I’ve been doing workshops at writers conferences for 10 years now, and I love doing them, primarily for the joy of helping writers further their craft. I now teach 5 different workshops, and the places have ranged from Massachusetts to Mexico, with most of them in the Pacific Northwest area.
A favor. If you know of a writers conference that might be interested, would you introduce me to it? You could just let me know the name of the conference and where it is and I’ll follow up by asking them how to submit proposals. Better yet would be a personal introduction if you know someone in the organization.
These are the workshops I offer. There’s are links for PDFs of each proposal, and this link will take you to the page on my website where they can all be found.
1. In Crafting a Killer First Page(PDF), writers learn about:
the storytelling issues that will stop a professional reader from turning the page
how to analyze and recognize storytelling and craft problems
how to apply their learning and new analysis skills to their own writing with fresh eyes
2. 3 Keys to Killer Storytelling(PDF) focuses on the “how-to” of:
Hooking readers on the first page
Creating and building story tension
Creating characters that engage readers
3. The Killer Covers for Less than $50(PDF) is packed with information about and examples of (if you have some design talent) creating impactful book covers for very low cost. I cover:
Creative goals for your book cover
Where to go for free and low-cost creative resources, including free sophisticated graphics software
Insights on how to modify and combine images
Insights on how to utilize layers to build a cover
Insights on how to make sure titles and author names are clear and legible in thumbnail sizes
4. Crafting Killer Description & Dialogue Scenes(PDF) concentrates on two of the most powerful craft areas for strong storytelling when I cover:
how to add dimension and characterization to description of scenes and characters
how to utilize beats in dialogue to add depth, move story, characterize
how to better create the experience of the story in a reader’s mind
5. And here’s a new one, Tips & Techniques for Successful Self-editing(PDF):
how to identify and correct weak language
how to spot and strengthen weak technique
how to create and maintain a crisp narrative flow and pace
Please spread the word about these. I’d very much appreciate it.
What about online workshops? I’m also interested in creating online workshops, so please contact me directly if you have an interest in taking part in one of these online for a small fee. If enough writers are interested in a particular one, I’ll work out how to do it online for the best personal instruction and coaching. I'm thinking of including a free Kindle copy of the new book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling, with a workshop. Let me know.
I just returned from doing two workshops at the Idaho Writers’ League 2014 conference in Idaho Falls, ID, and want to express my thanks and appreciation for being a part of the event.
I did my Crafting a Killer First Page and 3 Keys to Killer Storytelling workshops, and the writers who attended were sharp and talented. I had a great time talking writing with them—these events are always stimulating to me and I came away with ideas for the writing craft book I’m working on.
The conference was well-organized and featured professional speakers—I was very well cared for and felt quite welcome. I was lucky enough to be asked to come back next year, and I gladly said yes.
I’m now back from attending one of the best writers’
conferences I’ve experienced, and I’ve done workshops in Washington State,
Idaho, Oregon, and California. I’m pleased to add San Miguel, Mexico, to the
This flowers-and-books graphic from the website sums it up—many
books, and plentiful flowers. It was sunny and mid-80s during the days. Not too
shabby for February. The altitude is 6000 feet, but that wasn’t a problem.
Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, was terrific—funny, serious, touching. An excellent speaker,
Luis Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North and other
books, and a Pulitzer Prize nominee. If you ever get a chance to hear Luis
speak, don’t miss it. He received a standing ovation, and it was well deserved.
Because the writer’s conference is in Mexico, the conference
organizers make sure that the conference has a strong Hispanic component,
including workshops in Spanish. Mexican author Juan Villoro spoke in English, and was
both intellectually stimulating and entertaining.
I missed hearing Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negros, speak, but everyone I talked with told me that
he, too, was marvelous, both entertaining and able to touch hearts.
I did my Crafting Killer Description and Dialogue workshop
to a sold-out audience. The writers were energetic and darned good—they did
well with the writing exercises. As usual, I really enjoyed it, and it seems that
the workshoppers did as well.
There were many valuable workshops offered, but I was able
to attend only one. Mark Saunders, author of Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak,
did a workshop on writing humor that I found very helpful. His book is the
proof of the pudding—filled with chuckles. Full disclosure: Mark is a book design client as well as a funny writer.
So next year, if you’ve the bucks and would love to have a
lovely time at a high-caliber writer’s conference, I recommend San Miguel
Writers’ Conference. I’ve applied to do my Killer First Page workshop in 2014.
My computer is still in the shop—they’re having trouble retrieving
the data from the back-up drive, so I’m nervous.
