Writing in Layers

Hallee Bridgeman

(Beg/Int/Adv) Hallee takes you through her process of writing a full-length novel in a few short weeks. She will cover developing characters, creating conflicts, and outlining the book. Then she will demonstrate her layering process which includes adding in action/dialogue, thoughts, feelings, setting, and final editing.

The Art of the Blurb: Writing Back Cover Copy

Lisa Carter

(Beg/Int/Adv) Whether an indie, hybrid or traditionally published author, mastering the art of the blurb is an essential skill in the writer’s toolkit. The blurb/back cover copy exists for the purpose of introducing an editor/agent/reader to the story into which you’ve poured your heart. The writer can utilize the back cover copy over and over again in a variety of ways—as a pitch to an editor or agent; in a query letter or proposal; or in marketing and expanding an author brand.

Navigating Newsletters

Hannah R. Conway

(Beg/Int) Aside from ‘word of mouth,’ email is the second-best way to market. As an author having an email list is essential for marketing and connecting with readers. But how do you build your email list and what kind of content do you send? Let’s talk about it. You’ll leave with the tools you’ll need to start building a list and sending emails readers love.

Book Trailer Magic

Rhonda Dragomir

(Beg/Int/Adv) Book trailers are impressive marketing tools, but contracting with a producer for a professional video can be very costly. With a small investment in a user-friendly program, you can create your trailer on your own, saving hundreds of dollars. Rhonda Dragomir will demonstrate Corel VideoStudio and share her tips and tricks for making your video eye-catching and informative.

Getting Connected the Fun Way

Debb Hackett

(Beg/Int) Networking. The word can fill an unpublished writer’s heart with dread. This engaging workshop will walk participants through the practical side of making business acquaintances. Everything from prayers for divine appointments, to reminders about not chugging garlic juice or following your intended new acquaintance around all day. We’ll also cover polite ways to introduce yourself and get a simple, effective conversation going. And, we’ll have a laugh or two at my expense.

Beyond Fiction: Using Your Research, Expertise, and Enthusiasm in Articles, Blogs, and Talks

Sarah Hamaker

(Int/Adv) 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.

How to Write Yourself Out of a Corner

Steven James

(Int/Adv) Learn how to generate fresh ideas, weave innovative thinking into your writing projects (whether fiction or nonfiction), and improve the shape and craft of the stories you write. We’ll explore and demystify the creative process while discovering simple steps for intensifying the impact of your writing. Whether you’re new to writing or a seasoned pro, you’ll learn practical, easy-to-master techniques that will save you time while taking your writing to the next level.

Suspense Essentials: Secrets to Tapping into Tension (Whatever Genre You Write)

Steven James

(Int/Adv) Every story can be improved by increasing the suspense, tightening the tension, and ratcheting up the action. This in-depth seminar will help you improve your story by pacing the promises that you make and connecting emotionally with your reader. We’ll explore the differences between suspense and conflict, how mystery, horror, and suspense differ, and how to use promises of peril to increase suspense throughout your story.

Street Teams & Launch Teams —Do I Need Them?

Tammy Karasek

(Beg/Int/Adv) Your book is set to publish and you have a release date—now what? In this class, I will give you tips to organize a Launch Team to help you get the buzz started for your upcoming book release. Whether you run a Team yourself, or choose to hire a Launch Team Manager, I will give you actions to do. Let me help reduce your stress on what you need to do to set your book launch up for success.

How to Become a General Market Author in a CBA House*

Rachel McMillan

(Beg/Int/Adv) Attendees will learn about crafting a book from a Christian worldview while finding success as a crossover author. In an era where some CBA publishers are seeking to acquire crossover titles, this workshop will focus on how to thematically integrate faith in symbol and story for a lighter inspirational effect while giving tips and tricks to engage with a general market audience and sales range.

*This workshop description has been updated to better reflect course content. ACFW Virginia recognizes that writing crossover fiction is not the correct fit for all writers, but it is our mission to educate and encourage every writer with a Christian worldview.

Betrayal: An Antagonist’s Sharpest Tool

DiAnn Mills

(Beg/Int/Adv) Betrayal is the most damaging of wounds. A protagonist who survives the deception can show incredible strength. An antagonist who wields a sword of betrayal in unexpected plot twists, keeps the storyline moving in his/her direction. The unforeseen events keep the reader engaged and devouring book after book by the author. Writers will learn how to show a betrayed character by exploring the how and why of backstory and life experiences. The result is a story rich with hidden motives and varied emotions.

Visual Plotting

Carrie Stuart Parks

(Beg/Int) Do you love to plot? Me neither, but plotting, at least to a certain degree, is necessary to save you time, re-writes, and blood-letting. Learn how to simplify the process and use the logical flow of your creative imagination to rough out your novel.

Building Your Writer Toolkit

Cara Putman

(Beg/Int) In this class multi-published, award-winning author Cara Putman will show you that while there may not be one right way to write a novel, there are the best tools to use to take you from unpublished to holding your freshly published book in your hands. Cara will cover many of the essential aspects required to move from good writing to a story that gets an editor or agent’s attention. Topics covered include: story threads, scenes, dialogue, setting, character, and theme.

