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.



Pitch Perfect Master Class

Carrie Lofty

Popular pitch guru and award-winning, multi-published author Carrie Lofty will return to present tips and techniques for preparing, practicing, and delivering pitches of all kinds: from a quickie “elevator pitch” to formal, ten minute conference appointments. If you want to learn how to construct a pitch or are seeking experienced feedback, this hands-on class is for you! No sign up is necessary. Just bring a pitch of fifty words or less to get Carrie’s on-the-spot feedback. Don’t be shy!


The Slow Writer’s Guide to Making a Living

Courtney Milan

At this point, you’ve heard that authors should release a book every three months, if not sooner. For some, that may be out of reach. There’s some truth to the claim that faster is better, but for those of us who just don’t write that fast, there are options. Courtney Milan explains how authors can make a living twelve months out of the year, even if they’re not writing 4 books a year.


Author Cross-Promotions and Book Launches

Merry Farmer, Kirsten Osbourne, Pamela KelleyCindy Caldwell

Four bestselling Indie authors share secrets of working together with other authors on box sets, group projects, and cross-promotion with an aim of sharing fans, increasing readership, and advancing each others’ careers.


How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon

Penny Sansevieri

Amazon is a great place to sell books, but most authors don’t realize that Amazon has an internal sales machine that will actually help you market your book, for free, if you trigger it.


Keeping It Real – Life of a New Author

Shannyn Schroeder, Sonali Dev, Ruth Kaufman, Clara Kensie, Robyn BacharAnn Marie Walker

Life as a new author is exciting and scary and it’s much too easy to allow unrealistic expectations to creep in, so we’ll talk about what it’s really like and what you might expect.


Gone Fishing: How to Catch an Agent

Tracey Lyons

This workshop will cover different approaches to finding the right agent. Using some old and new resources Tracey will discuss how to find the right list of agents for you. The workshop will also cover how to decide which agents to query, when is the right time to query, the perks and pitfalls of using newer agents/agencies and the right way to approach agents at workshops and conferences. In addition to answering the question, “Will I still need an agent if I decide to self-publish?” The goal of this workshop is to leave you with useful tips on how to develop the perfect agent query list for your writing career so you can catch the big fish!


Risky Business: Driving Your Career Off The Beaten Path

Jenny Trout

Feel like you’re just spinning your wheels? Learn how to take creative and professional risks and opportunities to find your own personal road to success.


Leveraging the ‘SOCIAL’ and the ‘MEDIA’ in Social Media to Sell Books

Joanna Shupe, Sonali Dev

How to use social media with both your Head (technology) and your Heart (brand/personality) to maximize your reader reach and connection.


I’ll Take Care of That For You: What An Author Assistant Can Do For You

Maria Connor

An experienced author assistant reveals “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Author Assistants but Were Afraid to Ask.”




Four Hands, One Mind: Writing as a Team

Christina Lauren

Interested in co-writing? Come speak with Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling headliners Christina Lauren (Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings) about navigating the publishing world as a coauthor duo. They’ll discuss their process — and alternatives to it — talking through what has worked (and what hasn’t) in their journey to identifying the most important aspects of success as a team.


Plotting Through Characterization

Briana MacPerry

Following the map of “The Hero’s Journey,” participants will build the backbone of their plots through the establishment of a compelling goal, motivation and conflict for their character.


Seven Steps to Sensual Tension

Christi Barth, Laura Kaye, Brighton Walsh

Authors with experience in multiple genres will teach you to incorporate and strengthen sensual tension-the imperative ingredient in every romance, from scorching to sweet.


Tropes with a Twist

Delancey StewartHeidi Joy Tretheway

Uncover fresh narratives in favorite storylines inspired by books pushing the boundaries in romance.


Series Survival Guide: How to Make Readers Think You Knew It All Along, Even When You Didn’t

Erica O’Rourke, Lori Lee, Stacey Kade

This workshop will give writers techniques for developing a series, whether they are pantsers, plotters, or a combination of both.


Master’s Class in Characterization

Jade Lee

Not the usual fill-out-this-character-sheet thing–Jade gives over a dozen different directions to come at your characters as they inform plot, setting, and love.


