As part of your conference registration options, you will be given the choice one of the following Workshop Electives from each of the five 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. Please note, some Level E classes have requirements the presenters have set for attending those classes.
IMPORTANT NOTE for 2013 You are encouraged to study the workshop sessions carefully before registering. Due to severe space limitations, conferees will need to attend only the sessions chosen at registration.
ALSO NOTE: 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 CD of handouts will be included in your registration packet.
Workshop Elective Session: All Day Saturday
WS Quantum Story
Blasting past good to unforgettable fiction.
James Scott Bell
ALL DAY SESSION. Note - this workshop is during the same time as the Saturday Continuing Education Sessions and Saturday Workshops.
In this workshop, you’ll move beyond the standard tips and techniques of fiction into the deep tissue of unforgettable storytelling. Using a unique mix of prompts, and the powerful “movie in the mind” exercise, James Scott Bell will take you on a path of discovery, where you will meet your story again for the first time, and fall more deeply in love with it. Using in class interactivity, visuals and exercises, you’ll connect with:
• The rivets of structure: what holds unforgettable stories together.
• The 8 aspects of “jump off the page” characters
• How to add “spice” to your pages
• The single greatest secret for unforgettable fiction, and how to put it in every scene
• The most underutilized tool for out-of-the-box fiction, and how you can harness it
• The art of breaking through to an unforgettable voice
• The Fast Eddie secret to an extraordinary writing life
Here is one unforgettable day that will create unforgettable stories . ..and writers.
Workshop Elective Session 1: Saturday- 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
WS01 The First 50 Pages
The first 50 pages of your novel are crucial to gain reader engagement, to set the reader up for what is to come, and to structure the novel for success.
• What must the first 50 pages accomplish?
• In the final analysis, there are only two things you must do with your
first fifty pages.
Engaging your reader is Job One
• How do you engage your reader?
• Engaging your reader to your hero
• Engaging your reader in other ways
• Establish normal
• Decide on what structure you want to use to begin your novel:
o Hero Action
o In media res
o Frame Device
• Bringing your protagonist onstage the first time:
• The first page
• Your first line is prime real estate—build on it carefully
• What goes on your first page?
WS02 Working with an Agent in the New Publishing Economy
In a world of self-publishing and smaller advances, authors need to understand how the relationship between authors and agents has changed, and what they can do to help maximize the new way of doing business.
. What is the new publishing economy?
—In the first few minutes, we’ll explore how things have changed
economically for writers, including looking at the actual money authors are
2. Do we need agents any more?
—Several people have said publicly that agents are no longer needed in the
industry, so we will explore how the role of the agent has changed
completely from five or six years ago.
3. What should an agent do for you?
—A practical look at what an agent should do for an author.
4. What should an author know before talking with an agent?
—Balancing that, an exploration of what an author should be doing in the
5. What is an effective strategy for finding the right agent?
—An author needs to know what he or she is looking for in an agent, how to
research that, and how to go about meeting with an agent.
The five things you should do before leaving this conference…
—We’ll close with some very practical advice for getting noticed by
WS03 Cooperating for Success: Editors, Agents and Authors
Natasha Kern, Julie Gwinn, and Julie Lessman
At least 2 contracted novels
How agents and editors work with writers to help them succeed by writing and publishing e-books as an important part of career-building
Natasha Kern,Julie Gwinn and Julie Lessman will talk with writers about when it is smart to write an e-book. Is it a good idea to self-publish first? Are prequel ebooks a good idea or interstitial ebooks?
What about sequels? What is the ideal length? What can be done about publicity for ebooks? Is joining Amazon’s PRIME program a good idea or offering a book at low cost or even free or some other pricing strategy? What cover designs work best? Is it a good idea to co-publish with other writers? What are the other options and which are the best? There are so many choices and ways to proceed, it can be daunting for a writer to decide what is best for her career and how to have the right timing in place for publishing ebooks. Most important, a writer needs to work with her agent and publisher in determining cooperatively what is best regarding digital rights, sales and publication.
Two experienced publishing professionals and an author will discuss the latest data about digital publishing and explain how writers and publishers can cooperate for mutual success
WS04 Tight Writing and Sentence Rhythm
At least two books published
Words are not always a novelist’s friend. The use of too many words weighs down a sentence, paragraph, a chapter. An entire book. It’s easy, after writing a few novels, to become lazy about this. Tight writing requires constant vigilance.
Sentence rhythm is a writing technique that is far too often overlooked by novelists. Mastering this one technique can change your writing dramatically.
This is an interactive workshop. Bring ten printed pages of your manuscript for the instructor.
