Schedule: In-Person

MWW23 Schedule: In-Person

Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, IN

  • Registration: Conservatory
  • BSU Bookstore/MWW Bookstore & Merchandise: Pre-Event
  • Sessions:
    • AH: Assembly Hall  / MR1: Meeting Room
    • MR2: Meeting Room / Boardroom
    • CR2: Author Office Hour  / Library: Networking/Manuscript Evaluations

Wednesday Events – July 19, 2023: Free Homecoming Day: Writing Matters

12:00-12:45 pm   Registration & Welcome


  • Finding and Telling True Stories – Kelsey Timmerman. Kelsey will share brainstorming, researching, and interviewing techniques that he has used to write 4 books.
  • Characters You Can’t Forget – D.E. (Dan) Johnson. Great characters stay with the reader much longer than the time it takes to read the book–sometimes years longer! Writing great characters is not magic. You can do it. You just need to know how. In this session, D.E. Johnson will discuss a step-by-step approach to writing characters that readers will not forget!
  • The Long Write – Sandi Baron. An overview of what happens to a 25-year-old manuscript edited too many times. Sandi will share on how editing and publishing obstacles can become stepping stones to publishing.


  • Reinventing Through Revision – Leah Lederman. A guide to the various stages of editing, with a particular focus on the self-revision process necessary prior to submitting a piece (even if submitting it to an editor).
  • Mystery/Suspense: “It’s A Mystery!” – Larry Sweazy. A quick overview of what a mystery is and isn’t, plot development, and character building for novels and short stories.


  • Writing with an Empathetic Eye (and Ears) to Enhance Character Development – J.R. Jamison. J.R. will lead attendees through an interactive writing workshop that explores authentic listening and empathy as ways to enhance character development for fiction and nonfiction writers.
  • Amping Up Your Creativity in Nonfiction — Kelly O’Dell Stanley. Get creative! Nonfiction doesn’t have to be boring. Discover ways to add value to your manuscript and present the information in unusual and creative ways. We’ll also discuss creativity exercises that will help you break out of your standard thinking patterns to create something uniquely yours.
  • Looking for Laughs in All the Right Places – Sherry Stanfa-Stanley.  Humor is integral not only to mostly funny genres, but it has proven beneficial as comic relief in more serious pieces, by writers from as far back as Shakespeare. Discover methods to engage your reader by incorporating humor in your writing through wordplay, scenes, dialogue, and characters.

4:15-5:00 pm

PANEL: Writing in your community: Stories bind our communities and inspire us to get involved. This panel of nonprofit leaders will discuss the importance and craft of telling local stories and how writers can work in their own communities to make a difference..

6:30-8:00 pm

MWW Author Showcase/Autograph Party (Cash bar/refreshments/photobooth)  

PANEL: The Heart of the Matter: Whether you write fiction or nonfiction your work likely addresses real-life issues and wrestles with causes that are important to you. This panel of authors will discuss what matters to them, and how it drives and influences their work. 

[Alumni: share your success! Link to Submit Alumni News]

Thursday Events – July 20, 2023

Author Office Hour: Have you ever wanted to sit with a published author and pick their brains on topics like: publishing, revising, or anything that relates to becoming an author? This is your opportunity. You don’t need an appointment, just drop in for this informal session with an author.

8:45-9:00 am        Coffee & Fellowship

9:00-10:15 am SESSION 1

  • CONVERSATION BETWEEN TWO AUTHORS (Lori Rader-Day & Jess Lourey)  Kicking Down the Door: The Many Paths to a Publishing Career – Edgar Award-nominated and Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author Lori Rader-Day and Amazon Charts bestselling, Edgar-nominated, ITW Thriller Award-winning author Jess Lourey will discuss the many paths to publication, including becoming involved in the writing community, finding a home for short stories, landing an agent, indie publishing, leveling up from a small press to a big house, and everything in between. They’ll be sharing personal stories and hard-won knowledge. The discussion will end with a Q & A.

