By: Jama Kehoe Bigger—
Muncie, IN—The 44th annual Midwest Writers Workshop (MWW) is set for July 20-22 at the L. A. Pittinger Student Center on the campus of Ball State University. The conference, geared to writers at all experience levels, offers an intensive genre-specific Thursday workshop followed by two additional days of classes and panels, plus networking opportunities and pitch sessions.
“Every year we bring in about 30 of the most talented, successful faculty members we can find from around the country,” says MWW director Jama Kehoe Bigger. “Plus we book several New York City agents and editors who are associated with the current bestseller lists. We schedule 45 sessions on the craft and business of fiction and nonfiction writing and build in plenty of ‘down time’ so participants can make connections and get all their questions answered. We’ve been instrumental in linking writers with agents, such as Veronica Roth of the Divergent trilogy fame.”
Participants can select sessions on writing thrillers, mysteries, women’s fiction, young adult fiction, memoir, children’s picture books and essays.
For the first time this year, writers can study screenwriting and learn to incorporate screenwriting techniques into their novels. Nina Sadowsky, a University of Southern California instructor and a film and television producer (“Wedding Planner” and “House of Sand and Fog”), will teach a five-hour intensive session on July 20. Sadowsky is currently writing the TV script for her first novel, Just Fall, which will be a series on STARZ.
Bestselling novelist Amy Reichert, whose latest release is The Simplicity of Cider, will co-teach a session on writing women’s fiction. Reichert attended MWW for several years and credits the conference with helping to launch her publishing career.
Because young adult novels are among the bestselling books in the country, the workshop will include several instructors who specialize in that category. Among them are Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give (12 weeks as #1 on the NYT bestseller list); Mike Mullin, Ashfall; and Becky Albertalli, Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda (film in production starring Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel).
Banquet speaker Jess Lourey will discuss how to incorporate life experiences into a novel – “Rewrite Your Life,” after a newly released book by the same name and a TedTalk. Jane Friedman, an expert in digital media strategy for authors and publishers, is the opening night keynoter. She has held positions as a professor of writing, media, and publishing at the University of Cincinnati and University of Virginia, and has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer.
The nuts and bolts of author necessities will be at attendees’ fingertips, from sessions on how to be effective on social media, to working with Scrivener software, to handling taxes for writers. Participants can sign up for a professional photo taken on-site, attend a “Meet Your Tribe” event to network with peers, and join a roundtable event like speed dating to meet multiple faculty members. All attendees can pitch their books to an agent or editor, and early-birds can have the first few pages of their manuscript read and receive a 15-minute consultation (for an additional fee). There’s even a free bowling activity on Friday night. All offerings have limited slots. Participants can register in advance at www.midwestwriters.org or by contacting the conference director at firstname.lastname@example.org.