Programming Submissions

Submissions are closed for the 2019 workshop.

Our current goal is to send out all acceptance emails by May 1st, 2019. Please note this is subject to change depending on the release of the schedule for the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction residency which takes place simultaneously.

Thank you for your interest in submitting a module idea for the In Your Write Mind Workshop!

Do you have an amazing new idea or a best practice that must be shared with the In Your Write Mind writing community? Are you a new Seton Hill WPF grad? A storied SHU Alumni? Did someone recommend the workshop to you and now you can’t wait to come every year?

This community needs your expertise. Every year we put on one of the most amazing craft and professional writing workshops in the nation, all because of you! Join the In Your Write Mind Workshop Facebook Group to connect with others as you plan your content.

Previous Workshops

Promptapolooza/Donna Munro and Deanna Sjolander Come and write your heart out. A fun, laid back, prompt-based writing workshop meant to help spur creativity and sharpen writing tools. Come with laptops charged and ready to type or pencils sharpened and ready to scribe.
Pitch Practice/Deanna Sjolander This is part of the Thursday open workshop day: Yay! You've written a book! Now you need to sell it. Sell it?! Whether you have some ideas or no idea where to start, this interactive workshop allows you to work among your peers to practice your pitch.
Breakfast Peer Critiques Sessions/Moderator TBA In this session, participants will give peer critiques of one another’s 10-page submission. Please come to the session having fully read the submitted works and with either written or typed notes on each submission to return to each author.
Pitch Mastery/Deanna Sjolander You’ve written your pitch, you’ve even practiced! Come to this session and hear from Pitch Masters as they relate their best practices, their best (and worst!) pitch stories and more!
Know Thou Character/Desi D (Desiree Dorman) How to create a strong first appearance with any character is about learning who your character is. I will go over a couple of examples of published authors characters that make an excellent first appearance. The importance of backstory and how to use it without info dumping. There will be five activities where participants will learn by doing.
Writing for the New Pulp Fiction Market/Fred Adams Jr. A discussion in five parts: 1. What constitutes “New Pulp” fiction? 2. Writing series novels to expand sales 3. Working with established pulp characters. 4. Learning from the old guard. 5. Who’s publishing new pulp? Handouts, including a list of presses currently publishing this genre will be included.
Plotting Backward/Anna LaVoie In this module, I will focus on macro plotting as a way to explore an idea and decide if it is worth pursuing before you get 20,000 words into a dead end. By starting at the end and ensuring the author knows where, even in a general sense, the story is going, I hope to save authors that frustrating moment when they realize their story has fizzled out or has an unsound premise. Using elements of Debra Dixon's GMC and the Three Act Structure, I will show authors how to turn their initial idea into a broad outline with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Those First Few Lines: Four Ways to Start Your Story/Tim Esaias You already know how a story starts, you've seen hundreds of them. Still, it can be intimidating, so we'll review four key methods. We'll actually try them out on your current project, so you'll leave with more possibilities than you can use. Malt balls will play a significant role in the procedure
Twitter Hashtags/Sam Lienhard #MSWL? #PitMad? #CpMatch? Twitter has become a valuable resource for writers, but only if you know which hashtags to use and what they mean. In this workshop, we'll take a look at some of the best Twitter hashtags for writers, including pitch contests, WIP celebrations, and more. Whether you're ready to query or just want to connect with other writers, there's a hashtag for you!
Women’s Weapons: Why Don’t Our Clothes Have Pockets?/C. A. Jacobs Have you ever had a character about to do battle with the Forces of Darkness and she can't figure out how to fit the giant magical sledgehammer into her 18th Century ball gown? A space-adventurer who gets all of their space suit accessories stuck on the bulkhead while trying to save crewmembers after a space battle? A young teenager who needs to carry a tampon but doesn't have any usable pockets? For guys, it's usually easy because all their clothes come with built-in, usable pockets. Women, sadly, are often much less fortunate with their attire options. This module intends on providing your characters with viable options for transporting whatever weapons they require for their story with the clothing options available.
Writing about Hackers and Cybersecurity/Rebecca Halsey Former U.S. Navy information warfare officer and civilian cybersecurity analyst, Rebecca Halsey, walks attendees through all things hackers, hacking, and information security. Anyone writing characters that are computer scientists, hackers, or anything else cyber-related should attend and ask questions about the latest trends. Additionally, Ms. Halsey can cover how data security issues may affect authors.
