Skip to main content
Add Me To Your Mailing List

Session Descriptions

 With more to come!
Agent Panels (TBA)

A panel of agents will discuss thoughts on publishing, queries, pitching, and more!
Art of Storytelling - Rose Kleidon 

When it comes to making meaningful connections, nothing compares to personal stories. By sharing stories, we come to trust one another, learn from one another and inspire one another. As a writer of history or historical fiction, you are steeped in an historical era, better prepared than anyone else to carry a reader into that era and give him or her a chance to live in it and understand it, however briefly. This session will help you maximize your storytelling skills by using historical detail to create authentic settings, using characters’ emotions to drive your plot and capturing characters’ class, education and personality through the language of the era.
Ask an Agent - Cherry Weiner

We all have questions - on getting an agent, publishing, writing queries and proposals. Sometimes we just want someone to sit and answer! In this session, agent Cherry Weiner will answer your questions - just come and ask, and listen to the discussions those questions produce. Someone may ask the question you didn't even know you wanted answered.
Boring Bio to Broadway Blockbuster: Five Lessons Fiction Writers Can Learn From 'HAMILTON' - Anna Schmidt

This workshop offers a unique look at how to incorporate research and real events/people into fiction--contemporary or historical. It brings a fresh perspective to how writers can use research to enhance their story without overwhelming the reader with detail and back story. Using details from the development of the musical plus excerpts from the music, award-winning author, Anna Schmidt will deliver five techniques used in 'Hamilton' that can be applied to writing fiction.
The amazingly successful B'way musical, HAMILTON has much to offer research-addicted fiction writers when it comes to bringing history, character and plot to life. Jo Schmidt (w/a Anna Schmidt), a former theater professional, will use selections from the score and published interviews with the creators to illustrate how history and the life of a little known founding father achieved raves reviews and box office magic--and it goes a lot deeper than hip-hop, folks!!!
Combining Craft and Research in Historical Fiction - Randi Samuelson-Brown

Love history AND writing? This presentation is for you! Do you ever run across an odd detail you are just dying to share? Learn to avoid alienating your reader with research "dumps" and transport them into an authentic, vivid and accurate setting. We will discuss various types of research and avoiding various writing pitfalls along the way. We will also spend time discussing the value of etymological dictionaries (your new BFF) and some quick tips for tightening up your writing. Whether your work-in-progress is the Wild West, Cleopatra or in between, all time periods and subjects are most welcome.

Dialogue in Historical Fiction, or: Forsooth, the knave doth speak in tongues! - Chris C.C. Humphreys

Join award winning historical fiction author and playwright C. C. (Chris) Humphreys and learn how to write effective, period-flavoured dialogue.

While dialogue is the core of most screenplays and theatre scripts, good dialogue will also enhance any work of fiction. The teaching focus of this workshop will be the use of dialogue to reveal character and as a tool to advance the plot and action. Through discussion and using writing exercises, Chris will take you through the process of creating effective dialogue that serves several purposes – entertaining the reader while simultaneously advancing the plot and developing the characters. He will also explore period ‘feel’, how to write without anachronism while not straying into the Monty Python world of parody and ‘olde worlde’ talk.

Students should leave the workshop with several techniques to approach the writing of dialogue in fiction – especially historical fiction, as well as a piece of worked dialogue.

Dracula's Saintly Cousin: the Greatest King of Romania - Holly Felmlee

While Vlad Dracula fought against Turks and relatives who wanted his throne, his cousin Stefan Rares, across the Carpathian mountains, was dealing with the same but with much better results. In this session, participants will learn about Romanian history at the time of Dracula, as well as Romanian culture and how it affected Count Dracula and his cousin King Stefan; for example, primogeniture, while helping to solidify the kingdoms of Western Europe, did not exist in Eastern Europe, creating a volatile mix for heirs and communities. Maps, current photos and videos, and discussion will summarize the 50 year reign (as long as Elizabeth I!) of Stefan the Great, and its impact on European history.

Participants will learn:
1. How to accurately portray Romania and Eastern Europe when writing historical fiction about Dracula.
2. Story ideas about Romania that do not include Dracula, but rather, a far more interesting character, Stefan, fighting for survival against Turks, Slavs, Tartars, Poles, as well as his cousin Vlad in the south.
3. How the 50-year reign of Stefan the Great can be a rich source of for historical fiction and research.

Eating History - Madeleine De Jean

“…when from the distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile and more enduring…like souls, remembering…”  Marcel Proust, A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu.


When we dine we eat history.

When you recreate your grandmother’s recipes you return her to life, sensing more immediate than things tangible her missed figure next to you.

In Homer’s poems, to bring his four hundred year-past history to life often he opens the doors into dining rooms of the great palaces of Kings Nestor, Agamemnon, Menelaus, and Odysseus allowing us to savor Bronze Age history, to sense its immediacy.

