2020 Keynotes

Kiersten White


Brandon Sanderson

2020 TABC Drill Sergeants


Brandon Sanderson’s novels include the Mistborn books, The Stormlight Archive, The Rithmatist, Steelheart, and his most recent bestseller Starsight, book two in the Skyward series,, among others. He completed the final volumes of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series and is published in 35 languages. Brandon also teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.

Brandon Sanderson





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Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling author of many books for teens and young readers, including the Paranormalcy trilogy, the And I Darken trilogy, the Slayer series, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and The Guinevere Deception. She lives in San Diego but stays inside reading and writing instead of going to the beach, because, like Anakin Skywalker, she hates sand. But unlike Anakin Skywalker, she has no desire to be a Sith Lord. (Okay, maybe a little desire.) She has three children, two hermit crabs, two millipedes, and one tortoise. It's up to you to guess which of those would eat her given the chance.










Amy Beatty is the author of The Vanir Dragon Series and the Viper Series. Her work has been compared to Robert Jordan’s, and her debut novel, Dragon Ascending (2018) was reviewed by Orson Scott Card (Author of Ender’s Game), who recommended it highly, calling it “an extraordinarily entertaining and innovative treatment of dragons.” Amy was raised in the wilds of Yellowstone Park as part of an experiment in combining the genes of a respected biologist with those of a grammar aficionado. She now lives in the mountains of Utah with her husband and two delightfully unconventional children under the benevolent dictatorship of a toy fox terrier who is determined to take over the world one delivery truck at a time.

Amy Beatty



The first hour of this hands-on interactive workshop gives an overview of several popular story structure models such as Three Act, Seven Point, Save the Cat, and the Hero’s Journey. The parts of each structure model will be introduced and participants will work together to assemble the parts in the proper order, explore the relationships between different structure models, and discover the deeper patterns that flow through all of them. During the second hour, participants will work together to brainstorm and outline a sample story using one of the structure models presented in the first half.


Amy Jameson began her career as a literary agent in New York City twenty years ago, where she launched Shannon Hale’s career. In 2004, she started her own agency with her husband Brandon, A+B Works, providing literary representation, editorial coaching, brand development and design services. Amy currently represents New York Times bestselling author Jessica Day George and a select group of up-and-coming young adult, middle grade and picture book authors. She is particularly fond of travel, Broadway musicals, the mountains and deserts of her home state, and her three children.




Working with an agent and/or editor sounds scary! What if they steal your story? Fear not! An agent and one of her author clients are here to answer your questions and explain how agents, editors, and authors all work together to make your book its best self!


Bree Despain is the author of the Dark Divine trilogy and the Into The Dark trilogy. Bree rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. In addition to writing books, Bree co-owns a women's clothing boutique and an axe-throwing party business. Bree currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, two teen sons, and her three cats.









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Caitlin Sangster is the author of Last Star Burning, Shatter the Suns, and Dead Moon Rising, but, contrary to what you may think, is not obsessed with celestial bodies. She's the founder and co-host of Lit Service Podcast.



Everyone loves a good fairy tale retelling! So long as it isn't . . . you know, exactly the same story over and over again. Luckily, using a fairy tale as framework is a great way for newer writers to get started. You already generally know where the story is supposed to start, what the exciting bits will be, and how it ends. We'll be chatting about how to make use of that framework to brainstorm a completely new story that doesn't feel like it's been told a million times.


Charlie N. Holmberg is a Wall Street Journal and Amazon bestselling author, whose debut series, The Paper Magician, has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company. Her stand-alone novel, Followed by Frost, was nominated for a 2016 RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance, and her novel The Fifth Doll won the 2018 Whitney award for Speculative Fiction. She is a board member for Deep Magic Ezine. Visit her at www.charlienholmberg.com.



Romance. WE ALL SECRETLY LIKE IT even if talking about it makes us feel awkward. But did you know romance is the number-one selling fiction genre? Want to learn why? Come to this class to learn about the psychology of romance, why it makes us turn the pages, and how it can give a boost to any story, in any genre.

Christian McKay Heidicker reads and writes and drinks tea. Between his demon-hunting cat and his fiddling fiancée, he feels completely protected from evil spirits. Christian is the author of Scary Stories for Young Foxes, Cure for the Common Universe, and Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. cmheidicker.com



(That sets you apart from the others)


You've heard the advice: Structure your story after Save the Cat! Beware the Macguffin! Decide whether your story is hard or soft fantasy/sci-fi and STICK TO IT! I'm going to show you how to plunge even deeper by showing you what all popular fantasy books have in common and how you can use it to your advantage. The answer is so obvious you'll kick yourself for not recognizing it before . . . Kick yourself right into a book contract, that is.

