Free, Live-Recorded Workshops With Agents, Editors & Authors

Join us for fun, educational evenings with our faculty. Grab a pen, paper, and beverage of your choice (in a spillproof container, please) and follow along with the exercises, take notes, and grow your book and characters.

Free Event Replays

Every few months, we ask our faculty to do a free event–this way, everyone can join together, learn, and find a community to support them along the way.

Wonder what it’s like to be a member of The Manuscript Academy? These replays will give you a good sense of what’s available–and our upbeat, energetic style.

We have something extra special to share with you–our latest #MSWL Live Agent Panel, themed Science Fiction, Fantasy, Speculative & Supernatural, is now ready to view! Check it out here, and feel free to share with friends.

This event features: 

  • Agent Caitlin McDonald, Donald Maass Literary, with a trivia game show
  • Agent Samantha Wekstein, Thompson Literary, with a query critique
  • Agent Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, with a visual #MSWL presentation
  • Agent Taj McCoy, Rees Literary, with a class on effective dialogue

Even if you don’t write in these genres, this is a great way to see how agents think, what they look for in manuscripts, and to pick up some publishing and writing lessons along the way. (And if your genre includes dialogue, definitely check out Taj’s portion of the event.)

You’re finally ready to get your book out into the world—and you’re probably hoping for that “Big Five” traditional publishing deal. What can you do to improve your chances? Are there shortcuts? Landmines to avoid? And is “Big Five” really the option that will bring you the most personal satisfaction? Or are there particulars about your book or personality that make another one of today’s many publishing options the right one for you?

In this class, we’ll talk about the many paths to publishing—big five, still-big, university, small, self, hybrid, and more—and the rewards and frustrations of each. We’ll look at how your goals, your personality, and your book’s genre can help decide which option is most likely to bring you personal satisfaction, and we’ll show you what success could look like, both in our personal experiences, and with examples from all paths to publication.

Come with your preliminary ideas and questions, and leave with a publishing roadmap that’s right for you.

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Shirin Yim Leos has coached writers who have secured multibook deals from Big Five publishers, and film and television options from major entertainment companies. She is the author of twenty-one children’s books, a developmental editor, and a former publisher. Leos also leads writing retreats and teaches writing and publishing for universities and conferences internationally.

Over the past decade, Lisa Manterfield has self-published four novels, two works of non-fiction, and five non-fiction ebooks, and coached many other authors to self-publishing success. Through her blog and podcast, she has created an online community of more than 6,000 members worldwide. Her work has been published in Los Angeles Times, Psychology Today, Huffington Post, and The Saturday Evening Post.

Our kindergarten teachers taught us to play nice, but then we grew up and our writing teachers told us to raise the heat on conflict.

What’s a nice writer to do? Confronting another person takes courage. How can we help our characters to muster that courage, and what form will it take?

In this session, we will slowly unpack a confrontation scene from Elizabeth Bowen’s novel The Death of the Heart, exploring the battle tactics used in a pivotal argument. Perhaps what is important is not why characters fight, but how. The confrontation scene is a great way to reveal aspects of character that are otherwise invisible—and perhaps discover mettle (or vulnerability) you did not know was there.

Anne Elliott is the author of The Artstars: Stories(Indiana University Press) and The Beginning of the End of the Beginning (Ploughshares Solos). Her short fiction can be found in StoryA Public Space, Crab Orchard Review, Witness, Hobart, Bellevue Literary Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and elsewhere.  Elliott is a veteran of the New York spoken word circuit, with stage credits including The Whitney Museum, Lincoln Center, PS122, and Woodstock ’94. Her fiction has been awarded support from The Story Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, The Normal School, Table 4 Writer’s Foundation, and The Bridport Prize. She holds an MFA in fiction writing from Warren Wilson College, and lives in Portland, Maine. Learn more at

At the Manuscript Academy, we’ve spent a whole lot of time on long form critiques (and we love them!), but for our second Book-to-Film Panel we’ve decided to dive into the ever dreaded Elevator/Logline Pitch. And we’ve brought in two experts, Eric Mofford and Maritte Go, to dissect your pitches. We’ll also be saving plenty of time for a Q&A to round off the event.

Whether you plan to hop into an elevator with an agent at a conference, or just want to better answer the dreaded “So…what’s your book about?”–this workshop is for you. 

Polish up those pitches and join us! All genres are welcome.

Whether or not you hope your work will become a movie, this is a great way to exercise your pitching muscles.


Eric Mofford is a producer, line producer and budget consultant. He has been involved in over 150 film, television and web productions as well as numerous music videos and commercials. His credits include the Emmy-winning television series 24 and the iconic indie feature, Daughters of the Dust. Recently he served as Head of Production at Lone Wolf Media overseeing documentary projects for NOVA, Nat Geo, Animal Planet, Smithsonian Channel and PBS. Previously, he served as Head of Production at Lady of the Canyon where he produced projects such as the dramatic television pilot, Finding Hope, with Chris Mulkey, James Morrison, Darby Stanchfield and Molly Quinn; and the comedy documentary, We’ll Always Have Dingle, shot in Kerry County, Ireland. He also served as Head of Production at Unconventional Media, producing the Emmy-nominated award-winning documentary, Houston We Have A Problem, and the live action portions for the EA video game, Need For Speed: Undercover, with Maggie Q.

