right here, write now

2014 Conference Workshops

Friday Evening – Keynote Address, Jess Walter

It was our privilege and pleasure to bring prolific and esteemed New York Times Bestselling author Jess Walter to Wenatchee to deliver our Keynote Address this year.  The Keynote was held at the Wenatchee Community Center.  Doors opened at 6:30 for drinks and socializing, followed by the Keynote Address at 7:00 and then a book signing afterward.  Conference attendees were all welcomed to attend, and tickets were available as well for the general public or guests of attendees.

Saturday – Session 1

Dr. Frankenstein’s Character Laboratory –   Craig English  (special double session)

Do your characters lack life? Do they reek of potential, and yet lie on the table, offering an occasional eyelid flutter or the odd toe twitch? Or perhaps you have a character who gets up and sings “Putting on the Ritz” over and over without variation. Might as well be dead. Or maybe your characters seem to do all the things that real people do, but somehow lack that elusive dimension of depth.

This workshop is designed to help you channel the lightning of psychological motivation so that your characters will rise on their own two legs and walk into the world, not merely advancing the plot but engaging the reader with their humanity.

This Special Double Session will fill both Sessions 1 & 2

Writing the Young Adult Novel– Suzanne Selfors

Every young adult novel is, at its heart, a coming-of-age story. In this short workshop, we will explore this theme, along with other elements that distinguish this genre, such as voice and subject matter. Don’t worry if you feel out of touch with this age group—we’ll talk trends and language. Be prepared to dive deep into the angst-ridden world of the American teenager and survive! This workshop is open to writers of all levels.

 The Art and Science of Self-Publishing Success (Part 1) – Jason Brick

This session can be taken along with Jason Brick’s later session, or can be taken on its own.

Here’s the thing about self-publishing in this century. It’s not just for vanity anymore. Self-publishing is now a viable, profitable alternative to the traditional publishing model — and one that’s faster and more responsible. This talk covers the essentials of the self-publishing process that happen prior to distributing your book.

  • Deciding whether to self-publish, traditionally publish or opt for a hybrid method
  • Choosing all-at-once publishing vs. blog-to-book and Kickstarted projects
  • Pre-publication marketing
  • Choosing self-publishing platforms
  • Getting your book ready for publication
  • Expert insights on the self-publishing process


Saturday – Session 2

(Those taking Craig English’s double session, “Dr. Frankenstein’s Character Laboratory,” will continue in that workshop during this second session)

Elements of Creative Nonfiction: Part 1: Story Arc and Scene-Setting – Wendy Call

In this workshop, we’ll talk about two essential skills for writing successful creative nonfiction: understanding story arc and creating a powerful scene on the page. We will review classic story structure – and trace its history back more than 2,000 years.

We’ll also review the elements of an effective scene (character + setting + action) and look at how they can bring your story to life on the page. We’ll use examples from some our best nonfiction storytellers, looking at what it takes to write a good scene and to tell a great, true story.

(Please feel free to attend either or both parts of this workshop. You don’t have to attend Part I in order to attend Part II!)

 The Art and Science of Self-Publishing Success (Part 2) – Jason Brick

This session can be taken along with Jason Brick’s previous session, or can be taken on its own.

The other thing about self-publishing in this century is that you’re job’s not over when the book is done. Getting the best possible sales for your books means becoming a marketing machine in the months after your book goes live. This talk is a step-by-step discussion of how best to create and fuel that marketing machine, including:

  • Tools available from Amazon, Kobo and other self-publishing platforms
  • Basic social media for book success
  • Playing with Amazon stats to maximize your book’s visibility
  • Real-world promotion efforts like signings and readings
  • Metrics and statistics to watch and leverage
  • When to write your second book, and how that affects performance.

Saturday – LUNCH Options

There’s no reason not to keep fueling your mind and passion while fueling your body!  The 2014 Write On The River Conference is offering several exciting options during the lunch break.

Brown Bag Session: “Working with a Small Press” – with Audra Middleton & Elizabeth Fountain

In this brown-bag session, Audra and Liz share their experiences working with a small press. Both had their first novels published in 2013 as e-books by a small publisher, and are proud to say they’ve survived the steep learning curve of contracting, editing, publishing, and promotion with only minor bumps and bruises.

Participants will learn about the benefits and challenges of working with a small press. Liz and Audra will describe the advantages of individual attention from the publisher and editorial staff, opportunities for collaboration with other authors, and relatively easy access to those in charge. They will also share lessons learned from the concerns that some small presses offer little editorial support, the challenges of promotion when a publisher has less name recognition, and the lack of immediate access to sales information to track the impact of marketing and promotional efforts. Audra and Liz will spend any additional time discussing the best ways they’ve found to prepare for a book’s release, including building “buzz,” using social media channels, constructing web sites, and creating an author platform.

Brown Bag Session: “YOU are the Brand – Using Visuals, Blogs and Newsletters & More” – The Brothers Seim

Join The Brothers Seim in this relaxed talking session as we make simple work of blogging, using newsletters, leveraging video and keeping the world engaged. Coming over from years of experience in the visual arts, these new authors take on the writing world with a passion for quality. Lets talk about keeping readers engaged and seeing beyond the screen.

The brothers will talk shop, candidly looking at the realities that are often ignored in the writing industry: Building a presence and making your brand stand out, even before you’re ready to publish. We’ll chat about everything from your visual presentation to using blogs, videos and newsletters to build your relevance and take advantage of some of the most powerful, yet most neglected tactics in the industry. 

Brown Bag Session: “Publisher Roundtable” – with Jennifer Gilbert of Booktrope Publishing

A representative from Booktrope Publishing will give feedback on fiction and nonfiction book concepts. Please bring a written 3-4 sentence description of your book-length project and give it to the room monitor before the meeting begins. You may remain anonymous (your name and the project title are not needed.) The publisher will read these out loud to the group and make comments on the appeal of the concept and perhaps make suggestions. Everyone is welcome whether you share a book concept or not.

This is not a pitch session where you might ask the publisher to consider your project for publication. If interested in pitching the publisher, please sign up for an individual appointment.

Click here for more information on your options for pitching your project to Jennifer Gilbert at Write On The River.

Saturday – Session 3

Structure 101: What Goes Where, and Why – Larry Brooks

An introduction to the fundamental structures of fiction, including the major story beats that make fiction work. The creative process – how you develop your story – is personal and all over the map, but at the end of the day most successful stories align with certain universal principles of structure, call them what you will, get there how you might. This workshop will empower you to search for them and nail them, rather than wait for someone to tell you what about your story isn’t working, in which case you’ll end up trying retrofit them into a subsequent draft.

Maximize your Sunday workshop experience with this review of structure basics!

Elements of Creative Nonfiction: Part 2: The Narrator and the Theme – Wendy Call

In this workshop, we will explore two essential – and linked – elements of creative nonfiction: the narrator of the story and the underlying theme of that story. This workshop will help you develop good answers to the first two questions a reader brings to any work of creative nonfiction: Just who is the person telling me this story? And why is s/he telling it to me, anyway?

(Please feel free to attend either or both parts of this workshop. You don’t have to attend Part I in order to attend Part II!)

Poetry Circus: Fun, Games, and Sideways Thinking – Arlene Kim

In this writing-focused workshop, we’ll write together through a series of freewriting’s Greatest Hits—the poetry writing prompts I’ve most loved through the years for the playful ways they help to free minds (and therefore tongues and pens). There’ll be a wide variety of prompts including visual/image-based starts, collaborative/collage writing, improv and acting exercises, form-based ideas, short freewrites that start from memories and drawings, surrealist games, and prompts using Internet memes. Throughout the writing, we’ll be reading poems that demonstrate the sideways, fun-face of poetry that helps to open up language to wilder possibilities.

I’ve always found that sharing the experience of writing together as a group makes for the most potent, direct connection to poetry—especially for new and beginning poets, but also for more seasoned writers. I’m hoping that through the act of writing, through the play and freedom of fooling around with words, those of you who are new to poetry and wondering “What the hell IS a ‘poem’ exactly?” will start to wriggle out of the handcuffs of “exactly” and find some satisfying, enlightening answers from this session’s writing experiences.

And for those who’ve found poetry has become old, too precious and dear, draped in a draggy cloak of manufactured “importance,” I’m hoping you’ll start to remember what it was to sneak around and have fun with language the way you did when you first fell for poetry’s wily, expressive charms.

Literary Agent Group Pitch Session – Andrea Hurst, Andrea Hurst Literary Management

This session will bring together a small group of writers to share their novel or nonfiction book concept with Andrea Hurst in a group setting.  If you have a concept and perhaps a start on writing your novel or nonfiction books, but do not have a complete draft, you may sign up for this session.  This session is not for screenplays, poetry, essays or short stories.  In the session, the attendees will each give a 1-2 minute summary of the manuscript, including:

  • Whether fiction or nonfiction
  • For fiction: specify commercial fiction, literary fiction or, if genre, which one.  Please know your genre
  • A very brief summary pitch telling the story concept.

Ms. Hurst will hear all the pitches and then make comments about each of them.  This is a unique opportunity to hear specific professional feedback on both your project and  your pitch from a literary agent, and is designed for those whose manuscripts are not quite ready for a one-on-one agent pitch.

Click here for more information on your options for pitching your project to Andrea Hurst at Write On The River.

Saturday – Session 4

Crafting Fiction/Memoir That Sells – Andrea Hurst

As a literary agent, Andrea will share with you the importance of knowing the publishing business and commercial elements necessary to succeed in writing and selling your novel or memoir. She will discuss how to polish, present and pitch your fiction manuscript so as to standout from the competition.

Areas to be covered include: Is your book title compelling?  Does your first line and first chapter hook the reader? Have you researched your plot to be sure it fits in a clear genre and appeals to the appropriate audience? Does your writing style and voice keep the reader invested in finding out what happens next? Learn how to get noticed, get read, and up your chances of getting sold. 

Social Engagement for Writers – Jason Brick

You haven’t written a book. You’ve started a business. The old model of a publisher handling all of the business concerns for your writing career is an endangered species. That’s bad news if you’re attached to that old model. If not, and you’re willing to learn fast and work hard to create your own writing success, it’s the best news for writers since they invented the printing press.

For a book-as-business owner, social media is one of your most powerful tools for engaging with your existing fans and finding new readers for your work. This presentation will teach you how:

  • The basics of Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and how to choose which two are best for your writing
  • Etiquette for posting on social media without looking like an idiot
  • How to maximize the effectiveness of your social media posts
  • Leveraging GoodReads.com and Amazon reviews as part of your engagement strategy
  • Why Google Authorship is the best thing ever for writers, and how to use it
  • Creating a content calendar to keep your social engagement fresh

The Situation Set-Up in Short Stories: How to Hook the Reader and Lift the Story Off the Ground – Scott Driscoll

 All stories great or small start with a disturbance. That disturbance is known as the Inciting Incident and it functions by causing an unbalance in the familiar world of the main character or protagonist. Establishing the context of that familiar world and planting the seeds of the story to come will be the subject of this workshop. In that familiar world we need to establish: a value for the character, an objective or goal that will offer the direction the quest will take, and the strengths and vulnerabilities that will both pressurize the situation and establish the possibility that the protagonist could succeed against opposition in the pursuit of that goal. We will look at short story examples and will try putting together a situation of our own.

The Nonfiction Book: Where Do I Even Begin the Journey? – Peter Stark

You should write a book!”  How often have you heard someone say that?

I’d like to write a book!”  How often have you thought that?

This may be a fleeting notion. Or it may be a lifelong dream. But then, once you actually embark on this project, cold, hard reality intrudes: A book about what??? And where do I begin? And how do I outline it, structure it, research it, shape it, write a proposal? Or do I write the book itself instead of a proposal, and then rewrite it….and rewrite it….and rewrite it…..? Do I want to try to sell it, and how do I go about that?

This session is a basic overview–a primer–in how to think about and undertake the long journey that is a nonfiction book. It is aimed at beginners to the process. The session will cover possible genres of nonfiction: memoir, travel, history, true-crime, etc. It will explore ways of approaching the material, researching it, and structuring it. It will examine the question of whether to write a proposal and what a proposal entails. It will lay out some possible paths to publication. The hope is that the participant in this session will gain some insights – some compass bearings – on how to begin the journey.


Sunday – Intensive 3-Hour Master Class Workshop

Story 404: When Mediocrity Won’t Do, or How to Put Your Story on Steroids – Larry Brooks

The class will cover how the basic core competencies–concept/premise, character, theme, structure, scene execution and writing voice–can be combined to become a sum in excess of their parts, resulting in a story that comes alive and separates itself from the rest of the bookshelf.

You will learn the chemistry–the literary physics–that make a story not only work for the reader, but become life changing and all-encompassing, through the writer’s deliberate mastery and manipulation of conceptually-driven premise development, the optimization of dramatic tension, the gauging of variable pacing, how to make your reader invest emotionally in your hero, and how to plunge the reader into an alternate story world that is both vivid and palpable.

This is what bestsellers do well, and it’s rarely an accident.  Get in on it through knowledge, rather than rolling the dice with your story.


Comprehensive Conference Events Schedule:


FRIDAY6:30 p.m. Keynote and Book Signing – Jess Walter Location TBD
8 – 8:45 a.m. Registration
8:45 – 9:20 Welcome and Opening Ceremonies – Campus TheatreALL WORKSHOP SESSIONS (BELOW) ARE IN WENATCHI HALL
Session One9:30-10:45 Dr. Frankenstein’s Character Laboratory- Craig English Writing the Young Adult Novel- Suzanne Selfors The Art & Science of Self-Publishing Success – Part 1- Jason Brick ASK A PROLarry Brooks10:45-11:30Jason Brick11:30-12:15
Session Two11:00- 12:15 Creative Nonfiction: Story Arc & Scene Setting- Wendy Call The Art & Science of Self-Publishing Success – Part 2- Jason Brick
12:15 – 1:45 LUNCH BREAK– All Lunch Time Activities held in Van Tassell Center Brown Bag Sessions:  Publisher RoundtableJennifer Gilbert, Booktrope   Working with a Small PressAudra Middleton & Liz Fountain     YOU are the Brand – Gavin & Nathan SeimAuthor Signing #1: 12:30-1:15
Session Three1:45 – 3:00 Structure 101: What Goes Where & Why- Larry Brooks Creative Nonfiction: Narrator & Theme- Wendy Call Poetry Circus- Arlene Kim Agent Group Session-Andrea Hurst
Session Four3:15 – 4:30 Crafting Fiction/Memoir that Sells- Andrea Hurst  The Situation Set-Up in Short Stories, Scott Driscoll Social Engagement for Writers- Jason Brick  The Nonfiction Book: Where Do I Even Begin the Journey? – Peter Stark
4:30 – 5:15 Reception with snacks + Book Signing in Wenatchi Hall Foyer
9 a.m. – 12:15 FICTION MASTER CLASS: Story 404: When Mediocrity Won’t Do, or How to Put Your Story on Steroids – Larry Brooks