2024 Cleveland Rocks Writing Conference

The Cleveland Rocks Writing  Conference is a one-day event aimed at writers of any genre in all phases of their career. Great Lakes Fiction Writers is thrilled to be partnering with the Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Writers’ Center to host this event.

WHEN:  August 10, 2024, from 9:00am to 4:30pm

WHERE:  William N. Skirball Writers’ Center, Cuyahoga County Public Library, South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch, 1876 South Green Rd., South Euclid, OH 44121


Registration opens on June 5, 2024 on  Eventbrite 2024 Cleveland Rocks Writing Conference

Amp up your writing at this FREE conference for fiction writers (all levels and genres), courtesy of Great Lakes Fiction Writers.


Great Lakes Fiction Writers (GLFW) was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1986 by a group of dedicated writers to provide support and encouragement. We welcome fiction writers in any genre, at any point in their career, especially those who wish to explore writing romance or including romantic elements in their stories. As a member of GLFW, you can join our critique group, be featured in member spotlights in our newsletter and across our social media platforms, participate in community anthology projects, and have access to an array of other resources. In addition to the annual conference, we host monthly meetings with guest speakers, a fall get-away-and-write retreat, and a holiday gathering. Whether you’re a newbie just starting out or a veteran author with multiple publications to your name, we invite you to stop by and check us out.  We look forward to meeting you.



For anyone interested in having their work read anonymously at the One Page Critique Panel at 2:15 PM: Drop off FOUR COPIES of the first page OR inciting event of your work-in-progress (fiction only) at check-in before noon. Your work must be double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font, with Title, Genre, and “First Page” or “Inciting Event” written at the top of the page. Do NOT include your name anywhere on the page. We’ll randomly select first pages and read them aloud starting at 2:15 PM. Each panelist will raise a hand at the point where they would stop reading and then comment on what stopped them. One Page Critique writers will remain anonymous.


Barbara Howard, President, Great Lakes Fiction Writers 

10:00 – 11:00 AM / SPEAKER

Patricia Sargeant, “Storyteller’s Toolkit: Using High Concept and Conflict to Boost Your Story Premise”

  • Craft a strong story premise.
  • Identify high concepts and incorporate these high-concept elements into their story premise to increase the story’s uniqueness and marketability.
  • Identify various types of conflict and incorporate one or more conflict elements into their story plots.

11:00 – 11:15 AM / MORNING BREAK

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM / SPEAKER

Tiffany Graham Charkosky, “The Magic of Revision”

  • The importance of seeking input from readers.
  • How to use feedback on second and third drafts, and beyond.
  • How to fine tune drafts into a completed story.


You may bring lunch and eat it in the Writers’ Center. You may also picnic outdoors or in your car. Local restaurant map available at check-in table.

Book sales courtesy of Mac’s Backs Books of Cleveland Heights.

1:15 – 2:15 PM / SPEAKER

Denise Crittendon, “Writing From The Subconscious Mind”

  • In this workshop, attendees will learn to tune in to the multitude of messages, symbols and characters in dreams and understand how to use them as creative tools for inspiration and triggers for the imagination.
  • The universe is our muse. This session will serve as a guide to the myriad signs that surround us daily — including background conversations, recurring words, coincidences and synchronicities that can help us unravel plot solutions and push through writers’ block.
  • Stream of consciousness will be explored as a powerful writing technique to unlock ideas and help writers tap into the subconscious mind.


Choose one:
  1. Networking

Participants are encouraged to adjourn to the common seating areas and author tables to mix and mingle.

  1. One Page Critique Panel: Writer’s choice of First Page or Inciting Event

We’ll randomly select an anonymous one page of work-in-progress and read them aloud. Each panelist will raise a hand at the point where they would stop reading and then comment on what stopped them. Writers will remain anonymous.

3:00 – 3:15 / AFTERNOON BREAK

3:15 – 4:15 PM / SPEAKER

Donna MacMeans, “Making Your Copy Come Alive”

  • This will be an interactive workshop with lots of participation.
  • Participants will learn how to add power and emotion in their characterizations, story structure, scenes, paragraphs, and most importantly, in their sentences.
  • Lots of take-aways. you don’t want to miss this!

