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. Traditional Publishing vs. Self Publishing — Which One is Right for You in 2019? (Westshore Main) 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. Writing for Young Adult and Middle Grade Audiences (Westshore East), 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.

3. New Southern Writing (Westshore West), 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. How to Write a Memoir Agents (and Readers) Will Love (Westshore West), 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.

2. How to Get a Literary Agent (Westshore Main), 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. Time Management For Writers (Westshore East), 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

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 (Westshore Main), 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 (Westshore East), taught by Cricket Freeman. 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. Picture Book Writing Tips (Westshore West), taught by Marisa Corvisiero. Getting started as a picture book author can seem a bit overwhelming. Learn some basic facts, tips, and tricks from literary agent Marisa Corvisiero. 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. The Agent/Author Relationship (Westshore Main), taught by Kaitlyn Johnson.  This workshop, taught by a literary agent, details the happenings from The Call all the way to going on submission. Understand how to be a great client, how to effectively communicate with your agent, how to know what to expect in the process, and more.

2. How to Write and Sell Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime Fiction (Westshore East), taught by Don Bruns. This presentation will teach you how to keep readers—including agents and editors—turning pages late into the night. Hear from award-winning mystery writer Don Bruns, and walk away with several tips on how to make your novel more thrilling to agents and readers.

3. Writing Romance 101: Finding Your Way to Your Own Happily Ever After (Westshore West), taught by Marisa Corvisiero. Category or single title? Are series the same as serials? The world of romance novels is a wonderful place to be, even in this ever-changing market, but there are some tricks of the trade you need to know going in. In this workshop, a literary agent will talk about everything from basic terminology to plotting (and pantsing!) strategies to building your readership from the ground up.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Worldbuilding for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers (Westshore West), taught by Kelly Coon. If you’re interested in creating a unique and fantastical world for your sci-fi or fantasy novel, this session is for you. Understand how to build a setting from the ground up, taking every aspect of culture into consideration. The workshop can help with revision for those who have already written a story and want to improve their worldbuilding.

2. Social Media and Personal Branding (Westshore East), taught by Erik Deckers. Personal branding with social media is how writers of the 21st century find readers. We can’t rely on the “my work should speak for itself.” Instead, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram are some of the best ways to reach your audience and share your work with them. It’s the way to grow your readership and sell books. Writers who successfully brand themselves online are the ones who see success. Today, thanks to social media, it’s easy to create a personal brand that speaks volumes about our ability and experience. Learn how blogging can establish your reputation, Facebook and Twitter can find new readers, web analytics measures your success, and how to bring it all together into one package.

3. From A to Z: Strategies for Plotting, Pacing and Structure (Westshore Main), 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.


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.