The 2020 North Carolina Writing Workshop: April 18, 2020

screen-shot-2014-07-23-at-12-58-51-pm.pngAfter successful conferences in 2015 and 2019, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2020 North Carolina Writing Workshop — a full-day Online “How to Get Published” writing event in Charlotte, NC, on April 18, 2020.

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 (150 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2020 North Carolina Writing Workshop!

(IMPORTANT MARCH 2020 UPDATE: The 2020 CWW 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, 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 April 4 CWW Online Conference here and what everything means.)


This is a special one-day online “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, April 18, 2020, at the Charlotte Marriott SouthPark. 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:

  • {NEW ADDITION} literary agent Kelly Dyksterhouse (Raven Quill Literary)
  • {NEW ADDITION} literary agent Katharine Sands (Sarah Jane Freymann Literary)
  • literary agent Cassie Mannes Murray (Howland Literary)
  • literary agent Alexandra Weiss (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • literary agent Vicki Selvaggio (Storm Literary)
  • literary agent Melissa Jeglinski (The Knight Agency)
  • and more to come

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.


9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Saturday, April 18, 2020, at the Charlotte Marriott SouthPark, 2200 Rexford Road, Charlotte, NC, 28211. (704)364-8220.

(IMPORTANT MARCH 2020 UPDATE: The 2020 CWW 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, 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 April 4 CWW Online Conference here and what everything means.)

Screen Shot 2020-01-13 at 5.58.30 PM


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

9:30 – 10:30: The Agent Quandary: Agents and Queries and Rejections, Oh My! taught by Vicki Selvaggio. Navigating the publishing process can be overwhelming for every writer––beginner to advanced. In this presentation by literary agent Vicki Selvaggio, learn the basics of what an agent’s responsibilities are, how to decipher if you need one and if you do, how to tackle the submission process, while composing that query letter.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 10.12.02 AM10:30 – 11:45: To Do and To Don’t: How to Craft a Compelling and Effective Opening Chapter (That Will Leave Them Wanting More), taught by Amber Smith (bio below). The importance of a strong and compelling first chapter cannot be overstated; without it, readers have no reason to turn the next page. This is especially significant when pitching your book to an agent or editor, as they will need to judge your entire book not by its cover, but by how successful your opening is. New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith will go over some essential to-dos and to-don’ts of crafting your very best chapter one. In this workshop, you will learn the key elements that make up an irresistible opening, as well as some common pitfalls that never fail to knock the wind right out of your first chapter’s sails. Above all, this workshop will highlight how to make your opening chapter effective at its most important job: to leave the reader wanting more.

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 Page One 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.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 10.07.06 AM2:50 – 4:00: I Recognize You by the Sound of Your Voice, taught by Kelly Dyksterhouse. Voice is the elusive quality in a book that all agents and editors are looking for and many writers are striving to create. But what is voice, really? In this talk, Kelly, an agent, defines voice, differentiate between character voice and narrative voice, and show how writers can create it.

4:00 – 5:00: Author Brand Building, taught by Alexandra Weiss. Whether you like it or not, an interested agent/editor will be typing your name into Google. While having a website and an active social media presence isn’t an absolute must for new writers, it’s important to develop a positive online presence in some shape or form. There are also a lot of key opportunities and free resources available to writers online. During this presentation, associate literary agent and PR Pro Alexandra Weiss will discuss: how to identify and establish your unique brand as a writer, what to include (and not include) on your website, understanding the differences between social media platforms and determining which one is right for you, utilizing free and accessible online resources, and managing and growing your brand over time

All throughout the day: Agent & Editor Pitching.


Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 9.50.27 AMVicki Selvaggio is a literary agent with Storm Literary (formerly with Jennifer De Chiara Literary). She is currently looking for lyrical picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction, new adult, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, narrative nonfiction, and adult fiction. Vicki is especially drawn to middle grade and young adult. “I especially love thrillers and all elements of weird, creepy stuff. If it’s out of the box, and it will make me think and think, long after I’m done reading, send it to me! On the flip side, I yearn for books that make me laugh, cry and wonder about the world.” Learn more about Vicki here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-30 at 11.44.08 AMKatharine Sands is a literary agent with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. Katharine is seeking all types of fiction, memoir and nonfiction. Katharine likes books that have a clear benefit for readers’ lives in categories of food, travel, lifestyle, home arts, beauty, wisdom, relationships, parenting, and fresh looks, which might be at issues, life challenges or popular culture. When reading fiction she wants to be compelled and propelled by urgent storytelling, and hooked by characters. For memoir, femoir, and himoir, she likes to be transported to a world rarely or newly observed. Learn more about Katharine here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-02 at 12.58.03 PMCassie Mannes Murray is a literary agent with Howland Literary Cassie is accepting submissions for adult fiction and nonfiction that fit the following categories: literary, speculative (sci-fi or fantasy), slipstream, or hybrid. She is interested in memoir, essay collections, literary and commercial fiction, as well as short stories. Because genre categories are for marketing purposes, Cassie would like to work with authors who are difficult to categorize, but passionate about writing at the sentence level. She would like to work with writers who elevate and innovate structure, point-of-view, and language especially. Learn more about Cassie here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 9.47.12 AMAlexandra Weiss is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary. She is seeking beautifully written young adult fiction (realism, science fiction, and fantasy – but stories that include magic, space, or science are not for her). She loves coming-of-age tales; stories that explore culture, race, sexuality, and identity; and literature from diverse and underrepresented voices. She represents all types of adventurous, silly, and out-of-the-box children’s picture books and middle grade books. In adult fiction, she is “open to most genres, but category romance, or heavy mystery/horror/thriller stories are not for me. Books that are written in or include uses of uncommon formats (uses of letters, screenplay, photos, poetry, or collection of short stories or essays) is another unique quality I look for.” Learn more about Alexandra here.

Screen Shot 2020-03-02 at 1.43.30 PMKelly Dyksterhouse is a literary agent with Raven Quill Literary Agency. She seeks all kinds of kidlit books — children’s picture books, middle grade, and young adult. She considers the opportunity to help bring books into existence to be a great honor, and it is a particular joy for her to work alongside authors as they develop their project from idea to polished manuscript. The best feeling of all is when those manuscripts end up as books in the hands of children. Learn more about Kelly here.

Screen Shot 2020-03-09 at 5.18.04 PMMelissa Jeglinski is a literary agent with The Knight Agency. Melissa is currently seeking projects in the following areas: romance, mystery, women’s fiction, and historical fiction, as well as projects geared to the middle grade age group. Learn more about Melissa and her background here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 10.19.37 PM.pngDawn Michelle Hardy is a literary agent with Dream Relations PR & Literary Consulting. UPDATE: Unfortunately, Dawn had to cancel her appearance at the 2020 Charlotte event.


       More 2020 agents coming.

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.)


$169 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2020 NCWW and access to all workshops, all day, on April 18, 2020. As of October 2019, event registration for 2020 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.)

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 11.11.29 AM.png“I met my client, Alison Hammer, at the Writing
Workshop of Chicago and just sold her book.”
– literary agent Joanna Mackenzie of Nelson Literary

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.47.54 PM.png“Good news! I signed a client [novelist Aliza Mann]
from the Michigan Writing Workshop!”
– literary agent Sara Mebigow of KT Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 12.56.10 PM“I signed author Stephanie Wright from
the Seattle Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 9.07.44 PM“I signed an author [Kate Thompson] that I
met at the Philadelphia Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 2.54.50 PM.png“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 former instructor Brian Klems. (This rate is a special event value for North Carolina Writing 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.

  • Screen Shot 2020-03-10 at 10.18.30 PM.pngLiterary fiction, mainstream fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror, women’s fiction, memoir, humor: Faculty member Ricki Cardenas, a published writer, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your story, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. Ricki has two novels published through Grand Central and is represented by the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. Unlike other critiquers who may join the 2020 Alabama event, Ricki will not personally be at the event, so she will be doing her 10-minute critique consultations through phone calls or Skype.
  • Screen Shot 2020-03-10 at 10.19.43 PM.pngContemporary fiction, young adult (both fiction and nonfiction): Faculty member Amber Smith, a published writer, will get your work in advance, edit the first 10 double-spaced pages of your story, meet with you for at least 10 minutes at the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes at the meeting. Amber is the New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels The Way I Used to Be (2016), The Last to Let Go (2018), and Something Like Gravity (2019). An advocate for increased awareness of gendered violence, as well as LGBTQ equality, she writes in the hope that her books can help to foster change and spark dialogue surrounding these issues.
  • More critique options possibly coming soon.

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


Because of limited space at the venue of the Charlotte Marriott SouthPark, the workshop can only allow 150 registrants, unless spacing issues change. For this reason, we encourage you to book sooner rather than later.

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 NCWW 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 Charlotte 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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Thank you for your interest in the 2020 North Carolina Writing Workshop.



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