Workshops (alphabetical order)

Handouts will be available in the Yahoo group.There will not be handouts provided at the conference as part of our effort to “go green” and reduce our paper use when possible. If you aren’t part of the group and need to look for a handout, please contact us at


*** UPDATED MARCH 12, 2013 ***


Charlotte Carter

In this workshop participants will learn how to use images and props, develop story theme, create gaps in reader expectations, body language, layering and relevant descriptions to enhance their stories.



Jon Fine

Join us for an overview of the innovative resources and programs available on to help you publish your book and reach your audience, including Kindle, CreateSpace, and Author Central.


BASIC GUIDE TO WEAPONS (2 hour session)

M.A. Taylor

Writers will have an opportunity to view weapon concealment and to experience tactile-kinesthetic learning by actually handling weapons, while M.A. Taylor lectures on basic weapon laws, weapon differences, problems faced by left-handed vs. right-handed shooters.  M.A. Taylor will also talk about Concealed Carry Permits and much more.



Barbara Vey

Barbara Vey from Publisher’s Weekly will talk with authors about different ways to build reader loyalty and inspire your readers to “tell a friend” about your books. She’ll also share some do’s and don’ts for author etiquette with readers. If you’re an author, this is a chat with a book blogger that you won’t want to miss.



Susan Meier

Rejected? Can’t get an agent? Can’t sell, even though your critique partners LOVE your work? Susan Meier reviews the seven most common rejection catch phrases and explains how determining whether your problem is a story, scene or word problem is the first step on the road to recovery, and shares tricks-of-the-trade to finding and fixing your errors before you submit!


CAN YOU STAND THE HEAT?  Writing Erotic Romance for Fun and Profit

Louisa Bacio and Tara Lain

No romance writer today can afford to ignore the erotic romance market. One of the fastest growing subgenres in the $1.4 billion romance arena, erotic romance has moved out of the shadows into the bright light (or shades of grey!) Erotic romance authors Tara Lain and Louisa Bacio, with more than 20 published novels between them, provide a quick immersion into the erotic realm. What is it really? How does it differ from traditional romance? What words do you use and how graphic should it get? Who should write it? Should you? How do you approach writing an erotic romance? And once you have it written, where can you submit it?


CHARACTER SELF DEFINITION:  Awakening the Conflict Within

Elizabeth Boyle

This workshop explores how to use (and discover) a character’s self-definition to create conflict, as well as plot.  Workshop participants will see how by placing a character’s self-definition into flux, challenging it and forcing their character’s to reexamine their lives, choices and grounding ideas can create compelling, personal, and page-turning fiction.  Using great characters in fiction and movies, Elizabeth will move more advanced writers toward creating greater depth in their stories and find a better consistency to their storytelling by staying true to a character’s self-definition.



Terry Blain

Have you ever wondered why a contest judge judges? And what are they looking for anyway? Ever wondered how they judge? What turns a judge on, or how to score big? What turns them off, or errors to avoid? Workshop will also cover how to choose your contests and what to do when you final (or not). Workshop will also cover `how to’ and `why’ to contest, or choosing your contest wisely.  Questions and comments from participants will be encouraged throughout the workshop.



Linda Wisdom

Batman has Robin. The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Leonard has Sheldon, Howard and Raj. Even Lassie had Jeff and Timmy.  What is it about sidekicks that catch our attention? It can be humor, drama, something quirky.  Sidekicks, aka secondary characters, help round out a book. They can show a different side to your main character and give them additional life.  Come learn what goes into creating a memorable sidekick that your readers will remember.



Julia Quinn

Dialogue affects every aspect of your manuscript—style, voice characterization, pacing…even point of view!  Join Julia Quinn as she examines ways to make your dialogue shine.



Panelists:  Mallory Braus a Freelance Editor, Michelle Klayman of Boroughs Publishing Group, and Jennifer Miller of Samhain.

Join a panel of e-publishing professionals as they discuss the growing world of e-publishing.


GASLIGHT, GADGETS AND GIZMOS:  The Many Possibilities of Steampunk

Panelists: Zoë Archer, Nico Rosso, and Jillian Stone.

From the gaslit streets of Victorian London to clockworks to ether-powered six-shooters in the Wild West.  Explore a world of steampunk possibilities with three authors who use these elements in very different ways.


