ASJA Austin Conference Program

Schedule

8:30-9:30am

 Pre-conference Mindfulness for Writers session

9-10am

 Registration & coffee

10-11am

 Keynote by acclaimed essayist and novelist Sarah Bird

11:15am-12:15pm

 A1 – Breaking into Content Marketing

 B1– Client Wrangling: How to Handle Sticky Situations

12:15-1:30pm

 Lunch

1:30-2:30pm

 A2 – Words that Wow: How to Edit Your Own Writing

 B2 – Writer 2.0: Reinventing Yourself

2:45-3:45pm

 A3 – Heart of the Matter: Boost Your Interview Skills

 B3 – Freelance Hustle: Keep Your Brand Fresh

3 - 5pm

 Client Connections

4-5pm

 A4 – First Rodeo: Landing a National Clip

 B4 – Bylines and Budgets: How to Thrive Without a Nine-to-Five

5-6pm

 Cocktail Reception


*Additional speakers will be announced*

Keynote Speaker 

Sarah Bird (@sarahbirdwriter) is the author of nine novels. The ninth hardcover, “Above the East China Sea,” was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2014. Sarah has been selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great Writers series; a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship; New York Public Library’s 25 Books to Remember list; Elle Magazine Reader’s Prize; People Magazine’s Page Turners; Library Journal’s Best Novels; and a National Magazine Silver Award for her columns in Texas Monthly.

In 2012 Sarah was voted Best Austin Author for the fourth time by the readers of the Austin Chronicle; was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame; and received the Illumine Award for Excellence in Fiction from the Austin Library Foundation. In 2013 she was selected to be The University of Texas’ Libraries Distinguished Author speaker and was featured on NPR’s The Moth Radio Hour.

She has written screenplays for Paramount, CBS, Warner Bros, National Geographic, ABC, TNT, Hemdale Studio and several independent producers. Sarah’s original screenplay, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, is currently in development with Pantheon of Women. She has contributed articles to The New York Times, Salon, O Magazine, and is a columnist for Texas Monthly. Sarah, who moved all over the world growing up with her air force family, lives in Austin, Texas.


Pre-conference Mindfulness for Writers session

Writing, at its best, comes from an act of observing and attending to the mind, recording the observations as artfully and accurately as possible. But observing the mind is something they don't teach in writing programs. Join us for one hour of instruction and guided meditation, aimed specifically at removing blocks and refining those keen powers of attention so necessary for what we do. Begin your conference by setting a mindful tone for the day.

Speaker: Amy Hertz (@amymegahertz), a 30-year student of Tibetan Buddhism, has taught in New York, Houston, Ann Arbor, Nebraska and São Paulo. Editorial and publishing positions include Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Henry Holt and Huffington Post. Bestsellers: “Universe in a Single Atom and Art of Happiness (The Dalai Lama),” “Eat Right 4 Your Type,” “The Female Brain,” “Kitchen Table Wisdom,” “Anger and No Death,“ “No Fear (Thich Nhat Hanh),” “The Jew in the Lotus” and “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.” She has written for O, The Oprah Magazine (Best of O 2007), Glamour, Yoga Journal and Shambhala Sun.


A1 - Breaking into Content Marketing

While many editorial outlets have slashed their supply of well-paying content available to freelancers, an increasing number of brands now offer it in abundance. Find out how to uncover content marketing opportunities, win assignments and keep them coming. Explore the benefits and challenges of working with clients directly and through agencies, plus learn mistakes to avoid so that you can thrive in this potentially lucrative field.

Moderator: Mindy Charski (@MindyCharski) is a Dallas-based freelancer currently covering marketing, digital content, personal finance, small business and photography. An ASJA member since 2014, she has written for a number of consumer, trade and association publications and has extensive experience writing bylined content marketing pieces for national brands and ghostwriting thought leadership articles for technology companies.

Speaker: Christine Parizo (@cparizo) got her start in B2B tech journalism when clouds were something you’d watch on lazy, breezy days. After a stint as a legal assistant and tech specialist, she returned to writing, this time as a B2B tech copywriter and sometime journalist, and joined ASJA in 2017. She writes white papers, case studies and feature articles for clients and keeps her head in a different kind of cloud. When she’s not at her laptop, Christine runs half marathons, works on cross-stitch projects and drinks copious amounts of coffee. She lives in Houston.

Speaker: Jennifer Goforth Gregory (@byJenGregory) is a content marketing writer whose clients include IBM, Adobe, Samsung, Allstate, Costco, Verizon, AT&T, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Salesforce. She writes a popular blog on content marketing writing The Content Marketing Writer and is working on a book on the topic. Jennifer is also Secretary of ASJA and chair of Membership Growth.

