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Thursday, November 2, 2023

7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Plein Air Hike and Retreat

Join us for our outdoor adventure. Families are welcome to join. We will also have a dedicated classroom open in the conference center for writing during the day. 


Out on the trail and in the Ponderosa classroom

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.


Meet up with friends and enjoy the local cuisine. Dinner is not provided by the conference on Thursday.

6:00  – 9:00 p.m.

Writing Boot Camp

Come and learn from professional authors and editors in a group setting. Pre-registration is required. Must be able to provide manuscript in advance for groups to prepare for boot camp.

Learn more about this event by clicking here.

Friday, November 3, 2023

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Self-Publishing on a Shoe String Budget Seminar

See Elaine’s Bio

Cover design advice for authors is often vague and focuses on using software rather than how to design covers that sell books. In this class, Elaine Canyon brings her seven years of experience working as a freelance graphic designer to explain the basic design principles that will give you a foundation for moving forward in designing your own book covers or better communicating with your cover designer.

Editing is one of the most necessary—and often one of the most expensive—steps on the path from manuscript to published book. In this class, you’ll learn how to save money on editorial services without sacrificing quality.

Flying by the seat of your pants works for writing, but it does NOT work for your business!

There are so many things to think about and do for your Indie publishing business. It’s easy to focus on writing and publishing your books and stories, that you forget you have a business. You end up managing your business by putting out the fire burning the hottest. This leads to burnout, frustration, and disappointment. Why not set up your author business for success instead?

You need a plan!

Find out what you need in your author business plan in this workshop with fantasy and nonfiction author, and retired CPA, Tora Moon. You’ll learn:
• What a business plan is
• The four parts of a business plan
• Start creating your production, distribution, and marketing plans

This workshop is focused on independent publishing. However, traditional published authors also have a business and need to plan for their success. They can also benefit from having a business plan.

See Julie’s Bio

Have you ever said, “I don’t have time to market my books?” As a busy mother of eight children, Julie Coulter Bellon was trying to balance family, writing, and getting her books in front of the right audience. Some days it seemed impossible until she developed a system of marketing that harnesses the power of just fifteen minutes. Through proven patterns that have increased her visibility and sales, Julie will teach you her system of fifteen minute marketing techniques and tools that any author—from beginner to advanced—can add to their marketing toolbox.

12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Seminar Luncheon

Luncheon for the attendees of the Business Managment seminar

Willow Ballrooms A and B

12:30 – 1:00 p.m.

Registration/Opening for General Sessions

Opening session will be held beginning at 12:30 in Willow Ballroom A & B.

Registration desk, with badges, bags, etc. will be found in the hallway outside the Willow Ballrooms A and B.

1:00 – 1:50 p.m.

Breakout Session 1


Les Edgerton writes: “When the trouble is gone the story is over.” In this class Liz helps the class understand how use conflict to craft a tight, well-plotted narrative, one that makes the reader stick with the story until the last page,  and one that will stick with the reader long after he’s closed the book.

See Cody’s Bio

Dread, terror, and horror are universal emotions that can be found in any genre of writing. Learn how to create dread and terror in your fiction by learning simple techniques and concepts.

See Kase’s Bio here

Historical Fiction is not Fantasy Fiction. We do not need to build whole worlds, only realistically create our own in the past. This class will look at famous, and not so famous, historical-fiction novels and look how to introduce the past subtly but distinctly.

See Melissa’s Bio

Book reviews are among the top things buyers look at on the purchase page for a book. More than the content of the book reviews, what people notice the most is the total number of reviews. The higher the number of reviews, the more likely a person is to purchase the book and the higher rank a book can reach in its categories.

But, it’s a catch-22. Book reviews can help increase book sales, but you need to sell your book to get reviews . . . so how does an emerging author break this cycle?

Learn where to look for book reviews and how to get more of them in the Intro to Book Reviews course, taught by Melissa Dalton Martinez. In this course, you will learn how you can get your book reviewed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, book blogs, and more.

2:00 – 2:50 p.m.

Breakout Session 2

See Sabine’s Bio

So you want to write a book but are not sure where to start? This course will steer you in the right direction for hooking your readers, charater development, and avoiding common mistakes. It will also help you understand why you want to write a book and how to make the most of your goals.

See Kaela’s Bio

Most readers like compelling action scenes, but they can easily get confusing, or worse–boring–if the writer doesn’t combine the right amount of clear blocking, build-up, and emotional impact. In this class, we’ll go over these principles so your fight scenes are exciting, memorable, and compelling.

See Christina’s Bio

As long as humans have been sharing ideas, they’ve also been finding ways to conceal them. Learn the history of secret messages and the methods used to craft them, and explore ways to add codes, puzzles, and spycraft to your writing.

See Karlie’s Bio

Most people look at Self Publishing as something just about anyone can do, but they neglect to see what all actually goes into it. Writing, editing, formatting, cover creation and illustration, marketing. Come hear about the less talked about aspects of self publishing, their pros and cons.


