Course Description

This year, for the 2021 semester, we are going to host our Authors Academy writers workshops via Zoom to accommodate for social distancing. The workshops will be held on Saturday mornings.

Call 561-279-7790 or email with your payment info and we will send you the link the day before the workshop.

2021 Workshops

Saturday, May 22 11 am – 1 p.m.

How to Write a Mystery

Authors Laurie R. King, Neil Nyren, Oline Cogdill, Frankie Bailey, Elaine Viets, Charles Todd, Charles Salzberg, Hank Phillippi Ryan and  Alex Segura will give you a mini course in mystery writing. $35 Includes a copy of the book How To Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America. Edited by Lee Child with Laurie King.

Saturday, May 29  10 am – Noon 

Getting Started (and Getting to the Finish) 

You have a story . . . or a kernel of a story . . . or an idea for a kernel. You have a computer . . . or a pen and paper . . . or a crayon and a blank wall. You have the desire. But you also have a hundred demands on your time, a thousand obligations, a million distractions.  How do you get started on that story/novel/multi-volume opus? In “Getting Started (and Getting to the Finish),” we’ll workshop processes that enable writers to start writing in ways that enable them to pursue a story through a challenging middle to a successful end. $25.

Instructor: Michael Wiley


Saturday, June 5  10 am – Noon  

Tips and Tricks for Writing Addictive Short Fiction

Through an examination of the definition and compositional elements of short stories, including structure, characters, conflict, setting, and dialogue, Debra will provide tips, tricks, and markets for writing and successfully placing short stories. $25

Instructor: Debra H. Goldstein


Saturday, June 12  10 am – Noon  

It’s Showtime! Show, Don’t Tell

Show don’t tell. At some point, every writer hears it. It’s critical to crafting a story that works, but what exactly does it mean? And more importantly, how do you make sure you’re using it correctly in your own work. In this workshop, writers will learn how to spot the common telling signposts, from motivational, descriptive, and emotional tells, to those frequent mental signposts that explain, not dramatize, and the always pesky adverbs. They’ll also learn how to spot common red flag words that often indicate told, not shown prose, and what they can do to fix them once they’ve found them. $25

Instructor: Janice Hardy


Saturday, June 19  10 am – Noon 

Who’s Talkin’ Here? It’s Dialogue, Silly

The surest way to stop readers in their tracks is bad dialogue. On the flip side, skillful dialogue is the Swiss Army Knife of writing. It can be used to define characters, to move the narrative along, to supply necessary information to the reader, and to set tone. Learn some very easy techniques—both practical and esoteric—in order to improve your abilities and willingness to use dialogue to help make your work more professional. Learn how to do attribution without repeating …” he said/she said. Learn how to create and shape characters through their speech and intonation. More importantly, learn how to do dialogue from the inside out instead of artificially from the outside in. I promise, you’ll be much better at it and more confident in your ability to do it after this class. $25

Instructor: Reed Farrel Coleman


Saturday, June 26  10 am – Noon 

The Muddle in the Middle

You have a rocking first act to your novel, and you even have an idea of how to end your story with a twist and a bang and a shot at certain bestsellerdom. But now what? How will you get from that great beginning to the kickass ending? You’ve hit the muddle in the middle.  USA Today best-selling author Hank Phillippi Ryan will show you how these central pages can be made to intrigue and delight your readers–and have them turning pages as fast as they can. With practical advice and specific tips, Hank will show you how to make the magic in the middle. $25

Instructor: Hank Phillippi Ryan


Saturday, July 10  10 am – Noon 

The Art of Revealing Backstory 

For your story to work, readers need context—your characters’ backstories. It’s a risky proposition, though, because many times, it’s a thinly veiled excuse for an info-dump. The trick to revealing your characters’ pasts is to sprinkle in references to the past that are linked to current events or showthe events that made the characters who they are today through flashbacks or flash-forwards. You’ll learn a 3-step decision-making tool designed to help you determine whether you need backstory, and if so, how to implement it well. $25

Instructor: Jane K. Cleland


Saturday, July 17  10 am – Noon 

Write Like You’re Paying by the Word 

“Omit needless words.” Strunk and White said it, and it’s still perhaps the most important rule of good writing. If you take twice as long as you need to say something, you’ve done your reader, and yourself, a disservice. And doomed your work. You might love your flowery prose, but you must kill your darlings! Omit needless words and you leave room for more story and more impact. $25

Instructor: Eliot Kleinberg


Saturday, July 24  10 am – Noon 

And then what happens? And then? And then?

