2018 Presentation Spotlight: The Stakes Must Always Be Death

The Stakes Must Always Be Death: Fueling the Emotional Core of Your Story, with Maureen McQuerry and Stephan Wallenfels. As writers we long to hook our readers’ hearts as well as their minds. Together we’ll discover how conflict and tension fuel a character’s emotional journey and keep readers engrossed until the very end. Using examples from current literature, we’ll discuss techniques to strengthen your story’s emotional core and identify the one thing every powerful story has in common. Be prepared to participate in short writing exercises. Come with the seed of a story you’ve always wanted to write, opening pages or better yet a work in progress.


Maureen McQuerry is an award winning poet, novelist and teacher. Her YA novel, The Peculiars (Abrams/Amulet) is an ALA Best Book for YA 2013, winner of the Westchester Award. Her MG fantasy duo Time Out of Time, includes Beyond the Door, a Booklist top Ten Fantasy/SciFi for Youth, and The Telling Stone, a finalist for the WA State Book awards. A new historical novel, Between Before & After (Blink/HarperCollins) will be released in Feb 2019. She taught middle school through college for almost twenty years. In 2000 she was awarded the McAuliffe Teaching Fellowship for WA State. She currently supervises student teachers for WSU and is a board member of SCBWI Inland Northwest.

Stephen Wallenfels earned a BA in Physical Education and International Relations from USIU San Diego. Stephen was a freelance writer for CBI Magazine with over 100 feature articles and columns published in the health and fitness industry. He published short stories for children and adults, and his YA science fiction novel, POD (Penguin-Ace), was published in eight languages and has been adapted into a screenplay. Stephen’s second novel, Bad Call (Disney-Hyperion), a YA survival thriller set in Yosemite National Park, was released on December 19, 2017. His third novel, Deadfall (Disney-Hyperion), a YA suspense thriller, is scheduled for publication on December 11, 2018.

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