West Texas A&M University

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EOD Writers' Academy - Academy and Course Information
West Texas Writers' Academy June 8-12, 2020

2019 Courses and Instructors

2020 courses will be announced in December

Course Instructor Level*

The Secrets of a Successful Scene: How Great Scenes Become Strong Stories

Lori Freeland


Combo Learning and Coaching Class: Make Your Scenes Credible and Incredible

Margie Lawson


Expanding Your Creativity:
Writing Deeper

Jolene Navarro


Using Suspense to Up the Stakes of Your Novel

Matthew Sherley


Lori FreelandThe Secrets of a Successful Scene: How Great Scenes Become Strong Stories
with Lori Freeland, YA fiction author, writing coach, and blogger

Level 1-3 class

Did you know that by learning to write solid scenes you’re also learning almost everything you need to know to write a book? And, if you can craft those scenes with purpose in deep POV and develop a voice that captivates readers, you can write a great book. In order to engage readers, you need to bring them along for the ride. We can do that using the elements below and more:

  • Action: Find out why character motivation needs to dictate character action and reaction.
  • Backstory: Understand how a character’s past drives him toward his future and what to include when. 
  • Conversation: Discover how dialogue and internal thought shape every character interaction.   
  • Description: See why first impressions are crucial.  
  • Emotion: Learn how to make your readers laugh, cry, and worry along with your characters. 

This class is designed to deepen your storytelling and writing skills wherever you are in your writing journey. The topics discussed apply to novels, short stories, creative nonfiction, and even memoirs. And, if you’ve taken a class from me before, you’ll still learn something new.  

An encourager at heart, author, editor, and writing coach Lori Freeland holds a BA in psychology from the University of Wisconsin and lives in the Dallas area. She's presented workshops at multiple writing conferences, including North Texas Christian Writers, Orange County Writers, SoCal Writers, Mount Hermon, and Romance Writers of America Nationa. An acquisitions editor for Armonia Publishing, former editor for The Christian Pulse, and regular contributor to Crosswalk.com, she writes everything from non-fiction to short stories to novels from YA to adult. When she’s not curled up with her husband drinking too much coffee and worrying about her kids, she loves to mess with the lives of the imaginary people living in her head.

Check out Lori's website, facebook and Amazon author page.


Combo Learning and Coaching Class: Making Your Scenes Credible and Incredible
with Margie Lawson Writing coach for more than 20 published authors

Level 3-4 class
Margie Lawson
This combo class is new!  Mornings will focus on deep editing techniques. Afternoons will focus on applying those techniques to your Work In Progress.

Whether you’re new to Margie’s deep editing or taken a class from her before, you’ll get what you need. Margie will teach and coach. She’ll work with you in class and one-on-one to help you make your writing strong.

This power-packed class is for the intermediate to advanced writer. You know the basics, or more than the basics, and you’re ready to make your writing stellar.

We’ll cover these Deep Editing Topics:

Power Up Openings – Make the opening of every scene and every chapter compelling with Margie’s Twenty Point Checklist for Openings. Learn how to orient and hook the reader, make your story and style promises pop, have the right balance of fresh writing and plain do-the-job-well writing, and anchor the reader in the POV character's emotional set.

Finessing Backstory – Learn how to finesse backstory with mini-flashbacks, sculpted dialogue, rhetorical devices, and backstory slip-ins.

The EDITS System: Your Scene Analysis Power Tool --  Seewhat’s working, what’s not working, and what’s missing in your scenes. Learn how to take a scene from the POV character’s head, to the reader’s heart.

Dynamic Dialogue – Use Margie’s 25 Tips for Writing Dynamic Dialogue and learn how to make your dialogue sound natural, how to differentiate speech for characters, how to use dialogue to maintain smart pacing.

Empowering Emotions – Make every page carry the right amount of emotion with Margie’s Four Levels of Powering Up Emotion. Learn how to use themed words, emotional hits, subtext, body language, dialogue cues, and visceral responses. We'll dig deep and make your turning points powerful.  

Cadence-Driven Writing – Learn how to be strategic with style and structure. Power your pages with cadence-driven writing and you'll make your book a page-turner. 

After this class you'll have the tools to make your scenes credible and incredible. Make your writing compelling, and you'll be on your way to selling.

Margie Lawson—editor and international presenter—used her clinical psychology expertise to develop deep editing techniques used by new writers to multi-award winning authors. Margie has presented over 130 full day master classes to writers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, and on cruise ships too. Writers credit her innovative EDITS System and deep editing techniques for taking their writing to publication, awards, and bestseller lists.
Check out Margie's website and Facebook.



Jolene Navarro

Expanding Your Creativity: Writing Deeper
with Jolene Navarro, bestselling hybrid author of contemporary and historical romance

Level 4 class
This non-lecture class is for two-year WTWA alumni who are ready to tackle the next step toward a fulfilling commercial writing career. Whether indie or traditional, success demands that an author continues to produce. Have you begun your next book and need a little push?  Please bring a current project to work on in class…and be ready to spread your writer-wings!

As a prerequisite, you must have completed one or more books and have attended the WTWA twice.

A seventh generation Texan, mother of four and best-selling author, Jolene Navarro loves teaching inner-city kids in San Antonio about art and the world. But more importantly, they teach her about life (not to mention great back-stories).  The rest of the year she shares her passion of writing with anyone that will listen. She has spoken at several libraries, schools and writer groups.

But her favorite thing to do is creating worlds of strong heroes and powerful heroines who find love in spite of the obstacles that life has thrown at them. Meeting with readers that have walked through her dream world still amazes her. Jolene writes contemporary and historical stories set in Texas (where else?)

Check out Jolene's website, Facebook and Amazon author page.



Using Suspense to Up the Stakes of Your Novel
with Matthew Sherley, retired police detective and thriller writer

Level 2-3 class

Matt SherleyNo matter what genre you write, from children’s books to romance to run-for-your-life thrillers, suspense is a key element in maintaining readers’ interest. In Using Suspense to Up the Stakes of Your Novel, you will learn different literary devices used to create suspense. You will also study examples of how bestselling authors use suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Finally, you will have the opportunity to apply those techniques to your own writing. Is your writing “unputdownable?” Can five days in June change your writing career forever? Make sure the answer to both is yes. It’s time to up the stakes of your writing – with suspense.

In his latest offering, Using Suspense to Up the Stakes of Your Novel, retired police detective, author, and veteran West Texas Writers’ Academy instructor Matthew Sherley will show you how to create suspense in your writing that will keep readers turning your pages.

Check out Matt's website.



Level Definitions:

1. Open to anyone with an interest in writing.

2. A study of craft and skills.

3. The student is expected to have a command of basic skills. The class will focus on expanding a writer’s toolbox and overall manuscript strength.

4. Writers who have studied the craft and art of writing and are ready to spread their wings toward publication.