2019 DC Writers Conference - Program

Friday, November 8, 2019
Trinity Washington University
Washington DC

 

Join us in Washington, D.C., for a one-day conference for nonfiction writers managing businesses in today’s rapidly changing media world. Learn how to launch or expand your freelance business, land better clients, break into major publications, and find new pathways for your talent. Improve your writing, researching, and interviewing skills and take your career to the next level – whether it’s tackling new content or writing a book. A special DC edition of Client Connections will cap off the day.

2019 DC Writers Conference - Preliminary Agenda

Capital Connections
Track

Craft of Writing
Track

Business of Freelance
Track

Spotlight on Politics and Current Affairs Art of the Interview Landing Better Clients
Grants and Fellowships Little to Big: When 800 words becomes a book Promotion through Podcasts
Specialty and Local Publications About the Essay Your Business Questions Answered
     

Lunch Panel: Inside the Pitch

Client Connections

 

Register today!

 

Keynote Speaker: Dorothy Butler Gilliam

The Washington Post’s first black female reporter and author of Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist’s Fight to Make the Media Look More like America, (January 2019).

Gilliam’s career has spanned more than five decades as a journalist as well as an advocate for women’s rights, a civil rights activist and a renowned author. “Journalism took me places that I would not normally go,” Gilliam says.

Gilliam worked for more than 30 years as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Post, and she worked as a freelance reporter and writer while raising her children. She also served as president of the Association of Black Journalists and founding director of The Post’s Young Journalists Development Program. Read the press release here.


Track 1: Capital Connections

Spotlight on Politics and Current Affairs: As the nation's political nerve center, D.C. is home to a number of nationally and regionally publications heralded for their coverage of politics and policy. Join top editors from The Washington Post, Mother Jones, Washingtonian and Politico Magazine as they discuss what they seek in writers wanting to cover the ins and outs of covering the Trump administration, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Beltway's general workings.

Adam B. Kushner – The Washington Post - Adam B. Kushner is the editor of The Washington Post Outlook section. Previously, he was the editor of National Journal magazine, a senior editor for foreign affairs at Newsweek and a managing editor at the New Republic.

 

 

Michael Schaffer – Washingtonian - Michael Schaffer has been editor of Washingtonian since 2014. A former editor of Washington City Paper and editorial director of The New Republic, Michael is also the author of One Nation Under Dog, a 2009 book about America’s obsession with pets.   


 

Margy Slattery – Politico Magazine - Margy Slattery is a senior editor at Politico Magazine, Politico’s home for long-form reporting, essays and analysis. In addition to editing stories, she oversees special issues of the magazine and talent acquisition efforts, including helping to run Politico’s internship program. Previously, she was assistant managing editor at Foreign Policy magazine. Margy grew up in Los Angeles and received a B.A. in English from Yale University.

 

Aaron Wiener – Mother Jones - Aaron Wiener is a senior editor at Mother Jones, leading a team of reporters in the magazine's D.C. bureau. He previously worked as a housing reporter at Washington City Paper, Berlin correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, and editor of The Washington Independent. 

 

Moderator: Chuck McCutcheon - Chuck McCutcheon has covered Washington, D.C. since 1995. He is currently an editor at Bloomberg Environment and is the author of books on climate change, Congress, nuclear waste and political jargon. His byline has appeared in The Washington Post, Scientific American, Christian Science Monitor and National Geographic.

 


Grants and Fellowships

Nonfiction writers often need financial help and support while researching and writing in-depth articles and books, and many grants and fellowships can be found right in the Nation’s Capitol. This panel will explore how to tap into resources at The Pulitzer Center, New America and other organizations to help writers tackle their dream projects.

Awista Ayub – New America - Awista Ayub is the director of New America's Fellows Program and author of Kabul Girls Soccer Club (Hyperion). Ayub has served as an advisory council member and contributor to espnw.com and has written extensively about issues pertaining to Muslim women in sports. Prior to joining New America, Ayub worked as the director of South Asia programs at Seeds of Peace and was based in Mumbai, India. She also worked for the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. as the education and health officer. Her media appearances include ABC News, NPR, ESPN, Glamour Magazine, CNN, New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated, the San Francisco Chronicle, Washingtonian, and USA Today.

