Push to Publish 2022

DATE: October 8-9, 2022

Whether you are an established writer or just getting started, this event will provide valuable resources you can use to get your work in print and online. Highlights include:

  • Pitch your work to agents/editors: Meet agents/editors who will review and offer feedback on your work (bring up to 5 pages of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction to review and discuss)
  • Learn how to increase your chances of getting published
  • Discuss the latest writing trends with professionals in the community
  • Get great marketing and networking tips to break into the competitive world of publishing

Contact: Email push2publish@gmail.com or philadelphiastoriesevents@gmail.com.


Click Here To Register





WHEN: Saturday, October 8, 2022
TIME: 9am-5pm ET
LOCATION: Drexel University, Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, 3245 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA




9:00-10:00: Registration

On-site registration is available.


10:00-11:00: Keynote Speaker: Camille Acker: Auditorium 120

Camille Acker is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection Training School for Negro Girls published by The Feminist Press in 2018. She grew up in Washington, D.C and holds a B.A. in English from Howard University and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from New Mexico State University. Her writing has received support from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Voices of Our Nations Arts, and Millay Colony for the Arts, among others.


11:15-12:15 Session I

Breakout I: Panel: Tips for Submitting to Magazines & Journals: Room 104: This panel of editors will share their advice on how you can submit your work to literary magazines and journals to better your chances of getting published. They can answer any questions you have regarding reading fees, themed issues, writing contests, and more.

Panelists: Trish Rodriguez (Philadelphia Stories), Katie Budris (Glassworks), Nicole Markert (Rathalla Review), Bill Vargo (Paper Dragon)

Moderator: Yalonda Rice

Breakout II: Workshop: Query Letter Basics: Room 106: Join local author and literary agent Eric Smith for a discussion surrounding query letters! Whether you’re working on fiction or non-fiction, this chat will cover best practices for crafting the perfect pitch, and go over the elements that tend to stress authors out the most (comparative titles, platform, hooks, pitch length), and will give a primer on how to research the right agent for you.

Presenter: Eric Smith (P.S. Literary)

Breakout III: Panel: Publishing Path Pros & Cons: Indie vs Hybrid vs Self Publishing: Room 108: How do you decide which publishing journey is right for your book? This panel will review the publishing options, including indie publishing, self-publishing, and a new option called “hybrid publishing.”

Panelists: Autumn Konopka, KJ Grow, Amy Impellizzeri, Karen Pokras

Moderator: Julia MacDonnell


12:15-1:15 LUNCH BREAK


1:15-2:15 Session II 

Breakout I: Panel: Strategies for Fantasy and Sci-Fi Writers: Room 104: This panel will discuss strategies for writing and publishing fantasy and science fiction and will explore the role of genre and subgenre in both the creative and publication processes.

Panelists: Catherine Stine, Gregory Frost, Jon McGoran, Julie Eshbaugh

Moderator: Scott Stein

Breakout II: Workshop: Marketing Magic: Room 106: Whether we like it or not publishing is a business. Publishers produce books they think will sell. Their number one priority is to make money. If we understand the business and the marketing side of publishing it can greatly increase our chances of being noticed by the top agents and publishers as well as increase our chance for success. Marketing Magic will provide you with simple, creative, and budget-friendly marketing ideas, the importance of and how to create a marketing plan, a press release, and a press pitch.

Presenter: Doreen McGettigan

Breakout III: Panel: Tips for Submitting to Contests: Room 108: Short story, poetry, and book prizes can be a wonderful venue to get your work published and recognized. This panel will discuss a range of opportunities available to writers attempting to place stories and manuscripts in contests, and include tips for making your work stand out.

Panelists: Nathan Alling Long, Kerry Dolan, Kathy Anderson

Moderator: Courtney Bambrick


2:30-3:30 Session III 

Breakout I: Panel: Submitting Book Manuscripts: Room 104: This panel of editors will share their advice on how you can polish your book manuscript to a state sufficient for publishers and agents.

Panelists: Keith Kopka, Brenda Copeland, Rob Wright (Able Muse Press), Lawrence Knorr (Sunbury Press)

Moderator: Nomi Eve

Breakout II: Workshop: Making the Perfect Pitch: Room 106: Your pitch is a performance, whether you deliver it in person or on the printed page. Literary agent Katharine Sands reviews how to hone the on-page elements and in-person aspects of the pitch to create the actual script you can use to pitch agents at wiring conferences and beyond.

Presenter: Katharine Sands (The Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency)

Breakout III: Panel: Writing for Children & YA: Room 108: This panel will discuss the unique Children’s and Young Adult markets and offer tips for writing for a younger audience and submitting to agents and publishers seeking work.

Panelists: Diana Rodriguez Wallach, Christine Kendall, I.W. Gregorio, Matthew Ross Smith

Moderator: Celesté Cosme


3:45-5:00 Session IV

Panel: Meet the Agents & Publishers: Auditorium 120: This panel of agents and publishers will share their tips for finding the right agent/publisher and selling your work. This interactive panel will include plenty of time for Q&A so you can get an insider’s perspective on the publishing market today.

Panelists: Eric Smith (P.S. Literary), Katharine Sands (The Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency), Leslie Zampetti (Odom Media Management), Lawrence Knorr (Sunbury Press), Dimitri Reyes (CavanKerry Press)

Moderator: Carla Spataro





*You DO NOT need to buy a Push to Publish pass to participate in Pitch Fest.

