2016 Workshops

2016 Featured Speakers:


Daniel José Older, Author Guest Of Honor
Diana Pho, Editor Guest Of Honor
Eric Ruben, Agent Guest Of Honor
Kimberly Brower, Agent Guest Of Honor

  • Plotting the Mystery/Victoria Thompson
    • It’s not a mystery! Mystery plots can be used in any genre.  Bestselling mystery author Victoria Thompson will show you how to create a mystery plot that you can use for a true mystery novel or plug into a novel of any genre.
  • Story Architecture/Sally Bosco
    • While structure is craft, architecture is art. Just as a building can be a plain box, a structurally sound story can still lack the elements that can elevate it to art. That’s what story architecture does– gives us the tools to craft a great story. In this class, we will discuss the Six Core Competencies that are the tools for creating solid fiction.
  • The Zero Draft Approach to Novel Writing/Symantha Reagor & Anna La Voie
    • Learn the art of the Zero Draft to take the stress out of plotting a novel and getting rid of the pressure that comes with writing that critical first draft so many of us dread. Whether a writer is a plotter or a panster, a “Zero Draft” is a quick and low-stress method to assemble ideas related to a new manuscript. A “zero draft,” is the draft you write before you write the real first draft.
  • The Heroine’s Journey/Shelly Bates
    • Ever study the 12 steps of the hero’s journey and wonder why it doesn’t make sense for your women’s fiction, YA, or fantasy novel? Maybe it’s because your protagonist is female! Join RITA Award–winning author and SHU adjunct faculty Shelley Bates for the nine stages of the heroine’s journey, from the betrayal to the ascent to the return. The female journey is different from the hero’s in many ways, as is female power from male power. This way of looking at your story might resonate as no other plotting tool has before.
  • Meet Me in the Middle: Plotting from Both Ends/Dr. Fred Adams
    • Explain the plotting strategy of writing from both the beginning and the end of a novel toward a pivot point that shifts the balance of conflict and sets the scene for the remaining plot. Discuss narrative questions as a structural device and the use of “reverse narrative questions.” Explore “boomeranging,” locating items in the pre-pivot segment of the plot so that their later appearance will not violate the narrative’s internal logic. Examine the development of pivot points, including such events as setback, revelation, acquisition and investment. Exemplify the technique using my own novels and those of other authors.
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Emotion, Part 1/ Jennifer Della Zanna
    • This class explores what happens physiologically in response to emotion and the types of external stimulation that causes emotions. Many times, emotions are revealed in writing as the end product—a clenching of fists, a waterfall of tears. But emotion is the result of a progression of chemical processes that produce a buildup of feelings and physical changes along the way. And many human emotions are the result of years of conditioning that may start even before birth. Not only are these changes helpful to know in constructing your characters’ emotional reactions, but it’s also important to your readers’ responses. Craft a visceral journey through your manuscript by learning where emotions come from, which ones are similar (you may be surprised!), and which ones are polar opposites.
  • Deep POV/Ann Kopchik
    • You’ve heard the term. Agents and editors are looking for it, but what is deep POV? This workshop gives a quick overview of POV, then dives down into the depths of what makes deep POV so intimate—and how you can achieve it.
  • Anatomy for Writers 101/Deborah Ranish
    • Wondering what a heart attack is? Need more information about concussions? Is your character suffering from asthma? Come explore select organs of the body to add more authenticity to your writing. Audience participation encouraged. Body parts provided depending on availability.
  • Method Writing/Kathleen W. Taylor
    • Actors use the Method to fully inhabit a character from the inside out. Writers can use the Method to do the same thing. As fiction writers, we are actors, screenwriters, directors, and cinematographers. To understand character, you have to truly get inside his or her skin. The trend of contemporary popular fiction for tight, close POV (whether in third or first person) requires us to not only empathize and understand but to be that person during their POV moments. In this class, students will do sensory exercises that train them to consider how someone’s personality affects their perception of the world. For the shy among us, I won’t be conducting acting exercises per se, but there will be chances to share and discuss. We will also discuss how research can be useful in understanding motivation, and to what extent we must do research to make our characters authentic.
  • Worldbuilding 101/Scott Johnson
    • Every world is unique and they all boil down to the simplest things. Learn how to create a vibrant realist world for your characters, and it all starts with chairs.
  • The Anatomy and Physiology of Emotion, Part 2: Writing Workshop/Jennifer Della Zanna
    • Explore specific techniques to enhance your writing with the three types of emotion we explored in A&P of Emotion Part 1: voyeuristic, vicarious and visceral. We’ll discover how you can mix and match techniques to keep your readers’—and your characters’—emotions just where you want them! Come prepared to write, and feel free to bring a piece of your work in progress that could use an emotional boost.
  • Seven Steps to Successful Stories/Anne Harris
      • Writing strong, coherent stories doesn’t have to be hard. Using seven-story elements and seven story steps, you can zero in on what really matters in your book so you know right from the start what to focus on and how to make it come alive. This is a hands-on workshop with exercises designed to give you the tools you need to start creating more powerful narratives on the spot, whether you’re revising an existing project or starting something new.
