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Workshop Electives

As part of your conference registration options, you will be given the choice of one of the following Workshop Electives from each of the available time slots.

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 to help you select Continuing Education Sessions. You can find 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, make note the workshops and sessions you most want to attend and have it handy when you complete your registration.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You are encouraged to study the workshop 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 copy will be included in your registration packet.

Workshop Elective Session 1: Saturday- 9:30 am – 10:30 am

WS 1: Critique or Consequences

Presented by: Ane Mulligan
Level: ALL

A common misconception about critique groups is they strip away your individual style and voice. It can be circumvented, if you know how. This workshop offers advice on how to find critique partners, work with different genres, and how to blend your unique strengths and weaknesses to form a top-notch group, and avoid discouragement. Novelist and Novel Rocket president, Ane Mulligan, has been with her critique partners for over 12 years. She mentors the Penwrights, a large critique group that has seen most of its members published. She also led ACFW’s monthly course on Critiquing for two years. This workshop will discuss the attitude necessary to give and receive critiques, how to be tough on each other and dig deep, while remaining encouraging.

Workshop Outline

I.    Finding partners
a.  Where to find them
b.  How to gauge writing levels
c.  Large Group/Small Group?
d.  Online or face-to-face?

II.  Establishing Ground Rules for your Critique Group
a.  Determining the ambiance of the group
b.  Balancing submission with critiques
c.  Uniformity of critique format
d.  Proper attitude

III.  Critiquing: How to help your partners refine their craft
a.  Mechanics (handouts included)
b.  Combining the group’s strengths and weaknesses
c.  Moving beyond grammar correction and word choice
d.  Learning to hear the music: allowing your partner to break the rules
e.  Plot holes and story arcs

IV.  How to process the critique
a.  Establishing trust
b.  When to ignore the suggestion
c.  How to handle differences of opinion
d.  What can’t be ignored

V.  Q & A

WS 2: How To Build A Platform When You’re A Nobody

Presented by: Jaime Wright
Level: Freshman

How to build a platform when you’ve never been published, no one knows you from Joe Schmo, and you don’t want to look or sound like an absolute narcissist.

Workshop Outline

1 Learn who you are

Developing confidence in yourself is critical to reaching out to potential future readership. What is it about yourself you would highlight when given a few minutes with a stranger?

2 Embrace Social Media

It’s here and it’s not going anywhere. Learning to love social media might raise your hackles, but this is how you can connect with your peeps. So let’s learn how we do this in a way we can not only embrace but ENJOY!

3 Be Real

Believe it or not, readers follow nobodies—when you’re authentic. They enjoy YOU. Authenticity is important, and vulnerable honesty is endearing. Selifes of a make-up less, stressed writer brings the reader into your angst over a well-put-together photo.

4 What NOT To Do

Nothing turns a reader away than marketing, advertisements and narcissistic personalities. Learn how not to chase away potential readers.

WS 3: Writing Naked

Presented by: Ami McConnell
Level: Junior

Ami McConnell sees herself as something of a midwife and has learned that no two book- births are the same. Each is delightfully, terrifyingly, wonderfully unique. McConnell’s session will help provide context for your intensely personal journey. As a seasoned professional author, you’ll be encouraged and inspired by this session that focuses on being both vulnerable and authentic—not hiding behind anything—being honest and true and vulnerable with the reader.

Workshop Outline

WS 4: Good vs. Great
The Difference Between Selling and Slushing
Presented by: Mary Sue Seymour, Nicole Resciniti, and Julie Gwinn
Level: Sophomore

An in-depth analysis and step-by-step breakdown of the elements that make a manuscript sell.

Workshop Outline

WS 5: Sustaining a Lucrative Writing Career

Presented by: Janice Thompson
Level: Sophomore

This interactive class is perfect for serious money-making writers are in it for the long-haul and want to develop strategies that will help them sell today, tomorrow and long into the future

Workshop Outline

If you’re going to do something all your life, make sure you like it.” – Tony Bennett (at an interview on his 80th birthday)

