Presenters & Instructors

(IMPORTANT MAY 2020 UPDATE: The 2020 WWoC is now an Online Conference to keep everyone safe. There is much more to say about this, but immediately you should understand 1) This will be easy and awesome, and online conferences we’ve done thus far have received wonderful feedback, 2) You do not have to be tech-savvy to do this, and 3) We are keeping all aspects of the event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Skype or phone. Learn all details about the new June 27 WWoC Online Conference here and what everything means.)



Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 6.30.59 PMJulie Hyzy is a New York Times bestselling author of 22 novels and many short stories. (See all her books here.)

At the 2020 Chicago workshop, she is teaching on plotting your novel, settings & sidekicks, and how to write awesome mystery novels.

She is also critiquing manuscripts as an add-on element for attendees.

Julie has won the Anthony, Barry, Phobos, Lovey, and Derringer awards for her fiction. Known best for her White House Chef and Manor House Mysteries, Julie has returned to the darker side of writing with her most recent thriller Virtual Sabotage.


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 2020 Chicago Writing Workshop, Tara is meeting 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.


Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 10.04.10 AM.pngBorn and raised in a small town in West Tennessee, Sally Kilpatrick writes to go home.

She lives with her husband, a Georgia boy, and her two kids in Marietta, Georgia, but her heart has never left Tennessee, and her books reflect the small-town shenanigans and memorable characters she grew up around.

Her latest novel, Oh My Stars, was described by RT Book Reviews as written in a way that “makes readers feel as if they are hanging out with their best friend.” With five novels under her belt, Sally has been a Golden Heart® Finalist and has won multiple awards, including the 2018 and 2019 Georgia Author of the Year, the Maggie Award of Excellence, the Booksellers’ Best, and the 2016 Nancy Knight Award for Mentorship. Visit her author website at or follow her on Twitter as @SuperWriterMom.

At the 2020 Chicago workshop, she is teaching a class on romance.


Screen Shot 2020-01-06 at 7.02.26 AMJessica Burkhart is the author of the best-selling 20-book Canterwood Crest series with over 1 million copies in print in multiple languages. The first book in the Canterwood series, TAKE THE REINS, published in 2009 when Jess was 22 years old. Her other works include the four-book Unicorn Magic series and the stand-alone YA novel WILD HEARTS. She made her editorial debut with LIFE INSIDE MY MIND: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles, which is an anthology about mental health. The anthology includes essays from Maureen Johnson, Melissa Marr and Ellen Hopkins among others.

Jess has presented at multiple conferences often as keynote speaker. She’s spoken at the Tallahassee Writers Conference, Chattanooga’s YA-hoo Fest, Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference, Missouri Writers Guild Conference, Tennessee Writing Workshop, the Target Children’s Stage at the Decatur Book Festival and Book Expo America. Tweet her @JessicaBurkhart.

At the 2020 Chicago conference, Jessica will be teaching on Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction as well as publicity and marketing for writers. She is also offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.


Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 10.00.02 AM.pngLisa Rose lives near Detroit, MI. There she likes to swim, practice yoga, and eat ice cream. But not at the same time.

Her chapter book series Star Powers is published by Rourke Educational Media. It is about a second grade girl who wants to be an astronaut and also uses a wheelchair. Her first picture book Shmulik Paints the Town (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2016) was a PJ Library Selection in May 2016 and 2020. It was sent to over 50,000 homes in North America. A Pocket Picture was released September, 2019 by Rourke Educational Media. A Zombie Vacation (Apples & Honey Press) will be released on September 1. The Singer and The Scientist will be published (Kar-Ben Publishing ) in 2021.

She founded the Missing Voice Picture Book Discussion Group on Facebook, whose mission is to highlight new picture books featuring diversity and little-known subjects on a monthly basis. Please learn more at

At the 2020 Chicago event, Lisa will not only be teaching on writing picture books, but she’ll also be offering picture book manuscript critiques for attendees.


Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 11.29.12 PM.pngAlyssa Roat is a literary agent with Cyle Young Literary Elite. She is seeking: any kind of young adult (but especially fantasy and speculative), middle grade fiction of any kind, fantasy (especially in non-western settings), the occasional Christian fiction title, and a rare thriller/mystery/suspense.

Specifically, she is seeking:

  • any kind of young adult (but especially fantasy and speculative)
  • middle grade fiction
  • fantasy
  • unique historical fiction
  • occasional Christian titles
  • a rare thriller/mystery/suspense

“I’m especially interested in anything with these elements: Southwestern settings; non-western contemporary, fantasy, and historical settings; lesser-known mythologies and mythological creatures; humor.”

