Workshop Descriptions

Each year we ask Attendees to evaluate the experience, and tell us what they want in future events. The number of requests to post descriptions was overwhelming.  And, because even traditional publishing houses place publicity and marketing on an author’s burdened, drooping shoulders, you wanted more on marketing. You wanted lots and lots of marketing.

You asked. We listened.

Descriptions (by Faculty alphabetical order)

Atlas: (2-hour) Creating Memorable, Three-Dimensional Characters – Some writers talk about creating connections with their characters so deep that the characters feel like real people. But how do you bring memorable, three-dimensional characters to life enough to make that connection?

In this class, equally suitable for fiction writers and screenwriters, we will view and analyze various movie scenes and dissect them to see what makes the characters memorable. You will learn the power of subtext: how to embed details of motivation—thoughts, wants, goals, secrets, flaws, and delusions—into physical behavior, speech patterns, and specific habits that echo throughout your story. You will also learn how to distinguish your central character from every other character and from his or her environment, as a means of further establishing the character in the world of the story. You’ll receive handouts and a series of questions you can pose for your own work. Additionally, we will watch scenes from movies and television that depict non-stereotypical characters and what we can learn from them. Come to class with your most important characters in mind, and leave with a better understanding about how to bring them to life.

Bradford: (2-hour) Agents Exposed – What they think, how they think and why.  Agent Laura Bradford pulls back the curtain and discusses both good and bad days in the life of an agent, business motivations, the difficulties and pleasures of the agent-author relationship as well as current market trends.

Briles: (2-hour) Avoid Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers and Boo-Boos that will Sink Your Book – Whether you are just beginning the author journey or think you are an old pro, the publishing maze has a few tricks up its sleeve. Contracts can snarl you, marketing can swamp you, and social media can suck your energy. No wonder authors become comatose—no longer, after this highly interactive, fun and “aha” session.

CrowdFunding 101 for Authors, Writers and Books – It takes a village to create a book … and money. Money for editing; money for cover design; money for interior design and layout; money for marketing; money for publicity; money for printing books; money for education to become a savvy author; money for … you need to noodle ways to underwrite your book project(s).

 Carpenter: Book ’em, Dano! – Let’s face it. Getting published can be frustrating. With a quick nod to the advantages and disadvantages of traditional, boutique, and indie publishers, this presentation focuses on the plethora of POD publishing options, discussing the benefits of “self” publishing and demystifying the self-publishing process, giving writers the tools they need to get their great American novels (or memoirs or mysteries or …) in print.

Writes of Passage – Whether your manuscript is fiction or non-fiction, memoir or mystery, the goal is the same: to use words for maximum impact and write a great story. Using years of experience working with authors and publishers, professional editor Jami Carpenter offers examples to enhance your writing. From creating first sentence/first page hooks to avoiding common missteps, the emphasis will be on the craft of writing to ensure that your story is the best it can be.

Chandler: Advanced Book Marketing and Launch Strategies (advanced) – In this content-rich presentation, you will discover proven strategies that go beyond basic book marketing advice and take you through advanced options that are easier to implement than you might think. Learn how to clearly identify your target audience so you can figure out where to find them; gain visibility online with internet media sources; get on the New York Times bestseller list—even if you are self-published; host your own ebook give-away (without Amazon); generate more book reviews; collect email sign-ups from readers; decide whether brick and mortar bookstores are worth your time; build a content marketing strategy that drives new readers to your website.

Build Your Online Book Marketing Plan: Simple Strategies to Increase Website Traffic, Build Buzz and Sell More Books – Before self-publishing her first book, Stephanie Chandler decided to build an audience online. The success of that effort led to corporate sponsorships, major media coverage, product sales, and a variety of other opportunities. This presentation shares strategies that authors can use to develop a marketing plan focused on building an audience online such as: conduct interviews with internet media sources; use articles, podcasts, videos, and content marketing tactics.

Davis: The Eyes Have It – or Do They? – There are five senses: touch, hearing, sight, smell and taste. Authors tend to rely on the easiest one—sight. We experience life through our senses every day. Why then, do we tend to write so much about what a character is seeing rather than what they’re feeling, etc.? This workshop will focus on depth of characters; really get inside their heads to show what they are thinking.

