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

Carolyn Howard-Johnson has been telling fellow authors “It’s never too late or too early to market your book” since her first class on book marketing at UCLA in 2002. Her new publisher for the third edition of her multi-award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter recently opined, “A lot of my authors are concerned that they ‘blew it’  in terms of promoting their books in the first 12 months.”  Yes! And the year before that! And what about once their book sales start to lag a year or two later? Help is at hand. Carolyn will give 805 conference attendees actionable tips that can start right now no matter where they are in the publishing process. She’ll hand out a sample query letter that can be tailored to pitch to any gatekeeper including agents, publishers, feature editors and TV producers.


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:

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.


The Countdown Begins!