Because we wanted an event that delivers on craft, inspiration and the business of being a writer, we designed the schedule to include all possibilities in an à-la-carte menu: workshops, breakout sessions, panels and one-on-one critique sessions.

Please note: To purchase intensive workshops or a one-on-one critique, you must buy the Main Festival pass.



Opening Day Intensive

12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Registration (12:00 to 1:00 PM Workshop 1:00 to 4:00 PM)

Jane Friedman’s Workshop: How to Get Your Book Published

Get all the basics on how to get your book published, including how to research markets, write query letters, and contact agents. This three-hour session discusses the changing landscape of the publishing industry, and how/when to pursue the increasingly viable self-publishing and e-publishing options. Learn what it takes to capture the attention of a publisher, what expectations you should have when it comes to the marketing and promotion of your work, and how to determine which publishing option is the best to achieve your goals.

Main Festival (3:30 to 6pm)

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm


For those who did not take Jane’s workshop, sign in, enjoy a coffee in our beautiful venue, Finlandshuset, and start mingling before SWF19 kicks off.

4:00 pm - 4:35 pm

Welcome & “That Killer First Page”

Award-winning author of “The Good Son,” Paul McVeigh, talks about the importance of the first pages in a manuscript. Using the First Pages Prize’s short list, he explores what makes the beginning of a story “un-put-downable.”

4:35 pm - 5:00 pm

First Pages Prize Presentation

Learn the winners of our literary competition, the First Pages Prize.

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Find Your Tribe

An activity designed to help you strengthen your community with authors within your genre. (Although we certainly encourage bonds among all authors!) Make friends. Gain inspiration. Gather your peeps!

8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Mingle, Hotel Hellsten


Main Festival

8:30 am - 9:00 am

Late Registration

9:00 am - 10:00 am

Welcome &
Author Panel: Daring to write outside your experience

At one point we all need to stretch outside the boundaries of our native experience: In “Falling,” Julie Cohen writes from the POV of an eighty-year old woman. Paul McVeigh writes through the POV of a 10-year old in his book, “The Good Son.” Eira Ekre’s latest, “The Shadow Game Code,” features a friendship with a minotaur. Gain insights into how to look beyond the limits of your own experience from our author panel. Includes audience Q&A.

 Moderator: Sandra Carpenter

10:10 am - 11:10 am

Query Zone Panel

Your query letter is arguably the single most important tool for getting published. Yet so many fall short. In this session, our intrepid literary agents share the queries that made them want more. As well as examples of epic failures. Includes audience Q&A.

11:20 am - 11:45 am

Jess Lourey, “Rewrite Your Life” Talk

After experiencing profound tragedy, Jessica Lourey found herself locked in a depressive loop. She pulled herself out if it through the power of fiction. In this talk, she guides the audience in techniques for using life experience as a source for powerful writing.

11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Lunch & Live 1-to-1 Critique Sessions

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Breakout track one

Module A

Rewrite your life: Do you need a new source of inspiration to super charge your writing? This module is for you. Get insights into the profound healing power of fictionalizing your life experiences. Learn practical techniques for capturing experiences and turning them into prose.

Jess Lourey

Module B

Build a Website in an Hour: There’s no way around it: Authors need websites. This session focuses on the simplest, most robust, and free tools to get a site up and running in a day or less—often in one evening.

Jane Friedman

Module C

Learning Story Structure from Pixar Films: Yes, they’re kids’ films, but they can teach writers a lot about storytelling. Julie breaks down techniques in the films using examples and clips. (This is the workshop that reduced 80 romantic novelists to tears.)

Julie Cohen

2:10 pm - 3:10 pm

Breakout Track Two

Module A

Getting to the end of your novel: This session asks what the ends of novels should achieve and offers a hands-on, interactive problem-solving session on what stops writers finishing their novels, how can you encourage yourself, and what techniques will help you break your deadlock?

Maggie Gee

Module B

Make your dialogue to do the heavy lifting: What characters say should be more than expository. Get more from your dialogue in terms of character development, theme and story arc.

