The 2019 San Diego Writing Workshop: May 11, 2019

screen-shot-2014-07-23-at-12-58-51-pm.pngAfter successful events in 2015 and 2017, the San Diego Writing Workshop is back for 2019! Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2019 San Diego Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in San Diego, CA, on May 11, 2019.

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (175 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2019 San Diego Writing Workshop!


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at the Crowne Plaza San Diego. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents onsite to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s faculty so far includes:

  • literary agent Hannah Mann (Writers House)
  • literary agent assistant Rae Loverde (Donald Maass Literary)
  • literary agent Carlie Webber (Fuse Literary)
  • literary agent Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary)
  • literary agent Sandra O’Donnell (O’Donnell Literary)
  • literary agent Faye Atchison (McBride Literary)
  • literary agent Masha Gunic (Azantian Literary)
  • literary agent Beth Marshea (Ladderbird Literary)
  • literary agent Annie Bomke (Annie Bomke Literary)
  • literary agent Taylor Martindale (Full Circle Literary)
  • literary agent Elise Capron (Sandra Dijsktra Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Jill Kramer (Waterside)
  • literary agent Natalie Lakosil (Bradford Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Jessica Watterson (Sandra Dijsktra Literary Agency))
  • and possibly more to come.

By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Jessica Bell of Writing Day Workshops, with assistance from a local writing organization, Go Be Write.


9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, May 11, 2019, at the Crowne Plaza San Diego, 2270 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, CA 92108.

Screen shot 2015-05-26 at 9.13.59 PM


What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.

Please Note: There will be 2-3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day, so you will have your choice of what class you attend at any time. The final schedule of topics is subject to change, but here is the current layout:

8:30 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location.

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. How to Hook an Agent (Peacock 1 room). This session will discuss how to research agents, how to submit, what an offer of representation will look like, the role of an agent in your query, and how to make a good agent-client relationship last.

2. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Paradise room). In this session, presenter Madeline Smoot, acquiring editor for CBAY Books, will discuss the tips and tricks for making middle grade and YA novels great.

3. Memoir 101 – How to Write Your Life (Cove 1+2 rooms). Are you seeking a way to transform the stories of your life into a compelling, page turning memoir? Join Marni Freedman for a fun, interactive, and unforgettable memoir writing workshop that will kick-start your memoir writing journey.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.44.34 AMBLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Out of This World Writing — Tips on Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction and Fantasy) (Cove 1+2 rooms). Have you always wanted to create worlds where anything can happen: technology runs amuck, magic is everywhere, or maybe demons are lurking where we’d least expect them? Learn how to create intense believable worlds that allow for fantastic events.

2. Improve Your Writing: The Basics of Self-Editing and Revision (Paradise room). Writing your manuscript’s first draft is a huge step, but only a primary one. Now it’s time to look at your creation and slowly make it amazing through overhauls, self-editing, and revision.

3. Be a Professional Writer (Peacock 1 room). In this workshop, a literary agent will explain how to best present yourself for success and treat your writing as a business (in person, online, and in pitches).

(What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (Peacock 1 room). This is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously — no bylines given) with attending agents commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission

2.  Nonfiction Intensive: Book Proposal Tips (Cove 1+2 rooms). If you are writing nonfiction, you will need a book proposal. Join a literary agent instructor to learn more about writing an effective and compelling nonfiction book proposal.

3. Intro to Writing Picture Books (Paradise room). This course provides an introduction to the key components, including: structure, plot, character development, word choice, rhyme, pacing, themes, humor, and layout.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Knock ’em Dead: Tips on Writing Mystery, Thriller, and Crime (Cove 1+2 rooms). This class will help you develop your own best process to write your book, offer tips on staying focused, and give pointers on effective editing.

2. Personal Branding and the Three Pillars of Successful Book Marketing (Paradise room). In today’s publishing world, it’s critical for authors to position themselves and build a tribe of loyal fans through personal branding. Understand the three pillars of successful book marketing as audience, content, and loyalty.

3. Plotting Magic (Peacock 1 room). Using the wisdom of Aristotle, Joseph Campbell (The Hero’s Journey) and writing gurus across the country, the 15 Plot Spots will let you in on you the secrets of plotting from the masters.

