Since 2007, Northern Colorado Writers has provided support and encouragement to writers of all levels and genres in Northern Colorado and beyond. Through monthly meetings, classes, networking & social events, the annual conference, the monthly newsletter and annual retreat, NCW helps new and established writers navigate their way to success.

Northern Colorado Writers Conference

2014 Session Descriptions

Northern Colorado Writers Conference TeresaFunkeSessionFRIDAY

2 Hour Sessions *NEW*

Dialogue Dos and Don'ts: How Your Characters Should Talk
Instructor: Teresa Funke
In this popular workshop, Teresa will teach you how to develop an ear for dialogue, with special emphasis on using dialogue to reveal character and propel your story forward. Through listening and writing exercises, you'll learn how to "hear" when your dialogue is working and when it isn't. We'll also discuss pacing, tag lines, dialect and accents, humor, and most importantly, how to tighten your exchanges so every word counts.

Ready, Set Characters
Instructor: Victoria Hanley
Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, it’s the characters on your page that will get readers to care. Some of your characters will be eager to reveal themselves right from the start, while others can be shy. Either way, there’s an art to writing characters so they’ll leap into the mind of a reader. Characters need to be given the right setting, too, and this workshop will focus not only on exercises to deepen characterization but also on ways to sharpen setting.

Beat Sheets for Story Design
Instructor: Sandi Ault
Award winning, bestselling author Sandi Ault will lead you in this two-hour workshop aimed at helping you design the best plotline and story development for your writing project.  Whether you are working on a non-fiction book, essay, or article, or a novel, short-story, or script—it helps to step back and look at the overall story design. With visual aids and handouts, Sandi Ault will take help you develop a beat sheet during the workshop that will ensure that your project includes all the critical dramatic beats.  Then you will take those beats and create an overall storyline design.  Come with either an idea you have for a project, or choose a well-known story line from several included in the workshop handouts.  Using an easy and fun step-by-step process, Ault will show you how to create a perfect story design.


Killing Your Darlings: How to Cut Your Manuscript Without Slitting Your Throat
Instructor: Joanne Kennedy
One of the most prevalent mistakes new novelists make is overly-long manuscripts. Novels, especially first novels, should be between 75,000 and 100,000 words, but many novice manuscripts end up at 120,000 or more. That’s not a bad thing. Writing long, then cutting for pace and flow, is a good way to produce great fiction. But what do you cut? How do you transition between scenes without showing the action in between? How do you get your vision across to the reader without rich descriptions? And how do you make your story unique without adding interesting details?

This workshop will help you cut your monster manuscript down to size and create a much stronger story. Topics will include word choice, scene selection, scene transitions, starting your story in the right place, and more. Attendees will receive a checklist for editing their work, and learn a technique for graphing tension that will help them find the dead spots in their stories.

9 Habits of Profitable Writing
Instructor: Jason Brick

Excellent writing requires talent and skill. Professional writing requires habits, usually habits that a literature degree or artistic mindset don't build for you. These habits are:

Write Nonfiction
Dress for Success
Act Your Age
Keep Score
Write Lots
Know Why
Master Your Game
Think Abundance

This session will describe the nine habits, why those habits are important, how to develop and leverage them, and give a hint or three about what to do if one habit simply won't work.



Craft a Page-Turning Story, No Matter What Your Genre
Michelle Theall
Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, memoir, or romance, you need a compelling story that will leave readers hungry for more. This session goes beyond the three-act structure discussions of hooks, cliffhangers, midpoints, and climaxes to present the real keys to moving a story forward. The in-class exercise will keep you from slogging through your manuscript revisions, or endlessly writing a first draft without going anywhere. You’ll leave with a guide you can reference over and over again as you decide which scenes to include or toss and what needs to go in each chapter.

Front of the "Book" Bootcamp
Instructor: Kasey Cordell
This workshop, led by 5280 magazine senior editor Kasey Cordell, will delve into the sometimes overlooked world of short magazine pieces. The discussion will cover the elements of a good front-of-book story, thinking visually about stories, the importance of voice and perspective, and why freelancers should pitch these sections more often.

New Author Panel
A panel of newly published authors (traditionally published, co-published and self-published) share their experiences publishing their books.


How to Bring Your Book Signings and Speeches to Life!
Instructor: Ilan Shamir
In this lively session Ilan Shamir will ignite the spark of your creativity to help you find your unique approach to have more fun, more profit and more deeply connect with your audiences.  As a professional speaker and author of 11 books he will share how he uses storytelling, drumming and customization to create an unforgettable event.

Copyright/Copyfright-Things you Didn't Know you Needed to Know
Instructor: JoAnne Hagen (Attorney)
Considering that there are approximately 130,000,000 books in the world (according to Google’s algorithms and only includes books not all writings) it would seem almost impossible not to have some you write infringe upon someone else’s writing – correct?  The secret word is “infringe.”  Is all copying or use of another’s materials infringement?  Will a copyright notice protect your work from infringement?  Does infringement entitle you recover damages?  Does your infringement of another’s work entitle that other to recover damages?  Does giving acknowledgement trump infringement?  How would know if you had been the victim of infringement?  These and other mysteries of the Copyright Universe will be revealed in this presentation. 

Journalism Techniques for all Writers
Instructor: Chris Dieterich

Writing and Selling Flash Fiction
Instructor: Vivian Caethe
Writing and selling complete, discrete and neat stories in 1,000 words or less. "Crying, she steps from the bus, wiping the back of her hands across her eyes angrily. He should never have said those three fatal words."





How to Get Published: Professional Writing Practices & What Editors Want
Instructor: Chuck Sambuchino
This is a general presentation examining good writing practices that all editors appreciate—whether writing for books, magazines, newspapers or online. This workshop goes well near the beginning of the conference. This session targets all levels of writers in both fiction and nonfiction. This one-size-fits-all session has served as a keynote speech several times.

