Presenters & Instructors

More presenters and critique personnel listed as they
are confirmed
for the 2018 event.


Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 12.11.25 AM.pngMichelle Grajkowski is a literary agent with 3 Seas Literary.

At the 2018 Chicago workshop, she is teaching a class on romance writing. She is also taking pitches from attending writers.

From the moment Michelle first opened the doors to the 3 Seas Literary Agency in August of 2000, she has been living her dream. (What could be better than surrounding yourself with amazing authors and their exciting and imaginative books?) Since then, her agency has sold almost 700 books to all the major publishing houses, and has grown from one agent to three!

Michelle’s client list includes New York Times best-selling Authors Katie MacAlister, Cathy McDavid, Kerrelyn Sparks and C.L. Wilson. When not curled up with a great manuscript, Michelle loves to spend time with her husband, children and her two crazy puppies, who refuse to grow up.


Cynthia Ruchti is an author as well as literary agent with Books & Such. At the 2018 Chicago event, she is teaching a class on self-editing and revision. She will also be taking pitches from attending writers.

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 11.14.30 PMCynthia spends her days diving into words, worship, and wonder and celebrating 44-plus years of marriage, three grown children, and five outrageously adorable grandchildren. One of her greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she served as the assistant director and a faculty member of the Quad Cities Christian Writers Conference, the Green Lake Christian Writers Conference, has served as worship and devotions staff and faculty for the Write-to-Publish conference, WriteCanada, and teaches at other conferences as opportunities arise.

She speaks frequently for women’s groups, at mother-daughter banquets, and for women’s refresher days and retreats. It is her delight to serve on her church’s worship team and Creative Arts team. Rather than “busy,” she likes the term “active.”


Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 11.16.01 PM.pngKelly Van Sant is a literary agent at D4EO Literary. At the 2018 Chicago workshop, she is teaching the class “Query Comprehensive.” She will also be taking pitches from attending writers.

Kelly has nearly a decade of experience in the publishing industry. She cut her teeth in New York working at esteemed literary agencies such as Writers House and Harold Ober Associates, where she developed an eye for compelling, emotionally resonant stories, honed her editorial skills, and soon grew adept at contract vetting and negotiation.

After relocating to Minnesota, Kelly joined Llewellyn Worldwide as their Contracts Manager across all three imprints and then moved to Quarto Publishing Group where she led the contracts department. She is a teaching artist at the Loft Literary Center, and also blogs about the publishing industry at Pub(lishing) Crawl and co-hosts their weekly podcast. She joined D4EO in 2017 and is actively building her client list.


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.

At the 2018 event, he is teaching classes on what to do before you submit, what to do after you submit, writing nonfiction books, social media & book marketing, and the state of the publishing industry today.


Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 10.35.42 PMWith 10 years of publishing experience, Abby Saul is an editorial expert with a passion for fantastic reads.

Abby founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing at John Wiley & Sons, Sourcebooks, and Browne & Miller Literary Associates. She’s worked with and edited bestselling and award-winning authors as well as major brands. At each publishing group she’s been a part of, Abby also has helped to establish ebook standards, led company-wide forums to explore new digital possibilities for books, and created and managed numerous digital initiatives.

A zealous reader who loves her iPad and the ebooks on it, she still can’t resist the lure of a print book. Abby’s personal library of beloved titles runs the gamut from literary newbies and classics, to cozy mysteries, to sappy women’s fiction, to dark and twisted thrillers. She’s looking for great and engrossing adult commercial and literary fiction. A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Abby spends her weekends—when she’s not reading—cooking and hiking with her husband.

At the 2018 event, Abby is teaching the session “Finding, Working with, and Keeping an Agent.” She will also be taking pitches from attending writers.


Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 10.52.21 PMEmily Clark Victorson is the co-founder and publisher of Allium Press of Chicago.

Emily received degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Michigan before moving to the Chicago area, where she has lived for more than 25 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.

