2016 Conference Breakout Sessions


Two-hour workshops

Thursday, September 15, 7 - 9 PM


White Space: Your Poem’s Red Bull
A poem plays out on the page, its landscape as important as its language. We’ll consider the role of both horizontal and vertical white space (think in terms of margin, line, and stanza breaks) in creating energy, intrigue, tension, and meaning. We’ll look at white space in the work of one or two major poets before examining our own poetry and its relationship with the page. Expect to draft and perhaps share new work in this session.
Presented by Charlotte Matthews

Formatting Your Manuscript for Kindle Direct Publishing to Create an E-Book--HOUR 1
You finished a book. Congratulations! Whether it’s poetry, short stories, nonfiction, or a novel, anyone can find tremendous satisfaction in seeing her work join the growing online community. Many writers lose faith, however, when faced with the seemingly daunting (or expensive) task of formatting their manuscripts in a way that Amazon Kindle Direct will accept. It’s really not as difficult as you think! This interactive workshop will guide you step by step, taking a standard Word document and transforming it into an attractive, easy-to-view Kindle file. Bring your questions. Laptops or tablets, while not at all necessary, would allow you to follow along in your own documents.
Presented by John Robert Mack

Formatting Your Manuscript for Createspace to Publish Your Paperback--Hour 2
E-books are all well and good, but a real writer wants her work in print, right? This workshop is designed for authors who want to take their manuscripts from Word documents into honest-to-goodness books with actual pages and covers. Createspace from Amazon makes this dream a reality, but formatting a manuscript (and making it look right) can be a daunting or expensive task. Learn the basics of formatting for paperback, along with ways to avoid some of the worst pitfalls. Even if you don’t want to format on your own, this workshop will show you how to streamline the job for a professional, thus reducing the cost. Bring your questions. Laptops or tablets, while not at all necessary, would allow you to follow along in your own documents.
Presented by John Robert Mack

Mastering the 10-minute Agent Pitch
In this workshop, designed for both fiction and nonfiction writers, attendees will learn what things go into a successful agent pitch and how best to deliver that pitch. If you intend to take advantage of an agent pitch, this workshop will markedly increase your chance of delivering a superb pitch. This workshop is available to all conference attendees whether they plan to pitch or not.
Presented by Eric Smith

Crafting the “Me” in Memoir
This workshop focuses on the center of your memoir: You. But have you noticed that the “me” in your memoir isn’t really you? You’re way too much for a book! In fact, the “me” projected onto the pages of a memoir can only be, at best, an honestly and thoughtfully crafted version of the self. It can be difficult to locate the right persona for your story—one that’s not too safe, not too risky, and one who tells a powerful truth. As writers rendering personal experiences, how do we account for the difference between what we know now and what we knew then? How do we settle into an authentic voice, take a clear and meaningful stance, portray ourselves as truly human, and reveal the transformative insights of wisdom gained over time? In this workshop, we’ll discover how to use voice, stance, self-characterization, and perspective to invite readers to emotionally invest in the stories of our personal lives. We’ll also cover the different key functions of author, speaker, and character when writing about ourselves. This workshop is for memoir writers at every level of experience and works just as well for shorter pieces as it does for book-length projects.
Presented by Shawn Girvan

Literary Fiction: What the Heck is it?
In a world of great genre writing, what does the genre “literary fiction” stand for? Is it merely the confabulation of marketers, or might its values prove useful to writers of all stripes? We’ll consider notion of “literary fiction” that may augment or enrich our own work regardless of where it’s shelved in a bookstore.
Presented by Gavin Pate


One-hour workshops

September 16 and 17 throughout the day


Writing Your Novel One Draft at a Time
Writing a novel can be overwhelming. There’s a tremendous sense that you must have it all figured out before you sit down to write the opening line. You don’t. In fact, it takes me seven drafts to get my manuscripts ready for my editor. Explore my seven-draft process, which breaks down the novel writing experience into manageable portions, including the First Draft or Sloppy Copy to the final polishing Last Draft Checklist.
Presented by Mary Burton

