Below you will find just some of the workshop selections offered at California Dreamin’. The full schedule will be available in January.

PLEASE NOTE all times are subject to change!

March 24, 2017

Book Camp: GMC with the Hero’s Journey

11:00am  -  4:00pm
Middle and Upper Nile

On Friday, before the conference begins, Debra Dixon will teach GMC with the Hero’s Journey. Debra’s phenomenally successful book GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION AND CONFLICT began life as a popular interactive workshop and is now the favorite craft book of many successful authors. This pre-conference add-on provides valuable tools a writer needs to pull a book …

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First Timer Orientation

5:00pm  -  5:50pm
Giza

If you’re a first-timer, come join author Debbie Decker, a past LARA president and three-time California Dreamin’ Writers Conference committee member. Bring your questions, and learn how to get the most out of your conference experience.

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Self Editing: 10 Tips to Make Your Words Pop

6:00pm  -  6:50pm
Giza

Want to speed up the pace to your action scenes? Slow down those romantic love scenes? Subtly direct your reader’s attention to critical phrases? Tighten that manuscript for submission to a contest, editor or agent? Multi‐published author Debra Mullins takes you through a list of ten editing tricks that can help you polish up your …

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Murder on the OC Express–Writing Mysteries

6:00pm  -  6:50pm
Alexandria

Is writing a mystery in your future? Mystery readers expect certain time-honored tropes and themes; we explore what is expected by the readers and how the great writers deliver.

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Making Magic and Building your Fantasy

6:00pm  -  6:50pm
Lower Nile

Have you ever wanted to create your own magic system? How about build a world of your own? Ever wonder where to start? Come and find out what you need to create a magic system, who can use magic, and what limits to set for your characters’ abilities. Learn how magic effects the world you’re …

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NAVIGATING THE KDP PLATFORM & KINDLE UNLIMITED

6:00pm  -  6:50pm
Middle Nile

The Kindle Direction Publishing platform and Kindle Unlimited can be intimidating to newcomers and seasoned author alike. USA Today bestselling author and Dragonblade Publishing CEO Kathryn Le Veque takes you on a tour of the platform and breaks down the rules for a fun and informative experience. Have questions about pre-orders? Kindle Unlimited payouts and …

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Agent Panel

6:00pm  -  6:50pm
Tuts

Join Literary Agents Patricia Nelson, Nephele Tempest, and Jessica Watterson for an industry update.

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Using Facebook to Build Readership

6:00pm  -  6:50pm
Upper Nile

Every day new books are released onto digital shelves. How will readers ever discover yours? We’ll discuss ways to find and build your readership using Facebook for book events, author street teams, and more…

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PAINT BY THE NUMBERS: The Art of the Twitter Pitch

7:00pm  -  7:50pm
Alexandria

If you’re not using Twitter to pitch your book, you may be overlooking an opportunity to interact directly with agents and editors and beat the slush pile. Twitter pitch parties and contests are becoming more and more popular. Participating in a Twitter pitch party takes planning and preparation. Each contest has different rules—but one thing …

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Writing the Christian Romance

7:00 p.m.  -  7:50 p.m.
Tuts

What is the definition of what used to be called Inspirational romance? A sweet story? An element of faith? A character type? What about S-E-X in Inspirational romance? In this workshop we’ll take a look at the qualities found in Inspirational stories. We’ll delve into what comprises the element of faith and see if there …

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The Ever-changing Landscape of M/M Romance

7:00 p.m.  -  7:50 p.m.
3rd Floor Conference Suite

Join Susan Mac Nicol, best-selling author of over a dozen M/M romances, including the popular Men of London series, for a frank but casual chat about this growing sub-genre and all its intricacies. Be prepared, no topic is off-limits.

