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 8:30am  Check-In for Optional Friday Morning Workshops
 9:00am - 12:00pm

Workshop 1: Larry Brooks, Author and Writing Coach

The Cradle-to-Bookstore Experience of Writing a Good-to-Great Novel Without it Taking Years or Making you Crazy.

Part 1:  Arriving at Page 1; Available options before you write that empower the writing itself. (This workshop can be taken on its own or along with Part 2 in the afternoon)

This workshop will focus on the role of the "learning curve," since experienced authors apply what they know in ways that may differ significantly from the way newer writers - who may not know what they don't know - go about it. We will explore criteria for a story idea that glows in the dark, and from that, how to craft a strong premise, and then how to fuel that premise with conceptual power. We will also examine how organic story development ("pantsing") is really no different than planning/outlining, relative to the form and function of the final manuscript, which is driven by criteria. The goal will be to give birth to a novel that sizzles and makes readers glad they came, as opposed to simply finishing the chore of putting 100K words onto paper. All of this will take a market-driven context... striving toward novels that sell and being able to differentiate them from novels that don't.

 9:00am - 12:00pm

Workshop 2: Laura Bradford, Agent, Bradford Literary Agency

Your Publishing Game Plan

Develop a personalized plan for tackling the journey to publication YOU want. Traditional or self publishing, agent or no agent, there are lots of paths possible to get to publication. We will workshop your pitch, query letter and comparable works list as well as discuss market research, branding, targeting agents and/or publishers and goal-setting. 

All participants should leave this class with some kind of game plan for your writing projects and goals that have been tailored to your needs. For those seeking traditional publication, we will also start on a query letter, workshop comp titles, and practice pitches. This class is intended for those with a completed or near-complete manuscript who are wondering what to do next.

 9:00am - 12:00pm

Workshop 3: Abigail Samoun, Agent, Red Fox Literary Agency

Those Tricky First Paragraphs—How to Create a Powerful Introduction to Your Story

Learn to create a powerful introduction to your story that hooks the reader (agents and editors, too!) with an intriguing character, sense of setting, and promise of the premise. In this 3-hour workshop, there will be plenty of time to bring out the “ta-da’s” and “ah ha’s!” in your work-in-progress. So bring it, pencil and paper or computer, and be ready for magic! 

 12:00pm  Optional Lunch Available in Foyer (please pre-pay for lunch on your conference registration)
 12:30pm - 2:30pm Optional First Pages Roundtable Reviews with Angela James, Michelle McCann, Laura Bradford, and Abigail Samoun
 2:30pm Check-In for Optional Friday Afternoon Workshops
 3:00pm - 6:00pm

Workshop 4: Larry BrooksAuthor and Writing Coach

The Cradle-to-Bookstore Experience of Writing a Good-to-Great Novel... Without it Taking Years or Making you Crazy. 

Part 2: "How to navigate the trees once you've entered the forest of your story."

Regardless of how the pre-planning phase goes down, the writer eventually arrives at the blank page and faces the task of getting the "story" (at whatever stage it exists in the writer's mind) onto said page, This transition from story conceptualization to story development is a high degree of difficulty... in fact, this is where story ideas too often go to die. The session will identify how to stay in the fast lane without driving off a cliff or having the engine stall, with a perspective on the entire drafting process.

 3:00pm - 6:00pm

Workshop 5: Michelle McCann, Editor, West Margin Press / Sasquatch Books

Picture Book Chop Shop

Feeling like your picture book has a few dents that need fixing? Or maybe even a whole new engine? Sometimes the best way to spruce up your picture book is to tear it apart and rebuild. Join picture book editor/art director Michelle McCann for a hands-on deconstruction adventure! With paper, glue and scissors we will cut apart your manuscript and rebuild it into something spectacular. In the Chop Shop you will learn the secrets of strengthening your story from the inside out, including:

·      Shoring up your structure

·      Thinking visually and making room for illustrations

·      How to start your story with a bang

·      Revving up your middle

·      Creating tantalizing page turns

·      Firing up your climax

·      Ending your story with reader satisfaction

Sound fun? It will be. Come get your hands dirty and leave with your story in primo condition.

Bring: a print out of your story in 14 pt. font.

 3:00pm - 6:00pm

Workshop 6: Angela James, Editor, Before You Hit Send

Be a Book Boss: A 5-Part Master Class on the Business of Writing, Editing and Publishing

Join #1 NYT bestselling editor Angela James for a 3-hour presentation and discussion on some of the most important aspects of your publishing career, including editing & writing, brand, choosing the right publishing path for you, common missteps authors make in their careers and how to avoid them, and the power of community.


8:00 - 8:30am Conference Check-In
8:30 - 8:50am BIRCH ROOM: Welcome and Awards
8:50 - 9:30am  BIRCH ROOM: Keynote by Author Larry Brooks; The Omnipresence of Fake News within the Writing Conversation... and How to Find Your Truth Amidst the Noise
9:30 - 9:40am BREAK

 9:40 - 10:40am 




Angela James: Making the Reader-Character Connection: How to Get to a Deeper POV.

Join #1 NYT bestselling editor Angela James for a quick & dirty look at connecting the reader to your character and getting deeper into your character's head and experiences. This workshop explains what deep point of view is, why it can be a good thing (and when you might not want it), and gives you practical tips and advice for taking a deeper dive into your characters' point of view. 

Abigail Samoun: What Drives Your Story Engine? Writing tension, structure, payoffs and other plot mechanic tools every writer needs to pull your reader through your storyline. Lorna Rose: From Journal to Story; Writing for resilience, writing your life.

