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, 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. Creating Perfectly Imperfect Characters, by Cody T Luff. The loveable rogue, the hardboiled detective, the beautiful assassin: all recognizable and entertaining tropes. Let’s go deeper into character. In this session, we’ll cover creating a dynamic character who lives on the page, who breaks just enough rules to not only garner the love of a reader but also to secure the interest of an agent and publisher.

3. Novel Building: What Comes After “What If?”, taught by Terry Shames. You have a great idea for a novel. You’re excited! It’s an idea you think is fresh and new, and you’re eager to get started. Now what? Do you start writing and hope for the best? Tell all your friends? Daydream about it? Or does it fizzle out? In this workshop, I’ll give you a practical plan for moving from your initial “what if” through taking a professional look at the viability of the project, to beginning to write. You’ll learn to keep the initial excitement alive while assessing what your book will need in terms of setting, character, and plot—and how to make that happen. 

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. 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.

2. How to Write a Great Query Letter for Your Novel, taught by Lesley Sabga. 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. Before You Hit Publish: Your Checklist for a Successful Start in Self-Publishing, taught by Adrienne Bell. Getting started in the self-publishing market can be exciting … and daunting. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of online advice and opinions. But never fear. In this session, long-time and bestselling self-published author, Adrienne Bell, will walk you through all the steps—from covers and vendors to advertising and production schedules. It’s everything you need to know to start your career right.

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.  Nonfiction Intense: Book Proposal Tips: 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. Picture Book Intensive: Advice on Selling Your Children’s Book, taught by Jennifer March Soloway. Picture books are tricky works of art that require a lot to happen in very few words. In this session, we’ll discuss questions to consider before sending a picture book manuscript out in the world.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. How to Write, Polish, and Publish Your Great Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, taught by Susan Alice Bickford. This workshop will step you through taking your thriller / mystery / suspense story from the concept phase to landing an agent. We will cover: first draft strategies, editing and revisions options, developing materials and a strategy for your agent query plan, and what to do when you land an agent or publisher. 

2. The Ten Best Ideas for Marketing Your Book, taught by Laurie McLean. Many do not know that top literary agent Laurie McLean, co-founder of Fuse Literary, spent 20+ years as the CEO of her own marketing agency prior to her jump into publishing. Now you do and you can benefit from her top 10 best ideas for marketing your books.

3. Crafting Living Localities for your Sci/Fi and Fantasy Worlds, taught by Cody T Luff. So your gritty cyberpunk needs a bar with a nanite-ridden soul and your demon’s lair in your fantasy world needs a living history woven into the narrative. Crafting living spaces that act as both character and location not only sets the stage for a good fantastic tale, but also adds a layer of world-building that can make any story stand out from the crowd. From an android detective’s office to a haunted dwarven fortress, this talk discusses how to put character in the place and place in the characters.

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. Crafting an Irresistible Romance, taught by Adrienne Bell. What are the essential elements that go into writing a romance that hits all the right notes? What are the tropes that readers crave and the must-hit beats that keep them coming back for more? In this session, bestselling author, Adrienne Bell will guide you through the unique story structure that makes the romance genre so beloved by fans.

3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction, taught by Moe Ferrara. 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.


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.