The 2023 Cincinnati Writing Workshop


Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2023 Cincinnati Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in Cincinnati, OH, on March 11, 2023.

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (125 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2023 Cincinnati Writing Workshop!

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next CWW is an in-person event happening in Cincinnati/Sharonville on March 11, 2023. See you there.)


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, March 11, 2023, at the Hyatt Place Cincinnati / Sharonville Convention Center. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents onsite to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s faculty so far includes:

  • [SOLD OUT] literary agent Alice Speilburg (Speilburg Literary)
  • [SOLD OUT] literary agent Laura Crockett (Triada US)
  • and more possibly coming soon

By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Brian Klems of Writing Day Workshops, with help from local writing groups. Contact Brian to register at


9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Saturday, March 11, 2023, at the Hyatt Place Cincinnati / Sharonville Convention Center.

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next CWW is an in-person event happening in Cincinnati/Sharonville on March 11, 2023. See you there.)


8:30 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location.

9:30 – 10:30: 20 Querying Tips: How to Write a Good Query Letter and Get an Agent. Your manuscript is done! Next step: Querying! But — how do you query an agent? What should you include in your query letter? How do you even start writing a query? These questions and more will be answered in this class. The top ten tips have been collected from various interviews with literary agents.

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10:30 – 11:45: Your Three Publishing Options: Time vs Money, taught by Wendy Vogel. This is a high-level overview of the three main options when publishing a novel. We talk about the time and money invested (and possibly earned) from traditional, agent-driven publishing, self-publishing, and small independent publishing.

11:45 – 1:15: Lunch on your own. There are several restaurants within quick driving distance on the block.

1:15 – 2:30: “Writers’ Got Talent: A First Pages Critique-Fest.” In the vein of American Idol or America’s Got Talent, this is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously — no bylines given) with our 4 attending agents commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission. Get expert feedback on your incredibly important first page, and know if your writing has what it needs to keep readers’ attention. (All attendees are welcome to bring pages to the event for this session, and we will choose pages at random for the workshop for as long as time lasts.)

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2:50 – 3:50: Abandon Ship! 10 Reasons Why Readers Do Not Finish Your Work, taught by Wendy Vogel and Jeri Maynard. Based on a survey of readers, this is a discussion of the top reasons why readers set a book aside and do not finish. Examples include poor plotting, poor editing, weak characters, and info-dumping, followed by discussion of how to avoid these issues.

4:00 – 5:00: Ten Keys to Writing Success. Learn 10 things you can be doing right now that will help get your book(s) published and have more control over your writing destiny. This is a general course that addresses commonsense things any writer can do to give their work the best shot at getting published, such as writing the best thing they can, stealing from themselves, and why writing for love and money is a good idea.

All throughout the day: Agent & Editor Pitching.


Alice Speilburg [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a Literary Agent and founder of Speilburg Literary. Alice has worked in book publishing since 2008. She is a member of the Association of American Literary Agents and represents narrative nonfiction and commercial fiction. Her first editing gig was on the news desk of her college daily, and she is still drawn to compelling nonfiction stories, especially those written by journalists, that deepen our understanding of culture and society. In fiction, she loves a complete immersion read that takes her to another world through the eyes of unconventional characters. Alice previously worked at John Wiley & Sons, and Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. She has worked with bestselling and award-winning authors, literary and professional societies, and branded content. She spends her weekends hiking with her husband and two sons.

In fiction, she’s looking for genre novels — historical, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, horror, or adventure. Within that, she’s interested in historical novels from fresh and unique perspectives, women’s fiction that has thriller and/or horror elements, high-stakes mystery novels with female protagonists, fantasy that imagines fresh worlds with non-Western roots or fantasy that springs from newer American folk magic (especially Appalachian), sci-fi that explores the line between progress and corruption. “I like darker elements, especially when they’re woven deeply and subtly into the atmosphere of a novel.”

