Wordsmith Schedule

Wordsmith 2020 Schedule

This is the schedule from Virtual Wordsmith 2020 that took place in October 2020.

The 2021 schedule will be available in summer of 2021. 

This schedule is subject to change.

Thursday, October 1

CONFERENCE KICKOFF

Wordsmith will kickoff on Thursday afternoon with a few sessions to get you ready for the weekend! All times listed are CST.

Virtual Attendee Kickoff

When: Thursday, October 1, 3–4:30 p.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast & Zoom (see confirmation email and event app for access instructions)

In this kickoff session, Loft staff will greet you with an orientation to your virtual conference. We'll discuss logistics, schedules, approaches, and answer any questions. Then we'll break and for those interested, we'll divide you into genre conversation groups to get to know some of your fellow attendees.

Ask the Agent

When: Thursday, October 1, 5–6 p.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast (see confirmation email or event app for access instructions)

Before anyone meets with an agent, we're going to kickoff the conference with a Q&A session with visiting agents Saritza Hernandez, Sarah Bowlin, Kayla Lightner, and Sharon Pelletier. We'll discuss agent/client info, how book deals happen, what agents are looking for in pitches and potential clients, and other insider publishing questions. Then we'll open up the conversation for audience questions as well.

Friday, October 2

SESSIONS AND ONE-ON-ONES

The conference will kickoff in earnest on Friday with three general sessions throughout the day and two blocks of pitches and consultations. All general sessions are recorded and available after the session ends if you cannot attend live. All times listed are CST. 

Keynote with Nicola Yoon

When: Friday, October 2, 9–10 a.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast (see confirmation email instructions or event app for access link)

Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Both her novels have been made into major motion pictures. In this session, she'll talk about her journey as a writer and what she recommends to her fellow writers.

Pitches and Consultations: Block 1

When: Friday, October 2, 10:30 a.m.–noon CST
Where: Zoom (check your email and event app for specific times and links)

Pitches and consultations will be formally scheduled after the registration refund cutoff date of September 9. You should keep all pitch and consultation time slots available until scheduling takes place. Final schedules will be sent out by email and conference app the week of September 14. If you do not have a pitch or consultation scheduled during this block, this is unscheduled time for you.

Pitches: Saritza Hernandez, Sarah Bowlin, Latoya Smith, Kate Johnson, Mary C. Moore, Sharon Pelletier, Christina Hogrebe

Consults: Kayla Lightner, Steve Woodward, Phoebe Yeh, Alison Fairbrother

All Conference Read: Megha Majumdar's A Burning

When: Friday, October 2, 12:30–1:30 p.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast (see confirmation email instructions or event app for access link)

Debut best-selling novelist Megha Majumdar will discuss the writing choices she made in A Burning. This is an amazing way to learn about process and writing choices from an author of one of the biggest books of the year. We encourage all attendees to come to this session having read A Burning, and bring your questions for her during the Q&A period. Moderated by Allison Wyss.

You can obtain a copy of A Burning via the Loft Wordsmith Bookshop page.

Pitches and Consultations: Block 2

When: Friday, October 2, 2–3:30 p.m. CST
Where: Zoom (check your email and event app for specific times and links)

Pitches and consultations will be formally scheduled after the registration refund cutoff date of September 9. You should keep all pitch and consultation time slots available until scheduling takes place. Final schedules will be sent out by email and conference app the week of September 14. If you do not have a pitch or consultation scheduled during this block, this is unscheduled time for you.

Pitches: Latoya Smith, Kayla Lightner, Zabé Ellor, Dani Segelbaum, Alexa Stark, Kat Kerr, Nicole Resciniti (with Marisa Cleveland), Aemilia Phillips

Consults: Saritza Hernandez, Sarah Bowlin, Stephanie Winter, Kristina Marie Darling

Ask the Editor

When: Friday, October 2, 4–5 p.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast (see confirmation email instructions or event app for access link)

What is the role of the editor? What kinds of things do they look for and what is the best way to approach the editor/author relationship? In this session, moderated by agent Savannah Brooks, a panel of editors will share their perspectives. There will be lots of time for audience Q&A, so come prepared with questions!

Saturday, October 3

SESSIONS AND ONE-ON-ONES

The conference continues Saturday with three more general sessions and two more blocks of pitches and consultations. All general sessions are recorded and available after the session ends if you cannot attend live. All times listed are CST. 

Got To Serve Somebody: Writing To, With, For, and About

When: Saturday, October 3, 9–10 a.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast (see confirmation email instructions or event app for access link)

There’s a lot of writing advice about finding your audience, much of it framed in terms of sales. But there’s another, deeper question that doesn’t get enough attention: as a writer, to whom are you accountable? In this session, we’ll explore where your voice is anchored and how you see your writing expressing accountability to those communities or audiences. For some of us, the answers may be highly personal—an extended family or immediate community. Others serve an idea of truth or beauty embodied in a beloved writer or teacher we hold in mind and heart. Others see their work as pursuing a culture of possibility, even in dark times, expressing accountability through a vision of healing the world. There’s no single right answer, but the question is urgent and necessary. 

Pitches and Consultations: Block 3

When: Saturday, October 3, 10:30 a.m.–noon CST
Where: Zoom (check your email and event app for specific times and links)

Pitches and consultations will be formally scheduled after the registration refund cutoff date of September 9. You should keep all pitch and consultation time slots available until scheduling takes place. Final schedules will be sent out by email and conference app the week of September 14. If you do not have a pitch or consultation scheduled during this block, this is unscheduled time for you.

