Workshops Available

Eilis teaches workshops of all kinds! If you’re interested in any of these, ask and she’ll be glad to send you a blurb of the ones you’re curious about:

• Submissions Bootcamp (Eilis Flynn only)

After the pitch, after the request for a partial or a full, or even if you decided not to pitch and have instead a list of editors and agents you’ve decided to query or even submit to…have you ever realized that you have to send these people something and you have no idea whether you have what they want, what they asked for, or whether you even sound coherent? Here’s what to do and what to send. Whether you sound coherent is another topic altogether.

Marketing Your Book with Key Phrases (Eilis Flynn only)

Anyone who’s paid attention to advertising and marketing can tell you that there are magic phrases and words that get a reaction from people. That goes for your marketing of your books. Here’s how you can make those phrases work for you. Here’s a look at how your query letters and your marketing can get a second look from your prospective readers and editors, by using words and phrases that elicit a reaction from them.

• Discovering Your Own Setting & Description (Eilis Flynn only)

Some stories have a character that has no name, with a voice that has no sound, yet as unforgettable as the hero and heroine themselves. The setting of your story can be as well-defined as any of your human or animal characters, allowing you to make your story a memorable one.

• Copy Editor: Friend or Foe? (Eilis Flynn only)

Copy editors by nature are shy hermit-like creatures. We’re not gunning for you, and for the most part we don’t want to destroy your work. Learn about us! First, you have to know who we are, and how we differ from other kinds of editors. Second, I’ll explain how copy editors specifically can help you. Back by popular demand, workshop includes “Litany of Illiteracy,” Eilis’s updated list of confused and ill-advised language use.

• Find Your Hot Premise (Eilis Flynn only)

We’ve all had that experience of stepping into an elevator or other confined space, realizing you’re in there with an editor or an agent, and he or she asks you what you’re working on. As you stammer out your longwinded answer (starting off with the classic “Well, it’s complicated”), the moment ends (i.e., the elevator door opens) and said editor or agent goes on his or her way. Could you have made use of that opportunity by blurting out the hot premise version of your synopsis? You betcha! This workshop is for everyone who’s been asked to boil down their story idea into one sentence, ten words or fewer. This is for everyone who’s had a hard time boiling their stories down into the simplest terms, a necessity in today’s short-attention-span era. Come on over and find out how you can be make your premise double-take-worthy!

• Stirring the Plot: Taking your basic plot across the genres (Eilis Flynn only)

Do you imagine your story as a single sentence or as a series of sentences? Do you find yourself telling someone about your story, only to have them tell you, “That’s not the kind of thing I’m looking for”? Here’s how to work your story and your plotlines, shifting them as you need to for that agent, editor, or even reader to sit up and take notice. Through a series of exercises, this workshop tells you how to identify your story’s strongest plot points and how to start shifting its elements so you understand exactly how your story comes across to your audience and how you can strengthen it.

• Searching for Your Voice & Style (Eilis Flynn only)

What makes the difference between a story that grabs your imagination and one that puts you to sleep? Even if the stories are similar, the voice of the one you can’t forget could be all the difference. Voice & style are ephemeral things, hard to define and hard to categorize. Much like the old saying about pØrn: you know it when you see it, but you can’t quite say how you do. Can you develop your own voice and style? You already have your own, you know. You have to identify it and shape it into the sparkly jewel you know it can be. Your literary voice is as distinctive as the one emanating from your throat, complete with rasps and swallows and hesitations, the little breaks in your timbre as you talk about something emotional and close to you. Your voice is YOU. To discover that elusive something, we’re going on a voice hunt. We’re going to examine some well-known books and well-known authors and figure out why they’re so distinctive. Let’s dig into the secrets of voice & style and find out how you can make your story the one that keeps your readers riveted to the page!

• Secrets of the Smirking Editor (Eilis Flynn only)

On occasion, you’ll catch a glimpse of the copy editor in its native habitat, hunched over piles of manuscripts, and if you look closely, you’ll notice them smirking from time to time. You may ask yourself why. Are they thinking of cruel things to do to your work? Not likely. Here’s my theory on why other copy editors smirk: They know YOU’RE scared of grammar. Because you allow your fear to get the better of you, you may correct something that doesn’t need to be corrected. You have the power to keep the reader focused on your tale by making sure the grammar, the method by which your story is built, remains in the background. Believe it or don’t, here’s the secret. Grammar comes naturally to us. Here’s a workshop that gives you the power and the secrets of grammar itself to strengthen your work.

