Presenters & Instructors

This page will be updated as more faculty members are confirmed
for the 2022 Writing Conference of Los Angeles.


Brittany Thurman is a published author of children’s books. See all her books here.

At the online 2022 WCLA, Brittany is teaching a class. She is also offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

“I have always had an affinity for stories told by my grandmother. Those same stories hold space in my writing today. My love of writing comes from my love of reading. As a kid, I could not get enough of going to bookstores and libraries.

“I am a former children’s specialist, and I am dedicated to ensuring children’s literature truthfully reflects the world in which we live. I hold an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, where I studied Dramatic Writing. I hold a BA from Kingston University, London, England, where I studied theater.

“I’m not sure how many books I’ve read as a children’s specialist, but I estimate hundreds of stories to thousands of kids across the City of Bridges. Currently, I reside in my hometown of Louisville, KY. You may find me biking along the waterfront, enjoying a musical or play, hanging out with my family, grilling in the backyard or snuggled up with a good book.”


Rachel Beck is a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates.

She joined in 2020 after working at a boutique literary agency for 4 years. She has been in the publishing industry since 2009 and worked at Harlequin editing romance novels for nearly 6 years before transitioning her skills to the agent world in order to be an advocate and champion for authors. She lives outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two young sons, and endlessly entertaining cat.

Rachel believes that the right book can change or heal a life, and she wants to find those. But she’s also interested in lighter fiction that helps you escape or simply makes you laugh after a tough day. Or nonfiction that teaches you something about an obscure topic, thus opening up a new world.

Learn more about the genres and categories of books that Rachel represents.


Jill Marr is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

At the 2022 online WCLA event, Jill is teaching a class. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.

She graduated from SDSU with a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in history. She has a strong Internet and media background and nearly 20 years of publishing experience. She wrote features and ads for Pages, the literary magazine for people who love books, as well as book ads for publishing houses, magazine pieces, and promotional features for television.

After writing ad copy and features for published books for years, she knows how to find a project’s “hook” and sell it.

Jill is looking for fiction and nonfiction by BIPOC and Latinx writers, disabled persons, and people identifying as LGBTQ+, among others. She is interested in commercial fiction, with an emphasis on mysteries, thrillers, and horror, book club, and historical fiction. She is also looking for non-fiction by authors with a big, timely, smart message as well as historical projects that look at big picture issues. Jill is looking for non-fiction projects in the areas of current events, science, history, narrative non-fiction, sports, politics, health & nutrition, pop culture, humor, music, and very select memoir.


Kim Lindman is a literary agent with Stonesong.

At the 2022 online WCLA, Kim is teaching a class, and also meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.

Kim joined Stonesong as an assistant in 2018, and now holds the positions of Associate Literary Agent and Social Media Coordinator. Originally from the West Coast, Kim studied English Literature with a subfocus in Journalism at Seattle Pacific University, where she worked as a copyeditor. Since moving to the NYC area, she has worked as a distillery tour guide, a barista, and a researcher for the United Nations.

In nonfiction, Kim is looking for platform- or expertise-driven cookbooks, cocktail books, investigative journalism, social justice, social science, pop science, self-help and wellness. While she is primarily drawn to books with practical elements and actionable takeaways, she is also looking for narrative non-fiction that makes niche subjects accessible and engaging for a general audience.

Kim also considers select adult fiction: she has special interest in magical realism and speculative novels that straddle the line between literary and commercial. Please also consider her for horror, thriller, suspenseful mysteries, and grounded science fiction. Above all, she is drawn to books with a strong atmosphere, a propulsive plot, or both. She does not consider poetry, historical narratives, romance or books for children/teens.

In all categories, Kim seeks to maintain a diverse list of clients.


Claire Harris is a literary agent with P.S. Literary Agency

At the 2022 online WCLA, Claire is taking virtual one-on-one pitches from attendees. She is also teaching a class.

Claire (she/her) is a literary agent with a passion for a wide range of fiction and nonfiction for adults. After graduating from UT Austin, she worked at a mid-sized agency before joining the PSLA team. Claire seeks projects with unique voices, interesting writing styles, and compelling characters. She enjoys the creative process of working with creators and collaborating closely with them throughout all stages of their careers, and she has represented everything from debuts to NYT bestsellers. Having grown up in Wisconsin, she has a soft spot for stories set in the Midwest.

Claire is acquiring both fiction and nonfiction projects for adults. She’s actively seeking projects that shine a spotlight on people, places, and events that are often overlooked or not given the attention they deserve. In fiction, she’s looking for adult rom coms, contemporary fiction, psychological thrillers, select horror, and cozy mysteries—all for millennial audiences, specifically. Claire is happiest when reading manuscripts with unexpected endings or new twists on classic genre tropes. For non-fiction, Claire is seeking a range of projects, including lifestyle guides, pop culture celebrations, pop psychology, cultural criticism, humor, true crime, essay collections, and illustrated books for adults.


Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 11.40.52 PM.pngTara Yilmaz is the founder and CEO of Bailey Publishing House.

Tara founded Bailey Publishing House, LLC in 2016. She serves as Chief Executive Officer and Senior Editor.

At the 2022 online WCLA Writing Workshop, Tara is meeting virtually with writers for add-on manuscript critiques.

