July 22-25, 2021
New York City


Author Archive

Creative Cartography: Drawing the Map to a Successful Writing Business

This session will provide a high-level framework to help writers understand what it means to treat writing like a business. It is intended for those pursuing self-publishing, but will be worthwhile for any writer who is not naturally inclined to think about business strategy.

We’ll focus on the big-picture steps that are often bypassed in favor of writing and the tactical aspects of selling. Attendees will learn about the following phases in preparing to treat writing as a business:

  1. Exploration: Figuring out the why, what, and how
  2. Strategy: Mapping the path to success
  3. Creation: Methods to support the writing process as the act of developing a product
  4. Marketing: Laying the groundwork to market a book before, at, and after launch
  5.  Production: Considerations for producing the finished book

No business background necessary! Exercises accompany each phase to help attendees apply the concepts.

In for the Long Haul: The Craft of Writing a Series/Trilogy

Whether an author is crafting a trilogy or an ongoing series, serial writing demands considerable forethought and particular tools of the trade. This session will weigh the pros and cons of writing a series or trilogy and look at the decisions necessary in the earliest planning stages and beyond. This workshop will present techniques that are crucial to maintaining continuity, how to craft a single plot for each book and over-arching plot for the series, how to age characters authentically, how to engage readers who start mid-series, and how to tie the series/trilogy together at the end in a manner satisfying to readers.

Publishers these days shy away from novels, especially debut novels, much longer than 125,000 words. But what if an author’s story demands more words? This workshop will be of interest to those who discover their story is too long for one novel but are not certain how to write it across multiple books, and will appeal as well to those who already have a series or trilogy in mind.

First and foremost, the workshop will distinguish and define a series/trilogy: is it the same protagonist, the same story style (biographical, mystery, etc.), such as Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series; the same structure, the same pov, the same period, locale, or all such criteria? Does it have to be chronological in structure? Can it be several books set in the same period or family with different protagonists, such as John Jakes’ Kent Family Chronicals? And does each book have to continue the first’s themes and conflicts for it to connect as a series/trilogy?

Serial writing demands considerable forethought as well as particular tools of the trade. This workshop will delineate the pros and cons of writing a series or trilogy and will emphasize the decisions an author needs to make during the earliest planning stages and beyond.

Panel topics will include techniques for designing an over-arching story-line in addition to individual plot-lines that lead to a satisfactory conclusion for each book, as in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series and Donna Russo Morin’s Da Vinci’s Disciples Trilogy.

The material will address creating recurring main characters who must, like Diana Gabaldon’s Claire and Jamie Fraser, have such compelling personalities and face such breathless adventures that readers will eagerly follow them through book after book.

The lecture will include discussion of continuity of tone and character, which are so essential for crafting a successful series/trilogy, provide how-to tips for bringing readers in mid-series, and weighing the pros and cons of making the main character a historical figure versus a fictional character surrounded by historical figures and events.

Lastly, tips will be offered for bringing the series/trilogy to a full and fulfilling conclusion.

Putting the History into the Historical

Whether history is a backdrop to your story or the focus of the story itself, this workshop will provide you with the tools to find the facts you need, organize the data in a functional manner, and merge that data seamlessly into your novel. Discover the level of historical data to include as a function of a particular writing goal. Learn the definition of historical markers and how and where to unearth them. And uncover the tools to integrate history, research, and the fiction plot arc. Most of all, find out how to honor verisimilitude—the goal of any historical writing—and avoid the dreaded anachronism.

-General introduction and explanation of what makes a historical novel/historically set romance. Discussion of the level of historical data to include as a function of a particular writing goal. -Research methods and data organization: Definitions and discussion of historical markers. Resources to unearth major historical events as well as daily lifestyle material. Methodology for managing research in a variety of ways.

-Merging the facts with the fiction. Discussing the integration of history, research, and the fiction plot arc. Discussion of appropriate voice, pace, and pov for historical writing.

-Historical Fiction: the state of the genre within the industry; marketing the genre (i.e. niche marketing).

-Take home exercise: Write a paragraph describing a moment/place in your life (here in the conference room, at the conference, your home or office) as if it was being written five hundred years from now. What would the historical markers be? What might be archaic to a human in the year 2510? The exercise shines a light on those markers that we would look for to bring life to the past.

Revision Inspiration

When writers reach the wonderful, celebratory goal of completing a manuscript, they often look at the pile of pages and wonder “what next?” As you receive feedback, do you wonder which suggestions to take? Which to ignore? The process of figuring out how to improve the story can feel overwhelming. This session will give guidance for the revision process, using a “triage” approach to design an order of tasks. Easy, practical guidelines and checklists will be given for approaching changes both big and small in your work. We’ll also discuss how to find good, trusted readers, and the pros and cons of writing groups. NOTE: you do NOT have to have a completed manuscript to take or benefit from this class.

Wooing Your Muse

Many writers report feeling stalled or stuck since the pandemic. Did Covid steal your mojo? Has your muse stopped taking your calls? Are you seeking the inspiration (and nudge) to start a new project (or finally finish one!)? This workshop provides a creative boost by focusing on rekindling the joy in the writing process, creating and defending a writing schedule, dealing with the inner critic, and defeating writer’s block–as well as providing writing prompts and exercises to make the muse feel welcome and get you back on track when you’ve lost your way.