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Writers Festival Workshops

Sat. March 27, 2021

Workshops are offered on Zoom.

Each workshop is $10.


10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Publishing Possibilities

Ann Aubitz

Dream of seeing your book in print? Then this is the session for you! Learn the difference between Self-publishing, Hybrid publishing, and traditional publishing. This class will help you understand the basics so you can decide which type of publishing is the best for you.


Ann Aubitz is co-owner and publisher of Kirk House Publishers and FuzionPress. After years of reading everything she could get her hands on, she decided to help others achieve their dream of becoming an author. Her mission is to help authors achieve their dreams by seeing their book in print. ​ https://www.kirkhousepublishers.com

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10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

How "Home" Shapes Character

Maureen Aitken

This workshop will focus on how the idea of home creates a dramatic need for your characters. What are the stresses, family obligations, and old wounds that drive characters to act bravely or fail miserably? How does it inspire character or haunt them for life? By considering the writing of Manuel Muñoz, John Cheever, and Alice Munro, we’ll discuss how family and home form and inform story. Using these strategies we will free write to bring out the best in direction, tone, and voice. 

Maureen Aitken is the recipient of the Foreword Review INDIE Prize (General Fiction, Gold Winner) and the Nilsen Prize for her collection of stories, The Patron Saint of Lost Girls. The collection has earned a Kirkus Star and a Foreword Star. Her work has received a Minnesota State Arts Board’s Artist Initiative Grant, a Loft Mentor Award, a grant from the SASE/Jerome Foundation, and an award from Ireland’s Fish Short Story Prize. Her collection was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Aitken teaches writing at the University of Minnesota. She can be reached through www.maureenaitken.com


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11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Email Marketing for the Indie Author:

Where do I begin and how do I sustain it?



Being a successful indie author requires a business mindset. Email marketing is one of the most lucrative ways that you can reach potential readers. In this workshop, we’ll discuss the why’s and the how’s of email marketing for an author.

  1. Why you should be using this powerful marketing tool

  2. The data on why it works

  3. Okay, I’m in, but I don’t have anyone to email. How to get subscribers.

  4. What am I supposed to share once I do have subscribers? How to keep subscribers.

Susan Stradiotto runs a worldbuilding blog. She’s been interviewed multiple times, notably in Worldbuilding Magazine for her world: Caetera. When not writing, Susan spends time actively engaging in worldbuilding through games and research or collaborating with other writers. Her stories connect to the human spirit, show people overcoming obstacles, and put a spotlight on strong women.  https://susanstradiotto.com

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11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Moving Forward in Our Writing


Marge Barrett




“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” Conrad Hall


This workshop is for anyone who writes—students striving to master a skill. It’s for all types and genres of writing—fiction, nonfiction, poetry. Working together, we’ll read and listen to writers considered masters as mentors for our learning. As students, we’ll discuss and practice specific writing suggestions and prompts, attempting to create literature resonating with readers. We’ll talk about senses and experiences, family and friends, places and culture, values and beliefs, political topics, work and home, hobbies and interests as subject matters. We’ll incorporate craft issues, such as specificity, description, dialogue, beginnings and endings. We’ll gain insight on how to change and/or enhance our stories, essays, and poems. We will move our writing forward.

Marge Barrett taught in high schools and colleges, as well as at the Loft Literary Center, Jewish Community Center, Collegeville Institute, MinnPost, and in workshops in the Twin Cities and around the country. Her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals and she has been anthologized in Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web 2009 and the Minnesota Historical Society’s The State We’re In. Marge has also published a poetry chapbook, My Memoir Dress, and a memoir, Called: The Making and Unmaking of a Nun.  http://margebarrett.com

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1 p.m. –2 p.m.

Pandemic-Proof Ideas for Promoting Your Book in 2021 and Beyond


Rachel M. Anderson

When the pandemic struck, all the planning authors and publishers had done for 2020 went out the window. For safety reasons, book stores and other venues where people tend to gather shut down. For books not yet in the marketplace, publishers pushed back release dates. For those books published in late 2019 and early 2020, launch and signing events had to be cancelled or postponed. 


A few months into the pandemic, it became clear the majority of book selling that was going to happen in 2020 would have to shift online. However, with the shift came even more competition, especially for small press and self-published authors. In this workshop, authors who fall into those categories will learn several pandemic-proof strategies for marketing and promoting their books in 2021 and beyond.  


Among the topics to be covered: How to tap into your personal network to sell books… Strategies for using social media to your advantage… Understanding the difference between marketing and PR and how to use both strategies effectively to sell books… and insight into why it’s so important to have your book available in multiple formats. 


