Master Classes





1) Thursday 6:30-9:30 p.m.             Rusty Shelton       $119

Your Author Platform: 10 Ways to Leverage Authority Marketing to Grow A Meaningful Brand

If you have been wondering where to begin when it comes to building a meaningful platform, this advanced workshop is the place to start. This presentation will peel back the curtain and share the strategies used to build platforms for some of the world’s leading authors and thought leaders. Drawing on the framework shared in his newest bestselling book, Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant, Rusty Shelton will share a 10-step plan that combines insights from the changing worlds of publicity, social media, and marketing to help you cut through the clutter and build a large platform. Attendees will leave the presentation with an online brand audit and a roadmap they can follow to grow their platform in the years to come.

You will learn how to:

  • leverage the new media landscape for success through the earned,
    rented & owned framework.
  • conduct an online brand audit for yourself/your business to be more
  • grow your platform by thinking like a media outlet.
  • get major media exposure without spending a lot of money.
  • create the right content strategy to own the connection with your
  • grow your email list with quiz/assessment marketing.

This is a workshop that values the practical/actionable over the big picture and attendees will be challenged and encouraged to hit the ground running with platform development.

This session is for any writer who wants to grow a meaningful platform.


Rusty Shelton is the founder of Zilker Media, a full service agency that helps the world’s biggest brands and thought leaders navigate the new media landscape. He first spoke at Harvard on the changing world of PR and marketing at the age of 23.

He is the coauthor (alongside Adam Witty) of Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant (ForbesBooks, 2018) and co-author (alongside Barbara Cave Henricks) of Mastering the New Media Landscape: Embrace the Micromedia Mindset (Berrett-Koehler, 2016). Rusty’s commentary on the changing world of PR and marketing has been featured in Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Wharton, Huff Post and many other top media outlets.

Prior to founding Zilker Media, he built and sold two businesses before the age of 35. Rusty launched his first business, Shelton Interactive, in 2010 and worked alongside a dream team to grow it into one of the nation’s most respected digital marketing agencies. The company handled the launch of more than 30 New York Times & Wall Street Journal bestsellers and represented some of the world’s most recognized authorities, including Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger, Tom Rath & many others. The company was also named one of the nation’s top 10 social media marketing agencies in 2014 and 2015 by research agency Clutch.

Learn more at or

2) Thursday 6:30-9:30 p.m.             EJ DeBrun      $99

The Hero’s Journey: A Practical Guide to the Three-Act Story

For decades, writers and creators have relied on the Hero’s Journey to help
structure their stories: from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games to Indiana
Jones to The Godfather.

But what IS the Hero’s Journey? Stemming from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero
with a Thousand Faces
, the Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure that
takes place over three acts and details the specific actions taken by the
story’s protagonist to reach his resolution.  Applying and understanding
this structure can help guide the writer to create dynamic,
character-driven stories.

During this workshop we will:

  • discuss the monomythic origins of the Hero’s Journey.
  • break down the Hero’s Journey into three acts.
  • examine the individual stages within those three acts.
  • investigate how the Hero’s Journey has been applied to popular stories.
  • discuss how to apply the same concepts to your own narratives.
  • consider the various pitfalls associated with using the Hero’s Journey.

By the end of the session, you should have a firm understanding of the
Hero’s Journey and how to use its guidance in your own work.


EJ DeBrun is an animation powerhouse, infusing her writing with all the lessons learned from Hollywood. She worked at G7 Animation Studios, Nickelodeon Studios, and Lucasfilm Animation and studied at UC Berkeley (where she created her own major combining courses from film studies, mass communication, and psychology) and the Savannah College of Art and Design, furthering her education at the Animation Guild with Karl Gnass. She is multilingual in English, Mandarin, and Japanese, was a tour guide in Disneyland Japan, and once auditioned for a McDonald’s commercial. Needless to say, she did not get the job.

