2016 Panel and Workshop Descriptions


Below you will find topics and descriptions for panels and workshops planned for Imaginarium 2016.  We will be releasing the time slots and days for these about mid-September, but you can browse the kind of content that we will have here!  Please note that there may be some new additions to both panels and workshops so be sure to check back here!

Workshop Signups:  Panels do not require advance signups but the workshops have limited space and can be signed up for by all who have registered for Imaginarium 2016 by visiting our Workshop Signup Form  Signups continue on a first-come, first-serve basis until room capacity is filled.

2016 Panel Topics and Descriptions By Category

Craft of Writing

Writer’s Groups – Yes or No?
Some writers swear by their writing groups while others despise them. Our discussion will teach you what to look for in a writing group and how to choose the best one for you.

Anthologies are a hot market. Our panelists will teach you the basics of what goes into writing short fiction and how to submit it for best results.

Beyond the Warrior Looking for Love
Female characters are more than just women on the hunt for a man to take care of them. Our panelists will discuss how to write strong, independent female characters.

LGBTQ Issues in Fiction
A discussion about LGBT characters and issues in popular fiction–all genres–and how to be culturally sensitive when writing about these characters and their behaviors.

Faith in Fiction
A general discussion about presenting spiritual beliefs in fiction, how to be culturally sensitive to others’ beliefs and your audience, and how to write about religions/spiritual paths you do not know.

What’s in a Name?
How to create names for your characters that fit your world’s language and culture.

Panelists discuss how to navigate the minefield of controversial topics without censoring yourself or offending the masses.

It’s a Team Effort
Discussion on the pros and cons of sharing (ie, writing) a novel project with another writer, when it works, when it doesn’t work

Writing a Series
Some stories just won’t fit in a single novel. But turning your 1000-page manuscript into a five-part series takes a bit more work than just math.

Realism in Fiction
Flesh wounds really hurt! This panel discusses how to make your writing real, even if the adventure is fictional.

Breaking the Genre Barrier
Many authors enjoy shrugging off standard genres in favor of a mixed-bag story. Is it smart, and how does a writer best approach this method?

The Plotter’s Crash Course
Plotters rule! Well, they do in the story outline department anyway. With so many story structure methods to choose from, there’s a plan for everyone. Panelists discuss plotting techniques, outlining, and making the most of your story before you ever write the first line.

Tips on how to conduct effective research for your story, things to avoid, and the crazy things we have done.

Writing Fails
The panel shares stories about how times their writing did not go as planned and how they fought through and (hopefully) succeed.

Flash Fiction: The Art of Big Stories in Little Packages
A discussion of the strategies and pitfalls of writing impactful narratives in 1,000 words or fewer.

Waiting for the Muse
Some authors believe that the only good writing comes when the spirit moves them to, but often times waiting for the muse means getting nothing done. Panelists discuss how to beat writer’s block (and beat your muse into shape!) and best practices for maintaining a healthy and happy writing schedule.

Emotional Triggers
Some readers will not read books if they contain even the mention of an emotional trigger, such as rape, incest, animal abuse, child death, racism, etc. and if they come upon it by surprise, they may be even more outraged. Should these be avoided? How should we address them in writing? Should we add warnings/cautions when advertising them?

Devil in the Details
A brainstorming discussion about using mindless details and minor hooks to invigorate your plots.

Humor in Fiction
Funny is an art form and our panelists want to teach you how!

Building a Better Bad Guy
What makes a good bad guy (or girl)? What is the difference between a villain, an antagonist, and an anti-hero? How do you keep a sassy villain from upstaging your hero?

Bad Boys (and Girls)!
The anti-heroes, the lone wolves, the ones so bad they are good. Why do we like the bad boys and anti-heroes sometimes more than the white knights?


New Author Boot Camp
So you wrote a book…now what? This panel will take you through the steps of being a new author – from publishing to promotion, the tools you need to succeed, making friends in the industry, and the hard lessons learned from simple mistakes.

Query Crazy!
The book is done and polished. Now…to query. Our panelists provide tips on how to write a query which will sell your book.

The Business of Being a Writer
Getting the book published is the easy part. Once that first royalty check rolls in, you’re no longer a hobbyist, but a professional. Our panel will discuss the business side of being a writer, from recordkeeping to paying taxes, and everything in between.

