(Subject to change)
Hosted by Anna Lefler and Joel Madison
Remember when you and your funny writer friends used to set up a fake nightclub and spend the evening taking turns onstage reading your essays into a hot mic? Neither do we, but it sounds like a blast so we’re doin’ it! That’s right, it’s Essay Cabaret. For one night only, our pop-up nightclub in the Dayton Marriott will showcase workshop attendees reading their funniest essays in a lively cabaret format. And, just to keep things interesting, the names of our readers will be drawn live onstage… Whether you’d like to get up and share your work with a live audience, or just cheer from the sultry shadows, make plans to join us at Essay Cabaret — and don’t forget to tip your server!
Premiering 9 p.m. Thursday, April 2, Marriott at the University of Dayton Tradewinds
Stand-Up Comedy Night
Hosted by Brian Kiley
The workshop will end where it begins — with hilarity. In his debut appearance at EBWW, Emmy Award-winning comedian Brian Kiley will emcee the traditional Stand-Up Comedy Night, featuring 15 attendees. A dozen will be chosen randomly in advance, and another three will be selected after an “audition” before a panel of celebrity judges.
9:30-11 p.m., Saturday, April 4, Marriott at the University of Dayton Ballroom
Pitchapalooza — American Idol for Books
Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry
A workshop favorite! Pitchapalooza is American Idol for books (only kinder and gentler). Twenty writers will be selected at random to pitch their book idea. Each writer gets one minute — and only one minute! A panel of judges will help these writers, and everyone in the audience, improve their pitches. Judges critique everything from idea to style to potential in the marketplace and much more. Authors and audience come away with concrete advice as well as a greater understanding of the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Whether you’re pitching yourself, or simply listening to trained professionals critique other writers, Pitchapalooza is educational and entertaining for everyone. From Los Angeles to New York City, and many stops along the way, Pitchapalooza has consistently drawn standing-room-only crowds, press and blog coverage, and the kind of bookstore buzz reserved for celebrity authors. At the end of Pitchapalooza, the judges will pick a winner. The winner receives an introduction to an agent or publisher appropriate for his/her book. Numerous authors have received publishing deals due to Pitchapalooza. Bonus: Anyone who buys a copy of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published will be entitled to a free webinar in which they will get their pitch critiqued live by The Book Doctors.
3:30-5 p.m., Saturday, April 4, Riverview Cafe
CRAFT OF WRITING
Memoir Boot Camp (offered twice)
The decision to write memoir can be both exhilarating and paralyzing. You know your story has value but all you can see are the obstacles ahead. “What will my family think?” “What if I’m afraid to write about my worst moments?” “How do I even begin?” Sophfronia Scott will gently guide you through a process to help you first grasp the story you want to tell and then shape it into a page-turner readers will want to read. You’ll learn how to develop scenes, use metaphor, communicate voice and put fully formed personality and character into your work. You’ll also learn how to be a reporter and researcher of your own life to help you either round out the facts or find vital missing pieces. The class will read excerpts from published memoirs and use writing prompts to generate material and practice craft techniques. Writers will develop an understanding of the mechanics of memoir and the tools to work toward a first draft manuscript.
Personal Essays Gone Wild! (offered twice)
The literary world is all abuzz about this new, hybrid essay form. A term coined by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola, the “hermit crab essay” is a delightful new breed of personal essay that borrows known structures — recipes, how-to manual, syllabus, drug facts, the pain scale, apologies, dating profiles, form letters — to tell a story or explore a topic. A great choice for both humor and human interest writers, these essays touch the heart and tickle the funny bone in creative and unique ways. In this interactive session, we will examine this emerging form and write one of our own.
Writing Stories That Matter (offered twice)
This generative session takes on the question of how to write the stories that matter. We’ll consider how to work with structure, characterization, detail, and irony to create memorable stories either in fiction or in creative nonfiction. Come prepared to write. After considering some models, we’ll close with an activity designed to generate the beginning of a story.
How to Uncover Your Own Voice and Get It Down on Paper (one time only)
Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff
Using a series of improvisational writing techniques and a simple kitchen timer, this hands-on workshop will help you get past your self-criticism, reveal your unique voice and help you incorporate that voice into your writing. You’ll learn how to use your voice to paint a clear picture for readers, helping them experience who you are, where you are, who you are to the others in your scene and what makes this day so important in the story. Come prepared to write without self-editing and to give your imagination a good workout.
