2018 Master Class, Presentation, & Panel Descriptions

Below you will find the descriptions for Master Classes, Presentations, and Panels. As you look through the schedule, you can come here to read the descriptions. This will help you when choosing which sessions to attend during the conference.


Fair warning: You won't be able to attend everything you want to attend. (Unless you have Hermione's time-turner.) So you will need to make some tough decisions. Consider teaming up with some friends to divide and conquer. 




Using Humor to Enrich Fiction Writing

Presenter: Fay Jacobs

DescriptionA two-hour class featuring the basics of writing humor, integrating it into fiction projects and a hands-on workshop component for having the class utilize what is being taught. The class will include a variety of styles of humor, the subtle or obvious uses of these styles and a comprehensive look at methods of integrating humor into otherwise serious work. The class will also be FUN and have us all laughing, while learning about humor.


Archetypes and Story Structure: The Hero's Journey 

Presenter: Radclyffe

DescriptionWritten stories have existed for thousands of years and oral stories for centuries longer than that. Many have said in one way or another that there are no new stories, only old stories retold. Despite general agreement that there are only a few dozen (or less) categorizable plots, somehow, we manage to write more and more stories every year (hundreds of thousands of novels were published last year). Most of us read dozens (possibly hundreds) of new books every year and yet only a few stand out. Only a few make the “keeper” pile to be read and re-read for years. How do we write the story that lingers long after the last page?


Sketch me if you can: Creative Ways to Give Your Characters Depth 

Presenters: Aurora Rey and Kimberly Cooper Griffin       

DescriptionEnticing characters are the lifeblood of a great story. Any author will tell you that what you see on the page is just a fraction of what the author knows about their characters. And every author seems to develop their characters differently. This class goes beyond the traditional character sketch with ideas for creative methods to develop your characters. We’ll look at personality profiles, tarot readings, and more. Participants will have the opportunity to apply techniques to their own characters.


Climbing out of the writing swamp

Presenter:Barbara Ann Wright

Description: Ever feel like you’re slogging toward your daily word goal and not really getting anywhere? Tired of becoming mired in a first draft and never finishing a project? Come learn some tips and techniques to increase your daily word count, finish a draft in a fraction of the time, and employ more effective editing techniques to lift you out of the writing sludge.


Editing Boot Camp

Presenter: Kim Taylor Blakemore

DescriptionWe love it. We hate it. Without it, a story is doomed. This interactive workshop will walk you through a specific process for deep editing of paragraphs, sentences and words. We will cut and paste and move and chip away at our work until it is powerful. Please bring 2-3 copies of 3 pages of a work in progress.


The GCLS Writing Academy

Presenter: Beth Burnett

DescriptionLearn about the incredible opportunity to improve your craft with the GCLS Writing Academy, a one-year, intensive program focused on helping lesfic writers hone their writing skills. Director of Education Beth Burnett and Writing Academy manager Joy Van Stralen will walk participants through the benefits of the program. (There may be prizes and/or cupcakes.)


Chase Your Own Success

Presenter: Karin Kallmaker

DescriptionDo you ever feel as if you're not doing the writing life right? Everyone else seems to have more or better. Sales, reviews, awards, nods from VIPs, money, expertise, word counts, buzz, fans, acclaim, on and on. Social media amplifies the message: success is something other people are having all around you. Should you change your vision? How can you replicate their success for yourself? It's time to take a step back. This workshop will help you define success in your own terms and give you the tools to silence the negative perceptions that sap your creativity. Chase your own success - not someone else's.


The Field of Lesbian Fiction – Dynamics and Boundaries

Presenter: Millie Ireland

DescriptionThe world of lesbian fiction can be viewed as an organizational field – a grouping of individuals and organizations that act and interact with each other and come to be a recognizable area of activity. In the field of lesbian fiction, some of those actors and organizations include readers, authors, publishing houses, indies, reviewers, review sites, bookstores and online bookstores, blogs, magazines, member associations and societies, foundations, literary conferences and events. The goals of this presentation are to – (1) Present a snapshot of the lesbian publishing field. At present, who are the actors in the field? - Illustrate the boundaries of the field. What ‘belongs’ in the field and what is outside – and how are those boundaries determined? Are there contested areas at the borders? – (2) Identify some of the dynamics of the field that influence its current composition and point to ways it might be changing. The presentation will draw on interviews with readers, authors, editors and publishers of lesbian fiction. Background research for the presentation includes review of published literature, public domain blogs, lists and discussion boards.


From Novel to Screenplay: Adapting Your Novel for the Screen

Presenter: Lucy J. Madison

DescriptionHave you ever thought your novel would make a great movie? Or have you ever looked at the paltry number of lesbian films on Netflix and thought your lesbian story should be there? In this presentation, you’ll learn the key differences between a novel and a feature film script. You’ll be guided through the process of developing your novel or story idea into a professional screenplay. You’ll learn the basics of form, style, length, character, and description and also gain an understanding of the submission process, challenges, and potential pitfalls of the process.


