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Session Descriptions

 With more to come!
Author Branding: How to Stand Out from the Crowd While Still Being “You” - Nicole Evelina

When we hear the word “branding,” most of us automatically think “logo.” While that is one part of it, branding is actually so much more. It includes the way people feel when they interact with you, your “voice” both in your writing and online, and the image you project online and in person. In addition, branding encompasses your logo, author and book taglines and the fonts and colors you choose for your web site and marketing materials. Drawing on 15 years of professional experience in marketing and a master’s degree in public relations, as well as her own experience as an author, Nicole will help you understand branding through case studies of authors who do it successfully, as well as offer tips and exercises you can employ to discover your own brand.

Five Ways to Write with More Style - Rose Kleidon

Not some nicety for English teachers, style is everything to the writer of historical fiction. It is what makes the pages turn, what brings the past to life, and what makes us cry or laugh with a character we did not even know before we entered the magic realm between the front and back covers. In this workshop we will look at how brevity adds power, how what you leave out can leave a reader breathless, how to turn description into dialogue or action, and how historical detail can bring the world of the past to life: five ways to write with a surer sense of style. 


From Family to Fiction: Using Your Ancestral History to Build Historical Fiction - Jenny Yacovissi

The funny, unbelievable, heartbreaking, crazy, or horrifying family stories so many of us hear throughout our lives often seem like they were tailor-made for fiction, but using those stories to create compelling narratives is rarely straightforward and offers unique challenges. While somewhat similar to issues raised in undertaking a memoir, using ancestors in fiction presents some wider concerns. Jenny Yacovissi, who used her own ancestors’ stories to develop her debut novel, takes participants through several issues to consider:

       Finding the Universal in the Personal: Why will the story have wide appeal?

       Privacy and Ownership, Legacy and Libel: Whose story is it?

       A Time for Fiction: The true story doesn’t necessarily make for great fiction.

       The Fiction of Truth: The truth of history is entirely based on perspective.

       Placing the Story in Time: Getting the era(s) right, finding the source material.

       Alternate Narratives: When the story goes against accepted history.


Give Your Characters Voice: Bring your Readings to life!   - Barbara Salvatore

While creating characters and spinning stories, writers occupy the mind, body, and spirit of others. At public readings, we must make characters real, and hook listeners, so they will remember the human stories we pass on. We will
-Deal with stage fright and nerves and the fear of being judged.
- Define character voice, posture, gesture and body movements.
-Vary tone and pace, build suspense, engage your listeners.
-Use voice, to bring your unique characters to life!

Helpful Hints for Submitting Your Novel -Harriette Sackler and Verena Rose 

When submitting a manuscript to an agent or publisher, first impressions can determine whether your work will draw positive attention or be set aside without consideration.


In their presentation, Harriette Sackler and Verena Rose, two of the co-publishers and editors at Level Best Books, short story writers, members of the Malice Domestic Board of Directors, and lovers of historical fiction and nonfiction, will provide you with their observations and suggestions, based on personal experience, that can make or break your journey to publication.


Participants will learn what preparations ought to be made to prepare for submitting your manuscript, how to maximize the impact of your submission, and how to survive the highly competitive world of today’s publishing industry.


Come armed with your questions.  The presenters will make every attempt to address your concerns.

How Far Can a Horse Travel? - Mary Ann Trail

Characters in historical novels do not stay in one place. Sometimes they need to race after kidnappers, prevent some other skullduggery or even travel for fun! No matter the era, it seems to me, the question of how do you move characters from place to place with historical accuracy is important. Accurate presentation of the geography that our characters find themselves in, lends an authenticity to our work that our readers enjoy and actually look for.


This presentation will demonstrate a couple of primary sources used to lend geographical correctness to the author’s novels. These will include Paterson’s Roads, a 19th Century travel guide, several historical maps, and a diary of a prisoner of Napoleon.


Understanding that we all work in different time periods, some ideas will be presented about how to find sources that attendees can use in their own research. Databases that will presented to allow the researcher to find their own materials even if they do not have access to major libraries. 

