No matter where you are in your writing career—from newbie to established author—our conference has a workshop for you! We have a fabulous lineup of speakers, agents and editors, with programs addressing all aspects of the writing life: Career, Craft, Publishing, and the Writer’s Life.
For the workshop schedule, see the schedule of events.
For workshops where presenters have supplied handouts in advance, we’ve included links to the handout(s).
Winning the Promo Game—Masterclass with Damon Suede
An in-depth, practical masterclass focused on helping authors develop a personalized promotional strategy that reflects their work and personal style. These are strategies that can be put to use at all stages in a writer’s career, from newbie to seasoned pro. In this class, participants will:
- establish a customized measure of success.
- identify their approach to the challenges of genre fiction promo.
- map out a fun, effective plan to promote their work more effectively.
A Q&A with Ms. Bev—Presented by Beverly Jenkins
Come prepared with questions to pick the brain of one of our industry’s best: USA TODAY bestselling, and RWA’s Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Beverly Jenkins. From writing to research to history to the industry, you can ask her anything.
Crafting a Slam-Dunk Hook and Query: Insider Tips—Presented by Mary Altman and Cat Clyne
A slam-dunk hook is a useful tool that can make your book stand out to editors, agents, booksellers, and readers. This interactive, deep-dive workshop with two acquiring romance editors will cover: What is a hook? Why do you need one? Why is a series hook so important? How do you use a hook to craft pitches and queries? Learn hands-on how to create a slam-dunk hook that will woo an editor or reader to fall in love with your project.
No Excuses! Writing at Hospitals, Through Heartache and Despite Kids—Presented by Sarah M. Anderson and Stacy Boyd
Writing is your life—but what happens when life is suddenly filled with heartache and loss? Join award-winning author Sarah M. Anderson, and her editor Stacy Boyd, to discuss how to manage your professional life when your personal life veers off course into chronic conditions, hospitals and funerals.
#Passion2Profession: How to Become a True Indie Professional-Presented by Selena Laurence and Jamie Farrell
Publishing an Indie book is only the first step to becoming a professional Indie author, learn from two award-winning and bestselling authors what it takes to turn your passion into a profession.
Ack! My Publisher Is Closing! Now What?—Presented by Amy Jo Cousins, Sasha Devlin, and Karen Stivali
Learn how to navigate the stress of your publisher going out of business and maximize your chances for future success from three authors who have survived multiples closings each.
Co-Writing Confessions—Presented by AJ Pine, Emily Sylvan Kim, and Stacy Boyd
Romance author AJ Pine, her agent, and her editor talk about how AJ and Lia Riley became co-writers, how they keep their writing relationship going even across time zones, how their writing has grown since starting to work together, and how YOU too can be a successful co-writer.
Business Planning for Writers—Presented by Elizabeth Harmon
Learn to manage your talent, time, and treasure to meet your writing career goals. Elizabeth will help you figure out WHAT and WHERE you want to be so you can create a road map to help get you there.
Crafting Heroes and Heroines from Outside the Mainstream—Presented by B.A. Binns
Crafting marginalized characters is not as easy as some authors first think, but this workshop will provide strategies for avoiding pitfalls, stereotypical tropes, and developing multi-dimensional characters different from ourselves.
Create Marketing Synergy: Partner With Other Authors—Presented by Ruth Kaufman
Award-winning and Amazon bestselling author Ruth Kaufman shares strategies for increasing discoverability, building your platform and growing readership and sales by partnering with other authors online and in person.
Dissecting the Romance Plot with “You’ve Got Mail”—Presented by Priscilla Oliveras
Learn the eight essential and three optional elements of a romance novel from Pamela Regis’s classic text A Natural History of the Romance Novel by dissecting the romantic comedy film You’ve Got Mail. This presentation will show you how the elements can be woven together to craft a Keeper Shelf novel.
Don’t Quit Your Night Job—Presented by Maggie Wells
Help keep your writing dreams alive, even when you’re not working your dream job, by exploring various methods of goal-setting, writing practices, motivational tools, and practical ways to fit revisions, edits, and marketing into the equation.
Bangin’ Hot Beta Heroes—Presented by Amy Jo Cousins and Karen Stivali
Libations of the Regency—Presented by Ella Quinn
Join USA Today bestselling Regency romance author for a discussion and tasting of the most common libations of the Regency. Please note: You must be 21 years old and must sign up in advance to attend this workshop.
