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2024 Conference Workshop Electives

As part of your conference registration options, you will be given the choice of one of the following Workshop Electives from each of the available time slots.

Workshop Elective Session 1: Friday - 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

WS 01: At Attention Plantsing

Presented by: Rick Acker and Colleen Coble
Description -

When two writers, one a solid pantser and the other a detailed plotter, march together on a novel, the end result is a meeting-in-the-middle of writing styles. Join two best-selling authors to learn secrets on bending the plotting vs pantser ideals.

Workshop Outline -

Information Video:-

WS 02: Write from Freedom

Presented by: Amanda Dykes
Description -

Formulate strategies for fighting the traps of comparison, imposter syndrome, measuring up, and the myth of failure, in favor of writing from a place of invitation, security, confidence in your calling, humility, and the joy of serving God and readers through His creation of words as He pursues our hearts and blesses the hearts of readers.

Workshop Outline -

I. Stories sharing the relatable realities of comparison, imposter syndrome, measuring up, and other joy-stealers

II. Imagine together at what sort of writing that “fosters”, and the burdens the above can be to a writer’s heart

III. Contrast that to what God intends for us and invites us to: writing from a place of wholeness in Him, servant-heartedness, assurance that we are cherished and called

IV. How to balance striving for excellence to serve well, with humility and wholeness

V. Look together at what sort of writing freedom can foster, and what it does for a writer’s heart.

VI. Strategies for battling the burdens when they try to sneak in

VII. Personal goal-writing: The place I want to write and serve from is built of these unshakable truths (writers fill in using handout, and take away a personal, freedom-giving mission statement)

Information Video:-

WS 03:  Forming Double Battlelines: Thriving as a Hybrid

Presented by: Misty Beller
Description -

Balancing traditional contracts with the needs of indie publishing isn’t always easy, but with a bit of planning and the right team on board, you can leverage both publishing models to support the other and grow your author career—without losing your mind!

Workshop Outline -

Planning Ahead:
• How far out?
• Production schedules
• Contract dates
• Planning your indie publishing schedule
• Communication is key

• Managing deadlines (pro tip: build in lots of time!)
• Should there be a mindset shift?
• Tips to use each publishing model to promote sales of the other

Tips for maintaining consistent indie income during trad-pubbed releases:
• Advertising
• Multiple streams of income

Information Video:-

WS 04: Battle Preparation: Estate Planning for Authors

Presented by: Kelley Way
Description -

This presentation will teach you what comprises an estate plan and how your copyright fits into it, so that your copyright can continue to provide value even after you’re no longer able to manage it.

Workshop Outline -

I. What is an Estate Plan?
II. Why Does It Matter?
III. Four Parts to a (Good) Estate Plan
IV. What is Copyright?
V. Duration of Copyright
VI. Community Property
VII. Termination Right
VIII. Intersection of Copyrights and Estate Planning
IX. What Should I Do?
X. Should I Incorporate?
XI. What If I Already Have an Estate Plan?
XII. Other considerations
XIII. Conclusion

Information Video:-

Workshop Elective Session 2: Friday - 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

WS 05: Tactics and Strategy-The Basics

Presented by: Rick Acker and Mark Mynheir
Description -

A veteran police officer and attorney answer your questions on perennial popular topics like firearms, police culture, and how the justice systems (yes, there’s more than one) work. We’ll start with a short presentation on these topics, and then spend the rest of the class answering questions. Please submit your questions in advance to or


Workshop Outline -

Information Video:-

WS 06: Strategies From Spark to Story

Presented by: Melanie Dobson
Description -

From Spark to Story provides a detailed map of the eight major STRATEGIES needed to write an engaging and inspirational novel across genres.

Workshop Outline -

Do you have the spark of an idea for a novel? Or maybe you have an entire story burning in your head and you’re ready to organize the blaze. This workshop will begin at the concept stage and offer both new and experienced writers a detailed map of the eight major elements needed-including strong opposition, heroic characters, and a persuasive message-to write an engaging and inspirational novel across genres.

Information Video:-

WS 07: Army-Crawl of Publishing: It’s a Turtle Race

Presented by: Kimberley Woodhouse
Description -

If you want to succeed at publishing, you have to be in it for the long haul.

Workshop Outline -

Let’s face it, we can’t all be one-hit-wonders. If you have a passion for story and you want to do this for your full-time job, you’ve got to train like you’re training for a marathon. Let’s break down that training into four sections.

Planning for the Turtle Race (this is a continuous process)
-understand the state of publishing and the market
-which avenue are you on – indie or traditional

Preparing for the Turtle Race (this is a continuous process)
-organization isn’t a dirty word
-understand the business side and do it correctly

Running the Turtle Race (this is a continuous process)
-stop dreaming about possibilities and ideas
-continue to build your platform
-continue to write well, never stop learning
-know when to hire people and delegate

Winning the Turtle Race (guess what? This is also a continuous process)
-collaborate don’t compete
-write more, write faster
-stay the course
-slow and steady wins the race

Information Video:-

WS 08: Writing From the Trenches

Presented by: Pepper Basham and Betsy St. Amant Haddox
Description -

Join Betsy St. Amant and Pepper Basham as they discuss the when - and the how - of writing through the hard places of life.

Workshop Outline -

Multi-published, award-winning authors Betsy St. Amant Haddox and Pepper Basham join forces to discuss key elements of writing even through suffering. Using Scripture and personal experience, Betsy and Pepper discuss practical ways to self-reflect on personal needs, when to forge ahead even with a broken heart, and how to navigate discussions with publishers, editors, and readers when you’ve hit a difficult path in life’s journey.

Information Video:-

Workshop Elective Session 3: Saturday - 9:30 am - 10:30 am

WS 09:  On the Radar for the Hot Topics

Presented by: Rick Acker and Mark Mynheir
Description -

A veteran police officer and attorney answer your questions on straight-from-the-headlines issues like burner phones, using DNA (including family DNA) to crack cold cases, hacking and tracking. We’ll start with a short presentation on these topics, and then spend the rest of the class answering questions. Please submit your questions in advance to or

Workshop Outline -

Information Video:-

WS 10: Awe, Wonder, the Impossible, and Pixie Dust

Presented by: Donald Maass
Description -

Inspiring and lifting readers isn’t accidental or magic. It can be planned. Learn the methods of making transporting fiction in this hands-on workshop.

Workshop Outline -

Information Video:-

WS 11: Marching Forward: You’re Published, Now What?

Presented by: Ashley Clark
Description -

This workshop will offer fresh clarity and strategy for authors who have achieved publication but are now struggling to overcome poor sales, a changing market, and/or a flailing platform.

Workshop Outline -

You’ve finally accomplished the milestone of publication… but no one prepared you for this part.

Sales are down, authors are expected to do more than ever—from newsletters to social platforms to marketing—and readers have grown accustomed to getting books cheap or free from online channels.

Add in the flooded e-book market, and the situation is even more discouraging. No one wants to address this reality head-on.

Until now.

In this workshop, I’ll offer a fresh perspective that will restore your creativity, empower you to reach your audience, and remind you why you started writing in the first place. We will discuss what we’re doing to steward our God-given callings, and how we can find our confidence again.

Information Video:-

WS 12: Fighting The Good Fight

Presented by: Rachel Hauck
Description -

Join Rachel Hauck for a look at writing stories from a Christian worldview. Where is the market heading and how can we make more of an impact among readers. She may or may not have the answers to these questions but you’re welcome to bring your thoughts. Are we writing about traditions? Religion? Or Jesus? Should be a lively class.

Workshop Outline -

Information Video:-

Workshop Elective Session 4: Saturday - 11:00 am - Noon

WS 13: Every Story is a Quest

Presented by: Donald Maass
Description -

Every protagonist is searching for something, either concrete or internal or spiritual. How does that quest become infused in your pages, a journey that we all must take? Discover the methods in this hands-on workshop.

Workshop Outline -

Information Video:-

WS 14: Anchored Writing: Nurturing Spiritual and Mental Health for Christian Writers

Presented by: Amanda Cox and Jenny Erlingsson
Description -

Anchored Writing is an interactive workshop that will affirm writers in their core call to write lasting and impactful fiction by providing practical tips for overcoming common struggles, encouragement for cultivating wholeness, and practical ways to deepen connection to our creative God.

