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FEATURED SPEAKER: Kharma Kelley

Saturday Workshop 

Exploring Social Identities (90 mins)

Kharma Kelley

What does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion mean? Who are the marginalized groups in the US? How can I better understand how it ties into my daily life and well as others? 
In this workshop, the audience will receive an introductory and foundational understanding of why everyone is talking about DEI so much and the social dynamics that play a role in marginalized identities. You’ll learn not only to hone awareness of these identities but walk away with insight on how on
e can be active in creating equitable environments where everyone can thrive. 
  • Learn about what Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion means and how it can create a better organization
  • Understanding Privilege/Oppression, Social Identities, and Power.
  • Bridging Social Justice with DEI key concepts
  • Improving your social lens to be more inclusive and identify areas for using your privilege to provide equity
  • What is PAN-ing? How this exercise help with your awareness.

Sunday Workshop

Preventing “Othering” in Your Writing (and Your Life) (90 mins)
Am I creating a character whose identity and representation problematic in my story? How can I include characters and stories featuring underrepresented identities that are not harmful or toxic? As writers, we want to bring a bit of reality and diversity into our stories, however, we need awareness of not only our biases but the stereotypes and archetypes that have been perpetuated in literature. In this workshop, the audience will discover the underlying harm with “othering” marginalized characters and how to ideally prevent it.
  • How microaggressions are damaging to org culture and your writing.
  • How can I develop realistic challenges for my underrepresented characters that aren’t a “sad, basic cliché?”
  • Learn how to describe and depict characters without “othering” or tokenizing
  • What is “#Ownvoices” and why is it a step towards supporting equity?
  • Understanding cultural misrepresentation and identifying stereotypes that can hurt your book.
  • Writing with marginalized characters vs. writing about the marginalized experience

Craft Workshops

Saturday Workshops with Laurie Schnebly Campbell

From Writers Block to Blockbuster Books (60 mins)

Whether for a first-manuscript beginner or a New York Times best-seller, discouragement is part of every author’s life. This workshop offers both mechanical and psychological techniques for dealing with writer’s block — quickly addressing the practical problems (procrastination, frustration and exhaustion) before moving into the psychological arena.

Here’s where participants get the coping skills they don’t usually see in dealing-with-writer’s-block workshops. We start with the techniques of rigid assignments, brainstorming and relaxation. Next we explore the possible payoffs for writer’s block, then ways of dealing with each…and by this point, participants are eager to volunteer their own suggestions. Armed with new coping skills, we look at question of whether to go on writing.

Writers are usually bewildered at such a question. But when they look at their REASONS for writing — money, recognition, self-expression, enjoyment — it becomes easier to decide whether writing is the best way of achieving that particular goal. (Participants almost always decide it is, but for the first time they’ve weighed the payoffs against the down-sides…which changes writer’s block from a Disaster to an Unpleasant Event.)

Finally we look at ways of coping with any unpleasant event, from a bad haircut to the loss of a loved one. These include the four steps of identifying the feeling, recognizing its source, choosing how long to keep it and deciding what to put in its place. After practicing those in another hands-on exercise, for which participants can choose either a real-life event or a character’s misfortune, they experience firsthand how they can control their response to any difficulty…which leaves them feeling more in control of not only their writing life, but also their personal life.

Solo-Duet-Chorus: Building Conflict (60 mins)

Writers are always seeking new psychological tools for creating plausible characters with realistic conflicts. That’s what this workshop provides. It starts with the premise that everyone — in real life and in fiction — develops whatever personality will best enable them to fit in with their world.

But of course those personalities will come into conflict. Even while the world NEEDS people who value Solo self-preservation (to avoid becoming extinct), Duet intimacy (to sustain beneficial relationships) and Chorus or group (to keep society running smoothly), characters with different proportions are headed for conflict.

The same is true of the four Aristotelian types known as the Experiencer (who lives for here-and-now action), the Traditionalist (who values social structure), the Idealist (who believes in becoming one’s best self) and the Rationalist (who pursues logical conclusions), any two characters with different types will be headed for some kind of clash.

While no character type is inherently good or bad, strong or weak, every type has elements that can worsen conflict as well as relieve it. This workshop looks at three systems used to determine naturally lovable (and intriguingly flawed) personality types, subtypes and archetypes.

Each one offers opportunities for conflict between realistic characters whose personalities will both oppose and attract, and who can — with the sort of compromises favored by counselors as well as romance writers — achieve a happily-ever-after ending.


Sunday Workshop with Denise Williams

Who Doesn’t Want to Smash the Patriarchy? (60 mins)

This session is based on the spring 2020 class, Moving Past Bodice Ripping Toward Shredding The Patriarch: Romance Novels as Tools for Jusice. This interactive session, we’ll discuss ways patriarchy appears in contemporary romance, opportunities to challenge patriarchal structure in our writing, and what it means employ concepts of intersectional feminism in our stories.