Writers' Conference


Celebrate the Mitten
Writers' Conference

Saturday, March 29, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Cascade Township Branch

Local authors and publishing insiders will share tips for new and aspiring authors, leading sessions on traditional and self-publishing, how to stay motivated and more. All genres and skill levels are welcome. Separate pre-registration is required for the morning and afternoon sessions and participant spots are limited. Co-sponsored by Baker Books, Credo Communications, Pot-Boilers and Publish Savvy.



Morning Session (9:00 AM – 12:45 PM)
Geared to not-yet-published writers, but all are welcome

  • 9:00 – 9:30 AM: Welcome and Introductions
  • 9:45 – 10:30 AM: Five Things Aspiring Writers Should Know
    (Because There's Not Enough Time for 10)
    Featuring author and editor Shelly Beach and author Kristina Riggle
  • 10:40 – 11:20 AM: Traditional, Self-Publish or Can I Do Both?
    Featuring Shannon Janeczek, owner of Publish Savvy; author and micropublisher Don Pearson; and novelist Aric Davis
  • 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM: You Can Do This: An Editor's Manifesto — How to Stay Motivated and Keep Moving Toward Publication
    Featuring Chad R. Allen, editorial director at Baker Books

    The road to getting published can be tough. How can you improve your writing, build your platform, hold down a day job and still have a life? What practices can writers use to find their voice and produce their best work? In this presentation you will hear strategies to help you be successful over the long run.
  • 12:15 – 12:45 PM: Networking and Book Selling
  • 12:45 – 1:45 PM: Lunch on Your Own



Afternoon Session (1:45 – 5:00 PM)
Geared to published authors, but all are welcome

  • 1:45 – 2:00 PM: Welcome and Introductions
  • 2:00 – 2:45 PM: Social Media & Book Marketing Tips, Tricks and Gaffes
    Featuring children's author Sandy Carlson and Shannon Janeczek, owner of Publish Savvy
  • 2:55 – 3:40 PM: Query Letters & Book Proposals: What Are They? Do I Need Them?
    Featuring author and editor Shelly Beach and novelist Aric Davis
  • 3:45 – 4:30 PM: Taking Your Writing to the Next Level
    Featuring literary agent and copy editor Ann Byle and science fiction author Jim C. Hines

    In this wrap-up session, attendees will hear about how to:

    1. Improve your craft. (Conferences/workshops, magazines, editing, books)
    2. Hone your goals. (Publishing options, book/magazine, freelance writer, online only, etc.)
    3. Build your platform. (Social media, expert status, blogging, speaking)
    4. Act the part. (Professionalism, book proposal, business cards, etc.)
    5. Stay the course. (Focus on your plan; write, write, write).

    Be ready in this session to write down your action steps for each point, coming away with a plan that puts all you learned at the conference into a plan you can stick on the wall above your writing area.
  • 4:30 – 5:00 PM: Networking and Book Selling


Featured Presenters


Chad AllenChad R. Allen

Chad R. Allen brings a hefty dose of publishing wisdom and experience to the conference. He is editorial director for Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, where he has worked for over a decade. Baker Publishing Group, founded in 1939, is an independently owned Christian publisher—one of the largest in the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Chad has the privilege of working with accomplished authors such as New York Times bestseller Mark Batterson, Larry Crabb, Alan Hirsch, Chip Ingram, Miles McPherson, Chris Seay, Phyllis Tickle, Warren Wiersbe and N.T. Wright. Chad holds a B.A. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an M.A. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame. He and his wife, Alyssa, live with their two children in Grand Rapids. Hear more from Chad on his blog, or by following him on Facebook and Twitter.



Shelly BeachShelly Beach

Shelly Beach is a Christy Award-winning author of ten books and co-founder of the Breathe Writer's Conference and the Cedar Falls Christian Writer's Workshop. She is also the co-founder of PTSDPerspectives.org and speaks and consults throughout the nation, as well as providing freelance editing and writing consultation. She and her husband Dan, who are the parents of two adult, married children, live in the Grand Rapids area. Love Letters from the Edge will be released in June.





