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2024 Conference Panels, Presentations, & Masterclasses

AI: The End or Beginning of Creativity?

Let’s explore the dynamic relationship between creative writing and the rapidly advancing field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Where are the opportunities, challenges, and ethical considerations associated with integrating AI tools into the world of literature, addressing the concerns and interests of both creators and consumers of written content?

Bi the Book: Crafting Complex Bi Characters with Compassion and Care

Creating bisexual characters is an important endeavor for authors of sapphic lit. What do the identifiers bi, pan, polysexual (not to be confused with polyamory) mean? How can authors bring bi characters to the page with compassion? What are some challenges authors may face and pointers for addressing those challenges?

Dark Academia in Sapphic Fiction

The subgenre of Dark Academia with its aesthetic and mysterious nature has gained significant traction on social media platforms in recent years. The setting and trope often explore complicated character arcs, embracing themes of discovery and personal growth through knowledge and struggle. What is the allure of Dark Academia and why has it become so popular in sapphic fiction?

Food for Thought: The Role of Food in Books

Food is sexy, food is community, food is identity. This panel will explore the ways cooking and sharing food can be used to enhance character and story without turning into an issue of Cook's Illustrated.

Inclusion in the Sapphic Lit World: Experiences from the Trans and Nonbinary Community

Honest discussions about representation, inclusion, and what it’s like being trans and nonbinary in the sapphic community.

It’s Never too Late

Authors who have found a passion for writing and publishing later in life talk about their unique experiences, challenges, and rewards.

Not Just Background

Setting is a way to ground characters and immerse readers into the author’s world. What techniques can authors use to set the scene and captivate their audience?

Outing Ourselves: Daring to Write Our Own Stories

How do writers determine the genre for their personal narratives? Join memoirists and novelists as they unravel the complexities of this decision, exploring the challenges, victories, and personal revelations that accompany the choice between fact and fiction.

Read, Review, Repeat: Reaching for the Stars

Reviews bridge the gap between readers trying to find their next favorite novel and authors wanting to sell them. This panel focuses on the reviewers and their methods and motivations: How do they acquire review copies, separate subjective dislikes from objective criticism, and where do they publish those reviews?

Believe It or Not: Religion and Sapphic Romance

This interfaith panel will explore how religion and spirituality intersect with sapphic romance. How can our narratives make room for a multitude of faith experiences, including agnostic and atheist perspectives?

Body Positivity: Beyond the Fat Bestie

What kinds of bodies get included in our stories? Why? And even more importantly, how? We'll explore what it means to write characters that don't fit the conventional standard and if/how it can be done with both authenticity and positivity.

Fact or Fabrication? An Interactive Panel

Have you ever wondered if writers create stories strictly from their imagination, or do events from real life occasionally make their way in? Do you think you could tell the difference? Listen as authors read segments of their work and test your discernment. Is it strictly invention or are there elements of autobiography?

How Hot Did They Go? Guess the Author by Their Sex Scene: An Interactive Panel

Hot sex scenes! Authors blushing! Awesome prizes! Yes, we're bringing it back. Figure out which author wrote which sexy moment and have a chance to win great swag, books, and a few other (possibly naughty) surprises.

In-Person Promotion

Writing a book is one thing, talking about it is a different beast. And yet, securing recommendations from other authors, meeting potential fans and readers, standing behind a table in a tent at a Pride festival or any other place is a big part of the game. Come find out how these successful authors have overcome stage fright and found joy discussing their books with scary strangers.

Neurodiversity 2.0: Managing Multiple Identities

Our Autism/ADHD and other neurospicy identities don’t occur by themselves. Panelists will discuss the intersection of our neurodivergence with our lives as authors and readers—plus other identities including sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, and more. You don’t have to be neurodivergent to get great life tips from this panel.

Novel Desires: The Art of Writing Sensual Sapphic Scenes

Want to breathe fire into your characters’ intimate moments? Our expert panelists are here to show you the ropes—sometimes literally. Come take a walk with us on the wild side as we learn to craft the ins and outs of the in-n-out: steamy scenes, heartfelt moments, and everything in-between. Things are about to get spicy!

Readers’ Choice: What Do Readers Look for in the Books They Like?