1. Set new and fresh goals every year (or every season). Always have a long-range plan.
2. Keep the readers (and editors) guessing what’s coming next. Make your career as exciting as your novel.
3. Keep your name out there in front of editors and readers.
4. Know what makes people tick. Pay attention to real issues and write what’s relevant. Write real stories about real people doing real things.
5. Learn how to use social media to your advantage.
6. Let your brand lead the way as you make decisions.
7. Write Series. Keep it going. . .and going.
8. Be open to trying new things. Maybe you’ve sold well in the past, but things have slowed down. Maybe it’s a new season, one that requires a new genre. Don’t get stuck in a rut.
9. Go with the flow during hard economic times. Supplement your book income.
10. Go the distance as a researcher. Get your facts right.
11. Throw arrogance in the trashcan.
12. Move those OOP books.
13. Handle poor reviews in an easy-going way.
14. Guard what you say about editors, publishing houses and agents.
15. Maintain credibility. Be a person of your word.
16. Take care of yourself. Most writers don’t get enough sleep.
17. Be unique. Don’t follow the pack.
18. Learn creative marketing strategies, then enjoy the process.
19. Fall in love with the written word all over again.
20. Always have a backup plan. You never know when you’ll come to a fork in the road.

Workshop Elective Session 2: Saturday- 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

WS 6: Soul Care for Storytellers (Panel)

Presented by: Allen Arnold, Kristy Cambron, Katherine Reay, Mary Weber
Level: All

Soul Care for Storytellers: A breathe-deeper approach to the writer’s calling.

In the Greek, the word soul literally means: breath. It’s life itself. One of the most neglected areas of a storyteller’s world is the internal arena of their soul. Nothing has a greater impact than soul care on an author’s identity, marriage, relationships, and imagination. In this session, a fellowship of four share their unique experience as writers and publisher from this perspective. The group will share a complete care package in (4) key areas of soul-care: SPIRIT, SOUL, BODY, and COMMUNITY, drawing back the curtain on the impacts of the writing life and offering up quick-hit strategies for attendees to walk away empowered to pursue the full scope of the writing craft.

Workshop Outline

SPIRIT, SOUL, COMMUNITY and BODY each form a quarter of a circle and if one portion is neglected, the writer’s ability to create will be imbalanced (i.e. cannot roll like a wheel). Key questions and actions to consider on the writer’s journey:
o Question: How do authors get taken out at this deepest of levels?
o Question: What happens to our stories when the soul shuts down?
o Question: What are ways to nurture the soul?
o Question: How does God continue to breathe life into us and how do we then breathe this life into our stories?
o Action: Steps to start slow – short list of elements/benefits for self-care in SOUL, SPIRIT, BODY and COMMUNITY
o Action: Change the narrative – ways to think about our wellbeing when our vocational world is so wrapped up in the cerebral
o Action: Takeaways for self-care that can help your creativity and writing

WS 7: Do I Have a Voice?

Presented by: Dani Pettrey
Level: Freshman

Find your voice, your wiring, and your audience.

Workshop Outline

Each author is a unique creation of God therefore each author has a story only they can tell in the way God created them to tell it. This workshop helps writers understand and find their voice, how to write in their soul language, and how to take both their voice and their style and find the audience God has for them.

I. What makes you unique
II. What is the elusive concept of voice and how do you find yours?
III. The importance of a memorable voice
IV. What’s your style?
V. Learning how you work best is the key to an effective and sane writing life. How are you wired?
VI. Who are the people God has given you to write for? How do you find them and better yet, reach them with your stories.

WS 8: Get Out of the Dumps!
Turning Backstory into Character Development
Presented by: Ramona Richards
Level: Sophomore

Tips on identifying and eliminating backstory and info dumps in a novel

Workshop Outline

“Too much backstory in the first chapter.” It’s the response every author dreads. It’s the one sure-fire way to get a book rejected. Backstory, everyone says, should be delivered with an eyedropper throughout the text. But HOW do you do that when so much information is necessary for the reader to understand what’s going on? This class breaks down what a backstory dump looks like and offers three main solutions to using “what came before” to support the plot, development the main characters, and provide motivation for supporting characters.

WS 9: Working with an Agent in the New Publishing Economy

Presented by: Chip MacGregor
Level: Sophomore

With the advent of self-publishing and the expansion of small presses, it’s fair to wonder who needs an agent in the new world of publishing.

Workshop Outline

What is the role of an agent in today’s changing publishing climate, and how does a writer go about finding one? In this workshop we’ll explain what an agent does (and doesn’t do), explore methods for researching and approaching gents, and discuss what a healthy author/agent relationship looks like. Chip has been a literary agent for nearly 20 years, and has been one of the busiest agents in the United States, so he knows how to talk about agenting roles and elationships. But Chip is also an author, and understands the problem authors face: “Publishers won’t talk to me unless I have an agent, but agents won’t talk with me until I’m published!” So come join us, bring your questions, and let’s try to create a realistic plan for finding and working with a literary agent who is a fit for you.