Workshop Outline -

I. Introduction. Overview of shared experiences unique to the writing profession concerning spiritual and mental health

II. Rooting our Identity in Christ
Discuss the foundational truth that our identity is in Christ, not in our work. What are some of the lies that keep us from this truth?
Addressing common challenges in keeping our identity rooted in Christ and not in what we produce.
How an identity rooted in Christ impacts writing (SOS 2:15?)
Key indicators that we’ve lost sight of the source of our identity.
Biblical application : Numbers 12 (Miriam), Romans 8:15
Practical application: Realigning our identity
Guided reflection (Handout)

III. Embracing the call to write

Affirming the significance of writing fiction as a valid and worthwhile calling
Writing as a form of worship: connecting with our creative God
Writing as our sacrificial offering
Biblical application: John 12:3 and John 3:30
Addressing common misconceptions about creative pursuits
Key indicators that we might need to reaffirm the “why” behind our writing
Guided reflection (Handout)

IV. Imposter Syndrome, Self-Doubt, and Discouragement

Overview of these “common to man” writer pitfalls
Discussing how these pitfalls can be reframed as opportunities to realign with God’s purpose, increase self-awareness, and deepen personal growth
Biblical application: Ruth and Naomi
Power of Community
Guided reflection (Handout)

VI. Anchored Writing, Abiding in Christ
How does spiritual, mental, and emotional health impact writing?
When we abide in Christ through the ups and downs of writing, how does this change our writing? How does it transform us as followers of Jesus?
Biblical application: John 15:4
Providing practical techniques for fostering spiritual connection in writing
Guided reflection (Handout)

VII. Conclusion
Summarizing Key Thoughts
Next Steps
Providing resources and support for ongoing growth

Information Video:-

WS 15: Building a Full-Time Career

Presented by: Lisa Phillips
Description -

Get fired up and inspired for an author career that can pay your bills.

Workshop Outline -

You’ve heard it said that authors don’t make money. I’m here to bust that myth and show you how to make a living writing. Choosing a genre path, learning the market, and staying creative through the long haul. From dreaming and planning for your career all the way to cultivating fans who devour books, join Lisa on this epic journey called “being an author.”

Information Video:-

WS 16: Make ‘Em Laugh…Not Sweat
Behind Enemy Lines
Presented by: Pepper Basham and Bethany Turner
Description -

Tips and Tricks for writing clean romantic comedy that tickles the funny bone and quickens the pulse without crossing the line.

Workshop Outline -

Clean Read Romances are trending right now, and most of them include humor too. But how do we keep it clean while adding some sizzle? What are the tricks for making the readers laugh without the humor falling flat? In this
class, authors Bethany Turner and Pepper Basham discuss tips and tricks they use to write clean romantic comedy that quickens the pulse without crossing the line. Discussions related to adding humor, story beats, and being
character matchmakers are all included too! Come join us!

Bethany and Pepper will cover the 7 Keys and 6 Beats to Writing RomComs (sounds like it ought to be a song), as well as incorporate popular romantic comedy movies to teach ‘story’, humor, tropes, and being authentic.

Information Video:-

Workshop Elective Session 5: Saturday - 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

WS 17: Under the Tent—Unveiling Structure to Unleash Your Story

Presented by: Sarah Sundin
Description -

Discover how to use the “tent” of structure to inject conflict and twists, fix pacing issues, and build stories that resonate with your readers.

Workshop Outline -

Why use classical story structure?
What should you know about your character?
• Character’s Goal
• Growth Journey
• Greatest Fear
• Deepest Secret
• What Lie is Believed

Act I
1) Ordinary World
• What It’s About—Imbalance
• What Happens—baseline
• Fear, secret, lie—hint

2) Call to Adventure
• What It’s About—Awareness
• What Happens—inciting incident
• Fear & secret—may intervene
• Lie—hint of truth

3) Refusal of the Call
• What It’s About—Fear
• What Happens—reluctance to change, introduce dangers
• Fear, secret & lie—bombard your hero!