Our virtual Pitch Fest program (formerly our “Speed Date” event) takes place on Sunday, October 9th, 11am – 3pm ET, the day after our Push to Publish Conference. There, attendees will have the opportunity to have a one-on-one 15-minute meeting with an agent/editor. Writers need only bring 5 pages of their work, a query letter, and their “elevator pitch,” and they’ll meet in a private Zoom room with the agent/editor of their choosing. We strongly recommend that attendees who take part in Pitch Fest have a completed or nearly completed manuscript ready for querying. 

Location: Zoom 

When: Sunday, October 9, 11am – 3pm EDT

Cost:$40 per meeting

Pitch Meeting Times (ET): 11:00am – 11:15am; 11:30am – 11:45am; 12:00pm – 12:15pm; 1:00pm – 1:15pm; 1:30pm – 1:45pm; 2:00pm – 2:15pm; 2:30pm – 2:45pm

NOTE: We will NOT be sending work in advance to agents/editors. Writers can share their work by sharing their screen or sending a shareable Google Doc or Microsoft Sharepoint link with the agent/editor in their Zoom meeting.






Push to Publish Conference Pass (Saturday, October 8th): $95 (Students, Seniors (65 & over) $85). 50% off for Partners and Rosemont & Drexel students/faculty/alumni.

*Our Push to Publish Conference will take place in person at Drexel University, Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, Philadelphia, PA. The day will include panels, workshops, and speakers. Attendees are free to register for both Pitch Fest and Push to Publish or attend each event separately. On-site registration will be available at our Push to Publish Conference.

Click Here To Register


Pitch Fest Meeting (Sunday, October 9th): $40 per meeting. (Recommended for attendees with complete or nearly-complete manuscripts ready for querying.)

*Pitch Fest will take place virtually via Zoom. The day will include pitch sessions with agents/editors. Attendees are free to register for both Pitch Fest and Push to Publish or attend each event separately.





Master Class with Camille Acker: Free to Be You: Writing Your Authentic Story: No matter the genre, it can be hard for a writer to access their most authentic voice. The influence of a favorite writer, the books on the bestseller lists, and cultural obsessions can all crowd out the story a writer is truly meant to tell. So how does a writer quiet all the other voices so they can hear their own? In this four-hour master class, participants will be given exercises, sample readings, and practical writing advice to help them leave with a better sense of their own voice. A question and answer session will also give participants a chance to ask specific advice about their individual writing projects.

*The master class is limited to 25 students max. Attendees can attend the class in person or online via Zoom.

Where: Rosemont College, 1400 Montgomery Ave, Rosemont, PA 19010 (Building Location TBD) OR Online (Zoom)

When: Friday, October 7, 2022, 10am – 3pm ET

Fee: $95 (Students, Seniors $85). 50% off for Partners and Rosemont & Drexel students/faculty/alumni. Lunch is included.

Click Here To Register



Thank you to our sponsors!



Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio

Supporting writers in the development of their individual voices and the practice of their craft.


Philadelphia Writers Workshop

Creative Writing Workshops and Editing Services


Rosemont College

Rosemont MFA in Creative Writing & MA in Publishing Programs


Drexel University

Drexel MFA in Creative Writing












Camille Acker

Camille Acker is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection Training School for Negro Girls published by The Feminist Press in 2018. She grew up in Washington, D.C and holds a B.A. in English from Howard University and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from New Mexico State University. Her writing has received support from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Voices of Our Nations Arts, and Millay Colony for the Arts, among others. Keynote Speaker

Kathy Anderson

Kathy Anderson is the author of the short story collection, Bull and Other Stories, which won the Autumn House Press Fiction Prize, was a finalist for Publishing Triangle’s Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, Foreword INDIES Book of the Year, and the Lambda Literary Awards, and was longlisted for The Story Prize. She was formerly a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the New Rivers Press Many Voices Project, and the Permafrost Book Prize, among others. She was awarded a Tennessee Williams Scholarship in Fiction to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Short story publications include StoryQuarterly, Kenyon Review Online, Barcelona Review, The Normal School, and Los Angeles Review. Her debut novel, The New Town Librarian, is forthcoming from NineStar Press in 2023. She holds a Master of Library Science degree and worked as a public librarian in South Jersey, where the novel is set. She lives in Philadelphia and is grateful to Philadelphia Stories for publishing one of her early stories. To connect, kathyandersonwriter.com, @anderson_kathy. Panel: Tips for Submitting to Contests

Courtney Bambrick

Courtney Bambrick is poetry editor at Philadelphia Stories. Her poem “Flesh & Fat & the Universe” was included recently as part of Philadelphia poet laureate Trapeta Mayson’s Healing Verse Philly Poetry Line. Her chapbook Rape Baby was a runner up in the 2013 Pavement Saw chapbook competition and most of it was published as “Caring for Your Rape” in the Body Map series at The Fanzine. Other poems have appeared in print or online at a variety of outlets including Philadelphia Poets, Apiary, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Mad Poets Review, and Certain Circuits. She teaches first year writing at Jefferson in East Falls. Panel: Tips for Submitting to Contests, Moderator

Katie Budris

Katie Budris holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University and a BA in English from Hope College. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Mid-Bloom (2021) and Prague in Synthetics (2015), both from Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in literary journals including After Hours Press, The Albion Review, Border Crossing, Deep Wild Journal, From the Depths (Haunted Waters Press), Kelsey Review, Our Time Is Now, Outside In, Philadelphia Stories, River and South Review, Temenos Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, and the anthology Crossing Lines (Main Street Rag). Currently, Katie is a Senior Lecturer in the Writing Arts Department at Rowan University where she serves as Program Coordinator for the Master of Arts in Writing and as Editor in Chief of Glassworks literary magazine. She lives in South Jersey with her husband, Chris, and their two English Mastiffs, Harper and Winnie. Learn more at: http://www.katiebudris.com. Panel: Tips for Submitting to Magazines & Journals