(What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. How to Write a Great Query Letter for Your Novel (Peacock 1 room). This workshop is a thorough crash course in how to write an awesome query letter.

2. Find Success Writing Romance (Cove 1+2 rooms). We’ll talk about plotting and publishing a smart and successful romance novel, what’s selling, and what the market looks like today.

3. Writing Life Productivity Tips & Tools (Paradise room). Very few of us writers are lucky to be able to write full-time. So, the vast majority of writers need to squeeze the most productivity out of the few available hours they have. In this informative session, we’ll cover tips and tools that help you do just that.


At 5 p.m., the day is done. Speakers will make themselves available by the workshop’s bookstore for a short while to sign any books for attendees.

Agent & Editor Pitching: All throughout the day.


Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 5.52.10 PM.pngAnnie Bomke [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent and the founder of Annie Bomke Literary Agency. She has worked on a wide variety of genres including mainstream and literary fiction, self-help, business, health/diet, memoir, parenting, relationships, psychology, and humor, but she is most passionate about character-driven literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, and psychology. Learn more about Annie here.

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 6.06.26 PM.pngRae Loverde is an agent assistant at Donald Maass Literary University. At the 2019 event, she will be taking pitches at the workshop on behalf of her co-agents. Her co-agent Kiana Nguyen is seeking the following: contemporary romances like Alisha Rai and Alyssa Cole; adult sci-fi that feels like “Black Mirror”; psychological thrillers; in YA, she’s looking for thrillers and contemporary that’s queer, POC, or features a mystery; in all categories except romance, the darker, the better. Her co-agent Caitlin McDonald is seeking the following: all science fiction & fantasy fiction for adult, YA, and MG, especially secondary world fantasy and alternate history; genre-bending or cross-genre fiction, and stories that examine tropes from a new angle; diversity of all kinds, including (but not limited to) race, gender, sexuality, and ability, in both characters and worldbuilding. Learn more about Rae here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 1.17.01 AM.pngCarlie Webber [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with Fuse Literary. She represents fiction in the genres of: young adult, middle grade, new adult, women’s fiction, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, mystery, thriller, suspense, romance, science fiction, and fantasy. She does not want to rep picture books, easy readers, poetry, scripts or curriculum nonfiction. She no longer seeks nonfiction (or memoir) of any kind. Learn more about Carlie here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 5.04.02 PM.pngFaye Atchison is a literary agent with McBride Literary. Faye is interested in in both commercial and niche fiction and nonfiction. Fiction interests include YA, speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy), commercial fantasy, women’s fiction, historical fiction, sci-fi, paranormal, unconventional westerns, and anything with unique, well-drawn characters and a dark or offbeat sense of humor. Her nonfiction interests include pop culture, music, history, health, inspirational (but not spiritual), and extremely well-written narrative nonfiction. Learn more about Faye here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 7.50.28 PM.pngLaura Bradford is a literary agent and founder of Bradford Literary Agency. She continues to actively build her client list and is currently seeking work in the following genres: romance (historical, romantic suspense, paranormal, category, contemporary, erotic), urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mystery, thrillers, young adult, upper middle grade, as well as some select nonfiction. Learn more about Laura here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 5.53.22 PM.pngMasha Gunic is a literary agent with Azantian Literary. Middle grade: “I am excited to find middle grade novels across all genres. Bring on the adventure, the creepy, the spine-chilling horror, the historical, the imaginative, and the laugh-out-loud funny!” Young adult: “I’m looking for exciting, high-concept and commercial young adult novels that keep me reading chapter after chapter until I’m all done and craving more, as well as unique literary works and contemporary fiction (including comedies, drama, romance, thrillers, and mysteries with satisfying twists). I’m also open to historical fiction, science fiction, low fantasy, and magical realism, but I’m not the right match for high fantasy.” Learn more about Masha here.

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 2.16.13 PM.pngBeth Marshea is a literary agent and the founder of Ladderbird Agency. She is seeking literary fiction, women’s fiction, adult fantasy (specifically looking for non-European centric fantasy), adult science fiction (quick, exciting, fun adventures), crime novels, and YA sci-fi & fantasy. Beth is not seeking horror, middle grade, picture books, or historical fiction. Learn more about Beth here.

