Education & Inspiration in the
Craft and Business of Genre Writing
for Literature and Screen.
Genre-La™ Writers Conference
12:30 Walk-up Registration, Pre-Registration pickup of credentials, badge, program, swag bag
1:30 Orientation Session
2:00 Why Manuscripts Arrive Dead On Arrival at Literary Agents and Publishers

Submitting your manuscript for publishing consideration is a courageous act. It can also be a frustrating and perplexing one. When you've spent months or years of your life writing a book that you take great pride in, it's hard to understand why recipients don't see the value in it that you, your colleagues, and friends do. This panel will review the most common complaints of from literary agents and publishers point of view, and offer suggestions how to better prepare yourself for acceptance and success.

Steven Hutson, Whitney Davis, Katharine Sands, plus panel

(The "Meet the Agents and Scouts" panel will be held Saturday, 10:am)

3:30 - 6:30 ProCritiques™ with Editors & Literary Agents
1 on-1 Pitch Sessions w/Agents & Publishers

Meet editors, agents and/or publishers for a personal consultation to pitch, discuss and improve pre-submitted pages of your manuscript. Schedule an appointment at the Registration Desk. Some editors may take new submissions on site. A separate fee applies to ProCritque and Masters ProCritique consultations. Some agents do not read or edit material in advance. Consult the website for details. We recommend you attend the Saturday or Sunday "How to Pitch" session at 10:00 am in order to help identify the best professional for your individual genre and material.

SIGN UP at 1-on-1 Meetings Desk


Great Beginnings Openings – Your First Line, First Page, First Three Pages

You hear from editors and agents that if the first paragraph of your story isn't strong enough, they won't read the first page, let alone the first fifty. Separate fact from fiction and remain true to your story. Writing a first line that will grab an editor and immediately announce your authority as an author. This will cover first pages, first chapters, and first characters. This is a unique opportunity for you to learn how real pros consider the merits of the material and the intent of the author, then offer improvements covering everything from glaring grammar errors to story-structure flaws to the overall storytelling and more.

Bring 5 copies of your first 3 pages. Selected pages will be read aloud, so the audience can follow along and learn how the panel reviews and may suggest improving the samples.

Sara Anne Fox (M), Mike Robinson, Whitney Davis, Deanna Brady, Laurie Lamson

Things I wish a Pro Had Told Me When I First Started Writing

Many aspiring writers waste time and brain cells when they first enter the world of writing professionally. Becoming a writer and then a published author is a steep, steep learning curve. Even for those with prior experience and previously published books, the rapidly changing landscape of the industry means you can easily make mistakes; in your writing, pitching, marketing and certainly when it comes to finding and signing a deal with a publisher or entering the shark-infested waters of the self-publishing pool. The aim of this session is to keep you safe, strong and smart as you progress in your work and career. Learn from industry pros many of the things you can avoid to save years of frustration and yes, brain cells, too.

Howard Hendrix, Christina Cigala, Andrew Grant Jackson, W.C. Reed, Laurel Anne Hill (M

The Wonders of Language and Culture: How to Seduce Readers and Lure Them Deeper Into Your World

A Conversation about researching cultures while writing fiction. How important is it to authentically capture a region, country, or culture? How can you ensure you don’t make rookie mistakes when it comes to cultural sensitivity and appropriations? And how does understanding the nuances of language, slang and lingo help you develop rich worlds in genre fiction? Learn how to research an area and add juicy flavor to your manuscript.

Kimberly Blagrove, translator and world traveler, took Desireé Duffy on a guided tour of France and conducted French translations for her book. They will share their experiences and advice in this intimate conversation.

Kimberly Blagrove, Founder and Owner of Vogue Translations
Desireé Duffy, Author and Founder of Black Château Enterprises


How to Structure Your Novel So Readers Can’t Put it Down

What one thing holds back most unpublished manuscripts?
 According to book doctor and fiction editor Elaine Ash, it’s not a lack of sparkling characters or lustrous prose—it’s structure!

Screenwriters are classically taught to write in three acts, with specific places for plot points and builds, action and dialog. But does that hold true for novelists? How do you keep the reader and story moving forward page after page and know when to blow up spaceships or avoid boring your reader?

 Take-home materials provided.

Elaine Ash (M), plus panel

When Worlds Collide. Writing a Short Story that Sells

Everybody believes they can write a short story. But writing a good one, worthy of publication in an anthology or magazine is a craft of its own. Get tips on the best way to use an economy of words to tell a compelling story of any size. As the details of your science fiction/fantasy worlds hit the page, do your short stories collapse from the impact? Strategies for juggling world building, characters, short-story arcs and forward momentum.

