Announcing Our New Assistant Director: Leah Lederman!

Midwest Writers Workshop is happy to announce that Leah Lederman has taken on the role of Assistant Director!

Leah joined the Board of Directors in December of 2019 and since then has helped with promotional scheduling and faculty interviews for our events. She has shown her dedication to the Midwestern literary community through her work with Midwest Writers as well as the Indiana Writers Center, Lafayette Writers Studio, and the online creative community and magazine, Of Rust and Glass.  Please join us in welcoming her to this new position!

Leah McNaughton Lederman, a freelance editor and Pushcart-nominated author, has created two volumes of Café Macabre: A Collection of Horror Stories and Art by Women (SourcePoint Press, 2019; 2021) and her own short story collection: A Novel of Shorts: The Woman No One Sees (2020). Her creative nonfiction has been published in The River and South Review, Defenestration Mag, and The Wrath-Bearing Tree. She is working on a memoir about growing up with a combat veteran father. Leah is active in several writing communities in the Midwest, where she lives with her husband and an assortment of children, cats, and dogs. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Jaclyn Youhana Garver: MWW Agent Fest Success Story

Meet Jaclyn Youhana Garver: Author, Poet, Journalist

Jaclyn Youhana Garver is an author, poet, and journalist. Her novels are represented by Savannah Brooks of KT Literary Agency. In her contemporary fiction, Jaclyn explores the nuances of grief, love, family, and friendship. Her first poetry collection, the chapbook The Men I Never: is scheduled to be published by Chicago’s dancing girl press in summer/fall 2022. She received an honorable mention in Writers Digest’s 90th Annual Writing Competition in 2021 in non-rhyming poetry, for the piece “I Never Caught His Name.”

Jaclyn worked for daily newspapers for eight years and in community college marketing for five. She is a freelance writer whose current and previous clients include Cincinnati Magazine, Lifehacker.com, Harper College, Visit Fort Wayne, and Graphics Output. She’s also the communication specialist for the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR), the country’s premier professional organization for community college marketers. Her duties include producing Peer and Simple, NCMPR’s podcast; writing emails, blog posts, scripts and more; media relations; and helping plan NCMPR’s national conference for 300+ attendees.

Sign up for her newsletter!

Q&A with Jaclyn

Jaclyn Youhana Garver and Leah McNaughton Lederman at MWW22 conference in Muncie, IN

I “met” Jaclyn when she attended MWW’s first online conference in 2021. She has great energy and exudes positivity; she definitely pulls people into her orbit. We became friends on Facebook and she has been a faithful encouragement to me in my writing endeavors. Plus, we’re both sort of silly. It was a great pleasure to interview her and highlight her *many* writing successes, especially getting signed as a result of MWW Agent Fest!

MWW: How long were you a writer before encountering Midwest Writers Workshop?

JYG: Oh man, I first started writing in second grade when my grandma gave me a diary so … 30ish years? I’ve kept a journal since. In a more professional way, I started writing in high school, when I joined the school paper. I studied journalism in college and wrote everything–though mainly features–for daily newspapers for eight years. I still freelance.

Creatively, I guess I started with crummy poetry in about sixth grade (didn’t we all start that way??). I turned to long-form after I left newspapers and got into marketing–once I wasn’t writing daily on a deadline, my creative energy gathered enough to turn to longer projects. And I finally started to hone in on poetry work during the pandemic. I’d wanted to take some classes to learn how to edit my own stuff and get over that hump–I felt stuck but didn’t know how to further improve–but I was so intimidated. That the pandemic necessitated online classes ended up being really helpful for me.

MWW: What drew you to MWW and what did you find there?

JYG: My first MWW event was the summer conference in, I think, 2018. I’ve always loved professional, workshop-style conferences and turned to Google to see if I could find anything local. MWW is a pretty short drive from Fort Wayne and insanely reasonably priced, so I figured I’d give it a shot. There, I found so much knowledge and friendliness (even if I hardly spoke to a soul that first time). I’ve since attended three four other events — in person or virtually — because through MWW, I found people happy and excited to help me improve upon my writing and meet my goals. I found encouragement and support. I found sessions that weren’t just surface-level but instead got into the nitty gritty of writing and the industry. I’m a learner in my core, so truly, the sessions were the first things that hooked me.

