Academy and Course Information

West Texas Writers' Academy June 8-12, 2020

2020 Courses and Instructors


Live, Love, Laugh: How to Incorporate Romantic Comedy Elements Into Your Writing

Teri Wilson


Coming of Age—From the Screen to the Page

A.G. Howard


Story Bibles, Spreadsheets, and Vision Boards: Plotting Your Book to Life

Sasha Summers


The Power of The Series: Using Stellar World Building to Create a Series That Sells

Bethany Claire


Using Suspense to Up the Stakes of Your Novel

Matthew Sherley


Expanding Your Creativity:
Writing Deeper

Jolene Navarro


Teri WilsonLive, Love, Laugh: How to Incorporate Romantic Comedy Elements Into Your Writing

Teri Wilson, Bestselling author of romance, women’s fiction and Hallmark Channel movies 

Level 2-4 class

Thanks to the Hallmark Channel, Netflix and smash hits like Crazy Rich Asians, The Long Shot and Isn’t It Romantic, romantic comedies are making a huge comeback. In this class, we’ll examine what makes the new wave of romantic comedy films so successful, why this type of story resonates with viewers/readers and identify key story elements that authors can incorporate into their manuscripts to give them that witty, charming rom-com glow. Participants will learn how craft their own romantic comedy novel and will also receive a romcom reading reading list of popular romantic comedy movies paired with recent, comparable novels. 

Teri Wilson is the Publishers Weekly bestselling author of over twenty-five romance and women's fiction novels that have been published worldwide and translated into more than six languages. Three of Teri's books have been adapted into Hallmark Channel Original Movies by Crown Media, including UNLEASHING MR. DARCY (plus its sequel MARRYING MR. DARCY), THE ART OF US and NORTHERN LIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS, based on her book SLEIGH BELL SWEETHEARTS. She is also a recipient of the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction for her novel THE BACHELOR'S BABY SURPRISE. Teri has a major weakness for cute animals, pretty dresses and Audrey Hepburn films, and she loves following the British royal family. Visit her at or on Twitter @TeriWilsonauthr.


A. G. HowardComing of Age—From the Screen to the Page

A.G. Howard, #1 NYT & INTL bestselling author of young adult fantasies

Level 3-4 class

Young-adult fiction, also known as "YA," is presently one of the most lucrative fields for authors. It can also be one of the most rewarding, since teenagers respond so much more enthusiastically than adult readers to stories with which they can identify and relate.

Therein is the challenge: crafting characters and storylines via an authentic voice that doesn’t pander to or preach, but speaks to teens as a peer would do. As an author choosing to write YA, you need to master the ability to transport yourself back to a place in time where your world was tightly encapsulated, when all the things you experienced seemed to happen only to you because they were your first moments.

In Coming of Age—From the Screen to the Page, students will dissect clips from classic teen movies (Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Labyrinth, Lost Boys, and Edward Scissorhands) alongside excerpts from a selection of classic teen books, to hone in on the elements and arcs that have maintained universal relatability to teens even twenty to thirty years later. Students will then practice using said elements and arcs in a series of writing exercises—from stream-of-consciousness journaling, to crafting a short story, to outlining a novel.

For those who have mastered a basic command of writing skills and are now hoping to pursue a career as a young adult novelist, this class will put you back in touch with your teenaged-self, so you can repurpose those unique experiences and memories as relatable and appealing teen characters and storylines that come alive on the page.

A.G. Howard is the #1 NYT & International Bestselling author of young adult retellings/spinoff novels and adult gothic paranormal romances. Her dark Alice in Wonderland inspired Splintered series has been published in over a dozen languages and has hit bestselling lists both internationally and domestically.  Check out A.G. Howard's Website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


Sasha SummersStory Bibles, Spreadsheets, and Vision Boards - Plotting Your Book to Life

Sasha Summers, Award winning romance author and book coach. 

Level 1-4 class

So you have an idea! A great idea! But you're not sure where to start. And you're not quite ready to put words on the page. Or your deadline is looming but you've been staring at your blinking cursor for more time than you care to admit. Whether you're a beginning authors or a multi-published pro, we all want to dig deeper into the layers of our story--to bring it to life. In this class we will explore effective ways to track your writing progress, create three-dimensional characters, evoke emotion, and keep you writing (and your future readers reading) without relying solely on your computer. When you leave, you'll have a story/series bible, goal and tracking spreadsheets, and vision boards to elevate your motivation. Come prepared to create and leave ready to write.

Sasha Summers grew up surrounded by books. Her passions have always been storytelling, romance and travel--passions she's used to write more than 20 romance novels and novellas. Now a best-selling and award winning-author, Sasha continues to fall a little in love with each hero she writes. From easy-on-the-eyes cowboy, sexy alpha-male werewolves, to heroes of truly mythic proportions, she believes that everyone should have their happy ending--in fiction and real life. Sasha lives in the suburbs of the Texas Hill country with her amazing and supportive family and her beloved grumpy cat, Gerard, The Feline Overlord. She looks forward to hearing from fans and hopes you'll visit her online. Facebook: Sasha Summers Author, Twitter: @sashawrites, or her website: 


Bethany ClaireThe Power of The Series: Using Stellar World Building to Create a Series That Sells

Bethany Claire, USA Today Bestselling Author

Level 2-4 class

While the landscape of publishing has changed drastically in the past six years, the power of writing a killer series has remained the same. With built-in marketing power, series appeal to "superfans," the kind of reader that every writer needs in their arsenal for a long-lasting writing career. Series have the power to be game-changing in your writing career if you take the time to build an immersive world that sweeps readers away.

In this hands-on class, we will cover:

  • Why a series is the best form of built-in marketing there is and how to harness it
  • How to decide what sort of series you want to write
  • How to strategize your choice of genre
  • The importance of world-building and how to build your series
  • Elements to include in your series that keep readers wanting more
  • Meeting reader expectations for the long haul (i.e. Creating superfans)
  • And more…

Equal parts lecture/activity, this class is designed so that you leave with a solid world and series idea built by the end of the week. I want you to walk out ready to start writing your new series!

Each writer needs to have at least 2 series ideas ready to discuss and build, as there will be hands-on work in the class.

Bethany Claire has published more than 15 books in her Morna’s Legacy Series of Scottish, time-travel romances since 2013. Her books have been downloaded more than 1 million times. She is also among Audible’s top audio earners for the sales of her Morna’s Legacy audiobooks, and has been asked to speak on conference panels for both Audible and Apple iBooks where she has shared the difference writing a series has made in her writing career. She has two ornery fur-babies, and loves Disney and yoga pants more than any twenty-something really should. She is most creative after a good night’s sleep and large cup of coffee. When not writing, Bethany travels as much as she possibly can, and she never leaves home without a good book to keep her company. You can learn more about Bethany and her books at:


Jolene Navarro

Expanding Your Creativity: Writing Deeper

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

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.