3) Thursday 6:30-9:30 p.m.            Andy Ross     $99

Creating Quality Nonfiction Book Proposals and Query Letters

If you are going to get your nonfiction book published, you will need to prepare a
book proposal. Commercial book publishing is a business. A book proposal is a
business plan. A good one will anticipate the questions an acquisition editor will
be asking; questions like: What is the concept of the book? Who is the audience?
What other competitive titles are there in the marketplace? Why do I have the
authority to write about this subject? How will I promote it?  Since you will be
submitting your proposal to agents, we will also talk about writing good query
letters. Bring the first page of your draft proposals to the class. We will workshop

Here are some of the subjects we will be discussing:

  • Is your idea right for commercial publishing?
  • Does your book have a “high concept”?
  • Is there a wide enough audience for the book and how do you convince an editor
    of this in the proposal?
  • What is a competitive title, and how do I make a convincing competitive analysis?
  • What is platform? Do I have it? Can I get it?
  • How do I design a marketing plan that will impress a publisher?
  • How can I write a convincing query letter to agents?
  • How do I research a submission list for agents?

This class is for anyone who is contemplating writing a nonfiction book or has one
ready for submission. Most authors dread the idea of writing a book proposal. If you
have a clear concept of your book, a proposal shouldn’t be intimidating, and the
process of writing it is likely to help sharpen your vision of the book.


Andy Ross opened The Andy Ross Agency in 2008. He represents authors who publish in
a wide range of nonfiction and fiction genres including history, current events,
journalism, science, memoir, and literary and teen fiction. He is the author of The
Literary Agent’s Guide to Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal
. Andy also owned Cody’s Books in Berkeley for 30 years. Cody’s was once bombed as a protest against Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.

4) Thursday 6:30-9:30 p.m.             Jane Friedman     $129

Today’s Key Book Publishing Paths: What’s New, What’s Old, and What’s
Right for You?

Over the last decade, the publishing industry has undergone tremendous
evolution due to 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 up front?

Jane discusses everything you need to know about how book publishing
operates today, in plain English, to help you understand the pros and
cons of every major publishing path available. She’ll cover New York
traditional publishing and what projects are well-suited to being
represented by literary agents; the capabilities of midsize publishers
and independent publishers; how to evaluate small presses,
micro-presses, and digital-only presses; what “hybrid” publishing is (or
thinks it is) and how to evaluate such companies; and all forms of
self-publishing and e-publishing practiced today.

This session will help you:

  • determine if your project is commercial enough to be appealing to a
    New York publisher—and what rights you’ll have to give up
  • understand the traditional publishing process, how it’s different
    from self-publishing, and how long you can expect any process to take
  • evaluate small publishers and the quality of work they produce. The
    world of independent publishers—including university presses, small
    presses, and regional presses—is vast and can sometimes be more
    challenging to understand than New York publishing, as they all
    operate a bit differently. You’ll learn how to assess the strength
    and position of any book publisher.
  • know what type of contract, advance, and royalty you can expect with
    all types of publishers and services.
  • identify the qualities of a “hybrid” publisher and determine if a
    hybrid is offering you something meaningful that you can’t
    accomplish on your own.
  • have clear expectations when it comes to the marketing and promotion
    of your work for every type of publishing path.
  • learn how print and digital books get bought and sold in today’s
    retail ecosystem across all forms of publishing.
  • aif you are well-suited to self-publishing your work, either
    as a complete independent (by setting up your own publishing
    company) or with the help of a service.

You’ll learn not just the foundational principles of book publishing
today but also gain expert insight into the changing industry
landscape and how you can navigate your own path toward success. By the
end of the session, you’ll be able to identify which publishing option
is the best to achieve your goals.

This session is for:

  • writers new to the book publishing industry.
  • writers who aren’t sure how to publish their next project.
  • anyone confused by the many publishing options available.
  • anyone seeking to better understand the publishing industry.


Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the cofounder of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Jane’s newest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press); Publishers Weekly said that it is “destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers.” Also, in collaboration with The Authors Guild, she wrote The Authors Guild Guide to E-Publishing.

In addition to being a columnist with Publishers Weekly and a professor with The Great Courses, Jane maintains an award-winning blog for writers at; her expertise has been featured by NPR, PBS, CBS, The Washington Post, the National Press Club, and many other outlets.



