The 13th Annual Rochester Writers’ Conference will be held online on Saturday, October 17, 2020. This streamlined virtual event will be live and recorded. Attendees will be able to participate on the day of, as well as it will be viewable on demand afterwards to all registered attendees. That way, attendees may re-watch the event and those who cannot join us live on October 17 can still watch at a later date.

Register to VIEW the Virtual 2020 Conference On Demand. Payments are secure through Pay Pal (you don’t need a Pay Pal account to sign up) and they accept Credit and Debit cards. A link will be sent by email within 24 hours with information on how to access the online conference. Make sure your email is up-to-date with Pay Pal, or send us your preferred email address once you have registered (rochesterwriters@gmail.com). Thank you.

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Presentations run 50-minutes with a short break between speakers.

Lisa Howard

Lisa Howard

How to Build Your Author Platform: Whether you’re self-publishing or seeking an agent, you need a platform. Ditto for whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction books or articles or blog posts – these days, everybody needs a platform in order to create their unique brand, connect with potential readers, and grow as a communicator and writer. While it might sound a bit overwhelming, building a platform can actually be a lot of fun! (And it can lead to finding new sources of income.) During this session, we’ll define what a “platform” is and explore ways that each of us can focus on and expand our particular niche. Presented by Lisa Howard

Carrie Pearson

Fiction, Nonfiction, and Shades of Grey In Between: The rise in innovative and engaging children’s nonfiction books has opened a world of writing possibilities for creators. It has also opened Pandora’s Box of Confusion. What can be included (or not) in a manuscript and still be considered nonfiction? What about a story that blends elements of fiction and nonfiction? What about dialogue? Can I invent it if I can’t find the actual conversation, but I’m reasonably sure the subject would have said it? Where will my nonfiction manuscript fit within the categories of nonfiction? What are agents and editors seeking? This session will help writers better understand the world of children’s nonfiction books so they know what they want to write – and what they don’t. Presented by Carrie A. Pearson

Alice Speilburg

Opening Pages: The opening pages of a manuscript often determine whether an agent or editor will read two paragraphs, two chapters, or the full manuscript before making a decision on an author’s work. Literary Agent Alice Speilburg will offer insight to the way she and other industry professionals read sample chapters – what they look for, what makes them cringe, and what makes them jump up with excitement. Perfect for those who are about to send out their work for the first time, and for those who would like some feedback on what they might improve, attendees will leave with a better understanding of common pitfalls and opening scenes to avoid, and the keys to a compelling hook and an irresistible opening page. Presented by Alice Speilburg

Amy Nielander

Amy Nielander

Committing Yourself to Creativity: Are you maximizing your storytelling potential? Writing can be mentally exhausting these days. When you add limited time to work on your craft, rejections and frustrating sticking points, our creativity suffers. If you are struggling to find inspiration, join children’s book Author Illustrator, Amy Nielander and renew your commitment to creativity. She will discuss how developing a writing routine, practicing acceptance and building simple life experiences have helped her focus and discover new characters with stories to tell. This session will also explore constrained creativity and provide helpful resources for writers. Presented by Amy Nielander


  • 9:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Welcome
  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. How to Build Your Author Platform
  • 10:50 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. 10-Minute Break
  • 11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Fiction, Nonfiction, and Shades of Grey In Between
  • 11:50 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. 20-Minute Break
  • 12:10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Opening Pages
  • 1:00 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. 10-Minute Break
  • 1:10 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Committing Yourself to Creativity
  • 2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Closing Remarks

Handouts for Attendees