Dean: How to build scenes that keep readers turning pages – Want to know the easiest way to write a full novel? One scene at a time. This workshop will teach you how to create a scene, even when you’re stuck, by answering a list of questions about the scene; how to build tension and suspense in a scene to entice readers to keep reading; how to turn scenes into chapters until you’ve built an entire book.

Davis – Dean – Wilson: Pitching – Do you shiver in your skivvies at the thought of pitching to an editor? Fingers tingle? Knees freeze? This workshop will squeeze out the nervous jitters so you can walk into the pitch sessions with assurance that your story, and you, will get the editor’s full attention. Find that one sentence–the dreaded elevator pitch–that outlines the whole story. Turn a ten-page synopsis into four sentences that have the editor salivating. Do’s and don’ts that will turn you into a professional pitcher (not an MLB level pitcher, they can only do so much…) in no time! Participants should bring a one- to one-and-a-half-page synopsis of their book to interactively whittle down to 1. A few sentences to use as their pitch and 2. The one sentence logline.

Jordan: (2-hour) Before and Beyond Google: Upgrading Nonfiction – Whether your project is memoir, biography, history, contemporary journalism or a different brand of nonfiction altogether, it’s about details and unique content. The more unusual the material the better –assuming it’s accurate. There are an abundance of sources out there to tap, from university libraries and news sites to SSRN and JStor, from newspapers.com to Reddit. What’s free, what isn’t? I’ll also touch on good, old-fashioned techniques, like bricks and mortar libraries and microfiche(!) and the concept of being “ embedded” to get fresh perspective. (Includes a handout of online research sources.)

 Manus: Adaptation and Story Development – Every story begins with a kernel of a concept or a character and goes through a number of processes or steps to flesh out that idea and bring it to life. The same goes for when you’re trying to adapt from book to film. This course will cover story development and adaptation processes and make sure you’re using the right elements to develop or adapt your idea. We’ll discuss brainstorming and outlining, going from Idea to Concept, and then build upon that through genre, theme, conflict, characters and structure to create a STORY. If you find it hard to flesh out or adapt your ideas, this class is for you!

The Antagonist’s Journey – A hero can’t rise without an equally strong, complex antagonist to rise against. And to craft a strong “bad guy”, you have to know the key ingredients to memorable antagonists. Using examples of Hollywood’s greatest villains, we will go over the pathology of antagonists, how to take popular villain archetypes to the next level, how to create relatable motivations, powerful backstories, and follow the Antagonist’s Journey beat sheet to make your bad guys oh so good!

McHugh: Consider Your Options: An Overview of the Types of Publishers Available – When writers and readers think about publishers, they usually think of the Big Five—Hachette Book Group (HBG), HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster—and all of their imprints. However, there are a large number of other publishers producing fantastic books of all sorts, including university presses and independent literary houses. This workshop will provide a brief introduction to the various types of publishers seeking book manuscripts, the similarities and differences between them, and what authors can expect working with different publishers.

Not Just Scholarship: An Introduction to University Press Publishing and How University Presses Operate – University presses are unique to the world of publishing and have some processes that differ from other publishers. Originally they were founded to disseminate important scholarship that would not be published by traditional publishers. Many university presses have extended that original mission and are publishing trade books such as fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction in addition to scholarly work. This workshop will provide an introduction to university presses, how they operate, and what they publish.

Rudolph: The Art of the Nonfiction Book Proposal – For adult narrative nonfiction, having a good book proposal is crucial. In this session we’ll look at the key elements that go into a proposal and how authors can shape their proposal for maximum effect. We’ll also cover sample chapters, platform building, and various pitfalls to avoid.

Understanding Publishing Contracts- For many writers, a publishing contract causes no small amount of stress. Literary Agency John Rudolph will attempt to demystify the process by walking attendees through a typical publishing contract, explaining the various clauses, and discussing what to look for—and what to avoid.

