Break Out Conference Sessions

Keynote Speaker

Break Out Session

Editor & Agent Pitch

Download Breakout Schedule Here

Break Out Conference Sessions Schedule

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Rice University Campus

6100 Main Street, Houston TX

Houston Writers Guild is proud to announce the 2017 Annual April Guild Breakout Conference Session information schedule and speaker biographies.  Each conference session was strategically chosen to integrate diverse mediums, genres and techniques.  Additionally, in the spirit of our Annual April Conference theme, the sessions are designed to help you connect the dots and successfully integrate community, craft and career.

conference speaker Legal Issues for Writers with Manning Wolfe

Conference Session Information:

Knowledge of intellectual property rights and copyright protections are essential topics relevant to every art form.  In this conference session, Manning Wolfe will review:

  • The various copyright options, offers, and what they mean
  • How to use trademarked products in your project, such as Coca-Cola® or Lone Star® beer.
  • Avoiding libelous statements
  • Using stock or trademarked graphics and pictures
  • Obtaining an International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
  • Tax obligations for contract or freelance pay…and more

Handouts will be provided, reviewing the conference session information, and allowing for deeper independent study of the topics.


Conference Speaker Biography:

Manning Wolfe is an author and attorney residing in Austin, Texas. After many years of storytelling, Manning has written a legal thriller series involving a Texas attorney based in Austin. The first in the series, Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs. Boots King was the winner of the 2014 Writer’s League of Texas Manuscript Contest. A graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, she specializes in business law. Visit her website

conference speaker The Ins and Outs of Memoir Writing with Keva DeVelle Horry

Conference Session Information:

Have you ever felt compelled to tell your own story to the world? Is there some part of your life you want or need to share? In this conference session, Keva DeVelle Horry will talk about the emotions involved in writing about your life and sharing it with strangers.  In addition, she will discuss how to create a compelling story that will capture reader’s interest.

Conference Speaker Biography:

Keva DeVelle Horry is a native of Tuscaloosa, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Alabama. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and is the recipient of The Alice Walker Award for Outstanding Work in the Humanities. Keva stays busy raising her son, Camron.  She also serves as the Executive Director of The Ashlyn Horry Foundation. The Foundation was established in May 2008 in honor of her late daughter, Ashlyn, who was diagnosed with 1p36 Deletion Syndrome. Keva now resides in a suburb of Houston, Texas.

conference speaker Script Foibles: The 20 Mistakes a Screenwriter Should Never Make with John Thomas

Conference Session Information:

In this informative conference session, presenter John Thomas will highlight the most frequent mistakes rookie screenwriters make. With a list compiled by a group of agents, producers and directors, John will share the many small, simple errors that result in your screenplay being tossed in the trash and never read.

Conference Speaker Biography:

John, originally from Florida, moved to Hollywood after high school. He attended USC School of Film and Television, and upon graduation,John focused on documentaries. During the next 10 years he made just short of 40 documentaries, shorts and television programs on subjects as varied as aviation, genetic engineering, solar energy and bluegrass music. He picked up dozens of national and international awards and gained valuable experience which he still draws on today.

In 1982 he made his first feature, the memorable “Tin Man,” which was selected as the Official U.S. entry at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
His feature films have been shown on HBO, Showtime, all national networks, syndication and in over 40 countries worldwide.
His first book, “Making the Tin Man,” has recently been published.

With an MA and MFA in Screenwriting he teaches writing and filmmaking at several colleges and universities. He is a signatory of the major Hollywood guilds, is a long-time member of the National Television Academy and is listed in “Who’s Who in America in Entertainment.” Thomas enjoys flying (an
instrument-rated pilot), fine furniture building and fishing. Married, with two daughters, he lives in the Houston area and is still trying to summon the nerve to try stand-up comedy.

conference speaker Who’s Telling Your Story?  Finding Your Narrative Voice to Immerse Your Readers with Julian Kindred

Conference Session Information:

We are all familiar with the basic points of view used to tell stories: third, first, and occasionally even second. But who is actually telling your story? The author? A character? Someone else entirely? And just as important, how does your narrator go about telling your story? The focus of this conference session will be to determine not only who is telling your story, but how this decision and style can more deeply immerse your reader in the experience. This conference session will teach you how to use your narrative voice to engage your audience and bring your story to life.