• Building a Super-Heroine (Eilis Flynn only)

Riddle me this: Why is building a super-heroine so different from building a super-hero? It shouldn’t be, right? So how do we build a super-heroine? Someone specifically female, someone specifically powered, not just somebody’s girlfriend. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) How different is that from creating any character, male or female, any persuasion, any type? In this workshop, we examine how a super-heroine specifically is created, about her power and weakness, her origin and/or back story. Specifically, what influences would affect a super-heroine versus a super-hero? What influences a woman as opposed to a man in fiction and in reality?

• Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Manga (Eilis Flynn only)

How many of you have read comic books, graphic novels, and/or manga? It may be easier to ask how many of you haven’t! Here’s a look at this visual medium and its numerous forms, all types of sequential graphic storytelling. You can call all three comic books, you can call all three graphic novels, and if you were Japanese you could call all three manga, but if you’re not Japanese and you don’t speak Japanese, you wouldn’t. A little confused? You’ll find out why and the details in this workshop. History, format differences, some classic examples (and current popular ones) are examined. And until recently, it’s a medium that’s been strictly hands-on, but the Internet is changing all that, and I’ll talk about how the Net is offering new possibilities by bypassing the expense of paper and the problems of distribution, keeping the medium alive.

• Don’t Fear the Copy Editor (Eilis Flynn only)

They’re not scary, and they don’t want to be the author of your book, no matter what the scary stories around the campfire (or the Internet) may tell you. This workshop will give you the ins and outs of what a copy editor is, what copy editing is all about, and how it benefits you to have a professional copy editor go through your manuscript, to polish your stories. The workshop also explains the differences between the kinds of editors, how copy editors fit into the process, and how you, the author, can work with the copy editor to make your story the gleaming jewel you know it can be. Includes an updated list of the Litany of Illiteracies, a list of common errors of what you should be on the lookout for.

• Starting Your Writing Career at the ePubs (Eilis Flynn only)

It’s a different world of publishing from just a few years ago. Paper print is no longer the powerhouse of mass market that it used to be, having ceded that over to digital print. Here’s a look at the differences between them, and how your story fits.

• Kickbutt Heroines in Pop Culture (Eilis Flynn only)

Strong heroines aren’t anything new. There have been stories about strong heroines throughout human civilization, in fiction, in myth, before finally arriving in comic books. But you probably don’t know a good number of them, even in the past century. This workshop looks at little-remembered heroines like Rima the Bird Girl of the novel Green Mansions in the early 1900s and Sheena the Jungle Girl a few years later, Miss Fury who beat up bad guys in the 1930s (created by a female author), and that’s just a few before Wonder Woman!

• Nuggets of Wisdom You Can Glean from Conference (Eilis Flynn only)

You can learn a lot from conferences, and not just from the workshops and presentations. No, you can learn a lot from just hanging out (usually at the bar, if the conference hotel has one). Here are a few things I’ve learned that way. Among those nuggets: Don’t stalk the editors, agents, or big-name folks!

• Introduction to Business Writing (Eilis Flynn only)

Business writing is a specialty all its own. Here’s how you can put together a memo, a white paper, or a business communication somewhere in between and get your point across in the most professional manner possible. No emojis or exclamation marks!

• Language and Linguistics in Writing (Eilis Flynn only)

In fiction, describing various accents, levels of education, and even regional differences can be present a challenge. We all know that characters have backgrounds, whether regional or education or by birth, that require that they have a distinct voice. After all, someone from the Bronx or New Jersey won’t speak as though they’re from Downton Abbey or Moscow. But we also know we have to indicate the accent or upbringing or education in subtle ways, without overwhelming the story (or distracting the tweedle out of the reader). Here’s a look at language, whether it’s the stuff of story or the stuff in life, and how you can make it work for your writing. Here’s how you can identify and describe those differences and use them to your advantage in your writing.