WS 10: How to Write for ABA While Keeping Your CBA Values: Part Two

Presented by: Natasha Kern and Karen Solem
Level: Junior/Senior

As opportunities for fiction writers within CBA are shrinking both with publishers and with the CBA stores, how to write the kind of story you are committed to but for the general marketplace.

Workshop Outline

Workshop Elective Session 3: Saturday- 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

WS 11: Developing a Thick Skin
Key to Your Long-Term Career
Presented by: Tamela Hancock Murray and Steve Laube
Level: Junior

Literary Agents Steve Laube and Tamela Hancock Murray teach how to cope with the criticism that assails every successful author to ensure a healthy and happy long-term career.

Workshop Outline

Those Awful Critiques: When to listen and when to discard comments

Overcome the Fear of Failure: Critique groups are fun, but then it’s time to say, “Enough already!” and submit

Your Perfume Doesn’t Stink—Your Writing Does! (Not really—But did we get your attention?)

—Criticism from editors and agents isn’t personal. They must consider:
    —Current list of authors and projects
    —Future needs (two years out)
    —Marketability of manuscript
    —Author potential

Did you receive criticism from an agent or editor? Listen and learn. Again, this is not junior high. We all want to sell books.

Your Proposal Doesn’t Sell: Now What?

Try, try again. Let your agent be your guide.

On your own? Still, try, try again.
—Go to writers conferences.
—Look for new markets.
—Do NOT keep rehashing the same idea/book over and over and over hoping for a different result. Be Fresh. In a good way.

Your Published Book Doesn’t Sell: Now What?

Does your publisher still love you? Let your editor be your guide.
Publisher kicked you to the curb? Let your agent be your guide.

You’re a Bestselling Author and Some People Still Think You’re a Loser? How to respond.

Biblical guidelines for responding to criticism.
—when to respond
—when not to respond
—Keeping the focus on God

WS 12: Make Me Care

Presented by: Kathleen Y'Barbo
Level: Sophomore

In a world where books are cheap or free and choices abound, the only way to make our readers stop shopping around for their next book and read ours is to make them care.

Workshop Outline

In a world where books are cheap or free and choices abound for readers, how do we make our readers stop shopping around for their next book and read ours? We make them care. It is as simple and as difficult as that. Studies show a book must capture a potential reader’s attention within the first few pages—sometimes paragraphs—or the reader will move on to the next book. However, even if the opening scene is impossible to ignore, the reader won’t stick around unless the characters and the story they are living compel the reader to stay.

When story people with unique personality traits, quirks and secrets are woven into a tale with other unique story people whose goals are in conflict, something magic happens. Characters rise to the occasion and the plot takes on a life of its own. Best of all, readers stick around to see what’s going to happen next.

This workshop will walk conferees through the process of creating characters, openings, and story lines that will keep the reader turning the pages. Essential topics in this discussion will involve getting to the why of motivation, the how of opening, and the where of plotting, with the emphasis on grabbing the reader’s attention with high concept and realistic but unique characters.

WS 13: The Antagonistic Setting

Presented by: DiAnn Mills and Edie Melson
Level: Sophomore

Creating an antagonistic setting raises the stakes for a compelling read in every story no matter the genre.

Workshop Outline

This hands-on, Power point workshop shows how an antagonistic setting can mean shaky ground for the point of view character when survival extends beyond a struggle with a physical, mental, spiritual, or nature opponent.

Creating the Antagonistic Setting
Definition of an antagonistic setting
Backstory of point of view characters
What does it mean and why - character growth

Raising the stakes
Adversity of setting

Using the villain’s traits
Exploring what the villain’s traits mean to the POV character
Deepening of Plot

Exploring setting through the genres

WS 14: Being Traditional AND Indie

Presented by: Chip MacGregor
Level: Senior

How to succeed as a hybrid author in today’s hyper-competitive world of publishing.

Workshop Outline

This workshop will explore how a traditional publishing arrangement works, how it is paid, and what an author can expect to make. Then it will explore how an author can independently publish, and what are the realistic expectations for an indie author in terms of earnings and marketing. There are five keys to success for every “hybrid” author, and we’ll walk through them, keeping in mind that each author will need to tailer this information to his or her own genre, readership, platform, lifestyle, and financial expectations.