The Secret Ingredient in a Page Turner
What’s the top-secret component that makes a novel pop? New York Times and USA Today bestselling romantic suspense author Mary Burton believes the key is mystery and suspense even in the most traditional novels. Burton and her alter ego, contemporary women's fiction author Mary Ellen Taylor, know suspense is far more than crazed serial killers and ticking time bombs. Adding tension involves a wide range of tried-and-true, nuanced techniques that can spice up any story and keep readers turning pages and coming back for more. Burton will discuss devices, such as foreshadowing, cliffhangers, pacing, chapter lengths, word choices, point of view, and sexual tension.
Presented by Mary Burton

People are Saying Terrible Things About Me on the Internet!: Dealing with Criticism and Bad Reviews in the Modern World
In days of yore, all you had to deal with were polite, professional, and yet still painful rejection letters from agents and publishers, along with the occasional scathing critical review. Now, in the modern, internet-driven world, you can be insulted by anybody with an opinion and an internet connection! This workshop is filled with tips about not only dealing with the inevitable bad reviews but some methods for gaining them in the first place and also using them as fertilizer for future growth.
Presented by Robert J. Crane

Caught in a (Sales) Funnel: Using a Series to Drive Readership
If you're planning to have a writing career either as an indie author or a traditionally published one, it's best to be able to follow up one successful book with another. In this workshop, we'll go over strategies to establish a series and keep it running, using it as a funnel to drive your readership and build a long-term career.
Presented by Robert J. Crane

On Wobbly, Baby Deer-like Legs: Your First Steps into Self-Publishing
While self-publishing has risen from a joke to a viable alternative to being traditionally published in the last few years, incredible amounts of disinformation and any number of scams remain littered across the internet. How do you sort the fact from the fiction? This workshop, taught by a self-published author making a living at it, will try and light the path for authors interested in self-publishing, whether they're considering putting out their first book or their tenth.
Presented by Robert J. Crane

Bring the Funny: Using Humor to Liven Your Manuscript
Manuscript feeling a little too grim? Worried you're going to drive your readers to slit their own wrists after they put down your book? Assuage your guilt over causing them pain by making them swallow that bitter pill with a spoonful of sugar! Or possibly laughter.
Presented by Robert J. Crane

Writing Literary Crack: How to Keep Your Readers Coming Back Over a Long Series
Writing a long series may be a smart business decision for writers, but how does an artist keep readers engaged and coming back for more? This workshop will cover a few of the tips and tricks you can use to keep things fresh and properly paced.
Presented by Robert J. Crane

Come Hell or High Water: Finishing the Book You Started, No Matter What
What's the number one thing that separates a wannabe author from being an author? The ability to finish writing the book. And then another. And another. Learn some of the strategies that have turned a thirty-year-old wannabe who'd never completed anything longer than a short story into an author who wrote over thirty novels within five years.
Presented by Robert J. Crane


Finding Your Voice and Making it Heard
VOICE. That IT factor. The Holy Grail. Every writer has one. Every writer knows what it is, but not everyone can figure out how to develop a compelling one. Join Jeannie Lin and Bria Quinlan, two award-winning and bestselling authors, as they chase down this elusive element. This workshop discusses concrete tips and techniques for finding and enhancing your writing voice so that it emerges, not merely as unique, but as a compelling force that has readers turning the pages for more.
Presented by Bria Quinlan and Jeannie Lin

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary: Worldbuilding for non-SF/F Writers
Worldbuilding – The mind immediately leaps to fantastic settings and altered realities, but the care and craft needed to construct so-called “ordinary” worlds cannot be overlooked. Join two bestselling and award-winning authors, Bria Quinlan and Jeannie Lin, as they dig deeply into the process of building rich, imaginative worlds and the characters that live in them without the aid of super powers, magical creatures, or the Apocalypse.
Presented by Bria Quinlan and Jeannie Lin

