From the Director


The UW-Madison Writers’ Institute celebrates its 27th year in 2016. This conference that began over a quarter of a century ago as an informative, fun, and inspirational event continues to grow and thrive, providing numerous resources for writers over a spring weekend in April this year.

Our writers’ conference has established itself as the Midwest’s premier writing event.  We are providing aspiring, emerging, and established writers with up-to-date information about their craft, the publishing industry, and current trends in writing-including being a great place to network with fellow writers and nationally known agents and instructors.

I’m Laurie Scheer, the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute director. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced writer of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry or short stories, you have three days to mingle with other writers, agents, instructors and publishers to talk about what matters-your writing and the writing life.

The 2016 Writers’ Institute’s visuals include our lovely Madison skyline embraced with the colors of the spring season to embody a fresh, new writing energy for our writers. The conference is filled with three days of writing inspiration, education, and entertainment to encourage you to write effortlessly.  We listened to your requests for more opportunities to network, to test your work amongst your peers, and to get to know your fellow writers.  Here’s a menu of what we have to offer. Please peruse this website for the details of all of these exciting events;


New this year: 

  • Our Success Panel Lunch event cost is included in your Registration fee.
  • You no longer have to wait until a specific date to sign up for more than 2 agents – this year you may register to pitch to as many agents as you would like to pitch to at any time in the Registration process.
  • This year we are providing Green Room sessions. These are short, 30-minute sessions that address a topic that has created some unique and exciting buzz within the publishing world. Join us for these small sessions and get a taste for even more wonderful new information for writers.
  • Your conference information is available via the Guidebook app at this site or you may request hard copies of information and hand-outs.
  • We are celebrating the success of a wonderful new first novel The Kitchens of the Great Midwest by author J. Ryan Stradal with a lunch event planned for Saturday. Enjoy the recipes found within this amusing and compelling new novel.
  • We’ll be offering our first Live Literary Event on Saturday evening. Test your writing among your fellow writers by reading out loud and sharing your work. Mare Swallow, a public speaking coach and veteran storyteller will present a workshop to help you prepare on Friday evening. There will be a cash bar available for writers who may need a little ‘confidence building’ and for other writers who may want to support their fellow readers who will be reading live.
  • New expanded Book Day event with exhibitors and resources galore ready to serve you and your writing needs.


Returning This Year:

  • Back by popular demand, for the month of December, we are offering an exclusive “Bring A Friend” offer – $35 off registration for you and your friend who has previously not attended a Writers’ Institute conference.
  • The Second Annual Writing Mixer event happens on Friday – meet your fellow writers, speakers and agents in an informal setting.
  • Advanced Manuscript Critiques – don’t miss this opportunity to work one-on-one with instructors specializing in fiction, nonfiction, memoir and young adult.
  • Remember that all winning Page or Poem Contest submissions will be included within the 2017 issue of The Midwest Review Journal. Not only will you receive accolades and prizes for this contest, you will also be published in our journal so do not hesitate to submit your work!
  • The fourth edition of the Midwest Prairie Review journal, now retitled The Midwest Review Journal.


Tried & True: 

  • Agent pitches, workshops, book signing event, networking, practice pitch sessions, critiques, and our success panel luncheon.



  • Pitch Your Best Pitch Pitching Workshop with conference director Laurie Scheer will be held on Thursday afternoon from 3:00-4:30. There is a fee of $15.00 for this session where you’ll prepare your pitch, arm yourself with information and awareness of your genre and learn how to pitch your best pitch at this year’s conference and beyond.
  • Continued on Thursday Night beginning at 5:30, agents Amanda O’Connor and Tina Schwartz provide information about How NOT to Write a Pitch and Agent Advice 101 in two separate sessions – join us for one or both of these not-to-be-missed warm-up sessions. (There is no extra fee for O’Connor and Schwartz presentations).


We here at the Writing Department of Continuing Studies reach out to our community on a daily basis. The Writers’ Institute is just one of many programs we offer to our nearby, national and international writers. We are not only celebrating 27 years of writing, however 27 years of being part of the best writing community in the Midwest.  We hope you’ll join us and be part of this community if you haven’t already.

Join our mailing list to receive information about all of our programs. Be the first to hear about all writing programs by subscribing to The Writing News by sending a blank email to

We invite all writers to join us – the new, aspiring writer as well as the established writer. Writers of poetry, novels, nonfiction books, scripts, blogs, and freelancers aching to mine the Internet for dollars—we have something for each of you. If you have questions about any of the conference events, email or call me at any time at or (608) 265 3972.

I look forward to meeting all of you and working toward some new and exciting writing horizons as we look towards the next 25 years+ of writing excellence!


Laurie Scheer