Schedule: 2018 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. A Bird’s-eye View Publishing & Books in the Year 2018 (Fairfax), taught by Brian Klems. This workshop is quick and easy overview of the publishing industry today, and how it’s changing. The speech is designed to educate writers and help them understand what publishing options exist for them today and why it’s an exciting time to be a writer.

2. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction (Gardner), taught by Madeline Smoot. Writing for children isn’t all that different from writing for adults. You still need great characters in interesting situations doing meaningful things. However, there are some genre specific things to keep in mind when crafting books for those readers under 18. In this session, presenter Madeline Smoot, acquiring editor for CBAY Books, will discuss the tips and tricks for making middle grade and YA novels great.

3. A Writer’s Guide to a Successful Book Launch (Hampton), taught by Barbara Rosenberg. Your book is about to be published, but how will you connect with your readers in both the short and long term? This workshop, taught by an experienced literary agent, will help provide the necessary tools to get the word out while still maintaining your writing career. Topics covered will include branding, promotional tool kits, launch timelines, social media.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Tips on How to Write Like the Pros (Gardner), 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. Everything You Need to Know About Query Letters (Fairfax), taught by Amaryah Orenstein. A query letter is your one chance to entice an agent or editor into reading your manuscript. Needless to say it must be excellent. But what does a perfect pitch entail? In this course, an experienced literary agent will offer tips on how (and how not) to pitch your work to increase the chances of an agent or editor requesting your manuscript.

3. Ten Tips for Writing Great Mysteries, Thrillers, and Crime Fiction (Hampton), taught by Sara Henry. If you’re writing a thriller, suspense novel, mystery, or crime novel, you will not want to miss this speech. The presentation will teach you what the genre’s readers expect, how to develop characters, layer sub-plots, and keep your readers turning the pages.

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 (Fairfax), 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.  Nonfiction Intense: Book Proposal Tips (Gardner), 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 Intensive: Advice on Selling Your Children’s Book (Hampton), taught by Madeline Smoot. Picture books are tricky works of art that require a lot to happen in very few words. In this session, we’ll discuss questions to consider before sending a picture book manuscript out in the world.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Twenty Questions You Need Answered Before You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (Fairfax), 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, how to find the best self-publishing service for your need, what social media channels you should be on already, how to launch your book right, how to draft a compelling query/pitch and synopsis, how to find other writers who can help you, and much more.

2. How to Write and Pitch Your Memoir (Hampton), taught by Maria MutchLearn how to maximize your creativity and transform writer’s block to write your memoir. This session will consider a range of options, including the work of Joan Didion, Maggie Nelson, Patti Smith, Mary Karr, and more. You’ll also look at some ground-breaking ideas from artists outside the writing world, such as Twyla Tharp and Holly Shaw, that you can apply directly to your own work.

3. The Keys to Science Fiction and Fantasy (Gardner), taught by Kenneth Schneyer. If you write speculative fiction, you are operating in a different community and with a different set of literary assumptions than other writers. Worldbuilding, handwaving, the “novum,” and a peculiar set of narrative conventions and traditions alter what readers and editors will expect. Learn from the inside how to navigate those aspects of SFF writing that are unique, and those that are absolutely, no kidding, the same as other writing. 

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Twenty Questions You Need Answered After You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book (Fairfax), taught by Brian Klems. After you self-publish your work or get a traditional publishing book deal, there are plenty of things you need to know — such as how to promote yourself, how to keep your career going with multiple books, how you cross between the words of self-publishing and traditional publishing (i.e., use them both) to make the most money, how to build a readership, and much more.

2. What You Need to Understand Before You Self-Publish (Gardner), taught by Jeff Herman. CreateSpace, SmashWords, and other publishing sites have made it remarkably simple, even enticing, to self publish. So it’s a perfect idea, right? Yes, publishing a book can be easy, but more often than not proves to be a detour to nowhere. Let’s understand why, and let’s learn about ways to be the exception to the rule. Learn what self-publishing avenues are legit and which are ripoffs, and why some authors succeed in the business.

3. Writing Romance 101: Finding Your Way to Your Own Happily Ever After (Hampton) , taught by Jen Doyle. Category or single title? Are series the same as serials? HEA or HFN (and where the heck does GDPR fit in)? Romancelandia is a wonderful place to be, even in this ever-changing market, but there are some tricks of the trade you need to know going in. In this workshop, a published romance author will talk about everything from basic terminology to plotting (and pantsing!) strategies to building your readership from the ground up.


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.