Workshop Elective Session 2: Saturday- 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
WS05 Building A Writing Career While Working Full Time
Building a writing career while working full time can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
Despite what episodes of Castle portray, many writers aren’t multi-published millionaires sitting in luxurious offices overlooking the beach. In fact, many writers lack the financial stability to write full time. Those who do write full-time have a spouse who contributes to the monthly budget, or they have published enough books to meet their financial obligations. Most of the writers I know work full time—inside or
outside the home—care for families, maintain church responsibilities and try to get enough sleep so they’re not zombies the next day. So how are writers able to find the time to write while working full time?
Building a writing career while working full time can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. During this session, Lisa will share five keys to empower writers to build their writing careers while working full
time—Prayer, Passion, Preparation, Practice and Persistence.
WS06 The Business End of Writing
A flourishing career as a writer necessitates a business-like approach to your work. Beginning with tips for an “attitude adjustment,” Deborah will reveal some basic steps that can help you move from dabbling as a hobby writer to being a successful working writer. Topics for discussion include scheduling writing time, organizing office space, record keeping, perfecting the craft, self-promotion and a Q&A session to answer your specific questions (NOTE: This is not a business accounting or tax law class.)
Carve out a disciplined schedule for writing—“butt glue.”
Time management—Put hours on calendar as an official appointment, but be
aware of divine interruptions.
The challenges of working at home.
Find “office” space of your own; organize it to meet your needs.
Come up with a filing system and keep close track of your
submissions/rejections, writing progress, etc.
Keep close track of the financial aspects of your business.
Keep track of tax deductions (phone calls, mileage, office supplies, etc.)
Invest in an accountant, even if it’s a one-time consultation.
Learn to find balance in the various aspects of being a writer.
Come up with a routine time to write and do writing business.
Don’t forget to factor in time to spend with family, keep up friendships,
and spend quiet time with the Lord.
Example of concert pianist or brain surgeon—few prodigies; takes time to
be an expert.
Start small and move gradually to each “next” level.
The writing/speaking connection.
The Rat Race: too busy; caught up in a competitive spirit. God has an
individual plan for YOUR writing and it’s not the same as the plan for
An important part of the business is perfecting your writing craft. Never
stop learning, take classes to develop your craft, study the competition,
YOU are your business’s greatest asset. (CEO, marketing director,
spokesperson, and janitor!)
The connection we make with authors
Act and speak as though you are a “real” writer.
The challenge of being your own PR person AND a Christian.
Write the worldview and message of your faith. Even if what you write
isn’t “blatantly” Christian, you still are a light in the darkness
because of the principals you champion.
Every business decision should ultimately be the Lord’s.
Make a habit of having regular “board meetings” with God.
Develop a daily prayer time specifically for your business.
Be watchful of and grateful for the many ways God rewards your obedience.
WS07 Discover Your Core Story
One genre, one kind of story above all others will lead to success for each writer and you can learn what that story is for YOU.
Discover your CORE story. Every writer has a genre, a niche, a core story that is a particular gift. How can a writer know what that is? These core stories will be the best an author ever writes, the
easiest to write and the most successful. When a writer discovers this, their career zooms forward. This workshop will reveal how every writer can identify the core story that is the right one for them.
Every writer really does have a core story that is a source of excellence. And sometimes it can take time to discover what it is. Famously, Stephen King though he would write thrillers and wrote several that were rejected before he wrote Carrie believing it would not sell. This has happened to many writers.
When you discover your own core story you will feel an immense sense of relief, release and joy as you can forge ahead without doubts. Part of understanding the importance of the core story is understanding the truth of who we are and how God will work through us in the world.
In this workshop attendees will go through a process of recognizing what they are not and will never be. And also who they are and what stories they have to tell. They can then be comfortable with the result without regrets, qualifiers or maybe-somedays, secure in knowing where they are going. They will discover their true gifts and how their core story is the ideal way to share them. Writing will be deeper, more powerful and connect more strongly with readers.
WS08 The Editors’ POV
Sue Brower and Ami McConnell
At least 2 published books
HarperCollins Christian Publishing Fiction Editors share insight into their substantive edit/ macro edit process.
Two in-house fiction editors share the methodology they use when reading, evaluating, and responding to already-contracted manuscripts.
Workshop Elective Session: Sunday Morning
2HRWS HOW TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD (WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL)
HOW TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD (WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL) teaches the art and business required to write a great inspirational movie in the 21st Century.
Note - this workshop is during the same time as the Sunday Continuing Education Sessions.
• How to wisely consider what your intended audience wants in a movie.
• How to create a premise strong enough to sustain a great story.
• How to develop the classic movie structure – acts and turning points.
• How to create characters that resonate with audiences.
• How to pace scenes effectively and sustain necessary tension.
• How to conclude an inspiring movie to create positive word of mouth.
• How to understand Hollywood’s relationship to filmmakers.
• How to budget and finance a movie.
• How to enter fair and reasonable contracts with production and distribution companies.