Social Media for Writers
Instructor: Jason Brick
Platform is king for 21st-century writers, regardless of what you actually write. Although blogging was important up until about a year ago, social media engagement is your strongest tool for building that platform. This presentation goes into the details of which social media platforms to use, how to create a compelling profile, and the best practices for gaining followers and traction on your social media site. It ends with some discussion of how to use a strong social media presence to attract agents, impress publishers, or create self-publishing success.

My Mother Isn’t Speaking to Me Anymore:
How to navigate the choppy waters of writing about family members without getting pulled under by them.
Instructor: Michelle Theall
This session is for memoir and personal essay writers. Session instructor, Michelle Theall, will discuss her path to publication in writing a memoir that showed her family at their worst and the arguments with them about her writing that actually became part of the final manuscript. We’ll talk about whether or not you should offer to let someone in the book read it ahead of time, whether names should be changed, and what to say to family members before and after publication. We’ll also discuss strategies for silencing your mom or dad or best friend’s voices in your head as you try to get the truth on paper.



Open source, copyleft and public domain – oh my!
Instructor: JoAnne Hagen (Attorney)
Following hot upon the discourse on Copyright/Copyfright we will discuss the emergent world of freebies and free-ware and how that world is entirely co-dependent upon its arch-nemesis Copyright Law.  It is recommended that you first attend the Copyright/Copyfright presentation so that you have a good grounding in basic copyright law before stepping into the brave new world of the free-wave.

Nonfiction Panel
Panelists: Kasey Cordell, Chris Dieterich and Jason Brick
Three industry professionals share their experiences with nonfiction writing as it relates to magazines, newspapers and content writing. As the editor of the popular magazine 5280, Kasey Cordell provides insight into the magazine world from an editor's point of view. Chris Dieterich, a journalist with the Wall Street Journal talks about his work with the newspaper and Jason Brick is a freelance writer, making his living writing for a variety of venues.

Writing for Love, Prestige, or Profit—The Threefold Path That Leads to One Destination:
Instructor: Sandi Ault
What makes you want to be a writer?  Is this a calling, or is it a hobby for you?  Bestselling author Sandi Ault feels that being a writer is seldom a choice.  There is usually a reason we are driven to write, and knowing that reason is key to how you can most successfully proceed.  In this workshop, the award-winning novelist, Ault, will help you to discover, uncover, and/or affirm why it is that you want to write, and learn how to honor that and move forward.  A workshop handout will stimulate your process and include some fun and exciting ideas for developing a strategy to help you along the path to success.



Keep it Short: Short Stories and Personal Essays
Teresa Funke
Learn how to write and sell short stories and personal essays and what makes each form unique. Find out the difference between literary and commercial markets, what today's editors are looking for, which markets pay the most, how to track submissions, how to craft a cover letter, and how to decipher hidden meanings in those annoying rejection slips.

Everything But the Book! - A how to session for making a profit and a brand with merchandise. Bookmarks, mini books, posters, t-shirts, mugs, magnets, journals not only give you brand visibility, but remarkable added profitability as well. Ilan Shamir branding expert and product designer will show you doable options that you can create to own the territory around your book.

Platform: What it is, how to get it, and how to show an agent you have it.
instructor: Gordon Warnock
Platform has become increasingly important in the modern publishing world, especially for debut authors looking to break into the popular market. Gordon Warnock of Foreword Literary will demystify platform, show you how to obtain it, and share those important “extra” details and tricks that can help sway an agent’s mind.



How to Move your Book to film or TV
Instructor: Ken Sherman
Once you've written your book or stageplay, there's always the chance it will transfer well to film and television. We'll discuss specific projects with this history and then discuss some of yours, with the idea of taking it out of the theoretical and into the real.

Query Letters, Beyond AGH!
Instructor: Victoria Hanley
Among writers, the subject of query letters often brings on cries of “agh!” Even worse, agents and editors who receive query letters are often heard to say “AGH!” Writing queries has been called a rotten, evil rite, one invented to torture poor suffering writers. However, for better or worse, queries are an integral part of working with publishers. During this workshop you’ll draft a query letter, so come prepared with a project you’re thinking of pitching.

Revelations, Realizations & Epiphanies:
Crafting a Resonant Ending

Instructor: Joanne Kennedy
Many workshops and writing books focus on the beginning of a manuscript, since the first five pages are what catch an agent’s or editor’s attention. But the opening of your story is just the seduction, while your ending is the all-important climax that leads to an ongoing relationship. This workshop will help writers at all levels of craft leave readers satisfied, yet hungry for more. We’ll discuss various techniques for creating a resonant ending that will deepen the reading experience, including crafting parallel images and events; using symbols to illustrate emotional truths; effectively dramatizing character change and growth; and creating a bond with your reader by relating the protagonist’s journey to his or her own life. We’ll also explore the difference between realization, revelation and epiphany and the importance of making every ending feel like a new beginning.


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 Top of the Mountain Book Award

Writing Contest for Fiction and Creative Nonfiction.

Win $1,000

Entries Accepted
September 15 - February 1, 2015

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Sponsored by Northern Colorado Writers


A big thanks to Johnson's Corner for sponsoring students from Roosevelt High School and Polaris Expeditionary Learning School to attend the conference.

Johnsons Corner


Thanks to our other sponsors:


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2013 Conference Comments

"This was my first writer's conference & I loved it."

"I am so happy that I attended the conference. What a wonderful experience it was. I can't wait to attend next years conference."

"SO completely worth the investment!!"

"This was a well-planned and well-coordinated conference, overflowing with encouragement and inspiration."