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, but here is the current layout:

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. Getting Published in Today’s World: 10 Tips to Make You the Writer Agents and Publishers Want (Grand Salon 1+2 combined), taught by Brian Klems. If you want to land an agent and a book deal in today¹s market, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just write a great book (though that’s a good start). Brian A. Klems discusses the challenges writers face in publishing today and offers up 10 practical tips to help you break through the barriers and find success.

2. Writing Other Worlds — a Guide to Blending Setting, Plot, and Character in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Design/Discovery Room), taught by Michelle Muto. Writers will learn how to build vibrant worlds, and how the details of setting can be used to add depth to characters and plots.

3. How To Add Comic Relief To Your Fiction (And Make it Better) (Grand Salon 3), taught by Jeff Strand. Whether you’re trying to write a laugh-out-loud hilarious romp or just give readers a bit of levity before the next big scare, Jeff Strand will discuss when to use humor in your work, how to get funny ideas, and the various techniques to sharpen your wit.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Pitch, Please: An Agent’s Guide to Pitches & Queries (Grand Salon 1+2 combined), taught by Caroline George. Inspired by submissions she received, literary agent Caroline George hosts a discussion-based workshop focused on the dos and don’ts of pitching/querying agents. Attendees will gain insight into the world of agenting, strengthen their own pitches and queries, and learn how to boost their professionalism.

2. 15 Tips on How to Write Like the Pros (Design/Discovery Room), taught by Brian Klems. This workshop is a thorough crash course concerning craft, style and voice. We’ll discuss nuts & bolts tips for sentence construction like how to avoid passive tense, how to use vivid language, how to self-edit your own work, how to make your characters memorable, the art of compelling dialogue, and much more.

3. Savvy Strategies for Creating Realistic Romantic Relationships in Your Romance Novel (Grand Salon 3), taught by Shae Anderson and Skyy Banks. Depicting realistic romantic relationships in your novels is a great way to engage readers and allow them to connect with the characters on a deeper level. Whether healthy or somewhat toxic, the relationships you create between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, secret lovers, or any other pairing (or triangle, etc), must feel believable and real to your audience. This workshop will arm you with the strategies necessary to artfully depict the beautiful realities of romantic love and all of its complexities.

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 (Grand Salon 1+2 combined), 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.  How to Sell a Nonfiction Book: The 9 Musts of Any Proposal (Design/Discovery Room), taught by Brian Klems. 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. Breaking In With Picture Books (Grand Salon 3), taught by Sally A. Apokedak. Get an inside view on how to write and sell picture books from a picture book agent. Sally will show you how one of her best-selling picture book authors has built a full-time career writing short books. You’ll learn how to craft a good picture book that meets a publisher’s needs so you can make a sale and get your writing career going. Whether you’re new to the process or have spent years of frustration trying to break in without any luck, this class with help put you on the right path.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. New Southern Writing (Design/Discovery Room), taught by Lorna Hollifield. You’ve probably heard of “New Southern” cuisine and its sweeping impact across The South. It basically pairs new modern twists or ethnic fusions with southern classics (think Asian-spiced biscuits on a bed of grits). The Southern Fiction literary climate in 2019 is a similar revolution. Readers love exploring this unique region, but in modern ways that aren’t necessarily riddled with “y’alls” and “fiddle dee-dees.” In this workshop you’ll learn how to bring the thick, cozy, downhome vibes that everyone loves about Dixie into cutting-edge political, social, multicultural, and currently relevant settings

2. The Fiendish Art of Crafting Suspense for Thrillers, Mysteries and Crime (& Any Novel, Really) (Grand Salon 3), taught by Jeff Strand. Generating suspense is important in all forms of storytelling. Jeff Strand will discuss how to keep your readers flying through the pages, desperate to know what’s going to happen next. He’ll talk about keeping your work unpredictable, playing fair, creating dramatic questions, using ticking clocks, how long to delay gratification, and more.

3. The 10 Principles of Building Platform (Grand Salon 1+2 combined), taught by Brian Klems. Writer platform is essential in today’s publishing world. Let Brian A. Klems guide you through the 10 principles of writer platform and book marketing what you need to do to achieve them so you can build an audience and, ultimately, sell your book.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. 18 Frequently Asked Questions About Publishing All Writers Should Know (Grand Salon 1+2 combined), taught by Brian Klems. Before you publish your work or query an agent (and after), there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to submit to agents properly, what social media channels you should be on already, how to launch your book right, how to draft a compelling query/pitch and synopsis, how to land book blurbs, how to find other writers who can help you, and much more.

2. From A to Z: Strategies for Plotting & Pacing Tightly (Design/Discovery Room), taught by Weronika Janczuk. In this class, Weronika 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. How to Make Your YA or MG Book Un-Put-Down-Able (Grand Salon 3), taught by Rachael Allen. There are books we enjoy, then there are books we devour. The books that own your soul for a day and you don’t get it back until you’ve finished turning the pages. How do those authors do that? What makes a young adult or middle grade book un-put-down-able? And, most importantly, how do we recreate this in our own books so they keep people up at night? Author Rachael Allen answers all of these questions and more.


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.