Texas Plains Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Canyon: West Texas Writers' Academy

June 6, 2016 - 9:00am to June 10, 2016 - 5:00pm
West Texas Writers' Academy 2016

From world building for series writers to firearms simulations for crime writers, the West Texas Writers Academy presents in-depth, experiencial courses for writers to sharpen their skills.

Whether a beginner or already published, students at the 2016 academy can expect to make huge strides towards their publishing goals by gaining an understanding of the current landscape of the traditional and self-publishing scenes, working on their manuscript in class with the help of instructors and fellow students,and learning new writing and editing tools. Small class sizes (15 or fewer) allow students to talk through their own plots and characterizations while in class to receive critiques and motivation to continue on their writing journey.

Registration for the 2016 academy is money well spent. Many students have gone on to become published by commercial publishing houses, including every student in the first academy. Academy alumni include Celia Bonaduce and Bethany Claire.

“Without hesitation, I can say that West Texas Writer’s Academy is what laid the foundation for my career as a writer. The knowledgeable and caring instructors helped me to hone my craft and gain the confidence I needed to believe that I could pursue my dream of writing. Don’t hesitate for a moment to take advantage of this great week of learning, growth, and friendship. No matter where you are in your writing career, there is something to be learned during this invaluable week. Just be ready to work hard, have fun, and improve your writing while the parameters of what you believe possible for yourself expand. I know firsthand that a week here can change your life.”

Bethany Claire, USA TODAY Bestselling Author of Morna’s Legacy Series



2016 Courses and Instructors

At WTWA 2016 you can expect to start the morning with breakfast at the general session followed by a total of four hours of daily class time with your in-depth instructor. Spend the late afternoons and evenings writing, power editing or chatting with fellow writers.

In-Depth, Week-long Courses


Mastering Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Grow and Cultivate Your Own
Publishing Empire

Bethany Claire
USA Today Bestselling Author

Writing the book is hard enough – you think, type, and agonize as you pour yourself into your manuscript, but once you’re finished, you quickly realize there’s still so much more to be done. This is true for ALL authors, whether you’re traditionally inclined or Indie-curious, but for those determined to make a go of it on their own, the path to self-publishing success can be a daunting one. You may ask yourself questions like: How do I get started? Is all of the work worth it? Is anyone making money self-publishing anymore? Where do I find the resources I need? What do I do after I’ve released my book? This class will cover all of these questions and so much more. Regardless of whether you’ve already self-published and are looking to increase your readership and income or you are just finishing your first manuscript, you will leave this week with everything you need to know to set yourself up for success. Workbooks, resources, and a private Facebook group available for 30 days after the course has ended will be provided.

Note:  This will not be a craft class. The focus will be on setting up and running a self-publishing business. While it is recommended that you have a laptop, one will not be required for class. However, if you wish to take advantage of individual guidance setting up vendor accounts, etc. during free time, you will need to have your own laptop. If you have any questions about whether or not this class is for you, email me at:


Master Your Manuscript: Catch and Keep Your Reader Using the Secret of Clarity

Lori Freeland
YA fiction author, writing coach and blogger

A few of us write for ourselves. Most of us write for other people. As storytellers, we want to create a mood. Set a tone. Even mold a new world. But sometimes we’re so caught up in the excitement of sharing the magic in our head we forget a reader can only experience what we’ve actually put on the page.

Writing a compelling story requires mastering the craft. But when do you use those writing rules and when do you ditch them? The backbone behind every rule comes down to a simple secret—clarity. Topics and techniques can be applied to articles, short stories, novellas, memoirs, or novels.

  • Frame your scene with mood, setting, and purpose.
  • Lock into deep POV using scenes that show, not tell.
  • Drive tension into dialogue. 
  • Find your flow. Make your style work for you.
  • Demolish reader stumbling blocks.
  • Manipulate sentence structure and toss vague and unnecessary words.
  • Battle boredom. Nix clichés, filter words, and overused descriptions.
  • Plan and execute your perfect pace.


Write Creative Non-Fiction: Your Story is Better than Fiction

Rosa Latimer
Non-fiction author of the Harvey House Series

Many have asked for a memoir class, so here it is! Expect to be immersed in your non-fiction/memoir project while working in a supportive, positive environment.  Whether your form is memoir or another type of non-fiction, this class will help you write your story in the very best way possible while maintaining your personal voice and purpose. 

