“MWW Super Mini-conference” — July 27-28 at the Ball State Alumni Center. (Friday 8:30 am through Saturday 12:30 pm.) A dynamic day-and-a-half with a decidedly different structure—shorter, smaller, less expensive, with a strong emphasis on helping you reach your writing goals.


  • Maurice Broaddus, author of steampunk adventures, fantasy and horror, best known for his short fiction and his Knights of Breton Court novel trilogy
  • Brent Bill, author of 20+ books, including Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker: A Humble Stumble Toward Simplicity and Grace
  • Matthew Clemens, co-author with Max Allen Collins of the Reeder and Rogers thriller series
  • Lucrecia Guerrero, author of stories that involve cultural clashes between experience and tradition
  • Lou Harry, nonfiction author published in 50+ publications, playwright and novelist
  • Holly Miller, nonfiction and fiction writer and author of Feature and Magazine Writing: Action, Angle and Anecdotes
  • Barbara Shoup, author of award-winning young adult novels and co-author of Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process and Story Matters
  • Larry Sweazy, author of mystery and award-winning western series

>> View Faculty Bios

  • AH: Assembly Hall
  • MR 1: Meeting Room 1
  • MR 2: Meeting Room 2
  • BR: Boardroom
  • CR 1: Conference Room 1
  • CR 2: Conference Room 2

FRIDAY, July 27
8:00 am Conservatory – Arrive, registration, get acquainted (continental breakfast)
Participants write their dream on an index card given at registration and turn them in at lunch.

8:30 am AH: Assembly Hall – Welcome, meet the faculty
9:00 am-12:00 pm In-depth/hands-on sessions [CHOOSE ONE]

MR 2A: Maurice Broaddus: World Building: How to Out-Imagine Your Reader — Every story needs a setting: a sense of WHERE and WHEN it takes place. World building is the process by which we create an imaginary world or build a fictional universe. The workshop will present tips on how to build a dynamic world for your story to inhabit. (with in-class writing!)

AH: J. Brent Bill: Writing from the Heart: Soulful Creativity — Do you wish to write in a way that touches readers and yourself? That’s the kind of writing that makes Anne Lamott’s essays, Phil Gulley’s Harmony tales, and Barbara Brown Taylor’s memoirs 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. Brent will also look at the practical side of getting such writing published.

MR 1: Matthew Clemens: Developmental Editing — Matthew will critique each writer’s first 10 pages and the attendees will engage in writing exercises geared to trends within the group’s manuscripts as well as creating characters, writing realistic dialogue, building scenes, point of view, and learning to read like a writer as opposed to reading like a reader. Participants will send a one-page synopsis and the first 10 pages (double-spaced/12 font) of a book manuscript in progress. Email midwestwriters@yahoo.com with “Developmental Editing submission” in subject line, postmarked by July 2. [Limit 15.]

CR 2: Lucrecia Guerrero: From Where You Dream — In this session, we’ll work through Pulitzer prize-winning Robert Olen Butler’s five steps of writing through your senses. These steps will help lead you to your unconscious, that place “from where you dream,” that place from which art develops. After writing through the five steps, you’ll be assigned an oral anecdote exercise (only a few will be shared) to help you continue writing through the senses. Once completed, Lucrecia will coach you through a writing assignment that flows naturally from the oral exercise. Step by step, you will learn to access that place “from where you dream,” and develop your ability to sense rather than analyze your responses. Come prepared to write. Lucrecia will also review and comment on a pre-submitted, two-page, double-spaced/12 font scene from a piece of fiction you’re working on. The scene should include description and dialogue. Email midwestwriters@yahoo.com with “Guerrero fiction scene submission” in subject line, postmarked by July 2.

Library: Lou Harry: Nonfiction, Writing About Everything — Yes, Lou will do a quick update on his goal to write a book for every category in the Dewey Decimal System. But, more importantly, he’ll explore ways to spark an interest in subjects you may not have previously thought about. This workshop will help you work on interview techniques, pitch angles, the search for leads (both the story idea kind and the first paragraphs kind), and ways to turn one story into many. Lou will also review a targeted pitch letter or up to two pages (double-spaced/12 font) of a manuscript. Email midwestwriters@yahoo.com with “Lou Harry nonfiction submission” in subject line, postmarked by July 2.

