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Thursday, July 28, 2022

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

6:00  – 9:00 p.m.

Reading Under the Stars Community Read-a-long

Join the community at Jacob Hamblin Park as we discuss the book, Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown. We’ll have s’mores and a great evening.

Learn more about this event by clicking here.

Friday, July 29, 2022

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Marketing Seminar

See James’ Bio

Maybe you heard about Brandon Sanderson’s recent record breaking kickstarter campaign and have wondered if it’s something you could do to. Come to this class to learn what’s worked for James and what doesn’t. James has had eight successful kickstarter campaigns. Learn what can be really useful is using real experience and numbers on a range of campaigns.

Are you new to TikTok? Do you need to know how to create videos? How to build a tribe of relevant followers? Then this class is right for you. You will learn the fundamentals of using this powerful social media tool to gather the right followers and create fun videos! Bring your smart phone with a TikTok account already in place. This is a hands-on class where we’ll be creating some videos. You will have lots of fun as you learn how to overcome the intimidation of being in front of the camera!

See Annette’s Bio

More and more readers are gathering on Instagram and following both authors and book reviewers in droves. Learn how to use the app to gain followers, market your books, and even how to create memes inside it without any other software or apps. Best of all, you’ll learn how to do all of it without it sucking up your writing time.

12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Marketing Seminar Luncheon

Luncheon for the attendees of the Marketing 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


Showing your readers the action will make them feel like they’re part of the story instead of just reading someone else’s account. In other words, it will pull them in. 

This class will give you some guidance on how to “show” instead of “tell” in your stories and some simple tips on how to spot “telling” in your own writing. We’ll work together, using examples, to transform “telling” into “showing” and passive into active narrative.

The term Public Domain gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean and how can you use it to help your stories? Find out in this class.


See Mandy’s Bio here

See Erin’s Bio here

What’s the secret ingredient on the path to publishing? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not chocolate. (Okay, maybe sometimes it’s chocolate) The one tool that levels us up faster than anything else is good ol’ feedback. But, so often, this major steppingstone turns into a stumbling block. We fangirl/boy a little too hard and fail to be much more than a cheerleader. Or we lean too far the other way and strike out with a vicious red pen to prove our own prowess. Come learn—from two real-life critique partners—the art of intelligent critiquing with kindness that, when practiced, will make you a better writer and improve your industry relationships. We’ll talk about different kinds of critique, how to assess and prioritize your feedback, and practice the art of critiquing live, all through the lens of our personal writing relationship as well as our work with Salt and Sage Books! Don’t miss this opportunity to add some heft to your writing life toolbelt.

See Cristen’s Bio

Aspiring authors often enter the realm of publishing through the memoir door. Many excitedly tell editors and agents that they’ve been told, “You should write a book,” and so they do. But memoir is a tough sell, especially for those who aspire to be traditionally published. Unfortunately, they often face disappointment when what they’ve written fails to capture the hearts and minds of literary agents or readers. In this presentation, participants will learn: the must-know distinguishing features of legacy versus commercial memoir; about the market for memoir and what literary agents, publishers, and fans of memoir want; and how to approach the writing and developmental editing process to maximize the chance of success, including writing in scenes and stacking them for maximum effect. Writers will walk away with a better understanding of the publishing industry and the information they need to craft a manuscript that keeps readers turning pages. Editors will walk away with information they need to tailor their advice to clients based on the client’s platform, goals, and the publishing model they plan to pursue.

2:00 – 2:50 p.m.

Breakout Session 2

See Erin’s Bio

Have you ever felt stuck when wondering what to write next? Ever wished for a high-concept story to fall in your lap? Whether you are looking to get out of a rut or liven up your next book idea, use the power of association for a delightfully rich and surprisingly simple formula. Come with your favorite books & movies in mind!

See Jared’s Bio

If you’ve found yourself looking for help with naming characters or locations in your science fiction or fantasy world, this is the class for you. If you’ve wanted to add cool language details such as lyrics or poetry in a cool-sounding dialect, this class is for you! We will cover fun and interesting tips and tricks for making you an amateur linguist, which will help you use resonant naming tactics and more in your stories. You don’t have to invent a language – you just need to make some rules.