Brenda Copeland

Brenda Copeland is an editor with more than twenty years’ experience at the big five publishers. She served for eleven years as an adjunct professor in the graduate publishing program at NYU, and now teaches at Drexel University’s low residency MFA in Creative Writing. Throughout her career, Brenda has published a robust list of fiction and non-fiction, quality books with strong commercial appeal. As an independent editor, she works closely with authors through all stages of the writing and publication process, helping them reach their creative potential. Panel: Submitting Book Manuscripts

Celesté Cosme

Celesté Cosme has been teaching high school English for 17 years. She received her MFA from Rosemont College. She is the CNF editor at Philadelphia Stories. Her essays and stories appear in PangyrusSouth Florida Poetry Journal(Mac)ro(Mic), and Rathalla Review. She lives in New Jersey with her curious six-year-old and tuxedo cat Rembrandt. You can follow her on Twitter @celestemaria or read her works on celestecosme.com. Panel: Writing for Children & YA, Moderator

Kerry Dolan

Kerry Dolan won the Juniper Prize for Fiction for her debut collection of stories, Safe Places, published in 2022. A fellow of MacDowell, the Millay Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and elsewhere, Dolan’s stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and journals, received Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize, and been a finalist for the New American Fiction Prize. Dolan completed her MFA at Cornell University, where she won the Andrews Award in fiction. She lives in Philadelphia, where she is working on a novel. Learn more at kerrydolan.net. Panel: Tips for Submitting to Contests

Julie Eshbaugh

Julie Eshbaugh is a YA writer, former filmmaker, and writing coach. After making two short films, she spent several years producing an online video series for teens which received several honors from the Webby Awards. She is the author of the YA fantasy standalone CROWN OF OBLIVION (Quill Tree Books 2019) as well as the prehistoric fantasy duology IVORY AND BONE (HarperTeen 2016) and OBSIDIAN AND STARS (HarperTeen 2017). You can learn more about Julie’s writing escapades by visiting www.julieeshbaugh.comPanel: Strategies for Fantasy and Sci-Fi Writers

Nomi Eve

Nomi Eve is the author of Henna House and The Family Orchard, which was a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection and was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award. She has an MFA in fiction writing from Brown University and has worked as a freelance book reviewer for The Village Voice and New York Newsday. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York TimesGlimmer Train StoriesThe Voice Literary SupplementConjunctions, and The International Quarterly.  She directs the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing at Drexel University and lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her family. Panel: Submitting Book Manuscripts, Moderator

Gregory Frost
Photo credit: Kyle Cassidy

GREGORY FROST (Shadowbridge/Lord Tophet–an ALA Best Fantasy Novel pick) is an American writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Currently, he is at work on a three-book project, Rhymer, set in 12th century Scotland, and a supernatural western, Devil’s Draw, set in the Kansas Territory of the 1850s. His collaborative SF short story with late author Bill Johnson, “Boomerang,” will be out early next year in Asimov’s Magazine. Frost’s previous collaborative work, with Michael Swanwick, “Lock Up Your Chickens and Daughters, H’ard and Andy Are Come to Town,” won an Asimov Readers Award in 2015. His novels and short stories have been finalists for the World Fantasy, Stoker, Nebula, Hugo, James Tiptree, International Horror Guild and Theodore Sturgeon awards. He taught the Fiction Writing Workshop at Swarthmore College for eighteen years. Panel: Strategies for Fantasy and Sci-Fi Writers

I. W. Gregorio 

I. W. Gregorio (she/her) is a practicing surgeon by day, award-winning YA writer by night.  Her debut novel, NONE OF THE ABOVE, was finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award and a 2015 Publishers Weekly Flying Start. It has also been banned by the Leander, TX School District, and is on the infamous “Krause List” that Texas Rep. Matt Krause worries “might make students feel discomfort.” Her second novel, THIS IS MY BRAIN IN LOVE, was an Amazon Best Book and won the 2021 Schneider Family Book Award. She is proud to be a board member of interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, and is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™. A recovering ice hockey player, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. Panel: Writing for Children & YA

KJ Grow

KJ Grow is the General Manager at KN Literary Arts and has 18 years of book publishing experience, which includes New York City-based sales positions at Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House. She is a graduate of both the Columbia Publishing Course and the Yale Publishing Course. Most recently she was the VP of Sales & Marketing and then Publisher at Shambhala Publications. Her reading interests are far-ranging and include business & leadership, memoir, nature, politics, social change and social justice, and literary fiction. KJ has also done stints as an independent bookseller and event planner, a NYC public school teacher and has worked on an organic farm. She lives and plays in Yarmouth, Maine with her partner and two black cats. Panel: Publishing Path Pros & Cons: Indie vs Hybrid vs Self Publishing

Amy Impellizzeri

Amy Impellizzeri is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive, and award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction. Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) compared Amy’s latest novel, IN HER DEFENSE to Big Little Lies and called it “crackling courtroom drama.” Amy is also the co-author of the forthcoming book, HOW TO LEAVE THE LAW (featured in Bloomberg Law, Boston Business Journal and more) a Tall Poppy Writer, a past President of the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, a 2018 Writer-In-Residence at Ms-JD.org, recipient of Ms. JD’s Road Less Traveled Award, faculty member in Drexel University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program, and a frequently invited speaker at legal conferences and writing workshops. Connect with Amy at www.amyimpellizzeri.com. Panel: Publishing Path Pros & Cons: Indie vs Hybrid vs Self Publishing

