Twenty-six hour-long afternoon workshops taught by top editors, agents, and authors
We are pleased to offer 26 hour-long afternoon workshops taught by top editors, agents, and authors from the Christian publishing industry plus a clinic on writing devotionals. Full-time conferees will have an opportunity to attend four workshops, two on Tuesday afternoon and two on Wednesday afternoon.
Tuesday • 2:00–3:00 p.m. • Workshop A
1. Susan King—“Turning Personal Experience into a Devotional Message” (Nonfiction/Inspirational)
Absolutely essential for anyone who wants to write devotionals, this workshop is for everyone because every Christian writer should be writing devotionals—either as a main focus or in addition to other writing projects. In general, the shorter the piece, the harder it is to write. And The Upper Room (which Susan helps edit) expects much out of those 250 words. The practice of writing devotionals also provides great spiritual discipline. After all, connecting God’s Word to the experiences of our lives is what Christians should be doing every day. So why not write about this connection and submit it to The Upper Room—and in so doing reach millions of readers in more than 100 countries worldwide? After intensive training in this workshop, participants will be equipped to complete a rough draft—or revise a previous draft—and may bring it to the devotional-writing clinic on Wednesday for feedback.
2. Chip MacGregor—“Finding and Working with an Agent” (Publishing)
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 agents, and discuss what a healthy author/agent relationship looks like. Chip has been a literary agent for almost 20 years, and as one of the busiest agents in the United States he knows how to talk about agenting roles and relationships. 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!” Bring your questions, and let’s try to create a realistic plan for finding and working with a literary agent who is a good fit for you.
Nothing crook about it—that’s just the phrase. Learn how to entertain and inspire, creating a fun piece with a solid take-away value. Also, discover how to tailor your writing specifically for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines—what the editors look for, pitfalls to avoid, and how to break into the market (will include a Q & A session).
5. Eva Marie Everson — “The Power of Critique” (Editing/Fiction & Nonfiction)
As the president of Word Weavers International—a writers’ critique group nearly 20 years old that has trained more than 1,000 writers in the art of writing and critique—Eva Marie Everson knows a thing or two about giving and receiving critiques. She will explain why critique groups are vital, how they work best, how they can be destructive, and the influence they have when it comes to self-editing.
Those interested can email their first pages to firstname.lastname@example.org before conference (and they will be forwarded to Eva Marie) for in-class critique. Work should be double-spaced, line-numbered, with one-inch margins all around, TNR-12. Do not put your name on the piece. First line: Title and Genre only. If the last line stops in the middle of a sentence, that’s okay. Eva Marie will do a first-page critique during the workshop on at least five of these. Even if your work is not chosen, you are guaranteed to learn. That’s a promise!
6. Julie Gwinn — “Branding: Find Out What Makes YOU Different as an Author” (Marketing)
This workshop will help you identify, define, and implement a brand and a brand strategy for you and your writing—one that sets you apart from the crowd and gives you a leg up on “discoverability” with readers. Attendees will walk away with actionable ideas that can be applied right away!
7. Karen Ball — “Book Proposals that Sell” (Publishing)
In this workshop, agent and editor Karen Ball will share what it takes to create a proposal that captures the interest of acquisition editors and publishing committees.
Tuesday • 3:30–4:30 p.m. • Workshop B
8. Susan King — “Making it Look Easy” (Editing)
What’s the most significant difference between a professional writer and an amateur? Style. What can make a submission stand out from all the others? Style. What can make editors and publishers fall all over themselves to publish a submission and then clamor for anything from that writer in the future? Style. Great style. A crash course in writing for any genre, this workshop will describe and illustrate the essential elements of excellent writing style. Participants will come away with concrete tools for self-editing to produce polished works that will knock the socks off editors.
9. Paul Smith — “Reaching without Preaching: The Power of Story” (Nonfiction/Inspirational)
Everyone has a story. Find out why your story is part of the Greatest Story and can reach people who may never hear Christ’s story without you telling yours. (This is an interactive workshop. Be prepared to share.)
