Descriptions for each 50-minute conference workshop are listed alphabetically by instructor. Panel discussions are listed last. You can view details of the Panels being offered this year at the bottom of this page HERE.
Click HERE to goto the Schedule Page to see Where and When these classes are taking place.
Mastering Mood (Craft) Session 5: Track 1
What is mood and how does it affect your story? To answer that question, this class will examine the techniques masterful authors use to create atmospheric, engaging prose. It will explore how other story elements, such as pacing, syntax, and dialogue, can enhance mood, and what the overall effect is on the reader.
Imitation – How Studying Other Writers Can Help You Grow Your Own Style and Voice (Craft) Session 15: Track 1
Like artists of other disciplines, writers can learn much about style and form through study and imitation. We’ll start by mimicking the masters—Hemingway, Faulkner, Woolf—and progress to an individual exploration of our own writing heroes. Come prepared to write, discuss, and share. Bring a copy of your favorite novel, essay, or poem to dissect and emulate.
Let’s Talk Street Team, Book Reviewers, And More (Marketing) Session 1: Track 3, Session 15: Track 3
Every author needs a tribe of super fans, reviewers, and the knowledge of how to creatively keep their followers engaged. Not to mention having a tribe to help spread the word about new releases, author events, activities and more. This interactive workshop will discuss the power of street teams. It will also discuss the power of reviews and how to work with book reviewers. The “And More” is bonus information, tips and tools of social media, creating exclusive author/reader fan groups and activities to engage readers, with tips to getting new readers and fans.
Books, Books, And More Books…Marketing and PR 101 (Marketing) Session 9: Track 3
So you have written a book, now what. In order to get a return on your investment, you must sell the book. Marketing and PR are both important. Learn the essentials of marketing and PR from creating marketing campaigns, pre-sale campaigns, release day campaigns , author interviews, events, podcasts and more. This interactive workshop will also discuss the use of marketing virtually and a social media presence. discuss the power of street teams. It will also discuss the power of reviews and how to work with book reviewers. The “And More” is bonus information, tips and tools of social media, creating exclusive author/reader fan groups and activities to engage readers, with tips to getting new readers and fans.
Get Seen: Book marketing and promotion in 15 minutes a day (Marketing) Session 10: Track 3
Do you hate the idea of marketing and promotion? Does it feel “icky” and wrong? You are not alone. Join this session to learn techniques and tools that will allow you to grow your reader base without spending hours each day. We will focus on activities that attract readers rather than promote aggressively. It is possible to become a successful author without becoming pushy or spend thousands of dollars. Join us to learn how.
The Dreaded Numbers: Using data and research to improve your book sales (Publishing/Marketing) Session 8: Track 3
Consider this a “research and development class for authors” session. There are simple and free tools and activities that will dramatically increase your understanding of your genre. Use websites and reports to find your readers. We will go over the tools that will get you even more focused on your readers and grow your platform.
Adapting Material for TV & Film (Craft) Session 4: Track 1, Session 12: Track 2
An examination of some of the joys and challenges of adapting books, articles, documentaries, short stories and other forms for TV and film development and production. Also, marketing and legal advice on selling the rights to one’s material for adaptation, regardless of who does the adapting..
13 Things Bad Screenwriters Commonly Do (Craft) Session 10: Track 1
A humorous but nuts-and-bolts workshop on common formatting and creative errors that screenwriters often make, based on Brad’s years as an executive and head of development for film and TV director Jonathan Kaplan (THE ACCUSED, E.R.) Taken from Brad’s book What Are You Laughing At?: How to Write Funny Screenplays, Stories and More.
Writing for the YA/Teen Market (Craft/Marketing) Session 2: Track 3
This class discusses the 9 necessary elements of every successful teen project in Film, TV, and Books, and why you must include them. We’ll go through how to choose your protagonist and know your exact demographic; how to create dialogue that feels genuine; how relatable themes, stakes, and dilemmas drive story; the difference between inspirational and aspirational in teen films; and what types of teen stories are driving the marketplace today. Plus, do you HAVE to write the book first? We’ll examine teen hits, the YA Book-to-Film market, as well as two teen films I helped develop to make sure your stories are snapchat-worthy and get TikTok famous.
