STORYMAKERS CONFERENCE

2019 CLASS GUIDE Rev. 1/9/19

Click here for all teacher bios

Friday, May 10 

 

BREAKOUT 1         (10:00-10:50)

INTENSIVE: Plotting Dynamic Novels

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Brendan Reichs

Dive deep into pacing and story structure while learning how to outline an entire novel from start to finish using specific scene types and turning points.

INTENSIVE: Pick Up the Pen - Beginning the Writing Journey

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Becca Wilhite

So, you want to write. Now what? Dive in. Whether you know exactly what you want to start writing about or you're simply feeling that vague itch in your fingers, come learn tips, tricks, suggestions, and ideas for fearless writing. This intensive will have you writing--today--in several genres, dipping your toes into the pools of poetry, nonfiction, short story, setting, dialog, and characterization, all of which will give you tools with which to move on in the direction that feels right to you.

Proactive Characters for the Win!

Tricia Levenseller

Come learn how to strengthen your characters by making them more proactive! In this class, we’ll look at the differences between proactive and reactive characters, learn how to make characters more proactive to move the plot along, look at what proactive characters do for the pacing of your novel, and much more. There may even be movie clips involved.

Making Promises You Can Keep

Caitlin Sangster

People take things the wrong way sometimes. Like, that hug in the first chapter of your epic dragon fantasy was not supposed to make readers jump on the love triangle bandwagon with t-shirts, subreddits, and ranting Twitter threads, and maybe they won't be so happy to find out that there's no romance in your story at all.  Thing is, as an author you're making promises all the time, and unless you do it intentionally, you end up with disappointed readers, agents who vaguely respond that your work "isn't right for me", and then dragons will eat you.

Wait, I lost my train of thought. What I meant to say is this class will examine how to intentionally use voice, characters and plot structure in order to create a satisfying story.

Psychology in Fiction: Theory of Mind

Sarah Eden

Psychology’s “Theory of Mind” is used to explain the human ability to empathise, interpret the behavior of others, theorize about the thoughts, emotions and judgements of others, as well as understand our own thoughts and emotions. Understanding this theory as an author allows us to not only create characters that are cognitively authentic but also craft characters and stories that hook readers on a psychological level, keeping them coming back for more and eagerly awaiting the next installment. In this class, we will discuss Theory of Mind and how you, as a writer, can use it to take your writing to the next level and create stories and characters your readers simply can’t resist.

The Query-Go-Round

Liesl Shurtliff

NYT bestselling and award-winning middle-grade author Liesl Shurtliff will arm you with resources, tips, and real query examples, how to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls, and what you can do to make your query package rise to the top of the pile with agents and editors. It’s never easy, there are no guarantees, but with the right tools and advice you can make it far less difficult and increase your chances of success tenfold.

Don’t Say What You Feel: A Better Approach to Writing Emotion

                              Eric Taylor              

                                                                     

Telling readers about emotion leaves readers feeling flat. So does using using stock emotional images—hot tears welling up, clenched teeth and stomachs. Instead of making readers cognitively aware of emotion, we want to make them feel the emotion themselves and associate what they’re feeling with our characters. To do this, we use particular kinds of evocative metaphor, images and details with emotional resonance, objects we’ve purposefully endowed with emotion in earlier scenes, objects and setting that mirror character emotion. These all evoke emotion in readers and cause them to bond and empathize with your characters and story, and come away feeling moved.

Writing Nonfiction Book Proposals

         Eric Smith

Agent Eric Smith will walk you through the essential elements of writing powerful nonfiction book proposals that will hook agents and editors.

DIY Cover Design

Johan Twiss

So you want to make your own book cover. Maybe your budget is too tight to hire a cover artist or the idea of making your own cover excites you.

In this class, we'll discuss the basics of cover design, what to avoid, what sells, where to find stock images that don't break the bank, and websites you can use to design your own covers.

Self-Edit Like a Pro

Jolene Perry

Every author has a team of readers and editors behind their work, but the best way to make sure that an author’s  story stays true to the original vision, is to put some solid self-editing tools to use. We’ll work through a few ideas every writer can use as they’re drafting, once that draft is done, and what on earth to do with reader and editor feedback. We’ll go over lists of questions writers can ask themselves and their characters, as well as ways to both flesh out scenes or cut back word count. We may need a village to finish off a book, but we can do a lot of polishing alone.

BREAKOUT 2         (11:00-11:50)

INTENSIVE: Plotting Dynamic Novels (Continued from Breakout 1)

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Brendan Reichs

 

INTENSIVE: Pick Up the Pen - Beginning the Writing Journey (Continued from Breakout 1)

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Becca Wilhite

Contemporary Worldbuilding

Kasie West

Building a complex, realistic, and compelling world for your story to exist in isn’t just for fantasy writers. In this class, we’ll discuss how to build an interesting story in a familiar world. Along with ways to use setting, rules, and common knowledge to your benefit.

Winning at Beginnings

Erin Summerhill

Hitting your beginning just right sets your story up for a spectacular home run. But where to begin...literally? In this class, you’ll learn six necessities for a solid beginning, along with other blockbuster combinations of writing elements. Together, we’ll knock your first chapters out of the park!

Dun-dun-dunnnn! How to Build Tension & Use Cliffhangers

To Write Page-turning Fiction

Emily Bleeker

             

We've all read them--those books we just can't put down even when the dishes pile up and a kid is on fire. What makes a book unputdownable and how can you infuse your writing with these qualities? Bring your MS, your ideas and an open mind and find out how to keep the tension high, the pages turning and your readers glued to their seats (at least until the firefighters arrive).

