2014 Conference Workshops, Panels & Handouts

Handouts will be posted as they become available.
Not all presenters provide handouts.

NOTE: Hotel WiFi is not available in the session rooms. You will need to download your handouts before you attend any of the classes. Hotel WiFi is only available in the lobby, restaurant, and bar areas.

Entries for ZZ Conference Workshops

Workshop Instructor Description Level Day Time Room Handout
Etiquette and Promo Tips for the Published Author Shannon Baker, Christine Goff, Linda Joffe Hull

Whether you are newly published or working on your one-hundredth book, presenting and promoting are two things we all need to do. Your success is often measured by how well you present. These authors can't wait to share their hard-earned tips.

Professional Sunday 08:00 am Standley II
Slush Pile Success: The Nuts and Bolts of an Exceptional Query Letter Anita Mumm

For many writers, mastering the art of the query letter is more daunting than writing a novel. By focusing on the most vital elements of a query, especially the all-important hook, this workshop will teach participants to craft the kind of query letter that makes it through the slush pile and leaves agents clamoring for more. Participants are invited to bring their query letter (if they have one) for discussion during the workshop.

Novice Sunday 08:00 am Cotton Creek I  
Read It And Weep! Barry Wightman

We can write a fabulous novel, a great short story, a wonderful poem or a straight-to-the-heart memoir but too many of us have trouble reading our stuff aloud, putting it across to an audience. Let's improve this important marketing skill.

Novice Sunday 09:00 am Waverly  
Writer's Idol J. Ellen Smith, Cassiel Knight, Peter Senftleben

Bring two pages of your work in progress. A moderator will read your anonymous pages to the panel who will give their immediate responses to your work. For writers of all levels.

Novice Saturday 03:30 pm Windsor  
When is it YA? Lucienne Diver

Agent Lucienne Diver discusses what makes a book part of the young adult genre, how dark you can go in YA, and what the current market is like for YA.

Novice Saturday 02:30 pm Standley II  
Writing Worlds That Work Carol Berg

A different slant on fictional world building. Learn to look beyond cliched images of clothing, technology, and transportation for rich details. History, overlapping culture and migration, economics, mythology and religion build depth. Such rich details can be used in varying ways that avoid long passages of description.

Intermediate Saturday 03:30 pm Cotton Creek I  
Writing with Scrivener 101 Debbie Maxwell Allen

The Do-Everything Tool for Writers and Self-Publishers. You've heard of Scrivener, but are afraid of the 'learning curve'. Or you have it, but know you’re not using all the best features. Learn how Scrivener makes you a more organized writer. Contain 'writer clutter' and simplify your life.

Novice Friday 03:00 pm Standley II
Suspense: More Than a Ticking Bomb William Kent Krueger

Learn tips and techniques for writing suspense with NYT bestselling author and RMFW Keynote Speaker William Kent Krueger.

Novice Saturday 01:30 pm Standley II
Whose Story Is This Anyway? All About Point of View Cindi Myers

From omniscient narrator to deep point of view, the perspective from which you tell a story matters. This workshop will show you how to use various POV to make your story dynamic, compelling, and engaging.

Novice Saturday 03:30 pm Waverly  
When Bad Covers Happen to Good Books Raelene Gorlinsky

We all want every book to be successful. The cover plays a key--sometimes the primary--role in grabbing reader attention. How do you attract the right readers? What makes a cover "good" for a particular book? What can you as an author do in the rare case of a cover disaster? And what's going on with Amazon and covers?

Intermediate Saturday 03:30 pm Standley I  
When Authors Become Publishers: Understanding Marketing and Distribution David Wilk

In the jump from traditional to self-publishing, authors must themselves become publishers. Aside from the business of publishing, they must learn about digital book production, cyber marketing strategies and social networking, and so much more. How should an author best navigate this sea of new information? Where do you start? How can an author successfully remake a career in this new world where she must be a publisher, distributor, and a marketing expert as well as a good author?

