Breakout Sessions



The following list was from our 2017 conference, but it gives you a great idea of what kind of conference you can expect. Stay tuned for 2018 details in the Spring!

Fully Realizing Fiction Setting— Cynthia Beach

How can we fully realize a scene in a novel? By tapping into our senses and our ability to “be there,” and by reaching into our character’s interpretations. Learn how to add layers of reality that construct a real world through specific details to give our readers a deeper experience.

Post-Traumatic Stress or Post-Traumatic Growth: Using Trauma Psychology to Enhance Writing about Suffering—Dave Beach

How do real people suffer? How do they begin to grow again after suffering? This seminar will improve your portrayal of trauma and suffering through understanding trauma, its constellation of symptoms, and growth trajectories after trauma. Learn and practice writing about suffering in a realistic way in both fiction and nonfiction.

Writing Board Books—Crystal Bowman (Lunch Forum)

Writing for the youngest audience is much more challenging than many writers realize—until they try it! This session will dissect the board book genre and what writers need to do in order to write a good one. Learn about the necessary elements that must be woven into a board book manuscript for publication.

Writing in Rhythm and Rhyme—Crystal Bowman

Writing skills using rhythm and rhyme need to be mastered (in your children’s book) in order to avoid a quick trip to the slush pile. From learning the basics of rhyme up to complex meter, this session will offer an in-depth look at writing in the style and format of rhythm and rhyme.

The Business of Writing: Contracts, Rights, Permissions and Other Details—Tim Beals

Writers often struggle when it comes to the business side of writing. Tim will talk you through things like copyrights, permissions, trademarks, rights, royalties, and contracts, along with answering your questions about the myriad details of creating a thriving and legitimate writing career.

The Overlooked Art of Naming Your Characters—Lorilee Craker

This session will show you how to give the perfect story-enhancing, period-appropriate appellation to your hero and heroine, supporting characters, and, most importantly, your villains! Attendees will learn how to brainstorm for the most fitting names, while avoiding classic naming pitfalls: names from the wrong era, social class, ethnic group, etc.

How to Write Your Story without Offending Absolutely Everyone—Lorilee Craker

“I want to write about my mother/child/boss/classmate but I don’t want to offend them,” has to be a Top Ten remark heard at writers’ conferences and book events of all kinds. Which stories should be left out and which ones should be kept? How can I “blur” identities while still expressing the truth? This seminar will be your guide to sidestepping landmines while still writing truthfully.

Awl You Need Is . . . A Bookbinding Workshop—Christine Darragh
Writing and bookbinding have been inextricable for centuries. Mechanization has hidden that process from us in recent years, but methods of book making haven’t changed that much. In this workshop, we’ll learn how to make a simple hand-bound book. Participants will come away with a book of their own, as well as examples of how bookbinding skills can practically integrate with their own writing disciplines. Limit 10, with $18 materials fee payable at workshop. 

A Following Like a Mustard Seed: Practically Growing and Mobilizing a Small Tribe—Alexis De Weese

It can be discouraging to know publishers and agents prefer potential authors to have a following of at least 10,000 on any given digital platform before considering them for publication. But take heart! Everyone starts somewhere and there is hope if you have even less than 100 followers. Learn practical tips and strategies to build up your small tribe with content they care about.

The Writing Life: Stepping in, Staying In—Shari Dragovich

If you have heard the call toward the writing life, you understand it is not a “hobby” nor is it a “career;” it is a gift to be stewarded. Drawing largely on her experience of moving from a homeschooling mother to professional published writer, Shari will give practical advice and encouragement. Learn what it looks like to: a) hear the call; b) heed the call; and c) honor the call into the writing life.

Greatest Show on Earth: Nurturing a Writing Life Amidst the Three-Ring Circus of Your Everyday— Shari Dragovich

Despite our best dreaming and pretending, 99.9% of us will never manage the indulgent writing life of Ernest Hemingway. We are pressed upon from all sides, every day: jobs, kids, volunteer work, marriage. And somehow, in the midst of all this busyness, we are supposed to find time for writing, too. This session covers how to create space, time, and goals for your writing.

Say What? How to Create Great Dialogue to Deepen Your Fiction—Susie Finkbeiner

Dialogue has the power to make or break your fiction. A well-written exchange can draw readers into the story, but stilted conversation can force them right out. But how does one write authentic dialogue? We’ll explore how to build conflict, further the plot, and add characterization in this workshop style session. Bring paper and pen or laptop (as well as your creativity) as we’ll spend time writing.

Indie Publishing from the Ground Up—Heather Day Gilbert

Do you find yourself wondering about independent publishing? This session covers the four key elements (editing, cover art/blurb, formatting, and marketing) you will have to manage when you become an independent publisher of your books. Learn about the costs and benefits of self-publishing.