Christine Kendall

Christine Kendall is the author of two middle grade novels, The True Definition of Neva Beane (Scholastic, 2020) and Riding Chance (Scholastic, 2016). She was honored to have Riding Chance nominated for a NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work for Youth/Teens. Christine’s short fiction has appeared in numerous publications. She is an active member of the literary community having served as a juror for the New York City Book Awards from 2019 to 2022. She also co-hosted and curated the award winning reading series Creative at the Cannery in Philadelphia from 2018 – 2021. Panel: Writing for Children & YA

Lawrence Knorr


Lawrence Knorr is the Founder and CEO of Sunbury Press, Inc., the Pennsylvania-based traditional trade publisher in business since 2004. Sunbury Press has published over 1000 titles by over 500 authors under 15 different imprints and dozens of categories (fiction and nonfiction). Lawrence is the author or co-author of over 30 nonfiction books, mostly history and biography. He holds a BA in Business/Econ, an MBA in Finance and Operations, and is currently working on a PhD in History. Panel: Submitting Book Manuscripts, Panel: Meet the Agents & Publishers

Autumn Konopka

Autumn Konopka is a novelist, poet, and trauma-informed teaching artist who has led writing workshops and curated literary events for more than 20 years. Her writing has appeared in Coal Hill Review, bedfellows, Apiary, Literary Mama, Philadelphia Stories, and Crab Orchard Review, among others. Her chapbook, a chain of paper dolls, was published by the Head & the Hand Press (2014, Philadelphia). She was poet laureate of Montgomery County, Pa., in 2016 and emeritus board member of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. She holds degrees in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh and Antioch University, and she currently teaches college-level writing in Philadelphia. Her first novel, Pheidippides Didn’t Die, will be published in Spring 2023 with New Degree Press. Panel: Publishing Path Pros & Cons: Indie vs Hybrid vs Self Publishing

Keith Kopka

Keith Kopka is the recipient of the Tampa Review Prize for his collection of poems, Count Four (University of Tampa Press, 2020). His poetry and criticism have recently appeared in Best New Poets, Mid-American Review, New Ohio Review, The International Journal of the Book, and many others. He is also the author of the critical text, Asking a Shadow to Dance: An Introduction to the Practice of Poetry (GRL 2018) and the recipient of the International Award for Excellence from the Books, Publishing & Libraries Research Network. Currently, he’s a Senior Editor at Narrative Magazine and the Director of the low-res MFA at Holy Family University in Philadelphia. Panel: Submitting Book Manuscripts

Nathan Alling Long

Nathan Alling Long’s work appears on NPR and in over a hundred publications, including Tin House, Glimmer Train, Witness, Story Quarterly, and The Best of Micro Fiction 2020. His collection, The Origin of Doubt, was a 2019 Lambda Literary Award finalist, and his current manuscript, The Empty Garden, was a semi-finalist for the Iowa Fiction Award. He has won or placed in a number of international contests, including The Love Reading Story Award, Glimmer Train Very Short Story Award, The Open Road Fiction contest, and the Norton Girard Short Story Award.  He lives in Philadelphia, teaches at Stockton University, and can be found at https://blogs.stockton.edu/longn/.  Panel: Tips for Submitting to Contests

Julia MacDonnell

Julia MacDonnell has published two novels with traditional publishers – Mimi Malloy, At Last! with Picador, the literary imprint of Pan-Macmillan and A Year of Favor with William Morrow & Co., an imprint of Harper Collins. Her first short story collection, The Topography of Hidden Stories was published last year by Fomite, an independent publisher in Vermont. The collection just won the 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Award for short stories. Her website is www.juliamacdonnell.com.  She is currently completing a reported memoir, The Girl I Kept to Myself. She is a former nonfiction editor for Philadelphia Stories. Panel: Publishing Path Pros & Cons: Indie vs Hybrid vs Self Publishing, Moderator

Nicole Markert

Nicole Markert (she/her) is a bisexual poet & recipient of Eastern University’s Thyra Ferre Bjorn Creative Writing Award. Her work has appeared in Hobart, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Rust + Moth, and others. She is a Poetry Editor for the Rathalla Review, a poetry reader for Split Lip Magazine, and the Communications Director for Philadelphia Stories. She also reads for Saturnalia Books’ annual poetry prizes. She currently resides in the Greater Philadelphia area and is an MFA and Publishing double degree candidate at Rosemont College. She is currently working on her first poetry collection. Panel: Tips for Submitting to Magazines & Journals

Doreen McGettigan

Doreen started her writing career as a feature writer for Philadelphia area newspapers. She is a ghostwriter, speaker, author, and award-winning blogger. As the President of Intrepid Marketing Inc. Doreen consults and coaches on all things writing, publishing, and marketing. She is the Board President of Family Promise, a national organization supporting homeless families with the goal of permanent, sustainable housing, and is on the board of advisors for Fem City Philadelphia. The Stranger in My Recliner is the true story of an 83-year-old homeless woman Doreen’s husband brought home one night. They cared for her in their home for three years. (Republished fall 2021). Her first book, Bristol boyz Stomp is the true story of the random road rage murder of her brother, musician David Albert. Realize Your Writing Dreams/Tips on all things Writing, Publishing and Marketing was released in Spring 2020. Doreen lives in Delaware County with her husband, John. Workshop: Marketing Magic