 Sansevieri: (2-hour) Self-publishing – Is there a secret to writing a book that sells tons of copies? Yes there is! And this class will reveal the insider tips to doing just that. We’ll take you through each piece of self-publishing from deciding if your idea is marketable, to pulling together your final product. Identify the perfect/topic book to write/Write fast: how to finish a book in a month (or less)/Should you write more than one book?/Editing, do you need it and if so, how much? Copyediting vs. content editing./Book layout: it matters more than you think./Book cover: good vs. bad and everything in between./eBook cs. Paperback vs. hardback vs. audio – do you need all of these?/Crafting the perfect audio book./Back cover copy/book descriptions./Pricing your book for optimal success./Your Amazon write up.

Once we’ve covered the ins and outs of book creation, we’ll look at the new ways to market a book. Superfans, what are they and how to get your fans to sell your book for you./Creating a marketing plan that will help you sell more books./Do you really need social media to sell books?/How to quadruple the reviews you get on Amazon./Why having a free book will help you sell more./eBook promotions: do they really work?/Reviews: how many do you really need?/Understanding Amazon algorithms

 Webber: The Dreaded Query Letter – Writing a 100,000-word novel can seem easy when you’re faced with the task of having to sum it up in a 250-word query letter. In this session, you’ll learn how to choose what information from your book to put in your query, how much (or how little) of your book to describe, and what gets an agent excited to read your sample pages. This workshop is for anyone who wants to write an effective fiction query and avoid missteps in the querying process.

Everything you need to know about publishing, you can learn from reality TV – In his book On Writing, Stephen King suggests that turning off the TV is key to making progress as a writer. No offense to Mr. King, but a little time watching competitive reality TV can provide a greater understanding of the publishing industry. Just like writers, reality TV contestants have to present great products and know what it takes to succeed in their chosen market. They need to know how their industry operates and how to stand out among thousands of competitors. Come to this workshop to see what writers can learn from drag queens, models, fashion designers, and inventors.

Williams: (2-hour) Contracts Copyrights and Taxes, Oh My! (intermediate/advanced)-  What writers need to know about business. You pitched the book proposal–now the agent or publisher wants the manuscript. But what’s all this about contracts, copyright, invoices, and quarterlies? If it’s on the Internet, I can use it, right? Am I a business or a hobby? Should I incorporate? Why do I need social media, a website, and public speaking engagements when I only crave solitude and time to write? And why do I want a brand if I don’t punch cows? Successful writers have split personalities. The creative side crafts great works. The other side takes care of business. Learn how to take care of business so you can continue to write the good stuff. This is an intermediate/advanced level course for writers who have some publishing credits and are looking to prepare themselves to take their writing from being a hobby to being a business. Attendees will gain practical information about creating a writing life, selling their work and treating writing as a business. Attendees will leave with a thorough handout.

Wilson: Nine-Cube Plotting – Tired of struggling to organize your writing? Do your manuscripts seem cursed with ‘sagging middles’ or action slowdowns in unlikely places?Your manuscript is finished —— and you realize you left out resolution of a major plot point? Does the plot arc of your manuscript properly relate your story? Do your beta readers consistently tell you that your story needs more “tightening”? Is writing difficult because you aren’t sure where your manuscript needs to start? The nine-cube system will help you conceptualize the major plot arcs, collect the details, and provide a road map for structuring the action of your story. Organizing a plot becomes much simpler when you can document major story steps in one place. Each attendee will be provided with a sample Nine Cube plot chart for use during the class.

Worthen: Symbolism Theory: Connection and Reference (advanced) – A dense, wide reaching but enthusiastic presentation beginning with the foundations of language and flowing into the use of symbolism to achieve deeper meaning through shared reference in narrative structures. Guaranteed to confuse and enlighten students of all levels with deconstructionist emphasis on subconscious symbolic relationships and associative writing. We’ll study how symbols are used and suggest ways to identify and harness both acquired and created symbology to strengthen own work.

Recipe For a Faceted Book (advanced) – A class about those elements of narrative fiction that lend depth, value and resonance to writing. Every story has some, the best have many. We’ll learn how to identify which elements to include in your story. Subplots and multiple stories, arcs, settings, themes, novelties, information and more. A little foresight, a touch of research and a clear goal can nurture the muse to bring out the strength of the form.