“In particular, I’d like to see unconventional narrators in overlooked settings, like a BIPOC woman who runs a car repair shop in northern Wisconsin, or trans man who sings in the church choir in the bible-belt South. Settings in the South or in so-called flyover country are rich with complex people and stories, and I’d love to represent more novels that showcase this.”

In nonfiction, she’s looking for cultural narratives, as well as paradigm-shifting books that explore how we live and think from a fresh perspective. Her favorite subgenres in nonfiction include microhistory, nature, and pop science written by journalists and academics. “I’m also interested in untold histories of incredible women, travel/adventure narratives, culturally-engaged history narratives that look at how we came to be where we are, music books that go beyond the basic biography narrative, environmental/conservation narratives, true crime.”

Across the board, she’s looking for an inclusive cast of characters, across gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and mental health spectrums.

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Laura Crockett [SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS] is a literary agent with TriadaUS. Laura is interested in a variety of YA and adult fiction. She’s a character-driven reader seeking voice-y narratives and compelling stakes. She’s always interested in diversity in all of its forms across all of the genres above.

In YA, she is interested in contemporary realistic fiction (romcoms, fierce feminists, strong family/friendship dynamics, light-hearted and humorous, interesting jobs/hobbies, hopeful), historical (original, accessible, unique, uncharted areas of female and/or non-Western history), and fantasy (fractured fairytales, culturally-influenced folklore, historically-inspired, elemental magic, lush world-building). Some favorite titles include Fangirl, When Dimple Met Rishi, Royals, Dumplin’, The Lie Tree, Shadowfell, The Star-Touched Queen, Outrun the Moon, Prisoner of Night & Fog, The Bird and the Blade, A Madness So Discreet, Walk on Earth a Stranger, Jackaby, and Hunted.

In adult fiction, she is interested in fantasy (inspired by historical/cultural events and folklore, in-depth world-building and authentic characterizations, ensemble casts and solo protagonists, epic and low), historical fiction (spotlight on feminism, STEM, spies and code-breaking, non-Western and little-known eras, parallel narratives), and women’s fiction (romcom, millennial-driven, slice of life, compelling obstacles and moral dilemmas). Some favorites include The City of Brass, Uprooted, Daughter of the Forest, Priory of the Orange Tree, Kings of the Wyld, Queen of Blood, In Another Time, A Secret History of Witches, The Winter Witch, Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Familiars, Shadow on the Crown, The Alice Network, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Ayesha at Last, A Window Opens, Kate Morton, Abby Jimenez, Mhairi McFarlane, and Sophie Kinsella.

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ADDED ONLINE PITCHING: To ensure that writers have a robust and diverse lineup of agents & editors to pitch, 2023 Cincinnati Writing Workshop attendees will have the ability to also pitch literary agents at the next Writing Day Workshops *online* event that follows the 2023 CWW on our event calendar.

That event is the 2023 Online Writing Workshop of San Francisco, April 14-15, 2023, which will have 30-40 agents taking one-on-one Zoom virtual pitches. 

This means that 2023 CWW attendees can have access to pitching all those online San Francisco agents — pitches still at $29 each — without being a formal registrant for the online April 2023 WWSF. (That said, if you want to formally register for the April WWSF and have access to all classes and panels, let us know, as there is a discount for confirmed Cincinnati attendees.)

If you are interested in this added pitching opportunity, the first step is to get formally registered for Cincinnati. Following the CWW one-day conference on March 11, 2023, we will be in touch with all Cincinnati attendees and ask them if they want to partake in pitching online agents at the 2023 WWSF (April 14-15). At that time, you can communicate your pitch requests and purchase meeting time.

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      New agents may be added for the 2023 event at any time. Check back.

These one-on-one meetings are an amazing chance to pitch your book face-to-face with an agent, and get personal, individual feedback on your pitch/concept. If the agent likes your pitch, they’ll request to see part/all of your book — sending you straight past the slush pile. It also gives you an intimate chance to meet with an agent and pick their brain with any questions on your mind.