MWW: What classes/conferences did you attend, and what was your experience like?

JYG: I attended the conference in 2018 and 2021 and Agent Fest in 2019 and 2021, plus this past summer’s hybrid conference. The 2018 and ’19 events were more about getting to know MWW and getting my feet wet in terms of what the organization offers and how it could help me succeed. The 2021 events were when I felt myself getting involved on a deeper level, if that makes sense. I connected with instructors more and signed up for some one-on-ones with faculty. Allison Joseph, in poetry, was so supportive and helpful, building my confidence that my full-length poetry manuscript might someday maybe find a home. Matthew Clemens gave me one of the largest confidence boosts I’ve ever experienced related to my novel writing, through some first-page reads for two of my projects. Angela Jackson-Brown helped me polish and refine my pitch for the ’21 Agent Fest and build my confidence for my novel. I attended this summer’s conference in person, and getting to meet so many people after just seeing their faces the previous year has been a highlight of 2022. Plus, the faculty was exceptional. I want to do some shoutouts, but I’d basically be listing everyone who presented.

MWW: Tell us about your writing success(es)!

JYG: I found an agent through MWW Agent Fest last year!! I signed with Savannah Brooks of KT Literary this spring. I’m so embarrassed to say that this is how it went down but … I wasn’t even originally signed to pitch to Savannah. Her original manuscript wishlist focused on kid lit and YA, with selective contemporary fiction, so I opted to pitch to a trio of agents that named contemporary fiction as a focus. The first page of my novel was the first read on the first night of first-page reads (say that three times fast …) Savannah was one of the agents sitting in, and she laughed at the right spots and had such incredible feedback. She really got my story, which was a spectacular feeling. I sent her a private message during that Zoom call to thank her for her kind words (also apologizing in case I was making a faux pas–these were, after all, blind reads), and she encouraged me to pitch to her. I did, and she requested pages … and eventually the full manuscript … and at like 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night in April, I got that email that so many writers hope to get but never actually think is going to come. I burst into tears so hard, my husband was like “Good news or bad news? GOOD NEWS OR BAD???”

If you’re interested in other successes unrelated to MWW: My poetry chapbook, The Men I Never:, is due out later this summer this fall by dancing girl press in Chicago. I also received an honorable mention in last year’s Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in non-rhyming poetry. I was a scholarship recipient to two Tupelo Press poetry conferences last year. I also launched my website this summer, which has me ecstatic. Man, putting together a website is a ton of work, but I’m thrilled to have a space to share my successes and ideas. There’s a blog there, and … finger’s crossed … I’m in the early, early stages of kicking off a podcast. Who knows how long that’ll take (first episode this fall? maybe?), but I’m really excited about the topic and structure.

MWW: If you were to recommend MWW to a friend, what would you tell them?

JYG: Oh boy, just do it. If you’re looking to improve as a writer; to find like-minded people; to meet helpful, friendly, encouraging experts; and for an organization that is wonderfully down-to-earth and unintimidating, MWW is your org. I’d like to stress that unintimidating part. Imposter syndrome is real, and it’s tough to not think, “Who the heck do I think I am, even trying to do this ridiculously impossible thing?” The kindness and support I’ve found in MWW is invaluable.

Check out all the details for what MWW Agent Fest offers: the agents and the schedule!

Secure your spot today!

Click on the link below to register:

Register for MWW Agent Fest Online 2022 Now!

Stretch to the next level with MWW22!

MWW board member and writer Leah McNaughton Lederman encourages you to stretch your writing! 

Because I write primarily creative nonfiction, I aim for the creative nonfiction sessions at any conference I attend. Makes sense, right?

