Join ACFW |  Forgot Password |  Login: 

Continuing Education Sessions

As part of your conference registration options, you will be given the choice of one Continuing Education Session track to follow throughout the conference agenda.

As you review the options, you will see that each class is marked with a Level. The Levels are a tool to help you determine which classes will be most beneficial FOR YOU. These same Levels are also used to help you select Workshop Electives. You can find Course Level Definitions by clicking HERE, or you may also use the link provided in the navigation menu to the right.

After reading the Level Definitions, note the workshops and sessions you most want to attend and have it handy when you complete your registration. All classes are open to anyone; the Levels are merely to help you determine the type of instruction to expect.

IMPORTANT NOTE You are encouraged to study the sessions carefully before registering. In an effort to be as environmentally responsible as possible, handouts for sessions will not be available onsite. You’ll receive handouts for your sessions via email the week prior to conference. If you purchase the complete syllabus, that electronic syllabus will be included in your registration packet.

CE Session -  CE 1: Keys to Compelling Stories

    Title: Keys To Compelling Stories
    Level: Freshman
    Presented by: Kristen Heitzmann
    Prerequisites: Description

    Learn to craft and develop the elements that give storytelling the depth and experience readers and publishers can’t resist.

    Workshop Outline

    THE SPARK & THE BOND—1st line, 1st page

    CHARACTERS WHO CONNECT—pretend people so real we know them
    1. Elements of human experience that create recognition
    2. Inborn characteristics
    3. Experiential characteristics
    4. Fixed and malleable aspects
    5. Strengths and wounds
    6. Distinctive
    7. Motivation
    8. Cast—others who reveal and impact your leads 

    DYNAMIC DIALOGUE—an impressionist version of talk with all the mundane
    realism brushed away
    1. Punctuation and structure
    2. Spare and potent
    3. Drives story by
    • Increasing suspense or anticipation
    • Bringing change
    • Revealing characters
    • Providing backstory and facts
    4. Speaking styles and accents
    5. Action beats
    6. Silence speaks
    7. Incorporate setting
    8. Subtext
    9. Generate conflict

    CONFLICT THAT COMPELS—the heart and engine of the plot
    1. Set the stakes
    2. Ratchet them up
    3. Conflict creates anxious uncertainty
    • Potential danger
    • Confrontation
    • Desire of one character vs another
    • Crisis requiring action
    4. Suspense
    5. Tension
    6. Surprise
    7. Keep the Stakes High
    • Romantic elements
    • Time limits
    • Convergence of good and evil
    • Moral dilemmas
    • Wounds and scars
    • Crisis of faith
    8. External/ internal conflict
    9. Outer Journey/ inner journey 

    SETTING THE SCENE—gives the story tone and texture
    1. Choosing the location
    • Symbolize theme
    • Play a role
    • Increase tension
    2. Impact on characters
    3. Vivid
    4. Infuses story
    5. Evocative
    6. Foreshadow conflict or provide respite
    7. Sensory details
    8. Awakens a response in reader
    9. Subplot as setting
    10. Your own personality
    11. Similes and metaphors

    PERFECTING POV—the voice and eye

    • The experience of story

    The Point
    • Creates and sustains a reality myth
    • Forms a visceral connection
    • Sloppy POV throws the reader off the ride

    The Types

    POV Progression
    • Actions
    • Dialogue
    • Observation / sensory interaction
    • Assessment / impressions

    Grammatical Structure of POV



CE Session -  CE 2: The Successful Series

    Title: The Successful Series
    Level: Sophomore
    Presented by: Cynthia Hickey and Janice Thompson
    Prerequisites: Description

    Hook ‘em and leave ‘em begging for more by writing, publishing and marketing a successful series, one that will bring in royalties for years to come.

    Workshop Outline

    Series Genres:
    Cozy Mystery
    Contemporary Romance
    Historical Romance

    Successful Television and Movies Series

    Each Episode Stands Alone
    Each Episode is Part of a Whole
    Each Episode Has a Beginning, Middle and End

    Setting Goals: Make Your Plan
    Release Dates
    Traditional or Indie?
    What’s Your Hook?

