Master Classes



List of classes (see below for full descriptions)

Thursday 6:30-9:30

1) Brooke Warner, How to Write a Memoir that Moves Readers and Captures Publishers’ Attention, $99
2) Jonathan Maberry, Crossing Genre Lines, $99
3) Katharine Sands, Master-Pitch Theatre, $99
4) Jordan Rosenfeld, How to Write a Page Turner: Mastering Tension on Every Page, $129 – includes book: How to Write a Page Turner (from retailer)
5)  Rusty Shelton, Building Your Author Platform: 10 Ways to Leverage Authority Marketing to Grow A Meaningful Brand, $119 includes book

Sunday 2-5

6) Susanne Lakin, Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers: How to Effectively Show Emotion in Characters and Evoke Emotion in Readers, $149
7) Kevin Tumlinson, 30-Day Author: Develop a Daily Writing Discipline to Write, Edit, and Publish Your Book in a Month, $149
8) Victoria Zackheim & Anne Perry, Where to Begin? How to Develop and Write Your (Fiction or Nonfiction) Book, $120
9)  Linda Lee, WordPress 101 Bootcamp: Creating a WordPress Website and How to Use It, $129

Sunday 6-9

10) Connie Hale, Practicing the Craft:  Veterans from The Writers Grotto Help You Write Action, Character, Dialogue and Humor (with prompts) includes book, $109
11) Carla King, How to Create and Market Your Self-Published Book, $129 includes the Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors, 4th Edition
12) Jennifer March Soloway, Standing Out in a Sea of Slush: Tips for crafting a dynamite pitch and opening pages to match, $99
13)  Suzette Standring Mastering The Art of Column Writing $129

Full class descriptions

Thursday, 6:30-9:30

1) Brooke Warner, How to Write a Memoir that Moves Readers and Captures Publishers’ Attention, $99There is much to know about the craft of memoir—and in this master class, you’ll be treated to memoir expert Brooke Warner’s enthusiasm for the genre and its craft. Yes, memoir is about storytelling, but it’s so much more than that. Here you’ll get a recap and a deep dive into why it’s important to think about your memoir as a series of scenes, and why theme needs to be an early consideration. This class also covers character/ characterization, flashback and memory, and narration (including voice, tracking time, and transitions), and the all-important craft of reflection and takeaway, leaving students with the most important skillset beyond storytelling, which is the ability to discern and deliver what really matters onto the page.

In this workshop, Brooke—author of three books about memoir, and three other books on writing and publishing, will teach students:

  • How to write a scene—where to start and end them, how to track them, and why to think of them as the foundation of your story.
  • How memoir reads like fiction—with characterization, flashbacks, and narration that focuses on telling a good story.
  • How memoir is different than fiction, particularly when it comes to reflection and takeaway, the heart of memoir.
  • Why there’s so much more to memoir than just “what happened” and how to track the universal moments of resonance for readers.
  • How to think about their own story as commercial and salable, even if it’s very specific and very niche, for the sake of thinking through what will move readers and capture publishers’ interest.

Brooke Warner is publisher of She Writes Press and SparkPress, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of Write On, Sisters!, Green-light Your Book, What’s Your Book?, and three books on memoir. Brooke is a TEDx speaker, weekly podcaster (Write-minded with co-host Grant Faulkner of NaNoWriMo), and the former Executive Editor of Seal Press. She currently sits on the boards of the Independent Book Publishers Association, the Bay Area Book Festival, and the National Association of Memoir Writers.  She writes a monthly column for Publishers Weekly.

2) Jonathan Maberry
Crossing Genre Lines

Crossing genre lines is one of the most reliable paths to a successful and sustainable writing career. Not just within a single story (though that works, too!) but by stretching out into new areas, trying new things, and building yourself into a stronger and more diverse writer. New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry is the author of more than thirty novels and over a hundred short stories that cross and sometime blur genre lines. He has published mysteries, thrillers, horror, noir crime, science fiction, epic fantasy, dark fantasy, urban fantasy, alt-history, comedy, and more; and his market includes adults, young adult and middle grade, as well as comics and nonfiction. Writing cross-genre and multi-genre fiction allows for greater creative freedom and draws on different demographics within the book-buying public. Maberry will share trade secrets for how to maximize your selling potential while growing as a writer and having fun.

3) Katharine Sands
Master-Pitch Theatre

If Shakespeare had to pitch today, he might have written thus:

To speed-date, or not to speed-date, that is the question.

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the zings and arrows of agent feedback
 or take pens and angst a sea of e-mails and by proposing, send them?