Wooing Your Muse: Rediscovering Inspiration and Jumpstart Your Writing (offered twice)
Are you seeking the inspiration (and nudge) to start a new project (or finally finish one!)? This workshop provides a creative boost by focusing on creating and defending a writing schedule, dealing with the inner critic and defeating writer’s block — as well as providing writing prompts and exercises to get you back on track when you’ve lost your way (or your muse has stopped taking your calls).
Songwriting: The Healing Power of Music (one time only)
Singer/songwriter Kellie Haddock has lived through tragedy and found hope and joy on the other side. In her workshop, she will invite writers into the behind-the-scenes experience of crafting a song and help them find their own writer’s voice as they explore song structure and lyrics. As part of the workshop, she’ll perform original music, written from the heart, that speaks to love, compassion and hope.
Surprise and Delight Your Readers on Every Page (one time only)
Suspense isn’t just for thrillers. It’s not even just for fiction. Whether we’re reading a humorous essay, a heartfelt memoir or a page-turning novel, we love the build of anticipation, the satisfaction of the unexpected. This interactive workshop uses prompts, examples and tips to help you master tricks for keeping your readers on the hook, from the paragraph level to the story’s premise. You’ll twist turns of phrase, uncover your character’s secrets (even if that character is you!), pull the rug out and leave with plenty of ideas for adapting these techniques to your own work-in-progress.
Family — The Ties That Bind…and Gag! (offered twice)
With humor, compassion and irreverence, Erma Bombeck brought to life “a strange little band of characters,” the family, in her writings. Lian Dolan, host of Satellite Sisters, a podcast she created with her four sisters, moderates a panel of writers who beautifully and, often hysterically, write about the foibles of family life. Featuring Tracy Beckerman, nationally syndicated humor columnist; Chris Erskine, columnist for the Los Angeles Times and author of Daditude; and Leighann Lord, a comedian known as the “urban Erma” who created the podcast, “People with Parents.”
This special feature of the workshop is underwritten by Marcia Stewart, book editor and author, in honor of her beloved late sister Nickie, an aspiring humor writer and hilarious soulmate.
Humor Writing: Punch Up Your Prose (offered twice)
Your friends think you’re funny, your family thinks you’re funny, and your sensibility is more Seinfeld than Sartre. So how come your writing sometimes winds up so dry? Hint: Your high school English teacher said that writing was solemn business. In this workshop, it’s payback time. You’ll be encouraged to look at the world the way nature intended: with your sense of humor. We’ll discuss personal essays, comic fiction and topical satire. And our in-class exercises (relax, no cardio) will help you find the funny in the characters, dialogue and situations you create. Whether your goal is to write a “Shouts and Murmurs” piece for The New Yorker, a list for McSweeney’s or a book-length humor collection, the first step is the same: take your sense of humor seriously.
How to Tell Your Story (offered twice)
In this interactive workshop, you’ll learn how to turn painful, strange or even mundane life experiences into performable funny stories from a master — a winner of The Moth GrandSLAM. You’ll dig inside your own lives to find humorous, relatable material, which unifies an audience, making them laugh at their own experiences through your performance. You will leave with a strong direction of how to structure a live story while thinking, “I can’t believe I told a room full of strangers about that and I can’t believe they all laughed!” Workshop includes writing and oral exercises, for all levels of experience.
Satire Starter Pack (offered twice)
Satire is often called the “comedy of outrage.” It’s a form of writing that uses the deep emotions of the author to express a point of view through comedy. In this workshop with the creator of The Second City’s Online Satire program and co-founder of the Satire and Humor Festival, you’ll look at satirical examples, discuss different formats that work for The New Yorker’s “Shouts & Murmurs” section and McSweeney’s and learn a repeatable brainstorming process to use going forward to create topical and evergreen satire.
Erma’s Got Talent: The Stand-up “Auditions” (one time only)
With celebrity judges Brian Kiley, Wendy Liebman and Leighann Lord
Put your business card in the ring for a chance to test your two-minute stand-up routine in front of an EBWW audience and three stand-up veterans armed with insight and constructive criticism. Whether you get the golden buzzer or just some solid advice for taking it to the next level, this session will help participants and non-participant attendees craft better comedy and performances. Three participants from these auditions will be added to the Saturday night show lineup.
How To Be A Stand-Up Rock Star: Writing Tips, Stage Strategies, Obstacles and Opportunities (one time only)
Moderated by Nancy Berk, featuring Wendy Liebman, Brian Kiley, Kathy Kinney and Joel Madison
A panel of pros will share their comedy journeys and insights to help guide attendees through the muddy waters of stand-up. From writing great material, building and protecting your brand, and snagging stage time to pitching jokes, projects, and shows, this panel will be an information-packed event for anyone who wants to dive into or punch up their comedy.
