2020 Presentations

Diane Fanning, Keynote Speaker

Friday Keynote: How to Succeed When You Don’t Know What You are Doing
Find out how Fanning conquered her first true crime book project by learning on the go; visiting Death Row; interviewing killers, victims’ families, and law enforcement; receiving letters and art work from a serial killer; and getting a new trial for a wrongfully convicted woman.

Saturday: Trouble’s Brewin’
Writing without suspense is like coffee without caffeine—no kick and not very addicting. While most obvious in mysteries, suspense is present in all good fiction and creative nonfiction. Learn the tricks of adding suspense to your writing.

Mike Allen, Never Pay An Editor Again*
*Unless you’re sure you need to, for the right reasons. Success as a fiction writer hinges on the ability to self-edit—not just catching typos and grammar mistakes, but creating a story that makes sense on the levels of setting, plot, and character motivation, told in prose that flows. Learning how to self-edit takes time and practice, but the best practices suggested in this talk will help you spot problems to address, and give you guidance as to when it might be time to bring in outside help. The focus of the talk will be on science fiction/fantasy/horror, but the methods will be applicable to other kinds of fiction.

Betsy Ashton, Putting Social Back in Social Media
The key to writers meeting and working with readers on social media is through personal engagement. We will talk about shaping a message to bring people into a conversation. We will discuss which social media networks are where your targeted readers most likely hang out. And we will discuss what NOT to say. The discussion will be interactive with participants sharing what worked and what didn’t.

Jane Fenton, Down the Rabbit Hole: Facebook Ads
Could effective Facebook Ads be the missing link in the marketing strategy? In this workshop, you’ll learn tips and tricks for creating an effective FB Ad, targeting your audience, creating a lead magnet, and monitoring your ads.

Tom Field, Eight Reasons Why I Don’t Want To Hear Your Story; A Consumer’s (and editor’s) Guide To Rejecting Your Art
Need reassurance, encouragement, praise, and confidence-building for your writing profession? Then this little workshop is not for you. Here’s a class for the brave. Those who know we can always improve. A presentation for you if you are as much interested in why writing does NOT generate response—as when it does.

Amy Gerber-Stroh, Getting Your Story In Motion: Adapting Work into a Screenplay
Associate Professor Gerber-Stroh covers why and how many written works are successfully developed into screenplay adaptations, and if lucky, transformed onto the silver screen. Topics include types of adaptations, what kinds of stories work best for cinema, and the unique methodologies of adaptation screenwriting versus writing original screenplays.

Ran Henry, Discovering Your Theme: The Tie that Binds Story and Reader
What is the theme of your novel, narrative nonfiction story, screenplay or stage play, and how do you unearth it? What outward circumstance and inner need draw you to the story you must tell—and how do you turn your emotional ties into thematic connections uniting characters, plot, symbolic details, and inmost meaning? Nonfiction writers must dig for an emerging theme in a stack of notes, and the heart of the author. All literary sleuths must face some shadowy feelings to discover the synergistic force binding story, hero, and reader.

Grant Kittrell, Roaming: from Room to Room, Art to Art
The impulse to create a thing, anything, or make meaning where there wasn’t before—that impulse, for some, is rarely satisfied by just one medium, one genre, one discipline—“discipline” in the creative process may require more than just sitting down at a desk—it might also require choosing: Which desk? Which art? Which project today? In this workshop, we’ll discuss the many ways roaming from one discipline to another might energize, inform, distract, liberate, frustrate, or illuminate the writer. We’ll be in the other room, doing something else.

Heath Hardage Lee, The League of Wives: How Unlikely Activists Brought their POW Husbands Home and Changed Military Culture
Drawing from archival sources, personal letters, diaries, and oral histories in her new book, The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home, Lee reveals how these unlikely activists went to extraordinary lengths to facilitate their husbands’ freedom and to account for missing military men. She examines how these women achieved their success by relentlessly lobbying government leaders, conducting a series of savvy media campaigns, and covert meetings with antiwar activists attempting to negotiate on their own with the North Vietnamese, and most astonishingly, helping to code secret letters to their imprisoned husbands.

Bruce Ingram, Write about What You Know: Ask for Help about What You Don’t Know
Bruce Ingram has taught high school students since 1974 and knows a great deal about their motivations, hopes, and fears – but he doesn’t know how they talk about certain topics, the slang they use outside of class, and a whole host of other things. That’s why he involved his students in his writing! For this workshop, participants are asked about their ideas for YA books, what they know, and what they don’t about the subjects they want to write about. Expect great discussion and idea generation!

Jeanne Larsen, Truth, Lies, & Poetry: Saying Stuff Without Shouting It
A celebration of fraudulence, fabrication, fiction, fibs. Poets often write in order to express some particular feeling or idea. But in this workshop, we’ll look into how poetry gains power from not “speaking your truth”. After considering some examples of how that’s, er, true, you’ll draft a poem on the spot, playing with prompts for form as well as for some liberating—and maybe truth-revealing—lies. Open to writers at all levels of experience. Come give it a shot!

Liz Long, Writing for Magazines
Can you adhere to deadlines? How about a specific story angle as instructed by an editor? Or, perhaps even more importantly, a word count? What are publications looking for when it comes to your freelance writing? We’ll go over a few key tips on what editors expect from prospective writers for local and regional publications.

Zoe McCarthy, Make a Scene of Your Scene: Four Improvements to Make Your Scene Stand Out
Participants will learn through instruction, examples, and short exercises how to include a zinger in their scene’s dialogue; how to add suspense to their scene in any genre; how to use an imaginary video camera to make their scene’s setting come alive; and how to round out flat characters introduced in their scene. Feel free to bring one of your scenes with you for this workshop.

Valerie Nieman, All into the Pool: Writing Mashups and Genre Crossovers
Nieman, who has written in a number of genres and forms, will discuss the process of writing To the Bones, her latest novel, which incorporates horror, Appalachian tall tale, environmental thriller, and mystery elements. The session will look at “classic” mashups as well as remixes and crossovers, and will include plenty of discussion time as well as a short exercise to take away.

Christina Nifong, So You think You’re Not a Journalist?
A look at basic journalistic practices and principals that apply to anyone writing, blogging, podcasting, or broadcasting. I’ll outline the dos and don’ts as well as provide real world examples, leaving time at the end for questions. We’ll cover everything you always wondered if you were doing right but were afraid to ask.

Angie Smibert, Newbie’s Guide to Writing for the Children’s Market
Have you written the next great YA novel? Have an idea for a fantastic picture book? What do you do next? Young adult, middle grade, and nonfiction author, Angie Smibert, will share her experience and talk about writing for today’s children’s market. She’ll cover categories of kids’ books, different markets, querying, short fiction, and work for hire, among other things.

Melody Warnick, 100 Good Ideas: Tips and Tricks for Coming up with Story Ideas That Editors Want to Assign
Learn how to hunt for good story ideas (from Google Alerts to local newspapers), come up with the right angle, and use technology to organize your ideas. Plus, we’ll do some collective brainstorming and researching to come up with 100 good ideas before the class is over.