To write, to weep
 no more, for by a successful pitch, to say we end
 the heartache, and the thousand natural knocks
 that pitch is heir to: publication devoutly to be wished.

Your pitch is a performance. Whether you deliver it in person or on the printed page. Literary agent Katharine Sands shows you how to hone the on-page elements and in-person aspects of the pitch to create the actual script you will use at the conference, and beyond.

Pitchcraft™ is an invaluable tool—You will learn what to do–and what not to do–when summarizing your book: the description of your book in 200-250 words; — How to get an agent from the get-go; start in a logical place, yet from a compelling perch; how to encapsulate in clear core points; ways to create coming attractions that whet the reader’s appetite for more—and how to avoid “Querial Killers”: the easy-to-fix mistakes writers make when querying agents.

As a writer you are always going to be asked to introduce your work, to share your enthusiasm for your writing, and to get others excited about what is exciting to you. Instruction covers how to take a pitch from ho-um to magnum opus. “Tell me about your work,” means: 15 minutes of fame is yours to shine in. This presentation cuts through the mystery of getting an agent to want YOU, to read YOU and to say YES to YOU.

A literary agent with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, Katharine Sands has worked with a varied list of authors who publish a diverse array of books. Highlights include Spiritual Pregnancy: Nine Months that Change Your Life Before You Give Birth by Dr. Shawn Tassone and Dr. Kathryn Landherr; Loglines by Lane Shefter Bishop; Talk to Strangers: How Everyday Random Encounters Can Expand Your Business, Career, Income and Life by David Topus; The New Rules of Attraction: How to Get Him, Keep Him and Make Him Beg for More by Arden Leigh; Stand Up for Yourself: Resolve Workplace Crises Before You Quit, Get Axed or Sue the Bastards by Donna Ballman; Health and Beauty Bullet Points with Dr. Oz guest, Dr. Pina Loguidice; Dating the Devil (producer: Vast Entertainment) by Lia Romeo; XTC: SongStories; Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, MD by Barbara Barnett of Let’s Talk TV; CityTripping: a Guide for Foodies, Fashionistas and the Generally Style-Obsessed; Writers on Directors; Ford model Helen Lee’s The Tao of Beauty; Elvis and You: Your Guide to the Pleasures of Being an Elvis Fan; New York: Songs of the City; Taxpertise: Dirty Little Secrets the  IRS Doesn’t Want You to Know; The SAT Word Slam, Divorce After 50; Trust Your Gut; Make Up, Don’t Break Up with Oprah guest Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil to name a few.

She is the agent provocateur of Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye, a collection of pitching wisdom from leading literary agents. Actively building her client list, she likes books that have a clear benefit for readers’ lives in categories of food, travel, lifestyle, home arts, beauty, wisdom, relationships, parenting, and fresh looks which might be at issues, life challenges or popular culture. For compelling reads in faction, memoir and femoir, she like to be transported to a world rarely or newly observed; for fiction, she wants to be compelled and propelled. 

4)  Jordan Rosenfeld
How to Write a Page Turner: Mastering Tension on Every Page
$129 – includes b
ook: How to Write a Page Turner (from retailer)

 Tension in novels, stories, and even memoirs is like the connective tissue that allows muscles to attach to bones, and thus flex their might. It’s the heart of conflict, the backbone of uncertainty, the hallmark of danger. It keeps readers guessing, and characters on their toes. When it’s present, stories leave readers breathless and wanting more. When it’s missing, scenes feel inconsequential, plots drag, characters meander.

Just learning the basic building blocks of story craft is not enough to write a page-turning story; you need to master the art of tension on every page and within every element of the story. From the inner conflicts of a character’s deepest psyche, to the mechanics of how you reveal information to the reader, creating tension is critical to crafting a story your readers can’t put down!

In this workshop, Jordan Rosenfeld—author of How to Write a Page-Turner (Writer’s Digest Books, 2019) and five other books on writing craft—you will learn:

  • Four key elements of page-turning tension
  • Strategies for building character tension
  • Essentials of creating plot tension
  • How to balance scene elements for maximum tension
  • How to build powerful images that layer in subconscious tension

Who this session is for

  • Novel writers of all genres
  • Short story writers
  • Memoir writers who want to learn fictional techniques
  • Beginning to intermediate writers

You’ll walk away from this masterclass with practical techniques to elevate your writing.