• The Art and Craft of Creating a Language (Eilis Flynn only)

We’ve all watched a movie or read a book in which a language is introduced that isn’t one that’s come about by nature, like English or French or Japanese. Languages like Klingon or Dothraki are often the result of linguists who have built them from scratch, from nouns and pronouns and sentences and grammar and… Can you do it for your own stories? Yes, you can, and here’s how. Examples will include Esperanto, Klingon, and Dothraki, how these constructed languages were derived from natural ones, and how you can use the Indo-European language family to come up with your own.

• She Nodded Her Head Up and Down In Agreement: Simple ways to cut words, streamline your work, and make your story shine (Eilis Flynn only)

Ever looked at a 70,000-word limit and despaired of trimming your 85,000-word book to fit? It’s easy if you know how. Veteran editor and author Eilis Flynn gives you tips and tricks to make your story the length it needs to be and shows you how to be on the lookout for phrases that just slow your story and — worse! — clog up your word count. Workshop includes the latest Litany of Illiteracy, her constantly updated list of words and phrases to avoid.

Your Indie Editor and You (Eilis Flynn only)

You know this scenario: You have written your story. Hurray! Before you publish it, though, you have to have it edited, from development to line to copy, and in some format that the editing can take place. It’s not hard, but it does require taking a hard look at your work. Again. Here’s how to work with your editor to polish your story into a gem. This workshop comes complete with a handy checklist.

A Look from the Other POV: How to See Diversity from the Other Side (Eilis Flynn only)

How can writers manage to get to the essence of the “other”? One of the great challenges of crafting a story with an authentic feel for diverse characters is getting to the heart of the details, both big and small. Here’s how to do just that, from a former anthropologist who can tell you about living on the other side. The checklist provided can be used for all your writing, whether contemporary or fantasy. This workshop breaks down the minutia important to any culture, and aids the writer in his or her research.

Japanese Ghosts and Death Rituals (Eilis Flynn only)

Ghosts are part of each culture, but ghost myths and legends in Japan seem to be particularly numerous and…uh…colorful. This workshop goes over some that are well-known, some not so well-known, some bizarre (Tofu Boy!), and at least one that has actually journeyed overseas and settled there. Some of them may even sound vaguely like something from your own background. The death rituals help you understand not only the Japanese culture but your own.

Searching for Your Romance Voice & Style (Eilis Flynn only)

What makes the difference between a story that grabs your imagination and one that puts you to sleep? Even if the stories are similar, the voice of the one you can’t forget could be all the difference. Voice & style are ephemeral things, hard to define and hard to categorize. Much like the old saying about pØrn: you know it when you see it, but you can’t quite say how you do. Can you develop your own voice and style? You already have your own, you know. You have to identify it and shape it into the sparkly jewel you know it can be. Your literary voice is as distinctive as the one emanating from your throat, complete with rasps and swallows and hesitations, the little breaks in your timbre as you talk about something emotional and close to you. Your voice is YOU. To discover that elusive something, we’re going on a voice hunt. We’re going to examine some well-known books and well-known authors and figure out why they’re so distinctive. Let’s dig into the secrets of voice & style and find out how you can make your story the one that keeps your readers riveted to the page!

• Sensitivity Reading vs. Editing: What’s the Difference? (Eilis Flynn only)

What’s the difference between sensitivity reading and editing? They have a lot in common, sure — but so many important differences too. This workshop looks specifically at the differences, the similarities, and what to expect from each (plus examples). Includes a worksheet of what to expect from each.

• Dumping the Info Dump (Eilis Flynn and Heather Hiestand)

Say you’re starting work on your latest story. You’ve just done a ton of research to get all the details right, down to the outer ridge of your heroine’s left boot. You are proud of what you’ve done, and who could blame you? Inspired, you want to bring the reader into the story and you want him or her to be as fascinated and intrigued by it as you are. But you make a small tactical error. You dump all this stuff into the beginning of your story so your readers can get started on the wonderfulness that is your story… And you are left scratching your head when the readers read the first couple of pages…and wander away. What happened? Why weren’t they fascinated? What’s wrong with them?! So how much research is just right? Here are some tricks and tips to keep in mind when it comes to making the best use of your research, along with some examples of what to do and what not to do.

