July 2015 Program

Programming for July 2015

How to Approach a Pro – The dos and don’ts of approaching a professional. Nervous? Overconfident? Ready to run for the hills? Come hear about the best ways to pitch, discuss your work, and build professional relationships.

The Catchy Query – How do you reduce four years’ worth of work to a catchy 100 words that would make Don Draper weep with envy? Hear a couple of publishing pros discuss how to build your query-fu.

Pitch Practice – Here’s your chance to workshop your query letters and elevator pitches in a comfortable, safe space with other writers and professionals, including a former slush wrangler. Bring your half-formed ideas, your vain attempts at queries, your soundbites.

Slinky Sentences – Do your sentences puddle and trickle? Do they run with the buffalo–over a bluff, onto a fresh, sharp spear? Do they dribble from your brain-faucet into the word disposal, become stuck, and require a repairman? If this is happening to you, then you need Slinky Sentences, Sir or Madam. Spencer, an award-winning short storyist and English teacher, will teach you how to turn a perspiring participle into a fierce flow of word-power. “Cormac McWho?” they’ll say. Cormac McYou.

Fulfilling the Promise – “Will Hamlet kill his uncle?” “Will Leia choose Han or Luke?” “Will Katniss realize how silly the names are in this book?” Each story asks us questions and promises that those questions will be resolved—unless the writer drops the ball. Come discuss the infamous “gun on the mantel.”

Maps and Geography – It’s the Mississippi to Huck, Middle Earth to Frodo, Sweet Home to Sethe, or Fun Home to, well, Fun Home. Know your setting well enough that it becomes a main character. Authors and editors discuss the importance of a well-made place to a story, how location, and era are crucial to characters and believability. How does location affect religion, wealth, trade, language, even style? Find out!

Diversity – Yes, you can write the other. You just have to truly learn the other, and yourself, first.

Writing Short Stories – Short stories are a species of tiny speedy animal, in which every sentence counts, every character wraps their tale in record time, and every writer has to be hyperaware of their technique. Learn how to write short, sweet, and spicy across genres from two award-winning short story writers.

Novel Arc – Kurt Vonnegut claimed that story shapes could be drawn on graph paper (which was promptly rejected as a master’s thesis; true story). Discuss the arcs that go across a whole novel, the ways different characters interweave, and the ways a writer can bring an arc to a satisfying—or heartbreaking—close.

The Editing Process – What to keep and what to throw away? You want your book to be a nice comfy house, not a hoarder’s den, or a bare garage with questionable, random items. Learn from published novelists and an editor about the process of cutting, uncutting, re-sceneing and turning the rough draft into a fine shapely manuscript.

Cover Design – How do you get to the amazing cover, and what dark path leads to the terrible one? Two artists/designers talk about words and pictures, and the putting of them together thereof. Talk about what catches the eye, what repulses the eye, and why cover design matters.

Social Media – Stop! Twitter time. Social media is the main vehicle for any author’s public persona, so how do you best use it? Talk about what makes a good social media presence, and how to balance self-promotion, personality, and appearance for a social media stream that’s a work of art on its own.

Writing Memoirs –A good memoir creates characters that can stand against the best in fiction, but as much as you’ve heard “your life would make a great book,” what takes you from regular Jane to Jane Eyre? Come hear a successful memoirist talk about bright language, strong character moments, and vivid imagery for your own story.

Podcasts and ezines – The sound and the fury of the Internet. Discuss the best podcasts, the best ezines, what makes them work, and how to get your own work into the ears and screens of the world.

Writing That Provokes Emotion – You want your readers to laugh, cry and throw the book across the room—well, you want them to do those things when they’re supposed to. We’ll start with why readers respond to fiction at all, and move into ways to hit those emotional buttons in your readers by hitting them for yourself.

Indie and Hybrid Authors – What are the benefits of being an Indie or Hybrid author? Talk with successful writers of various breeds about the ways to utilize a traditional publishing/self-publishing crossbreed for your own work. Come away an expert breeder.

Crowd Funding – Asking for money on the Internet. Don’t do it to pay your taxes, or buy a new guitar, but it’s dang useful when you want to fund a new zine, book, fantastic cover, or new game. What are the tasteful ways to crowdfund, and what should you stay away from?

Creating Characters – Making them strong, then break them strong, build them up again, and then knock em over. Talk about the plain old most important part of writing–creating good characters. Successful writers and editors take Boring-os and turn them into Bilbos, Lady MacBlahs into Lady MacBeths.

Gamers and Writing – How can role-playing games help with your writing? And what should you watch out for? We’ve all read the fantasy novel that was clearly a regurgitated campaign, but have we read a good version of such a thing, and why did it work? Join writers and gamers and learn how you can use a RPG as a means of inspiration, for character growth, and world building. Sometimes in writing, two heads ‘are’ better than one.

Contracts – Unless you’re both a lawyer and writer, in which case, well done, you’re going to wonder what to watch out for in your contracts. When should you sign one and when should you say no? What are the industry standards, and what is your recourse when someone violates contract?

Public Panel (1-3 on Saturday) – Writers and editors take you from start to finish. How to start a book, finish it, revise it, submit it, and more. Discuss the roadblocks and the potential wrecks along the way. This is a panel open to the public and will be presented as more of an open forum rather than panel.

Sexy Scenes – Summon your inner Kinsey, because it is time to talk about sex. How much should the book include if it’s not erotica? Or if it’s YA, what is okay and what not? If it is erotica, how do you turn up the heat just right? “Edgy” writers play Dr. Ruth or Dan Savage to your manuscript.