The 805 Writers Conference Workshop Schedule

Workshops are an additional ticket from the full conference, including full day Saturday or Sunday


November 2


with author, publicist, and marketer Carolyn Howard-Johnson

with the multi-award-winning author of the “HowToDoItFrugally” series of books for writers

Every author—from newbie to seasoned writers—needs to know more about how to build platforms because it is a process that never stops. (Though it does get easier!) Carolyn Howard-Johnson will be with spend the morning with us at Camarillo on April 9 to help with that and I am giving attendees copies of her valuable multi award-winning book The Frugal Book Promoter from her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers to help with that effort. She’ll start the morning with a quick discussion of the three best platform builders of all and then tell you about her favorite ones—and no, they will not always be the same!  One of them is platform builder that her favorite book marketers of all time, Dan Poynter, wasn’t all that fond of.  It’s an old-fashioned one that works on so many levels she doesn’t believe anyone should bypass its charms. (Read that benefits!) She’ll tell you how to maximize its usefulness.


Carolyn also promised that she would help you amplify the effectiveness of a publicist’s basic tool, the ever-useful query letter. She discusses this in length in the second of her HowToDoItFrugally Series, The Frugal Editor. She’’ give you a few tips for making you letter stand out among the dozens every gatekeepers finds on their desks or in their e-mail boxes every day and give you some ways to avoid ticking them off—ideas she learned from the query letters she encountered when she was a journalist and from the more than 100 agents she interviewed for that book. You’ll find some surprises there.


Sunday- All Day- November 3

9-12pm/1-4pm- The Essentials of Character:  Limited to 20 writers

The full-day COURSE ON CHARACTER features TWO PARTS with Literary Agent Toni Lopopolo


Why character? The course helps you learn how to create and design characters for fiction, and how to  “show” your characters in nonfiction.  You’ll take away tools to build your own characters, plus a list of the best books on character.



Preparation needed to develop and create fully dimensional characters that ring true on the page

Mainly how to create unforgettable characters.  How to choose the character that shows us the story. What point of view to choose: first or third intimate; why omniscient is no longer acceptable.

Imperfections and eccentricities: sample deleted here?

Fiction: why we need to prepare for a character in order to create every aspect of a character’s makeup, therefore his/her/their story; know our characters better than we know spouses, children, ourselves. We must find out, then know, the character’s physical, emotional, spiritual, cultural, psychological essences, as well as what they want, what they’ll do to reach their goal, what stands in their way, what their needs are (though unaware of this), plus how they transform from the ups and downs of the story.

We will discuss how dialog “shows” the character, whether direct or in subtext. How interior monologue allows the reader an intimate connection to the character. 

Narrative nonfiction: how writers must know real people as fully drawn characters, plus how to use fiction techniques to make real people stand out and make them unforgettable; e.g. Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood,”  Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried.”

The Transformation: Characters must discover what lessons they must learn from mistakes, how to correct them, and change.  

How certain authors succeed: We conclude with examples, through Q and A.  We’ll listen to how the best authors “show” the reader their characters, engage the reader from inside the mind and heart of the main character.  

Lunch Break

PART TWO: Afternoon class continues

The human brain is wired for story: Nothing is more fascinating to humans than other humans. Part Two features what must go into a prepared biography/analysis of the novel’s main character(s).  How important it is that writers complete this exercise before starting a serious first draft.

Interactive:Participate with the morning writers and their writing.  

What to bring:

The biography of your main character(s)

A scene with dialog featuring your character(s)’ interaction with another character. Or any scene with a character you’ve created.

A list of characters that you can’t forget, from any genre or type:  literary, mainstream, commercial.

Discussion of our favorite characters and why they stay with us forever, from Nancy Drew to Scarlett O’Hara, from Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina to Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Harry Bosch, Dave Robichaux, Rachel in “The Girl on the Train,” the wife in “Gone Girl.” Bring lists of questions.




November 3

1-4pm- The Art of the Short Story

with renown short story author Shelly Lowenkopf

Shelly will provide a syllabus for all who take the course, including his list of the 100  short stories he thinks are essential reading for writers of short fiction.

