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Afternoon Workshops 2024

Three plenary speakers each day | Hands-on Workshops (HOWs)| Break-out sessions

All presented by published authors, agents, and editors

Afternoon Only:


Afternoon Workshops are included in the Morning Workshop prices

Registration begins January 1, 2024



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The Struggle for Education: A Pen’s Journey to Liberation and Love

This talk will explore the importance of writing, reading, and purposeful education in helping people liberate themselves from imposed restrictions on free expression of thought. In addition, Jawad will discuss the role writers, teachers, and librarians play in shaping the human journey.

Jawad Arash

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John Bennion

25 Writing Tips for 25 Years of WIFYR

In honor of WIFYR’s 25th birthday I will demonstrate 25 tips for writing fiction. These will be pithy, generative ways of improving characterization, story, setting, and language. Each tip will be dramatized on stage through images, actions, and other sensory experiences. I can’t wait to see your faces when you experience this tip: “Make your language as crisp and evocative as the sound of a coyote trap snapping shut.”

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Long and Winding Roads and The Inevitability of Retrospect

Chris Crowe doesn’t know what he’s going to be talking about, but it’ll likely include stuff about Paul McCartney, Robert Frost, Rust Hill, Carol Lynch Williams, YA literature, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essay, children’s books, the writing life, procrastination, inspiration, and desperation.

Chris Crowe

The Author-Agent Relationship

In this talk we’ll explore the author-agent relationship. We’ll explore the agent’s role from submission to negotiation to career management, and how to get the most out of your agent relationship. We’ll also discuss how to approach agents at conferences and online, questions to ask when an agent makes an offer, and what to do when a relationship goes south.

John Cusick

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Ann Dee Ellis

It's a hard knock writing life: How to find joy in the process

Being an author is not for the faint of heart. We have stories to tell, stories we're passionate about, stories that we hope beyond hope will get to readers who will love them and embrace them. The road from laptop to bookshelf, however, can be harrowing. So harrowing, in fact, that it can discourage even the most determined creator. In this plenary, Ann Dee will talk about how to find goodness and even joy in every part of the process.

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Beautiful Language: Why We Need It

The substance of the talk is how writers can contribute to Culture (with a capital "C") by using language beautifully, telling stories with carefully-crafted language. I will give examples of the best of the best, from both classic literature to contemporary classics. It's a call to elevate our thoughts and the words that express them.

Stephen Fraser

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David Miles

You Can Do This: Ten Reasons You Might Be Getting Rejected—And How to Reverse Your Fortunes

Rejections are frustrating, there’s no two ways about it. But deep down, what’s really demoralizing is the vague, anxious feeling that you don’t really know why you got rejected. What does “It’s not a good fit for us” even mean? And when you hear “It’s not what we were looking for,” how do you know what to do next? Do you give up? Try something new? But what should that “new” thing even be? How do you know what to do when you don’t know what you’re doing wrong in the first place? And is it even worth trying to play the game when you feel like you’re shooting at an invisible target that keeps getting moved on you? 


Yes! It is worth trying again. And in this keynote, David Miles, co-founder of Bushel & Peck Books, will share real actions you can take to increase your chances of succeeding. We’ll review some of the biggest reasons a kid’s book gets rejected and discuss how to make changes—or, honestly, even a new book altogether—that won’t share the same fate. You’ll learn about trends, what topics are working in the market, what catches an editor’s eye, what turns them off, and even participate in a live critique of pitches from the audience.


Kristin Ostby

Giving Voice

Voice: It’s what makes a reader connect with a piece of writing from the very first sentence, regardless of your characters and plot—and it’s how your personality, or that of your narrator, comes through on the page. This presentation will be centered around the sometimes elusive quality that differentiates a good story from a great one. It will give you some tools to identify your individual writing voice and ways to hone it, and thereby make your writing stand out from the pack.

