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. How to Hook an Agent (Peacock 1 room), taught by Elise Capron. This workshop, taught by a literary agent, will examine the new publishing landscape, and what that means for you, and for agents. This session will discuss how to research agents, how to submit, what an offer of representation will look like, the role of an agent in your query, and how to make a good agent-client relationship last.

2. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Paradise room), 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.

3. Memoir 101 – How to Write Your Life (Cove 1+2 rooms), 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. Out of This World Writing — Tips on Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction and Fantasy) (Cove 1+2 rooms), taught by Beth Marshea. Have you always wanted to create worlds where anything can happen: technology runs amuck, magic is everywhere, or maybe demons are lurking where we’d least expect them? Learn how to create intense believable worlds that allow for fantastic events. Come create compelling plots and characters that will have your readers thinking about them long after they’ve laid your pages down. In this class, you’ll learn the basics of combining plot structure, world building and character development to create truly extraordinary writing.

2. Improve Your Writing: The Basics of Self-Editing and Revision (Paradise room), taught by Kimiko Nakamura. Writing your manuscript’s first draft is a huge step, but only a primary one. Now it’s time to look at your creation and slowly make it amazing through overhauls, self-editing, and revision. Remember that good writing is rewriting. In this class, you’ll learn to identify your writing’s flaws (and fix them) — such as tense and POV issues, when to cut and shorten your length, and what makes some writing crackle.

3. Be a Professional Writer (Peacock 1 room), taught by Natalie Lakosil. In this workshop, a literary agent will explain how to best present yourself for success and treat your writing as a business (in person, online, and in pitches). Professionalism and success are aspects that turn writers into authors, and this session will explore the topic.

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 (Peacock 1 room) 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 Intensive: Book Proposal Tips (Cove 1+2 rooms), taught by Sandra O’Donnell. If you are writing nonfiction, you will need a book proposal. Editors acquire nonfiction books on the basis of a proposal, not a finished manuscript. Why? Because for an editor to acquire nonfiction they need to know about the author’s expertise and experience with the topic. They need to know if there is an audience for the proposed book and how large the audience might be. They need to know how you plan to market the book and if you have a social media platform to support the marketing. And they need to know if you have media contacts or appearances that will help sell the book. A well-executed proposal shows the editor and acquisition team at a publishing house that you are the person to write the proposed book, that you know who your audience is, and that you know how to reach them. And, it includes sample chapters to show that you have the chops to write the book you are proposing. Join Sandra to learn more about writing an effective and compelling nonfiction book proposal.

3. Intro to Writing Picture Books (Paradise room), 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 (Cove 1+2 rooms), 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 help you develop your own best process to write your book, offer tips on staying focused, and give pointers on effective editing. Finally, you’ll learn how to describe and present your work to get the attention of agents and publishers.

2. Personal Branding and the Three Pillars of Successful Book Marketing (Paradise room), taught by Jeniffer Thompson. In today’s publishing world, it’s critical for authors to position themselves and build a tribe of loyal fans through personal branding. Jeniffer Thompson identifies the three pillars of successful book marketing as audience, content, and loyalty. She identifies personal branding techniques that show you how to develop a plan to target your audience, create value-driven content, and build a loyal fanbase. Plus, you’ll get a copy of Jeniffer’s personal branding workbook that reveals the ten steps to building an author brand. It’s time to connect the dots of your marketing efforts and stay connected to your audience.

3. Plotting Magic (Peacock 1 room), taught by Marni Freedman. Are you ready to transform your writing career with a writer-tested, writer-approved plotting tool? It’s no coincidence that certain writers can craft page turning novels that make people laugh, cry and wait in line for that writer’s next piece. What do these writers know? How to craft a kick-ass plot! Using the wisdom of Aristotle, Joseph Campbell (The Hero’s Journey) and writing gurus across the country, the 15 Plot Spots will let you in on you the secrets of plotting from the masters.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. How to Write a Great Query Letter for Your Novel (Peacock 1 room), taught by Carlie Webber. This workshop is a thorough crash course in writing an awesome query letter. What things should you avoid in query writing? What beginnings are overused and don’t work? How to compose a great pitch? How do you whittle down a long query? This session will cover all those questions and more.

2. Find Success Writing Romance (Cove 1+2 rooms), 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 romance potentially lucrative, but you need to know what readers want and you can’t skip on craft. We’ll talk about plotting and publishing a smart and successful romance novel, what’s selling, and what the market looks like today.

3. Writing Life Productivity Tips & Tools (Paradise room), taught by Henry Herz. Very few of us writers are lucky to be able to write full-time. So, the vast majority of writers need to squeeze the most productivity out of the few available hours they have. In this informative session, we’ll cover tips and tools that help you do just that.


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.