2024 Workshops

Lessons from a Six-Book Series (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes)  Jack Campbell’s Pillars of Reality series grew out of what was once his first novel. It needed a LOT of work. As he edited and rewrote, he learned a great many things including the unexpected pitfalls of revisions, the importance of the scenes between the scenes, and the importance of those things written that may never appear in the books. Presented by Jack Campbell

Writing in General: NO RULES  (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Jack Cambell doesn’t believe in rules of writing. Rather, he believes that what matters is what works for each writer.  But every writer can benefit from knowing certain things to circumvent the inevitable problems. Presented by Jack Campbell

Non-traditional and Non-Western Ideas to Give Your Story a Unique Feel (Fiction): (60 Minutes) Too many fantasy worlds feel generic. Too many stories follow the same plots. This class will address real-world different ways of doing things and telling stories that can breathe life into writing. Presented by Jack Campbell

Classifying Your Hero, Villain, & All the Folks in the Middle (Fiction): (60 Minutes) In this session, participants will learn about types of story characters (and their classifications). Using that knowledge, they also will learn how to create characters who will make comparable and compelling conflicts and alliances. Presented by Yasmin Angoe

Writing Your Thriller or Suspense Story (Fiction--Thrillers and Suspense): (60 Minutes) What makes a story a thriller? What elements go into the crafting of a suspense or thriller? How are the two types of stories similar and how do they differ? Participants will learn about the things needed to create an engaging thriller or suspense story. Discussion will include the use of various necessary elements such as tropes, pacing, and plot. Presented by Yasmin Angoe

5 Tips for Helping Readers Empathize with Your Villain (Fiction): (60 minutes) It can feel awfully good to be just plain awful. You know it and the dastardly-deed-dispensing villain in your story definitely knows it and wants to show it. But how do we go about showing it in a way that lets us make the antagonists of our stories as deep as our heroes? Award-winning author Yasmin Angoe shares her top five tips for helping readers empathize with your villain. Presented by Yasmin Angoe

Birthing a Fictional Character (Fiction): (60 Minutes) Where do characters come from? Basing characters on people we know may seem like a fine idea, but in fact developing a complex, interesting character requires us to put pieces of ourselves into each creation. In this workshop, we’ll think deeply about the origins of fictional characters, explore how we can use story events to grow them into complicated beings, and see how, once fully developed, they let us know how the story goes. Presented by Dr. A.D. Nauman

Writing Fiction for Social Justice (Fiction): (60 Minutes) Novels with social justice themes are not a new phenomenon, but rising tensions in our culture have spawned a new generation. Dystopian, YA, contemporary, and even historical novels published today deal with issues of inequity and injustice. How do we write social justice fiction without sounding preachy? What do we do when our work-in-progress draws a harsh response? Is writing fiction for social justice even worthwhile, or should we be phone-banking? In this class, these questions and more will be addressed. Craft examples from published works will be shared as will the presenter's own experiences writing novels and short stories with social justice themes. Presented by Dr. A.D. Nauman

Understanding Your Readers’ Responses (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Knowing what to do with feedback is a challenge, especially when that feedback is contradictory, harsh, or puzzling. A variety of factors influence readers’ judgment of creative work: their stance, level of awareness of their own subjectivity, relationship to the author, expectations, knowledge, and the criteria on which they base their judgments. In this session, we’ll explore the reasons for various readers’ responses, gaining insight into which types are in fact most useful to us as writers and which we can happily discard. Presented by Dr. A.D. Nauman

Writing Historical Fiction (Fiction): (60 Minutes) Historical fiction has become one the most popular genres in the US today. Why are readers attracted to it, and why do writers write it? More important, how do we write it? What are the best ways to research? How do we know when we’ve done enough research? How do we get into the minds of people who’ve lived in very different eras? In this session, Dr. Nauman will share the best common wisdom for writing historical fiction, along with challenges she's faced and how she overcome them. Presented by Dr. A.D. Nauman

