Presenters & Instructors

More presenters and critique personnel listed as they
are confirmed
for the 2019 event.


Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 3.23.45 PM.pngBrian A. Klems (@BrianKlems) is the former online editor of 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 April 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.


Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 11.12.28 PMMadeline Smoot is the publisher of CBAY Books and former editorial director for children’s books of Blooming Tree Press. She runs the Buried in the Slush Pile blog.

She is critiquing chapter book and middle grade submissions as an add-on element for attendees.

Madeline lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, son, two cats, a dog, and more books than should fit in any normal person’s house. Visit her website here.


Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 11.34.29 PM.pngShannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series and the For Your Love series, contemporary romances centered around large Irish-American families in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about nerdy friends finding love.

Look for her new series – Daring Divorcees in 2019. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.

At the 2019 event, Shannyn will be teaching on Romance Writing, and Preplanning Your Novel if You’re a Pantser (and not a Plotter). Along with teaching at the 2019 event, Michelle is offering manuscript critiques for attendees.


Screen Shot 2018-12-23 at 3.59.05 PM.pngLauren Fox is the author of Still Life with Husband (Knopf, 2007), Friends Like Us (Knopf, 2012), and Days of Awe (Knopf, 2015). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Marie Claire, and Salon. She lives in Milwaukee.

At the 2019 event, Lauren will be teaching on Plot and Voice.

Along with teaching at the 2019 event, Michelle is offering manuscript critiques for attendees.


Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 3.56.09 PM.pngKristine Smith is the author of the Jani Kilian series and other science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories under her own name.

Writing as pen name Alex Gordon, she has written the supernatural thrillers Gideon and Jericho. Her fiction has been nominated for the Locus Award for First Novel, Philip K. Dick Memorial Award and the IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, and she was the 2001 winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she spent 26 years working in pharmaceutical product R&D. She was born in the Northeast, grew up in the South, and currently lives in the Midwest.

At the 2019 Chicago workshop, Kristine will be teaching on science fiction and fantasy, as well as a session on self-publishing. She will also be critiquing manuscripts for attendees.


Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.41.18 AM.pngBethany Morehead is a jr. literary agent with Hartline Literary.

At the 2019 Chicago conference, she is teaching on query letter writing, and also meeting with writers for one-on-one pitches.

She is seeking: children’s picture books, middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, women’s fiction, romantic fiction, and speculative fiction (sci-fi and fantasy).

Bethany is also a quirky millennial and award-winning author. She is deeply in love with Jesus, her hubby, and puppy. You will find her sipping on sweet tea sharing her deepest feelings with a pen to paper, rather than speaking them. Though introverted, she loves meeting and connecting with new people-especially while playing “nerd-tastic” board games.


Screen Shot 2019-05-14 at 6.50.46 PM.pngJack Fredrickson is the author of the Shamus-nominated (Best First Novel; Best Novel) Dek Elstrom mysteries and the stand-alone, Silence the Dead, a fictionalization of the still-unsolved murder of a girl in Oregon, Illinois who, when exhumed, was found to have been buried with someone else’s head.

His short fiction (also Shamus-nominated) appears in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine as often as the editor can stand it, and has been anthologized in collections edited by Charlaine Harris, Michael Connelly, and Libby Fisher Hellman. His ninth crime novel, The Black Cage, is forthcoming in Europe in October, 2019 and in the US in February, 2020.

At the 2019 Chicago workshop, he is teaching on mystery/thriller/crime writing, and critiquing manuscripts for attendees