Kem Knapp Sawyer – Pulitzer Center - Kem Knapp Sawyer is a contributing editor and director of the university student fellowship program at the Pulitzer Center in Washington, DC. Her freelance experience includes book reviews, travel writing, profiles, and reporting on women and children at risk in Congo, Haiti, Bangladesh and India. She is the author of several books for young readers: Grace Akallo and the Pursuit of Justice for Child Soldiers (Morgan Reynolds Publishing), Refugees: Seeking a Safe HavenThe Underground Railroad in American History (Enslow Publishers), and biographies of Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, Anne Frank, Lucretia Mott, and Eleanor Roosevelt. 

Mei Fong – former New America fellow - Mei Fong is a former Wall Street Journal China correspondent and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. While serving as a fellow at the D.C.-based think tank New America Foundation, she wrote One Child: The Past And Future Of China’s Most Radical Experiment (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a book about China’s one-child policy that earned an ASJA non-fiction award. Her efforts, via an innovative crowd-funding initiative, to release a free digital version of her book in Chinese led to her being named a Top 50 influencer on U.S.-China relations by Foreign Policy magazine. Fong has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC and her writings have been published in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Guardian. She is director of communications and strategy for the Center for Public Integrity.

Christopher Pala – freelance science journalist - Christopher Pala is a Washington, D.C., freelance journalist who writes about oceans, climate change and pesticides. He has received grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, The Nation Institute, Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors, The Ocean Foundation, Pew, and SeaWeb. He was the Pacific stringer for ScienceLe Figaro and The New York Times, based in Hawaii, and their Central Asia stringer, based in Almaty. His grant-funded stories have appeared in the TimesSmithsonian, Salon, Earth Island Journal, New Zealand Geographic, Inter Press Service and The Atlantic. He is the author of The Oddest Place on Earth: Rediscovering the North Pole (iUniverse).

Moderator: Lottie Joiner -Lottie Joiner is the editor-in-chief of The Crisis magazine, the official publication of the NAACP, and a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer who covers race, social justice, civil rights and culture. In 2017, she was a Schuster Institute/Fund for Investigative Journalism Diversity Fellow. She also was a 2015 National Health Journalism Fellow with the Center for Health Journalism at the Univeristy of Southern California at Annenberg. Lottie has published articles in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Daily Beast, Time.com, and TheAtlantic.com.  She serves on the boards of the Fund for Investigative Journalism and Journalism and Women Symposium. She also is an ASJA board member.


Specialty and Local Publications: You can build a freelance career writing about a range of topics for many specialized and local publications. D.C.-based editors for CQ Researcher, Alexandria Living, and the Society for Human Resources Management will join acclaimed food writer and author Nevin Martell in talking about a variety of writing opportunities.

Ken Fireman – CQ Researcher - Ken Fireman is assistant managing editor for SAGE Publishing’s CQ Researcher, which delivers deep dives into contemporary issues for college students and faculty. Previously, he was a senior editor for economics and politics at Bloomberg News and a White House and Moscow correspondent for Newsday.

 

Beth Lawton – Alexandria Living - Beth Lawton is publisher of Alexandria Living Magazine, which she co-founded in 2017 and launched in 2018. Previously, she founded Canoe Media, a content marketing and social media management agency. In the past, she has worked for online news publications and small businesses in editorial, marketing and business development roles, including the Lawrence Journal-World and KUSports.com, MKE in Milwaukee, The V.I. Source in the U.S. Virgin Islands and AOL. She also worked at the Newspaper Association of America, where she ran the Digital Edge Awards and blog, the Online Publishing Update and more.

Beth Mirza – Society for Human Resources - Beth Mirza is director of online news at the Society for Human Resource Management. She has been at SHRM since 2001, first working as a designer for the HR News monthly print edition, and then as a reporter for the SHRM website, covering HR, business and workplace news. She now manages SHRM’s team of online reporters and oversees production of SHRM’s daily and weekly newsletters. ​​

Nevin Martell – food and travel writer - Nevin Martell is a D.C.-area based food and travel writer, parenting essayist, recipe developer, and photographer whose work has been published in The Washington Post, New York TimesSaveurMen’s JournalNational Geographic Traveler, FortuneTravel + Leisure, and more. He is the author of eight books, including Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Gold-Standard Recipes from America’s Favorite Rural Bakery  (Clarkson Potter) and the travelogue-memoir Freak Show Without a Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations (Possibilities Publishing Company).

