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Bay to Ocean Writers Conference 2023
Session Descriptions

Craft & Editing / Publishing / Marketing


9:00AM – 9:50AM
Assessing Your Intuition for Maximum Creativity
Dennis Lawson, MHt.

What if your body, mind, and spirit could work together more effectively? Can you access your intuition easily? Do you often battle procrastination and unwanted thoughts?
     In this highly interactive workshop, Dennis will introduce a number of physical, mental, and intuitive exercises you can easily apply to your writing discipline. He will reveal some Master Keys that will allow you to unlock better mindfulness, intuitive awareness, and spiritual fitness to augment your skills. These lessons offer tools that will add to your creativity and renew your joy in writing.
     Finally, you will be guided to your “inner wisdom” enhancing your ability to overcome fears and procrastination, boosting your ability to fulfill your dreams.

DENNIS LAWSON has an academic background in psychology and decades of experience as a Martial Arts competitor, teacher, and coach allow him to offer a comprehensive mind, body, and spirit centered approach to hypnosis and coaching. Dennis published Talking Kenpo—Best Practices in Martial Arts Training in 2012. The book is available on Mr. Lawson is a certified NLP practitioner and holds diverse coaching certifications including Maximum Productivity (Time Management) from Brian Tracy International and Life (Spiritual) Coaching from Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.).  Dennis assists his clients to discover their hidden patterns, allowing them to fulfill their dreams.

10:00AM – 10:50AM
Where to Begin? Openings, Stakes, Theme, and Deeper Meaning in Your Book
Kristina Gaddy

This session will explore what makes a good opening for narrative works (novels, short stories, narrative nonfiction, essays, memoir, reported pieces). I begin with a short exercise to read an opening and explore what makes it "good" (with guided questions about stakes, theme, and meaning). Then, we go deeper into that piece (not reading it, but with an outline) of how the stakes are set in the opening and what the writer does to fulfill the promise to the reader. Then, participants will reflect on a work-in-progress with an exercise (slightly adapted) from Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping by Matthew Salesses. By answering foundational questions about their writing piece, they'll be able to see whether their opening presents the stakes, theme, and deeper meaning of their whole piece.

KRISTINA R. GADDY, author of Well of Souls: Uncovering the Banjo's Hidden History​ and Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis (Dutton 2020), is a Baltimore-based writer and fiddler. She has received the Parsons Award from the Library of Congress, Logan Nonfiction Fellowship and a Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Rubys artist award. She holds an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Goucher College and her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Baltimore magazine, Washington City Paper, Baltimore Sun, Bitch Magazine, Narratively, Proximity, Atlas Obscura, OZY, Shore Monthly and other smaller history and music publications.

11:00AM – 11:50AM
On Co-Writing
Elizabeth Kasper & Emily Johnson

We will share a PowerPoint and discuss different systems for writing with others, the benefits of coauthoring as opposed to writing individually, the business aspects of co-writing, and experience and advice we feel could benefit the writing community.

ELIZABETH KASPER & EMILY JOHNSON are both lifelong readers and writers. They have been co-writing novels for three years and have learned much about fiction and publishing along the way. Elizabeth is a freelance writer and editor working on an MA in Communications and an MFA in Writing and Publishing, and Emily is working on degrees in both Photography and Marketing while sharpening her craft of fiction and selling antiques. 

1:30PM – 2:20PM
Generating Poems Through Research
Lynne Schmidt

This interactive presentation will explore generating poems from various media such as newspaper articles, news segments, and general research. It will dig into topics such as "finding the character" for each news piece, as well as guided instruction for how to create poems from photos. This presentation will encourage audience participation and there will be time reserved for participants to write, as well as a Q&A session at the conclusion.

LYNN SCHMIDT is the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor, and a mental health professional with a focus in trauma and healing. They are the winner of the 2021 The Poetry Question Chapbook Award for their chapbook, Sexytime, and the 2020 New Women's Voices Contest for their chapbook, Dead Dog Poems. Other chapbooks include Gravity, which was listed as one of the 100 Best Breakup Books of All Time by Book Authority, and On Becoming a Role Model. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.

2:30PM – 3:30PM
The Freedom of an Unreliable Narrator in Poetry
David P. Kozinski

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, or of writing the best poem. Sticking to facts is essential to writing a news story or autobiography, but in poetry is, very often, counterproductive. There is always a gap between the poet and the poem’s narrator or speaker: it might be narrow as eye of a needle or a broad chasm. Using a narrator whose veracity the reader has reason to doubt lends the poet the freedom to cultivate fields that might otherwise remain fallow. We’ll talk about various types of unreliable narrators and read examples that illustrate them. Workshop attendees will write in class using voices that differ from their own and have the chance to read their work aloud.

DAVID P. KOZINSKI has two full-length books of poems: the original manuscript of I Hear It the Way I Want It to Be (2022) was a finalist for the Inlandia (California) Institute’s Hillary Gravendyke Prize and Tripping Over Memorial Day was published in 2017 (both Kelsay Books). His chapbook, Loopholes (Broadkill Press), won the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize. Kozinski is the Resident Poet at Rockwood Park and Museum in New Castle County, Delaware. He was the 2018 Delaware Division of the Arts Established Professional Poetry Fellow. He is Art Editor of Schuylkill Valley Journal and a board member of Philadelphia Stories.

