Presenters & Instructors

This page will be updated as more faculty members are confirmed
for the 2022 Writing Workshop of Chicago.

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Brittany Thurman is a published author of children’s books. See all her books here.

At the online 2022 WWOC, Brittany is teaching a class. She is also offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

“I have always had an affinity for stories told by my grandmother. Those same stories hold space in my writing today. My love of writing comes from my love of reading. As a kid, I could not get enough of going to bookstores and libraries.

“I am a former children’s specialist, and I am dedicated to ensuring children’s literature truthfully reflects the world in which we live. I hold an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, where I studied Dramatic Writing. I hold a BA from Kingston University, London, England, where I studied theater.

“I’m not sure how many books I’ve read as a children’s specialist, but I estimate hundreds of stories to thousands of kids across the City of Bridges. Currently, I reside in my hometown of Louisville, KY. You may find me biking along the waterfront, enjoying a musical or play, hanging out with my family, grilling in the backyard or snuggled up with a good book.”

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Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 8.16.11 PMChuck Sambuchino (@chucksambuchino) is a freelance editor, best-selling book author, and former longtime staffer for Writer’s Digest Books. For many years he edited the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN’S WRITER’S & ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET.

At the 2022 Chicago conference, he is teaching many courses on getting published, and critiquing attendee query letters.

His Guide to Literary Agents Blog was one of the largest blogs in publishing, and he wrote the platform guidebook CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM. His humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. Chuck’s books have been mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Variety, New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, Mental Floss,New York magazine, and many more media outlets. He is a successful freelance editor of queries, synopses, and manuscripts—seeing dozens of clients get agents or book deals following his consultations/edits. He loves meeting new writers.

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Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 11.40.52 PM.pngTara Bailey 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 2022 online Chicago 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.

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Joel Brigham is the founder of Brigham Editorial, a fiction-editing service that has helped writers find agents and agented authors prepare for submission and publication.

He also is an editorial consultant for The Purcell Agency, a literary agency based out of Chicago, Illinois. As an author, he writes YA contemporary fiction and has two books on submission, both represented by agent Tina P. Schwartz.

He also edits content for Basketball News and spent 12 years covering the NBA as a senior sportswriter for HoopsWorld and Basketball Insiders. He has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and a master’s degree in English Education and has taught high school English for 18 years.

At the 2022 online WWOC workshop, he is offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

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Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 8.36.35 PMHenry Herz wrote the traditionally published picture books: MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (Pelican), WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY (Pelican), MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer), LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican), CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW (Sterling), GOOD EGG AND BAD APPLE (Schiffer), HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS (Pelican), ALICE’S MAGIC GARDEN (Familius), 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT (Kane Miller), and the ALA Notable Children’s Book, I AM SMOKE (Tilbury House), which earned a Kirkus star.

He’s written short stories for Highlights, Ladybug, Albert Whitman & Co., Blackstone Publishing, Daily Science Fiction, Metastellar, and other markets. Find him at http://www.henryherz.com

At the 2022 online WWOC workshop, he will be offering add-on picture book critiques for attendees. (Find/buy any of his books here.)

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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 WWOC, 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.

You can find notices of upcoming retreats here.

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Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 9.49.28 PMAmber Royer is the author of the high-energy comedic space opera Chocoverse series. (See all her books here.)

At the 2022 online WWOC conference, Amber is offering critiques for attendees as an add-on element.

She teaches enrichment and continuing education creative writing classes for teens and adults through both the University of Texas at Arlington and Writing Workshops Dallas. She is the discussion leader for the Saturday Night Write writing craft group. She spent five years as a youth librarian, where she organized teen writers’ groups and teen writing contests. In addition to two cookbooks co-authored with her husband, Amber has published a number of articles on gardening, crafting and cooking for print and online publications.

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Kate Hopper is an author and writing coach.

At the 2022 online WWOC, she is teaching and offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

“I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience.

“I’m the founder of Motherhood & Words®, a series of classes, workshops, readings and retreats to support women interested in writing about motherhood. I’m the author of Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood, winner of a MIPA Midwest Book Award, and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. And I’m the co-author of Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism (Triumph Books, April 2015).” Learn more about these books here.

Other writing has appeared in a number of magazines and journals, including Brevity, Literary Mama, Longreads, Los Angeles Review of Books, nytimes.com, Poets & Writers, River Teeth and Creative Nonfiction’s True Story.

“I have an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota, where I taught literature and creative writing. I currently teach online, in Ashland University’s Low-Residency MFA Program and at The Loft Literary Center and ModernWell.”

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Eva Scalzo is a Literary Agent with Speilburg Literary.

