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RWA2017 Workshops by Track

Note: This is a preliminary listing and subject to additions and deletions.





Wednesday "Level Up" Sessions


Master Class Track

Note: This track is recommended for PAN members

1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Savvy Marketing for the Experienced Author

Marketing maven Mark Dawson unpacks the current state of the publishing landscape with an eye to pitfalls and growth potential. You'll discuss strategies for boosting your individual ROI on advertisements, mailing lists, and release campaigns...and leave with a sample launch strategy tailored for today's romance industry.

Mark Dawson is the USA Today best-selling author of the John Milton series. He is also the founder of, a resource for writers including marketing and advertising training.

Mark Dawson

3:15 - 5:15 p.m.

Writing Emotion: Opening a Vein
Note: This session will not be recorded

For experienced writers seeking to recharge and reconnect. Writing from the heart involves opening a vein--being emotionally honest with our characters, our readers, and ourselves. Virginia Kantra offers practical strategies on writing emotion, from the first-page promise to the reader to the final payoff. An in-depth, advanced discussion on using premise, deep point of view, scene selection, motivation/reaction units, dominant mood, body language, subtext, and significant, specific triggers to create emotionally compelling characters in conflict.

New York Times best-selling author Virginia Kantra is the author of more than twenty-five books of contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. Her stories have earned numerous awards including Romance Writers of America's RITA Award, eight RITA nominations, and two National Readers' Choice Awards. Her work includes the popular Children of the Sea series and, in e-book format, The MacNeills stories.

Virginia Kantra


Indie Track

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Audiobook Strategy for Indie Authors

You’ve mastered the e-book and print realms, and you want to make revenue out of your audio rights. Join two successful authors and the head of Audible’s ACX platform to learn what the romance audio market looks like, and the best tips for developing your own audiobook publishing strategy. Note: This is not a technical “how-to” session.

Deanna Chase is a native Californian, transplanted to the slower paced lifestyle of southeastern Louisiana. When she isn't writing, she is often goofing off with her husband in New Orleans, playing with her two shih tzu dogs, making glass
beads, or out hocking her wares at various bead shows across the country. For more information and updates on newest releases visit her blog at

Julianne MacLean is a USA Today best-selling author who has sold more than 1.3 million books in North America alone. Her novels have also been translated into Spanish, German, Portuguese, French, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, and Dutch. Julianne is a three-time RITA finalist with Romance Writers of America and has won numerous awards, including the Booksellers' Best Award, the Book Buyers Best Award, and a Reviewers' Choice Award from Romantic Times for Best Regency Historical of 2005.

Kelly Lytle heads Findaway Voices, a new audiobook creation and distribution service from Findaway. Kelly’s team works closely with independent authors and small to mid-sized publishers to connect them with a community of world-class narrators, create audiobooks, and market and sell those audiobooks everywhere in the world. At Findaway, Kelly also played a key role in launching the Navy eReader Device (or NeRD), and growing AudioEngine into the world’s largest business-to-business audiobook platform.

Michael Stover (Director & GM, ACX ) has overseen ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, since its inception in 2011. ACX is a unique online marketplace that makes it easy to find and collaborate with professional audiobook producers to get your audiobook in stores at Audible, Amazon and iTunes. With over 15 years of experience creating and growing immersive entertainment and educational-focused technology products, Michael is passionate about serving one of the largest online creative communities in the world, including authors like you.

Karen White has been narrating audiobooks since 1999 with more than 300 titles to her credit. Honored to be included in AudioFile Magazine’s Best Voices and Speaking of Audio’s Top Ten Listens, she’s also a two-time Audie Finalist and has earned multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards and Library Journal starred reviews.  She also directs and produces audiobooks, working from her home base in coastal NC. Karen is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA.  

Deanna Chase

Julianne MacLean

Kelly Lytle

Karen White

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.

Legal Issues for Indie Authors
Speaker: Mary Rasenberger
Copyright expert, literary attorney, and Executive Director of the Authors Guild, Mary Rasenberger, discusses pressing legal issues that indie authors need to know about. The seminar will cover basic copyright, including when and how to register your copyright, issues to be aware of in the various types of agreements indie authors encounter, removing pirated copies of your work from the Internet, and other intellectual property concerns like avoiding legal trouble when quoting others’ work or writing about real people.

3:30 – 5:30 p.m.

A Strategic Plan for Self-Publishing Success in an Ever-Changing Market
Note: This session will not be recorded

In this two-hour seminar, two best-selling, award-winning, formerly traditionally published indie authors share the one-year process they’ve developed for launching a successful indie-publishing career in a crowded and ever-changing market. This is not the only path to self-publishing success, but the program they will teach has been proven to work for them and others. Attendees should come away with a fully formed plan to launch themselves into self-publishing and a better understanding of what it takes to make a living wage as an independent author.

From series concept development through the first six-figure year, the workshop will delve into the specifics of every major aspect of the strategic plan. The authors will share tips, techniques, and proven tactics to teach attendees how to: (1) create a series concept that meets the market but still stands out; (2) develop a one-year production calendar; (3) set a realistic budget; (4) meet all deadlines with multiple third parties involved; (5) implement effective and affordable marketing techniques; (6) add “passive” income through ancillary programs; (7) review the greatest challenges and impediments to success, suggest solutions; and (8) participate in a question and answer session with the audience.

Roxanne St. Claire is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of more than forty novels of suspense and romance, including the popular Barefoot Bay series, plus multiple stand-alone books. In addition to being an eight-time nominee and one-time winner of the RITA® Award, Roxanne’s novels have won the National Reader’s Choice Award for best romantic suspense four times, as well as the Daphne du Maurier Award, the HOLT Medallion, the Maggie, Booksellers Best, Book Buyers Best, the Award of Excellence, and many others. Her books have been translated into dozens of languages and one has been optioned for film.

USA Today best-selling author Kristen Painter is a little obsessed with cats, books, chocolate, and shoes. It’s a healthy mix. She loves to entertain her readers with interesting twists and unforgettable characters. She currently writes the best-selling paranormal romance series, Nocturne Falls. The former college English teacher can often be found all over social media where she loves to interact with readers.

