Speakers at the 2012 Conference
Opening Keynote Speaker: Aleksandar Hemon
Author of Love and Obstacles, The Lazarus Project, Nowhere Man and The Question of Bruno
Winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, finalist for National Book Critics Circle Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient
Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, and three collections of short stories: The Question of Bruno; Nowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Love and Obstacles, which will be published by Riverhead Books on May 14, 2009. Born in Sarajevo, Hemon visited Chicago in 1992, intending to stay for a matter of months. While he was there, Sarajevo came under siege, and he was unable to return home. Hemon wrote his first story in English in 1995. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 and a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 2004. He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter.
Speakers and Panelists:
Author, Soup & Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at a Time
Martha Bayne is a Chicago-based writer, editor, and bartender. The founder of the hunger-relief fundraiser Soup & Bread and author of Soup & Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at a Time, she has been published in Time Out Chicago, Bookforum, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Reader, where she was on staff for ten years. A company member with Chicago’s Theater Oobleck, she has a degree from Oberlin College and an iPhoto library full of glamour shots of soup.
Writer and Host, The Interview Show
Mark Bazer hosts The Interview Show, a live talk show, held monthly at The Hideout in Chicago, and two times a year at Union Hall, in Brooklyn. He is also a syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services and has written for the Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix, New York Observer and GQ. He is currently working on a nine-part documentary about Ken Burns.
Founder and Producer, Write Club
Ian Belknap is a Chicago writer/performer and founder/curator/host of WRITE CLUB, the nation’s premiere competitive philanthropic readings series, now happening in 7 cities with more on the way. Ian’s work has been featured in the live lit shows This Much is True, Tuesday Funk, Stories at the Store, Here’s the Story, Essay Fiesta, and the Rhino Theater Festival, among others. Ian has appeared as a guest lecturer at Columbia College Chicago and DePaul University. He is partner with Samantha Irby in the comedy blog irbyandian.com, an advice column for jerks, written by a**holes. WRITE CLUB site: writeclubrules.com; ian’s blog: ianbelknap.com.
Host, Sappho’s Salon and Editor, Windy City Queer
Kathie Bergquist edited the anthology Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Voices From the Third Coast (University of Wisconsin Press) and is co-author of A Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago (Lake Claremont Press). Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and she has performed her work in Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, and Prague. Bergquist teaches writing at Columbia College Chicago.
Author & Poet
Daniel Borzutzky is the author of The Book of Interfering Bodies (Nightboat, 2011); The Ecstasy of Capitulation (BlazeVox, 2007) and Arbitrary Tales (Ravenna Press, 2005). His translations include Raúl Zurita’s Song for his Disappeared Love (Action Books, 2010) and Jaime Luis Huenún’s Port Trakl (Action Books, 2008), among others. His work has been anthologized in A Best of Fence: The First Nine Years (Fence Books) and Seriously Funny (University of Georgia Press, 2010), among others. His journal publications include Fence, Conjunctions, Chicago Review, TriQuarterly, and many others. His poems have been translated into Spanish, Bulgarian, French, and Turkish.
Founder and Blogger, The Web Farm and The Learned Fangirl
Keidra Chaney is a freelance writer and social media strategist. Her 12 years of professional communications experience runs the gamut: from journalism to nonprofit communications to social media marketing. She routinely speaks at conferences to organizations about social media and web analytics. Some of her recent engagements include: BlogHer 2012, Girl Scouts of Chicago, International Women’s Press Association and Publicity Club of Chicago. Her social media work has been featured in social media blogs like Mashable, and she’s even talked tech and social media issues on Chicago Public Radio’s Vocalo.org. She holds an M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. from Beloit College.
Author, The Everything Cast-Iron Cookbook
Cinnamon Cooper, cast-iron cooking fan, writer, and lover of food has written the Everything Cast-Iron Cookbook published by Adams Media Group. Cinnamon began cooking for her family of five at the age of fifteen, and uses cast-iron skillets on an almost-daily basis. She has worked at Williams-Sonoma, and was recently quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times about the benefits of cast-iron cooking. In 2003 she began writing a weekly cooking column titled “One Good Meal” for Gapers Block (www.gapersblock.com), a Chicago-centered news and events web magazine, where she encourages cooks to experiment with ingredients. In her column, she highlights the joys of using cast iron to 2,000 to 5,000 weekly readers.
