The 2014 Arizona Writing Workshops: Phoenix (Nov. 21) and Tucson (Nov. 22)

Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 12.58.51 PMThe 2014 Arizona Writing Workshops are now over, and they were a wonderful success. If you are interested in future Arizona writing events, email coordinator Jessica Bell at writingdayworkshops [at] and ask to be alerted when other events come together. Meanwhile, if you live elsewhere in the country, you can see other Writing Day Workshop dates and locations here.


The Society of Southwestern Authors is excited to announce The 2014 Arizona Writing Workshops — two full-day “How to Get Published” writing events in Arizona. On Friday, Nov. 21, there is an all-day event in Phoenix; and on Saturday, Nov. 22, there is a separate all-day event in Tucson. (The one-day schedules are both the same. Writers should attend one event, not both.)

These writing events are a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch an agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2014 Arizona Writing Workshops!


These are special, separate-yet-identical one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshops on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22, 2014, with Friday’s event in Phoenix and Saturday’s event in Tucson. In other words, either workshop is 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.

The events are designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. We will have literary agents Adriann Ranta (Wolf Literary), Steve Laube (The Steve Laube Agency), and Patricia Nelson (Marsal Lyon Literary) onsite at events to give feedback and meet with writers, as well. You can ask any questions you like during the sessions, and get your specific concerns addressed.

By the end of either workshop, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. (Please note that the workshops are separate and identical — with both agents attending both 9-5 events. Writers will likely want to attend one workshop or the other, not both.) The workshops are being co-coordinated by the Society of Southwestern Authors.


Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 1.09.19 PMChuck Sambuchino (, @chucksambuchino) of Writer’s Digest Books is the editor of Guide to Literary Agents as well as the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market. His authored books include Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript; Create Your Writer Platform, which was praised by; and How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, which was optioned for film by Sony. He oversees one of the biggest blogs in publishing (the Guide to Literary Agents Blog) as well as one of the biggest Twitter accounts in publishing (@WritersDigest). He is a freelance editor who has seen dozens of his clients get agents and/or book deals, and he has presented at 120 writing conferences and events over the past ten years.


PHOENIX: Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Location is the Lecture Room of the Burton Barr Library (the room is on the southwest side of the 4th floor) in downtown Phoenix. Address: 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004.

The Burton Barr Library in downtown Phoenix is the workshop location for Nov. 21, 2014.

The Burton Barr Library in downtown Phoenix is the workshop location for Nov. 21, 2014.

TUCSON: Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Location is the Amethyst Room at the downtown Pima Community College campus. Address: 1255 North Stone Ave., Tucson, AZ 85709. Find a map of the campus layout here.

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The downtown campus of Pima Community College is the location for the Saturday workshop in Tucson.


9:00 – 9:30: Check-in and registration.

9:30 – 10:30: “Your Publishing Options Today.” This workshop examines the two largest routes any writer can take with their book: traditional publishing and self-publishing (e-publishing). We will examine the upsides of both routes, the downsides, and the next steps no matter what you decide. In today’s publishing world, a writer has to understand what they’re in for before they send their book out. This session is designed to prepare them for what’s to come and what options exist.

Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 1.02.12 PM10:30 – 11:45: “Everything You Need to Know About Agents, Queries & Pitching.” This workshop is a thorough crash course in dealing with literary agents. After quickly going over what an agent is and what they do for writers, we will discuss resources for finding agents, how to ID the best agents for you, query letter writing, as well as the most important things to do and not to do when dealing with representatives.

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

1:15 – 2:30: “Writers’ Got Talent: A Chapter 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 attending agents Adriann Ranta, Steve Laube, and Patricia Nelson commenting on what they liked or did not like 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 AM2:30 – 3:45: “How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Author Platform & Social Media Explained.” A writer’s platform is as important as ever now. Visibility and ability to self-market are mandatory these days for writers of nonfiction and self-published works. Furthermore, fiction writers want a platform to sell more books, meet readers, and increase their value. This speech teaches writers the basics of what a platform is and why it is necessary. Then we delve into the building blocks of what can constitute a platform, from media appearances and speaking engagements to blogs, Facebook, Twitter and more.

3:45 – 5:00: “How to Get Published: 10 Professional Writing Practices That You Need to Know NOW to Find Success as a Writer.” This final speech is a general presentation examining good writing practices that all editors appreciate—whether writing for books, magazines, newspapers or online. It discusses how to not put all your eggs in one writing basket, how to steal ideas from yourself to generate more stories and books, how to avoid the two most common reasons agents reject you, and much more.

All day: Agent & Editor Pitching.


Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 12.53.09 PMAdriann Ranta [SOLD OUT BOTH DAYS] is senior literary agent at Wolf Literary Services in NYC. She was raised in Arizona. Adriann accepts a variety of fiction and nonfiction topics, and is taking part in the “Writers’ Got Talent” critique fest event at 1:45 p.m. Besides her appearance on that panel, she will be available for 10-minute one-on-one meetings with some writers until the event ends at 4:45 p.m. Learn more about Adriann here. Adriann will be at both the Phoenix and Tucson events, hearing pitches at the identical events.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.59.42 PMSteve Laube [SOLD OUT] is the founder of The Steve Laube Agency. Steve is based in Phoenix and has been part of the publishing industry for more than 30 years. He represents a broad array of fiction and nonfiction for adults, and his agency is well versed in selling to the Christian marketplace. Learn more about Steve here. (Steve will be at the Phoenix event only, hearing pitches and being part of the “Writers’ Got Talent” panel on Friday.)

Patricia-Nelson-296x300Patricia Nelson [SOLD OUT IN PHOENIX; HAS JUST A FEW TUCSON SPOTS LEFT] is actively building her list at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Claire is taking part in the “Writers’ Got Talent” critique fest event at 1:45 p.m. Besides her appearance on that panel, she will be available for 10-minute one-on-one meetings with some writers until the event ends at 4:45 p.m. Learn more about Patricia here. Patricia will be at both the Phoenix and Tucson events, hearing pitches at the identical events.

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.)


(Please note that all pricing and details are identical for writers who wish to attend the Phoenix event on Nov. 21 or the Tucson event on Nov. 22. The events are virtually identical in schedule and faculty. Only the location is different. When you register, you will be asked which workshop you want to sign up for.)

$99 — base price for registration to one event and access to all workshops, all day.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with one of the literary agents. Use this special meeting as a chance to pitch your work and get agent feedback on your pitch. (Spaces limited.) If they wish, attendees are free to sign up for two meeting slots at twice the price to give themselves a longer consultation/pitch, or to meet multiple individuals.

Add $59 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from instructor Chuck Sambuchino. (This rate is a special event value for Arizona Writing Workshop attendees only.) Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of the critique, because if you are meeting with an agent/editor 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? Once a query critique is ordered and paid for, the letter will be edited within 14 days once sent. That said, attendees who sign up and send their query letter to Chuck within four days of the event are guaranteed to receive their edit the day before the workshop happens, so they can use the edits to better their in-person event pitch.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell 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 Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Arizona workshop specifically.


There is limited space at both events. The Friday event in Phoenix can only hold 70 attendees. The Saturday event in Tucson can only hold 100 attendees. 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, if either workshop is sold out. If you do not see a note right here saying how all spaces are booked in a location, then yes, we still have room at both events, and you are encouraged to register.

How to Register: The easy first step is simply to reach out to workshop organizer Jessica Bell via email: (Because Jessica plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Arizona workshop specifically.) She 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 AWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason, you will receive 70% of your total payment back [sent by check or PayPal]. The other 30% 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 Arizona Writing Workshops.


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary

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Photo credit John Zurhellen.

Adriann Ranta is senior agent and vice president at Wolf Literary Services. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Arizona, Adriann’s first introduction to publishing was at The Editorial Department, a freelance editorial firm based in Tucson, AZ. After making the move to New York, Adriann spent two years at Anderson Literary Management before moving to Wolf Literary in 2009. [UPDATE: Adriann is sold out of pitch appointments for both the Tucson and Phoenix locations.]

She represents New York Times bestselling, award-winning authors, journalists, illustrators and graphic novelists, as well as actors, stuntwomen, makeup artists, and many other pioneering creative thinkers and leaders in their fields. She is actively acquiring all genres for all age groups with a penchant for edgy, dark, quirky voices, unique settings, and everyman stories told with a new spin. She loves gritty, realistic, true-to-life stories with conflicts based in the real world; women’s fiction and nonfiction; accessible, pop nonfiction in science, history, and craft; and smart, fresh, genre-bending works for children.

Screen shot 2014-07-22 at 11.19.27 PMShe lives in Brooklyn with her sadistically talkative cat Piggy, has many tattoos, and is an evangelical fan of the X-Files. She is a member of the AAR and SCBWI. Find her on Twitter.

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2014 Arizona Writing Workshops

If you are coming to either of the identical 2014 Arizona Writing Workshops (Nov. 21 in Phoenix, or Nov. 22 in Tucson), you may be thinking about pitching our agent-in-attendance or editor-in-attendance. An in-person pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from this year’s instructor, Chuck Sambuchino) that will help you pitch your work effectively at the event during a 10-minute consultation. Chuck advises that you should:

  • Try to keep your pitch to 90 seconds. Keeping your pitch concise and short is beneficial because 1) it shows you are in command of the story and what your book is about; and 2) it allows plenty of time for back-and-forth discussion between you and the agent. Note: If you’re writing nonfiction, and therefore have to speak plenty about yourself and your platform, then your pitch can certainly run longer.
  • Practice before you get to the event. Say your pitch out loud, and even try it out on fellow writers. Feedback from peers will help you figure out if your pitch is confusing, or missing critical elements. Remember to focus on what makes your story unique. Mystery novels, for example, all follow a similar formula — so the elements that make yours unique and interesting will need to shine during the pitch to make your book stand out.
  • Do not give away the ending. If you pick up a DVD for Die Hard, does it say “John McClane wins at the end”? No. Because if it did, you wouldn’t buy the movie. Pitches are designed to leave the ending unanswered, much like the back of any DVD box you read.
  • Have some questions ready. 10 minutes is plenty of time to pitch and discuss your book, so there is a good chance you will be done pitching early. At that point, you are free to ask the agent questions about writing, publishing or craft. The meeting is both a pitch session and a consultation, so feel free to ask whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing.
  • Remember to hit the big beats of a pitch. Everyone’s pitch will be different, but the main elements to hit are 1) introducing the main character(s) and telling us about them, 2) saying what goes wrong that sets the story into motion, 3) explaining how the main character sets off to make things right and solve the problem, 4) explaining the stakes — i.e., what happens if the main character fails, and 5) ending with an unclear wrap-up.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Steve Laube of the Steve Laube Agency

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.59.42 PMSteve Laube, president and founder of The Steve Laube Agency, is a 33-year veteran of the bookselling industry. He began his career in the bookselling arena and his store in Phoenix was named the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) store of the year in 1989. He then spent 11 years with Bethany House Publishers rising to the position of an editorial director. In 2002 he was named the AWSA Golden Scroll Editor of the Year. The next year he became a literary agent and in 2004 formed The Steve Laube Agency. In 2009 he was named the ACFW Agent of the Year. In 2013 he was inducted into the Grand Canyon University Hall-of-Fame by their College of Theology. [UPDATE: STEVE IS SOLD OUT OF PITCH TIME]

Steve has very eclectic interests. He has represented everything from the sweet romance to the systematic theology. His clients are equally divided between fiction and non-fiction writers.


We Primarily Serve the Christian Market

We make no apology for specializing in books written from a Christian worldview. That means we sell books wherever publishers are receptive to books from that perspective. Usually those are Christian publishing companies. But we can sell books to the general market…if that publisher is interested in the content of the book our client has created.

We won’t represent books that are contrary to a Christian worldview. Recently I received a proposal claiming their novel included “vivid sex, graphic torture, romance, comedy….” Another proposed a non-fiction book that redefined sin as something that is actually unbiblical and should not be taught. Obviously neither author had done their homework regarding our agency.

I’m Looking for Fiction

Note that I am a very eclectic reader which reflects my work as an agent. I represent authors who write in the following genres: Women’s fiction, romance, thriller, suspense, romantic suspense, literary, military, historical (all eras), contemporary, science-fiction, fantasy, supernatural, YA… in other words, every genre published in the industry.

I’m Looking for Nonfiction

My eclectic tastes are exhibited by the types of non-fiction books and authors represented. Christian Living, biography, memoir, apologetics, theology, bible study, reference, health, finance, self-help, psychology, grief, suffering, marriage, family, women’s, men’s, philosophy, church life, devotional, inspirational, social issues, politics, parenting, music, and art. The subjects are vast and the opportunities endless.

I am looking for unique ideas by great writers. But as the market has changed, so has some of the demands on the non-fiction author. Your project has to be more than an extended magazine article. It has to have something special that will make the major publisher jump at the chance to invest in you and your work. It can be your platform. It can be the power of your idea. It can be that your writing is unique and compelling. And if you can bring all three I’m confident we could find you a publishing partner.

A Limit to My Expertise

Please do not send your children’s picture book ideas. Please do not send me your cookbook ideas.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Patricia Nelson of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency


(Update: Patricia is sold out of pitch appts for  Phoenix, and only has a few Tucson spots left.)

Patricia Nelson joined the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency as assistant to Kevan Lyon before becoming an acquiring agent at the agency. Previously, she interned at The Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency and in the children’s division at Running Press.

Patricia represents adult and young adult fiction, and is actively looking to build her list. She is a fiction generalist, and will take pitches on the whole gamut of literary and commercial adult fiction.

On the adult side, she is particularly interested in literary fiction and commercial fiction in the New Adult, women’s fiction, and romance genres. For YA, she is looking for contemporary/realistic fiction as well YA mystery/thriller, horror, magical realism, science fiction and fantasy. She is also interested in finding exciting multicultural and LGBTQ fiction, both YA and adult. In general, Patricia loves stories with complex characters that jump off the page and thoughtfully drawn, believable relationships – along with writing that makes her feel completely pulled into these characters’ lives and worlds.

Patricia received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 2008, and also holds a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the world of publishing, she spent four years as a university-level instructor of literature and writing.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 10.40.59 AMFollow Patricia on Twitter at @patricianels.