(Please note that Agent/Editor Pitching is an add-on, separate aspect of the day, for only those who sign up. Spaces are limited for these premium meetings, and pricing/detail is explained below.)


$149 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2023 CWW and access to all workshops, all day, on Saturday, March 11, 2023. As of fall 2022, event registration is now OPEN.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents in attendance. Use this special meeting as a chance to pitch your work and get professional feedback on your pitch. (Spaces limited.) If they wish, attendees are free to sign up for multiple 10-minute pitch sessions at $29/session — pitching multiple individuals, or securing 20 minutes to pitch one person rather than the usual 10. Here are four quick testimonials regarding writers who have signed with literary agents after pitching them at prior Writing Day Workshops events. (Our bigger, growing list of success stories can be seen here.)

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“Good news! I signed a client [novelist Aliza Mann]
from the Michigan Writing Workshop!”
– literary agent Sara Mebigow of KT Literary

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“I signed author Stephanie Wright from
the Seattle Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary

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“I signed an author [Kate Thompson] that I
met at the Philadelphia Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary

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“I signed novelist Kathleen McInnis after meeting her
at the Chesapeake Writing Workshop.”

– literary agent Adriann Ranta of Foundry Literary + Media

Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from Chuck Sambuchino, former longtime editor of the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS for Writer’s Digest Books. (This rate is a special event value for Cincinnati Workshop attendees only.) Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of the specially-priced critique, so they can send out their query letter with confidence following the workshop. Also, if you are meeting with an agent at the event, you’re essentially speaking your query letter aloud to them. Wouldn’t it be wise to give that query letter (i.e., your pitch) one great edit before that meeting?

Add $89 — for an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 pages of your novel. Spaces with faculty for these critiques are very limited, and participating attendees get an in-person meeting at the workshop. Options:

  • Adult contemporary and historical fiction, romance, women’s fiction, mysteries, thrillers, middle grade, young adult contemporary/historical (virtual critiques): Faculty member Jennifer Johnson Blalock, a writing coach and former literary agent, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you online (Zoom, etc.) or by phone for 15 minutes sometime before the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes before or after the meeting. 
  • Romance, women’s fiction, domestic suspense, and young adult fiction (virtual critiques): Faculty member Swati Hegde, an author and freelance editor, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you online (Zoom, etc.) or by phone for 15 minutes sometime before the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes before or after the meeting. 
  • Children’s picture books, middle grade, young adult (virtual critiques): Faculty member Shelli Johannes, an author and freelance editor, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you online (Zoom, etc.) or by phone for 15 minutes sometime before the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes before or after the meeting. Children’s picture books should be 1,000 words maximum, and can or cannot have illustrations.
  • More options possibly forthcoming.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Brian Klems via email:, and he will provide specific instructions for payment and registration to get you a reserved seat at the event. Payment is by credit card, PayPal, or check. Because Brian plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Cincinnati workshop specifically.


Because of limited space at the venue of the Hyatt Place Cincinnati / Sharonville Convention Center, the workshop can only allow 125 registrants, unless spacing issues change. For this reason, we encourage you to book sooner rather than later.

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next CWW is an in-person event happening in Cincinnati/Sharonville on March 11, 2023. See you there.)

Are spaces still available? Yes, we still have spaces available. We will announce RIGHT HERE, at this point on this web page, when all spaces are taken. If you do not see a note right here saying how all spaces are booked, then yes, we still have room, and you are encouraged to register.

How to Register: The easy first step is simply to reach out to workshop organizer Brian Klems via email: He will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by PayPal or check. Once payment is complete, you will have a reserved seat at the event. The CWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Brian plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Cincinnati workshop specifically.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason, you will receive 50% of your total payment back [sent by check or PayPal]. The other 50% is nonrefundable and will not be returned, and helps the workshop ensure that only those truly interested in the limited spacing sign up for the event. (Please note that query editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already edited your letter.)