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 7.00.28 PM.pngElise Capron [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She is interested in fiction that has unforgettable writing, a distinctive narrative voice, and memorable characters. She loves novels with an unusual or eccentric edge and is drawn to stories she has never heard before. She aims to work with writers who are getting their work published regularly in literary magazines and who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience. On the nonfiction front, Elise is looking for fascinating true stories told in a compelling way. She is especially interested in working with up-and-coming scholars (particularly historians) who are looking to transition from the academic market to a trade readership, as well as journalists. And while she will consider memoir, please note that she is very selective. Learn more about Elise here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 5.09.02 PM.pngHannah Mann is a literary agent with Writers House. She is seeking: Young adult, middle grade, and picture books. Details below. Young Adult: “I especially love realistic and witty YA (that includes drama, romance, comedy, thrillers, mystery—or hybrids of these!), but I’m open to low fantasy and magical realism that doesn’t account for too much happenstance. Middle Grade: “I look for funny and dramatic (or both!) MG novels about friendships (including those with animals), and the complexity of individual families. Brave or whimsical adventure stories starring unlikely characters and underdogs are great, and I look for honest, funny, and unique voice here, full of heart, smarts, and humor.” Picture Books:”While I’m presently focusing on acquiring older formats, in general, I look for artful, human, and/or humorous stories and artwork driven by expressive characters. I seek illustration with something fresh going on (or that pays homage to a classic with its own modern layering). I’m additionally a fan of tender/gentle picture books.” Learn more about Hannah here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 5.49.11 PM.pngSandra O’Donnell, Ph.D. [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent & founding partner of O’Donnell Literary. In fiction, she’s looking for stories with compelling characters that jump off the page — historical fiction, courtroom dramas, upmarket fiction and historically-based conspiracy thrillers that keep her up all night. For nonfiction, she seeks narrative nonfiction, memoir, cultural studies, popular culture, history, and religion/spiritual. Learn more about Sandra here.

Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 11.57.03 PM.pngTaylor Martindale Kean is a literary agent with Full Circle Literary, actively acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects. Taylor is looking for young adult fiction, literary middle grade fiction, and young adult and middle grade nonfiction. She is interested in finding unique and unforgettable voices in contemporary, fantasy and historical novels. She is looking for books that demand to be read. More than anything, Taylor is looking for diverse, character-driven stories that bring their worlds vividly to life, voices that are honest, original and interesting. When considering nonfiction projects, Taylor uses much the same approach, and hopes to find authors with fresh ideas and perspectives, with writing that is accessible, entertaining, and compelling. Learn more about Taylor here.

Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 3.03.00 PM.pngNatalie Lakosil is an agent at the Bradford Literary Agency. Her specialties are children’s literature (from picture book through teen and new adult), romance (contemporary and historical), cozy mystery/crime, upmarket women’s/general fiction and select children’s nonfiction. Her interests include historical, multicultural, magical realism, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, middle grade with heart, and short, quirky or character-driven picture books. She is always drawn to an open and positive attitude in an author, professionalism, good grammar, and fantastical, beautifully written, engaging and sexy plots. Natalie is not looking for: inspirational novels, memoir, romantic suspense, adult thrillers, poetry, screenplays. Learn more about Natalie here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 5.24.23 PM.pngJessica Watterson has been a literary agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency since 2013. Jessica is always on the hunt for new and diverse voices, and is most interested in all genres of romance, as well as women’s fiction. She is also interested in author illustrated picture books that capture the fun and joy of reading between adults and children. Learn more about Jessica here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 12.45.27 AM.pngJill Kramer is a literary agent at Waterside. She is seeking: all types of adult, new adult, and young adult fiction, with the exception of sci-fi/fantasy. (No middle grade or picture books, please.) She also represents nonfiction books in the areas of: mind-body-spirit, self-help, celebrity memoirs, relationships, sociology, finance, psychology, health and fitness, diet/nutrition/cooking, inspiration, business/politics/history, family/parenting issues, and more. Learn more about Jill here.

          More 2019 agents may be added over time.