At the 2022 online WWOC, Eva is teaching a class, and meeting with attendees for one-on-one online pitches.

Eva  was born in New Jersey, but has lived in Houston, Buenos Aires, San Juan, and Boston before settling down outside of Binghamton, New York. She has been reading romance since the fifth grade when she discovered the Sweet Valley High series. On inheriting her grandmother’s collection of vintage Harlequin Romances, she set a goal to someday finish reading them all on top of her already massive TBR.

Eva has a B.A. in the Humanities from the University of Puerto Rico and a M.A. in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College. Since graduating in 2002, she has spent her career in scholarly publishing, working for Houghton Mifflin, Blackwell Publishing, John Wiley & Sons, and Cornell University in a variety of roles. She has been with Speilburg Literary since 2013, and started accepting clients in 2017. Eva is a member the AALA (formerly AAR), RWA, and SCBWI.

In Adult Fiction, Eva represents Romance (all subgenres but inspirational) and Science Fiction/Fantasy. She also represents all subgenres of Young Adult Fiction.

Fun Fact: My name is not pronounced with a long E sound. I’m of Puerto Rican, Lebanese, and Spanish descent.

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Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 11.51.01 PM.pngLeticia Gomez is a literary agent and the founder of Saavy Literary.

At the 2022 online WWOC, Leticia is teaching a class, and also meeting with attendees for one-on-one online pitches.

Leticia has been working in the publishing industry for more than two decades. During this span of time, she has published her own newspaper, authored and published three books, edited numerous fiction and nonfiction manuscripts written in both English and Spanish that have gone on to publication. Thus far in her career as a literary agent she has placed close to 200 books with independent and mainstream traditional publishers.

At the present time, Savvy Literary Agency is interested in reviewing compelling and commercially viable book proposals and manuscripts written in English or Spanish in the following genres:

Fiction: Adventure, Chick-lit, Fantasy, Historical, Humor, Multi-cultural, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult and Middle-grade.

Nonfiction: Advice/Relationships, Biography, Cooking, Diet, Health, History/Politics/Current Affairs, How-to, Humor, Lifestyle, Memoir, Parenting, Religion/Spirituality and True Crime.

The Savvy Literary Agency is not interested in representing projects in the following genres: Children’s Picture Books, Horror, Erotica, Poetry, Short Story Collections, and Graphic Novels

In January of 2007, she launched Savvy Literary, becoming one of a highly select group of agencies in the world that specializes in the Latino book market and offers literary representation in English and Spanish. Since its inception, the agency’s prime directive has been to professionally, diligently, and tirelessly represent Latino and other ethnic minority writers since oftentimes they are misrepresented or worse yet not represented at all in the publishing and film/television industry. Although Savvy Literary has evolved through the years and is now an industry leader by also specializing in Business and Self-Help, Suspense/Thriller, and the Young Adult market, championing the work of minority authors continues to be a top priority for the agency.

In partnership with Ascendant Group, one of the leading branding and marketing firms in the nation, Leticia offers an even greater level of support to aspiring authors. As president of the company’s entertainment division, she has distinguished herself as a literary/film/television agent who can communicate effectively with the authors she is representing. She has helped her clients secure deals with the largest publishers in the world. In addition, she has seen several of her projects successfully optioned for TV and film rights. She is currently an Executive Producer for Bridges, an independent feature-length film starring Chris Routhe. Blending her experience as an author, literary/film/television agent and acquisition editor, she is now truly excited to spearhead her very own Hispanic book imprint Café con Leche Books (www.cafeconlechebooks.com).

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Nephele Tempest is a literary agent with The Knight Agency.

At the 2022 online WWOC, Nephele is teaching a class. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.

Nephele joined The Knight Agency in January, 2005, opening the Los Angeles-area office. As an agent, she loves to help her clients hone their skills and build their careers. Nephele initially worked on the editorial side of the publishing business before leaving to try other industries, including sales and finance. She spent a number of years at several major New York investment firms, first as a financial advisor and later a marketing and communications writer. This broad experience provided her with insight into multiple aspects of the publishing industry. Nephele continues to actively build her client list and looks for fiction with both strong, well-developed characters and a story that pulls her in and won’t let go.

“I’m currently seeking submissions in the following genres: women’s contemporary or historical fiction; contemporary or historical single-title romance; adult real-world or secondary-world fantasy; adult science fiction.”

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Mary DeMuth is a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management.

At the 2022 online WWOC, Mary is teaching a class. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.

Mary is looking for:

  • Adult nonfiction Christian living titles, particularly those with a bent toward spiritual growth
  • Devotionals
  • Discipleship-oriented books
  • Accessible theological books (think N.T. Wright)
  • Books about the US church as well as the global church
  • Health-related topics
  • Mental health issues
  • Trauma-related recovery
  • Habit research
  • Design books
  • Leadership/business/productivity ideas.