Moderator: Tammy Lytle  - Tammy Lytle has covered the White House, Congress, politics and breaking news in the nation’s capital for 23 years. Her coverage has included seven presidential campaigns, impeachment, the space shuttle explosion and the 9-11 terrorist attacks. She is the former Washington bureau chief of the Orlando Sentinel and her work has appeared in U.S. News & World Report and other magazines and newspapers.


Track 2: The Craft of Writing

The Art of the Interview:Great interviews make great stories. But conducting great interviews can be challenging. It takes a combination of preparation, chemistry, tenacity, sensitivity and confidence. And different types of stories require different approaches to interviews. Hard-hitting investigative fact finding? Heart-wrenching personal tragedy? Getting past the PR-burnished image of a CEO to reveal more of her life story, personality and secret to success? This panel of expert interviewers will tease apart the most important aspects of the interviewing process, discuss what techniques work for different types of interviews, and offer tips on how you can improve your interviews.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Peterson – American Folklife Center - Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Peterson is director of the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress.  Prior to joining the AFC in 2012, Peterson worked as a cultural consultant and served as executive director of the Fund for Folk Culture. She also served as director of Folk and Traditional Arts at the New England Foundation for the Arts and was a co-founder of Texas Folklife Resources in Austin, Texas.  In her consulting practice, her clients have included The Wallace Foundation, South Arts, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Carnegie Hall, The Ford Foundation, the American Folklore Society and the National Endowment for the Arts, for whom she wrote, edited and compiled The Changing Faces of Tradition: A Report on the Folk and Traditional Arts in the United States.

Peter Lovenheim – author and journalist - Peter Lovenheim’s articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Parade, Politico, The Washington Post, and other publications. Effective interviewing skills have been key to his journalism as well as authorship of several books of narrative non-fiction, including The Attachment Effect (Penguin Random House), an exploration of how early bonds with parents shape personality throughout life; In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time, (Perigee Books); and Portrait of a Burger as a Young Calf (Crown), a first-hand attempt to understand the food chain.

Frank Sesno – George Washington University - Frank Sesno is director of George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, where he also teaches a class called, “The Art of the Interview.” Sesno, an internationally recognized journalist with more than 30 years of experience reporting from around the world for CNN, has interviewed five U.S. presidents as well as world leaders and Nobel prize-winners. He is author of the Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions and Spark Change (AMACOM).

Angela Greiling Keane – Politico - Angela Greiling Keane is a deputy managing editor at Politico, running policy and politics coverage at the state level. Before joining Politico in 2016, she spent nearly a decade at Bloomberg News, including serving as White House correspondent during the Obama administration. She has interviewed dozens of domestic and international government leaders, business executives and entertainment figures, both for television and live audiences at the National Press Club and other events and one-on-one as a reporter for news stories. She served as president of the National Press Club in 2013.

Moderator: Tam Harbert - Freelance journalist and ASJA member Tam Harbert has covered technology, business and public policy for more than 20 years. She regularly interviews C-suite executives, tech entrepreneurs, lawyers and policy wonks. Then has to make it interesting. Harbert has won more than a dozen awards for her work.

 


Little to Big: When 800 words becomes a book: Non-fiction books often start small, with a reported story or an essay. This panel will consider the ways in which this happens, from knowing when a shorter piece has legs to growing a magazine or newspaper-length story into an 80,000-word book. Three experienced authors will discuss the craft behind reporting and writing book-length examinations that were seeded from much shorter articles or essays.

Pamela Haag – author, The Gunning of America - Pamela Haag, Ph.D. is an award-winning book author, essayist, and developmental editor who has published four books, with a fifth under contract. Her most recent books are The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture (Basic Books) and Marriage Confidential: Love in the Post-Romantic Age (HarperCollins). Gunning was chosen as a best book of the year by four publications. Her next book, with Yale UP, is a “style audit for the scholar-writer” and emerges out of her editorial work. Media appearances include the Diane Rehm Show, CBS Sunday Morning, the Today show, MSNBC, C-Span’s After Words, PBS’ “To the Contrary,” and more.   