Professional Saturday 08:00 am Standley I  
What the Heck Is a Kickstarter? Jeff Seymour

Gauging interest can be one of the hardest parts about being an indie author. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter allow writers to do that before production begins. We’ll discuss what it is, how it works, and how you can set yourself up for success. Crowdfunding offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences and they’ll love you forever for giving that to them.

Professional Sunday 11:00 am Standley II  
Websites and Social Media David Wilk

Concrete info on creating and maintaining author websites, and how to effectively and meaning-fully participate in and ever-changing social media platform, and how it works best for authors. What and how often do you post, and where should you be most active and still have time to write. An introduction to statistics and how to manage them and learn from them.

Professional Saturday 10:00 am Cotton Creek I  
Victorian Violence Terry Kroenung, Janet Smith

A survey of fighting techniques of the Victorian period, with emphasis on documented examples and writing authentic scenes for all genres, including historical fiction, Steampunk, and Westerns.

Novice Friday 03:00 pm Standley I  
Verbs, Verbs, Verbs Angie Hodapp

Writers often struggle with verbs, slipping in and out of tenses, lapsing into passive voice, and dangling their participles. This workshop is all about verbs: learning how to use them to your best advantage.

Novice Sunday 09:00 am Standley II
Up Close and Personal: Making Third Person POV Pop! Pam Nowak

Third Person POV, we all know what it is but using it effectively is a whole separate skill. Telling what HE or SHE did relates a story. But letting the reader inside their heads allows the story to come alive . Making it work for you can mean the difference between a ho-hum story and an award-winning novel that readers cry about and can’t put down until it’s done.

Intermediate Saturday 11:00 am Cotton Creek II
Show and Tell, Magic vs. Magick: Tools of the Craft Najah Lightfoot

Witchcraft is a popular topic. But what do you really know about the Craft and the working tools of Conjure? Covers the Pagan Wheel of the Year, a Witch's Esbat, common tools of Conjure, also known as Hoodoo.

Novice Sunday 10:00 am Waverly  
Sherlock Whose? Create a Compelling Series Protagonist Susan Spann

Everyone loves a mystery, but the success of a series depends upon the protagonist, not the crime. Examine the clues and discover what makes a series protagonist compelling. Ideal for mystery writers in any genre.

Intermediate Saturday 08:00 am Waverly  
Sexy Science for your Science Fiction Lesley Smith

What is science fiction (SF) anyway? What differentiates SF and Fantasy? What's hot in SF? How much science do you actually have to know? I'll answer all your questions including tips on the sexiest new science readers want and future resources.

Novice Saturday 02:30 pm Waverly
Self-Publishing Your Backlist—The New Reality Nina Bruhns

You have a backlist and you want it out there. Should you go with an e-publisher or do it yourself? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each? What do you need to know to do it yourself? And how, with so many fish in the pond, do you get noticed? Learn why some of the big name authors who self-published have moved back to traditionally published and discover why others say self-publishing is the best thing they ever did for their career.

Professional Saturday 03:30 pm Standley II  
Self-Publishing Best Practices Mark Coker

This workshop is a great follow-on to Mark Coker’s workshop Introduction to eBook Publishing. In this workshop Mark identifies the top 15 best practices of the most commercially successful indie authors.

Novice Saturday 11:00 am Cotton Creek I  
Setting William Kent Krueger

What is setting? How do you create it? When and where do you use it? New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger will discuss the this critical aspect of creating a novel.

  Friday 01:00 pm Meadowbrook II
Screenwriting Form and the Visual Narrative Machael Catlin

This craft workshop is on the fundamentals of screenwriting. What are the basic elements of scene writing? How do you create a visual narrative through place, action, and dialogue? Bring in the scenes that are troubling you, and we'll drill down into what is making them work, and/or fail. This workshop is geared toward any screenwriter, new or experienced who wants to polish their craft and tighten their script.

Novice Friday 03:00 pm Windsor
Rejection Is Not a Four Letter Word Mike Befeler

The world of writing is full of rejection. Rather than being only a negative, it can strengthen writing and lead to improved query letters, synopses and manuscripts. This session will describe techniques to help deal with rejection and learn from it.