How to Polish Your Scripts Tight & Right (Craft/Marketing) Session 14: Track 3
As they say – Writing is Rewriting! And being able to rewrite and polish your script to a professional standard is what’s going to make it stand out. In this class, we will go through the keys to approaching rewrites and polishes – from the macro to the micro – and what to look for when tightening your script. We will go over how to make sure your script is connecting emotionally, your character arcs are strong, your scenes are tight, purposeful and begin and end at the right beats, that your script is keeping the reader’s attention, and that your dialogue and descriptions are tight and on point. We’ll even go over the nitty gritty final polish stages that most writers forget to do.
Mastering the Short Pitch for Film & TV (Publishing) Session 6: Track 2
Other than writing a great script, pitching is the second-most important skill a writer needs to master to have a career. This seminar will cover; all the do’s and don’ts of short pitches and pitching strategies; the biggest mistakes writers make and how to avoid them; the Vital 5 C’s (and an H) that MUST be included in your pitch; knowing the A to B of your story; how to structure the short pitch; using Loglines & the right Comps for your story; the One-Thirds method to Pitching TV; how to pitch Agents and Managers, and more!
DR. DE’ANDREA MATTHEWS
Hybrid Publishing: A New Path to Literary Success (Publishing) Session 7: Track 2
Hybrid publishing is a relatively new alternative to traditional and/or self-publishing options. This presentation will explore the author-subsidized alternative including publishing rights, distribution services and author compensation. In this session, participants will explore the many facets of the hybrid publishing business model with clear directives on publisher responsibilities, author responsibilities, challenges and best practices.
The Ten-Level Customer Pathway (Marketing) Session 13: Track 3
Have you ever wondered how to get those social media followers to become customers? Using the marketing rule of seven, the Ten Level Customer Pathway shows how to transition your target audience through specific steps using various promotional materials to ultimately becoming a loyal reader and/or brand evangelist.
Non-Fiction Proposal Writing (Publishing) Session 2: Track 2, Session 14: Track 2
What makes a non-fiction proposal pop? In this session, we’ll talk about ways to take a true story that you’re close to or that you care about deeply—whether your own or someone else’s–and shape it into a proposal for a book that leaves readers wanting more. Biographer, essayist, and Jane Austen critic Devoney Looser will teach you strategies for transforming non-fiction proposals from favorable fact-filled projects into fascinating stories that are better poised to catch the eye of agents, editors, and publishers.
Engaging Social Media for Emerging Authors (Marketing) Session 7: Track 3, Session 12: Track 3
So much of the hype around writers and social media focuses on follower numbers, but size isn’t the only thing that matters. In this workshop, we’ll seek ways for you to create an engaging social media presence that’s right for you—one that specifically connects and reaches out—and that doesn’t drain too much energy from your writing time. Publishers care about how far your reach extends, and they have some good reasons for it. Even so, discovering best-fit online communities for your work may be just as crucial to your career as an author. Learn how engaging beyond the quantity factor on social media will help you build a better (and more committed) audience for your writing.
Worldbuilding Foundations (Craft) Session 3: Track 1, Session 11: Track 1
Worldbuilding techniques aren’t just required in high fantasy and science fiction. All writing, including historical fiction, contemporary fiction, romance, and even memoir require the world of the work to be built for readers. This session is an overview of the foundational elements of worldbuilding for all genres.
Online Media Kits (Marketing) Session 6: Track 3
Media kits remain an essential tool for self- promotion and marketing by providing content that makes the job of promoting you easier for journalists, writers, bloggers, media producers, and anyone else who is interested in learning more about you. This class provides the recommended 21 parts of a media kit.
Editing 911: Dead giveaways that a book is self-published (Craft/Marketing) Session 3: Track 3
From fonts to margins to chapter headings, front to back cover, front to back matter, Jami Carpenter walks you through the do’s and don’ts that’ll make your book the most professional it can be.
Nightmare on Editor Street (Craft) Session 8: Track 1
You’ve heard it a million times: before submitting your manuscript to an agent or publisher, get it professionally edited. But how do you do that? Professional editor Jami Carpenter discusses types of editing; how to choose the right editor; how to work with an editor; and most important, what to expect from an editor.
