Message in a Bottle Reading Series: April 28

Message in a Bottle Reading Series celebrate National Poetry Month
When: April 28, 2012
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Cup, 1610 W. University, Muncie, IN

Poets Michael Meyerhofer & Jeffrey Owen Pearson will share from their works. Also, bring a story or poem, drop it in the bottle and if your name is pulled out you read!

MWW Bottle April 28 Event

One Day Intensives March 17, 2012

MWW is offering One-Day Intensive Sessions!

March 17, 2012 at Ball State Alumni Center,  9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

On Saturday, March 17, two returning favorite MWW faculty members join us for encore workshops that feature each one in a cozy full-day session. Make this a St. Patrick’s Day dedicated to improving your writing! These special intensive sessions will be held at at the Ball State Alumni Center, (Muncie, IN) from 9 am to 2:30 pm. Just 20 participants will be able to attend the session of their choice at a cost of $125 (includes a brown bag lunch so the work continues to flow).


Romance Writing

“Once Upon A Time…Writing Your First Novel” with multi-published author SHIRLEY JUMP. Have you ever wanted to write a short story or novel? Wondered what it took to get from “Once upon a time” to “The End”?  This session will help you: [1] decide whether an idea is “big” enough to encompass a novel; [2] create characters; [3] decide on character goals, motivations and conflicts; [4] develop a story arc; [5] create scenes and sequels; [6] polish your manuscript; [7] discover resources for getting published. At the end of this session, you will have a good basic knowledge of how to write a story, and you’ll understand what encompasses a strong plot. [Note: this session is for any fiction writer!]

In 2009, Shirley captivated MWW with her banquet keynote describing how she “quit” writing only days later to receive one of many contracts which brought her to the New York Times bestseller list. She’s published 35+ books, from romantic comedy to romance with recipes to YA with zombies, and has worked for three publishing houses.

A powerhouse of insider publishing information, Shirley will share the secrets she’s learned in her career in this intensive session. She’s currently teaching a popular online course called “Taking A Book From Good To Sold” and is ready to help writers, at whatever stage, in their writing journeys.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing women’s fiction and romantic comedies (One Day to Find a Husband, July 2012) to feed her shoe addiction and avoid cleaning the toilets. As AJ Whitten (, she and her daughter also write horror young adult novels for Houghton Mifflin’s Graphia imprint (The Cellar, May 2011). She cleverly finds writing time by feeding her kids junk food, allowing them to dress in the clothes they find on the floor and encouraging the dogs to double as vacuum cleaners. Visit her website at or read recipes and life adventures at



“You must write for children in the same way as you do for adults, only better.”   Maxim Gorky

In this session, we will attempt to give you the ways to accomplish that dictum.  We start with the blank page and an idea and move to 32 pages of glorious writing for kids. Along the way we will discuss the following:  How many words? Which words? If you’re not writing tales of Mister Stickman, where do you get pictures? Do you need an Agent? Which publishers are best?  Who sends the limo to pick you up for your book signings? How do you autograph an ebook? How do you submit your manuscript? Do you need a lawyer to protect your intellectual property? Why is the number three important to picture book writers? How many trips to the mailbox do you have to make before you get a contract?  Here’s my first writing tip: Bring pen, paper and your sense of humor on March 17.

Peter J. Welling is a native Hoosier Hoosier and taught his popular Writing for Children session at the 2005 Midwest Writers Workshop.  He received a degree in English from IUSB (1977) and received the Award of Excellence his senior year.  He is the recipient of the IUSB College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award (2003). Peter has served as an Adjunct Faculty member at IUPUI Continuing Ed and received the Indiana University Continuing Studies Teaching Excellence Award (2005). He is the author/illustrator of six pictures books and illustrator of The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah which will be receiving recognition from Storytelling World Awards in spring, 2012. Peter wrote two police novels which were published in London under the pseudonym Steve Garcia.  He has also illustrated two novels by Katherine Black.  Peter and his wife have four sons, three and a half daughters in law, and five grandkids.

Picture Books (Illustrated and Authored)

  • Andrew McGroundhog and His Shady Shadow
  • Shawn O’Hisser, The Last Snake in Ireland
  • Michael LeSouffle and The April Fool
  • Justin Potemkin and The 500 Mile Race
  • Joe Van der Katt and The Great Pickett Fence
  • Darlene Halloween and The Great Chicago Fire


  • The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah

Click here for our E-pistle announcing this event! Share with others!

Applause Applause for 2011 MWW!

This was the summer of action-packed superhero movies at the cinema. AND it was also the summer of inspirational-packed superhero MWW faculty at the Midwest Writers Workshop!