Intermediate Friday 04:00 pm Meadowbrook II
Plot Devices: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Karen Duvall

A plot device is anything that affects a story situation to ultimately drive the plot in a desired direction. Most popular fiction incorporates one or more plot devices. In this workshop we'll explore ways to use them to strengthen your story.

Intermediate Saturday 04:30 pm Cotton Creek II
Not Your Mummy's History: Breathing Life Into Historical Fiction Heather Webb, Andrea Catalano

Whether swashbuckling pirates, ancient lands, or the roaring twenties, historical fiction should be vivid, alive and palpable—and marketable. Andrea Catalano and Heather Webb break down how to choose relevant topics, balance story with facts, and infuse narrative with lively details to transport readers in a time machine built
with skillful prose.

Novice Saturday 01:30 pm Waverly  
The New Golden Age of Short Fiction Thea Hucheson

There are more markets out there for short fiction writers than there has been for years. Get the skinny on how taking advantage of this golden age brings you new fans as well as more money, and how to balance exposure against income.

Novice Sunday 09:00 am Standley I
Metaphor Magic Michelle Crystal, Stephanie Kelley

To stand out in this competitive industry, you need to have a strong theme founded in metaphor. The right metaphorical image creates a vivid picture, enthralls the reader, and keeps them turning pages.

Intermediate Saturday 10:00 am Standley II
Making Marketing Fun for the Introverted Writer (Yes, Seriously) Dr. Kristi Helvig

Do you love writing but the idea of marketing makes you cringe? Do you have several published books but should be doing more to promote them? We’ll address some common struggles of introverted writers. Learn how to navigate speaking engagements and conferences with confidence, be successful, and even thrive on
social media and being in the public eye. Specific marketing tips for introverts such as joining fellow authors in cross-promotion.

Professional Friday 02:00 pm Standley I  
The Loaded Exchange: Tension - Packed Dialogue Warren Hammond, Angie Hodapp

What affects what your characters say to each other...and, more importantly, what they hold back? Let your scene's context and subtext guide you in writing great dialogue, and learn what to do when you don't know what a character should say next.

Intermediate Saturday 08:00 am Cotton Creek II  
Literary Pulp: What It takes to Write Literary Genre Fiction John Blair

Is it literature or is it mind-candy pulp? What's the difference, should you care, and how do you write genre fiction that passes critical muster? We will consider what aspects of composition and plot tend to lend literary merit to genre writing.

Intermediate Sunday 11:00 am Meadowbrook II  
Life After Publication: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Dr. Kristi Helvig

You’ve got the book deal, your books are out in the world and....now what? Published authors experience a lot of ups and down throughout the publication cycle, from the rush of their first book to mid-career doubts after flattening sales. This workshop will deal with how to handle the rollercoaster ride without losing one’s sanity. It will address the many similarities between many published authors, such as the midlist author doldrums, staying relevant in a quickly-changing industry, continuing to grow your readership, balancing private life versus public accessibility, and effective time management with marketing one book while writing your option book/contracted book. Learn how to effectively address issues such as self-doubt, author jealousy, and negative reviews so that you can get back to doing what you love...writing the next book.

Professional Saturday 08:00 am Cotton Creek I  
The Joy of Writing Great Sex Andrea Catalano

You know you want it, love to read it, but you cringe at the thought of writing it. Keep it real and join a brutally frank discussion of what works and what doesn’t when writing sex/love scenes in your novel.

Novice Sunday 11:00 am Standley I  
Introduction to eBook Publishing Mark Coker

This is a great primer that provides newbies the foundational knowledge they need to publish like a pro. Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords will provide detailed information and techniques for successful eBook publishing practices for the indie author.

Novice Saturday 09:00 am Cotton Creek I  
It's Not What You Say: Body Language for Writers Cassiel Knight

No matter your career stage, It’s Not What You Say goes beyond body language basics and provides authors with techniques to show a character's emotion through the creative use of words to describe body language.

