The 2019 Chesapeake Writing Workshop: July 13, 2019

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2015, 2016, and 2018 events in DC, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2019 Chesapeake Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in Arlington, VA (suburb of Washington, DC) on July 13, 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 (200 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2019 Chesapeake Writing Workshop!


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, July 13, 2019, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Arlington. 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 agent & editor faculty so far includes:

  • literary agent Emily Williamson (Williamson Literary)
  • literary agent Shari Maurer (Stringer Literary)
  • literary agent Deborah Grosvenor (The Grosvenor Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Zabe Ellor (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • literary agent Laura Strachan (Strachan Literary)
  • literary agent Stacey Graham (Red Sofa Literary)
  • literary agent Stephanie Kehr (C.Y.L.E. Literary)
  • and 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 Kerrie Flanagan of Writing Day Workshops, with assistance from local writing groups.


9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, July 13, 2019 — Crystal Gateway Marriott Arlington, 1700 Jefferson Davis Highway Arlington Virginia 22202. 703-920-3230.

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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. A Bird’s-eye View Publishing & Books in the Year 2018 (Salon A-B). This workshop is quick and easy overview of the publishing industry today, and how it’s changing.

2. How to Make Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction a Reality (Salons D-E). In this session, learn about diverse topics as world-building, pacing, character development, prequels and sequels, and writing a killer opening.

3. Developing Compelling Characters (Salon C). We’ll discuss what the most interesting characters have in common across all genres, as well as practical strategies to take your characters from paper dolls to fully-fledged people.

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

1. Tips on How to Write Like the Pros (Salon C). This workshop is a thorough crash course concerning craft, style and voice.

2. How to Query a Literary Agent (Salon A-B). The class will discuss what goes into a successful query letter, and address many dos and don’ts for composing that initial contact.

3. Tips for Writing Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime (Salons D-E). The presentation will teach you how to keep readers—including agents and editors—turning pages late into the night

(What you see here 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 (Salon A-B). 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.  How to Sell a Nonfiction Book (Salons D-E). This session is completely devoted to nonfiction book proposals.

3. Writing for the Little Ones: How to Craft an Amazing Picture Book For Kids (Salon C). In this session, we’ll discuss questions to consider before sending a picture book manuscript out in the world.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Twenty Questions You Need Answered Before You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (Salon A-B). Before you publish your work or query an agent, there are plenty of things you need to know.

2. The Secrets to Self-Publishing Success (Salon C). Changes in the publishing environment have made self-publishing a viable path. But with thousands of would-be writers diving in, how can you rise above the morass and find success?

3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Salons D-E). Writing for children isn’t all that different from writing for adults. However, there are some genre specific things to keep in mind when crafting books for those readers under 18.

(What you see here 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. Sell Your Books and Yourself — Social Media and Book Marketing 101 (Salon C). Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, everyone could use some helpful guidance on how to effectively market themselves and sell more books.

2. Twenty Questions You Need Answered After You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (Salon A-B). After you self-publish your work or get a traditional publishing book deal, there are plenty of things you need to know.

3. A Guided Tour of the Elements of Writing Romance – Hands-on Plotting at High Speed (Salons D-E). Romance author and editor Delancey Stewart will lay down the critical elements for writing a romance, and act as a guide for the group as you plot an example novel together.


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 2019-01-16 at 7.08.12 PM.pngEmily Williamson is a literary agent and the founder of Williamson Literary. In fiction she seeks writing that sings rather than tells; lyrical or experimental writing is welcome (but not always); unusual and unforgettable characters; unique settings; know your voice and tone; stories where place is a character too; adventure, international, sci-fi or science inspired, magical realism, page-turners. For children’s, she seeks stories that talk up to children, that inspire and build confidence; cleverness and humor; not interested in verse unless it is metrically correct and without lazy rhymes; magic, wonder, girls and boys that don’t fit the mold, good world-building. Prefers middle grade over YA or picture books. Nonfiction interests: history, sports, science, environmental, biographies, motivational (i.e. work that informs or inspires social change or advocates for women & minorities, business strategies for aspiring entrepreneurs); solid author platform. Currently looking for science or adventure/travel narratives. Learn more about Emily here.

Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 8.14.09 PMShari Maurer is a literary agent with Stringer Literary. She is seeking: For fiction, she seeks young adult and middle grade (all kinds), new adult, children’s picture books, romance, and women’s fiction. In nonfiction, she seeks kidlit YA and MG (including biography), narrative nonfiction, parenting, biography, and memoir. Learn more about Shari here.

Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 8.21.33 PMDeborah Grosvenor is a literary at The Grosvenor Literary Agency. The agency’s emphasis is on strong, serious, interesting nonfiction. Deborah is interested in: narrative nonfiction in the categories of history, biography, politics, current and foreign affairs, memoir, food, health, science, the environment and travel. For fiction, she is simply interested in great storytelling, especially in an historical context. Learn more about Deborah here.

Screen Shot 2019-01-17 at 5.15.21 PM.pngZabé Ellor is a literary agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. He is seeking all genres and areas of young adult. He is also seeking adult science fiction and fantasy. He seeks graphic novel projects for all age groups. In nonfiction, he has wide interests as long as your platform is excellent. He particularly wants nonfiction proposals for books about science and history that teach and entertain in equal measure. Learn more about Zabe here

Screen Shot 2019-01-17 at 5.23.40 PM.pngLaura Strachan is a literary agent and founder of Strachan Literary Agency. Fiction interests: Primarily literary fiction and upmarket commercial. In general, the agency seeks no genre fiction; however, Laura will consider fiction with crossover potential if beautifully written. Nonfiction interests: Narrative nonfiction, including memoirs and travel writing. Will consider other nonfiction projects if quirky or interesting. Particularly interested in “single subject” books (think SALT, or COD, or MAUVE, etc.). Children’s interests: She seeks high quality YA or middle grade fiction. No picture books. Learn more about Laura here.

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 11.00.00 AM.pngStacey Graham is a literary agent with Red Sofa Literary. Currently, she is seeking romance, humorous fiction, middle grade fiction with a great voice (especially funny and/or spooky), historical fiction with a commercial hook (no 20th century pitches please). She also represents nonfiction in the following categories: humor with a strong platform (no dating memoirs), history, and children’s nonfiction that walks on the weird side (adult nonfiction, young adult nonfiction, middle grade nonfiction, picture book nonfiction). Learn more about Laura here.

Screen Shot 2019-01-19 at 10.06.45 PM.pngStephanie Kehr is a jr. agent and for C.Y.L.E. Literary. Stephanie is looking for skillfully crafted stories that capture the heart and answer the world’s deepest questions. She’s seeking young adult, middle grade, historical, children’s picture books, chapter books, romance, science fiction, fantasy, inspirational, and authors with strong platform, unique ideas, and diverse characters. In nonfiction, she’s interested in self-help, devotionals, leadership, biographies, and religious genres. Learn more about Stephanie here.


        More 2019 agents to be announced as they are confirmed. You can sign up for pitches at any time, or switch pitches at any time, so long as the agent in question still has appointments open. You can pitch as many agents & editors as like you wish.

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 2018 CWW and access to all workshops, all day on July 13, 2019. As of October 2018, registration is now OPEN.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents or editors 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 Chuck Sambuchino, one of the workshop’s former instructors. (This rate is a special event value for Chesapeake 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:

  • Memoir, narrative nonfiction, essays: Faculty member Lisa Jakub, a published author, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • Children’s picture books, romance, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, historical fiction: Faculty member Eve Porinchak, a former literary agent and current writing coach, 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. If you are getting a picture book critique, please submit 1,000 words maximum, and your submission can come with or without illustrations.
  • Fantasy, science fiction, multicultural fiction, LGBTQ fiction, literary fiction (any of these categories can be adult, young adult or middle grade): Faculty member Moe Shalabi, a former literary agent, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting.
  • More options forthcoming.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Kerrie Flanagan 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 Kerrie plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Chesapeake/DC workshop specifically.


Because of limited space at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Arlington, the workshop can only allow 200 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 Kerrie Flanagan 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 CWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Kerrie plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Chesapeake/DC workshop specifically.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason at any time, 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 and manuscript editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already edited your work.)

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