Due to coronavirus concerns, for the first time the 15th-annual David R. Collins Writers’ Conference will be held online, Thursday to Saturday, June 25-27. Paid workshops will be held via Zoom; free public events will be available on Zoom and via livestream to the Midwest Writing Center’s YouTube channel .

The conference registration fee is $50 for MWC members, $65 for non-members; and $260 for full conference registration (four workshops + master class); $210 for three workshops; $160 for two workshops, and $85 for one workshop. Book pitches are $15 each.

Attendees can hone their craft in intensive three-day workshops, but will also have the option to participate in book pitches, a faculty reading, and a keynote address featuring Iowa-based author and columnist Lyz Lenz.

Lenz will appear at a special livestream event on Thursday, June 25, and will lead a virtual master class on Friday, June 26, both entitled “Writing for Change.”

Lenz’s writing has appeared in the Huffington PostThe Washington Postthe Columbia Journalism ReviewThe New York TimesPacific Standard, and others. Her book God Land was published in 2019, through Indiana University Press. Her second book Belabored is due out from Bold Type Books on August.

Lyz’s essay “All the Angry Women” was also included in the anthology Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay. Lyz received her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She is a columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

This year’s conference offers five three-day workshops, led by a faculty of accomplished faculty members, and, like Lenz, returning conference favorites:

Complete course descriptions as well as bios for the Conference’s distinguished faculty are available on the MWC website: mwcqc.org/events-opportunities/david-r-collins-writers-conference/.

Legacy Book Press and MWC Press will be hearing manuscript pitches during the donference; if you are interested in scheduling a pitch session, please contact the MWC in advance; 10-minute sessions are $15. These fill up quickly, so don’t delay in signing up if you’re interested.

To supplement the conference, the MWC will be hosting two events that will be free and open to the public; Conference participants can tune in via Zoom, or the events will be available via livestream on MWC’s YouTube channel as well:

  • DRC Conference Keynote Address, featuring Lyz Lenz, columnist for The Gazette (Cedar Rapids) and author of “God Land” and “Belabored” – Thursday at 7 p.m. via Zoom and YouTube. Please RSVP for Zoom password to sarah.elgatian@mwcqc.org.
  • Faculty Reading and Participant Open Mic – Friday at 7 p.m. via Zoom and YouTube. Please RSVP for Zoom password to sarah.elgatian@mwcqc.org. Listen to conference faculty reading their work and then, the mic will be opened up for reading by conference participants.

You can register for the conference online, by phone (309-732-7330), or email (mwc@midwestwritingcenter.org).

The 2020 David R. Collins Writers’ Conference is made possible thanks to the generous support of these sponsors and grantors: Modern Woodmen of America, Founding Sponsor; the Regional Development Authority; Illinois Humanities; the Illinois Arts Council Agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts; the St. Ambrose University English Department; the Figge Art Museum; and Rozz-Tox.

The MWC (based at the Rock Island Public Library, 401 19th St.) was founded in 1979 and incorporated in 1980 by Illinois writers David R. Collins and Evelyn Witter. They raised funds to support an annual writing conference (the Mississippi Valley Writers Conference) and a national poetry contest (the Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest). The goal was also to secure a permanent home to serve as a place of retreat for writers; a reception place for book signings and workshops; a meeting place for book clubs, writing groups, and readings of both established and emerging writers; a display area for local writing collections; a reference library with reference books and computers available for use; and special project book publication.

Since July of 2006, the David R. Collins Writers Conference held in June each year has expanded, attracting participants from all over the country.


Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.