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 and updates:

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. The Art of Editing a Young Adult Novel (Ballroom D), taught by Jessie Hilb. Congratulations — you’ve completed a draft of your YA novel. Now what? In this class we will explore the importance of editing, the editing mindset, how to find a writing community, and critical points to address when self-editing your novel. You’ll leave with tools and a concrete place to start as you embark on making your novel the best possible version of itself.

2. The Essential Memoir Toolkit: 5 Best Practices to Get You Started and Keep You Going (Bentley room, second floor), taught by Karen Auvinen. Readers read to go on a journey not hear about one. This workshop outlines key techniques for both the new and experienced memoir writer that will transform your personal story from the simple recounting of events to a riveting excursion, one that breathes life into your story and into your writing.

3. Query Workshop #1: Learn to Write the Perfect Query Letter for Your Novel (Ballroom C), taught by Kristin Nelson. Most writers will tell you that writing a good query letter is more difficult than writing the whole manuscript. How do you distill the essence of a 300+ page novel into one pithy pitch paragraph for your query? In this workshop, you’ll learn how to compose a basic four-part letter, and how to write a standout query letter while avoiding common pitfalls.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. An Overview of Your Publishing Options Today (Ballroom D), taught by Kerrie Flanagan. This workshop examines the two largest routes any writer can take with their book: traditional publishing and self-publishing / e-publishing. We will examine the upsides of both routes, the challenges with both, and the next steps no matter what you decide. In today’s publishing world, a writer has to understand what they’re in for before they send their book out. This session is designed to prepare them for what’s to come and what options exist.

2. Query Workshop #2: Live Query Letter Reads and Critiques (Ballroom C), taught by Kristin Nelson. Have you ever wondered how an agent reads a query letter? What an agent is thinking while reading? What makes an agent stop and what makes an agent read on? If you have ever wished to be a fly on the wall during that process, this workshop is your chance to get the inside scoop without metamorphosing. Literary Agent Kristin Nelson will read attendees’ query letters and give honest feedback as to why she would or would not request more. Bringing a query for review is optional. Attendees interested in possibly getting their query critiqued should bring 3 copies of their letter, and be prepared for blunt and honest feedback / praise / criticism. (Note that attendees who attend Kristin’s query talk during Block #1 will get priority with these random query letter critiques.)

3. Romance for Today’s Market (Bentley room, second floor), taught by Helen Hardt. The publishing world is constantly changing. What worked in romance ten years ago—or even last year—won’t necessarily work today. In this workshop, we’ll cover the essential elements of a successful romance novel in today’s market. This isn’t Jane Austen … or even Janet Dailey. Today’s romance novel features flawed characters, a conflict-heavy plot, heart-pounding emotion, and rapid-fire pacing all tied together with a high concept. Leave this workshop motivated to create the next romance bestseller!

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 (Ballroom C), 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. Ten Secrets to Nonfiction that Readers Will Finish (Bentley room, second floor), taught by Greg Johnson. Sit down with a literary agent and understand what makes agents (and readers) take note of an awesome nonfiction project. Learn about hooks, book proposals, the importance of platform, and more. This class also has a bonus 15 minutes on writing a “memoir with a message.”

3. Picture Book Intensive: Advice on Selling Your Children’s Book (Ballroom D), taught by Linda Osmundson. Picture books come in all forms from no words/pictures only to read aloud to those read by children. Award winning picture book author Linda Osmundson covers the craft of picture book writing from opening hooks to satisfying endings, titles and publishing decisions.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Opening Pages That Lead to Yes (Ballroom C), taught by Angie Hodapp. If your query letter or in-person pitch got you a request for sample pages, but your sample pages didn’t get you a request for a full manuscript, what went wrong? In this session, we’ll explore what agents are looking for in your opening pages and how to craft evocative beginnings that get your full manuscript read. You’ll learn the importance of establishing character, setting, and voice on page one; how your opening image or scene should relate to your story’s overall structure; how to introduce story questions that entice rather than confuse the reader; how to recognize and avoid cliché openings; and what starting en medias res really means—and, more importantly, what it doesn’t mean.

2. The Top 10 Things Movies Can Teach Novelists (Bentley room, second floor), taught by Trai Cartwright. It’s no secret that Hollywood has cracked the story structure code, or that they’ve refined some of the most elegant and efficient character-building tools in the storytelling business. What you may not know is that all of these tricks can be (and often are) utilized to conquer fiction writing, too. This workshop presents the Top Ten Master Movie Storytelling Devices via examples from a number of great modern films and shows you how to capitalize on them for your own writing.

3. Writing Thrillers: An Introduction (Ballroom D), taught by Carter Wilson. Curious about what it takes to become a thriller writer? Join multiple award-winning and USA Today bestselling author Carter Wilson for a packed informational workshop on the Do’s and Don’ts of this high-stakes genre. Using key learning moments from Carter’s 16-year writing career and specific examples from his work, this class offers a behind-the-scenes look at storytelling, character, point of view, plotting versus outlining, editing your manuscript into a breakneck pace, and essential industry wisdom for aspiring thriller writers.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Plotted for a Purpose: Writing With Your Audience in Mind (Ballroom D), taught by Caroline George. Incorporating elements of her public relations background, Caroline, a literary agent and author, talks about the importance of purpose plotting—writing for a predetermined audience. She shares how purpose plotting boosts a book’s marketability and teaches attendees ways to target their audience, connect their book’s plot/message to their brand and convey their marketability to publishing professionals.

2. How to Make Social Media Work For You (Bentley room, second floor), taught by Liz Pelletier. You’re on Facebook. You occasionally tweet. You love posting foodie pics on Instagram. But how do you make all these social media platforms, and others, actually grow your business brand and ultimately sell books? In this workshop, publisher Liz Pelletier will show you how to use social media like a pro, for less than an hour a day. Become the brand readers gravitate towards with these seven tricks to mastering social media and unleash your inner social media guru.

3. The Publishing Process Explained (Ballroom C), taught by Adria Goetz. This workshop walks through the entire publishing process—from developing an idea to finding an agent to landing a book deal to seeing your book in print, and covers every step in between. The workshop strives to anticipate frequently asked questions, demystify the publishing process, and equip writers to approach their publishing pursuits feeling knowledgeable and savvy. This workshop will help writers avoid common mistakes that can hinder their chances of publication. A great primer for beginners.


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.