Class Descriptions

2018 Greater Nebraska Writers Conference Class Descriptions

Friday, Oct 12

1:00-2:50
Pitch Review and Practice – Chris Wevik (Repeated at 4 p.m.)
Pitching your work to an editor, agent, or publisher is intimidating and nerve-racking. And knowing that they get hundreds of queries and pitches and pass on most of them doesn’t give us much hope of getting our work published. Increase your odds by making your pitch sing!
 
In this session, you’ll learn how to find the basic but most unique elements of your story and present them in a succinct and interesting pitch. You’ll have an opportunity to practice and refine your pitch before that face-to-face, and give your book the best chance at meeting the world!
 
2:00-2:50
Building a Writing Team – Gina Barlean 
Join me for a conversation about how to make the most of your Guild Membership and how to steer your writing career. It’s all about Networking! We’ll do some in-class activities and break the shyness barrier together!
 
Over the years, Gina helped to initiate a recycling program in her county; owned and operated a professional photography studio from 1992 to 1998 (I donated the negatives from my business to the Butler County Gallery. Many have been scanned and can be viewed here.); directed fund-raising and the events schedule for several years at The Thorpe Opera House in David City. One event she was very proud of was organizing Choirs of the Community, a concert featuring the music of all the church choirs of Butler County’s Christmas performances; was hired as the Facilitator for a community growth program called, Home Town Competitiveness, a program developed by The Center for Rural Entrepreneurship where she helped to organize and lead Leadership classes in David City and Central City for several years, and also was a key organizer for a University of Nebraska Rural Education Entrepreneurship Camp called ESI Investigation. This program was piloted in Butler County, Nebraska; and worked as the director of The Butler County Chamber of Commerce for several years prior to beginning her writing career in 2009.
 
Preparing for and Selling at an Event – Kathy Gilmore and Sabrina Sumsion 
Manning a table to sell your books at an event can be frustrating if not done well. Learn the do’s and don’ts of in person events.
 
Step by Step Self-Publishing – Sarah Buhrman 
Sometimes you don't want to wait for a publisher to take on your book. Sometimes you don't want to share the royalties. Sometimes you have a niche book that the market isn't picking up.
 
Whatever the reason, self-publishing is a legitimate alternative to traditional publishing. But there are a lot of details that can make or break your book. Make sure you have all your editors in a row before you hit that Publish button.
 
Sarah has self-published four books in the last two years and has helped others self-publish their works.
 
3:00-3:50
Creating Dynamic Characters – Johnnye Gerhardt 
Anton Chigurh of “No Country for Old Men.” Marge Gunderson of “Fargo.” Atticus Finch of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The Marquise de Merteuil of “Dangerous Liaisons.” All delicious characters. Some we love. Some we love to hate. Come with your characters in mind or create them during the presentation. Discover how to make them as exciting, enthralling, unique, and essential to the story. We’ll discuss ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and how that alters them. We’ll discuss extraordinary people in everyday circumstances and how they change their world.
 
Author, Screenwriter, Lecturer, Actress, Editor, Johnnye is a graduate of Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting Colony. She studied under Professor Linda Voorhees of the UCLA School of Film and Bob Anderson of New York. She has been a finalist three times in the Omaha Film Festival and been an extra in feature films as well as appeared in commercials. Ms. Gerhardt freelances as a script doctor. She lectures on screenwriting, characterization, and dialogue. She has served on the Nebraska Writers Guild Board of Directors twice.
 
Fantasy Worldbuilding – Katherine Wielechowski
Every author has to set the scene for their stories. They have to show the reader early on where and when the story takes place, ie. World War II era France, Ancient Macedonia, or modern Chicago. Standard fiction gets to play by the rules of the world, using established class systems, languages, countries, and creatures.
 
Fantasy gets to throw out that rule book and make its own. The fantasy author is the total master of their universe, using the technique of world-building, which is both challenging and liberating. World-building is the art of creating the imaginary world that the story takes place in and is one of the most difficult parts of writing fantasy but an essential element of the genre.
 
In my class, we will cover a few of the major sub-genres of fantasy and what makes them unique. We will also be learning the basics of world-building and why it is so important to the fantasy genre.
 
How to write a Query Letter – Kim Stokely
You’ve written the next New York Times bestselling novel…now what?
 