Painting with Words/How to Improve Description in Your Writing/Symantha Reagor Throughout my time in the Writing Popular Fiction Program, I was often told that I was a “sparse writer” and that while my scene or chapter was really good, it needed more description or that I needed to convey more emotion. No matter how many times I was told this, my internal thought was always the same. “If I knew how then I would have done it the first time I wrote it!” After reading the book “Word Painting” by Rebecca McClanahan I suddenly understood description and emotion in a new way. This module will teach writers  - even writers that prefer sparse description – how to layer description and emotions. I will teach about the different types of description (scientific, sensory, emotional, poetic) and how to incorporate the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell) into a given scene. I will also cover methods for layering in emotional descriptions (a character doesn’t just “feel” an emotion. There are physical manifestations of every emotion.)
Idea vs Story: Creating a Full-Length Novel/Anna LaVoie How many times have you gotten a nifty idea, sat down to start writing… and run out of oomph thirty pages later? A great idea is a great idea, but how do you turn it into a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end? Influenced by a range of plotting and world building methods, I will share my approach to expanding upon an initial idea and fleshing out the necessary pieces to create a full-length novel.
Blueprint for Writing Success/Sherry Powers There is no magic trick to writing. Writing itself isn’t hard. Persisting at it, completing a story, pursuing a career as a writer is. Distractions and self-doubt get in our way. It doesn’t have to be that way. We are the architects of our own success. Our writing lives are our masterpiece designs. In this interactive workshop, participants will develop tools necessary for building the writing life they want.
You Are Here: Deepening the POV/Scott Johnson POV gives people fits, and this is how you can deepen yours to put the reader into your story
Pitching Your Personality/J. R. Baird and Tori Bovalino Humans are scary but we're all here for the write reasons. This workshop features discussions on branding, the buddy system, conferences, and networking. Come for the writing, stay for the new friendship.
Dissecting the Romance Plot Using You’ve Got Mail/Priscilla Oliveras The romance plot is far more than a simple: boy meets girl, boy gets girl, they live Happily Ever After. Let’s face it, a plot like that makes for a dull story, the opposite of the Keeper Shelf novel we aspire to write. Using teachings from the classic textbook A Natural History of the Romance Novel written by Pamela Regis as a guide, this presentation will detail the eight essential and three optional elements of a romance novel Regis explores in her book. Then, with the help of scenes from the classic romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail”, attendees will see how the eight essential elements, with the help of one of the three optional elements, can be woven together to create a Keeper Shelf novel/film—one that meets your readers’ expectations and has them clamoring for more.
“So You’ve Signed Your Contract, Now What?” Publishing Experiences Panel/Priscilla Oliveras, Rhonda Mason, Jen Brooks, Luke Elliot Published, newly contracted or debut authors share their experiences in the first year or two since they "signed with a publisher" or "decided to self-pub" or "had their debut released.” (what I learned, what I did okay, what I'd do differently).
“She Would Not Yield”: Writing Realistic Female Characters in Historical Settings/E. J. Lawrence and K. P. Kulski Of course, it's important to write realistic female characters, even in your medieval fantasy or historical romance...but there's no need to fill your historic world with damsels-in-distress or even impose modern expectations on historical women. E.J. Lawrence--a lover of medieval literature--and K.P. Kulski--an expert in medieval history--will show you how to draw inspiration from women, both real and literary, in the ancient and medieval worlds. If you think these damsels only hung around towers waiting to be rescued by knights-in-shining-armor, be prepared to enter a world of powerful queens, wise scholars, bloodthirsty warriors, and even swashbuckling pirates--and leave with fresh new ideas for your own "badass female character."
Fitness and Movement for Writers/Christina Stitt, Mary Boland-Doyle, Chris Daniels, and Aaron Bennett
Mastering Promises and Payoffs in Fiction/Jaye Wells Good stories don’t happen by accident. To master the art of delivering satisfying tales, writers must learn how to effectively make story promises in Act One as well as how to deliver satisfying payoffs by The End. This class will explore the types of promises you must make from the first line of your story, demonstrate a variety of tools you can use to make those promises, and offer strategies to avoid cheating your readers out of satisfying payoffs.
Why? The Question that can Save Your Plot/ Scott A. Johnson For everything you do in fiction, the question must be asked Why? And if you don't know, you've got a plot hole.
It’s Not A Mystery/Victoria Thompson Mystery plots can be used in any genre.  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.