BR: Holly Miller: Manuscript Makeover — This interactive workshop is designed for those fiction and nonfiction writers who are ready to take a quantum leap forward in enhancing their writing skills. Participants will send a one-page synopsis and the first 10 pages (double-spaced/12 font) of a book manuscript in progress. Email midwestwriters@yahoo.com with “Manuscript Makeover submission” in subject line, postmarked by July 2. Holly will edit and critique these pages and (anonymously) display a sampling of them during class to reveal strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, she will lead a discussion and offer advice on creating strong titles and opening paragraphs, keeping readers engaged, learning to self-edit, finding the right markets for manuscripts, and knowing when and how to go into writing full-time. At the end of the session participants will receive their edited pages plus multiple handouts. Finally, each writer will sign up for a (10-minute) one-on-one appointment with Holly during the afternoon to go over his/her edited manuscript line by line. [Limit 15]

MR 2B: Barbara Shoup: Think Like a Teenager — When asked for advice about writing for children, Maurice Sendak responded, “I don’t write for children; I write as a child.” This workshop will bring out your inner-adolescent to help you identify and explore universal issues and events of adolescence that still resonate for you and offer strategies for shaping them into novels that appeal to kids today. Participants may send the first two pages (double-spaced/12 font) of their YA novel, and Barb will comment generally on what works and what…doesn’t. Email midwestwriters@yahoo.com with “Barbara Shoup YA submission” in subject line, postmarked by July 2.

CR 1: Larry D. Sweazy: Fiction: Writing Your First Novel — Here’s the big secret about writing first novels: The hardest part writing a first novel is finishing it. Great ideas tire out. Real life gets in the way. Doubt over takes the dream. In this interactive workshop, Larry D. Sweazy will share proven tips and help you to build the skills a new writer needs to finish that special first novel. Topics discussed will be time management, building a toolbox, finding support, writing tips, and most importantly living life as writer—even if you’re not published. Participants may send in two double-spaced/12 font pages for a brief critique, and come prepared to write in class. Email midwestwriters@yahoo.com with “Sweazy fiction submission” in subject line, postmarked by July 2.

12:15-1:15 pm
LUNCH & LEARN—SACK LUNCH: provided [“Talkabout Tables” with the faculty: fellowship/network, learn about each other]


1:30-2:45 pm – CHOOSE ONE

Library: Lou Harry: Creating Life on the Stage — Play writing for the novelists, short story writer, journalist and/or poet. You’ve told stories. But perhaps you haven’t tried telling stories on stage. Through example and exercise, we’ll look at the differences and similarities between constructive narrative for readers and for actors. We’ll look at basic mechanics, of course, but also explore how to create stories that make sense and belong on stage–whether those come from preexisting material or are created uniquely for the stage.

AH: Matthew Clemens: Nuts and Bolts: A Checklist of Things Beginning Writers Think They Already Know — A shortened version of an all-day class about the basics of the craft. This workshop will center on the issues Matthew sees most often as a developmental editor.

MR 1: Brent Bill: Good News: Writing for the Spiritual Market — From bestsellers by Brené Brown to the Dali Lama, there’s an abundance of interest in spiritual writing. This workshop is for writers who want to share their spiritual experiences in print. We’ll explore grounding our writing in our spiritual experiences — and daily life, while also looking at how to find where to publish our work.

BR: Barbara Shoup: Writing Your Life — Maybe you want to tell the stories of your life for your family, maybe you want to write them as a way of understanding the aspects of your life that shaped you and brought you to this moment. Maybe you want to explore the stories of your life for fiction. No matter why you want to write about your life, this workshop will teach you how to identify the memories worth writing about and offer both exercises and inspiration guaranteed to help you write them down.