Everyone has a story inside. It is the story of our lives, our experiences, our choices. Through journaling, we lay claim to those experiences. Through memoir, we tell our story as a vehicle for connection. Come explore how to turn those journal entries into a memoir. Specifically, we’ll discuss: How we find resilience through journaling, how to make sense of your story, and how to tell your story in an artful way. We’ll also drill down to the basics and talk about how to start journaling, how to know when you’re ready to tell your story, and autobiography vs. memoir.

Sharon Aubrey: Foundations for Self-Publishing or Building a Small Press.

 This session covers the foundational steps necessary for self-publishing or starting a small press. Many authors are confused regarding what it means to be self-published, often believing they are self-publishing when in fact they are vanity publishing, overpaying for services and under receiving on royalties.  In this class, authors will learn the basic steps in publishing, ways to save money, hire experienced professionals for editing, formatting, and graphic design, explore options available for printing, and learn how to sign up with distributors to get books in stores and libraries. This class will also get real about other types of publishing options available and how to evaluate the best publishing for them as an author.  

10:40 - 10:50am    BREAK      

10:50 - 11:50am



Larry Brooks: Temptations, Pitfalls, Old Habits and Blinders: How to Avoid Landing on Mediocre - or in a ditch - When Your Goal is Excellence. In other words, how to not screw this up, either due to what you thought was true but isn't, for a novel that works. Learn how to avoid unknowingly shooting yourself in the foot before writing "The End" on the last page of the final draft.
Michelle McCann: Get the  Inside Story Editorial Panel with local authors Matthew Lasley, Tricia Brown, Ethan Atwater, Barbara Atwater, and Dan Walker  Shane Castle: Literary Journals, Advice from an Editor and Writer. Learn and ask questions about all aspects of publishing short prose in literary journals from a senior editor of Alaska Quarterly Review who regularly publishes in (and receives rejections from) well-regarded presses nationwide.

Christiane Allison: Creating Fantastic Original Characters.Crafting characters is a critical component of storytelling in every medium, from books to feature film. Your readers will know when you’re writing a character that’s only skin deep, and they’ll abandon ship. Christiane’s unique method of character creation approaches the process in layers of detail and can be adapted to suit your personal style without sacrificing depth of character.  

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

12:50 - 1:50m



  Alana J. Terry (TBA)
Abigail Samoun; What is Essential? The Covid crisis has us thinking hard about what are the essential things in our life. But the word “essential” can also be helpful when thinking about story. We will explore how to discover what is essential to your story and how to identify what isn’t. I’ve read many many manuscripts that were solidly written, had interesting premises, but missed the mark because the story lacked focus. We will learn how to avoid this pitfall and embrace the heart of your story. For picture book and novel writers alike.                    
Caitlin Buxbaum: How to Write a Good Free Verse Poem…and What to Do with It. Have you always been puzzled by poetry that doesn’t rhyme? Or have you written free verse poetry without much success in the form of publication? Join Alaskan author and publisher Caitlin Buxbaum for a presentation workshop on how to write and publish quality, free verse poetry in a variety of ways. Bring something to write with and something to write on, as well as a free verse poem you’ve already written, if you’d like. To submit questions or concerns ahead of time, please email cait@redsweaterpress.com.  
Kristen Ritter: Stealing From Sitcoms, How to Move Your Story Forward with Comedy and Dialogue. In this breakout, we’ll look at three comedy shows: Superstore, Ted Lasso, and The Good Place in order to explore how telescripts move story forward through dialogue. Special emphasis will be placed on the use of humor to explore women’s roles and the subversion of stereotypes that make these stories unique within the genre.
 1:50 - 2:00pm     BREAK      
 2:00 - 3:00pm



  Laura Bradford: What Agents Want. Agent Laura Bradford pulls back the curtain on how an agent thinks and makes decisions. From the business of being an agent to market trends and publisher mandates, learn about the considerations that inform whether we say yes or no to YOUR manuscript. Anastacia Ward and Jena Benton-Lasley: Illustrating My Book: When and Where to Find an Illustrator. Have you written a picture book and now you’re wondering if you should illustrate it yourself? Or where to find an illustrator for your graphic novel? Or wondering if you even need one? Come to this session to learn more about illustrators and how SCBWI can help you find a good fit. SCBWI Alaska Illustrator Coordinator Jena Benton Lasley and illustrator Anastacia Ward will discuss what you need to know in your search.      Dan Walker:  Catch and Release; Hook Your Readers and Let Your Endings Let Them Go. The critical part of your story is the opening, and the way to get a reader to come back for more stories is an effective ending. Using models and examples, participants will 1) discuss and define what makes strong beginnings and endings; 2) examine some strong beginnings and closing scenes from various genres; and 3) Work to write both opening paragraphs and closing scenes. Local Romance Writers of America, AK Chapter Authors Panel with Authors Karen Kiely, Lynn Lovegreen, and Elizabeth Allyn-Dean:  Building a compelling world (no matter your genre). Creating a believable world in which to set your story can be as important as diverse characters or a rousing plot. And it applies to any genre or sub-genre, from fantasy to historical to contemporary fiction. AKRWA members talk about how they build worlds and what happens when they run into challenges.
3:00 - 3:10pm   BREAK      
3:10 - 3:50pm  BIRCH ROOM: Local Editors and Publishers' Panel with Sandra Kleven, Jeremy Pataky, Caitlin Buxbaum, and Sharon Aubrey      
 3:50 - 4:00pm BIRCH ROOM: Closing Announcements      
 4:00 - 4:30pm Author Book Signing and Mingle in Foyer      

  • Recording links for each webinar will be emailed to all registrants.
  • Times, speakers, and topics subject to change.


Questions? Click HERE to email the conference chair



Alaska Writer's Guild

PO Box 670014

Chugiak, AK 99567

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