X-Ray Your Scene/Mary Mascari This workshop gives participants a practical tool they can use to evaluate written scenes to figure out why they might not be working.
Using Fanfiction Tropes to Spice Up Your Stories and Spark New Ideas/Kelly Parlin Are you stuck on your story or having trouble coming up with a new idea? Not sure of a scene, a character, a plot? Well, fanfiction tropes might be the answer to your writer woes! In this module, we'll start by discussing what we love (or hate) about our favorite characters, then boil them down to their base elements before shaping them into something new. After that, we'll use fanfiction tropes to transplant those characters into different genres, which allows them to be viewed in a fresh light. What if your hard-boiled detective was suddenly a king who had to send his people to war? What if your Regency heroine sprouted wings, or your scientist woke up in the body of their assistant? How would they react? Scenes and plot lines naturally develop from there based on the resulting genre or genre mash-up. Fanfiction tropes encourage exploration, and this kind of harmless, fun exercise can break you free of your writer's block and even give you more story ideas to play with in the future!
Writing Violence/Miles Watson The module is an analysis of the techniques available to write violent sequences effectively in any genre. We will analyze the use of color, speed, internal monologue, the senses, and even punctuation to bring violent passages to life (and to death!).  Emphasis is placed on the fact that violence is defined as a state of "highly excited action" and not merely bloodshed, so the module has great utility for all writers of fiction. Getting your handouts in airline barf bags is merely a bonus.
WPF Thesis Readings Observe the readings offered by the Writing Popular Fiction graduates. All attendees of IYWM are welcome and encouraged to attend. A list of topics is available at .
Costume Ball Theme: Storybook Land Costumes are encouraged, but not required. Join us for our annual costume ball! Finger foods will be provided, and there will be a beer/wine cash bar. Come in your best storybook ensemble, or come as you are! Prizes will be awarded for best costumes. Come and dance the night away!
Red Pen Query Session All conference attendees should bring a query letter or two (personal info removed) to be read and edited by a variety of conference attendees.
Publishing and Marketing for Indie Authors/Carrie Gessner Participants: Carrie Miller/Cara McKinnon, A.J. Culey, Sheri Queen Flemming, Carrie Gessner. The panelists have experienced the highs and lows of independent publishing firsthand, and they're prepared to help you navigate the learning curve. Bring any and all questions about: editors, formatting, covers, marketing, reader interaction (social media/blogging/newsletter), distribution channels, ISBNs, illustrators, and more.
Behind the Scenes of Military Life/J. L. Gribble, Bill Huff, Alex Savage, K.P. Kulski, Michael K. Ingram. So much information on the military that authors research is geared toward things like rank structure, combat, munitions, and life in the field. However, the majority of service members operate behind the scenes rather than on the front lines, where there is plenty of additional story fodder to be mined. Essential personnel can be in any career field, from intel, to cybersecurity, to maintenance, to food services (after all, an army marches on its stomach). In addition, while it’s cliché to say that the service member is not the only one who sacrifices, another important perspective is from family members. Whether they follow around the world or are left behind during deployments, they have stories of their own. This panel of current service members, veterans, and dependents is ready to share their unique experiences of life in the military (and life attached to the military) and answer questions from the audience. Panel members: Bill Huff, Active Duty Navy (enlisted and officer)
Alex Savage, former Navy and Army officer, current Navy spouse K.P. Kulski, former enlisted member of the Navy and Air Force Signals Intelligence Field, Navy brat, mil-to-mil spouse Michael K. Ingram, former enlisted Navy Intelligence Analyst, mil-to-mil spouse J.L. Gribble, former Air Force and Army brat, current Air Force spouse
Writing Through the Saggy Middle by Focusing on Character/Guest Agent Linda Camacho
Developmental Editing Pt 1/Guest Agent Quressa Robinson (2 hours includes 10-minute break) Quressa Robinson will conduct an intensive developmental editing/self-editing class. Participants should bring in 2-3 copies of the first 20 pages of a work in progress. Sign-up sheet at
Writing Dialog/Miles Watson This module takes a deep look at the craft of writing dialogue. We will begin with the Whys -- why does some dialogue seem to have the dreaded "cadence of the typewriter" while other dialogue seems to burst off the page? Why does our dialogue sometimes sound so good in our minds but "listen" so badly when it is read aloud, and does that really matter? Are "good and bad dialogue" universal absolutes, or does the definition change from genre to genre? And if there are universal truths, what are they?  What techniques can we utilize to make dialogue punchier and more effective regardless of our genre? At the end of this module you will have a better understanding of how to make the spoken word work WITHIN the written one.
