2015 Conference Breakout Sessions


GENERAL TRACK WORKSHOPS


Two-hour workshops

Thursday, September 17, 6:30 - 8:30 PM


HOW TO CREATE A PICTURE BOOK: AN OVERVIEW
This two-hour, hands-on, interactive workshop introduced the art and craft of creating children's picture books. Workshop attendees will learn the basics of creating a picture book. By the workshop's conclusion, participants will have a working knowledge of story line, formatting, editing, graphics, and page layout as they pertain to picture books.
Facilitated by author, Lynn Yvonne Moon and artist, Tracey Arvidson

NOT SO SEXY TOPICS (POETRY)
Abundant are the opportunities to buy a pink-ribboned mix master or to walk five miles to raise money for a disease. But what about finding readership for writing that deals head-on with cancer? Or Alzheimer's? Or depression? The first half of this session will be an open forum to discuss writing about medical subjects, and the second half will offer suggestions on how to find readership for your writing.
Facilitated by poet and UVA professor, Charlotte Matthews

HOW TO CREATE AN EFFECTIVE ELEVATOR PITCH
Will be divided into three transitory parts:
1) A lighthearted and ice-breaking game with student/volunteer participation will demonstrate examples and construction of good manuscript pitches. Additionally, attendees will begin to feel comfortable with the rhetoric, body language, and starkness of pitching. The nuts and bolts of what makes a great pitch will be explained around the demonstrations.
2) Attendees will draft or edit their own pre-existing pitches based on the examples provided. Mark Gottlieb will be closely available during this portion of the class and will quietly provide instructor feedback and notes for improving attendees' pitches.

3) The last portion of the workshop consists of a constructive critique where students will be invited to present 30-second pitches to everyone in the room.
Facilitated by literary agent, Mark Gottlieb

MASTERING DIALOGUE
If you have sometimes struggled with writing dialogue, you're not alone. Vladimir Nabokov and Gabriel Garcia Marquez both famously railed against it, and they found ways to avoid writing talk-heavy scenes. But that’s not always the best solution. Dialogue is a major factor in writing a page turner, yet most writers don't know how to do it well and miss opportunities for an agent or publisher because their dialogue is filled with amateurish traps: eye rolling, Tom Swifties, punctuation eyesores, unrealistic and/or overwritten lines. Come learn the tools to craft effective, powerful, and emotional dialogue for your screenplay or novel. Learn how dialogue moves scenes forward, reveals complicated character dynamics, creates mood, subtext, and vibrant character development while keeping your reader interested in what happens next.
Facilitated by author and ODU professor, Princess Perry


One-hour workshops

September 18 and 19 throughout the day


WHAT A JERK! HOW TO CREATE A CHARACTER WE LOVE TO HATE
How do we create complex characters in fiction? How do we distinguish one person from another? What is it about a given character that fascinates or repels us or makes us care? How does character contain story? We’ll review some general aspects of personality and then focus on one specific type: the jerk.
Facilitated by author and Emerson University professor, Dr. DeWitt Henry

FROM THE WILD WEST TO SHERLOCK HOLMES: WHY STEAMPUNK IS TAKING OVER AND HOW YOU CAN GET IN ON THE COUP
As a part of the remaindering of history and science fiction, Steampunk has become an unstoppable phenomenon. HG Wells imagined it over a hundred years ago, but it's only been in the last decade that a world powered by steampunk has filtered into every aspect of stories from books to big-screen epics. In this workshop, attendees will learn the basic elements required for Steampunk fiction.
Facilitated by YA/middle-grade paranormal author, Vanessa Barger

WHAT IS PARANORMAL ROMANCE AND WHY IS IT SELLING SO WELL?
Sookie Stackhouse, Twilight vampires—what’s going on with these successful series? Books and movies that bridge the genres of romance with the paranormal seem to be everywhere you turn. Workshop attendees will discuss what it is about this cross-genre that sells so well and how, as writers, they can you get their share of the market.
Facilitated by YA/middle-grade paranormal author, Vanessa Barger

