First Pages Party

First Pages Party Critique Session
Thursday, 8:30 PM – 10:00 PM
Antlers Hotel: Fremont

Back by popular demand, SSWS will again host a “First Pages Party” at Superstars. This is a fun, free, safe way to experience the art of critique in a verbal format, and receive feedback from new-to-you readers on the important first page of your manuscript.

Instructors Chris Mandeville and Todd Fahnestock have been critiquing together for almost twenty years, and will share their read-aloud critique method. This method makes it easy to focus on “big picture” elements like plot, character, pacing, voice, suspension of disbelief, and the all-important “is this confusing?” It’s great when you’re trying on a new idea for a story, or are at the early stages of a draft, to see if your ideas are gelling.

This style of critique is meant to augment the fine-tuning “line edit” critique of a polished draft, not replace it.This evening session will begin with Chris and Todd explaining the critique method and guidelines, and then demonstrating the critique process with a submission from an attendee. After the demo, attendees will be invited to offer their work for Chris and Todd to critique. Attendees can read their own first pages aloud or opt to have Chris or Todd read for them.

To share your work at the First Pages Party:

Bring one printed copy of the first page of your manuscript in standard manuscript format. It should be no more than 16 lines, double-spaced, with 12-point font and 1-inch margins. If you have a prologue, it’s your choice to read from that or from Chapter One. (Note that you are welcome to read from a laptop or tablet instead of a printed page, so long as you follow standard manuscript formatting and do not read more than 16 lines.)

***There are no advance sign-ups, RSVPs, or submissions for First Pages Parties***

All Tribe members welcome! The First Pages Party is open to all those attending SSWS 2024. We hope you’ll come share your work! But even those not ready to share are welcome to listen to the critiques. New for 2024: if you would like to have your page critiqued, please arrive at the beginning of the session to get a place in the queue.

Any questions about this program should be directed to Chris Mandeville:

Cover Copy Party

Back-cover Copy Party
Thursday, 8:30 PM – 10:00 PM
Antlers Hotel: Carson

A favorite of past attendees, the Back-cover Copy Party critique event is back! This workshop provides attendees the opportunity to have their back-cover copy (the description on the back cover of a novel) critiqued and edited by professional editors in a welcoming, casual setting

Long-time faculty members and editors Lisa Mangum and Joshua Essoe have nearly forty years of experience between them, and take the helm for this live-editing discussion. They are expert critiquers, wizards at cover copy, and friendly souls whose advice is easy to hear and digest. At the end of the night, you’ll walk away with shiny new copy for your book!

During the party, your cover copy will be displayed on a screen for Joshua and Lisa to edit and discuss while providing verbal feedback and suggestions. After the event, Joshua will email your revised copy back to you to use as you see fit.

To share your work at the Back-cover Copy Party:

Please follow these submission guidelines exactly:

  • Microsoft Word document (not a pdf)
  • Standard manuscript format
  • Document header: your name/genre/format (short story, novel, etc.)
  • Document body: title, tagline (if applicable), copy (less than 300 words)
  • Name of file: Yourlastname_Yourtitle_BC.doc
  • Email submission to: Joshua Essoe at
  • Deadline: Thursday, February 8 by 8 p.m. (mountain standard time) and you must be present at the session.

All Tribe members welcome!

The Back-cover Copy Party is open to all those attending SSWS 2024. We hope you’ll come share your work! But even those not ready to share are welcome to listen to the critiques and learn what makes interest-grabbing and provocative copy. This workshop is open to Tribe even if you’re not attending Skills Day. Both First Pages and Back-cover Copy are free! You are welcome to come to any/both, stay the whole time, or pop in and out to get the most out of them that you can.

Any questions about this program should be directed to Joshua Essoe: