Featured offerings: Rebecca Makkai visits the Loft June 25 to talk about The Great Believers.

Writing the Novel & Crafting a Career Conference

April 29, 2017

The Loft's Writing the Novel & Crafting a Career Conference is designed to help you take the next steps toward completing your novel and launching your career. The conference features  Angela Flournoy, Kiese Laymon, Charles Baxter, and many more novelists, editors, and book people. See the full schedule below.

Refund policy: Once registered, you must call 612-379-8999 by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 27 to receive the standard 85% refund.

Regular price is $295.00, Loft members $265.50.

Conference Registration

Sign up below for the conference registration.

Angela Flournoy Craft Talk

Register for Angela Flournoy's Friday night craft talk (not included in the conference registration).

Conference Schedule

8–9 a.m.
Registration & coffee

9–10 a.m.
Angela Flournoy is the author of The Turner House, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times notable book of the year. The novel was also a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and an NAACP Image Award. She is a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" Honoree for 2015. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, and she has written for the New York Times, the New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere.

A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Flournoy received her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California. She has taught at the University of Iowa, The New School and Columbia University. Flournoy is currently the Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellow at the New York Public Library Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

10:10–11:40 a.m.
Track 1: How Novels Get Finished with Thomas Maltman, V.V. Ganeshananthan, amd Diego Vázquez, Jr.
How do you get a book written on top of everything else, even when publication or compensation aren’t assured? How do you find the time? How do you justify it to your family? How do you find the motivation and discipline? Three novelists share their strategies and the unique challenges of their works in progress.

Track 2: How Publishers Build Lists with acquiring editors from Milkweed, Coffee House, and Graywolf—Joey McGarvey, Chris Fischbach, Steve Woodward
For writers with a completed manuscript (or are nearly there), publishing might seem both daunting and capricious. One way to get feel less mystified is to understand how publishers work, how they vet and select manuscripts, and how each house (even each editor) has a personal wish list (or #mswl).

11:40 a.m. - 1 p.m.

1–2 p.m.

Novelist Kiese Laymon will discuss blurring the perceived lines between craft and content, vision and ritual.

Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University and is currently a Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi. Laymon is the author of the novel, Long Division, and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the UK edition released in 2016. Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Oxford American, The Best American Series, Ebony, and Guernica.

Long Division was named one of the Best of 2013 by Buzzfeed, The Believer, Salon, Guernica, Contemporary Literature, Mosaic Magazine, Library Journal, Chicago Tribune, and the Crunk Feminist Collective. It was also short-listed for the Believer Book Award, the Ernest Gaines Award, and the Morning News Tournament of Books. Long Division won the 2014 Saroyan International Writing Award on November 10th. Three essays in "How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America" have been included in the Best American series, the Best of Net award, and the Atlantic's Best Essays of 2013. He was selected a member of the Root 100 in 2013 and 2014 and Ebony Magazine Power 100 in 2015.

Kiese Laymon has two books forthcoming, including a memoir called Heavy and the novel called And So On which can be expected in 2017, both from Scribner.

2:15–3:45 p.m.

Track 1: How Authors Break In with debut authors Stephanie Wilbur Ash, Patrick Nathan, and Loretta Ellsworth
Three authors with debut novels published in the past year share their separate paths from inspiration to publication, their setbacks and successes, and how the first book fits into their careers as writers.

Track 2: How Books get Buzzed with Laurie Hertzel, Tracy Mumford, and Hans Weyandt
Publication is a departure and not an arrival. What happens after the book is in the world? Three “book people” will talk about how books get “hot,” particularly ones by new authors. What do authors need to know? What can they do to give their book a chance in a competitive market? What is outside of their control?

4–5 p.m.

Getting a first novel accepted and published is often an uphill climb, a bit like pushing a boulder up a mountain. What happens after the book is accepted and then published? Charles Baxter will talk about first-novel syndrome, and second-novel syndrome, and about some of the joys and terrors associated with these experiences.

Charles Baxter is the author of five novels, six books of stories, and two books of essays about fiction: Burning Down the House and The Art of Subtext. He teaches at the University of Minnesota and lives in Minneapolis.

5–7 p.m.

7–8:30 p.m.
MCKNIGHT ARTIST READING (open to the public)