Jon McGoran

Jon McGoran is the author of ten novels for adults and young adults, including the award-winning YA science fiction thrillers Spliced, Splintered, and Spiked, the acclaimed science thrillers DriftDeadout, and Dust Up, and media tie-in books and stories for IP including The BlacklistThe X-Files, and Zombies vs Robots. He has also written numerous short stories. He is a freelance writer, developmental editor, and teacher in Drexel University’s Creative Writing MFA program, as well as cohost of The Liars Club Oddcast, a podcast about writing and creativity. For more, visit www.jonmcgoran.com. Panel: Strategies for Fantasy and Sci-Fi Writers

Karen Pokras 

Karen Pokras has been writing for children for over ten years, winning several indie literary awards for her middle grade works, including The Purple Dragonfly Grand Prize award for the first book in her Nate Rocks series, Nate Rocks the World. With a background in law and finance, Karen found a passion for writing later in life. Her most recent release, The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler (Lerner/Kar-Ben, 2021) was a June 2022 PJ Library/PJ Our Way selection. A native of Connecticut, Karen lives in the Philadelphia area with her family. For more information, visit karenpokras.com. Panel: Publishing Path Pros & Cons: Indie vs Hybrid vs Self Publishing

Dimitri Reyes

Dimitri Reyes is a Boricua multidisciplinary artist, YouTuber, workshop facilitator, and educator from Newark, New Jersey. His first book, Every First and Fifteenth (2021) is the winner of the Digging Press 2020 Chapbook Award and some of his work has been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net. Dimitri’s second poetry collection, Papi Pichón, is forthcoming from Get Fresh Books. You can find more of his writing in places like Poem-a-Day, Big Other, A Dozen Nothing, Duende, & Acentos. His poetry workshop journal, Shadow Work for Poets is now available on Amazon and he is the Marketing & Communications Director at CavanKerry Press. You can learn more about Dimitri by visiting his website at https://www.dimitrireyespoet.com/. Panel: Meet the Agents & Publishers

Yalonda Rice

Yalonda Rice received her MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College in Philadelphia, PA. Currently, she serves as Managing Editor of Philadelphia Stories, a literary magazine serving the Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania communities. She resides in Millersville, PA. Panel: Tips for Submitting to Magazines & Journals, Moderator


Trish Rodriguez

Trish Rodriguez is the fiction editor for Philadelphia Stories. Trish lives, reads, and writes in Media, PA. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College where she teaches in the Rosemont Writers’ Studio. Her writing has been published in Awakened Voices and Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine. She has served as managing editor for Rathalla Review and is also the prose editor for Typehouse Literary Magazine. Panel: Tips for Submitting to Magazines & Journals

Katharine Sands


Katharine Sands is a literary agent at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. Katharine has worked with a varied list of authors who publish a diverse array of books including fiction, memoir and non-fiction. Among the books she represents are: The Apothecary’s Curse, nominated for the Bram Stoker Award 2017 in the First Novel category by Barbara Barnett; and Girl Walks Out of a Bar, a memoir by Lisa Smith that was featured by People Magazine as Notable Nonfiction. Workshop: Developing the Perfect Pitch; Panel: Meet the Agents & Publishers

Matthew Ross Smith

Matthew Ross Smith is an author and a writing professor from Philly. His second novel, The Million Dollar Race (Simon & Schuster) was a Washington Post Book Club pick, a finalist for the Sunshine State Young Reader Award, and a finalist for the Golden Sower Young Reader Award. For more, including writing exercises and video tutorials, visit him at matthew-ross-smith.com. Panel: Writing for Children & YA


Eric Smith

Eric Smith is a Young Adult author and literary agent living in Philadelphia. An agent with P.S. Literary, he’s worked on award-winning and New York Times bestselling books. In his author life, his recent novels include Don’t Read the Comments, You Can Go Your Own Way, and his latest, Jagged Little Pill: The Novel, written in collaboration with Alanis Morrisette, Academy award-winner Diablo Cody, and Glenn Ballard. Workshop: Query Letter Basics; Panel: Meet the Agents & Publishers

Carla Spataro

Carla “C.J.” Spataro is the MFA program director at Rosemont College and the editorial director of Philadelphia Stories and PS Books. She is an award-winning short story writer, Pushcart Prize nominee, and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant winner. Her short fiction has appeared in Phantom Drift, december magazine, Italian Americana, Iron Horse Literary Review, Pithead Chapel, Permafrost, The Baltimore ReviewPainted Bride Quarterly, and others. Poetry has appeared in Ovunque Siamo. Her work has also been anthologized in Another BreathForgotten PhiladelphiaExtraordinary Gifts, and 50 Over 50Panel: Meet the Agents & Publishers, Moderator

Scott Stein

Scott Stein is the author of four novels: The Great American BetrayalThe Great American DeceptionMean Martin Manning, and Lost. His writing has appeared in The Oxford University Press Humor ReaderMcSweeney’sPoints in CasePhiladelphia InquirerNational Review, Reason, Art TimesLibertyThe G.W. Review, and New York magazine. His MFA and BA are from the University of Miami and his MA is from New York University. Stein is a professor of English at Drexel University, where he teaches in the MFA and undergraduate programs. He is also director of the Drexel Publishing Group and founding editor of Write Now PhillyPanel: Strategies for Fantasy and Sci-Fi Writers, Moderator