Emotion is Not a Dirty Word Pt. 1/Maria V. Snyder No matter how complex your plot is or how beautiful your descriptions are, or how well you can use a metaphor, if your readers don't care about your characters, you've lost them. Many writers are reluctant to incorporate emotions and emotional reactions for their characters for fear of being called out on writing "purple prose,"  or for being "overly dramatic." This module will help guide you in adding in a layer of emotional complexity to your stories.
Developmental Editing Pt 2/Guest Agent Quressa Robinson (2 hours includes 10-minute break) Quressa Robinson will conduct an intensive developmental editing/self-editing class. Participants should bring in 2-3 copies of the first 20 pages of a work in progress. Sign-up sheet at
Hybrid Authors/Guest Editor Allison Lyons
Emotion is Not a Dirty Word Pt 2/Maria V. Snyder Second part of workshop, but you can still jump in. No matter how complex your plot is or how beautiful your descriptions are, or how well you can use a metaphor, if your readers don't care about your characters, you've lost them. Many writers are reluctant to incorporate emotions and emotional reactions for their characters for fear of being called out on writing "purple prose,"  or for being "overly dramatic." This module will help guide you in adding in a layer of emotional complexity to your stories.
Ten Craft Issues I See in Submissions and How to Fix Them/Guest Agent Linda Camacho
Flash Fiction Discussion and Workshop/Donna J. W. Munro “Flash fiction is so hot right now.” ~Mugatu A quick discussion of what it is, how to do it, and where to publish it. Then we will write some.
Romance Suspense/Guest Editor Allison Lyons
Your Book Will Be Judged by Its Cover/Carrie Miller Cover design can make or break a book. Aside from a catchy blurb, it is an author's most important marketing tool. Most readers won't look past a bad cover to see if the book is good. Covers are even more important in the world of self-publishing, as you'll need all the help you can get to make sure you stand out in an oversaturated market. In this module, I will discuss elements of cover design such as color theory, negative space, focal points, thumbnail view, and font choices. I will also talk about researching trends—and when to subvert those trends. The class will also cover typical designer fees, how to find a designer, and the difference between pre-made and custom covers. There will also be a (very brief) section about DIY covers (mostly why not to do it).
Wait, What Just Happened??? Using Ambiguity in Horror/Guest Author Paul Tremblay Ambiguity is often the soul of a horror story, or any kind of story for that matter, particularly given our identities and realities are much more ambiguous than we care to admit. (What, really?)  Paul Tremblay will discuss the many ways in which to use ambiguity to your advantage in fiction and get you working on putting your own ambiguities to work.
Mastering Your Cliches/Luke Elliott When it comes to your writing, don't just mail it in. Using cliches in your prose might seem like just a drop in the bucket, but it can be a real kiss of death. But before you get all bent out of shape about it, never fear! This module can help you whip your prose into shape. Before long, you'll be turning a phrase with the best of them.
Costuming and Historical Dress Reveals Character and Builds Skill/Aaron Bennett, Carrie Miller, Deanna Sjolander Panelists will discuss the evolution of male clothing and how the different wardrobe pieces can affect your character. With expertise from medieval up to the modern day, our experts can answer pretty much all of your fashion questions.
Genre in a Page/Mike Arnzen We will analyze short short stories less than one page long live in class to glean a few lessons for generating effective flash fiction. Even if you don't write flash, this exercise in brevity will help you tighten up your scenes for a genre audience.
Special Guest Panel Bring your questions about the publishing world. Our fantastic industry professionals (two agents, one editor and author) will be ready to give you answers.
Writing Cops (and Criminals)/Miles Watson One of the most daunting aspects of writing fiction is the performance of due diligence -- known to some by the dread term "research." Whether penning mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, horror, or even certain types of romance, research of the criminal justice system is often necessary -- and to some, intimidating (or let's face it, boring!). As a ten year veteran of law enforcement, I offer a fast, fun module whose purpose is to educate writers on the basic nuts and bolts of the criminal justice system -- and its mirror-image, the criminal underworld. Avoid the sort of mistakes that make critics cringe, and dazzle audiences with your inside information. That, and listen to my autopsy stories.
Laugh Between Gunshots/Fred Adams Jr. A discussion of the use of humor in horror, detective, western, and other genre fiction.  