• How to handle pre-production, production, and post production.
• How to promote and market your movie.
Workshop Elective Session 3: Sunday- 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm
WS09 Author Voice: Discover, Develop, and Dodge the Pitfalls
Learn how cultivating a fresh, authentic author’s voice will make your manuscript stand out from the crowd and take your writing to the next level.
What is voice?
- The sound of your words on the page – a unique and authentic reflection of you.
- Your personality revealed through storytelling.
- Your style reflected through word choice and tone.
How Can I Discover My Author Voice?
- Pay attention to the voice of authors you love to read.
- What style comes naturally to you when you write for yourself, not when you are trying to please a contest judge or an agent/editor?
- What personality traits do your friends and family most notice in you? How are those displayed through your storytelling?
How Do I Develop My Author Voice?
- First you must master the craft of fiction writing.
- Be authentic. Don’t write to impress agents, editors, or other authors. Write to connect with your reader.
- Emulate but don’t imitate.
- Trust your gut.
Dodging the Pitfalls
Pitfall #1 – Author Intrusion
Pitfall # 2 – Pet Phrases
Pitfall #3 – Purple Prose
Pitfall #4 – Insulting the Reader’s Intelligence
WS10 PANEL Publishing Journeys: (Ask the Authors Anything!)
Tosca Lee, Ronie Kendig, Robert Liparulo, James Rubart, Susan May Warren, and Dan Walsh
Six bestselling authors dish on their writing journeys, prepared to answer any question about their writing, career challenges and high notes…and the one thing they always come back to.
How in the world has Susan written more than 40 books? And just where is Jim’s Secret Writing Room? What does Dan have in common with Sampson… and what does Ronie keep on her desk during deadline? Does Robert only write at night… and why won’t Tosca wash her hair? Six best-selling, award-winning authors share their journeys, quirks, and challenges, ready to take on any question about writing and their writing lives from the high points to the lows… and all the cricket sounds in between.
* 3-5 min each author briefly shares about their journey
* Author Q&A with additional rapid-fire questions available as needed (hardest book
you’ve written? Most memorable moment? Weird writing rituals? Best writing
WS11 How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Many authors are confused about whether to pursue traditional publishing, self-publishing, or both—here’s how to decide.
INTRODUCTION: The Brave New World of Publishing
A Word about Terminology
SECTION 1 – Traditional Publishing: The Advantages
Advantage Number One: The Editorial Team
Advantage Number Two: Marketing, Publicity and Distribution Reach
Advantage Number Three: Validation
Author Perspective (story): Why I Signed with an Agent after Publishing
SECTION 2 – Self-Publishing: The Advantages
Advantage Number One: Freedom
Advantage Number Two: A Career Boost
Advantage Number Three: The Intrinsic Reward
Author Perspective: Q&A with James Scott Bell
SECTION 3 – A Wrap-Up and Resources
Decision-Time Check List
WS12 Public Speaking Prowess
Jenny B. Jones
Speaking is a great way to promote your book. Drawing on a decade of teaching communication skills, Jenny will share some tips on making your next speaking event one that pleases you and your adoring audience.
This session will present tested DOs and DON’Ts for effective communicators. The first half will focus on speaking tips for Grade A results, while the second will highlight new online presentation tools.
Class will begin by each participant listing a speaking fear on a note card to be addressed at end of session.
I. Dos and Don’ts
1. Do establish tone immediately.
2. Various ways to open presentation
c. Pose a Question
d. Startling Statement
e. Media clip
3. To share thesis or not?
4. Do maintain eye contact
a. Tips to make it stress-free
5. Do use the significant pause
6. Do use that voice
7. Do use power statements
8. Do know that inflection matters
9. Don’t forget that enthusiasm is contagious
10. Do include a possible activity
11. Don’t go over time
12. Don’t use notes…or do you?
13. Do practice
a. 10x out loud
b. Record self
14. Don’t forget your face
II. Visual Presentation
1. Speaking with “slides” in general tips
3. Slide Rocket
III. Tips to ward off stage fright
WS13 Marketing Plans Made Easy
Participants will learn the steps of creating a do-able, successful marketing plan, while also coming away with ideas that pertain directly to their book and brand.
1. Talk about current expectations on authors to market books
2. Talk about the need for a plan
3. Using a popular CBA fiction title as an example, walk through each section of the “Made-Easy Marketing Plan”, leaving room for discussion, questions and brainstorming (this will be a group effort.)
4. Demonstrate how to find target readers online using Google. I plan to get online and even do some Google searches for a few participants (depending on time).
5. Help participants take the “Made-Easy Marketing Plan” and apply it to their book.
6. Closing remarks and Q&A
Workshop Elective Session 4: Sunday- 3:45 pm - 4:45pm
WS14 Distilling It Down: How to Craft a High Concept Premise for Your Novel
Learn how to craft a high concept premise for your novel that immediately attracts an editor’s and/or agent’s attention.