But then it happened: There wasn’t a creative nonfiction option available. Huh. Well, I supposed, a poetry session might work in a pinch.

Let me tell you, it most certainly worked.

Writing within the constraints of a different medium pulled ideas and phrases out of me that I didn’t know I had in me; it forced me to approach my ideas from a different angle and spilled my word-hoard in refreshing and delightful ways.

Now I make it a point to attend workshops outside of my chosen genre. After all, what piece of nonfiction couldn’t benefit from the scene setting, character building, and dialogue studied in fiction sessions? And the autobiographical elements of fiction can be finessed onto the page using the memory-mining techniques of nonfiction. Poetry’s precision of language and inside-out phrasing create a lyrical quality in your prose. All of these things will compel your readers to move forward and turn the page.

Of course, this isn’t an original revelation—some of you may even be thinking, “Well, duh.” But hey, it’s worth talking about. Especially as the Midwest Writers Workshop first-ever hybrid summer conference approaches…

We’re offering you the opportunity to attend ALL of our sessions in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, plus research and the writing process! Heck, watch them more than once with the recordings you’ll receive. If you’re a fiction writer, you can try on some nonfiction; a nonfiction writer can wrestle their ideas into a poem, a poet can stretch their legs into an essay. Each session features a different type of word wrangling, planning, exposition, plotting, and pacing.

Challenge yourself! Your writing will gain depths and layers that will mesmerize your readers.

Join MWW this summer for our first-ever hybrid conference. You can attend in person at the beautiful Ball State Alumni Center, or sit in from wherever you’re located (pajamas recommended).

There are takeaways for everyone, no matter your genre. MWW22 is an important opportunity for you to network with others and build a writing community for yourself. 

Stay tuned! Future E-pistle newsletters and blogs will feature faculty members with videos and interviews. They will help you write your story!

~ Leah McNaughton Lederman

Registration available for MWW22 Hybrid Conference!

Join us for the 49th Midwest Writers Workshop

MWW22 Conference: Craft + Community

Thursday, July 14 – Saturday, July 16, 2022

MWW22 is our first ever hybrid conference! This July 14 – 16, whether you attend in person or online (using Zoom), we have top-notch instructors leading interactive sessions, enlightening panels on vital topics, and networking opportunities to help you expand your writing community. Our keynote speaker is Jane Friedman! 

This version of MWW allows us to offer plenty of instruction, networking, and the sense of community that makes MWW so special. Come to Muncie, Indiana, and join us at the beautiful Ball State Alumni Center for our 49th writers’ conference, or join us virtually wherever you’re located.

Our hybrid MWW22 includes:

**In-person sessions and/or Zoom video conferencing that feature a variety of topics determined by each faculty member, writing prompts, and vital, informative, enjoyable discussions to build your skills as a writer.

**A remarkable faculty who know their stuff, providing information for aspiring writers at all stages of their journey.

**Instruction led by renowned faculty for the genres of:

  • Fiction – Katrina Kittle
  • Fiction – Martin Seay
  • Fiction/Mystery – Mia P. Manansala
  • Fiction/Thriller – Matthew Clemens
  • Young Adult – Michelle Falkoff
  • Poetry/Memoir – Kathleen Rooney
  • Nonfiction/Essays – Jack Heffron
  • Thursday evening keynote: Jane Friedman
  • Friday evening: Angela Jackson-Brown, “Autopsy of a Novel”

Why attend?

Do you dream of getting your story out of your heart and into a book? It’s time to turn that dream into reality. We’ll help you get those words onto paper and craft your story into a powerful offering.

That’s the vision behind our mission statement and our passion to help writers. We’re dedicated to maintaining and building our MWW writing community to nurture writers at every stage of their journey, giving them the tools they need to improve their craft and achieve their publishing goals.

MWW22 is designed to guide you to the next step in your writing journey. Whether you’re a beginner with zero experience or you’ve been writing for years, you’ll want the collective wisdom of our conference faculty. These authors will empower you to dream, write, and publish the story inside you. 