Author, Foreign Babes in Beijing and Big Girl Small
Rachel DeWoskin’s most recent novel, Big Girl Small, (FSG 2011) is the recipient of the 2012 American Library Association’s Alex Award and was named one of the top 3 books of 2011 by Newsday. Her memoir, Foreign Babes in Beijing (WW Norton 2005) about the years she spent in China as the unlikely star of a Chinese soap opera, has been published in 6 countries and is being developed as a television series by HBO. Her debut novel Repeat After Me (Overlook Press, 2009), which follows the unexpected romance between a young American ESL teacher and a troubled Chinese radical, won a Foreward Magazine Book of the Year award. Rachel has written essays and articles for Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times Magazine of London, Teachers and Writers, and Conde Nast Traveler, and has published poems in journals including Ploughshares, Seneca Review, New Delta Review, Nerve Magazine and The New Orleans Review. She teaches memoir and fiction at the University of Chicago, and divides her time between Chicago and Beijing with her husband, playwright Zayd Dohrn, and their two little girls.
Literary Agent, Browne & Miller
Danielle Egan-Miller is president of Browne & Miller Literary Associates, Chicago’s premiere independent full-service literary agency. In the past decade, Danielle has sold hundreds of books with a heavy emphasis on commercial fiction and her roster includes several New York Times bestselling authors and numerous prize- and award-winning writers. Upcoming notable releases include Trickster’s Point by William Kent Krueger (Atria Books, August 2012); Storm Kings: The Untold History of America’s First Tornado Chasers by Lee Sandlin (Pantheon, March 2013); Sleeping In Eden by Nicole Baart (Howard Books/Simon & Schuster, April 2013); and Fallen Women by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin’s Press, November 2013). She is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writer’s of America, The Authors Guild, and Chicago Women in Publishing. Danielle lives in the suburbs with her husband, son, and her two Scottish Terriers, Scarlett O’Hara and Agnes. She is an avid gardener, a soccer and football mom, and spends lots of time doing rehab projects in her 1889 farmhouse.
Robert K. Elder
Author, It Was Love When…, It Was Over When…, and The Film that Changed My Life and Last Words of the Executed
Robert K. Elder is a journalist, author, film columnist and the founder of Internet company Odd Hours Media, LLC. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and many other publications. For more than a decade, he served as a staff writer at the Chicago Tribune and is now the managing editor for DNAinfo Chicago. In June of 2009, Elder launched the user-generated sites ItWasOverWhen.com: Tales of Romantic Dead Ends and ItWasLoveWhen.com: Tales from the Beginning of Love. Both sites went viral and resulted in a two-book deal with Sourcebooks.
Editor and Publisher, Gaper’s Block
Andrew Huff is the editor and publisher of Gaper’s Block, an award-winning Chicago-centric news and events webzine he co-founded in 2003. A serial early adopter, Huff created his first webpage in 1996; launched his personal blog, me3dia.com, in 2001; and joined both flickr and Twitter in their infancy. In addition to Gaper’s Block, he has also worked for several years as a professional blogger for corporate clients such as American Express, Kenneth Cole, A&E and Starwood Hotels, and is a sought-after consultant on content oriented web projects. He holds a journalism degree from The Ohio State University and a certificate in medical writing and editing from the University of Chicago, and spent 10 years in public relations, working primarily with clients in the healthcare and biotech industries. He has taught in the journalism departments at Loyola University Chicago and Columbia College, and is a frequent speaker at SXSW Interactive and other conferences. In 2009 he was named to the Crain’s Chicago Business’ 40 Under 40 list. He lives on the far North Side of Chicago with his wife and two cats.