See Adrienne’s Bio

It’s no secret that people are checking out your backside. Second only to an eye-catching cover, the back cover blurb is the most important marketing tool for any book. Discover the 4 step secret to creating a compelling blurb that entices readers to want more in this interactive, hands-on workshop.
Guest info: We can use the picture and info about Adrienne and Pink Umbrella that we already have on hand! We don’t need to list what they’re currently looking for, though, because she says they are essentially focusing on helping authors self publish at this point.

See Rod’s Bio

Part 1: Behind the Lines
What inspires a poem? Incidents from real life often lead to impressions best conveyed poetically. But how? This workshop begins where the poem, “The Knowing,” started: details of life and work and landscape. Learn how that inspiration is revealed through literary techniques including repetition of sound, illuminating adjectives, active language, sensuousness, and structure.
Part 2: Between the Lines
“One Long Stirrup” is a biographical poem relating the life of notorious Old West gunfighter Porter Rockwell. But, rather than a straightforward presentation of his life, see how the poem utilizes literary allusions and veiled references to say more by saying less to offer deeper insight.

2:50 – 3:10 p.m.

Snack Break

3:10 – 4:00 p.m.

Breakout Session 3

See Ashley’s Bio

In an author-reader relationship, one of the most important elements is honesty. More specifically, the author should give the reader everything they promised to give in the story, nothing less. When an author fails to keep promises, the reader can feel confused, bored, or even cheated. In this class, we’ll discuss different promises you make (sometimes unwittingly) as an author and how to fulfill those promises in satisfying and thrilling ways.

See Annette’s Bio

A dead wrong but common piece of writing advice: Great dialog imitates real speech. The truth: If your dialog tries to mimic real speech, your story will die. Awesome dialog successfully creates the illusion of what we THINK real conversation sounds like. Using research from an expert sociolinguist, and mining quality fiction for examples, we’ll talk about how natural speech differs from dialog. Then we’ll go deeper by covering the elements that make for strong, realistic-sounding dialog, plus why it’s so important for dialog to always be doing several things at once, and what those things are.

See Dennis’ Bio

The Slushpile can be a scary place, especially for new authors. You put all your blood, sweat, and tears into your manuscript, summon the courage to hit the “submit” button, where someone like me gets a hold of it, and then what? This class is all about what happens next. Come learn from a twenty plus year veteran of the Slushpile, and see what things I look for in a manuscript, as well as common “red flag” mistakes to avoid. Learn how to make your manuscript stand out for all the right reasons!

See Rod’s Bio

Many writers dream of seeing their work on the big screen. Or even the small screen. But screenwriting is an art unto itself, with its own pitfalls and pleasures. Follow the instructor’s adaptation of a novel for young readers, Bug Off!, into a script for the feature film, Bug Off!. The movie, which premiered in 2001, shows up from time to time on Netflix and you can still buy the DVD on Amazon.

4:10 – 5:00 p.m.

Breakout Session 4

See Mary’s Bio

Do you struggle with doubts? Do wonder if your writing is good enough? Do you feel inconsistent with your writing practice? Do struggle to turn off the inner critic? If so, let me share a couple of tools that may improve your focus, help you to become aware and even counter that nasty negative self-talk, and build more confidence in yourself and your writing possibilities.

See Marilynn’s Bio

A licensed therapist will teach you how to psychoanalyze your characters using a state-of-the-art psychological assessment tool. Delve deeper than a traditional character sketch. Discover your inciting incident, the lies your characters believe and the ways they deal with them. Plunge into their hopes and dreams, coping skills, ways they think and manipulate others. Learn to bring your characters to life with believable flaws and help them solve their problems in satisfying ways.

See Sabine’s Bio

Let’s face it. No one wants to see the words “This just isn’t a good fit for me” when they open that email from the agent who has had their query for the last twenty-three days–or twenty-three minutes. But even your favorite authors have had to deal with rejection. So how do you survive when all you really want to do is climb into bed and never write another word again? This course is full of tips for surviving rejection and living to write another day. And chocolate!