10:30-11:30 am      SESSION 2

  • Bad Writing Workshop – Michael Martone.  Bring with you a brief example of bad writing, 100–150-word sample of really bad writing, written by you.  It must be your bad writing, something you consider to be bad. We take these classes and workshops (don’t we?) because we think we are already bad and want to get “better,” so with this assignment, just be yourself!  Be naturally bad.  You will read your bad writing to the group, and we will discuss your strategies of badness, the rules you are breaking to be bad, and how, maybe, you should just go into another line of work.  No, I am kidding about that last one.  Just be bad.
  • Write your Children’s Book with all 5 Senses – Chadwick Gillenwater. Writing with all five senses creates a “literary dream” for young readers. If you write scenes that show what your characters are seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling and smelling, your readers will be pulled into a full sensory experience that will keep them turning pages. In this workshop you will learn techniques on writing with all five senses.
  • Office Hour: Brent Bill

11:45-1:00 pm   LUNCH: On your own. [Sack lunches available; must be pre-ordered with registration]

1:00-2:15 pm          SESSION 3

  • Double-Dog Dares – Liz WhiteacreWriting collaboratively with prompts engages us with our writing communities and helps us explore topics and forms from new perspectives. Join poet Liz Whiteacre and write with others in this session: arrive strangers, leave friends (with pieces to polish).
  • Writing from the Heart – Brent Bill. Do you wish to write in a way that touches readers and yourself? That’s the kind of writing that readers find so appealing. Brent Bill’s own writing has been described by Publishers Weekly as being “Like a neighborly conversation across a kitchen table.” Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, you want to write from the heart and not just from the head. This workshop offers tips and techniques for connecting with your writer’s heart and how to put your heart on paper. You will spend time writing, using exercises that will help you uncover the deep themes and concerns that will bring your writing to life..
  • Office Hour: Chadwick Gillenwater

2:30-3:30 pm          SESSION 4

  • Novel Writing for Blank-Page Beginners – Lori Rader-Day. Facing the blank page is the challenge of every novelist. Lucky for us, there are many ways into a story. Whether you’re new to writing, new to longform fiction, or just want to generate approaches to a new story, this session led by award-winning crime novelist Lori Rader-Day will offer methods for launching the story you’ve always wanted to tell.
  • The Poet’s Superpower – Mark Neely. Using line breaks to create tension, suspense, and surprise. In this session, we will explore how a variety of poets (from Japanese haiku masters to contemporary writers) use line breaks and how these techniques can invigorate your own writing.
  • Office Hour: Liz Whiteacre

3:45-4:45 pm          SESSION 5

  • What Is a Young Adult Novel, Anyway? – Barb Shoup. When is a novel featuring a teenage protagonist for teenagers l and when is it more likely to be read by adults? This session will identify the tenets of good YA literature, consider the universal issues and events of adolescence that resonate for teenagers anywhere, in any time, and offer strategies for shaping your manuscript toward the market in which you hope to publish it.
  • Image + Text: Transform Your Writing with Drawings, Diagrams, Comics, & Collage – Kelcey Ervick. There is a magical alchemy to the combination of image and text. Whether you want to begin making your own comics or just experiment and “see” your words in a new context, this session will give you inspiration, examples, and a little practice. I’ll share sample work from a variety of image+text creators in my new edited book, The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Graphic Literature, who work with diagrams, calligrams, altered photos, comics panels, and collage, then invite you to practice 1-2 techniques. Bring a poem or passage of prose (yours or someone else’s) to transform with imagery. No drawing skills necessary!
  • Office Hour: Mark Neely 

5:00-6:15 pm   Dinner: on your own

6:30-8:00 pm

SPECIAL EVENT: Playing with Words – Play a familiar title (Scrabble anyone?) or try something new (Blank Slate? Paperback?) with an evening of word-focused tabletop games. Host Lou Harry, who runs Game Night Social at Indianapolis’s Garage Food Hall and reviews new board and card games for Indianapolis Monthly, Midwest Film Journal, and others, loves sharing and teaching games. This is a great opportunity to meet fellow attendees in a fun, playfully competitive way. Play any game and you’ll be entered into a prize raffle. Win a game and you’ll get an extra entry. Let’s have fun. Popcorn! Prizes!

9:00 pm -10:00 pm

  • Late Night VIRTUAL Talkabouts: This is a great time for the in-person attendees to hurry back to their hotel rooms, jump into their pajamas, and join the online attendees for a late night gabfest about everything we saw and heard during the day. We can also share work and ask questions, and finish the evening with a writing sprint to get ready for the next day of writing and learning.

