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. Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with the sessions below. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change and updates:

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. Crafting Magical Worlds — How to Compose Great Science Fiction and Fantasy, taught by E.J. Wenstrom. Where does magic come from? How is it powered? What are its limits? From Middle-Earth to Bon Temps to Hogwarts, every magical world has its own answers to these questions. Magical words are complex, each with their own history and rules. On this panel of five imaginative fantasy authors from the region, fans will get a behind-the-scenes look as the pros share the creative processes that drive the development of–and inspire–these unique fantasy worlds across a range of fantasy subgenres, from epic to urban to horror.

more classes coming

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Understanding Plot and Structure, taught by Jennifer Handford. How do you manage 300 pages of text? If the goal of the novel is to turn the pages — to keep the forward motion pushing forward — how then does a writer weave in exposition, dialogue, and contemplation? How much is too much? In this session, you will learn how to “color code” pages of text — to illustrate what percentage of a page of text is dedicated to exposition, dialogue, action, etc. In other words, how much can be tolerated by the reader before he loses interest in the forward motion? This is important for writers who tend to be literary, and value the contemplation and exposition.

more classes coming

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 (Salon J-K), 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 Sell a Nonfiction Book, taught by Shannon O’Neill. This session is completely devoted to nonfiction. 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.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. The 7 Touches of Marketing for Authors, taught by E.J. Wenstrom. In this session, a seasoned communications pro will explain a fundamental principle of marketing and sales, and explain how authors an apply it to their own efforts to build a readership and sell books, in the context of a modern, digital world.

2. The Magic of Voice in Young Adult and Middle Grade Novels, taught by Sarah Davies. In this session, hear from a literary agent on tips for finding and developing a unique sound inside your writing. Agents and editors always say they are looking for “voice.” But what does that mean for writers and how do you achieve this elusive goal? With inspiring ideas, practical suggestions and examples, Sarah will draw on her several decades in the books business to demonstrate how you can develop your voice skills, and discover yourself, in your writing.

more classes coming

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. How to Create Interesting Characters, taught by Jennifer Handford. The success of character creation is authenticity, and writers do this by making them imperfect. Characters should not be archetypes in the sense of good or bad, moral or immoral. All characters have one toe on the side of right and the other on the side of maybe wrong. They’re flawed; they make mistakes, they’re indecisive, they’re unsure. In this session, learn all about creating complex, interesting characters, and giving them obstacles to get what they want.

more classes coming


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.