Virginia Beach Writers’ Conference to Connect Writers with Literary Agents, Editors, and Publishers

2 May 2013

Hampton Roads Writers, Inc. (HRW), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for writers to achieve publication success, will host its fifth annual conference in Virginia Beach, September 19-21, 2013, at the Westin Town Center hotel.  The multi-day conference will provide opportunities for attendees to hone their writing craft, pitch their book manuscripts to New York literary agents actively seeking clients, and network with writers and other writing professionals.
“We are proud of the expansive selection of workshops offered this year,” said Lauran Strait, HRW founder and President of the Board of Directors. “There’s something for all writers at the conference.”

In total, attendees will be able to choose from twenty-eight workshops, covering topics such as poetry, screenplays, fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and the business of getting published.  “Since most of the craft workshops will be interactive, we expect that attendees will depart the sessions with short works-in-progress in hand,” said Strait.

The conference kicks off the evening of September 19 when attendees may choose from four workshops.  One workshop designed to help writers pitch their manuscripts to a literary agent is expected to fill to capacity as more and more writers take advantage of the free ten-minute agent pitch sessions that have come to be a popular feature of the HRW conferences.  “Last year, of the more than seventy-five conference attendees who pitched,” said Strait, “a few were subsequently asked to submit full manuscripts.”  This year’s agents include Ethan Vaughan, from Kimberley Cameron and Associates, and Jeff Ourvan, of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.

Friday’s keynote speaker will be Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of the WAKE Trilogy, the VISIONS series, and the UNWANTEDS series.  Kevin Maurer, award-winning reporter and New York Times bestselling co-author of No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden will deliver the keynote on Saturday.  McMann and Maurer also will lead several one-hour workshops.

Other workshop presenters include fiction writers Clifford Garstang, Lydia Netzer, Jeff Andrews, and Chantelle Aimée Osman, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Mitch Weiss, author and Certified Public Accountant Jack Downs, and poet Jeanne Larsen.

Three writers’ contests offered as a free component of the conference allow attendees an opportunity to win cash prizes.  Anyone who registers for the conference on or before July 26 may submit a short story, a nonfiction piece, and/or a poem for competition.  Winners will be announced and awarded prizes at the conclusion of the conference on September 21.  Prizes range from $100 to $250, and it’s possible for entrants to win something in all three categories.

One of the most eagerly anticipated segments of past conferences, the First-10-Line Critique sessions, will occur again this year on Friday and Saturday mornings.  Agents and bestselling authors who make up the critiquing panel aren’t afraid to say what they think about the work and whether they would continue reading or not, and often they offer suggestions for improvement.

“Each year we lengthen the critique sessions to accommodate as many first-ten-line submissions as possible,” said Nancy Blumenberg, HRW’s Vice President and Publicity Director. “Since attendees aren’t told ahead of time if their work will be read, everyone who submitted something sits poised in anxious anticipation, wondering if their work will be picked for critique.”

A book store that features books on writing craft and the business of publishing and also books written by HRW members attending the conference will be available for attendees.

An optional networking social with silent auction will occur from 5 – 7 PM on Friday, September 20.  Proceeds from the auction will be used, in part, to provide full and partial scholarships to HRW’s Traveling Pen Series workshops and to the conference.  New York Times bestselling authors, Michael Palmer and Lisa McMann, as well as a host of other local and not so local writers and businesses, have donated items to the auction.

Businesses interested in advertising, exhibiting, or distributing samples or premiums during the conference, or donating products or services for the silent auction are welcome to contact HRW at  “The conference bags given to all attendees offer Blockbuster and Award-Winner sponsors the perfect opportunity for advertisement,” said Blumenberg.  “Their logos emblazoned on the bags will be seen throughout the conference and then beyond since the bag is perfect for carrying around books and other things.”

Early bird registration for the conference is $175 for HRW members and $215 for nonmembers and will conclude July 26.  The fee climbs to $215 for HRW members and $255 for nonmembers after that.  Conference fees include lunch both days, the conference bag filled with goodies, and a complete set of handouts from every workshop.  Annual HRW membership — which can be had for as little as $35 — confers substantial price reductions for all HRW fee-based activities.

Hampton Roads Writers, 150 members strong and growing, supports Virginia’s established and emerging writers.  For additional information about HRW or the conference, visit or email Lauran Strait at, or call Donna at  757-639-6146 .

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