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Past Workshops

Thinking of joining LIRW or speaking at one of our workshops? Check out our past workshops to see what we offer our members!

March 2023

Balancing Backstory with Laura Drake

We need backstory in our novels. It deepens our characters, illustrates who they are, and how they came to be that way. But we’ve all heard about “backstory dumps,” and how they can bog down a read. So how do you tell the reader what they need to know, without writing the parts they skip? It’s a delicate balance, requiring subtle technique. Laura will give you the tools you need to craft fully- rounded characters that your readers will love - without all the baggage.

Laura Drake is a hybrid author of Women's Fiction and Romance. Her debut, The Sweet Spot, won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She’s since published 15 more books. She is a founding member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Writers in the Storm blog. Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

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February 2024

Karen White: Publishing Audio on a Budget

Are your readers asking when your books will be available in audio? Have you put books up for audition on ACX and been disappointed or overwhelmed by what you hear? Does the cost of producing an audiobook keep you up at night? Are you tempted by AI narration offers but skeptical of the product? If any of the above are true, this webinar is for you. We’ll go through each step of the audiobook production and publishing process, so you’ll understand where to trim costs and where to spend, as well as where your money is going. Topics covered will include industry trends, listener expectations, casting strategies, cost breakdowns, working with the union, distribution options, and working with an audiobook publisher. Bring your questions!

Karen White narrated audiobooks from 1999 - 2022. With more than 400 titles to her credit, she recorded for Audible Studios, Blackstone Audio, Books-on-Tape, Dreamscape, Harper Audio, Hachette Audio, Highbridge Audio, Penguin Random House Audio, and Tantor Audio as well as indie authors and publishers. She’s a multiple winner of Earphones Awards, Publisher’s Weekly and Listening Journal Starred Reviews, and is a three-time Audie Finalist. She also worked as a director and casting associate for Books-on-Tape, and a producer for Blue Nose Audio. She created Home Cooked Books, a boutique audiobook marketing company, in 2022. There she’s mustered a volunteer army of passionate listeners who review and promote books across social media platforms as well as Goodreads, Bookbub, and retailer sites. Karen served on the Audiobook Publisher’s Association PR & Events committee from 2016 - 2019 and was Vice Chair of SAG-AFTRA’s Audiobook Steering committee from 2012 - 2022. She has appeared on conference panels for the Audiobook Publishers Association, the Virginia Festival of the Book, Romance Writers Association, Booklovers Con, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight & Magnolias, Apollycon, Book Bonanza, Chicago’s Spring Fling, and RT Con. In 2019 she created a new course for the UNC-Wilmington Creative Writing Department, Special Topics in Publishing: Digital Formats. In addition to helping other authors find avid listeners for their audiobooks, she publishes her own writing as Karen Grey. Her audiobooks have won an AudioFile Earphones award and were finalists in the Independent Audiobook and Sultry Listeners awards.

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November 2023

2nd Annual Mini Rom-Con!

Mariah Ankenman – TikTok & Beyond
Jen Graybeal – Focus on Story Issues
Jeannie Lin – Write a Bigger Story
Becca Syme – Market Better Faster

Check back for this year's Rom-Con lineup!

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October 2023

Romancing Your Tropes with Jennifer Hilt

We all know tropes are important to writing romance. Heck, many of our readers ask for them by name, “Best friend’s little sister? I love those stories!” But are we using them as effectively as we can? After all, we know our readers love them, so why not wring every last bit of story juice out of them?
In this workshop, we’ll whip tropes into shape so your books become one-click material. We’ll talk about why tropes are essential, what separates them from cliches, and how we can use them in specific ways to create original stories that resonate with our readers. We’ll talk tropes and romance and have a pretty good time doing it!

Jennifer Hilt is a USA Today Bestselling author of The Trope Thesaurus, Horror Trope Thesaurus, and Trope Thesaurus Romance. She has written twenty-four books across four pen names plus her urban Fantasy series: The Undead Detective. With degrees in linguistics and literature, Jennifer loves talking story development. She also collects dictionaries in unfamiliar languages, binges scandi-noir series, and shouts out tropes from the comfort of her couch. Check out her website at:

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September 2023

Marie Force: Ask Me Anything!

NYT, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author Marie Force has seen it all during her career, which began with her first published book in 2008 and now includes 100 titles, most of them self-published. She was traditionally published for 12 years before going fully indie in 2020. She can take your questions on anything having to do with writing, publishing, marketing, series vs. singles, etc. She loves to “talk shop” with other authors!

Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 100 contemporary romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance novels. Her series include Fatal, First Family, Gansett Island, Butler Vermont, Quantum, Treading Water, Miami Nights and Wild Widows. She has also written 11 single titles, with more coming.

Her books have sold more than 13 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list more than 30 times. She is also a USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller, as well as a Spiegel bestseller in Germany.

Her goals in life are simple—to spend as much time as possible with her young adult children, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.