I HAVE A GREAT IDEA FOR A BOOK — NOW WHAT?
How do you get that great idea from a few words jotted down in a notebook (or at the top of a document on your screen) into a fleshed-out plot development, story line, outline, or dialogue. This workshop will explore how to expand your ideas — from creating a framework to including details, from the physical to the emotional, including senses, sounds, smells, sights. Be prepared to be playful and write stuff. Then, learn simple and effective tools to complete your project, any project—on time and in joy!
Facilitated by YA/middle-grade paranormal author, Vanessa Barger

DECISIONS, DECISIONS! (NARRATIVE AND CHARACTER ARCS, POV, AND VERB TENSE)
Before writing a story, you should know the answers to these basic questions: whose story is it, what does that person want, and who's in the way? Then you'll have to decide from whose point of view the story will unfold and if you'll want to use first person POV, second person, limited third, or full-blown omniscience. You'll need to decide if you're going to write it in present tense or past. The decisions you make will impact your story in ways you may not have foreseen. Attendees will discuss these basic craft choices and the pros and cons of each choice.
Facilitated by YA/middle-grade paranormal author, Vanessa Barger

WRITING FOR TELEVISION: THE KEYS TO CREATING A GREAT SCRIPT
Learn what separates television writing from other forms of writing and get advice on how to exploit those differences. Also, explore the essentials of crafting the perfect spec script (script of an existing show) and the key ingredients for pilots (original shows) that rise above the rest.
Facilitated by screenwriter and Regent University professor, Sean Gaffney

NAVIGATING THE STUDIO MAZE: HOLLYWOOD DEVELOPMENT FROM SUBMISSION TO GREENLIGHT
Get an inside look at the process feature-film scripts undergo at the major Hollywood studios, including insights on how to get your script past the gatekeepers, how writers earn money, and why insiders call the process “development hell.”
Facilitated by screenwriter and Regent University professor, Sean Gaffney

WRITING A KILLER LOGLINE AND SYNOPSIS THAT WILL MAKE THEM WANT TO READ YOUR SCREENPLAY
You may have a great script, but unless you also have an exciting logline and synopsis, no one will want to read it. Every screenplay needs a logline and synopsis as its "sales tool" to generate interest from producers, directors, studio execs, and agents. In this interactive workshop, participants will learn how to write a compelling logline and how to expand that logline into a half-page and full-page synopsis. The workshop includes exercises to help participants identify the key elements of an intriguing logline. Attendees also will learn how to tell the difference between synopses and treatments, when to reveal the ending or leave the reader hanging, and how to choose the right level of detail for synopses of various lengths.
Facilitated by screenwriter and director, J. Darin Wales

SECRETS OF PRO SCREENWRITERS
Attendees will receive tips to improve the look, format, and readability of their scripts so as not to give the reader a reason to stop.
Facilitated by screenwriter and director, J. Darin Wales and screenwriter and Regent University professor, Sean Gaffney

VERSE JOURNALISM (POETRY)
Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks proposed we localize the news of the day one clipping at a time. In Report from Part One, the first of her two-volume autobiography, Ms. Brooks named her construct “verse journalism” and defined it as “poet as fly on the wall…poet as all-seeing eye.” Ms. Brooks believed that poetry could function as a vehicle to access a more robust, more human investigation of news and events. With the benefit of poetic license, verse journalism provides poets the opportunity to explore a topic from the inside out. But unlike traditional journalism, this construct leaves room for emotion, creative imaginings, and nuanced opinion.
Facilitated by poet and UVA professor, Charlotte Matthews

WHAT’S IN A METAPHOR? (POETRY)
Through writing exercises and discussion, workshop attendees will explore how metaphors enrich the life of a poem by engaging readers both intellectually and emotionally.
Facilitated by poet and ODU professor, Tim Seibles

COPYRIGHT AND WRONG: THE BASICS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Workshop attendees will be introduced to basic intellectual property terms and learn their meaning for authors, will be introduced to the subject of the duration and breadth of copyright, the meaning of the term "trademark," and the protections automatically afforded by law.
Facilitated by attorney and literary agent, Melissa Edwards

IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME: A FOREIGN RIGHTS RUNDOWN
Get an introduction to foreign sales: what’s hot in the various territories and what basic rights and terms are found in a foreign contract. A significant portion of the workshop will be open to Q & A.
Facilitated by attorney and literary agent, Melissa Edwards

REPEAT REPEAT? (POETRY)
Repetition is perhaps the most common and compelling poetic craft technique, a simple reflection of the human condition and our learning styles. How can we optimize repetition and also avoid tedium and predictability? In this workshop, we'll look at a couple of great examples and generate our own first drafts.
Facilitated by poet and ODU professor, Renee Olander

THE BUSINESS OF POETRY
How much do you care that your poems reach an audience? Who are your hoped-for audiences? This seminar will discuss various venues and considerations for reaching audiences — print, online, and spoken/in-person, in particular — and best practices in handling rejections.
Facilitated by poet and ODU professor, Renee Olander

MARKETING YOUR WORK
Both self-published and published authors will gain a basic introduction to the first steps needed to introduce yourself and your work to your audience. This workshop will include a discussion of blogs, (platforms available and what and how often to post),Twitter (what to tweet, how often, and how to get retweets), Amazon Author Central, Goodreads, LibraryThing, etc., and paid ads (are they right for you?).
Facilitated by author, Michelle Garren Flye

EVERYDAY HUMOR AND ITS IMPORTANCE IN A NOVEL
Even the most serious and suspenseful fiction can benefit from a touch of humor. This workshop will examine how you can add humor without taking away from serious subjects.
Facilitated by author, Michelle Garren Flye

REALITY IN ROMANCE: TELL YOUR SECRETS
In this workshop, we’ll examine ways to add a touch of reality to your fairy tale romance. Often it’s done by telling your own secrets. Which ones and how much should you be willing to share?
Facilitated by author, Michelle Garren Flye

DON'T TWEET THIS!
Many writers go about Twitter in a way that will likely alienate others. In this workshop, we will examine what authors should tweet in order to create and later expand their fan base.
Facilitated by author, Michelle Garren Flye

WRITING A SERIES
The idea of writing a series of books is daunting for some people. This workshop examines what the pros of writing a series are and how doing so might help sell books.
Facilitated by author, Michelle Garren Flye

HOW TO NAIL YOUR QUERY LETTER
In this conversational workshop, Mark Gottlieb will explain the structure of a good query letter, including the DOs and DON'Ts of querying an agent. He’ll present his and other agents’ pet peeves, along with those things that work really well in a query letter. There will be time for questions near the end of the workshop.
Facilitated by literary agent, Mark Gottlieb

GENRES: WHAT THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY MEAN
Do you know what the publishing terms "upmarket" and "new adult" mean? With the changing and meshing of genres in the last ten years, writers often find it difficult to know exactly what genre they’re writing in and, more importantly, if they’re querying their work to the right literary agent. In this workshop, attendees will learn about the various genres and the writing requirements and restrictions imposed by each of these.
Facilitated by literary agent, Heather Flaherty

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING: STORYTELLING THROUGH ACTION, NOT EXPOSITION (SHOW VS TELL)
One of a writers biggest revision requests from editors and agents is for the story to, "Show me, not tell me." So much explanation can be offered in action. Consider a shrug as a reaction instead of explaining that your character is bored. This simple gesture is way more powerful, visual, engaging, and even expected, than an apathetic soliloquy. Attendees to this workshop will learn the importance of showing character, motivation, and even plot through writing action. The workshop will also focus on turning exposition into action.
Facilitated by literary agent, Heather Flaherty

YOUR FIRST FIVE PAGES
Is the opening to your novel strong enough to grab the attention of a publisher? An agent? A reader? In today's competitive environment, it's more important than ever to make sure your novel hits the ground running. In this engaging, information-packed workshop, esteemed novelist Ellen Meister will help you whip your opening into perfect shape.
Facilitated by contemporary fiction author, Ellen Meister

