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Session Descriptions

 With more to come!

Breathing Life into Historical Characters - Nancy Rubin Stuart

You know the background, appearance and behavior of your character, but how can you propel that information into a living, breathing human being? That’s one of the most challenging aspects of writing about a historical personality in nonfiction. In this session, we will discuss several techniques to make your character come alive on the page.

Dispelling Myths: Overcoming One-Dimensional Images About Your Protagonist - Nancy Rubin Stuart

She was the world’s most evil queen. He heartlessly led his soldiers into what he knew would be a fatal battle. These are just two examples of the distorted myths surrounding historical characters that readers assume are facts. Often, there’s more depth to your protagonist than that. Bring examples of your myth-laden character to this session to learn how to dispel those images and create a more humanized portrait of your character.

Developing Characters from Fact and Fiction - Anna Castle

Bringing a character from the past to full-bodied life is one of the great pleasures of writing - and reading - historical fiction. The same can be true of characters from beloved stories, like Robin Hood or Sherlock Holmes. Whether drawing on history or literature, we start with the basics: origin, education, spouses, achievements. We hope for descriptions of appearance, speech, and manner. All of this comes freighted with the bias of the historian or the fictional narrator. We look for gaps we can tease open to make room for our own imaginations, weaving over and under whatever we find. This workshop illustrates the craft of navigating through fact and fiction to create a fresh interpretation of two well-known figures: Professor James Moriarty and Francis Bacon.

Enlightened Lives. Passion, Misfortune and Revolution. Julieta Almeida Rodrigues

The synopsis of my incursion into historical fiction shows how characters and cultures intermingle across the Atlantic in the late 18th century. Two short readings will exemplify two different approaches to narrative. These are memoir and use of dialogue. We will discuss use of voice, choice of characters, research of historical materials and challenges encountered in writing a first historical novel. Like other sessions, this will be a dynamic and interactive talk.

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 Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl to Beloved: How Historical Novels Can Help Interpret African American History - Keith Stokes


Keith will explore how historical narratives and particularly novels can provide research benefits in developing characters and story lines in historic novels. He will also speak to why it is still important to explore that period in our history and the impression on our cultural consciousness that resonates to this very day. Keith Stokes’s family collection includes a large repository of original 19th century narratives that recount the institution of African enslavement and its impact on people, places and society then and today.

From Passion to Profession - Christina M. Frey

Fabulous writer or researcher? Strong background in fact-checking or editing? Skilled in social media or book promotion? Talented and artistic with a good sense of book design trends? This session, led by a successful freelance editor and coach, will show you how to turn your publishing-relevant skills into a freelance career. We’ll cover finding a niche, honing and developing your skill set, marketing yourself as a business and a professional, and handling the administrative side of freelancing. We’ll also troubleshoot potential sticky situations so your freelance career gets off to a strong start. 

Go with a Pro: Working with an Editor to Up Your Writing Game - Christina M. Frey

You’ve submitted your masterpiece—and it’s not getting the reaction you hoped for. Or you’re stuck on the fifth draft, struggling with a plot thread that’s not hitting the mark. Perhaps you plan to self-publish and need a critical eye. It’s time to call in a professional, but how can you tell if the editor you’re considering is a good match? What questions should you be asking? And do you have to do everything the editor says? This session will show you how to find and engage the professional who’s the best fit for your needs, develop a strong writer-editor relationship, and protect your interests as a writer. You’ll also learn strategies for tackling the marked-up manuscript and using the revisions process to bring out the best in your writing.

The Heart of Story; the Art and Soul of Storycraft - Marc Graham

Story matters. Historically, shamans and storytellers were responsible for the health and integrity of the tribe. Through story and myth, tribe members learned how best to fit in with their community and ensure its prosperity. As modern myth-makers, today’s writers have the opportunity to shape our cultural dialog. This workshop presents the importance of story to society, and encourages writers to embrace their personal themes in writing stories that entertain while simultaneously uplifting and enlightening their readers. Through a deep dive into theme, conflict, and emotional complexity, we’ll explore ways to access the psychological source of story, develop compelling plots, and avoid the muddled middle. The workshop will include a guided visualization to put the principles into practice.

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 to Pitch: Simple Strategies for Putting Your Best MS Forward -Jennifer Grimaldi, Agent

So your manuscript is done, and you've identified your dream agent or editor. What now? Pitching, either over email or in person, is an author's first step in selling themselves and their work. Agent Jennifer Grimaldi will share tips and easy-to-avoid pitfalls with participants, as well as an open forum for questions about the process.  

Make it Real: From Legend to Story - Marc Graham

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.

Point of View in Historical Fiction – Tim Weed

Point of view is a centrally important aspect of historical fiction. Why? Because so much of our genre’s appeal comes from the vicarious experience of readers – the sense that they’re fully immersed in a world of the past and learning as they go. Narrators and well-positioned central characters play a special role in historical fiction, providing an instructive and richly textured perspective on the created world. We’ll deconstruct a number of different approaches to this challenge and look for practical ways to assume our own compelling historical vantage points.

Runes for Writers: Ancient Tools for Modern Storytellers - Marc Graham

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.

Singing to the Condemned: Our Quest to Resuscitate the Memory of Past Folly - The Ugly Cousin Brothers

If those reading this abstract were picked randomly from the general population, less than half of you would recognize the name Herbert Hoover. This is a problem. In our song “Aberdeen,” Hoover’s name is used tactically to place the narrator in a pre-depression Washington state that had yet to experience the crush of the impending economic disaster. Well, so much for that technique. We’ll instead have to rely on our audience’s familiarity with the “old-timey” frontier sound of the mandolin and fiddle and the catchiness of the instrumental and lyrical themes. In this session, we’ll explore some of the hallmarks of the great fictional and factual retellings within American songwriting, as well as, some of the devices songwriters use to transport the listener to a different time and place. We'll also look at how these devices can be transposed into other writing genres to improve reader retention of facts and uniquely convey setting.

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.

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.