Workshops by Date and Time

Below is a list of RWA2023 workshops by date and time.

Workshops are open to registered conference attendees on a first-come, first-served basis. No additional registration is required. Please email [email protected] for more information.

Wednesday, July 19


1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Jen Graybeal
Reconnect with the Joy of Writing
Speaker: Jen Graybeal
When did you first start dreaming of being a writer? How long did it take for you to realize that it is not just difficult, but can be draining?

Your way forward is as unique as you are and must fit within the realities of your life. In this session, we will dive deep into research-based strategies to relieve stress, conquer doubt, and create a personalized approach to long-term success in publishing and in life. We will investigate the causes of writer’s block and imposter syndrome to understand why so many authors experience it, and how to outsmart the inner critic that holds us back. Through exercises for creativity, focus, and mindfulness, you will leave energized and excited about your writing.

This interactive session might include laughter, tears, and epiphanies—and it will definitely include '80s music.

Keynote / Welcome Reception

5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Mel Walker
Keynote with Mel Walker
Mel Walker has been writing fiction most of his adult life, specializing in short stories and contemporary fiction and romance novels. He's a native New Yorker and life-long frustrated NY Mets fan.

Mel loves to write about ordinary people placed in difficult situations, especially as it relates to their closest relationships.

Thursday, July 20


9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

First Pages and Your Genre: How Many Rules Can You Break? (CRAFT)

Speaker: Jaye Viner
From fantasy romance to Gaslamp to why choose, romance as a genre seems to spawn subgenres every year. Some of them are cannon for publishers and their marketing departments, some are only seen in the dark corners of social media. This workshop gives participants the chance to share the first five pages of a manuscript with the group and have it critiqued in terms of the genre conventions. We will also spend time identifying tropes, beats, and audience expectations associated with the biggest subgenres, consider how the first pages follow or break those expectations, and if the author can get away with what they're doing without alienating their audience.

Using Guided Meditation to Solve Story Problems (CRAFT)

Speaker: Christine Ashworth
After some discussion, and an explanation of what will happen, Christine will walk you through a meditation to relax your mind and body. She will then take you into a meditative space where you will either interview your problem character, or sit your two characters down to have a discussion - while you eavesdrop. There will be time afterward to write down the revelations you experience. This technique worked to great success at the 2021 RWA Writer's Retreat in Nashville.

10:15 – 11:15 a.m.

Pitch Perfect (CAREER)

Speaker: Clarissa Kae
Join the Pitch Perfect game show. We’ll outline a Perfect Pitch (a link will be displayed for class members to submit their pitch anonymously).

In my best Bob Barker voice, I’ll read submitted pitches and give real-time feedback on what did and didn’t work. I’ll be tossing out prizes for participation. Each author will leave with confidence in both their pitch and themselves.

Strategic Thinking for Authors (CAREER)

Speaker: Jen Graybeal
Success means different things to different people, but if you don't know what it means to you then you can never get there. This workshop is for published authors that want to apply strategic thinking to every aspect of their business. We talk about what it means, how to use it to your advantage, and the three-letter word that should be part of every strategic discussion.

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

A Deep Dive into Developmental Editing (CRAFT)

Speaker: Sue Toth
As an author, you’ve probably heard that several of your writing colleagues use a developmental editor for their romance novels. But what exactly is a developmental editor? Do you need one? Why?

We’ll examine what a developmental editor looks at, including: story arc, plot holes, tropes, characters, setting, and inconsistencies. We’ll also talk about: Who would be the best developmental editor for your job? How do you find a developmental editor? What your developmental editor expects from you. What you should expect from your developmental editor?

How to Use Tarot for Story, Scenes, Characters, and More (CRAFT)

Speaker: Paula Chaffee Scardamalia
Well-known writers, like Nora Roberts and Stephen King, use the tarot for and in their work, and it is gaining popularity as a creative tool. The tarot is a visual, symbolic and metaphorical tool that offers a unique and fun way to approach character development, setting, conflict, and plot. In this workshop, participants learn to use the tarot for: (1) blasting through frustrating writer’s blocks; (2) uncovering character quirks and secrets; (3) adding the sensory detail and the unexpected twist to any scene; (4) discovering what you’re not seeing in the scene, chapter, or story. They’ll also learn how to “read” a card just for their writing, even if they’ve never seen a deck before. Workshop includes handouts on tarot basics and a tarot layout for an element of story.

12:45 – 1:45 p.m.

Clarify the Vision of Your Novel: What Is Your Story About? (CRAFT)

Speaker: Julia Amante
Learn techniques on how to write a focused story by figuring out the significant story question. Clarifying the vision of your book will help you write a compelling story readers will be drawn to and that you will later be able to easily market.

Market Your Book without Social Media – Yes, You Can! (CAREER)

Speaker: Penny Sansevieri
If you’ve been wondering how to market your book without social media, this class is for you.

There’s a new trend brewing – authors quitting social media in favor of more creative ways to market their books and spending more time writing new books. But can you really quit social media? You bet. You just must get creative in other ways and this class will show you how.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Discovering Seasoned Romance: Characterization & More (CRAFT)

Speaker: Brooke Wills
Whether you call it seasoned, later in life or mature romance, this new category of romantic stories is here to stay. And there’s more to writing one than just upping the ages of your characters.

In this one hour workshop, we’ll talk about exactly what is the seasoned romance category with emphasis on characterization including those all-important supporting roles. There will also be tips on how to market your story whether you plan on indie or traditionally publishing. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of why seasoned romance novels and its characters are different from other romance categories.

The Flaw Arc (CRAFT)

Speaker: Katie McCoach
You can craft an entire story arc based on your character's flaw or their "flawed view." If you struggle with plotting or using classic guides like the 3-Act Structure, this might be the unlock you've needed. Stories are about the character's(s') journey, but how do you craft the most compelling, emotionally satisfying character journey for the readers to follow? How do you make sure the love interests have a HEA at the end that is truly powerful?

It's all about the character. In this workshop, you will learn exactly what it means to utilize a character's flaw to build an entire story, how it will naturally create a plot or path forward without feeling forced, and give your readers the most satisfying HEA possible.

In every story, the character journey is essential. But in romance, it's even greater. To provide the greatest payoff for your readers, the development of the characters and the natural conflict that brings the love interests together AND keeps them apart needs to be powerful and authentic. This workshop will help writers tap into the true depth of what's possible for creating the most emotionally satisfying story.

Writers will learn how to create a story from one core element (the character flaw) and build an entire character arc that readers will swoon for.

3:15 – 4:15 p.m.

Hook, Line, & Sinker: Crafting the Perfect Opener (CRAFT)

Speaker: Danica Winters
In this fun and informative hands-on course, we will break down what it takes to create a strong hook for both agents, editors and readers. We encourage participants to bring (or have access to) their current WIP so we can focus on what is working, what needs a tweak, and what will make a work standout in the market.

Slow, Steady or Rapid-Release: Which Career Path Works for You? (CAREER)

Speakers: Debra Holland, Linda O. Johnston, Leslie Knowles, and Saharra Sandhu
A panel made up of traditional, indie, and hybrid authors who will discuss the pros and cons of their different release schedules and how those schedules impact reader recognition, sales, and the industry’s perception of professionalism.

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Return of the Rom-Com: Adding Humor to Your Romance Novel (CRAFT)

Speaker: Michael Buzzelli
Return of the Rom-Com: Adding Humor to your Romance Novel is for beginner, intermediate or advanced writers. The seminar is structured to hone the writer’s humor writing abilities. Key focus areas are joke, plot, character and dialogue.

Movie Magic: Using Movies to Plot Novellas and Short Stories (CRAFT)

Speaker: Debby Lee
Learn skills to write short pieces of fiction by looking at key plot points in three classic movies from different genres and how to utilize them to write a compelling short story and novella.

