2022 Presenters

Michelle Chikaonda


A Black cis woman, in her mid-30s, with short black hair and rectangular glasses.




Michelle Alipao Chikaonda (she/her/hers) is a nonfiction writer from Blantyre, Malawi, currently living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition to being a 2019 resident at The Seventh Wave’s Rhinebeck Residency, she is a Voices of Our Nations [VONA] Workshop fellow, a Tin House Summer Workshop alumna, and has presented at several Association of Writing and Writing Programs [AWP] conferences. She teaches regularly with Blue Stoop, a writing hub for the Philadelphia literary community, and has served as a teaching assistant, student mentor, and workshop instructor at Mighty Writers, a Philadelphia nonprofit teaching writing and critical thinking to children and teens. A contributing editor for nonfiction at Electric Literature, Michelle is also currently published at Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, Catapult, the Broad Street Review, Business Insider, and Africa is A Country, among others.

Read more on www.michellechikaonda.work.

SESSION: A Glitch in Time: Time Loop Films as Narrative Vehicles for the Pandemic Essay

A little over two years since the first global lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic began, we are still trying to figure out how exactly to write about what happened. Though there are many writers who have written beautifully and directly about this experience, many others still find that writing head-on about it is like staring into the sun: it hurts to keep one's eyes on it for more than a moment. In this craft session we will discuss how to write about difficult experiences, with a focus on the pandemic, by taking a sidelong approach—conveying ourselves to the heart of the matter by meditating on media outside of the written word. This session's particular focus will be on time loop films, such as Groundhog Day and Palm Springs, looking at the particular elements in those films that provide ideal starting points for writing about the pandemic, and review a couple of examples of this. In so doing we will learn how to identify similar elements in other media we engage with, facilitating our own future literary work in telling the story of this period in all of our lives. This session will include writing exercises, with the goal of attendees having work to continue with in their own time afterward.

Posted by GrubStreet in Writer

Sofia Samatar


A smiling, middle-aged, mixed Somali American woman with large glasses.




Sofia Samatar is the author of four books, most recently Monster Portraits, a collaboration with her brother, the artist Del Samatar. Her first novel, the epic fantasy A Stranger in Olondria, won the 2014 William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and was included in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time and Esquire’s list of the 50 Best Fantasy Books of All Time. Samatar also received the 2014 Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her second novel, The Winged Histories, completes the Olondria duology, a project that both challenges and revels in the genre of high fantasy. Her short story collection, Tender, includes the Hugo and Nebula finalist “Selkie Stories Are for Losers,” the miniature bestiary “Ogres of East Africa,” and other tales exploring the fragility of bodies and landscapes. In Monster Portraits, a finalist for the Calvino Prize, Del Samatar’s elegant black-and-white grotesques inspire Sofia Samatar’s genre-bending exploration of monsters and the monstrous. Sofia Samatar’s memoir, The White Mosque, an exploration of family, faith, and border crossing, is forthcoming from Catapult Books in October 2022.

Read more on her website.

SESSION: How I Made This: Grievers, in conversation with adrienne maree brown

In conversation with the author.

Posted by GrubStreet in Author

Lindsay Merbaum


A white woman in her late 30's with short dark curly hair and a black top regards the camera while holding a champagne flute filled with pink liquid to her lips.




Lindsay Merbaum is a witchy writer and high priestess of home mixology crafting cocktails inspired by the moods and themes of contemporary reads. Her essays, reviews, interviews, and booktail recipes have appeared in Electric Literature, Bustle, LA Review of Books, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Bitch Media, and others. Released in the fall of 2021 from Creature Publishing, her experimental queer feminist horror novel The Gold Persimmon is a Foreword Indies finalist. Follow her on her website, or on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @pickyourpotions.


SESSION: Mixology 101 for Writers

Join queer feminist horror author and high priestess of home mixology Lindsay Merbaum for Mixology 101 for Writers. Learn bar basics while you enjoy literary cocktail trivia and follow along as Lindsay demos a few classic drinks, along with the signature booktails she brewed up for the all-conference reads Grievers and The Natural Mother of the Child.

Posted by GrubStreet in Author and High Priestess of Home Mixology

Matt Bell


Matt Bell




Matt Bell is the author most recently of the novel Appleseed (a New York Times Notable Book), and the craft book Refuse to Be Done: How to Write and Rewrite a Novel in Three Drafts. He is also the author of the novels Scrapper and In the House upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, as well as the short story collection A Tree or a Person or a Wall, a nonfiction book about the classic video game Baldur's Gate II, and several other titles. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, Tin House, Fairy Tale Review, American Short Fiction, Orion, and many other publications. A native of Michigan, he teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.