The Five Stages of Editing Grief (Eilis Flynn and Jacquie Rogers)

The five stages of editing grief: After the writing’s done, after your fussing’s done, the editing must begin…and sometimes it can be painful. Go through those five stages—denial; anger; bargaining; depression; and acceptance—and come out on the other side with a polished manuscript. Come find out how to make your work the very best it can be!

• Geeks and Gamers’ Guide to Worldbuilding (Eilis Flynn and Jacquie Rogers)

No matter what you’re writing, you have to establish and make your readers believe the world you’re writing about. Comic books and video games (and games in general, for that matter) have been particularly successful in doing this. Here’s a workshop that examines the worlds and universes that comics and games have built, why they work so well (sometimes even across media to film), and how we can use those concepts in our own writing.

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• Myths and Legends Along the Silk Road (Eilis Flynn and Jacquie Rogers)

A series of workshops

No matter where you go in the world, take a look at the folktales and the myths in the culture you’re in, and more likely than not you’ll find certain descriptions that when taken at face value, sound like those you can find in another part of the world, as far as you know completely unrelated. For example, you’ll find dragon myths in Europe and dragon myths in Asia and even dragon myths in the Americas, and even though they’re very different, in essence they’re all dragons. The same goes for faeries, vampires, werewolves (and shapeshifters in general), ghosts, bigfeet, angels and demons…so many, and yet with so much in common, despite their differences.

These workshops are broken down into individual myth types.

Faeries Along the Silk Road (Eilis and Jacquie)

Faeries can be found in many places, in ways you may not expect. The term “faery” itself is definitely of European origin, but the concept of supernatural or elemental spirits who are both of the world and who are not can be found all over the world. The names may change, but whatever you call them, faeries have been both kind and mischievous, good and evil, sometimes a symbol and sometimes one of chaos. We are going to take a quick walk around the world, starting with faeries in familiar climes, before we go to the Far East and check out their faery folk.

Dragons Along the Silk Road (Eilis and Jacquie)

No matter where you go in the world, take a look at the folktales and the myths in the culture you’re in, and more likely than not you’ll find a mention of a dragon. Some of them will be described as green or gold or red, some of them will be described as having wings and some won’t, some of them will be described as having five claws, some four, some only three, some even have more than one head. The details don’t matter, though, because it’s clear that there are legends of dragons wherever you go. Ranging from the dragons that play an important part in Chinese culture all the way to the legend of Quetzalcoatl found in Central American culture, they are all around us, whether or not we recognize them by name. Stories about dragons have been around as long as human society itself, and they reflect the society in which they reside. Join Eilis and Jacquie in another trip around the world, this time in search of dragons. Whether you make use of the legend of the dragon in your own stories doesn’t matter, because you’ll find that examining the legend of the dragon up close is really an examination of yourself and your story.

Ghosts Along the Silk Road and Beyond (Eilis and Jacquie)

Ghosts are everywhere, in more ways than you can imagine! Well, maybe you can imagine it. We have examined quite a few forms of mythological creatures in our journeys along the Silk Road, and it wasn’t that surprising that sometimes we wouldn’t be able to find a true example. We found that native stories about vampires are scarce in China (the hopping vampire myth was the best of it), while werewolves couldn’t be found in native form a lot outside of Europe, faeries by that name were thin on the ground also outside of Europe (but then there were plenty under other names), and there were dragons in many variations, but ghosts … ghost mythologies can be found anywhere and everywhere. Where there is death, there is a ghost myth. There are feetless ghosts in Japan and hungry ghosts in China and the Americas (complete with festivals to go along with it), a friendly ghost named Casper in American kiddie entertainment, and séances in any number of forms in every culture that has a ghost legend for the living to speak with the dead. Intrigued by ghosts? Let Jacquie Rogers and Eilis Flynn take you on a walk around the world to examine those myths, and see how they shift, change, and evolve as we travel.