Inspiration for the Small Stuff: You Did Remember to Have a Setting Right?/Timons Esaias What makes a setting convincing, even surprising, are those unexpected little details. Sure, you're thinking RESEARCH, but we'll talk about a different procedure: PLAYSEARCH. Playsearch involves tools that may seem unrelated [newspaper ads, magazine articles, catalogs, postcards, antique shops, specialty museums], but which remind you what a character typically has around them. We'll discuss how to go from This Thing to A Thing Like It, to The Thing your story requires. Nor will we hesitate, nay, we will do the thing.  
Good Grief: Using the Stages of Grief to Plot Your Novel/Symantha Reagor The stages of grief are universal and experienced by people from all walks of life and across all cultures. But people don't just grieve for the death of loved ones. People grieve over the loss of jobs or status, the end of a relationship (romantic or friend), the transition from one stage of life to another. Grieving is part of every stage of life and major change. As writers, it's important to show the emotional struggle a character goes through - their journey from grief to acceptance is critical. Being aware of the stages of grief and how/when your character moves through them will deepen the emotional resonance of every story and scene written.
Abracadabra: Using Magic in Popular Fiction/Scott A Johnson How to effectively use magic in your work.
Ten Things I Hate About Martial Arts (in popular media)/ Michael Mullig We see martial arts portrayed in pop culture, from Karate Kid to Iron Fist, in film, prose, graphic novels, and animation, and the quality can range from exquisite to abysmal. In this session, we will review some of things that rile up my chi and discuss how to avoid them -- or use them.
Deepen Your Writing OR Going deep: Thrust your readers into a world of sensation with heightened descriptions/Anna La Voie Once you've drafted the bones of your novel, it's important to flesh it out with vivid description, genuine emotion, and themes that lead to a satisfying resolution by "The End." We will discuss various techniques that will help you layer in sensory description and emotional beats that will keep readers deeply engaged with your story.
Mastering the Great Agent Hunt/Rhonda Mason and Jen Brooks You’ve decided that signing with an agent is the right career move for you. Excellent! Now what? Where do you find agents? Which agents are taking new clients? Which agents are making book deals? How do you know if an agent will like your manuscript? How do you know which agents are right for you and your career? This module will teach you how to find the answers to those questions and many more. As authors who have been through the process (and heartbreak) several times before landing an agent, let us save you some time and headaches. We’ll tell you how we went about the agent search, what worked and what didn’t, and the things we wished we’d known before we mailed our first query letters.
Writing Dialog/Miles Watson
IYWM Closing Luncheon All attendees are welcome to attend this luncheon when the new graduates of the WPF program are celebrated and welcomed into the alumni community.
Alumni Business Meeting WPF alumni are welcome to attend this meeting to discuss the IYWM conference, make suggestions, and recognize needs.
WPF Commencement
Promptapolooza/Donna Munro and Deanna Sjolander Come and write your heart out. A fun, laid back, prompt-based writing workshop meant to help spur creativity and sharpen writing tools. Come with laptops charged and ready to type or pencils sharpened and ready to scribe.
Pitch Practice/Deanna Sjolander This is part of the Thursday open workshop day: Yay! You've written a book! Now you need to sell it. Sell it?! Whether you have some ideas or no idea where to start, this interactive workshop allows you to work with your peers to practice your pitch.
Breakfast Peer Critiques Sessions/Moderator TBA In this session, participants will give peer critiques of one another’s 10 pages submissions. Please come to the session having fully read the submitted works and with either written or typed notes on each submission to return to each author.
Don’t be a D*ck: How to Professionally Pitch Your Novel /Sandra Kasturi and Deanna Sjolander How do you know you’re pitching the right way? Join Sandra and Deanna as they go over their rules for pitching your novel to editors, agents, and even fellow readers. And hey, if you just do as the title says, you’re halfway there!
Erotic Romance: A Journey of Heart and Sexuality/Anna Zabo 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.
Hands-On: Writing the Back-Cover Blurb/Shelley Adina If you're seeking traditional publication, the back-cover blurb goes in your query letter. Once you're under contract, your publisher may ask you to write your own--or rewrite theirs. And if you're self-publishing, you'll need to write a grabby book description to hook the readers attracted by your cover art. In this hands-on workshop, we'll learn the anatomy of a blurb, from shoutline to hook, and then in four easy steps, write one for our works in progress.
