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WRITING ON THE DOOR: Paths to Publication Conference

April 12, 2019 @ 8:00 am - April 13, 2019 @ 5:00 pm



Whether you have a completed manuscript or are just beginning to write, this two-day conference is full of help and inspiration! Authors, agents, editors, and publishers will present on a variety of topics from freelance writing for magazines, entering contests, submitting query letters, finding an agent and more!

Workshops Friday
Presentations Saturday

Registration for both days is $140; one-day registration is $80.

Coming from out of town? The Landing Resort is offering a special rate for conference attendees. Visit their website or call 1-800-851-8919.

See conference schedule below. Please note, schedule is subject to change.



8:15 – 8:45 am
Coffee and Registration, Kress Pavilion, Great Hall, 7845 Church Street, Egg Harbor

9 am – 10 am
A. The Writer’s Journey with Patricia Skalka
Award-winning author Patricia Skalka, creator of the Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery Series, discusses the ten important lessons she learned on the path to publishing her first novel.

B. Editing, Publishing, Agents, and Markets with Brett Reetz

Brett Reetz is an attorney and author who has led numerous writing labs for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). He’ll share what he has learned over the years about pitching your novel, finding a literary agent, and getting into print.

10:15 – 11:15 am
A. Organizing a Poetry Manuscript with Sharon Auberle and Ralph Murre

In this workshop we will discuss methods we have employed in organizing our own poetry collections, as well as those of others we have collaborated with and published. What is the difference between a stack of poems and a manuscript? What goes in, what goes out? How do we find order in our poems to discover theme or flow? What about self-publishing? There will be time for discussion of these and other of your questions and concerns.  The result will find you prepared to present your work in the most cohesive and interesting manner.

B. Getting in Print with Myles Dannhausen, Jr. 

For beginning writers, the first step in a new career, or the first step toward validation, isn’t a book, but simply getting something in print. Myles Dannhausen Jr., content editor of Peninsula Publishing and Distribution, will give tips for crafting pitches that catch the eye of the editor, how to connect with readers, work with editors, and how to promote your work after it’s published.

11:30 am – 12:30 pm
A. Unlocking the Mysteries of Scrivener with Liza Wiemer

Scrivener is supposed to make writing easier, but only if you know how to use it. Navigating the program is complicated. Liza Wiemer will walk you through step-by-step and help you get started. From a blank page to adding research links, photos that inspire your writing to editing, we’ll go through the tools that will make the writing experience easier. You’ll learn how to customize your screen so that Scrivener works best for you. Please bring: Laptop loaded with Scrivener, notepad, pen.

B. How I Found My Agent: One Writer’s Story with Marianne Fons

After you complete the long, sometimes lonely journey from Page One to the final draft, a whole new and arduous journey begins when your goal is publication. Iowa writer Marianne Fons offers proof that the planets do sometimes align and agent acquisition does actually happen. Tips for potential success and agent/author etiquette included.


12:30 – 1:30 pm 
LUNCH on your own; please consult guide


1:45 – 2:45 pm
A. Social Marketing Strategies for Authors with Katherine Hastings

Social media is a must for an author to have a successful career. It’s so important that your social media presence is factored in by agents and publishers looking at your manuscript while they decide if they’ll sign you. Published romance author and social media manager Katherine Hastings helps you discover the best ways to utilize social media to create your brand, sell books, and even land a publishing deal. During this hour you’ll learn the benefits of social media and why it’s the #1 tool in any author’s arsenal; how to network with other authors to help guide you and build support; and what platforms you should be active on and how to get started.

B. Writing for the Children’s Market with Lora Hyler

Remembering stories we connected with during our childhood can lead to an interest in writing stories of our own. The children’s book market is a thriving segment within the publishing world and requires authors to make the same dedication to their craft as adult book authors. One children’s book author’s journey contains insights helpful to novice writers and seasoned authors alike. Lora Hyler will discuss how her past successes in the corporate world and as an entrepreneur fueled her determination to move past publishing gatekeepers to reach her readers. She’ll share her stories in hopes of inspiring others on their journey toward publication.