Mofford, a member of the DGA, has written and directed projects for Disney Interactive, Saban Entertainment, The Discovery Channel, Image America, United Way and TBS. He co-produced Senior Year, a 13-part PBS documentary series on high school. He has sold two feature film screenplays and has various projects in development. His dramatic blues film, Travelin’ Trains, won a dozen national and international film festival awards and continues to play in art museum showcases over 25 years later. He has done schedules and budgets for both large studio productions and small indies and has shared that knowledge teaching numerous media workshops, both in the United States and internationally.

Marilyn R Atlas is a Talent/Literary Manager and Producer. Among her credits as film producer are “Real Women Have Curves” for HBO, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, “A Certain Desire,” starring Sam Waterston, and “Echoes,” which won the Gold Award at the Texas International Film Festival. She produced a movie for Lifetime, based on a YA book, airing in summer 2014, titled “The Choking Game.” She is currently in development on an Asian Mini-Series with the Wolper Organization (2021). Other projects also in development.

In live theater, Marilyn co-produced the West Coast premiere of the musical “God Bless You Mr. Rosewater” by Ashman and Menken (the writers of both “Enchanted” and “Tangled”). She also co-produced the Ovation award-winning play “To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday,” which was made into a film starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Peter Gallagher, amongst other plays. She was involved in several writers’ debut books for HarperCollins, Grand Central Publishing, and Source Books.

Marilyn is a member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. She has long been committed to projects that celebrate diversity and the dimensional female protagonists. She has spoken at various colleges, film festivals, and industry events on creating three-dimensional, non-stereotypical characters. She is the co-author of a relationship-based, screenwriting guide called “Dating Your Character,” about an organic approach to character creation for Stairway Press’s Summer 2015 catalog. She is also featured in the book “Write Now!” from Penguin/Tarcher. Marilyn loves to travel and has been to over 59 countries.

Keith L Shaw is currently the Director of Operations for Jaigantic Studios. With over 27 years of experience as a Director, Producer and Assistant Director in both the television and the feature world, Keith has worked on projects for HBO, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Comedy Central, YouTube Red and Teen Nick, to name just a few. Keith served as Director on Season 3 of the Sport-Docu, 3 Gun Nation and Director/Producer on the highly regarded Indie feature, Suicide Dolls. In 2006, Keith produced the feature film, Privileged for Glass House Productions. After a season on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Keith was accepted to the DGA’s Director’s Single Camera Program, and shortly after, directed on the PBS series, Madison Heights. Keith has filmed on many other projects across the United States and internationally, including Production Supervisor on ABC’s, Oprah Winfrey presents The Big Give, 1st Assistant Director on NBC’s, The Kenan Show, 2nd Unit-UPM/1st AD for the soon to be released Amazon Prime series, Jack Reacher and Field Producer for 5 seasons of The Apprentice. Keith also serves as Producer/Director and Co-Partner for Last Man Out Productions. The Company was recently nominated for an Emmy award for the Short Documentary, The Prohibition Chronicles: Echos of Point Place.

One challenge of writing through “the saggy middle” of books, films, and television can be that the early stakes of the story were poorly set up — and later in the narrative, the stakes are not raised effectively. If you have ever enjoyed writing the beginning of your character’s journey… but then struggled with everything after that feeling either flat or unrealistic (flip sides of the same “problem with the stakes” coin!) — odds are you can benefit from this free workshop by TV writer Derek Santos Olson.

Derek Santos Olson is a screenwriter who has worked in both film and TV.

He wrote on the final two seasons of NBC/DirecTV’s FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and was nominated for WGA Awards for both seasons. His other TV credits include ABC’s THE UNUSUALS and CBS’ HAWAII FIVE-O. In film, he has sold original pitches and has done rewrite assignments in a variety of genres.

He attended Yale University and has enjoyed teaching or tutoring in one capacity or another since shortly after his graduation.

Are you tired of Zoom happy hours? Missing real, creative, spontaneous connection? Us too. Author Kat Vellos is here to help!

Kat says:
Welcome, friend! If you know anything about me, you know that I’d rather be greeting you from amidst a giant bear hug… in a cozy room full of artsy conversation-provoking installations… with a table of cheese-based snacks in the corner.

Instead, we meet here, in this small box made of metal, glass and touchscreens. Because COVID. If you’re here because you want to build bridges of meaningful connection to others, you’re in the right place. Lemme help you with that.

In this talk, we’ll delve into issues of community, loneliness, belonging, technology, and how to find the real connections that make the creative life satisfying and meaningful.

Kat Vellos is an author, speaker, and expert community builder from The San Francisco Bay Area. Kat is the author of We Should Get Together: The Secret to Cultivating Better Friendshipsthe founder of Bay Area Black Designers and Better than Small Talkand has two decades of experience creating powerful, positive communities where people find belonging and authentic connection.

In this talk, we’ll delve into issues of community, loneliness, belonging, diversity, technology, and how to find the real connections that make the creative life satisfying and meaningful.

She’s spoken at Stanford, LinkedIn, General Assembly, Americorps, Social Good Tech Week, Young Women Empowered, and many, many more.

Hope you can join us!

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