 

Speaker: Erin Micheletti is the co-founder of Storio Creative, a boutique content marketing agency focused on branded storytelling. Erin got her start in political communication before transitioning to freelance writing and then launching Storio Creative with Suzanne Klein. Today Erin oversees content marketing strategy and program execution for a slew of Fortune 500 companies and startups. When not creating custom content solutions for her clients, you can find Erin adding stamps to her passport, scuba diving or perfecting her secret cheesecake recipe. She holds an M.Sc. in Communication from the London School of Economics and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.


B1 - Client Wrangling: How to Handle Sticky Situations

What happens when you can’t land the source your editor wants and you realize you’re going to miss a deadline? What should you do when a client requests massive revisions and you want to negotiate for more money? Learn how veteran freelancers navigate these and other conversations, plus get an editor’s insights on when to speak up and how to maintain a good rapport without getting pushed around.

Moderator: John Peragine (@johnpwriter) is the author of 14 books, and has ghostwritten over 100 more. His latest book, “Cucamonga Valley Wine: The Lost Empire of American Winemaking” was released in 2017. A member of the National Writers Union (UAW-Local 1981) and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, he has been writing professionally since 2007, after working 13 years as a social worker and over 25 years as a professional musician. He covered the John Edwards trial exclusively for Bloomberg News and The New York Times. John lives with his wife and children in Davenport, Iowa.

Speaker: Wendy Helfenbaum (@wendyhelfenbaum) As an ASJA Board Member who chairs the Client Networking Committee, Wendy oversees the popular members-only programs Client Connections, Virtual Pitch Slam and Virtual Client Connections. Wendy is a Montreal-based freelance journalist and television producer who works with dozens of consumer, custom, online and trade publications, as well as many brands, universities and nonprofits. Freelancing can be a lonely profession, but when writers share their knowledge, tips and strategies, she believes we can all feel more empowered. Armed with insight and confidence, independent writers will be equipped to handle all the negotiations required to freelance successfully, she says.

Speaker: Joanne Cleaver (@jycleaver) is a content strategist and communication consultant who designs and manages large research and editorial projects. Media outreach and media mentions are integral to many of her clients’ success.

 

 

Speaker: Jeff Herman (@HermanJeff) is a managing editor at CreditCards.com in Austin. He works with freelance writers, who write stories and blog posts for the site. Herman says the best pieces have an engaging lede, lots of detail and colorful quotes throughout and a memorable ending. He has worked for news websites and newspapers in St. Louis, Indianapolis and Tampa, Florida, and at The New York Times Editing Center in Gainesville, Florida. 
 


A2 - Words that Wow: How to Edit Your Own Writing

Often, we're too close to our own writing to spot its shortcomings, or our inner editor is so critical that we second guess our work. Self-editing skills enable us to see what's working and what's not so we can deliver polished and compelling drafts that engage our audience and keep our readers coming back for more. Learn how to spot typos, smooth out syntax, improve structure and otherwise apply an editor's eye to your own writing.

Moderator: ASJA member Sarah Hackley (@SarahHackley) is the in-house editor for Absolute Love Publishing, the chapter leader for the Austin-area Nonfiction Authors Association, and a regular contributor to Migraine.com, HealthyPlace.com and AtopicDermatitis.net. The author of "Preparing to Fly: Financial Freedom from Domestic Abuse," "Finding Happiness with Migraines: A Do It Yourself Guide" and the poetry chapbook “The Things We Lose,” Sarah also has edited more than a dozen books, including the Amazon category bestseller "Women Will Save the World." Her migraine blog, “The Migraine Chronicles,” has been listed as one of the “Top 50 Migraine Blogs” on the planet.

Speaker: Andrea Eames (@impossiblecat) is a poet and novelist living in Austin after eight years in New Zealand and seventeen in Zimbabwe. She has a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, as well as a post-graduate diploma in Book Publishing from Whitireia Arts College, Wellington. She has released two critically acclaimed novels: “The Cry of the Go-Away Bird” (2011) and “The White Shadow” (2012). Her first poetry collection, “The Making of Stones,” was released in 2016 and her second, “New Monsters,” was released in 2017.

Speaker: Jim Benning (@jimbenning) is the editor in chief of Texas Journey, AAA’s bi-monthly magazine read by more than a million Texans. Previously, he served as deputy travel editor of BBC.com, the global news site seen by more than 60 million people every month. In addition, he co-founded the online travel magazine World Hum, which he led through acquisition by Travel Channel. Jim’s writing has appeared in Outside, Men’s Journal, National Geographic Adventure, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. For stories, he has enrolled in bullfighting school, reported from Fiji during a coup and sat in on editorial meetings with the writers of The Onion.