Bio: Jordan Rosenfeld is author of the novels Women in Red and Forged in Grace and six books on the craft of writing, most recently How to Write a Page-Turner, the bestselling Make a Scene, Writing the Intimate Character, A Writer’s Guide to Persistence, Writing Deep Scenes and Write Free. Her freelance articles and essays have been published in hundreds of publications, including: The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Rumpus, Salon, Scientific American, Writer’s Digest, The Washington Post and many more. She is also a freelance manuscript editor and ghostwriter.

5)  Rusty Shelton
Building Your Author Platform: 10 Ways to Leverage Authority Marketing to Grow A Meaningful Brand
$119 includes book

If you have been wondering where to start when it comes to building a meaningful platform, this Master Class is the place to start. Annually one of the best-reviewed sessions at the SFWC, this presentation will peel back the curtain and share the strategies used to build platforms for some of the world’s leading authors and thought leaders. Drawing on the framework shared in his newest bestselling book, Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant, Rusty Shelton will share a 10-step plan that combines insights from the changing worlds of publicity, social media and marketing to help you cut through the clutter and build a large platform. Attendees will leave the presentation with an online brand audit and a roadmap they can follow to grow their platform in the years to come.

You will learn how to:

  • Leverage the new media landscape for success through the earned, rented & owned framework
  •  Conduct an online brand audit for yourself/your business to be more discoverable
  • Grow your platform by thinking like a media outlet
  • Get major media exposure without spending a lot of money
  •  Create the right content strategy to own the connection with your audience
  •  Grow your email list with quiz/assessment marketing.

This is a workshop that values the practical/actionable over the big picture and attendees will be challenged and encouraged to hit the ground running with platform development.

This session is for any writer who wants to grow a meaningful platform. 

Learn more at or

Sunday 2-5

6) Susanne Lakin
Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers: How to Effectively Show Emotion in Characters and Evoke Emotion in Readers

Mastering the emotional craft of fiction is perhaps the most difficult challenge facing a writer. And the most important and yet overlooked.

Readers read to care. They read to feel.

Readers of fiction aren’t reading to acquire facts, such as they might do when studying a nonfiction book. They read to be entertained, affected. They read to be tense, laugh, worry, get excited. In other words, they read to feel something.

If we writers don’t succeed in making our readers feel something, we fail. If they don’t feel what we want them to feel, we fail.

To be an effective writer, we must master the emotional challenge of our stories. It won’t do to hope we will move our readers in some way. It won’t do to hope we get across our characters’ emotions.

Emotional mastery requires writers to set up the dynamics of a scene in such a visual, textural way that readers can’t help but feel what they are meant to feel. Understanding that emotional mastery requires a twofold approach—the emotional landscape of both the character and the reader—is the first step.

In this master class, you’ll be given tools to show emotions in your characters. You’ll be given techniques to help spark emotional response in your readers. What is going to bring it all together for you is practice. Study and practice. And you’ll be given exercises in this course to help you put into practice what you learn.

Here are some of the essential things you will learn in this course:

  • The 3 key ways to show emotion in your characters and which one is the most powerful
  • What the action-reaction cycle is all about, and why you must understand it to be an emotional master
  • Why you need to manipulate your readers’ emotions, and why that’s a good thing
  • How to recognize complex emotion and transfer that onto the page
  • What microtension is and why it’s essential for emotional mastery
  • How to find the perfect balance of showing and telling emotion in your characters
  • How to deconstruct masterful writing that evokes and shows emotion and emulate the effect in your own scenes

This essential instruction is not available anywhere else. There are no books, podcasts, blog posts, or courses that tackle this topic and to this depth. Few writing instructors teach anything pertaining to the emotional craft of fiction. Yet, it is just as important—if not more so—than a great plot or compelling characters.

This master class is for fiction writers (and those who write creative nonfiction) of any level!

 7) Kevin Tumlinson
30-Day Author: Develop a Daily Writing Discipline to Write, Edit, and Publish Your Book in a Month

Learn how to use your existing habits and practices to improve your writing craft and build a discipline that can make you more productive as a writer. Pick up new insights into how to create a workflow that fits with your goals and work style. And take the stress out of writing by making it a go-to, daily habit that is both personally fulfilling and career building.

Kevin Tumlinson, a bestselling and award-winning novelist, host of the popular Wordslinger Podcast, and Marketing Director for Draft2Digital shares insights gained from years of writing and publishing, as well as from his work with thousands of successful indie authors. Every week he helps will-be authors build and grow their self-publishing careers.