The Bones of Your Story

Stephanie Black

Ever seen a jellyfish on the beach? You don't want your story to look like that. How do you build the beneath-the-surface skeleton that allows your story to stride forward instead of lying in a squishy puddle on the sand? In this class, we'll discuss such story bones as beginnings, endings, the structure of scenes, and how to troubleshoot when your story starts jellyfishing. Bring your favorite writing device (pen and paper, computer, feather quill and the back of an envelope, stylus and clay tablet, or whatever works for you) and get ready for some hands-on learning.

Ecology of the Imaginal

Matt Kirby

Where do ideas come from? No, seriously....where do they come from? It is likely the the question most frequently asked of writers. Where do you get your ideas? The answers we offer are often vague and unsatisfying, both to us and the person asking the question, because the truth is that many of us simply do not know, and we're afraid if we look too closely, we'll break something. This presentation will put that question under a microscope.     

Be Still My (Always) Racing Heart: Common Mistakes in

Romance and How to Avoid Them

Jenny Proctor

Join veteran romance author and freelance editor Jenny Proctor as she discusses the most common mistakes she sees from her romance clients. What are they, how can you spot them, and better yet, how can you root them out of your own writing? Leave this class inspired to embrace Romance for all it has to offer, while simultaneously raising the bar within the genre by writing richer plots, craftier conflicts and deeper characters.

Marketing with Zero Budget

Heather Moore

Looking for tried & true marketing strategies that won't break the bank? USA Today bestselling author Heather B. Moore will walk you through pre-release, release, and post-release strategies that you can use without spending a dime (or a dollar).

GUILD ONLY: Shark Tank - Create a Writing Business

Kenneth Cassell

Writing is a business. This workshop will give you to the tools to look at your writing career as if you were going to pitch it to a panel of sharks. Be honest with yourself to set realistic goals, inventory your strengths and weakness, apply them to your intended niche, and then go for it!

LUNCH 12:00 - 1:50pm

Keynote Address: Jason Wright

BREAKOUT 3        (2:00-2:50)

INTENSIVE: Worldbuilding 505 - Stop Living in Your Head & Start Writing the First Chapter

 (This intensive requires pre-registration)

Jeff Wheeler

So exactly how much worldbuilding do you need to have figured out before you start writing the first chapter? How do you develop your world into settings that become characters in the story? Whether your book is set on Earth or something more like Middle Earth, we’ll have a lot of fun diving into all the deliciously difficult ingredients of a fantasy world (the magic, politics, culture, geography, economics, religion) and then figuring out how much to reveal, when to reveal what, and how to exploit the tension opportunities each one brings to the table.

Writing Outside the Box: Fantasy Edition

Charlie Holmberg

Weary of reading the same tropes in every book you pick up, including your own? Are you stuck in a loop of recycled ideas? Come learn how to add a unique punch to your manuscript. We’ll discuss the tried and true, the done and dead, and how to break the box of humdrum, clichéd storytelling.

Fear the One Who is Right

Sara Larson

No one is all good or all bad. Writing complex, believable heroes AND villains requires you to know all sides of your characters. To make your villains truly terrifying, you--and your readers--need to know why those characters believe what they're doing is not only justified--but RIGHT. And conversely, your heroes need to have a little bit of darkness in them to be realistic, too. Come to this class to delve deeper into your characters so you can bring that depth into your stories--but only if you dare.

Writing Neverland: Creating a Picture Book Manuscript

Inspired by the You Who Never Grew Up

Jessie Oliveros

Learn to channel the younger you as you create a picture book manuscript editors want. The best picture books can be inspired not only by the children in our lives, but the child inside each one of us. In this class you'll learn to translate that inspiration through the story arc, dialogue, character development, and emotional core of a picture book. We'll talk language, pacing, and rhythm; learn the common pitfalls of this genre; and end with examples of picture books that check all the boxes.

Put on Your PANTS: Outlining Tips for Pantsers;

Polishing Tips for Plotters

Lisa Mangum

So you’ve written a book. Now what? Well, if you “pantsed” your way through the manuscript, you’re going to need to put a structured backbone into that story and revise all the stuff that doesn’t work. If you worked off an outline, you’re going to need to polish the story and make sure it doesn’t sound like you were checking items off a grocery list. In other words, it’s time to put on your Writing Pants and get down to the necessary work of structure and revision. We’ll cover the five essential elements of story—Protagonist, Antagonist, Needs, Theme, and Structure—and include some practical tips to make sure your story is perfectly tailored for presentation.

Live Edit                                          

Editor Stacy Whitman

Come watch an editor at work as she works through the first pages of submitted work, demonstrating the way an editor’s brain works and watch she watches for in terms of grammar, voice, and style.

Using Maladaptive Coping Mechanisms to Write Resonant Characters

Melanie Jacobson

Using what appears at first to be the science-lite of sociologist Brene Brown's groundbreaking work on vulnerability and human connection, we'll examine how the primary coping mechanisms humans use become maladaptive strategies that create rich, interesting problems, and deeply satisfying emotional payoffs for the reader when we leverage them properly as writers.

 

Not Your Pinterest Board’s Bullet Journal

Annette Lyon

If the idea of a Bullet Journal is intimidating—especially if you’re afraid you’ll do it wrong—this workshop will unleash new freedom for your brain and open the door to increased productivity. You’ll find no washi tape, stickers, or pretty stamps in this class. This isn’t about following a nifty trend, but about learning how to take the general concept of a BuJo, then harness that power in the ways YOU think as a unique individual. (And okay, fine, if you really love washi tape, you’re allowed to come too.)

Audiobook Extravaganza

Heather Justesen

Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment in the publishing industry right now, but figuring out the ins and outs can be overwhelming. This class will discuss options for both finding a narrator or production company as well as discuss options and equipment for recording an audiobook yourself. We will also discuss places to sell your audiobooks online and the ins and outs of loading the books for sale.

Six Weapons for Crushing Your Productivity Enemies

Jared Garrett

You'll leave this class both inspired and armed with six tried and true productivity boosters that will overcome pretty much any obstacle. No chemical enhancements will be used in this class. Inspired is good. Armed with the right weapons is better.