What is “High Concept”?
The term “high concept” can be confusing. Writers often think high concept means a multi-layered, dense, possibly even highfalutin’ pitch. A high concept pitch is just the opposite: It’s brief, but it immediately
attracts an editor’s or an agent’s attention.
How High Concept Sells Movies
Movies employ high concept to attract audiences. Consider recent examples, as well as past award winners:
• Does true love conquer all – or will a man’s pride or a young woman’s prejudice end a romance before it even begins? (Pride and Prejudice 2005)
• A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help her ease her pain and start her new life. (P.S. I Love You 2007)
• After serving as a bridesmaid 27 times, a young woman wrestles with the idea of standing by her sister’s side as her sibling marries the man she is secretly in love with. (27 Dresses 2008)
How High Concept Sells Novels
• Four brides. One dress. (The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck 2012)
• Can the wrong kiss lead to Mr. Right? (Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt 2012)
• The secret she’s kept to protect her family could be the very thing that tears them apart. (You Don’t Know Me by Susan May Warren (2012)
How To Craft a High Concept Premise:
Utilize questions based on your novel’s
• Story Question
• Character’s Goals
• Character’s Obstacles
• Dramatic Irony (the Why and the Why Not)
Allow participants time to work on a high concept premise for their novels
WS15 Making Unsympathetic Characters Sympathetic
From the woman who made a protagonist out the most reviled man in biblical history, an exercise-rich writing workshop (pens out and working!) on making characters—particularly the less sympathetic ones—more sympathetic, relatable and REAL (even if they’re not of this world!)
This is an exercise-rich workshop experience chock full of interaction, in-class writing, and discussion. Exercises to include:
unforgettable protagonists, unforgettable antagonists, and the qualities that make us human—and methods for imbuing characters with those same qualities, no matter how unsympathetic on the surface they may appear. The workshop is geared toward writing fiction that is truthful in its human, emotional element and stories that readers will want to read (and editors will want to buy!).
* Unforgettable characters (the good, the bad, and the weird)
* Qualities in ourselves: our hopes, fears, dreams and quirks
* Methods for enriching characters with qualities readers can identify with—strengthening our protagonists, creating complexity even in our antagonists, and making impact and secondary characters richer.
WS16 Rapid-Fire Your Fiction - When To Pull the Trigger
Discover practical tips and techniques to establish a solid balance in plot and action to create “page-turning” fervor!
This workshop will take an in-depth look at what “action” is and how to use it to propel your story and characters to a satisfying conclusion. It will include tips using the BULLET acronym.
WS17 Why Getting Published Isn’t Personal
(or How to be the Kind of Author Publishers Want)
This class will help to demystify some important yet confusing aspects of being published, including the importance of platform, the top reasons manuscripts are rejected, how (and how often) to communicate with your editor once you do get a book contract, and what to expect (and what not to expect) the marketing department to do. This class will equip you to put your best foot forward and impress your publisher when you finally secure that publishing contract or give you the knowledge to attract the attention of an editor today.
Before the Contract
Platform: What it means, why it’s important, how to cultivate one
Hook: Understand what makes your book different
Know the marketplace/know your competition
Know your audience—understand who you are writing the book for
Polish your writing
After the Contract
Have a can-do attitude
Have realistic expectations
Use your agent
Communicate with editor
Understand that you are a valuable person… and a valuable commodity
WS18 The Care and Feeding of Your Publishing Relationships
Tamela Hancock Murray and Steve Laube
At least one contracted novel
This workshop will address how to negotiate the nuances of your key relationships as an author: your agent, editor, fellow authors, and fans.
This workshop will address how to negotiate the nuances of your key relationships as an author: Your agent, editor, fellow authors, and fans.
Your Agent relationship should be your most frank and open of all your professional relationships. We’ll discuss sharing with your agent, and how to let go so that you can trust your agent to be your filter with your publisher.
Your relationship with your Editor can be tricky because while you share the goal of your book’s success, may have different ideas about how to dress your baby, aka, your book. How to step around potential landmines such as disagreements on plot, cover art, and other critical issues, while maintaining so much good will that your editor comes back again and again to you with contract offers.
Relationships with Fellow Authors can be landmines of emotion. Author friends are happy for you when you succeed, but they may not help but be a bit envious. What to tell them. What not to tell them. And how to cope if you’re the one without a contract while others are flying.
Fans: Why does the tabloid press succeed? Because fans feel as though the celebrities they follow are their friends. Christian authors usually aren’t photographed at the grocery store, nor are our fashions commented upon in the press. But we do want our fans to feel as though they are our friends. Tips on how to nurture reader loyalty while maintaining the integrity of your privacy and family life.
You must be 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.