    Themes, Style and Voice: Sticking to Your Brand

    Book Titles and Covers:
    Keeping it Consistent
    Make the Reader Comfortable

    Heroes and Heroines that Stand the Test of Time
    Super Sleuth Extraordinaire
    Heroine as BFF
    A Hero to Die For
    The Quirky, the Flawed and the Loveable

    Who Stays and Who Goes?
    Formative characterization (Developing Over Time)
    The Disappearing Act (Characters Who Shift in and Out)

    Setting as Character
    Rooting the Series in a Place the Reader Becomes Familiar With

    Planting Seeds for Future Books
    Little Teases Buried Within the Pages

    Open-Ended Character Issues/Flaws

    Traditionally Published Series
    Time Frames/Release Dates
    Launching the First Book
    Marketing Strategies
    Ongoing Launches/Getting Creative

    Indie Series
    Time Frames/Release Dates
    Collaborative Efforts/Co-Authoring and Co-Releasing
    Marketing the Indie Series:
      Launching the First Book (Free? Perma-Free? Discounted?)
      Launching Subsequent Books
      Keeping the Focus on Book One (Ongoing Strategies)

    The Next Book
    Learn How to Tease Your Readers
    Leave ‘em Begging for More
    Consistent Hook (from book to book): Object, song or otherwise
    Order Up! (Does Order Matter?)

    The Accidental Series
    Unplanned, but Effective

    Timeline issues

    Successful Series Stories

    NOTE: We’ll use the hook of old TV series in the Power Point, along with
    theme songs from shows like Dragnet, Bonanza, I Love Lucy, etc.

CE Session -  CE 3: In-Depth Brainstorming/Story Equation

    Title: In-Depth Brainstorming/Story Equation
    Level: Sophomore
    Presented by: Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren
    Prerequisites: Description

    Ten Elements To Get Your Story Started In The Right Direction!  Using the revolutionary Story Equation, Rachel and Susie will walk you through core elements that will set the foundation for any story. Whether you’re a beginning or multi-published author, a plotter or pantser, this continuing education session will add critical tools to your storytelling tool belt. Don’t miss it.

    Workshop Outline

CE Session -  CE 4: The Irresistible Novel

    Title: The Irresistible Novel
    Level: Sophomore/Junior
    Presented by: Jeff Gerke
    Prerequisites: Description

    How to free yourself from the paralyzing “rules” of fiction and capitalize on the brain chemistry of reader engagement to create the irresistible novel.

    Workshop Outline

    The Conflicting “Rules” of Fiction
    * Where the rules come from
    * What they’re good for
    * How they paralyze
    * How to take what will help you and get uncrippled by the rest
    * Dealing with industry gatekeepers and “helpful” rules Nazis
    The brain chemistry of reader engagement
    * The work of Dr. Paul J. Zak, neuroscientist
    * What the reader’s brain is looking for
    * Catching the brain’s attention
    * Transportation and vulnerability
    * A neurotransmitter story map
    * Maximizing brain chemistry in your fiction
    Conclusion and Q&A

CE Session -  CE 5: The Wildness of Writing with God

    Title: The Wildness of Writing with God
    Level: All Grades
    Presented by: Allen Arnold
    Prerequisites: Description

    A Rare, Foundational Journey into Creating with the Creator

    Workshop Outline

    1) The Invitation (15 minutes)
    a. Bohemian Rooftop Creativity
    b. Entering through the Blue Door

    2) The Creative Motive (60 minutes)
    a. What is God’s motive for giving us this gifting?
    b. What is Your motive for accepting the gift?
    c. What is the Enemy’s motive for thwarting the gift?
    d. Hands on Exercise / Q&A

    3) The Desert You’re In (45 minutes)
    a. Seeing the Deserts
    b. Naming Your Desert
    c. Escaping the Desert
    d. Hands on Exercise / Q&A

    4) Surfing Your Story (45 minutes)
    a. The Scars of Your Story
    b. The Way of Active Waiting
    c. Riding with God
    d. Catching the Next Wave
    e. Hands on Exercise / Q&A

    5) How to Dance with the Creator (60 minutes)
    a. The Goal is Intimacy
    b. The Truer You vs. the Orphan Spirit
    c. Creating in the Wild
    d. When God Leaves the Room
    e. Hands on Exercise / Q&A

    6) Sustaining Your Creativity (60 minutes)
    a. The Staying Psalm
    b. Nurturing Your Heart
    c. Your Horizontals
    d. The Unnameable Mystery
    e. The Feast
    f. End of the Beginning
    g. Consecration

CE Session -  CE 6: Tricks Rich Indies Use

    Title: Tricks Rich Indies Use
    Level: Junior
    Presented by: Traci Hilton
    Prerequisites: Description

    Learn the tricks and techniques high earning indies have used to turn their writing passion into their full time job.