It’s a Jungle Out There: How to Navigate ‘the’ Amazon (Marketing) Session 11: Track 3
Writing (and editing) your manuscript is just the beginning, especially if you want to self- publish. From creating a cover to getting an ISBN to uploading your files to the big book store in the sky, professional editor Jami Carpenter will help you cruise through the often frustrating but ultimately rewarding process of getting your book in print.
No Excuses – Start Your Book Now (Craft) Session 1: Track 1, Session 14: Track 1
This workshop is geared toward new writers who’ve dreamed of writing a novel, but can’t seem to get started. You’re not alone! We’ll explore (and solve) the Top 10 reasons writers never begin, and/or stop midway through projects. Topics include: setting expectations and goals, establishing rewards, combating frustration, and using effective devices to maintain motivation. We’ll also address where to start; you’ll commit to deciding on basic story elements before the end of class. Here’s an opportunity to walk away with an actual game plan to keep your momentum going in a positive direction.
Writing for Magazines (Publishing) Session 5: Track 2, Session 10: Track 2
Yes! It’s possible to get paid for writing. But like any new business, you need to understand the nuts and bolts to break-in, especially when submitting to magazines. This session will help identify areas you want to write about, explain the differences between articles and essays, show examples of useful forms and spreadsheets, identify potential magazines, the rules of pitching, and why freelancing can be fun. Treat writing as a professional business and editors will want more. From business cards, to contracts and invoicing… here’s a primer. Plus, you’re the boss!
LATOYA C. SMITH
The Perfect Pitch (Publishing) Session 8: Track 2
Sharing the tools needed to prepare an author to pitch an agent, both on the page and in person.
Creating Memorable Characters (Craft) Session 7: Track 1
Discusses several facets of the evolution of personality that are omnipresent in the best examples on the screen. Since, the pacing requirements of film are radically different from the opportunities in the novel, back stories, as peered into via subtext, purr alongside the engine of plot in dialogue. We will dissect several examples from particularly effective scenes. You will learn how to embed details of motivation into physical behavior, speech patterns and specific habits that echo throughout the script, contrasting the character with every other entity (character or environment) as a means of further establishing him in the world of the story. Handouts and a series of questions for writers in helping them to create unforgettable characters. Additionally, there will be a brief discussion of the importance of actor attachments. Writing Exercises from “Dating Your Character.”
Pitching — Don’t Sweat it! Or, swallow, gulp, or pass out… (Publishing) Session 3: Track 2
How to distill the essence of your story into short, sharp, easily digestible bite-size parts. Learn to strike the right balance between brevity, colorful detail and cliffhanging suspense. The pitch is not a tease or a trailer, it is a way of leading your audience through the major beats of the story, with attention paid to how the protagonist changes along the way. Marilyn will work with brave volunteers to tighten and reveal the idiosyncratic narrative thrust of your story… assuming there is one!
Flaming Good Dialogue: How to Create Unforgettable Characters Through Exchanges That Singe (Craft) Session 12: Track 1
You think you’ve got fantastic, unique, bestselling characters? You’ll have to prove that to readers, not only through your characters’ actions, but also by what they say, how and when they speak is almost as important as what words they use. In this workshop, you’ll not only learn how to sidestep the most common dialogue pitfalls, including why characters all too often wind up sounding alike, but also how to employ the five techniques that will make your characters unique and eminently believable.
The Little Red Riding Hood Dilemma: What Kind of Publisher to Aim for, Big, Medium/Small, Self (Publishing) Session 4: Track 2, Session 15: Track 2
Over 300,000 books a year are published in the United States alone. That intense competition pushes authors toward three avenues: publication through a big publisher, a medium or small publisher, or self publishing. This workshop will offer the advantages and disadvantages to each, while helping participants form a concrete path for their current project that includes resources for pursuing that route.
What Publishers Want (And Authors Need) (Publishing) Session 11: Track 2
What are American and international publishers looking for in these times? How do you get your best work in front of them?
Author Platform & Branding for Fiction Writers (Marketing) Session 5: Track 3
In this workshop, fiction writers will learn about the benefits of establishing a platform and tying it to their author brand. A platform is as vital to the fiction author as it is to the nonfiction author and while it’s not required prior to querying, or even at the querying stage for fiction writers, it can help establish a brand publishers can tie to their publicity plan.