Read more on his website.

SESSION: Refuse to Be Done: Writing and Rewriting the Novel

In this interactive lecture, novelist Matt Bell details a practical and straightforward approach to writing fiction, focusing on specific tactics for generating a strong first draft of a novel, including creating compelling characters and structuring a fine-tuned plot, and for polishing your final manuscript to prepare it for submission and publication. Drawing from the strategies detailed in his craft book Refuse to Be Done: How to Write and Rewrite a Novel in Three Drafts, Bell will offer an abundance of strategies to help motivate you and shake up your drafting and your revisions, all focused on practical steps you can take to strengthen both your practice and your novel. Come curious and bring your questions!

Posted by GrubStreet in Author

Annalisa Parent


A white woman with short brown hair, one hand on her chin, one hand on a book.




Annalisa Parent helps writers to finish novels, publish traditionally, and live the author lifestyle. She writes for many local, national, and international publications, has written and produced sketches for a Telly-Award winning CBS television show. She and her work have been featured on Huffington Post Live, PBS, The New York Times, and The Associated Press, as well as many podcasts, radio and television programs. Her book Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Outline and Revise your Novel Without an Outline is a recipient of a CIPA EVVY Silver award for Best Business Book, and a finalist in the humor category. Her forthcoming title is Stage Whispers: A Living History, Retold (Laurel Elite Books, June 22). Annalisa has taught writing around the world, spoken at writing conferences in New York, London, Paris, Boston, and beyond. When she’s not writing, you can find her walking her dog, camping with her Girl Scout troop, or volunteering with the Rotary Club.

Read more on Annalisa's website.

SESSION: Neuroscience: A Writer’s Secret Weapon to FINISH that Novel

Do you feel like you get in a writing slump more often than not? Many writers feel frequent frustration because they’re working against their brains rather than with them. Does this sound like you?

In this session, Writing Coach Annalisa Parent will draw on her study of neuroscience and creativity to show you how to achieve the kind of non-stop creative flow that will jumpstart you into finishing that novel and the next and the next…

Annalisa will cover how to find the magic timing to write and revise your novel, how to be in right relationship with your inner critic, and how feedback can create emotional hijacking and how to avoid it.

Plus, she’ll provide a handout full of resources to help you implement new brain strategies right away.

See Annalisa speak about Neuroscience and Creativity on PBS on YouTube.

Posted by GrubStreet in Author

Kristen Arnett


Person smiling and sitting with their hands folded, long dark hair and glasses, wearing a black shirt, surrounded by the greenery of a Florida backyard.




Kristen Arnett is the author of With Teeth: A Novel (Riverhead Books, 2021) which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in fiction and the New York Times bestselling debut novel Mostly Dead Things (Tin House, 2019) which was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in fiction. She is a queer fiction and essay writer. She was a Shearing Fellow at Black Mountain Institute and was longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize recognizing mid-career writers of fiction. Her work has appeared at The New York Times, TIME, The Cut, Oprah Magazine, Guernica, Buzzfeed, McSweeneys, PBS Newshour, The Guardian, Salon, and elsewhere. Her next book (an untitled collection of short stories) will be published by Riverhead Books (Penguin Random House). She has a Master's in Library and Information Science from Florida State University and currently lives in Miami, Florida.

Read more on Kristen's website.

SESSION: How I Made This: The Natural Mother of the Child, in conversation with Krys Malcolm Belc

In conversation with the author.

Posted by GrubStreet in Author

Denne Michele Norris


A Black trans writer and editor in her mid thirties, who looks in her mid twenties, wearing a tank top and a dark red lipstick. Her hair is a cropped short natural.




Denne Michele Norris is the editor-in-chief of Electric Literature. A 2021 Out100 Honoree, her writing has been supported by MacDowell, Tin House, VCCA, and the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction, and appears in McSweeney's, American Short Fiction, and ZORA. She co-hosts the critically acclaimed podcast Food 4 Thot, and is hard at work on her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter and IG @thedennemichele.

Read more on her website.