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Joy Peskin

Children's Books as a Mission

When we create books for children, we are not simply telling a well-told tale, or imparting a lesson. We are making a book that could have a life-long positive impact on a young person. The book you write may give hope to a child who feels downhearted, or direction to a child who feels rudderless, or a smile to a child who needs a boost. Your book may be the first book a child loves; the book that makes them declare themselves a reader. Or it may be the first book that makes them feel truly seen. In this plenary, I'll talk about some of the books I've had the pleasure of editing that I hope have had these sorts of impacts, and will impart ideas for ways you can make your book the one that changes a child's life for the better.

J Scott Savage
Keeping the Dream Alive

We start out with big dreams and high expectations. But over time, even the most optimistic writer can begin to feel discouraged. How do you keep the dream alive when being a writer can seem so difficult at times?

J. Scott Savage

Why We Torture Ourselves by Being Writers

You've heard it before and maybe even have thought it yourself—I write because I have to. But do we have to write? Or are there other compelling reasons we torture ourselves by doing this often lonely and very frustrating job?

Carol Lynch Willliams

Hands-On Workshops (HOW)

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Susan Cady Allred

Using Serialized Fiction to Jump Start Your Writing Career

Do you find queries, rejections, and the grind of submitting to literary agents and publishers demoralizing? Have you considered quitting writing entirely? Consider Kindle Vella and other serialized writing platforms to jump start your writing career. 

In this HOW class, the emphasis will be on Kindle Vella, but we will also discuss other writing platforms, their pros/cons, and how you can utilize the same story on all of them. Plus, we'll discuss strategies, marketing, genres, and how writing serialized fiction improves your writing skills, increases your output, and gives immediate feedback from readers on the direction of your story.  Break out your notebooks, bring  a list of questions, and be prepared to dive deep into the world of serialized fiction.


Ken Baker

How to Get Writing When You’re Stuck

You’ve hit a brick wall and you can no longer put fingers to keyboard. Writer’s block. Mental health. No fresh ideas. Lack of time. Boring writing. Boring characters. Lack of story direction. You can’t figure out the beginning, middle, or end. There are lots of way writers get stuck. We’ll talk about them and explore different ways to unstuck your writing and get your story moving again.

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I’ve Lost the Plot: Discovering Your Story Through Outlining

Writing is hard, and it can be easy to get lost in your story—having a map can help. Learn how outlining can unlock your creativity while keeping track of your pacing, plot, and character motivations.

Alex Sousa

Break-Out Sessions

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How to Funny

Writing humor sure seems a lot easier than it ever ends up being. But boy is it critical for holding your audience, allowing them to feel, and breaking up the more intense emotions in a story. Come get some tips and tricks for adding humor to any genre of story. And hopefully chuckle a little while doing it.

Shelly Brown

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Ali Cross

Your Writing Journey: How to Thrive When Plans Go Awry

As aspiring writers, we often begin our careers with grand visions and high expectations. But what happens when reality veers from our well-laid plans? How do we embrace the unexpected twists and turns that come with a writing career?

In this class, we'll explore the art of resilience, self-discovery, and understanding the unique path of your own writing journey.

Learn to recognize where you are, manage expectations, embrace the unpredictable, and to celebrate the path you are on.

Join Ali for an inspiring and practical class that will empower you to not just survive but thrive when your writing career takes unexpected turns. Come prepared to gain a new perspective, connect with fellow writers, and find your own path to success.


Amy Jameson

Creating a Killer Query Letter

You’ve written an amazing manuscript, and it’s time to find an agent. You have one shot to make a great first impression and hook an agent’s interest with your query letter. No pressure, right? Amy will share some successful query letters that got her attention and tips for writing a killer query. We’ll analyze a couple of query letters from participants in class, so if you’ve written a query, bring along a printed copy. 

Break-out Session

Coming soon!

Kyra Leigh

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Top 5 Things I’ve Learned from 25 Years of Editing

Lisa Mangum has been in the publishing business for more than twenty-five years, and she’s learned a thing or two about both the practical side of storytelling (writing, revising, and editing) and the personal side (stress-management, honoring your heart, and finding your voice). Join her for a conversation to talk about her top 5 bits of advice that might help you on your journey as a writer, editor, and creator.