BREAKOUT 4        (3:00-3:50)

INTENSIVE: Worldbuilding 505 (Continued from Breakout 3)

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Jeff Wheeler

The Magical Muse

Jennifer Nielsen

Some writers struggle to find inspiration for stories. Others feel limited creatively, or as if their plots have become predictable or slow. This class will teach techniques to ignite the writer’s muse and demonstrate how to weave these ideas into compelling plots.

Writing a Synopsis

Josi Kilpack

Sometimes it can seem as though a synopsis is for everyone else, not you. However, the process of distilling your work to a two page description can be a powerful tool toward helping you identify strengths and weaknesses in your story, see where the best starting place for your story might be, and learn your "elevator pitch." This class breaks down the process of synopsis writing into manageable pieces in hopes of taking the difficulty out of what is most authors' least favorite part of the writing/publishing process.

Molding the Glass Menagerie

Amanda Hill

If you've written a powerful story but still feel like it needs something to take it from really good to amazing, maybe you should try adding a symbol. Literary symbols leave an indelible mark in the reader’s mind and add meaning and depth. In this class, we'll learn about different kinds of literary symbols, how to choose a symbol and give it meaning, and how to use it for maximum emotional and storytelling effect.

PANEL: Simulating the Slush Pile

Special Guests

Watch a live panel of agents and editors as they read the first pages of anonymous submissions and explain why they would continue reading or set it aside.

How to Make Your Voice More Distinctive

Mette Harrison

People talk about how important voice is, but it feels like it's subjective and hard to quantify. This class is about identifying what voice is and then using it better to make your storytelling unique and edgy.

Aristotle’s Poetics

Robison Wells

Aristotle's Poetics is the very first recorded teaching ever on the subject of writing. In this class we'll look at the classical plot (mythos), character (ethos), and thought, language, melody, and spectacle. Aristotle has influenced heavily the way screenwriters and authors tell stories, proving that some rules of writing are timeless.

Writing for Church Magazines

Margot Hovley

This class will teach you tips and skills for submitting articles to church magazines--and how to get them noticed and accepted despite heavy competition.

Demystifying FB Ads

                                                                  Amy Meyer

Completely overwhelmed by Facebook Ads? Come find out the ins and out to give you the confidence to use this platform to your advantage!

So You Want to Set a Book in Britain . . .

Sian Bessey

Rich history, fascinating legends, beautiful scenery, and iconic landmarks make England, Scotland, and Wales favorite settings for writers of virtually every genre. But how do you transport your readers to a murder in London’s Hyde Park or a romance on the Yorkshire Moors? It’s all about the details—from the way the locals speak, to the indigenous flora and fauna, to unique British customs. In this class, Sian Bessey, who was born in England and grew up in Wales, will share her insights and practical advice on how you can depict Britain like a native.

SNACK BREAK

BREAKOUT 5        (4:10-5:00)

INTENSIVE: Macro & Micro - The Economics of Revisions

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Julie Berry

How do you transform a manuscript into a tightly-constructed novel? In this two hour intensive session, ALA Printz and Odyssey Honor author Julie Berry, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the L.A. Times Book Prize, and recipient of three Whitney Awards, will guide participants past subjectivity to see their manuscripts from macro and micro vantage points, and will present a detailed toolkit for finding what’s working and fixing what isn’t – cutting out redundancy, indulgence, fluff; eliminating any confusion; strengthening the prose and the arc; amplifying character, problem, desire, and place; and strategically wielding each story component; book, section, chapter, scene, paragraph, sentence, and line – to work for your story.

Participants are invited to submit the first page of their manuscript (no names please), double-spaced. Julie will select excerpts from these pages in her presentation to use as illustrative examples, and will provide critiques of the chosen excerpts in the presentation, and teach critique principles that will help participants evaluate their own and others’ work more helpfully. (Don’t be scared. Nobody gets hurt.)

Scene and Sequel

David Gill

TBA

Ten Techniques to Turn Your “Telling” into “Showing”

Bethany Simonsen

"Show, don't tell" is one of the most common pieces of advice writers hear. But why is it so important? And what does it even mean? This class will teach you how showing creates emotional resonance and tension, which engage your reader, along with ten solid, easy to understand strategies on how to transform telling into showing.

Romance Heroes & Heroines

Lindzee Armstrong

Learn how to create romantic heroes and heroines that readers can't help but fall in love with! This class will give you a step-by-step recipe for success. We'll discuss key character ingredients, such as: how to make your characters flawed but loveable; how to use their strengths to draw them together and their weaknesses to create conflict; quirks that help bring your characters to life; how to create a compelling backstory for your character; and how much backstory to include. We'll also discuss creating interesting secondary characters that won’t overtake your current story. Leave the class with Lindzee's custom character sheets!

Planning a Multi-Book Fantasy Series

J. Scott Savage

Whether you are writing a duology, trilogy, something longer, or the classic stand-alone with series potential, a multi-book fantasy series takes much more planning than a standalone. From adding characters as you go to building a world with room to grow, and planning the full reveal to growing your villains, this class will examine the things you need to consider to craft a multi-book fantasy series for Middle Grade, Young Adult, or Adult readers.

Writing for a Vast Audience

David Farland

Some books attract a huge audience while others have virtually none at all. Years ago, Scholastic

publishers asked Dave to help them choose a book to push big, and Dave chose HARRY POTTER and then helped design a marketing campaign that made it the bestselling book in the world. So come find out why Dave knew it would be a hit--and how you can write books to a larger audience.

