Kentucky Writers Conference

Bestselling authors and educators participating in SOKY Book Fest will teach craft workshops about everything from plotting techniques to employing poetic language to getting published. The conference is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so you must register in advance beginning in March 2019.

The Kentucky Writers Conference is made possible through the generous support of Dollar General.

Optional Registration

The conference is free and open to the public. Priority registration will open in March 2018.
Walk-in seating for open workshops is first-come, first-served.

Session Information:

Session 1: 9:00 am – 10:15 am

Appalachia is practically its own character in my novels. We’ll talk about how place can add depth to a story. How do you choose your setting? How do you bring it to life? How much research should you do? We’ll answer those questions and others you might have about bringing your setting to life. Come ready to jump in and participate through a combination of discussion and exercises!

Got an idea for a nonfiction book or memoir? Before you invest months or years writing it, hold up! Nonfiction publishing isn’t like the fiction market—you don’t need to have a completed manuscript before querying agents. New York Times bestseller Andrew Shaffer—author of two nonfiction titles for HarperCollins—will help you turn your idea into a slickly-formatted book proposal.

In “Writing That First Draft,” Wendy discusses what writers need to know about starting that writing process. Some of the topics she goes over in the workshop includes: Getting Started: Attitude Matters; Courting Inspiration; and Sketching the Big Picture That First Draft: Character &; Conflict; Whose Story Is It?; Where Do I Begin? Revise, Revise, Revise: Start With the Big Rocks; Avoid Common Problems; Finding Your Beta Reader Now What?: Submit or Self Publish?

A workshop on poetry as a form of resistance and recovery, with a specific focus on the work of June Jordan. We will also deal with subject matter, tone, and imagined and real interlocutors in poetry.

Session 2: 10:30 am – 11:45 am

This session distills a decade of collected wisdom into the all-time best insights into the creative process, the writing life, the craft of writing and the business of publishing. Get new perspectives on revolutionizing your writing routine, following the path of your story, revising with the right mindset, persevering through rejection, and more—from award-winners and bestsellers including Alice Walker, David Sedaris, David Baldacci, Patricia Cornwell, Khaled Hosseini, Brad Meltzer and Lisa Scottolini.

In this workshop we will examine various strategies to plot fiction, particularly mysteries or thrillers. Attention will be paid to developing an idea across plot points as well as examination of the arc of the story. We will work through various methods of tracking plot – including Excel spread sheets and more traditional note cards and posters.

Get ready to empty the pockets, drawers, and glove compartments. In this fiction workshop, we’ll create inventories to enrich character development. We’ll learn how the physical characteristics of a character (eye color, hair style, height) are much less important to readers’ understanding than the objects the characters encounter and with which s/he interacts. Inventory is where action and characterization meet, making it an essential part of plot.

So you’ve started writing your novel, but how do you get it finished? How do you know if it’s any good? How can you motivate yourself to keep going? Join Catherine McKenzie for a workshop on tools to move past the beginning of your novel and get it done.

Session 3: 12:45 pm – 2:00 pm

Join author and comics writer Michael Moreci as he discusses how to build rich, believable worlds in your fiction–after all, the galaxy far, far away started somewhere, and the same can be said for Middle Earth, Hogwarts, and so many other places that live in our imaginations.

It’s easy to underestimate how much conflict you need to hook your readers (spoiler alert: you need A LOT). Alma Katsu will teach you how to layer different types of conflict to create a compelling story that readers won’t be able to put down, no matter the genre.

How to write from where you are, or where you’ve been. Using examples from contemporary poets, discussion of how poets use language, image, detail, metaphor to convey the living essence of a place. Practical ideas for more fully seeing, expressing, and discovering the life of a place through poetry.

Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, a big part what gives your narrative voice and makes it your own, are the details you include. But how many do you need, and how do you know which ones are best? With a crash course on Charles Baxter’s ideas on “defamiliarization,” we’ll look at some seminal works that get the details just right, and we’ll do a few exercises to see if we can’t start getting them right ourselves.

Session 4: 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm

In this interactive, hands-on workshop, participants will learn how to weave together the three strands of plot/emotion, place, and character into a single, gripping scene. They will be equipped to engage the five senses in creating a sense of place to transport readers directly into the scene. Participants will write in class and some will be chosen to receive constructive feedback on the spot from the instructor in a guided, positive discussion.

The age of the computer and the Internet has led to an explosion of outlets for short fiction.  Literally several thousand journals, both in print and on line, offer respectable venues for publication.  How should an aspiring author choose among them? And what are the secrets to success in the publication game? In this session, an author who has garnered more than two hundred acceptance letters and 20,000 rejection slips in the course of his efforts to publish short fiction offers his “tricks of the trade” on such subjects as market selection and submission, contests, cover letters, “best of” anthologies, red flags, how to build a portfolio that will appeal to agents, and how to market a collection.  The purpose of this session is to demystify the submission and selection process, ultimately leading to a more impressive acceptance to submission ratio.  While writing is an art, publishing short fiction is as much a science as a creative endeavor–one that the determined and informed student can master.  After devoting so much time, energy and emotion to creating short fiction, why should an author leave publication to chance?

Ella Fitzgerald once said, “Don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Meet a 64-year-old writer who, after a rewarding career in law, and after raising three children, never gave up on her dream to become a published author. She is proud to call herself a ‘mature writer.’ Her hope is to inspire other mature writers not to give up on their dreams of publication in the midst of a business that often seems more favorable towards youth. She will offer practical tips to others for whom writing might be a second, third, or even fourth career, to help them enter, survive, and thrive in the jungle of traditional publishing.

Learn how to write a query or book blurb that will captivate agents, editors, and readers! Experienced teacher and bestselling author C.J. Redwine breaks the query writing process down into a simple, 3 step method, and answers all of your query-related questions. Bring a copy of your current query to participate in C.J.’s anonymous, on-the-spot critiques as time permits.

Registration Form

Event Details


April 26, 2019
9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Event Categories:


SOKY Book Fest
[email protected]


WKU South Campus
2355 Nashville Road
Bowling Green, KY 42101 United States
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Kentucky Writers Conference

The Kentucky Writers Conference is made possible through the generous support of Dollar General.

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