Cassie Gonzales

Module C

Creating your platform: Find out how to build a social media platform from the ground up. How to use that platform to help you get published, get reviewed, access to high profile authors, and get paid work.

Paul McVeigh

3:20 pm - 4:20 pm

Literary Idol Panel

A fun (yet respectful) game-show style panel where the first page of an anonymous manuscript is read to a panel of agents and editors. Judges indicate when they would stop reading. A brief summary is conducted reviewing the turn-offs and strengths of each piece.

4:20 pm - 5:20 pm

Fika, Author Book Signings & & Live 1-to-1 Critique Sessions

5:20 pm - 6:00 pm

Keynote address: Thinking Beyond the Book by Jane Friedman

According to publishing futurists, we are now experiencing the late age of print. Publishers are beginning to see the print book as the last stage of author development, rather than the first step. A new model is emerging for content distribution, with publishers and authors experimenting with mobile apps, podcasts and multi-media approaches. Jane discusses the changes underway and how writers can adapt no matter what the future holds. Includes audience Q&A.


Main Festival

9:00 am - 10:00 pm

Buttonhole the Expert

Buttonhole the expert is a "speed-dating" activity where participants move between tables asking questions of experts. Topics range from how to create a great non-fiction proposal to tips for getting through writer’s block. There are four rounds, so mix it up and take the opportunity to talk to agents, authors and editors in a small group format.

10:10 am - 11:10 am

Author Panel: Don’t give up!

Jess Lourey sent out 400 queries before landing her first contract. Cassie Gonzales shares her story of how she never gives up. Maggie Gee’s book, “The White Family”, was rejected by every traditional publisher until a small press picked it up. The book went on to be short-listed for two global literary prizes. Learn author strategies for embracing rejection, staying on course and never giving up.
Includes audience Q&A

11:20 am - 11:50 am

Tribe Networking, Author Book Signings

11:50 am - 1:00 pm


1:00 pm to 1:45 pm

Breakout track three

Module A

Finding the angles: Writing fact that reads like fiction. Remember you are telling a story. A good story compels. But what voice are you telling it in? And what bits do you relate? Too many facts clog the tale and make the teller a bore. It’s not what you put in, but what you leave out, said Hemingway of the good short story. Details are always poignant, added Jorge Luis Borges, but only the right ones. What point are you trying to make, and which of your facts will make it more effective.

Nicholas Rankin

Module B

Gaining an Ear for Audio: The audio market is exploding. And it’s demanding original content to fill digital libraries. Find out more about the industry and how to craft material for audio.

Eira Ekre

Module C

From Traditional to Indie: Lessons learned from two authors who did a “reverse evolution,” moving their work from traditional publishing to indie. Gain insights into both worlds in this interactive session.

Jess Lourey & Jennifer Dahlberg

Workshop Intensives
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM

SWF19 aims to help writers find their path to published. We offer a choice from four intensive sessions, with limited seats in each, to help you refine your craft.

Manuscript Makeover
Cassie Gonzales

This in-depth workshop for fiction writers where the first manuscript pages are critiqued. Limit 10 writers.

That Killer First Page
Paul McVeigh

Your first words can make the difference between success or failure. You’ll write a short piece and get feedback on that crucial story opening. In a form where every word counts, get tips on staying focused on your story and where to start the action. You’ll also look at submission opportunities; how to find them and where you should be sending your stories.

Plotting with Post-Its
Julie Cohen

Find out how to drive clarity through your plot with this device aimed at helping you finish your manuscript. This technique allows you to see your entire book at a glance, and make sure you haven’t neglected any plot threads. In the end, you’ll have a visual map for re-arranging your manuscript and getting it pitch ready.

 Indie Publishing: Set Yourself Free

Jess Lourey

Whether you have a backlog of material or you’re in the middle of penning a manuscript, indie publishing (or publishing outside traditional channels) can set you free. In this intensive, learn everything from layout to marketing to make sure your book succeeds. If you have one, bring a laptop and a short description of the book (back cover copy length) you'd like to focus on.