You’ll learn:

  • How to use everyday writing habits you already have to build up your daily writing muscle and improve your craft
  • A formula for deciding exactly how many words to write each day to produce a book in any timeframe you want
  • How to create a writing and publishing workflow, to take some of the “work” out of the work and keep writing fun
  • Ways to use the resources and tools you already have to “write in the gaps,” to write anywhere, any time
  • Where to turn for help and advice when you need it, without feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there

Book Title: 30-Day Author: Develop a Daily Writing Habit and Write Your Book in 30 Days (or Less)

Available at most eBook retailers:

NOTE: Purchase of this book is optional (and you can always get it later if you want)

8) Victoria Zackheim & Anne Perry
Where to Begin? How to Develop and Write Your (Fiction or Nonfiction) Book

Do you have an idea for a book—fiction or nonfiction—but you’re not sure how to begin? Perhaps you have spent months, years, even decades imagining how you’ll proceed, but something always gets in the way. Work. Family. Health. Life.

In this Master Class, international and New York Times bestselling novelist Anne Perry and author/editor Victoria Zackheim will get you moving! They’ll work directly with you as you take those ideas and run with them. This is a hands-on course where you’ll create a comprehensive outline that will act as your road map. This is where you begin serious development of your compelling plot and memorable characters. (And yes, plot and characters, story line and all those elements we think of in books of  fiction…DO apply to nonfiction!)  What will happen after we’ve worked with you on all of these elements? You’ll write!

This course will cover the major plot/character-development points of fiction and nonfiction:

  • What is an arc…and why is it vital to EVERY book?
  • How do we create the kind of conflict that makes a book exceptional?
  • What is continuity and why does it matter?
  • When does backstory work…and when does it get in the way?
  • What are the “secrets” of developing memorable characters?
  • How do we develop a story line?
  • How important are story threads…and what are they?
  • How do you add the element of tension in every scene?

What if you come to the course without a story in mind? No problem! We’ll work with you to develop plot/structure/goals…and all the basics you need to write that book. This is the course that will reignite your passion for writing…and give you the confidence to move forward.

9)  Linda Lee
WordPress 101 Bootcamp: Creating a WordPress Website and How to Use It

Learn the basics of using a WordPress built website, including:

  • Themes and Menus
  • Navigating the dashboard
  • How to write and publish a blog post and pages
  • Adding tags, categories and keywords
  • How to work with images, sizing and how to find copyright free images
  • Search engine optimization basics and mobile themes.
  • Hands On training!

Each student will be given a WordPress test website, set up with plugins, and ready to use, so the class will be able to learn at the same pace. You will have access to your WordPress test website for 90 days after the class to continue to practice and refresh what you have learned.

You will be emailed all the information, including logins, videos and training materials before the class.

You will have lifetime access to the training videos and materials included in the class.

Linda Lee is a web designer and founder of WordPress Bootcamp training courses, and expert on website design. Linda and her team have built more than 300 websites on WordPress and she prides herself on demystifying the online experience. Whether a novice or veteran Internet user, Linda can help people optimize and monetize their website.

She specializes in WordPress design as well as WordPress instruction and trouble shooting.  Her clients include best-selling authors, nonprofits, writers organizations and local and national companies. Linda is the founder of Smart Women Stupid Computers, Askmepc-Webdesign and WordPress Total Training, a full WordPress training course and support membership site for WordPress.


10) Connie Hale
Practicing the Craft:  Veterans from The Writers Grotto Help You Write Action, Character, Dialogue and Humor (with prompts) includes book

The Writers Grotto has launched a light-hearted, smart series on the writing craft, called LitStarts. This workshop uses the first four books—Writing Action, Writing Character, Writing Dialogue, and Writing Humor—to deepen your mastery of the writing craft through fun exercises and lively prompts that will change the way you approach the page. The popular writing coach Constance Hale will lead the workshop, joined by essayists and novelists and even a poet from the Writers Grotto, San Francisco’s oldest literary community. A copy of one of the books is included in the price of the class.

This session will help you:

  • Sketch dynamic characters in three words
  • Write dialogue that sounds natural but sizzles with energy
  • Build conflict into scenes and stories
  • Understand varieties of plot and structure
  • Use tone to put humanity and humor into your sentences

This session is for writers:

  • Prepared to do a lot of writing in three hours
  • Eager to explore more than one genre
  • Looking for ways to perk up their stories
  • Ready to make the mediocre more magical

11) Carla King
How to Create and Market Your Self-Published Book
$129 includes the Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors, 4th Edition

Publishing independently is a rewarding, empowering, and immediate way to get your book into the hands of your readers. In this workshop, Carla King—book coach, author of six books on self-publishing, and three other self-published books—will show you how to self-publish professionally so you can really sell books, what you need to know to partner with small presses or distribution companies, and how to use self-publishing as a launching pad to attract an agent and a big publishing house. But most of all, you’ll learn how to do what it takes to be successful, and that is to involve early readers so you know you’re writing to an audience that actually exists. This process jumps starts your book marketing and makes book launch and media outreach activities a lot easier and much more fun. Along with the printed Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors, 5th Edition, you’ll get checklists and worksheets to help you walk away with an actionable publishing plan for your book.