See Angie’s Bio

Writing short fiction is a whole different ballgame from writing novels. Short stories offer many challenges and many benefits too. Come learn the how, what, when, where, and why of short fiction writing.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.


Willow Ballroom A & B

6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Publishers Panel

Ask your questions to our guests on whatever topic you have of interest. Participants will have a wide background in self-publishing, traditional publishing, editors and agents, and all related topics.

7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Social Hour

Get together with your favorite conference attendees. We’ll have light refreshments, space for you to do writing sprints or writing prompts, and more.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

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 Anika’s Bio 

Writing exercises have been used by creatives and academics alike to jump start the brain and get the creative juices flowing. They can even have a place in the professional’s process. Come find out how daily journaling, flash fiction, and other small scale calisthenics can enhance your skills and hone your craft.

See Liz’s Bio

Writing starts in a private space, in a notebook or at your computer, just you and the words of your story. While there is power in this place of solitude, the world of the writer can’t remain isolated. This class will focus on one group of people we all need: critique partners. We will delve into how to form a critique group, how to navigate feedback, and how to be a good critique partner. If you’re ready for it, bring a printed page from a work in progress and come prepared to try out some of the things we talk about. If you don’t have something you are ready to share, don’t worry, there will be sample works in progress available for you use. Come learn what makes a critique group work and maybe meet a future critique partner of your own.

See Gama’s Bio

See James’ Bio

Gama Ray is the best example of a young writer who 1) actually listened to all of his mentors (James Owen, Dave Farland, Brandon Sanderson, Rebecca Moesta, Kevin J. Anderson), who then 2) really put in the effort and did the work. And that’s paying off incredibly well. He’s about to see more success with his career than he’s ever had – and he earned every bit of it. Come to this class to find out what the mentor/mentee relationship can do for you.

See Dennis’s Bio

Sometimes, it feels like there’s a certain stigma about non-fiction writing. After all, fiction is fun and escapist, whereas non-fiction feels like homework. Fiction is what we GET to read; non-fiction is what we HAVE to read. But it doesn’t have to be that way. All the same rules about what make fiction writing great can (and do) apply to non-fiction. Whether you’re writing something historical, or a memoir, or something inspirational, we’ll discuss some tips to help blow the dust off your manuscript and have it sparkle!

10:00 – 10:50 a.m.

Breakout Session 6

See Raven’s Bio

See Tiffany’s Bio

“In order to have self-expression, we must first have a Self to express.” (Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way”)

2022 marks Raven’s eighteenth anniversary of stream of consciousness writing every morning. What started out as a writing assignment has transmuted into a non-negotiable spiritual practice that has become a way of life. In this class, Raven hopes to inspire participants to deepen their journey by beginning their own Morning Pages. Prompts will be given, with opportunities to both read and witness. Please come prepared to sit in Circle and bring old fashioned pen and paper!

See Chad’s Bio

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.

See Cristen’s Bio

Writing an award-worthy book is only the first step in becoming an award-winning author, but most authors don’t understand how book awards work and how to leverage their wins. In this presentation, readers will learn: about the different types of book awards and who qualifies (exclusive versus inclusive awards), how and when to apply for book awards, and how to update sales and marketing copy and use their book award seals to get more attention and sell more books.

See Karlie’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.

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Lunch and Keynote Speaker

Willow Ballroom A & B.

Listen to James A. Owen 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 Mandy’s Bio

We’ve all heard the list of what it takes to be a successful writer. But we all know it’s not as simple as good ol’ blood, sweat, and tears. Life throws us for a loop, time sets limitations we don’t want to accept, and our vision and goals shift along the way. For these reasons and more, the age-old practice of a blind achievement-at-all-cost-based success works against more than for us. What if I told you that what will really propel you toward success (and infinitely boost your happiness along the way) is acknowledging the power of—and making—choices? Leave the guilt trips and frustration behind and join a recovering achievement-obsessed to-do-list junkie for a discussion about how to tap into the all-affecting power of our own choice that will fast-track us into—and beyond—the kind of success we dream of.