Speaker: Yasmin Ghahremani (@yazg) is a senior editor at Wise Bread, a personal finance website. She works with freelance writers, who write about credit, debt, investing, careers and frugal living. Previously, she was a managing editor at CreditCards.com in Austin. She has also lived in New York, Atlanta, Hong Kong and Sydney, and has had an extensive career writing for publications and producing television news, both on staff and as a freelancer. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Time, Asiaweek, CFO, San Antonio Business Journal, Popular Science Australia and many other publications.


B2 - Writer 2.0: Reinventing Yourself

Diversifying your work not only increases your network, but can increase your net worth too. Today, it’s easier and smarter than ever to expand your writing expertise well beyond the confines of the written word. In this panel, we discuss what you need to create new outlets, from side hustles to complete career leaps.

Moderator: Former ASJA Board Member Damon Brown helps potential and current entrepreneurs make their mark without sacrificing themselves. He co-founded the popular platonic connection app Cuddlr and led it to acquisition within a year, all while being the primary caretaker of his first son when he was an infant. He now guides others through his consulting, his weekly Inc.com column, and public speaking on platforms like TED. Damon’s most recent book is “The Productive Bite-Sized Entrepreneur: 24 Smart Secrets to Do More in Less Time,” the latest in his best-selling Bite-Sized Entrepreneur series. Join his exclusive better business discussions at bit.ly/JoinDamon or follow him on Twitter: @BrownDamon.

Speaker: Jeannie Ralston (@TribeNext) is the editor and co-founder of NextTribe.com, a web magazine for women 45 plus. Jeannie has written for the New York Times, National Geographic, Life Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and most women’s magazines. She’s been a contributing editor at Allure, Parenting and Ladies Home Journal. Her memoir, “The Unlikely Lavender Queen,” tells of her journey from Manhattan journalist to rural Texas lavender farmer. Her e-book, “The Mother of All Field Trips,” follows her family during a three-year stint of homeschooling and traveling. Jeannie and her husband live outside of Austin and both her sons attend Texas A&M University.


A3 - Heart of the Matter: Boost Your Interview Skills  
Some prepare for hours and arrive at an interview with a lengthy list of questions. Others focus on staying in the moment and following the dialogue where it leads. There are as many different interviewing styles as there are interviewers—but we can all learn from the pros’ best practices. We’ll turn the tables on talented writers and editors with print and audio experience and learn their secrets for handling reluctant sources, keeping control of the conversation and leaving the room or call with the most compelling quotes and insights.

Moderator: Cindy Kuzma (@cindykuzma) is a freelance health and fitness writer in Chicago fascinated by exercise science and constantly seeking stories of everyday athletes doing extraordinary things. She’s a contributing editor at Runner’s World magazine and a regular contributor to SELF, Vice and USA Today magazines, among other print and online publications. She collaborated with Dawn Jackson-Blatner, LDN, on her book “The Superfood Swap” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) and produces the podcast #WeGotGoals for Chicago wellness website aSweatLife.com. She’s been an ASJA member since 2014, moderated panels at four national conferences and co-chaired the 2016 conference in New York.

Speaker: John Peragine (@johnpwriter) is the author of 14 books and has ghostwritten over 100 more. His latest book, “Cucamonga Valley Wine: The Lost Empire of American Winemaking” was released in 2017. A member of the National Writers Union (UAW-Local 1981) and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, he has been writing professionally since 2007, after working 13 years as a social worker and as a professional musician for over 25 years. He covered the John Edwards trial exclusively for Bloomberg News and The New York Times. John lives with his wife and children in Davenport, Iowa.

Speaker: Michael Hall (@michaelhalltexas) graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979 with a degree in government. He wrote for various publications, including Trouser Press, Third Coast Magazine, the Austin American-Statesman and the Austin Chronicle. In 1997 he joined Texas Monthly, where he has won two Texas Gavel Awards from the State Bar of Texas and four Stephen Philbin Awards from the Dallas Bar Association. He was named the CRMA’s Writer of the Year in 2015. Hall is also a musician, and has played in Austin bands such as Wild Seeds, the Setters, the Lollygaggers and the Savage Trip.


B3 - Freelance Hustle: Keep Your Brand Fresh

The key to a good freelance brand is having strong bonds with your clients, including the agents and editors with whom you work. The key to creating long-term relationships is building bonds of trust that endure over many years. But how do you juggle these relationships to keep your professional brand fresh while you add clients to build a strong business foundation? ASJA President Sherry Beck Paprocki will lead this session involving more than two dozen tips about how to sharpen your freelance image. This session addresses the creative tenacity and organizational skills required to have a successful freelance career.