Author Beware!
A lot of book “packagers” and so-called editors and social media “experts” are really nothing of the sort. Not all publishers are on the up and up. How do you figure out which are legit and which you should run away from?

Big or Small?
You’ve got your finished manuscript in hand. Now what? This panel will discuss the trials and tribulations and joys of small presses versus major houses and panelists’ experiences.

Cover Art Crash Course
Good cover art is the gateway to great book sales. This panel will cover the basics of choosing the best cover to fit your story.

Breaking into Freelance Writing
Many individuals want to write full time, but they do not yet have the financial freedom to do so. Freelance corporate writing can offer flexibility and financial security as they pursue a full time fiction/non fiction writing career. This panel will explore how to break into freelance corporate writing, the skills required, where to find clients, what they can expect to earn and more.

Self Publishing: You’re Doing it Right!
This panel discussion explores the process of self publishing from those who have done it. Topics include the advantages, disadvantages, publication process, expectations, and lessons learned.

An intensive discussion on the use of crowdfunding sources: pros and cons of the major platforms, campaign basics, what happens after the campaign ends, and how to be successful with the internet’s help.

Practicing Your Elevator Pitch
You’re at a book conference and suddenly you find yourself next to an agent or publisher that’s accepting books in your genre. Sometimes you only have a few seconds to get an editor or agent’s interest for your book. This panel would help narrow down the basics on what the author needs to focus on in the pitch.

Standalone Series in the Age of Cliffhangers
With so many popular series books ending on cliffhangers that make us have to read from the very beginning, is it possible or profitable to write a series of standalone books? Do readers appreciate them?

Our panelists demistify audiobooks for small press and self-published authors.

Traditional vs. Indie
A roundtable discussion of the pros and cons of a writer’s options and how to choose the path which best fits your style.

The First Sale
A discussion of the basics of selling short fiction and poetry to speculative markets, including crafting a cover letter, finding your niche, and professionalism in writing.

Getting Into Illustration
You like to draw and would like to do it for books. How do you go about it? Do you need an agent? What’s it like to work with the author? This panel will cover these questions and more.

Dear Author: Don’t Do That
Our panelists discuss the mistakes they’ve made, the faux pas they’ve committed, and how to not to repeat the past while avoiding potentially costly mistakes.

Submission Etiquette
Agents, publishers, and editors expect a certain level of professionalism when receiving submissions. Our panelists will discuss why following the guidelines is necessary for a successful writing career, and what ignoring the rules means for you in the long run.

Homonymns, Semi-Colons, Serial Commas, Oh My!
Grammar Geeks, come on down! Panelists discuss why grammar is so important to a writer, why editors enforce the rules, and best resources for those tricky little squiggles.

The Author/Editor Relationship
Whether you’re assigned an editor by a publisher or are in the market for yourself, authors and editors must develop strong relationships to ensure a professional and efficient work environment. Our authors and editors discuss the ups and downs of the relationship, how to find the best match, and what to do if things go south.

Surviving Edits
You got your manuscript back…and it’s bloody. The first thing you want to do is scream at your editor, tell her she’s wrong, and pull your book from the ranks of the publisher. DON’T DO IT. Our panelists explain why, share their experiences – good and bad – and give pointers on how to cultivate a successful relationship with your editor.

Diversity in Fiction
A discussion of balancing diversity of all kinds in fiction. Whether it’s gender, race, economic means, or religion, there are right ways and wrong ways of handling each.


The “L” Word: How Soon is Too Soon?
When it comes to good romance, your pacing is everything. Our industry professionals discuss best practices for setting the mood and building a relationship without jumping too fast or taking too long.

Writing Characters with Chemistry
You have a hero and a heroine, and they need to live happily ever after…but it’s not as easy a task as you’d think. Our panelists will guide you through what it takes to make the sparks fly.

Slow Down, Hot Stuff!
If you’re into waiting a solid six hundred pages before characters jump into bed together, instead savoring meaningful glances, heated accidental brushing of hands, and lots of dancing around feelings, have we got some book recommendations for you.

Creating Your Romantic Lead
Romantic leads don’t have to look like Fabio anymore. What makes a good romantic lead, male or female? They can be quirky, nerdy, and even a little bit evil … so long as we love them.

