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 on Friday, March 20. The Kentucky Writers Conference is made possible through the generous support of Dollar General.
Click on each workshop title below to see a full description. Registration on a mobile device not recommended. The conference is free and open to the public. Walk-in seating for open workshops is first-come, first-served on the day of the event.
Session 1: 9:00 am – 10:15 am
- Deborah LeBlanc—Hook ‘Em Danno
- Andy Plattner—Exposition in Short Story
- Blair Hess & Cameron Ludwick—My Old Kentucky Road Trip: Exploring Your Own Backyard
Learn about the use of exposition in short story writing, looking at examples from some of the great short story writers: Chekhov (“Oysters”), Paley (“Wants”) & Hemingway (“Soldier’s Home”). Andrew Plattner teaches fiction and literature courses at Kennesaw State University and fiction courses at Emory University.
- Jane Simon Ammeson—Researching A Historic True Crime Book
- Brad Modlin—Land Acknowledgment: Writing a Place and Its History
- Geoffrey Girard—Wrinkles in Time
Session 2: 10:30 am – 11:45 am
- Dana Chamblee Carpenter—Learning How to See and Play as a Writer
- Brent “Eliot” Parker—Create a Compelling Bad Guy that Readers Love to Hate
- Abbie Roads—Critique to Contract
A writer’s craft begins long before the fingers start plunking away at the keyboard. Writers must cultivate a way of seeing the world that looks beyond what is in order to see what might be. We have to engage each day like we’re explorers in a new land. But this kind of vision takes work and intention. We’ll talk about the practices and techniques we can use to hone the skills of seeing the world as writers and how we can keep our creative “wells” full.
In mystery and thriller writing, the protagonist (a detective, private investigator, federal agent, average citizen, etc) is often pitted against an antagonist whose motives are heinous. The reader follows the narrative with great interest, waiting for the moment when the protagonist and the antagonist will have their final confrontation. Readers expect the protagonist to be an interesting, flawed character who experiences “raised stakes” on their way to solving the mystery. However, readers also expect the antagonist to be equally complex, with flaws and motivations in direct opposition to those of the protagonist. Writers often spend a great deal of time developing the protagonist, but how can that same attention be given to creating a complex villain that readers are going to “love to hate?” This workshop examines strategies and techniques that mystery/thriller writers can use to creating a complex, interesting, and passionate villain that will be worthy of challenging the protagonist physically and/or emotionally.
Critiques are critical to writers because things get lost in the transition from living in our brain to typing it out on the keyboard. Critical things get lost. But we—the author—can’t see those things. That’s why critiques are so important. Through her own personal experiences with hundreds of critiques, Roads will share the real purpose of giving critiques and receiving critiques, the types of critiques (the good, the bad, the soul crushing), proper critique etiquette, and how to find good critique partners. This is a workshop that has been presented numerous times at Romance Writers of American chapter events and at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Conference. Abbie’s first book Race the Darkness was a Publishers Weekly Top 10 Pick for Fall.
- Kimmery Martin—Build Your Platform: Social Media Strategies for Writers
- Richard Taylor—Writing Poetry of Place
How can you harness the power of social media to get the word out about your writing? Kimmery Martin will share tips, tricks, and best practices to build a viable online platform. Martin is an emergency medicine physician, book reviewer, and author interviewer originally from Berea, Kentucky. The Queen of Hearts is her debut novel.
Richard Taylor is professor of English and Kenan Visiting Writer at Transylvania University and former Poet Laureate of Kentucky. Taylor has written numerous books, including Sue Mundy: A Novel of the Civil War; Girty; and Earth Bones.
Session 3: 12:45 pm – 2:00 pm
- Wendy Tyson—Finding an Agent
- Kayla Olson—Writing YA Fiction (It’s Not Just for Teens!)
- Mastering Your Query, with Literary Agent Alice Speilburg - NEW!
How does a writer find an agent, and what do they need to know about the process? Join Tyson, mystery writer, lawyer, and former therapist, as she shares crucial knowledge about how to find an agent that’s right for you—and your work.