Catherine Stine

Catherine Stine a USA Today bestselling hybrid author of urban, paranormal and historical fantasy. Her Witch of the Wild Beasts won second prize in the Valley Forge PA Romance Writers Sheila Contest. Her first novel, Refugees with Delacorte earned two New York Public Library Best Books. Her Fireseed YA sci-fi series earned an Indie Notable. She lives in New York, and grew up in Philadelphia. Before writing novels, she was a working artist, showing in galleries, and she sees writing as painting with words. She attends many author events and keeps an active media presence on TikTok and IG. She’s a member of SFWA and RWA. Learn more at catherinestine.com. Panel: Strategies for Fantasy and Sci-Fi Writers

Bill Vargo

Bill Vargo is a writer, filmmaker, and educator. He has been published in Reading Wine and Open Minds QuarterlyHe is a graduate of Drexel University’s MFA in Creative Writing program and is one of the founding editors of Paper Dragon, the program’s literary journal. He currently works as an adjunct English professor in the Philadelphia region. Panel: Tips for Submitting to Magazines & Journals

Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Diana Rodriguez Wallach is a multi-published author of young adult novels. Her most recent, Small Town Monsters, is a YA Latinx horror novel that published in September 2021 through Random House. Her next YA Horror, Hatchet Girls, comes out Fall 2023 through Delacorte. Additionally, Diana is the author of the Anastasia Phoenix Series (Entangled Publishing). The first book in the series, Proof of Lies, has been optioned for film and was chosen as a finalist for the 2018 International Thriller Awards for Best Young Adult Novel. Additionally, Bustle listed Diana as one of the “Top Nine Latinx Authors to Read for Women’s History Month.” Diana is also the author of a trilogy of YA contemporary Latina novels (Kensington Books). The first book, Amor and Summer Secrets, placed second at the International Latino Book Awards for Best Young Adult Novel. She lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband, two children, and two cats. Panel: Writing for Children & YA

Rob Wright

Rob Wright, a former member of the International Cinematographer’s Guild, now serves as associate fiction editor to the magazine Able Muse. Hehas been awarded three Fellowships in Literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He was a finalist in the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, as well as being shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. He has published fiction, reviews, and poetry in the magazines Able Muse, Angle, The Guardian, Big City Lit, The Evansville Review, Measure – a journal of poetry, Rattle, String Poet, and the Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts. His collection of poetry, Last Wishes was published by Able Muse Press in February, 2021. He recently was awarded the Frost Prize for Metrical Poetry and was honored to give a reading at the home of Robert Frost in Derry, New Hampshire. Panel: Submitting Book Manuscripts

Leslie Zampetti


Leslie Zampetti recently joined Odom Media Management as a literary agent. She was previously an agent at Dunham Literary  and an intern at The Bent Agency. A writer and former librarian, Leslie has a perspective from both sides of the query letter. Tops on her wish list right now are upmarket romance with a twist on familiar tropes & characters and mysteries for all ages – but particularly YA and middle grade. Panel: Meet the Agents & Publishers






NOTE: All Pitch Fest meetings are currently sold out.


Kristina Marie Darling      * SOLD OUT *

Kristina Marie Darling serves as Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Press & Tupelo Quarterly. Kristina is the author of thirty-seven books, which include Stylistic Innovation, Conscious Experience, and the Self in Modernist Womens Poetry, forthcoming from Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group; Daylight Has Already Come:  Selected Poems 2014 – 2020, which will be published by Black Lawrence Press; Silence in Contemporary Poetry, which will be published in hardcover by Clemson University Press in the United States and Liverpool University Press in the United Kingdom; Silent Refusal:  Essays on Contemporary Feminist Writing, newly available from Black Ocean; Angel of the North, which is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry; and X Marks the Dress: A Registry (co-written with Carol Guess), which was just launched by Persea Books in the United States.  Penguin Random House Canada has also published a Canadian edition.  

SEEKING: She is interested in works of fiction in experimental/hybrid forms, poetry, and nonfiction.

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Kendyll Drilling      * SOLD OUT *

Kendyll Drilling is a Literary Agent Apprentice at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Kendyll has been reading since the age of three, and she has never lost her appetite for reading. She never planned on pursuing literature as a career, but after an accident left her paralyzed, she decided it was in her best interest to focus on something that has always made her happy. This path led her to freelance editing manuscripts and going to college for a dual degree in English Literature and European History. Knowing her options would be limited due to her condition, she is excited and thankful for the opportunity to work with the team at Corvisiero Literary Agency.

SEEKING: Kendyll is mostly interested in fiction for all ages (middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult), and will review each project submitted to her equally. She is especially hoping to find some underrepresented voices and bring them to the forefront. For all age groups, Kendyll enjoys:

  • Fantasy and Magical Realism
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Folklore and Fairytale Retellings, especially those that may not be as well known
  • Mythology
  • Historical Fiction (especially before the 20th century)
  • Immersive and well-researched (but still easy to follow and understand) science fiction
  • Thrillers with harrowing twists and turns
  • True crime stories 
  • Anything with time travel
  • Own Voices narratives
  • Multi-POV narratives
  • Stories with the topics of mental health and disability

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Lauren Rosemary Hook      * SOLD OUT *

The Feminist Press publishes books that ignite movements and social transformation. Celebrating our fifty-two-year legacy, we lift up insurgent and marginalized voices from around the world to build a more just future. FP publishes 12–15 books a year, and I acquire and edit the majority of the list, both fiction and nonfiction. I also oversee sublicensing and foreign rights.

