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Friday, september 29


 8:30am  Check-In for Optional Friday Morning Workshops
 All Day  1-on-1 Manuscript Critiques will take place near the bridge on the second floor
 9:00am - 11:30am

Workshop 1: Anjanette Barr, Literary Agent

Learning to Love Synopsis Writing

Location: Lecture Hall 101

It's not uncommon to hear authors lament the task of writing effective summaries, pitches, blurbs, and loglines. While it does require a slightly different set of skills to master this kind of short-form writing, these skills CAN be learned. In this workshop I will teach you strategies for tackling the dreaded synopsis. I will also explain why they matter so much, and how writing them will grow your craft overall.

 9:00am - 11:30am

Workshop 2: Erick Mertz, Editor/Author/Ghostwriter

Success in Self-Publishing

Location: Lecture Hall 110

Self-publishing has been heralded as a new gateway to reaching readers. They say anyone can do it. If that’s true, then why not go ahead and just upload that manuscript now?

As convenient as self-publishing is made to sound, it is not as simple as uploading your book to Amazon, hitting publish, and waiting for those readers to come get your book. You need to be savvy. You have to bring a little know-how.

In this fun and engaging session, I cover everything from securing the right kind of editing to getting a real understanding of your genre to picking the right book cover. We will talk about what services a new author needs, what they should cost, and where you can save money.

As a way of illustrating the ever changing nature of the self-publishing process, I lay out my path to success by highlighting a few of the many of the mistakes I made along the way. I show participants what I did, what I wished I had done, and how they can avoid falling into that same trap.

 11:45am  Optional Lunch Available in Lobby (please pre-pay for lunch on your conference registration)
 12:30pm - 2:30pm

Optional First Pages Roundtable Reviews with Anjanette Barr, Christy Cox, Eric Smith, and Jessica Snyder (Meet in Room 220)

 2:30pm Check-In for Optional Friday Afternoon Workshops
 3:00pm - 5:30pm

Workshop 3: Jessica Snyder, Editor

Six Elements of Story Structure for Romance Writing

Location: Lecture Hall 101

Master the structural elements of character-driven fiction to write romance novels that readers love.

This workshop presents romance fiction from a structural standpoint. You’ll learn about goal, motivation, and conflict, which are the cornerstones of fiction writing. But then we dive deeper to cover character arcs, flaws and stakes, which are vital in character-driven stories like romance. You’ll understand how each element hinges on the others to build the infrastructure of your story, and you’ll gain the confidence to utilize these elements to improve your own books.

 3:00pm - 5:30pm

Workshop 4: Eric Smith, Literary Agent

Don’t Fear the Query (Or Those First Ten Pages)

Location: Lecture Hall 110

In this workshop, Eric Smith will break down what makes a perfect query letter, for both fiction and non-fiction authors, and what exactly it is agents are looking for in the opening pages they request. All too often writers are terrified of that pitch letter or spend far too much time polishing up ten pages of a manuscript when the stakes are not that high. In fact, we’ll talk about stakes in this workshop! Come take a breath. 

Saturday, SEPTEMBER 30


8:00 - 8:30am Conference Check-In
8:30 - 8:50am  Lecture Hall 101: Welcome and Awards
8:50 - 9:30am  

Lecture Hall 101: Keynote by Agent Eric Smith

Focusing on What You Can Control: In an industry where it feels like so much of the creative and business side of things is out of your control as a writer, what is there to focus on, and how can you use that to further your career? In this presentation Eric will share stories from both his life as a writer and an industry professional, on staying focused, controlling what you can, and how often that pays off.

9:30 - 9:40am  BREAK
 All Day  
1-on-1 Manuscript Critiques will take place near the bridge on the second floor

 9:40 - 10:40am 



Lecture Hall 101  Lecture Hall 110 Room 117

Room 220

Anjanette Barr: Tricky Situations in Publishing

In this breakout we will cover various situations authors may find themselves in during their career. The purpose will be to take a closer look at the enigma that is the publishing business and brainstorm solutions for tricky scenarios. This will especially appeal to authors who are or hope to be traditionally published, and to those who want to straddle the line between traditional and self-publishing.

AKRWA Panel: Crafting Characters with Depth and Dimension

Compelling characters draw readers into your narrative. Join AKRWA members in a panel discussion on how to develop well-rounded characters, including working with backstory, goals, motivation, and avoiding problems like stereotypes. Appropriate for fiction and nonfiction writers.

Krysta Voskowsky: Platform Smarter, Not Harder

A session for Alaskan authors who want to grow their audience, sell more books, and get featured in the press, without spending an arm and a leg on a marketing agency.

Toya Brown: Motif-vation: How to Keep the Creative Flow Going

This workshop explores how to keep creative energy flowing. There is a segment dedicated to characterization. There are tools provided to develop character arc and the subtle art of connecting characters to motifs.