These one-on-one meetings are an amazing chance to pitch your book face-to-face with an agent, and get personal, individual feedback on your pitch/concept. If the agent likes your pitch, they’ll request to see part/all of your book — sending you straight past the slush pile. It also gives you an intimate chance to meet with an agent and pick their brain with any questions on your mind.

(Please note that Agent/Editor Pitching is an add-on, separate aspect of the day, for only those who sign up. Spaces are limited for these premium meetings, and pricing/detail is explained below.)


$189 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2019 SDWW and access to all workshops, all day, on May 11, 2019. As of November 2018, event registration is now OPEN.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents in attendance. Use this special meeting as a chance to pitch your work and get professional feedback on your pitch. (Spaces limited.) If they wish, attendees are free to sign up for multiple 10-minute pitch sessions at $29/session — pitching multiple individuals, or securing 20 minutes to pitch one person rather than the usual 10. Here are four quick testimonials regarding writers who have signed with literary agents after pitching them at prior Writing Day Workshops events. (Our bigger, growing list of success stories can be seen here.)

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 11.11.29 AM.png“I met my client, Alison Hammer, at the 2017 Writing
Workshop of Chicago and just sold her book.”
– literary agent Joanna Mackenzie of Nelson Literary

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.47.54 PM.png“Good news! I signed a client [novelist Aliza Mann]
from the 2017 Michigan Writing Workshop!”
– literary agent Sara Mebigow of KT Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 12.56.10 PM“I signed author Stephanie Wright from
the 2018 Seattle Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 9.07.44 PM“I signed an author [Kate Thompson] that I
met at the 2017 Philadelphia Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 2.54.50 PM.png“I signed novelist Kathleen McInnis after meeting her
at the 2016 Chesapeake Writing Workshop.”

– literary agent Adriann Ranta of Foundry Literary + Media

Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from instructor Chuck Sambuchino, an instructor for a previous workshop in San Diego. (This rate is a special event value for San Diego Writing Workshop attendees only.) Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of the specially-priced critique, so they can send out their query letter with confidence following the workshop. Also, if you are meeting with an agent at the event, you’re essentially speaking your query letter aloud to them. Wouldn’t it be wise to give that query letter (i.e., your pitch) one great edit before that meeting?

Add $89 — for an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your novel. Spaces with faculty for these critiques are very limited, and participating attendees get an in-person meeting at the workshop. Options:

  • Children’s picture books: Faculty member Henry Herz, a published author of picture books, will get your work in advance, critique your picture book (1,000 words maximum), meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss his thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Romance (any kind): Faculty member HelenKay Dimon, a published author of romance novels, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Young adult / middle grade / chapter books: Faculty member Madeline Smoot, a children’s book editor who is teaching at the event, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. No picture books, please.
  • Thriller, mystery, suspense, and crime: Faculty member Lisa Brackmann, a published author of suspense/thriller, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Memoir, literary fiction, mainstream/upmarket fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction: Faculty member Marni Freedman, a published memoir author, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Adult science fiction and fantasy: Frankie Mallis, a freelance book editor, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, and schedule a 10-minute Skype conversation with you to discuss her notes. She will also e-mail you written critique notes. Unlike the other critiquing faculty members at the 2019 SDWW, Frankie will not be present at the event, and will instead do her consultations via Skype before or after the May 11 workshop.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email:, and she will provide specific instructions for payment and registration to get you a reserved seat at the event. Payment is by either PayPal or check. Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the San Diego workshop specifically.


Because of limited space at the venue of the Crowne Plaza, the workshop can only allow 175 registrants, unless spacing issues change. For this reason, we encourage you to book sooner rather than later.

Are spaces still available? Yes, we still have spaces available. We will announce RIGHT HERE, at this point on this web page, when all spaces are taken. If you do not see a note right here saying how all spaces are booked, then yes, we still have room, and you are encouraged to register.

How to Register: The easy first step is simply to reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email: She will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by PayPal or check. Once payment is complete, you will have a reserved seat at the event. The SDWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the San Diego workshop specifically.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason, you will receive 50% of your total payment back [sent by check or PayPal]. The other 50% is nonrefundable and will not be returned, and helps the workshop ensure that only those truly interested in the limited spacing sign up for the event. (Please note that query editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already edited your letter.)

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Thank you for your interest in the 2019 San Diego Writing Workshop.



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