2016 Writer’s Conference Faculty, Workshop Descriptions & Schedule

For overview information and registration link, click here.

Conference schedule (may be subject to change)

Time Track 1 Track 2 Track 3 Extras
8:30 – 9:00 Check-in and light breakfast
9:00 – 9:30 Conference Opening Session
9:30 – 10:25 General Session: Susan May Warren: Story Equation
10:35 – 11:30 General Session: Susan May Warren: Scene Equation
11:30 – 12:00 Susan May Warren: Book Signing
12:00 – 12:50 Lunch: Taco Salad Bar
1:00 – 1:55 Bethany Kaczmarek: DIY Editing…And Whether You Need a Professional (Beginner Level) Sarah Hamaker: Beyond Fiction: Using Your Research, Expertise, and Enthusiasm in Articles, Blogs, and Talks (Intermediate Level) Heather Gray: Marketing 101 (Intermediate Level) Special Guest appointments
2:00 – 2:55 Bethany Kaczmarek: Working with an Editor (and Enjoying It) (Intermediate Level) Lisa Crayton: Exploring Articles: Opportunities for Fiction Writers (Beginner Level) Tracee Garner: Marketing Basics for New Authors (Beginner Level) Special Guest appointments
3:00 – 3:55 Zoe M. McCarthy: Make a Scene of Your Scene: 4 Improvements to Make Your Scene Stand Out (Intermediate Level) Elizabeth Maddrey: Indie Publishing Basics (Beginner Level) Lynellen Perry: The Hero’s Journey story structure (Intermediate Level) Special Guest appointments
4:00 – 4:55 Heather Gray: Creating Characters That Readers Care About (Intermediate Level) Preslaysa Williams: Turning Pro: Business Planning for Writers (Intermediate Level) Susan Lyttek: Muddlesome Middles–Proven Tricks and Tips to Get Past Stuck (Intermediate Level) Special Guest appointments
4:55 – 5:00 Conference Closing Session


Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!.

She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. You can find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com.

Lisa Crayton

Lisa Crayton’s specialty is nonfiction. The author of I Want to Talk with My Teen About Money Management, she is the author of five children’s books, and the co-author of a six-book series for 7-12 graders on economic topics. An award-winning freelance writer, she has written articles, columns, reviews, devotionals, bible study guides, fillers and other material. For about five years she published SPIRIT-LED WRITER, an online magazine for Christian writers twice named by Writer’s Digest as a “Best Web Site for Writers.” For more than 10 years, she served as a mentor with the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. Crayton, who has years of ministry experience, has taught workshops at writer’s conferences and other events. She earned a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from National University, and a B.S. dual degree in Public Relations and Journalism from Utica College. Her master’s thesis was in her favorite fiction genre: Christian romance. Visit her on the web at lisacrayton.wordpress.com Connect with her on twitter: @SpiritLedWriter.

Beginner Level. Exploring Articles: Opportunities for Fiction Writers
Many fiction writers overlook the articles market. Yet, writing articles is an effective way to reach new readers, expand into new genres, and/or increase income streams. Learn how to write and market articles that inspire, inform and entertain fiction and nonfiction readers. Workshop will include writing articles for kids and adults. It is suitable for writers of all skill levels.


Tracee Garner

Tracee Lydia Garner is a speaker, private writing coach and author of five books. Born and raised in Northern Virginia, she holds a degree in Communications from Old Dominion University. She tremendously enjoys the written and spoken word and prior to entertaining full-length novels, was a contributor to her alma mater’s campus literary magazine for her poetry.