Intermediate Friday 01:00 pm Standley II
It’s Not Personal—Taking the Sting Out of Rejection Sue Brower

Rejection is a frustrating reality and often feels like a personal attack from some unknown critic who holds your career in her hands. Acquisitions editor and agent, Sue can tell you from experience that an editor opens your proposal with all the anticipation of a child on Christmas morning. What happens next is up to you.

Novice Saturday 01:30 pm Standley I  
It’s a Mystery, It’s a Romance ... It’s Romantic Suspense! Sharon Mignerey

What could be more compelling than a couple falling in love while saving the world? Simple right? Except for character development, sexual tension, believable motivations, accurate details, and building to a climax.

Intermediate Saturday 01:30 pm Cotton Creek I  
Ins and Outs of Erotic Romance Alisa Schreibman & Katriena Knights

Learn what Editors are begging for! In this workshop we’ll discuss the anatomy of a sex scene (hopefully you already know the anatomy of the characters!) with an eye to impressing your new editor!

Intermediate Friday 01:00 pm Windsor  
How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon Penny Sansevieri

Amazon is a great place to sell books, but most authors don’t know about the sales machine that will actually help you market your book, for free, if you trigger it. It’s called their internal algorithm and, not dissimilar from ranking on Google, once the algorithm kicks in, you could see a boatload of free promotion.

Novice Saturday 01:30 pm Cotton Creek II  
How to Manage Your Author Social Media Platform in 30 Minutes a Day Frances Caballo

In this session, we will bust the myth that social media has to be time-consuming endeavor. Learn a four-step strategy that will help you to economize your time while enabling you to meet your marketing goals.

Novice Saturday 03:30 pm Cotton Creek II
How to Be Hook-y: Short Stories Lesley Smith, Betsy Dornbusch

Have you ever tried to write a short story and ended up meandering to nowhere? Or do all your short stories end up being the beginning of novels? Or, do you not know how to start a short story? Learn the process of crafting a short story.

Novice Sunday 08:00 am Waverly
Hit the Bestseller List with eBook Preorders Mark Coker

Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords discusses how indie authors can leverage preorders for increased discovery and sales. If you want to be a successful indie author or revamp your backlist this is an important workshop to help you sell.

Intermediate Saturday 02:30 pm Standley I  
Hit Me With Your Best Shot Janet Lane

When self-publishing, you have one shot at catching a reader's fancy and persuading them to buy your e-book. What should you include, leave out? Janet applies the principles practiced when she wrote copy for her own Ad/PR Agency.

Professional Sunday 10:00 am Standley I  
Guerrilla Marketing: Skip the Monkey Marketing Julie Kazimer

Learn low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results to sell more books and yourself. We explore how others sold thousands of books, and brainstorm ways to do the same. An interactive workshop in which attendees will come out with a marketing plan that can be put immediately into effect.

Professional Saturday 10:00 am Cotton Creek II  
From Here to There: An Alternative to Outlining Carol Berg

Worried that you must know every detail before touching your keyboard? Hear the advantages and pitfalls of real-time plot and character development, and how to combine other techniques to create a dynamic story.

Novice Sunday 10:00 am Standley II  
Foundations of Fiction: Everything You Need to Write a Solid Novel Peter Senftleben

In this workshop, I’ll go over all of the fundamentals of writing a story, focusing on the elements I often see misused, botched, or ignored in submissions, like tense, point of view, conflict, characters, and dialogue. I’ll touch briefly on the basics that every writer needs to know and remain aware of as they write their novel, and give specific examples and tips of how to avoid getting caught in these traps. A Q&A session will provide writers with the opportunity to get my advice on problems they frequently find themselves encountering.

Novice Friday 02:00 pm Meadowbrook II  
Finding the Yin to Your Yang Mary Biliter, Dana Volney

Critique Partnerships that Lead to Publishing Contracts. How to build a successful critique partnership by finding the balance between honest edits without stripping the writer’s voice in the process.