  • How to choose the right distributors to get your books into the online retailers, independent bookstores, and chain stores.
  • How to make sure that your book looks just like a book published by a Big 5 publishing house.
  • About early marketing and post-publication media activities, especially how to guarantee five-star reviews by engaging early readers.
  • Why you should set up a business as an independent publisher.
  • What tasks you can do yourself and what you need to hire out, and how to outsource without getting ripped off.
  • How to choose from the easy and affordable tools and services that help independent publishers succeed.

WALK AWAY WITH a task list and an actionable self-publishing plan that includes critical early marketing, production, and post-publication PR tasks you need to succeed.


Since three hours is too short a time to cover every detail, you will also get access to these Self-Publishing Boot Camp online courses:

  • The Publishing Freedom Course
  • Build Your Author Platform on the World Wide Web
  • Set Up Your Publishing Business
  • Design and Format Your Book
  • Distribute Your Book

Carla King has over 25 years experience as a writer, self-publisher, web developer, and book consultant. She started self-publishing in 1995. In 2010 she founded Self-Publishing Boot Camps and created a series of books, workshops, and online courses. She also runs Destination Published, a consulting service for authors who desire one-on-one help. Carla has been connected with the Silicon Valley self-publishing technology industry from its inception in 2008 and has served as a trusted adviser to authors eager to use today’s tools to reach readers.

12) Jennifer March Soloway
Standing Out in a Sea of Slush: Tips for crafting a dynamite pitch and opening pages to match

So you’ve finally finished your novel or picture book, and you’re ready to query agents. Or maybe you’ve been querying, but you’ve only received rejections­­ or worse, not heard back at all. Now is the time to revisit your pitch opening pages to make your story pop. In this session, I’ll give you insight about what it’s like to read submissions and how I manage my query box, including the types of projects I find most compelling. We will discuss what it takes to stand out in a sea of slush and do several exercises to help you identify which elements of your story to pitch, as well as what not to include, to best hook your reader.

This session will give you tips on how to:

(1) craft an attention-grabbing pitch,

(2) write a dynamite first line,

(3) establish the stakes for the character,

(4) launch into a scene to get the story moving,

(5) and other ways to engage the reader and pull them into the story

This session is for:

  • Writers preparing to query for the first time
  • Writers who are querying but have yet to find representation
  • Writers with works in progress, who are curious about the querying process
  • Writers starting to brainstorm ideas for a new project (crafting a pitch can be a great way to nail down a story idea)

Attendees are encouraged to bring their first 10 pages and pitch, but it’s not necessary.

13)  Suzette Standring
Mastering The Art of Column Writing
$129 includes book
The Art of Column Writing (from instructor)

Responsibility and bravery are required when you lead with the pronoun “I.” In journalism, only the column, or blog post, or serial essay features a personal viewpoint. Whether the commentary is about parenting, general life, humor, politics, or how-to, your reader must be engaged fully. Discover Pulitzer Prize winning elements of notable commentary that you can apply to your own work. Find out how to move readers to act on calls for action.  Despite the changing media landscape, column writing is not dead.  New media will always demand compelling opinions, entertaining viewpoints, new voices, and powerful stories.

This workshop will help you to:

  • Discern the emotional heart of a story, and convey it to readers.
  • Create a compelling message in 500 words or less.
  • Become a go-to resource if you have a strong interest in a particular subject, but may not be an expert.
  • Idea generation, overcoming writer’s block
  • Become aware of how language and word usage are used to persuade.
  • Address the common doubt, “I’m not like other writers” and discover ways to parlay your originality into marketable and unique columns, essays, or blog posts.

No matter what your subject interest is, there are special skills involved to create a powerful message in 500 words or less.  This session is for:

  • Aspiring or new writers to the column, blog post or serial essay format. They will find this class both informative and inspiring.
  • Seasoned writers who are curious as to the writing strategies used by award winning columnists and how such approaches account for career longevity. Attendees will gain practical insights.
  • Anyone who wants to benefit from concise writing skills will learn ways to make a shorter message more powerful.

Be brave with me. It’s scary to stand butt naked and unbathed (in print only!) but readers do applaud vulnerability and facts, and will long remember what you wrote.