Friday, July 21


9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Empowering the Inner You (WRITER’S LIFE)

Speaker: Haley Lugo-Pichardo
In this interactive workshop, you will learn how to identify your true worth by completing a series of activities, starting with a ground-shaking activity called the mirror effect. The mirror effect teaches us to empower ourselves by looking in the mirror and stating positive affirmations to ourselves. You will learn exactly what affirmations are and how to create personalized affirmations just for you. I know what you are thinking. How can looking in the mirror make such a change? I would then ask you when was the last time you looked in the mirror and said anything positive to yourself. You will leave this workshop truly feeling empowered for the days to come!

Tropes, Hooks, Archetypes & Reader Satisfaction (CRAFT)

Speakers: Megan Crane and Jane Porter
Readers have strong opinions about their favorite romances, and buy either by the author's name or by a story's tropes, hooks and archetypes. Learn how to appeal to more readers by layering in tropes and hooks and delivering on the all-important reader satisfaction.

10:15 – 11:15 a.m.

Alter Ego Author: How to Manage Your Time (and Identity) (WRITER'S LIFE)

Speaker: Elle Beauregard
Established indie-author, mom, and recovering corporate cog, Elle Beauregard shares the methods she has used throughout her fifteen-year career to keep all the gears turning in her many life roles. Attendees will leave the workshop with a veritable dashboard of buttons to push (tricks to employ) and levers to pull (strategies to implement) as they build a no-shame life of their dreams.

Character Driven Revisions (CRAFT)

Speaker: Erin Novotny
Is your story falling flat? Got a saggy middle? Beta-readers not connecting with your characters? We’ll discuss how your characters’ emotional wounds drive your plot, hook your readers, and make your book a page-turner. They’ll help you create characters that stick with your reader!

Attendees will learn: to use the character’s emotional wounds to revise their manuscript and focus on creating an emotional connection between reader and character.

This one-hour writing craft workshop is perfect for writers of all levels and styles.

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Creating Effective and Realistic Dialogue (CRAFT)

Speaker: Caridad Pineiro
You’ve started your book. You have the basic idea of what you plan to write (genre and length) and understand the conflict with which your characters will deal. But to be intriguing, your characters not only need that internal conflict to resolve but dialogue that fits them and is effective. In addition, the dialogue that occurs between the characters has to convey necessary information. The key is: not too much information. You want the reader to intuit any secondary meaning in the words and also, the emotions and intent behind the words. In this workshop, Caridad discusses the various elements that will help you craft dialogue that is realistic and compelling.

The "Meet-Cute": What Is It and How Do I Achieve It? (CRAFT)

Speaker: Candie Moonshower
Friends or enemies, your main characters have to meet—or meet again. Do you need ideas on how to get your love interests together in swoon-worthy ways? In this workshop, we will discuss the “meet-cute,” what it looks like in books and movies, and how to write our own meet-cute ideas. Bring three to five copies of your own meet-cute scene from your current work-in-progress for small-group workshoping.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Brainstorming Party! Sparking New Plot Ideas to Beat Writer’s Block (CRAFT)

Speaker: Maggie K. Black
Get out of a plot rut and get ready to brainstorm! From finding new spins on old tropes, to playing with “the promise of the premise,” this practical and interactive workshop will look at tips and tricks for sparking fun, new plot ideas. Authors of all genres are welcome! Whether you’ve written one book or one hundred, authors of any genre will come away with some fun new ideas for developing your next story. Bring your stumbling blocks and let’s plot together.

Three Steps to Fantastic World Building (CRAFT)

Speaker: Katie Graykowski
When you think of world building, you probably think of Star Wars or the wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter. Yes, those are fine examples of world building, but creating the world where any story takes place is the backbone of storytelling.

While your story may not take place on another planet or another plane of existence, you still have to set the stage. Setting touches every single part of your story. When done correctly, your setting/your world becomes a character. I will teach you the three parts to fantastic world building.

3:15 – 4:15 p.m.