Novice Sunday 10:00 am Cotton Creek II  
Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing Peter Senftleben

Now’s your time to ask. With social media, the process of publishing—getting an agent, a book deal, cover reveals, blog tours, marketing—has become more public, but it’s still a big mystery to a lot of writers. What does an editor even do? In this Q&A workshop, I’ll outline the process I go through from submission to shelf, my daily routine, and address any questions related to the book business. There are no stupid questions, nothing too basic, so ask anything. Come prepared with a healthy curiosity and something you’ve always wanted to know. Please refrain from asking about your specific project; this isn’t a pitch session.

Novice Saturday 09:00 am Meadowbrook II  
Etiquette for Success: Be the Writer Who Attracts Professionals Karen Lin

Making the right impression is essential in the publishing industry. This workshop addresses professional dos and don’ts. What it means in the writing world to be a courteous, businesslike, trustworthy, go-to author.

Novice Sunday 10:00 am Cotton Creek I
Engage Your Writer 4-Wheel Drive Mario Acevedo, Warren Hammond, Aaron Michael Ritchey

How to unstick both the creative process and personal motivation. As a writer it’s easy to get mired in uncertainty and doubt. How do we get out of the rut and move forward? In this workshop we’ll discuss why we get stuck and what we can do to charge ahead on all cylinders.

Intermediate Friday 01:00 pm Standley I
Dying to be Here: Techniques of Murder and Mayhem Mario Acevedo, Harriet Hamilton

Gunshots, poisons, stabbing, vampire fanging—dramatic ways to kill someone. How long it would take to die? What are the forensic clues left behind? Let’s discuss the details of homicide and give your story more punch.

Novice Friday 04:00 pm Standley II  
Don't Panic! Don't Panic! Breaking Blocks and Hanging Tough in the Course of Your Writing Career Robin Owens

Breaking Blocks and Hanging Tough in your writing career. A writer can face terrible deadlines, dry spells, thinking-and-staring-at-the-ceiling time instead of new words, real life drama, etc. Or sit at the computer and stare at a blank page. Practical Techniques to get out of the panic and into the zone.

Professional Sunday 08:00 am Standley I  
Deep-six the Stereotypes: Writing Characters from Another Culture Rudy Ch. Garcia, Mario Acevedo

How can writers diversify their fiction with vibrant characters from a different culture or background so their writing attracts 21st Century readers? Insights into what hooks / turns off agents from authors writing outside their cultural experience.

Intermediate Sunday 09:00 am Cotton Creek I  
Creating Killer Conflict Kay Bergstrom

Conflict starts with characterization and a back story that gives the hero/heroine a reason to fight. Developing the conflict and raising the stakes depends on goal, motivation, genre and a worthy villain, mwa-ha-ha.

Intermediate Sunday 10:00 am Meadowbrook II  
Contract Law: Where You Can Make a Difference Susan Spann & Terri Bischoff

Published before but negotiating a new contract or switching publishers? Nervous about negotiations? Having a contract quandary? This session, run by industry pros, will teach you which parts of publishing contracts are—and are not—typically open for discussion, as well as strategies for getting the best deal possible. If you understand the basics, but need to know where and how to negotiate publishing contract language, this is the class for you. Targeting for professional authors who already have some contract savvy.

Professional Saturday 03:30 pm Meadowbrook II  
Characters and Their (flawed) Development Christine Jorgensen

All stories are based in character. The difference comes through the emphasis on interior and exterior battles, the depth of relationships, the level of the stakes and the arc of the characters' development. Intended to help writers understand the basics of character development regardless of the genre in which they are writing.

Novice Saturday 04:30 pm Waverly
Building a Sticky Digital Readership Courtney Milan

This workshop offers effective strategies to rise above the digital midlist. For the author making the jump from print to digital, this is very different than rising above the print midlist. Some strategies are much, much easier for self-published authors to implement, but the digital author working with a publisher can break out in the digital world.

Professional Saturday 10:00 am Standley I  
Brain Sex Jax Daniels

Men and women are different because their brains are different. When you know the physiological differences between the sexes your characters will ring more true on the page. And in real life, well, you'll never look at Mars and Venus the same way again.