The sad fact is, your book may well be the next Harry Potter, Great Gatsby or 50 Shades of Grey, but until you can get your manuscript into the hands of an agent, the world may never read your masterpiece.
 
Your query letter is your first weapon to get through the defenses an agent uses to screen out the lackluster and the ordinary. If your letter doesn’t intrigue, an agent won’t bother to read any further than your salutation.
 
In this class you’ll learn about the initial preparation needed before querying and the Do’s and Don’ts of query letter writing. Be prepared to brainstorm as Kim Stokely helps you cut out the unnecessary and polish your query letter to perfection.
 
4:00-4:50
Launching a Book Successfully – NYT's bestselling author Victorine E. Lieske 
Ever wonder how some authors launch a book and it soars in rank and has a million reviews the first week? Or how a new author or new pen name could sell so many books right out of the gate? How do you find ARC readers, hungry for your genre? How do you create a buzz about your book without spending a lot of money? Come learn a couple of different ways you can approach a book launch so your next book won’t flounder in obscurity.
 
Victorine's first self-published book spent six weeks on the NYT's bestselling list, and has sold over 150,000 copies. Two of her books have hit the USA Today bestseller's list. She earns a full-time income through her indie books, and loves to tell other authors how to do the same.
 
Tracking Long Fiction: From a Blank Page to “The End” – John Achor
If you're like the 99.9% of us who have stared at a blank page, these steps will give you ideas to increase productivity - To Outline or Not to Outline (apologies to Will S.) i.e., are you a Pantser or an Organizer? - Tracking all the odds and ends needed to get from beginning to the middle to end - Using manual techniques or by software with the concentration on doing it by hand - what's in a writer's writing library?
 
Saturday, Oct. 13
10:00-10:50
Generative Writing Intensive – Lucy Adkins and Becky Breed (two-hour session)
There are days when you are in the groove, the words seeming to flow so quickly and endlessly that you can’t write fast enough to keep up. Want to have more days like this? In this workshop, we will introduce the generative process, and working from a series of structured writing exercises, show how it can help you break through blocks, experience more moments of inspiration and tap into the magic that sends the fingers flying. Whether you are a writer of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, plan to go home with some new ideas you can put to work in order to dig deep and unleash the writer within.
 
Writing with Real Emotion: Using the Emotion Thesaurus – Mary Unger 
You’re immersed in the middle of the turning point in your work in progress where the right word or turn of phrase is crucial to the plot. The inevitable happens. Your brain grinds to a halt and goes dark. Enter The Emotion Thesaurus. This valuable resource can help you over the tough times when even the most verbose of writers fumble for clarity of thought. Explore the uses of this handy resource with Mary Unger. Ms. Unger has used The Emotion Thesaurus in her classroom for the past ten years helping young writers find their voice.
 
Writing the Tough Stuff: Using our life experiences to enrich our writing – Chris Wevik
“Writing the Tough Stuff” outlines how we might use our life experiences (traumatic events, disease, divorce, loss) to enrich our writing. Whether writing memoirs or fantasy, our experiences shape the words we use and the imagery we hope to convey. As part of this presentation, Chris emphasizes that writing isn’t always the “dream” vocation, fun and easy, as some would believe. Sometimes it’s hard and painful and ugly, but that’s what makes writing more rewarding, and in the end, makes for a better book.
 
11:00-11:50
Author Newsletters: How to start one and get subscribers – Sarah Buhrman 
Building a Newsletter list is still one of the best marketing tools available. It can be difficult to build organically if you don't already have the reach. But buying lists can get you dinged by platforms trying to keep spammers at bay. And, once you have a list, what do you even do with it? You will learn some tried and true techniques you can use, and some new fangled tricks that can boost your builds. You will also get a primer on what to consider when planning out your newsletter content and schedule. No matter how you put it together, you can build a newsletter that reaches your audience.
 
Sarah has built up seven newsletter lists from the ground up and helped other authors get their newsletters up and running.
 
Memoir: Writing Your Life Story – Susan Bristol
Memoir is one of the most popular genres sold today. Life is full of strange, interesting, weird and wonderful stories.  Memory and time are the pillars at the gates of magic. Your past is a map that can lead to buried treasures.
 
Like other genres, memoir employs certain story-telling techniques. As you write, you learn to move from past to present and back again. Fiction writers find value in memoir techniques such as authentic voice, theme and character development. This presentation offers a taste of what memoir is and the fun and enjoyment writing about your life can bring.
 
