Alaska Writers Guild  - Supporting Alaska's Writers
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Friday, october 4

Professional studies building | UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA, ANCHORAGE

 8:30am  Check-In for Optional Friday Morning Workshops
 All Day  1-on-1 Manuscript Critiques 
 9:00am - 11:30am

Workshop 1: Laurent Linn, Art Director

Beyond the Expected: Creating Narrative Art with Depth and Meaning

Location: PSB Room 110

In this illustrator’s intensive we will explore how to bring even more emotion, narrative, and deep meaning to your art, translating your own lived experiences and memories into visual storytelling that can be universal. Getting away from cliché and so-called trends, we’ll discuss tips and techniques to help make your illustration stand out to agents, art directors, editors, and most importantly, readers.

IN ADVANCE: Please send two of your illustrations: one that you consider to be your most successful and one you feel is your weakest. - Both should be intended for children’s book illustration (as opposed to a portrait, landscape, etc.) - Laurent will show all images in the session and discuss new, helpful ways to think about your art. - The images should be either JPEGs or PDFs. - Please send images to Jena Lasley at by by September 13th at midnight Alaska time.

THE DAY OF THE INTENSIVE: Please come to the session ready to sketch with pencils, paper, iPad . . . however you sketch best. (If bringing a digital device, please be sure it is fully charged as power outlets will not be available during the session.)

 9:00am - 11:30am

Workshop 2: C.S. Lakin, Editor/Author Coach

Bringing Setting to Life in Your Stories

Location: PSB Room 210

Setting is place. It’s environment. The objects and living things around us. It’s our immediate surroundings but also the larger space we move and breathe in. Too often, writers ignore setting. But we live in the physical world. We respond to and interact with every single setting we are in, consciously or unconsciously. We inhabit space every second of our lives, even when we are in the womb. We cannot be extricated from setting, and neither can the characters we write about. You’ll learn in this workshop the many uses of setting. The “right” setting, carefully chosen, can help reveal depth of characters, drop in backstory in a meaningful way, hint at inner and outer conflict, supply tension, and make your readers feel deep emotions. Masterful writers craft powerful settings that transport their readers into the world of their story. You can too.

9:00am - 11:30am

Workshop 3: Kaitlyn Katsoupis, Literary Agent

Voice and How to Hone Yours

Location: PSB Room 216

This course will discuss the elements of voice and what makes a manuscript truly stand out to agents; authors will learn about style and tools to aid in their writing decisions. Interactive sessions will take place where authors will undergo writing exercises and will be allowed to share with the group if they choose to do so.

 11:45am  Optional Lunch Available in Lobby (please pre-pay for lunch on your conference registration)
 12:30pm - 2:30pm

Optional First Pages Roundtable Reviews with Eva Scalzo, Sera Rivers, Kaitlyn Katsoupis 

 2:30pm Check-In for Optional Friday Afternoon Workshops
 3:00pm - 5:30pm

Workshop 4: Sera Rivers, Literary Agent

Storyboarding your picture book

Location: PSB Room 101

Learn how storyboarding your picture book will help strengthen your manuscript to get it submission ready. In this hands-on intensive, participants will learn techniques for pacing, plot, and marrying text with illustration. Please bring a pen, a pencil, and printed copies of your work-in-progress picture book manuscript in the following formats (if you have page breaks listed in the manuscript, remove them):

  • TWO Copies as a block of text, double-spaced, with no paragraphs, no indents. 
  • TWO Copies where each sentence is on its own line, single-spaced, no indents.
 3:00pm - 5:30pm

Workshop 5: Eva Scalzo, Literary Agent

Long Story Short: Tips on How to Write a Synopsis 

Location: PSB Room 210

If you've  struggled to explain your many thousand word book in a few hundred words, you’re not alone! This workshop will cover tried and true tricks on getting the most important story beats into your synopsis. 