Using Theme to Strengthen and Structure Plot: A Workshop for Plotters and Pantsters
You don’t have to be a hardcore plotter with outlines and storyboards and spreadsheets to create an intricately woven story. Whether your story is barely a glimmer in your eyes or completed and in the midst of revisions, tackling your manuscript using a thematic approach will tighten those story threads, flesh out subplots, and spin your little tale into a larger story. The final product will look as if you planned it all from the beginning.
Presented by Jeannie Lin

Writing Short
Longer-form genres are catching on to what science fiction/fantasy writers have known for a long time: Writing short can be a fascinating and lucrative way to write. Bria Quinlan walks through the ways to get the most out of the fewest words.
Presented by Bria Quinlan

Opposites Attract: Working with Your Foil
Writers want people to agree with them while making them better. Jeannie Lin and Bria Quinlan have found that beating the crap out of each other has worked better for them. What happens when a historical-writing, lush prose-crafting plotter meets an off-the-cuff, fast-paced, rompy-romantic-comedy pantser? Magic.
Presented by Bria Quinlan and Jeannie Lin

Boot Camp for Newbie Writers
Just starting out is one of the most fun times to be a writer . . . and one of the most confusing. We’ll talk about everything from managing your time and energy, deciding about passions and paths, to getting over your fears. This is an ask-us-anything chat. Bring all your questions.
Presented by Bria Quinlan and Jeannie Lin


Formatting Your Manuscript for Kindle Direct Publishing to Create Your E-Book
You finished a book. Congratulations! Whether it’s poetry, short stories, nonfiction, or a novel, anyone can find tremendous satisfaction in seeing her work join the growing online community. Many writers lose faith, however, when faced with the seemingly daunting (or expensive) task of formatting their manuscripts in a way that Amazon Kindle Direct will accept. It’s really not as difficult as you think! This interactive workshop will guide you step by step, taking a standard Word document and transforming it into an attractive, easy-to-view Kindle file. Bring your questions. Laptops or tablets, while not at all necessary, would allow you to follow along in your own documents.
Presented by John Robert Mack

Formatting Your Manuscript for Createspace to Publish Your Paperback
E-books are all well and good, but a real writer wants her work in print, right? This workshop is designed for authors who want to take their manuscripts from Word documents into honest-to-goodness books with actual pages and covers. Createspace from Amazon makes this dream a reality, but formatting a manuscript (and making it look right) can be a daunting or expensive task. Learn the basics of formatting for paperback, along with ways to avoid some of the worst pitfalls. Even if you don’t want to format on your own, this workshop will show you how to streamline the job for a professional, thus reducing the cost. Bring your questions. Laptops or tablets, while not at all necessary, would allow you to follow along in your own documents.
Presented by John Robert Mack

Who Needs an Editor?
You do. Whether the goal is a traditional publishing contract or fame and fortune as a self-pubbed author, every writer needs an editor. Once you find one, what happens next? Should you pay? Can you find someone to edit for free? What about writing workshops and groups? Why are they so mean? Learn the ins and outs of navigating what can be one of the most important relationships of a writer’s life.
Presented by John Robert Mack

Eliminating the Excuses
Have you ever said, “I could write a novel if only . . .” Or maybe it’s, “I could finish my novel if only. . .” No matter the reason, it’s just an excuse and it can be overcome. Learn how to avoid the horrors of the blank page (or screen), how to overcome writer’s block, and how to find the time to write every single day. This interactive workshop will teach you how to tap into the creativity every one of us hides deep inside. Bring questions and your writing medium of choice. While you will be asked to write spontaneously, you won’t be forced and you need not share a word of what you write. See? Two excuses already eliminated.
Presented by John Robert Mack

Writing for Yourself Versus Finding an Audience
Some writers are perfectly happy to create entire universes filled with amazing characters without ever sharing a single word. Others would like to see their works find a local, regional, or world-wide audience. Both of these goals are wonderful, but thinking like a loner while actually wanting the audience is one of the biggest pitfalls of new writers. On the other hand, trying to figure out how to write the next bestseller for the sole purpose of getting published can suck all the heart out of a novel. Learn how to balance these two very different goals.
Presented by John Robert Mack