Roxanne St Claire

Kristen Painter


Emerging Author Track

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Pitching Boot Camp

In this interactive workshop, you will learn the basics of writing and delivering a successful pitch, whether during a one-on-one appointment or in an elevator. Discover the dos and don’ts of editor/agent appointments, and how to create a unique tag line for your story because, nerves aside, in the end it's all about the book and its hook.

Wall Street Journal best-selling author Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A life-long lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity while raising her kids. Over the next few years, she learned a few things about writing a book. The process was much more fun than analyzing financial statements, and she decided to turn her hobby into a career.

Melinda Leigh

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.

Editors Tell All

Selling your book traditionally or launching your indie career all starts with a great story. Hear from several traditional editors and an independent developmental editor about the hooks that draw them in, what makes them turn down a project, and successful strategies some of their authors use. Walk away with tips for story-selling success advice for this competitive market.

Editors include: Nicole Fisher (HarperCollins), Sheila Hodgson (Harlequin UK), Mary-Theresa Hussey (independent), Kate Seaver (Berkley).


3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

The Elements of Emotion: Building an Unforgettable Story

No more “lacking in emotional punch!” NYT best-selling author RaeAnne Thayne and two-time RITA winner Sarah Morgan will show how maximizing and combining the elements of story craft results in a strong, focused, and unforgettable emotional journey for your readers.

USA Today best-selling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy contemporary romance and her trademark humor and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. She has been nominated four times for the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers

New York Times best-selling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including four RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.

Sarah Morgan RaeAnne Thayne

4:45 – 6:45 p.m.

Seducing Your Readers in Chapter 1

Salvaging a novel with a weak opening is next to impossible. Never try to "grab" your reader at the beginning of your novel. You must seduce them, draw them into your world, create empathy for your heroine, set the tone for your story, introduce immediate conflict, lay the groundwork for your hero/ine's arc, and foreshadow what lies ahead. This presentation will reveal how to compel your readers to keep turning the page.

Michael Hauge is a story consultant, author, and lecturer who has consulted on projects for every major Hollywood studio, including films starring Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez, Kirsten Dunst, Robert Downey Jr., and Morgan Freeman. He is the author of Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds and has presented his lectures and workshops to more than 50,000 writers and filmmakers around the world.

Michael Hauge




20/20 Expert Hour

One room, three 20-minute sessions. Each listed session repeats three times, so pick your top three sessions for a jam-packed hour of education!


Career Tips and Tricks

This 20/20 session focuses on professional strategies to boost your productivity, promotion, and audience. Choose up to three topics to access the information you need to streamline your professional process.

Pick one 20-minute session, and then rotate to a different Career Tips and Tricks session.

Building Your Newsletter
Speaker: Victoria Pinder

Learn how to build an email list from scratch and find readers who need your novels.

Optimizing Writers Conferences
Speaker: Jennifer Talty

Make the most of your time and money as you plan your conference experience. Learn how to select the best workshops for your career, optimize networking opportunities, and more.

Scrivener 101
Speaker: La-Tessa Montgomery

Join La-Tessa Montgomery for a walk-through of this powerful writing software, the basics of setup, plus tips and templates.

Time-Saving Websites
Speaker: Kristi Hancock

Produce better work and keep pace with an accelerating industry as we review favorite online tools for authors.

Website 101
Speaker: Win Day

Whether you’re building or rebuilding your website, discover how to develop a site that works for you and your audience.



In this 20/20 session, a group of experts unpacks the nitty-gritty of select historical topics. Pick from an assortment of fascinating sessions to help bring your historical romance to life.

Pick one 20-minute session, and then rotate to a different Historical Details session.

The Historical Kitchen
Speaker: Sara Dahmen

A meaty look at the roles and power of women in the kitchen: how their status and the era affected the foods they prepared and impacted their world.

History Undressed
Speaker: Victoria Vane

Join historical fashionista Victoria Vane for an overview of clothing from corsetry to the bustle.

Ten Essential Regency Details
Speaker: Ella Quinn

USA Today best-selling Regency romance author Ella Quinn unpacks ten details required for the Regency period to avoid getting eviscerated by readers.

Writing Inclusive Historicals
Speaker: Alyssa Cole

Join RITA finalist Alyssa Cole for a session on writing inclusive historicals.


Pitching: From Tagline to Synopsis

In this 20/20 session, learn how to take the itch out of pitching and craft the language to sell your story. Choose from up to three approaches to the task of boiling your book down to a sound bite.

Pick one 20-minute session, and then rotate to a different Pitching: From Tagline to Synopsis session.

Don’t Get Pitch Slapped
Speakers: T. J. Kline and Kristin Miller

Learn the difference between elevator and appointment pitches, proper etiquette for conference pitching, and how to avoid the pitch falls along the way.

Easy Blurbs and Taglines
Speakers: Marissa Caldwell and Laurie Cooper

The Pub-Craft team offers tips on writing snappy blurbs and taglines that hook readers’ interest.

Panic-Free Pitching
Speakers: Melinda Leigh and Rayna Vause

In this interactive workshop, learn the basics of writing a successful pitch and keeping your cool during an editor/agent appointment.

Unsucky Blurb Writing
Speaker: Kristin Wallace

Best-selling author and advertising veteran Kristin Wallace teaches tips and tricks on making blurbs sparkle—without pain and frustration.



In this 20/20 session, you’ll find a range of approaches to help you stay on track, meet your deadlines, and keep your sanity at the same time. Choose up to three sessions to gain tools to maximize your productivity and professional balance.

Pick one 20-minute session, and then rotate to a different Productivity session.

Digging Out of Distraction
Speaker: Christine Glover

During this interactive workshop, writers will unlock ways to persevere and move forward in their careers from any point in their journey.

Fighting for Focus
Speaker: Roni Loren

This workshop will show writers how to take back their focus, retrain their brains, and reclaim their writing time.

