Master Classes

On Friday, October 11, 2019, 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.

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 Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 N 3rd St, Richmond, VA 23219 (note the location change from prior year Master Classes). Lunch is not included, but there are lunch locations around the Convention Center.


Conference registration is closed because it is sold out, but you can still register for any open Master Classes using this link.

This year, our exciting lineup includes:

9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Write Your Way to a Career – Becoming an Authorpreneur with Stacy Hawkins Adams

Love to tell (write) a good story? If so, whether fiction or nonfiction, you have a skillset that’s constantly in demand. Just as readers are still devouring good books, businesses are seeking masters to help them share their mission and engage with clients or customers in authentic ways. Simply put, story matters; and as a master storyteller, you can be in the driver’s seat when it comes to creating a sustainable career.

Participate in this class about the power of storytelling in various mediums and how to shape a career that allows you to utilize this passion – from writing books and articles to crafting marketing pitches and compelling social media. You’ll come away with ideas and strategies for operating your writing business in a way that also helps build your writing/author brand.

Adams Stacy Hawkins 300

Stacy Hawkins Adams is the author of ten books whose characters and themes have fostered personal growth, illuminated journeys of faith, and infused readers with confidence in their own stories. Her fiction has been a featured title in college coursework​, selected as a Target stores “Recommended Read,”​ and ​noted on the Essence magazine bestseller list. Stacy is also a freelance journalist, teaches at writing conferences nationwide, and curates an inspirational blog called

9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Making It Real: Breathing Life into Your Fiction with Marie Lamba


In this class, participants will receive with tips and techniques for making fiction feel real to readers. We’ll cover how to transform fiction from flat words on the page into a truly engrossing and realistic read. The real trick is to make the reader the co-creator of the fictional dream. With plenty of examples and revision tips, I’ll offer insight on how you can best shape a believable world.

Marie Lamba

Marie Lamba is author of the picture book Green Green (Farrar Straus Giroux), of the upcoming picture book A Day So Gray (Clarion), and of the YA novels What I Meant… (Random House), Over My Head, and Drawn. Marie is also a Literary Agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (, where she represents picture book writers and illustrators, middle grade, YA and adult fiction, plus memoir. @marielamba. 

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

The Naked Truth: Memoir Writing with Marita Golden

The Naked Truth is a seminar to help those writing memoir to write without fear or shame (yes that can be done) and to develop the unique vocabulary and language to tell their story. Memoir that is compelling is defined by a story told with bravery and authenticity and a voice that captures and honors the specific and special qualities and nature of your experience. Lots of writing and discussion of your projects.

Marita Golden portrait

Marita Golden is the award-winning author of seventeen works of fiction and nonfiction. Her most recent novel is The Wide Circumference of Love. As a cultural activist she is the co-founder and President Emeritus of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. She has been a member of the writing faculties at George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Johns Hopkins University. @maritagolden

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

The Craft of Character with Bruce Holsinger


This class will address the making of human characters in fiction. Characters–believable, authentic, sympathetic–are the lifeblood of story. Who wants to read or keep reading a novel if we don’t care about the fellow human beings inhabiting its setting and guiding its plot? We’ll look at several examples of great characters and try out some character-building exercises of our own. All levels welcome.

Bruce Holsinger

Bruce Holsinger is a novelist and scholar based in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two award-winning historical novels, A Burnable Book and The Invention of Fire, as well as a new contemporary novel, The Gifted School (Riverhead/Penguin Random House, 2019). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Washington PostSlate, and many other publications. @bruceholsinger

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

The Oversight Draft, from Manuscript to Publishable Draft with Amina Gautier

What keeps a finished manuscript from being accepted for publication, or from catching a judge’s eye or attention, or from being read all the way to the end? How do you know when your manuscript is truly done? From flat plots to false dialogue and under-researched scenes, we will discuss the most common mistakes that keep a finished manuscript from being ready for publication and then offer suggestions about how to address these issues in an “oversight” draft.

Amina Gautier

Dr. Amina Gautier is the author of three award-winning short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy, and The Loss of All Lost Things. Her books have received the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, the Eric Hoffer Legacy Award, the International Latino Book Award, a National Indie Excellence Award, and the Phillis Wheatley Award. More than one hundred of her stories have been published. For her body of work, she has received the PEN/MALAMUD award. @DrAminaGautier

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

Upping the Ante: Developing and Sustaining Conflict with Alma Katsu


Alma will help define what conflict is, describe the four different types of conflict and how to layer them in your novel and show you how to analyze your own writing. She will provide advice on how to create more suspense and tension that can be applied to all kinds of writing, not just mysteries and thrillers.

Alma Katsu portrait

Alma Katsu is author of The Hunger, a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party. The Hunger was on NPR’s list of 100 favorite horror stories, and named one of the best books of 2018 by Barnes & Noble, The Observer, and elsewhere. Her debut novel, The Taker, was one of Booklist’s Top Ten Debut Novels of 2011. She’s a graduate of the Johns Hopkins writing program and an alumna of the Squaw Valley Writers Conference. @almakatsu