Write Race with Grace

JP Robinson

(Beg/Int/Adv) Write Race with Grace is an engaging, interactive workshop that offers 3 strategies by which authors can boldly approach the sensitive topic of race. In addition to learning how to smoothly incorporate people of color into their literature, This workshop presents students with ways to use racial diversity in literature as a means of promoting healing instead of division.

How to Pitch to an Agent

Cynthia Ruchti

(Beg/Int) From how to introduce yourself, to how to best present your work, to how to field awkward questions, to knowing what an agent is looking for both in an author and in a project, this workshop tackles many of the top tips for getting a positive outcome from an agent appointment. It also includes, tips on writing hooks and elevator pitches, how to prepare for The Appointment. Cynthia will also help you discern if you’re ready to pitch an agent.

B.E. Encourage

Toni Shiloh

(Beg/Int/Adv) Writing is a solitary endeavor that requires an author to pour all of themselves into their craft. The agent/publisher rejections, bad reviews, and effort that go into writing can often drain us and leave us discouraged. I will discuss how writers can equip themselves to B. E. Encourage. To fill themselves up with encouragement and to encourage fellow writers. I will delve into specific scriptures (like Psalm 46:10, Philippians 2:3) as well as examine the meaning of those scriptures and how we can apply it to our writing career. B.E. Encourage will fill you with God’s word and help you walk away, ready to continue your writing journey with a hopeful outlook.

Setting the Scene: Writing Scenes that Live

Sarah Sundin

(Beg/Int) Scenes are where your story comes to life. We’ll explore how to start a scene that grabs readers and grounds them in your world, how to use each scene to drive the story forward, and how to end the scene in a way that leaves them wanting more.

The Art of Description (and Not Going Overboard)

Janyre Tromp

(Beg/Int) It’s no secret that good narrative description is one of the keys to excellent writing. But navigating the path between too much and too little detail isn’t always an easy task. In this workshop we’ll explore keys to creating effective “Show Don’t Tell” description as well as give concrete examples of how to put those keys into action without bogging down your manuscript.

How to Get Good at Goodreads

Thomas Umstattd, Jr.

(Beg/Int/Adv) Goodreads is a social network specifically for authors and readers. With over 20 million members it is one of the most visited websites in the world. Because of this book focus, GoodReads is more effective than Facebook and Twitter at boosting book sales. Learn how to use GoodReads to boost your book sales.

How to Leverage the Power of Podcasts

Thomas Umstattd, Jr.

(Beg/Int/Adv) Podcasting has grown into a powerful tool to help authors build a platform and sell more books. But that is just the beginning! Discover four different ways authors can use podcasts to become better writers, reach new readers, and sell more books.

The Golden Triangle: The Author/Agent/Editor Relationship

Erica Vetsch, Cynthia Ruchti, & Janyre Tromp

(Beg/Int/Adv) Who does what, and how does it work? Join Erica Vetsch (Author), Cynthia Ruchti (Agent), and Janyre Tromp (Editor) for a round table discussion of The Golden Triangle: The Author-Agent-Editor relationship. We’ll talk about the different responsibilities, the communication, the overlap, how to handle problems and issues, and what you can do as an author to make yourself stand out to agents and editors both before you sign a contract and after. These veterans of the publishing industry would love to answer your questions about The Golden Triangle!

How to Marie Kondo Your Manuscript: Tips to Saying Goodbye to What Doesn’t Bring the Reader Joy

Erica Vetsch

(Beg/Int) Organizational Consultant Marie Kondo made a big splash with her tips for de-cluttering houses and lives, and we can apply some of her methods while editing our manuscripts. In this workshop, we’ll explore ways to de-clutter, streamline, and focus our stories with the purpose of punching up the action, deepening the characters, and tapping into our readers’ emotions. The great Elmore Leonard’s advice to writers included: Try to leave out the parts readers tend to skip. We’ll identify those places, eradicate and tighten, and hopefully spark joy in our stories that will have readers staying up late to turn that next page.

How to Build a Bookish Community

Roseanna White

(Int) Marketing is one of the most dreaded words to many authors, especially before they have a book out. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the question, “How am I supposed to build a platform before I have a book?” But in fact we can–by identifying who we want our readers to be, being where they are, becoming part of their communities, and serving them even without a book with other content that will enrich their lives. By viewing marketing as a creative process with the goal of service–not sales–we can totally flip that dread on its head!

How to Write a Series

Roseanna White

(Beg/Int) There are many classes on how to write a book…but what about a series? In this class, I examine the different types of series, publishers’ expectations, genre considerations, and how to keep interest and tension flowing from one book to another. We’ll delve into the nitty gritty of how to plan and execute a series in order to both make each book stand strong on its own but also draw the reader onward into the next one.

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I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Pslam 16:8