Christie Craig

Finding the right agent is almost as hard as finding the right spouse. Learn how to research agents, know the right questions to ask, how to draw an agent’s interest, how to make the agent-author relationship work for you and how to sever ties when it’s time to move on. Christie offers firsthand advice on catching, keeping, and surviving the agent hunt.


HOOKS: Baiting Your Story To Catch a Reader

Elizabeth Boyle

Hooks are not just that “I-can’t-believe-it” line at the end of the chapter. This50 minute workshop will examine a very non-tradtional view of those “Aha!” moments in story that can be used to reveal, expand and entice a reader to keep turning every page. Participants will examine: the use of hooks from cover to cover; using theme, setting and story plot as hooks; what hooks can and shouldn’t do; plotting with hooks; writing to hooks; how to leave story crumbs; and how to extend the reach of story hooks.



Dee J. Adams

A pitch is a writer’s audition, and whether a writer knows it or not, presentation is just as important as the material they are pitching.  This workshop is geared for the petrified pitcher.  Learn how to prepare for a successful editor/agent appointment, from before the initial handshake, to the moment when an industry professional makes a request.

Learn from an acting coach how to read body language, how to use one’s voice, and how to handle unexpected or sticky situations, like the not-so-enthusiastic editor, getting tongue-tied, limited pitch time, etc.


Christie Craig

This workshop offers suggestions on how to add humor—a little or a lot—to your novel. Highlights include recognizing and exploiting the universal truths in life for comedic effect, the importance of timing and pacing in telling a joke and knowing when to get serious. Attendees should come prepared to laugh…a lot, and learn…a lot about adding humor to enrich their work.



Susan Meier

Ever wonder what you’re supposed to “put” in between those four or five turning points of your story? Susan Meier’s Journey Steps, No Frills Guide to Plotting, provides quick, easy solutions for any author who has ever wondered “now what?” Topics include the “magic formula” for plotting, the list of five, explanation of plot threads versus subplot and tricks for writing an “edge-of-the-seat” read. Learn to tell your story in one straight-forward paragraph that can be used for pitches! Plotters, pantsers, beginners, intermediate and experienced authors will benefit from this workshop.


MAKING THE GRADE:  Women in Law Enforcement

Kathy Bennett and M.A. Taylor

Learn how to write realistic female police officers from two women who made it in the male-dominated field of law enforcement.



Courtney Miller-Callihan, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates

What are the red flags in a publishing contract?  What does a savvy agent look for?  Courtney Miller-Callihan began her publishing career at Random House, where she spent a number of years in subsidiary rights sales and in contracts before joining Sanford J. Greenburger Associates in 2005.   If you’re seeking an agent—or planning to negotiate a publishing contract on your own—you won’t want to miss this workshop.


PACING: Turn Readers Into Addicts

Susan Squires

Writers sometimes spend so much time polishing the first chapter(s) that they neglect the arc of the entire book. If you’re getting rejections after you send in a good chunk of the story, or if your sales are so-so, one issue could be the pacing. This workshop will show you the pacing tricks that make readers high on your work and panting for more.



Jane Porter

This workshop examines the writer’s life, using dragon symbolism to demonstrate how we commercial writers must remain devoted to craft and the art of fiction, while refusing to allow our muse to run the show unchecked, showing up at will, deserting at will, and generally creating havoc. A dragon run amuck is not a good thing. A dragon out of control eats villagers, creates terror, spits fire — this dragon is not helping anybody and would generally be hunted down by the hardier castle knights and warriors and put to death. Not a good end to a beautiful, mythical beast.


POINT OF VIEW – Who’s Got the Camera?

Charlotte Carter

This workshop will cover whose head you are in, what’s going on in his/her head, choosing the right POV, deep POV and how to change POV plus more. Hands-on exercises.



Sabrina Darby

Bring your story problems to this interactive workshop in which we’ll discuss brainstorming techniques, methods of working around plot issues, and quick ways to trigger new ideas. Take what you learn home to solve future problems and stop productivity loss. We will address as many participants’ stories as possible during the workshop.



Nancy Ellen Dodd

A screenplay is unlike other forms of writing. There are formatting conventions and ways to describe a story that differ than the way you write a novel, short story, or a play. In this workshop learn the essentials to know when writing a screenplay, find out how a screenplay differs from other forms of writing, and discover why a story is or isn’t suitable for a screenplay.