In this workshop, literary agent Alice Speilburg will cover the basic structure of a query letter, tips and tricks for improving it, and tactics to avoid. Participants will then write (or revise) a query letter for their book, which they can then share for critiquing. The goal of this workshop is for participants to have a polished query letter in hand to send out to agents when they leave.
Alice Speilburg is the founding literary agent at Speilburg Literary Agency and has worked in publishing since 2008. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators, and The Authors Guild, and she is the Vice President on the board of Louisville Literary Arts. She represents narrative nonfiction and commercial fiction for adult and YA readers. For more information, please visit the agency website: speilburgliterary.com or find Alice on Twitter @alicespeilburg.
“Explaining humor is a lot like dissecting a frog,” Mark Twain allegedly said. “You learn a lot in the process, but in the end you kill it.” Thankfully, we’ve learned a lot about humor since Twain’s day. It’s now possible to dissect what makes something funny—and have fun doing it. New York Times bestseller and author of over half a dozen humorous books Andrew Shaffer will explain the “rules of comedy,” and offer tips on incorporating humor into your writing toolkit. Students will learn about hyperbole, repetition, and other basic comedic techniques and experiment with each through in-class exercises. No frogs or comedians will be dissected.
Ayser Salman was born in Iraq before it became a curiosity, and moved to America as a toddler. She is a writer and producer/editor for companies like Universal Pictures, Miramax Films, Disney, FX and Lantern Entertainment. Full workshop description forthcoming. Take a look at her author profile to learn more about her debut memoir, The Wrong End of the Table.
Session 4: 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm
- Heather Montgomery—Breaking Boundaries with Today's Nonfiction for Kids
- Jessica Young & Mary Uhles— Writing & Illustrating for Kids
- David Arnold & Courtney Stevens—First Pages Critique
From outrageous illustrations to irreverent voices, today’s boundary-pushing books are chipping away at the confining walls of humdrum nonfiction. Come examine how innovative topics, distinct voices, and surprising structures carry today’s children’s books beyond the traditional approaches to conveying information. In this session we will look at different approaches to the same topic, practice retching our own voices, and explore books that play with the fiction/nonfiction line.
Learn the ins and outs of writing and illustrating picture books and chapter books from two seasoned pros. Jessica and Mary will also cover some industry best practices helpful to those writing middle grade and young adult as well.
The process of critiquing each other’s work, including before and after examples. (complete description forthcoming)
- Lauren MacLeod & Jodi Meadows—Agent Author Relationship - CLOSED (Full)
- Elizabeth Weitzman—Writing the Fun Stuff: TV and Film Criticism
- Michael Croley—From the Ground Up: Writing Short Stories with Deep Roots
Join an actual author/agent team as they discuss how they work together through one publishing project after another! Jodi Meadows and her agent, Lauren MacLeod, will answer questions about how they work together, what they think works about their arrangement, and other general questions. They’ve been together since 2010 and sold twenty projects together, so they have a lot of time and experience to draw from. MacLeod has been a literary agent at the Strothman Agency (New York and Nashville) since 2007.
*This workshop is at full capacity. Email the Coordinator to be added to the waitlist.
Most students with an interest in writing learn about fiction, memoir, nonfiction–but what about criticism? As a film critic, Weitzman gets paid to watch movies before anyone else sees them, interviews the stars who appear in them, and impact which art others choose to see. Weitzman, most recently a senior film critic at the New York Daily News, has taught many classes on film criticism. Her book, Renegade Women in Film & TV, incidentally, was written to appeal to all ages, beginning with teens.
Join Michael Croley to study the art of the short story using examples from Allegra Goodman’s work along with John Cheever’s short story, “Reunion.” This workshop will cover all the bases, specifically, the movement necessary for a story to work.
Michael Croley was born in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature in 2016, his work has appeared in Narrative, Catapult, Blackbird, Kenyon Review Online, Virginia Quarterly Review, the Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. He teaches at Denison
The Kentucky Writers Conference is made possible through the generous support of Dollar General.