Firearms in Fiction—My Story Has a gun in it. Help! (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Guns are so ubiquitous in the United States that if you’re an American writer, one of your characters may very well pick up a gun, or find themselves face-to-face with one. We’ll read writers like Annie Proulx and Bonnie Jo Campbell. In her Wyoming stories, especially in "A Lonely Coast," Annie effectively uses guns as objects and metaphors. We will write from prompts, such as this one: What’s your first memory of a gun, even if it’s only from TV? I often get surprising, if not shocking, answers to this one. Presented by BettyJoyce Nash

Effective Dialogue (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Dialogue is the heart of a scene, revealing character and voice that’s essential to the scene’s success. We’ll discuss the anatomy of a “scene.” Ms. Nash will provide a prompt, or participants may choose their own. Something like: Invent two characters who disagree about money or the kids. (Or something.) We’ll practice their dialogue, always aiming for the surprise, the unexpected turn. Presented by BettyJoyce Nash

Revising Short Fiction: Writing IS Revision (Fiction): (90 Minutes) Participants are invited to bring a page of writing that isn’t working. We’ll examine, sentence by sentence, investigating tension, flow, character, and action, as well as the author’s intentions. We’ll also discuss fiction’s traditional “arc,” and how that standard has expanded dramatically, now accommodating any structure necessary to tell different stories. We’ll talk about the “hermit crab” forms, in which stories are told through different “containers,” such as lists, or recipes, receipts, field guides, manuals. Presented by BettyJoyce Nash

Everybody Does It: Writing Sex (Fiction): (60 Minutes) A sex scene is like any other scene. The relationship between partners is key, even, maybe especially, if they’re strangers. Sensory details, metaphor, setting, conflict and dialogue inform and deepen the scene, story, and theme. We’ll read excerpts, and we’ll also check out the (now discontinued, sadly) worst sex scenes, as nominated by the Guardian newspaper. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/27/bad-sex-award-shortlist-announced-for-britains-most-dreaded-literary-prize. Presented by BettyJoyce Nash

The Writer’s Lens: Your First Page (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (120 Minutes) Bring in your first page of a work in progress. We will read aloud and discuss, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph the first page of individual works. We'll discuss the author’s intentions and hopes for the piece and how those intentions are “coming through” to readers. Sometimes what we think is on the page may not be what readers see or perhaps not even what the story wants to be. Any and all structures welcome. The job here is to find the crossroads of meaning and intention, and find ways to best serve the story that wants to be told. Presented by BettyJoyce Nash

Write about the Person You Know Best: Yourself (Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Everybody’s stories are unique. Create first-person personal essays or creative non-fiction from your own experiences, memories, and imagination. We’ll discuss one or two short pieces, briefly discuss possible structures, then write our own. Or try fictionalizing a “true” experience, and transform it into a short story. We’ll also discuss how specific, sensory-rich details not only ground readers, but also enliven and deepen reader engagement. Presented by BettyJoyce Nash

Details, Details: Scene Setting and Description (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) When characters interact with settings, even a back yard or the inside of an ordinary house, they reveal themselves—through a handmade coffee mug or a loud, constant blare from the TV dominating the den. Setting details immerse readers in characters’ daily lives and values without explicitly telling them. We’ll write dramatic scenes showing characters’ relationships to the setting, whether it’s a factory or farm or art museum or mountaintop. We’ll describe the setting from two character viewpoints. Each character notices, and cares about, different elements of any setting. Presented by BettyJoyce Nash

Generative Exercise: Exploring Point of View (Fiction): (90 Minutes) Come ready to write in this generative exercise class that draws on the story of a great-great-great-great grandmother's murder. Participants will be provided with the bare bones of the story and a character from a list of characters. Everyone will write the story from their character's different vantage. (Point of View). Presented by Jody Hobbs Hesler

An Introduction to Book Reviewing and Literary Citizenship (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) An introduction to reviewing books for literary journals, why it's important, and how literary citizenship of all stripes benefits other writers while knitting you more comfortably into a strong network for yourself. Presented by Jody Hobbs Hesler