SEEKING: As an editor, I seek projects from underrepresented perspectives that provide fresh, nuanced takes on issues around gender and sexuality. In fiction, this could take the form of a classic feminist novel that has never before been translated into English, or an experimental queer or trans story playing with language in a political, edgy way. In nonfiction, I gravitate toward literary memoirs and short-form manifesto-type writing. In general, I’m looking for books with a strong voice that will inspire much-needed feminist dialogue and move the cultural conversation forward. Some examples of works I’ve acquired include Tastes Like War by Grace M. Cho (a National Book Award finalist for Nonfiction); Fiebre Tropical by Julián Delgado Lopera (Winner of a Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction); Happy Stories, Mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu, translated by Tiffany Tsao (Longlisted for International Booker Prize); and Black Box: The Memoir That Sparked Japan’s #MeToo Movement by Shiori Ito, translated by Allison Markin Powell.

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Zoe Aline Howard      * SOLD OUT *

Zoe is a literary agent at Howland Literary. After working with Howland Literary and Lookout Books while earning her BFA in Creative Writing and Certificate in Publishing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Zoe Howard is now building her own list of adult literary fiction and adult nonfiction. Zoe is also a literary publicist at Pine State Publicity. More than anything, Zoe is drawn to writing that lingers—on language, on character development, on the subtleties of character relationships, on place, on a niche subjects—and makes the details discovered there pop. 

SEEKING: Adult literary fiction and nonfiction. In adult fiction, she looks for voice-driven stories that subvert reader expectations of their subject matter. She is especially interested in off-putting and unashamed characters, women breaking social expectations, LBGTQ+ characters, grounded magical realism and speculative elements, and insular settings (small towns, amusement parks, summer camps). In adult nonfiction, Zoe looks for narrative nonfiction, memoir, and essay collections that blend personal narratives with research. Her niche interests include internet culture, celebrities, pop culture, religion/spirituality, para-social relationships, material culture, and the relationships between people and the places they inhabit.  

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Sarah Khalil      * SOLD OUT *

Sarah Khalil is a literary agent and editorial associate to Katherine Flynn at Kneerim & Williams. Sarah joined the agency in 2018 while pursuing her master’s degree in Publishing & Writing at Emerson College. Prior to that, she worked for several years in trade publishing and legal environments in Boston and Beirut, Lebanon, where she graduated with High Distinction from the American University of Beirut with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in History. In Boston, she has worked at Beacon Press and the IP law firm Sennott, Williams & Rogers.

SEEKING: She is seeking serious narrative nonfiction and with an eye towards social, economic and environmental justice; pop/cultural criticism and histories; cross-cultural narratives; and writing from Caribbean, MENA, Muslim and LGBTQIA+ creators; all deeply explored by experts—academics, journalists, and those with lived experiences and something important to say about them. Big ideas, radical thought, and propulsive writing are the cornerstones of her taste. She is also seeking select fiction in the same space.

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Lawrence Knorr      * SOLD OUT *


Lawrence Knorr is the Founder and CEO of Sunbury Press, Inc., the Pennsylvania-based traditional trade publisher in business since 2004. Sunbury Press has published over 1000 titles by over 500 authors under 15 different imprints and dozens of categories (fiction and nonfiction). Lawrence is the author or co-author of over 30 nonfiction books, mostly history and biography. He holds a BA in Business/Econ, an MBA in Finance and Operations, and is currently working on a PhD in History. 

SEEKING: Sunbury Press is seeking works in biography, memoir, history, historical fiction, occult, horror, literary fiction, sports, and business.

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Suzy Krogulski      * SOLD OUT *

Suzy Krogulski (she/her) is an Assistant Editor, acquiring for the Astra Young Readers imprint. You can reach her at skrogulski@astrapublishinghouse.com.

SEEKING: She is acquiring fiction and nonfiction picture books as well as middle grade and young adult novels. She looks for intricate plots, astute, sincere voices from diverse backgrounds, and thoughtful character arcs. She especially appreciates realistic fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction puzzles or investigations. For picture books, she is looking for stories that use silliness and fun to explore heartfelt themes or unique storytelling that helps engage readers in science topics. 

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Alyssa Maltese      * SOLD OUT *

Alyssa is a literary agent at Root Literary seeking young adult fiction, adult fiction, and nonfiction. She joined the agency in 2019 and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and disobedient cat, though she will always be a Jersey girl at heart.

SEEKING: I’m seeking young adult fiction, adult fiction, and nonfiction. Getting to be an early champion for authors’ work is a huge privilege, and a responsibility for which I am deeply grateful. I’m excited to find and uplift books that you can’t put down, books that surprise you, books that make you think, and, above all else, books that help people. Please visit my Publishers Marketplace page to view my wishlist.

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Emmy Nordstrom Higdon      * SOLD OUT *

Emmy (they/them) holds a PhD in justice-oriented social work with a focus on critical animal studies. They are a member of the planning team for the Festival of Literary Diversity, a faculty member at the Manuscript Academy, and a literary agent at Westwood Creative Artists. They are a queer, trans, and non-binary colonizer based in Tkaronto (Toronto, Ontario). Emmy lives with their partner, a Deaf Dalmatian named Pavot, two formerly feral Maine coon cats, Whisper and Willow, and their collection of plants, informally nicknamed The Leafy Bois. They keep busy with vegan cooking, thread painting embroidery, crochet, wholesome video games, snail mail, their sticker collection, and… obviously, reading.