Friday Events – July 21, 2023

8:30-9:00 am        Coffee & Fellowship

9:00-10:45 am       SESSION 6

  • Buttonhole the Experts – Buttonhole the Experts is one of the highlights of our conference. We have round tables in Assembly Hall with an “expert” (our faculty members) at each one, then seven participants sit at each table and chat informally with the expert for about 20 minutes. Then at the ring of a bell it’s like musical chairs (or “speed dating for writers”!): everyone rises and heads to another expert’s table for another 20-minute chat. This process is repeated three times. In other words, everyone learns much about the various genres/topics from our experts.

11:00-12:00 am     SESSION 7

  • Adrenaline Rush: How to Write Suspense Fiction – John Gilstrap. Award-winning thriller author John Gilstrap presents this session on the construction of intelligent suspense fiction. What makes for a strong plot? How do you take cardboard characters and give them life on the page? Through a lively lecture and writing exercises, students get a peek at the skeleton that gives structure to the stories that keep us reading long into the night..
  • Seeing Beyond the I: Using Multiple Points of View in Creative Nonfiction – Jill Christman. Sure, the first-person singular is the most common point of view in narrative essays and memoir, but the “I” is certainly not the only way. Join nonfiction writer and editor Jill Christman to explore the ways in which changing the lens of point of view (second person, third person, or first-person plural) can shift perspective, expanding our personal stories in fruitful and surprising ways.
  • Office Hour: Kelcey Ervick

12:00-1:15 pm   LUNCH: On your own. [TexMex Buffet available; must be pre-ordered with registration]

1:15-2:15 pm          SESSION 8

  • Literary Citizenship: The Feel-Good Way to Market and Promote – Jane Friedman. Worried you’re not all that good at marketing, or that you don’t have the time, energy, or skills required to do it well? You’re not alone: most writers have  anxiety surrounding how to market and promote their work. Fortunately, there is a remedy that doesn’t require perfecting the hard sell or becoming a professional marketer. It’s literary citizenship. Literary citizenship is a concept from the literary writing and publishing community that is useful to all writers no matter what your background or genre. It essentially advocates lifting up and bringing attention to literature, reading, books, and other pursuits that are intrinsic to authorship and publishing. If you like books and you read books, you can practice literary citizenship. It’s simple to understand and can be applied across all forms and mediums (online and offline). The only requirement? You’ll adopt an abundance mindset. You’re not competing with other authors, but collaborating; when others succeed, you will succeed too.

2:30-3:30 pm          SESSION 9

  • The 7-Step Pyramid on Point Method for Turning an Idea into a Novel or Memoir – Jess Lourey. *This workshop is directed at writers in any genre and of any age and skill level.  You’ve got that golden idea for a book, the one that won’t let you go, that embellishes itself as you walk around your day, but you don’t know what to do with it. Or you find yourself in the saggy middle of your novel and want to throw in the towel. Or possibly you have a completed first draft but know something isn’t quite right with it. How do you take control of your book? Join multi-genre, bestselling author Jess Lourey for the answers. Participants will be shown how to  use the seven-step POP Method to write cleaner, better, and faster.
  • Defamiliarization – Michael Martone. How does a fish know it is in water? We forget that we forget.  We forget how strange and mysterious the “ordinary” world really is.  We normalize it.  We get used to it.  We gloss over the wonders and weirdness of the everyday.  We forget to notice. In this session we will begin to notice noticing, the nature of noticing.  In class, we will do exercises that, I hope, will return us to states of child-like wonder, and we will do in-class writing that will make strange the ordinary.  I hope we can do a bit of walking around and just look at things, fishes out of water.
  • Office Hour: Jill Christman
  • Office Hour: Matthew Clemens

3:45-4:45 pm          SESSION 10

  • Writing the White Whale – Lori Rader-Day (ends late: 5:15 or 5:30). In 2012, award-winning crime novelist Lori Rader-Day got a story idea that was too big, too unwieldy, too MUCH—a story she had to attack from every direction. If you have a story that obsesses you but darts away unfinished or a story feels as though it will swallow you whole, this session will help you make fishsticks of your elusive quarry, once and for all.
  • Play Writing and What Every Writer Can Learn from It – Lou Harry.  Writing for theater is more than just ditching descriptions. It’s about sculpting a story to take place in public in real time. Take a step toward the stage — or hone your existing skills — in this session with one of Indiana’s most produced playwrights.
  • Office Hour: Jess Lourey

5:00-6:30 pm   Dinner: on your own

6:30-8:00 pm:

  • Cash Bar / Keynote Speaker: Haven Kimmel – Wherever You Came From and Wherever You Are Now: Both Are The Perfect Places For Writers

