Premium Four-Hour
Intensive Small-Group Critique
with 3-Page Review 

Thursday, August 19, Noon–2:00 p.m. and 3:00–5:00 p.m. PDT LIVE 

These groups meet LIVE on the Thursday afternoon of the conference and are limited to eight participants each. Register early to secure your spot. Participants will receive instructions July 30 about how to exchange work for review with their coach and fellow students. Pages are due by August 2. 

[divider style=”solid” top=”10″ bottom=”20″]

“Editing/Revision Critique” with Tessa Afshar (Fiction) 

A successful writer needs skillful editing in addition to the craft of creating. Where do we start the revision process? In this four-hour critique session, we will help each other transform a portion from our first draft into writing that captivates readers. Participants will share a three-paragraph summary and three double-spaced pages from their manuscript with coach and fellow group members by August 2. 

We recommend viewing Tessa’s one-hour workshop “Write All Wrongs: Learn to Edit Your Manuscript” before the critique group meets. 

Tessa Afshar is the best-selling author of biblical and inspirational historical fiction, including these award-winning titles: Land of Silence and Harvest of Gold. Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Christian Book Award for fiction. Her first Bible study, The Way Home: God’s Invitation to New Beginnings (based on the book of Ruth), was released in June 2020 to critical acclaim. 


“Deepening Your Fiction Through Details Critique” with Bret Lott (Fiction) 

Details are the lifeblood of fiction and are the real reason we turn page after page when we read the books we love. To write a successful work of fiction we need to pay attention to the precision called for in creating our story worlds. We will help each other focus on how to bring the reader closer through the details of setting, character, dialogue, and landscape. Participants will exchange three double-spaced pages for review by August 2. 

We recommend viewing Bret’s one-hour workshop “Deepening Your Fiction Through Details” before the group meets. 

Bret Lott is the best-selling author of 14 books, including Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian, the story collection The Difference Between Women and Men, and the novels Jewel (an Oprah Book Club pick) and A Song I Knew by Heart. His work has appeared in The Yale Review, The New York Times, The Georgia Review, Vanity Fair Online, and dozens of anthologies. His honors include speaking on Flannery O’Connor at the White House and serving as a member of the National Council on the Arts from 2006 to 2012. He teaches writing at the College of Charleston.

“Young Adult Literature Critique” with Matt Mikalatos (Young Adult Fiction)

Few genres are as vibrant, powerful, and transformational as YA literature. The best fiction is about change, and YA lends itself to talking about change in the most essential and basic ways. It allows us to talk about deep personal issues, direct social issues, and wrestle with some of the most core human experiences. We will discuss the core attributes of YA literature and help one another sharpen our own work so we can write books that entertain, delight, and transform our readers. Middle Grade writers are welcome too. Participants will exchange three double-spaced pages for review by August 2. 

Matt Mikalatos writes both fiction and nonfiction, including books on evangelism, memoir, and YA fantasy. His most recent include Heartwood Crown and Good News for a Change: How to Talk to Anyone About Jesus, and Journey to Love: What We Long For, How to Find It, and How to Pass It On (August 2021). He has also written for TIME,, Writer’s Digest, Relevant, Crosswalk, and many other publications. 


“Page-Turning Mystery and Suspense Critique” with Carrie Stuart Parks (Mystery/Suspense) 

Learn how you can inject nail-biting suspense and tension into your manuscript! Whether it be dialogue, description, hooks, staging the perfect scene, or simply rearranging a section of work, participants will come away with practical and useful skills to drive their writing to the next level. You will have an opportunity to ask questions during the session and to discover your writing strengths. You will understand not just the craft of mystery/suspense writing but also how to apply it to your writing. Participants will exchange three double-spaced pages for review by August 2.

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning, internationally known forensic artist. She travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals including the FBI, Secret Service, and RCMP. Carrie and her husband, Rick, are the foremost instructors of forensic art in the world. Her best-selling novels in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre have garnered numerous awards, including several Carols and INSPY, Christy, Golden Scroll, Maxwell, and Wright awards. As a professional fine artist, she has written and illustrated best-selling art books for North Light Publishers. 

“Imaginative Fiction Critique” with James L. Rubart (Imaginative Fiction Critique)

Why do readers love fiction? Because it takes them away and entertains them for a few hours. Why do they like fiction that goes to the deepest parts of their hearts? Because that’s the kind of fiction that will show them the world in ways they’ve never seen it before. The kind of fiction that can change them, heal them, and restore them. If you long to write life-changing fiction, stories that will have readers talking about them long after they’ve set your book down, then this workshop taught by a Christy Hall of Fame author is a must-take session. Participants will submit three double-spaced pages by August 2, which will be critiqued by James and reviewed together in class.

James L. Rubart is the best-selling, Christy Book of the Year, Carol, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Romantic Times Book Reviews award-winning author of 10 novels and loves to send readers on mind-bending journeys they will remember long after they finish his stories. He is also a branding expert, audiobook narrator, and co-owner of the Rubart Writing Academy. 


“Narrative Nonfiction Critique” with Mick Silva (Nonfiction)

Using your story to teach is a wonderful adventure and a massive undertaking. Whether you know how to approach it or not, many other considerations can help you enjoy and save a lot of time. Will the teaching be embedded or separate? What should you leave out? Will readers identify and understand the points you’re making? Should it be nonlinear? Is there a repeating motif to provide an entry point, or even a title? We’ll look at such questions and examples to determine what works, what doesn’t, and why. From creating an arc to getting vulnerable to finding the universal connection points, this course will help shape and sharpen your book to ensure it informs and transforms. Participants will exchange their opening 1,000 words for review by August 2. 

Before becoming Senior Acquisitions Editor for Zondervan Books, Mick Silva edited for Focus on the Family, Baker, InterVarsity Press, Chalice, Waterbrook, and Windblown Media (publisher of The Shack). He now acquires for Zondervan in men’s and relationship categories and consults on platform building and author relations. He enjoys helping authors develop the spiritual takeaway in their books.


“Empathy Is Your Superpower: Writing in a Way that Connects to Hearts and Builds Others Up” with Trieste Vaillancourt (Nonfiction)

Do our words really make a difference? And how can we write the things that people really need to hear? We will explore answers to these questions and more as we learn, discuss, interact, and practice writing copy that resonates with and reflects God’s heart. By the end of this intensive workshop, participants will have helpful tools they can take with them to continue the growing and learning process. Writing exercises will include devotional-style, greeting card, and personal communication—and will benefit all sorts of writers and genres. Participants will be sent two exercises by August 2 to prepare and share during the workshop.

Trieste Vaillancourt is Editorial Director of several programs at DaySpring, a writer and Louie award finalist. An Oregon native, since 2000 she has written for Hallmark, DaySpring, Russell Stover, and more, compiled and written several gift books, and published articles with Radiant and Enhance magazines. She manages the worship team at DaySpring and enjoys serving at her church in that way as well. Her passions include running, being outdoors, and bumbling through the fine art of middle-aged motherhood.