Best Practices for Creating a Positive, Constructive Critique Workshop (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Good feedback starts with a good reader, so hatching an effective workshop depends upon training participants to be good readers for each other. We’ll discuss how to do this and how to frame a few simple questions to keep workshop time centered and productive. Presented by Jody Hobbs Hesler

Narrative Tension: The Promises Writers Make (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Not every jumble of events makes a story. We need narrative tension to link plot events and push them toward their purpose. During this interactive seminar, we'll explore the difference between plot and narrative tension and how writing plants questions in readers' minds that drive their curiosity, crafting the throughline that pulls the reader to the end of our stories. Presented by Jody Hobbs Hesler

Writing the Essay (Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) New York Times and Washington Post published essayist Kate Lewis will teach a one-hour course on essays, including an overview of what essays can and should do in the world. She will offer writing prompts to get you started, and will give you information on what to do with your draft once you’re ready to send it out into the world. Presented by Kate Lewis

How to Pitch Essays & Op-Eds (Creative Nonfiction/Journalism): (60 Minutes) A mentor for the Op-Ed Project, New York Times and Washington Post published essayist Kate Lewis will walk through how to write and pitch essays to top-tier media outlets. Learn how to make your ordinary days into extraordinary moments through making meaning. Participants will learn how to find editors, and how to package their ideas into an email that will make it easy for acquisition editors to say ‘yes.’ Presented by Kate Lewis

Inside the Reading Room (Creative Nonfiction/Journalism): (60 Minutes) Learn more about what editors are looking for from writing in this session from Kate Lewis, an essayist with work in the New York Times, Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, and more. We’ll discuss strong first lines, endings that haunt, and prose so vivid it makes editors say a quick ‘yes.’ Presented by Kate Lewis

Pacing in Flash (Fiction and Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Participants will learn how to tell a moving, powerful story in less than 1,000 words, and how craft elements of flash storytelling can also be applied to longer creative projects such as memoir and novels. Hosted by essayist Kate Lewis, whose flash essays and stories have appeared in Literary Mama and Barely South Review, this session will also discuss the growing market for flash and why short short pieces can make a big impact. Presented by Kate Lewis

Memoir Writing: Discovering Your Life Arc and Writing about Others (Creative Nonfiction): (90 Minutes) Participants will learn about uncovering scenes from their lives and will get tips for how to develop them into a cohesive memoir. There will be a discussion of vulnerability, subjectivity, backlash, and laws. Presented by Kyle Marie McMahon

The Foundational 5 Cs of Creative Storytelling (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) This class will cover how concept, characters, context, conflict, and connection combine to create a great story. Presented by Kyle Marie McMahon

From Idea to Premise (Fiction and Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Participants will learn how to come up with ideas and expand on them to create a detailed premise and story. Presented by Kyle Marie McMahon

Self-Editing for Self-Publishing VS Traditional Publishing (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Participants will learn how to approach and perform editing on their own work before querying an agent or publisher, or hiring an editor. Presented by Kyle Marie McMahon

How Hot is Your Hook? (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (90 minutes) Participants will have the opportunity to write their best hooks in this interactive session. Presented by La Sherra Lee

Do You Know Your Character? (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Ms. Lee will take writers through techniques to help them create dynamic characters that will stand out during the pitch process. Presented by La Sherra Lee

Queries 101 (Business of Getting Published): (60 Minutes) Participants will dig through the potholes of querying and learn how to avoid them. Presented by La Sherra Lee

Outline Your Novel or Memoir: A Workshop for Pantsers and Plotters (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) To outline or not outline, that is the question. In this workshop, Ms. Williams will discuss an outlining style that can work for those who like to plot in advance and those who like to wing it. Using this technique, you'll get to outline the first few scenes of your novel too. Presented by Preslaysa Williams

Architect Your Story (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction) (2 hours) Do you have an idea for your story, but you don't know where to begin? Join us for this interactive workshop where we will water the seed of your story idea. We will identify your story's theme, create a short summary of your book, solidify your main character, and write a one-sentence summary of the first and last scenes of your novel. By the end of this workshop, you will have the tools to write your story. Presented by Preslaysa Williams