Speaker: An award-winning journalist, author and editor, Sherry Beck Paprocki (@sherrypaprocki) is ASJA's president and president of R.S. Rock Media, Inc. She is the author of several books, including "Content Marketing: 50 Ways to Tell Your Story" and is co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Branding Yourself." Paprocki's clients include regional magazines, big business personalities and small business owners.

 


A4 - First Rodeo: Landing National Clips

Moving from regional to national publications may seem intimidating, but it’s a goal for many writers. How do you catch the attention of national editors? And what if imposter syndrome strikes once you land the assignment? Veteran freelancers share stories from the trenches on how they leveled up to national or even international publications.

Moderator: Lynn Freehill-Maye’s (@LynnMarieFree) journalistic career includes five years editing The Alcalde, the alumni magazine of the University of Texas at Austin. Today she roves the country and world as an independent writer focused largely on travel, food and sustainability. Her work has been published, in print or online, by the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Travel + Leisure, Texas Monthly, Modern Farmer, Islands, Afar, Sierra, Culture, CityLab and beyond.
 

Speaker: Beth Goulart Monson (@Beth_Goulart) is an Austin-based writer who specializes in food -- especially terroir, that fertile ground where food and place intersect. She grew up in the DC area and Pennsylvania, then studied geography and French language at Penn State and the University of Strasbourg, France. As an intern, then international editions editor at National Geographic Magazine, she learned to be a journalist. Today, she is more than 10 years a proud Texan and a freelancer. She has published stories in National Geographic, the Austin American-Statesman, the Washington Post, Gourmet, Slate, AARP and many other publications.


B4 - Bylines and Budgets: How to Thrive Without a Nine to Five

Without a steady paycheck or an employer-sponsored retirement plan, independent writers have to create their own financial stability. Even experienced freelancers get frustrated at times by feast or famine income cycles or get blindsided by an unexpected tax bill. Gain tips from financial experts on dealing with debt, preparing for tax season, saving for retirement and otherwise thriving financially as an independent writer on an often-irregular income.

Moderator: Jodi Helmer (@helmerjodi) is a North Carolina-based freelance journalist and author writing about the intersection of food, farming and business for Modern Farmer, NPR, Civil Eats, National Geographic Traveler, Living the Country Life, Farming Magazine and others. She is currently working on a book, “Protecting Pollinators,” forthcoming from Island Press. When she’s not writing, Jodi teaches classes on the business of freelancing, including 5 Days to $100K. Learn more at jodihelmer.com.

Speaker: Kara Perez (@bravelygo) is a freelance writer and the founder of Bravely, a company that bridges the gap between women and money. Bravely hosts financial literacy events offline, and creates tools online for women to take control of their money. Her writing has been featured on LearnVest, Elite Daily, Rockstar Finance, The Financial Diet, and other publications. She is also the co-host of The Fairer Cents podcast. Kara is based in Austin, Texas and loves hiking and peanut butter.

Speaker: Laura Adams (@LauraAdams) is a personal finance expert and award-winning author of multiple books, including “Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich.”  She’s been the host of the popular Money Girl Podcast, a top weekly show in iTunes, since 2008. Laura is frequently quoted in the national media and she’s been a guest on every major broadcast news outlet. Millions of readers and listeners benefit from her practical financial advice. Her mission is to empower consumers to live richer lives through her podcasting, speaking, spokesperson, teaching and advocacy work. Laura received an MBA from the University of Florida. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband.


Client Connections

Client Connections gives ASJA members a great way to make new connections with people who value the work of professional writers. 

Client Connections lets ASJA members meet one-on-one with editors, content managers, literary agents, publishers and others in need of your writing skills. You may find your next best client -- or someone seeking their next best client may find YOU. 

Any ASJA member registered to attend the event may participate. For new members, the deadline to apply for membership and be eligible to participate in Client Connections at the Austin conference is December 1, 2017. 

The 10-minute meetings, held face-to-face in a speed-dating format, are determined via a lottery system. 

Click here to see the list of who's attending Client Connections in Austin.

Lynne S. Dumas Personal Mentoring Program
$60 additional fee

Trying to break into the magazine market? Need help making a query sing? Want to know how to get your nonfiction book published? Get answers and career advice from a professional writer. For $60, you'll get 30 minutes of face-to-face guidance from an ASJA mentor on the nonfiction writing topic you choose. Space is limited, so sign up early! Appointments will be scheduled Saturday morning. Meet the ASJA Expert Team.

Mentoring can jump-start careers. Here's what mentees from the national conference's mentor program said: "I went to that meeting as a longtime newspaper writer, with no clue how to pitch anything," said ASJA member Laura Beil. "I followed what I learned about query letters and pitching to editors. I just completed a story for the New York Times (which made it onto the front page yesterday!) Reader's Digest query accepted right away."

  • 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