A Writer's Advertising Campaign/J. R. Baird This Module focuses on creating an advertising campaign for either a book, an event, or a person. A presentation that includes topics such as audience, slogan, message, campaign strategy, and platforms to promote will be offered.
Reboot Your Novel/Sally Bosco Do you have novels that are sitting on your hard drive taking up space? You'd love to rework them, but you don't quite know what to do? Take heart, you're not alone. This workshop focuses on how to take an existing "shelf" novel, analyze it, and bring it up to publishable quality. Please be ready to analyze one of your "zombie" novels that you would like to re-animate. We’ll work through the revision in class.
Plotting with W, M, and Spaghetti/Randee Paraskevopoulos You’ll take home a full explanation of these techniques, along with blank Ws and Ms waiting for your ideas.
Beyond Questionnaires: Models and Methods for Character Design/Mary Mascari Books and articles about characterization usually come with a long questionnaire to fill out. But how do you know what to say? And how do you remember? This workshop will go through a few simple models to find the main thrust of a character and include writing exercises to discover more about them.
Idiom's Guide to World Building (AKA Cultural Linguistics for Writers)/Symantha Reagor World-building is often a "hot potato" topic amid the writer community with "everyone and their mother" eager to give their opinion "at the drop of a hat." Without solid world-building, a writer may have to take a novel "back to the drawing board" even after months or years of work. But "every cloud has a silver lining" just as every culture has a set of "idioms." By examining known Western and Eastern idioms, writers in this workshop will build a fictional culture with its own set of idioms that highlight the values and unique characteristics of a new fictional world.
Food and Writing/Christina Stitt We've all read a scene where a weary traveler finally sits down to a good meal, only to drool over the description of their well-deserved dinner. Or we've tried to picture fantastical foods and what they would taste like and smell like in real life. This module explores the power food can hold in your writing, and how the right details can take a simple meal and turn it into a trove of information for your readers. We will also briefly touch on writing about food in the non-fiction world (memoirs, blogging). Yes, there will be samples.
Sexless Love: Passion for Everyone! /C.A. Jacobs Many novels and stories in all genres are determined to force their main characters, and even many of the supporting characters, into sexual or romantic pairings. In truth, the world we live in and the ability to create realistic worlds for our characters to live in depends on passion. This module, taught by an asexual author, intends to demonstrate how to incorporate passion into all of your characters and provide them with a network of positive interpersonal relationships as well as more diversity in their lives.
Got Magic?/Maria V. Snyder Magic is one of the conventions found in 99% of fantasy novels.  From using electricity and power objects to flicking a wand, the range of magic systems used in fantasy is diverse. This workshop will review the various magical systems and help you create one of your own.
Kick-Ass Titles/Sally Bosco One of the most important decisions you'll make about your novel is the title, yet many of us settle for the first thing that pops into our minds-the "good enough" title. Your novel's name is the first introduction a reader, editor or agent has to your novel. In our busy world where people make snap decisions about what they would like (or would not like) to read, why not come up with a title that compels the reader to pick up your book? Class time will be allowed for you to work through this process with one of your own novels.
Panel: How to Become an Indie Author/Carrie Miller I aim to provide you with the tools you'll need to navigate the treacherous waters of the self-pubbing world. I'll tell you all of the mistakes I made so you don't have to make them, and give you advice and resources so you can make well-informed choices about your publishing career. Topics to include: editors, formatting, covers, marketing, reader interaction (social media/blogging/newsletter), distribution channels, ISBNs, and more.
Social Media for Anti-Social Writers/Dr. Natalie Duvall and Matt Duvall The module features hoary (not whore-y) alums talking about ways they use social media to enhance their writing. Panelists TBD.
Martial Arts for Writers/Mike Mullig The martial arts are often seen as mysterious and mystical, with practitioners capable of superhuman -- or supernatural -- feats of skill and endurance. While such fight scenes can look brilliant on the screen, it can be difficult to understand the concepts underlying martial arts for writing prose. Join Sandan Mike Mullig as he invites you to look behind the dojo door. In this presentation, Mike discusses (and demonstrates) topics such as training, techniques, applications, injuries, and the conditioning that comes with the practice of a martial art.