Laurel Anne Hill (M), Howard Hendrix, Joni Labaqui, plus panel

The Evolution of Folklore, Legend & Mythology into science fiction and fantasy.  

Where are the boundaries?  In 2017 alone, within the space of a few months, we have had three films based on Arthurian legend, all of which ran with the story in totally different ways, from the descendants of King Arthur doing a martial arts competition in Bangkok to a very sinister medieval version with overtones of Tolkien, to the Transformers.  Same archetypes, totally different films.

S.P. Hendrick, Pamela Jaye Smith, Robert Seutter, Carl Nelson, plus panel



Nothing kills a story faster than a weak antagonist and insufficient barriers to your protagonist’s goals and desires. No matter your genre – from sci-fi to spiritual, mystery to fantasy, romance to horror, and more – an engaging story needs believable challenges from within, from other beings, and from outside forces. In this workshop we’ll explore some essentials of the Dark Side you can put to work in your stories to more fully develop your characters and situations and to more surely capture your audience. 

  • Three Levels of the Dark Side
  • Lure of the Dark Side   
  • Confronting the Dark Side
  • Selecting your Worthy Opponent

Join us and master the Dark Side to bring more Light into all your stories, no matter the genre, style, or topic. 

Pamela Jaye Smith  (Solo Spotlight)

Writing Secrets from Masters of the Speculative Genres

Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror provides rare access to writing secrets from masters of the speculative genres. This fifth volume in the acclaimed Now Write! series of writing guides offers a full toolkit for beginning and experienced speculative genre writers seeking to generate unusual ideas, craft an engaging alternate reality, flesh out enthralling villains, aliens and monsters, or develop a blood-curdling twist ending.  Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson will lead a creative writing workshop using an exercise from the “Ideas and Inspiration” chapter.  Special guest TBA.

Laurie Lamson  (Solo Spotlight)

Beyond the First Draft – Techniques for Editing Your Own Work and When to Hire a Pro

Like a legal client who tries to represent themselves, a writer who solely relies on their ability as an editor is probably headed for literary disaster. Beyond friends and first readers, there is a real need to have a professional editor review every manuscript, and bring it up to literary standards.

This panel of editors will give you tips of how to best edit your work, and what to avoid, then explain how to prepare the MS for a professional and how to find an affordable one.
Sarah Howery Hart (M), Deanna Brady, Mike Robinson, Sara Anne Fox, Whitney Davis


"A Gathering of Writers"
No-host cocktail party with the speakers and agents
All attendees and guests are welcome to meet and network with the agents, speakers and special guests.
(Attend Orientation Session for details)

As of February 21, 2018 Change   Download PDF
7:30 am Literary Breakfast with Art Holcomb
Join this popular author/editor/educator/screenwriter for a round-table discussion
+ Q&A on the craft of writing. No host breakfast. Limited to ten.
Must RSVP. Mikado Hotel Restaurant
9:00 Walk-up Registration, Pre-Registration pickup of credentials, badge, program, swag bag
9:30 Orientation Session
10:00 am How To Pitch an 
Agent or Publisher (Saturday Edition)

You've spent a year or more working on a great novel and now you feel it's ready to be shared with the world. Naturally, the first step is to pitch literary agents and find one who shares your passion for the work and is willing to sign you. While many authors submit countless query letters and emails -- without result, a few wise souls know that agents often look to conferences as a source for new talented writers. It is a unique window to have your work considered firsthand. But what do you say? How do you present yourself and your manuscript in order to have them ask for more? This panel of agents, editors, and publishers du jour will discuss what they expect and answer your questions. This is an opportunity to hear what each agent needs in order to make a decision. Listen well, then rehearse before scheduling a pitch session with any or all of them later any day at the conference.

Paul Levine, Steve Hutson, Angela Hunt, Whitney Davis, Ken Sherman, Katharine Sands,
Tony N Todaro (M)

Thanks for the Memories – How to Write and Self-Publish a Successful  Memoir

What makes “Eat, Pray, Love,” “The Liar’s Club” or “Angela’s Ashes” garner dazzling reviews or make readers weep or howl with laughter? How do you impose order on a thousand memories? Why is it important to resist the temptation to summarize your life?

In this workshop, we’ll identify what makes great memoirs unforgettable, as well as identify moments from your own life: the lowest ebb, the most unusual, shattering, funny or triumphant incidents that reveal your character and move readers.