WRITING THE FILMIC NOVEL (PLOT/STRUCTURE)
Almost all bestselling novels have one thing in common: a strong narrative thread that plays out like a movie. Master storyteller Ellen Meister will show you how to structure your plot in three acts to create a story that will appeal to readers, agents, publishers, and maybe even Hollywood. Regardless of your genre, you'll learn tricks for involving the reader in your protagonist's inner and outer journey, building to an exciting climax and delivering an ending that gives the story purpose. This is an invaluable class for fiction writers who want their novel to come alive with the kind of "filmic" structure that resonates so powerfully with modern readers.
Facilitated by contemporary fiction author, Ellen Meister

HOW TO GIVE A GREAT READING
Whether you are a published author or an emerging writer, this class will teach you to do a smooth and impressive public reading of your own work. You'll learn to overcome nerves and shyness and get expert tips for delivering your prose with polish. With careful attention to the basics of breathing, rhythm, posture, and performance, you'll emerge with greater confidence and the ability to deliver your next reading with ease and professionalism.
Facilitated by contemporary fiction author, Ellen Meister

BRINGING YOUR BOOK TO MARKET: AN OVERVIEW OF THE SELF-PUBLISHING PROCESS
This workshop will present an overview of the self-publishing process, covering the most important aspects needed for an indie author to achieve success on a limited budget.
Facilitated by sci-fi/fantasy writer, Dr. Chris Kennedy

JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER: DESIGNING A COVER FOR YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK
Did you know that 53 percent of your sales are due to your cover alone? It's important you get it right! Self-publishing expert Chris Kennedy will discuss ways to design your cover for maximum sales while still staying within your budget.
Facilitated by sci-fi/fantasy writer, Dr. Chris Kennedy

SELF-PUBLISHING 201: SETTING UP AMAZON FOR MAXIMUM PROFITS
Amazon is the 500-pound gorilla in the self-publishing industry and is where you will get the majority of your self-publishing sales. Self-publishing expert Chris Kennedy will show you how to publish your book with Amazon, tell you all of the things you need to know to do it right the first time, and show you how to maximize your sales on the industry giant.
Facilitated by sci-fi/fantasy writer, Dr. Chris Kennedy

THE CRAFT OF CREATIVE NONFICTION
Creative nonfiction comes in several forms. In this workshopm we will discuss the differences among memoir, personal essay, literary journalism, and narrative history. Each of these forms of CNF share certain techniques that, when used well, help to make the writing come alive on the page.
Facilitated by Kelly Sokol

WRITING THE LYRIC ESSAY
"The lyric essay partakes of the poem in its density and shapeliness, its distillation of ideas and musicality of language. It partakes of the essay in its weight, in its overt desire to engage with facts, melding its allegiance to the actual with its passion for imaginative form." — Deborah Tall and John D'Agata. Let's play in the margins between essay and poem, achieve balance between form and content.
Facilitated by author and teacher Kelly Sokol

NONFICTION: TURNING REAL STORIES INTO PUBLISHABLE WORK
The hardest word of a story to write is the first. The hardest clip to get published is the first. Starting is hard. This session will start with that first word and that first draft and begin progressing toward publishing your work. From writing creative nonfiction that sings to getting it published, come prepared to plan, brainstorm, and write. All participants will leave this session with a step-by-step roadmap for growing their passion for nonfiction writing. There are many paths to publishing; let’s find yours.
Facilitated by author and teacher Kelly Sokol

BREAKING DOWN BACKSTORY
You know where you want to begin your novel, but what to do with all that pesky backstory that threatens to weigh down your prose? This workshop will define the differences between summarized backstory and flashback, the different methods to use for each, and the development of your present-day scenes to imply backstory so that summaries and flashbacks can be dumped altogether.
Facilitated by author and teacher, Ellen Bryson

WORDS ON THE PAGE
The stories in our minds are perfect, but translating them into actual language is the tricky part. You know how it is. Your character has an emotional breakthrough, or you’ve reached a crucial point in the story that you’re itching to write. But even though you know exactly what is happening, sometimes when you put it to paper, your readers just don’t get it. This seminar will help you focus on the language level of your work. We’ll look at what is actually on the page versus what we think the story is about and work to sharpen our scenes, so readers experience what we intended.
Facilitated by author and teacher, Ellen Bryson