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A Billionaire, a Cowboy & a Doctor Walk Into A Bar…

7:00 p.m.  -  7:50 p.m.
Giza

What makes a billionaire, a cowboy, or a doctor a hero? It’s all in his swagger, his outlook, what he values, and, most importantly, the way he treats his woman! Come learn from two best-selling, award-winning authors, and an editor how to write these brash, confident, rugged heroes that readers love and can’t get enough …

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The Author/Editor Relationship

7:00 p.m.  -  7:50 p.m.
Sphinx

Join author Sarah MacLean and her editor Carrie Feron in an informal chat about the author/editor relationship.

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Pitch Practice

8:00pm  -  8:50pm
Mezzanine

Hone your agent and editor pitches with hands-on practice and coaching from a multi-published, hybrid author.

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Secrets of Amazon’s Kindle Worlds

8:00pm  -  8:50pm
Giza

Ever consider writing a book in a world created by a best-selling author but don’t know how to break in? Fan fiction featuring characters and settings from another author’s world is growing in popularity. Authors can benefit from expanded distribution of their books, increased sales, and valuable contact with other writers to brainstorm, and even to …

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The History and Lore of Werewolves

8:00pm  -  8:50pm
Alexandria

Werewolves have made a comeback in fiction lately, but they have been around for centuries. Some world cultures still believe in them today. But what is a “werewolf” really? How do you become one? And how have these creatures migrated from horror films and literature to other genres, such as fantasy and romance? Please join …

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LIGHTS, CAMERAS, ACTION: Take Your Story to the Big or Small Screen

8:00pm  -  8:50pm
Sphinx

Tule Publishing’s founder Jane Porter, Tule’s Managing Editor Meghan Farrell, and entertainment attorney, Maggie Marr, discuss the strategies they use to see their authors’ stories go from book to film.

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The British Invasion

8:00 p.m.  -  8:50 p.m.
3rd Floor Conference Suite

UK Author, Susan Mac Nicol, has crossed the big pond and an entire continent, to dish about all things British. Whether you’re writing Regencies, Victorians, or want a contemporary British setting, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to talk to a ‘local’ about locations, characters, history, food…and even the proper spellings to keep your …

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Opening Reception

9:00pm  -  11:00pm
Ballroom

Sponsored by Boroughs Publishing.

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March 25, 2017

Potions, Pills and Poppies: How to Ease Your Characters’ Pain or Put Them Out of Their Misery

8:00 a.m.  -  8:50 a.m.
Lower Nile

During the 19th century, radical developments in pharmacology and chemistry ushered in the era of pain-free surgery and true pain relief. Until then, there wasn’t much a person living in the past could do to ease their aches, and passing out was a patient’s best bet for avoiding the agony of going under the knife. …

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Getting Into Your Reader’s Inbox: Newsletter Marketing Made Easy

8:00am  -  8:50am
Alexandria

One of the most effective—and most overlooked —marketing tools at an author’s disposal is the email newsletter. No other technique guarantees that your name and content will get in front of your readers’ eyes on a regular basis. Top authors agree that newsletters translate directly into sales. Newsletters may sound time consuming to set up …

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Working Past the Fear

8:00 a.m.  -  8:50 a.m.
Upper Nile

There are a million ways not to write a book, but they all boil down to the writer’s nemesis – fear. Laura Drake, RITA winner and author of eight women’s fiction and romance novels will give you tools to understanding and accepting fear and how to power through it to achieve your goals and write …

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Selling and Growing Sales on iBooks

8:00 a.m.  -  8:50 a.m.
Middle Nile

Who doesn’t want to know more about iBooks? Here’s your chance to ask questions, share information, and learn more about iBooks’ terrific global reach, and the opportunities to grow sales and cultivate new audiences for your work.

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Critique Sessions

8:30a.m.  -  9:45a.m.
Tuts

This popular conference add-on brings authors together with an editor/agent, providing thoughtful feedback on up to 10 pages of a work in progress.

