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2018 VQR Writers’ Conference

PUBLISHED: February 26, 2018




The fifth annual VQR Writers’ Conference takes place July 30-August 4, 2018, on the grounds of the historic University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Our conference is designed for serious writers at all stages of their careers looking for inspiration and camaraderie.

Conference Details

Conference participants pay $1,100, which includes lodging and meals. For participants who do not need housing, the cost is $950.

Once admitted to the conference, a nonrefundable deposit of $200 is due by June 15. The balance is due at or before registration. Payment may be made by check or credit card.

A limited number of $350 scholarships will be made available based on the potential for literary excellence.

Application Process

Application deadline May 15, 2018

To apply in fiction, please submit no more than fifteen pages total. If your manuscript is excerpted from a longer work or a novel, please provide a brief summary of the project with your cover letter.

To apply in nonfiction (includes creative nonfiction and literary journalism), please submit no more than fifteen pages total. If your manuscript is excerpted from a longer work, please provide a brief summary of the project with your cover letter.

To apply in poetry, please submit four to seven poems of no more than twelve pages total.

Additionally, in your cover letter, please provide a biographical statement of up to one hundred words that includes relevant information such as any notable publications and literary awards. 

Questions? Email:

The 2018 writing faculty includes:

Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (New Issues, 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon, 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. His poems have appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the New Republic, BuzzFeed, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. He is the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.

Meghan Daum is the author of four books, most recently the collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion (FSG, 2014), and is the editor of the New York Times bestseller Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids (Picador, 2015). An opinion columnist at the Los Angeles Times for more than a decade, she has also contributed to the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic and Vogue, among other publications. She is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Meghan is on the adjunct faculty of the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and in 2017 was the Bedell Distinguished Visiting Professor in the University of Iowa’s Graduate Nonfiction Writing Program.

Photograph by Vicki TopazAmy Hempel is the author of four collections of short stories; her Collected Stories was named one of the New York Times’s Ten Best Books of the Year, won the Ambassador Award for Ficton, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and won the Harold Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and an inaugural United States Artists Foundation Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, Vanity Fair, the Quarterly, the Yale Review, the Harvard Review, GQ, and many other places, and has been widely anthologized, including in such series as Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and Best Non-required Reading. Her stories have been translated in at least twenty languages. She is a founding board member of the nonprofit dog rescue the Deja Foundation. She teaches at Bennington College and Stony Brook University, and lives in New York.

Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the internationally bestselling novel Remember Me Like This (Random House, 2014), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great Writers selection, and the winner of the 2015 McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize. The book has been translated around the world and is being made into a major motion picture. He is also the author of the short-story collection Corpus Christi (Random House, 2004) and the editor of Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer (Random House, 2008). His work has appeared in the Atlantic, the Paris Review, the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Glimmer Train, and Tin House, as well as in the anthologies Best American Short StoriesPushcart, Best American Sports Writing, and New Stories from the South. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and a 5 Under 35 honor from the National Book Foundation, he is the director of creative writing at Harvard University.

Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon is currently a Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi and a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Nonfiction at the University of Iowa. Laymon is the author of the novel Long Division; a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America; and the forthcoming memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir.

Mary Szybist is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Her work has been awarded two Pushcart Prizes and has been supported by residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Bellagio, Italy. Her first book Granted, won the 2004 GLCA New Writers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her most recent book, incarnadine, won the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry. A native of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, she now lives in Portland, Oregon where she teaches at Lewis & Clark College.


Special Presentation on Publishing by Jane Friedman

Writing for Love and Money:
How to Build a Business Model for Your Writing Career

Money is often a taboo subject for writers, but if you want your writing to be a long-term, sustainable activity—or a living wage—then it’s necessary to consider the business model that will support your art. Whether you choose to have a day job, or focus on how to market and sell your work for top dollar, we’ll discuss how to be clear-eyed and strategic about developing revenue streams and a business model best suited to your personality, your writing, and your career expectations.

Jane Friedman has twenty years of experience in the book, magazine, and digital publishing industry. She’s the co-founder of The Hot Sheet, the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review. Her work and expertise has been featured by NPR, PBS, CBS, the Washington Post, the National Press Club, and many other outlets.

In addition to being a columnist with Publishers Weekly and a professor with The Great Courses, Jane maintains an award-winning blog for writers at She has served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund, and has held positions as a professor of writing and media at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Virginia. Jane’s most recent book is The Business of Being a Writer (Chicago, 2018). 



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