The Changing Reality of Self-Publishing
As I write this description, I have to admit that in the nine months until the conference, the world of self-publishing will have changed. This workshop will try to help you learn the latest changes in a constantly evolving world, as well as providing a history of the birth of what is at once the most amazing opportunity for new authors and what others have called the death knell for the written word. Come find out if self-publishing is for you . . . or just find out what all the hype is about.
Presented by John Robert Mack

Branding Yourself
Once upon a time writing was enough. Nowadays, a writer has to wear a number of hats—even writers fortunate enough to land a contract with one of the big six. She has to navigate the murky waters of social media. She must understand the differences between marketing and advertising. She needs to leave the lofty tower where she writes and shake hands and make small talk. The most important lesson is how to create her own “brand” so all that effort works together toward a common goal.
Presented by John Robert Mack

Ekphrasis: Painting as Prompt
Ekphrasis: the use of art—both 2D and 3D—as prompt. The ekphrastic poem uses art as springboard for both narrative and lyric work. We will look closely at poetry inspired by Brueghel the Elder’s paintings before drafting our own poems in response to traditional and modern artworks.
Presented by Charlotte Matthews

The Poetic Gold Rush: Mining Photographs for Narrative Poems
We have all been fixed at some point in our lives inside photographs that deliver stories—our own, our family and friends’, and those of total strangers. Some photos hand over the truth of a precise shutter moment on a particular day; others seem to represent the distillation of an entire childhood. As we dig deep into our photographs to discover their poetic seams, we’ll emerge with nuggets, flakes, grains, and dust. All gold, all valuable. In order to participate in this workshop, please bring in a family or personal photograph or print of a photograph.
Presented by Charlotte Matthews

Poetry: Preserving Silence in a Loud World
In a world that barrages us with noise and demands our attention, poetry is one of the few custodians of silence. This workshop will examine poems that preserve silence, parsing out how this is achieved. In addition participants will participate in exercises that guide them to a poem written out of silence. This will be an active, participatory workshop.
Presented by Charlotte Matthews

Brain Dead: Writing in the Total Absence of Inspiration
It happens to us all: we carve time from our busy schedule so that we might write…and all we can hear are crickets. This session presents four suggestions for generating new work in the absence of inspiration. Participants are invited/encouraged to write a poem in response to each suggestion with a view to sharing their wobbly and imperfect drafts with fellow “brain dead” poets.
Presented by Charlotte Matthews

Secret Worlds: Drafting the Poems Only You Can Write
There are places and situations unique to you: for example, no one else but you can tell the story of that summer camp dormitory . . . or that awful day in 1985 when you were fired . . . or that goofy girl you met in Kansas on your seventeenth birthday. If we are lucky, we have clear enough memories to talk about those "worlds"—but it is not enough that we write poems ABOUT; good poems come when we write FROM. Get ready to recreate, to return to, to inhabit, to share your own secret world (many of which spring from our childhoods and adolescence) before handing it over in the form of an early draft poem.
Presented by Charlotte Matthews

Introduction to Ecopoetry: Poetry as Living and Writing Practice within our Ecosystems
In Western and non-Western literature, works written in the tradition of the pastoral generally feature nature either as a dominant trope or a theme. This workshop will present the contemporary concept of Ecopoetry as a way of living and writing in a world of interconnectedness. Especially given the climate of rapid globalization and change, ecopoetry is particularly invested in the insight that any reference to the natural world in literature cannot be merely decorative. Rather, ecopoetry is interested in questions of material, economic, social, cultural, and even spiritual urgency and agency—because it recognizes that we, and all our forms of expression, are products of our living interconnectedness with all beings. Our lives, our fates, and our futures are directly linked to the relationships we cultivate with others and with our ecosystems. During this breakout session, participants will explore a carefully curated group of poems that speak from the perspective of ecopoetry and come away hopefully with a more deeply enhanced sense of how our own language and writing can become more sensitive instruments in witnessing, listening to others (human and other species), and envisioning a world that actively makes space for both hope and responsible practice. This session will include readings, writing prompts, and the sharing of discussions and writing by participants.
Presented by Luisa Igloria