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The 3 Stages of Book Marketing: What You Should Be Doing When

9:00am  -  9:50am
Middle Nile

It’s never too early to start planning your book promotion strategy, even if you haven’t finished the book. Effective book marketing requires planning and preparation for each phase of a book launch: pre-release, book release and post-release. In this workshop, authors will learn the basics of book marketing, how to analyze the three-part process and …

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Black Moments

9:00 a.m.  -  9:50 a.m.
Lower Nile

The happily ever after readers crave is only as good as the black moment is dark. This workshop will examine conflicts and how to bring them to a breathtaking peak to have readers racing to turn the pages.

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Writing the Romance Novella

9:00am  -  9:50am
Upper Nile

It’s too short! Used to writing full-length and the thought of a novella leaves you in a panic? Want to keep your readers going on a short between those longer works? Or, maybe, you’ve never finished a novel and with RWA’s new proposed standards of a 20k novella, you’re a bit intrigued? Let’s face it: …

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Fight Scenes

9:00 a.m.  -  09:50 a.m.
Sphinx

Guns? Hands? Swords? Magic? From karate chops to wielding broad swords, no matter your choice of weapon you need to have realistic fight scenes or your readers will laugh you into the trash can. Come find out what it takes to create realistic fight scenes. From one on one to epic battles, all things need to …

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The Latest on Kobo Writing Life

9:00 a.m.  -  9:50 a.m.
Alexandria

In global markets, ebook retailer Kobo is doing some brilliant things. Kobo has a strong presence in Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Canada, France, Italy and other European and African countries. Find out how Kobo’s indie publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life, can help you reach new markets.

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Pitch Appointments

10:00 a.m.  -  10;50 a.m.
Tuts

Going Deep Into Deep Point of View

10:00am  -  10:50am
Sphinx

Have you ever felt that a scene wasn’t working, but you couldn’t figure out why? Could be you were writing it from the wrong character’s point of view (POV). Whether you write in first person, third person, omniscient or a combination of POV’s, the reader should be clear about whose head they’re in and most …

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Mr. Darcy’s Guide To Snapchat Courtship & Instagram Seduction

10:00am  -  10:50am
Upper Nile

Or, “How To Find New Readers & Meet Book Bloggers On Social Media” I have struggled in vain and I can bear it no longer. These past months have been a torment. Your social media profile is at risk and Facebook won’t let me keep in touch with you without dipping into my wallet. I …

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What Every Author Needs to Know about Contracts with Publishers and Agents

10:00am  -  10:50am
Alexandria

Even with indie publishing taking the world by storm, authors both hybrid and traditional sign contracts every day. What clauses are deal breakers. Which will tie up your career for years? Attorneys and authors Sylvie Fox and Maggie Marr will discuss contracts with agents, agreements with publishers, and what every author needs to know to …

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The Secrets of the Bestselling Indie eBook Authors

10:00am  -  10:50am
Middle Nile

In this information-packed workshop, Jim Azevedo of Smashwords will reveal the best practices of the most successful self-published eBook authors. While there is no single magic bullet to suddenly land an author on a bestseller list, this workshop will unveil the many simple, yet important strategies to help make your books more accessible, more discoverable …

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More than Just Talk: Painting a Scene with Dialogue and Narration

10:00 a.m.  -  10:50 a.m.
Lower Nile

People don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say. That’s true in real life and in fiction. Dialogue is not only about what is being said, but also about what is left unsaid. And that is the playing field of narration: it shows us how people interact nonverbally and reveals the hidden …

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Wired for Story: What Your Reader’s Brain Really Craves

11:00am  -  11:50am
Sphinx

Imagine knowing what we’re hardwired to crave in every story we encounter, what hooks readers from pre-school to 80, and what keeps them turning pages. The answer is a game-changer, especially since the secret to writing a compelling story has very little to do with the surface plot or learning to “write well.” We’ll explore what your reader’s …

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Mastering the Art of Great Conflict

11:00am  -  11:50am
Alexandria

Conflict is king in romance. The trickiest part of writing a great romance novel is keeping the hero and heroine on the page while keeping them far from their happily ever after (HEA). Join New York Times best-selling author Sarah MacLean for a discussion of building and maintaining great conflict, all ensuring that your HEA is hard won.