101 Ways to Market Your Book, Your Blog and Yourself—Alexis De Weese, Lindsay Gustafson

With endless marketing options, which ones are the next best steps for you in your writing career? This session gives attendees concrete and manageable ideas and marketing tactics that they can implement in any stage of their writing journey.

The Poetry of Creation/ The Creation of Poetry—Richard Havenga

Weaving words of grace and gratitude with distinctive images into a tapestry of Photo Poetry, this session shares the everyday miracles of God’s creation. Attendees will realize a greater awareness of the outdoor world, how to focus their curiosity, and discover new ways to write about the natural world.

Masterpiece Building: Getting Your Idea Out of Your Head—Elizabeth Ivy Hawkins

There are a lot of destructive myths about creativity, but one of the most dangerous is the “Lone Genius” myth: An individual, with superhuman talents and inspiration, creates a masterpiece. This is not the reality. Learn practical steps, supported by scientific data, to help you uncover the pathway to getting your idea out of your head and into the world.

Make Believe: How Children’s and YA Literature Can Nurture Curiosity about God and Keep Spiritual Imaginations Going for Life—Alison Hodgson, Jennifer Grant, Caryn Rivadeneira

For years, religious children’s books have had a bad habit of being all about answers—but new religious books engage many more sides of spiritual imagination. Explore what it means to write for kids and young adults in a way that encourages questions and curiosity and seeks to engage children with faith in authentic ways.

Say it Better: Writing More Powerful Poetry—Christina Hubbard

Working with poetry makes us masters of attention and sound. Enhance your sensory awareness through details and deductive questioning in this poetry workshop. Learn how poetry helps us write better words that stick in the psyche and tug at the soul.

Deepening Your Novel: Foreshadowing, Humor and Character Development—Deborah King

This session will explore how authors can communicate foreshadowing, humor, character development, and themes to their readers through their characters, all without the characters having a clue what is going on. We’ll practice how to create “breadcrumb trails” in your writing so you’ll come away with a renewed vision for deepening your manuscript and the skills to do so.

Be an Idea Machine: No-Fail Methods for Idea Generation—Ann Kroeker

Writers must churn out content of all kinds, from blog articles and guest posts to magazine pitches and book proposals. You never want the well to run dry, yet you may have faced days when you opened your laptop and stared at the screen without a single idea. No more! Learn practical techniques to spark creativity and fill the well of ideas to overflowing.

More Than a Platform: Using Social Media for God and to Achieve Your Writing Dreams—Ann Kroeker, Kate Motaung, Shannon Popkin

Three accomplished writers who know how to use social media well will help you examine your motives regarding platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, develop godly strategies and practical solutions, and help you reimagine social media as a simple, powerful storytelling vehicle.

The Story: Lessons from a New Jersey Cowboy Poet—Matthew Landrum

Mark Jarman tells stories—the story of Job, the story of a pastor fruitlessly consoling the parents of a suicide victim, Jesus’ transfiguration. And he does it in gorgeous verse that wraps the reader in the story’s essence. In this session we will explore Jarman’s narrative poetry with an eye for how the poetic can help writers tell their stories.

Poetry Workshop— Matthew Landrum

Writing is a solitary craft but editing doesn’t have to be. In this workshop, participants will share their work and read work by other workshop members. Bring ten printed copies of 2-3 poems. Dig into the poems and try to take each piece to the next level as you see what others are accomplishing and how they have achieved it.

Creating Authentic Connections to Help Build a Career—Rachel McMillan

Now more than ever, prospective and published authors need a community of support. But how do you approach endorsers? How do you get an agent or editor referral? Let me help via advice gleaned by personal experience as a reader and blogger who created authentic connections for years before publishing success. Learn the difference between “using” authors for immediate gain and cultivating your publishing community.

Weaving Christian Worldview into All Your Writing—Rachel McMillan

More than ever, Christian publishers are looking for authors who can bridge the gap between the Christian and general markets. But how do you write from a Christian worldview while creating content accessible to the general marketplace? Learn from a variety of authors who have found success in both, and gain a new perspective on how the Gospel can be seamlessly woven into your writing for all readers.

Create to Connect: How to Find and Build Meaningful Community Online—Kate Motaung

Do you ever feel alone in the writing life? Does the idea of meaningful online connection sound foreign to you? Learn practical ways you can find and build genuine, encouraging community online and get specific tips on blogging, critique groups, and online discussions.

A Start-Up Guide for Writing Online—Kate Motaung

Learn a step-by-step process for becoming an established online Christian writer, including tips for effective blogging, best social media practices, and growing community online, as well as a list of places to submit articles and guest posts (and some of them pay!).

Retelling God’s Story for Children—Glenys Nellist

The wonderful thing about God’s story is that there’s always a new way to tell it. If you are interested in writing biblical or faith-based stories for children, join us as we discover new ways to tell the old, old story. Receive encouragement, inspiration and motivation to bring your book-writing dream to fruition.