Brand YOU - Building Your Brand For Bigger Bucks:  Leveraging Events, PR, Relationships, and Social Media 

Presenters: Sallyanne Monti & Lucy J. Madison

DescriptionWe get it. You’re an author and all you really want to do is write. Writing your bodies of work is a noble pursuit. Marketing your books may not come naturally. If you identify as a writer, odds are you want to be doing it full-time. And if you want to write full-time, it has to pay the bills. Understanding branding and promotion can lead to bigger bucks.


Legacies of Lesbian Literature

Presenter: Cheryl Pletcher

DescriptionMarianne K. Martin, Lisa Marie Evans, and I will update the attendees on the 2017/2018 progress on the development of the documentary.


How We Really Do It

Presenter: Deni Starr

DescriptionThe presentation goes over how to find people using a variety of public and private sources such as court records, alumni records, motor vehicle records, etc. We’ll go over the type of information that you find in court records, which is the most useful, what public information is on line,  and effective interview techniques. We’ll all discuss the biggest part of investigations, some basic forensic photography, and surveillance techniques, and a have brief conversation about what activities are illegal, like picking locks and breaking into people's homes.


An Hour to a Wordpress Website

Presenter: Sheryl Wright

DescriptionEvery Author needs a website, but the steps necessary to creating a professional and polished website can be cumbersome and confusing. Sheryl will take authors step by step through all the basics, showing participants how to develop a blog, static front page, contact information and more.


Why Real Editors Don't Suck


DescriptionKatherine Forrest, Jennifer Knight, and Shelley Thrasher, all experienced editors of lesbian fiction, would like to offer authors and interested readers an opportunity to ask us anything they want to know about editing fiction. We are willing to cover a broad range of topics, which include who we are and why we became editors; what our individual skill sets are and how we acquired them; how we relate to the authors we edit and to the other editors with whom we have a connection; how we proceed when we edit a book; why we continue to edit, or not; etc. We plan to begin by asking our audience such questions as what irks them most in the books they read, what they dislike in books, what causes them to stop reading a novel they expected to enjoy, and similar ones.


GCLS Awards Update

Presenter: Virginia Dodge Fielder

DescriptionWhat’s new? Join Dr. Virginia Dodge Fielder for an update on the GCLS awards process. What’s new for 2018 and what is coming for 2019.




The Accidental Detective: Finding Trouble with a Capital “T”

DescriptionAmateur sleuths abound in lesfic mysteries, but creating a believable one is a tricky proposition. How do they juggle detecting and their “day job?” How do they interact with law enforcement? Often these sleuths appear in a series. How does trouble keep finding them? Join these authors and readers as they discuss memorable accidental detectives and the side job that seems to take over their lives.


Destigmatizing Mental Illness Through Literature

DescriptionRepresentation matters. As mental illness comes out of the closet, some writers are creating characters with depression, panic disorder, social anxiety, alcoholism, and so much more. This panel brings together those authors to talk about the joys and challenges of writing mental illness. 


All the Beautiful People

DescriptionShimmering hair, high cheekbones, a figure that won’t quit, and muscular calves… Are these real people? Presently many Lesfic heroines could be fashion models. Is that what readers want, or can we inject a dose of reality and still write books that will sell and receive critical acclaim? Should our characters be a reflection of us or what we wish we could be?  


Down the Rabbit Hole: Research and Building New Worlds

DescriptionEvery world an author creates is important, regardless of genre, era, or location. Being able to see, smell, and touch the world means a better experience for the reader. Developing that world requires a whole bag of tricks. What does it take to build worlds readers can immerse themselves in? What research goes into creating a place for characters to roam? How much research is needed, and when do you have enough? This panel will explore the different ways authors construct engaging and believable environments that make the reader want to be right beside the character.


Four Lesbians of the Apocalypse and Eco Fiction: a Hot New Genre for Readers

DescriptionFrom Karin Kallmaker’s Warming Trend through Laurie Salzler’s Right Out of Nowhere to Justine Saracen's Dian's Ghost, nature themed stories have been working their way into our lesbian fiction for years. There's a name for this hot new trend, Eco Fiction. And as the impact of climate change becomes more prevalent in our everyday lives, the environment will take on a more prominent role in our stories. This panel will discuss the subject and importance of our rapidly changing environment across all genres of lesbian fiction. Whether it's a romance, mystery, or adventure, Eco Fiction is about what our stories have always been about—finding love, hope, resiliency and humanity in the best of times and the worst of times.


The Good, The Bad, The Gorgeous: Creating Exciting Secondary Characters

DescriptionSecondary characters are often as important as main characters. As fully formed personalities, they can help move the story along, give it depth, and act as a foil for the main character. Memorable "seconds" can make romance happen or get in its way; help solve a murder or be a murderer. They can be the surprise you never saw coming or the hoped for salvation of a story. The panel will discuss how authors strike that delicate balance between creating memorable "seconds” and ones who won't upstage the main characters.


