Novelists looking for an agent and a publisher can pitch their book to two New York agents attending the annual West Texas Writers’ Academy (WTWA) June 10-14 hosted by West Texas A&M University on campus.  

The five-day academy will feature Rachel Beck with Holloway Literary and Rosie Jonker with Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency. Academy participants have the opportunity to pitch their novel to each with the possibility of gaining agent representation to large publishing houses. 

Whether writers are ready for publication or still honing their first book, the Academy offers five classes designed to guide writers on a journey from refining their craft to publication in the commercial market.

• Suzanne Kelman, 2015 Academy of Motion Pictures Nicholl Finalist, will detail all the aspects of scriptwriting from concept or story to a screenplay in “Crafting Screenplays that Sell.”  Because screenwriting uses a unique story structure, the class will explain how to compose acts and scenes as well as how to write dialogue for a dynamic script. 

• Matthew Sherley, retired police detective and thriller writer, will teach “Using Suspense to Up the Stakes of Your Novel.” No matter the genre, suspense is a key element in maintaining readers’ interest.  Participants will learn how to use different literary devices to create suspense and how to plant them strategically in their novel.

• Lori Freeland, YA fiction author, writing coach and blogger, will lead a class on “The Secrets of a Successful Scene: How Great Scenes Become Strong Stories.” Participants will learn how to craft scenes with deep point-of-view and develop a voice that captivates readers.   

• Margie Lawson, writing coach for more than 20 published authors, will guide writers in a combo learning and coaching class, “Making Your Scenes Credible and Incredible.”  The morning sessions will focus on deep editing techniques and afternoons will focus on applying those techniques to your work with one-on-one sessions with Margie.

 • Jolene Navarro, hybrid author of contemporary and historical romance, will teach “Expanding Your Creativity: Writing Deeper.” This class will explore four story elements—deepening plot, creativity, brainstorming high concept and exercises to spark creativity. Course prerequisite—participants must be two-time WTWA alumni.

Special events during the week include a Roundup Dinner and Program at the University’s Alumni Banquet Facility on Monday, June 10. The event will begin with a 6 p.m. book signing with authors Jodi Thomas, Timothy Lewis, Jolene Navarro and other nationally published authors.

Jonathan Baker, former assistant to the editor-in-chief at W.W. Norton and Co., will talk to the group at 7 p.m. and share the nuances of author-agent relationships and how authors can position themselves for maximum success. Tickets for the Roundup Dinner can be purchased at and are priced at $35 each.

Jodi Thomas will present a short talk on “The Art of Critique” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 11. Participants will then break into critique groups to practice their skills with authors in a similar genre.

The academy has produced an impressive list of successful published authors. Just a few of the successful graduates include Celia Bonaduce, Linda Broday, Bethany Claire, Phyliss Miranda, Sasha Summers and many more.

The five-day writers’ academy is priced at $695 with private residence hall rooms starting at $35 per night. Class sizes are limited, and the registration deadline is May 10. For more information or to register, call the Office of Extended Studies at 806-651-2037 or visit