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Daniel Swenson writes about dragons, guns, swords, magic and other evil and snarly mystical creatures. He is the Amazon best-selling author of THE SHADOW ABOVE THE FLAMES (2017), writer of fantastical short stories that have been published in various anthologies, and creator and host of the Hugo-nominated podcast Dungeon Crawlers Radio. A DRAGON'S FATE (2019), the highly anticipated sequel to his action-packed debut novel is available now. You can also find Daniel interviewing best-selling and up-and-coming authors alike on DungeonCrawlersRadio.com, where he's been covering all things geek for nearly ten years.




Whether you’re a beginner or an expert writer world building is tough. Or maybe It’s a lot easier than you think once you find out how…whether you want to add a little flair to your world, create a unique magic system, unusual races like underwater ewoks, giant god like chickens named “Steve” or you just want to add a fully fleshed out language with original stories and texts. By the end of this World Building Workshop, you and your fellow writers will have created a believable and compelling world that your readers will want to get lost in again and again.

Emma Nelson’s writing has most recently been published in The Routledge Companion to Media and Fairy-Tale Cultures. She has taught writing classes at BYU where she received an MA in Literature, is the founder of Owl Hollow Press, and has edited many books and anthologies, including the annual teen anthologies in partnership with Teen Author Boot Camp. Her fiction is represented by Donaghy Literary Group.




Grab your readers’ emotions and don’t let go

We all have those books that remain close to our hearts because they made us laugh, they made us cry, or they made us fall in love. They pulled us in emotionally and carried us along for a ride that made us feel something unforgettable. In this class, we’ll learn techniques for creating emotionally layered characters, plots, and themes to make your writing come to life for your readers. We’ll grab them by their hearts and never let go—and maybe make them laugh a little along the way.



Erin Summerill loves candy, her kids, and books. If she sold more books she could buy more candy for herself and her kids. Buy one of her books...think of the kids.



How to score the best ideas!


So you like books, right? You want to write one, or two, or a dozen. To do this, you need ideas. What do you do when the ideas aren't flowing? Does everything you think of seem like it's been done before? This class will help you free up mind space so you can be open to imagining unique, original ideas that will make the pages of your story come to life! In this class we will discuss the 6 steps to idea success! If you're in an idea rut, this class is for you.

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Frank L. Cole lives with his wife and three children in the Rocky Mountain West. When he's not writing books, he's selling them as a bookstore manager. Frank enjoys going to the movies and traveling. He is the author of twelve books and has visited more than 220 schools, where he promotes reading and using your imagination. His philosophy is - With a good imagination, you can solve any problem you ever come up against in life!




We'll go over a list of writing ""Cheats" and "Secrets" to help you hack your way through all the hurdles you face while drafting a novel.


With her degree in History and Secondary Education, Jennifer Jenkins had every intention of teaching teens to love George Washington, the Napoleonic Wars, and Ancient Sparta ... until the writing began. She is the author of the Nameless trilogy (2015-2017), To Kill a Curse (2019), and Teen Writer's Guide: Your Road Map to Writing (March, 2020). She is also a co-founder of Teen Author Boot Camp. She divides her free time between teaching creative writing classes at Utah Valley University, reading, taking spontaneous trips, researching random events from the past, and fostering her adrenaline junkie addictions.




One of the most important jobs of an author is to convince the reader to fall in love with their


This class is PACKED with helpful tips on how to help your reader create an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION with the character. Jennifer has some hilarious, hands-on experiments to help test her theories, so you don't want to miss this one.



Jennifer Nielsen is a New York Times Bestselling author of several books for young readers. She wishes she had thought of Harry Potter first. But let's be honest, she probably would've botched it.



What to do with a Dozen Beginnings

and No Endings

No, it's not just you. A lot of people start stories, then abandon them midway for another bright, shiny new idea. If you're ready to finish the stories you began, this class is for you.




Jessica Day George is the NYT Bestselling author of over a dozen fantasy books for teens and middle readers. Originally from Idaho, with a degree from BYU in Humanities and Scandinavian Studies, she has lived in Delaware and New Jersey before settling in Salt Lake City. As well as being an avid reader and small dog enthusiast, she knits, lives on a diet of dark chocolate and yogurt, and is planning to retire to Disney World someday. She has one husband, three children, and a very fluffy dog. 