I hope you will accept the invitation of Homer and Julius Caesar and Pliny the Elder and Mastroberardino and Bernard Hine and other historians of the senses of smell and taste to join this foray into dining on history.

Every Move Matters - Horse Use and Care through History -Barbara Salvatore      *Note: This session will be held at the stables for 'real life' experience! 

Horse care and traditions vary widely. The most important aspect of writing about horses, is understanding their behavior and sensibilities, not regarding them as background or props, and creating believably real horse characters.
Through teachings, demonstration, and groundwork exercises, learn how a horse sees, responds and moves. How they perceive and read us, through our every move and mood. How to develop a relationship of trust and mutual benefit. What keeps a horse moving forward? What makes him stop? What tack is used and why?
Natives, colonists, pioneers, settlers, farmers, warriors, cowboys, soldiers, royalty, hunters, all bred horses to evolve with their needs. We will explore various tools and tack used, English and Western styles of reining, driving in harness, pulling plough and travois.
Basic knowledge of sustenance, feed, care and maintenance required. Resources and advice on understanding geographic based horse evolution and traditions, as well as outstanding breed characteristics and temperaments.
Flies Buzz in an Information Dump - Guy Cote

The real trick for any novelist–particularly those who incorporate history in their writing–is to know how to disseminate information, and at what pace to do so. The easiest way to lose a reader is to simply dump information upon them, be it back story or a dump of historical facts. This session will discuss the difference between a “dump” and a contextual setting. It will share novelistic strategies which will enable a writer to share information with a reader in such a way that he/she will feel entertained rather than lectured to. This talk will also ingrain the following mantra in the minds of its attendees: DO NOT LET RESEARCH TAKE THE PLACE OF WRITING. ALL THAT MATTERS IS STORY, STORY, AND STORY.

Forgotten American Disasters - Pat Brown

Every tragedy has its heroes and villains. Even, it seems, the ones largely forgotten in the history books. In Forgotten American Disasters, I will explore the truth, myths and heroes (and villains) of some of Americas worst disasters that nobody has heard about.
Discover what a legendary Shawnee chief and an irascible Irish immigrant have in common.
Giving your Historical Characters LIFE: an acting exercise - Monette Bebow-Reinhard

Bring your characters to this session and hear how Monette breathes life into her historical characters, including lessons learned after becoming the world's only authorized Bonanza novelist in 1999. She demonstrates, first as old soldier Henry, how she develops the characters in her books (6th coming out this fall) and then allows anyone who wants to try the chance to do a little "acting in character" themselves. Participate, or just watch, this session will loosen, inspire - and hopefully make you laugh.

Hands-On Tinsmithing - Sara Dahmen

After a brief background on tin and coppersmith techniques, metalsmith Sara Dahmen will help participants create a traditional tin single spice box carried by chuck wagon drivers and camp cooks. You will use tools from the 1700 & 1800’s along with some modern adjustments. Attendees must be prepared to sign a waiver, as the hands-on activity will include handling sharp and hot material. Basic safety equipment will be provided. Pre-registration required, materials fee $10. Limited space available

The Sex Scene: how much is too much? A Male novelist’s perspective - Chris (C.C.) Humphreys

What is the objective of any scene? To arouse? To inform? To offend? For novelist C.C. (Chris) Humphreys a scene only works if it makes the reader want to read more! So in this workshop, he will explore the hot topic of sex while seeking an answer to the burning question: how much is too much?
Sex scenes come in many different shapes and sizes. From what the English call ‘a knee trembler’ to those where the whole universe moves. They come in various lengths: the half-page quickie, the full chapter consummation and everything in between.
But as everyone knows, size isn’t everything. ‘Character’ is vital - to follow interesting characters through some adventure to a satisfying… climax. Sex scenes are an opportunity to confirm a suspicion - or to startle with a revelation. ‘Character… in Peril’ keeps the pages turning. What are the stakes in any love scene? A pleasant interlude or something more significant?
Chris will look at limits – the author’s and the reader’s. How sex can be funny as well as serious. How sensuality- engaging the six senses - is so important. And he will reveal his own golden rules – or limits. (Number One: there is no sexy term for the male member!)

A fun, engaging, hands-on workshop with an opportunity for play – with or without devices!

Mimesis and Diegesis: Showing and Telling in Historical Fiction - LaShonda Katrice Barnett

This character-based talk starts off with the significance of the role of the narrator in historical fiction and the variegated ways the narrator “focalizes” via characters (who are not necessarily the narrator) who “see” and “experience” the story world, and who report on what is seen and experienced.  I explore tips for how to make the most of your characters, developing them to imbue both mimesis and diegesis.