Workshop Elective Session 4: Saturday- 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

WS 16: Supercharge your Series

Presented by: Susan May Warren
Level: Junior

Learn how to plot a series

Workshop Outline

How do you plot an amazing series that keeps your readers riveted not only in the first book, but builds anticipation for each subsequent book?

Whether you’re an Indy author building an 8 book series, or traditionally published, creating a 2-3 or longer series, you need to know how to grab your readers in the first story and drive that anticipation through ever book. More than creating powerful characters to drive the stories, a great series needs an ignition, a series arc, a surge in the middle and a climatic ending.

In this workshop, learn the different kinds of series available to an author, how to create characters strong enough to drive a series, how to plot a powerful arc, and techniques for planting the essential elements in each book to drive readers forward. Taught by the author of the Christy-winning Christiansen family series.

WS 17: Pitching and Proposals (Plus More!) with the Pros

Presented by: Ann Byle and Linda Glaz
Level: Freshman

Two veteran agents/writers take beginning authors through the basics of pitching, proposals, one-sheets, formatting and genre terms, and talk about an agent’s role and industry trends, all in a fun, hands-on, practice-filled format.

Workshop Outline

This class is perfect for beginners eager to make the most of their experience at ACFW.  Two veteran writers/agents guide you through the basics of pitching at appointments, including practice time with numerous good and bad examples. We’ll also talk about proposals, one-sheets, and an agent’s role in your writing career.

Get your writing basics in line as we learn standard formatting, audience targeting, POV, show vs. tell, fiction lingo, and a host of other details trending in today’s industry. We’ll also review your pitching questions, tweak your one-sheets and critique your proposals. We’ll have quizzes, prizes, and tons of fun as we learn, learn, learn.

The Chunky Method Way
Presented by: Allie Pleiter
Level: Sophomore

Learn a stress-free, practical, dependable method to meet your writing goals even when the rest of your life doesn’t cooperate

Workshop Outline

Do you feel like you can never find the time to write? Have you been chipping away at the same manuscript forever without much progress?  Do you need a system that can get you to typing “The End” with success and satisfaction? Wrangling a fickle muse to meet a deadline—or just to get rid of that looming blank page—is a life-skill for everyone who wants to get serious about their writing.  Multi-published author Allie Pleiter shares the nuts and bolts of how to manage your muse, set goals and deadlines, and tackle the process of professional creativity using her popular Chunky Method.  With a useful mix of the practical, the inspirational, and the nitty-gritty real life of it all, Allie Pleiter gives aspiring or working writers the tools they need to make the magic happen.

WS 19: Don’t LIE to Me

Presented by: Carrie Stuart Parks
Level: Junior

Learn how to write, recognize, and understand the forensic elements of deception.

Workshop Outline

Learn how to write, recognize, and understand the forensic elements of deception. Starting with the difference between lies and deception, participants will   discover the physical, verbal, and written ways people lie. Have a habit of repeating the same word? Discover why . . . and a host of other riveting clues to writing better, more authentic books.

WS 20: Extreme Survival Skills

Presented by: Dani Pettrey and Becky Wade
Level: Senior

Our workshop offers both Biblical and practical encouragement for Christian writers struggling to survive (and even thrive) in the face of the insidious ‘joy stealers’: comparison, stress, discouragement, and burn-out.

Workshop Outline

At some point in every writer’s journey, she or he will come up against what we call the ‘Joy Stealers’: Comparison. Stress. Discouragement. Burn Out.

Joy stealers are real and dangerous. They can detour writers, end ministries, and steal away a writer’s love of her calling. So how is a writer to survive? And even thrive in the face of them?

In this workshop, our aim is to provide writers with soul-deep Biblical encouragement, testimonies from longtime writers who’ve dealt with these issues, and practical tools for combatting the joy stealers so that as a group we can, throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And… run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1.

The Biblical truth regarding comparison.
Video testimony from an established writer.
Practical ways to fend off and/ or recover from comparison.

The Biblical truth regarding stress.
Video testimony from an established writer.
Practical ways to fend off and/or recover from stress.

The Biblical truth regarding discouragement.
Video testimony from an established writer.
Practical ways to fend off and/or recover from discouragement.

Burn Out
The Biblical truth regarding burn out.
Video testimony from an established writer.
Practical ways to fend off and/or recover from burn out.

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.