This page will be updated as more faculty members are
confirmed for the 2022 San Diego Writing Workshop.
Shirin Leos is the author of 20 children’s books, the best-known of which is Ruby’s Wish, an Ezra Jack Keats Award winner. Her successful debut had Publishers Weekly include her on a list of “new authors to watch;” several years and two feature articles later, she made it to their front cover as the founding goose of Goosebottom Books. You can see all her books here.
At the 2022 online SDWW, Shirin is offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.
When Shirin is not writing, she is an editor, writing coach, and writing retreat leader. She has been dubbed a “tiger editor” independently by two of her clients, because she gives tough developmental edits. (They did come back!)
For those who don’t like tough, there are her writing retreats. These are three- or five-night stays in beautiful and secluded surroundings, with all meals catered, and libations poured every evening when participants gather to share our work and receive feedback. There is nothing, Shirin believes, like writing in community. These few days can be the most productive of the year.
Leslie Zampetti, literary agent, joined Dunham Literary in June 2016. Previously, she was an intern for The Bent Agency.
At the 2022 online SDWW, Leslie is teaching a class. She is not meeting with attendees for pitches.
A former librarian with over 20 years’ experience in special, public, and school libraries, Leslie’s focus was on the reader, giving them the right book at the right time – which works for matching client work to editors too. Having negotiated with organizations from Lexis-Nexis to the elementary school PTA, she is able to come to terms that favor her clients while building satisfying relationships with publishers. And after cataloging rocket launch videos for NASA and model rocket ships for an elementary school, Leslie welcomes working with the unexpected challenges that pop up in publishing.
Leslie graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in English and has a Master’s of Library and Information Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Rachel Beck is a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates.
At the 2022 online SDWW, Rachel is teaching a class, and meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.
She joined in 2020 after working at a boutique literary agency for 4 years. She has been in the publishing industry since 2009 and worked at Harlequin editing romance novels for nearly 6 years before transitioning her skills to the agent world in order to be an advocate and champion for authors. She lives outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two young sons, and endlessly entertaining cat.
Rachel believes that the right book can change or heal a life, and she wants to find those. But she’s also interested in lighter fiction that helps you escape or simply makes you laugh after a tough day. Or nonfiction that teaches you something about an obscure topic, thus opening up a new world.
Brian A. Klems (@BrianKlems) is the former online editor of WritersDigest.com.
He is the co-coordinator of the 2021 online SD Writing Workshop. At the event, he is offering query critiques as an add-on for attendees.
His blog during his tenure there, The Writer’s Dig—which covered everything writing and publishing—was one of the largest blogs in the writing community.
Brian’s first book, Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Guide to Raising Daughters (Adams Media) was released in 2013. It received high-level buzz and praise from some of the funniest writers alive, including Dave Barry and Bruce Cameron. Brian is also a proud graduate of the Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, a husband, softball infielder, perennial fantasy sports underachiever, and father of three lovely little girls.
Tara Yilmaz is the founder and CEO of Bailey Publishing House.
Tara founded Bailey Publishing House, LLC in 2016. She serves as Chief Executive Officer and Senior Editor.
At the 2021 online SD Writing Workshop, Tara is meeting virtually with writers for add-on manuscript critiques.
Tara is a ghostwriter and author of Dracula of the West Side and Number Seven (2018). She’s the author of the dark comedy play, “Deadbeat” (2017). The play premiered on May 21, 2018 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater, downtown Pittsburgh. The production was produced by Wali Jamal Abdullah and directed by Kim El.
She was the featured speaker at the Celebration of Reading in June 2017 and Pittsburgh’s Write On: Black Book Expo in November 2017. Along with speaking at book festivals, BPH hosts an annual writers workshop. She’s been a featured guest on WAMO 100 radio programs and Soul Pitt Quarterly wrote an article about her company in Summer 2017 edition. In addition to her commitment to BPH, she is also Editor-in-Chief for a personal care home monthly magazine in Pennsylvania.
Rachelle Gardner is literary agent and owner of Gardner Literary, representing fiction and nonfiction.
At the 2022 online SDWW, she is meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches. She is also teaching a class.