 3:00pm - 5:30pm Workshop 6: Valerie Ihsan, Author Coach

From Idea to Outline: How to Plan Out a Great Book

Location: PSB Room 216

From Idea to Outline: How to Plan Out a Great Book So, you’ve got an idea for a novel. Or maybe you’re finally ready to write that family memoir. Designed for beginners, this workshop helps even seasoned writers take their story from idea to outline. Entice your readers to keep turning those pages and keep them guessing until The End. Writers will leave with: 1. An “elevator pitch” for their book, 2. A story core and outline for their project, 3. And a revision tool to keep them centered once words are on the page. Author, Coach, and Editor Valerie Ihsan offers a simple yet powerful strategy to structure your stories, novels, and memoirs by focusing on story cores, emotional arcs, and global themes. This workshop includes several writing exercises, a recommended reading list, and audience participation.

Saturday, SEPTEMBER 30

Professional studies building

Wendy Williamson Auditorium

 University of Alaska, Anchorage

8:00 - 8:30am Conference Check-In
8:30 - 8:50am  WWA: Welcome and Awards
8:50 - 9:30am  

WWA: Keynote by C.S. Lakin

Catching your readers in a net of Wonder: Great stories are nets that entangle readers with wonder. As writers, our aim should be to kindle our spark of imagination with passion so that we can delightfully lure readers into the worlds we create. How do we tap into that passion? And how do we transfer that onto the page so readers are caught up in our “net”? What do we need to do to avoid snuffing out our passion? C. S. Lakin will show you how to merge your ideas with your passion to write inspired stories that will catch readers in a net of wonder and leave them forever changed.

9:30 - 9:40am  BREAK
 All Day  
1-on-1 Manuscript Critiques | Location TBA

 9:40 - 10:40am 



Wendy Williamson Auditorium PSB 110 PSB 210 PSB 216

Sera Rivers: Why This Book?

Why should your book get plucked out of an agent’s slush pile? What makes your story compelling enough for an agent to want to read it? To represent it? To make an editor want to acquire it? In this workshop, you will learn HOW to make your story stand out from the rest and answer the question industry professionals ask with each submission they receive: Why THIS book?!

Debut Author Panel

Come meet local debut authors, Jena Benton, Susan Pope and Neva Post as they share their journey into publishing in the current market, whether traditional or self published. Bring questions and prepare for your own publishing journey by learning about what they wish they knew before they began.

Lois Simenson: Facts to Fables: Transitioning from Nonfiction to Fiction

In this session, we'll discuss the transition from writing and publishing nonfiction to fiction.  We'll delve into the basics of crafting fiction, such as story structure, research, genre selection, goal setting, and deciding publishing options: indie, traditional, or both. We'll explore integrating real-life events and personal experiences into your fiction, and the importance of discovering your passion so your writing resonates with readers. 

Valerie Ihsan: How to focus, finish, and get sh*t done

You’ve tried sticking to your goals. You’ve set timers and given yourself incentives and rewards, but nothing seems to work. Author and Coach Valerie Ihsan has created a system that finally works. (Hint: It might have to do with core values and lists.) Excellent for any level. 1) Discover the top two reasons why people don’t finish their tasks, 2) Identify the keys to self-awareness and how to correct limiting beliefs, and 3) Create a system that finally works.

10:40 - 10:50am    BREAK      

10:50 - 11:50am



Wendy Williamson Auditorium
PSB 110 PSB 210

PSB 216

Laurent Linn: Behind-the-scenes: The ins and outs of illustration & publishing in today's world

As with many aspects of life, the events of the past years have effected children’s books and illustration in profound ways, some negative but many quite positive. In this session for illustrators and illustrator/writers, Laurent Linn will discuss the current state of both the craft and business of creating art for children’s literature for all ages and what that may mean for you. Please come prepared with questions.

AKRWA Panel Embracing Tropes: What is a Trope, and How are They Used in Writing?