Tom Kapsidelis – author, After Virginia Tech - Thomas Kapsidelis is a longtime Virginia journalist and the author of After Virginia Tech: Guns, Safety, and Healing in the Era of Mass Shootings, published in April 2019 by The University of Virginia Press. He was an editor for 28 years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch before accepting a fellowship in 2016 at Virginia Humanities to complete his book. He's also worked at United Press International (UPI) and The State of Columbia, S.C. Kapsidelis is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the MFA program in creative nonfiction at Goucher College.

Jesse Holland – author, Black Panther - Jesse J. Holland is the author of several books, including Black Panther: Who Is The Black Panther?,  a 2019 NAACP Image Award outstanding fiction novel finalist, and The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slavery Inside The White House,  the 2017 silver medal award winner in U.S. History in the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The Invisibles also was one of the top history books of 2016 by Smithsonian.com. Jesse is a Race & Ethnicity writer for The Associated Press, as well as a former White House, Supreme Court and Congressional reporter. He is the weekend host for C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and teaches journalism and writing at Georgetown University, New York University and Goucher College.

Moderator: Laura Laing, author and freelance journalist - The author of three math books Laura Laing has been a freelance journalist and writer for more than 15 years. She is currently writing an experimentally themed and structured memoir, and her essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Creative Nonfiction, and Full Grown People. Her essay, “Your Leaving” appeared in the 10th Anniversary of Consequence Magazine and received the 2019 ASJA Best Essay Award.


About the Essay: We all know what an essay is, right? Or do we? When is an essay an op-ed? When is it a personal essay? What makes an essay literary? Some of these distinctions are found in craft: voice, structure, rhythm, perspective. Some are found in other choices: subject-matter, reporting, point of view. Regardless, the type of essay dictates its placement—and vice versa. This panel will consider the similarities of three forms of essay (op-ed, personal, and literary) as well as what makes them distinct from one another.

Randon Billings Noble – author, Be with Me Always - Randon Billings Noble is an essayist and author of Be with Me Always (University of Nebraska Press, 2019) and a lyric essay chapbook Devotional (Red Bird). Other work has appeared in the Modern Love column of The New York Times, The Rumpus, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere. She has taught at American University; led writing workshops at Politics and Prose, the Writer’s Center, and the Washington National Cathedral; and has presented at conferences like HippoCamp, NonfictioNOW, and AWP. Currently she is the founding editor of After the Art.

Ada Calhoun – essayist and author, St. Marks Is Dead - Ada Calhoun is the author of St. Marks Is Dead (W.W. Norton & Co.), named one of the best books of the year by The Boston Globe and Kirkus Reviews, and Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give (W.W. Norton & Co.), named one of the top ten memoirs of the year by W magazine. The latter came out of one of the three essays she’s published in The New York Times “Modern Love” column. She’s written essays for The New York Times “Lives” column and op-eds for its opinion page; and many other pieces for magazines including Redbook, New York, and National Geographic Traveler. A piece she wrote for O magazine led to her next book, Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis (Grove Press), due out in January 2020.  


Track 3: The Business of Freelance

Landing Better Clients: Hear from two dynamic, interactive ASJA members who have grown their full-time freelance businesses to include journalism, content marketing, thought leadership clients, teaching, and more. Then take part in a hands-on workshop to create a plan of your own and leave with tangible action steps for your next move.  

Carolyn Crist – health and medical writer - Carolyn Crist is a health and medical journalist based in Georgia whose stories have appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, Reuters, Runner's World, U.S. News & World Report and Wired. Her first book, The New Science of Narcissism, will come out in fall 2020. 

 

Jennifer Goforth Gregory – content marketing writer - Jennifer Goforth Gregory uses her 20 years of professional writing experience to create content that solves readers problems and builds trust in her client’s brand. She specializes in B2B, finance, technology, artificial intelligence, IoT, personalization, cloud computing, security, retail technology, telecommunications, health technology and hospitality technology. Her services include blogs, articles, content strategy, infographics, white papers and case studies.  