 **Private Facebook Group plus evening “Talkabouts” for camaraderie and to build connections with other participants and faculty.

**Can’t attend all the sessions live? No problem. MWW is offering archival video access to ALL attendees for ALL sessions for three months following the conference.

The cost for our in-person MWW22 experience is $269 [reduced from $399!] 

No more having to choose among breakout sessions! Attend ALL sessions live or watch the recordings for up to three months later. This format encourages all writers to stretch beyond their genre and learn from every instructor.

We know that a writing conference can make your head with new information and inspiration when it’s all over! Our hybrid setup gives you the chance to go back and revisit the sessions. That way you can catch any content that you missed, rewatch sessions you found particularly helpful, or get inspired all over again!

The In-Person Experience:

  • Manuscript evaluations: Evaluation of your first five pages plus a one-page synopsis of a manuscript, completed or in progress. The $50 fee covers a 15-minute one-on-one in-person appointment during the conference.
  • Office Hour with each faculty: Have you ever wanted to sit with a published author and pick their brains on topics like: publishing, revising, or anything else that relates to becoming an author? This is your opportunity. You don’t need an appointment, just drop in for these informal sessions with our faculty members.
  • Meal fellowship with participants: Sign up for lunches (pre-order when you register) and hang out with other writers at the Ball State Alumni Center. (See FAQ for details.)
  • Ball State Bookstore on-site vendor: Purchase books by our MWW22 faculty and Board. Get them autographed!
  • MWW Consignment Bookstore: If you’re a published author attending in-person, you can sell your books at our consignment bookstore. (See FAQ for details.)
  • MWW merchandise: Take something home to commemorate your MWW22 experience!

Note* In-Person attendees will have virtual access to live sessions as well. Virtual attendees will have virtual access only.

The cost for our Virtual MWW22 experience is $199.

From the comfort of your home (think: pajamas!), enjoy sessions in real time, participating in a live chat with other writers who are joining virtually. Or tap back in later! Recordings of sessions will be available for three months after the conference.

Join us to be inspired and equipped for the next step in your writing journey!

Find the entire schedule: here.

Find the faculty bios: here.

Register HERE!

Jane Friedman talks marketing for writers

Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for Writer’s Digest and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2019, Jane was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World; her newsletter was awarded Media Outlet of the Year in 2020.

MWW presents this Jane Friedman course: Magical Marketing Trifecta for Writers, Saturday, February 26, 2022.
Morning Session (10:30 am – 12:00 pm EST); 
Afternoon Session (1:30 pm – 3:00 pm EST. Can’t attend the sessions live? No problem. MWW is offering archival video access for three months to ALL registered attendees.

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION ENDS 1/31! Register Now!

Most published authors have some kind of online presence, including a website and email newsletter or Facebook page, but they don’t have a clue what it means to develop a cohesive, smart approach that integrates them all. For writers who want to see their online activity pay off, it requires some high-level and strategic thinking about who that writing is meant to reach and who you want to attract over the long term. This course with Jane will look at key strategies and principles for using your website, online writing (such as blogging), email, and social media in concert with each other to better reach and engage readers, both new and old.

MWW: We are thrilled to have another event with you! What’s your connection to the Midwest and Midwest Writers Workshop?

JF: I began speaking at MWW in 2003, when I was an editor at Writer’s Digest magazine in Cincinnati. My boss at the time told me I should reach out to MWW and offer my speaking services, which I thought was rather bold and aggressive—but it worked! MWW said yes.

I continued speaking at MWW for the next 15 years—I think you can say that we’re a good fit. 🙂 I’m originally from Indiana and went to school in Muncie, so I have a lot of connections to the people and the place.

MWW: What’s the number one thing you’d like participants to walk away with after attending The Magical Marketing Trifecta for Writers?