PLOT is what happens in a book. Seems simple — until you sit down to write. How do you create a compelling series of scenes to propel your story’s events — your plot — from beginning to end? Whether you are someone who meticulously maps your book’s action before starting, or you let things organically unfold, there are ways to breathe life into your plot. In this class, you will learn techniques to make your scenes interesting, common pitfalls to avoid, and ways to insure the thread of your plot is woven through the entire fabric of your story. $25

Instructor: Sue Sussman


Saturday, July 31  10 am – Noon

You Are Here

Whether in space, under water, or on land, the most successful stories ground readers in time and place. When carefully considered, setting offers far more than a simple backdrop. It can control mood, create conflict, and influence pacing. Discover how setting forms the foundation of a story, adds to each scene, and what it reveals about characters, while learning how to avoid overwhelming your narrative. $25

Instructor: Micki Browning


Saturday, August 7  10 am – Noon

Impacting Your Reader With Interior Description

Learn how to write interior descriptions that put your reader into the scene, but won’t slow the action. How much is enough? How much is too much? Learn unusual facts about the places we live and work in, and how to use them as factors in creating your characters and their worlds. $25

Instructor: Victoria Landis


Saturday, August 14  10 am – Noon

Dead Write: Forensics for Writers 

Elaine Viets passed the Medicolegal Death Investigators Course for forensic professionals at St. Louis University’s School of Medicine, and used that information for her new Angela Richman Death Investigator series. Brain Storm is the first book in that series. The latest is Death Grip.  Elaine will discuss the proper methods and pitfalls of body identification, and other tips that will give your mysteries authenticity. The talk includes handouts. $25

Instructor: Elaine Viets


Saturday, August 21  10 am – Noon

17 Things I’ve Learned About Writing 

This is a hodgepodge grab-bag mix-mash of the best writing advice Brad has ever come up with and/or cleverly stolen from people smarter than him. It includes “Every story needs a spider,” “Take the anti-Hippocratic Oath,” and Brad’s Patented Formula for Suspense (which is not actually patented . . . but for those of you frustrated math students, he can express it algebraically!). Trigger warning: This presentation may involve Broadway spoof songs. Attend at your own risk. $25

Instructor: Brad Parks


Saturday, August 28  10 am – Noon 

Seeing (For Writers) 

Our job is to see the world clearly and to make the reader see exactly what we have seen. But, too often, we look when we should see. Looking is not the same as seeing. Looking is easy, seeing is hard. Looking is spontaneous and casual; seeing is deliberate and purposeful. How, then, do you teach yourself to see? Perhaps you need to begin to look at the world in an unhabitual way. We’ll discuss strategies to do just that. We’ll discuss seeing what’s there and what’s not there. We’ll train ourselves to see with various exercises. $25

Instructor: John Dufresne


Saturday, Sept 11  10 am – Noon

The How-to of Deep Point of View

You’ve been introduced to the basics of point of view. Now learn more about one aspect of it: Deep Point of View. Deep POV is the degree of psychic distance that positions the reader most deeply inside the character’s mind. Deep POV can be written in first or third person. Fiction does Deep POV; movies don’t. Deep POV is the best way to help a reader develop empathy, because the reader is privy to the character’s visceral reactions or deepest emotional reactions. Deep POV works better in certain genres: Young Adult, Romance, and Mystery. This class will cover the  hallmarks of Deep POV, Deep POV in first and third person, Visceral reactions, Free Indirect Discourse (FID) and some narrative theory. $25

Instructor: Alison McMahan


Saturday, Sept 18  10 am – Noon

Research: The Foundation of Fiction

Research is not about dusty books and library stacks. It is the first and vital step in creating your story. From fantasy to science fiction or modern day to historical; research is the foundation of all genres. This class delves into the techniques and sources an author needs to create a believable world where their characters live. From space ships to old English villages, the climate, lay out and scope of your landscape require research and planning. If you want to truly make your world of fiction real for your readers, proper research will lead you on a journey of discovery and planning. $25