3:00-4:15 pm – CHOOSE ONE

BR: Lucrecia Guerrero: Writing Your Culture — Every story happens somewhere; every character is affected by his environment. Why not bring the full rich experience of your culture to readers? We all have much in common, but, ah those unique details! Fiction and non-fiction writers, come and exchange ideas on what makes your culture unique. Avoid generalizations and stereotypes. Breathe life into your culture and characters with writing exercises designed to nudge your memory and imagination. Develop telling descriptions of place, particular dialogue and syntax, and characterization. Come prepared to write.

MR 1: Larry D. Sweazy: The Thrills and Chills of a Great Mystery — Author Jim Thompson once said, “There is only one plot — things are not what they seem.” That quote is fitting for all genres of writing, but really applies to mystery writing. In this fast-paced workshop we’ll define what a mystery is, how to plot a mystery, build character, and use setting as character. Come prepared to work in class.

AH: Maurice Broaddus: Characterization Through Dialogue — Characters are at the heart of stories and dialogue helps define characters and drive story. In this workshop you’ll learn to develop characters, consider word choice, and define their voice through dialogue. The workshop will present essential tips to improve dialogue and explore how to write dialogue that rings true, deepens character, creates tension, and more.

4:30 pm Cash Bar: Pre-Event

5:15-6:30 pm DINNER: Assembly Hall [Tex-Mex buffet, optional, $15]

Community Building: what do you want from a writing community?
Barbara Shoup: Let’s Connect. Community-building exercise. You will fill out questionnaires about what you want from a writing community (critique, hanging out, support, whatever) and provide some information about yourself. Then we’ll post them on a wall. If someone is interested in what you said, they can leave their name/contact info there. On Saturday, people can check out the questionnaires of people who left info on theirs to see if they feel there might be a match.

Faculty Autographs!

6:30-9:00 pm — Evening Fun: Assembly Hall

6:30-7:15 – Panel “Yes, You Can” (We know because we did) with Kelsey Timmerman, Sherry Stanfa-Stanley, Kelly Stanley, Sarah Schmitt
This will be a motivational panel with writers who will talk about how MWW helped them on their writing journey, how they managed to navigate the competitive world of publishing while living in the Midwest, their advice for what workshoppers should do when they go home tomorrow, etc.
7:15-8:00ish – SOMEWHERE IN THIS BOOK: A LIVE GAME SHOW, hosted by Lou Harry
Bring a book–any book–to this event. Could be a novel, a history text, a cookbook, whatever. (We’ll bring a library of random books in case you forget). When a category is called (Say, “A Really Awkward Pick Up Line” or “What Not To Say On a Job Interview”), you have a set amount of time to flip through your book and find a line or two that fits the category–in a serious or hilarious way. Then we find the best choices, narrow down the field, bring some contestants up front for finals, and otherwise have a blast of a time.
8:00 – Announcement of Writing Contest topic/prompt (to be turned in Saturday morning)
8:10ish-9:00 – Open Mic: First Two Pages/3 minutes

SATURDAY (All sessions in Assembly Hall)

8:00 am Conservatory – continental breakfast

8:30 am – Turn in your contest entry.

8:30-9:30 am – “Wake up” speaker: Larry Sweazy: What’s Your Dream? (interviewed by Matthew Clemens). A lot of new writers have no idea what they really want. They might want fame and money or a number one bestseller and a movie deal. It’s possible, but a writing career is not empirical. One can work really hard their whole life and have neither fame or money, only artistic expression. Writing is a job that has peaks and valleys. Maybe knowing the reality of the publishing world will give a new writer a more focused direction, and an honest approach to the journey they are embarking on.

9:45-10:45 am – Panel: All Faculty – Writing from different POV / Voice appropriation. (Matthew Clemens, moderator) Do writers have to be confined to the world they know based on their own ethnicity, nationality or even gender? Can writers branch out and tell a story from the point of view of a character who comes from a completely different background?

11:00 – Announcement of contest winner/read
11:10-12:15 pm – Ask-A-Pro Session – All Faculty
12:15 pm – Dismissal/write! / stay in touch!

Before heading home, pick up your “dream” index card. Think about if your dream has changed after experiencing the conference and let us know.