Working with an agent and/or editor sounds scary! What if they steal your story? Fear not! An agent and one of her author clients are here to answer your questions and explain how agents, editors, and authors all work together to make your book its best self!



Jo Schaffer is the YA Author of the Stanley & Hazel trilogy, co-founder of TABC, writer at BYU-TV and Taekwondo Blackbelt. She loves classic film, yummy food, traveling, hiking and teaching self-defense at the dojo. She's a native Californian living in the beautiful mountains of Utah with her three sons and insane cat, Hero.



WORKSHOP : Writing Prompt Battle!


Get ready to write! Join in with a fun variety of writing prompts and games to get you unstuck in your writing! Prepare to go head to head, rap-battle style with other teen writers or just get feedback from the group. There will be prizes and opportunities to share your work.

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JOHNNY WORTHEN is an award-winning, best-selling author, voyager, and damn fine human being! He is the tie-dye wearing writer of the nationally acclaimed, #1 Kindle best-selling ELEANOR, THE UNSEEN. Among his other excellent and very read-worthy titles are the adult occult thrillers WHAT IMMORTAL HAND and BEATRYSEL, the award-winning mystery THE BRAND DEMAND, and the genre bending comedy-noir THE FINGER TRAP, winner of the Diamond Quill for best book of the year. THE FINGER TRAP introduces Tony Flaner, the lovable slacking sarcastic detective whose adventures continue in THICKER THAN WATER and IN THE WAKE OF CAPTAIN LORD.




Raise your work to literary levels by consciously incorporating themes. Learn how to identify what you’re trying to say and actively nurture the subtler but greater questions you’re addressing. Enhance your writing with symbols as signposts, layers of grays and depths of meaning. Give the literary critics something to enjoy, Class will study the therapeutic qualities of writing and ask the author to consciously incorporate ideas of theme into their work, exploring the human condition through parallel plots, symbols, conflict, and alternative points of view to address lingering questions and personal issues. From the lighthouse of intent, to hard questions, symbols, subplots and echoes, the class will encourage the writer to plumb the depths of meaning, bleed a little and create multiple strands of meaning in their work.

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Kathryn Purdie is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the BURNING GLASS series and the BONE CRIER’S MOON duology. Kathryn is a classical actress who studied at the Oxford School of Drama and has taught writing classes at Storymakers, Futurescapes, previous Teen Author Boot Camps, and was a keynote speaker for Young Authors Academy. In her spare time, she loves writing songs on her guitar for her characters and binge-watching good TV.



 Raising the Stakes

No matter what kind of story you’re writing, high stakes are essential to keep the tension rising and your readers turning pages. Not achieving the main goal should feel like a literal or figurative death to your character. Join me as I help you explore different ways to create the most effective universal and personal stakes for your story, and then learn tactics to ensure your character tests those boundaries and risks “death” in order to succeed.


Kelly Lundgren is an author who first got published because of TABC’s anthology with Owl Hollow Press. She’s working on an original novel right now that she hopes to publish soon, is still trying to figure out how to Adult, and she is hoping to inspire and help other young writers to write better stories and never give up.




Ever wondered how to write a short story that stands out and wins contests? That’s what this class is all about. With input from several other of my friends who have also been published in the TABC anthologies, I hope to walk you through what we’ve done and inspire you to write contest winning stories of your own!


Kyra Johnson is 16 years old, and has been writing for as long as she can remember. The second she learned what an author was she wanted to be one, and when she was 15 her dream finally came true when she published her first book; Prison of Outcasts. She also enjoys dance, art, and film making.




 Published teen author reveals how to reach the finish line before the race begins

We'll walk through the struggles authors face as teens, like how to stay social while having such an anti-social hobby, how to make our writing about things we haven't experienced yet feel genuine, how to stay motivated and focused on one story, how to balance writing and your life, and how to be proud instead of embarrassed of showing our peers our work. We'll discuss how to get published as a teen, and if it's smart or if you should wait.


Leigh Starham is an award winning poet, author and editor who will pay big bucks for a nap.

She will publish her fifth YA novel, Daughters of War, with Owl Hollow Press in 2020. Her essays, poetry, and short stories can be found in the Remington Review, Southeast Review, North Carolina Literary Review, and several anthologies.

You can follow and contact her on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or Wattpad.



The Lies We Love toTell Ourselves

Your main character is the heart of your story, but what if you can’t trust them and that’s a huge part of their charm? Unreliable narrators make up most of the first person novels we all love. Let’s talk about them, what makes them amazing and what to avoid. 