These comments capture the 2011 MWW experience shared by 175 participants (from 13 states and Canada), 14 faculty and 12 planning committee members:

“I want to let you know that this is hands down the BEST writers’ conference I’ve ever attended.” – Kathleen Ortiz, literary agent, Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation

“Thank you for everything you did to make MWW pleasant, productive and comfortable. The attendees were so warm and welcoming, and from what I’ve seen, the most talented I’ve met at conferences. So, I now see why everyone says such nice things about MWW – because they’re true.” – Jessica Sinsheimer, Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency

Images to remember: How to Write a Great Query Letter discussion with our four agents; Kelsey Timmerman’s “The Care and Feeding of Agents” and his strange hand gesture for shooing away agents; the Blue Bottle open mic evening (where we heard snippets of many genres–thrillers, urban fantasy, poetry, humor and stuff we couldn’t identify but liked anyway. The energy was electric.); David Slonim’s inspiring banquet presentation enlightening us to the importance of nostrils. (“Nostrils” equals EMPATHY – connecting with your audience.) [Check our Photo Galleries!]
So much great advice… And wonderful interaction between faculty and attendees…

  • Patti Digh emphasizing that the strength to say “no” to others really means saying “yes” to yourself and your dreams.
  • Jane Friedman bringing us wit and wisdom on self-publishing and everything current in publishing.
  • Cathy Day constructing her fledgling novel before our eyes and asking us to do the same, whether using sticky notes and highlighters or laptops.

Truly, all participants will describe their MWW 2011 experience differently. You just had to be there. Because in the end, it’s the attendees, swooping in with their enthusiasm, talent and energy, who make MWW what it is. None of us wanted it to end. And, in a way, it goes on, as we incorporate what we learned into our writing over the coming months.

If you weren’t able to attend this year, we missed you! And we hope to see you for the 39th annual MWW in 2012. We can hardly wait!

Gallery: 2011 Midwest Writers Workshop

Gallery: Message In A Bottle @ MWW

Gallery: March 2011 Message In A Bottle

In March MWW announced our Message in a Bottle Reading Series, held locally at the Blue Bottle Coffee Shop.

Cathy Day: Storyboard Your Novel

2011 Midwest Writers Workshop – “Creating the Storyboard for Your Novel” – Cathy Day. Most of us learn to write by focusing on short, manageable story forms, such as flash fiction, short stories, or essays. But how do we move from “the small thing” to “the big thing”? In this intensive prose session, author Cathy Day will offer practical advice on how to make this shift in your writing life, including in-class writing exercises that will help you create a blueprint or “storyboard” for the book you want to write. Participants are encouraged to bring a package or two of index cards or Post-it Notes (low-tech option) or a laptop equipped with a software program they are already familiar with, like Scrivener (high-tech option). Come with an idea for a book you want to write, not one you have already written.

Mike Lawson: Writing Thrillers

2011 Midwest Writers Workshop – “What I’ve Learned About Writing Thrillers/Mysteries” – Mike Lawson. Author of six acclaimed political thrillers, Mike will share what he’s learned about the craft. Topics include the need for a strong beginning and how to create one; the pitfalls of writing a mystery series; how to make your stories ring true; how to improve the pace of your mystery/thriller; and some practical advice on of the business aspects of writing such as the author/agent/publisher relationship and lessons learned in promoting books. Participants will be requested to share their experiences.

Patti Digh: From Blog to Book

2011 Midwest Writers Workshop – Nonfiction “From Blog to Book” – Are you a blogger who longs for a book contract? Or have you thought of starting a blog to get a book contract? We’ve all heard of six-figure advances being paid to bloggers to turn their blogs into books. Those stories have spurred many people to create blogs – without having anything to say, or without identifying what they long to say. In this hands-on session, we’ll explore why blogging is a good first step to writing a book — and, conversely, why and how focusing on the book deal splits our focus. We’ll explore where we need to stand to tell our stories, how to open space to tell them, how to interact with a blog audience in a way that doesn’t change our voice, and how to define and clarify the organizing principles of both a blog and book. Many of us write from a place of split intentions: we want to tell our story AND we want the audience to love us. This session focused on stepping out of that split intention. It focused more on voice and writing than on book deals, though a Q&A session during the session opened space for sharing of information on the publishing process.

Libby Fischer Hellmann: Mystery Writing

2011 Midwest Writers Workshop — “Anatomy of a Crime Novel: The Craft of Crime Fiction” – Libby Fischer Hellmann. It is said that writing a publishable novel is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. In this hands-on intensive session, you’ll sweat it out by exploring the elements of craft that make a crime fiction novel impossible to put down. Whether you write cozies or hard-boiled, PI or amateur sleuth, you’ll learn how the effective use of plot, narrative, voice, setting, character, dialogue, and suspense can take your work to the next level. The workshop will focus on the practical as opposed to the theoretical, so be prepared for plenty of exercises and discussion.