5) Monday 9 a.m.-12 p.m.            Kristen Lamb     $99

Sales For Those Who’d Rather Join Witness Protection 

Writers are in the entertainment business. Notice the second half of our
job title is business. The lifeblood of all business is sales. But, to
be blunt, most creative professionals would rather be stabbed in the
face than “do sales.” Yet, if we don’t sell books, our career is doomed
(regardless of how we publish).

One of the MAJOR reasons so many people are afraid of sales is that
what’s being taught as sales is actually direct marketing. Direct
marketing is NOT sales. It IS, however, pushy, icky, and hasn’t been
effective since The Spice Girls were cool.

Sales can be fun. In fact, believe it or not, humans are wired for
sales. It’s part of our biology. Problem is, humans are also wired to
overcomplicate things … which is why so many of us freak out over sales.

This class will remove the fear factor and clarify what selling entails
for the professional author. Not all products are sold the same
way … which is why there are no late-night infomercials hawking F-16
fighter jets. Our sales approach must align with the product we’re
selling, or we’re doomed before we begin.

This class will cover these important topics:

  • Why direct marketing doesn’t sell books
  • Time wasters versus time savers
  • How to be paid what we are worth
  • Ways we can make ads, promotions, and marketing far more effective
  • The unique way books must be sold
  • How to set goals and create a scalable strategy
  • Explore the S.W.O.T. analysis and why we need one
  • How to differentiate our brand and product in an over-saturated market


Kristen Lamb has dedicated her life to helping writers and artists reach their dreams and achieve the impossible. Kristen is the founder of the WANA movement, the owner and operator of WANA International, a company dedicated to educating authors of the Digital Age. She’s also the creator of WANATribe, the social network for creatives. She is the author of the best-selling book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World in addition to the #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.


6) Monday 9 a.m.-12 p.m.             C.S. Lakin     $99

Mastering the 10 Key Scenes That Frame Up Your Novel

Writing a terrific novel is a complex endeavor. And while there are
hundreds of books, podcasts, and blog posts that teach aspiring authors how
to structure scenes and plot out a solid story, none implement the most
intuitive and effective method for success.

Novels are made up of dozens of scenes, and regardless of genre,
time-tested structure dictates what key scenes are needed and where. Most
writers are familiar with some of those scenes: the Inciting Incident, the
Midpoint, and the Climax, to name a few.

But novelists need more than a few landmarks to find their way across the
tricky terrain of novel plotting.

They need a surefire method to organizing all their scenes.

In this three-hour workshop, you’ll be introduced to an innovative,
intuitive method for arranging your scenes and crafting a beautifully
structured story. Nearly every great story, whether a novel, a play, or a
movie, follows this time-tested structure. And it isn’t all that hard!

The ten key scenes are your story foundation. If you don’t construct them
well, your story will collapse.

In this workshop, you’ll learn these crucial elements of novel structure:

  • What the 5 major turning points are and where they’re placed in your
  • How to know exactly where to start your story and how to set up your
  • What the ten key scenes are that serve as the framework for your novel
  • What pinch points are and why you need them
  • How to craft those essential twists and where they’re placed in your
    story for greatest impact
  • Why your protagonist’s goal is the key to great storytelling

Don’t guess what scenes you need in your novel. Don’t guess where your
scenes go. Guessing usually leads to novel failure.

With the method, you’ll guess no more. You can write terrific novels,
every time, if you follow this blueprint!

The workshop talk includes slides, movie clips, charts, along with passages
from novels, to help you fully understand the content. You’ll be given exercises, along with worksheets to use, to help you brainstorm your turning points and your key scenes.

This course lays the foundation for the intuitive layering method outlined
in Layer Your Novel: The Innovative Method for Plotting Your Scenes. Once
you’ve mastered your ten key scenes, you’ll be ready to brainstorm your
second layer of scenes.

International best-selling author Jerry Jenkins says of this layering

“I loved this book. There is so much here, yes, even for us
pantsers—because in every novel manuscript there comes that point where we
wish we were plotters. And as much as C. S. Lakin eschews winging it, her
layering method actually allows for enough creativity and innovation that
we get the best of both worlds. If the idea of outlining repulses you, admit there are times when you wish you’d done it, and give Layer Your Novel a peek. It’ll make you a better storyteller.”