If you are beginning to formulate your story or are well into the process of writing, this fast-paced, collaborative course will provide the additional knowledge and motivation for you to reach your writing goal. We’ll discuss the influence of conflicting memories and emotional truth in non-fiction as well as other intricacies specific to the genre. You’ll learn how to conduct effective interviews; how to use imagination in non-fiction and three key elements to move your project forward. Helping you realize your writing aspirations will be the focus for the entire week.


Deep Editing: Adding Power to Every Page

Margie Lawson
Writing Coach for over 20 Published Authors

Writers who learn Margie’s psychologically-based deep editing will add seven new drawers to their writing toolbox. Each drawer will be loaded with power tools that writers need to write fresh, analyze scenes, add power to every page, pick up pace, enhance rhythm and cadence and beats, and hook the reader viscerally.

1) Scene Analysis with the EDITS System

2) Four Levels of Powering Up Emotion: Basic, Complex, Empowered, and Super Empowered

3) Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist

4) Top 25 Rhetorical Devices to Enhance Structure and Style

5) Deep Editing Techniques to Strengthen Your Openings, Turning Points, and Endings…and Everything In Between!

6) Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts

7) Margie’s Killer Five Question Scene Checklist

These power tools have been used by thousands of writers, from newbies to New York Times bestsellers. Learn deep editing, strengthen your writing, and impress agents, editors, readers, and reviewers. Make your WIP carry psychological power that boosts you into a contract, or makes you an NYT bestseller.


World Building in Fiction: Creating Reality Out of Imagination

Cathy Maxwell
New York Times and USA Today mass market best-selling author

World Building, the construction of an imaginary place with its own set of rules and code of conduct, was once only associated with Fantasy and Science Fiction literature because of the epic proportion of the stories, but not any longer. 

Today, series, or stories that need more than one book to unfold, are part of all categories of genre fiction where they involve a small town in Maine, a crime ridden street in a big city, or any number of settings in history.  When a story captures readers’ imaginations, they want more and a smart writer knows how to keep the tale spinning.  In “World Building in Fiction,” we will discuss what must be considered in the pre-writing, strategies for realistic world building, and how to build upon a series as well as discussing character, conflict, and story in the traditional sense.  Writing exercises will be used to clarify students’ understanding of these concepts.


Crime Writing Made Real: Deepening Your Manuscript Through Actual Police Perspective

Matt Sherley
Retired Police Lieutenant and author

Crime Writing Made Real offers students a unique insight into the world of law enforcement, police procedure and criminal investigation. Morning sessions will cover such topics as: characterization of individuals involved in law enforcement, interview and interrogation tactics, cold case investigations and the myths of police work.

In the afternoon, students will be in the field. Training sessions will include:  the firing range learning about the capabilities of different firearms and what equipment police officers carry; “shoot-don’t shoot” training scenarios; basic crime scene investigation; jail tours; building searches and  K-9 demonstrations. Students will have the opportunity to ride on patrol with a local on-duty patrol officer.

Crime Writing Made Real: The days will be long. The work will be interesting. The impact on your writing will be immediate.  


Plot Your Novel in a Week: Story Structure Secrets for Your Best Book

Full - closed to new registrations

Alexandra Sokoloff
Bestselling author, Thriller Award winner and Bram Stoker and Anthony Award nominee

Using screenwriting techniques, writers will work through their own stories using the Three-Act, Eight Sequence structure, with special attention to pacing/suspense, character arc/drive, visual storytelling, and maximum emotional impact, no matter what the genre.  Writers will learn how to use concepts of film writing such as the Storyboard Grid, the Index Card Method of plotting, and key elements of visual storytelling to structure and color their novel for maximum emotional impact, memorable scenes, and riveting pacing.


Morning Sessions

Legal and Business Consideration in Writing
Marketing Considerations in Selling Yourself and Your Book
How to Balance the Passion for Writing and Still Pay the Rent

Arlene Gale
Published author, public speaker and award winner in the prestigious USA Best Book Awards

The Unmaking and Remaking of Publishing
Ken Petersen
former publishing Vice President at Penguin Random House


  • West Texas A&M University
  • 4th Avenue
  • Canyon, Texas
  • 79016


Map of Event