Mindfulness for Writers
Speakers: Eva Leigh and Nico Rosso

Join Eva Leigh (aka Zoe Archer) and Nico Rosso as they offer insight and techniques for incorporating mindfulness into your writing process, as well as the essential skill of self-compassion.

Organize Your Writing Life
Speaker: Abigail Owen

Get tried-and-true methods for staying on top of research and notes no matter your writing method.

Time to Write More
Speaker: Susan Carlisle

Susan Carlisle discusses how to designate business time, set up an efficient office area, and how to write in small segments to get a big job completed.


Social Media

In this 20/20 session, plumb the depths of social media channels, their possibilities, and peril. Choose up to three sessions to improve your odds on a variety of platforms, broaden your audience, and put your books in the right hands.

Pick one 20-minute session, and then rotate to a different Social Media session

Facebook: Social Media’s Mount Everest
Speaker: Tyra Burton

Explore the importance of Facebook, its features, and the power of page analytics and page social to drive awareness and sales.

Make Goodreads Work for You
Speaker: Diane K. Peterson

Learn to use the power of Goodreads to your advantage to navigate the negative and reach your readers.

Perk Up Your Pinterest Presence
Speaker: Lana Pattinson

In this hands-on workshop, learn five things you can to do improve your Pinterest account to get results.

Social Media for Beginners
Speakers: Marissa Caldwell and Laurie Cooper

The Pub-Craft team delves into expectations and engagement for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Social Media Savvy
Speakers: Amy Alessio and Mel Jolly

Learn from author assistants Amy Alessio and Mel Jolly how to have fun and reach more readers while marketing your books in as little as fifteen minutes a day.







The Author/Editor Relationship (CAREER)
Speakers: May Chen and Jill Shalvis
Get some hard-earned insights from New York Times bestseller Jill Shalvis and HarperCollins editor May Chen on how to have staying power in the industry, move with the trends, and adapt with the technology—but also when to stay the course and not freak out. Shalvis and Chen will touch on developing healthy relationships, avoiding rookie mistakes, asking for essentials, leaning on your agent, and other tips to navigating the publishing waters.


Blending Brand and Platform (CAREER)
Speakers: Alyssa Cole, Sonali Dev, Beverly Jenkins, and Alisha Rai
An in-depth discussion with best-selling, award winning authors who effectively integrate their brands and platforms with their writing to develop readership and sales while pushing the boundaries of the romance genre and telling unexpected stories that need to be told.


Build Your Audience with a Long-Running Series (CAREER)
Speakers: Brenna Aubrey, Natasha Boyd, Deanna Chase, Cristin Harber, Lynn Raye Harris
Five bestselling authors discuss how writing a long-running series built their audience and keeps them engaged in the story world. The authors will discuss what a series is, how to build your world, how to plan your releases, and how to create multiple points of entry that allow readers to access your series at different points. Additionally, they’ll cover the business of branding, titling, and packaging books for maximum market impact.


Contemporary Romance in Today’s Market (CAREER)
Speakers: Sarah Morgan, Jill Shalvis, and RaeAnne Thayne
Covering the spectrum from sexy to sweet, best-selling authors and RWA Honor Roll members Sarah Morgan, Jill Shalvis, and RaeAnne Thayne (with more than seventy years’ experience and two hundred titles between them) will discuss craft, career, and how they survive the unique challenges of writing contemporary romance without resorting to cookies.


Dive into Data (CAREER)
Speakers: Dominique Raccah, Beth Sochacki, and Deb Werksman
Data can drive creativity! Find out the latest information on publishing, romance readers, and everything you need to know to understand today’s marketplace. Learn the questions to ask and where to look, so you can reach your readers and maximize your impact.


Donna’s Top Ten Tax Tips (CAREER)
Speaker: Donna MacMeans
Prepare now for next year’s tax season. This workshop covers basic tax preparation information such as basic bookkeeping, home office deduction, business trips, meals & entertaining, and self-employment taxes. Come and get the scoop from a CPA!


Doing it All: Juggling Writing and Life without Losing Your Mind (CAREER)
Speakers: Robin Covington, Regina Kyle, Kate Meader, and Jeannie Moon
In today's challenging market, it's more difficult than ever to make a living solely as an author. This workshop is designed to address the demands of balancing a full-time job, family and a writing career. Through a panel discussion and shared experiences, the authors will offer tips, tricks and advice to help writers successfully manage their careers, their expectations and the demands of everyday life.


Eight Secrets of Self-Publishing Success (CAREER)
Speakers: Claire Contreras, A. L. Jackson, Corinne Michaels, and Alessandra Torre
Learn marketing and publishing tips from some of the most successful names in self-publishing. Discover how to price your e-book, get into bookstores, and how to properly launch and market your release.


Find Success in the Inspirational Market (CAREER)
Speakers: Belle Calhoune, Danica Favorite, Lee Tobin McClain, and Jolene Navarro
Join four best-selling authors for a how-to guide for breaking in to inspirational romance. This workshop will include various publishers to target in the market as well as details on how to do it yourself (if you plan to go self-publish); the dos and don’ts of the market; taboo topics; what’s in, from Amish to secret babies; and how to successfully build tension without sex scenes.


Find Your Game Face: The Author Platform  (CAREER)
Speakers: Heidi Cullinan and Damon Suede
Cultivate your unique appeal by communicating your value and values to the marketplace. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you’ll learn how to harness the power of public presence on- and off-line so you can attract the right kind of attention. Embody your brand with panache: a carefully constructed platform can be a game changer in the promo arena.


From Gold to Sold (CAREER)
Speakers: Pamela Kopfler, Priscilla Oliveras, Sara Portman, Tara Sheets, and Esi Sogah
An editor and four debut Kensington authors take you behind the wheel as they navigate the romance writing highway from Golden Heart finalist/winner to first traditional publishing contract. From chapter contests to Golden Heart final to the transition of writing to contract deadlines, you’ll hear the authors’ and editor’s perspectives on what worked, what didn’t, how to capitalize on a contest final at the national level, and what to expect in the first year after signing a contract.


Jayne & Susan: The Girls Who Played with Fire (CAREER)
Speakers: Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Join genre legends Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips as they show you how they walk the walk and talk the talk that has landed them in the hearts of millions of readers.


Lights, Camera … Awesome! (CAREER)
Speaker: Tina DeSalvo
Tina DeSalvo, a media professional with thirty years’ experience as an on-air television and radio journalist, shares tips and tricks to prepare you for interviews in any format—from the TV set to the radio studio to the webcam for that all-important interview. We’ll tackle what to wear, how to speak, and how to use your physical presence to your best advantage so your message is heard.


Making Six Figures in Indie (CAREER)
Speakers: Alana Albertson, Deanna Chase, Angie Fox, and Krystal Shannan
Four very different authors outline the specific tools they use to make six figures a year in indie publishing. This workshop is for traditional writers who want to know quick, effective ways to manage their backlists and for hybrid authors who want to sell more indie books to push big five sales. We’ll focus on career structure, writing smart, marketing savvy, social media strategies, and future planning.


Making the Most from iBooks (CAREER)
Speaker: Amy Atwell
Separate truth from myth about iBooks, the second-largest e-book retailer. Learn what makes iBooks a unique environment as well as tips for maximizing book sales potential through preorders, custom samples, series linking, and more.


Savvy Tips to Reach More Readers (CAREER)
Speakers: Laura Kaye, Kimberly Kincaid, and Jennifer Probst
With so many books releasing each week, it’s more and more challenging to reach readers and to retain them over time. In this workshop, some of romance’s best-selling authors (with experience in both traditional and indie publishing) share their best practices, lessons learned, and practical tips for reaching and retaining readers and provide tangible advice that you can apply today.


Self-Promotion on Steroids (CAREER)
Speakers: Winnie Griggs, Catherine Mann, and Joanne Rock
Three veteran authors share how to grow readership with a dynamic combination of marketing strategies personalized to fit your promotional strengths. Focused on finding unique hooks, creative content, and targeted messaging, these best-selling authors will discuss free and paid social media strategies, optimizing your message, and how digital insights tools can help refine your strategy to increase your audience.


Series Proposals that Sell Multiple-Book Deals (CAREER)
Speaker: Liz Maverick
A knockout proposal proves you are worth a publisher’s investment. This workshop shows, step by step, how to write a successful series proposal—a submission that makes it easy for an acquiring editor to sell you in-house and shows you have multi-book potential.


Slaying the Green-Eyed Monster: Transforming Jealousy into Joy (CAREER)
Speakers: Ruth A. Casie, Eliza Knight, Madeline Martin, and Emma Prince
Ever felt a twinge of jealousy when someone hits a list or wins an award? Jealousy can hamper productivity and even derail your career, and in this workshop, USA Today best-selling authors will talk specific strategies to avoid jealousy and how to productively refocus it when it strikes. We’ll even practice using jealousy to clarify your goals and gain motivation for taking the next steps in your career.


Take Your Self-Published Success to the Next Level (CAREER)
Speakers: Avery Flynn, Erin Nicholas, and Carrie Ann Ryan
In this interactive, specific, and fact-filled panel, best-selling authors Carrie Ann Ryan, Erin Nichols, and Avery Flynn will help you take your self-publishing success to the next level by utilizing long-term series branding, diversification, and high-market ads as well as showing how to create rabid readers who will put you at the top of their auto-buy lists.


There’s Something about a Cowboy (CAREER)
Speakers: Tina James, Jolene Navarro, Johanna Raisanen, Sasha Summers, and Jodi Thomas
Cowboy romances are big business. Three successful cowboy-writing authors and two Harlequin editors will explore what makes cowboy romance timeless and successful as a career path.


Write Smarter, Write Faster (CAREER)
Speakers: Cindy Kirk, Renee Ryan, and Nancy Robards Thompson
With ever increasing constraints on their time, writers must learn to maximize the hours they spend plotting their books, writing the first draft, and creating the finished product. This workshop is geared to intermediate to advanced writers who want to be more productive and efficient.


“YA” Is Not a Genre (CAREER)
Speakers: Ally Carter, Simone Elkeles, Mari Mancusi, and Diana Peterfreund
Young adult fiction has entered its golden age, with widespread appeal to all ages, encompassing every genre from the potboiler to literary fiction. Romance authors willing to learn about the rarefied world of “kidlit” are uniquely suited to make a splash. Join four best-selling YA authors to get a glimpse into what it takes to stand out in a crowded and lucrative market.







Chat with Sylvia Day (CHAT)
Speaker: Sylvia Day
An intimate chat with best-selling author Sylvia Day. Get ready to discuss the current publishing marketplace, what’s changed, and where she sees the romance market going. Bring your questions for a Q&A!


Chat with Heather Graham (CHAT)
Speaker: Heather Graham
An intimate chat with best-selling author Heather Graham. Get ready to discuss the current publishing marketplace, what’s changed, and where she sees the romance market going. Bring your questions for a Q&A!


A Fireside Chat with Barbara Vey (CHAT)
Note: This is a Friday evening session
Speaker: Barbara Vey
You've written your book, but how do you get it into the hands of your readers? Come join Barbara Vey for an interactive fireside chat focused on the best reader outreach for your personality.







The Art of the Novella (CRAFT)
Speakers: Katharine Ashe, Robin Covington, Caroline Linden, and Lucia Macro
Level: Intermediate
Join three RITA Romance Novella finalists and an Avon Books editor to learn how novellas can help you increase your catalog or even recharge and expand your career—at less than half the word count and twice the fun.


Boldly Going: Writing Science Fiction Romance  (CRAFT)
Speakers: Cindy Holby, Stacey Kade, and Linnea Sinclair
Level: All
Best-selling science fiction romance authors will teach the working tropes of the sci-fi genre, the dos and don’ts of world building, the best way to incorporate the required science elements, and give tips on how to mix it all together without losing the romance.


Bollywood Rules for a Blockbuster Romance (CRAFT)
Speakers: Sonali Dev and Falguni Kothari
Level: All
Two authors with both romance and Bollywood running through their veins use Bollywood’s greatest hits to identify six golden rules that can be used to turn your romance into a blockbuster. Watch Bollywood film scenes that illustrate each rule and then join the authors as they analyze how to apply these rules to romance novels through a fun, interactive, and instructive workshop that leverages the world’s largest film industry to learn conflict and character development.


Building the Perfectly Imperfect Hero (CRAFT)
Speakers: HelenKay Dimon and Jill Shalvis
Level: Intermediate
A fun and interactive talk about heroes, what makes them compelling, and how to make them feel larger than life. No matter the subgenre, heroes need to be three-dimensional. This discussion will focus on how to build heroes—the ones that make us swoon.


Conflict: It’s Not an Argument (CRAFT)
Speaker: Shirley Jump
Level: Beginner
Strong conflict propels your story forward and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. Learn how to create deep emotional conflicts and weave them into good external conflicts and how conflict differs from tension.


Creating Ensemble Casts in Romance Series  (CRAFT)
Speakers: Lexi Blake, Cynthia Eden, Laura Kaye, and Rebecca Zanetti
Level: Advanced
One of the strengths and challenges of writing a romance series is having numerous characters. Four New York Times best-selling authors with multiple series that include ensemble casts will talk about the pros and cons of writing large.


Critique Partners: How to Find Them (CRAFT)
Speaker: Jen Malone
Level: Beginner
This workshop, led by a professional critique group facilitator, will explore how to identify the right critique partner, how to get (and give) good critique, and how to nurture a great critique partner relationship.


Decoding Series (CRAFT)
Speakers: Winnie Griggs, Catherine Mann, Tanya Michaels, and Joanne Rock
Level: Beginner
Four veteran series romance authors discuss the nuances of the Harlequin series/category romance lines and help attendees find their voice within the imprints.


Don’t Fear the Rewrite! (CRAFT)
Speakers: Stacy Boyd and Flo Nicoll
Level: All
Revisions are a necessary part of the writing and publishing process. In this comprehensive craft workshop, you’ll learn different revision approaches so you can find what works best for you. Learn tips like: Where should you start? Are there ways to receive fewer revision notes? Could the right revisions help you reach the next level? Conquering revisions will help you realize your dreams for both your book and your career!


Empowering Emotion: Ten Ways to Make a Reader Care More (CRAFT)
Speaker: Christie Craig
Level: Advanced
No matter how great your plot, how cute your characters, or how scary or sexy your book is, if the readers don’t care, you’ll slip to the bottom to the to-be-read pile. Come learn ten techniques of adding emotion on every page of your book.


Fifty Shades of Funny: Humor in Contemporary Romance (CRAFT)
Speakers: Lauren Layne, Jennifer Probst, and Rachel Van Dyken
Level: All
Is funny the new sexy? Nah. But combine the two, and you’ll end up with the delicious, uber-hot genre that is romantic comedy! Three best-selling authors walk you through how to take all the wit and charm of romantic comedies such as When Harry Met Sally and The Proposal from the big screen to the bookstore and all the way to the best-seller lists!


Focusing the Lens Through POV (CRAFT)
Speakers: Winnie Griggs and Liz Talley
Level: Beginner – Intermediate
In this workshop two multi-published, award-winning authors will discuss the pros and cons of using varying point of views. Discussion of multi-POV stories, common POV shifts and slips, the part perspective plays, and effective strategies for deep point of view will also be covered. At workshop conclusion, attendees will have a better grasp on how to select the best point of view for their manuscripts and  will have reviewed techniques to tighten, frame and successfully portray their character’s thoughts and emotions throughout the storyline.


The Game of Desire: Playing for Keeps (CRAFT)
Speaker: Damon Suede
Level: Advanced
Keep your sizzle fresh at any heat level. Creating chemistry on the page requires a mix of playful art and rigorous craft. Fans call intimate moments “the good parts” and dogear them for a reason; love scenes are often where authors cut loose and romance gets closest to poetry. In this advanced session on intimacy, we go beyond the mechanics to tackle the interplay of flirtation, seduction, and conjunction so you can make love scenes a joy to read and write.


Genre Blending: The Sweet Spot between Women’s Fiction and Romance (CRAFT)
Speakers: Jamie Beck, Kristan Higgins, and Jill Marsal
Level: Advanced
Books that straddle the fence between romance and women’s fiction are gaining popularity in the marketplace. This workshop will give you the tools and understanding of the promise implied by each genre that is needed to craft a blended story that editors will buy and readers will love. Also, hear an agent’s perspective on the current trends in this market.


Goal, Motivation, and Conflict in Your YA Novel (CRAFT)
Speaker: Rebecca Taylor
Level: Beginner
Readers—especially young readers—hate boring books. Nailing the goal, motivation, and conflict in your young-adult novel is essential to hooking your readers and making them want more. In this workshop, we will delve into these essential elements and analyze a successful young adult novel.


How to Gut Your Readers and Make Them Love It (CRAFT)
Speakers: Sonali Dev and Kristan Higgins
Level: Intermediate
Kristan Higgins and Sonali Dev take apart their favorite stories and scenes to show you how to ramp up your story’s emotional resonance, creating stories and characters that break readers’ hearts and keep them turning pages until you put them back together again.


Indiana Jones in the Ballroom (CRAFT)
Speakers: Joanna Bourne, Shana Galen, and Mary Jo Putney
Level: Intermediate
Modern historical readers are looking beyond the ballroom, and they’re falling in love with pirates, smugglers, spies, highwaymen, and treasure hunters. Adding action and adventure to your romance (whether historical or contemporary) amps up the emotion and makes the end result all the sweeter. Learn how to balance character arcs, choreograph action scenes, and write the hybrid characters that novels heavy on action require.


It’s All in the Words (CRAFT)
Speaker: Heather Graham
Level: Intermediate
In this hands-on workshop, you will write a complete short story and end up with an understanding of how to spur yourself back into productivity with some simple writing exercises. Come prepared to roll up your sleeves and write.


Keeping Readers Up All Night (CRAFT)
Speaker: Joan Johnston
Level: Intermediate
Explore eight ways to craft the opening and closing of each chapter to make your book one readers can't put down. Learn techniques to build anticipation, keep your story gripping, make your characters compelling, and keep your readers engaged.


Killer Clichés: Insider Tips on Escaping the Slush Pile (CRAFT)
Speakers: Mary Altman, Cat Clyne, Courtney Miller-Callihan, and Nicole Resciniti
Level: All
Two agents and two editors band together to give you an insider look at what really goes into reviewing the slush pile. Find out what editors and agents want to see when they open a submission and what killer cliché can spell insta-death for your manuscript.


Locked and Loaded: Pulling the Trigger on Military Romantic Suspense (CRAFT)
Speakers: Cristin Harber, Lynn Raye Harris, and Laura Kaye
Level: All
Explore the boundaries of the military suspense subgenre. This panel of authors will share information on audience expectations, hero characteristics, tropes, research, and incorporating just the right mix of romance and suspense that have their readers demanding more.


Map Quest (CRAFT)
Speaker: Maria V. Snyder
Level: All
Dystopia, post-apocalyptic, fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction all have one thing in common: fictional worlds. They also present a unique challenge to the author as to how you build a world from scratch. This workshop will explore the various techniques and sources of information to create a map for your world.


The Neuroscience of High-Impact Love Scenes (CRAFT)
Speaker: Emily Foster
Level: Intermediate
Write memorable, plot-advancing, searingly hot sexy times that will make readers buy copies of your books for all their friends, saying, “You have to read this!” with the four big secrets from the neuroscience of sex.


Outlining Romance for Intuitive Writers (CRAFT)
Speaker: Nina Harrington
Level: Beginner
Does the idea of having to plan your novel in advance horrify you? Learn how leveraging the power of character arc and emotional conflict can create a simple, but effective, emotional story map, where you let the characters reveal their story.


Pitch Wars Road Show (CRAFT)
Speakers: Brenda Drake
Level: Beginner
Bring your short pitch and query letter, and the mentors from the acclaimed Pitch Wars online contest will help you hone your pitch and get it ready to present to industry professionals.


Plotter vs. Pantser: A Big Series Face-off (CRAFT)
Speakers: Suzanne Brockmann and ML Buchman
Level: Intermediate
Come see the queen of the eighty-page outline (with colors and circles and arrows) face off against a writer who leaps into five- and ten-book series with an opening line. Watch while they try to convince one another where they went wrong. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, come learn how big series get built and how these authors keep the walls from tumbling down.


Power Couples: Making Lovers (CRAFT)
Speaker: Damon Suede
Level: Advanced
Great romance starts with fascinating relationships: it takes two to tangle. Bring your fictional folks to the next level with a simple, powerful technique that will strengthen your ideas, your voice, and your projects. During this session, we’ll tackle a characterization strategy that goes beyond boilerplate traits to build the perfect duo and amp the action, attraction, and interaction between them. Whether you like to wing it or bring it, you’ll leave this workshop with a new set of practical, hands-on approaches to making lovers who pop off the page.


Romance in the City: Writing Vivid Settings (CRAFT)
Speaker: Kate McMurray
Level: Beginner
Setting is often treated as just window dressing, but it can inform every part of a story, right down to plotting, pacing, and how characters speak and behave. We’ll discuss various research tools for how to turn a generic town into a place your characters inhabit. Learn what details will ground the reader, allowing them to see the world around these characters, and make it a place they want to visit.


Seasoned Romance: Love, Like Wine, Gets Better with Age (CRAFT)
Speakers: Judy Kentrus, Morgan Malone, and Roxanne St. Claire
Level: All
Are you tired of being told by agents and publishers that stories about heroes and heroines over thirty won't sell? In this workshop, learn tips and tricks from best-selling authors and a new author who know how to successfully write, publish, and market seasoned romances.


Seeking Your Voice throughout Multiple Series and Pen Names (CRAFT)
Speakers: Christi Barth, Avery Flynn, Kimberly Kincaid, Leslye Penelope, and Carrie Ann Ryan
Level: Beginner
From contemporary to historicals, voices change. Join this panel of authors as they discuss how to cope with writing multiple series and genres under multiple pen names. In this interactive workshop you will learn how to manage your voice even when it’s totally opposite to what your readers have come to expect.


Twisting the Tropes for High-Concept Stories (CRAFT)
Speakers: Brenna Aubrey and Natasha Boyd
Level: Intermediate
In this workshop, Brenna Aubrey and Natasha Boyd reveal the seven key elements of high-concept stories as well as describe the most common styles of twisting tropes. Workshop attendees will participate in exercises helping them develop twisted trope high-concept hooks within their particular subgenre.


A Whedonite’s Guide to Characterization (CRAFT)
Speaker: J. T. Bock
Level: Beginner
Joss Whedon is one of the best contemporary storytellers, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Firefly to The Avengers films. His characters—good and evil—are vivid and unforgettable. In this workshop, J. T. Bock examines Joss Whedon’s techniques and demonstrates how authors can use them in their stories.


Why History? (CRAFT)
Speakers: Joanna Bourne, Andrea Penrose, and Mary Jo Putney
Level: All
Three members of the long-running Word Wenches historical blog discuss how they each use history to make their stories unique and powerful. From Scotland to Regency London, explore the various aspects that make historical romances come alive to the reader.


Writing Great Characters: The Good, the Bad, the Believable (CRAFT)
Speaker: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Level: Intermediate
Create characters that are unforgettable and jump off the page into the reader's heart. Learn the secrets of characterization, dialogue, conflict, and vulnerability from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips.


Writing Great Sex Scenes (CRAFT)
Speakers: Patience Bloom, Flo Nicoll, and Kathleen Scheibling
Level: Beginner
From sensuous to toe-curling hot, the temperature can range widely in romance stories. The defining factor? S-e-x. Great sex scenes can make or break a page-turning romance, and the ability to turn up the heat in your writing can mean more publishing opportunities for your work. This hands-on workshop, facilitated by seasoned romance editors, offers a valuable chance to explore and practice proven techniques in writing great sex scenes and finding the right voice for your dialogue.