Writing her first novel at 23, Tracee submitted it to a nation-wide contest hosted by BET Books, then the largest publisher of African-American fiction, where her story entitled Family Affairs, beat out hundreds of other contenders, winning the grand prize, a monetary advance, an all expense paid trip to NYC to accept her award with leading publishing professionals and a contract for publication. She signed a book deal for two more titles. Tracee has been writing since she was in elementary school. She teaches Romance Novel Writing and How to Write the Novel at the college level and has done so for almost fifteen years. Tracee’s story are about real heroine’s that overcome adversity. She knows about this as she uses a wheelchair due to having a form of Muscular Dystrophy, a neuromuscular disease. Anchored Hearts is an inspy title and her fifth book.

Beginner Level. Marketing Basics for New Authors
You ARE a writer and as much as you’d like to simply stay in your cave and write, marketing is a necessary tasks that you will have to tackle at some point if you want to get your book out there. You need a strategy and to be prepared. Preparation is half the battle to success. We will discuss all the different platforms for print, ads, social media campaigns to get your book out there. This presentation will also provide you with a sample marketing plan and give you some practical and low-costs tips to make any of the marketing efforts you choose, work for you.


Heather Gray

Heather Gray is a multi-published author who has books with a small press as well as independently published. She is the Vice President of Virginia’s ACFW chapter, has handled social media marketing for an Alabama-based small press, and regularly mentors new authors on how to launch their debut novels and what to expect from that launch. Heather is part of the administrative team at inspyromance.com and is the founder of The Inspired Inkpot, a co-op street team for authors writing Christian fiction. With a split personality that bounces back and forth between creative and business-minded, Heather has found herself at home in the writing world where both are in high demand.

You can find Heather online at:

Intermediate Level. Marketing 101
Marketing can be intimidating and overwhelming when you don’t understand the lingo, let alone the ins and outs. Learn about three of the key elements of marketing: branding, promoting, and advertising. I will give you an overview of each of these aspects and, time permitting, we will discuss real-world applications for branding in your own writing career.

Intermediate Level. Creating Characters That Readers Care About
Are your characters falling flat? Do you find yourself in the same character rut over and over again? Have you been told your characters aren’t relatable? We’ll go over tips that can help you develop more engaging characters. After all, characters are a vital part of every story, and we want to create characters that keep our readers coming back for more.

Sarah Hamaker

Sarah Hamaker has written two nonfiction books, including Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace. Her articles on parenting have appeared on Crosswalk.com and on the Washington Post’s On Parenting blog. Sarah’s stories have appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and her romantic suspense novel, The Dark Guest, won the 2015 ACFW Genesis contest. Visit her online at http://www.sarahhamaker.com.

Intermediate Level. Beyond Fiction: Using Your Research, Expertise, and Enthusiasm in Articles, Blogs, and Talks
Ever wonder what to do with all that material you’ve collected for your novels? Then come to this workshop and learn how to repurpose all that research, information, data, and experiences to populate your blog or newsletter—or outside of your own promotional materials to online and print publications. We’ll also discuss ways to develop talks for readers and other groups. No matter what type of fiction you write, you have something to share with others—come learn how to expand your audience with this hands-on workshop.


Bethany Kaczmarek

Bethany Kaczmarek, a 2015 ACFW Editor of the Year finalist, is a fan of Story. She makes sure every thread is woven consistently throughout a manuscript—whatever the genre—and points out ways to deepen and enrich the layers so the theme is vivid. Plus, she’s great at helping to develop compelling subplots and secondary characters if sequels are on the horizon. A card-carrying grammar nerd, Bethany believes an author’s voice comes from knowing the rules well enough to break them with flair. Bethany’s goal is to help hard-working writers sound like gifted writers. She’s one of the Editor Sisters at A Little Red Ink. You can check out their helpful and humorous blog at http://www.alittleredink.com or connect with her at Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

Beginner Level. DIY Editing…And Whether You Need a Professional
Editing your manuscript is non-negotiable, and ultimately, the job is yours. What can you do on your own, and what needs to be delegated–if anything–to a professional? Are you braving the Indie Ocean or trekking TradPub Land? We’ll talk about what matters, and you’ll walk away with a list of self-editing tips. And hopefully, you’ll also leave with the confidence to do what’s best for you and your manuscript.