The Mystery of Vicente de Rocamora - Donald Platt

Little-known historical individuals who led interesting lives arouse my interest. The less documented about them, the freer I am to create character motivation and an entertaining story line. Also, I enjoy playing “detective” and unearthing previously unknown facts about them. That is why I selected Vicente de Rocamora, 1601-1684, to be the protagonist of my two historical novels Rocamora and House of Rocamora. Several anomalies in Rocamora’s life piqued my curiosity, and the few available facts about him, especially in Spain, are unexplained.
I shall be speaking about how I played “detective” unearthing facts not previously published that also contradict conventional wisdom. I shall also reveal my research methods and how I filled the lacunae of his life with educated guesswork.

Pictures Without an Exhibition: Creating a Screenplay from Your Writing - J.B. Rivard, Anya Carlson

How do we translate writing to video or film? Based on experience adapting his novel to a 110-page screenplay, the author and his screenwriting partner demonstrate 1) how to create ‘movie’ images from word descriptions; 2) how screenplay action differs from literal (and literary) action; 3) how scenes are skillfully crafted and when to create new ones; 4) how to slim a long narrative while preserving its story arc; and 5) how to think like a moviemaker rather than as a writer

Plants are Characters too!-Traditional Plant Knowledge and Medicine - Barbara Salvatore

No matter where you go on earth, or when,plants will be there. On a dinner plate, in a bouquet, as a healing herb, wood for building a fire, ship, barn, or hut. You will need plants. Worldwide, a language of plants evolved along with us. We use plant knowledge to ground our stories, down to earth, well rooted and tapped into memories. Our characters are drawn to specific plants and places, as keys to survival, to nourishment, healing, shelter. Discover what your character would encounter, on the trails, in fields, woods and gardens. Plants hold powers and secrets, set and change moods, relay messages, provide strong symbols. Plants are integral to our history, in our stories, poetry, legends and song.
Special focus on Indigenous and Settler plant use, medicinally and with meals. Demonstrations: how plants are used and prepared, as medicine, teas, infusions, poultices, salves, tonics, tinctures, meads, wines, and tonics.

Productivity Clinic - Peter Andrews 

Time dedicated to writing is precious. You have to make the most of it. There are two keys to productivity. The first is recognizing bad habits that slow you down. The second is integrating productive practices into your daily routine.

In this session, you’ll:
1 Use a checklist to identify which habits are cutting into your word counts.
2 Explore ten tips that can help you become more efficient.
3 Build a personal plan to help you reach your goals and complete the stories you long to tell.

When you clear away barriers and build your confidence, words will flow and your true voice will emerge. You’ll find it easier to give free rein to your imagination. As words become less precious, you’ll reduce your resistance to editing out pages, scenes and chapter that drag your work down. Being more productive will better position you to get those stories out and satisfy rising demands of the market. More importantly, it will improve your writing experience by reducing guilt, frustration, and other obstacles that block your ability to share your stories with readers.
Research Rapture - Susan McDuffie and Amanda McCabe

Solid research is the crux of all great historical fiction. The ability to immerse your readers in a particular time and place makes compelling reading. Historical writers need the skill to weave in details that give life to a story, without drowning the reader in “information dumps”. But how can a writer find primary and secondary sources? When should you stop researching and put pen to paper? Come learn how two seasoned authors approach “research rapture”. Amanda McCabe and Susan McDuffie share tips for researching, organizing, and enjoying the process of historical research. Bibliographies and other handouts provided.

Roman Maritime Trade in the Indian Ocean - Lewis McIntyre

Roman maritime trade in the Indian Ocean is a part of history little known today, but was the culmination of centuries of exploration. This seminar will explore the history of Indian Ocean navigation, beginning with the circumnavigation of Africa in 750BC, the discovery of the Hippalic monsoonal wind that permitted fast open ocean sailing from Aden to India, the scope of this trade and its importance to the Roman state budget. Ancient references will include The Histories of Herodotus, Pliny’s Natural History, and the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. Contemporary resources include Rome and the Distant East by Raoul MacLaughlin, and The Ancient Mariners by Lionel Casson. The Indian Ocean trade played a major role in Lewis McIntyre’s book, The Eagle and the Dragon, a Novel of Rome and China.

Searching for – and finding – stories of women who helped tame the Wild West - Dan Jorgensen

When the gun ruled the West, it took women of great character and strong resolve to survive. From pioneers to nurses and stagecoach drivers, to those drawn into roles as outlaws, gamblers or “soiled doves,” women played crucial roles in shaping the frontier. Add in the strong women already in the West – our Native American ancestors – and a rich trove of stories waits to be shared. This session, focusing on women who helped “tame” the West, will provide background on the “where, why and how” to uncover often overlooked and sometimes long-buried sources that will bring their stories to life.