  • The Kiss/Aaron Bennett
    • In a good kiss, there is both fulfillment and longing. That is one of the reasons people often find the kissing scenes sexier than the actual sex scenes. It’s a both a sexual release and a build of sexual tension.
  • Stupid Plotting Tricks/ Donna Munro and Deanna Sjolander
    • Story Machine and Bullet Journal Plotting. Prepare to write!
  • Hooking the Reader? It’s a No-Brainer!/Natalie and Matt Duvall
    • Neuroscientists have discovered ways educators, advertisers, and politicians can engage both children and adults. Is it possible to harness this brain science to make your writing more appealing to readers? Of course! This workshop will introduce you to brain-based techniques for hooking your reader and help you find new ways to make your readers hang on your every word until the very last page.
  • Freelance Editing/J.L. Gribble, Deanna Sjolander, Anna La Voie
  • A Good Idea Is Not Enough/Kimberly Brower
    • Almost every query I receive has a great idea. But that is only the first step in a long list of things that is needed to kick an author into the next level. I will discuss different things that I personally look for when looking at new authors including character development, subplots, character voice, genre, to name a few. I will discuss my thought process when I am reading a manuscript and deciding whether it has what I’m looking for.
  • Fundamentals of Writing “The Other” (and the Self)/Daniel José Older
    • We are always writing the other, we are always writing the self. We bump into this basic, impossible riddle every time we tell stories. When we create characters from backgrounds different than our own, we’re really telling the deeper story of our own perception. We muddle through these heated discussions at panels, in comments sections, on social media, in classrooms — the intersections of power and identity, privilege and resistance. How do we respectfully write from the perspectives of others?
  • Writing Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy/Diana Pho
    • A discussion about the current rise of science fiction and fantasy in popular culture, and what tools a writer can consider when delving into the speculative world.
  • Legal Issues for Writers/ Eric Ruben
  • The future of publishing and showbiz/Eric Ruben
  • Fantastic Fight Scenes/Maria Snyder
    • Action scenes are difficult to write.  Writers must find the perfect balance between the four essential elements: description, dialogue, inner dialogue and character emotions.  And we all know the fights in movies and on TV shows are unrealistic at best and often physically impossible without the aid of special effects.  This session will cover how to write thrilling and realistic fight scenes using those four elements.
  • Writing Across Difference/Diana Pho
    • It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences,” Audre Lorde once said. In this workshop, we’ll discuss methods and mindsets writers should have when writing about diversity effectively and respectfully.
  • The Dos & Don’ts of Querying/Kimberly Brower
    • Most people know how to find the right agents to query (although I will briefly discuss this as well) but how do you get their attention? I will discuss different ways to get an agent’s attention, what to include or not include, querying etiquette, follow-ups, etc. Examples will be discussed.
  • Poetry for Any Writer/Timons Esaias
    • Poetry for Any Writer – This workshop will involve simple exercises to improve any writer’s technique, whether poetry or prose. We’ll also discuss the extensive markets for science fiction, fantasy and horror poetry, among others. There will, of course, be malt balls.
  • Primary Research: Why you need it/Scott Johnson
    • It’s a thing we all must do, our mentors say.  Yet it is also one of the most neglected parts of our job. Primary research is what separates the pros from the amateurs. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun. We’ll discuss different things done in the name of research, and what’s to be gained from doing them yourself.
  • Using Magic in Popular Fiction/Scott Johnson
    • It’s a thing we all must do, our mentors say.  Yet it is also one of the most neglected parts of our job. Primary research is what separates the pros from the amateurs. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun. We’ll discuss different things done in the name of research, and what’s to be gained from doing them yourself.
  • Flaws in the Design: Improving Characters by Strengthening their Flaws/Symantha Reagor
    • This module explains seven main character flaws and their corresponding fears, providing a new way to build more believable characters. While character worksheets often ask writers to fill in lines for “strengths and weaknesses” or “likes and dislikes,” this class will help explain what belongs and what traits complement each other. Attendees will examine a variety of complementary character traits along with personality flaws and fears and leave better able to develop deeper insight into the characters they create. Attendees will additionally learn how underlying fears produce specific flaws thus influencing a character’s actions throughout a story.
  • Anatomy for Writers 102/Deborah Ranish
    • Need help with the affects of alcohol? Where exactly are the kidneys located? What in the world is a spleen? Come explore select organs of the body to add more authenticity to your writing. Audience participation encouraged. Body parts may be provided depending on availability. Anatomy for Writers 101 encouraged but not required.
  • Erotic Romance: A Journey of Heart and Sexuality/Ann Kopchik
    • Quite often erotic romance is equated to porn—something created to tantalize and get the reader off, but that’s a misunderstanding of both the purpose of romance and erotica. Both are about a journey, and when brought together, the story becomes an intertwined journey of both heart and sexuality.  This workshop will discuss the aspects of these journeys and how to successfully craft an erotic romance as well as where you can market your work.