“Seasoned” Romance
Exploring romance that features heroes and heroines beyond the “traditional” romance age–characters in their forties, fifties and, even, in their sixties. What do more mature characters bring to a romance novel? Is there an audience for “seasoned” romance?

Writing Love Scenes
Writing a sex scene? Not sure if you need one? Or you know you need one (or more), but you don’t know how to write them without embarrassing yourself and others? These romance writers can tell you how to make intimate scenes work, whether they’re sweet and clean, or hot and sexy. (18 and over)

Erotic Literature
Yes, even erotic stories can have fully developed plots that go far beyond the sex. Our panelists discuss how to make this happen.

The Romantic Formula
To formula, or not to formula…that is the question. Many successful romance careers are built on formulaic writing using established hooks and tropes. But is this always the best way?

Comics, Fandom, Film, & Gaming

Comic Book Nostalgia
Why and when did you begin collecting comics? For whatever reason, you will feel nostalgic as our panelists discuss their comic book memories and favorite series, from childhood to adulthood, including the sometimes heartbreaking decisions of having to cull their comic book collection.

Sick of Superheroes!
Batman, Spiderman, Supergirl, The Avengers, Ironman. I never got into the whole superhero thing. Are there any comics out there for me?

Marvel Time!
The MCU keeps going and going! What do we hope the next round of movies brings us as fans of the comics.

Fan Fiction: Voice of the People or Waste of Time?
As long as fandom has existed, so has fan fiction. Whether you love it or hate it, write it or read it, there’s something to be said for building on other people’s work. Panelists discuss the pros and cons, as well as the legal ramifications of the widespread trend.

The Cultural Importance of Genre Fiction
How Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror shapes and guides our society.

Game of Thrones
All things GoT! Panelists discuss the books, the tv adaptation, and how the two can coexist so peacefully in such a hard world.

Page to Screen
What books-to-screen have worked, and which could have worked better? Does a great book make for a great TV show or movie?

Video Games as Research Tools
Immersive games like Skyrim and WoW can teach us a great deal about storylines, worldbuilding, magic rules, etc. if we pay attention. Panelists will discuss how they create richer stories from playing their favorite games.

Writing RPG Adventures
Everyone has their favorite system, favorite world, and favorite character. But what goes into getting your work in front of other gamers? This panel explores tips, tricks, and fresh ideas for writing good RPG adventures (and getting them published).

Documentary 101
A crash course on best practices in documentary making.

Intro to Film Direction
Directors discuss what it takes to break into the business and build a long-standing reputation.
Adapting Text to Action The written word and spoken word are often two different things. Panelists discuss how best to translate a manuscript to the stage or screen.


Folk Horror
Panelists discuss dark folklore, urban legends, earth mysteries, murder ballads, archaic history, and backwoods gothic… a web of weirdness that clings to us still.

The Language of Fear
Good horror is all about atmosphere. Panelists discuss how to set the scene for a good scare without going too far.

The Zombie Apocalypse
Zombies are popular, but are they too popular? Panelists take zombie-mania back to the bare bones and discuss the trends, how to use them, and how to create something new from the already-been-done slush pile.

Bloody or Creepy?
Sometimes horror writers feel the need to resort to gore to try to make the story scary. What are the pros and cons of going the route of gore in the work?

Horror & Sex
A discussion on why the brain perceives fear and arousal as the same form of stimulation, and how both are used in popular film and fiction.

Marketing & Blogging

The Author’s Marketing Toolkit
A quick-study course in marketing from industry professionals. Bring a notebook and pen and take notes on how to make your favorite social media platforms sell your work for you.

Building Your Brand
Being a successful author is much more than just writing good books. It’s about building your brand and marketing it in the wide and crowded world of publishing. This panel will cover the basics of finding your unifying “why” and business brand, basics of social media, online marketing, author platform, etc, and using all these aspects to build a comprehensive author brand and treat your writing like the business it is (if you want to make a profit).

Social Media Tools & How to Avoid Being One
Social media can be a good way to connect with readers, editors and other writers. It can also be a time suck, a distraction, and a way to get labeled an annoying, self-promoter. Let’s talk about tools that make it easier to maintain a polished online presence, and the best ways to use them thoughtfully.

