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. An Overview of Your Publishing Options Today (Pacifica B room), taught by Chuck Sambuchino. 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. Writing Awesome Young Adult and Middle Grade (Marina rooms), taught by Livia Blackburne. Young adult and middle grade are hot markets today, but what does it really mean to write them? And how do you write YA and MG stories that connect with readers and keep them glued to the page? We’ll talk about YA and MG as categories: how they’re defined, and what audiences they’re aimed at. Then we’ll discuss the craft of writing them. From voice, to themes, characters, and plot, let’s explore how to write YA and MG stories that sell.

3. The Alchemy of Adaptation: Adapting a Manuscript from Book to Screen (Pacifica C+D rooms), taught by Mary Kuryla. Ever want to adapt your manuscript into a movie screenplay? The majority of films and television series are based on source material, particularly books. Adapting a book for the screen requires a comprehensive understanding of screenplay structure, character development, among other visual storytelling elements. In this course writer/producer Mary Kuryla will offer a practical approach to adaptation, applying the fundamentals of screenwriting, including dramatic structure, developing fully dimensional characters, and scene construction.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. How To Write Awesome Romance (Pacifica C+D rooms), taught by Angel Payne. Think romance is just for your dreamy-eyed Aunt Sue? Think again. Avid romance readers number close to 30 million, and are growing every year. Moreover, most of them read several books per week. But despite the genre’s popularity, breaking in requires more than the ability to create a clever clinch and a smirking hero. In this nuts-and-bolts session, we’ll talk about the nuances of the romance publishing industry, including pre-query prep, attention-getting hooks, character trends, and the importance of weaving time-honored tropes in fresh new ways. Learn what it takes to jump off of an agent or editor’s slush pile, and into the hearts of devoted readers. If your passion is for passion, this hour is just for you.

2. Everything You Need to Know About Agents and Query Letters (Pacifica B room), taught by Chuck Sambuchino. This workshop is a thorough crash course in dealing with literary agents. After quickly going over what an agent is and what they do for writers, we will discuss resources for finding agents, how to ID the best agents for you, query letter writing, as well as the most important things to do and not to do when dealing with representatives.

3. Ten Secrets to Creating Mysteries That Kill (Marina rooms), taught by Jeri Westerson. Learn the basics of mystery writing with ten tips for writing killer mysteries and thrillers. Taught by a published mystery writer, this session will explain what keeps readers and agents turning pages all through the night.

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 (Pacifica B room), 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 (Pacifica C+D rooms), taught by Chuck Sambuchino. 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. Be Brief, Bright, and BOLD! How to Create Epic Picture Books That Sell (Marina rooms), taught by Eve Porinchak. Have you dreamed of writing a children’s book, but don’t know where to begin? Or, have you written a book and need guidance on how to get it published? In this workshop, you will learn how to create, pitch, and publish compelling picture books that will delight audiences for years to come. Author and former literary agent Eve Porinchak will guide you in taking your story from concept to print and arm you with all the tips you need to create winning picture books that sell.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Talking Author Social Media, Blogging, and Platform (Pacifica C+D rooms), taught by Chuck Sambuchino. Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, everyone could use some helpful guidance on how to effectively market themselves and sell more books. This session includes easy-to-understand advice on social media (Twitter, Facebook, more), blogging, and other simple ways you can market your work online cheaply and easily.

2. Querypalooza (Pacifica B room), taught by Eve Porinchak. In this interactive workshop, you will learn query letter Dos and Don’ts, how to write a compelling longline, synopsis, and bio, and put all the pieces together to create a concise and killer query that will leave agents and editors salivating to read your entire manuscript. Bring your query in case Eve has time to do live critiques.

3. You’re Done! Now the Work Begins – How to Self-Edit and Get Your Project Ready (Marina rooms), taught by Kari Sutherland.  From beta readers to agent querying to the publishing process, this class will teach writers will learn how to tackle revising their finished project. You’ll learn to examine plot, characters, world-building, and tension — right down to word choice and sentence structure. We’ll talk about beta readers and what to expect in the querying process and beyond–once you have a publisher!

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Ten Keys to Writing Success (Pacifica B room), taught by Chuck Sambuchino. Learn 10 things you can be doing right now that will help get your book(s) published and have more control over your writing destiny. This is a general course that addresses commonsense things any writer can do to give their work the best shot at getting published, such as writing the best thing they can, stealing from themselves, and why writing for love and money is a good idea.

2. Writing Speculative Fiction — How to Compose Great Sci-Fi and Fantasy (Marina rooms), taught by Wesley Chu. A discussion regarding the genres of science fiction and fantasy — how the markets are changing, what writers can do to improve their craft in these genres, and much more. It’s a great session to attend if you’re trying to write and sell speculative fiction.

3. Legal and Copyright FAQ For Writers (Pacifica C+D rooms), taught by Dana Newman. Can you quote song lyrics in your novel? Are you allowed to write about real people? How do you prevent someone from stealing your story idea? Can you re-use a title someone else has used for his or her book? What’s the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism, and what is fair use? Are there ways to protect yourself from legal claims? What are the most important clauses in a publishing agreement? Legal issues are becoming increasingly important for authors, particularly those who self-publish without the benefit of an agent or attorney. The most common legal issues that impact authors and the publishing industry are copyright, contract, and, to some extent, defamation and privacy law. This workshop provides an introduction for both self-publishing and traditionally published authors to basic legal issues they may confront when writing and marketing their work.


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.