The Art And Science Of Writing Deep POV

Jeanette Grey

Learn new ways to get into the heads of your characters and bring their stories to life, while also picking up tricks for refining your writing and revising with an eye to creating the richest, deepest POV possible.


It’s All in the Details

Maureen McGowan

Details, when used effectively, are one of the most powerful tools in a writer’s toolbox. Learn the many ways to take your writing to another emotional level by wielding details with power and precision.


Writing Sex and Writing It Well

Molly O’Keefe

Whether you are writing super-hot erotica, or sweet inspirational – all romance novels NEED to have sexual tension. In this workshop we will discuss where tension comes from, how to create it and keep it authentic, and how to take that simmering sexual tension and make it explode.


Redeeming the Antagonist

Nancy Brophy

When your antagonist states, “I am the mistress of all evil.” Can she/he be redeemed to become the hero/heroine in the next book? The answer is yes. This workshop will show how to use POV, motivation, back story, and character development to create a sympathetic, yet believable character through either a second chance or a retelling of the same story from a fresh perspective.


What to Expect When You’re Revising

Sarah M. Anderson

Join award-winning, multi-published author Sarah M. Anderson to learn about how the revision process changes from unpublished to published and get handy tips on how to survive that first revision letter, TrackChange, and never-ending rewrites.


Prewriting for Pantsers (It’s All About Character)

Shannyn Schroeder

Who needs plotting when readers are looking to fall in love with your characters? This workshop is for the anti-plotters out there. The problem with being a pantser, however, is that we often write tens of thousands of words that end up being cut as we “discover” our story. The methods described in this workshop will help you get a handle on who your characters really are so that you can hit the ground running when you start to write.




Beyond Bikes and Tattoos: Ten Can’t Miss Romance Reading Trends

Amy Alessio, Susan Gibberman, Lynne Wall

It is hard to keep up with new books, authors and trends but three voracious romance reader librarians are ready to share their new favorites in memorable style to double your TBR piles.


New Adult: Is it just YA with more sex?

Annmarie Ortega, Kimberly Sullivan

The New Adult genre has taken the world of fiction by storm, but there are still plenty of readers, authors, and even publishers who aren’t sure what NA is or where it’s going. Is NA just Young Adult with more graphic sex and language, or is NA truly something new? Who are its readers? Who’s writing it? And how can you get in on the action? Come explore this intriguing topic with New Adult authors, readers, and reviewers.


Game of Tomes: Navigating the YA Publishing Kingdom

Stephanie Scott, Erica O’Rourke, Clara Kensie, J. Leigh Bailey

Publishing can sometimes feel like the cutthroat land of George R.R. Martin’s Westeros, so our YA author panel will demystify the different paths to publication in Young Adult fiction.


Basic Beginner Overview to Self-Publishing for Newbies

Megan Kelly

This workshop explains the basic terms and lays a foundation for the writer who needs to know what’s what in the world of self-publishing.


What Readers Want: Exploring “Diverse Books Don’t Sell” and Other Publishing Myths

Sonali Dev, Prof. Eric Selinger, Bobbi DumasLynne WallErin KeablesDuke Duke Goose

A conversation with professionals who actively work to get books in the hands of readers. A chance to discuss with booksellers, librarians, educators, and reviewers what they hear from readers about the direction they want to see the genre take.


Writer’s Life


Zero to 10…Thousand: Increasing Your Daily Words While Respecting Your Process

Kelly Maher

Kelly Maher shares strategies she learned on her journey from being able to draft barely 500 words in a day to over 10,000.


Critique Groups: A Push in the WRITE Direction

Molly O’Keefe, Maureen McGowan, Ripley Vaughan

From strangers to critique partners to best friends forever, three authors at different stages of their careers discuss how they’ve critiqued their ways to success. Participants will learn how to choose partners, communicate constructively, avoid tears, and dole out just the right dose of tough love to push each other in the “write” direction.


Write Smarter, Write Faster

Cindy Kirk

With ever increasing constraints on their time, writers must learn to maximize the time they spend plotting their book, writing the first draft and creating the finished product. This workshop will help writers at all stages of their career be more productive.