Paid to Play: Writing Video Game Strategy for Cash and Kingdom/Serena Stokes Keep working on that novel! But in the meantime, you need to make a living. We know a lot of you talented writers out there are also enthusiastic gamers. Did you know those two passions can work together to create exciting job opportunities? The strategy guide branch of the gaming industry is constantly searching for gamers with a stellar work ethic and sense of professionalism, who know the ins and outs of the freelance world, and, above all, who can craft a good sentence. Attend to learn about the skills, expectations, and responsibilities required of the job, and how you can turn a love of video games into a viable career path.
Building a Story Pyramid/Jessica Freely A fun and interactive workshop to get you thinking about story structure in a whole new way!
X-Ray Your Scene: How to find the bones of a scene and use them for pre-writing or editing/Mary Mascari Do you know your scene has problems, but can't tell exactly where the problem is? This workshop will give you some tools for analyzing a scene so you can make a diagnosis and treat the patient.
Brainstorming! /Diana Botsford, Jen Brooks, and Rhonda Mason Looking for a fun, fast-paced workshop to generate new fiction ideas or enhance a work-in-progress? Diana, Jen, and Rhonda will lead the group in some activities they use to brainstorm their own work. Plenty of group participation here, with a focus on spawning ideas and spiraling them out in interesting directions. You will leave with at least three new story ideas and plenty to continue thinking about after the workshop ends.
Get Your Butt in The Chair/Erica Millard Are you lacking direction as a writer? Have you looked at the calendar and realized that you haven’t written in weeks? Is the Internet/Netflix constantly distracting you from your writing and other things that are important to you? In this module, we will be discussing and setting goals as well as nailing down how we can stay motivated to write in a world where everything else is stealing our attention. We will also be discussing how to keep a balance between writing and other aspects of our lives such as relationships and personal health.
"Oh, Goddess!" Representation of the Feminine Divine in Fiction/Jennifer Della Zanna and Symantha Reagor Goddesses abound in fantasy novels. Many are rooted in religious and mythological histories and, while there are commonalities between goddesses across cultures, too often a select few tropes (fertility/sexuality/virginity) are disproportionately represented. This module will look at common representations of the feminine divine and explore additional representations of goddess figures and mythology from which authors can draw inspiration.
You Are Here: Deepening POV/Scott Johnson How to bring your readers into the action instead of keeping them at arm's length.
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. Learn how to pump up your kissing scenes for maximum impact.
WPF Thesis Readings Observe the readings offered by the Writing Popular Fiction graduates. All attendees of IYWM are welcome and encouraged to attend. A list of topics is available at registration.
Evening Peer Critiques/Moderator TBA In this session, participants will give peer critiques of one another’s 10 pages submissions. Please come to the session having fully read the submitted works and with either written or typed notes on each submission to return to each author.
Book Signings Between 20 and 30 different authors available for book signings and personal questions about their craft.
Ghost Tour
Red Pen Query Session All conference attendees should bring a query letter or two (personal info removed) to be read and edited by a variety of conference attendees.
Expect Success: The Business of Your Career/Shelley Adina Whether you’re traditionally or indie published, getting that first book out into the world is a huge milestone. So is the second and the third and suddenly you have a career! So many of us don’t expect success. But with a little preparation and know-how, you can manage your career as you would a small business, from time management to taxes, incorporation, and building a publishing team around you. And by the way, have you written a will yet? Shelley Adina will talk about these and other important issues for the career writer.
Further Things That Annoy the Piss Out of Timons/Timons Esaias Timons has been building a list of cliches, commons mistakes, and damnable habits ever since the publication of his "Don't Be A Bobble-Head..." essay. We will review the lowlights of that List, with occasional malt balls for those who testify.
Writing Intriguing Characters/Judi Fleming Without a character your readers can relate to, you don't have a story.  What makes some characters draw them in and what elements make a compelling adversary?  What about all those secondary characters can your readers really tell them apart?  In this workshop, you’ll be given some tools to help you make strong, memorable characters and tweak yours through a guided exercise.
Story Development and Efficiency In Your Writing/Diana Rowland
Trends: Finding the YA Sweet Spot/Kurestin Armada Discussion about crossover genre fiction, specifically fiction that hits the sweet spot between YA and adult audiences (Red Rising, Uprooted, etc). Why editors want it, what makes a book work for it, how to pitch a book you think might fight the bill, what isn't a good fit, and so on.