A Decent Proposal: How to Get in Bed with a Publisher Without Losing Your Shirt (Publishing) Session 9: Track 2
In this workshop, authors will learn about how to properly navigate and negotiate publishing contracts of all kinds. Publishing contracts are used to secure rights to an author’s work prior to publication. We’ll go over: options for negotiating the contract, the role of the agent, key contract clauses to be aware of, what to do with the sale of sub-rights, options for the indie-published market.
Finding Flash: Why Every Writer Should Explore the Short Short Form (Craft) Session 2: Track 1, Session 13: Track 1
Although flash or the “short short” has evolved alongside the short story and occupies a hefty role in literary history, this is an often overlooked storytelling medium. In this class, attendees will be taught the essential elements of flash and how those can be used to further hone their skills and benefit their careers even as writers of longer literary forms such as novels. This class will combine lecture, readings, discussions, and a writing exercise.
Palm of Hand State of Mind Workshop (Craft) Session 6: Track 1
This is a generative workshop that introduces the power of brevity and “palm of hand” stories. Following a series of selected readings and discussion, attendees will complete a piece of flash (fiction or non-fiction) inspired by a prompt provided by the instructor. Those interested in sharing their work will be given the space to do so. The attendees will then have the opportunity to revise their work channeling the poetic spirit of brevity through an editing exercise. After the revision portion, attendees can share their work once more and receive feedback. All feedback during the workshop will be positive in order to encourage a free and creative atmosphere. At the workshop’s conclusion attendees will have a new piece of work and an understanding of how brevity can elevate their writing. Attendees can continue to apply the lesson and reuse both the writing prompt and editing exercise, extending the benefits of the workshop beyond its time limits.
First Page Reads (Craft) Friday Noon; Saturday Noon
When an agent or editor’s inbox is overflowing and other responsibilities are calling, how far do they read a first page before moving onto the next submission? Listen to industry experts respond to the anonymous first pages of conference attendees and find out if they stop reading, and why.
Friday Panelists: Latoya C. Smith, Sam Hiyate, Amy Collins, Marilyn Atlas
Saturday Panelists: Latoya C. Smith, Saritza Hernandez, Dr. De’Andrea Matthews, Marilyn Atlas
Submission details here.
Fix That Query! (Publishing)
A query is a very different piece of writing than a book. How do you make sure that yours is getting people to carefully consider your submission and request additional material? Join industry experts as they share their favorite tips for improving queries, and then – if you’re lucky! – hear them give feedback on your query.
To submit a query for this workshop, email a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like your query to be anonymous, please remove your name from the page. Queries should be brief (under 500 words is good, under 250 words is better). Standard formatting (double spaced, 1-inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font). If you’re new to queries, check out Query Shark, this article by Jane Friedman, or this post from the Bent Agency’s blog.
Panelists: Dr. De’Andrea Matthews, Saritza Hernandez, Sam Hiyate, Amy Collins
Diversity and Inclusion from a Publishing Perspective (Publishing)
These words are thrown around the traditional publishing world, but what do they mean? Why are they important? And how do they affect non-marginalized authors?
Panelists: Latoya C. Smith, Sam Hiyate, Saritza Hernandez, Amy Collins
Paving the Way to Diverse & Inclusive Writing (Craft)
We don’t live in a homogeneous society. Neither should our characters. Despite the demand for diverse narratives, many don’t know how to execute inclusive writing without perpetuating hurtful tropes and stereotypes. In this workshop, we will help authors navigate the unfamiliar terrain of writing outside their own identities with empathy and understanding.
Panelists: Gregory Kompes, Amanda Skenandore, Dr. De’Andrea Matthews
Has the Pandemic Changed the Reading and Marketing Landscapes? (Marketing)
The Coronavirus Pandemic has touched every person, age group, and walk of life, so how will authors, publishers, and marketers fare in a post-Covid world? Even after a vaccine exists, millions will remain displaced from jobs and their old way of life. Will this new post-COVID reality mean reading tastes and/or best practices in marketing change as well? In this panel, we’ll explore ways to potentially answer these pressing questions.
Panelists: Latoya C. Smith, Amy Collins, Angela Anderson, Dr. De’Andrea Matthews