2:50 – 3:10 p.m.

Snack Break

3:10 – 4:00 p.m.

Breakout Session 3

See Jared’s Bio

Do you ever have trouble psyching yourself up to write? Do you sometimes find yourself with time to write, but feeling like there’s nothing in the tank, so to speak?

You can win those moments. You can conquer the psychological cycles that result in that resistance and lack of productivity. You can overcome even the worst writer’s block.

This class will cover some of the psychology behind those resistance moments and will draw from multiple sources on psychology, motivation, success, and endurance. You’ll leave the class with not only a strengthened desire to write, but also a firmer belief in your ability to do so and some techniques you can use to overcome tough, resistance moments.

See Kaela’s Bio

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.

See Greg’s Bio

They’re adding AI to everything nowadays. Just this morning my houseplants started critiquing my fashion choices when I walked past them. Is the hype legit? Or is AI just a bunch of sizzle with no steak?

In this course we’ll explore the thrilling realm of AI writing tools and their ability to electrify your writing escapades! Ready your quills and keyboards as we dive into the AI rabbit hole and uncover how these virtual sidekicks can add that extra spark to your storytelling without assimilating you into the robo-writing collective.

Here’s a sneak peek at the tantalizing questions we’ll be answering:
– Whose legal rights rule the AI-generated or AI-assisted content kingdom?
– How can we separate the genuine AI gems from the scammy snake oil?
– Can AI-produced content fly under the radar, or will it always be spotted?
– What’s the secret sauce to morph AI-generated text into literary gold?

But that’s not all, folks! We’ll also cover these captivating topics:
– AI-powered magic for book cover creation and visual daydreaming
– Editing and rewriting with an AI sidekick who’s more partner than puppet
– Crafting story outlines and plotting twists with AI assistance
– Artificially intelligent alpha readers that’ll blow your socks off
– Concocting unforgettable characters, settings, and conflicts
– Generating fresh ideas and breaking free from the clutches of writer’s block
– Navigating the murky waters of the ethics of AI in the creative world.
– Finding the outermost limits of what AI can and can’t do for you.

You know what we will NOT be learning? How to make an AI tool pen an entire book for you. 

So, buckle up as we supercharge our fiction writing with a little help from our AI friends!
This class is appropriate for all technology skill levels.

4:10 – 5:00 p.m.

Breakout Session 4

See Janette’s Bio

Would it surprise you to learn that agents reject most manuscripts after only reading a few pages? Agents, editors, and readers will never know what a great plot you have or the amazing characters you’ve written if you make mistakes that send your manuscript into the rejection pile. Learn how to identify and fix problems in your description, dialog tags, pacing, opening, and much more.

See Erin’s Bio

Whether you’re writing a character- or plot-driven novel, we all want the same thing: for our readers to love our characters. But how do you write lovable characters that are still flawed enough to make the story work?  Enter the misbeliefs. We’ll dig into characters, what makes them tick, and how to identify a compelling misbelief in your main character, all with the aim of deepening the emotional resonance in your piece.

See Rod’s Bio

Essays are a time-honored but often overlooked genre that can help writers clarify their thinking and hone their skills—and get published. Learn how to start and finish an essay that will say what you think, speak to readers, and interest editors.

See Christina’s Bio

Want to write for kids? Here’s everything you’ll need to know to get started. This overview of the current children’s literature landscape, from picture books to YA, highlights unique considerations for writing, querying, publishing, and marketing kids’ books.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.


Willow Ballroom A & B

6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Today is Where Your Book Begins Community Event

Join us for a fun evening, learning some of the ins and outs of writing through hands-on activities and writing exercises.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

8:30 – 9:00 


Saturday Opening Session

Willow Ballroom A & B.


Registration desk, with badges, bags, etc. will be found in the hallway outside the Willow Ballrooms A and B.

9:00 – 9:50 


Breakout Session 5

See Jared’s Bio 

Writer’s block is real. It is disruptive and it is more than simply procrastination. It’s also something we can all overcome. I promise. In this class, I’ll tell the story of a guy who thought writer’s block wasn’t real, but was flattened by a year and a half of it. I’ll talk about what that looked like in terms that will be resonant and accessible and will lead you through the process of how I found my way out of it. You can do it. We can help.

See Kristy’s Bio

Redemption arcs are some of the most memorable, grace-filled stories out there—when they’re done well. Learn how to get your characters to earn a redemption that will resonate with your readership without relying on unsatisfying tropes or resorting to redemption-via-death. Examples from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Groundhog Day, You Can’t Take It with You, and more.

See David’s Bio

Why is the idea of a three-foot-long bronze sword wielded by an eleven-year-old laughable?  Do you know the difference between a long sword and a great sword? A saber and a rapier? How about the difference between a thrusting spear, a throwing spear, and a hewing spear? How hard is it to swing a war hammer or a mace?  This is a HANDS-ON presentation of various types of swords, axes, spears, and other weapons and armor, ranging from the Bronze Age to the early 20th Century, from copper to bronze to high-carbon steel. Participants will have the opportunity to handle and heft actual weapons, don armor, and learn how such items were employed.