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Slow Beginning, Saggy Middle? Beat Them into Shape with Good Hooks!

11:00am  -  11:50am
Tuts

The year 2013 saw an impressive number of new and revised book releases—304,912 according to Wikipedia. That number has increased each year since, making for fierce competition in the publishing field. Standing out in that crowd and getting noticed is more difficult than ever. Amazon’s new program where writers are paid by the number of …

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Kobo Consultations

11:00 a.m.  -  12:00 noon
Conference Suite 4

Bring your questions about marketing your book on Kobo, a global ebook retailer, to Mark LeFebvre Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations. Mark was the driving force behind the creation of Kobo Writing Life, a DIY portal for authors and small publishers to get their works published to Kobo’s global catalog.  

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Buffet Lunch

12:00pm  -  12:50pm
Atrium

Redefining Backstory: 5 Steps to Writing an Irresistible Story

1:00pm  -  1:50pm
Sphinx

All stories begin in medias res, a nifty Latin term meaning in the middle of the thing. The first half of the story is what creates both the internal and the external problem that the second half will solve. The second half? That is the novel itself. And here’s the kicker: most of what’s in the first half – …

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How to Hit Bestseller Lists With eBook Preorders

1:00pm  -  1:50pm
Alexandria

Imagine if you could press a magic button that would make your next eBook release land higher in the bestseller charts.  Imagine no more.  The magic button is real and it’s called the eBook preorder. In this workshop, you’ll learn about the advantages of preorders, how to effective plan and execute a preorder, as well …

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Brainstorming

1:00 p.m.  -  1:50 pm
Tuts

Join Leanne Banks for this fun, hand-on workshop where you will learn 15 techniques to get you out of a writing corner.  Bring your story problems for an opportunity to have others help you during a group brain-storming session.

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California Readin’

1:30  -  4:30
Ballroom

This is an add-on for published authors. The event is currently full, but interested authors are encouraged to waitlist in the event that a spot opens up.

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Editing for Indie Authors

2:00 p.m.  -  2:50 p.m.
Sphinx

Who needs an editor? Every writer—from the traditionally-published bestselling author to the newbie just starting out, and everyone in between. Top indie editor Julia Ganis, aka JuliaEdits, will explain how fiction editing works—and show you what you need to know, what to look for and what to avoid on your path to self-pubbing. Plus, tips …

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Worldbuilding Mistakes in Fiction: Find Them, Fix Them, Avoid Them

2:00pm  -  2:50pm
Alexandria

One country is not like another; one time period is not like another. Probably every writer agrees with those statements, yet every writer sits down at the computer weighted with preconceptions such as how people think, what everyday life is like, how people talk, and what governs clothing choices. I will give examples of bloopers …

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The New Sweet Spot: How to Write the Page Turners We Love to Buy

2:00pm  -  2:50pm
Tuts

The sweet spot has changed, but what makes a great book great hasn’t. We’re not talking trends, this is about how to channel your talent into a story that catches a publisher’s attention. What makes a book stand out isn’t completely intangible; aside from great writing, there are markers and flags. This interactive workshop is …

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How to Keep Your Novel on Track

3:00pm  -  3:50pm
Alexandria

Although your novel is made up of individual scenes, in truth those scenes are not individual at all, but part of an escalating internal and external cause-and-effect trajectory. That means that each scene is made up of myriad layers, which means that each scene performs myriad tasks – from moving the subplots forward, to giving the reader …

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Homicide Investigations

3:00 p.m.  -  3:50 p.m.
Sphinx

With the surge of Romantic Suspense, Urban Fantasy and other crime driven stories, writers need to provide readers with realistic descriptions of criminal investigations as well as cop mindset. What is the difference between a Homicide and a Murder? What does it take to become a Homicide Detective? What can you expect at a Homicide …

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Pitch Appointments

3:00 p.m.  -  4:30 p.m.
Tuts

California Readin’ Book Signing

4:30pm  -  5:30pm
Atrium

This book signing features authors from the California Readin’ event and is open to conference attendees and the public in addition to readers who attend California Readin’.

