You’ll find the detailed schedule of workshops and classes here:

Discovery and Improv

Thursday (Pre-Conference) four-hour masterclass

Presenter: Lani Diane Rich

Extra fee of $75

Noon to 4 p.m.

The hardest part of any creative process is getting started, mostly because we don’t know where to start. In this four-hour workshop, NYT bestselling author and story coach Lani Diane Rich will walk you through how to get your discovery process off the ground. First, she will show you how to build a soundtrack and collage to feed your discovery process, and in the second half, she’ll show you how to use improv techniques to imagine where your story can go. By the end of the workshop, you will be inspired to move forward on your project, and you’ll have the tools to get started.

Lani Diane Rich is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning podcaster, and story whisperer. She’s published 12 novels with Hachette, St. Martin’s Press, and Penguin, and is the author of How Story Works: An elegant guide to the craft of storytelling. Find out more at

Two-hour masterclasses

From Spaghetti to Strategy – Creating a Marketing Plan that Works for You

Presenter: Jen Graybeal

Marketing is the single most frustrating thing authors have to do but it often feels like throwing spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks. Let’s change that! This session is all about adopting a thoughtful, strategic approach to channel your marketing resources effectively. We’ll explore the art and science of marketing, the four key elements to consider, how to mix things up, and what to do when failure feels personal. You will leave feeling inspired, focused, and ready to take action. 

Jen Graybeal (she/her) is dedicated to empowering authors through encouraging feedback, collaborative problem solving and gently-applied tough love. In eight years of coaching, workshops, and editing projects, she has helped hundreds of romance authors create stories they are proud of and businesses that align with their individual vision of success. She believes there is no one-size-fits-all solution for anything, and that every author has a unique story to tell. Jen has a degree in English, an ever-expanding TBR pile, and a furball assistant that is usually on her lap. Visit her website for client testimonials at or follow her on Instagram and TikTok: @JenTheEditor.

Digging Deep: 3-D character development and deep POV

Presenter: Jillian David

Create characters as real as life and rivet readers as you immerse them in the story. In this lively, interactive workshop, we take prose from ho-hum to HOLY MACKEREL–and back again with hilarious deconstruction exercises. Learn to create characters that your readers will totally love (or love to hate, if appropriate).

Award-winning and bestselling author Jillian David quickly writes then slowly edits paranormal, suspense, and adventure romances. She loves to use medical situations and characters to drive drama in her books. Her favorite cell is the platelet and her least-favorite organ is the pancreas. She fully believes that curse words, when appropriately deployed during surgery, are hemostatic. Which also explains why no book of hers will ever bleed out…

Teaming Up: Working with a Co-author – Things to Know and Consider

Presenters: EJ Russell / Nelle Heran and C. Morgan Kennedy / C.K. Eastland

You and a writer friend want to co-author a series and your creative juices start flowing, but there is more to co-authoring than the writing. Are you going to self-pub or go the traditional route? If self-pub, how are you going to split the costs of cover design, editing, and marketing? How are you going to track earnings and payouts? How will you work together on one manuscript? What happens if one of you no longer wants to work on the project? Not to be morbid, but what happens when one of you dies? Both EJ Russell / Nelle Heran and C. Morgan Kennedy / C.K. Eastland have been part of co-authoring projects that worked extremely well and not so well.

During this two-hour interactive session, Nelle and C.K. will cover the pluses and pitfalls of entering into a coauthor agreement. After attending this session, you will be equipped with practical solutions to the questions raised in this description and much more. You will leave this course with a clear understanding of:

  • your author work profile, strengths, and weaknesses
  • pen names and why you may want to use a new one
  • shared world anthology agreements
  • the mechanics of a good working co-author relationship

E.J. Russell (she/her), author of the award-winning Mythmatched paranormal romance series, writes LGBTQ+ romance and mystery in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst, and happy endings.

Reality? Eh, not so much.

E.J. also writes traditional cozy mystery as Nelle Heran. She lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

C.K. Eastland (she/her) fell in love with mysteries when she first discovered reruns of the original Hanna-Barbera series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Overtime, she graduated to Sherlock Holmes and is currently addicted to Midsomer Murders.

C.K. also writes contemporary swirl romance and romance mysteries as C. Morgan Kennedy. Recently she moved from Portland, OR to Chicagoland for her day job. Still nesting in her new condo, C.K. spends her mornings and weekends researching famous Victorian homes, scrapbooking, and watching way too many Star Wars fandom reviews on YouTube.

Book Titles and Covers

Presenter: Bryn Donovan

A great book title grabs the attention of agents, editors, and readers, and whether we like it or not, readers do judge books by their covers. As a former acquiring editor and art director in publishing, Bryn will discuss what makes a great title and share ten versatile “formulas,” with examples, for book titles. 

She’ll also share ten tried-and-true approaches for book covers, with good examples, and touch on common book cover design mistakes, with fake examples. She’ll share the book cover design brief she developed for working with designers, which is not only useful for self-published authors, but is also a good reference for traditional authors who want to give their publishers input on their cover designs.

Bryn is the author of ten children’s books, four romance novels, two self-help titles, and three nonfiction books for writers (both as Bryn Donovan and as Stacey Donovan.) Bryn’s experience includes serving as an executive editor at a publishing house, where she edited many novels; writing two treatments for Hallmark movies; and teaching workshops at writing conferences. She’s a heavy reader of every kind of romance, women’s fiction, mystery, thrillers, literary fiction, and nonfiction.

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