3:00 – 3:45 pm

A. Enter To Win: Publishing Through Competition with Maureen Aitken and Gary Eldon Peter

Two fiction writers published their first books by submitting them to contests sponsored by literary presses. Find out how more about literary competitions, how they researched which prizes to send their work to, and the submission process, as well as how winning awards impacted how their books were marketed and promoted by their publishers. Both authors are recipients of other awards and will address how to apply for grants and what they mean for a writer’s development.

B. Write Your First Draft Fast with Valerie Clarizio
Pick up. Put down. Start. Stop. Focus in. Fade out. Too many authors get trapped in these cycles — starting with an enthusiastic beginning only to put the project aside. The cycling trap can last not just for weeks or months, but for years. Learn how to break through the cycling trap and increase productivity — and the pleasure of writing! You’ll learn tools and techniques to drive productivity and give you the results you want. You’ll also leave with tips for carving out time to write, no matter what, and have a plan to finish your book and be ready to publish.

4:00 – 5:15 pm
A. Author Panel Discussion I: Valerie Clarizio, Brett Reetz, Patricia Skalka, Liza Wiemer
A panel of authors who took different paths to publication share their experiences.

5:30 pm
Happy Hour, Fireside Restaurant, 7755 Highway 42 Cash bar; appetizers provided

A = Kress Pavilion, 7845 Church Street
B = Bertschinger Center, 7860 Highway 42 (across the street from Kress)

Saturday, April 13
All events except the last will be held at Kress Pavilion, 7845 Church Street

8:15 – 9:00 am
Registration and coffee

9:00 – 9:45 am
Editor Panel Discussion: Myles Dannhausen Jr., Laurel Duffin Hauser, Estella Lauter, Jordan Safranski, and Jason A. Smith
Hear from editors of magazines, literary journals, and anthologies what they hope to find in their submissions.

10:10 – 11:00 am 
Meet the Agent: Kelly Van Sant
Kelly Van Sant of Red Sofa Literary Agency shares what agents are looking for and how to go about finding one. Red Sofa Literary is a boutique agency representing authors all over the world. Their mission is to celebrate a life of reading and geek culture, where brains always win over brawn.

11:10 am – noon
Behind the Book with Chris Mackenzie Jones
Author Chris Mackenzie Jones traces the life history of eleven debut books from a variety of different authors, genres, and approaches. The end result is a rich tapestry of case studies demonstrating how the modern author can approach their own path to publication.

Noon – 1: 15 pm   
Lunch on your own; please consult guide

1:30 – 2:45 pm 
Meet the Publishers: Katie Dublinski and Chris Fischbach
Publishers from two of the finest literary presses in the country, Coffee House Press and Graywolf Press, share insight into the publishing world. Coffee House and Graywolf have published authors who have been finalists for or won American Book Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Coffee House’s authors include Patricia Smith, Ron Padgett, Kao Kalia Yang, Ben Lerner, and Anne Waldman. Among Graywolf’s authors are United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, William Stafford, Per Petterson, Elizabeth Alexander, and Charles Baxter.

3:15 – 4:30 pm
Author Panel Discussion II: Maureen Aitken, Katherine Hastings, Lora Hyler, Gary Eldon Peter
A panel of authors who took different paths to publication share their experiences.
Please note, this session only takes place at Shipwrecked Brew Pub, 7791 Highway 42


Maureen Aitken is the recipient of the Nilsen Prize for her collection of stories, The Patron Saint of Lost Girls (2018).  The collection has earned a Kirkus Star and three Pushcart Prize nominations. The book is also a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. She has also won the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Artist Initiative Grant, the Loft Mentor Award, an award in Ireland’s Fish Short Story Prize, and a grant from the SASE/Jerome Foundation. Stories in her collection have been published in journals such as Prairie SchoonerThe Journal, Puerto del Sol and the international anthology, The Bering Strait and Other Stories. She teaches writing in the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota, where she received her MFA degree.