See Shelly’s Bio

Writing humor sure seems a lot easier than it ever ends up being. But boy is it critical 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.

See the Mindes’s Bios

Toyota is well known for its efficient manufacturing system. The principles of the Toyota Production System (TPS) have been successfully applied to tech, health care, non-auto manufacturing, and more. You will learn some of the foundations of TPS and how to apply them to your life and your writing in order to eliminate waste and boost your productivity.

See Adrienne’s Bio

Picture book writing is so much fun! But now that you’ve done it, you have questions. How do you format it? Double space? Single? Do you mark page breaks? What about illustrations? How does that work? In this class, we’ll answer all these questions. We’ll discuss format, art notes, plot considerations specific to picture books, what it means to “leave room for the illustrator” and how to do it, what you need before querying an agent, and much more. Come with your questions and be prepared to leave confident in the picture-book-writing basics.

2:00 – 2:50 p.m.

Breakout Session 8

See Robbin’s Bio

Your heart is hammering, you turn another page—you have so many questions and there isn’t enough time. Every book you’ve ever loved I guarantee used elements of Suspense. You felt discomfort, urgency—and yes, maybe it was also because you needed to go to the bathroom, but could NOT put the book down! You fell victim to specific techniques the author used to keep you on the edge of your seat. Come learn methods that will help lure your reader in and entrap them, whatever genre you write.

See Kristy’s Bio
“Worldbuilding” is a buzzword in speculative fiction, but ALL fiction writers curate their storyworlds to support characterization, tone, and theme whether the setting is realistic or speculative. We’ll dive into three different stories set in Chicago to discuss how to curate the environment, mood, supporting cast, and more to build the best storyworld for your work.

See Sabine’s Bio

Two of the most satisfying words an author can write are “the end”. Unfortunately, they are a big lie. You may be done with the daunting task of writing and editing—which really is a colossal step–but in truth, that is only the beginning. In this course, we will explore what is the best next step for you–agent, small press, or self-publishing? With a focus on pros and cons as well as a deeper look at what an agent does, why you may want one, and tips for finding the best agent for your book.

See Janet’s Bio

From Sherlock Holmes to Knives Out, mysteries have been capturing audiences for centuries. They are fun, and fascinating, and keep readers turning the pages. But writing them can get complicated fast. From planning what the mystery will be, to creating plausible suspects, and sprinkling in clues and red herrings, there’s a lot to consider. In this class, we’ll discuss ways to organize your story, how to choose your villain, when to drop in clues, and when to mislead. We’ll discuss expected story beats for the genre, and along the way, build your confidence to write the mystery you’ve always wanted to.

3:00 – 3:50 p.m.

Breakout Session 9

See Loralee’s Bio

How do you get your readers to immerse themselves completely in your plot, and see your characters and your world as if they were real? This class will give you several ideas to keep in mind as you’re writing to help your readers suspend their disbelief and become one with your story!

See Kristy’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 Stefanie’s Bio

Have you ever felt betrayed by one of your favorite authors? That’s probably because they made a promise to you about the type of book you’d be reading, and at some point, they broke it! Agent Stefanie Molina will discuss the inherent promises writers make in their queries, first pages, and more–promises writers must keep in order to give themselves the best chance at securing an agent and, eventually, maintaining a readership.

See Marilynn’s Bio

Psychological studies have confirmed it! We carry our joys, fears, and trauma in our bodies. We also carry our stories. Whether you are writing a memoir or a novel, let a clinical hypnotherapist who specializes in trauma teach you how to access your emotions and turn them into beautiful scenes. Explore reasons for writing a memoir. Learn how to define and structure your work. Most importantly, develop strategies to prevent yourself from imploding during the creative process. When you chart a path from brokenness to wholeness—you are healing the world.

4:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Closing Session

Willow Ballroom A & B.

Winners of writing contest will be announced, as well as providing information for the future.