Editing / Publishing / Marketing

9:00AM – 9:50AM
Podcasting as Promotion

Paul Comfort

Podcasting is a great way to build your audience, visibility, credibility as a thought leader, make connections and promote your books and causes plus get speaking gigs.
     Paul Comfort has done just that with his industry leading podcast and television show Transit Unplugged (heard in 100 countries).  In this session he’ll show you how in detail and answer your questions.

PAUL COMFORT is host of the industry leading podcast, Transit Unplugged and the new YouTube sensation, Transit Unplugged TV show.  Paul has authored two Amazon #1 best-selling books. He also serves as SVP of the world’s largest transit technology company and Executive Director of the North American Transit Alliance.
     Mr. Comfort is an attorney, musician, popular keynote speaker and the former CEO of one of America's largest transit systems, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) in Baltimore.  He has also served as an elected County Commissioner on the Eastern Shore.

10:00AM – 10:50AM
Buffing and Polishing: The Art of the Rewrite

John DeDakis

You've finally finished your manuscript and now you're ready to tell Oprah all about it. Not so fast. The best writing is REwriting. In this session, you'll learn practical ways to put your writing on a flab-burning diet so that your copy is tight, trim and hot—and all without even having to step onto a treadmill. There will be several writing (and rewriting) exercises.

JOHN DEDAKIS Award-winning novelist, writing coach, and manuscript editor John DeDakis is a former editor on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." DeDakis is the author of five mystery-suspense novels. In his most recent novel, Fake, protagonist Lark Chadwick is a White House correspondent dealing with “fake news” in the era of #MeToo. DeDakis regularly leads writing workshops at literary centers, writers’ conferences, and bookstores. He is also the host of the video podcast“One-to-One with John DeDakis” on YouTube.

11:00AM – 11:50AM
Handselling Books

Kenton Kilgore

Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or something else, you can make money and win lifelong, hardcore fans by selling your books in person. There's a lot to gain, but it's moremuch morethan just signing copies. So, how best to do it?
     Author Kenton Kilgore walks you through every step of how to successfully hand-sell books, with lots of do’s and don’ts that he learned from extensive experience. Among the aspects that Kenton discusses are: picking the right venue and setting up the display; pricing to make you the most money; how COVID changed book selling; selling at mega-venues; and, his “One-Spoonful-At-A-Time” sales technique that you and your customers will be comfortable with.
     Think you're too shy to meet people and convince them to buy your books? Kenton shows you how to overcome that so you can easily engage with potential readers.
     In addition, each attendee will receive a free PDF copy of Kenton's recently-released 2nd Edition guide, Hand-Selling Books: Making Money and Winning Fans, which has even more advice and tips.

KENTON KILGORE is the author of Hand-Selling Books: Making Money and Winning Fans, a how-to guide to help authors sell books in person. He has published four young adult sci-fi/fantasy novels--This Wasted Land, Lost Dogs, Stray Cats, and Dragontamer's Daughters-- as well as the children's picture books Our Wild Place, Pimmi Makes a Friend, and How the Kangal Got Her Mask. Kenton and his family live on Kent Island, Maryland.  Website:   

1:30PM – 2:20PM
How to Give a Book Away: Using Free Books as a Marketing Tool

Ariele Sieling

Giving books away is a commonly utilized method for marketing. But there are smart ways to do—and not-so-smart ways.
     In this workshop, join Ariele Sieling for a discussion on effective ways to use free books to market your work and build your audience. She will outline the pros and cons of free books, delve into the nitty gritty of “how” to make your books free on various retailers, as well as talk about the strategy behind giving books away. She will also explore some of the controversy surrounding free books.
     This workshop will come with a hands-on guide for implementing a free-book strategy, and allow time for a Q&A about book marketing in general.

ARIELE SIELING is a science fiction and fantasy writer who enjoys books, cats, and trees. She has over thirty books published and has numerous short stories published in a variety of anthologies and magazines. She is also the author of the book series for authors titled Writers Reach, which includes: How To Build A Book Marketing Strategy, The Intersection of Setting and Story, and Building An Author Brand That Suits You.
     She lives with her spouse, enormous Great Pyrenees dog, and two cats.   

2:30PM – 3:30PM
Scrivener for Writers & Poets

Meg Eden Kuyatt

Learn about the basics of using the program Scrivener to best organize your ideas, as well as outline and draft efficiently. We’ll cover the basic features of the program, as well as ideas and strategies for best using this tool as a poet or fiction writer.

MEG EDEN KUYATT is a 2020 Pitch Wars mentee, and teaches creative writing at colleges and writing centers. She is the author of the 2021 Towson Prize for Literature winning poetry collection “Drowning in the Floating World†(Press 53, 2020) and children’s novels, most recently “Good Different†(Scholastic, 2023). Find her online at or on Twitter at @ConfusedNarwhal and Instagram at @meden_author. 

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