C.S. Lakin is the owner and facilitator of Critique My Manuscript. Over the last five years, she’s averaged more than two hundred critiques a year. C. S. has written more than twenty novels—fantasy, contemporary fiction (relational dramas and psychological mysteries), dark comedy, and historical romance. Nine of those novels were traditionally published, and she self-published the others. She also has a series of writing craft books in her Writer’s Toolbox Series. Everything a writer needs to know and understand about novel writing can be found in these comprehensive books. In addition to writing books, she also creates online video courses for writers and editors.


 7) Monday 9 a.m.-12  p.m             Beth Barany     $129

Craft Compelling Characters: Tips for Writing and Editing

Our job as novelists is to create characters that our readers love. Or love to hate. Or want to be. Or want to jump into bed with. Our characters need to feel real, engaging, and compelling, not just our main characters, but our secondary characters and villains too.

But how do you actually do that?

Beth Barany covers how to build your characters from inside out, using such tools as Goal, Motivation, Conflict, and Strengths. Come prepared to write and brainstorm.

In this hands-on master class, we also go beyond the standard tools to cover these key issues:

  • Identity and belief shifts
  • Turning point backstory as it relates to your character’s driving core identity
  • Your character’s emotional palette
  • World building as it relates to the character
  • Your character’s archetype and function in the story

Whether you’re a first-time novelist or an experienced one, you’ll come away from this workshop with:

  • detailed character sketches for your next novel or novella.
  • a deeper understanding of how to edit your characters.
  • clarity on your character’s core transformation from begin to end of your story.
  • tips on how to apply these tools in the planning and editing stage.
  • tools you can use again and again.


Beth Barany is an award-winning novelist, master neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers. With more than fifteen books published, she specializes in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers. She runs an online school for fiction writers and a 12-month group coaching program to help them get published. Free resources to get started on your writing adventure here:


9) Monday 2-5 p.m.                Kristen Lamb     $99

The Art of Author Branding: When Your NAME Alone Can Sell

All authors need a brand, so this class teaches how to locate and
cultivate your audience into passionate fans who BUY YOUR BOOKS!

How can you grow your platform and turn your name alone into a bankable
asset? Not as hard as you might have been led to believe.

You DO NOT need to be a tech guru/mega-high-pressure-sales person to
excel at this. In fact, it’s best if you aren’t.

Yet, the reality is that in the digital age of commerce, consumers rely
on brands more than ever in human history. They’re overwhelmed and we
can help them out …. by finding US.

Consumers (which is code for readers) buy from who they know, like and
trust. In a sea of infinite choices, a powerful NAME is a tremendous

Can you say “James Patterson”?

The single largest challenge all writers face in the digital age is
discoverability, and connecting with our audience is a challenge but
nothing we cannot handle.

This class will address these key issues:

  • What is a brand? How to make one uniquely your own
  • How to BE YOU! You are a writer, not an insurance salesman!
  • Harness your imagination & creativity for better results (No one likes
    SPAM, so don’t serve it!)
  • How to use this information to locate, engage and cultivate an audience;
  • Myths about exposure
  • Common scams that will wreck your brand and earning ability
  • Why most promotion is a waste of money
  • A list of expensive and not-so-bright ideas for reaching readers
  • Knowing when and HOW to promote

Overall, this class is about working smarter not harder. This class is to
teach you to think strategically so all energy is focused. Sure, we have
to hustle, but why not hustle and there be an AUTHENTIC PAYDAY for all
that hard work?


Kristen Lamb has dedicated her life to helping writers and artists reach their dreams and achieve the impossible. Kristen is the founder of the WANA movement, the owner and operator of WANA International a company dedicated to educating authors of the Digital Age. She’s also the creator of WANATribe, the social network for creatives. She is the author of the best-selling book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World in addition to the #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.