Medicine, Manuscripts, and Mayhem—Presented by Jillian David
Use realistic and practical medical information to hook readers, increase drama, improve believability — so you can stretch the truth of your fiction.
Social Media Speed Dating—Roundtable Discussions with Stephanie Scott, Amy Alessio, and Anya Breton
Presented in rotating, roundtable format, join authors Stephanie Scott, Amy Alessio, and Anya Breton to discuss the social media sites and simple promotional tools you need to make your writer life easier, and to engage your readers. Learn the ins and outs of Instagram, Grammarly, Canva, newsletters, and how to make multiple platforms work for you.
Killing Me Softly: When Romance Meets Murder—Presented by Lynn Cahoon
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lynn Cahoon will walk you through the ten steps to determine if writing the cozy mystery is for you.
The Core of Romance—Presented by Kathy Lyons
HANDS-ON WORKSHOP. Bring your story idea and let USA TODAY bestselling author Kathy Lyons / Jade Lee help you strip it down to its core. Once there, it’s easy to see the holes, fix them and start layering in story. Kathy will start by walking you through a few examples (using puppets!) and then it’s your turn to get her help on your WIP. Right there, “live” because romance writing can be easy and fun.
Women on Top: Being Sex Positive in Your Prose—Presented by Eliza David
Tips on centering women (especially WOC, queer, and transwomen) effectively & responsibly in your romance writing.
Beyond the Rules: Grammar Choices That Add Power to Your Novel—Presented by Julie Glover
Rules, rules, rules. That’s what comes to mind for many authors when you say grammar. But grammar is yet another tool to help you convey your intended meaning and create the experience you want your reader to have. Let’s move beyond the rules—even break the rules—and discover four ways you can add power to your novel.
Mastering the Meet-Cute—Presented by J. Leigh Bailey, Shae Connor, Sasha Devlin, and Ann Marie Walker
This program will use examples from popular movies, television shows, and books to identify the main characteristics of an effective meet-cute, to recognize the basic formulas and tropes of the meet-cute, and to explore ways to create fresh versions of this classic plot device.
Bringing STEM to Romance: Writing Tech Savvy Characters While Avoiding Sterotypes—Presented by Robin Skylar
This workshop will give you background you need to avoid the stereotypes that persist about people in the tech industry while still bringing heart and complexity to your characters.
Hook Readers by the Heartstrings: Layering Emotions in Your Story—Presented by Lynn West
What’s the point of reading a romance novel? To take an emotional ride. Evoking emotion in your readers will keep them turning pages as they experience the thrill of your story. It all comes down to making your readers feel. Lynn West, editor in chief of Dreamspinner Press, will share her editing tips and tricks to help you take your prose to the next emotional level so you can hook readers by the heartstrings and never let them go.
Consent is Sexy! Consent in Romance and Beyond—with Panelists Karen Stivali, Sasha Devlin, J. Leigh Bailey, and Amy Alessio. Moderated by Sarah M. Anderson
Join six authors as they define consent, how to establish it in a romance and when it is absent, as well as what the gray areas of consent (non-consent, dubious consent, BDSM play) mean for your stories. Questions welcome!
BDSM Romance: Start with the Heart and Soul—Presented by Joey W. Hill
Sex is not the key to writing successful BDSM romance. It’s putting heart and soul into the story, and integrating that with strong eroticism, all driven from the author’s vital investment in those elements. Joey W. Hill covers the essentials that have helped her do that throughout her career, resulting in award-winning and (hopefully) unforgettable stories and characters.
Serial Success: Starting an Indie Series with Multiple Authors—Presented by Stephanie Scott, KD Garcia, Amy Alessio and Vanessa Knight
Audience members will learn from two groups of authors who write series on what worked—and what didn’t—as they built series from scratch. Take your writing career in a new direction as you learn to build a popular fictional world with several authors from ideas to marketing in this step-by-step workshop.
Printed Word to Book Lover’s Ear: Self-publishing Audiobooks and Working with Professional Narrators —presented by Barbara Ann Martin, Joe Wright, Mary Robinette Kowal, Julie Halpern, Patrick Lawlor and Amy Johnson
Need to publish an audiobook? Learn the basics of producing a self-published audiobook. The Chicago Local, SAG-AFTRA Audiobook Committee of Narrators will discuss what to expect in the process (costs, length of time, do you need an engineer? and other Q&A), along with the benefits and ease of utilizing union narrators for the next chapter of your book: audiobooks.