Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 12, 2012

Philadelphia Writers’ Conference — June 8-10, 2012 — Part I

Hazy Philadelphia skyline from I-95, 9:25 am,  June 10

Independence Hall, 5:43 pm, June 9

On June 8th through the 10th, 2012, a group of writers, editors, agents, publishers, and others involved in the literary world gathered at the Holiday Inn, 4th and Arch Streets in beautiful Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the sixty-fourth annual Philadelphia Writers’ Conference.

Opening Speaker Jonathan Maberry, June 8

Attendees listening to Opening Speaker Jonathan Maberry, June 8

The conference opened with an upbeat, rousing, and inspiring address from the opening speaker, bestselling author Jonathan Maberry. Jonathan emphasized the importance of positivity and of supporting other writers and the whole writing community, which includes agents, editors, publishers, book sellers, and librarians.

After the opening speaker, one-hour sessions on a variety of topics are offered at the beginning and end of each day’s sessions. For the time between,however, the conference has a unique (at least, in my experience) format, where attendees sign up for three workshops that consist of three one-hour sessions, one a day over the three days of the conference. The advantages of this format are many: the presenter can provide more information; time is available for questions; conversations with attendees and questions asked during a session can change the focus or direction of the next day’s session; the time between sessions gives attendees time to process the information and come up with questions for the next session that might otherwise go unasked and unanswered; spreading the session over three days rather than having a three-hour session makes the presentation less intense and mind-exhausting; and … session leaders can give homework! (Ugh!) A three-day session can be a problem for those who cannot attend all three days of the conference, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Marie Lamba writes information on the whiteboard, June 9

Young Adult / Middle Grade with Marie Lamba, June 9










Fellow Author Chronicles blogger Kerry Gans and I met up after the opening speech. We both attended the same morning session — Young Adult/Middle Grade with YA author and Associate Agent Marie Lamba. At the beginning of each session, Marie had a list of resources written on the white board. She divided each session into three segments: what MG/YA writers need to know, some exercises for us to do at home (though not homework due the next day), and a more in-depth look at writing for tweens and teens. She spoke about the necessity of finding an authentic voice, identifying and addressing the fears and concerns of those in your target age group, the importance of creating and maintaining the fictional dream, and much more.

Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal with Caridad Pineiro, June 8

Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal with Caridad Pineiro, June 10

After lunch, Kerry and I attended the workshop Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal — Where the Twains Meet with bestselling paranormal and romantic suspense author Caridad Pineiro Scordato. Caridad provided us with recommended resources and handouts each day. To begin, Caridad presented the definitions of and the likenesses and differences between these related genres. She discussed world building — important in all fiction, but vital in these genres; the hero’s journey, a classic component of the genres; creating compelling plots; and classic archetypes and how they can be used to create multi-dimensional instead of stereotypical (one-dimensional) characters.

Poetry II with Lynn Levin, June 10

Poetry reading in the Poetry II class, June 9

While Kerry chose Jonathan Maberry’s Novel: Characters workshop, I decided to try something different and attended the Poetry II sessions with poet and University of Pennsylvania creative writing instructor Lynn Levin. This workshop focused on lyric poetry and the turn and counterturn. In each session, Lynn presented brief information about lyric poetry: its history; the importance of point of view, voice, and tone; intellectual and emotional shifts; rhyme; and chapbooks. We examined lyric poems with a different focus each day: love, nature, and ideas. Lynn also gave us a poetry writing prompt to complete at home. We opened the second and third sessions with people reading the poems they had written based on the prompts, and the results were impressive. Not only were the poems creative and beautifully written, but the authors were also excellent readers. Bravo to the budding poets in Poetry II!

There’s so much more to share! Look for Part II tomorrow, with information about and photos of the one-hour sessions and other events. Also check out my personal blog post: Philadelphia Writers’ Conference — Tips and Photos.

We’re happy to announce our trio of week 2 giveaway winners: SHANI BUSH, BRYAN PRINCE & ROSA CRUZ!

We have a signed copy of Jonathan Maberry’s ROT & RUIN, DEAD OF NIGHT, and ASSASSIN’S CODE. Each of our winners will receive one of his books.

There are still 3 weeks worth of prizes to give away, so come on and enter the giveaway!


  1. […] the article here: Philadelphia Writers' Conference — June 8-10, 2012 — Part I « The … Also see:Philadelphia Writers Conference Takes Place Next Weekend …Sonia Sanchez and Jonathan […]


  2. Never realized the events were so useful and substantial. had no idea. just didn’t know…..any workshops on gaining professional representation?


    • No workshops just about that, Billy, but that often comes up in other panels and can be asked of the agents at the Agents and Editors Panel. The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference website has a listing of all the workshops offered with a brief explanation. You might have liked the workshops Playwriting and Master Class: Screenwriting.

      Hope I’ll see you at next year’s conference!


      • hopefully even before then. I used to go to a weekly writers’ meeting at Arcadia University…your group sounds MUCH MORE professional


  3. Great pic of Marie, Judy! Great grabbing lunch with you and Kerry at the conference.


    • Thanks, Kathryn. I enjoyed lunch too! By the way, you’ll find your own picture in Part II.


  4. […] If you missed our post Philadelphia Writers’ Conference Part I, click here. […]


  5. […] more photos and information about the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, see my Part I and Part II posts on the Author Chronicles blog. Hope to see you at next year’s conference! […]


  6. I enjoyed the conference. It would be great if we met more often than once a year, so we can be a REAL writing community.


    • Yes, it would. Or perhaps we could have a group on Facebook, so we can, at least, have discussions during the rest of the year.


    • John – If you are Philly-local, there is also the Writers Coffeehouse. It’s run by the Liars Club, and meets monthly. They have three locations (which meet on different Sundays of the week) – Willow Grove, Rittenhouse Square, and the Main Line (Wayne, I think) and are going to expand to more. To find out more about the dates and times, join the online Yahoo group – writerscoffeehouseonline Search on that, and you’ll find it. Let us know if you don’t, we’ll get you hooked up.



      • Hi, Kerry, I’m particularly interested in the group in Rittenhouse Square, easier access from South Philly. Please keep me posted on this group, thanks.


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