This panel discussion with Alaska's chapter of Romance Writers of America will focus on how tropes are used to engage readers through universal themes and compelling plot lines. From 'Beauty and the Beast' to 'Fish Out of Water', our writers will discuss utilizing tropes in romance and many other genres. Appropriate for all levels of writing experience

Moderator: Sherri Trask Panelists: Elizabeth Allyn-Dean, Neva Post, C. G. Williams

M. A. Nichols: What I Wish I'd Known When I Began Indie Publishing

So, you want to be an indie author? That’s great. However, there’s a ton of pitfalls that face authors as they step into the indie publishing arena. Before you hit publish, come learn about all the mistakes you need to avoid from an indie author who has gone from struggling to successful.

Dan L. Walker: Fact or fiction? The challenges of writing about family

Participants will spend the hour examining how family members and family stories can be used in fiction and nonfiction writing. Walker will share his experiences creating novels and memoirs based on his family. The workshop will included short writing opportunities and guidance for accessing family-based content. Explore the promise and pitfalls of using family stories and characters in our writing. Participants will leave with notes and ideas for new projects, characters, and story elements.

11:50am - 12:50pm Lunch Available in Lobby      

12:50 - 1:50pm



Wendy Williamson Auditorium
 PSB 110 PSB 210  PSB 216

Picture Book Author Panel Discussion

Brooke Hartman and Julianna Miller

Kaitlin Katsoupis: Book 1 is done, now what?

This breakout class will educate authors on what to expect after the publication of their first book; this will include elements of the non-compete and option clauses, the differences in First Look vs. First Refusal, what it means to have joint accounting, and more.

Eva Scalzo: Pacing Your Story

Learn tips and tricks to figure out if there is an issue with pacing in your story and how to fix problems that crop up.

Richard Chiappone: The Building Blocks of Story Telling Session sponsored by 49 Writers

Whether you write fantastical fictions or fact-checked memoirs, your primary job as a writer is to keep the reader reading. If they put you down, your writing ceases to exist. That means you have to tell a compelling story. And all stories are composed of three elements: Scene, Summary, and Exposition. Let’s look at how professionals use those building blocks, and, more importantly, how you might best do it.

 1:50 - 2:00pm     BREAK      
 2:00 - 3:00pm



Wendy Williamson Auditorium
PSB 110
 PSB 210   PSB 216 

Author/Agent Panel: Eva Scalzo, Sera Rivers, Brooke Hartman, Dante Medema

Answer all your burning agent representation  questions in this agent / author panel. How and where do authors find literary agents to query? What makes a literary agent sign one client and not another? What red flags in your submissions might prevent you from getting representation? How can you help your agent sell your manuscript? And more!

C.S. Lakin: Why You Need a Terrific Premise and How to Create One

Why write a premise? Honing your premise is not just about being able to give a tight, compelling elevator pitch. It’s most important purpose is to help you focus on what story you want to tell and why. It’s your north star, keeping you focused as you write. It simplifies a complex plot and reduces it to the basic elements that matter.

Kaitlyn Katsoupis: A tale of 2 contracts: Red flags in contracts

This course will go over particular clauses within publishing contracts that authors should be aware of and know how to navigate—whether agented or not; authors are encouraged to bring specific questions for Q&A.

M. A. Nichols: Website Design 101

An author’s website is an integral part of a marketing platform, but tackling the programming, graphic design, and content creation can be a daunting task. Most authors tend to throw up a useless site that only leeches money from their bank account, or they pay exorbitant fees to have professionals do it for them, but with a little help, there’s no reason that authors can’t put together a useful website on their own. This class will cover some of the basic nuts and bolts of how to program a website, how to make it visually appealing, and what to include on it to help build an author’s fan base.

 3:00 - 3:10pm     BREAK
 3:10 - 3:50pm   Wendy Williamson Auditorium: Industry Panel Discussion with Laurent Linn, Eva Scalzo, Sera Rivers, Kaitlyn Katsoupis, C.S. Lakin
 3:50 - 4:00pm   Wendy Williamson Auditorium: Closing Announcements 
 4:00 - 5:00pm   Author Book Signing and Mingle in WWA Lobby
  • Times, speakers, and topics subject to change.




Questions? Click HERE to email us!


Alaska Writers Guild

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Chugiak, AK 99567

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