Indie Writing & Publishing: Tips & Tricks, hosted by Andrew Gifford

2020 festival program coming soon!


2019  program below

Join an exciting and eclectic group of authors, editors, and publishers for a deep dive into the evolving indie publishing market, featuring a series of panels and interviews discussing editing, world-building, genre-bending, how to write and solicit book reviews, grassroots book marketing techniques, and engaging social media influencers.

Schedule of panels and readings

  • 11:00:   Intro, opening. Indie Publishing: Then and Now 

(With Mason Jar Press, SFWP, and Richard Peabody)

  • 11:30:   Someone’s Got to Live There: Building Characters in Fantasy Fiction.

(With Daniel M. Ford and Kathy MacMillan)

  • Noon-12:45:   Five-Minute Readings  

(With Daniel M. Ford, Zach Powers, Rion Amilcar Scott, and others)

  • 1:00:   Writing, Selling, and Marketing for the YA Audience

(With Pintip Dunn, Lindsay Barry, and Kathy MacMillan)

  • 1:20:   There’s no Such Thing as Genre: Blurred Lines is not just a problematic song by Robin Thicke

(With Tyrese Coleman, Zach Powers, Carrie Callaghan, and Rion Amilcar Scott)

  • 1:40:   Author spotlight: Tyrese Coleman
  • 1:50:   The Art of Pitching

(With Tyrese Coleman and othersTBD)

  • 2:10:   Book-Reviewing 101: The Good, the Bad, and the Unruly

(With Spines & Vines, Lupita Reads, and Holly Smith)

  • 2:50:   “You Wrote It, It’s Perfect, Now Change It: Editing vs. Revision in Book-Length Manuscripts.”

(With Monica Prince, and Carrie Callaghan)

  • 3:10-4:00:   Author spotlights 

(with Rion Scott, Zach Powers, and Monica Prince)


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Andrew Gifford — Born  in Washington, DC and raised in Kensington, MD, Andrew Gifford is the founder and director of the Santa Fe Writers Project. Over the years, he’s worked as a caterer, a bookseller, a groundskeeper, in call centers, as the wire editor for an Associated Press company, as a business writer for Oxford Intelligence, and as a development editor for the American Psychological Association books department. He is the author of the memoir We All Scream: The Fall of the Gifford’s Ice Cream Empire and the grandson of the founder of Gifford’s Ice Cream.
Tyrese Coleman — Tyrese L. Coleman is a writer, wife, mother, and attorney. Her debut collection of stories and essays, How to Sit, was published by Mason Jar Press in 2018 and nominated for a 2019 PEN Open Book Award. Her work has appeared as a notable in Best American Essays 2018 and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Rion Amilcar Scott — Rion Amilcar Scott’s short story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016) was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Hillsdale Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His work has been published in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, and The Rumpus, among others. The World Doesn’t Require You, his sophomore story collection, is forthcoming in August 2019 from Liveright.
Richard Currey — Richard Currey served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972 in the U.S. Navy. He was trained in jungle warfare and special operations, and was a medical corpsman attached to the Marine Corps’s Fleet Marine Force. He has written Crossing Over: A Vietnam Journal, which went on to vast acclaim and a Pulitzer Prize nomination, and Lost Highway. He lives in Washington, DC.

Richard Peabody  Richard Peabody is the founder and editor of Gargoyle Magazine, and editor of twenty-two anthologies including Mondo Barbie, Conversations with Gore Vidal, and A Different Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat Generation.  A native Washingtonian, he has taught fiction writing workshops at various locations in the DC area since 1985. 

Michael Tager — Michael B. Tager is a Baltimore-based writer and editor. He is the Managing Editor of Mason Jar Press, an independent publisher of high-quality books. Recent publications include Necessary Fiction, Hobart, Barrelhouse, and The Collagist, among others.
Holly Smith — Holly Smith is editor-in-chief of the Washington Independent Review of Books, as well as a college lecturer, award-winning freelance writer/editor, and co-author of Seafood Lover’s Chesapeake Bay. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, CNBC.comUSA Today Travel’s 10BestMore Mirth of a Nation, Salon, Not What I Expected, Washington Flyer, Brain, Child, and many other publications. She earned a master’s degree in creative nonfiction from Johns Hopkins and often wonders what the university would pay her not to put an “alumni” sticker on her 1999 Dodge Neon.
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Carrie Callaghan — Carrie Callaghan is a historical fiction author. Her debut novel, A Light of Her Own, about 17th century painter Judith Leyster, was published by Amberjack in 2018. Her short stories have been published in multiple literary journals around the country, and she is a senior editor with the Washington Independent Review of Books.
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Kathy MacMillan   writes picture books, children’s nonfiction, young adult fantasy, and resource books for librarians, educators, and parents. She serves as the co-Regional Advisor for the Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia Region of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Find her online at
Daniel M. Ford — Daniel M. Ford holds an M.A. in Irish Literature from Boston College and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from George Mason University. His poetry has appeared most recently in Soundings ReviewPhoebe, Floorboard Review, The Cossack, and Vending Machine Press. He teaches English at a college prep high school in the northeastern corner of Maryland.
Monica Prince
Monica Prince — Monica Prince received her M.F.A. in poetry from Georgia College & State University and is currently an assistant professor of activist and performance writing at Susquehanna University. Her choreopoem, How to Exterminate the Black Woman, premiered to sold-out audiences at Susquehanna, and will be published in 2020 by [PANK]. Her debut collection of poetry, Instructions for Temporary Survival, launches in July 2019 with Red Mountain Press. In addition to teaching at Susquehanna, Prince is the managing editor for the Santa Fe Writers Project Quarterly and a 2018-2019 fellow with the 5th Woman Poetry Collective in Tennessee.
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Pintip Dunn — Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.  Her novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix del’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the TomeSociety It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.
Lindsay Barry — Lindsay C. Barry grew up in Pennsylvania and is the best-selling children’s author of Journey to Constellation Station.
Lupita Reads
Lupita Aquino — better known as Lupita Reads–is the co-founder and co-moderator for LIT on H St Book Club hosted at Solid State Books and is a passionate reader active in both the local and online book community through her Instagram blog- @Lupita.Reads.
Spines and Vines –Jamise Harper is the bookstagrammer behind Spines & Vines and is also the co-curator & moderator of LIT on H St. Book Club hosted monthly at Solid State Books.  In 2018, Jamise created the #diversespines hashtag to highlight women authors of color.  She believes reading more diversely enables a reader to grow and expand their awareness. Diversity is key to fostering empathy. Spines & Vines is a love affair with books and wine!

Zach Powers — Zach Powers is a native of Savannah, Georgia, and lives and writes in Arlington, Virginia. His novel, First Cosmic Velocity, is coming in August 2019 from Putnam, and his debut story collection, Gravity Changes, won the BOA Short Fiction Prize and was published in 2017 by BOA Editions. He co-founded the literary arts nonprofit Seersucker Live. He led the writers’ workshop at the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home for eight years. His writing for television won an Emmy, and he was a columnist for Savannah Morning News. He is Director of Communications for The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, edits The Writer’s Guide, and teaches writing at Northern Virginia Community College.