Helping Stories Take Place

Rosalyn Eves

As writers and readers, we're highly conscious of the ways that stories unfold in time--but we're often less attentive to the ways that stories unfold in space. Material places and discursive spaces matter to the stories we tell because the shape and history of a location not only influence the identities of the people within those landscapes, but they constrain the behaviors and relationships possible in those spaces in interesting and dynamic ways. Drawing in part on my PhD research into theories of space, this workshop will take a deep dive into setting, by examining not only the physical characteristics of a given landscape, but also the cultural discourses surrounding places and the resulting network of relationships that unfold in a particular space. We'll talk about how these elements of setting create potential for conflict and story theme, and, time permitting, we'll apply this new understanding of setting by brainstorming an expanded setting for a couple of attendees’ works-in-progress.

There’s an App for That: How to Make Money with Storytelling Apps

Crystal Liechty

Many people think Storytelling Apps like Choices and Chapters are the future of books. Even sites like Webtoons and Wattpad have made their presence known. In this class, we'll discuss the current trend in storytelling apps and how writers are making money with them. Tips will include how to find jobs writing for storytelling apps, how to sell your fiction to such companies and how to use them to build an audience.

Building an Online Platform

Kelsey Thompson

This presentation will tackle the basics of marketing, branding, and self-promotion for authors, including best practices for social media, creating and maintaining your content calendar, establishing a brand identity, reaching your intended audience and more.

Screenwriting

Melissa Leilani Larson

TBA

BREAKOUT 6        (5:10-6:00)

INTENSIVE: Macro & Micro - The Economics of Revisions (Continued from Breakout 5)

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Julie Berry

Plotting the Quiet Novel

Cindy Baldwin

Whether you're a plotter who outlines before you write or a pantser who strengthens as you revise, studying plot structure is one of the best things an aspiring author can do—and there's no shortage of talented writers teaching wonderful methods for creating your novel's plot. Most plot structures, though, are aimed at plot-driven stories where action, suspense, or romance take center stage. But what if your book is the kind best described as "quiet" or "character-driven"? What if the crucial action takes place inside your protagonist's head? How can you make conventional plot structures work if your book is less "hero's journey" and more "coming of age"? In this class, we'll explore ways to adapt popular plot structures such as Dan Wells' Seven-Part Story for quiet, character-driven books. 

Poetry: The Great Teacher of Novel Writing

Jef Huntsman

Learn how to use poetic principles to increase the flow of your novel. This course teaches the importance of word use and rhythm in any genre. Find the similarities of poetry and general writing and discover how poetry can steer writers block using the creative parts of your brain.

Fanfiction, Text-based RPGs, and Refilling the Well

Ashley Crosby

Writing in someone else’s world doesn’t carry the stigma it once did, but it is often overlooked as a source of rejuvenation and inspiration when the internal well runs dry. Fan-based writing covers more than simply fanfiction; it expands into fic exchanges, Tumblr shipping, and panfandom RPGs. This course will examine the online fan community, its many (and mostly troll-free) creative outlets, and the potential benefits to your personal craft.

Revise and Resubmit Requests

Agent Thao Le

TBA

Writing Through the Lens of Seven Habits of

Highly Successful People

Christina Enquist

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, developed by Stephen Covey, is a masterplan for living life. This class will take the 7 habits and apply it to your writing life. Come learn how to be the most effective writer you can be.

Power Worldbuilding, Worldbuilding Power

Luke Peterson

Michel Foucault would tell us that every story is the story of power. Power is not just top-down structure, it’s a tangled network that defines not only how Congress, Westeros, and the Fellowship of the Ring, but also our day-to-day relationships. This course will provide a firm foundation for understanding the science and dynamics of power so that you can write compelling worlds, build dynamic character relationships, and construct compelling narratives that will keep the reader turning pages even when you’re talking about office politics or trade agreements.To do this we will dissect the great theorists of power and strategy from Machiavelli to Foucault, and then apply these lessons through case-studies in literature and in real life such as the Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Joan of Arc.

Website Design 101

M.A. Nichols

An author’s website is an integral part of a marketing platform, but tackling the programming, graphic design, and content creation can be a daunting task. Most authors tend to throw up a useless site that only leeches money from their bank account, or they pay exorbitant fees to have professionals do it for them, but with a little help, there’s no reason that authors can’t put together a useful website on their own. This class will cover some of the basic nuts and bolts of how to program a website, how to make it visually appealing, and what to include on it to help build an author’s fan base.

Using Internal Thought

Janette Rallison

Internal thought can make or break your book. It's vital for characterization, showing what's at stake for your character, and that all important voice that agents and editors are always saying they want. Come learn the ins and outs of internal voice and how to use it the right way.

GUILD ONLY: Ads for Authors

Rebecca Rode

You’ve published a book and the initial release marketing is over. Now what? You’ve heard about the ad platforms—Facebook, AMS, and BookBub—but you don’t know where to start. Learn how to begin, their strengths and weaknesses, the best time to use each, and how to maximize your ROI. We’ll also discuss insider tips on what’s happening in the marketplace and how to advertise with a very limited budget.

WHITNEY GALA  7:30

Saturday, May 11

MORNING INSPIRATION  8:30 - 8:50

Writing Toward Our Measure

Josi Kilpack

TBA

Failure Isn’t the Opposite of Success - It’s Part of Success

J. Scott Savage

TBA

I Have Nothing but a Book: Writers in Defense of Writing

Sarah Eden

TBA

BREAKOUT 7        (9:40-10:30)

INTENSIVE: Macro & Micro - The Economics of Revisions

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Julie Berry

How do you transform a manuscript into a tightly-constructed novel? In this two hour intensive session, ALA Printz and Odyssey Honor author Julie Berry, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the L.A. Times Book Prize, and recipient of three Whitney Awards, will guide participants past subjectivity to see their manuscripts from macro and micro vantage points, and will present a detailed toolkit for finding what’s working and fixing what isn’t – cutting out redundancy, indulgence, fluff; eliminating any confusion; strengthening the prose and the arc; amplifying character, problem, desire, and place; and strategically wielding each story component; book, section, chapter, scene, paragraph, sentence, and line – to work for your story.

Participants are invited to submit the first page of their manuscript (no names please), double-spaced. Julie will select excerpts from these pages in her presentation to use as illustrative examples, and will provide critiques of the chosen excerpts in the presentation, and teach critique principles that will help participants evaluate their own and others’ work more helpfully. (Don’t be scared. Nobody gets hurt.)

INTENSIVE: Pick up the Pen - Beginning the Writing Journey

Becca Wilhite

So, you want to write. Now what? Dive in. Whether you know exactly what you want to start writing about or you're simply feeling that vague itch in your fingers, come learn tips, tricks, suggestions, and ideas for fearless writing. This intensive will have you writing--today--in several genres, dipping your toes into the pools of poetry, nonfiction, short story, setting, dialog, and characterization, all of which will give you tools with which to move on in the direction that feels right to you.

Poetic, Not Purple!

Cindy Baldwin

There are two elements that nearly all successful, award-winning books have: Strong plots and beautiful writing. There are dozens of plotting classes to help you with the former, but what if you struggle more with the latter? In this class, we'll break down what elevates prose from everyday to amazing, covering techniques to build stronger sentences and create the kind of immersive, lyrical wordsmithing that draws readers in deep and doesn't let them go—WITHOUT drifting into the realm of "purple prose."

Smooching 101: Kissing Like You Mean It

Charlie Holmberg

Kissing. We all like it. Most of us like reading about it, too. But when it comes time for lip-locking in our own stories, many of us flail in awkwardness or, sometimes, inexperience. Never fear! This class will not only teach your characters how to kiss, but show you, the writer, how to give kissing the extra oomph it needs to make your readers swoon. We’ll build up to the kiss, make it momentous, and then deal with the awkwardness that so often follows.

First Chapter Intensive

Michelle Millet

First chapters are crucial. Agents receive hundreds of manuscripts every day and you only have a few pages to make yours stand out. Learn how to keep agents and editors reading and your novel out of the slush pile using these simple self-editing tricks. This session will break down the dos and don’ts of a successful first chapter and provide clear instruction on how to catch a reader’s attention.

Using Tension & Pacing to Create a Book

the Reader Can’t Put Down

J.R. Johansson

All writers worry about plot and character development when crafting their stories, but few put the same amount of attention into tension and pacing. Without these skills a story can sputter to a stop without that amazing ending anywhere in sight. This class will discuss how to take those tools out of your back-pocket and make them work for you.

AUTHOR CHAT: Carla Kelly

 

Listen and learn in a casual setting as Carla Kelly discusses her career and issues advice about writing and publishing. A veteran of the New York and international publishing world, Carla is best known for her regency and historical romances. She’s earned two Rita Awards, two Spur Awards, and three Whitney Awards. She’s also received a Career Achievement Award from the Romantic Times.

Why Your Brain Doesn’t Want to Write and How to to Outsmart Your Funk

Nichole Brouwer

You have a story you're dying to tell. You've studied the craft. You've set your goals. So why is it so hard to "get your butt in the chair and write"? You're not lazy, unmotivated, or unready. You're human, with a brain biologically wired to create mental resistance and prevent you from achieving your dreams of publication. It's true. Your brain doesn't want you to write. Come to class and learn why your brain is trying to sabotage your efforts and a few basic concepts of psychology to help you shut down distractions, overcome anxiety, make procrastination a thing of the past, and outsmart any funk.

Math for Authors

Kimberly Loth

Learn how one author went from selling less than ten books a day to over a hundred simply by using math and Excel. Taught by a former high school math and statistics teacher, Kim will teach you how to analyze your sales numbers and create spreadsheets to track patterns. If you advertise your books at all, you must be able to keep track of the numbers. You will learn how to easily calculate and use your ROI, read through rates, conversion rates, average CPC, and more to take your advertising to the next level.

GUILD ONLY: Getting More from Goodreads

A.L. Sowards

Over 75 million readers are on Goodreads. But how do you interact with them and get them to notice your book? In this class, we’ll go over some good ideas and some bad ideas for writers who want to use this site more effectively. We’ll cover reviews, groups, Q&A, giveaways, and more, so that you can set a plan and have fun with this social media site filled with bibliophiles.

BREAKOUT 8        (10:40-11:30)

INTENSIVE: Macro & Micro - The Economics of Revisions (Continued from Breakout 7)

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Julie Berry

INTENSIVE: Pick Up the Pen - Beginning the Writing Journey (Continued from Breakout 7)

Becca Wilhite

   

How to Write a Killer Fight Scene

Jo Schaffer

Fight scenes can create tension and excitement in your story or get super awkward and fizzle out. Learn tips about pacing, combat and physiology that will make the action believable and visceral. Whether your characters are badass or struggling to survive, this class will help your fight scenes kick butt!

Emotional Beats

David Farland

Your reader comes to your story hoping to experience powerful emotions, and their tastes depend in

large part on their gender and age. Come learn how to satisfy everyone from pre-readers, to teens, to the nearly dead.

10-Step Novel Structure

Mette Harrison


Outlining can make the writing process easier and slightly less messy. I’ll show you how to move step by step from a first chapter that introduces your world and character to a satisfying climax and denouement, and how to adapt those steps for each subplot in your book. Also some thoughts on avoiding pitfalls and cliches.

Location, Location, Location: Crafting Place-based Fiction

Lehua Parker

John Dufresne wrote, “Place connects characters to a collective and personal past, and so place is the emotional center of the story...Place is location with narrative, with memory and imagination, with history. We transform a location into a place by telling its stories.” More than just a vehicle to immerse readers in richly detailed settings, place can be the very foundation for the story to exist. Characters’ identities, arcs, pressure points, history, culture, opportunities, and more are driven by the place. In this presentation, we’ll discuss how to effectively use place to heighten tension, create sub-text, define character traits, carry themes, and propel the plot.