Pitches: Latoya Smith, Dani Segelbaum, Stephanie Winter, James McGowan, Jennifer Chen Tran, Samantha Fabien, Henry Thayer, Aemilia Phillips

Consults: Kate Johnson, Kristina Marie Darling, Courtney Stevenson, Steve Woodward

Today's Key Book Publishing Paths: What's New, What's Old, and What's Right for You?

When: Saturday, October 3, 12:30–1:30 p.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast (see confirmation email instructions or event app for access link)

Over the last decade, the publishing industry has undergone tremendous evolution due to the growth of online retail and digital books, as well as the power of any author to publish and distribute their work at the click of a button. But which path is right for you and your book—and how do you sift through the increasing number of hybrid publishers and services that make a lot of promises, but cost you a lot upfront?

Jane discusses everything you need to know about how book publishing operates today, in plain English, to help you understand the pros and cons of every major publishing path available. She'll cover New York traditional publishing and what projects are well-suited to being represented by literary agents; the capabilities of mid-size publishers and independent publishers; how to evaluate small presses, micro-presses, and digital-only presses; what "hybrid" publishing is (or thinks it is) and how to evaluate such companies; and all forms of self-publishing and e-publishing practiced today.

You’ll learn not just the foundational principles of book publishing today, but you’ll also gain expert insight into the changing industry landscape, and how you can navigate your own path toward success. By the end of the session, you'll be able to identify which publishing option is the best to achieve your goals.

Pitches and Consultations: Block 4

When: Saturday, October 3, 2–3:30 p.m. CST
Where: Zoom (check your email and event app for specific times and links)

Pitches and consultations will be formally scheduled after the registration refund cutoff date of September 9. You should keep all pitch and consultation time slots available until scheduling takes place. Final schedules will be sent out by email and conference app the week of September 14. If you do not have a pitch or consultation scheduled during this block, this is unscheduled time for you.

Pitches: Jennifer Chen Tran, James McGowan, Zabé Ellor, Alexa Stark, Henry Thayer, Duvalle Osteen, Erik Hane

Consults: Courtney Stevenson, Mary C. Moore, Alison Fairbrother, Samantha Fabien

Craft Session: Danielle Evans

When: Saturday, October 3, 4–5 p.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast (see confirmation email instructions or event app for access link)

Join us for a craft session with Danielle Evans, winner of the PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Hurston-Wright award for fiction, and the Paterson Prize for Fiction. She is also a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts fellow. Moderated by Steph Opitz.

Sunday, October 4

SESSIONS AND ONE-ON-ONES

The conference wraps up on Sunday with three more general sessions and two more blocks of pitches and consultations. All general sessions are recorded and available after the session ends if you cannot attend live. All times listed are CST. 

Craft Session: Manuel Gonzales

When: Sunday, October 4, 9–10 a.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast (see confirmation email instructions or event app for access link)

Join us for another craft-specific general session with award-winning novelist and short story writer Manuel Gonzalez. More details about this session will be available closer to the conference. Moderated by Britt Udesen.

Pitches and Consultations: Block 5

When: Sunday, October 4, 10:30 a.m.–noon CST
Where: Zoom (check your email and event app for specific times and links)

Pitches and consultations will be formally scheduled after the registration refund cutoff date of September 9. You should keep all pitch and consultation time slots available until scheduling takes place. Final schedules will be sent out by email and conference app the week of September 14. If you do not have a pitch or consultation scheduled during this block, this is unscheduled time for you.

Pitches: James McGowan, Christina Hogrebe, Nicole Resciniti (with Marisa Cleveland), Kate Johnson, Alexa Stark, Samantha Fabien, Erik Hane, Kat Kerr

Consults: Jennifer Chen Tran, Henry Thayer, Duvall Osteen, Sharon Pelletier

Finding Your Community

When: Sunday, October 4, 12:30–1:30 p.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast (see confirmation email instructions or event app for access link)

Kristen Radtke is author of the widely celebrated graphic memoir Imagine Wanting Only This and the forthcoming collection of essays Seek You: Essays on American Loneliness. Her work frequently explores the isolation of everyday life and in this session she'll talk about how we as writers can fight against that, especially given the sometimes isolated nature of writing itself. Moderated by Rachel Yang.

Pitches and Consultations: Block 6

When: Sunday, October 4, 2–3:30 p.m. CST
Where: Zoom (check your email and event app for specific times and links)

Pitches and consultations will be formally scheduled after the registration refund cutoff date of September 9. You should keep all pitch and consultation time slots available until scheduling takes place. Final schedules will be sent out by email and conference app the week of September 14. If you do not have a pitch or consultation scheduled during this block, this is unscheduled time for you.

Pitches: Erik Hane, Kat Kerr, Stephanie Winter, Nicole Resciniti (with Marisa Cleveland), Duvall Osteen, Dani Segelbaum, Mary C. Moore

Consults: Christina Hogrebe, Phoebe Yeh, Zabé Ellor, Aemilia Phillips

Making the Best Choices in Writing and Life

When: Sunday, October 4, 4–5 p.m. CST
Where: Crowdcast (see confirmation email instructions or event app for access link)

Maria Konnikova is a New Yorker writer whose most recent book, The Biggest Bluff, tells the story of her journey from a poker novice to success at the game's highest levels. But it is more than that, her exploration of the game started with her personal journey to understand the role of luck and decision-making in all of our lives. In this closing Wordsmith session, Maria will explore how writers can weather bad luck and setback and pursue their writing goals. Moderated by Chris Jones.