4) Meeting with the Mentor
• What It’s About—Motivation
• What Happens—preparation for action, address dangers
• Fear & secret—addressed
• Lie—truth is spoken

5) Crossing the First Threshold
• What It’s About—Courage
• What Happens—commits to adventure
• Fear & lie—hero overrides
• Secret—in play

Act II
6) Tests, Allies, and Enemies
• What It’s About—Relationships
• What Happens—hero tested, succeeds & fails
• Fear & lie—working to overcome
• Secret—it’s still there…

7) Approach to the Inmost Cave
• What It’s About—Preparation
• What Happens—rising tension, danger & stakes
• Fear & lie—under control…?
• Secret—asserts itself

8) Ordeal
• What It’s About—Death
• What Happens—faces “death,” succeeds or fails spectacularly
• Fear—faced
• Secret & lie—in force

9) Reward
• What It’s About—Consequences
• What Happens—reflection, rewards & consequences
• Fear, secret & lie—hero processes

10) The Road Back
• What It’s About—Reversal
• What Happens—new discovery, clue, or revelation
• Fear & lie—reactivated
• Secret—revealed or in play

11) Resurrection
• What It’s About—Death & Rebirth
• What Happens—faces “death” in final ordeal, battle, or test
• Fear, secret & lie—overcome completely

12) Return with the Elixir
• What It’s About—Satisfying Ending
• What Happens—resolution, just rewards

WS 18: FightWrite: Tactical Bootcamp

Presented by: Carola Hoch
Description -

See fight techniques live, in action, to make your fight scene the best they can be.

Workshop Outline -

Need to see the fight in real life? Learn the basics of fighting through live demonstration and hands-on instruction, including hand-to-hand fighting and weapons basics with open Q&A. This class is audience driven and never the same class twice.

WS 19: Iron Sharpens Iron-The Good Ammo

Presented by: Kathleen Y'Barbo Turner
Description -

This workshop will to equip writers to go back to their critique partners or groups with new tools to encourage great writing while respecting the uniqueness of each author’s voice and the necessity of celebrating victories together.

Workshop Outline -

I. Finding your person or people – not every critique partner or group is created equal.
A. Partner or group
B. Online or in person
C. Ironing out the details (frequency, amount of work, etc.)

II. Before you begin
A. The heart of a critique partner – have a teachable spirit
B. The mind of a critique partner – never stop learning

III. Time to critique – delivering the news
A. Encourage – talk about what worked
Conversation starters:
1. What I really loved about this chapter is….
2. My favorite scene is the one where…
3. I never saw it coming when your character…

B Equip – talk about what needs work and why (emphasis on why)
1. Editor/reader expectations as a basis for your edits
2. Author and character voice vs. “the rules” – making characters real
3. The power of personal preference – their book their way

C. Empower – feedback and brainstorming (if applicable) to strengthen story
1. What’s helpful and what’s not—truth doesn’t have to hurt
2. Brainstorming techniques

D. Encourage – yes, again

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.—Romans 12:12
IV. Receiving critiques with a teachable spirit
1. Enter the process with the hope of producing a better manuscript
2. Be patient, but know when to move on
3. Bring all of this to the Lord and let Him have the final say

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. – Romans 12:15
V. Never miss a chance to celebrate even the smallest of victories
1. In God’s economy, another person’s victory is not your loss
2. If you cannot celebrate with someone, you cannot critique for them

WS 20: Battle Plan: Finding Your Motivation to Write

Presented by: Joy Massenburge
Description -

There is a strategy to motivating yourself into action steps: Participants will be presented with a fresh way to evaluate their current beliefs, values, and disciplines against a finisher’s mindset and be challenged to make the necessary adjustments to cultivate their skillset, honoring their God-given talents, and leverage that toolset to help others.

Workshop Outline -

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I
shall move the world.”

MINDSET: (HEAD & HEART) Called to Write?
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:…”Proverbs 23:7
Scripture Supported: Ezra 7:10
• Writing Community
• Writing Podcasts
• Writing Friends
SKILLSET: Cultivating the skill to carry out what’s in your head and
• Scheduled writing days
• Set word goals
• Study the craft of writing

TOOLSET: Through the proper use of tools you can do a lot more than you
could through straight brute force methods.
• Plottr
• Scrivner
• Joy K Massenburge & Associates

Participation of an individual presenter, agent, editor, or publisher in the ACFW conference does not constitute endorsement by ACFW. Conference attendees are advised to use due diligence and take personal responsibility when choosing industry professionals with whom to schedule appointments or enter into agreement.