Schedule: 2019 Workshop


8:30 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location. Check in and get comfortable.

There will be 3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day. Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with the sessions below. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change, but here is the current layout:

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. A Bird’s-eye View Publishing & Books in the Year 2019. This workshop is quick and easy overview of the publishing industry today, and how it’s changing. The speech is designed to educate writers and help them understand what publishing options exist for them today and why it’s an exciting time to be a writer.

2. Fine-Tuning: How to Revise and Edit Your Work. In today’s competitive publishing environment, submitting a professional manuscript is a must. No matter how exciting your plot is, no matter how fascinating your characters, if the manuscript is full of errors, your chances of success go way down. In this workshop, find out how to polish your work until it’s ready for the exacting scrutiny of agents and publishers

3. Memoir 101 – How to Write Your Life, taught by Marni Freedman. Are you seeking a way to transform the stories of your life into a compelling, page turning memoir? Join Marni Freedman for a fun, interactive, and unforgettable memoir writing workshop that will kick-start your memoir writing journey. Topics covered include the difference between memoir, personal essay and autobiography; structure for memoir: the three key story points that will help you uncover the basic shape of your memoir; accessing memory and choosing stories; character arc for memoir; tackling your theme; and the secret to writer’s voice → vulnerability and risk. All participants will be given the 15 Plot Spots, a plotting tool that will help you craft a solid structure from your life’s stories.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Tips on How to Write Like the Pros. This workshop is a thorough crash course concerning craft, style and voice. We’ll discuss nuts & bolts tips for sentence construction like how to avoid passive tense, how to use vivid language, how to self-edit your own work, how to make your characters memorable, the art of compelling dialogue, and much more.

2. How to Write a Great Query Letter for Your Novel. This workshop is a thorough crash course in dealing with literary agents. After quickly going over what an agent is and what they do for writers, we will discuss resources for finding agents, how to ID the best agents for you, query letter writing, as well as the most important things to do and not to do when dealing with representatives.

3. Getting More Out of Social Media: New Ways to Query and Pitch Your Book. With advent of social media, the pressure to constantly network and promote oneself as an author can be overwhelming. All the while, authors must still come up with compelling queries and tantalizing pitches for their books. With thousands of other authors in the same boat, how do you stand out? And how can an agent who is looking for your type of project find you? Agents and editors have begun using social media to find book projects. I will introduce authors to new ways to pitch and query their books using social media, providing in-depth information about online query contests and Twitter pitch parties.

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes. There are lots of options, including onsite restaurants, and nearby places to eat.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest with participating literary agents and editors. In the vein of “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent,” this is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously — no bylines given) with attending agents commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission. Get expert feedback on your incredibly important first page, and know if your writing has what it needs to keep readers’ attention. (All attendees are welcome to bring pages to the event for this session, and we will choose pages at random for the workshop for as long as time lasts. All submissions should be novels or memoir—no prescriptive nonfiction or picture books, please. Do not send your pages in advance. You will bring printed copies with you, and instructions will be sent out approximately one week before the event.)
2.  Nonfiction Intense: Book Proposal Tips. This session is completely devoted to nonfiction that is not memoir. So if you are trying to create an awesome nonfiction book proposal, this presentation is for you. With both a writer and agent to instruct and answers questions, the session will talk about platform, identifying your book’s place in the market, effective pitching, and more.

3. Intro to Writing Picture Books, taught by Henry Herz. We know what happens if you give a mouse a cookie. But, what happens if you give a writer an idea for a picture book? Well, that depends on whether they understand the intricacies of that unique art form. There’s a significant amount of craft that goes into creating an endearing picture book. This course provides an introduction to the key components, including: structure, plot, character development, word choice, rhyme, pacing, themes, humor, and layout.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Knock ’em Dead: Tips on Writing Mystery, Thriller, and Crime, taught by Lisa Brackmann. You have an idea for a thriller/suspense novel that you think will be a winner. Now what? This class is designed to help you get from concept to published book. Beginning with understanding the kind of novel that will be the best vehicle for your idea (mystery vs thriller?), this workshop will talk about how to come up with a working synopsis and an outline, offer tips on staying on task to write your book, and give pointers on how to edit effectively. Finally, you’ll learn how to describe and present your work to get the attention of agents and publishers.

2. Twenty Questions You Need Answered Before You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book. Before you publish your work or query an agent, there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to submit to agents properly, how to find the best self-publishing service for your need, what social media channels you should be on already, how to launch your book right, how to draft a compelling query/pitch and synopsis, how to find other writers who can help you, and much more.

3. Writing Other Worlds — a Guide to Blending Setting, Plot, and Character in Science Fiction and Fantasy. The best science fiction and fantasy offers us worlds that feel so much bigger than the stories they contain. We will discuss how to build vibrant worlds, and how the details of setting can be used to add depth to characters and plots.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Twenty Questions You Need Answered After You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book. After you self-publish your work or get a traditional publishing book deal, there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to promote yourself, how to keep your career going with multiple books, how you cross between the words of self-publishing and traditional publishing (i.e., use them both) to make the most money, how to build a readership, and much more.

2. Find Success Writing Romance, taught by HelenKay Dimon. Romance novels make up 46% of all books sold in the United States; they sell more than mystery and science fiction combined. The voraciousness of the reader base makes writing to the romance market a potentially lucrative strategy, but learning to plot, write, and revise a smart, successful, feminist romance novel can be surprisingly difficult.

3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction, taught by Madeline Smoot. Writing for children isn’t all that different from writing for adults. You still need great characters in interesting situations doing meaningful things. However, there are some genre specific things to keep in mind when crafting books for those readers under 18. In this session, presenter Madeline Smoot, acquiring editor for CBAY Books, will discuss the tips and tricks for making middle grade and YA novels great.


At 5 p.m., the day is done. Speakers will make themselves available by the workshop’s bookstore station for a short while to sign any books for attendees.