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 (State Suite), 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. With Great Power: The Author’s Responsibility When Creating Science Fiction and Fantasy Worlds (Governor 1), taught by 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?

3. How to Write and Sell Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime Fiction (Governor 2), taught by Kristi Belcamino. This presentation will teach you how to keep readers—including agents and editors—turning pages late into the night. Hear from published crime fiction writer Kristi Belcamino, and walk away with 10 tips on how to make your thrilling novel more thrilling to agents and readers.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Pre-Work for Your Best Work (Governor 1), taught by Sarah Ahiers. Is writing your first draft a drag? Are you a pantser or a plotter and still struggle with getting that first draft done? Do you often face a mountain of revisions when you finally reach the end of that first draft? Then look no further! Pre-work may be the solution you’re searching for! This session will focus on different pre-work methods in a mix and match style, allowing the writer the pick and choose what may work best for their process. Pre-work involves techniques and exercises the writer completes before starting their first draft to help ease the drafting and revision process.

2. Query Letter Comprehensive (State Suite), 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 Write a Memoir Agents (and Readers) Will Love (Governor 2), taught by Kimiko Nakamura. Writing your own life story means doing two things well — understanding what parts of your life are the most interesting, and using excellent storytelling techniques to write your true-life tale. In this session, attendees will examine why some debut memoirs get published but many do not — by discussing what tips and techniques that aid memoir writers.

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 (State Suite), 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 (Governor 1), taught by Erik Hane. This session, taught by a literary agent who focuses on nonfiction, 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 (Governor 2), 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. How to Write and Sell Romance in Today’s Market (Governor 2), taught by Latoya C. Smith. 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 taught by a literary agent who represents romance, 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.

2. From A to Z: Strategies for Plotting, Pacing and Structure (State Suite), taught by Weronika Janczuk. In this class, Weronika, a literary agent, will begin with a detailed introduction to the three-act screenwriting structure that lends itself to theoretical preparation for novel-writing and outlining, and then identify different tools for plot consideration, outlining, as well as writing that permit novelists to plot and pace their work tightly. More in-depth plotting theory introduces a series of key moments and movements in the evolution of the plot trajectory, and this will class will provide an introduction to them. The goal will be to provide some theory, an introduction to key tools, and an analysis of case studies from award-winning or bestselling novels.

3. Author Brand Building (Governor 1), taught by Alexandra Weiss. To tweet, or not to tweet, that is the question. While having a website and an active social media presence isn’t an absolute must for new writers, it likely will be once you have an agent and/or a deal with a publisher. During this presentation, associate literary agent and PR pro Alexandra Weiss will discuss: how to identify and establish your unique brand as a writer, what to include (and not include) on your website, understanding the differences between social media platforms and determining which one is right for you, and managing and growing your brand over time.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. You Have an Agent — Now What? Best Practices for Working With Your Representation (State Suite), 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. Improve Your Writing: The Basics of Self-Editing and Revision (Governor 2), taught by Latoya C. Smith. Writing your manuscript’s first draft is a huge step, but only a primary one. Now it’s time to look at your creation and slowly make it amazing through overhauls, self-editing, and revision. Remember that good writing is rewriting. In this class, you’ll learn to identify your writing’s flaws (and fix them) — such as tense and POV issues, when to cut and shorten your length, and what makes some writing crackle.

3. Why Writing for Kids Matters — How to Write Meaningful and Great Young Adult and Middle Grade Books (Governor 1), 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.


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.