Friday October 19 5:37 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Collaborate and Learn at the 2018 Steel Pen Conference!

10/27/2018 - 08:00
10/27/2018 - 18:00

General Session Panel
Journey into Strangeness: An Exploration of Science Fiction/Fantasy Literature – Past, Present, and New Frontiers, Janine Harrison, Moderator

In this panel, sci-fi/fantasy writers will discuss the ever-evolving relationship of sci-fi/fantasy and mainstream literature, world building, content trends, character diversity, genre bending, game-changing online publication and promotion, working with publishers, and more!

Breakout Sessions
Bury Me Next to a Straight Man: Writing Humor in Poetry, Karen Schubert, Presenter

Groucho Marx once said, “I hope they bury me near a straight man.” Why is that funny? In this workshop, we’ll look at the linguistic structure of humor and how to incorporate it in poetry. We’ll also consider humor potholes, humor dumpster fires, and humor lemons. All experience levels welcome. (I’m serious!)

Character Kickstart 2.0, Rod Martinez, Presenter

How well do you know your character? What’s her favorite color? Who’s her favorite uncle? Who taught him to ride a bike or tie a tie? Seems trivial, but think about it. You’re creating a world for the reader to accept as “real” as they read. My presentation offers exercises and discussions to open our minds to the world of character creation. I’ve created a game I call Character-Fill-in-the Blank. You’ll never look at your characters the same way again. Starting with a blank slate, we’ll build a credible bio for your character that will leave no stone unturned.

Crafting a Successful Series, Patricia Skalka, Presenter

Planning a series? Often the first book is the easiest to write. You love your characters and story and your readers will, too. Unfortunately, not every good story lends itself to a series. In this craft session, we’ll look at the kinds of protagonists, settings, tone, themes, and scope that can carry the weight of three, four, or more books. We’ll also consider the challenges you face when you move past the first book. These include: how to handle backstory; if and when to introduce new characters; how to deal with the passage of time.

Dialogue: It Isn’t Just about Talk, Rod Martinez, Presenter

In this hands on workshop, I share with the class the tried and true differences found in dialogue and how we as writers have to understand the importance of the “talk.” We will start with a five-minute prompt exercise, then dig into examples of dialogue from famous literary works. Participants will then focus on the actual art of bringing their characters to life with dialogue from either their prompt exercise or their current work.

Guidelines for Creating an Effective Marketing Strategy, Nicole Amsler, Presenter

How do you create a balanced diet of marketing activities that results in a flourishing platform and engaged audience? This session provides practical time-saving tips and marketing hacks to market your books without losing countless hours.

How to Prepare For and Find the Right Copy Editor, Tiffany Cole, Presenter

Even though editors play one of the most significant roles in the publication process of a book, there’s a shroud of mystery surrounding what an editor does, how much editing costs, and how to find the right copy editor for your work. During this lecture, copy editor Tiffany T. Cole will give writers worksheets and actionable tips for preparing for and finding a good copy editor.

Move Your Body to Move Your Reader: Physical Ritual & Writing Practice, Lauren Mallett, Presenter

Dickens walked. Austen played the piano. Murakami runs. Boruch swims. How has physical activity contributed to the lives of great writers and their work? What does enjoyable movement have to offer our writing lives? In this one-hour workshop, try on a variety of writing exercises and complementary physical experiences. Learn about research and anecdotal evidence of what works and who swears by it. Leave with a list of your favorite movements and positions. This workshop is appropriate for all writers and includes modifications for various physical abilities.

Picture Book Boot Camp, Shannon Anderson, Presenter

Learn how to pitch and publish in the children’s book market from award winning author and teacher Shannon Anderson. She will share the basics of picture book writing, pathways to network with editors and agents, and strategies to start building your platform. You will leave with information about the craft and business side of writing for kids.

Ready, Set, Grow . . . Your Opportunities! Shannon Anderson, Presenter

Award winning author Shannon Anderson will share how to gain the knowledge, credentials, and experience you need to build your publishing career. You’ll learn strategies to attend conferences for no or low cost and to explore writing paths you may not have considered. This session will give you the boost you need to put you on the right track to publication.

Writing a Compelling Synopsis, Kaitlyn Johnson, Presenter

Some agents require potential clients to submit a synopsis, but how do you write a compelling one? In this session you will how to incorporate voice, organize your plot points, and decide which details to include.

Steel Pen Creative Writers' Conference
Day: October 27, 2018
Location: Fair Oaks Farm Conference Center
856 N 600 E
Fair Oaks, IN 47943

Conference Fees - Through Sept. 14th

Members $70
Non-Members $80
Students $45
Manuscript Review by Agent Kaitlyn Johnson $25
Manuscript General Critique $15

Sept. 15th through Oct. 15th

Members $80
Non-Members $90
Students $45
Manuscript Review by Agent Kaitlyn Johnson $25
Manuscript General Critique $15

Manuscript Reviews
We will have a limited number of spaces available for manuscript reviews. The cost is $25 for a 2-page review by agent Kaitlyn Johnson of the Corvisiero Literary Agency, which is not a guarantee of representation. All other reviews are $15 for up to 5 pages, with poetry and creative nonfiction reviewed by Janine Harrison and fiction reviewed by Carla Lee Suson. Slots will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For Ms. Johnson, the writing sample may be no longer than 2 double-spaced pages. You will receive a 10-minute sit-down with her during the conference.

For Ms. Harrison and Ms. Suson, the manuscripts may be no longer than 5 double-spaced pages. If part of a larger work, they should also include a 1-page synopsis. You will receive a 1-page feedback report and a 10-minute sit-down with the reviewer during the conference. If the participant cannot attend the review session, the reviewer will email the feedback report to the participant after the conference.

All writing samples and manuscripts must be emailed to by October 1 with “Manuscript for Review” in the subject line.

Hotel Information
There is no hotel on the premises, but conference attendees will receive a special rate of $90 per night at the Comfort Suites in Rensselaer, which is just seven miles away. You must call the hotel directly at 219-964-4215 and tell them you are coming for the Steel Pen Creative Writers’ Conference. The rate is good until September 27 or when all the rooms are booked, whichever is earlier.

Comfort Suites
8928 West State Road 114
Rensselaer, IN

Register, check out the rich array of sessions, and apply for scholarships, Bookstore, and sponsorships at:

Questions? PIease email us at

Special Silent Auction and More Ways to Participate and Win!

Good news! The Silent Auction is returning at this year’s Steel Pen Creative Writers’ Conference. This is a good way to advertise your business and support the arts by donating gift certificates, gift baskets, and other items of value. If you are interested in making a donation, please contact us at and ask for a copy of the form.

The Silent Auction is just one way to support Steel Pen. We are looking for donations to the Scholarship Fund for writers and aspiring writers who are unable to make the financial commitment. This make this deductable donation through PayPal or credit card by scrolling to the bottom of the IWC website at, clicking on the Donate button, and entering “Scholarship Fund” where it asks for instructions to the seller.