Welcome to the Writers’ Room (one time only)
Writing scripted comedy is a dynamic, collaborative process. Re-writing scripted comedy is what a writers’ room is all about. This session will mirror the tasks and atmosphere of a professional rewrite room as you and your fellow attendees dig into a real sitcom script under the direction of industry veteran Joel Madison (Roseanne, Fresh Prince, Undeclared, Crashing). You will have the opportunity to review and study pages of a real script in the weeks before the workshop and gather your thoughts on how to improve it from your own comedy perspective. Then, in a group setting, pitch your new jokes, scenes and even entire story lines to Joel and your fellow attendees as everyone collaborates to hammer out a better, funnier version of the script. As Joel moderates this fun and lively session, he will also share his own hilarious anecdotes from the TV and movie trenches, giving you a true insider’s view of the scripted writing experience. Whether you want to jump in and pitch your own jokes or you simply want to see what a real comedy writers’ room is all about, this session will give you a perspective that you can’t get anywhere outside of Hollywood.
How to Pitch So You Don’t Get Ghosted (offered twice)
Whether you want to write a first-person essay, how-to, reported piece or profile, a good pitch letter with a great spin on a topic, timely element, newsy connection or an unusual personal experience will capture the attention of an assigning editor. That’s no easy feat. Editors receive hundreds of pitches a day, and as a magazine editor, and widely published journalist and writing coach, Estelle Erasmus knows how to break through the noise to elicit an editor’s interest. The first part of the session will feature tips and tricks — and show why Estelle and her students have gone viral in The New York Times and the Washington Post. In the second part, she will review your written pitches and help you to make them pique an editor’s interest.
Ask the Agents (offered twice)
Featuring Stacey Graham, Sam Hiyate and Paula Munier
This Q&A with a panel of agents provides you with an opportunity to find out what agents look for in sample chapters, what makes them stop reading, what they can do for self-published authors, what they want to hear during a live pitch, and much more. You’ll get the chance to ask the agents about any topic, from platform and marketing to self-publishing and series writing. Whether you’re writing for children or adults, fiction or nonfiction, these agents can answer your questions.
Intro to Ebook Self-Publishing: How to Publish, Distribute and Sell Your EBook (offered twice)
It’s easier to self-publish an ebook than you might imagine. No technical knowledge required! In this introductory, jargon-free primer on ebook self-publishing, Smashwords marketing director Jim Azevedo covers the basics. The workshop begins with an overview of the latest publishing industry trends, then delves into the benefits of ebook self-publishing and concludes with an ebook publishing checklist covering everything you need know to get started — from ebook formatting and pricing, to metadata and cover design best practices. Attendees will leave with actionable information they can use to get their ebooks distributed to global retailers and public libraries.
Profitable Authorship — Quit Your Day Job (offered twice)
Within three years, Rebecca Regnier earned enough money from book revenue to put her son through college and quit her TV journalist’s job. Regnier did it without an agent or a publishing house. In this dynamic session, Regnier explains why she chose independent authorship and why it might be right for you. She’ll blow the doors off of antiquated publishing business models and share methods on how to discover a profitable genre. Regnier will lead attendees through in-depth analysis of cover design, successful book blurbs, and how to craft stories that readers want. Learn the mindset and the resources needed to succeed as an indie author. If you’ve ever dreamed of earning a full-time income as an author, this session might your first chapter.
The How-To of National Syndication (offered twice)
What does it take to get nationally syndicated and paid? Is syndication the holy grail as perceived? As the writing landscape has changed, it is no longer about being an excellent writer. It’s about branding. What’s your niche elevator pitch? Lisa Glowinski, who oversees More Content Now for Gatehouse Media, will share how writers with expanded platforms — podcasting, video blogging, YouTube and other social media — can attain national syndication.
Book Publishing Paths: What’s New? What’s Old? What’s Right for You? (one time only)
Moderated by Jessica Strawser, featuring Jim Azevedo, David Braughler, Jane Friedman and Cindy Ratzlaff (one time only)
Over the last decade, the publishing industry has undergone tremendous evolution with the growth of online retail and digital books, as well as the power of any author to publish and distribute their work at the click of a button. But which path is right for you and your book — and how do you sift through the increasing number of hybrid publishers and services that make a lot of promises, but cost you a lot upfront? A panel of publishing pros helps you understand the pros and cons of every major publishing path.