Romance Without the Sex: A Workshop of Swoon-Worthy Scenes (CRAFT)

Speaker: Jaye Viner
The movies have simplified romance down to an 'all roads lead to the bedroom' formulae. But in real life most relationships do not revolve around sex and some don't involve sex at all. This workshop gives participants the chance to share their most intimate, swooniest, spiciest, not-spicy scenes for review and critique. We'll talk about plot structures that diverge from the 'all roads lead to the bedroom' cliché and consider what it means to have characters who don't desire sex but want love just as much as anyone. Participants can bring one to two scenes totaling up to ten pages. They should be prepared to succinctly describe their overall story if it is necessary for understanding the scenes.

Seven Drafts to a Completed Novel (CRAFT)

Speaker: Kristin Owens
This lecture is geared for beginner and intermediate writers stuck in Revision Land. You’re not alone; novel edits are overwhelming. Misspellings, over-used terminology, verb tense, dialogue tags—not to mention fundamental issues like strengthening scenes, plot holes, character arcs, and engaging descriptions—it’s a lot to tackle. If you’re stuck on what, when, and how, this class is for you. At the end of seven structured editorial passes, you’ll have a polished manuscript to be proud of.

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Bookstagrammers and Influencers: How to Find Them, Pitch Them, and Get Them to Review Your Book (CAREER)

Speaker: Penny C. Sansevieri
If you’ve ever wondered how to get to bookstagrammers and bigger influencers, this class is for you! If you’re ready to promote a new release or revive an already published title, a pitch to online influencers and bookstagrammers could be a major building block to your success. But where do you start?

This class will break down the various types of “influencers” from bloggers, to bookstagrammers and online media. We’ll dig into how to find them, how to pitch them, and how to get them to spread the word about your book!

Legal Basics for Authors (CAREER)

Speaker: Alicia Dearn
As an author, on top of the skills necessary to write, pitch, and publish your book, you need business skills. This workshop will provide you with some fundamentals on setting up your author business. It will give you tools to navigate common issues like business tax and accounting, contracts and hiring help, intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, licensing, and royalties), website and consumer protection laws, and how to deal with Amazon. Included is a handout with self-help resources and guidance on what legal tasks you can do yourself, and what requires professional support.

7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Susanna Hoffs
An Evening with Susanna Hoffs

Speaker: Susanna Hoffs
The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs, one of pop's most beloved voices, joins us for an evening of music and books. Come listen to Susanna discuss her new book, This Bird Has Flown, ask her questions, and hear her perform some of her classic hits on Friday evening!

Saturday, July 22


Jon Tandler

9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Double Learning for Authors and Other Content Creators: (1) Trademarks and (2) Business Organization (INDUSTRY)

1.5 hours
Speaker: Jon R. Tandler
RWA attendees will learn the basics of U.S. trademark law as it relates to publishing and branding, including categories of marks; use of trademarks in literary works; publishing brands; likelihood of confusion/infringement; benefits of Federal  registration; and words/phrases not eligible for registration. The second part of our program will focus on business organization, including entity selection; entity formation; maintaining corporate formalities; record keeping; and insurance.

How Many No's Before I Got a Yes (Saturday Featured Session)

1.5 Hours
Speakers: Peggy Jaeger, Thien-Kim Lam, Mia P. Manansala, Ella Quinn, & Naima Simone
In this lively and inspiring session, best-selling authors talk about persevering through rejection to publication.

Peggy JaegerThien-Kim LamMia P. ManansalaElla QuinnNaima Simone

10:45 - 11:45 a.m.

Writing Tip Bingo (CRAFT)
Speaker: Emily Evans
“You had me at bingo.” Writers! Join Emily Evans for a free game of “cover all” bingo. Play or just come for the writing tips. Grab your bingo card on the way in. Mark the “tips” as they are called. The first player to mark every tip on their card wins a prize. Plus, there’s a unique number on the back of your card. Emily will use those numbers for random drawings. See you there!