What is the number one goal of authors? Crafting stories that appeal to readers, of course. But what do readers like most about the books they read? Is it emotion? Romance? Drama? Suspense? A great fantasy or sci-fi novel? Dialogue and narrative that really pops? Book covers or blurbs? All of the above? Is a happy ending a must?

Scandals of Fanfic

Panelists will go right to the heart of some of the juiciest topics in the fanfic world so that authors and readers can learn more about what’s hot. We’ll dive right into the sexy, naughty, and curious trends of today. Come for writing inspiration, tropes to avoid, or just to be scandalized!

So I Had this Idea

Karin Kallmaker showcases new authors and how they came up with ideas for their books.

That's What She Said: Writing Realistic Dialogue

Great dialogue gives characters authenticity and tells the reader vital information. But many writers struggle with common dialogue challenges: being boring, awkwardly jamming exposition in, clarity about who is speaking (especially with same-sex couples and non-binary characters), mis/overusing dialect, and giving each character a distinct voice. Writers across multiple genres explore how they leveled up and discuss tools you can use as well.

The Erotic as Power: In celebration of Black Sapphic Authors

Audre Lorde was famous for teaching the erotic as the power to liberate us from oppressive systems. Black sapphic authors carry on Lorde’s legacy by writing about their own journeys, telling their own stories, liberating themselves and others to do the same. Learn from an amazing group of writers as they share about their process, their challenges, and their latest

The Rise of the Ice Queen

Complex, dynamic, at times difficult, and always exciting archetypes such as Ice Queens have fascinated readers for decades. They have found the perfect niche in Sapphic literature and have become one of the most popular tropes in the genre. What makes a successful portrayal of a true Ice Queen, and why are we so fascinated by them?

Use the Force: Martial Arts Training as Character Arc

Nothing makes us root for a character like watching them strive for difficult goals: becoming a Jedi, earning a black belt, piloting a fighter jet, becoming a prima ballerina... But how does the writer make the journey compelling, balancing technical details with emotional impact? Does the writer need to be an expert? Join writers who have put their characters through these crucibles for a lively discussion that pulls no punches.

Writing Academy Graduates Speak Out

The GCLS Writing Academy is more than just a writing program–it's a community of folks who love sapphic fiction, bolstering each other to hone their writing skills, sharing each other's stories, successes, and challenges. In this panel, Writing Academy graduates talk about their time in the academy, the work they did during the program and what they've done since, and so much more.

You Have to Know Someone Before You Can Kill Them

Good mysteries are character driven–not just “whodunit”, but why they did it. This panel looks at how mystery writers approach writing the multiple characters, suspects, victims, and the people around them, and their relationships.

Romantasy: The Fun of Fantasy in a Romance Setting

The perfect blend of fantasy and romance is a joy ride for both readers and authors. Swords, dragons, mermaids, and curses amidst yearning, heartbreak, and happily ever afters. What makes romance in an otherworldly setting exciting? And what makes fantasy so compelling when interwoven with a steamy romance?

Scissor Me Timbers! Pirates, Assassins, and Gangsters, Oh My!

Join us for a lively discussion about ill-considered life choices, redemption potential, and what we love (and hate) about Sapphic outlaws.

So You Think You Can Pants: How Pantsers Craft Novels

The Plotters have had panels about how they write their books, now it's time to hear from the Pantsers. Do we know what we'll talk about during this panel? Not yet, but we'll do what we always do—have fun figuring it out on the fly and by the seat of our pants.

The Best Advice My Editor Ever Gave Me

Love it or hate it, all manuscripts need to be edited. Most writers need a helping hand. Our panelists will discuss the best tips and tidbits they got from working with editors.

The Game of Love: Writing Sports and Romance in Sapphic Fiction

Love sports? Love Sapphic Romance? Love stories with both? Come join our panelists as we look at the challenges and rewards of writing sport in romance and discuss how to create a story that is respectful to the characters and the sport itself.

Tongue Twisters: Challenges in Narrating

As audiobooks become more popular, what can publishers, narrators, and authors do to keep up with audiobook demand without giving into AI? What can be done “in the booth” and during editing to create audiobooks more efficiently? What sort of challenges can someone interested in becoming a narrator expect?

Who Are We? And Who Are We Writing for?