Promotion for Self-Pubbers
How to cost-effectively promote your books on-line and in person without the support of a publisher behind you.

Podcasting 101
Technology has lowered the bar…you should be podcasting! Our panelists will tell you how and why.

Blogging Crash Course
Panelists discuss how to get started blogging, ways to keep going once you start.

DIY Websites: To Be or Not to Be?
With the many options from WordPress to Wix, it’s easier than ever to build your own website, depending on your needs and level of technical knowledge. Is it worth spending hundreds or thousands on a professional to set it up and manage for you?

So You Wanna Start A Book Blog?
How to get a Book Blog started, write engaging reviews, network with other bloggers, get ARCs, and avoid blogging burn-out.

All those “Tags”!
Meta tags, hashtags… how do we keep them all straight?! Panelists discuss the use of tags in all forms for getting your work seen by the right people.

10 Ways to Fail at Marketing
Everyone has advice for what to do with marketing, but our failures can be even more helpful to know. Participants will share their biggest marketing blunders and money wasters. Learn from our failures!


From Bloodbath to Bedroom
Love and lust are often integral parts of the crime world. From James Bond to Bones, this panel will cover the positives and negatives of inserting romantic tension into your mystery.

Building a Mystery Series
This panel discusses the pros and cons of writing a mystery series? Is there a point when the writer should worry about so many murders happening in a small town? The panel could also offer advice on keeping continuity of writing a series in one locale and with the same residents of a town.


Historical Writing
Whether it’s immersive content or just a hint of flavor for the period, historical writing can challenge your skills with setting and the portrayal of historical events for a contemporary audience.

Write What You Know (& What You Don’t!)
Freelance magazine writing isn’t easy. Some say to write what you know. I say write what you know, and what you don’t. Discuss when and how to get ideas for nonfiction articles.

Writing a Memoir
Sometimes the hardest story to tell is your own. Panelists discuss best practices for telling the truth about yourself in print.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale
Fairytale and mythic retellings are a popular storytelling device – some might say too popular. How do you pull it off in a way that feels fresh and interesting?

Panelists discuss Steampunk as a creative subgenre, clothing style, and growing trend among geek culture
Race & Speculative Fiction
A discussion of race in speculative fiction today and how to be culturally and racially sensitive when writing about it.

Food & Drink in Genre Fiction
A fun discussion about writing about food and drink (and herbs) in science fiction and fantasy. What unusual foods or drinks have you created? How do you dress up normal food and drink or make it seem exotic for your writing? Are their any caveats?

Myth & Fiction
Explores the ways in which mythology can inform, structure, and deepen contemporary fiction, and possibly how fiction is a form of mythmaking itself. How is fiction nourished by what Joseph Campbell calls “Myths to Live By,” and do we still create those myths as writers?

Magical Realism
Is magical realism simply, as the great Gene Wolfe once said, “fantasy written in Spanish”? Or is it something related to fantasy, but markedly different? Do you write or read fiction that might be categorized as magical realism? If so, can you speak to its uniqueness?

Space Opera: Still Hot or Dying Art?
We’ll look at how space opera, which was once the center of the SF field, has become almost a niche, as other genres have risen in popularity

Utilizing Local Settings
The opposite of “faraway places” in fantasy and fiction.

The Psychology of Speculative Fiction
Why do people write (and read) it? Using examples – and writers – to help explain the effects of being creative in this field. I’ve never had a boring session moderating this panel!

The Other “F” Words
An exploration of how word-of-mouth stories and storytelling in fantasy and science fiction can inform world building and breath familiar life into unfamiliar settings.

Fantasy Subgenre Review
So many subgenres, so little time! Panelists hit the highlights of their favorite fantasy subgenres and discuss current market trends for each.

Young Adult

Why YA Works for All Ages
From The Hunger Games and Harry Potter to Goosebumps, writers discuss the universal appeal of writing for the YA audience – and why it’s never just for teens.

The Gray Line: YA vs. NA
With the emergence of NA, there is a gray area on what classifies a YA and what is a NA. Is it only age or content as well.

Writing Middle-Grade Sci-Fi
Right between children and YA is middle grade, usually from ages 8 to 12. What trends are developing in sf & fantasy books for that age group? What POV is popular with those readers?

