Workshops & Panel Discussions 2018


In arranging our 20 workshops, we’ve tried to offer something of interest to every author at all times (and tried to avoid making you pick between the two that interest you most!) In each concurrent session time slot (A, B, C, & D), choose from the available workshops; scroll down to see them. You’ll get a chance to hear from almost every presenter, because most are also participating in the panel discussions (scroll down further to see those) or speaking during one of our meals (see our Speakers page).

If you’re looking for the “extra” workshops and on-on-ones some presenters are offering, click here.

Still have questions? See our FAQs for more.

Session A

A1: How to Layer Your Narrative Detailsjennifermanuel
with Jennifer Manuel
Immerse readers in your fiction or non-fiction with details crafted along three story layers: the surface; the subtext layer; and the overarching layer, where the theme resides. This approach adds texture and depth to any story.

A2: BlushCarol Daniels2
with Carol Rose Daniels

Erotica is one of the most difficult styles of writing. This workshop will provide some tips and advice on how to banish your fears of venturing into the bedroom in your written works.

A3: Ten Insider Secrets You Should Know About Publishing – Before You Sign Any Contractrobert mackwood copy
with Robert Mackwood
The book you’ve laboured over has been accepted for publication. Congratulations! Find out about the various rights and responsibilities before you sign on the dotted line.

A4: Character Development Lorna Nicholson
with Lorna Schultz Nicholson

Characters are at the core of every good story. Join Lorna as she talks about her characters, how she created them and how she finds their voices.


A5: Calling All Columnistsshannon
with Shannon Linden

Have you dreamed of having your own column? Complete with your picture (yikes!),    insights and expertise, your column can grow a loyal readership—and garner exciting opportunities. This workshop will cover what a column is (and isn’t), how to figure out your writing niche, and how to pitch it.

Session B

B1: Building Better Query Letters: A Blueprint for Successsylvia-taylor
with Sylvia Taylor
A great query letter is your key to unlocking the publishing world. Learn how to grab and keep an editor, publisher, or agent’s attention by giving your query S. A. L. E. S. appeal! Come with a query draft or specific project in mind to help turn theory into reality.


B2: Perfecting Your PitchMargo2
with Margo Bates
How do you balance the need to convey the essence of a story and avoid bogging it down with details? Learn how to narrow your pitch down to one-minute, five-minute, and ten-minute stories about yourself and your work.

B3: Rosy Roads to Publicationelma-martens-schemenauer-credit-robert-s-schemenauer2
with Elma Schemenauer
Roses and thorns grow along all roads to publication including self-publishing, assisted self-publishing, and traditional publishing. We’ll consider advantages and disadvantages of various roads, explore methods of following them, and discuss which may be best depending on the circumstances.

B4: Be a Passionate Public Speakerpatricia3
with Patricia Sandberg
If you are an author today, you must market your work. And that means you will speak in public. Everyone can do it and do it well. How to lose your fear and inspire your audience.

Session C

C1: Building Better Articlessylvia-taylor
with Sylvia Taylor
Short, punchy, timely articles will get you on the expressway to Publishville and build your writing portfolio like nothing else. Learn journalist techniques that grab and keep reader attention and get your work into newspapers and magazines.

C2: Poetry: The Essence of LifeCarol Daniels2
with Carol Rose Daniels

We all go through profound moments – of joy – of sadness – of beauty and everything in between.  This workshop will offer tips and advice on how to preserve those moments in time – through the written word.

C3: Research Strategies for Writing Fiction and Non-fictionMargo2
with Margo Bates
Margo does extensive research on everything she writes, from clients’ bios, corporate backgrounders, and press releases, to writing books. Using Mind Mapping, you’ll learn to quickly develop ideas, characters, storylines and story outcomes, all based on research.

C4: The Importance of EditingLorna Nicholson
with Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Working with an editor is crucial to a successful book. Find out Lorna’s editing process and how she digs deep to layer her stories. This is important for both traditional and self-published authors.

C5: The Pain and Gain of Self-Publishing
with Patricia Sandberg
Your submissions to publishers have gone nowhere and your only solution is to self-publish. Learn about your options in the self-publishing world and the process. Explore the disadvantages and the many benefits of doing it yourself.

Session D

D1: The Secret to Dynamic Scenesjennifermanuel
with Jennifer Manuel
As the building block of stories, scenes must not only brim with narrative energy but must also propel the story forward. Learn a simple, powerful way to instantly make your scenes more dynamic and organic to your story.

D2: Rookie Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Michelle Barker
with Michelle Barker

Are you struggling to find a publisher for your novel? Maybe you’re making some rookie mistakes in your writing. In this workshop you’ll learn how to spot them, correct them, and make your writing shine.


D3: Working with Editors and Critiquerselma-martens-schemenauer-credit-robert-s-schemenauer2
with Elma Schemenauer
Relatives may not give us impartial feedback on our writing because they’re too close to us. Working with good editors and/or critiquers is often better. We’ll consider how to find such people and make the most of interactions with them.

D4: Sell That Book!patricia3
with Patricia Sandberg

Even if you have landed the big publishing contract, most of the marketing responsibility will fall on you. Identify your audience and spread the word through social media, mass media and the literary equivalent of hard slogging.

Panel Discussions

#1 (Saturday)

True Story! with panelists Carol Rose Daniels, Michelle Barker and Shannon Linden
You wouldn’t believe what my neighbours did. Hey, I could write a story about this. Should I? Will I call it “fiction,” “creative non-fiction,” or “non-fiction?” What’s the difference, and why does it matter?

#2 (Sunday)

Slushpile Challenge with moderator Sylvia Taylor and panelists Lorna Schultz Nicholson, Margo Bates and Robert Mackwood 

Yes, it’s back by popular demand!

What happens when your carefully crafted query, synopsis or manuscript arrives at a publishing house or agency? Unless your name is instantly recognizable (in a good way!), chances are it’s tossed on the slush pile, where it sits until someone has time to read it. What happens when that time arrives? Our panel will show, live and on stage, what sparks their interest and what turns them off. We’ll read as many as time allows, stopping when our panelists unanimously conclude the author has likely condemned this work to the dustbin. Then we’ll have them explain what went wrong.

Want to add your submission to our slush pile? Drop your properly prepared (see below) document into the box on our info-table, before 9:30 on Sunday morning.

Please use a pen name! Eligible documents:

  • your one-page query (properly formatted as though you’ve mailed it to us, using a 12-point serif font like Times New Roman, single spaced, with one-inch margins) OR
  • your one-page synopsis (properly formatted with 12-point serif font like Times New Roman, single spaced, with one-inch margins) OR
  • the first two pages of your manuscript (properly formatted for a conservative, traditional publisher, so 12-point serif font like Times New Roman, DOUBLE SPACED, with one-inch margins)