JF: A sense that whatever work needs to be done, it can be done, sustainably, in a way that matches your strengths and values. Marketing doesn’t work unless you yourself believe in what you’re doing. You don’t have to follow the crowd or do it all or push yourself to do things you hate. While there are certain foundational steps and principles surrounding websites and email that I recommend, they are not out of reach for even the most busy, tech-averse writer. It’s a serious of small steps, one after the other. And there’s a wonderful feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment when you see the results of this work.

MWW: I often find incorrect or misleading advice out there for writers. What are some of the myths regarding the publishing industry’s expectations on author platform?

JF: There are a lot of misleading messages about needing a huge social media following in order to land a book deal or how you have to be active on all these different social media sites, or you need to do live video, etc. There are no “musts” here. You do not have to become some kind of superstar or influencer on social for it to be effective. It’s more about building relationships and connections with other people so you’re not working in isolation. No one wants to launch a book all alone. You want support. And social media is wonderful at building that community of support.

MWW: In what ways do you see the publishing industry changing in the next five years, and what effect will this have on writers aspiring to publish their work and maintain an online presence?

JF: More than half of all book sales now happen online, mostly at Amazon, regardless of format. That shift is only going to become more pronounced in the future. As more people discover and buy books online, an online presence becomes more important for marketing and promotion. If you have no website, no email newsletter, no online presence whatsoever, you’re making it much harder on yourself to spread the word about your book. Not impossible necessarily, just hard. The good news is that online tools offer both authors and publishers a wonderful amount of insight into who’s buying your books and where to find more readers.

MWW: Aside from your own excellent website and classes, what sources would you recommend for reliable information on publishing and online presence, and what’s the best way for writers to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry?

JF: The Writer’s Bridge is a good resource for platform building: https://thewritersbridge.com/

For industry updates, consider subscriptions to Publishers Weekly and/or Publishers Lunch. The Authors Guild and the Alliance of Independent Authors are wonderful organizations that also offer news, updates, and education on business topics and trends—for both members and non-members.

MWW: What’s the platform advice you find yourself giving to writers most often?

JF: Be patient. These things take time. Don’t abandon your efforts too early.

MWW: What are your favorite books to read?

JF: I love anything by Alain de Botton and The School of Life.

Join us and move forward with your writing goals!

22 Writing Affirmations for 2022

The new year is a great time to start fresh, reflect on our accomplishments from the past twelve months and consider what we’d like to do differently. It’s a time to set new goals!

And then somewhere around the second week, we lose track. Life gets in the way; we get in our own way.

It happens to all of us, so don’t beat yourself up! Here are 22 affirmations to keep you moving along. Read them out loud and remind yourself of them throughout the year. And add your own!

  1. I am a writer.
  2. I have a voice.
  3. My words matter.
  4. Someone out there is waiting for my words and needs to hear them.
  5. My words are worth making time for.
  6. I can let go of my writing obstacles; I can work around them.
  7. I don’t have to wait for inspiration, I just have to show up.
  8. My writing has something to show me.
  9. My words don’t have to be perfect.
  10. I have the power to create something beautiful. I can write scenes and images that resonate with my readers.
  11. Everything I need is within me.
  12. I am talented and hone my skills when I write.
  13. I can set goals and reach towards them one small step at a time.
  14. I define my writing successes.
  15. I deserve my writing successes and take satisfaction in them.
  16. Other people’s successes do not detract from mine.
  17. Constructive criticism strengthens my writing.
  18. Rejection is an opportunity for growth.
  19. I am not alone in my writing journey.
  20. I have opportunities to find and create writing communities.
  21. The Midwest Writers Workshop has my back.
  22. I got this.
And don’t forget: MWW is here to cheer you on!

