Schedule: 2019 Workshop


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

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

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. Determining your Book’s Publication Path – Traditional vs. Non-Traditional, taught by Dawn Frederick. Publishing any book will take time, it’s a task that requires time and foresight on the part of any author. One of the biggest questions that many authors will consider is: Should I self-publish, or do I continue to query agents? In this class, we will highlight the differences around this decision, as well as things any writer needs to take into consideration when choosing which direction to go.

2. Why Writing for Kids Matters — How to Write Meaningful and Great Young Adult and Middle Grade Books, taught by Sarah Ahiers. YA and MG are sometimes considered the “hot” categories for any aspiring author, though MG and YA audiences come with their own challenges and roadblocks. Sill, writing for these age groups matter in a way that’s different than adult audiences. In this session, author Sarah Ahiers will walk you through some of the differences and challenges faced by the kidlit writer, as well as tips and tricks to help you accomplish your writing goals and reach your young audience in new and lasting ways.

3. How to Write a Memoir Agents (and Readers) Will Love, taught by Kimiko Nakamura. The best memoirs are often as compelling as novels. This session will address the importance of plot structure and character development; the interplay of truth, memory, and imagination; how to discern what to include in your story and what to leave out; and identifying and finding your audience. Taught by a literary agent that represents memoir, this class will explain how to structure, revise, and craft a compelling memoir that leaves the good parts in and removes excess prose.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. The Art of Voice: How to Make Your Writing Come to Life. This session focuses on how to craft prose and sentences that pop off the page. Learn how to make your writing sound unique and create your own voice. This session, taught by published women’s fiction author Ricki Schultz, will look at examples of books with voice and style where you can’t help but keeping reading. As well, through hands-on experience during the session, students will learn how to make the reader experience the writing—rather than be given a play-by-play—by transforming examples of “telling” into “showing

2. Query Letter Comprehensive, taught by Kelly Van Sant. Stand out from the slush and workshop your way to crafting a successful query letter. It’s time to kick the clichés, ditch the info dumps, and get ready to dive deeper than a list of dos and don’ts. This in-depth course will help you showcase both your book and your bio to the best advantage. Writing a great query requires a unique skillset: an objective eye, a promotional style, and the ability to consider your book as a whole. We’ll study real queries that hooked an agent, talk about how to research the right agents for you, and examine the standard query rules (then learn when to break them).

3. How to Self-Publish Your Book Now and Do It Right. The publishing world has seen huge changes in the last decade or two. Independent publishing platforms and a variety of online resources have made it easier to see your own work in print. Many authors who have gone the self-published route swear by it; some, on the other hand, don’t recommend it. So, how do you know if self-publishing is the right thing for you as a writer? Join a successful author who shares the secrets of self-publishing and how to do it right.

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

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

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

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

3. Grow a Spine: Picture Book Writing with Confidence, taught by Cori Doerrfeld. Getting started as a picture book author can seem a bit overwhelming. Learn some basic facts, tips, and tricks from published author Cori Doerrfeld. Cori will share a little of her own journey as well as offer information to help anyone interested in the world of picture books gain the confidence to get started, or take their work to the next level.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. With Great Power: The Author’s Responsibility When Creating Science Fiction and Fantasy Worlds, taught by A. Merc Rustad. Science fiction and fantasy has a rich history of wondrous and wildly imaginative worlds. When you decide to write genre and develop a milieu for your story, what considerations should you keep in mind? It’s more than just an origin story for the gods or how faster-than-light travel works—an author wields the power of creation and there is an inherent responsibility in that. Which voices are amplified in your world? Who gets to star in the hero’s journey or the epic space battle? Who is left out? What prejudices or perceptions exist in this fantastical new realm? What do authors owe each other and our readers when we dive into world-building and the construction of new universes?

2. Revision and Self-Editing: How to Tighten Your Work Before You Submit. Learn how to ruthlessly self-edit your own work. This session will discuss common manuscript problems as well as tools you can use to create the manuscripts that will get the attention you want from agents and editors—and readers. Before you send out your submission, let instructor published women’s fiction author Ricki Schultz show you how to tighten your writing and avoid mistakes that slow your prose down. You’ll learn how to cut down your own word count, eliminate passive voice, spot repetition in your writing, diagnose point of view problems, and much more.

3. How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Talking Author Social Media, Blogging, and Platform. Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, everyone could use some helpful guidance on how to effectively market themselves and sell more books. This session includes easy-to-understand advice on social media (Twitter, Facebook, more), blogging, and other simple ways you can market your work online cheaply and easily.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. You Have an Agent — Now What? Best Practices for Working With Your Representation, taught by Dawn Frederick. You’ve written a book and some good news has finally arrived – in that you’ve been offered representation. In this class we’ll discuss the agent’s role on your path to publication, as well as best collaboration practices in this potentially long-term business relationship. What should you expect in working with an agent? Teacher Dawn Frederick, an agent herself, will explain.

2. What Happens After an Agent Offers Representation? Getting an agent is an incredible feat, but this is only the beginning. There are so many things that happen after you receive an offer of representation – from deciding which agency to go with, to editing your work with your new agent, to the submission process, to how deals work, to how you can aide your book’s chances throughout the process. While your focus may be on getting an agent, this workshop will provide you the landscape on what happens next. Publishing is such an enigma so find out how the industry works.

3. How to Write and Sell Romance in Today’s Market. The romance market is constantly changing, so how then, are you to know what and when to submit to editors and agents? In this workshop, you will learn not only what’s trending in the current marketplace, but how to research an agent/editor that best suits your needs, and the proper ways to approach them.


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