Sharon Auberle is a poet and photographer who fell in love with Door County in 1984 and made it her home in 2008.  She has a number of poetry collections, four of which include collaborations with other poets. Her latest book is a poetry/sketch collaboration with poet and artist Jeanie Tomasko, titled Dovetail, which won the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Annual Chapbook Prize.   In April, 2017, she was appointed Poet Laureate of Door County, a two year post through April of 2019.  Auberle is a passionate lover of water, trees, and dachshunds, not necessarily in that order.

Valerie Clarizio is a USA Today bestselling author who lives in romantic Door County Wisconsin with her husband and extremely spoiled cat. She’s proud to call herself a Door County Native! Valerie loves to read, write, and spend time at her cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She’s lived her life surrounded by men, three brothers, a husband, and a male Siamese cat who required his own instruction manual. Keeping up with all the men in her life has turned her into an outdoors enthusiast, of which her favorite activity is hiking in national parks. While out on the trails, she has plenty of time to conjure up irresistible characters and unique storylines for her next romantic suspense or sweet contemporary romance novel.

Myles Dannhausen Jr. is the content editor of the Peninsula Pulse and Door County Living magazine, co-founder of Peninsula Filmworks, and minority owner of Peninsula Publishing and Distribution. He has also contributed to Running Times, Wisconsin People & Ideas, All About Beer and dozens of other websites and publications. . Like everyone else, someday he’ll write a book.

Katie Dublinski is Associate Publisher at Graywolf Press. She oversees book production and art direction, handles subsidiary rights, and occasionally acquires fiction and nonfiction titles.

Chris Fischbach became publisher of Coffee House Press in July 2011, after sixteen years in various editorial roles. He has served as co-chair of the Minneapolis Arts Commission and as assistant director of the Twin Cities Book Festival, and currently sits on the board of directors of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

After a career in the quilting industry that included writing the most popular quilting book of all time (over 500,000 copies sold), Marianne Fons returned to her literary roots, researching and writing Frankenstein author Mary Shelley’s fake autobiography, and embedding it in an exterior, modern-day story. My Life with Shelley was agented last year, and Fons is well into a second manuscript, this one taking its inspiration from Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

Katherine Hastings loves love. It’s why she writes romance novels. Getting lost writing a romantic adventure is one of her favorite pastimes. When she’s not on an adventure with her characters, she can be found at her home in Wisconsin snuggling her husband, two Boston Terriers, and the world’s naughtiest cat. Two things make Katherine want to leave her happy home these days… going for rides on her dressage pony or floating at the beach in her big inflatable raft. Writing her novels while floating in the lake is one of her ultimate pleasures… that and Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds, of course.

Laurel Duffin Hauser is a freelance writer and editor and is Managing Editor of The Washington Island Observer. Her articles and essays have been featured in This Wisconsin Life, Door County Living, and in the anthology The Nature of Door, and elsewhere. She serves on the Sturgeon Bay City Council.

Lora Hyler’s debut middle grade novel, The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes, was published in March 2018. She’s now working on the second in a three-part series, which features multicultural superheroes, science and spy gadgets, with a bit of American history and black spies rounding out the adventures. Her love of reading and writing led to a career in journalism, corporate communications management, and starting her own public relations and marketing company.  She is an active member of the Wisconsin chapter of the global Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Lora is a popular presenter for children and adult groups, speaking about overcoming obstacles to follow one’s passion in life.

Chris Mackenzie Jones is the author of Behind the Book. He has spent the past eight years working at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, one of the largest and most respected literary arts centers in the country. In his time at the Loft, he has met numerous aspiring and successful writers, and he believes that all writers can learn valuable lessons through example, which is why he wrote the book. Chris is also a published poet and received his MFA from the University of Florida in Gainesville. He lives in Saint Paul.