Language and Culture: The Seed of Language - Barbara Salvatore

Language is core to culture, spirit, values, identity, and knowledge. Respect for cultures begins with good manners and authentic care taken with all portrayals. Write with abandon, but edit, represent, and research with attention to detail, protocol, accuracy and correctness, when including an indigenous culture or language. Writers must make diligent effort to communicate, and receive permission, direction, and guidance from Native speakers, language educators, and cultural departments. Barbara’s novel, Big Horse Woman, led to her interest in the Ponca Language, which eventually led to her becoming a Ponca Language Educator for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.


Myths and legends have captured the popular imagination for millennia. Recent blockbusters and bestsellers have shown a revived interest in ancient tales, recast for a modern audience. In this workshop, we'll explore the tools and processes for analyzing popular stories and events, identifying the core elements and timeless themes contained within them, and developing a new story that is true to the subject matter while offering a new and unique telling.

Marketing Plans for Traditional and Indie Authors - Nicole Evelina

In today’s publishing world, it’s not only indie authors who have to handle the lion’s share of marketing their book. Increasingly, traditionally published authors are being asked to shoulder the burden. So where do you start? Drawing on 15 years of professional experience and a master’s degree in public relations, as well as her own experience as an author, Nicole Evelina will lead you through creating your own marketing plan. You’ll learn how to:

  • Get an idea of the market for your genre
  • Research competitive and comparative books
  • Identify your strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats
  • Identify your target audience
  • Develop key messages about your book and yourself
  • Plan what tactics you will use before launch, during your launch and after to gain and sustain sales
  • Measure for success and evaluation of ROI

Meditation for Writers - Stuart Horwitz

In this session writers will learn an ancient yet simple meditation to center oneself before writing and combat the fear that can take over the first 5-10 minutes of a writing session. Meditation can assist writers in setting a reachable goal for the day's writing session and bring consistency and continuity of approach to their material regardless of what draft they are in. As part of a personal ritual, meditation can
sustains our writing for a lifetime. No previous experience or specialized equipment required!
 Never Give In, Never Give In, Never, Never, Never, Never - Judithe Little

(or, how Winston Churchill and baseball can help get your book published)


You don’t have an MFA. You’re not a celebrity. You don’t have friends in publishing. So how can you find an agent and a publisher for your book?


Blood, toil, tears and sweat. And baseball. Writing is fraught with rejection. Like baseball, it’s a game of failure. Last season’s MVP, Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, only had a hit one-third of the time. That means two-thirds of the time, he failed. As Churchill said, “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”


Topics include:


  • Writing is a team sport.
  • How to avoid wild pitches.
  • You shall query on the beaches, you shall query on the landing grounds, you shall query in the fields and in the streets…
  • Every strike brings you closer to a home run.
  • Sometimes you must pass through a dark and deadly valley.
  • You can’t hit a walk-off home run if you’re winning.
  • The publishing contract: This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

We use plant knowledge to ground our stories, down to earth, well rooted, tapped into memory. Our characters are drawn to specific plants and places, as keys to survival, nourishment, healing, shelter. What does your character encounter, on trails, in fields, woods and gardens? Plants hold powers and secrets, set and change moods, relay messages, provide strong symbols, have a language. Plants are integral to our history, our stories, poetry, legends, and song. A language of plants evolved along with us, and worldwide, plants are prepared as food, medicine, teas, infusions, poultices, salves, tonics, tinctures, meads, wines, and tonics.


This workshop provides an introduction to the runes of the Elder Futhark, and a unique application of the runes for storytellers. Used for centuries by Norse skalds as tools of divination, the runes serve modern storytellers as an aid to bypass the left brain and get directly in touch with the right brain’s center of creativity. Similar to the Tarot, each rune has its own esoteric meaning. When cast into a particular array, the runes help the writer tap into the subconscious for ideas and to solve story-development challenges. Attendees will be provided with a brief history and origin of the runic system of writing, along with an examination of the shape, symbolism, sound, and order of the runes. The workshop will also include at least two rune-castings for audience participation and practice.