Angels & Demons Along the Silk Road (Eilis and Jacquie)

Angels and demons are everywhere, in ways you may not expect. But here’s the thing: Angels aren’t necessarily symbols of good, nor are demons necessarily symbols of evil. The angels you find in European cultures are most likely considered to be messengers of God, in a complex hierarchy, referred to in a number of different Western religions. Some of them are described as having wings, while some aren’t. But then the creatures you’ll find with similar descriptions in Eastern religions, also in a complex hierarchy, may not be called angels … or they may be. Even the wings are optional, depending on what part of the world you’re in. The same goes for demons. Demons are evil in Western religions, but they are of far more ambiguous nature in Eastern religions. Most often referred to as forces of nature, demons are far more complex in the Far East than you might think they are. There is no black & white in these creatures of myth and legend. In Western society, angels and demons have clear-cut roles: angels are good, demons are bad. But if you were to check out those terms in other parts of the world, you’ll find that those names don’t mean very much at all.

So angels aren’t necessarily symbols of good, nor are demons necessarily symbols of evil. The names may change, but whatever you call them, myths and legends about angels and demons can be found all over the world. Let Jacquie and Eilis take you on a walk around the world to examine those myths, and see how they shift, change, and evolve as we travel.

Vampires Along the Silk Road (Eilis and Jacquie)

Is there another mythological creature that’s been as the source of so much more entertainment and speculation in recent years than the vampire? Pop culture and entertainment is overflowing with the bloodsuckers, and has been since Bram Stoker introduced the cover boy for vamps, Dracula, back in 1897. The descriptions about them change, of course, but there are a couple of details that don’t: One, vampires are always the dead come back to life, and two, they always vant to drink your bloooood. Except … vampires aren’t always dead, and they don’t necessarily want to suck your blood. Confused? Apparently some vampires are alive, and some drink blood in a cup or a skull, don’t suck it out of the vein, or simply drain the life essence out of their victims. There been legends about vampires for thousands of years and all over the world, varying from region to region, period after period, in the most unexpected of ways. The one thing that doesn’t change is their ability to mesmerize and terrify us. Join Jacquie and Eilis as we look at the myths along the Silk Road and around the world, this time looking at vampires.

√Zombies Along the Silk Road (Eilis Flynn only)

Myths and legends about the undead can be found, no matter where you are in the world. Are they all alike? Nope. Many of them have traits in common, but many do not, whether you’re looking at vampire myths or zombie myths. This workshop was written by Eilis Flynn and added to the accompanying book (Vampires and Zombies Along the Silk Road) when she realized that like vampires, zombies are undead, and there are variations of the walking dead throughout the world. Join Eilis as she looks at those legends amid all the cultures throughout time.

√Werewolves and Shapeshifters Around the World (Eilis and Jacquie)

You don’t find wolves all over the world, but you can certainly find shapeshifter stories no matter where you go. In one form or another, there are always stories about men and women who morph into the forms of wolves and other creatures. But it’s not one simple legend, so that you could take an Armenian werewolf story and drop it into China and have it make perfect sense there. No, there are all sorts of variations in the legend, making the change of a man or woman into a beast of some kind downright mystical. Come join Jacquie and Eilis as they take a journey around the world, looking at creatures great and small, as they shift and morph.

√Water Beasties Through the Seven Seas (Eilis and Jacquie)

Our planet’s been explored pretty thoroughly since mankind’s been around, from the top of Mt. Everest all the way down to…okay, not so much the seven seas. Every time we turn around, we hear about sea life thought to have been extinct for tens of thousands of years being caught by a fisherman right here in the present day, and even fish not thought to ever having been native to the area it was caught. The oceans are the final undiscovered country of Earth, and they’ve been feared and respected as long as mankind has been around, spinning tales around what dwells down below. From the sinister kappa that wait in the rivers to attack the unsuspecting human in Japan to the water ghosts of the Nordic countries, join Eilis Flynn and Jacquie Rogers as they take a trip around the world in a glass-bottomed boat and see what awaits under the sea if you dare.

√Bigfeet Along the Silk Road (Eilis Flynn only)

In Tibet you’ll hear stories about the yeti, in the Pacific Northwest and even Pennsylvania you’ll hear about the sasquatch (also known as Bigfoot), the wendigo up in the Great Lakes region. Are they real? Could they be real? Well, here’s the thing. Maybe.

In planning stages. Please inquire about availability