AUTHOR CHAT: Brendan Reichs & Ally Condie

Listen and learn in a casual setting as Brendan Reichs and Ally Condie discuss their careers and issue advice about writing and publishing. Brendan and Ally released a co-written middle grade novel, The Darkdeep, in October 2018. They have both enjoyed successful careers. Brendan abandoned a legal career to co-publish the Virals series with Kathy Reichs. His solo YA novel, Project Nemesis, was an instant New York Times bestseller and received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. Ally is the author of the #1 New York Times and international bestselling Matched trilogy, the first of which was chosen as YALSA’s 2011 Teens’ Top Ten and named a Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Book of 2010.

Get Paid to be a Writer Now by Writing for the Web!

Julie Wright

Writing isn't all about 400 page novels. Use your creativity writing short (500-1000 word) articles on a variety of topics and get paid to do it! This class will tell you what editors are looking for, what you need to know to get started, where to find work, and how to stay marketable in a space where the world is your audience!

How to Create and Manage a Review Team

Lindzee Armstrong

We know that reviews are important, but how do we get them? In this class you’ll receive step-by-step instructions on how to create a review team, manage the members, and utilize your team for both new releases and your backlist! Find your true fans and turn them into readers who can’t wait to post a review on release day. Lindzee Armstrong has built a review team that's more than six hundred members strong and regularly launches with one hundred positive reviews in the first month. She’ll teach you how to do the same, no matter your genre or career path!

Eight Rookie Mistakes

Agent Patricia Nelson

TBA

BREAKOUT 9       (11:40-12:30)

INTENSIVE: Worldbuilding 505

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Jeff Wheeler

 

So exactly how much worldbuilding do you need to have figured out before you start writing the first chapter? How do you develop your world into settings that become characters in the story? Whether your book is set on Earth or something more like Middle Earth, we’ll have a lot of fun diving into all the deliciously difficult ingredients of a fantasy world (the magic, politics, culture, geography, economics, religion) and then figuring out how much to reveal, when to reveal what, and how to exploit the tension opportunities each one brings to the table.

INTENSIVE: Reader Relationships: It’s Not All About that Book

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Jason Wright

Every year, Jason speaks to thousands of K-12 students across the country in large group assemblies, classroom visits and writing workshops. He visits public, private and religious schools and often schedules time for parents, staff and faculty events. He will discuss how authors can move beyond their books to connect with their readers in meaningful ways off the page.

Hurt So Good

David Gill

We have all heard the adage “we always hurt the ones we love,” but as writers, is that true of us? We create our characters whole out of cloth. We breathe life into them, we live with them, and we learn to love them. We root for them to be successful and to be safe. But in wanting to keep our characters safe, are we doing them and our readers a disservice? The most memorable characters overcome great odds in the face of growing hardship, but if we are too nice, how will they ever change? How will our readers form a lifelong bond with them? We will explore this idea and look at example texts to convince ourselves that when we’re dealing with characters, it really is kind to be cruel.

Slow Burn Romance

Kasie West

There’s so much more to a kiss than the kiss. We’ll discuss how to craft a story that will have your readers begging for the HEA. We’ll discuss elements such as conflict, characters, history, tension, emotion and how to use them to build a perfect romance. And then, of course, we’ll talk about crafting the perfect kiss.

Walk & Talk: Dialogue Lessons from Sorkin

Robison Wells

Aaron Sorkin has been called one of the best screenwriters in history, and it's not by chance. It's not just a matter of putting smart people in a hallway and walking quickly: there's a science to the way he puts together a scene.

Surviving Sharknado 2: Writing a Sequel

Lisa Mangum

Writing your first book is pure bliss. Book TWO, on the other hand… It’s kind of like being caught in a Sharknado, right? You’ve got a contract, a deadline, and NO IDEA what to do next. This class will focus specifically on how to write a sequel in a series. We’ll talk about how to weave plot threads from the first book and prepare them for the last book, how to build new character arcs and deepen motivation and goals, and how to ensure the structure of the whole series is sound. (Disclaimer: No sharks were harmed in the creation of this presentation.)

AUTHOR CHAT: Julie Berry

Listen and learn in a casual setting as Julie Berry discusses her career and issues advice about writing and publishing. Julie received an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her first YA novel, All the Truth That’s In Me, was named a 2013 Horn Book Fanfare title, a School Library Journal Best of 2013 book, a Kirkus Best Teen Read for 2013, and a Junior Library Guild Selection. It also received a nomination for a Carnegie Medal and a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults award. The Passion of Dolssa earned a 2017 Printz Honor from the American Library Association, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten award, and a New York Times Notable title. Her middle grade fiction has won an Odyssey Honor from the American Library Association and appeared on the Wall Street Journal’s Best Children’s Books of 2014 and the Dorothy Canfield Fisher lists.

Agent Class

Special Guest

TBA

Traditional Publishing vs Indie Publishing: Which Route

is Best For You?

Janette Rallison

Authors have so many choices now when it comes to publishing. Is it better to try and go the traditional route or is it better to take things into your own hands and self publish your novel? Janette will discuss  the pros and cons of both options.  She’ll cover contracts pitfalls from traditional publishers and the big mistakes you don’t want to make if you’re going indie, and much more.

Is the Newsletter Dead?

Kelly Parkinson

NO! But with GDPA and ever increasing spam filters they have to be done right! Come and learn the ins and outs of creating great newsletters that will help you find--and keep--organic subscribers, grow your readership, your author network, and increase your sales!