In today’s LGBTQ+ literary, social, and political environments, where even our own community is subdivided into lesbian, non-binary, trans, gender queer, and other identities, who do we write for? Some authors remain committed to write for their own racial, ethnic, or gender-identified communities. Other authors believe a wider readership is necessary. As authors in this complex literary world, who is our audience?

Writing What You Know When It's Out of this World

Other planets? Spaceships? Aliens? How about ghosts and vampires? They tell authors to "Write what you know," but when you write speculative fiction, that's almost impossible. Or is it? This panel of spec fic authors will discuss real-world substitutes and workarounds for maintaining that authenticity even when they can’t live the actual experience.

Accelerating Your Digital Workflow: Leveraging AI for Social Media, Newsletters, and Websites

We delve into the fast-paced world of AI and its impact on digital workflows, particularly in the realms of social media, newsletters, and websites. AI tools can assist every step on the way from creating contact to optimizing websites and newsletters, and even interaction with followers. Attendees will leave with actionable strategies and knowledge of AI tools that can be implemented immediately to save time, increase efficiency, and drive better results in their digital endeavors.

Presenter: Robbie Adair

Wait! I Can Write This Off?!?

Learn what you can and can't write off against your writing income, best bookkeeping practices, how to avoid flagging yourself for audit, and what retirement funds are available to self-employed persons. (Readers, this also translates to any self-employed income, not just writing income.)

Presenter: Ann Shanks Etter

Dancing in the Dark: Nurturing Your Creativity No Matter What

How can we make time and space for writing, other creative passions, and ourselves even when real life seems to have other plans? We'll explore theories and strategies, then dive into exercises and reflection that will give you tools to keep your creative candle burning.

Presenter: Aurora Rey

How to Do What You Do: A Framework for Making Use of Writing Career Advice

It is impossible to escape the multitude of voices offering instruction on how to best establish your writing career, often with conflicting advice. It can be confusing, overwhelming, and disheartening for beginners and established writers alike. This presentation will offer participants a framework for making decisions about which advice best suits their unique situation so they can create an action plan for their writing life. A free download will be available to prepare for this presentation.

Presenter: Brenda Murphy

Our Stories Are Their Stories: Sharing Paths with Our Characters

As writers, we search to learn who our characters are so readers will bond with their struggles and breakthroughs. Even if we differ strongly from our characters, our personal journeys of discovery can give us rich material to make our stories memorable. The presenters will demonstrate—through audience interaction and the sharing of their journeys—ways a writer can draw on their own story of identity, gender, and growth to strengthen character development, and present it gracefully.

Presenter: Angela Greenman and Rachel Gold

How to Murder Someone Legally: Writing the Mystery

A master class for both new and veteran mystery writers to hone their craft. It will be taught by several award-winning writers, all with long experience in writing, teaching writing, and the mystery genre.

Presenters: Jessie Chandler, Clifford Mae Henderson, J.M. Redman, Anne Laughlin

Writing in the Age of AI: Ethics, Tools, and Transformation

Dive into the heart of creativity and ethics in this interactive workshop! This immersive experience includes a hands-on exploration of Artificial Intelligence tools that blend human creativity with cutting-edge technology. We’ll uncover the ethical issues, challenge biases, and envision a future where AI amplifies human ingenuity. Designed for writers, creatives, and thinkers, this workshop is your gateway to understanding when you might leverage AI in the writing process, what mistakes to avoid, and how to foster a collaboration that respects innovation and integrity.

Presenter: Rachel Gold

Say “Yes, and...” to Your Writing

Actors use different techniques to create the worlds, backstories, and motivations for their characters. In improvisation, they learn how to "just go with it" and tune out the internal critic. This upbeat and active presentation will cover basic acting and improv techniques and how writers can apply them to their own work. We'll go over some improv games you can use to get the creative juices flowing and look at things with a fresh perspective.

Presenter: Kelly Farmer

Your Time And (Possibly) Your Money: Amazon Strategies for Busy Authors

Explore the inner workings of Amazon's algorithms in ”Amazon 101.” Join us for a practical discussion on promoting your book and connecting with readers in the vast online landscape. Discover how to enhance your book's presence and navigate the digital realm

Presenter: Rebecca Quirk

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