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Keynote Speaker

Sonali Dev

Award winning author, Sonali Dev, writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world while still indulging her faith in a happily ever after.

Sonali’s novels have been on Library Journal, NPR, Washington Post and Kirkus Best Books of the year lists. She has won the American Library Association’s award for best romance, the RT Reviewer’s Choice award for best contemporary romance, the RT Seal of Excellence, and is a RITA Finalist.

Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog. Find out more at

WHEN September 14-15, 2018

WHERE Strongsville Holiday Inn, 15471 Royalton Road, Strongsville, Ohio. We will be in the Mulberry Room

(8 miles from Cleveland Hopkins airport)


The 2018 conference will be a two-day event aimed at writers in all phases of their career.

Friday evening, we will be hosting a meet-and-greet hour for conference attendees, industry guests, and authors. This will be followed by a book signing that is open to the public.

On Saturday, in addition to our keynote speaker, we will have a variety of other guests including industry professionals who will discuss what’s hot and what’s not in publishing, what it takes to hook an editor or agent with your first page, and what to look for when you are offered a contract. Our guest editors and agents will also be taking pitches from attendees in the afternoon. More details about our guest speakers and our complete agenda will be available as we get closer to our June registration opening.

Our annual basket raffle will include workshop registrations, critiques, & baskets brimming with books and goodies galore. Tickets will be available at a pre-sale discount when you register and will be sold throughout the event at a cost of $1.00 per ticket.

General registration will open at 12:00 noon on June 15, 2018 and is scheduled to remain open until 11:59pm on August 20, 2018. Signing space for authors attending our event as well as pitch appointments will assigned on a first come, first served basis and will be allocated as space allows. Your must be registered in full for this event in order to participate in the book signing and pitch sessions. There is no additional charge for these activities.

Check out our full Agenda here.

You do not need to be a member of NEORWA or RWA to attend this event.


Cost for this event will be as follows:

For members of RWA, cost will be $135.

For all others, cost will be $145.

*Authors who wish to participate in the Friday night book signing must be registered for the CRR Conference.*

The Holiday Inn provides us with a room block for those who will be traveling into town for this event and wish to stay overnight. A link to the block will be provided once registration opens in June. 


Registration check-in on the day of the event will begin at 8:30am outside the Mulberry Room at the Holiday Inn. Saturday’s program will be held in the Mulberry Room. Pitches will take place in Chestnut Room A. NEORWA members will be on hand to direct those who will be pitching in the afternoon.

The Conference starts at 9:00 am and will wrap up at 5:30pm.

A Continental breakfast will be served beginning at 8:30am. Guests may choose from Assorted Pastries, Breakfast Breads and Muffins; Whipped Butter, Jams and Jellies; Diced Seasonal Fruit Salad; Orange Juice, Coffee, Decaf, Assorted Teas, and Half and Half, or 2% Milk.

Lunch will be a “create your own” deli buffet consisting of a Fresh Garden Salad with Mixed Greens, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Croutons and Assorted Dressings; Homemade Pasta Salad; Assorted Freshly Baked Breads; Sliced Roast Beef, Turkey and Ham; Cheddar, Swiss and Provolone Cheeses; Lettuce, Sliced Tomatoes, Red Onions and Dill Pickles; Mustard, Regular and Pesto Mayonnaise; and Assorted Freshly Baked Cookies.

NOTE TO ATTENDEES:If you plan to participate in the query critique reads from industry professionals, please plan to email your one-page query to between August 1st and August 15th. Submissions received before or after this time frame will not be accepted.

Your query should be 12pt font (courier or times new roman), single spaced, a maximum of 250 words. We will remove personal identifying information from your query (such as your name) and substitute with a generic replacement (such as “Jane Doe”) if your query is read and dissected at the conference. We will make no changes to the query when we send it to the editors and agents who will pre-read before our event.


Outlining as an Author’s Power Tool: Concept to Completion in 28 Days with Julie Anne Lindsey

Julie Anne Lindsey is the author of more than 20 novels ranging from YA to romantic suspense. She has ghost written for a New York Times bestselling author, and currently writes as herself for Harlequin Intrigue as well as four alter-egos for Kensington, Crooked Lane Books and Sourcebooks. When she’s not creating new worlds and fostering the epic love of fictional characters, Julie can be found carpooling her three kids around Green, Ohio and plotting with her shamelessly enabling friends. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.