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Dinner with Keynote Robyn Carr

6:30pm  -  8:30pm
Ballroom

Detours Along the Yellow Brick Road

9:00 p.m.  -  10:00 p.m.
California Dreamin' Lounge (Tuts)

With well over one hundred romance books to her credit, author JoAnn Ross has experienced the ups and downs of this ever-changing industry. Join her for a casual, late-night presentation about her career and the lessons she’s learned along the way. Bring your questions, because JoAnn says “ask me anything–well, about writing anyway!”

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Cop Tales

9:00 p.m.  -  10:00 p.m.
Conference Suite

Saturday Night Opportunity Drawing Event In a one hour, intimate chat and Q & A, MA Taylor shares stories of her twenty years in law enforcement, including positions with the California Highway Patrol and the Department of Justice. M.A. will chat about patrol, surveillance, wiretaps, Tribal Gaming, sexual predators and more.  If you’re writing suspense or thrillers or just …

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March 26, 2017

Be the Dude: Strengthen Your Scenes Through Your Focus

9:00 a.m.  -  9:50 a.m.
Upper Nile

What makes Atticus beloved? Why do we want Rhett to give a damn?  How did the authors DO that? Vivid, well-rounded characters don’t just happen. Ramp up your characterization skills with RITA® Award winner, Laura Drake. Learn how to show the world through your character’s eyes, to make your readers fall in love with them!

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Big Stories, Small Books

9:00 a.m.  -  9:50 a.m.
Sphinx

In this workshop, four multi-published authors of category length romance will discuss the specifics of the genre with emphasis on what publishers such as Harlequin and Entangled are looking for. We’ll include: Definition of category romance including a short history of the genre Who is the readership? Where to find the books What Harlequin lines …

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Everything You Wanted to Know about Working with an Author Assistant

9:00am  -  9:50am
Lower Nile

Technology and the virtual marketplace have changed today’s publishing industry so that authors, both traditionally and independently published, hold greater accountability for the business-end of their careers, such as product development, design, distribution and marketing. The more time spent on these activities, however, the less time authors have to write. Author assistants are joining the …

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The Sassy Writer’s Five Minute Guide to Staying Young

9:00am  -  9:50am
Alexandria

For most of us writing encourages the ‘butt in the chair’ posture. We spend hours sitting, squirming, and hunching as we pound out our stories. But at what cost? According to Tom Rath, researcher and NYT Bestselling author of Eat, Move, Sleep: How Small Changes Lead to Big Changes… “Sitting is the most underrated health …

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3D Story Development

9:00am  -  9:50am
3rd Floor Conference Suite

What are the 3Ds needed to develop a compelling story? Dynamic Characters – 3D characters with layers of depth including strengths and weaknesses that allow for character growth and strong, consistent characterization. Depth of Conflict – internal and commitment flaws designed to challenge a character’s romantic, immediate and long term goals. Development of plot points – Complete …

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Kobo Consultations — Sunday

9:00 a.m.  -  10:00 a.m.
Conference Suite 4

Bring your questions about marketing your book on Kobo, a global ebook retailer, to Mark LeFebvre Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations. Mark was the driving force behind the creation of Kobo Writing Life, a DIY portal for authors and small publishers to get their works published to Kobo’s global catalog.

