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. A Bird’s-eye View Publishing & Books in the Year 2019, (Bluegrass AB) taught by Brian Klems. This workshop is quick & 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. Storytelling: The Elements of Writing a Great Mystery, Crime or Thriller Story, (Cardinal Room) 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 Nuts and Bolts of Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult, (Colonel A) taught by Gail Nall. Learn what makes a middle grade and what makes a YA novel successful (everything from voice, the main character’s problem and outlook, content, the big questions asked in the book, point of view, the roles of supporting characters, etc), and how to tell which one you might be writing. This session also includes examples to illustrate the differences between middle grade and young adult novels and shows how the categories have changed over the years.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Tips on How to Write Like the Pros, (Cardinal Room) 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. How to Write a Great Query Letter for Your Novel (Bluegrass AB), taught by Julie Gwinn. So you want to get published? The first step is attracting the attention of an agent or editor and the query letter and proposal are the first step in that process. Literary agent Julie Gwinn details the pieces and parts and dos and don’ts to creating the best query and proposal and yes the dreaded synopsis.

3. Self-Publishing the Smart Way, (Colonel A) taught by Andrew Shaffer. Publishing your own work has never been easier. Unfortunately, if you’re new to self-publishing, you can end up thousands of dollars in the hole before ever selling a single book. If you know what pitfalls to avoid, however, you can professionally publish your own books without breaking the bank. Learn the basics of cover design, ebook and print book formatting, and self-publishing. Led by Andrew Shaffer, New York Times bestselling author of both traditionally and self-published books.

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 (Bluegrass AB) 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, (Cardinal Room) 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, (Colonel A) taught by Amanda Driscoll. Author/illustrator Amanda Driscoll gives you the tools you need to hammer out your best picture book manuscript. She presents a nuts-and-bolts approach to generating ideas, writing that first draft, revising (and revising and revising) and finally submitting a polished manuscript. In this class, you’ll learn how give that fixer-upper story a total manuscript makeover.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Writing Romance Novels for Fun & Profit and Even More Fun, (Cardinal Room) taught by Tiffany Reisz. USA Today bestselling author Tiffany Reisz will lead a one-hour survey of the modern romance genre. In this class, she’ll explore the genre and sub-genres of romance, how to write a romance novel, how not to write a romance novel, and the state of the romance market. Tiffany will also supply students with a list of resources for the aspiring romance writer.

2. 25 Questions You Need Answered Before & After You Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book, (Bluegrass AB) 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.

3. Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy That Sells, (Colonel A) taught by Sara O. Thompson. It’s not enough to just write a book. You must create a saleable product. In this workshop, we will cover some tips on what you need to get your book in the hands of readers who will then be fans, including: learning how to write, the balance between writing for yourself and writing for the market, and why editing is your best friend. Suitable for self-publishing or traditionally published authors.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. The Book’s Journey: From First Draft to Bookshelf, (Bluegrass AB) taught by literary agent Alyssa Roat. We see the first draft on our computer screen and final copies on bookshelves, but what happens in between? Why does the publishing process take so long? Who edits? Where do covers come from? How are books distributed? This class takes the journey from first draft to bookshelf.

2. Plotting for Pantsers, (Cardinal Room) taught by Gail Nall. A plotting class for fiction writers who want to plot their novels but feel overwhelmed or intimidated by all the plotting books out there! Plotting will help you write faster and write a cleaner first draft. In this class, you’ll learn Gail’s step-by-step method to go from pantser to plotter without losing enthusiasm for your book idea. This class is interactive, so be sure to bring a notebook or laptop.

3. Humor Writing: The Rules of Comedy, (Colonel A) taught by Andrew Shaffer. “Explaining humor is a lot like dissecting a frog,” Mark Twain allegedly said. “You learn a lot in the process, but in the end you kill it.” Thankfully, we’ve learned a lot about humor since Twain’s day. It’s now possible to dissect what makes something funny—and have fun doing it. New York Times bestseller and author of over half a dozen humorous books Andrew Shaffer will explain the rules of comedy, and offer tips on incorporating humor into your writing toolkit. Students will learn about hyperbole, repetition, and other basic comedic techniques in a fun, non-judgmental atmosphere. No frogs or comedians will be dissected.


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.