Ann ByleAnn Byle

Ann Byle is a literary agent with Grand Rapids-based Credo Communications. She represents fiction and nonfiction authors primarily to the Christian market. Ann is a freelance writer for a number of publications that include Publishers Weekly, NovelCrossing.com and Grand Rapids Magazine, as well as co-writer of several books, including The Edge of Redemption with Grand Rapids hip hop pastor Troy Evans, and author of several of her own books, including Plainfield Township.






Sandy CarlsonSandy Carlson

Children's author Sandy Carlson was born in Michigan, lived in six other states and now is back home. She's had hundreds of articles published in magazines, newspapers and ePublications and has self-published five books for the 8 to 12-year-old reader through her own company, The Merry Viking Publishing House LLC, with a traditionally-published tween fantasy coming out this summer. A former teacher, she lives in Battle Creek with her husband.






Aric DavisAric Davis

Aric Davis is married with one daughter and lives in Grand Rapids, where he worked for 16 years as a body piercer; he now writes full time. A punk rock aficionado, Aric does anything he can to increase awareness of a good band. He likes weather cold enough to need a sweatshirt but not a coat, and friends who wear their hearts on their sleeves. In addition to reading and writing, he also enjoys roller coasters, hockey and a good cigar. Aric is the author of seven books, three of which have been optioned for film.





Jim HinesJim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines is best known as a fantasy novelist and the guy who did a series of gender-flipped SF/F cover poses. His first novel was Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider. Actor and author Wil Wheaton (Stand By Me, The Big Bang Theory) described the book as "too f***ing cool for words," which is pretty much the Best Blurb Ever. After completing the goblin trilogy, Jim went on to write the princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm's Fairy Tales with Charlie's Angels. He's currently working on the Magic ex Libris books, which follow the adventures of a magic-wielding librarian from northern Michigan. He's also the author of more than 40 published short stories, as well as an active blogger about topics ranging from sexism and harassment to zombie-themed Christmas carols. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012. For sample chapters, free short fiction, and more, check out www.jimchines.com.



ShannonJaneczekShannon Janeczek

Shannon Janeczek [pronounced jah-NEE-zik] holds a Master's degree in Book Publishing from Emerson College, and a Bachelor's degree in Literature and Creative Writing. She has several years of experience in publishing and information services, and over 20 years of experience in marketing copywriting, editing and proofreading. She lives in southeast Michigan with her patient husband, two exceptional children and a chipmunk-obsessed dog. Her company, PublishSavvy, was established in 2011 to provide a trustworthy, comprehensive self-publishing service option for independent authors. The mission of the company is to educate authors and would-be authors on the process and options available to them, and to fulfill their publishing dreams.



DonPearsonDon Pearson

Don Pearson has published a book via the traditional route, owns a micropublishing company and knows his way around the self-publishing world. He has worked in youth ministry for nearly 30 years — and will tell you that in that time has been kicked out of restaurants, left kids behind in airports, lost ten thousand dollars on a single event, totaled a borrowed vehicle, caught a sailboat on fire, fired volunteers and run out of fuel in a bus on Mackinaw Bridge at 2:00 am with 40 knot winds. He is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Cornerstone University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.





Kristina RiggleKristina Riggle

Kentwood native Kristina Riggle graduated from East Kentwood High School with a passion to write for a living sparked by her supportive parents and teachers, along with the pride of winning the area-wide writing contest sponsored by The Grand Rapids Press. At that time she was 15 years old, and in awe of being presented with her award on the Calder Stage at Festival of the Arts. Her writing ambition first took the form of a journalism degree at Michigan State University and three years working at campus newspaper, The State News, followed by reporting jobs at the Grand Haven Tribune, The Bay City Times and freelance writing for her hometown paper, The Grand Rapids Press. After the birth of her first child, she shifted her focus back to creative writing, and in 2009 her first novel was published with HarperCollins, Real Life & Liars. Her fifth book with HarperCollins, The Whole Golden World, was recently published, and tells the story of two families and a town torn apart by a teacher-student affair.