Instructor: Charles Todd


Saturday, Sept 25  10 am – Noon

Heroes vs. Villains: Police Procedure for Writers 

Making your characters and scenes more believable and full of conflict for maximum thrills. How to “Suspend Disbelief” by writing characters, scenes, and police procedures that are compelling and believable enough to keep the pages turning; Moving the action forward via scene sequencing; Avoiding writers’ block and plot fatigue using: “Motivation+Action+Reaction. $25

Instructor: David Putnam


Saturday, Oct 2  10 am – Noon 

Introduction to Firearms 

Many authors agonize about guns. Some authors break out in hives when they have to introduce a firearm into their work. They fear those nasty emails from THOSE gun readers. Can you distinguish between a XD from DMX? What are the different calibers, and why are they so confusing? What is the difference between a shotgun and a rifle? Are pistols and revolvers the same? Are the terms clip and magazine interchangeable? This class will demystify guns for the non-gun person.

Instructor: Rick McMahan


Saturday, Oct 9  10 am – Noon

Cool Tools for Crime Scenes 

Crime scene investigations require the right tools, strong skills and the right personnel to help solve cases. In order to do this crime scene investigators must be well trained and be up to date on tools and technology that help us stay one step ahead of the offender. This two-hour webinar will introduce attendees to the innovative tools and technology that crime scene investigators utilize when responding to crime scenes and to assist in solving the case! Tool kits have expanded while budgets have been reduced. Attendees will also be introduced to forensics on a budget! $25

Instructor: Sharon Plotkin


Saturday, Oct 16  10 am – Noon 

Rocking & Rolling, Twisting & Turning: Creating Suspense 

Every story needs hair-raising climbs and stomach-plummeting drops to keep your audience turning pages, but creating the wrong ones or putting them in the wrong place will make the reader go splat instead of soaring. In this fun, interactive workshop, learn how secrets, surprise, and stakes are the keys to inciting both fear and exhilaration…and ways to build all three so that your novel can come to rest on a pinnacle of success. $25

Instructor: Jenny Milchman


Saturday, Oct 23  11 am – 1 pm

Villains and Villainesses – The Characters You Love to Hate

We’ll explore villains and villainesses as the architects of noir. Discover how the baddie is the raisond’être of your story as she/he sets the action, manipulates characters, misleads the protagonist and affects the outcome. You know you love them, let’s learn how they tick! $25

Instructor: Cara Black


Saturday, Oct 30  10 am – Noon 

Become Your Own Best Editor

You’ve written this…thing. Now what? Make your story the best it can be—all on your own, or with help you can find yourself—with tips, questions, and exercises for revision. $25

Instructor: Lori Rader-Day


Saturday, Nov 6  10 am – Noon 

Book Marketing on a Budget 

Are you planning to launch a book but have no idea what to do next? Whether you’re on book one or book twelve, you’ll want to garner attention for your new release to build your readership and increase sales. But with so many choices on the promotional wheel, how can you best use your time? In this workshop, we’ll discuss the options available to you and how you can fit them into a countdown schedule. You’ll be able to create your own promotional campaign and determine what suits your budget. $25

Instructor: Nancy J. Cohen


Saturday, Nov 13  10 am – Noon

Land Your Dream Agent

Join K.J. Howe for a discussion on the many different routes to signing with your dream agent. Be innovative, stand out from the crowd, and find your ideal partner-in-crime to help you elevate your writing career. $25

Instructor: K.J. Howe


Saturday, Nov 20  10 am – Noon 

Independent Publishing for the Lazy Author

Four things attendees will learn from “How to Self Publish.” Attendees will come away from the talk with an understanding of:

  1. Independent versus traditional publishing
  2. Why to publish independently
  3. Why to not publish independently
  4. Examples of different ways to upload your text (ebooks and print)

Bonus: Sources of information on independent publishing

The talk will include time for questions and encourage audience participation.  $25

Instructor: M.J. Carlson