Spiritualism in 19th Century America - Nicole Evelina

In the aftermath of the bloody Civil War, Americans were desperate to connect with departed loved ones. In March 1848, the Fox Sisters began a movement that promised to allow the living to communicate with the dead, a phenomenon called Spiritualism that would last into the 1920s. Famous Spiritualists include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Todd Lincoln and Victoria Woodhull, the first American woman to run for president.

In this presentation, Nicole Evelina will give a brief history of Spiritualism, introduce you to the fascinating world of mediums and clairvoyants, show you some of the tools and tricks they used to communicate with the dead, and illustrate how Spiritualism helped women gain a voice in public forums.

Story to Stage - Dorothea Bonneau

The Story to Stage Workshop is designed for writers who want to bring their stories to life on stage and for fiction and non-fiction authors eager to breathe vitality into their scenes using the playwright’s toolkit. Participants in this experiential workshop will explore: means to create mood and vivify theme using the architecture of setting; ways to tap the power of sound as a pathway to memory and/or expectation; how to intrigue an audience using dramatic irony; and how to utilize character tactics that raise the stakes and capture the attention of audience/reader. A workbook will be provided for all participants.


The Story the World Needs Now and Why You Should Tell It - Rose Kleidon

Very often, the goal of historical fiction is to transport the reader to a remote era, while helping him or her discover our common humanity across time, in the most trying circumstances and often, under the most extreme duress. We tell the stories of survivors, but to see their lives through either rose-colored glasses or dark glasses is to do wrong by them. And to do wrong by our readers. We must do our best to tell stories that show honestly where we have come from and how to make sense of the journey. In this work, we have a huge advantage: we are almost the last generation to grow up with any experience of the pre-industrial past, which makes us uniquely able to help others understand the day before yesterday and thus to have some perspective on today, when we live in the midst of the history being made all around us.

Violence, Guarded Bodies, and the British Suffragettes (1903-1914): Emmeline Pankhurst, Constance Lytton, and Gertrude Harding - Clarissa Harwood

2018 marks the centenary of the first women to get the vote in England. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded by Emmeline Pankhurst, was the best-known militant women’s suffrage organization in the early 20th century. Drawing on the experiences of Pankhurst as well as WSPU members Constance Lytton and Gertrude Harding, Clarissa Harwood will discuss the increasingly violent tactics of the militant suffragettes as well as the even more violent backlash against them, exploring the following questions: What led these women to break the law by destroying property? Why were they attacked so brutally by police and bystanders even when they were staging peaceful demonstrations? After they were arrested, how did their hunger strikes and forcible feeding affect public perception of them? How did they negotiate relationships with friends and family who opposed their involvement in the WSPU? Finally, did the actions of the militant suffragettes ultimately help or hinder their cause?

Way Beyond Wikipedia: Online Sources for Historical Research - Mary Malloy

How much history needs to be in a historical novel? And where does it come from? While good secondary sources are essential for understanding the context of the period about which you are writing, the Internet now allows access to primary sources that can give your book fascinatingly appropriate details. Most of the texts published in English since the invention of the printing press are now online, including plays, novels, sermons, statements from the gallows, descriptions of nature around the globe, and instruction manuals for every kind of job from blacksmithing to navigating a ship. Many are illustrated with pictures not available elsewhere. In this presentation, Mary Malloy will introduce databases of historical materials including “Early English Books Online” and “Eighteenth Century Texts Online,” and discuss ways to use them in your novel.


World Building in Historical Fiction - Tim Weed


In addition to the goal common to all fiction—to tell a gripping story featuring compelling characters—historical fiction aims to transport a reader back in time. In this dynamic and interactive talk, we'll examine the strategies some of the great historical novelists of the past and present have used to achieve this special method of time travel. We'll finish up with a brief writing exercise introducing a surprisingly practical way to incorporate historical world-building techniques into your writing.