She works in the Christian market (CBA) as well as the general market, and is considering new clients for both.
In fiction she’s looking at novels of 75,000 to 100,000 words in the following genres: contemporary women’s fiction, romance, suspense/thriller, historical, YA and YA fantasy including fairy tale retellings with a unique approach.
NOT looking at adult fantasy, sci-fi, or literary fiction.
Rachelle is looking at a wide variety of nonfiction, but please note, she can’t sell it unless you have a platform. If you have begun developing a following, bring her your nonfiction!
She is especially interested in BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors.
Kaitlyn Johnson is a literary agent with Belcastro Literary Agency.
At the 2022 online SDWW, Kaitlyn is teaching a class, and meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.
As a Literary Agent with Belcastro Literary Agency, I am accepting submissions for Upper MG, as well as Young Adult and Adult.
I love seeing contemporary from voices not already flooding our bookshelves, perspectives that not everyone can claim to be familiar with. I want fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal from non-American/non-European myths and legends, concepts relevant to the culture and plot. I’m more into ghosts/vampires rather than werewolves, but always open to being surprised. Give me historical from places we never hear of, battles and events and changes that shifted world views yet never feature in mainstream discussions. Reading of people completely unlike myself, in places I’d love to explore and learn of, captivates me.
I’d love more LGBTQ+ storylines in all genres and ages (especially bi, ace, and trans voices!). Dying for MG with first crushes. People just being people and living life and not necessarily focusing on being forced to explain themselves. I love enemies-to-lovers and blind dates and rival romances. I’m also very much looking for more main characters living with mental health issues or disability.
Charlotte Wenger is a literary agent in the Boston area with Prospect Agency.
At the 2022 online SDWW, she is teaching a class, and meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.
Prior to joining Prospect, she was an associate editor at Page Street Kids, where she acquired and edited fiction and nonfiction picture books. She has her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons College (now University) and serves on the national advisory board of the Mazza Museum, the world’s largest collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators.
Charlotte is drawn to children’s literature and art for all ages—board books through young adult, but especially picture books—as well as select adult nonfiction biographies and memoirs.
Jill Marr is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
At the 2022 online SDWW, Jill is teaching a class, and meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.
She graduated from SDSU with a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in history. She has a strong Internet and media background and nearly 20 years of publishing experience. She wrote features and ads for Pages, the literary magazine for people who love books, as well as book ads for publishing houses, magazine pieces, and promotional features for television.
After writing ad copy and features for published books for years, she knows how to find a project’s “hook” and sell it.
Jill is looking for fiction and nonfiction by BIPOC and Latinx writers, disabled persons, and people identifying as LGBTQ+, among others. She is interested in commercial fiction, with an emphasis on mysteries, thrillers, and horror, book club, and historical fiction. She is also looking for non-fiction by authors with a big, timely, smart message as well as historical projects that look at big picture issues. Jill is looking for non-fiction projects in the areas of current events, science, history, narrative non-fiction, sports, politics, health & nutrition, pop culture, humor, music, and very select memoir.
Madeline Smoot is a freelance editor and former longtime publisher for CBAY books.
“As the publisher of a small, traditional royalty based press, I have edited, designed, and published high quality fantasy and science fiction middle grade and young adult books for the past 13 years. As the publisher, I took novels through the entire editorial process including acquisitions, developmental and comprehensive edits, and multiple rounds of revision, copy editing, and proofing.
“In my spare time between publishing projects, I take on editing clients. In the past I have worked mainly through referral or with authors I met at the conferences where I would speak and critique.”
At the 2022 online SDWW, Madeline is teaching a class, and also offering add-on manuscript critiqued for attendees.
Sean Fletcher is a developmental editor and former agent scout.
At the 2022 online SDWW, he is offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.
Sean has also taught and co-taught workshops on developmental editing and book marketing at the PNWA conference in Seattle, the NILA MFA Residency, and RWA San Jose chapter, among many other venues. Sean assists authors in building multidimensional characters, engaging plots, original voices, and deep themes across all age groups.
When not editing he is an author of Amazon best-selling YA fantasy, as well as middle grade.