Schedule: 2020 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 for the 2018 workshop. 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. Plotting Your Novel (or How Outlining Can Prevent Your Head Exploding), taught by Julie Hyzy. First drafts are how authors tell themselves the story. Do you need an outline to get started? Do all authors outline at some level? As you’re writing, how best to keep all the story’s twists and turns straight in your head? How can we know what’s coming yet keep the story fresh for ourselves as well as for our readers?


BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Writing Mystery/Thriller/Crime Fiction, taught by Julie Hyzy. From cozy mysteries to thrillers and all the crime fiction in between: Why this genre is so much fun to write, why it endures, and how to craft suspense in your stories. In this session, a best-selling authors explains these topics, and more.

2. Publicity and Marketing 101 for New Authors, taught by Jessica Burkhart. Author Jessica Burkhart will teach workshop participants how to market and publicize their book no matter if one is from a small house or a large one. With a minuscule to non-existent publicity budget, Jess was able to help her books sell over 1 million copies. Jess will begin with a brief introduction about why self-promotion and marketing are important. Then, she will detail how and when to begin putting together a marketing plan which includes a monthly to-do list as far as 18 months from publication. Jess will share the best tips and tricks she learned in her ten years promoting her books. The remaining workshop time will be dedicated to Q&A.


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 (Windsor Room), 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.)

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Setting, Sidekicks, and other Supporting Players, taught by Julie Hyzy. It is the rare protagonist who makes it through an adventure without a little help from their friends. Fully realized secondary characters and vivid settings are crucial to creating a memorable tale. Learn how to layer details and craft subplots without slowing the story’s pace.

2. Panel: Ask an Agent Anything. In this session, attending literary agents, publishers and editors sit on a panel to answer your questions on everything to writing, publishing, building a platform, what agents want, what are the latest trends in publishing, how movie options work, and more. Come ready to ask questions about anything you want related to the writing and publishing industry, and our panel will answer them.

3. How to Write Young Adult and Middle Grade that Sells, taught by Jessica Burkhart. Author Jessica Burkhart will take writers through creating a YA or MG novel that sells. Jess will use forty-five minutes to explore: brainstorming a concept and idea, outlining and what kind of outline Jess uses, creating relatable characters, constructing an interesting setting, crafting realistic voice and realizing the importance of a strong chapter ending. Jess will include her favorite list of resources, too, that will be helpful to both new and veteran writers. The remaining workshop time will be dedicated to Q&A.


BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 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.