PSYCHIC DISTANCE: HOW CLOSE ARE YOUR CHARACTERS? (POV)
John Gardner, the author of The Art of Fiction, defines psychic distance as “the distance the reader feels between himself and the events in the story.” Others call it “level of penetration” or use the metaphor of a camera dolly. It all points to how close your characters are to the world they inhabit. In this seminar, we will use examples and exercises to explore: how psychic distance ranges from hyper-objective to deeply embedded; what elements play with a reader’s perception of distance; how psychic distance relates to showing and telling; and how to use the rhythm of intimacy — a moving point of view. Join us to hone your characters and your world.
Facilitated by author and teacher, Ellen Bryson

HOW TO BUILD A STORY
What can you do if you can’t find your story, or if you have a beginning but hit a wall? What if you are circling round and round and can’t seem to move forward. This workshop will help you find hidden possibilities, secret plot pockets, and tricks to up the ante.
Facilitated by author and teacher, Ellen Bryson


ADVANCED TRACK WORKSHOPS


While these workshops are specifically designed to benefit writers who fall within the guidelines of "advanced writers," anyone will be admitted into an advanced workshop provided that he or she has done the required pre-reading and writing for that workshop; attendees must show the required printed package and work at the workshop door for admittance.

Two-hour workshop

Thursday, September 17, 6:30 - 8:30 PM


HOOK, LINE, AND SINKER: WRITING THAT ALL IMPORTANT FIRST CHAPTER
With examples and discussion in this advanced workshop, students will learn the importance of hooking their readers in the first 250 words while including just enough vital information that the reader needs in terms of orientation and perspective. Students will also learn to create pitch lines and blurbs to go with their stories. Admittance to this workshop requires previous reading of material and pre-writing in advance of the conference.
Facilitated by YA/middle-grade paranormal author, Vanessa Barger

1-hour workshops

September 18 and 19 throughout the day


REVISION AND SELF-EDITING: SHAPING A WORK OF IMAGINATION INTO A WORK OF ART (FOCUS ON FICTION AND MEMOIR)
Participants will discuss some bad (published) writing by an editor who failed to edit himself, examples of great self-edits by Jayne Anne Phillips and an example of intrusive, conceptual editing by an editor who exploited his author’s work for his own vision. Admittance to this workshop requires previous reading of material provided by Dr. Henry well in advance of the conference.
Facilitated by author and Emerson University professor, Dr. DeWitt Henry

MEMOIRS OF CHILDHOOD: TURNING FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS INTO STORIES FOR STRANGERS (MEMOIR)
Participants will discuss published examples, and members will select, recall, or invent a salient family photograph of their own, revealing its drama and significance for the reader — Admittance to this workshop requires previous reading of material provided by Dr. Henry well in advance of the conference.
Facilitated by author and Emerson University professor, Dr. DeWitt Henry

WHO'S MYTHING THEM NOW: HOW TO USE QUESTS AND MYTHS IN YOUR WRITING
Workshop participants will look at what makes the quest narrative so popular in literature from The Epic of Gilgamesh to modern novels like Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper, and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. They will use what they learn to help develop their own quest narratives. We will also look at mythology, fairy tales, and religion in books and discuss how a writer can use those ideas in his or her own novels, while giving them their own spin. Admittance into this workshop requires previous reading of four specific books required by Vanessa, and attendees must come to the workshop with a plot (whether they've started writing or not) into which they would like to try to work mythology and the quest narrative.
Facilitated by YA/middle-grade paranormal author, Vanessa Barger

WHO WEARS THE MASK? (POETRY)
Writing in persona, or from voices other than one’s own, can be illuminating and liberating. Workshop participants will look at one or two great persona poems, discuss the genre, and embark on their own first drafts from new and surprising voices. Admittance to this workshop requires previous reading of material provided by Professor Olander well in advance of the conference.
Facilitated by poet and ODU professor, Renee Olander

IMAGERY AND TONE OF VOICE (POETRY)
Workshop participants will investigate the marriage between a poem’s imagery and its tone — how it works, when it works, and why it fails, when it fails. Admittance to this workshop requires previous reading of material provided by Professor Seibles well in advance of the conference.
Facilitated by poet and ODU professor, Tim Seibles



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