Query Letters: How to Make them Work For, and Not Against, You
You've completed an awesome novel, have handpicked the agents you'd like to represent your work, and have sent out query letters to all of them . . . and received nothing but crickets. In this workshop, we’ll explore things you can do to make your query stand out in a sea of hopefuls and will discuss common mistakes to avoid.
Presented by Paul Stevens

Contracts 101
In this workshop, attendees will learn about contracts, terms, language common in most contracts, and about things they should look out for before signing anything.
Presented by Lucienne Diver

Publishing A to Z
In this workshop, attendees will learn about all things publishing. Discussion will focus on how to prepare a killer manuscript, the path to submission, the search for the perfect agent, the negotiation process, and the publication process.
Presented by Lucienne Diver

A Day in the Life of Literary Agents: What They Do and How You Can Use it to Your Advantage
Literary agents do much more than read all day. Having a clear understanding of their duties can help you find the best agent for you, and once you’ve signed with him or her, enable you to navigate the agent-author relationship in the most professional, effective way possible. In this workshop, you’ll learn how agents evaluate queries, edit manuscripts, pitch books to editors, negotiate deals, handle subsidiary rights, collaborate with coworkers, review contracts, network with editors and scouts, and more. Presented by Eric Smith

Microsoft Word for Writers: Building Automatic Manuscript Templates
Are you squandering your time fooling around with MS Word and not producing anything but frustration? Learn how to turn Word’s complexity into a useful tool under your control and spend your valuable time writing instead of fiddling. This session will explore how to create a basic manuscript template in Word, which can be easily modified for formats, such as novels, short stories, e-books, or poems. The templates can be saved for instant reuse, reducing setup time and letting you get right to work with a single mouse click. We will discuss standard guidelines such as, fonts, spacing, header and footer, automatic page numbering, word counters, title page, and inserting an updatable table of contents. Controlling and customizing spell check, grammar check, auto-format and other automatic options will also be investigated along the way. Incorporating these procedures can make your writing time more prolific and less troublesome!
Presented by Rick Eley

Microsoft Word for Writers: Tips, Tricks, and Hidden Secrets
Deep in the heart of Word lie secrets to charm the most hardened writer. Many authors spend countless hours with Word without learning helpful and time-saving features already built in. Most everyone knows about Control X, C, V—cut, copy and paste—but do you know how to delete the whole word before or after your cursor with one keystroke? How about selecting an entire sentence and then changing it to all uppercase (or lowercase) with only two keystrokes? Would you like to be able to drop in an English Pound £, copyright ©, Spanish Ñ, or a section break § without calling tech support? All these await you along with such tidbits as customizing Word options, mouse shortcuts, multiple item copy-paste, and navigation functions inside your document. Saving files, automatic data backup methods, research/translate/thesaurus options, and plug-ins will also be discussed. Come along—if you dare!—as we venture behind the curtain, shove that wizard out of the way, and pull some mysterious levers for ourselves. Are you brave enough to join the quest?
Presented by Rick Eley

Nonfiction: What Makes for Good Devotional Writing
This workshop covers the basics of good devotional writing—from what to avoid to achieving the right balance between commentary on a scripture passage, personal narrative, and practical application. Topics range from discovering the connection between our lives and what God is doing in the world to setting pen to paper. In addition to a conversation on some of the various literary forms devotions can assume, we will look at and discuss several examples of devotional writing done well and discuss paying markets for this type of writing.
Presented by Ginger Marcinkowski