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Beyond Sun Signs: Developing the Heart & Soul of Your Character

10:00 am  -  10:50pm
Sphinx

Astrology is full of archetypes: the prideful Leo, the fast talking and/or flighty Gemini, the brash and bold Aries. If I tell you my best friend is a Taurean do you have an immediate picture of her in your mind? Sturdy and steady, loyal. Security loving. Patient. Maybe a tad bit lazy, definitely stubborn. How …

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BODY LANGUAGE: Learn to Read It So You Can Write It

10:00am  -  10:50am
Giza

Writers show characters’ emotions in many ways, but body language might be the most effective way to get across someone’s feelings without a character uttering a single word. This one-hour workshop on body language will touch on everything from head to toe. Do you pay attention to other people’s body language? Do your characters? Discover …

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From Muse to Magic: How to Get a Great Cover

10:00 a.m.  -  10:50 a.m.
Upper Nile

Join Jenn LeBlanc for a presentation on all things cover art, from design to branding, as well as licensing and legal issues to protect your business. (Jenn is not a lawyer, but she has lots of first-hand experience from a content provider/user perspective with real-life examples.) With two degrees and a deep background in photography, …

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3D Story Development, Second Hour: Storyboarding

10:00 a.m.  -  10:50 a.m.
3rd Floor Conference Suite

What are the 3Ds needed to develop a compelling story? Dynamic Characters – 3D characters with layers of depth including strengths and weaknesses that allow for character growth and strong, consistent characterization. Depth of Conflict – internal and commitment flaws designed to challenge a character’s romantic, immediate and long term goals. Development of plot points – Complete …

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Everything I Needed to Know About Writing I Learned From Kindergartners

10:00 a.m.  -  10:50 a.m.
Alexandria

Join two-time RITA Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare for a lighthearted look at lessons Tessa learned about storytelling, pacing, and plotting when she worked as a children’s librarian.

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Pros In Your Prose

11:00 a.m.  -  11:50 a.m.
Tuts

Do you want to incorporate the drama of sports in your stories, but may be a little stuck? How much or how little detail is needed to draw the reader into the story? Does the hero or heroine have a career-ending injury? One that can be overcome? Wait—what types of injuries, and how do they impact your characters? …

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From Inspirational to Perspirational, How to Write Love Scenes

11:00am  -  11:50am
Sphinx

Speak of love scenes and most people conjure images of hot kisses and heavy breathing. Not so fast. By definition, love is the very heart of romance, so love scenes are the heart of every romance novel, whether the sweetest inspirational or the sweatiest erotic. Weaving in Linda Howard’s 12 Steps to Physical Intimacy, bestselling …

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Optimize Your Indie Publishing

11:00am  -  11:50am
Giza

Three indie authors will show you how to amp up your productivity, promotion and publishing performance without losing your positive attitude.

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STORYography Cards: From Big Idea to Marketing Success (2 Hours)

11:00 am  -  12:50 pm
Alexandria

Writers, you CAN make a solid living from your talent.  But, first, you have to write or re-write the storyline for the success of your talent-driven brand. Top business coach Robin Blakely, CEO of Creative Center of America and a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, shows you how to bring structure—and a sense of …

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Exorcising Your Inner Critic: Improv for Writers

12:00 noon  -  12:50 p.m.
Tuts

Actors find improvisation a necessary skill. For writers, improv is a way to free the brain for new ideas. The most important rule in improv is “Yes, and . . .”.  Follow that rule and keep your inner critic at bay. This fast-paced, interactive workshop will cover the basic rules of improv, with suggestions for adapting them for …

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Law & Order: Using Teamwork to Create Criminal Charges that Convict

12:00 noon  -  12:50 p.m.
Giza

Make your law enforcement characters come to life by exploring the unique functions and motivations of their diverse jobs, along with the roles each agency performs. From that first 9-1-1 call to investigation to arrest and sentencing, this panel of experts will explain how it takes a village to bring a criminal to justice. Bring …

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The Art of Pivoting

12:00 noon  -  12:50 p.m.
Sphinx

It’s not just our characters who need to change course. What if you’re writing paranormal and all of a sudden, no one wants paranormal?  A lot of authors just stall, hoping the rock in the road will eventually roll away. But rather than stand in the road with that big rock in front of her—stuck—the active …

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Lunch with Keynote Sarah MacLean

1:00  -  2:30pm
Ballroom