WriteFest 2016

The first ever WriteFest occurred last week at the headquarters of a fantastic non-profit writing community support organization in Houston, TX, Writespace. There were two tracks- weeklong intensive workshops in a specific genre (such as speculative fiction) and the weekend panels. I was there for the Saturday panels (though I was thoroughly bummed to miss some of the Friday ones). Here’s my brief summaries of the panels I attended and of Friday night’s Keynote Address.

Friday Night Q & A with Keynote Editors, Jordan Bass, executive editor of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and Neil Clarke, publisher and editor of Clarkesworld Magazine

Editors have tremendous respect for writers…and…you’re also completely insane.

  •  Neil Clarke

We publish stories that wouldn’t be published anywhere else.

  • Jordan Bass

Panel # 1 – How to Create and Cultivate Your Personal Brand Using Social Media, Presenter  Lindsay Joyce, managing editor of Five out of Ten Magazine

Create a Personality Style Guide for each platform. Control your artifice. Give yourself a publishing schedule, use hashtags sparingly, and give valuable content.

Panel #2 – Writer as Editor / Editor as Writer, Moderated by Eric Blankenburg. Panelists: Heather Lefebvre, Sunil Patel, Casseyrenee Lopez

The panelists proposed becoming a volunteer reader for literary magazines, but any kind of critical reading other people’s work will educate a writer.

You will become more aware of what works and what doesn’t, develop a taste for well-crafted characters and conflict, see yourself in others’ work, discover what you’re up against, find the importance of thoughtful beginnings and organic hooks, and spot lazy language and word choices.

Panel #3 – Writing and Publishing Responsibly: Working Toward Equality & Inclusivity in the Literary Landscape, Moderator Julia Rios. Panelists: Neil Clarke, Kayla E., Caseyrenee Lopez, Catherine Chambers, and Adrienne Perry

Literature is a window, a mirror, and a door.

  • Catherine Chambers

Panel #4 – Anatomy of a Sale: The Short Fiction Submissions Process from Inspiration to Celebration, Presenter Sunil Patel, assistant editor of Mothership Zeta

Two words to remember – don’t self-reject!

Panel #5 – Take Me Back to the Start: What I Wish I’d Known As A New Writer, Moderator: DL Young. Panelists: Eric Blankenburg, Cassandra Rose Clarke

Goals depend on just you. Dreams depend on others.

  • Cassandra Rose Clarke


Writespace welcomes your submissions to its second anthology, In Media Res: Stories of the In-Between. They are looking for stories about characters who are thrown into or stuck between different cultures, communities, families, races, genders, self-images, dimensions, continents, etc. They want the gray area, the uncomfortable, the undefined. Give them characters that are in the middle of it all: middle children, mediators, people in the middle of their lives, in the middle of a mess–“in between.” Play with structure. Break the boundaries. Break genre.

Check out the Submission Guidelines.



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