Liz Pelletier, Entangled Publishing

Every book needs revisions and edits. Liz Pelletier, Owner/Senior Editor at Entangled Publishing, will be sharing useful tips and tricks to self-edit and polish your manuscript before submitting to an agent or editor.



Debra Holland

Curious about self-publishing? Do you want to become part of the recent wave of self-published authors? Do you want to have more control over your books and your career? Do you want to possibly increase your income? Come explore the pros and cons, ins and outs of self-publishing with USA Today bestselling author, Debra Holland, who had almost 100,000 sales of her indie books in her first year of publishing.



HelenKay Dimon

Have your judges been noting “Show, don’t tell?” on your contest entries?  Do your rejection letters mention that your writing isn’t strong enough?  This workshop will provide you with the tools needed to create more dramatic scenes when they’re called for and offer hints to help you decide when telling the reader is absolutely necessary.



Louella Nelson

The writer’s best ad in an agent’s or editor’s office—and online at ebook retailers—is the synopsis; here’s how to write a good one, step by step, aided by a fill-in form you can take home. Formatting tips, voice, dramatic need, setting, style, plot hooks, inner arc, and more drive this hands-on writing workshop by best-selling author and award-winning writing instructor Louella Nelson.



HelenKay Dimon and Christie Ridgway
Join bestsellling and award winning authors, HelenKay Dimon and Christie Ridgway, as they share their take on the changing world of publishing.



Barbara Vey and Lisa Kessler

Social media is shrinking our world and making it easier than ever for people to connect. You’ve got a Facebook page, a Twitter handle and even a blog, but how do you find your readers and connect with them? Barbara Vey and Lisa Kessler will discuss tips to find your readers online and how to keep them engaged, as well as ways for you to reach out and find new readers through social media.



Chris Marie Green

Villains.  They’re mean, they’re bad, and they show us just what our heroes and heroines are made of.  But how do you avoid writing about a flat, clichéd antagonist?  How do you create a force that will not only fascinate your reader but challenge your protagonist to be a better character, too?  Chris Marie Green (AKA Crystal Green and Christine Cody) will not only explore these questions, she’ll give you tips from “mindhunters” and profilers so we can create fresh, realistic villains who pop off the page!



Jillian Stone and Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Whether you’re constructing a paranormal setting full of shapeshifters, pulling together the details of Victorian London, or bringing to life a fictional, dust-bitten, small community in contemporary Texas, you need to build a believable world to enable your stories to come to life.



Nancy Ellen Dodd

Learn how to develop your compass to tell the story you want to tell. Based on Aristotle’s and Freytag’s principles of dramatic writing, story mapping is a tool writers can use to quickly discover what they know and don’t know about their story and where there may be holes. The workshop also includes how to find ideas to bridge from the beginning to the end of your story.



Panelists:  Dee J. Adams, Zoë Archer, HelenKay Dimon, and Nico Rosso

Four multi-published and award-winning authors share the secrets for writing action scenes that will keep your readers eagerly turning the pages. Topics for discussion include stakes, choreography, setting the scene, and making action romantic.



Christine Ashworth

Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, there are four elements to every character that, when you fill in the details, make the character come alive and help you, the writer, understand just how that character would act and react in any given situation.  The plotter will love this workshop, because there is no limit to how deep you can go with your questions. The pantser will love this workshop, because just by making a few (as little as four!) decisions, you’ve got a solid base for your character. There will be a couple of quick writing exercises, so bring your pen and paper!




In addition to our workshops, we are also offering chats! The purpose of these chats is to offer you the opportunity to talk to authors, editors, or experts in a casual setting where you can get your questions answered.


Our Chat Topics are:


Airships over Victorian London

Jillian Stone


All Things YA–Sex, Drugs, BFFs and…Vampires

CC Hunter


Cops and Robbers

Kathy Bennett & M.A. Taylor


Cowboys, Babies, and Brides—Oh, My!  Writing Category Length in a Changing Market

Teresa Carpenter


Everything You Wanted to Know About Boroughs Publishing

Christopher Keeslar, Michelle Klayman, and Jill Limber


Faith, Hope, Love…and the CBA Market

Charlotte Carter & Janet Tronstad


Ghosts and Things That Go Bump in the Night

Linda Thomas-Sundstrom & Linda Wisdom


More Amazon For Authors

Jon Fine


The Publishing Pact: Making that First Sale & Taking Your Writing Buddies with You

Cassi Carver & Melissa Cutler

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