The Rise of Sex in YA Fiction
As YA books are being written to include the growing number of adults enjoying the genre, less consideration is being given to the tastefulness for younger kids.

2016 Workshops and Hosts (Full Descriptions to come shortly)

Note: Workshops are limited capacity. We will open them up for all registrants to sign up for on a first-come, first-serve basis about 1 week from the event. All who are registered for Imaginarium will be notified at the same time.

Writing with an Emotional Core – Tim Waggoner
How to write fiction that moves readers emotionally.

Build a Better Monster – Tim Waggoner
Techniques for creating new, interesting, and exciting monsters.

Basics of Self-publishing – J.M. Madden

Myth & Fiction – Michael Williams

Relational Influence – Michael Knost
There are two very important aspects to relational influence in writing and we will learn what they are and how to use them to make our fiction more believable and captivating.

Show, Don’t Just Tell – Michael Knost
How many times have you heard the advice SHOW DON’T TELL? Come on, there are times where telling is the best option. We are going to learn with certainty what showing vs telling is, and how to use both for optimized balance.

Play/Write: Using Game Theory To Strengthen Our Fiction – Brian J. Hatcher

Game theory is not just child’s play. It is the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers. Theorists have used the principles of game theory to understand not only games such as chess and poker, but also biology, logic, computer science, psychology, political science, and economics. In fact, eleven Nobel Prizes in economics have been awarded to game theorists. Game theory studies conflict, and, as every writer knows, conflict is the heart of every story.

This workshop will explain the rudimentary tenants of game theory in a fun, understandable way, and will demonstrate how writers can use game theory to deepen plot, advance character creation, and aid in more dynamic world-building.

Book Marketing Basics – Eric Beebe
“We’ve discussed the basics of marketing – now let’s look at how you can decide if it’s really working. We will touch briefly on the basics (PRODUCT, PEOPLE, PRICE, PLACE, & PROMOTION) and then jump into three more Ps for you – what’s the PURPOSE of your marketing, how well did it PERFORM, and don’t forget, sometimes you need to PERSEVERE.”

Presented in a conversational style where your participation makes the experience more fulfilling.

So You Want to Publish an Audio Book – Carol Dines
So you have written/published your book. You now want to turn that into an audiobook and distribute. What do I do now?

This seminar will show you exactly what you need to know about turning your book into an audiobook. From selecting and working with a Narrator to calculating the costs of Production to evaluating realistic expectations about the ROI (return on your investment), this seminar will guide you through the process.

Other topics included will be:
Choosing your Distribution Partner
Marketing your audiobook
Book Bundling
Partnership Marketing

Interviewing your Characters – Lynn Tincher

Audio Book Workshop – Jack Wallen

The Music and How it Can Enhance your Writing/Creativity – Dave Simms

Social Media 101 – Violet Patterson

An Hour on the Couch: Accurate Portrayal of Mental Health in Media – Stephanie Kania-Beebe and Doreen Cook
An opportunity to get your questions answered on a topic that so many in the creative writing world can relate to. Stephanie and Doreen, both of whom are MSW, LISW-S for the state of Ohio, will conduct an introduction on the topic as it relates to the media world and then conduct a discussion with attendees.

How to do a Book Trailer! – Rebekah McAuliffe

The Science of Storytelling – Oz Monroe

Taking Care of Widows & Orphans – Dave Schroeder

Marketing & Branding 101 – Lydia Sherrer
“Have you ever asked yourself why you aren’t selling more books? Ever wonder about things like platform building, targeted marketing, and author branding? When you hear the word “marketing” do you feel a queasy dread inside? If so, this is the workshop for you. You can’t do something you don’t understand, so first we’ll answer the questions of what, how, and why, then move onto practical application, covering both in person (conventions/book fairs) as well as online marketing (website/social media). Be ready to think, take notes, brainstorm, and work with a partner on your marketing plan.”

Blood & Love: Writing Paranormal Romance – Jimmy Gillentine

Breaking the Rules – Oz Monroe

Setting & Maintaining a Writing Schedule – H. W. Vivian

Props and Modeling Workshop – William D. Fink 


Publisher Pitch Sessions

Apex Publications

Hydra Publications


Seventh Star Press

Per Bastet

Evil Jester Press