Navigating the Publishing World from a Publisher and Editor's Perspective/Sandra Kasturi
Foreign Rights for Publishing and Film/TV Adaptation/John Bowers
What I Look For in a Query/John Bowers
Horror: The Redheaded Stepchild/Sandra Kasturi
Fixing the First Five/Kurestin Armada With genre fiction, it can be hard to balance world building, genre expectations, and character building all in those initial pages, all while maintaining reader interest
We are Here to Help: Pick an Editor’s Brain/J.L. Gribble and Anna La Voie here is a stigma against editors that they are just frustrated writers. In reality, editors have one goal: To make the author’s work better. Join freelance editors for a panel conversation about the role of editing in the life of a work of fiction.
Flash Fiction for Fun and Fulfillment/Donna J. W. Munro Writing flash fiction can hone your skills as an editor, force you to write with sharp daggers for words, and get your name out there. This workshop will spend half the time discussing markets and communities. The other half of the time will be spent putting together a flash piece.
Costume Ball (Theme: International Persons of Mystery) Costumes are encouraged, but not required. Join us for our annual costume ball! Finger foods will be provided, and there will be a beer/wine cash bar. Come in your best spy ensemble, or come as you are! Prizes will be awarded for best costumes, and raffle basket winners will be announced. Dance the night away!
Idea vs. Story: Creating a Full-Length Novel/Anna LaVoie How many times have you gotten a nifty idea, sat down to start writing and run out of oomph thirty pages later? A great idea is a great idea, but how do you turn it into a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end? Influenced by a range of plotting and world building methods, I will share my approach to expanding upon an initial idea and fleshing out the necessary pieces to create a full-length novel.
What's Love Got to Do with it? /Victoria Thompson A romantic subplot can spice up any genre, and if you’re not writing a Romance novel, the romance doesn’t even have to end happily.  Using Joseph Campbell’s theories of myth-based fiction, you can add a romance subplot to any genre and create conflict, mayhem, and disaster or just a really, really long courtship.
Panel-Behind the Scenes of Military Life/J.L.Gribble, Alex Savage, and K.P. Kulski. This panel of veterans, current service members, and dependents are ready to share their unique experiences of life in the military (and life attached to the military) and answer questions from the audience.
Adjuncting for Dummies/Elaine Ervin So you have that almighty parchment bearing the letters M.F.A. How do you put it to work to do any actual teaching? This workshop presents a basic game plan (and many tales from the trenches) for those wishing to learn more about the adjunct life and how to break in without going "too" crazy. Ms. Ervin has over a decade of teaching experience (9 years as an adjunct) for a variety of campuses from community college to university level with equally varied environments (on-ground, online, blended).  If you think college teaching "might" be for you, come kick the tires to find out.
Naval Warfare for Writers/Timons Esaias Okay, you've gotten your characters down to the sea, and they need to use ships to fight the Enemy. Maybe you don't know what kind of ships that would be. Possibly you aren't clear on how they would use them. You're wondering if pirates have a union. What made Vikings so awesome? And what are battleships, anyway? Timons Esaias will dispense malt balls and perspective. There will be many pictures. We'll talk about "Why You Won't Have Galleons Without Gunpowder" and deal with the basic logic, and logistics, of fighting on (or under) the water. We'll get you sailing line ahead in no time.
Your Own YouTube Channel/Heidi Ruby Miller and Jason Jack Miller We will work with you to: set up a YouTube channel, create your first content (or better content), decide if monetizing your account is preferable for you, understand why writers would even want to do this.
Purple(headed) Prose and How to Avoid it/Dr. Natalie Duvall and Matt Duvall Sometimes your naughty bits may tingle just a little too much when you're writing those scenes of afternoon delight. We'll examine the anatomy of good sex scenes, bad sex scenes, and scenes so bad they're good. You'll be erect (in your chair) the whole time.
The Cold Hard Clog: AKA the Middle/Maria V. Snyder What happens after the excitement of writing the beginning of your book?  You start working on the middle section, and eighty percent of your novel is considered “the middle.”  For most writers, it’s a cold hard slog until you reach the thrilling climax at the end of the book. This workshop will help you get through the middle by developing characters, advancing the plot, and weaving in sub-plots all to reach your goal – finishing!
Abracadabra/Scott Johnson Have magic users in your fiction? How to make readers go along with the ride, instead of using magic to get you out of every tight spot.
IYWM Closing Luncheon All attendees are welcome to attend this luncheon when the new graduates of the WPF program are celebrated and welcomed into the alumni community.
Alumni Business Meeting WPF alumni are welcome to attend this meeting to discuss the IYWM conference, make suggestions, and recognize needs.
WPF Commencement
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.