SESSION: How To Use Lit Mags & Other Media Outlets to Publicize Your Book

Your book is coming out and you’re told to get your name “out there” by pitching shorter pieces to a variety of relevant media outlets. How do you take the core ideas of your book and shape them into shorter pieces and pitches that will catch an editor’s eye and bring more readers to your book? Denne Michele Norris, Electric Literature’s editor-in-chief, will break down how to craft essays and book lists that will help your book linger in readers’ minds.

Posted by GrubStreet in Writer and Editor-in-Chief of Electric Literature

Rebecca Rolland


A white woman in her forties, with brown hair and eyes.




Rebecca Rolland is the author of The Art of Talking with Children (HarperCollins, 2022), as well as three books of poems and many short stories. She won the Dana Award for Short Fiction and has published in Slice, Michigan Quarterly Review, and North American Review. She is a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is on the faculty at the Harvard Medical School. She also serves as an oral and written language specialist in the Neurology Department of Boston Children's Hospital and as an advisor in curriculum development for the World Bank. As a nationally-certified speech-language pathologist, she has worked clinically with populations ranging from early childhood through high school and has provided teacher professional development. She lives in Boston with her husband and two conversation-loving kids.

Read more on her website.

SESSION: On Writing About Children

It can be a challenge to write about children--your own, or others. Whether you're writing nonfiction or poetry, there are many questions that can arise: how many personal details to reveal, how to include dialogue, how to find a tone that is neither earnest nor overly sarcastic, and how to get past the tired tropes of parenthood. Through exercises, guided discussions, and readings, this session will get you excited about writing for children, help identify your goals, and pinpoint your strengths and challenges in this area of your writing life.

Posted by GrubStreet in Author

Pamela Painter





Pamela Painter is the award-winning author of five story collections and co-author, with Anne Bernays, of What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. Her stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Five Points, FlashBoulevard, Harper’s, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pangyrus, Ploughshares, SmokeLong Quarterly, New Flash Fiction Review, and ThreePenny Review, among others, and in numerous anthologies such as Sudden Fiction, Flash Fiction, and New Micro. Painter’s stories have been presented on National Public Radio, appear on the YouTube channel CRONOGEO, and have been staged by WordTheatre in Los Angeles, London, and New York. Painter’s newest collection of stories is Fabrications: New and Selected Stories from Johns Hopkins University Press.

Read more on her website.

SESSION: Write Night | The Mystery and Magic of Flash Fiction Prompts

Join this evening’s Write Night host Pamela Painter to experience the magic of prompts. You can come for the full 90 minutes or just tune in when it works for you. But do come ready to write on the spot.

A prompt is like a jolt of adrenaline; it catches you unaware and shakes loose a story. You might be asked to write a title with twelve words or begin a story with a first line such as “I think my sister is a zombie.” You will be given prompts for six or seven different stories that already have an unstable situation and a short amount of time to respond to each prompt. There will be time for hearing several story beginnings from participants or even a full 150-word story. This session will be fast-paced and exciting and most of all, productive.

Posted by GrubStreet in Author

Dina Nayeri


A middle-eastern woman, forty-ish with long brown hair and a beauty mark above her lip that's lately begun asserting itself as a mole.




Dina Nayeri is the author of two novels, a book of nonfiction, and many award-winning essays and short stories on displacement, exile, and the refugee crisis. Most recently, The Ungrateful Refugee (2019), was winner of the Geschwister Scholl Preis, and finalist for The LA Times Book Prize, Kirkus Prize, and ELLE Grand Prix des Lectrices.  A 2019-2020 fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, her work been awarded an NEA grant in literature and UNESCO City of Literature Paul Engle Prize, and been published in 20+ countries and in The New York Times, New Yorker, The Guardian, Granta, O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, and many other publications.  Her next two books are forthcoming in 2023 and 2024, and her children's book, The Waiting Place, about a refugee camp in Greece is forthcoming in 2022. Her playwriting work has been produced by the English Touring Theatre and The Old Vic in London and shortlisted for the Paines Plough Women's Prize. She was an autumn 2021 Fellow at the American Library in Paris and has recently joined the permanent faculty at the University of St Andrews.

Read more on her website.

SESSION: Truth and Storytelling: on Vulnerability, Privilege, and Who Gets Believed

A Q&A with Dina Nayeri about truth and storytelling in various realms of life, and what she's learned in writing, in the corporate world, and working with refugees. Why does truth remake itself for some, while others are forced to tell their stories in prescriptive ways? And how does this relate to the larger question of how we all tell our stories, and the western ways of storytelling?

Posted by GrubStreet in Author