Lisa Mangum

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Samantha Millburn

The Storytelling Past Can Be Perfect

“Verb tenses are so hard! And now you’re telling me there’s a tense called past perfect? As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing perfect about verb tenses,” the frustrated writer says.
The editor lovingly puts an arm around the writer and says, “Hey, sit down with me in this class, and we’ll explore the mysterious past perfect tense together so you can discover how easy it is to use. Learn how this verb form expresses to the reader a crucial time stamp in your story to convey sequence, establish timelines, and add depth to character experiences. You can’t just not use it and hope you’re okay—as far too many authors believe is the case—so let me guide you through practical applications and offer insights and techniques to seamlessly incorporate past perfect into your writing to elevate your storytelling prowess.”
The writer and editor skip happily off into the past-perfect sunset.

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Pick up the Pace

Pacing is critical to grabbing your reader and taking them on an adventure with your characters. If it’s too slow you lose them. If it’s too fast you lose them. So how do you know when to go fast and when to go slow? Join author Chad Morris for some practical advice on how to decide what pacing goes where and how to apply that knowledge to your manuscript.

Chad Morris


Kathryn Purdie

Writing with Deep Point of View

Stories written in deep point of view are powerful and immersive. Readers forget they are reading and instead live vicariously through the POV character(s), entrenched in their worldview and unique traits, without any telltale author tags and filter words standing in their way. In this class you’ll learn the tips and tricks to transform your writing from distant to deep and then deeper, which will give your scenes the emotional punch and character connection necessary for a gripping and unforgettable story.


Kathryn Purdie

Endings for Every Ending

Endings are hard for many writers to nail, but they can make or break a book. Readers can forgive many shortcomings if an ending is excellent. In this class, I’ll teach you how to master the ending of your book, as well as your chapter endings and even sentence endings. I’ll share how to build toward endings, make them resonate, be powerful, have clever prose, tie up loose ends, promise more to come, and leave room for reader imagination.

Building a Writing Habit

Near the end of WIFYR 2018, I accepted Carol's challenge to write every day until WIFYR 2019. I did, and have not stopped six years later. In this session, I'll share strategies for building your own writing habit, whether your goal is to write every day, a certain number of days per week, or just more often than you're writing today. You'll walk away from this session with new strategies for not being able NOT to write.

Scott Rhoades

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Celesta Rimington

Unleash the Power of Setting

Unleash an often-untapped force within your story by powering your setting with character status. When the setting takes on a life of its own and even becomes part of the controlling system of power in your plot, it increases your readers' connection and investment in the story. A well-designed setting contributes to tone, theme, character growth, increased tension, and emotional resonance that you can shape with intention. Most of all, a well-written setting can make your readers fans for life!

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Kaela Rivera

Quiet Scenes, Big Impact

High stakes and action scenes motivate readers through a novel, but it would be a mistake to neglect quiet scenes that give readers a chance to breathe and process, with the additional benefit of developing world-building and characters. So how do you get the same impactful momentum out of quieter scenes? We’ll break down the whys and hows in this class so your novel is always engaging, even when the volume is turned down.

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Erin Stewart

Points Of No Return: Keep Readers Hooked With Powerful Threshold Moments

Every story should have four specific life-altering moments when your character can no longer go back to who they once were. These points of no return propel your character forward and make your reader want to turn the page. In this class, we’ll learn about when these critical threshold scenes should occur, how they should change your character, and how they work together to create a strong plot and convincing character transformation.

Building a Sustainable Creative Career

Let’s set the craft lessons aside for a moment and focus on you—the writer! Using a holistic approach, this presentation will discuss the caring and keeping of your inner creative and offer strategies to help you be a healthier, happier, more sustainably creative you.

Kelsy Thompson


Carol Lynch Williams

Those Icky Middles

How many books have you started and not finished? One? Three? A hundred?

We all know starting a novel is so much fun, but then . . . then  . . . you get to the icky middles. And suddenly that oh-so-sexy novel is scaring you. A lot.

In this session we'll come up with ideas to help you through those icky middles and get you on to those last two words, "The End."

More class info to come!

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