Logo for Print

Sierra Writers' Conference

  • Share
    • Email

Event held at Sierra College

Friday: January 20, 2017

- $55 separate from the conference fee.

2:30 - 5:00 – Critique Fest

Critique Fest will be led by Sands Hall, author of a book of writing essays and exercises, Tools of the Writer’s Craft. A popular teacher, she leads workshops and lectures for such conferences as the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, She is currently an adjunct assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Franklin & Marshall College, in Lancaster, PA, where she is also the editor of the F&M Alumni Arts Review.

The spots for this session are limited. So if you're interested in this opportunity, we suggest you register early.

Joining Sands are five incredible authors and an agent. You can click on their names below to find out more about them.

Catharine Bramkamp: Author of 15 books, co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast that focuses on newer writers and their concerns, dynamic writing coach and Chief Storytelling Officer for Winesecrets.

Kim Culbertson: Award-winning author of five YA novels. Much of her inspiration for her novels comes from the work she’s done as a high school teacher for the last eighteen years.

Dimitri Keriotis: Author of short fiction, writing instructor and co-founder of High Sierra Institute.

Chris Olander: Poet/Teacher with California Poets in the Schools (CPITS) since 1984.

Jordan Fisher Smith: Nonfiction author of Nature Noir and Engineering Eden, freelancer for TIME.com, New Yorker, and Discover, narrator of the Oscar-shortlisted film “Under Our Skin.”

Jennifer Chen Tran - associate literary agent, Fuse Literary Agency.

How this session will work:

Attendees bring a piece of their writing and 9 copies.
Sands offers these thoughts: The piece is limited to 250 words. Can be the opening of a story or novel. Can be a bit of a scene. An exchange of dialogue. Can introduce a character. Can be a transition between the end of one scene and the beginning of another. An important description: setting up a scene. If there is any introductory material, it is part of the 250 words. (EG: Jane's mom died and she's moved to Greece and is now raising hogs.) But readers will usually get things from context.

Mini-workshop on "Workshopping" to help everyone understand the purpose and "rules" of critiquing. Led by Sands, this is will be about 15-20 minutes. 

Small groups of eight will form with an instructor who facilitate introductions and make sure everyone understands the process. (You will draw numbers as you enter the room to determine which group and instructor you will be with.)

Peer and instructor critique. After introductions, group members will read their piece and receive critique from the group and the instructor. Group members will write notes on each piece of writing, express their thoughts and suggestions during the critique period, and give the annotated writings to the writer. Therefore, each writer will receive oral and written critique, as well as practice giving the same.

Limited time. The instructors will act as time-keepers to ensure that everyone gets critiqued.

Saturday: January 21, 2017 from 9:00-5:00

- $65 early bird and $85 after Dec. 31st (general admission) and $15 for students early or at the door.

8:15 - Doors open for registration, conversation, book sales. Coffee and light breakfast.
9:00 - Welcome by Lynette Vrooman, Sierra College and Hock Tjoa, Sierra Writers' Group
Emcee: Jordan Fisher Smith, welcoming remarks and introduction of keynote speaker
9:30 - 10:30 - Molly Fisk keynote on the Creative Writing Life
10:30 - 10:50 - Break and book sales. Refreshments
10:50 - 11:50 Session 1 Choices: Tracks & Instructors
Craft of Writing - Jordan Fisher Smith, nonfiction
Marketing & Publishing - Catharine Bramkamp, fiction, writing coach
Guided Critique** - Rachel Howard, nonfiction, memoir, writing coach
The Road to Success - Kim Culbertson, young adult fiction
11:50 - 1:00 - Lunch with 2 roundtable sessions with authors
(Box lunches can be ordered in advance.)
1:10 - 2:10 - Session 2 Choices: Tracks & Instructors
Craft of Writing - Chris Olander, poetry
Marketing & Publishing - Judie Rae, articles and essays
Guided Critique** - Bob Jenkins, science fiction
Success Stories/Q&A - Mary Volmer, historical fiction
2:10 - 2:30 - Break and book sales. Refreshments
2:30 - 3:30 - Session 3 Choices: Tracks & Instructors
Craft of Writing - C.S. Lakin, fiction, writing coach
Marketing & Publishing - Mark Wiederanders, historical fiction
Guided Critique** - Dimitri Keriotis, fiction
The Road to Success - Frank DeCourten, nonfiction
3:30 - 3:40 - Proceed to auditorium.
3:40 - 4:00 - Poetry interlude with Iven Lourie and The Poets Quartet
4:00 - 4:50 - Panel discussion focusing on the themes of the day and last questions: Kim Culbertson, moderator, Jordan Fisher Smith, Mary Volmer and Mark Wiederanders
4:50 - 5:00 Go forth and write! closing remarks:
Jordan Fisher Smith, Lynette Vrooman, Hock Tjoa


Saturday workshop author/instructors organized by track and session time.

Theory/Info: Craft and Inspiration - how to, with details and examples.

  • Jordan Fisher Smith: Finding the Power in your Nonfiction Story, Session 1, 10:50 - 11:50
  • Chris Olander: The Love Poem, Session 2, 1:10 - 2:10
  • C.S. Lakin: How Fiction Writers Can Effectively Show Emotion in Their Scenes, Session 3, 2:30 - 3:30

Theory/Info: Marketing and Publishing - how to, with details and examples.

  • Catharine Bramkamp: A million other voices - Social Media. How to start, how to stay, how to conquer. Session 1, 10:50 - 11:50:
  • Judie Rae: Build Your Author Platform and Market Articles, Essays and Poetry. Session, 2, 1:10 - 2:10
  • Mark Wiederanders: Finding Subjects to Write about that Up the Odds of Publication, Session 3, 2:30 - 3:30:

Experiential: Guided Critique** - hands on exploration of examples or attendees’ work.

  • Rachel Howard: The Art of Going Deeper: How to Move Out of "Fix It" Mode to Offer (and Receive) Truly Helpful Feedback, Session 1, 10:50 - 11:50
  • Bob Jenkins: * The Magic of Feedback that “Lifts” Your Work (Fiction), Session 2, 1:10 - 2:10
  • Dimitri Keriotis: Finding Your Arc, Session 3, 2:30 - 3:30

Experiential: The Road to Success - highlights of author's writing successes with extended Q&A session.

  • Kim Culbertson: The Writing Life (Fiction), Session 1, 10:50 - 11:50
  • Mary Volmer: The Artist and the Athlete (Fiction), Session 2, 1:10 - 2:10
  • Frank DeCourten: Telling Nature's Story: transforming scientific research into literature (Nonfiction), Session 3, 2:30 - 3:30

Bob Jenkins would like for attendees to submit their writing samples in advance. Please see his page for specific instructions.

** If you plan to attend one or more of the Guided Critique sessions, please bring a brief piece of your work (no more than 1000 words) that can be shared in class. Each instructor will design your time together in their own ways and you may or may not get a chance to share your work.

Lunch Note: All the instructors will be available at lunch roundtables (which may or may not be square). You will have two rounds of 30 minutes to chat with authors of your choice.

Latest Update
Featured Video