2:00-2:50
Collaborative Writing - Laura Madeline Wiseman (two-hour session)
Many writers seeking inspiration, community, and feedback find collaborations invigorating. A NWG member, writer, poet, and teacher, will discuss her experiences and logistics of collaborating with essayists to write a braided essay. The essay intertwines personal narratives on embodiments, place boundaries of race and class, and movement between the geographies of country, state, and classroom. She will discuss best practices and methods, such using digital and social media, and discuss her collaborative work rewriting fairy tales, ancient myths, and horror film plots. Working with fellow artists across mediums such as visual art will also be discussed and the special projects those collaborations have produced will be shared (art shows, books, zines, broadsides, etc.). 
 
In this writing intensive, she will briefly discuss projects impetus; challenges, benefits, and best practices of collaborative writing; various experimentations across disciplines; and genre (braided essay, erasure poetry, exquisite corpse, art, etc.), then lead collaborative writing exercises, followed by workshop discussion. A resource handout on collaborative writing will be provided.
 
How to Write a Thriller  NYT's bestselling author Alex Kava
A thriller should quicken a reader's pulse, but the thrills don't always need to come from car chases or bombs exploding. Learn what makes a thriller and how to write one that delivers an edge-of-the-seat, page-turning read.
 
So, You Want to Make Your Own Book Covers – NYT's bestselling author Victorine Lieske
Want to create your own book cover? In this class I’ll give tips and tricks for making a cover look professional. I’ll go over where to get images and fonts, and what you can do to make sure your cover is portraying your genre well. You don’t have to have Photoshop, the tips I will give can be used in many photo manipulation programs.
 
3:00-3:50
Increasing Productivity: How to Write Faster and Better – Sabrina Sumsion 
Tired of spending hours at the computer, but feeling defeated when your word count only crept up a few hundred words? Do you have writer’s block? Is editing a hiss and a byword? Learn tips and tricks to up your word count faster and overcome plot holes in this workshop.
 
Discovering Your Passion for Writing – Jennifer Hanisch
'Discovering your passion for writing' will be offered by Jennifer Hanisch at the fall conference. Participants will realize their passion for writing by going through a series of questions that will bring each writer on a journey to their own writing adventure. We will write and share in class receiving suggestions that will be critiqued in the moment. The exercises will bring forward what we really care about and have an emotional attachment to. This class will be an exploration in our deepest concerns and each participant will leave with what will encourage them to tell their own personal stories.
 
4:00-4:50
Anatomy of a Mystery: Inside the Convoluted Mind of a Mystery Writer – John Achor 
Come with me and climb inside the convoluted mind of a mystery writer. What is a mystery? Door prize for the best explanation (according to me). How about sub-genres? What does the history of mystery writing look like? Ever heard of the Ronald Knox's Decalogue (Ten Commandments for mystery novelists) or the Mystery Writer's Oath by G.K. Chesterton? We'll have a look at them and you will receive a handout showing them. what's in a mystery writer's writing library?
 
Non-Fiction Writing: Writing and Selling your Non-Fiction – Kolleen Meyer-Krikac 
Do you have a personal story to tell?  An autobiography?  Family stories?  Research-based information?  Or like me, information for a self-help book or a book to help grow your business?  If you are interested in writing non-fiction, join us for this session on how to get it done, how to use it to get speaking gigs and how to sell it through presentations.  Kolleen wrote and self-published her first book, How to Create Your Balanced Life, in August of 2017.  Since then, she has used it as a platform for speaking and has sold books through presentations and other events. She is hoping to have the audio book available before the NWG Fall Conference.
 
The Six-Figure Indie Author: How to Write Novels that Sell Without Endless Marketing – NYT's bestselling author Victorine Lieske
In this class I will teach how to position yourself to make money by self-publishing. We will talk about writing to market, what it means and how to do it. I will dispel prevalent myths about writing to market, and how to feed your creativity while still writing what the public wants. You’ll learn how to launch a book successfully, what branding is and how to create an author platform that will sell books for you.
 
Victorine's first self-published book spent six weeks on the NYT's bestselling list, and has sold over 150,000 copies. Two of her books have hit the USA Today bestseller's list. She earns a full-time income through her indie books, and loves to tell other authors how to do the same.