LUNCH

First Chapter Contest Winners

BREAKOUT 10        (2:00-2:50)

INTENSIVE: Worldbuilding 505 (Continued from Breakout 9)

(This Intensive requires pre-registration)

Jeff Wheeler

INTENSIVE: Reader Relationships: It’s Not All About that Book (Continued from Breakout 9)

(This Intensive requires pre-registration)

Jason Wright

Crafting Powerful and Engaging Nonfiction

Dustin Hansen

Writing with a strong voice in nonfiction is a must. It establishes trust, expresses your personal point of view, builds reader empathy, but mostly, it helps readers get to know the real you. Wait? The real you? That's terrifying! In this interactive presentation, we’ll look at the power of sharing your YOU on the page, and in person, and how this will draw readers to you like a moth to a lightsaber. (Flames are so 1800s). If you’re not courageous enough to walk through the door, you’re not ready to start writing nonfiction. There. I said it. You’ve been warned.

Unleash Your Inner Twelve-Year-Old: Keys to Writing

Middle Grade Voice

P.J. Switzer

Young readers are an amazing audience, but they're not an easy audience. They can spot insincerity, condescension, and poor storytelling better than any jaded literary critic. The key to connecting with middle grade reader is voice. In this class we'll work on exercises to improve our 10-13 year old voice by studying books that nail it, listening to actual 10-13 year olds, and exploring our own childhood experiences.

Must-Have Moments in Your Novel

Jennifer Nielsen

Regardless of genre, what moments make a novel come together like magic? This isn’t about story arc, but rather, a discussion of key scenes or highlights that all novels need.

Writing Suspense: From Crime Scenes to Spy Scenes

Traci Abramson

From yesterday's heartbreak to tomorrow's headlines, former CIA employee and best-selling author Traci Hunter Abramson shares her insider views on how to use the world around you to create gripping mysteries and thrillers. Come explore the resources that will lend authenticity to your work, discover how to hook your readers from the first page, and write vivid scenes that will leave your readers turning pages well into the night.

AUTHOR CHAT: Emily Bleeker

Listen and learn in a casual setting as Emily Bleeker discusses her career and issues advice about writing and publishing. Emily is the bestselling author of four novels including Wreckage, When I’m Gone, Working Fire and The Waiting Room. She is a two-time Whitney Award finalist, a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and was recently listed as one of the top 100 Kindle authors “of all time.”

It Came From the Slush Pile!

Dennis Gaunt

The Slush Pile can be a frightening place for both writers and readers, but it doesn't have to be a scary experience. Come learn from an eighteen-year veteran of the Slush Pile on what works, what doesn't work, and how to avoid making the most common mistakes that may get you rejected. Come learn how to make your story stand out for all the right reasons. This class will feature a live demonstration of the Slush Pile process.

How to Start an Indie Publishing Company

Christina Enquist

Learn all the steps to create your own publishing company for your book, including EIN, PCIP, business license, copyright, font and graphic licenses, adopting a logo, and much more. You will walk away with a checklist to use when establishing your company.

What is a Trope? For Romance Authors

Anne Meyer

Come learn how to utilize tropes in all aspects of your book. From cover, to title, to plot, tropes are the building blocks of any romance.

BREAKOUT 11        (3:00-3:50)

INTENSIVE: Plotting Dynamic Novels  

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Brendan Reichs

Dive deep into pacing and story structure while learning how to outline an entire novel from start to finish using specific scene types and turning points.

Girl Power! How to Write It and Why You Should

 

Brittany Larsen

The push for more gender equitable representation in literature has been going on for decades, but the #metoo movement has taken that push to a whole new level. Publishers want books with strong female characters, and they're not afraid to pass on great stories that lack great female characters. Do the women in your story have what it takes to make it out of the slush pile? Will your manuscript pass the Bechdel-Wallace test? Or, better yet, the Mako Mori test? In this class we'll talk about why those tests are used, what they lack, and examples of books and films that do pass the tests. Most importantly, we'll discuss how to write dynamic women and girls with their own character arcs, whether they're primary or secondary characters.

Works for Hire

Natalie Whipple

Contract work, or writing novels commissioned by a publisher, isn’t considered the most glamorous work out there. But it does pay the bills. And it can be a great path to working regularly as an author. It can even be a lot of fun if you find the right project. This class will go over the different types of contract work, some of the ways you can potentially land those jobs, what to expect from the work, and what work for hire can teach you about publishing.

Seriously Funny

Liesl Shurtliff

Is it serious? Is it funny? Why can't it be both? Laughter and tears are kissing cousins, after all. NYTimes bestselling author Liesl Shurtliff will show how to blend humor with emotional depth in action, dialogue, and narration to create resonant, engaging stories that will make people laugh and cry.  

Genetics 101 for Writers

Kara Reynolds

Hereditary and genetic conditions affect people in all walks of life—and that goes for imaginary people, too! Books featuring characters with genetic conditions bring necessary diversity to fiction, and do a better job of reflecting the world we live in. This class will give you an overview of different types of genetic conditions, from those that are detected prenatally to hereditary cancer syndromes. We’ll discuss ways different types of genetic conditions could be used to further plot and introduce conflict. The class will also provide resources that can be used if you decide to feature a genetic condition in your work. We’ll also touch on using sensitivity readers to be sure we’re representing people with genetic conditions accurately and fairly. Instructor Kara Reynolds holds a Master’s of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of Utah.

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Chelsea Hale

Those famous words describe most writer's emotions on a daily basis. You write because you love it but navigating the emotions that can flood the scene even before your fingers start typing can feel treacherous. Sound familiar? (If it doesn't it probably will soon!). Pressures. Internal and external pressure of producing creativity on a deadline. Success. Rejection. Positive Reviews. Failure. Killing your darlings. Negative reviews. Harsh critiques. Lack of support. This class will take a look at dealing with the high's and low's of the writing profession and give practical advice and strategies to deal with the fear and anxiety to unleash your creativity. Let's get to it!

