2018 Master Classes

On Friday, October 12, 2018, we will offer six pre-conference Master Classes. Each two-hour Master Class, taught by one of our conference guest speakers, takes an in-depth look at a particular topic of interest to writers and published authors.

Each class is $45 for members and $65 for non-members. When you register for the conference, you will have the opportunity to add up to three Master Classes.  Classes are offered from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Master Classes will be held at the Richmond Public Library, Main Branch, 101 E Franklin St, Richmond. Lunch is not included, but there are many lunch locations near the library.


This year, we will be offering:

9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Indie Publishing Unwrapped with Steven Smith


Steven Smith photo
Steven K. Smith

Getting your words out to the world has never been more possible. But with the seemingly endless publishing options in today’s marketplace, how can you make your book the best it can be? Is indie/self-publishing your best route for success? Steven K. Smith will help attendees unwrap the indie publishing landscape. Topics will include identifying your goal as a writer, choosing partners, tools, and companies to work with, marketing and sales basics, answering lots of questions and more.

Steven K. Smith is the author of ten books including the middle grade series The Virginia Mysteries and Brother Wars. He has also written the parenting memoir Splashing in the Deep End and the adult fiction novel Harborwood (as Steven Sawyer). Steven has spoken at more than eighty schools throughout Virginia, and his first book, Summer of the Woods, is in development for film. He lives in Midlothian, VA, with his wife and three sons.

9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Stealing from the Other Camp: What Plotters Can Learn from Pantsers and Vice Versa with Lana Krumwiede

Lana Krumwiede photo
Lana Krumwiede

Forget about the great debate between plotters and pantsers. In this class, we’re starting with the conclusion that both approaches can be successful. We’ll pick apart each method and examine the pros and cons. Using writing activities, we’ll take those methods for a test drive and explore ways to combine them. Here are just a few of the take-aways from this class:

– A deconstructed view of both the plotter’s and the pantser’s process

– An understanding of the strengths and pitfalls of each method

– A solid grasp of when and how to use each approach effectively

– A vision of what an “ambidextrous” approach might look like

– The benefits of occasionally using your non-preferred method

Lana Krumwiede began her writing career by creating stories and poems for publications such as Highlights, High Five, Spider, Babybug, The Friend, and Chicken Soup for the Child’s Soul. Her first novel, Freakling (Candlewick, 2012), was named a finalist for SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Member’s Choice Award and an honor book for the International Reading Association’s Intermediate Fiction Award. Freakling was followed by two more novels, Archon (2013) and True Son (2015). Lana is also the author of the picture book Just Itzy (2015) and editor of the anthology River City Secrets: Stories from Richmond (2016). She lives with her husband and daughter in Midlothian, VA.

11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

The Author/Agent Relationship with Latoya C. Smith


Latoya Smith photo
Latoya C. Smith

What does a good author/agent relationship entail? Latoya C. Smith, an agent with the L. Perkins Agency, will help attendees understand what it is like to work with an agent. This class will cover ways to find the right agent, review why customizing your pitch matters, outline what agents should do, and address when to part ways.  Smith’s session will detail what an agent should bring to the table and how to use your agent for help with manuscript edits, contracts, covers, final books, and publicity/promotion.

Latoya C. Smith has over a decade of editorial experience, having worked for publishers such as Teri Woods Publishing, Kensington Publishing, Grand Central Publishing, and Samhain Publishing. She is the winner of numerous awards and provides editorial services through her company, LCS Literary Services. She is also an agent with the L. Perkins Agency.

11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Writing Short Stories: How to Find Your Inspiration & Shape Your Beginning with Virginia Pye


Virginia Pye

In this class, we will focus on how to get started writing a story, where to look for inspiration, and how to shape the beginning. Award-winning author Virginia Pye will review sample short story openings, offer prompts to help participants get started, and allow time for writing and sharing during the session.

Virginia Pye is the author of two award-winning novels, Dreams of the Red Phoenix and River of Dust, and the forthcoming short story collection, Shelf Life of Happiness. Her stories, essays, and interviews have appeared in The North American Review, The Baltimore Review, Literary Hub, The New York Times, The Rumpus, Huffington Post, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Virginia helped establish and run James River Writers in Richmond, VA, and now lives in Cambridge, MA.

2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

How to Write and Pitch Awesome Science Fiction & Fantasy – CLASS FULL

Moe Ferrara photo
Moe Ferrara

This session, taught by a literary agent who represents (and adores) speculative fiction, will share helpful tips on how to write great SF/F, how to set your work apart from other submissions, how to make your unique world come to life, and how to effectively pitch your science fiction and fantasy to literary agents and editors.

Becoming an agent was fitting for the girl who, as a small child, begged for a book because it “had a hard cover.” Moe Ferrara had a difficult time finding YA books outside of Christopher Pike when she was growing up and instead tackled her mom’s romance novels. Though her career path zigzagged a bit–she attended college as a music major, earned a JD from Pace Law School, then worked various publishing jobs–Moe was thrilled to join the BookEnds team in May of 2015 as a literary agent and their subsidiary rights director. @inthesestones

2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

The Writing Retreat: What, Where, Why and How? with Melanie Bishop

Melanie Bishop photo
Melanie Bishop

From the most prestigious and competitive artists’ colonies—like Yaddo, MacDowell, and Djerassi—to the A-I-R program in the national parks, from mentored retreats to the “design your own” model, writers increasingly depend upon retreats to sustain their writing practice. Some find they have better access to the muse while on retreats. Being stimulated by a new locale and landscape recharges the senses, restores inspiration, and often generates new material. What exactly should we expect from a retreat? What are the advantages of group vs. solo retreats? Where have writers historically found inspiration, sustenance and momentum, away from the distractions of their daily lives? Why do we need to go away? (Isn’t writing from home good enough?) How should I design a retreat if I have a day, a week, a month? Some residencies award retreats; others ask writers to pay; how do I write a competitive application for a place like Djerassi? What are the best ways to strategize for productivity, while also maximizing rejuvenation and renewal? The first half of this class will instruct about retreat options and resources; the second half will replicate aspects of a retreat in progress.

Melanie Bishop has taught writing or led creative writing retreats in Prescott, AZ; in Arizona’s Sierra Ancha Wilderness; at Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti; in the Cycladic Islands of Greece; in Vancouver, British Columbia; and in Carmel-by-the-Sea. She’s been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook, Ucross, Playa, Eastern Frontier Society, Hambidge Center for the Arts, and Djerassi. Melanie has published fiction, nonfiction, and a YA novel, My So-Called Ruined Life. On the creative writing faculty at Prescott College (Arizona) for twenty-two years, she was also founder and fiction/nonfiction editor of Alligator Juniper, the college’s award-winning, national literary magazine.