Conference Speaker Biography:

Julian Kindred is the former president of the Houston Writers Guild and author of The Hawkridge Chronicles. He has spent the last few years pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing, Editing, and Publishing, studying narrative theory while working with Texas Review Press and the International English Honors Society. During this time he has published 5 novels and continues to write more.  Find Julian at



conference speaker Cutting Through the Noise:  Crafting the Query that Editors Will Read with Doug Grad   


Conference Session Information:

The querying process can be complex and daunting for even seasoned authors.  In this conference session, literary agent Doug Grad will demystify query letters and provide helpful tips for crafting an appealing query.  If you have ever wanted to know what makes for an effective and compelling query letter, this is the breakout session for you.

Conference Speaker Biography:

Doug Grad has been editor in various capacities, from 1986 through the opening of his own literary agency in 2008.  He has worked for such great publishers as: Ladies Home Journal; Simon & Schuster; Harlequin Romance; Pocket Books; Golf Digest Magazine; Ballantine Books; Penguin Books; Regan Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers..  He has been the man behind numerous New York Times Best Sellers.  Learn more about Doug Grad and the Doug Grad Literary Agency.

  conference speaker Storytelling Through Song – The Art of Lyric Writing with Andrew Richardson

Conference Session Information:

This conference session is directed at writers who are interested in taking their skills in a different creative direction – writing song lyrics! The first part of the session will show you how anyone can be a lyricist, while letting you test your skills during a guided mini writing session. You may discover a new passion, find new ways of generating ideas, or simply enjoy doing something different! .

Topics covered will include:

  • How lyrics relate to prose
  • The structure of songs
  • How a story is told
  • How to build a lyric from the ground up
  • How to connect with musicians to turn your lyrics into a song

Conference Speaker Biography:

Andrew Richardson is an award winning songwriter with a catalog of over 100 songs, and is currently the president of the Houston Songwriters Association. His passion for ideas has led him to hold workshops and creativity sessions in both the music industry and the corporate world. When not actively writing music he plays in a traditional Irish band and narrates audiobooks for

Some of Andrew’s music can be heard at:

conference speaker World Building in Speculative Fiction: What You Don’t Think About When Creating New Worlds with Nathan Riddings

Conference Session Information:

While most fiction writing involves some degree of world-building, many contemporary speculative fiction authors have wholly embraced imaginary constructed worlds to enrich their works. Still, many pieces of speculative fiction that crowd the shelves of bookstores fail to keep readers immersed in their worlds for long. To avoid this fate and hone our world-building skills, this conference session will study both classic and contemporary fiction in many different mediums:  literature, film, comics, video games, and even anime. We’ll also discuss the many pitfalls that allow world-building to consume the story, rather than enhance it. Most importantly, we will discuss how one can use their own real-world knowledge and passions, to bring that special something that makes a constructed world feel real and unique. So, let’s talk world-building!


Conference Speaker Biography:

Nathan Ridings is a graduate of the Creative Writing MFA program at Sam Houston State University, where he currently teaches as an adjunct professor. Nathan has also worked as a freelance editor, often as a developmental editor or copy editor. He has been telling and writing the fantastical stories since he was able and shows no signs of stopping now. One of Nathan’s favorite parts of working with speculative fiction is world building.

 conference session Social Media and Other Virtual Marketing Options for Authors with Vanessa VanAlystne

Conference Session Information:

Do you struggle to get more book sales?  In this conference session, Vanessa VanAlystne will present tips to effectively utilize social media for increased book sales.  Vanessa will explain the tools and techniques of other online social and branding platforms.  She will also discuss other less-known marketing options available online.

Conference Speaker Biography:

With a strong background in the arts and wry sense of humor, Vanessa VanAlystne brings a uniquely creative perspective to marketing.  Since 2014 she has run a small consulting company called Socially Stunning. Her mission is to strengthen online branding for creatives,, nonprofits and small businesses, utilizing SEO, web marketing, reputation management, and data analysis.  Vanessa hosts bi-monthly podcasts called Art, I Swear and The Phantom Of The Podcast. She earned a BA in Arts and Performance at the University of Texas at Dallas in 2007, and received her MFA from the University of Houston in 2010.

conference speaker Defining Your World:  The Art of World-Building with Dorothy Tinker

Conference Session Information:

At the heart of any story is place, and although world-building is an author’s beloved tool, the task can sometimes be a frustrating endeavor.  An essential element of sci-fi and speculative fiction, world-building is equally important across the diverse literary arts spectrum.  In this conference session, Dorothy Tinker will explain the breadth and importance of world-building, even within stories not usually thought to rely on it.  Dorothy will offer tools to guide your audience into your story’s world with a strong sense of place. She will offer tips on:

  • recreating the historical past
  • defining a real or imagined present day location
  • exploring alternate dimensions

In addition, Dorothy will offer suggestions to build a sense of place that will encapsulate your readers in the story’s world, and encourage you to experiment in ways you may never have thought about before. Bring paper and pencil or a laptop and be prepared to build and dissect worlds.