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. Recent titles include Frances McNamara’s Death at the Paris Exposition; Maud Macrory Powell’s City of Grit and Gold; and Tony Romano’s Where My Body Ends and the World Begins.

At the 2018 Chicago event, she is teaching the session “Pursuing a Small Press Publisher for Your Book,” and also taking pitches from attending writers.


Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 12.07.34 AMDawn Frederick is a literary agent and the founder of Red Sofa Literary. At the 2018 Chicago workshop, she is teaching a class on writing middle grade and young adult novels. She is also taking pitches from attendees.

Dawn brings a broad knowledge of the book business to the table—with multiple years of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores; sales, marketing, & book development at a YA publisher, a published nonfiction author, and an agent associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency in 2002 (before Red Sofa Literary was established).

In addition to her literary agent duties, she extensively volunteers with her local library system, while still finding time to spend quality time on her “wheels.”

She carries a B.S. in Human Ecology, and a M.S. in Information Sciences from an ALA accredited institution. “Not only do I know what people like to read and are currently reading; I also have the experience of working one-on-one with authors, book distribution centers, and literary organizations.”


Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 11.24.16 AM.pngAnna Michels is an editor with Sourcebooks and Sourcebooks Landmark. She acquires both fiction and nonfiction.

At the 2018 Chicago workshop, she will be teaching a class on memoir writing. She will also be taking pitches from attendees.

Some favorite books and authors she didn’t publish: The complete works of David Foster Wallace, Donna Tartt, Ann Patchett, and Jane Hamilton. Wild by Cheryl Strayed, On Writing by Stephen King, Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.


Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 10.02.53 AMShannon Anderson is an award-winning children’s book author and third grade teacher. She is the regional advisor for the Indiana Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, is on the executive board for the Indiana State Reading Association, and is a frequent presenter at teaching and writing conferences.

At the 2018 conference, she will be teaching on writing children’s picture books. She will also be doing picture book critiques for attendees.

She loves teaching, presenting, writing, and running very early in the mornings. Shannon and her police chief hubby have two daughters and live in Indiana.


Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 11.06.24 AM.pngLori Rader-Day is a three-time Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee, winning the award in 2016 for her second novel, Little Pretty Things. She is the author of The Black Hour, winner of the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and The Day I Died, an Indie Next Pick. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, and Good Housekeeping. She lives in Chicago, where she is active in Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and co-chairs the mystery conference Murder and Mayhem in Chicago. Lori’s next novel, Under a Dark Sky, will be published by Harper Collins William Morrow in August 2018.

At the 2018 Chicago workshop, Lori will be critiquing manuscripts for thriller, mystery, suspense, and crime.


Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 3.27.14 PM.pngSue Burke is a science fiction writer and translator. At the 2018 workshop, she will be critiquing manuscripts for adult fantasy and science fiction.

Her novel Semiosis was published by Tor in February 2018, with a sequel coming in 2019. She’s a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, the Turkey City workshop, and has participated in writer’s critique groups in every city where she’s lived: Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Austin, Texas; Madrid, Spain; and now Chicago.

She has published more than thirty short stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, Supersonic, Interzone, StarShipSofa, and Years Best SF 14, among other magazines and anthologies. She’s also a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the staff of Worldcon 76 at San Jose in August 2018.


Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 5.40.49 PMMichelle Falkoff is the author of Playlist for the Dead, Pushing Perfect, and Questions I Want to Ask You. Find all her books on Amazon here.

At the 2018 Chicago conference, she is critiquing young adult and middle grade manuscripts for attendees.

Her fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake, and the Harvard Review, among other places.

She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently serves as director of communication and legal reasoning at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.


screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-9-13-16-pmRenée Rosen (see her website here) is the bestselling author of White Collar Girl, What The Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age and Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties as well as the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot.

At the 2018 Chicago workshop, she will be critiquing attendee manuscripts in the genres of literary fiction, mainstream/commercial fiction, women’s fiction, short stories, and historical fiction.

Her latest novel, Windy City Blues, was published  in 2017 by Penguin Random House. She lives in Chicago where she is currently working on a new novel.