4:15 – 4:30 PM / WRAP-UP


Meet with small press representatives to learn about publication opportunities, gain insights into the submission process, share your work. Available throughout the entire day for your convenience.

Rachel DiScipio Ketler and Katarina Kelley from Queen Anne’s Lace Publishing, LLC

We are seeking Middle-Grade fiction in the 20,000-50,000 word range. Also, clean YA and light, swoony romance with an emphasis on fantasy. We want the stories to be vibrant and full of heart. We prefer those in the fantasy and urban fantasy genre but will consider submissions in any genre. We prefer stories that feature the underrepresented. We want to empower the disenfranchised. We want to see stories about those with disabilities, those with chronic illnesses, cultural and racial minorities, and everything and anything in between. We want our readers to read, relate, and understand they are special in God’s eyes, no matter how underrepresented they are at large.

AJ Skelly from Quill & Flame Publishing House

Open to any genre, so long as there is a solid romance plot/subplot throughout the story, is geared for a YA or NA target, and is at a PG-13 level or cleaner.


Tiffany Graham Charkosky is an award-winning author whose work has been published or is forthcoming in Gordon Square Review, Mutha Magazine, Avalon Literary Review, South Dakota Review, and The New York Times. Tiffany has worked in arts administration for over twenty years and is dedicated to providing opportunities for artists and writers to share their stories with others. She spends her weekends cheering for her two sons from the sidelines of various sports courts and fields across Northeast Ohio. She lives with her family in Lakewood, Ohio. You can follow Tiffany on Instagram at tiffanygrahamcharkosky.

Denise Crittendon’s Afrofuturist sci-fi /fantasy novel, Where it Rains in Color, earned a 2023 “Indie Author Project Award” for the State of Nevada and a 2023 “Outstanding Book Award” from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). A veteran journalist, Crittendon is a former staff writer for The Detroit News and the Kansas City Star, and a past editor-in-chief of the NAACP’s national magazine, The Crisis. In 1999, she became founding editor of African American Family Magazine where she worked until 2008. As a motivational speaker and author of self-help manuals for teens, Crittendon was named “One of the Most Influential Black Women in Metro Detroit” by the Women’s Informal Network. Among other honors, she was presented the “Life Directions — Mary Ball Children’s Advocacy Award,” a column writing award from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), “The Best of Gannett” and several gold awards from Parenting Publications of America (PPA).  Her educational pursuits include a year of study at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe under the auspices of The Rotary International and a three-month National Press Foundation fellowship to study Spanish in Cuernavaca, Mexico. A ghostwriter on the side, her various clandestine works include Millionaire Moves: Seven Proven Principles of Entrepreneurship, co-authored with business mogul, William Pickard. These days, she prefers to conjure up fictitious worlds that offer bold new depictions of the African diaspora. She divides her time between her hometown, Detroit, and Spring Valley, Nevada.

Award winning author Donna MacMeans writes about the humor in relationships in her seductively witty romance page turners. Her books have won the coveted Romance Writers of America © Golden Heart, Romantic Times’s Reviewer Choice Award for Historical Love & Laughter, and numerous regional and local awards. Best known for her historical romances set in the late 1800s, she also writes time-travel and light paranormal romance. Her books consistently receive high praise and glowing reviews and have been published in multiple countries around the world.   Before she and her husband moved to Columbus, they lived in Lakewood, Ohio. She still fondly remembers gardening in a fenced section of Edgewater Park, where she could hear the thunder of distant storms and watch the freighters cross Lake Erie. Please contact her at www.DonnaMacMeans.com, or join her on Facebook.

Patricia Sargeant is a national best-selling author. She writes romance as Patricia Sargeant and Regina Hart, and mysteries as Olivia Matthews. Several of her books have foreign translations. Her work has been reviewed in national publications such as Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Kirkus Reviews, Suspense Magazine, Mystery Scene Magazine, Library Journal and BookRiot. Patricia was drawn to write romance because she believes love is the greatest motivation. Her mysteries put ordinary people in extraordinary situations to have them find the Hero Inside. Patricia has been a keynote speaker and presenter at various events. She’s conducted numerous writing craft workshops for writers groups and book conferences. For more information about Patricia and her work, please visit PatriciaSargeant.com