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 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. Getting Published in Today’s World: 10 Tips to Make You the Writer Agents and Publishers Want (Windsor Room), 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. How to Use Market, Trends, and Conventions of Romance to Help You Sell Your Romance Novel (Alcove Room), taught by Shannyn Schroeder. Whether you write fast or slow, whether you can put out five manuscripts a year or only one, understanding the market, trends and conventions of the genre can help you tailor your manuscript to take it from a maybe to a yes from an agent or editor. We will discuss using conventions, twisting tropes and targeting what editors and agents want while still writing the book you love.

3. Writing Sellable Crime/Thriller/Mystery Novels (Buckingham Room), taught by Jack Fredrickson. It’s not enough to write a good mystery or thriller. You’ve got to get it published. The good news is that there have never been more avenues to publication than there are right now. Jack Fredrickson will briefly examine the fundamentals of what constitutes good crime fiction (“How Good’s Your Hook?” and “Mr. Sweat and the Arc of Suspense,” among others) and then discuss the myriad opportunities for publishing your masterwork.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Crafting a Submission Query Letter that Sparkles (Windsor Room), taught by Dan Cramer. We often are found sitting at the computer and drawing a blank on how to craft an e-query that will not simply be ignored by an agent, editor, and publisher. This course takes you through crafting an email that will sparkle with content that is needed to be seen and how to get your work noticed.

2. 15 Tips on How to Write Like the Pros (Buckingham Room), 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. Self-Publishing: One Writer’s Experience (Alcove Room), taught by Kristine Smith. Over the last 10-15 years, self-publishing has developed into a career path both for new authors and the traditionally published. Kristine Smith discusses why she chose to self-publish her backlist, all the creative and business choices she needed to make along the way, and why she needed to learn the differences between tracking, kerning, and leading.

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.)
2.  How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal (Buckingham Room), 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. 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 (Alcove Room), taught by Madeline Smoot. 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. Ask An Agent Anything Panel (Windsor Room), led by Dawn Michelle Hardy. In this session, literary agents, publishers and editors sit on a panel to answer your questions on everything to writing, publishing, 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.

2. Prewriting for Pantsers: How to Write Your Novel Without Mapping Out Your Plot Ahead of Time (Buckingham Room), taught by Shannon Schroeder. Some people plan and plot a novel, while others write by the seat of their pants. The problem with being a “pantser” is that at some point, you will have to write under deadline and you might not have the time to write, rip apart, and rewrite the same book to make it publishable. This workshop will discuss ways to pre-write without plotting to help the writing process go smoother.

3. Science Fiction & Fantasy: I Have This Great New World, But(Alcove Room), taught by Kristine Smith. Your story read so well in outline form. That one-line pitch blew away your critique group. Now you’re hip-deep in your manuscript, and it’s all ground to a halt. Kristine shows you ways to revive your story, rediscover the excitement you felt when you started writing it, and enhance what’s already there.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. 18 Frequently Asked Questions About Publishing All Writers Should Know (Windsor Room), taught by Brian A. 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. Plot and Voice: The Not-So-Basic Elements of the Novel (Buckingham Room), taught by Lauren Fox. A page-turner of a plot is nothing without a strong voice. Equally, a lively and compelling voice falls flat unless it tells a story worth reading. In this session, we’ll talk about tense plots and unique voices: in short, two of the main reasons readers can’t stop turning the pages. Come with questions!

3. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Alcove Room), taught by Madeline Smoot. 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. In this session, presenter Madeline Smoot, acquiring editor for CBAY Books, will discuss the tips and tricks for making middle grade and YA novels great.


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.