Intermediate Saturday 10:00 am Waverly  
Birds of a Feather: Speculative Fantasy-Epic/Urban/Heroic/Mythic and Every Other Kind Carol Berg

Are you wrestling with how to take a new direction, while still producing what your readers love? Do you need some ideas for differentiating your Kick-Ass Urban Fantasy Heroine from other K.A.U.F.H.s? Are you curious about how much sex is showing up in popular epic or heroic fantasies? Are you thinking about writing a fantasy detective who does not live in Chicago? Are you trying to figure out how to end one overarching story arc in your long-running series and start up another one? Maybe the other published authors at the fantasy BOF can help. Please submit your topics of interest to Carol in advance via email: carolberg at sff.net

Professional Sunday 09:00 am Windsor  
Birds of a Feather: Romance Cindi Myers

Ready to jump genres but wondering what in the world is up with romance novels these days? Is it really all about 50 shades of kinky sex, or is there room for a relationship novel where the bedroom door stays firmly closed? Is category romance dying, or has the ebook revolution given these stories a new life? Who are the movers and shakers in romance publishing today? Are vampires still hot? What about historical romances? What are the trends? Where do romance novels fit in the changing publishing paradigm? Armed with facts, statistics, opinion and the experience of more than 50 published romance novels in a variety of formats for publishers large, small and independent, author Cindi Myers will lead this discussion about the genre of fiction that still commands the largest market share for all types of publishers.

Professional Sunday 08:00 am Windsor  
Birds of a Feather: Mystery Christine Jorgensen and Chris Joff

Thinking about a new direction? Struggling with a concept, a scene, an opening that isn’t quite there or a plot that is twisting on you instead of in the story? Or questions about how much sex, or if any, or how much violence, action, adventure? Here’s an opportunity to pick the brains of other published authors in your genre or the genre you’re considering. Join Christine Jorgensen and Chris Goff in a facilitated discussion and exchange of ideas. Professional/published author level.

Professional Saturday 08:00 am Windsor  
Being a Hybrid Author Nina Bruhns

You've decided to continue with traditional publishers while trying your hand at self-publishing. But how to you juggle both worlds? Should you expect any pushback from your traditional publisher? Where does your agent fall into the mix? What works and what doesn't? How will your fans receive it? Are there any questions and concerns to consider before you make the jump? Are there reasons for keeping one foot in each world?

Professional Sunday 08:00 am Meadowbrook II  
The Anti-Hero: Our Fatal Attraction to Bad Boys, Femme Fatales, and the Unsavory Mario Acevedo and Warren Hammond

Our fatal attraction to bad boys, femme fatales, and the unsavory. What is it about rogues, bad girls, and the disreputable that draws us to a story? Why do we prefer our heroes to have a dark side? We’ll review famous villains and anti-heroes and discuss how an outlaw can make for a more compelling protagonist.

Novice Saturday 02:30 pm Cotton Creek I
Airships, Corsets, and Brass Radium Guns. Steampunk Essentials for Curious Authors Terry Kroenung and Janet Smith

Steampunk Essentials. A brief overview of the components of the science-fiction sub-genre of Steampunk. Topics covered will include its history, traditional tropes, seminal books and authors, and its design aesthetic.

Novice Saturday 08:00 am Standley II  
Pitching Publication J. Ellen Smith

Learn tips and techniques needed to give your submitted manuscript the attention it deserves from acquiring agents, editors and publishers. J Ellen Smith discusses how to craft your submission package including the pitch, the query letter, and formatting your manuscript.

Novice Saturday 01:30 pm Meadowbrook II
Theme: What It Is and Why You Need It Angie Hodapp and Aaron M. Ritchey

Myth: Theme is for literary fiction, not commercial fiction. Fact: Theme is universal, and you probably know more about it than you think. We’ll show you 100+ thematic pairs and how to use them to define your story arcs and elevate your fiction.

Novice Sunday 11:00 am Cotton Creek I