9:00 pm -10:00 pm

  • Late Night VIRTUAL Talkabouts

Saturday Events – July 22, 2023

8:30-9:00 am        Coffee & Fellowship

9:00-10:15 am       SESSION 11

  • Curiosity and Obsession in Fiction, Poetry, and Nonfiction (Jill Christman, Michael Martone, Mark Neely). Three writers discuss how curiosity drives their writing lives and how they turn their obsessions—from trains, to borrowed babies, to 1980s pop culture—into compelling stories, essays, and poems.
  • Developmental Editing: Is There A Book Doctor In The House? – Matthew Clemens. A nuts and bolts discussion of mistakes many amateur writers make that keep them from becoming authors who get paid.  When does the normal frustration of the writing process call for an outside eye to lend guidance to a project?
  • Office Hour: Barbara Shoup

10:30-11:30 am     SESSION 12

  • Blood on the Page: Using Research to Create Credible Fiction – John Gilstrap. Bestselling author John Gilstrap writes critically-acclaimed thrillers featuring military tactics and surveillance, but has never served in the armed forces. He writes about crimes and cops, but he’s never served in law enforcement. In this session, you’ll learn how to make minutes of research look like years of first-hand experience.
  • How to Draft, Revise, and Add a “Spark of Poetry” to Your Nonfiction Using the Techniques of Surrealism and Collage – Kelcey Ervick. The word collage comes from the French coller, meaning to glue, and collage artists find, cut, and glue fragments to create something new and often delightfully strange. In this workshop, we will apply the techniques of Surrealism and collage to our own writing: we’ll generate fresh text fragments through automatic writing, we’ll cut and paste lines of found text, we’ll collaborate using the “exquisite corpse” method, we’ll enlist the help of images, and we’ll surprise ourselves. Then we’ll rearrange our fragments, exploring new juxtapositions and generating what Surrealist collage artist Max Ernst calls a “spark of poetry” in our writing. (I’ll provide notecards, glue sticks, and a few collage materials. If you have scissors, bring ‘em.)
  • Office Hour: Lori Rader-Day

11:45 am-1:00 pm  LUNCH: On your own. [Sack lunches available; must be pre-ordered with registration]

1:00- 2:00 pm         SESSION 13

  • Your Author Brand Workshop – Dana Kaye. This session will lead participants through the process of identifying, creating, and beginning to establish their unique author brands.
  • Write Great Read-aloud Picture Books – Chadwick Gillenwater. As a school librarian and as Professor Watermelon, Chadwick has read thousands and thousands of picture books to children. He has learned what qualities turn a picture book into a read-aloud classic. In this workshop, let Chadwick help you see if your PB manuscript has what it takes to stand the test of time on the library shelf.
  • Office Hour: Lou Harry
  • Office Hour: John Gilstrap

2:15-3:15 pm          SESSION 14

  • How to Choose a Genre for Your Novel – Jess Lourey. *This workshop is directed at writers of any age and skill level who are interested in writing fiction.” Are you drawn to certain types of books—romances, mysteries, maybe literary fiction? If you find yourself reading mostly in one book genre, you might assume that is the genre you should write in as well. But what if selecting an unfamiliar genre rockets your writing to new heights? This exciting, interactive, and multimedia workshop offers a guide for choosing the genre that best fits the story you need to tell.
  • Secondary Characters: Where They Come From, What They Do, and How to Make Them Real – Barb Shoup. Sometimes writers know who their secondary characters will be and what purpose they will serve when beginning a novel; sometimes secondary characters appear and evolve along with the story. This session will explore the purpose and development of secondary characters by looking at examples of effective secondary characters in contemporary fiction and considering why/how they work, as well as offering strategies to help you create secondary characters that support your main character(s) and move the plot of your novel.
  • Office Hour: Dana Kaye

3:30-4:30 pm          SESSION 15

  • Panel Q&A: The Stretch Run: from manuscript to book—steps toward finishing (and publishing!) your book. (John Gilstrap, Matthew Clemens, Angela Jackson-Brown, Barbara Shoup) 

4:45-5:15 pm

  • Closing: Final thoughts from faculty. Panel: What No One Tells You About the Writing Life, But Should  


MWW After-conference party: The Clubhouse


Speakers and program sessions subject to change

Every effort will be made to adhere to this schedule; however, all programs and times are subject to change.

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