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35th Annual Western Reserve Writers Conference

City of Lyndhurst, Ohio
Event organized by City of Lyndhurst, Ohio

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Free Writers Conference
35th Annual Western Reserve Writers Conference
South Euclid / Lyndhurst Library
April 28th 2018

Register at:



The William N. Skirball Writers' Center proudly hosts the Western Reserve Writers’ Conference for a third year, making it free of charge for writers.

*PARKING also available at Notre Dame College, directly across from the library. Uniformed personnel will be available during library hours to help pedestrians cross South Green Road.*


Deanna R. Adams, Conference Coordinator
Laurie Kincer, William N. Skirball Writers' Center

9:40-10:20 AM / KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Literary Agent Elizabeth Kaplan in Conversation

Literary agent Elizabeth Kaplan will be interviewed by her client and current Cuyahoga County Public Library Writer in Residence Claire McMillan about Ms. Kaplan's job as an agent, how she approaches representing authors, how she chooses new clients, her advice for writers seeking an agent, and her thoughts on trends in the publishing industry. There will be time for audience Q&A.

Elizabeth Kaplan has represented numerous critically acclaimed and best-selling authors throughout her 20-year career as a literary agent, including Greg Mortenson, E. Lockhart, and Michael Ruhlman. After graduating from the University of Michigan, Elizabeth moved to New York City and began her publishing career as the assistant to Jim Silberman, the founder of Summit Books. Elizabeth worked as an editor at Summit for three years before moving on to assist another publishing legend, the literary agent Sterling Lord. Before beginning her own agency in 2002, she worked as an agent at Sterling Lord Literistic and the Ellen Levine Agency. Elizabeth's main areas of focus include literary fiction, young adult fiction, narrative nonfiction (especially issue-based books), history, biography, food writing and cookbooks and memoir.

Claire McMillan, the current Writer in Residence at the William N. Skirball Writers' Center, is the author of The Necklace, an intoxicating novel set in Cleveland that BookPage calls "absorbing." Her debut novel, Gilded Age, also set in Cleveland, transforms Edith Wharton's House of Mirth into a powerful modern story of one woman's struggle with independence and love. McMillan grew up in and around Pasadena, CA. She practiced complex corporate litigation in San Francisco until 2003 and then received an MFA in creative writing from Bennington College. She lives on a family farm near Cleveland with her husband and their two children.

Note: Sessions with an asterisk (*) include a writing exercise.

10:30-11:30 AM / BREAKOUT SESSIONS, choose one:

1. The Seven Universal Plots / Claire McMillan. CCPL’s Writer in Residence and Simon & Schuster author, Claire McMillan, will teach you how to deepen character by thinking about the seven universal plots.

2. Taboo Writing / Laura Walter. Learn how to respectfully approach controversial subject matter in your writing and how to face common challenges and pitfalls.

3. *Powerful Words for Powerful Nonfiction Prose / Sunny Morton. Powerful prose is lean and muscular. Learn to adjust your writing for a strong technical manual, slim precise ad copy, or toned-and-smooth consumer prose.

11:30-11:45 AM / BREAK & PREARRANGED EDITING SESSIONS. Individual editing sessions with editors Judy Allen and Laura Walter.

11:45 AM-12:45 PM / BREAKOUT SESSIONS, choose one:

1. What's the Real Story and How to Get It / Mike Olszewski. With this veteran writer’s help, explore different research methods and learn how to get the real story you need for that nonfiction article or book.

2. *The All-Important Query Letter / Deanna R. Adams. Writing a good query letter is an art, and one you’ll need to perfect if sending your work to an agent or traditional publisher.

3. *Writing the Personal Essay / Jacqueline Marino. Develop your story senses, from inspiration to completed personal essay.

Brown bag or go out. Restaurant map available at registration table.

1:30-1:45 PM / PREARRANGED EDITING SESSIONS. Individual editing sessions with editors Judy Allen and Laura Walter.

1:45-2:45 PM / FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE. Panelists Elizabeth Kaplan, Claire McMillan and Renee Rosen. Submit the first page of your work in progress (prose only, fiction or nonfiction) at check-in on conference morning. Submissions must be double-spaced, Times New Roman-12, with Title/Genre. Each panelist will raise a hand at the point where they would stop reading and will comment on what stopped them. Pages will be randomly selected.

2:45-3:00 PM / BREAK & PREARRANGED EDITING SESSIONS. Individual editing sessions with editors Judy Allen and Laura Walter.

3:00-4:00 PM / BREAKOUT SESSIONS, choose one:

1. *Revise & Edit Like a Pro / Renee Rosen. Explore the importance of editing and revision, how to effectively polish your work and get it in shape for submitting to agents and editors.

2. The Benefits of Blogging / Jill Grunenwald. Learn how blogging can help you engage with your readers, plus the best ways to create valuable and memorable content.

3. 15 Tips for Writing a Play / Kelly Boyer Sagert. Kelly will share step-by-step how to write a script.

4:00-4:15 PM / PREARRANGED EDITING SESSIONS. Individual editing sessions with editors Judy Allen and Laura Walter.