Alyssa has worked in a wide variety of roles within the publishing industry, as an agent, editor, writer, and marketer. Along with being a part of the C.Y.L.E. team, Alyssa is the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, an editor with Sherpa Editing Services, and a freelance writer with 150+ bylines. She holds a degree in Professional Writing from Taylor University. Her debut novel, Wraithwood, releases Nov. 7, 2020 from INtense Publications.

At the 2020 Chicago workshop, she is taking one-on-one pitches from attendees. She is also teaching a class on common query & submission mistakes.


Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 11.35.55 PM.pngAward-Winning Author and Speaker Marian L. Thomas has penned six women’s fiction novels to date.

Her books have been seen on national television stations such as the Oprah Winfrey Network, Ovation, and the A&E Network. She has been featured in print magazines, newspapers and a guest on local, national and online radio stations.

For her book, I Believe In Butterflies, Marian ranked among the top 100 Most Popular Authors in Literary Fiction on Amazon. She spent most of her teen years in Oak Park, Illinois, but now resides in a suburb of Atlanta with her husband. She enjoys a good bag of popcorn, a plate full of pasta, and a grape pop. Also, her books have no profanity and a whole lot of drama.

At the 2020 Chicago workshop, Marian is teaching on how to do self-publishing right.


Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 12.53.46 PMEric Smith is a literary agent with P.S. Literary.

Eric began his publishing career at Quirk Books in Philadelphia, working social media and marketing on numerous books he absolutely adored. Eric completed his BA in English at Kean University, and his MA in English at Arcadia University. A frequent blogger, his ramblings about books appear on BookRiot, The Huffington Post, Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine’s Books section, and more. A published author with Quirk Books and Bloomsbury, he seeks to give his authors the same amount of love his writing has received. Follow him on Twitter: @ericsmithrocks

Eric is seeking: Eric is eagerly acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in Young Adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), and Literary and Commercial Fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of nonfiction, he’s interested in Cookbooks, Pop Culture, Humor, essay collections, and blog to book ideas.

At the 2020 Chicago workshop, he is taking one-on-one pitches from attendees. He is also teaching a class.


Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 12.09.01 AM.pngEmily Clark Victorson is the co-founder and publisher of Allium Press of Chicago.

After receiving degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Michigan, Emily moved to the Chicago area, where she has lived for over twenty-five years. Prior to starting Allium Press, she worked as a librarian, historian, and book designer for such organizations as the Newberry Library, the Chicago History Museum, and History Works, Inc.

Allium Press was founded in 2009 as a small, independent press and publishes literary fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers, middle grade, and  young adult fiction — all with a Chicago connection.

At the 2020 Chicago event, she is teaching a workshop on how to find & work with a small publisher.


Screen Shot 2019-11-15 at 4.23.30 PMKenzi Nevins is a junior literary agent with CYLE Literary Elite.

At the 2020 Chicago workshop, Kenzi is teaching on social media. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one pitches.

Kenzi personally seeks picture books (text only is fine, but author-illustrators are her favorite), middle grade (all kinds), young adult (all kinds, including graphic novels with images), and adult fantasy. She is also happy to take pitches on behalf of her many co-agents, and pass on great submissions to them after the event. That means she will take pitches for romance (all kinds), literary fiction, mainstream fiction, science fiction, high & low fantasy, historical, mystery, thriller, suspense, women’s, and Christian/inspirational. For nonfiction, she will take pitches for parenting, leadership, ministry, devotionals, and self-help. She will also take pitches for board books and chapter books

“My personal interests lie in mythology and retold fairy tales, so I would say that fantasy and magic realism generally get me the most excited, but I will look at anything.”

Kenzi is an award-winning writer with a passion for magic realism and mythology. A graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing and theatre programs, she spent two semesters studying in the story-laden Wicklow Mountains of eastern Ireland. Previously, she won second place for theatre journalism and critique from the Kennedy Center for American College Theatre, and her short story, “The Last Freedom,” was published in eBook and paperback by StoryShares.

When she isn’t writing, Kenzi can be found watering her fairy garden, experimenting with little-known tea flavors, or wandering the aisles of her Kentucky library.


Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 1.31.06 AMRicki Cardenas is the author of two humorous women’s fiction novels, Mr. Right-Swipe (2017) and Georgia Author of the Year finalist Switch and Bait (2018), both published by Grand Central (Hachette) under the name Ricki Schultz.

She’s currently working on a Young Adult series. Among other publications, she has contributed to Writer’s Digest Books, and she is also a freelance editor. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, and she’s taught English for most of her adult life. She lives in Atlanta now with her husband and two beagles, and her writing is represented by Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

At the 2020 Chicago event, the popular Ricki will be critiquing manuscripts for many different categories.