10. Rochelle Carter — “Create Your Book Business Plan™: Defining the Purpose + Promise + Goals of Your Book” (Publishing)
If you’ve always wanted to write a book AND make sure it sells, this could be the most important educational hour you can invest. This workshop will walk you through the first step to creating a solid plan to achieve success with your book. We will discuss:
Getting Clear About your Book’s Purpose and Goals
Creating your Author Profile
Defining your Audience
Defining your Book’s Promise
As you begin your journey into Christian “authorpreneurship, these four steps are the foundation you need to become a best-selling author, but many fall short just because they don’t take the time to plan first.
*This workshop is adapted from Rochelle’s trademarked four-week intensive course to get you from dreaming to planning to writing to publishing with the ease and under the careful guidance of a best-selling, award-winning author and publisher. Your Book Business Plan™ shows you how to formulate a sound strategy for your book from concept to bookstore.
11. Melanie Dobson — “Why Bad Things Must Happen to Good Characters” (Fiction)
In order for readers to like a hero and heroine as much as the writer who created them does, these characters must struggle against formidable challenges and opposition. This workshop will cover one of the most important elements in successful fiction writing—how to create relevant internal and external conflict so readers care deeply about the characters in a story and become completely engrossed as they cheer for these characters to overcome every obstacle in their way.
12. Robyn Burwell — “Filling in the Gaps: Finding the Missing Links in Your Storyline and Characters” (Fiction)
Do you wonder whether your story needs more content, your plot is fully developed, or your characters need more depth? Perhaps you’ve submitted your manuscript to an editor or agent and received feedback that suggests you spend more time developing these areas. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking time away from your manuscript to clear your mind. But other times you need that extra boost to get going. In this session, we will step back and explore useful tools that can help add depth and interest to your storyline and your characters, and see your creation from a new perspective.
13. Terri Kalfas — “Writing and Publishing Bible Studies in the 21st Century” (Nonfiction/Inspirational/Marketing)
Do you have an idea for a Bible study but don’t know exactly what to do with it? Maybe you’re already writing and teaching Bible studies and are interested in taking the next step—publication. In this workshop we’ll look at how modern culture influences your reader, how changes in publishing affect Bible studies, current Bible study needs, and important concepts you must understand before you pitch to a publisher or self-publish.
Wednesday • 2:00–3:00 p.m. • Workshop C
14 .Teresa Evenson — “How to Get Your Foot in the Publishing Door: Six Essential Keys” (Marketing)
Find out from a former national publicist and literary agent what it takes to get noticed by a publisher and why a platform is imperative. Find out the impact of a good press kit and what should be in one. Learn how you will be evaluated behind closed doors—you may be surprised at the importance of editorial content versus the marketability of the author and book. This workshop will equip you with the tools you will need to send in your next book proposal or meet with an editor with confidence.
15. Alice Crider — “Self-Editing for Nonfiction Book Writers” (Editing/ Nonfiction)
“Don’t edit while you write your book” is good advice for writers. But what about when you’ve finished your manuscript? Before you send it off to an agent or an editor (or even your mother), you’ll want it to look its best. In this workshop, you will learn the techniques that expert developmental editors and professional line editors use, along with practical examples you can apply to your own manuscript.
16. John Avery — “How to Supercharge Your Writing by Digging Deep into Scripture” (Inspirational)
As Christian writers we believe in the power of God’s Word, but do we know how to tap into that power and express it in our writing? This workshop will present a series of tools you can use to grasp the meaning and life lessons found in Scripture. Learn to move beyond overused religious clichés. Write so your readers will feel the touch of God the way you feel it when He works in your life.
17. Hillary Manton Lodge — “Meant to Be: Writing Romances That Work” (Fiction/Technique)
We will take a look at some of the famous romances in literature and film and examine the common threads that cause our hearts to beat faster. Whether your story features romance as the primary or secondary plot, we’ll discuss how to add depth and believability to every love story.