Elaine Ash, Madeline Sharples, Deanna Brady, A.G. Billig (moderator), plus panel

String of Pearls:

Learn how to create stories quickly straight from your imagination to the page without knowing story structure - by thinking like a film fan. This is a fun presentation that gives writers a powerful and unique way to solve most of their plotting and story creation problems.

Art Holcomb (Solo Spotlight)

11:15 am - 6:30 pm ProCritiques™ with Editors
Master ProCritiques™ w/ Agents

1 on-1 Pitch Sessions w/Agents & Publishers

Meet editors, agents and/or publishers for a personal consultation to pitch, discuss and improve pre-submitted pages of your manuscript. Schedule an appointment at the Registration Desk. Some editors may take new submissions on site. A separate fee applies to ProCritque and Masters ProCritique consultations. Some agents do not read or edit material in advance. Consult the website for details. We recommend you attend the Saturday or Sunday "How to Pitch" session at 10:00 am in order to help identify the best professional for your individual genre and material.

SIGN UP at 1-on-1 Meetings Desk


World Building and Word Building -- Getting Both the Speculation and the Fiction Right.

At its most challenging, the speculative fiction genres (science fiction, fantasy, horror, SF/F/H) present the writer with a double burden: Creating a world that differs markedly from our contemporary reality but is nonetheless plausible and intriguing, and realizing that world through the medium of well-crafted fiction.  Join us as we examine tools for integrating history and story, world building and word building, in the writing of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Howard Hendrix, Deborah Pratt, Chad Stroup, Joel Eisenberg, Laurie Lamson, Leslie Ann Moore,
Craig Miller (M),

Reviving the failed manuscript: CPR or Necromancy?

Most writers have at least one story that never worked right and languishes in an electronic grave. When is it worth trying to revive such manuscripts? How can writers avoid creating worse monstrosities in the process?

Laurel Anne Hill (Solo Spotlight)

Using Neuroscience to Create Compelling Characters

Leading neuroscientists have discovered that there are nine distinct personality types. Do you know what they are? Do you know how to use cutting edge neuroscience to create characters that leap off the page? How can you ensure that a character does not act out of character? What are the nine distinct motivations, fears, tendencies, and attributes? Which types make the best protagonists? Antagonists? Lovers? Detectives? Sidekicks? Mentors? Which character types will appeal the best to your target audience? A New York Times bestselling author and neuroscience expert reveals these answers and many more in this exciting and entertaining course.

William Craig Reed (Solo Spotlight)

12:30 Keynote Luncheon & Beverages  (optional with complimentary light lunch) REGISTER »»
"A Brave New World for Women: How Dystopian Worlds Are Merging with the Times"
A panel of women and men who are creating stories that send poignant messages to our society on the science fiction, fantasy, YA, and dystopian fiction front. Bringing to light topics such as: Women’s empowerment themes and their roles in genre fiction. How are the times changing? What are readers looking for? What messages are resonating today that writers should be aware of? How do books impact the current zeitgeist—a world where sexual harassment accusations have impacted society with movements like #MeToo. With the success of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s TaleWonder Woman, and other feminist fiction being adapted for TV and film—what does this mean for novel and screenwriters? What should a writer consider when developing characters who are a different gender than themselves? Visions for the future, where are we heading?
Christina Cigala, Deborah M. Pratt, Leslie Ann Moore, Sean Patrick Traver, Laurel Anne Hill, Chad Stroup, Diana Tierney (M)

How to Hook an Agent

How do agents think? What's the best way to present your material to hook an agent's interest? Elaine Ash pitches literary agents every day on behalf of writers, nurturing ongoing relationships. She will teach you how to pitch and query like a pro.

Elaine Ash (M), Andrew Jackson, ​Daryl Wood Gerber, Dan Kelly, Craig Faustus Buck

Getting Under The Reader’s Skin

Great books get under the reader’s skin. They connect to an intimate space, inside the five senses, so that readers experience each beat as vividly as if it were happening to them. To write this way, we have to be wide awake to our own senses — really seeing what we see, tasting what we taste, noting clearly what we actually experience rather than what we think we experience. The Mark Twains and Edith Whartons do this intuitively. The rest of us can use mindfulness methods, learning to observe the outer world of colors, textures, and sounds, as well as the inner world of thoughts and feelings, with the lucid freshness most people lose after childhood. That’s the cure for the clichés and bland generalizations that kill good writing. “Show, don’t tell,” sure, but you can’t show it unless you see it.
In this talk, award-winning author Dean Sluyter will draw on his decades teaching both literature and meditation. He’ll introduce simple mindfulness exercises for awakening the senses, suggest ways to apply them to your writing, and share examples of how the masters have done it.