Since her retirement from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh as Chair of the English Department, Estella Lauter has reveled in the writing community, publishing four chapbooks with Finishing Line Press. She was appointed Poet Laureate of Door County for 2013-2015, during which time she founded the Door County Poets Collective to publish an anthology, Soundings: Door County in Poetry (Caravaggio Press, 2015). She co-edited the 2017 Poets Calendar for WFOP with Francha Barnard on the theme of water.

Ralph Murre, as a poet, has written and co-written several well-received books and seen them through the publication process.  And as editor/publisher of Little Eagle Press, he has helped others turn seemingly random acts of art and poetry into meaningful, successful, and sometimes acclaimed manuscripts.  His work in this field has aided heretofore unknowns as well as some celebrated poets in the creation of memorable chapbooks, collections, and anthologies. Murre is a long-time resident of Door County, Wisconsin, and served as the county’s poet laureate from 2015 to 2017.

Gary Eldon Peter’s short stories have appeared in Callisto, Water~Stone Review, Great River Review, and other publications. His linked short story collection, Oranges, won the 2016 New Rivers Press Many Voices Project competition in Prose, was a finalist for the 2015 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and was published by New Rivers Press in Fall 2018. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College as well as a JD from William Mitchell College of Law. He has worked as a judicial law clerk and as a lawyer in private law practice, and spent many years working in the legal publishing industry.

Brett Reetz is a lawyer and novelist. Originally from Chicago, he has resided in Door County for more than twenty years. He enjoys alpine skiing, scuba diving, fishing, hunting and, of course, writing. He has always viewed the writing of fiction to be a quest much superior to his other job.

Jordan Safranski is Editor-in-Chief of Sheepshead Review, a literary journal published through the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Patricia Skalka is the award-winning author of the Dave Cubiak Door County mysteries: Death Stalks Door County; Death at Gills Rock; Death in Cold Water, winner of the Edna Ferber Fiction Award; Death Rides the Ferry; and, Death by the Bay, available spring 2019.  “A first rate series” says Kirkus. Previously as a nonfiction writer, Skalka wrote for Reader’s Digest and other national magazines. She is president of Sisters in Crime Chicagoland and a member of the Wisconsin chapter, The Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America Midwest, Wisconsin Writers Association, and Society of Midland Authors. Skalka divides her time between Chicago and Door County.

Jason A. Smith is the associate director of the Wisconsin Academy and editor of the organization’s quarterly magazine of Wisconsin thought and culture, Wisconsin People & Ideas.
Since 1954, Wisconsin People & Ideas has been a trusted resource for people who are curious about Wisconsin life and proud of Wisconsin ideas. The quarterly magazine of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, Wisconsin People & Ideas features fiction and poetry, showcases new works from artists and photographers, and covers science and environmental issues that affect our people, lands, and waters. The magazine also hosts annual fiction and poetry contests for Wisconsin writers that award cash prizes up to $500, publication in the magazine, a reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival, a writer’s residency at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts, and more.

Kelly Van Sant has nearly a decade of experience in the publishing industry. She cut her teeth in New York working at esteemed literary agencies such as Writers House and Harold Ober Associates, where she developed an eye for compelling, emotionally resonant stories, honed her editorial skills, and soon grew adept at contract vetting. She quickly gained expertise in subsidiary rights management, with focuses on audio rights, foreign rights, and permissions. She is now a literary agent at Red Sofa Literary and is actively building a client list.

Liza Wiemer is an award-winning educator with twenty-five years of teaching experience. Hello?, her debut realistic contemporary YA novel, is set in Door County, Wisconsin, and was published by Spencer Hill Press, NY. It was named a Goodreads Best Young Adult Novel. Paste Magazine called it “one the most original novels of the year.” In addition, Liza has had two adult non-fiction books published. Several of her short stories were included in the New York Times bestselling Small Miracles series. Inspired by a true story, her latest YA novel, The Assignment, was acquired by Beverly Horowitz and will be published by Delacorte in the fall of 2020.


April 12, 2019 @ 8:00 am
April 13, 2019 @ 5:00 pm
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Donald and Carol Kress Pavilion
Egg Harbor, WI 54209 + Google Map