Laura is teaching a class, and also meeting with writers for 10-minute in-person meetings, which can be pitches or just a chance to ask questions.
For over a decade, Laura has worked with books in every way from bookselling to editing to self-publishing. A literary agent since 2014, she finds the most joy in working closely with authors to build their long-term careers in ways that contribute positively to their financial and mental health, as well as the greater community. Since 2016, Laura has hosted Print Run, a publishing podcast, with Erik Hane and is increasingly passionate about teaching, mentorship, and the role books play in the fight for social justice.
In her spare time, Laura plays tabletop role-playing games, cooks elaborate meals, follows long-distance dogsled racing, and drinks a lot of tea. Connect with her on twitter @LZats.
LAURA’S REPRESENTATIVE CATEGORIES:
- Science fiction/fantasy
- Select mystery
- Literary fiction with speculative elements
- Select contemporary and historical fiction
“I am actively looking to flesh out the adult side of my list but am always excited to read YA. I particularly love to work on books that appeal to readers of different genres or subgenres—if you’re pitching something that crosses multiple areas of my list, I want to see it!”
Claire Harris is a literary agent with P.S. Literary Agency.
At the 2023 MN event, Claire is teaching a class, and also meeting with attendees for one-on-one in-person pitches.
Claire (she/her) is a literary agent with a passion for a wide range of fiction and nonfiction for adults. After graduating from UT Austin, she worked at a mid-sized agency before joining the PSLA team. Claire seeks projects with unique voices, interesting writing styles, and compelling characters. She enjoys the creative process of working with creators and collaborating closely with them throughout all stages of their careers, and she has represented everything from debuts to NYT bestsellers. Having grown up in Wisconsin, she has a soft spot for stories set in the Midwest.
Claire is acquiring both fiction and nonfiction projects for adults. She’s actively seeking projects that shine a spotlight on people, places, and events that are often overlooked or not given the attention they deserve. In fiction, she’s looking for adult rom coms, contemporary fiction, psychological thrillers, select horror, and cozy mysteries—all for millennial audiences, specifically. Claire is happiest when reading manuscripts with unexpected endings or new twists on classic genre tropes. For nonfiction, Claire is seeking a range of projects, including lifestyle guides, pop culture celebrations, pop psychology, cultural criticism, humor, true crime, essay collections, and illustrated books for adults.
Chuck Sambuchino (@chucksambuchino) is a freelance editor, bestselling book author, and former longtime staffer for Writer’s Digest Books. For many years he edited the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN’S WRITER’S & ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog was one of the largest blogs in publishing, and he wrote the platform guidebook CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM.
His humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. Chuck’s books have been mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Variety, New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, Mental Floss, New York magazine, and many more media outlets.
He is a successful freelance editor of queries, synopses, and manuscripts—seeing dozens of clients get agents or book deals following his consultations/edits. He loves meeting new writers.
At the 2023 MN workshop, he is teaching classes and doing add-on query critiques for attendees.