    Workshop Outline

    I. Introduction
      A. My publishing history
      B. Where and how I learned the rich indie author tricks
      C. What implementing these tricks did for my career

    II. Trick 1: Don’t Publish Just Anything
      A. Seek feedback on your writing ability.
      B. Be your own harshest critic
      C. Rewrite your work. Even if you have already published it.

    III. Trick 2: Be Loyal to your Brand
      A. My $30,000 mistake
      B. How to decide who and what you are

    IV. Trick 2: Spend money to make money
      A. Editing

      B. Cover
      1. Where to get great stock covers
      2. How to get awesome custom covers
      3. How to make your own if you absolutely have to (But don’t.)

      C. Advertising
      1. Subscription advertorial sites
      2. Guest blogging
      3. Give away review copies
      4. Set up your newsletter

    V. Trick 3: Nothing sells books like more books
      A. Time your releases for highest impact
      B. Keep your back matter relevant
      C. Use price pulsing and freebies

    VI. Trick 4: Judge your books by their covers
      A. Make the world think they’ve heard of you before
      B. Rock the thumbnail
      C. Study the competition

    VII. Trick 5: Treat your Fans like Gold
      A. How to handle reviews like a star
      B. How to spend quality time with fans
      C. What to give away to grow your mailing list

    VIII. Trick 5: Divide and Conquer
      A. How to make wise use of ebook platforms
      B. How to maximize paperback opportunities
      C. How to get the most out of audio books

    IX. Things Change fast! This spot reserved for discussion of changes that
    Amazon will have implemented in the next eight months or so and how
    successful indies are taking advantage of them. Also, time for Q and A.

CE Session -  CE 7: Stress-Free Marketing

    Title: Stress-Free Marketing
    Level: Junior/Senior
    Presented by: Amy Green and Melissa Tagg
    Prerequisites: Description

    Learn how to build your platform and promote your books without fear or freaking out.

    Workshop Outline

    In this course, Bethany House fiction publicist Amy Green and multi-published author Melissa Tagg set out to prove author marketing doesn’t have to be scary or panic attack-inducing…and that it can, in
    fact, be fun. *gasp*

    The first step in tackling “marketing meltdown?” Changing our perspective. Marketing is not just about selling books. It’s about building relationships…sharing our stories…and sharing our hearts. When we look at marketing through a new lens, it becomes as much of a ministry opportunity as our books!

    We will will take a look at the top five reasons frazzled authors often fear or stress out about marketing:

    • “There’s too much to do and I don’t know where to start!”
    • “My publisher should be doing this stuff, not me.”
    • “It takes too much time away from writing.”
    • “It feels like I’m a salesperson and I’m annoying people.”
    • “I’m afraid I’ll try something and fail.”

    We will offer advice for combating each fear, as well as applicable and time-saving tips for making marketing doable and enjoyable. We’ll look at marketing as hospitality, talk about a publicist’s “dream author,” and spend time differentiating between marketing a book and marketing YOU, the author.

    We’ll also talk about marketing like a writer. How can we take our writing expertise and turn it into marketing prowess? We will take common writing tips and phrases (know your characters’ motivation; build suspense; show, don’t tell; find your voice) and apply them to the marketing world.

    Hands-on exercises will include:

    • One-Hour Marketing Party Ideas
    • Simple Math to Manage Your Time
    • Picking the Right Platforms

    The goal is for attendees to leave this class with not only a new perspective on marketing, but specific strategies to boost their marketing and platform-building efforts.

You must be at least 18 years old to attend conference without a parent/guardian present with you at all times.

Participation of an individual presenter, agent, editor, or publisher in the ACFW conference does not constitute endorsement by ACFW. Conference attendees are advised to use due diligence and take personal responsibility when choosing industry professionals with whom to schedule appointments or enter into agreement.

Share This Page

You must be at least 18 years old to attend conference without a parent/guardian present with you at all times.

Participation of an individual presenter, agent, editor, or publisher in the ACFW conference does not constitute endorsement by ACFW. Conference attendees are advised to use due diligence and take personal responsibility when choosing industry professionals with whom to schedule appointments or enter into agreement.