Monday 2-5 p.m.              Linda Joy Myers     $99

10) Mastering Memoir: The Art of Weaving Truth and Craft

When you want to write a memoir, you find yourself drawing upon many layers of challenge and skill: telling your story, having it reach the hearts of others, and managing the labyrinth of doubts and fears about the possible consequences of revealing your personal truths. And you need to navigate how to explore the labyrinth where our stories take us.

There are several keys that can unlock your story: finding the structure of your story, writing scenes, having internal permission to write what you need to write, and locating the main growth points in your story.

Alice Miller, a well-known psychiatrist, said that the path to finding a new perspective about our lives—one reason many people write a memoir—is to have a “compassionate witness.” By weaving truth and craft, you create new insights for yourself and the arc of your story will lead to meaningful takeaways for your readers.

In this class you will learn these important elements:

  • How to discover the major moments that create the spine of your memoir
  • Understand how to weave through time
  • The power of writing scene to create insight and change in the writer and the reader
  • How to manage the inner and outer critics that get in your way
  • Ways to both focus deeply into your story and allow it to have its own path

The journey of writing a memoir offers you an opportunity to stand in the shoes of who you were in past while you also explore your story through the eyes of you now, the now narrator. Learning to writing strong scenes is an important skill that allows you to dip into the stream of time, to taste and know and feel that time once again, and bring the reader into your world. We will explore the power of scenes, how to find your most significant moments, sketch out your timeline, and practice silencing your inner critic.

Balancing the art of excellent craft with the freedom to speak your truth in your story is a way to surrender to the power of memoir and trust that your book will deliver a transformational experience to your readers.


Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFT, is president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers. Her first memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother: A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness, was a finalist in the ForeWord Book of the Year Award and the IndieExcellence Awards, and a BAIPA Gold Medal award winner. Her new memoir Song of the Plains is a finalist in the Best Book Awards and the 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Author of The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, Journey of Memoir, and Becoming Whole, her prize-winning fiction, nonfiction, and memoir pieces have been published in literary journals and online. She is coauthor with Brooke Warner of Breaking Ground on Your Memoir,  and The Magic of Memoir. Linda Joy has been a therapist for 40 years, where story is part of the healing process. A memoir coach for two decades, Myers helps people dive deep into writing their truths while crafting a publishable story. Her monthly programs on NAMW offer tools about breaking silence, developing a powerful story, and finding the best publishing path.


11) Monday 2-5 p.m.             Sam Horn     $99

No More Starving Authors: How to Make More Money from your Writing

It’s tough earning a GOOD LIVING from book advances and sales alone. The good news is, there are a variety of ways you can become an AUTHORpreneur and turn your writing into a satisfying full-time job.  Sam speaks from experience; she has been doing it for 25 years.  She will share best-practices on how to:

  • get paid to speak at conferences and for companies and associations.
  • merchandise your work (have you thought of journals, posters, calendars?).
  • turn your insights and expertise into a step-by-step methodology organizations and individuals will gladly pay for.
  • offer online courses and social media training videos on YouTube and Facebook that lead to income.
  • coach people on your skills (if it offers a shortcut—people will pay you to teach it TO them or do it FOR them).
  • create an interactive community at your website so people become brand ambassadors and take you and your work viral.
  • grow your visibility worldwide via posts on aggregate blog sites (e.g., LinkedIn and Medium).

If you want to write for the rest of your life, it’s important to expand your writing to other income-producing activities.  The good news, you can do this without having to be “salesly.”  Sam shows how to get your body of work out into the world through a variety of ways so you can do work you love that matters – and get paid for it.


Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert and TEDx speaker, is on a mission to help people create quality brands, businesses, books and presentations that add value for all involved. Clients include NASA, National Geographic, Accenture, Boeing, Intel, ASAE, Cisco, YPO and EO, Capital One, and Asian Leadership Conference. Her books —including POP! Tongue Fu! and Washington Post best seller Got Your Attention? —have  been featured in the New York Times, INC, Forbes and on NPR. Want samples of Sam’s work?  Check out her Change This Manifesto for 800 CEO READ and her Fast Company article on how to rock a TED talk.