Author and Blogger
Samantha Irby is a writer and performer who mostly writes jokes about hot dudes on her blog, Bitches Gotta Eat. In addition to co-hosting The Sunday Night Sex Show, a sex-positive live literary show, she has also performed at Essay Fiesta, Write Club, and This Much is True, among others, and she opened for Baratunde Thurston during his “How to Be Black” tour. She and Keith Ecker are launching their new live lit show at Powell’s bookstore this September. Samantha has been profiled in the Chicago Sun-Times as well as in Time Out Chicago, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus and Jezebel.
Virginia Konchan’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Best New Poets 2011, the Believer, and The New Republic, among other places. A recipient of grants and fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, Ox Bow, and Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, she lives in Chicago, where she co-curates the Wit Rabbit Reading Series. She is also currently enrolled as a Ph.D student in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Literary Agent, Browne & Miller
Joanna MacKenzie joined Browne & Miller Literary Associates in 2003. She began her career in publishing as an assistant under Jane Jordan Browne and Danielle Egan-Miller. Now an agent, Joanna has prepared, submitted, and successfully placed all types of projects, but her true passion lies in commercial fiction. She enjoys working with writers who embrace the full creative process (read: don’t mind revisions). She has helped to shape many client manuscripts into books that receive stellar reviews and award nominations, and which have gone on to become national and international bestsellers. She also manages the foreign rights for numerous agency properties. Joanna holds a Master of Arts in Film Theory and Criticism from the University of Chicago as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama from the University of Calgary, Canada. Upcoming releases include: When You Give A Duke A Diamond by Shana Galen (Sourcebooks), September 1, 2012; The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab, (Delacorte), October 9, 2012; Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons (Tor), February 5, 2013.
CEO, Chicago Review Press and Independent Publishers Group
Curt is the founder and CEO of Chicago Review Press, Incorporated, which is the parent company of Chicago Review Press (70 new titles each year) and of Independent Publishers Group, the first and now the second-largest independent press distributor. Independent Publishers Group was acquired by Chicago Review Press in 1987. It now distributes thousands of new titles each year, including academic and university press lists and a fast-growing catalog of Spanish-language books.
Thirty-five years ago, while teaching 19th-century American literature at Northwestern University, Curt published a book of translated Japanese poetry, which led to other, more salable titles, and finally to a career in publishing. Curt has served on the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) board and also as its president.
Editor and Author, The Wilder Life
Wendy McClure is a columnist for BUST magazine, a children’s book editor, and an author. Her work has appeared in the The New York Times Magazine, The Chicago Sun-Times, Glamour, and on This American Life. Her most recent book, The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, won the 2011 Midwest Booksellers Choice Award in Nonfiction and received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. She was born in Oak Park, Illinois, graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and now lives in Chicago with her husband, Chris, in a neighborhood near the river.
Patricia Ann McNair
Author, The Temple of Air
Patricia Ann McNair’s debut short story collection, The Temple of Air, was chosen for the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Prose at Southern Illinois University and for the Society of Midland Authors finalist award in adult fiction. Named in Newcity’s Lit 50 (People Who Really Book in Chicago) in 2012, McNair has lived 98 percent of her life in the Midwest. She’s managed a gas station, sold pots and pans door to door, tended bar and breaded mushrooms, worked on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and taught aerobics. Today she is an Associate Professor in the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago, where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award as well as a nomination for the Carnegie Foundation’s US Professor of the Year.
Writer, Director and Educator
Coya Paz is a writer and director. She is a founding member of Proyecto Latina, and the Lead Artist for the Poetry Performance Incubator at the Guild Complex. Coya directs the Resident Ensemble at Free Street Theater, and is the co-founder of Teatro Luna, where she served as co-Artistic Director for nine years. She is an Assistant Professor in the Theatre School at DePaul University, and a regular commentator Vocalo.org (89.5). She has been a featured reader at dozens of events, including Palabra Pura, Revolving Door, Paper Machete, Sappho’s Salon, and 2nd Story.