Rachel M. Anderson is the founder of RMA Publicity, a PR and Marketing Consulting Firm based in the Twin Cities that specializes in book marketing and PR. Since the company’s founding in 2009, Marketing & PR Consultant/Publicist Rachel M. Anderson has helped more than 200 authors build their platforms and establish themselves in the marketplace. She has also secured more than 2,500 media placements for clients, including Good Morning America, The Drew Barrymore Show, HARRY, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, ABC News, AP, Coast to Coast with George Noory, Canoe & Kayak, Outside, Speed, Today’s Parent; and television stations, newspapers and radio stations in major markets throughout the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, D,C., Boston, Seattle, Fargo, Madison, Tampa, Miami  and West Palm Beach to name a few. Before starting her company, Rachel spent 15 years working as a major market television news producer. She also has experience as a corporate marketer, and as a publisher. Sigma’s Bookshelf  the traditional book publishing company she founded with her son, has published nearly 20 teen authored books to date. www.rmapublicitiy.com


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1 p.m. –2 p.m.

Writing Goals Strategy Session


Erin Servais

Maybe you’re sitting on a half-dozen unfinished manuscripts. Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book, but you can never seem to find the time.

If you want to finally reach “The End” of your manuscript, you need to get clear on your goals and figure out your game plan.

In this 60-minute interactive workshop, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create effective writing goals that build upon each other
Invent a reward system

  • Track your progress 

  • Celebrate your wins

  • Discover a writing routine that works for your schedule and your life

  • Troubleshoot writer’s blocks, including distraction and negative self-talk

  • . . . and all the tricks and strategies you need to keep yourself in your chair, actually writing, week after week.

In addition to the presentation, you will receive a free workbook to help you plan your writing journey.


Erin Servais is a book editor, author coach, and founder of Dot and Dash LLC, an author-services company focusing on women author-entrepreneurs. She specializes in women’s fiction, romance, young adult, and business nonfiction and has helped to bring hundreds of titles to publication over her dozen years in the industry. She also leads the Twin Cities Writing Accountability Group and the Solo Entrepreneur Girl Gang, a networking and education group for Minnesotan women business owners. She lives in Minneapolis with her two old cats, her odd-shaped dog, and her hockey-playing husband. She writes to her pen pals in her spare time. https://www.dotanddashllc.com

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2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.


Heal Your Heart with Writing: compassionate self-care

Wendy Brown-Baez

In this workshop, we’ll discuss compassionate self-care when we are working with difficult material. What can we do when we find ourselves stuck, resisting, or emotionally overwhelmed? We will learn mindful tools to de-stress, the value of self-reflective writing to stay focused, and tips for overcoming writer’s resistance. We will learn somatic techniques to ground ourselves, with a sprinkling of writing practices to improve a sense of well-being.


Wendy Brown-Baez is a writer, teacher, performance poet and installation artist. Wendy is the author of the poetry books Ceremonies of the Spirit and transparencies of light and her poetry and prose appear widely in literary journals and anthologies, such as Borderlands, The Litchfield Review, Lavandería, Mizna, Minnetonka Review, Wising Up Press, The Feminine Collective, Poets & Writers, and Talking Writing. She has poems forthcoming from Water~Stone Review and Peregrine Journal. Wendy was awarded McKnight and MN State Arts Board grants to teach writing in non-profits. She teaches in community spaces such as schools, libraries, cafes, prisons, healing centers, churches, women’s retreats, yoga studios and arts organizations. Wendy Brown-Baez - Writing Circles for Healing


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2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.


The Grand Finale


Janet Graber


How do you know when your story or novel is truly finished?  Does it leave potential readers satisfied?  Is it full of surprises, twists and turns?  OR is it unbelievable, predictable, and pitiful?   If so, what is it missing?


Using a combination of instruction, exercises, and oral critique, Janet Graber, author of books for children and adults, will demonstrate how to avoid weak endings, and instead take you step by step toward writing endings that are truly surprising, compelling and completely satisfying.


Janet Graber is the award-winning author of several books, including Jacob and the Polar Bears and Muktar and the Camels, which received a McKnight Award in Children's Literature. She was born and grew up in Northern England, a magical place of fairy-tale castles, golden beaches, and desolate moors. She discovered a passion for film, script writing, and the beauty of the written word. Since moving to the United States and raising a family, she has been able to dedicate all her time and effort to writing picture books and middle-grade/YA novels. She has taught writing at the Loft Literary Center. www.janetgraberl.com


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