Promotion through Podcasts: Podcasts are a great venue to promote your latest work or talk about your business – either as a guest or as a host of your own show. This panel will talk about the value and tricks of guesting on a podcast or hosting a podcast, and give you some technological tips for setting up your own.

Daniel Ford – “Writer’s Bone” podcast

 


 

Chris Blose – Imagination - Chris Blose is vice president of content at Imagination.

 


 

Melanie Padgett Powers – “Deliberate Freelancer” podcast - Melanie Padgett Powers, the owner of MelEdits, is host of the “Deliberate Freelancer” podcasts, which focuses on the business side of freelancing.  She is a freelance writer, managing editor and copy editor/proofreader in the Washington, D.C., area. She primarily works with membership associations and health care organizations. She has a journalism degree and was a newspaper reporter in her home state of Indiana before moving on to membership associations.


Your Business Questions Answered: TBA

Milt Toby – attorney and author ASJA President Milt Toby is an attorney and award-winning author who has been writing about Thoroughbred racing since Secretariat won the Triple Crown. A frequent presenter at national and regional conferences, Milt has a special interest in copyright, publishing contracts, and other legal issues affecting writers. His latest book, Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing's Most Famous Cold Case, was published in 2018.


LUNCHTIME PANEL

Inside the Pitch: Crafting Smart, Provocative Stories for Elite Publications: A panel of top editors weighs in on the burning question: Why wasn’t my pitch accepted? Learn how to identify, write, and sell idea-driven stories in science, history, culture, parenting and personal narrative. Editors will dissect pitches that didn’t work for their publication in order to illuminate the path to a green-lit assignment.

Marianne Szegedy-Maszak – Mother Jones - Marianne Szegedy-Maszak is the editorial operations director of the D.C. bureau of Mother Jones and the senior editor of the Climate Desk, a partnership of 18 media organizations. She has covered the collapse of communism, the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks, neuroscience, and social policy for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Harpers Bazaar, The New Republic, Psychology Today, and other publications. She is the author of I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary (Random House) and has ghost-written seven memoirs. Earlier in her career, she was a reporter for the New York Post, an editor for Congressional Quarterly, a journalism professor at American University, and a senior writer for US News & World Report.

Dan Kois – Slate - Dan Kois is an editor and writer at Slate and the author of How to Be a Family (Little, Brown & Company) a parenting memoir.

 

 

Moderator: Katherine Reynolds Lewis – journalist and author - Katherine Reynolds Lewis is an award-winning journalist, speaker and author of The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever – And What to Do About It (PublicAffairs). Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Fortune, Mother Jones, The New York Times, Parents, Slate, USA Today, The Washington Post and Working Mother. She’s been an EWA Education Reporting Fellow and Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Global Good. Residencies include the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Ragdale. Katherine previously worked as a national correspondent for Newhouse and Bloomberg News, covering everything from financial and media policy to the White House.

Client Connections

Client Connections is a lottery-based event on the second day of the annual ASJA Conference, and at ASJA regional conferences. Professional members can register in advance to participate in brief face-to-face meetings with industry representatives who want to meet freelance writers. They include literary agents, media editors, and representatives from marketing, advertising, and PR agencies who seek content for corporate brands. This speed-dating event gives ASJA professional members an exclusive opportunity to make new connections with people who value the work professional writers do. You may find your next best client—or an agent seeking his next best client may find YOU. Hence, Client Connections.

Client Connections is open to ASJA Professional Members ONLY. Want to become a Professional Member and participate in Client Connections? Visit http://asja.org/How-To-Join/Why-Join-ASJA and apply for Professional Membership for your chance to meet with these and more top editors. NOTE: You must apply for Professional Membership by September 30 and then, if accepted, join ASJA and pay in full by October 20.

Organizations already confirmed for DC Conference

American Physiological Society Civil Engineering Magazine
CustomNEWS, Inc. Mother Jones
Nareit (National Association of
Real Estate Investment Trusts)
National School Boards Association
Northern Virginia Magazine Parenteral Drug Association
SAGE Publishing WP BrandStudio/The Washington Post
  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson