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2021 Workshops



 Simply register to attend the conference when registration opens, then select whatever workshops interest you on the day(s) you selected.

Workshop Information and Presenter Bios


Annette Dashofy 
Annette is the USA Today best-selling author of the Agatha-nominated Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. Annette is the vice president of the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime and has served on the Pennwriters Board of Directors since 2004 and received the Meritorious Service Award in 2013. She and her husband live on a farm in Washington County with their spoiled cat, Kensi.  

Workshop 1: Red Herrings and the Moonwalking Bear

Geared toward mysteries or any story with a mystery component, this class-participation workshop offers methods to create a puzzle that will keep your reader guessing until the end. From red herrings (multiple suspects, all with motives and secrets) to a moonwalking bear (hiding clues in plain sight), you’ll learn to craft a mystery to perplex even the most Sherlockian sleuth.
 
Workshop 2: Avoiding Emotional Clichés 
Do your characters burst into tears when they’re sad? Smile when they’re happy? Yell when they’re angry? Do they get weak in the knees when they’re frightened? If so, it might be time to take your writing to a higher level. In this interactive workshop, you’ll learn to spot these and other clichés as you discover how to delve into even the simplest emotions, allowing your reader to bond more deeply with your character’s heart and soul.
Brent Maguire
Brent is a psychologist (consulting, psychotherapy, teaching) and writer who’s interested in the care and feeding of writers, specifically with respect to the mental side of writing. helping writers from two broad perspectives: getting the psychology right on the page, and getting their personal psychology right to start and finish their work. Brent is soon to release book two of his psychological thriller series.

Harnessing Your Superpower: Psychological Self-care for the Writer

Writing is our superpower. Harnessing this superpower requires energy. For most writers, this is the activity that takes place between our ears.

The spark of inspiration requires nurturing to become a flame. It can also be snuffed out before it begins. The “how” of what we do is of at least equal importance to the “what.”

Some writers believe that writer’s block is a myth. Others have felt it more akin to a small city. Does it feel like your muse left without leaving a forwarding address?

This workshop will address such writerly issues as motivation, procrastination, and creativity, drawing from such areas as cognitive behavioral therapy, neuroscience, and positive psychology.

This will be a two-part workshop to allow a deeper dive into the topics.


 
Cara Reinard
Cara is an author of women’s fiction and domestic suspense with her most recent suspense titles being released from Thomas & Mercer, Sweet Water (January 2021) and Into the Sound (December 2021). Cara lives in North Pittsburgh with her husband, two children and Bernese mountain dog. When she isn’t writing or toting her son’s hockey bag around the tristate area, she enjoys running outdoors and live music.

2-Part Workshop: How to write an effective query letter  (Part 1= 30 minutes; Part 2 = 15 minutes)
Part 1: 
•The three-paragraph pitch (hook, synopsis, bio), recite personal query letter that has worked in attaining an agent
•KISS
•What not to include
•The hook formula from Publisher’s Marketplace
Part 2:
•Ask for volunteers to offer their examples out loud
•Feedback
*Takeaway: Authors should leave the workshop with the basic foundation and a proven formula to draft an effective query letter.
Carol Silvis 
Carol is the author of six college textbooks and five business books published by Cengage, the article “Time Management for Writers” in the 2012 Writers Market, and a dozen creative nonfiction stories in national magazines. She was interviewed for ABCNews.com, CBSMoneywatch.com, AARP online, Yahoo.com., and newspapers. She is past-president of Pennwriters, former vice president, former author advocate, conference coordinator multiple years, and 2008 Meritorious Service winner. Carol has presented workshops for multiple writing groups.

Workshop: Writing Book Proposals That Stand Out 
When it comes to nonfiction books, the sky is the limit. The variety and number of these books is soaring. If you have a good idea for a nonfiction topic, come learn how to write a proposal that will get noticed.This workshop will address writing proposals for various nonfiction niche markets such as textbooks, business books, self-help books, and more. Discussion will include addressing timely issues, choosing appropriate titles, researching the topic, interviewing experts, meeting a publisher’s needs, and submitting a proposal. As a bonus, you will receive tips for writing the accompanying query letter. Handouts are included.

Cathy Seckman 
I've been a published writer since the 1980s. My background is in newspapers, and I’ve sold hundreds of magazine articles. I am a professional indexer, with more than 200 to my credit. I’ve had a lot of experience conducting CE programs, so I am comfortable with lecturing. In 2018, AdventureKEEN Publishing released my travel book, Ohio Day Trips. In 2015, Arcadia Publishing published my Images of America title, East Liverpool. I've also indie-published four books. 

Workshop Beyond Boring: Add Oomph to Your Nonfiction
*Includes a Power Point presentation and a five-minute writing exercise
Creative nonfiction doesn’t get enough credit in the nonfiction world. Too often, the facts are too dry, the presentation is too clinical, and the reader is too bored to finish the article or book. Adding creativity not only keeps the reader interested, it adds enjoyment and value to the piece. As an opening example, I’ll share parts of the first and final drafts of what ultimately became a newspaper article for which I won an award from the Associated Press Society of Ohio.

Some Key points: 
•Tips and tricks 
•Start in the middle
•Look for the story behind the story
•Push the reader into the action
•Use all five senses
•How does it feel?
•Why should you care?
*In a five-minute writing exercise, attendees will write an article on the same subject, then share with the group for discussion.
Darla Grieco
Darla has published articles and short stories in Guideposts: Angel on Earth magazine and in various Chicken Soup for the Soul editions. In spring of 2021, several of her devotionals will appear in a compilation titled Wit, Whimsy & Wisdom. She also has another short story selected for use in a book set to release April 12, 2021. A psychology major throughout graduate school, she now uses the principles she learned to enrich her novel’s twists and turns and the characters she creates. Darla loves sharing craft lessons with her fellow writers. 

Workshop: Book Bibles and Storyboards
Whether you are a Pantser or Plotter, it never hurts to take a step back from your novel to review the finer details. This class provides several examples of organizational techniques that can be used to capture details—character information, settings, plot points, POVs, etc.—so you stay on track while writing your novel. Darla will share examples from her own works for using a binder system, a three-fold storyboard and even Scrivener. By utilizing these techniques, the writer will be able to remain focused and access important details within seconds, instead of having to scroll through hundreds of pages to find where she had written it in her novel. 

Deanna Adams 
Deanna is an award-winning, multi-genre writer, speaker, and hybrid author of eight books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her latest releases are Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Venues and  The Truth about Justyce, the third in her Peggy Sue series and her first young adult crossover novel. She has also written The Writer’s GPS: A Guide to Writing & Selling Your Book for aspiring authors. She teaches online courses for Pennwriters, and others. Her website is www.deannaadams.com

Workshop: 50 Things to Know To Avoid the Road to “Premature Publication”
Get the down-and-dirty, steamy, hot, and juicy details of the publishing world by Published Penn, Deanna Adams! She’ll guide you through this complicated world with 50 - yes 50! - ways to get your manuscript ready and get your book published! Included will be the publishing options available, discovering the differences between true self-publishing and indie publishing and ways to promote your book to keep it alive and selling.

Diana Dru Botsford
Author of Stargate SG-1 novels and short stories, Diana Dru Botsford's screenwriting credits include "Rascals" for Star Trek: TNG, the award-winning SF web series, Epilogue, and cult favorite animated series, Spiral Zone. Ms. Botsford's TV/Film work includes projects such as Terminator 2, Dusk 'Til Dawn, and Nightmare on Elm Street VI.  She founded critically acclaimed Missouri State University's screenwriting program in 2006.

Workshop: Playing in Someone Else's Universe
(With D.J. Stevens)
Media tie-in novels and short stories are based on pre-existing properties including films, TV series, games, famed literary properties, and even songs.  They regularly top the national bestseller lists, and they're sold everywhere from Barnes & Noble and Amazon to drugstores and gift shops. In this workshop, D. J.  Stevenson (Executive VP of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers) and Diana Dru Botsford (SHU-WPF, 2006) will share what it means to write in someone else's sandbox, how to break in, and what to expect when working with not only an editor and publisher, but with the Intellectual Property licensor as well. Topics will include what separates media tie-ins from fanfiction, what makes tie-ins uniquely difficult yet also easier to write, how to pitch an original story and/or adapt an existing tale while staying true to a franchise, and how to research and network with potential licensors and publishers.  The presentation will give attendees a collection of tools they can use to pursue this type of writing.


Don Helin
During his time in the military, Don served at a number of stateside posts as well as overseas in Vietnam and Germany.   He is the author of seven thrillers that draw from his military experience, including three tours in the Pentagon. He writes for TheBurg, a community magazine based in Harrisburg. His novel, Secret Assault, was selected as the Best Suspense/Thriller at the 2015 Indie Book Awards.You can reach Don at: www.donhelin.com.

Workshop: Travel Writing for Fun and Profit
You may be able to write a novel, sell it to an agent the first time, and go on to be a best seller and multi-millionaire. However, International Thriller Writers conducted a survey and found that, on average, it takes eight to nine years and four manuscripts to publish the great American novel.What are you going to do until you sell that novel? Maybe flip burgers or consider travel writing.There is always demand for well-written articles about fascinating places.  An alert writer can have fun and earn money writing about trips you take.This interactive workshop will help you learn how to structure a travel article, then find that all important editor to help you get it published.

D. J. Stevenson
D. J. is the Executive Vice President of the IAMTW, chairs the Scribe Awards, and chairs Pennwriters’ annual writing contest.  She has published twenty-two novels and over eighty short stories.  She’s worked backstage at local theaters, running lights and sound, and stage managing—and, once, keeping sets from falling over during a show. Most importantly, she’s a doting mother to her beloved, rambunctious, astronomically adorable cats.  Visit http://BluetrixBooks.wordpress.com for more information.

Workshop 1: Playing in Someone Else's Universe 
(See Diana Dru Botsford

Workshop 2: The Art of the Critique
Critiques are not rocket science.  They are much more difficult and confusing than that, because conflicting—even opposite—opinions can be equally legitimate.  This lecture will cover how to give a critique, as well as specific examples of what types or remarks to avoid.  It will help the critiquer separate taste (like/dislike) from quality (well written/poorly written) and focus their comments to help the author find and refine their own voice, not dilute or change it.  D.J. will cover techniques help the critiquers solidify and convey their thoughts constructively, detail the advantages and disadvantages of various types and sizes of critique groups, and give some guidelines on how to run them. Learning how to give a constructive critique helps not just the author, but also the reviewer as they can often apply their observations to their own writing. 

Erica Obey
Erica pursued an academic career specializing in the women folklorists of the nineteenth century before she decided she’d rather be writing the stories herself.  She is the author of five award-winning and critically acclaimed novels. Currently, she is hard at work on her Watson & Doyle series of updated cozies featuring a female programmer and the AI program she has created to write mysteries. Erica has served as an Edgars Judge as well as President of the MWA-NY chapter. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and taught Arthurian romance, fantasy, and mystery fiction before becoming a full-time writer.

Workshop: Colonel Mustard in the Library with the …. Cell Phone? 
(Updating Traditional Mysteries for the Twenty-First Century)

Is there still a place in mystery-writing for those of us who grew up loving Agatha Christie? Long considered an outmoded, escapist genre, traditional mysteries are making a comeback – arguably because readers could use a little escapism right now. This will be a hands-on workshop during which you can expect to complete a skeleton draft of an updated traditional mystery novel. I will provide a suggested bibliography as well as a brief overview of the history of golden age puzzles, but the core of the workshop will consist of worksheets on the basics of novel structure, with special attention given to how these “rules” differ in a golden age mystery, as well as how a contemporary writer might want to use or alter these “rules” in their own work. For example, we will begin with the central conflict that drives the plot and the question of internal versus external conflict. In the traditional mystery, internal conflict and character development is customarily sacrificed in favor of the puzzle. The workshop will encourage the participants to consider the benefits of this approach as well as how they might choose to violate that “rule.”
Other topics will include: necessary scenes and story structure, limited cast of characters, closed setting/society, rules for a resolution, the issue of genre-bending.

Fritze Roberts
Fritze is a freelance editor and former project manager who helps authors commit to their writing projects and enjoy success. She writes about monsters, aliens, addicts, and animals – even though she is none of these things. Her science fiction and fantasy stories contrast the small activities of every day with the larger mysteries of life. To learn more about her, visit www.APeculiarProject.com or find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Workshop Taking the Path Less Traveled: Writing the Unpopular Hero
So, you want to write a main character who isn’t a PC Liberal, isn’t a “good guy,” isn’t a straight-male-Christian, or just isn’t “normal.” Is that allowed? Of course, it is. In this workshop, we’ll talk about strategies for empowering your unique voice. We’ll address concepts of character “likability,” politics in writing, gatekeepers in publishing, and dealing with internet drama. 

Heidi Ruby Miller
Heidi is a travel writer and novelist. Her books include the AMBASADORA series, MAN OF WAR, and the award-winning writing guide MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT. Heidi teaches at Seton Hill University, where she graduated from their renowned Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program the same month she appeared on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Connect with Heidi and her husband, Jason Jack Miller, in their newsletter Small Space, Big Life and online.

Workshop: Write the Book They Can't Put Down
Heidi will guide you through tips based on her article "The Shifting Grail: A Quest for a Good Read" from the international award-winning writing guide Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction. Using examples from well-known movies and literature, she'll show how character motivation can dictate pacing and suspense, making your book one readers can't put down. There will be lots of opportunities to apply these tips to your WIP or to a new project.

*Taking the place of Selina Krinock's class:
Middle Grade (MG), In-between (INB),  or Young Adult (YA)? 
Attendees do not need to submit anything or bring anything with them. When pre-teens and early teens want to read about characters in their age group, they are sometimes out of luck so they either go for younger (MG) or older (YA) protagonists, but now there's INB. Which writers are writing for this formative demographic, and what great works have they given us? This workshop is based on Heidi's article for the January 2020 issue of The Writer magazine.

Jason Jack Miller 
Jason's travels and adventures inspired his Murder Ballads and Whiskey Series. He wrote Hellbender as a student in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program, where he's now an instructor. The novel won the Arthur J. Rooney Award for Fiction, the MacLaughlin Scholarship, and was a finalist for the Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award. He was a keynote speaker for the 2019 Pennwriters Conference. He's on Twitter and Instagram @jasonjackmiller.

Workshop Magical Realism: I Know t When I See 
What is magical realism? Where have we seen it in print or other pop culture mediums? How do we integrate it into our work? This craft-oriented class includes a survey of magical realism in literature and popular fiction and incorporates writing exercises that allow the student to utilize these elements in their own fiction.

Hilary Hauck 
Hilary is a writer and translator whose work has appeared in the Mindful Writers Retreat Series anthologies, the Ekphrastic Review, Balloons Lit. Journal, and the Telepoem Booth. She moved to Italy from her native UK as a young adult, where she mastered the language, learned how to cook food she can no longer eat, and won a karate championship. After meeting her husband, Hilary came to the US and drew inspiration from Pennsylvania coal history, which soon became the setting for her debut novel, From Ashes the Song, set for spring 2021 release. Active in the writing community, Hilary is past president of Pennwriters, founder of The Inkwell, and co-founder and Chair of the Allegheny Regional Festival of Books.  Hilary lives on a small patch of woods in rural Pennsylvania with her husband, one of their three adult children, a cat with a passion for laundry, and an oversized German Shepherd called Hobbes—of the Calvin variety. Follow her at www.hilaryhauck.com. 

Workshop: All is Lost
We’re going to dive headfirst into the moment when All is Lost. I’m not talking about your writing career—au contraire, I’m talking about that bit in your story when your hero hits rock bottom. When she gets in the deepest, darkest, biggest possible mess. Do it well, and it might just get your fiction noticed. We’ll answer questions like: Does my hero have to get into trouble? Is she in a deep enough rock bottom? Can’t she just walk away? What’s a whiff of death and do I need one?

Jeanne Moran
As a pediatric physical therapist, Jeanne helped hundreds of children with disabilities gain motor skills. That left her spare time (ha!) to teach Sunday School, direct an after-school program, and organize a community playground build. She has dabbled in tang soo do, tap dancing, and selling on eBay. Anything to avoid cleaning! Jeanne writes fiction and non-fiction for young and young-minded readers surrounded by vinyl records, countless books, and innumerable dust bunnies.

Workshop Beyond Wikipedia: Research basics for fiction writers
When Jeanne Moran researched her two Nazi-era historical novels, she bought and borrowed so many books she feared she’d be on a Homeland Security watch list. She embraced her inner nerd and dove into archives, interviewed survivors, traveled to the Library of Congress to view personal photo albums, and conducted research on site in Munich, Germany. As work on her middle-grade fantasy series began, Jeanne thought her research days were over. She was wrong! Turns out that research isn’t just for writers of nonfiction and historical fiction. To create a story that feels authentic to the reader, Jeanne learned that every fiction writer needs to research topics specific to their manuscript. This class will discuss the cyclical relationship between research and the fiction writing process. Reliable web-based and community resources will be identified so fiction writers in all genres can clarify the who, what, when, where, why, and how of their story. Through use of practical examples, students will begin to apply these Wh-questions to their own projects and recognize topics needing further research. 

Joan Ramirez 
Communicator who writes/edits for /places articles/news stories in print/electronic media in corporate, nonprofit, technical, financial, journalism/ academic environments. Writing workshops (K to High School) in Vietnam and Seoul in English and French. I’ve also published in literary magazines—print and online. Here are a few: Jamie is Autistic: Learning in a Special Way— (English/Spanish), Secret Desires by JL Regen.

Workshop: Memoir Writing 
Whatever you’ve   accomplished, whether it is raising a family, starting a company, or simply making the world a better place by being in it. My workshops will be conducted in a relaxed, nurturing manner that will enable participants to document their proudest accomplishments and fondest memories. Workshop Prerequisites: A mind open to writing, a spirit willing to share, and a readiness to listen.

Joel Burcat, Jason Liller, and Don Helin
Joel is a novelist and environmental lawyer. His debut novel, DRINK TO EVERY BEAST (Headline Books, 2019), about midnight dumping, was the first in his Mike Jacobs environmental legal thriller series. His second novel, and next in the series, is AMID RAGE, about strip mining, is due to be released February 2, 2021. He has received several awards including Second Place, PennWriters (Novel Beginnings, 2020). Also, he has published several short stories.

Jason is a ghostwriter, editor, and writing consultant who has worked in the book industry for nearly thirty years. He has worked with New York Times bestselling authors and has helped edit and create books that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Jason is the coauthor of Write That Book: The No-Nonsense Guide to Writing, Publishing, and Selling Your Book.  

Workshop: Fiction Writers and Editors Discussing COVID-19 and our Books 
No one can ignore COVID-19. The disease will have a profound and lasting impact. Fiction provides insight into the era in which the stories are set. This panel discussion is aimed at those who are currently writing a book or who are thinking about writing a book and trying to figure out how to deal with COVID-19 in their stories.
Joy Givens & Sandy Van 
Joy is a pun-slinging, hymn-singing storyteller and the lucky mother of two small superheroes. Raised in a big Midwestern family, Joy now lives in the blossoming literary community of Pittsburgh. She has written several award-winning short stories and writes middle grade and YA fiction to celebrate the fresh, fierce, fantastic side of life.

Sandi is a writer, college counselor, and overall organizer of lives. She is the author of three young adult verse novels that are part of an imprint aimed at encouraging reluctant readers. When she's not helping students or spending time with her family, you can find her in local libraries and coffee shops or wandering the woods.

Workshop: Developing Your Full-Length Works through Short Fiction and Poetry 
 Exploring forms of short fiction and poetry with works-in-progress can enable all writers, even writers of novel-length works, to strengthen their characters, narrative voices, and overall composition skills. We will discuss elements of style and composition, popular poetry and prose structures, and self-editing techniques. We will also test-drive these new skills in the session. Bring your WIP characters and come ready for a workout!
Larry Schardt 
Dr. Schardt is an award-winning, best-selling, multi-genre author. His book, James Conner: ...Football Hero, is “One of 24 Best Sports Biography Books of All Time” (BookAuthority-CNN, Forbes, Inc). Dr. Schardt is also a professional speaker, trainer, teacher, and entertainer. His passion for people, positive spirit, and zest for life radiates from his peace sign, to his smile, to his familiar “Rock'n'Roll!!!” Dr. Schardt sows seeds of love and happiness everywhere he goes.

Workshop: Putting a Positive Spin on Rejection and Enjoying a Lifetime of Success That Rocks!  
As writers we face possible negative criticism and rejection all the time. When we feel rejected we may want to toss our computer off a cliff and watch our hard work smash into tiny pieces in the rocks below, then crawl in a cave and sink into the dark shadow of self-pity. But if we look at rejection from a different perspective we can use the experience to grow, persist, and @lourish. I would like to help my friends at Pennwriters enjoy all life has to offer, even in the face of so-called “failure.” I will share the secrets of becoming a victor instead of a victim, making happiness a habit, and overcoming the diseases of cynicism, negaholism, and blame. I will also share the secrets of enjoying “Success That Rocks.” 
Mary Sutton 
Writing as Liz Milliron, Mary is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries and The Homefront Mysteries, both from Level Best Books. A past president of the Mary Roberts Rinehart chapter of Sisters in Crime, she is a member of  Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters, and International Thriller Writers. Her short fiction has been published in several anthologies. She lives near Pittsburgh with her husband and a very pampered, retired-racer, greyhound.

Workshop Not Your Mother’s History Lesson: Five Keys to Writing Historical Fiction
Writing historical fiction requires more than setting your story in the past. When writing and reading historical fiction, there are five things that, to me, either make or break the story: incorrect assumptions, use of anachronisms, language cadence, modern mindset, and dealing with inappropriate beliefs. Attendees of this session should come away with the knowledge that it takes more than researching clothing, events, automobiles, and habits to write good historical fiction and be able to apply the above tips to their own writing. 

Ruth Webster 
Ruth was born and raised in Covington, Kentucky. She is a retired National Board-Certified Teacher of social studies and language arts, who writes Civil War historical fiction published through Tree Shadow Press. The books are based on exhaustive research into the lives of actual soldiers from her own ancestry. Highlights of her writing career: staff writer on national niche publication, seven years as newspaper columnist, literary journal fiction prize, historical fiction author awards.

Workshop From Fact to Fiction: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up 
Participants will:
appreciate how historical fact can be incorporated into making story.
be introduced to easily accessible research techniques using the Internet.
consider using historical research in various genres of writing. Why not?
want to subscribe to Newspapers.com. It’s that much fun. 
Topics covered will include: a quick overview of the Kentucky Civil War (background setting), using a factual framework in writing historical fiction, genealogical research and family lore, historic newspaper research, first-hand accounts of common experiences, military records,  eureka moments, and the novelist as teacher.
Selina Krinock
Selina is a writer, poet, entrepreneur, and author of the new novel Swipe Left. Her five years of experience in the online dating world are reflected in her stories about these adventures. Selina earned a Bachelor of Science in English from Slippery Rock University and currently serves as the President of Violet Publishing, Inc. She loves 80's music and movies, concert tickets, and road trips. Selina lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her two children, a spoiled dog, and two eccentric cats. 

Workshop: How I Self-Published My First Book for Less than $3000 *Workshop Canceled 
Heidi Ruby Miller will be taking Selina's timeslot. See the course description (above) under Heidi's name.
I have spent the past year working on writing and publishing my first book. I have read lots of books and reference guides along the way to help me better understand this process. I want to help other novice authors by sharing what I have learned. I will speak specifically to the resources I have utilized and the costs I incurred to facilitate the publishing of my first book. I expect attendees to take away the knowledge that if I can do it, then so can they. It takes time, patience and perseverance. Writing the book is the easy part, and you shouldn’t have to figure all of this out on your own. Attendees will be given a list of specific websites, other references used, and where they can expect to spend their money. 
Sherry Knowlton 
Sherry is the author of the Alexa Williams suspense series, including Dead on the Delta and Dead of Winter. Passionate about books at an early age, she was that kid who would sneak a flashlight to bed so she could read beneath the covers. All the local librarians knew her by name. When not writing, Knowlton does consulting and travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of Southcentral Pennsylvania.

Workshop Putting the Reality in Fiction: How to Make the Most of Research
In this presentation, I will talk about the importance of research in grounding your fiction in reality. “Write what you know” is one of those lines that are often taught to aspiring writers. This session will also focus on how to expand what authors know in ways that can expand the scope of their fiction. I will cover basic research techniques and methods such as:
internet and library research, 
use of source documentation, 
historical societies/other specialty sites that can provide information, 
input from experts and how to approach for help, and 
  and using hands-on experience for authenticity.
Attendees will learn the value of research to ground their fiction writing, be aware of effective sources and techniques (especially when reaching out to experts), understand that personal experience has its limitations, and gain a new enthusiasm for research when tackling an unfamiliar subject.
Stacey H. Rubin 
Stacey has an MFA from Seton Hill University. She is a nurse practitioner with a Master’s degree from The University of Florida. Stacey works in a busy neonatal intensive care unit in Hartford, Connecticut. Her experiences supporting mothers and babies are captured in The ABC’s of Breastfeeding, published by AMACOM books in 2008. Stacey lives in Connecticut and is revising a women’s fiction novel. 

Workshop 1: Medicine in Your Manuscript 
Illness, accidents, and childbirth are universal human experiences. Our fictional characters bond, rejoice and grieve during these same life events. However, writing a realistic hospital scene, with true-to-life detail is a challenge. This workshop explores what writers need to know about the modern medical professional, medical lingo, and the daily reality behind hospital walls. Class includes examples of well-crafted scenes from published novels.  

Workshop 2: Forging Her Own Path-Your Heroine’s Quest 
The Heroine’s Journey is fundamentally different from the Hero’s Journey. In order to craft a realistic and relevant heroine, a writer must recognize that the heroine is not a scaled-down version of the hero. Adversity necessitates that a hero overcome physical danger, however, the heroine’s transformation is experienced internally. This workshop explores the path, based on the work of Maureen Murdock, that results in feminine transformation. Each phase of the heroine’s journey is illustrated with examples of relevant, inclusive, and cross-genre heroines from published novels. Writers will learn to apply the principles of the heroine’s journey to their work-in-progress.
Suzanne Grieco Mattaboni 
Suzanne is a fiction writer, podcaster, PR professional, and author of the novel Once In a Lifetime (pending, TouchPoint Press). She has been published in Seventeen, The Huffington Post, Mysterious Ways, Guideposts.com, Child, Dark Dossier, Motherwell, Turtle, The Best of LA Parent, “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” and the “Running Wild Anthology of Stories.” She’s a winner of Seventeen magazine’s Art and Fiction Contest and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Workshop Anthologies and Contests: Opportunities for Short Fiction 
This session will outline opportunities to get your short stories, poetry, or essays recognized in venues including anthologies, contests, award competitions, and select recurring magazine features, including providing a list of ongoing prizes and outlets. We’ll outline some of the benefits of spotlighting your work in these media, including opportunities for publicity. Topics include blind submissions, submission fees, logo use, resources, and post-contest press releases.
Timons Esaias
Timons is a satirist, writer, and poet living in Pittsburgh.  His works, ranging from literary to genre, have been published in twenty languages. He has also been a finalist for the British Science Fiction Award, and won the Asimov's Readers Award. His story "Norbert and the System" has appeared in a textbook, and in college curricula. He was shortlisted for the 2019 Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Prize. He teaches in the Seton Hill MFA.

Workshop 1: Punching Up Your POV
Your fiction will be flat if you can't get the flavor of your POV into every page. We will discuss and address the two main causes of that lack of flavor (Picking a Bland Protagonist; Leaving Your Team on the Bench), and we'll practice some tricks for pouring a reduction sauce onto your prose. I have a collection of exercises that teach the participants some key tricks to enriching their prose. I tend to alter the choices depending on the questions and responses I get to the initial exercise.

Workshop 2: Three Frighteningly Empowering Poetry Exercises
*There will be three frighteningly empowering poetry exercises. You don't need to know a danged thing about verse, rhyme, scansion, or the degradation products of plutonium to benefit from this workshop. Writing is writing, and these three (or perhaps more) exercises will remind you of sneaky ways to intensify the reader's experience. Poetry will be the method, but it's really just the excuse.
Susan Meier
A published author for over thirty years, Susan started writing on a manual typewriter and used every incarnation of word processor until personal computers were finally invented. She’s learned social media, is dipping her toe into self-publishing, uses YouTube for research, and realizes that even as having talent gives you a chance to express yourself, your career shouldn’t be left to chance.

Workshop: Keeping the Tension Alive in Romance Novels Without Sex
Some of the highest-selling romance novels are clean romances, romance novels without sex. They range from stories that have the main characters barely kissing to characters who are clearly attracted who have sex “off page.” In this day and age when we have the door open on everything, how do authors write best-selling stories without sex? Join Susan Meier as she tells you the secrets to writing a fantastic story that lures in readers and captivates them from page one to the happily ever after. For those writing romances with sex, the tricks and tips in this workshop will show you how to deepen your story and add emotional intensity.
Abigail Drake
Abigail has spent her life traveling the world, collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She is the award-winning author of eleven novels, two novellas, and two short stories. She also blogs about her dog, a Labrador named Capone.

Workshop 1: Is It Your Story to Tell? 
In this workshop, we’ll talk about the concept of “own voices.” We’ll also delve into ways to include more diverse characters in your writing, without leaning heavily on stereotypes.It can be a fine line to walk, and in an ever-changing landscape, it’s important to know how to avoid making errors that could make your reader feel uncomfortable or insulted. How can you write interesting characters respectfully? And can you do it without taking on a role that isn’t yours? This is a complicated issue, and it has to be approached with cautious consideration. We’ll discuss this topic, and look at ways we can improve our understanding, avoid making major mistakes, and face our own biases. 

Workshop 2: How To Be a Hybrid, and Why It’s the Way of the Future
Many authors choose to be completely self-published, and others take the traditional route. What if you want to do both?In this workshop, Abigail Drake will discuss how she ended up being a hybrid author, and why it works for her. She’ll analyze the following: risks and benefits of being self-published, the negative and positive of traditional publishing, ligitimacy of a small press, getting an agent (or not), idefining your goals, and identifying who you are as a writer.
Bobbi Carducci
Published in newspapers, magazines, online, creative nonfiction/memoir, an award-winning children’s book and a former professional book reviewer, Bobbi is a frequent presenter at writer’s conferences and workshops. In addition to writing, Bobbi is the co-host, with her husband, Mike of the podcast for caregivers, RodgerThat.show

Workshop Authors Need Two Legs to Stand On: Platform and Marketing

New to writing? Begin sell your message before you sell your book. Today Marketing and Platform are critical for all writers. Learn to connect with your audience before submitting your work for publication. What you don’t know can hold you back.  

Nancy Springer
Nancy is a lifelong professional fiction writer who has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, and mystery.  She has collected starred reviews and other honors until it is no use mentioning them anymore, except maybe for those two Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America. Her latest release is GrandGhost, women’s literature with a paranormal twist. But her most popular works, no contest, are a series of short novels about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister. The first ENOLA HOLMES feature film is coming in 2020 from Legendary Productions.  Emmy-nominated young actress Millie Bobby Brown stars in the brilliant, devious and daring role of Enola.  Nancy could not be more thrilled.

Workshop: Muddle in the Middle
Ah, the dreaded middle slump—all too common in novels as in people. Indeed, despite your best efforts, your manuscript may be downright potbellied. How do you tighten that thing up? In this class, learn how to get rid of that boring muddle in the middle, sometimes in surprisingly simple ways. And sometimes maybe not so simple… But the goal is to make your novel taut, trim, and irresistibly readable throughout.