Register for Jane Friedman’s The Magical Marketing Trifecta for Writers

MWW Virtual One-Day Conference with Jane Friedman

The Magical Marketing Trifecta for Writers

Saturday, February 26, 2022

  • Morning Session (10:30 am – 12:00 pm EST)
  • Afternoon Session (1:30 pm – 3:00 pm EST)
  • Cost: $79 early bird; $99 after January 31

The Magical Marketing Trifecta for Writers
Most published authors have some kind of online presence, including a website and email newsletter or Facebook page, but they don’t have a clue what it means to develop a cohesive, smart approach that integrates them all. For writers who want to see their online activity pay off, then it requires some high-level and strategic thinking about who that writing is meant to reach and who you want to attract over the long term. This seminar will look at key strategies and principles for using your website, online writing (such as blogging), email, and social media in concert with each other to better reach and engage readers, both new and old.

In this workshop, you will:

  • Uncover the principles and techniques for building a career and platform in a way that plays to your strengths, with special attention paid to lead generation (that is: finding readers).
  • Learn the concepts of “content strategy” and “marketing funnel” and why these are important to determining how you will use email, social media, and your website.
  • Understand how to use social media in a way that’s supportive of your goals and not a distraction (the big secret: focus).
  • Find out why you should start building an email list today even if you think you have nothing to say.
  • Gain insight into the best practices of online writing (and/or blogging), especially headline writing, and how to get attention for what you write and post online.
  • Explore opportunities to grow your readership through collaborations, partnerships, and influencers.

For writers who would like to be smarter and more efficient about their online presence—and see that activity pay off—this seminar will push you to connect the dots between all your efforts and get your digital ships sailing in the same direction.

Can’t attend the sessions live? No problem. MWW is offering archival video access for three months to ALL registered attendees.

REGISTER TODAY!

About Jane:

Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2019, Jane was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World; her newsletter was awarded Media Outlet of the Year in 2020.

Jane’s newest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press); Publishers Weekly said that it is “destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers.” Also, in collaboration with The Authors Guild, she wrote The Authors Guild Guide to Self-Publishing.

In addition to being a professor with The Great Courses, Jane maintains an award-winning blog for writers at JaneFriedman.com; her expertise has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, NPR, PBS, CBS, the National Press Club and many other outlets.

Jane has delivered keynotes and workshops on the digital era of authorship at worldwide industry events, including the Writer’s Digest annual conference, Stockholm Writers Festival, San Miguel Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, Frankfurt Book Fair, BookExpo America, and Digital Book World. She’s also served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund, and has held positions as a professor of writing, media, and publishing at the University of Cincinnati and University of Virginia.

In her spare time, Jane writes creative nonfiction, which has been included in the anthologies Every Father’s Daughter and Drinking Diaries. If you look hard enough, you can also find her embarrassing college poetry.

 

Looking back on this year with MWW

It was so lovely to see all of your faces at our events during 2021 (even if they were in tiny Zoom squares)! We love to watch the MWW community grow.

MWW Agent Fest 2021 was a blast!

We’re still digesting all of the information from the agents! There was so much useful advice and insight to incorporate into our pitches and queries, and that sneak peek into the publishing industry was invaluable addition to our writing journey.

 

Agent Fest Attendees weigh in:

“There was a great lineup of presenters, the assistants were very helpful and organized, and everything ran very smoothly from a technical perspective!”

“Very well organized and well executed by everyone involved with the conference. Good variety of agents, from newbies to old pros.”

“Topics were very timely for me. The best thing was being able to pitch to agents. As a person new to the group I felt welcomed. Nice ambiance. Love that I can access the videos for the sessions I couldn’t attend live.”

Our summer conference sizzled!

With a knock-out faculty lineup and plenty of opportunities to network and connect with other writers, we finished that week brimming with ideas and inspiration!

Summer Conference Attendees weigh in:

“MWW is the best value I’ve found, especially for new writers. The virtual sessions are especially easy to attend no matter where you live, but if you live in a neighboring state, the drive is worth it in order to meet the presenters and attendees personally. It’s the friendliest conference I’ve attended.”

“Writing’s a lonesome endeavor, not least of all because so many of us writers tend to be a little introverted. But MWW did a fantastic job of connecting writers with one another and with faculty. The moderators and instructors at #MWW21 were friendly, helpful, encouraging, thoughtful, smart–all the things you want out of an entertaining and educational conference. I made some amazing connections and received invaluable advice from people who’ve been where I want to be.”

