Welcome


Welcome to www.arallyofwriters.com

 Coming up:

The 30th Year of

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April 8, 2017

Join our 2017 keynote speaker Lori Nelson Spielman, international bestselling author of The Life List and Sweet Forgiveness, and 10 Michigan authors and educators for 15 breakout sessions and workshops on all aspects of writing, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, the Nuts & Bolts of manuscript submissions, and more.

Click on the Conference tab in the menu above for the full lineup of Presenters

plus PDF downloads of sessions, presenters and the mail-in registration form

Register online via

Scroll down for interviews with our presenters!


“Rally is the warmest, longest-running conference in Michigan. Great speakers, great company, and pretty good cookies.”

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Richard Bradley Scholarship

Free Admission to the 2017 Rally, writers aged from 15-22 invited to apply

Click here for information on the Bradley Scholarship

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For news of writing events, seminars and conferences, check in at The Skaaldic Society website and click on the WRITING EVENTS tab. I will be making updates there as news comes in. For information about local Michigan writing groups click on the Skaalds LINKS tab.

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Q&A with Alice Speilberg


by Andrea King Collier

Finding the right agent to represent you and your work can be the magic piece of the puzzle for writers looking to get their books published Agent Alice Speilburg will be joining us at A Rally of Writers to talk about the relationship between author and agent and finding the perfect fit for you. We asked her a few questions about the process. Check out her website for more info at www.speilburgliterary.com

Q: What do you look for in a client? Or in the material they send you?

A: In potential clients, ​I look for professionalism. I want to have a sense that you are dedicated to your writing craft, that you can set realistic goals, and that we’ll be able to work together to achieve those goals. Once an author makes a book deal, all sorts of unexpected circumstances pop up — the cover is fundamentally wrong for your book, your amazing editor just left the company, or a prominent review suddenly puts an uncomfortable spotlight on you — and we’ll need that professional foundation to work through those issues. In the manuscript, I’m always looking for a unique voice​, the one that makes me want to read every sentence to the person sitting next to me, or laugh out loud on a crowded, silent bus. Sometimes it’s the character, sometimes it’s the setting, or just the unpredictability of the prose, but I can always tell if there’s something there that I wouldn’t be able to find from anyone else.

Q: What is the biggest mistake that writers make when they submit their work to you?

A: ​Their work isn’t ready yet. Often I love a first chapter, but then I find myself drifting in the second, and I never make it to the third. You need those super compelling opening pages, but don’t stop there. The entire work has to engage me, and a first draft is not likely to do that. Keep revising until you have a polished, finished product.

Q: How has agenting changed since you started?

A: My job has always been to support, counsel, and represent authors, and I continue to engage with publishers and my clients on a day-to-day basis about the business of creating and selling books. A few of the specifics, however, have noticeably changed with the nature of online markets and social media: online promotions like BookBub have proved fruitful for my clients; sales numbers are more accessible from some publishers; and it’s easier for my clients to reach their readers directly. The other side of that token is that publishers are increasingly expecting authors to do more self-promotion; the advances offered by publishers are lower; and as more people self-publish, the markets are more crowded and it’s harder for books to stand out in the field. I’m also seeing a greater number previously-published books in my submissions inbox, and it’s created a new challenge for me in how I position these books — which often have low sales records — to publishers.

Q: What do you think the future of e-books vs print will be, say, five years from now?

A: ​Ebook sales as a whole have been steadily declining over the last three years, but that doesn’t mean they’re going away. They still account for nearly half of fiction sales. But it shows that while many readers were eager to try the ebook format, they also value print books. I think we’re already seeing the future of ebook vs. print books, in that people will buy some books as ebooks, usually those that would have sold well in a “mass-market” format a few years ago, but readers still value the tangible nature of award-winning books or books with beautiful covers. They want to display them on their bookshelves and their coffee tables. I expect ebook sales to level out in a year or two, and print book design to continue to increase in quality as hardcovers become more popular as keepsakes.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions that writers have about what an agent can or cannot do for them?

A: When we love your book and we sign you as a client​, that doesn’t guarantee that we can sell your book. This is a business grounded in sentiment and in numbers. To sell a book, you must persuade a publisher in both directions. I often can’t sell novels that have an amazing, marketable premise if the writing doesn’t light a fire in the editors reading it; likewise a beautifully written, swoon-worthy novel that keeps a reader up through the night will not sell if it’s trying to squeeze into an oversaturated market (even if it’s better than the books currently on the shelves). Other misconceptions include the degree to which we can develop your book or your author platform. We can help enhance the manuscript and your platform, but we expect you to come to the table with a great foundation in writing, in revising, in social media savvy, in professional networking, prepared for a long career as an author.


Andrea King Collier
Freelance Journalist and Author
for A Rally of Writers 2017

Q&A with Jess Wells


by Andrea King Collier
Jess Wells is a talented historical and contemporary fiction author. She e will be joining us for A Rally of Writers on April 8, 2017.  Jess answered a few questions for us. To learn more about Jess and her work go to http://www.jesswells.com/

Q: Where do you go for inspiration for your work?

A: When I write historical fiction it’s because a particular watershed moment in time has caught my attention: the first woman to make a living as a writer as in The Slender Tether; the fight to save medical knowledge during the witch-burning times in Europe, as in The Mandrake Broom. But in all instances I’m trying to make sure that I have something to say, a unique angle on a universal truth about ambition, disillusionment, love, freedom, control etc. and the book is an opportunity to explore as many facets of that issue as I can imagine.

Q&A with J. Gabriel Gates


by Andrea King Collier

J. Gabriel Gates will be joining us for two sessions at A Rally of Writers. One is on ghostwriting and the other is on screenwriting. Here’s what he has to say about his work. To learn more about him go to www.jgabrielgates.com

Q: What do you most remember about your first ghostwriting project?

A: The most amazing thing, to me, was how well I was able to intuit what my client wanted to say. I was writing a fictionalized version of one of the most difficult times in my client’s life. It involved intimate details of a marital betrayal, and to top it off, the client was the opposite gender from me. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to capture her experience. Of course a ghostwriter interviews his client to glean as many details as possible, but during the writing process, the writer invariably ends up filling a lot of gaps with details and feelings that he invents along the way.

Q&A with Julie Timmer


by Andrea King Collier

Ann Arbor based author Julie Lawson Timmer is the author of the novels Five Days Left and her newest Untethered. Her third novel, Mrs. Saint and the Defectives, will be in bookstores in August, 2017. We are pleased that she will be joining us at A Rally of Writers this year. We asked her a few questions about her writing process.

Q: Where do you go for support and connection as a writer? Do you belong to a group? What do you think being connected in this way does for a writer? And specifically what do you think it has done for you?

A: First, to my husband, who is my first-line editor, go-to advisor about character and plot issues and biggest supporter. Next, to close writer friends, particularly Lansing’s own Lori Nelson Spielman, whose friendship is the single greatest