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2023 CWW Faculty Bios

Swati Hegde is a desi adult romance and YA author. By day, she’s a mindset coach and freelance editor. She is also a self-proclaimed coffee shop enthusiast who lives in Bangalore, India, and can usually be found at the nearest café with a hot mug of tea.

At the 2023 CWW, Swati is offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

Swati is represented by Rachel Beck at Liza Dawson Associates. Her debut romantic comedy novel MATCH ME IF YOU CAN is out 2024 from Ballantine Bantam Dell, Penguin Random House.

“I write funny romance novels featuring strong heroines, sweet-as-honey heroes, and happily-ever-afters that will make you tear up and laugh all at once. Oh, and did I mention they’re all desi characters? I live in Bangalore, India, and my writing always centers people like me living in my home country. Right now, I’m working on MATCH ME IF YOU CAN, my desi romantic comedy out 2024 from Random House, ft. an aspiring matchmaker heroine, a pub owner hero, and tons of mis-matchmaking and misunderstandings.” See her website here.


Jennifer Johnson-Blalock founded HYPHEN Editing in 2017. She was previously a literary agent at Liza Dawson Associates, where she sold works of women’s fiction, young adult fiction, and narrative nonfiction to major publishers. Jennifer has also worked as an agent’s assistant at Trident Media Group.

At the 2023 CINCYWW, Jennifer is offering virtual add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

Jennifer graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in English and earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Before working in publishing, she practiced entertainment law and taught high school English and debate.

Jennifer started HYPHEN because she believes that in a rapidly changing publishing industry, the smartest thing authors can do is to put forth the best possible version of their work. With her experience in New York publishing and knowledge of effective teaching practices, Jennifer can help writers do just that. 


Shelli R. Johannes is the author of 18 books (out and forthcoming). She is the coauthor (with Kimberly Derting) of the popular CECE LOVES SCIENCE series and PENNY (An Engineering Tale of the Fourth Pig). In addition to her tween and teen novels, she is also the author of the THEO THESAURUS series and SHINE LIKE A UNICORN. Her new chapter book in Chelsea Clinton’s “She Persisted” series on FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE comes out in March 2023. See all her kids books here and all her teen novels here.

At the 2023 CINCYWW, Shelli is offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

Shelli can often be found on highways and country roads saving strays and other jaywalking critters or volunteering with animal conservation groups. After earning a master’s to follow her passion of writing.

She lives in Atlanta with her own pack of unicorns: a British husband, two teens, two Goldendoodles, one sassy bird, and the many loud characters that “live” in her head. Shelli is addicted to exclamation points, puns, unicorns, and anything sciencey. You can always count on her to laugh at her own jokes, at least once.


Jeri Fay Maynard is the author of a variety of books (children, YA, Adult, Independent Comic) but they all have one thing in common- STORY!

All her works take the reader deep into the world of her imagination filled with characters who feel real and are facing difficult choices. She invites you to join the journey!

Make sure you check out Octavia and the Bug Problem (Pen It Press), Panda Girl (Amazon), Wolfe (FreeStyle Komics) and Taijitsu Gates (FreeStyle Komics) as well as a variety of short stories in anthologies including Café Macabre 2 with Leah McNaughton Lederman (editor/publisher).


Wendy Vogel is a veterinarian, board game designer, cancer survivor, and marathon runner.

She’s the author of 2022’s gothic horror novel Trouble the Water (Journalstone), along with sci-fi horror The Risen (Outland Entertainment), sci-fi series Horizon Alpha (Future House), and the romantic fantasy Stones of the Seven series as Allison Rook.

A former president of Cincinnati Fiction Writers, she is represented by Alice Speilburg of Alice Speilburg Literary Agency. At the 2023 CINCYWW, Wendy is a speaker / presenter.