Friday, September 24, 2010

The Geniuses of WriteOnCon: Jen Stayrook

If you wondered about the web design mastermind behind WriteOnCon, look no further. Her bio from the conference blog reads:
Jennifer Stayrook—aka JentheAmazing—is a writer, blogger, student, cake-eater, and web design goddess. She is in her final year of graduate school, getting an MA in Art History at American University. She currently resides in Washington, DC and loathes traveling around the city. Jen is a professional daydreamer and lover of all things chocolate. She enjoys violent video games in the wee hours of the night, playing the piano loudly (her neighbors do not like her), and cuddling on the couch with her husband and dog while watching bad movies.You can find her online at her website or on Twitter.

Jennifer Stayrook (pic and bio from

Katrina Lantz: WriteOnCon was seriously epic, historic, unprecedented! As one of its organizers, did you expect WriteOnCon to garner as much industry support as it did? To what do you owe this?
Jennifer Stayrook: Not at all. I thought it would be pretty big because of all the connections and the popularity of the other founders, but I don't think any of us anticipated it being as big as it was. I owe its large scale, really, to the other founders. They were all vigilant in emailing and contacting authors, agents, and other big names to play a part in the conference. Their dedication made the conference what it was. 

Katrina: What were your thoughts on opening morning when thousands flocked to the site to participate in the first free online writer's conference?

Jen: Wow, there are a lot of people here. This is pretty freaking amazing. I can't believe I'm awake at 6am, but this is SO worth it. *9am rolls around* SERVER 403 error? Craaaaaaaaaap. :-)

Katrina: What was the hardest part about WriteOnCon's organization?

Jen: We didn't really expect the volume of visitors we received. We underestimated the popularity of the conference and because of that, we experienced more technical issues than we would have liked. Personally, I don't think any part of it was "hard," but the other girls did much more work during the conference than I did. I was just a lurker.

Katrina: What was the most important thing you learned this year that will help with future online conferences?

Jen: Always prepare for more people. And then prepare for twice that many. Check the videos. Check them again and again. But, I think the most important thing is to realize that something will always go wrong. It's how you handle what goes wrong that defines you. The other founders were fantastic at keeping their cool. 

Katrina: What's next for WriteOnCon? The discussion forums remain active. What role do you see WriteOnCon playing between annual conferences?

Jen: I think that WriteOnCon is a great networking tool for writers. Being unagented myself I was able to converse with those who were in the same boat as me and I didn't feel as alone in my dreams. Writing is, for the most part, a solitary act, but having a place to vent frustrations, find other writers in your shoes, get honest critique from strangers, is helpful to any writer.

Update: As for updates, we've been running a few contests as of late to try to get donations for Write On Con upgrades. Also, on Monday we're holding another panel discussion. It will be something we'll do monthly for all followers of Write On Con. 

Katrina: We think it's amazing the work you all did to put on such an amazing conference, and for FREE! Will next year's conference still be free?

Jen: Being free has always been one of our main goals of WriteOnCon. Even with our potential upgrades for next year's conference, we want to make sure we can give our members quality information that they are able to share with anyone. 

Katrina: You guys rock! One last question: In your opinion, what makes a writer awesome? 

Jen: Honesty. Truth. Reality to their writing. Even if they are writing fantasy or sci-fi, the characters need to be real and true to human nature. Flaws. I love flaws, but not flaky flaws. I truly love a writer who creates characters *I* love to read about. It's what progresses a story for me. 

Katrina: Thank you so much for the lovely interview, Jen! We are so excited about the Monthly Live Events!

Jen: Thank YOU Katrina! I realize this sounds incredibly lame and cheesy but seriously, you guys who spread the word about Write On Con deserve an Awesome Award. :-)

*warm fuzzies all over*

Say hello to Jen in the comments!
and if you missed them, check out the other organizers' interviews. More to follow next Friday, because Operation Awesome seriously hearts WriteOnCon. Yep, that much!

Other places you'll find Jennifer Stayrook online:

Her old wordpress blog <--cyberstalking at its finest (I mean, catch up on what you've missed)
The Publishers Weekly article about WriteOnCon
WriteOnCon's Official Web Page

Also: Another Awesome contest is just around the corner. You thought we were due for another one, didn't you? We agree. :) Stay tuned for details next Friday. 


  1. I loved Writeoncon-- I'm so super excited that it's back. Thank you for being awesome.

  2. I wasn't able to participate the first go-round, but I lurk...I mean...follow the blog and will definitely participate in the future:) Thanks for an awesome interview!


  3. Oh Jen, you will love it. They are the contest queens, too. If you haven't entered to win free books and writing critiques, you totally should. But if you're following, you already know about that. Silly me. :)

  4. Great interview! Thank you, Jen, for behind the muscle behind WriteOnCon!

  5. Jen Stayrook, you and the rest of the WriteOnCon women are amazing! Monday's live chat was phenomenal. You consistently provide opportunities for writers and publishing professionals to connect, and for that you will always be my favorites.



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