Wednesday • 3:30–4:30 p.m. • Workshop D
19. Miralee Ferrell, Christina Tarabochia, Erin Taylor Young — “Larger and Smallish and Indie, Oh My!” (Publishing)
Are you curious or confused about all the publishing choices available to you? Never fear, Miralee, Christina, and Erin are here. Join these ladies, who represent Mountain Brook Ink, Ashberry Lane Publishing, and Serenade Books as they share their top cons and pros of publishing with a large house, a small house, or going indie. See where they match up and where they differ.
Why cons and pros instead of pros and cons? Because we’re more about the positives. No bashing or over lauding of options, but the pluses and minuses will be covered in frank discussion. Bring your questions, and we promise to answer them as fully as possible.
20. Nick Harrison — “What to Do When You Don’t Have a Platform” (Marketing)
Very few authors like the idea of building a platform. They just want to write. In this workshop we’ll tackle the tough question of what to do when you don’t have a platform (yet!) and how to begin building one as your writing prospers. Although a platform is a huge advantage in finding a publisher, authors without platforms are published every year. The best-selling Christian book of the past few years is by an author without a platform. Do you know what it is and why it was successful? Come and find out.
21. Eva Gibson — “Pray . . . Then Write” (Inspirational)
This workshop addresses how prayer can make a difference in our hearts and in our writing. We will look at Scriptures and prayers we can pray before we begin to write and examine arrow prayers God gives to help us as we write. We’ll also discuss the importance of worship and waiting on the Lord—trusting His timing, His Word, and His specific direction since we each have unique writing ministries. The Word of God can impact any writer for good. Therefore, strive to write out of the overflow of a Christ-controlled life.
22. Poppy Smith — “Put Some Sizzle in Your Speaking!” (Public Speaking)
So you’re asked to speak at an event. Now what? Instead of mumbling, making excuses for why you shouldn’t be speaking, or feeling miserable, learn to make your presentation sizzle with five simple tools every speaker needs to use, every time.
23. Angela Hunt — “Everything You Need to Know about Writing Children’s Picture Books” (Writing for Children)
What IS a picture book? What is a story book? What makes a good picture book? Where do you find an illustrator? How do you self publish a picture book? Should you create your own art? Angela Hunt, author of more than a dozen picture books, will answer all these questions and more in this class . . . because little ones need good books too.
24. Jill Williamson — “Weaving in Theme” (Fiction/Technique)
Do you need to know your theme in advance? What if you don’t have one? Simply put, theme is what your story says about life and the human condition. In this workshop, we’ll consider all the different ways theme can be used in a novel. It can be obvious or subtle, leave readers with a question or some kind of feeling, reveal a universal truth, or inspire readers to a higher level of humanity.
25. Susan King — “Devotional Writing/Editing Clinic” (Inspirational/Editing)
Participants are welcome to bring any unpublished devotional they’ve ever written (including ones that were not accepted by The Upper Room), and we’ll have our own writers’ critique group. We may not look at every meditation in every portfolio, but every participant will get to read at least one devotional for the group to discuss and offer feedback on, with suggestions for making it a fit for The Upper Room.
26. Susan Brower — “Christian Fiction: Perspective and Voice” (Publishing)
What makes fiction “Christian?” How do your perspective and voice writing style fit today’s audience for Christian fiction? Learn how knowing your style will help you to pitch your work and to find the right agent or publisher for your fiction. Perspective and Voice determine if your style is to write a Christian story or if it is to write a story that happens to be written by a Christian.
Both styles work in the marketplace, but the type of fiction you write is going to influence which publisher or agent is a good match for you. We will discuss the difference between writing from a Christian “perspective” or a Christian “world view.” We will also look at what makes a work literary, commercial or agenda-driven and why that matters.