Schedule: 2019 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, but here is the current layout:

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. Getting Published in Today’s World: 10 Tips to Make You the Writer Agents and Publishers Want (Azalea & Iris Rooms combined), taught by Brian Klems. If you want to land an agent and a book deal in today¹s market, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just write a great book (though that’s a good start). Brian Klems discusses the challenges writers face in publishing today and offers up 10 practical tips to help you break through the barriers and find success.

2. Creating Characters Your Readers Will Never Forget (Magnolia), taught by Debbie Dadey. Instructor Debbie Dadey has never forgotten the boy sobbing in the hallway during an author visit. He thought the characters in the Bailey School Kids series were going to visit, not the author! It was then that Debbie realized the importance of bringing characters to life on the written page. Join best-selling author Debbie Dadey as she shares four steps to creating characters that just might bring your readers to tears.

3. How to Write and Pitch Historical Fiction (Hickory & Maple Rooms combined), taught by Cate Hart. The landscape for Historical Fiction is ever-changing. What may be hitting best-seller lists today can also be over-saturating editor and agent slush piles. So how can you know what and when to submit? This workshop, taught by literary agent Cate Hart, will discuss current trends and explore ways to anticipate the next big time period or era. Break down the different categories and subgenres of historical fiction and the associated reader expectations. Look at the joys and pitfalls of historical research and how to write history that is accessible and relatable to the 21st Century audience. Discuss resources and communities for writing and researching support. The last portion of the workshop will be devoted to questions and answers.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

2. 15 Tips on How to Write Like the Pros (Hickory & Maple Rooms combined), taught by Brian Klems. This workshop is a thorough crash course concerning craft, style and voice. We’ll discuss nuts & bolts tips for sentence construction like how to avoid passive tense, how to use vivid language, how to self-edit your own work, how to make your characters memorable, the art of compelling dialogue, and much more.

2. Pitch, Please: An Agent’s Guide to Pitches & Queries (Azalea & Iris Rooms combined), taught by Caroline George. Inspired by submissions she received, literary agent Caroline George hosts a discussion-based workshop focused on the dos and don’ts of pitching/querying agents. Attendees will gain insight into the world of agenting, strengthen their own pitches and queries, and learn how to boost their professionalism.

2. How to Write Young Adult and Middle Grade that Sells (Magnolia), taught by Jessica Burkhart. Jessica will take writers through creating a YA or MG novel that sells. Jess will use forty-five minutes to explore: brainstorming a concept and idea, outlining and what kind of outline Jess uses, creating relatable characters, constructing an interesting setting, crafting realistic voice and realizing the importance of a strong chapter ending. Jess will include her favorite list of resources, too, that will be helpful to both new and veteran writers. The remaining workshop time will be dedicated to Q&A.

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 (Azalea & Iris Rooms combined), 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: The 9 Musts of a Proposal (Hickory & Maple combined), taught by Brian Klems. This session is completely devoted to nonfiction that is not memoir. So if you are trying to create an awesome nonfiction book proposal, this presentation is for you. With both a writer and agent to instruct and answers questions, the session will talk about platform, identifying your book’s place in the market, effective pitching, and more.

3. Picture Book 101 (Magnolia), taught by Susan Eaddy. What type of story have I written? Do I need an illustrator? Do I need an agent? What is the difference between a query letter and a cover letter, a synopsis and a partial? There are so many publishers and agents! How do I decide who is right for my manuscript? What about self publishing? In this overview of the children’s writing and illustrating world, author/illustrator Susan Eaddy will answer these questions and more, and explore the do’s and don’ts along the path to publication.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. 20 Frequently Asked Questions About Publishing All Writers Should Know Before You Land an Agent or Self Publish Your Book (Azalea & Iris rooms combined), taught by Brian Klems. Before you publish your work or query an agent, there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to submit to agents properly, what social media channels you should be on already, how to draft a compelling query/pitch and synopsis, and more. 

2. Storytelling: The Elements of Writing a Great Mystery, Crime or Thriller Story (Hickory & Maple Rooms combined), taught by Robert McClure. The renowned mystery editor Otto Penzler defines mystery fiction as any work in which a crime or threat of a crime is central to the plot or theme of the story. However you define it, writing a mystery/crime/thriller story is a conjuring act. Using only words to excite a reader’s imagination, a skillful writer can place you in the middle of a mob hit or a bank heist, then have you follow a canny detective while she solves the crime. To accomplish this feat requires the writer to craft his ideas in a way that plays to his readers emotions in a coherent and entertaining way. Using his internationally recognized crime story “Harlan’s Salvation” as a guide, Robert McClure provides an overview of crafting a compelling mystery story, from the genesis of your idea through execution of the time-tested elements of creating an entertaining work of fiction.

3. The Business of Writing: Everything You Need to Know About the Ins and Outs of the Publishing Business (Magnolia), taught by Debbie Dadey. Writing is an art, but getting published is a business. If your goal is to share your story with others through publishing, then you need to learn the ins and outs of the writing business: from submissions and contracts to promotion, school visits, branding and everything in-between! Debbie Dadey has traditionally published 168 books with sales of over 42 million copies. She will share things she’s learned since her first book, Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots, came out in 1990 with Scholastic. She’ll also share with you things she shouldn’t have done as her newest Mermaid Tales (The Narwhal Problem) is released from Simon and Schuster.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. 18 Frequently Asked Questions About Publishing All Writers Should Know After You Land an Agent or Self Publish Your Book (Azalea & Iris rooms combined), taught by Brian Klems.  After you land an agent or a book deal, there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to land book blurbs, how to find other writers who can help you, how to throw yourself a book launch party and much more.

2. From A to Z: Strategies for Plotting & Pacing Tightly (Hickory & Maple combined), taught by Weronika Janczuk. In this class, Weronika will begin with a detailed introduction to the three-act screenwriting structure that lends itself to theoretical preparation for novel-writing and outlining, and then identify different tools for plot consideration, outlining, as well as writing that permit novelists to plot and pace their work tightly. More in-depth plotting theory introduces a series of key moments and movements in the evolution of the plot trajectory, and this will class will provide an introduction to them. The goal will be to provide some theory, an introduction to key tools, and an analysis of case studies from award-winning or bestselling novels.

3. Publicity and Marketing 101 for New Authors (Magnolia), taught by Jessica Burkhart. Jessica will teach workshop participants how to market and publicize their book no matter if one is from a small house or a large one. With a minuscule to non-existent publicity budget, Jess was able to help her books sell over 1 million copies. Jess will begin with a brief introduction about why self-promotion and marketing are important. Then, she will detail how and when to begin putting together a marketing plan which includes a monthly to-do list as far as 18 months from publication. Jess will share the best tips and tricks she learned in her ten years promoting her books. The remaining workshop time will be dedicated to Q&A.


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.