How to Speak Legalese: Understanding Literary Contracts with Marin McGinnis

A lawyer by day, Marin McGinnis feeds the more creative part of her soul by writing Victorian-era romance and mystery. A voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, Marin has dabbled with writing for a long time but didn’t start writing in earnest until she discovered historical romance over a decade ago. Marin has three historical romance titles published with The Wild Rose Press. She is repped by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Marin currently serves as President of NEORWA and is hard at work on the next book (and the one after that). She lives with her husband and teenage son in a drafty, century-old house in northeast Ohio with their two standard poodles, Larry and Sneaky Pete. Visit Marin at

Contest to Career: Writer Life After the Golden Heart with A.E. Jones, Miranda Liasson and Sonali Dev

AE Jones’ first reading love was mysteries, but she grew frustrated when the quirky heroine and overprotective hero cop kept dancing around each other – just kiss already! Her solution when she became an author? Writing a mashup of paranormal romance and mystery – what she likes to call “romansteries.”

AE has won RWA’s Golden Heart ® Award and the Booksellers’ Best Award for paranormal romance, as well as the PRISM Awards for best first book and for light paranormal romance. She is a Holt Award of Merit Finalist and a Daphne du Maurier Finalist. She is also a double RITA® finalist.

AE lives in Ohio surrounded by her eclectic family and friends who in no way resemble any characters in her books. Honest. Now her two cats are another story altogether. Please visit AE at

Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about everyday people who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better! She’s a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart winner and an Amazon bestselling author whose heartwarming and humorous small–town romances have won accolades such as the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and have been Harlequin Junkie and Night Owl Reviews Top Picks.

She lives in the Midwest with her husband and three kids in a charming old neighborhood which is the inspiration for many of the homes in her books.

Miranda loves to hear from readers! Find her at, or on Twitter @mirandaliasson. For information about new releases and other news, feel free to sign up for her newsletter at

Killer Clichés: Insider Tips on Escaping the Slush Pile

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Secret baby! Amnesia! Twins! Oh no—I slept with my future boss!

Not all clichés are created equal. What works for one editor/agent/reader may not work for another. With a clever spin, some tried-and-true tropes can be fresh and fun. Others, not so much. This panel of editors and agents will discuss their favorite and most-despised clichés/tropes, offering insights on how to escape the slush pile. Audience participation is encouraged.

Putting Your Best (Query) Foot Forward

In this session, our guest editors and agents will give honest and detailed feedback about what works and what needs work as we examine query letters submitted anonymously by attendees. Whether you submit a query for critique or not, the discussion on what prompts an editor or agent to request more from an author, and what has them passes on a work will provide valuable insight into the mind a publishing professionals.


Janna Bonikowski, Agent @ The Knight Agency

Janna Bonikowski joined the Knight Agency in 2015 with several years of experience as both an independent editor and a freelance editor for Lyrical Press/Kensington. She holds a Bachelor’s degree focused on business and economics, but her passion for books made a career in publishing inevitable.

Janna is looking for established or new authors with fresh, bold voices that keep her turning pages. She craves authentic and diverse casts of characters, and she loves stories that evoke emotion, whether laughter or tears, especially when centered around strong women.

Her current wish list includes romance of all types, women’s fiction, young adult, cozy mystery, and upmarket fiction. She’s generally not the right fit for horror or SF/F projects.

Cat Clyne, Editor @ Sourcebooks Casablanca

Romances of all sub-genres (contemporary, erotic romance, romantic suspense, historical, paranormal), especially contemporary erotic romance and romantic suspense. I’m looking for characters who really grab me, strong writing, and a compelling emotional arc. Got a damaged hero? Send him my way. With erotic romance, I like edgy emotion tempered with humor or wit, unexpected moments of tenderness that make me tear up, and hot, blush-worthy, interesting sex that moves the relationship forward. Make me swoon and surprise me.

Moe Ferrara, Agent @ BookEnds Literary Agency

Becoming a literary agent was fitting for the girl who, as a small child, begged her dad to buy her a book simply because “it has a hard cover.” Growing up, she had a hard time finding YA books outside of Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine, and instead tackled Tom Clancy or her mom’s romance novels. Though her career path zigzagged a bit—she attended college as a music major, earned a JD from Pace Law School, then worked various jobs throughout the publishing industry—Moe was thrilled to join the BookEnds team in May of 2015 as a literary agent and the subsidiary rights director.