Serial Obsessions  - Peter Andrews

As readers and audiences become more invested in the worlds writers create, they hunger for more in the form of sequels, prequels, and series. From a practical perspective, returning to settings and characters allows writers to get more out of their research and invention... and makes it easier for editors and producers to say "yes."
But how do you design a continuing story or return to a world you've used in a successful work? How to you provide the threads that maintain engagement and interest? How do you get fans to look forward to and even demand the next installment?
During this session we'll explore, with specific examples, techniques such as creating intriguing situations, big story arcs, emotional complications, linking characters, and eccentric perspectives that set up action that includes compelling twists and turns. We'll also explore the kinds of hooks and cliffhangers that keep readers and audiences in suspense that must be satisfied.
Ultimately, it's about mastering the many ways you as a writer have to connect with readers and audiences so they can't wait for another chance to spend time with the characters you've created and in the world you've built.
Synopsis and Queries and Formatting - Oh My! - Deni Dietz

“If it’s a good book, the editor will fix it,” is false. First impressions are important and competent presentation counts. With lots of humor and some serious discussion, this workshop will teach published authors and aspiring writers how to compose a query letter and properly format a submission. Given by developmental editor Deni Dietz, aka “CEO of the slush pile,” the workshop will also present examples of failed queries. Attendees are invited to submit queries for detailed analysis.

The Truthful Lie: Writing Historical Fiction - LaShonda Katrice Barnett

This presentation draws on exemplary scenes from historical novels that evidence the verities of any good historical novel—plot, point of view, character, setting, structure.  Audience members can expect an examination of the authors’ seamless integration of fictive imagination and historical fact and an exploration of their “techniques of the trade,” namely, the ways in which they set the scene and establish the period and establish a voice that is historically accurate in terms of language but also holds modern appeal.   

Unique, Clearheaded and Quick: The Organized Website - J.B. Rivard, Anya Carlson

We want a quick, appealing, easy-to-navigate website that promotes sales with a clear picture of the writer’s background, expertise and writing. Based on his book’s outstanding website, the novelist and his partner describe and illustrate how to 1) keep the home page bold, simple, and fun; 2) give the visitor background without boredom; 3) make the biography more than routine; 4) integrate the pages into an easy-access, fast load that keeps visitors visiting and Google coming back for more.

Why Architects Rule: Screenwriting and Adaptation - Melinda Snodgrass

Women in the Kitchen - Sara Dahmen


A noblewoman or fine lady would never get her hands dirty over an iron pot, but any other woman in history had a very specific and all-encompassing role that revolved around food and the kitchen until the stove became commonplace.  If you’re writing fiction (or non-fiction) and have female characters, learn their rich narrative: their power, their tools, and how their social status affected both their daily lives and the artisans they would meet and why.  


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. 

Worth a Thousand Words: Using Images of the Past to Improve Historical Writing - Mark Wiederanders, Dan Jorgensen, Gini Grossenbacher

How many times do writers get rejection letters saying their characters (or plot/writing style) are flat or lack dimension? One way to develop dimensional characters and storylines, especially in historical writing, is by careful study of historical images. Such images can spark entire plots (such as those inspired by the Mona Lisa), suggest personality quirks, and provide story endings. Three authors of award-winning historical novels set in the American West will describe how writers can find images from the past – photographs, paintings, sketches, sculptures, cartoons, etc. – and mine them for story ideas, plot twists, character traits, and scene texture.

Writing in Bygonese: Six literary devices to infuse your novel with verisimilitude - Jack Woodville London

We will study six techniques that go beyond the use of antique names and street smells to give readers the feel of being in the time, recognizing the characters, and knowing the places so as to make stories come alive. Using examples from acclaimed works, course members will ‘watch one - do one – read one’ to look at the techniques, study examples, and then write a passage of their own choosing to put them to work for them. Time permitting, we will invite everyone to read from what they’ve written.

We also will spend time on common practices that undermine the very sense of veracity that we’re trying to achieve. By the end of the session we will have a good grasp on how to write subtle but effective passages in ‘bygonese’ so that our readers will be transported to the place and time we want to take them.

Writing Your Family Saga: From Attic Treasures to Characters on the Page - Jess Wells

While it seems that your own family saga should be the easiest to write and most immediate source for material, there are five key elements of good craft that are often overlooked in family projects. In this workshop, we will look at how to select the dramatic moment that best illustrates your story; discuss how adding a fictional character can help propel your story and illuminate the key insights you’re trying to communicate. We will look at three common formats for the saga: biography, fictive bio and historical fiction.

Write Your Novel - Tom Macy

If you have wanted to put your story into words but didn’t know where to start, Write Your Novel will give you what you need to begin and complete it. The idea that there are both a limited number of plots and even fewer story structures provides the would-be author with a starting place. What story do you want to tell? What plot fits the story? What kind of structure will you choose? Once this combination is defined, a set of required scenes is determined and writing can begin with an outline in place.