The Changing Face of Christian Fiction
Christian fiction has a rich tradition in Europe, which goes back several centuries, and draws on past Christian allegorical literature, such as Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy and John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. During this session, participants will learn about the unique opportunities and challenges in today’s Christian fiction space. What things are allowed. What aren’t. Attendees also will learn about writing Christian fiction that’s suitable for the general marketplace.
Presented by Ginger Marcinkowski

Christian Fiction for Young Adults
Attendees will receive tips for crafting and marketing God-honoring stories that will capture the interest of publishers and buyers and the hearts of teens. Examples of current YA Christian fiction will be presented and discussed in terms of what makes them marketable.
Presented by Ginger Marcinkowski

Police Procedure and Investigations: Insights into a Cop’s World
Not everything you see on your favorite crime show is accurate. In fact, a lot of it is flat-out wrong. Attendees of this workshop will get the straight facts about police procedure and investigation.
Presented by Lt. Mike Lovely

Create a Believable Crime or Murder Scenario
Understanding the forensic science and methods police investigators use on the scene is necessary to create a believable crime or murder scenario in your short story or novel.
Presented by Lt. Mike Lovely

Body Talk: Lying, Loving, and the Real Language of the Body
The use of body language adds a rich, colorful layer to fiction and invites the reader to participate in the story. Your hero may shield his feelings. Yyour heroine may try to soften an emotional blow. Your villain will often happily gallop into a bold-faced lie. But the body always tells the truth. With a flick of the eye, a twitch of the mouth and even more subtle clues, your character’s body language subconsciously alerts your readers to your character’s big, black secret. Body language builds reader anticipation—it’s the up-climb on the fiction roller coaster. Through tools gleaned from FBI research and police personality profiling, you can use body language in fiction to convey to the reader the fall is coming, prepare them for the big finale, even when your characters don’t see it coming. In this workshop, we’ll take a look at the human body’s unique language of attraction from first contact to first love, to the subtle signs of deception. And we’ll build a better story, based on the most basic and ancient language—the language of the body.
Presented by Lt. Mike Lovely

Tell Me Your Truth: Memoir That Reaches Beyond the Story

One of the most compelling aspects of a memoir is that it’s true, but too many writers get stuck in their own story. The best memoirists find the larger issues and invite the readers into our universal story. This session will help attendees define and expand the underlying themes that will open their memoirs to others.
Presented by Shawn Girvan

Lifelines: A Memoir Writing Workshop
Memory is ephemeral. It may or may not be factual as history or autobiography purports to be. Imagine the stories told at a family gathering; how many versions of the same story might you hear, each one claiming to be “the way it really happened.” In this breakout session, attendees will explore ways of tapping memory as they focus on specific strategies to help recreate those small moments that make up their memoirs, the tapestries of their lives.
Presented by Shawn Girvan

Capturing the Intensity: Dramatic Moments in Fiction and Nonfiction
Description. Sentence length. Poetic tools. What if you used these familiar craft elements to intensify a scene or epiphany in fiction and nonfiction? Attendees will be exposed to the basic tools that can make a dramatic moment real and memorable and will be shown how to apply the principles to their own writing.
Presented by Shawn Girvan

He Said/She Said: The Art of Dialogue
You reach a crucial moment in your story — do you employ dialogue or narrative prose? How does dialogue express character? Why is "expository" or "on the nose" dialogue so deadly — and how can you avoid it? How do we infuse dialogue with the necessary tension to drive the story forward and keep the reader engaged? We'll discuss the most effective use (and unfortunate misuse) of dialogue.
Presented by Gavin Pate

Poetry for Prose Writers
Writers usually put themselves in one of two camps: poetry or prose. But in this binary system of writing, poets and prose writers alike miss out on important lessons the other side has to offer them. This workshop will focus on what prose writers can learn from reading (or writing) poetry, including rhythms, textures, sounds, and word choice. The session will include practical steps toward fuller prose and writing exercises. Examples of poetry in prose — from Faulkner to Hemingway, from Atwood to McEwan — will be discussed.
Presented by Gavin Pate






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