A Pennsylvania native, she is mum of a rambunctious corgi who is a master at stealing treats. When not reading, she is an avid gamer and always awaiting the next Assassin’s Creed release.

You can contact Moe at or follow her on Twitter at

Moe is interested in books for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers in most genres–especially science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, and light horror. The right contemporary or paranormal romance (sans-vampires of course) will spark her interest. She’s LGBTQ friendly, so send her that male/male erotic romance in your back pocket! At this time she’s not looking for nonfiction, women’s fiction, or cozy mysteries.

Tara Gelsomino, Agent @ One Track Literary

A voracious genre reader since childhood, Tara began her publishing industry career at Romantic Times magazine in 1998, before transitioning to audiobook publishing in 2005 with BBC Audiobooks America, where she created the world’s first crowd-sourcedaudiobooks via Twitter with renowned bestselling authors Neil Gaiman and Meg Cabot. In 2013, she returned to her romance roots as the Executive Editor of Crimson Romance, a digital-first imprint for F+W Media and later Simon & Schuster, where she acquired and published more than 300 titles by new and up-and-coming authors.

In 2018, she decided to pour her experience with contracts, editorial, and promotion, and her desire to help burgeoning authors craft long-term careers into launching her own company, One Track Literary Agency, Inc.

 A member of RWA, Tara lives in Rhode Island with her husband and her rescue dog, Yoda. When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys watching too much television, buying yarn (and occasionally even knitting it), seeing Broadway musicals, and traveling to new places.

MSWL: I’m seeking novels that feature fresh, vibrant voices; confident, capable heroines; feminist themes; gender role reversals; humor and witty banter; beta heroes; slow-burn relationships; and new and unusual settings or plot elements. Own voices stories are especially welcome.

Laura Kelly, Editor @ Wild Rose Press

In particular, at this moment in time TWRP is looking for shorter works, 20,000 to 60,000 words, to be published in E-book only, especially in the Mystery/Suspense department, and Young Adult submissions of all lengths. For readers, please be on the lookout for our new bed and breakfast Deerbourne Inn series, set in Vermont.  The first book in the series will be available in September. Also, many of your Wild Rose Press favorites are now also available in audio book.

Laura Kelly has been an editor with The Wild Rose press since three months after TWRP opened its doors in 2006.  She’s edited nearly 100 novels and short stories for TWRP, including the paranormal suspense Mind Waves, which NEOWRA member Amanda Uhl pitched at this conference in 2015.  Ms. Kelly edits Romantic Suspense, also known Crimson Rose, as well as Mainstream Mystery, Suspense, Suspense with elements of Romance, and Thrillers. She has also edited contemporary romance, lighter paranormals – meaning characters with some sort of special power, fantasy stories, or ghosts.  She does not edit the darker fantasy, werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters and the like, but TWRP does have an excellent group of editors in Black Rose.  She has also edited cowboy romances, vintage stories, and women’s fiction. Her personal heat level preference is sensuous to spicy to hot, maybe even a little steamy, but no erotica. Sweet is also doable if it’s a romantic suspense, women’s fiction, or mainstream anything. As a personal best, Laura was named the top editor at Preditors and Editors for three years in a row.

She looks forward to hearing about the story in your heart.

Lydia Sharp, Editor & Acquisitions Manager @ Entangled Publishing

Lydia Sharp is a YA novelist, short fiction author, and former blogger. Before joining Entangled, they were a regular contributor to various publishing industry sites, including the award-winning Writer Unboxed. Lydia’s favorite stories have a brisk pace, crackling chemistry, witty banter, romantic moments that make you melt, a high stakes plot, characters that jump off the page, and a dramatic ending. They are especially interested in stories that feature characters across the spectrum of gender identity and sexual orientation. Follow on Twitter @lydia_sharp for regular updates on their manuscript wish list. Lydia is actively seeking young adult projects in the following genres: contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, and fairytale retellings or re-imaginings in any genre. They are selectively considering new adult (contemporary or sci-fi only); adult contemporary romance; adult historical romance; and womens fiction with a strong romantic element.


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