Writing to the Rhythm of My Feet—Amy Nemecek (Walking Tour)

Mary Oliver says, “I wrote while I walked. That motion, hardly more than a dreamy sauntering, worked for me; it kept my body happy while I scribbled.” No matter the setting, walking can be one of the best writing prompts. So lace up some sensible shoes and join me for a “feet on” adventure. We’ll walk around campus observing, listening, and pausing to record. Bring a notebook (and an umbrella in case of rain).

Rekindling the Muse’s Fire—Amy Nemecek

As writers, we all go through times when we struggle to know what to write. When our fires of inspiration feel smothered, writing prompts can act as a bellows to blow on live coals and rekindle a flame. We’ll explore sources of prompts, and we’ll do hands-on practice using different sensory and topical prompts. Receive a toolkit of prompts to reignite your inner furnace of ideas.

Getting Out of Your Own Way— Don Perini (Plenary)

Discover how to break through the internal obstacles of perfectionism, fear, procrastination, and self-doubt that are preventing you from producing creative redemptive work. Learn about the meaningful steps you can take towards reaching your writing goals.

From Book Contract to Bookstores— Shannon Popkin and Janyre Tromp

Are you closing in on your first book contract? (Hooray!) Do you wonder what unexpected surprises loom on the other side of that contract-signing doorway? Get the perspective of an acquisitions editor plus a first time author on your book’s progression from proposal to print. You’ll receive step-by-step insight into each part of the process.

Write Bravely—Conquering the Fears that Keep You from Your Goals—Jill Richardson

What’s the biggest handicap hindering your writing goals? Writer’s block? Marketing skills? Craft? Getting the contract? For a lot of writers, it’s fear. Fear of failure, inadequacy, giving offense, and, yes, even success. In this workshop, participants learn to recognize the fears that are keeping them from reaching for their goals and find practical steps for conquering them.

Getting the Ask—Writing Queries and Intros that Get Noticed—Jill Richardson

The market is tough and getting tougher. How do you stand out in the inbox and make sure you get the ask for your work? Surprising mistakes you don’t know you’re making may be keeping you from getting that coveted green light. This session covers basics as well as some nuances for particular markets. Bring an idea and work on polishing it here.

Edit Your Own Work: A Writer’s Workshop—Andy Rogers

For many writers, self-editing sounds about as exciting as flossing your teeth. But if you first create a plan for self-editing, you will get the work done more quickly and even experience more joy in the process. In this workshop we’ll talk about how to develop a plan for editing your own work, and practical tips that will make your writing more appealing to editors and agents. Make sure to bring your piece to workshop!

The Essential Elements of a Book Proposal—Andy Rogers

This workshop is for any writer (fiction and nonfiction) who wants to learn about crafting a book proposal. Receive practical, encouraging advice, debunk a few myths, steer clear of time-wasters, and examine the essential elements of a proposal. Learn to aim at the right audience, hone your hook, and develop strong sample writing. Writers are encouraged to bring a notebook.

Balancing History and Plot in Fiction— Pegg Thomas

History woven into a story brings a deeper dimension to fiction … if you do it well. We’ll cover tips on historical research, spotting “red flags” in your manuscript, and striking the balance between history and story.

Where Do I Go From Here?—Brenda Yoder

You’ve been inspired by speakers and attended great workshops—but what do you do after the Breathe conference? In this workshop, life coach and counselor Brenda Yoder will give you practical tools for the next steps to reach your writing goals. She’ll equip you with a personalized plan to get moving while also removing potential obstacles. Create writing goals and learn strategies to help you keep moving forward.

Is My Editor Speaking English? Simplifying Difficult Writing Concepts—Cyle Young

Ever look at your edited document or sit in a critique and feel like the other person is speaking a foreign language? Do you want someone to define and explain much of the professional writer lingo? This session aims to help attendees understand the common phrases of the publishing industry and as well as how to use this knowledge to improve your writing.

210+ Tech Tools Every Author Should Know—Cyle Young

In this class we will review over 200 new and popular tech tools and hidden internet gems that will help you as a writer. Learn what a Thunderclap is, create amazing graphics for book covers through Canva or PicMonkey, and gain more Twitter followers as you walk through the many resources available to writers.

Editors Panel (Plenary)—Gloria Penwell (Bold Vision), Pegg Thomas (LPC), Andy Rogers (Discovery House), Dawn Anderson (Kregel), Heather Day Gilbert (Custom)

Do you ever wonder what an editor looks for and why? Learn about new trends in the marketplace, the specifics for editors in publishing houses, and what things an editor looks for in a good manuscript. Open Q&A after the panel.

Children’s Panel— Glenys Nellist, Crystal Bowman, Josh Mosey (Baker Book House), Caryn Rivadeneira

How can we engage with children at their level? Through books! This panel discusses how children’s books are marketed, what’s trending, and gives advice on how to write a children’s book from the perspective of authors and booksellers.