AUTHOR CHAT: Rachel Ann Nunes

Listen and learn in a casual setting as Rachel Ann Nunes discusses her career in traditional and indie publishing and issues advice about writing and marketing. Rachel Ann Nunes learned to read when she was four, beginning a lifetime fascination with the written word. She avidly devoured books then and still reads everything she can lay hands on, from children’s stories to science articles. She began writing in the seventh grade and is now the author of over fifty published books, including the popular Ariana series and the picture book Daughter of a King. Rachel also writes under sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal mysteries under the name Teyla Branton and mainstream contemporary romance under the name Rachel Branton.

Know Your Hero/Villain Type & How to Use It

J. Scott Savage

Hero and Villain, the original good vs evil. Almost every story rotates around a  protagonist or protagonists in conflict with an antagonist. But what type of antagonist does your story require. Is it the classic evil villain, the bully, the anti villain, the everyday obstacle villain? And what type of hero should you use to interact best with your villain type. This class will focus on classic hero types, classic villain types, and how to create the greatest conflict between them.

Children’s Nonfiction: A Burgeoning Market

Sharlee Glenn

The children's nonfiction market has exploded over the past few years, driven in part by the new Common Core standards which require that children in grades K-8 read at least 50% nonfiction. That number rises to 70% for students in grades 9-12.  According to Book Business Magazine (www.bookbusinessmag.com), juvenile nonfiction print sales have grown 28% since 2009, compared to the juvenile fiction growth rate of only 8%. Clearly, there's never been a better time to write children's nonfiction. In this session, we will explore together the exciting possibilities of this burgeoning market.

GUILD ONLY: Writer CEO, Find Your Niche! Standing Out in a Noisy Publishing World

Colleen Story

As a writer in today’s world, you need to market yourself. That means finding a way to draw readers to you, but how do you do that? You’ve got a blog and social media accounts, but you need “something special” to draw it all together. Learn how to zero in on your unique strengths to create an author platform that helps you stand out from the crowd. Dive deep into your creative gifts to determine the theme that unites your work, then discover how to use it to boost your business and discover renewed purpose in your writing career.

BREAKOUT 12        (4:00-4:50)

INTENSIVE: Plotting Dynamic Novels

 (Continued from Breakout 11)

(This intensive requires pre-registration)

Brendan Reichs

Defining Your Core Story

                                                   Sarah Eden

                                                   

As authors, we regularly answer the question “What do you write?” The answer, though, goes far deeper than genre. Each other has his or her own “core story:” themes, elements, archetypes, issues that seem to recur in the books we write, regardless of genre, time period, target audience, etc. Defining that core story and understanding the powerful insights it gives us as writers is invaluable in guiding our story development, career trajectory and satisfaction, and the inevitable reinvention all authors go through. In this class, we will discuss what a core story is, how to identify and utilize yours, and what to do when that core story changes.

Mastering Deep Point-of-View

Kathryn Purdie

Stories written with techniques of deep point of view are powerful and immersive. Readers forget they are reading and instead live vicariously through the point-of-view character(s), entrenched in their worldview and unique traits, without any telltale author tags and filter words standing in the way. In this class you’ll learn the tips and tricks to transform your writing from distant to deep and then deeper, which will in turn give your scenes the emotional punch and character connection necessary for a gripping and unforgettable story.

Diversity 101

Editor Stacy Whitman

TBA

Novella Story Structure

Jennie Bennett

Novellas are sweeping the market with more and more readers hungry for bite-sized stories they can enjoy from start to finish on a bus ride home or a relaxing evening. As novelists, it can be difficult to figure out where to cut out words to make your stories shorter. Learn how to adapt Blake Snyder's famous beats from Save the Cat into novella form to give readers a quick story that still satisfies.

The How of Creativity

Jeff Wheeler

Is creativity just a magical thing that happens randomly in some people and not at all in others? Or is it, like a muscle, something you can practice and develop into a consistent thing? Yes, it’s more like a muscle and yes, there are exercises you can do to develop it. In this class you’ll learn creativity tips from the author of Hunger Games, Pixar Studios, Stephen King, Andrew Carnegie, and one of the most famous fighter pilots in history that you’ve never heard of before (no it’s not Tom Cruise—I said you’ve never heard of him before). And me, of course, a bestselling author who writes 3-4 books a year. Come learn the secrets of where creativity comes from.

AUTHOR CHAT: David Farland

Listen and learn in a casual setting as David Farland discusses his career and issues advice about writing and publishing. David Farland is a New York Times bestselling author in both science fiction and fantasy.  He has won a number of awards for his work including the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award, the International Book Award, and a Whitney Award. Dave is the lead judge for one of the world's largest writing contests, the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future competition, and has mentored dozens of New York Times bestsellers including Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer, James Dashner and Brandon Mull.

How to Write a Killer Back Cover Copy

Shaela Odd

Nothing sells a book as well as its cover – and that includes what's written on the back. In this hands-on class, we'll explore examples of effective back cover copies, talk about what to include (and what to avoid) in the content, and a formula you can follow if you find yourself stuck in a rut. Attendees will practice writing their own blurbs, and we'll share and discuss ways to make them stronger, more effective, and ultimately able to hook your reader and sell your book.

The Business of Writing

Agent Uwe Stender

TBA

The Computer is Your Friend: Tools & Tricks to Make a Writer’s Life Easier

Jeff Baker

Times have changed from the days when novels were written with quills or typewriters. Now we have technology, but why does it seem that computers frustrate the process as much as they help? Check out these tools and tricks you can use to make writing easier and allow you to focus on the creative process instead of your word processor. Many of the tips covered use Microsoft Word, but we'll utilize other software programs as well. The topics in this class will facilitate aspects of drafting, revision, critiquing, and marketing.

Closing Session 5:00 - 5:30

Mass Book Signing & Publisher Mix and Mingle 5:30-7:00