“The amount of knowledge and expertise was amazing. Everyone was friendly, and respectful to each other. Loved the creativity of all.”

MWW is here for you. Follow us into 2022 and beyond!

“These conferences are well-established, organized, informative, and they draw excellent publishing professional representatives. I’ll definitely attend more in the future.” –Lynette Eklund

“I started my writing career with Midwest Writers Workshop. They get right to the core of what you need to know about the publishing industry. The programs guide you all the way through getting your book, proposal and pitch ready for successfully grabbing an agents total attention. Bravo to a dedicated team who really care about writers.” –Susan H. Holland

“MWW is the highlight of my writing year!”

Thank you all for making our events so wonderful and fun. Our goal is to provide you with the writing resources and community you need so that your writing can flourish!

We’re here to cheer you on in your writing journey!

Craft + Community: That’s what MWW21 is all about

Make MWW21 your summer destination

Join us for inspiring four days at Midwest Writers Workshop, July 28-31, 2021. It’s the best kind of writing conference for both aspiring authors and those getting ready to pitch or market finished works.

More than 20 sessions cover aspects of novel-writing, creative nonfiction research, children’s writing, memoir, essays, and new this year – writing comics. Plus breakout sessions, writing prompts, cocktail hours, and chances to read a “first page” for feedback.

Everything is online, but we offer a remarkable level of intimacy nonetheless! You’ll find it a joy to get acquainted with fellow speakers and hear from writers whose struggles are similar to yours. In every session, the mutual support and encouragement you receive (in the chat boxes and in small breakout “rooms” where you can unmute and unload) will keep you motivated and inspired. And there’s a private Facebook group for shared links and book recommendations, questions, and selfies.

Best piece of advice for persons registering for MWW21 in July: Keep an open mind. If you write romance novels, attend a poetry session; if nonfiction is your passion, attend how to create powerful scenes. In other words, plan to stretch yourselves in all sorts of new ways. The best part of being a writer is that you never master it. You’re always learning and experimenting.

Virtual MWW21 is around the corner! July 28-31!

MWW21 is more than instructional and inspiring sessions!

Award-winning author and MWW21 fiction faculty, Angela Jackson-Brown offered this wisdom:

On Thursday, July 29th, the second day of the Midwest Writers Workshop conference, you will have the opportunity to “Read Your Stuff” during our Morning Talkabouts.

Of course, some of you are probably shy or nervous about reading your work out loud. In fact, some of you might even avoid reading your work out loud to yourself. Completely understandable. It definitely feels a little awkward. But it’s some of the best advice you can receive when it comes to reviewing your own work. Reading it out loud lets you physically hear it, a different experience altogether from hearing it in your head. We would urge you to consider pushing through that desire to remain silent and share your work.

Below are some reasons why it is great to share your work. The information below comes from an article written by David Berner of The Writer Shed.

  1. You will catch awkward or unnecessary phrases. When we write, we write in silence, meaning we figure out the words in our head and then simply type them. And when you do this, you tend to create unnecessary phrases and sentences, description that is filler, fluff. If we read the work out loud that “fluff” jumps out at us. It will reveal what needs to be cut.
  2. You find the music in your words. When people say, “that writer writes so beautifully,” they usually mean he/she writes like a poet, a lyricist, and the words flow like the most magnificent of songs. And how do we know we like a particular song? We hear it. It’s not enough to see the notes on a staff; we must experience the melody aurally. Words on a page are no different. Reading out loud will let you know immediately if you are one of the “beautiful writers” or if your story is clunking along like a bad ballad from the 80s. It helps you find the rhythm and pace of your writing, and to ultimately create a memorable melody of story.
  3. You will find your voice. There is so much talk about writers finding their voice, that unique pattern and style that is all yours. Many times, writing workshops tend to overplay voice. But what they do get right is that writers should write enough to discover it, not force it. Let it emerge naturally. Reading out loud can help in this process. The more you hear your words, the more you can identify how your writing voice is developing.
  4. You will find your mistakes. We read silently, in part, through a filter. If we do a lot of reading, our brains skim through anticipated phrases and words. We do not read every single word. But, if we read out loud, we are forced to read every word, and that permits us to discover those grammatical errors, typos, even help us see where that comma is misplaced.
  5. You become a better reader of your own work. If you find yourself writing material that is published or can be shared at many of the live lit experiences popping up all over most cities, reading your work out loud will give you practice. You will hear where you need to work on intonation and pace, where there are words and phrases that look good on paper but are hard to say, and you’ll prepare yourself for troublesome pronunciations. I recently wrote a piece that mentioned a town in Wales. I had seen the town’s name hundreds of times in print, but until I read it out loud, I truly hadn’t known the correct way to say it. Reading out loud fixed that.