Intermediate Level. Working with an Editor (and Enjoying It)
Working with a freelance editor isn’t supposed to make you want to curl up and die (or wish that on your editor). In fact, it’s possible to walk away from the experience feeling invigorated, capable, and ready to take your manuscript to the next level. But how do you do that? Sit with me and let’s talk about finding the right editor for you, getting the level of edit you need, and enjoying the process enough to sign up for it again.


Susan Lyttek

Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of four novels, award-winning writer, wife and mother to two homeschool graduates, writes in time snippets and on random pieces of scratch paper. She also enjoys training up the next generation of writers by coaching middle and high school students. sajlyttek.com, https://www.facebook.com/susan.lyttek, @SusanLyttek

Intermediate Level. Muddlesome Middles–Proven Tricks and Tips to Get Past Stuck
Your novel is cruising along. You love your character(s), your plot works, but then all of sudden you come to a screeching halt somewhere in the middle of your tale. How on earth do you get it moving again? This workshop offers eight techniques that get you past stuck and moving on to the finish of your draft.


Elizabeth Maddrey

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website http://www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

Beginner Level. Indie Publishing Basics
This workshop will cover the basics of going indie, including how to upload books to Amazon using KDP and other platforms via Draft2Digital, and a discussion of the pros and cons of being Amazon exclusive.

Zoe M. McCarthy

Zoe M. McCarthy believes the little known fact that opposites distract. Thus, she spins Christian contemporary romances entangling extreme opposites. Her tagline is: Distraction to Attraction, Magnetic Romances Between Opposites. Calculated Risk is Zoe’s debut novel. Christian Fiction Online Magazine published two of her short stories. Zoe has self-published two books of contemporary Christian short stories. She enjoys leading workshops on the craft of writing; speaking about her faith; planning fun events for her 5 grandchildren; and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she lives with her husband, John. Connect with Zoe at http://zoemmccarthy.com

Intermediate Level. Make a Scene of Your Scene: 4 Improvements to Make Your Scene Stand Out
Participants will learn: Tips to improve the basics of their scene; How to add suspense to their scene in any genre; How to use an imaginary video camera to make their scene’s setting come alive; How to round out flat characters introduced in their scene.


Lynellen Perry

Lynellen Perry is President of Chalfont House (www.ChalfontHouse.com), and its fiction imprint HopeSprings Books (www.HopeSpringsBooks.com). She serves as the Mid-Atlantic Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) as well as the Treasurer for the ACFW Virginia Chapter. She loves spending girlfriend time as a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant (www.MaryKay.com/lynellen). Lynellen has a B.S. in Computer Science, an M.S. in Software Systems Engineering, and a PhD in Computer Science. She writes the monthly column “Publishing Perspectives” at http://www.AlmostAnAuthor.com. She also creates and sells machine embroidery and embroidery designs at http://www.etsy.com/shop/lynellen

Intermediate Level. The Hero’s Journey story structure
The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of narrative that describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization. Learn how to apply The Hero’s Journey to your storytelling in any genre.


Preslaysa Williams

Preslaysa Williams is a multi-award winning writer of Inspirational Romance. Her work has won the 2015 ACFW Genesis contest and the 2015 Indiana Romance Writers of America (RWA) Golden Opportunity contest. Her work was also a double finalist in the 2015 Windy City RWA Four Seasons contest, and another manuscript was a finalist in the 2015 Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star Contest. She has a Master’s degree from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Columbia University. Visit her online at http://www.preslaysa.com

Intermediate Level. Turning Pro: Business Planning for Writers
Are you ready to turn into a professional writer? Is writing more than “just a hobby”? Then you need a plan! In this interactive workshop, participants will be guided into the creation of their own business plan. They’ll walk away with a workable tool that will enable them to start and/or grow their writing business. Come prepared to dream, think, and write, write, write!