Tara is a ghostwriter and author of Dracula of the West Side and Number Seven (2018). She’s the author of the dark comedy play, “Deadbeat” (2017). The play premiered on May 21, 2018 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater, downtown Pittsburgh. The production was produced by Wali Jamal Abdullah and directed by Kim El.

She was the featured speaker at the Celebration of Reading in June 2017 and Pittsburgh’s Write On: Black Book Expo in November 2017. Along with speaking at book festivals, BPH hosts an annual writers workshop. She’s been a featured guest on WAMO 100 radio programs and Soul Pitt Quarterly wrote an article about her company in Summer 2017 edition. In addition to her commitment to BPH, she is also Editor-in-Chief for a personal care home monthly magazine in Pennsylvania.


Amaryah Orenstein is a literary agent with Go Literary.

At the 2022 online WCLA, she is teaching a class. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.

Amaryah has always loved to read and provide (oftentimes unsolicited) editorial advice and, as a literary agent, she is thrilled to help writers bring their ideas to life. She is particularly drawn to narrative nonfiction and memoir but enjoys any book that connects the reader to its characters and evokes thought and feeling.

Amaryah began her career at the Laura Gross Literary Agency in 2009 and, prior to that, she worked as an Editorial Assistant at various academic research foundations, including the Tauber Institute, where she edited books for Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England. Originally from Montreal, Canada, Amaryah earned a BA at McGill University before coming to the United States to pursue graduate studies in American History. She completed an MA at Ohio University’s Contemporary History Institute and a PhD at Brandeis University, and currently serves as Co-President of the Boston chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.


Sera Rivers is a literary agent with Martin Literary Management.

At the 2022 online WCLA, Sera is teaching a class. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.

Sera is currently accepting queries for middle grade and young adult fiction and graphic novels, as well as the occasional picture book.

In 2007, Sera joined SCBWI when her best friend insisted that Sera belonged in the kidlit world. She now attends SCBWI conferences and workshops every year. She’s volunteered for the New England chapter since 2012, co-directing NESCBWI’s 2017 and 2018 annual spring conferences. In 2009, after immersing herself in the kidlit community, she decided to pursue her passion—a career in the children’s book industry. She went back to college, earning her bachelor of arts degree in Creative Writing and Journalism Studies from the University of Massachusetts and her master of fine arts degree in Writing for Children, with a concentration in young adult novels, from Simmons University. Her young adult memoir THE WICKED ONES won the 2016 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award.

Sera worked in educational publishing for seven years and launched Avenue A Books, a children’s graphic novel imprint at Center for Responsive Schools. As Avenue A’s acquiring and managing editor, she worked with new and established children’s book writers and illustrators to create picture books and middle grade novels. She loved helping writers and illustrators hone their craft to produce their best work. Now, as an agent, Sera provides editorial feedback to help clients get their manuscripts submission ready.


Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 8.36.35 PMHenry Herz wrote the traditionally published picture books: MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (Pelican), WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY (Pelican), MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer), LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican), CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW (Sterling), GOOD EGG AND BAD APPLE (Schiffer), HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS (Pelican), ALICE’S MAGIC GARDEN (Familius), 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT (Kane Miller), and the ALA Notable Children’s Book, I AM SMOKE (Tilbury House), which earned a Kirkus star.

He’s written short stories for Highlights, Ladybug, Albert Whitman & Co., Blackstone Publishing, Daily Science Fiction, Metastellar, and other markets. Find him at

At the 2022 online WCLA workshop, he will be offering add-on picture book critiques for attendees. (Find/buy any of his books here.)


Erik Deckers is the owner and President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing agency.

At the 2022 online WCLA, Erik is offering add-on manuscript critique for attendees.

Erik co-authored Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (Pearson), No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing (Pearson), and The Owned Media Doctrine (Archway Publishing, 2013). He also helped write Twitter Marketing For Dummies. Find all his books here.

Erik has been blogging since 1997, and has been a published writer for more than 27 years. He has been a newspaper humor columnist for over 20 years, and is published in 10 newspapers around Indiana. He is also an award-winning playwright, both for stage and radio theatre.

Erik frequently speaks about blogging and social media, especially as it relates to personal branding, small business marketing, crisis communication, and citizen journalism. Erik is a graduate of Ball State University with a B.S. in Philosophy and an M.A. in College Student Personnel Administration. He is married with three children, and lives in Orlando, FL.


Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 2.06.14 PMEve Porinchak is an author, as well as a former literary agent.

At the 2022 online FWW workshop, Eve is teaching a class. She is also offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

Since earning degrees in Biology and Psychology from UCLA, Eve has lived all over the planet and spent much of her time in and out of jail – as a creative writing teacher for teen inmates. A former agent with Jill Corcoran Literary Agency, Eve also attended medical school, served as a social worker with foster youth and homeless populations, and taught everything from first grade to college courses.

Eve writes stories featuring youth she feels have been underrepresented in children’s literature, such as those born into gang life, the abandoned, and the incarcerated who – ironically – have the most fascinating tales to tell. Her first book, the critically acclaimed ONE CUT – a haunting nonfiction story with a juvenile justice bent – launched Simon and Schuster’s new young adult true crime line, Simon True.