THIS YEAR’S SESSION & WORKSHOPS:
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, 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 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. Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction: Tricks and Traps. Science fiction and fantasy writers face a unique challenge: How do you convey the details of imaginary worlds without bogging down your story? This workshop will focus on practical techniques you can use to immerse readers in your world. In parallel with that, you’ll learn common narrative pitfalls and suggest specific techniques for avoiding them.
3. Great Expectations: Writing Dynamic Characters for Romance, taught by Donna MacMeans. The heart of every great book lies in its characters. One simply can’t take two cardboard figures and toss them into a great plot and expect success. I will show you how, via screenwriting tips, to create characters that grab the audience’s attention. We’ll discuss the need for internal as well as external conflict specifically as it relates to romance, and how the concept of character arc will pull you through to the finish line. Lots to cover but we should have time for questions.
BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50
1. Understanding Literary Agents and Query Letters. Taught by an attending literary agent, this session will teach you how to find agents, how to get them interested in your work, and how to stand out from the slush by 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.
2. 15 Tips on How to Write Like the Pros, 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. Decisions, Decisions – To Go Traditional or Try Indie Publishing, taught by Donna MacMeans. You’ve finished your book and are now faced with a dilemma. Should you attempt to find an agent and a traditional contract, or should you go it alone and publish the work yourself. Often the answer lies in the type of story as well as the depth of your wallet. What rewards are possible with each type of publishing How much work does each require? We’ll have a frank talk about the positive and negatives of each method of publishing and create a plan for success no matter what approach you ultimately decide to pursue.
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. How to Sell a Nonfiction Book: The 9 Musts of a Proposal, 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. Watch Your Language: Picture Book Pointers. Many picture book manuscripts have fun concepts but that fall short in execution. Often the problem is in finding the right use of language to match the needs of the subject; the picture book form; and the current market. In this session, you will examine some successful, recently published picture books to dissect them for what’s working well. You’ll also learn about common pitfalls for picture book writers. (Attendees are encouraged [not mandatory] to bring 1-2 picture book manuscripts to use for class exercises.)
BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45
1. How to Write, Publish and Market your Memoir, by Dorit Sasson. Whether you’re an aspiring or experienced memoirist dreaming to share your story with the world, this session will teach you the basic essentials for writing, marketing and selling your memoir. You’ll walk away with best practices for building an online platform and how to write a killer memoir that appeals to your unique audience and keep readers hooked.
2. How to Write a Page-Turner for Mystery/Crime/Thriller/Suspense Writers, taught by D.M. Pulley. Learn techniques that keep readers hooked from the first page to the last. Best-selling author D.M. Pulley shares her thoughts on the elements of a good mystery, building suspense, and how to up the stakes in any story. Brainstorming sessions and guided writing prompts will help participants explore the nature of suspense and how to better engage their audience.
3. Revision & Self-Editing: How to Tighten Your Work Before You Submit, taught by Ricki Schultz. In this session, Ricki Schultz, professional freelance editor and traditionally published author, will show you simple and effective ways to tighten and strengthen your writing. From the most common mistakes new writers make to the crutches we sometimes rely on, you will learn which darlings to kill, why it’s sometimes important to sweat the small stuff, and what to do–as well as what to avoid–when it comes to making it out of the slushpile.
BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00
1. 18 Frequently Asked Questions About Publishing All Writers Should Know, 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. Everything Writers Need to Know About Copyrights, Contracts, Defamation and More, taught by Jacqueline Lipton. Can you quote song lyrics in your novel? Are you allowed to write about real people? How do you prevent someone from stealing your story idea? Can you re-use a title someone else has used for his or her book? What’s the difference between copyright and plagiarism? Legal issues are becoming increasingly important for authors, particularly those who self-publish without the benefit of an agent or attorney. The most common legal issues that impact authors and the publishing industry are copyright, contract, and, to some extent, defamation and privacy law. This workshop provides an introduction for both self-publishing and traditionally published authors to basic legal issues they may confront when writing and marketing their work.
3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction. Writing for children isn’t all that different from writing for adults. You still need great characters in interesting situations doing meaningful things. However, there are some genre specific things to keep in mind when crafting books for those readers under 18.
SESSIONS END: 5:00
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.