Join Marie's mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Join one of Marie's many reader groups. Contact Marie at

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June 2023

Krista Venero presents: "Editing is my favorite," said no author ever!

Doing her absolute best to make editing a fun and interesting topic, editor/author Krista Venero will share her best tips for self-editing, finding a good editor, what to expect from the editing process, and all her most-hated grammar pet-peeves!

Krista Venero writes under two pen names, Phoebe Alexander and K.L. Montgomery; edits books for indie authors; and runs the 6000-member Indie Author Support group on Facebook. She lives in coastal Delaware with her husband, sons, and fur babies, but she’s still a Hoosier at heart. You can often find her on the beach or in the pool when she’s not busy writing or editing. Find out more at

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May 2023

Mariah Ankenman Presents: Booktok & Beyond

Booktok has revitalized the book buying business. Join author Mariah Ankenman as she helps you navigate the ever changing world of TikTok and the booktok community. Learn how to connect with readers, create engaging videos, and cross post to Instagram Reels for maximum exposure. Grab your book crown authors!

Bestselling author Mariah Ankenman lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her two rambunctious children and loving spouse who is her own personal spell checker when her dyslexia gets the best of her.
Mariah loves to lose herself in a world of words. Her favorite thing about writing is when she can make someone’s day a little brighter with one of her books. To learn more about Mariah and her books, visit her website follow her on social media or sign up for her newsletter.

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April 2023

Jeannie Moon Presents: Creating a Living Setting

Settings are more than time and place, or a place to plop down your book’s characters. A setting can be a living, breathing entity whether it’s a small town, or a brand-new world. Settings limit or expand possibilities for your characters, are a catalyst for change, act as a pain trigger or provide comfort. The possibilities are endless.
In this workshop, bestselling, award-winning author Jeannie Moon will take you through the intricacies of creating a setting that will transport your readers to a world of your creation and make them want to return again and again. This is a deep dive into the craft of using time and place to enhance the story’s depth and giving readers a true sense of what your characters are experiencing.

USA Today bestselling author Jeannie Moon has always been a romantic. When she’s not spinning tales of her own, Jeannie works as a school librarian, thankful she has a job that allows her to immerse herself in books and call it work. The author of nineteen contemporary romances, Jeannie is married to her high school sweetheart, has three grown kids, two adorable grandbabies, three wacky dogs and is a lifelong resident of Long Island. If she’s more than ten miles away from salt water for any longer than a week, she gets twitchy.

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March 2023

Jen Graybeal Presents: What Romance Writers Can Learn from Marvel and Pixar

Marvel and Pixar have combined storytelling and fan service in a way other entertainment companies have not mastered. Whether you write stand alones or series, it is worth looking at what they do to create movies everyone talks about and how they leverage insider knowledge to keep fans interested in what comes next. From building a world that is completely new but completely recognizable, to touching moments that pull our heartstrings, to training their fans to look beyond the story, Marvel and Pixar movies go big. Jen will walk you through what they do and how all of this applies to writing romance novels.

Jen Graybeal (she/her) is a creativity coach, freelance editor, and author cheerleader that has been helping romance authors for eight years. Her encouraging feedback, clever problem solving, and gently applied tough love inspires clients to take their books and business to the next level. She has a degree in English, an ever-expanding TBR, and a furball assistant that is usually on her lap. Visit her website for client testimonials at or follow her on Instagram and TikTok: @JenTheEditor.

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February 2023

In-Person Panel with LIRW Authors @ the Bayport Bluepoint Library

Join 8 local romance authors for: The Writers' Journey. A panel discussion for new and experienced writers. Ask us anything about the writing and publishing process to get to your Happily Ever After!

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January 2023

Victorine Leiske presents: Making That Emotional Connection

Writing romance can be tricky. You must make your reader believe that your characters are falling in love. It doesn’t work to show surface attraction. Your characters must make an emotional connection in the midst of the internal conflict that plagues them. In this class we will explore how to do this so your reader will swoon when your characters finally decide that love conquers all.

Victorine self-published her first book, Not What She Seems, in April of 2010. In March of 2011, Not What She Seems began its 6-week run on The New York Times best-selling eBook list. By May 2011 she had sold over 100,000 copies. Victorine's first romantic comedy novel hit the USA Today Bestselling books list in January 2015. When she’s not writing, she’s watching Korean Dramas, or making something with her extensive yarn collection.

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November 2022

LIRW's 2022 Mini Rom-Con

LIRW Mini Rom-Con!
4 Programs 1 Day!
• Olivia Gaines - World Building
• Jeannie Lin - Writing Description for People Who Hate Description...or Who Love it Too Much
• Katie McCoach - Validate Your Book Idea (Before You Start Writing or Pitching)
• Becca Puglisi - How to Raise the Stakes (Without Killing Everyone)

Check back for this year's Rom-Con lineup!

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