Founder and Publisher, Sourcebooks
Dominique Raccah is the CEO and Publisher of Sourcebooks where she is in charge of creating the future – not just a future for the company but for authors, readers, and the book itself. The result has been double digit annual revenue growth over the past 10 years, twenty five New York Times Bestsellers, #1 category leaders that range from baby names books to college guides, and a publishing company that many consider on the leading edge of the digital transformation. Most recently, Dominique has managed the launch of the new cutting-edge education division, Sourcebooks EDU.
Founder, Rodeen Literary Management
Paul Rodeen established Rodeen Literary Management in 2009 after seven years of experience with the literary agency Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. Rodeen Literary Agency is an agency devoted to supporting the careers of children’s book writers and illustrators.
Paul has helped develop many premier writers and illustrators of children’s literature while establishing working relationships with many of the top children’s book editors and publishers in the industry..
Founding Editor, Rose Metal Press
Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, and her novel in poems, Robinson Alone, is forthcoming this fall from Gold Wake Press. She is also the author of the poetry collection Oneiromance (an epithalamion) (Switchback, 2008) and, with Elisa Gabbert, the collaborative poetry collection That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness (Otoliths, 2008). She lives in Chicago and blogs at kathleenrooney.com.
Editor, Writer’s Digest: Guide to Literary Agents and the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market
Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and a writer. He works for Writer’s Digest Books and edits two annual resource guides — the Guide to Literary Agents as well as the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrators Market. He is the author of two humor books: How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, and Red Dog/Blue Dog: When Pooches Get Political.
Author, Drain and the DEAD/BOOKS triology
Davis Schneiderman is a multimedia artist and writer and the author or editor of ten print and audio works, including the novels Drain (TriQuarterly/Northwestern), the DEAD/BOOKS trilogy comprised of the largely blank novel, Blank: a novel (Jaded Ibis), with audio from DJ Spooky, and the forthcoming [SIC] and INK. (Jaded Ibis); and the co-edited collections Retaking the Universe: Williams S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization (Pluto) and The Exquisite Corpse: Chance and Collaboration in Surrealism’s Parlor Game (Nebraska).
Publisher, Agate Publishing
Doug Seibold has been a publishing professional in Chicago since 1986. In 2003, he founded Agate, which is now a diversified independent publishing company with five distinct imprints. In 2005, he created ProBooks, a digital educational content development service. In 2006, Agate acquired Surrey Books, a 25-year-old Chicago-based book publisher, which is now run as an imprint of Agate. In February 2012, Publishers Weekly magazine identified Agate as the fastest-growing small press in America.
Author, Indian as Apple Pie and The Indian Slow Cooker Cookbook
Anupy Singla is a television reporter turned cookbook author. She was given her first cooking lesson at the age of 10 by her paternal grandfather and never stopped cooking. Her first book, The Indian Slow Cooker, still remains a top seller on Amazon.com, now along with her second book, Vegan Indian Cooking. She now has her own line of spices and a spice box that debuted last year in Williams-Sonoma.
Literary Director, 2nd Story
Megan Stielstra is the Literary Director of 2nd Story and co-editor of their first print anthology, due November 2012. She’s told stories for The Goodman, The Steppenwolf, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Chicago Poetry Center, Story Week Festival of Writers, Wordstock Literary Festival, The Neo-Futurarium, Victory Gardens, Theater on the Lake, and Chicago Public Radio, among others, and is a regular performer with 2nd Story, The Paper Machete, and Write Club. Her story collection, Everyone Remain Calm, was a Chicago Tribune Favorite of 2011, and her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Pank, F Magazine, Make Magazine, Other Voices, Bluestem, The Nervous Breakdown, Fresh Yarn, Pindeldyboz, Swink, Necessary Fiction, Shareable, Punk Planet, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches writing and performance at Columbia College and The University of Chicago, and lives online at meganstielstra.com.
The goal of the conference is to provide practical advice for writers to learn how to sell and promote their work. Click here for more information about topics that will be covered at the conference. More details are available on our Schedule page.