An event for poetry lovers coming this February

We’re thrilled to announce a new Jot Writers Conference event! On Tuesday, February 16th, 2016, in partnership with Schuler Books & Music, we’ll be hosting Poetry and Conversation, a free event on the power and beauty of poetry. Here’s the official write-up:


Poetry and Conversation is a free event for lovers of the written word. Three poets from West Michigan—Matthew Landrum, Kelsey May, Z.G. Tomaszewski—will share their insights on writing and publishing, and will read from their published works.  Attendees will be encouraged to share original poetry at an open mike following the presentations.

Matthew LandrumMatthew Landrum is poetry editor of Structo Magazine. His work has recently appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, RHINO, and The Baltimore Review. His chapbook The Lonesome Savior — translations from the Faroese of Agnar Artúvertin — was published with Cold Hub Press in 2015. He lives in Detroit.



Kelsey mayKelsey May is a writer and performance poet from Grand Rapids, MI. She has performed poetry in Chicago, Seattle, Detroit, and Washington, D.C. and has been published in Voices and The Maine Review. She also worked and lived in Washington, D.C., volunteering with over twenty non-profits and running weeklong service trips for students. She is currently an undergraduate student at Grand Valley State University. Read more at and follow her on social media @kelsey_may_day.



tomaszewski picAfter a series of ramblings in Vermont, Ireland, and hitch-hiking out west which culminated in a job at Glacier National Park, Montana, Z.G. Tomaszewski is back in Grand Rapids where he works maintenance at the Masonic Temple and is a founding member and events coordinator of Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters and co-director of Lamp Light Music Festival. Tomaszewski will be reading from his new book of poems All Things Dusk (winner of the Hong Kong University International Poetry Prize of 2014, selected by Li-Young Lee).



This event will be held (as you have probably guessed) at Schuler Books and Music located at 2660 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512. The event is completely free and begins at 7pm. Our hopes for this event are to gather poetry lovers and writers in West Michigan for an evening of learning about the craft of writing, drinking excellent coffee from the Chapbook Cafe, and sharing a mutual love for the written word.

This event is in addition to our annual spring Jot Writers Conference, which is usually held in March. More details on that event are coming soon. We hope to see you at Poetry and Conversation!

Andy (for the Jot team)

3 Questions with Tim Beals

Tim BealsTim Beals is a literary agent and publishing industry veteran. He’s worked for HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Discovery House, World Vision, and alongside numerous others in his role as an agent. He is currently the president of Credo Communications, an innovative publishing and agenting business based in Grand Rapids, MI. You can read his full bio here. During JOT #5 he’ll be presenting a talk called, “Agenting 101: What You Need to Know About Literary Agents.” Here are three questions with Tim:


What’s the most important thing a writer should do before they contact a literary agent?

Be prepared. Work hard to know your audience, craft your writing, present your very best work. Agents have become the first filter for publishers, so let them know what qualifies you to write about your topic, how your work contributes to an important, ongoing conversation, and what you are already doing to serve and communicate with your readers.

What is a common misconception people have about the book business?

It’s easy. It’s hard. Some people actually expect that the written offspring of their minds and hearts will automatically be loved and embraced by publishers and readers alike, just as it was by their mom or boyfriend or professor. Others believe that, while their message is important, timely, and well-rendered, it is impossible to break into print these days. The truth is both/and, not either/or.

Give us a teaser of your Jot Conference presentation. What can attendees expect?

We’ll learn together what agents need, what publishers expect, and what readers long for. We’ll also discuss when, why, and how to approach an agent about your project.

3 Questions with Amelia Rhodes

Amelia Rhodes-speakingAmelia Rhodes is an author, speaker, blogger, journalist, wife, mom, and probably don’s a cape a cowl each night to defend the innocent of Grand Rapids against ne’er-do-wells. She’ll be speaking at JOT 5 about making time to write. Here are three quick questions with Amelia. See you on Friday, March 13th!

Give us a teaser of your Jot presentation. What can attendees expect?

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield, said, “There’s a secret real writers know that wanna be writers don’t. And the secret is this: it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.” I’ll be discussing making time to write, how to make the most of your writing time, and offering practical tips for both areas.

What’s a good habit or pattern for writers to start?

Shauna Niequist once said, “The first part of writing is noticing.” I think one of the best habits a writer can develop is to become the best possible “noticer.” Pay attention to life around you. Notice the people. Ask about their stories. Listen. Notice the colors, emotions, smells, and sounds that surround you every day. There’s always something to write about if you are paying attention. The second great practice is to collect those things you’ve noticed in a system that works for you, so when you sit down to write, you aren’t starting from zero. Instead, you’ll already have hundreds of ideas just waiting to be crafted into a great piece of writing.

Just for fun: If you could have lunch with any three authors – alive or dead – who would they be and why?


  1. Lucy Maud Montgomery. Anne of Green Gables is my favorite novel. I’d love the chance to thank her for this wonderful story that I now have the privilege of sharing with my own daughter.


  1. C.S. Lewis. I’d love to chat about his writing process, especially because he wrote such varied pieces from deep theology for adults to beautiful literature for children.


  1. J.K. Rowling. Professor Snape might be my favorite villian/non-villian. From his first appearance, he intrigued me. I’d love to hear how she came up with him, and if she knew from the start who he was and all he had done.

Jot 5 Needs Your Help!

Josh Mosey

jot_logoAt the risk of plagiarizing myself, I’d like to share some ways that you (yes, you!) can support the Jot Writers’ Conference. You see, Jot 5 is right around the corner (March 13, 2015) and it would probably be good if we had some people there.

Why? Because I honestly feel that this Jot will be the best one ever. Our speakers are top-notch. We have more workshops than ever. And the venue (Baker Book House) is still a beautiful place to be. So why not roll up your sleeves and get the word out with me about the best free one-night writers’ conference on this side of Heaven?

Pile-of-MoneyThere is a reason Jot is free. Most writers aren’t rolling in piles of cash. We understand that. In fact, we represent that.

So here are a few ways that you can help us out for little or no…

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Book Proposal Workshop with Andy Rogers

Every book begins the publishing process as a book proposal. It’s a document that is often reviewed by editors, agents, marketers, sales representatives, and publishers. In this workshop we’ll discuss the key information you need to know about creating a fiction or non-fiction book proposal. We’ll answer questions like: What information should be included? How should it be formatted? How detailed does it need to be? How much of the book should be written already? and many others. Writers are encouraged to bring something to record notes, and their working book proposal document if they have one. This workshop is for new or experienced writers. It will be led by Andy Rogers from Discovery House.



Poetry Workshop with Matthew Landrum

Whether you’re an established or beginning writer, this workshop is a chance to engage in critical discussion of individual pieces and larger issues of poetry. Participants will be asked to share a poem or two and will receive a deep reading and constructive advise on how to take the piece to the next level. Space in this workshop will be limited to eight people in order to assure that everyone gets adequate time. Sign up by filling out this Google form. The workshop is free, and it will be led by the poetry editor for Structo Magazine, Matthew Landrum. Sign up today as space is limited.

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Thriving in the Blogosphere: a workshop for bloggers with Susie Finkbeiner

Do you want to start a blog, but don’t know where to start? Or do you have a blog, but feel stuck, unable to think of fresh content? Want to build an audience and engage community? This workshop will answer these questions and any others you might have about the blogging life. Make sure to bring a pen and paper for scribbling ideas. This workshop is FREE and will be led by novelist and prolific blogger, Susie Finkbeiner.

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