Smart Editing for Smart Novelists and Memoirists (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) You wrote a novel, now what? In this workshop, Ms. Williams will go over the main tiers of editing, and she'll provide participants with the tips and tricks that she uses to ensure that her writing is tight. At the end of this workshop, attendees will also receive a copy of her personal self-editing checklist that can be use to edit your work in progress. Presented by Preslaysa Williams

Make a Scene (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction): (60 Minutes) Scenes are the engine of story, but how do we know if we're writing an effective scene? In this workshop Ms. Williams will discuss the five main elements that every scene should have. Bring a draft of your scene and you will learn how to check its dramatic effectiveness, and you'll gain the tools to apply the five main story elements to every scene that you write. Presented by Preslaysa Williams

The Life of a Traditionally Published Author (Business of Getting Publishing): (60 Minutes) Do you want to be a traditionally published author? Then attend this workshop where Ms. Williams, a multi-published author with Avon/HarperCollins, will discuss the steps she took to become a traditionally published author. She will discuss book contracts, royalties, book advances, and the publishing house's editing process. You will also have a chance to ask her publishing questions. Join this class and expand your industry knowledge. Presented by Preslaysa Williams

Creative Event Planning for Authors (Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Business of Getting Published): (90 minutes) We all know about bookstore signings and library events, but what other ways can you market your book? In this presentation, mystery author, Heather Weidner, provides ideas for finding creative ways to showcase your books in places you may not have thought of for a book signing. She will offer tips on warming up cold calls and will give hints for staging your author table. Heather has been a contributor to the Virginia is for Mysteries series and other anthologies, and the teams did over 150 in-person events to promote the books. Presented by Heather Weidner

Building Your Social Media Platform for Authors (Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Business of Getting Published): (120 Minutes) Being an author is not just writing books and collecting royalties. In this session, mystery author, Heather Weidner, shows pre-published and seasoned authors how to build and grow their social media platforms. Presented by Heather Weidner

Making your Author Website and Email List Work for You (Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Business of Getting Published): (60 Minutes) In this presentation, mystery author, Heather Weidner, shows pre-published and seasoned authors ways to design/create, reorganize, and rejuvenate your author website and email list, the center of your author platform. Presented by Heather Weidner

How I landed an Agent (and a Second One) (Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Business of Getting Published): (60 Minutes) Everyone’s writing journey is different. In this session, mystery author, Heather Weidner, shares her journey to find an agent and the lessons she learned along the way. Presented by Heather Weidner

It's All About You--Establishing Your Author Brand (Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Business of getting Published): (60 Minutes) What does your online presence say about you? In this session, mystery author, Heather Weidner, talks about ways to create (or polish) your author brand to showcase your writing style. Presented by Heather Weidner

Voice in Poetry (Poetry): (60 Minutes) Participants will discuss the differences between voice and imagery, reading excerpts of poems with strong voice. Ms. Smaltz will offer voice-based prompts for writers to use during workshop time. Presented by Kathy Smaltz

Line Breaks in Free Verse/Open Form Poems (Poetry): (60 Minutes) In this class, writers will examine the varying advice on line breaks from a myriad of professional poets and teachers. We’ll work together to create stanzas from a paragraph and writers will get prompts that inspire them to try different styles. Presented by Kathy Smaltz

Writing from the Shadow (Poetry): (60 Minutes) Using “the shadow” from both Jung’s and Addonizio’s work, participants will look at several poems that delve into shadow work before discussing reasons to let the shadow into their writing. Writers will receive prompts to inspire vulnerable, raw poetry. Presented by Kathy Smaltz

Nature Poems (Poetry): (60 Minutes) Participants will write poetry inspired by nature and art and read some exemplar poems that others have penned. They will brainstorm a list of tools writers can use when describing the natural world and will examine the art of the “turn” with an emphasis on metaphor and symbolism. Presented by Kathy Smaltz