How To Get Published Successfully (one time only)
Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry
It is the greatest time in history to be a writer. The barrier to publishing has been torn down and now anyone can get published. But to get published successfully is a whole other matter. Two publishing pros — The Book Doctors — take you through the entire publishing process. This step-by-step, soups-to-nuts workshop will remove the smoke and mirrors from the murky world of publishing and give writers a compass and map to a successfully published book. Topics covered include:
- Choosing the right idea
- Creating a blockbuster title
- Crafting an attention-getting pitch
- Putting together a selling proposal/manuscript
- Finding the right agent/publisher
- Self-publishing effectively with ebooks, print-on-demand or traditional printing
- Developing sales, marketing and publicity savvy
- Producing a video book trailer and helping it go viral
- Building a following through social media
MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Tools & Tips to Get More Eyes on Your Words: It doesn’t matter how good your writing is if nobody sees it (offered twice)
Your Author Website: Mistakes You’re Making and How to Fix Them (one time only)
Whether your website is one day old or 10 years old, you want to make sure the resources that you’ve put into your site will pay off with more readers, more sales and more opportunities for your career. Learn about the five biggest mistakes that authors make with their websites that can affect their usefulness and impact. You’ll also learn best practices for design and content, the most important visual areas to focus on (where do visitors’ eyes land first and how can you take advantage of that?), plus valuable online strategies to help grow your career.
Podcasting for Writers: A Trifecta for Writing Success (one time only)
These days it seems like everyone has a podcast, but should you jump on the bandwagon and buy a cool microphone? Either way, every writer has the ability to benefit from podcasting. This workshop will look at three dimensions of podcasting that can enhance writing success. Research: We will examine the wide world of podcasts and explore how being a podcast consumer can boost your writing research and marketing strategy. Promotion: We will discuss the intricacies of guest appearances, how to pitch and capture the attention of podcast producers, and how to make the guest spot pay off. Platform: We will dive into the pros and cons of hosting your own show, the basic requirements and costs, different formats, and strategies, tips and resources for a smart launch.
Eight Reasons You Need a Blog and eNewsletter — and Eight Tips for Quickly Making Them Work For You (offered twice)
With a plethora of social media platforms, aren’t blogs and email newsletters passé? Best relegated to the realm of dinosaurs…and dial-up modems? No! The overwhelming swirl of social media is just one of several reasons why you DO need a blog and an enewsletter, created in tandem, no matter where you are on your writing and publishing journey, and no matter what kind of writing you do — fiction, humor, nonfiction or other. But fear not. Though the idea may at first make you groan at “having-yet-one-more-thing-you-must-do,” by the end of this session, you’ll feel energized about jumping in (or jumping back in) to creating your blog and enewsletter. You’ll learn why it’s best to create both together, as a pair that supports one another. Plus, you’ll learn practical tips and how-tos to keep your blogging and enewsletter creating time simple and fast, so that rather than just taking time from your writing life, the practice will enhance your writing life.
How to Brand Yourself, Build a Platform, Balance a Personal Life and Create a Bestseller, Without Killing your Spouse, Alienating Your Friends or Running Screaming into the Night (one time only)
Cindy will share the exact steps she used in helping bestselling authors create powerful, purposeful and result-oriented personal brands on their websites and through social media. She’ll share her formula for determining which social platforms will work best for you, based on your unique goals. You’ll come away from this workshop with a step-by- step plan for creating a digital footprint that will help readers find you and your work. A handout with free social tools and recommended uses will be included.
SPECIAL ADD-ON SESSIONS (advance registration required, space limited)
Speed Dating for Writers
Moderated by Tracy Beckerman
Back by popular demand. Need encouragement or advice? Seasoned writers, marketers and agents will answer your questions and share writing and publishing tips. It’s based on a speed-dating model that allows writers to learn a variety of perspectives from the pros in a short amount of time.
Get Your Book Published! (one-on-one self-publishing consultations)
Jim Azevedo and David Braughler
Struggling to understand the difference between hybrid publishing and DIY self-publishing? Not sure which path is right for you? Don’t know what you don’t know? Fret not. Jim Azevedo of indie ebook distributor Smashwords and David Braughler of hybrid publisher Braughler Books are available to meet individually with writers to answer all your burning questions. From the essentials of editing, cover design, formatting, ISBNs and copyright, to marketing, retail and library distribution, David and Jim are here to address the questions you should be asking yourself before publishing your book.