Dean Sluyter (Solo Spotlight)

Let's Write a Story

This workshop walks you through the process of creating a story from the initial idea - through premise creation and character development - all the way to a full outline that’s ready to write.  We will actually block out an original story in the workshop. This is a fun session where we take a very basic idea and show writers how to develop it into a workable premise and rough story outline - all very quickly. Based on Art's "Ten Steps to Building  Better Story" seminar.

Art Holcomb


Query Letters That Work

You've spent six months to a year developing your new book. Now it's time to find a literary agent or publisher who will deliver it to the public. However, the first item that potential acquisitions professionals want is a query letter. But how do you condense a year's work into three paragraphs on one sheet of paper? This need not be a daunting document. In this workshop, you will learn how to craft a query letter that sells you and your work. Plus, selected members of the audience will have a chance to read theirs out loud and have them critiqued on the spot. This workshop is intended primarily for authors of fiction, but all paid attendees are welcome to participate. 

Bring 5 copies of your work-in-progress query letter.
Some will be read aloud anonymously and commented on by our panel.

Elaine Ash (M) , Paul S. Levine, Steve Hutson, Deanna Brady, Andrew Jackson

Makers and Monsters

Many scholars have argued that science fiction was born with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  This presentation examines how that novel provides a "creation story" -- not only for the monster, or for science fiction as a genre, but also for the individual writer's process in producing a science-fiction story or novel.  A monster needs a Frankenstein like a Frankenstein needs a monster. Learn what Shelley's novel tells us about how to make our monsters live!  

Howard Hendrix (Solo Spotlight)

Selling to Hollywood - What does it take to get past the Studio Gatekeepers?

The paradigm for selling to Hollywood has changed just as dramatically as the literary business in New York. Many of the television and motion picture studios are now operating with a different set of directives and priorities that may drive some writers crazy, but afford the smart ones to get there in style. Especially now that Science Fiction and Fantasy epics dominate the summer box office, and have an increasing presence in the fall TV schedule.

Craig Miller (M), Dan Watanabe, Deborah Pratt, Sara Anne Fox, Whitney Davis


Dare to Dream: Set Your Writing Goals for 2018

You have a goal to write MORE this year. Maybe a short story, maybe a novel, maybe a screenplay! Or you may not have no clue what you want to do specifically, but you know you want to try. 
If you want to: figure out your writing goals for 2018, learn how to set those goals, receive a tailored plan to achieve those goals, and receive monthly accountability to keep you on track, then this class is for you! Come jump-start your writing in 2018 with this amazing seminar and walk away with a solid plan for the year! 

Whitney Davis (Solo Spotlight)

Game of Thrones - How George R. R. Martin Did It

​The structure of Game of Thrones made easy! Based on Book 1, A Song of Fire and Ice, this fascinating talk demystifies epics and sagas, and gives a sense of direction, focus and control that writers can apply to their own "literary leviathans." Helpful take-home handouts.

Elaine Ash (Solo Spotlight)

How To Keep Your Creative Juices Flowing And Avoid Writer's Block

The literary history abounds in authors who wrote books that stood the test of time. Nowadays, some successful authors launch book after book after book, and never seem to be out of ideas or inspiration. What do they have in common? They are authentic, go beyond the limits of their mind, and don't question their worth as writers, and their success. Their follow their inner compass, enjoy the process of writing, and are happy to offer their gift to the world. If they can do it, you can do it. 

In this session, you will learn all about their tricks. You will be given practical tools and exercises that will help you to keep your creative juice flowing so that you never have to face writer's block again.

Join us and discover:
•    What the masters of the writing game do to stay creative,
•    How to connect your heart and your mind to write a great book,
•    How to use spiritual practices such as meditation to boost your creativity,
•    How to overcome self-imposed limitations and beliefs regarding your success as a writer,
•    How to use your five senses (and the sixth one, too) to find inspiration on the spot,
•    How to find the courage to express your authentic you,
•    How to create the right writing environment,
•    How to enjoy the process of writing (even when it feels lonely).

            A.G Billig  (Solo Spotlight)


"Your News Is Not True": Writing Science Fiction in a Fact-Challenged Time.

 Science fiction writers have long relied (to varying degrees) on science as the source of authority and "backstop" for the stories we tell. But what is a writer of science fiction to do when science itself is politicized and under attack from many directions? Join us as we explore how this situation affects science fiction writing at many levels -- from the sf writer at work to the marketing of speculative fiction generally.