Choosing a New Perspective, or: How to Write Martian Poetry (Poetry): (60 Minutes) This class will introduce attendees to the “Martian School” of poetry that became popular in Britain after Craig Raine published A Martian Sends a Post Card Home in 1979. The idea behind the book was simple: a Martian comes to Earth, observes ordinary activities from an alien perspective, and writes post-card poems to those back home on Mars. Professor Hart will explain how Raine adapted Emily Dickinson’s famous advice for poets, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” and Ezra Pound’s advice, “Make it new.” The assignment will be to write a Martian poem. Presented by Henry Hart

Revising Poems to Create More Impact, or: How to Use a Trash Compacter (Poetry): (60 Minutes) This class will focus on how to create poems that have more impact by being more compact. Professor Hart will discuss the haiku tradition that was developed during the Middle Ages in Japan by Zen Buddhist monks, and explain the influence of that tradition on modern English poetry. Those in the class will get hand-outs with examples of modern haiku and haiku-like poems. The assignment will be to revise a poem or write a new poem that is as compact as a series of haiku. Presented by Henry Hart

Retelling the Old Stories, or: How to Put New Wine in Old Bottles (Poetry): (60 Minutes) In this class, Professor Hart will concentrate on the way contemporary poets retell old stories, such as classical myths and fairy tales. Poets have been drawn to myths and fairy tales because they dramatize universal human desires, anxieties, and fears. As a result, these stories—and, in some cases, the poems that retell the stories—have universal appeal. Professor Hart will hand out examples of “revisionary” poems by Louise Glück, Sharon Olds, and Adrienne Rich. The assignment will be to write a poem about a dramatic personal experience that is based on a fairy tale or myth. Presented by Henry Hart

Writing an Epistolary Poem, or: Finding the Right Voice for Your Reader (Poetry): (60 Minutes) This class will investigate modern poems that were written as letters, notes, emails, tweets, or texts. When writing a message to someone, whether it is a friend, a spouse, the President of the United States, or God, we normally adjust our “voice” or style to suit the one who is being addressed. Professor Hart will talk about the general issue of poets searching for a “voice,” and give participants examples of epistolary poems written by William Carlos Williams, Robert Lowell, Louise Glück, Ted Hughes, and others. The assignment will be to write an epistolary poem to someone about whom you have strong feelings. Presented by Henry Hart

Perfecting Your 10-minute Author/Agent Pitch (Business of Getting Published):  (120 minutes) A 2-hour immersive workshop on perfecting the 10-minute agent/editor pitch session. We will discuss how to perfect your "elevator" pitch, what grabs an agent/editor's attention, and follow-up questions they may ask. The workshop will include an opportunity to share your pitch and revise based on feedback received. Presented by Jackie Kruzie

The Dreaded Synopsis (Fiction and Business of Getting Published): (60 Minutes) A comprehensive guide to writing a one-page synopsis. We will discuss why agents and editors ask for them, how they are used in the decision-making process, and how authors can utilize them in the plotting process. As a bonus, we will also discuss how to write powerful jacket blurbs even reluctant readers can't resist. Presented by Jackie Kruzie

Should I get an Agent? (Business of Getting Published): (60 Minutes. Attendees of this class will have the opportunity to participate in an honest discussion of the pros and cons of working with a literary agent. They will learn what to expect from the agent/author relationship and how to spot a bogus agent. Presented by Jackie Kruzie

How to Find a Literary Agent (Business of getting Published): (90 minutes) In this presentation, you'll learn what a literary agent is, what they do, why you might need one - and most importantly how to find the best one to represent your work. Presented by Nikki Terpilowski

On Mindful Writing:  How Can ‘The Flow State’ Help You Become a Better Writer? (60 Minutes) In this presentation which shares scientifically proven elements of mindfulness for the writer, you'll learn what the flow state is, why it's important to the writer, how it can increase your productivity and creativity and the steps you need to take to begin writing in the flow. Presented by Nikki Terpilowski