Writing Historical Characters for the Modern Reader (CRAFT)
Speaker: Callie Hutton
Level: Intermediate
When writing historical characters, it’s important to make them appeal to today’s reader, but they also must conduct themselves within the time frame in which the story takes place. This workshop covers how to write believable characters, with examples from best-selling authors on how to appeal to a modern reader as well as how to touch on subjects pertinent today.


Writing the Sweet Romance (CRAFT)
Speaker: Susan Meier
Level: Intermediate
Sweet romances are enjoying a comeback! This workshop provides tips and techniques to assure that your sweet story has enough power to compete with steamier stories. Learn to use tension, the push/pull of conflict, and even the characters themselves to tell your story and create a book that will stay with readers long after the end.


You Can't Just Throw in a Vampire (CRAFT)
Speaker: Alyssa Day
Level: All
Creating believable paranormal worlds and characters that readers love and want to keep coming back to takes a lot more than just tossing a supernatural creature into your romance novel. Learn secrets to creating wonderful characters, dialogue, setting, and worlds that invite readers into your story with New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Alyssa Day.





Publisher Spotlights


Spotlight on Avon

Spotlight on Ballantine Bantam Dell

Spotlight on Carina Press

Spotlight on Crimson Romance

Spotlight on Entangled

Spotlight on Findaway Voices

Spotlight on Grand Central Publishing and Forever

Spotlight on Harlequin Series

Spotlight on Harlequin Trade Publishing (HQN/MIRA/Graydon House/Harlequin TEEN)

Spotlight on KDP, Createspace, and ACX

Spotlight on Kensington

Spotlight on Kobo

Spotlight on Montlake

Spotlight on NOOK Press

Spotlight on Sourcebooks

Spotlight on St. Martin's Press







911, What’s the Emergency? (RESEARCH)
Speakers: April Canavan and Teri Linscott
The difference between what is seen on television and a real-life 911 call is staggering. This workshop will illustrate how to write emergency situations, including correct police, fire, and medical language with a variety of examples. Attendees will learn what it’s like to take a 911 call, the different pieces that move during the call, and exactly what steps are taken before the first responders arrive on scene.


Before Sherlock: Forensics for Historical Romance (RESEARCH)
Speaker: Megan Rae Rutter
Bodies do tend to fall out of wardrobes. Sometimes, they can even be found in ancient temples. If your historical romance novel has a hint of mystery in it, this is the session for you. We will explore how crime was solved before the advent of modern forensic science and how using those techniques can take your manuscript to a new level of believability.


Breaking News: Forensics from the Headlines (RESEARCH)
Speaker: Geoff Symon
Ever want to go deeper than the byline? From OJ to JonBenet to Casey Anthony, we’ll discuss investigative concepts and techniques in the stories behind the headlines. Using the good and bad of a notorious case as a starting point, get a gritty realism you can use in your own stories.


Cattle Ranching for Dummies (RESEARCH)
Speaker: Becke Turner
Readers want more westerns, but the average writer barely knows the business end of a horse. This workshop will walk participants through a cow-calf operation from a newbie perspective. Turner’s trial-by-fire ranching education provides the perfect backdrop to the hero/heroine that suddenly inherits a cattle ranch and the cowboy to go with it or the cowgirl who is forced to suffer through the new city-slicker owner. 


Creating Authentic Characters with Disabilities (RESEARCH)
Speakers: Tessa Dare, Barbara Devlin, Sue Ward Drake, Laurie Alice Eakes, Andrew Grey, and Karen Rose
A panel of published authors (a mix of disabled and non-disabled) who have created authentic, well-loved characters with disabilities discuss their characters, why and how they developed them. Other topics include: the key elements of the character’s disability, how that changed the authors’ approach to telling the story, a brief description of their research methods, reader response to their characters, any feedback they received from the disabled community (both good and bad), and any impacts writing that character had on them personally. 


Forensic Chat: Q&A with a Forensic Investigator (RESEARCH)
Speaker: Geoff Symon
Obsessed with shows like Dexter, CSI, and NCIS? Ever wondered what a forensic scientist’s “typical" day is like? Join Federal Forensic Investigator Geoff Symon, author of the Forensics for Fiction series, for an in-depth workshop exploring real-world experiences in forensics. Don't miss this one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn from a professional!


HEAs for All: Keeping Your Characters with Disabilities Real (RESEARCH)
Speakers: Barbara Devlin, Sue Ward Drake, Lynette Eason, Barbara Edwards, Laurie Alice Eakes, Tracee Garner, Gina McGalliard, and Karen Rose
In this two-part workshop, RWA authors with disabilities discuss the specific challenges and details authors must know to create an authentic character who is blind, deaf, one with a mobility disability, or one with an invisible disability. Topics covered will include: physical challenges in everyday life, the impacts on emotional/mental health and sexuality, elements to include and stereotypes to avoid, assistive devices commonly used, technology/terminology/lingo that is accepted and not accepted, types of and issues with treatment, discrimination, and useful resources for authors. 


Historical Research for Writers (RESEARCH)
Speaker: Mollie Madden
Do titles and styles confuse you? Are events blending together? Researching the historical romance can be time consuming and difficult. Find out how a historian merges detailed research with reader expectations in the development of a novel. Research methods, resources, and how to use your research effectively to create an authentic reader experience will be explored.


How a Lady Does It: Sex in Historical Romance (RESEARCH)
Speakers: Valerie Bowman, Julie Johnstone, Madeline Martin, and Joanna Shupe
With all those strict rules, how can a lady possibly slip away for a clandestine meeting without ruining her reputation? And let’s not even talk about the right way to unlace a corset in under an hour. History is rife with societal constraints, language barriers, and many, many layers of undergarments. This workshop will help you bring realism and sizzling heat to your historical romance, no matter what history throws at you to prevent it.