Howard Hendrix (Solo Spotlight)

"I Remember When" – Doing Historical Research That Adds Value to your Book

Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than research, however patient and scrupulous, into special facts. The writer must embrace the life and spirit of the time, study events in their bearings near and remote, the character, habits, and manners of those who took part in those events. Sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction. Learn how these authors use historical research to add depth and flavor to their work.

Gayle K. Brunelle, Toni, Nelson, Sean Patrick Traver, Laurel Anne Hill, Diana Tierney (M)

Self-Publishing vs Indie Publishing vs Traditional Publishing— Everything You Need to Know When It Comes to Marketing and Selling Your Book Across Publishing Platforms

What are some of the major differences when it comes to self-published, Indie, hybrid and traditionally published books for authors in regards to sales and marketing, distribution and PR behind the book? Where will you make the most money? How can you make sure that your book is successful? What are some of the platforms that will help you promote your self-published or Indie published book? The literary industry is always evolving and there are many ways to make sure that your book becomes a success. But what does success really mean in the literary industry across these mediums? Join this workshop to find out more about each publishing platform and get a better idea of what is right for you!

A.G.Billig (M), Paul S. Levine, Whitney Davis, plus panel

7:30 "A Gathering of Writers"
No-host cocktail party and dinner at Tequila's Bar  & Grille.
All attendees and guests are welcome to meet and network with the speakers and special guests.
9 pm - 12± Renegade Late Night Read and Critique Workshop
with Art Holcomb & Howard Hendrix

An after hours opportunity for registered attendees to bring their work-in-progress and participate in a late night live editing session with Master Editor and Published Author/Educator. Limited seating. Mikado Hotel Lobby.
As of February 21, 2018 - Subject to Change Download PDF
9:30 Walk-up Registration, Pre-Registration pickup of credentials, badge, program, swag bag
10:15 am - 12 noon ProCritiques™ with Editors
Master ProCritiques™ w/ Agents

1 on-1 Pitch Sessions w/Agents & Publishers

Meet editors, agents and/or publishers for a personal consultation to pitch, discuss and improve pre-submitted pages of your manuscript. Schedule an appointment at the Registration Desk. Some editors may take new submissions on site. A separate fee applies to ProCritque and Masters ProCritique consultations. Some agents do not read or edit material in advance. We recommend you attend the Friday and Saturday "How to Pitch" sessions in order to help identify the best professional for your individual genre and material.

SIGN UP at 1-on-1 Registration Desk

10:00 am

How To Write and Sell or Publish a Successful Graphic Novel

Learn the differences between writing prose, a screenplay, audio dramas and comic books.  Also learn about what it takes to put your own comic book together.

Russell Nohelty, Debbie Lynn Smith Daughetee, Neo Edmund, Justin Robinson, plus moderator

How to Blog a Book and Make Money While You Write It

Industry expert Art Holcomb presents one of the easiest approaches for actually getting your book written that he has ever found.

Art Holcomb (Solo Spotlight)


Brand Building Your Business as an Author

These days, it isn’t enough for an author to have a website for their bio and book – a digital storefront extends to social media marketing sites like Facebook and Twitter, and it’s time to start capitalizing on it. Admit it: you are a brand in the marketplace. If you don't have social media accounts, it’s time to get with the program and bring yourself up to speed with this important marketing tool and strategy. Faculty: A panel of authors and social media experts will explain the "why's" and the "how's" that.

Desiree Dufffy, A.G. Billig, Russel Nohelty, Gayl Murphy, Andrew Jackson, Joel Eisenberg,
Sarah Howery Hart (M)

How the Hero’s Journey Revolutionized Genre Fiction.

When writing genre fiction, it’s important to understand how the Hero’s Journey plays into the structure of your story.  By analyzing six popular films, (Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Matrix, Spider Man, The Lion King and Lord of the Rings), we will discuss how you can use Joseph Campbell’s infamous journey template and make it your own. This class will give you a fresh perspective on your story!

Whitney Davis (Solo Spotlight)

12:30 Keynote Speaker Address / Luncheon  (optional with complimentary light lunch) REGISTER »»
1:00 TBA "Say Something Real"
Dean Sluyter

No matter what you write — science fiction or Civil War novels, Steampunk or cookbooks, inspirational self-help or action screenplays — there’s one crucial directive that will make it worth writing, make it worth reading, and make it work: Say something real. Award-winning author Dean Sluyter will share examples of this kind of deep reality from great fiction, nonfiction, and movies, past and present, as well as his own story of how rejection turned out to be his best friend — leading him to say something real and go on to sell five acclaimed books to major publishers.

  Conference wrap up
Thank you for attending!


As of February 21, 2018 - Subject to Change

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