Schedule: 2018 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. Traditional Publishing vs. Self Publishing — Which One is Right for You, taught by Marisa Corvisiero. This workshop examines the two largest routes any writer can take with their book: traditional publishing and self-publishing (e-publishing). We will examine the upsides of both routes, the downsides, and the next steps no matter what you decide. In today’s publishing world, a writer has to understand what they’re in for before they send their book out. This session is designed to prepare them for what’s to come and what options exist.

2. Out of This World Writing — Tips on Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction and Fantasy) (Main), taught by Beth Marshea. Have you always wanted to create worlds where anything can happen: technology runs amuck, magic is everywhere, or maybe demons are lurking where we’d least expect them? Learn how to create intense believable worlds that allow for fantastic events. Come create compelling plots and characters that will have your readers thinking about them long after they’ve laid your pages down. In this class, you’ll learn the basics of combining plot structure, world building and character development to create truly extraordinary writing.

3. New Southern Writing, 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

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Tips on How to Write Like the Pros (Main), 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.

2. How to Get a Literary Agent, taught by Marisa Corvisiero. This workshop is a thorough crash course in dealing with literary agents. After quickly going over what an agent is and what they do for writers, we will discuss resources for finding agents, how to ID the best agents for you, query letter writing, as well as the most important things to do and not to do when dealing with representatives.

3. Mastering the Elements of Suspense to Write a Riveting Mystery, Thriller or Crime Novel (West), taught by Carol Post. Building apprehension in the minds of readers is the most effective way to keep them engaged. Whether your protagonist is trying to uncover clues to solve a murder or prevent a terrorist from unleashing a lethal biological weapon on an unsuspecting world, that tension is what keeps readers turning pages. Learn how to use internal and external conflict and increasing stakes to keep your characters in the pressure cooker and your readers on the edge of their seats.

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 (East), 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 (Main), 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. You CAN Publish A Picture Book (West), taught by Rob Sanders. Award-winning picture book author Rob Sanders will share how he has sold nine picture books to major publishing house in the last ten years. This session will lead you to discover the many forms a picture book can take, focusing on the importance of a solid idea, a story with heart, and exceptional writing craft. Rob will share practical how-to’s to help you find the path that can make your work-in-progress (WIP) a viable picture book manuscript in today’s competitive marketplace. Bring the first page of your WIP (double-spaced; 1-inch margins; no names, addresses, etc.) for a possible on-the-spot first-page critique during the session.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Time Management For Writers, taught by Cheryl Hollon. Are you easily distracted? Is procrastination your superpower? If you need help to keep you on track to meet those looming deadlines, this is the workshop for you. It will give you hands-on practical methods for avoiding distraction while racking up that word count. Your Swag Bag of tools will include proven tricks and techniques for starting to write and then maintaining focus on your work

2. How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Author Platform & Social Media Explained, taught by Marisa Corvisiero. A writer’s platform is as important as ever now. Visibility and ability to self-market are mandatory these days for writers of nonfiction and self-published works. Furthermore, fiction writers <i>want</i> a platform to sell more books, meet readers, and increase their value. This speech teaches writers the basics of what a platform is and why it is necessary. Then we delve into the building blocks of what can constitute a platform, from media appearances and speaking engagements to blogs, Facebook, Twitter and more

3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Main), taught by Shannon Hitchcock. 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. Kidlit novelist Shannon Hitchcock will share what she wishedshe knew when she was starting out, things she learned the hard way, (soyou don’t have to), the most expensive marketing mistake she ever made, and more. No question is off limits!

3. Writing for Young Adult and Middle Grade Audiences, by Kelly Coon. Leigh Bardugo, Rick Riordan, Angie Thomas, and YOU. In this class, you’ll learn who your audience is, hear about the “musts” of YA and MG fiction, review publication trends, and discover the pitfalls to avoid when crafting a novel for the middle grade and young adult worlds. Join other kidlit writers as YA author Kelly Coon discusses writing for younger audiences.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. What the Heck is a Platform? (Main), taught by Lorin Oberweger. These days, it seems like everyone is talking about authors needing an active blog, tons of social media followers, a robust platform, and millions of followers across every site. In this workshop, we’ll debunk some of those myths and ease some of the anxiety around promoting one’s work. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. And we’ll play with the best ways to talk about your work to grab an agent, an editor, and your larger readership.

2How to Get Published: Professional Writing Practices That Can Help You, taught by Marisa Corvisiero. This final speech is a general presentation examining good writing practices that all editors appreciate—no matter what you’re writing.

3. Romance and Women’s Fiction — Tips on Writing Both, and Understanding the Difference (West), taught by K.D. Fleming. In this workshop, a published romance author will give you advice on how to break into the markets of both women’s fiction and romance. Romance and women’s fiction make up the largest market share of genre fiction. Learn what you need to write a romance that will steal your readers’ hearts along with the unique elements of women’s fiction that make it just as sigh-worthy and will keep your fans coming back for 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.