10:40 - 10:50am    BREAK      

10:50 - 11:50am



 Lecture Hall 101  Lecture Hall 110  Room 117

Room 220

Jessica Snyder: Swipe Write: How to match with your perfect editor

Learn what aspects to look for when researching the right editor for you and your story, create your own plan for self-editing and revising, and master a few mindset tips that will help you throughout your author career.

John Messick: Writing Place as an Act of Witness 

Our way of understanding the world also informs our writing. On some level, all writing is environmental—depictions of the built and natural worlds we inhabit, both real and imagined, social and emotional, political and personal—and writers have a duty to render the landscapes of their stories with authenticity. With Alaska as primary focus, both visitors and locals can join in a discussion about how to depict place with honesty, respect, and true vision.

Christy Cox: From Pitch to Published: The Challenges and Rewards of the Collaborative Picture Book Process

A children’s book editor shares the rewards and challenges of the collaborative process of picture book making, from manuscript and illustration acquisition through final developmental stages of book production.  Whether you are an author or an illustrator – or both – you’ll learn about the expectations and work involved in this process.  

Dan Walker: Catch and Release: Hooking Readers the Right Way

The most critical part of any story or book is the opening. Get that part right and the reader is hooked. The way to get a reader to come back for more stories is to create an effective ending. Leave the reader satisfied and that reader is apt to come back for more. Using models and non-examples, workshop participants will: 1) discuss and define what makes strong beginnings and endings; 2) examine some strong beginnings and closing scenes from various genres; 3) Work collectively and alone to write both opening paragraphs and closing scenes.

11:40am - 12:50pm Lunch Available in Lobby      

12:50 - 1:50pm



 Lecture Hall 101  Lecture Hall 110 Room 117 Room 220

Anjanette Barr: Identifying Target Audience 

This session includes tips for getting your books into the hands of the people who actually want to read it. We'll cover how to accurately place your book in a genre and audience age category. We'll also talk about what to do when your book crosses genres, and how to choose the best language to convey your book's core message.

Dale Madden: What Can Arctic Circle USA Do for You? 

Dale Madden, CEO of the Madden Corporation, discusses his recent purchase of local company, Arctic Circle USA, and his vision for its future with regards to publication of Alaskan content. He will share his publication experiences, including Island Heritage Publishing of Hawaii, and what he wants from local authors and illustrators.

Eric Smith:  Defining Platform in an Era of Social Media Collapses

Often you hear the word “platform” thrown around regarding a writer. In this breakout session, we’ll spend some time defining what a platform is, how you can still build it without social media, and how in a lot of cases… social media doesn’t even matter. This will be a good chat for authors writing fiction and non-fiction. 

Krysta Voskowsky: Healing Childhood Trauma through Memoir

This session teaches key short-form writing techniques for anyone who has a past. Learn the science behind writing as a neurological and somatic healing practice, and discover the unique ways memoir can help heal old wounds, cultivate writer's voice, and bring people together.

 1:50 - 2:00pm     BREAK      
 2:00 - 3:00pm



Lecture Hall 101
 Lecture Hall 110   Room 117 Room 220

Jessica Snyder: 10 Editing Hacks 

This workshop puts self-editing tasks into an easy-to-follow list format. You can check off each item before submitting your manuscript to anyone from critique partners to agents and editors. Most of the tasks are quick and use shortcuts in Word such as Find and Replace. Others are a bit more work-intensive, like culling extraneous adverbs or removing filter words and writing in deeper POV, but will ultimately strengthen your story.

Hailey Staker: Worldbuilding 101 

In World-building 101, I’ll take you through the basic steps of establishing the world in which your characters will live for the duration of your story. We’ll focus on the Ws: who, what, when and where and put what we learn into practice in a short creative writing exercise meant to challenge writers on place and time.

Christy Cox: What Makes a Good Picture Book? 

Writing a picture book manuscript that stands out and captures the attention of an acquiring editor can be a challenge.  Picture book writers need to think about how they can share their story and capture children’s imaginations in a small amount of words and simple vocabulary, and more! A children’s book acquisition editor shares the essential elements of fiction and non-fiction pictures books, and what an editor looks for when considering manuscript submissions.

Na Mee: Mindfulness Practices for Your Writing

In this session, Na Mee will use poetry skills to guide students in activities that can be used in their writing, and in building a mindful practice that can benefit them on and off the page. Although her own identity and practices revolve largely around poetry, this is an intensive suitable for all kinds of writers (and non-writers!).

 3:00 - 3:10pm  
 3:10 - 3:50pm 
 Lecture Hall 101: Panel Discussion with Anjanette Barr,  Eric Smith, and Jessica Snyder
 3:50 - 4:00pm 
 Lecture Hall 101: Closing Announcements 
 4:00 - 5:00pm 
 Author Book Signing and Mingle in Lobby (100L1)
  • Times, speakers, and topics subject to change.




Questions? Click HERE to email us!


Alaska Writers Guild

PO Box 670014

Chugiak, AK 99567

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