In addition, he will offer specific instructions on how to identify the individual narrative voice, which is his top priority for producing memorable fiction. Who, he will ask, are you? What is the tone and theme of the stories you wish to tell? This will pay off in yet another way when he introduces the elephant-in-the-livingroom of story, the narrative filter or point of view. He will lead the enrollees through the essential difference between narrative voice and point of view. He will address why the lead character wishes to tell the story in the first place. These are conditions and circumstances the writer must understand before she can identify the theme and structure of her own stories.

Then he will move along into the things beginning writers don’t do well―things, in fact, most beginning writers do wrong. He’ll talk about the need to remove the concept of the omniscient filter from the story, regardless of whether the story is set in the past, present, or future. The 21st-century story leaves the author like the parent, waiting for the daughter to come home from a date.

Another vital matter is word choice. The syllabus will suggest a number of words that stop the story dead in its tracks, then go on to deal with something the beginning writer does not want to hear about―verb tenses.

There is a great lesson to be learned in distinguishing between story and description. Story dramatizes events. Description describes the characters but does not present them as dimensional beings, rather like having balloons at a birthday party that no one has seen fit to blow up.

Since we’re on the subject of story as a tangible entity, let’s listen in as Lowenkopf demonstrates how there are only three basic matrices for story, the third being a combination of the first two. Let’s eavesdrop on the commentary of what these basic story formats are and why they are so effective.

With that in mind, we can move on to the three significant ways for telling story. Note: these three ways do not include description; they in fact demonstrate characters in motion. They are narrative, or action. Then there is Interior Monologue. what the character thinks to herself and tells herself. The third process is what the characters say to other characters, otherwise known as dialogue. Of course they can be used simultaneously, but they must be understood for what they are, which is action. Shelly will demonstrate how effective dialogue is action. Characters don’t merely say yes or no; they say yes or no at the same time they are hearing something going in secret within their interior monologue.

Onward to the investigation of motive and how to convey to the reader what the character wants and is willing to do without using descriptive language.

How does the effective writer bring characters on stage? How are they formed? How does the writer help the reader see what’s going on?

The goal is to lead the writer to the place where she can create a narrative pathway consistent with the conventions and growing narrative tools of the 21st century.

Let’s not forget how the short story, even more so than the novel, is the arena where ambitions and agendas clash with poetic justice and dramatic justice.  Not sure how to distinguish one from the other? No problem; Shelly’s on hand to guide you through.



9-12pm- Social Media for Authors Workshop

Speaker: Mandy Jackson-Beverly

Level: Beginner/Intermediate

Mandy Jackson-Beverly is a best-selling and award-winning author, writing coach, book reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, and avid book nerd. In this three-hour workshop, Mandy will share how she uses Facebook and Instagram to connect with readers. Learn how to maximize your profile, maintain your brand across all social media platforms, understand hashtags, time-saving strategies, support other authors, and more. Mandy will also take time to evaluate class participant Facebook and Instagram pages.

Why bother using social media? Authors use social media to create a buzz around their brand, which in the case of an author is their persona and their books. The aim is to connect with potential readers, book bloggers, book reviewers, and other authors (our tribe) to expand our audience.

Facebook and Instagram revolve around thought-provoking headlines, short personal stories, subject-related news, and outstanding images and videos. To create social media pages with influential aesthetic value, we need to consider content, style, maintaining visual continuity and sharing, while also abiding by the rule of thirds, aka the 5-3-2 rule: promoting our product, interacting with others, and sharing news, quotes, and brand-related tips that are of interest to our followers. 

How do we find our tribe? Enter hashtags. By using genre-specific hashtags on posts, authors attract and create a community of followers. But how do we find relevant hashtags? How do we encourage readers, reviewers, and bloggers to follow us? Want answers? Join Mandy for this three-hour workshop and learn how to maximize your time, create eye-catching images, and gain an understanding of how to use Facebook and Instagram to widen your audience.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly is a best-selling and award-winning author, writing coach, book reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, and avid book nerd. In this three-hour workshop, Mandy will share how she uses Facebook and Instagram to connect with readers. Learn how to maximize your profile, maintain your brand across all social media platforms, understand hashtags, time-saving strategies, support other authors, and more. Mandy will also take time to evaluate class participant Facebook and Instagram pages. 

The Countdown Begins!









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