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Past Meetings and Events

Examples of past meetings, workshops and retreats presented by the NorCal Romance Writers or our predecessor group, the Sacramento Valley Rose Romance Writers of America, are listed below. NorCalRW members have access to handouts, presentation summaries etc. from these sessions and many others via the private Members' Site.

  • Surviving and Triumphing Over Writer Burnout with Liz Lincoln

  • How to choose the best conference(s) and contests for you, and a summary of the K-lytics report of the market and performance data of 106 sub-genres of the Romance genre with Dora Jane Apuna and Bonnie Phelps

  • Publishing on Kindle Vella with Stacey Sowers.

  • Why and How to Choose a Support Team with Ty Dutton.

  • Marketing Beyond Social Media--creativity coach and freelance editor Jen Graybeal showed us how to look beyond social media and ads to tap into other marketing options, how to develop a marketing strategy, and why marketing presents such a big challenge for authors.

  • NCRW's "A IS FOR AUTHOR", an all-day writing event, featured four speakers and a wonderful opportunity to learn from our fellow authors.

  • Everything You've Wanted to Know about Book Covers--Author and designer Stacy Sowers provided advice and insights into writers' many choices for obtaining a cover that helps sell your book, including outsourcing the design or doing it yourself.

  • Using Notion for Plotting, Planning and Publishing--Author and productivity consultant Mia Martel (aka Mia Marshall) demonstrated how Notion can help with planning, writing, and publishing books, as well as managing the business and marketing sides of your work. She showed how to create a flexible project management system before guiding the group through the setup of a robust writing template.


  • Blurbapalooza!--a group favorite, we met in person for critiques of our book cover descriptions, both published and unpublished. Members offered feedback on how to hook readers, target the correct subgenre, and highlight our books' tropes. 

  • All About Editing--Lloyd Taylor discussed the different types and stages of editing, including developmental editing, line editing, copyediting, and proofreading and about how to edit our own work, and shared new tips and approaches to improving your work and readying it for submission or publication.

  • Anticipa---Building Tension--Author Erin Roberts led this virtual workshop on building tension in your writing.

  • Goal, Motivation and Conflict: Moving your story forward--a deeper look into (GMC)—the internal combustion engine of every story. NCRW's VP/Membership, and multi-published, award-winner author AJ Stewart began with an overview of GMC—what is it, why is it essential, and how to incorporate these elements into your story, and participants received feedback on the GMC challenges in their own works-in-progress. 


  • Writing Active Hooks--Renowned writing teacher and author Mary Buckham taught us the simplest way to avoid a sagging middle, and to keep a reader reading, is to understand how to continually build hooks into your writing. We explored what hooks are and how they work; discovered the 10 most common (universal) hooks and why they’re so widely used; find where to place hooks to make them effective for both your genre and your audience, and unlocked the difference between a compelling story and one that drags. 

  • All About Kindle Vella--NCRW President Bonnie Phelps shared her experiences with Kindle Vella, introduced by Amazon in July 2021. These short episodes are meant to give readers the option of reading during short breaks in their day. The platform is a way for readers to discover new fiction and a new way for authors to generate revenue from the Kindle Direct Publishing service.

  • NaNoWriMo Prep--Libby Waterford shared creative and useful tips on how to prepare for an succeed at National Novel Writing Month, an international event where writers challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

  • Left Turns & New Beginnings--Kathryn Jane ​shared tips and tricks designed to help writers handle plot twists they never saw coming, find a way out of a corner they've written themselves into, breathe life into an old MS, or get started on a new project.


  • Creating and Using Secondary Characters to Strengthen Your Plot--Alyssa Alexander shared practical and helpful ​tips and tricks to create secondary characters to effectively deepen characterization, plot, and emotion, without letting them walk off with a scene.


  • Author Branding--Melissa Blue guided us through the steps of discovering your brand, fine-tuning that promise, and then finally meshing all that knowledge together with the graphics you use for your covers, promotion, and/or website.


  • Organizing Your Writing Life--Abigail Owen shared tried and true methods for staying on top of your email, craft notes, social media, and marketing as an author, including Gmail & Microsoft OneNote.

  • Writing Characters of Color--Olivia Gaines presented an hour-long workshop on how to seamlessly integrate characters of social and diverse backgrounds into your story. We learned the best methods of describing skin tones, hair textures, and cultural dishes. 


  • Planning and Goal-Setting for Authors--Book coach Jennifer Graybeal shared how to set big goals for your writing career and personal life, and to determine a plan for actually getting them done. 

  • Writing with a Partner--Ellie Ashe and Mia Marshall discussed things to consider before embarking on co-writing, such as: how creative partnerships can work, how to stay organized and on track with your projects, business and legal considerations, and how to end your partnership and stay friends.


  • Podcasts as Platform: Making the Most of the Newest, Hottest Medium----Betsy Graziani Fasbinder. We covered:

    • What is this new world of podcasting and what are the opportunities for writers?

    • Simple skills to make yourself a better podcast guest

    • Considerations for hosting your own podcast

    • Betsy’s Pet Peeves, or Stuff to do to if You Really Want to Irk Your Podcast Host and Never Get Invited Back.

  • Plot a Novel in an Hour, with Julia Mozingo. Topics included character, goal, conflict, motivation, beginning setup, and conclusion. We learned how to expand the basic structure using the "10-Step Novel Development Plan," a process that focused on asking the right questions that pull information from your mind to discover the story.

  • More than a Place: Beyond World Building: The Setting as a Character, with Tanya Agler. Whether a beginning writer or a published author, a plotter or pantser, this program helped participants make their setting come alive. By the end of the session, we had a new perspective on series writing, world-building, and how to organize our research and character details.


  • Crafting the Perfect Title with Gwyn McNamee. Gwyn walked us through selecting the perfect title and provided pointers on how to write a blurb that will attract readers and lead them down the path to purchasing your book.


  • Planning your next genre fiction series: turning a writing dream into a writing career! with USA Today Bestselling author Zoe York. Her workshop covered: how to craft the next first-in-series evergreen book that will sell for years and lay the foundation for 5+ books to follow; planning the order of books to build reader momentum; how (and when) to spin-off and take your readers with you, and how to weather the ups and downs of the market when you feel like the tortoise surrounded by hares.


  • The How, What, and WHY You Need an Editor with bestselling author and freelance content editor Anna J. Stewart. ​She discussed the various types of editors, and what to look for when hiring your own editor or when working with one at a publishing house. She shared her “cheat sheet” that she uses when working on her own clients’ projects as well as her tips for cleaning up those all-important first 15 pages you might be using to hook your own editor or even an agent.

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