Rev It Up: World Building for Motorcycle Club Romances (RESEARCH)
Speakers: Mandy Rossmeyer, Jade Chandler, Laura Kaye, Kim Lowe, and Constance Phillips
Join four experts for a hands-on experience to “get patched” in the often-misrepresented motorcycle culture. Mandy Rossmeyer, events/promotion manager of Daytona Harley Davidson, will offer an introduction to the HOG world, from the weekend warrior to the pros who thrash at Sturgis, and best-selling authors will share how they incorporate the motorcycle culture into romance novels for an authentic representation of this unique American identity. 


Scene of the Crime: Investigating Your Fictional Felonies (RESEARCH)
Speaker: Geoff Symon
This session gives you the basic tools to investigate your own fictional crimes. Geoff Symon shares his twenty-year experience as a forensic investigator in a class perfect for authors of every popular genre. We’ll hit the forensic basics, talk about evidence, and determine what’s important to your story versus what’s important to an investigator at every crime scene.





Wellness/Writer's Life


Be the Hero of Your Own Story (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speaker: Dee Davis
Award-winning author Dee Davis uses the concepts of goal, motivation and conflict to help you better understand how to plan, execute and maintain your career. Join her for strategy and insight into how to write your very own happily ever after.


The Book That Almost Killed Me (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speakers: Ally Carter, Sophie Jordan, Julie Kenner, and Maggie Marr
Write enough books, and, eventually, you’ll have it: the book that almost kills you. Maybe it’s the plot, the characters, or your personal life, but no matter the cause, this can (and likely will) happen to us all. In this session, four best-selling authors writing in four extremely different genres will look back at the books that took the most out of them to examine why they happened, what they learned, and what they’ll do in the future to keep it from ever happening again.


Speaker: Mary Behre, Valerie Bowman, Grace Burrowes, and Sonali Dev
Join four best-selling authors as they have a frank discussion on the pros and cons of keeping or relinquishing your day job while maintaining a career as a romance author.


Burnout Prevention (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speakers:  Emily Foster and Amelia Nagoski
Learn six concrete, specific, science-based strategies to prevent burnout from twin sisters with doctoral degrees who’ve been there, done that, read the rat brain research, and realized that the only guaranteed way to battle burnout is to break all the rules.


Busting through Writers Block (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speaker: Barbara Wallace
Writers block happens for many reasons, from story issues to psychological factors to physical distress. No matter what the cause, word block chips away at our self-esteem and productivity. This one-hour workshop will take an in-depth look at writer's block from a variety sources and help participants create a personal battle plan to fight writing block.


Diverting Dictation Disaster (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speakers: Shana Gray, Nicole Helm, and Maisey Yates
Be more prolific and save your hands by learning the ins and outs of dictation software. Join three experienced dictators as they walk you through the tips and tricks to talking your way through your deadlines.


Exorcise Your Writer's Block Demons (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speakers: Christi Barth, Kimberly Kincaid, Eliza Knight, and Maggie Marr
Writers block is a mythical affliction that harasses every master of the pen, but we don’t believe in it because we've found the secret to banishing it. Learn tricks from multipublished, award-winning authors that will help you blast through your creative stalls (and feel better, too).


Healthy Habits for Authors (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speaker: Karen Van Den Heuvel
Writing and publishing are demanding jobs that take a lot of time and energy, but not always a lot of movement. Join registered dietitian Karen Van Den Heuvel as she outlines healthy eating and exercise habits authors can adopt to remain physically healthy while getting books on the shelves.


How to Be a Career Author and Be Healthy (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speakers: Kristin Cast, PC Cast, and Cindy Dees
These three presenters found the answer to combating potential health issues that accompany traditionally sedentary careers, and they want to share it with their RWA sisters.


Life Happens: Staying Productive When You’re Out of Gas (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speakers: Janie Crouch, Lena Diaz, HelenKay Dimon, and Angi Morgan
Tips on how to stay productive when contracts, illness, kids, or life slow you down, from established authors (both traditional and Indie) who have lived through it.


The Long Haul: Staying Positive and Focused in a Tough Biz (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speakers: Valerie Bowman, Alyssa Day, Madeline Martin, and Priscilla Oliveras
Four successful authors with decades of experience between them help you strap yourself in as a novelist in the publishing industry roller coaster. With topics like perseverance, how to succeed in spite of pitfalls, coping with depression, and building your support group, this workshop will prove to you that you can do it all and stay positive, even at 90 mph upside down in the dark.


Making It Work When Nothing Is Going Your Way (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speakers: Megan Crane, Nicole Helm, and Maisey Yates
Three prolific romance writers discuss tips and tricks to writing through publishing and life’s various challenges. How can we handle setbacks, failures, kids, health crises, etc.? Learn how to deal with the long haul as a career author with discussions of goal setting, maintaining focus, and creating balance to survive this challenging business.


Mr. Darcy Goes to Hollywood: The Book-to-Movie Journey (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speaker: Teri Wilson
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every writer dreams of one day seeing their book made into a film. But what exactly happens when that dream comes true? Teri Wilson, author of Unleashing Mr. Darcy and The Art of Us, now both Hallmark Channel Original Movies, shares what it's really like when Hollywood comes calling.


Quitting Your Day Job (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speakers: Kim Law, Sara Ramsey, and Lizzie Shane
For many writers, quitting their day job is their dream, but when it comes time to make that dream a reality, it can come with unexpected challenges. Three authors who have successfully made the transition discuss how to know when you’re ready, what to expect, and give tips for staying sane when your passion becomes your profession.


Write a Million Words a Year (With a Little Help from Your Friends) (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Speakers: Leigh Duncan, Kristen Painter, Elle Saint James (also as Fiona Roarke), and Roxanne St. Claire
Join four multipublished authors as they share a formula guaranteed to increase productivity, accountability, creativity, energy, and overall mental wellbeing for the writer.


Yoga to Kick Your Muse in the Butt (WELLNESS/WRITER'S LIFE)
Instructor: Lucy Farago
Never done yoga? It doesn’t matter. Come stimulate not only your body, but also your mind with simple poses and easy meditation. Learn how to stretch from inside your office and even from behind your desk. Can't meditate? Discover how easy it is to free your mind and liberate your muse.