Conference Speaker Biography:

Dorothy Tinker is a genre fiction writer, with a heavy focus in epic fantasy.  She is the author of the continuing Peace of Evon young adult series.. Dorothy’s stories have appeared in the HWG Press anthology Riding the Waves, the Inklings Publishing anthology Eclectically Cosmic, and in the Writespace anthology In Medias Res. Dorothy also served as the copy editor and formatter of Inklings Publishing’s anthology, Eclectically Cosmic.

conference sessionFinding the Right Critique Group by Mark Anderson

Conference Session Info:

In this conference session, Mark Anderson will discuss the advantages of finding the right critique group for your genre or art form.  Mark will define the similarities and differences  between critiquing nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.

Mark will review:

  • How to find the right critique group
  • What to expect from your critique group colleagues
  • What your critique group will expect from you
  • How to work with a professional editor

Mark will also provide some suggested guidelines for participating in a Houston Writers Guild sponsored critique group

Conference Speaker Biography:

Mark Andersen first published Petroleum Research in North Sea Chalk (1995) while working as a writer and editor in the oil industry.  On his retirement in 2015, he turned his attention to writing fiction, and released two contemporary fantasy novels in 2016.  Both Merlin’s Knot and Merlin’s Weft are set in Houston, and feature King Arthur’s Merlin. Mark has a PhD in physics from the Johns Hopkins University and has always enjoyed writing.

conference speaker Designing your eBook for Publication, Distribution, and Marketing with Enos L. Russell

Conference Session Info:

In this conference session, Enos Russell addresses eBook publication.  Topics will include how to:

  • Create your own beautiful design
  • Self-publish your manuscript
  • Distribute and market your eBook

Using Vellum® Software, publishing and marketing your book can be accomplished with a reasonable budget. Vellum® Software was created by 180g, a company founded by Brad Andalman and Brad West in 2012.  Prior to 2012, both founders worked a combined 30 years for Pixar Animation Studios, where they developed Pixar’s next-generation animation software.

Conference Speaker Biography:

Enos L Russell, Ph.D. has been a member of Houston Writers Guild since 2010.  He has published ten short stories and fifteen book-length works. He writes high concept science fiction and mystery techno-thrillers that reflect an eclectic interest in the impact technologies impose on societies. Genecaust, to be released in March, 2017, is a mystery/techno thriller.  Finna’s Quest is a high concept sci-fi story, scheduled for publication in April, 2017.  Follow @EnosRussell.


Sci-Fi Panel


conference speaker C. STUART HARDWICK

C Stuart Hardwick is an L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future winner and two-time Jim Baen Award finalist.  He has been published in Analog, Galaxy’s Edge, and Mental Floss, among others. Stuart is from South Dakota, where he began creating radio dramas and animated shorts, ill-conceived robots and flying machines. He eventually moved into the software industry, and worked with the creators of the video game Doom.  Stuart is married to an aquanaut, and has trained his dog to pull a sled.

conference speaker GLEN LAZAR ROBERTS

Glenn Lazar Roberts is an international attorney, translator, and writes speculative fiction, satire, and adventure fantasy novels. Glenn is a native Houstonian and graduate of Rice and UH Law Center, with degrees in History, Anthropology, and Law.  He often writes from an anthropological perspective, speculating on how seemingly minor changes can radically transform society. A prolific book and movie reviewer, Glenn has edited the work of aspiring writers, and hosts a Houston Writers Guild critique group.   He is currently translating a Russian novel, and developing college curricula on “Economics of Oil in Developing Societies” and “The Sociology of Islam”. His books can be viewed at



Terry R. Hill is a Texas native with two degrees in aerospace engineering and has worked for NASA since 1997. Terry has had a satisfying career supporting various aspects of the US spaceflight program. Currently, writing of different worlds, alternate futures, and of the human condition fills in the spare moments of his life. Simultaneously, Terry is doing his best to be a good husband and raise three children.

To read Terry’s work, review his titles available on all major web venues or through his website:




Adam Holt

The son of a NASA flight manager and a teacher, Adam Holt writes poems, songs, and young adult science fiction. Since moving back to Houston in 2013, he has published two books in his Tully Harper series, both of which follow Tully and friends on their adventures to real places in our solar system. Two successful Kickstarter campaigns funded the novels. Adam serves as an editor and crowdfunding consultant for other authors and organizations. He can sing okay, but don’t ask him to play anything but air guitar. Info on his work and upcoming events appear, not surprisingly, on his snazzy website:

Table for Breakouts

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