SEEKING: I grew up on fantasy novels and 90’s kidlit horror like Bunnicula and Goosebumps. I primarily represent authors of upmarket fiction and narrative nonfiction, across age ranges. I specialize in identity-driven stories based on lived experience, particularly from LGBTQ2S+ and disabled or chronically ill authors. You know that feeling when you have to go somewhere, and you’re reading, and you have to close the book, but it is just the tiniest bit physically painful to do it? That’s my aim, with every book that I have a hand in. I want it to be just a little bit devastating to put down. Murder is my comfort read. For more details about what kinds of queries I am seeking, please visit my Manuscript Wishlist page.

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Maggie Sadler      * SOLD OUT *

After five years of literary scholarship, Maggie Sadler is motivated to deepen her knowledge of literature from the industry perspective as the Literary Agent Apprentice at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Maggie earned her joint degree in Comparative Literature and English in 2016 from the University of St Andrews, a historical university tucked away in a tiny windswept Scottish town along the North Sea. A sea sprite at heart, Maggie returned to the North Atlantic coast to earn her Master’s in Literary Studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2019. The intricate, vivid, and deep-rooted folk traditions Maggie encountered in both Scotland and Newfoundland further enriched her literary interest in folklore, mainly the seafaring lore intrinsic to small North Atlantic communities.

SEEKING: Maggie will evaluate every manuscript with sensitivity and a desire to uplift up-and-coming writers. However, she is especially interested in finding unorthodox narrative voices that possess subtle, yet insightful perspectives married with an unexpected and lyrical use of language. Maggie enjoys adult fiction, new adult and young adult fiction, and middle grade fiction. She is not a good fit for thrillers, especially stories inspired by true crime, military/political fiction, science fiction, humor or satire, or commercial romance. Visit her wishlist for more information.

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Katharine Sands      * SOLD OUT *


Katharine Sands is a literary agent at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. Katharine has worked with a varied list of authors who publish a diverse array of books including fiction, memoir and non-fiction. Among the books she represents are: The Apothecary’s Curse, nominated for the Bram Stoker Award 2017 in the First Novel category by Barbara Barnett; and Girl Walks Out of a Bar, a memoir by Lisa Smith that was featured by People Magazine as Notable Nonfiction.

SEEKING: Katharine likes books that have a clear benefit for readers’ lives in categories of food, travel, lifestyle, home arts, beauty, wisdom, relationships, parenting, and fresh looks, which might be at issues, life challenges or popular culture. When reading fiction she wants to be compelled and propelled by urgent storytelling, and hooked by characters. For memoir, femoir, and himoir, she likes to be transported to a world rarely or newly observed.

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Sydnie Thornton      * SOLD OUT *

Sydnie Thornton is a literary agent at Irene Goodman Literary Agency. A native Memphian, Sydnie majored in English Literature at Rhodes College. Every summer, she escaped the Memphis heat to intern at various NYC agencies and eventually joined IGLA in 2021. She does not miss the humidity. She does miss her dog. On the weekends, you can find her baking or curled up with hot chocolate and a good book. She’s taking on select co-agenting projects with Barbara Poelle.

SEEKING: Sydnie is interested in YA across all genres: fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary that leans literary, as well as thrillers with upmarket qualities and distinctive characterization. As for the adult side, Sydnie is actively looking for transportive, complex historical fiction and whimsical contemporary fantasy. Regardless of genre, she’s very likely to connect with manuscripts that bridge the YA/Adult divide. She’s also eager to champion any book that prominently features disability representation.

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Kathryn Willms      * SOLD OUT *

Kathryn Willms (she/her) is an associate agent at The Rights Factory, representing adult non-fiction and select adult fiction. Kathryn has over 12 years of professional writing, editing, and management experience. Since 2017, she has run Kwill Communications, an editorial firm specializing in educational and academic work. Prior to this, she was vice-president and senior editor at Colborne Communications, and publisher of the hybrid Iguana Books. She holds an MA in English from the University of Calgary and currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

SEEKING: Kathryn is currently focused on building her nonfiction list in narrative nonfiction, cultural and social investigations, history, sports, nature/environmental topics, lifestyle, and food and drink. However, as a generalist who simply likes “good books”—and great stories—she’s open to a variety of genres. She is particularly interested in manuscripts with a unique voice, topic, or point of view that change or challenge the way we see the world, and she is actively seeking authors whose voices have traditionally been under-represented in publishing. The books that most capture her enthusiasm are ambitious, unconventional, and joyous.

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Leslie Zampetti      * SOLD OUT *


Leslie Zampetti recently joined Odom Media Management as a literary agent. She was previously an agent at Dunham Literary  and an intern at The Bent Agency. A writer and former librarian, Leslie has a perspective from both sides of the query letter. Tops on her wish list right now are upmarket romance with a twist on familiar tropes & characters and mysteries for all ages – but particularly YA and middle grade.

SEEKING: A memorable voice combined with characters who create a compelling plot through their actions is a must. For children’s books, Leslie represents picture books through young adult. For adults, Leslie is seeking both fiction and narrative nonfiction, though not politics, political thrillers or inspirational stories.

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Marisa Zeppieri      * SOLD OUT *

Marisa Zeppieri is a literary agent at Strachan Literary Agency, speaker and author of the chronic illness memoir, Chronically Fabulous. She lives in NY with her family and rescued terrier.

SEEKING: Marisa loves raw memoirs about topics such as overcoming adversity, illness, addiction, health struggles, and faith. Marisa is also searching for upmarket fiction, contemporary and fun romances that are realistic with complex characters, YA and children’s books.

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