She is not acquiring any fiction, YA, or children’s books.

Mary is also a podcaster of the popular Pray Every Day podcast, artist, speaker, and the author of 40+ books, including The Most Misunderstood Women of the Bible (Salem 2022). She lives in Texas with her husband and is the mom to three adult children. Find out more at marydemuth.com.

Mary can’t remember when she didn’t write. From journals to letters to poems, Mary wrote her way through life.

The most important thing you need to know about Mary is she loves Jesus. She writes, speaks, and podcasts about how he’s transformed and re-storied her life.

Before she was published, Mary set pretend deadlines for herself and met them early. She wrote millions of unpublished words, honing her craft and perfecting her voice. After a meeting with a published author who guarded publishing information like a state secret, Mary vowed that if she ever figured out how to get published, she would share it with any aspiring author. Since then, she’s been pouring into new and established authors through intensives, conference speaking, one on one coaching, and mastermind groups.

Mary has made every single mistake an author can make, but she’s also learned resiliency. She is unafraid to try new things. This is her superpower in helping you navigate the intricacies of the publishing and platform journey. She’s been there. She’s walked through rejection, success, deadlines, platform creation, web presence, content creation, and social media building. Since she’s been in the author trenches, she’s better equipped to understand your pathway toward publication and success.

To date, Mary has written more than 40 books—both nonfiction and fiction. She has spoken all over the world, helping writers hone their message, write powerfully, and get noticed. Her podcast, Pray Every Day, has surpassed two million downloads and has been listened to in more than 150 countries. In her spare time, she creates small scale art projects for her Etsy shop.

A former church planter in Southern France, Mary has a heart for the world. She is a mom to three adult children and the wife of Patrick for thirty-one years. They make their home in beautiful Rockwall, Texas.

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Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 1.31.06 AM.pngRicki Cardenas is the author of two humorous women’s fiction novels, MR. RIGHT-SWIPE (2017) and SWITCH AND BAIT (2018), both published by Grand Central (Hachette) under the name Ricki Schultz. Among other publications, she has contributed to Writer’s Digest Books, and she is also a freelance editor. She has molded the minds of tweens & teens as a teacher in both the CLE and the ATL, and she’s taught writing and communications at the college level as well. She’s back in Cleveland now living la vida loca with her husband and two crazy hound dogs, and her writing is represented by Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

At the 2022 online WWOC conference, she is teaching a class.

Ricki earned a B.A. in English and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

In addition to writing, she has molded the minds of tweens & teens as a middle school and high school teacher in both the CLE and the ATL — and she also spent a year teaching writing and communications at the college level.

In addition to freelance writing and editing, she has spoken at writers’ conferences and was formerly the coordinator of the now-defunct online writing community, the Write-Brained Network.

Her writing is represented by Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

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Mary Kole is a former literary agent and current book editor.  Since 2009, her website Kidlit.com has inspired aspiring writers with articles on the writing craft and getting published. The blog has been named one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers” by Writer’s Digest every year since its inception, and her success online led to a book of completely original content on the art of writing novels for the middle grade and young adult categories, Writing Irresistible Kidlit, out from Writer’s Digest Books.

At the 2022 online WWOC workshop, Mary is teaching a class.

Learn about her editorial services here.

Mary was formerly a literary agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency before becoming a Senior Literary Manager and founder of the children’s book department at Movable Type Management in New York City. In 2013, she left to finally pursue her first love, editorial work, full-time.

Mary grew up in the Bay Area and spent many years in her adopted home city of beautiful San Francisco, CA. After three years in Brooklyn, NY, at the heart of the publishing industry, she now lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her chef husband Todd, three children, and two needy and adorable pugs, Olive and Gertie.

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Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 9.59.08 AM.pngErik Deckers is the owner and President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing agency.

At the 2022 online WWOC, Erik is teaching a class.

Erik co-authored Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (Pearson), No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing (Pearson), and The Owned Media Doctrine (Archway Publishing, 2013). He also helped write Twitter Marketing For Dummies. Find all his books here.

Erik has been blogging since 1997, and has been a published writer for more than 27 years. He has been a newspaper humor columnist for over 20 years, and is published in 10 newspapers around Indiana. He is also an award-winning playwright, both for stage and radio theatre.

Erik frequently speaks about blogging and social media, especially as it relates to personal branding, small business marketing, crisis communication, and citizen journalism. Erik is a graduate of Ball State University with a B.S. in Philosophy and an M.A. in College Student Personnel Administration. He is married with three children, and lives in Orlando, FL.