Sunday, July 14, 2013


For the second year in a row I traveled to Canyon, Texas and West Texas A&M University for the Writer’s Academy. The Academy is unlike a conference because participants choose an author with plenty of experience and name recognition to lead a specific group throughout the week.

It is a week of work beginning with informative lessons for every student at 8 am. Then, at 8:30 everyone takes off to their chosen class. Other classes occur in the afternoon. The groups choose what time to break and what time to return. Our group took a brief lunch and returned to class following the afternoon information class. We left each evening with homework.

Now, for more specific information. I chose to attend the workshop led by Alexandra Sokoloff, best selling New York Times author of thrillers and horror. Alex worked for many years in Hollywood as a screenwriter before turning to writing novels. She led our group in using the 3 Act 8 Sequence format for mapping out/outlining a novel. By the time the week was done each of us had our current work in progress mapped out and ready to write. We had eleven in our class. The experience level was unpublished to multi-published. The genres represented were Christian Romance, Science Fiction, Mainstream Mystery, Fantasy, Police Procedural Thriller, Women’s Fiction, and Paranormal/Time Travel Romance. At the end of the week Alex told us that each of us had potential bestsellers in our hands. Can you imagine how those words energized this tired group?

Alex has two workbooks using the 3 Act 8 Sequence format for writers available at Amazon for $2.99 each. I recommend each of them.




The Writer’s Academy is the dream and brain child of bestselling romance author, Jodi Thomas and musician/actor/author Tim Lewis. The popularity of this event is becoming well known and is popular.
Other class leaders this year were Margie Lawson teaching Creating Characters. Margie is a writing coach and author. She offers in depth courses in Deep Editing and Creating Characters as well as Immersion classes for small groups. She’s a small package of energy and knowledge. Find out more about Margie at
Margie and Me
Tim Lewis led the early morning Secrets of Publication. He has had a successful career but his dream will hit bookshelves in September. His novel, based on the true story of his great uncle, is being buzzed as the book that will hit as a bestseller and is being optioned for foreign rights and movie rights. The title is FOREVER FRIDAY. I guarantee this is a book everyone will want. You can reach Tim at
Jennifer Archer led a group seeking knowledge about writing and the business. She has several novels out and is a very popular author in west Texas. She can be reached at
Mike Bellah worked with a group wanting to write and publish memoirs. He is published in that genre and is a journalist. Find out more at
Linda Castillo was the keynote speaker at our banquet. She is inspiring and gives hope to others with every word. Amazing woman. Reach her at
Friday morning began with a question and answer panel featuring Alexandra Sokoloff, Margie Lawson, Jennifer Archer, Jodi Thomas, and Mike Bellah. Very interesting stuff. 


It isn’t all work at the Academy. There is movie night, the Panhandle Museum on campus, dinner at the best Mexican restaurant in the world, living in a dorm, spontaneous discussions in the lobby of the dorm, and making friends in the writing world. 

I believe any writer can find value at the Academy. I plan to go each year unless family obligations prevent it. It takes place in June each year. Save your money! I ask for the tuition as a Christmas gift each year. The tuition is approximately $500, the dorm is $25 an night ($125), there isn’t much time to go out and spend other money except for food but the dorm suites have kitchens. The Academy provides breakfast. Most of us gathered for lunch in the student union and snacked at night. Our group did go out twice. Canyon is the home of the Palo Duro Canyon which is the second largest canyon in the Unites States. It is breathtaking. This part of the country is where I was raised so it felt like going home to me. Find out more at





Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Glad you had a good time, Nona. I've been using the 3 act structure; find it very helpful. I'll check out her books.

Màiri Norris said...

Hey, Nona! Wish they had a similar writer's conference in my area. Sounds like a great tool for a writer of any genre.

Winona Cross said...

The Writer's Academy is definitely worth the tuition and travel expense.

Terry Spear said...

Oh, wow, I used to live in Canyon, Texas, graduated from the university. How neat that they are having the writers' conference there!

Linda Broday said...

Nona, I'm glad you enjoyed the Writing Academy. I've been and it was wonderful. It really recharges those who attend and most times you go away from there with a complete story mapped out and ready to write. It's just an amazing place. Writers go year after year and always come away with something new. Maybe I'll go again this next year. Thinking about it. And since I live so close now it would a sin not to.

Good luck to you on your upcoming release!! Yay!!!!!

Keira Montclair said...

Sounds like a great conference. Great blog post, Nona!

Keira Montclair

Anonymous said...

Wow Winona! It sounds like you had an amazing time and learned so much! Thanks for sharing. Hopefully, one day I can make it. Off to check out the 3 act 8 sequence workbooks!

Beth Trissel said...

This class sounds really amazing. So glad you were able to go and share about it with us.

JCA Page said...

Hi, what a great experience Nona!! Love the photo of you and your I know what you look like:) Thank-you for sharing...would love to join if I wasn't so far North...Alberta Bound.

Janet K Brown said...

Found the comments. I didn't scroll down far enough. Great post. I've never gone to West Texas A & M Writers. it sounds fantastic. I love, love, love Margie Lawson's teaching. I also got so much from Jodie Thomas at OWFI. Thanks for telling us how it's organized. Great post.