How to Play the Plot Machine

DescriptionWhat are tropes and why do readers love them? This panel features authors and editors discussing how to give readers the tropes they love with winning originality, fresh takes, and unexpected twists.


Independent Authors: The Naked Truth About Going it Alone

DescriptionThe number of independent authors continues to grow, changing and challenging the established world of lesfic. Join this group of “indies” as they discuss the joys and pitfalls of creating their books from start to finish.


Intersectional Books and Writing Across Racial, Sexual, and Gender Boundaries

DescriptionThis panel discussion includes authors and readers of lesbian novels across genres discussing how they're working to include characters outside their comfort zone. What does it take to get these characters right? Why should we write characters that cross race, sex, gender, or economic boundaries and how do we do it right? What research should go into creating characters you don't "know" in real life? How are writers creating characters in lesbian novels who are queer, trans, gender non-binary and why that's become important to include. Plus: Policing "lesbian" in fiction and how to avoid identity backlash that sometimes happens today from critics, fans, or social media trolls alike.


Inclusivity and the Expanding Lesfic Alphabet

DescriptionAs authors write more inclusion & diversity (LGBTQA, race or faith/ spirituality) into their stories, what is the impact on readers as they absorb potentially new terminology, or the use of language that has been hijacked by conservative organizations? This panel will include authors discussing how they incorporate the changing vocabulary into their stories, and readers who will discuss what it means to their purchasing decisions in the future.


Romantic Comedies: A Recipe for Laughter

DescriptionWhether you aim for dramatic memoir, slapstick jaunt, or sexy romance, how do you manager humor in fiction without overwhelming your narrative? This panel of authors and readers will discuss the key ingredients for creating memorable humorous characters, the place of humor in fiction, and the best one-liners they’ve heard. 


New. Now. Next

DescriptionWhat are the trends in queer literature? What is the lesfic that is breaking the mold, or changing the form? Who is writing the work that blends, bends, and rends what we thought we knew, and liked, about lesbian characters? We’ve invited a group of readers and writers to illustrate the freshest and flashiest trends in lesbian/queer books-including graphic novels, zines, poetry, comics, etc.


Readers Sound Off

DescriptionJoin us for a panel composed entirely of readers as they share their favorites—stories, characters, scenes. They’ll discuss how lesfic changed their life, what role lesfic played in their coming out, and what they hope is coming soon.


Reader Triggers - Legitimate Concern or Creativity Inhibiting?

DescriptionIt is not uncommon to read a book review and see the words, "I did not like this book because I was triggered by..." A trigger can potentially be any subject arising in the course of a novel that causes or “triggers” a reader to feel upset or disturbed, possibly from a previous experience or fear. In this panel, we explore the trigger phenomenon and discuss what, if anything, should be done. Do writers, editors, and publishers of lesbian fiction have a responsibility to build in protection for readers from unpleasant surprises? Should reviewers always alert to such scenes, even at the risk of revealing spoilers? Must we consider “trigger risk” a legitimate concern and include standardized warning labels on books, alerting readers to upcoming topics such as violence, abuse, or self-harm? Or should we resist creating a “nanny state” of bookselling, and leave readers to proceed at their own risk?


Plotters v. Pantsers:  A Face Off

DescriptionJoin these authors as they discuss their chosen approach to creating a novel. Some are meticulous planners with outlines, colored notecards, and timelines while others grab their laptop and head for the coffee shop. What are their respective struggles? What does a day in the life of a plotter look like? A pantser? Could they ever create using the opposite approach? Is one method superior to the other?


So I Had This Idea…

DescriptionThere is no right way to transform an idea into a finished book. Proof of this can be found in this diverse group of panelists who will describe where they got their initial inspiration for a story and how they ultimately wrote and published their first work.


Voices from the Gay Bars

DescriptionAuthors who contributed to the recent anthology, Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices from Gay Bars discuss the gay bar as a safe space.


Writing for Your Life

DescriptionWriters have control of their fictional world. In reality, we have very little control of our lives. The events that have battered or bruised us often factor into the fictional world where authors can explore alternate resolutions. This panel will explore how authors use writing to cope, perhaps in creating a town in which they would rather live or a political climate they would prefer. Writing as a way to exorcise the ex? Writing as a way to fix the unfixable? Come listen to writers discuss how personal experiences have contributed to their stories.


Xena to Lexa: How Fandom Influences Queer Literature?

DescriptionSome of Lesfic’s best writers cut their teeth on Xena fan fiction, and that tradition continues with the fan frenzy that has revived and propelled the queer characters from The 100 and Clarke and Lexa into a new form of community building. Driven by social media, fan fiction has created the intersection of media and writing that may entice entertainment gatekeepers to respond to the demand for quality LGBTQ representation in all forms of storytelling. Join in for a lively discussion (and cosplay) by readers, writers and fans of current Lesfic characters to discuss what could be next in fandom. 

2019 Goldie Winners

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