Perhaps most important when you’re reading your work out loud and correcting the flow and possible minor mistakes: be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re taking a courageous step forward to hear yourself and discover your writing voice. That’s not a small thing.

Make MWW21 July 28-31 your virtual destination! Register today!

“You CAN improve your writing skills,” says Angela Jackson-Brown

Meet award-winning author Angela Jackson-Brown

Angela Jackson-Brown is an award-winning writer, poet and playwright who teaches Creative Writing and English at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. She is a graduate of Troy University, Auburn University and the Spalding low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing. She has published her short fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and poetry in journals like The Louisville Journal and the Appalachian Review. She is author of Drinking From a Bitter Cup (WiDo Publishing, 2014), House Repairs (Negative Capability Press, 2018), and her latest novel, When Stars Rain Down, which will be published by Thomas Nelson, an imprint of HarperCollins, in the spring of 2021.

MWW board member and publicity chair, Leah Lederman, interviewed Angela about her writing and what she will present at MWW21.

MWW: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar?

AJB: A worker bee. I am a productive writer because I am a hardworking writer who, much like the worker bee, realizes being a writer isn’t, most times, a very glamourous job.

MWW: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

AJB: The first time I learned that language had power was when I wrote my first story. I saw the impact it had on the people I shared it with, especially my daddy. I realized then that storytellers have the ability to transport other people to another place, even if only for a short period of time.

MWW: What’s your favorite takeaway from the session you’ll be teaching?

AJB: Improving our writing skills can be taught. There are some aspects of writing that are innate and either the person has “It” or they don’t BUT so much of writing can be learned if we are willing and open vessels. THAT is the one thing I hope everyone walks away believing. They can improve their writing skills. They just have to be willing to put in the hours/days/weeks/months/years needed to elevate their skill set.

MWW: Why do you think this is important for writers to consider in their own work?

AJB: Writers need to know that writing is not just this mystical act that depends on some mysterious muse. Writing is back-breaking, sweat-inducing work. Every day, to be successful at being writers, we have to show up and put in the effort it takes to take our work to the next level. It is not for the faint of heart.

MWW: How do you channel real life experiences in your fiction — or do you? 

AJB: I primarily write historical fiction, so I am constantly weaving in the historical past into my fictional worlds. I can’t imagine writing without paying attention to what was happening when my novels are set. How do I write about politics in 1948 without mentioning Truman, Civil Rights and the Dixiecrats? Historical details are the bread and butter of any story, regardless of when it is set.

MWW: I’ve read Drinking from a Bitter Cup and can’t wait for When Stars Rain Down. In your writing, what are some themes that arise again and again?

AJB: Family relationships and spirituality almost always show up in my work. If a writer knows the intricacies of their characters’ relationships with other characters, then they have the tools to write a complex plot. Spirituality is something all of my characters grapple with because they, like us, are trying to figure out how they got here and what their purpose in life is going to be.

MWW: Do you deal with them differently in your separate works?

AJB: The outcomes are different but the strategies are the same in most of my work.

Register for Virtual MWW21 and meet Angela!