Virginia enjoys presenting workshops in person and online about book publishing and the business and craft of writing. She’s offered her programs to authors’ groups and professional associations, including the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and its affiliate chapters. She and her colleague, Lynda McDaniel presented joint workshops and webinars as part of their consulting practice, The Book Catalysts.
Virginia is a frequent panelist at university and community events and fairs for writers and those aspiring to write. As a writing coach and mentor, Virginia welcomes the opportunity to offer insights into one of her favorite topics: thriving while managing a life in the creative arts, especially the writer’s life.
Contact Virginia for more information and availability.
The Craft of Writing
Let’s Dress Up: Rhythm, Rhyme and Adding Pizzazz
Flat or flowing, boring or brilliant? What separates good writing from fine writing? Sometimes it’s a matter of dressing up your writing with a smattering of carefully chosen accessories, from letters, journals, and recipes to alliteration, patterns, and rhythm. Add pizzazz to your work and lift it from good enough to standout and special.
Beyond Setting: Creating an Environment for Our Characters
Readers—and writers—are drawn to a setting, which at its best is a one-of-a-kind environment that both reveals and subtly influences our characters. An environment is a winning combination of landscape and material elements, tone, characterization, and theme that lure readers back to a specific place book after book. Participants will explore the ways creating an environment helps authors show readers what’s going on externally and internally.
Getting to Know You: The Intimacy of the First-Person Voice
We often hear the first-person point of view is too limited. True, we see the story unfold from the direct perspective of only one character—oh, but what a perspective it is! Based on sales, readers like listening to a solo narrator tell her story, or maybe these “I” stories can be likened to confiding in our best pals or slowly telling a new friend all about our regrets and longings. That’s why the first-person voice is so popular in today’s Women’s Fiction market. This workshop examines the types of first-person point of view and explores the reasons many readers are hooked by its intimacy.
Love at First Sniff: A Writer’s Guide to Smell and Taste
According to experts in smell and taste, we may fall in love with a partner’s signature scent. Irrational? You bet. But we’ve long known the sense of smell is processed in the emotional (limbic) center of the brain, so a link exists between the heady passion of romance and numerous scents. Participants will take away facts about smell and taste they can immediately use to add emotional intensity to their stories, along with enriching their settings. Using fast and easy quizzes to gain insight into scent and food preferences and their links to personality, everyone comes away with a fresh perspective on two important senses.
Write Your First Draft—Fast—and Finish Your Book Now!
Pick up, put down; start, stop; focus in, fade out—too many novelists and nonfiction authors go through cycles that start with an enthusiastic beginning, but only lead to putting the project aside. This workshop provides tips and tools to break through the “start-stop” cycles, find a process that works, increase productivity, overcome avoidance, and bring back the pleasure of writing. Participants will leave with a plan to finally finish their book and be ready to publish.
The Business of Writing
The Joy of Independence: 15 Minutes to a Fulltime Writing Business
Most authors have a passion for writing, but many have another great passion: They yearn for professional independence. Using a series of leading questions and a 15-minute brainstorming exercise, this workshop invites participants to dig deep into their well of interests, professional expertise, life experience, and creativity to explore nonfiction writing as a path to a fulltime writing business. Designed for those who dream of an independent writer’s life and want to work for themselves, we’ll explore a number of nonfiction opportunities from commercial/corporate markets, specialty publications, nonfiction books, and ghostwriting and editing for individual clients. This workshop offers the opportunity to ask “how to” questions about getting started, balancing projects, reaching markets, setting goals and timelines, and coping with the ups and downs of self-employment.
Six Keys to a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal
The proposal package is the basic marketing tool for nonfiction books, with a focus on memoir, how-to, and self-help. The world of nonfiction has its own conventions and etiquette, and it certainly has unique—and constantly changing—proposal package formats. Based on Virginia’s book (coauthored with Lynda McDaniel) Book Proposals Made East, this workshop covers six key components of a winning nonfiction book proposal from the hook to the timing to the all important proposal plan. Participants will also learn the value of a book proposal, even if they plan to publish independently. The “six keys” concept provides a shortcut to constructing a proposal sure to attract attention of agents and editors or keep an independent venture on track.
What have others said?
Virginia did another wonderful job, insightful and inspiring at the same time. I’m now even more energized about writing my current WIP, having decided to follow my instincts and write it in first person POV. I’d fought the idea until Virginia’s class, “Getting to Know You,” opened my eyes and relit the fire in my writer heart. ~Betty Bolte, workshop participant
The level of insights, techniques, and tips offered have already inspired the workshop participants in ways that no other workshop has accomplished… you successfully created a community of mutual respect, support, and encouragement. We’re ready to schedule you again whenever you’re ready. Maria—there’s an accent on the “e” in Sile’s Irish name, but I can’t seem to get it there. ~Sile Post, past workshop coordinator, RWF-RWA
Virginia is an excellent instructor. I recently took her class, “Beyond Setting,” and I look at my writing from a different perspective now. You don’t want to miss it! ~Anne Parent, workshop participant
My experience at the retreat was wonderful! Lynda and Virginia provided me with fresh and valuable information that, even after earning an MFA degree, I’d never heard before. They spent their time listening to each and every one of us. I left there feeling inspired and proud of my writing. —Sadie Dolcini
I am really enjoying and benefiting from what The Book Catalysts do. The combination of information, inspiration, and setting realistic standards and goals is very powerful. Rock on! — Dr. Terry “Doc” Dockery
The workshop was beyond description of how wonderful it was. Lynda and Virginia have an excellent balance and could answer any writing question. I so loved the time to get into my passion and then receive insightful answers to my pressing questions. You added prizes (like you weren’t enough) and passed on valuable techniques. The other participants added more information, too. Delightful. What a perfect way to spend a day! —Jackie Zoccoli