10:00 – 10:50 a.m.

Breakout Session 6

See Angie’s Bio

Do I really need to get feedback on my work? (Yikes!)  Yes. Yes, you do. And critiquing the work of others can be highly beneficial to your own writing too. Giving and receiving critiques are different, but equally important skills. This class will explore how to effectively give and receive critiques, as well as how to find great critique partners.

See Angelica’s Bio

While most people see fan fiction as a lesser form of writing, meant to fulfill a person’s fantasy with a pre-made world and characters, they neglect to realize just how useful writing in this genre can be. In this class you will learn that fan fiction doesn’t have to be cringy, or something to be dismissed as non-professional, but that it can be used as a tool to improve story, characterization, and voice.

See David’s Bio

Why is the idea of a three-foot-long bronze sword wielded by an eleven-year-old laughable?  Do you know the difference between a long sword and a great sword? A saber and a rapier? How about the difference between a thrusting spear, a throwing spear, and a hewing spear? How hard is it to swing a war hammer or a mace?  This is a HANDS-ON presentation of various types of swords, axes, spears, and other weapons and armor, ranging from the Bronze Age to the early 20th Century, from copper to bronze to high-carbon steel. Participants will have the opportunity to handle and heft actual weapons, don armor, and learn how such items were employed.

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Lunch and Keynote Speaker

Willow Ballroom A & B.

Listen to Janette Rallison deliver the keynote address followed by lunch.

Click here to learn more about our keynote speaker.

1:00 – 1:50 p.m.

Breakout Session 7

See Christina’s Bio

No matter your audience, genre, or format, applying the principles that make comedy writing work can take any project from predictable to un-put-downable! This presentation is geared toward writers of any level of experience, with writing from laugh out loud to deathly dramatic.

See Annette’s Bio
Some of the most important skills you’ll develop as a writer aren’t about storytelling at all. They’re about wordsmithing: making your writing so effective that it slips from the page through the reader’s brain and directly into their heart without bumps and jolts. That takes an understanding of how writing works on the sentence, word, and even punctuation levels. This workshop takes a deep dive into copyediting techniques, along with the WHYS behind them. For 15 years, Annette has been a highly sought-after editor, but she’s not taking on new clients, so this is a rare chance to get into her head, see how she works her magic, and learn to create similar magic on your own.

See Karlie’s Bio

We’ve all seen the cool maps fantasy books add into their books but might struggle with making them, or finding someone to do it for you. In this class, we will learn how easy it is to actually create a fantasy world map, along with some unexpected tools you can use to make it look more authentic.

See Mara’s Bio

What are your writing dreams?

Are you showing up and supporting them, or are your doubt and fear whittling away at them? Maybe even pushing them into the dark?

This workshop will rekindle those dreams, address some common fears that often squelch our dreams, and provide some tips on how you can show up for yourself and take steps to make your dreams into reality.

2:00 – 2:50 p.m.

Breakout Session 8

See Elaine’s Bio

The advice Discovery Writers often receive falls in one of two veins: become an Outliner, or figure it out yourself, neither of which is helpful. It’s one thing to speak to following your intuition, but that doesn’t help an early Discovery Writer improve their craft, nor does it help one that feels stuck in their manuscript. Elaine Canyon has spent the last seven years collecting information from other Discovery Writers, along with keeping track of what helps her in her process. In this class, she shares these tips and tricks, helping Discovery Writers fill their tool boxes with what she’s learned from years as a Discovery Writer. There is success and fulfillment for Discovery Writers, and it never has to include an outline.

See Annette’s Bio

Characters with distinct voices make for a rich and varied cast, but how do you get everyone to sound different when their voices are all variations of YOUR voice? This class picks apart the dialogue of the TV show The Good Place to show you how to use vocabulary, diction, dialect, attitude, character perspective, and more. You’ll leave with a wealth of tools to craft unique dialogue for each important character.

See Sabine’s Bio

You may be young at heart, but that doesn’t mean you can hang with the cool kids. Finding the voice for your YA fiction is key to relating to young readers. Learn to think, act, and speak like a teen to make your YA MC pop off the page.

See Angelica’s Bio

If you want to write realistically (and respectfully) about characters who grew up in a dysfunctional home, or perhaps just expand your empathy and understanding of people in this situation, this is the class for you. Apart from sharing her experience growing up in an alcoholic home, Angelica will discuss common patterns, roles, and traits present in dysfunctional families. She will also provide resources for further study and tips on how to help your characters move beyond dysfunction toward growth, healing, and happiness.

3:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Closing Session

Willow Ballroom A & B.

Door prizes, closing thoughts, and announcements for the coming year.

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