Since I can’t flog anyone, I thought it would be interesting
to see what your participation in writers conferences is and how you feel about
I’m doing my Killer Description and Dialogue workshop soon
at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference in Mexico soon (check it out) and, while
most people report liking my workshops and learning from them, every once in a
while someone comes away disappointed. I suspect it may have been a result of
misguided expectations, or perhaps just a bad fit of their style with mine, or I just didn't do a good job for that person despite the majority opinion. So I
So—how about letting me know your participation in
conferences—the poll below allows 2 responses. Please respond and tell me
whether or not you’ve attended a writers conference and, if so, how you felt
Also—how about telling me, using Comments:
What kinds of workshops you attended?
What you gained from the workshops?
What has disappointed you about workshops or conferences you’ve
What's a really good experience you had at a writers conference?
I just returned from doing my Crafting Killer Description and Dialogue workshop at Write on the Sound to a sold-out class of 75 (though I think there were actually about 85 there), and I had a great time.
The conference is very well done (they've been at it for, I think, 28 years). It's small and intimate, and the presenters tend to be excellent. One big benefit for me is being about to attend other workshops while I'm there. In particular, I enjoyed workshops by Steve White, an author who talked about suspense, Jessica Morrell, author and developmental editor (like me), who talked about creating conflict, and Ron Gompertz, an author and Indie publisher who gave an info-packed presentation on navigating Amazon to maximize your sales and exposure.
Mostly it was a treat to spend two days talking (and listening) about writing in a lovely location on the Puget Sound. Lucky me.
This Saturday I had the pleasure of doing my Killer Description and Dialogue workshop with the Write on the River group in Wenatchee, Washington--a lovely town on the east slope of the Cascades.
The writers there range from beginning to published pros, and they were sharp and talented folks. It was a real pleasure to work with them. I urge writers in eastern Washington to get in touch.
They also put on a writers conference in mid-May. By all reports, it's a good one. I'll be applying to do my Killer First Page workshop there next year--wish me luck.
Wordstock in Portland Oct 13 & 14
I'll be presenting my novel, The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles, at Wordstock on Saturday, October 13, 2012 4:00pm - 5:00pm @ Work for Art Stage (OCC, Room D-134). Normally two writers share an hour, but for some reason I have the whole hour. It's going to be very interesting to me to find out what I'm going to do for an hour--unfortunately, my tap-dancing lessons are very deep in the remote past. If you're there, please come by to say hi.
And I'm doing my Killer First Page workshop Saturday, 12:00pm - 1:15pm @ Minuteman Press Team Writer's Workshop
Stage A (OCC, Room D-139)
I'm also on a panel of blogging authors, Sunday, October 14, 2012 1:00pm - 2:00pm @ Work
for Art Stage (OCC, Room
I'll be busy, but there's nothing more fun than talking about writing and helping others along the learning curve.
Now you see why I call this blog "Flogging the Quill."
This will be the fourth workshop I’ve presented at “WOTS,” as it’s often called. Located in Edmonds, Washington, a beachfront town on Puget Sound, it’s a fun and enlightening conference.
The conference hosts a maximum of 250 attendees. With presenters and participants from the Northwest, far flung states, and abroad, their Saturday and Sunday workshops offer over thirty sessions on craft, marketing, and specialty writing topics. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, YA, social networking and creativity are only some of the choices. A couple of years ago I had over 100 in my Killer First Page workshop at WOTS.
But this year I’ll be teaching my How to Craft Killer Description and Dialogue workshop. It’s a fun one, with writing exercises and discussion. Registration is now open, and there’s a downloadable brochure.
Wordstock is an annual festival of books, writers, and storytelling in Portland, Oregon. To date it has hosted over 1,000 writers who have read and performed for nearly 80,000 people at past festivals. Wordstock features seven author stages; a book fair with over 125 exhibitors; a special children’s activity area and children’s literature stage; a series of workshops for emerging writers; over a week’s worth of special events hosted by our partner organizations throughout the region, including a special broadcast of Live Wire!, the popular public radio variety show that features writers from the festival; and more. Although it only began in 2005, Wordstock is already the largest celebration of literature and literacy in the Pacific Northwest, and is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the nation.
This is my first time at Wordstock and my first time presenting one of my novels as well as being lucky enough to do a workshop. I’ve been invited to talk about The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles. There will be readings (I’m paired with another author in my session) and a book-signing. I’m super excited about this.
And I’ll be giving my How to Create a Killer First Page workshop. This workshop has been a great success at 5 different conferences. It doesn’t look like they’re ready for registration yet, but here’s their website.
It would be great to see you if you attend one of these events, so be sure to say hi.