An author, an editor, a zombie enthusiast, and a Disney Princess dispense dodgy writing advice and give first chapter critiques with publishing pros.

Contributing authors include: Kristen Evans, Caitlin Sangster, Cameron Harris, Aliah Eberting. See their full bios HERE.



Podcast Live with special guest, Kiersten White

We'll start with a chat about writing, then do a first chapter critique for one lucky attendee. We'll be able to tell you what you are already doing well and what might need a second look. If you'd like to be considered for a first chapter critique from Kiersten and the podcasters, check out our SUBMISSION GUIDELINES.


Margie Jordan is a Clinical Faculty Associate at Brigham Young University helping to mentor new teachers. Before this she was an elementary school teacher for nine years and a Literacy Coach for eight years. Her real passion, however, is writing. She has written several novels and is a founder of Teen Author Boot Camp. When she isn't writing and working, she is going on amazing adventures with her husband and three children. 




WORKSHOP : Writing Prompt Battle!

Get ready to write! Join in with a fun variety of writing prompts and games to get you unstuck in your writing! Prepare to go head to head, rap-battle style with other teen writers or just get feedback from the group. There will be prizes and opportunities to share your work.

Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Shadow Society, the Kronos Chronicles, and the New York Times-bestselling Winner's Trilogy, which has garnered starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, and was included in lists for Best Books of the Year by Amazon, YALSA, and Kirkus, among others. She is a professor at Brooklyn College and lives in New York City. 





Do you want to make readers fall in love with your characters and their world? The surest way to a reader's heart is through excellent description. This workshop will focus on how to use metaphor, simile, and vivid details to make your stories feel real, delicious, frightening, and heart-warming. We will also explore why description sometimes fails, and how to avoid common problems. 


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Nicole was raised in Georgia, earned a degree in Social Work from BYU-Hawaii, and is now raising a family in Utah. She enjoys writing women's historical fiction centered on Victorian era feminists. She's currently working with her agent, Jenny Bent, to prepare her debut for submission. When she's not writing, Nicole enjoys traveling, hiking, and nerding out over books with her friends. She loves TABC and has worked as an editor on the TABC anthology for last two years.



How to Watch Movies Like a Writer 

We all know to be great writers we must read, read, read. But the world of cinema is another great resource we can use to sharpen our storytelling skills. In this class you’ll learn how to watch a film with the eyes of a writer. We’ll cover filmmaking techniques that translate into excellent writing advice and discuss cinematic elements that can improve the way you tell stories on the page. So grab some popcorn and enjoy the show as you learn how to turn every movie watching experience into a master class on writing.

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NICOLE CONWAY is author of the international bestselling fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES and DRAGONRIDER LEGACY. She is currently working on the third and final series, THE DRAGONRIDER TRIALS, set to launch in 2020, and her thrilling new superhero series, SPIRITS OF CHAOS. Her other published works include SCALES, MAD MAGIC, and THE DISTANCE BETWEEN STARS. Nicole was born in Alabama, but has spent a large part of her life traveling around the world with the military. She graduated from Auburn University, has worked extensively in graphic art and design, and now enjoys writing as a full-time career.



Writing Epic Battle Scenes 

Screams echo in the night. Thunder booms overhead. The heroes are primed. The villain is reveling in one last, maniacal laugh. But ... where do you begin? If you’re struggling to capture that jaw-dropping, heart-stopping fight scene—the demolition doctor is in! We will be exploring the balance of dialogue and action, learning useful tips to prevent over-explaining, and mastering the feel of an invigorating brawl that guarantees a one-hit K.O. with your readers. Ready? FIGHT!

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Roger Leslie is a national award-winning author of biography, history, fiction, self-help, spirituality, teaching and librarianship, memoir, and movie reference. He guides aspiring writers to success as a writing coach, editor, and publisher. His newest book, From Inspiration to Publication empowers authors at any stage of their careers to live the writing life they dream.




No matter what you write or how grand your dreams for an author career, you can launch your success immediately. Discover the routines and rituals that open creativity, and the objectives and goals that transform creative ideas into dynamic manuscripts. In this interactive session, you’ll learn what many great authors do to gear up for writing, experiment with some yourself, and then launch a specific plan to turbocharge your writing.

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Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the reading and telling of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. She has a PhD in English, emphasis on rhetoric and composition, from Penn State, and she teaches writing at Southern Utah University. The first two books of her debut trilogy (BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, LOST CROW CONSPIRACY) are out know from Knopf/Random House; book 3, WINTER WAR AWAKENING, comes out March 19, 2019.





As readers, we often make our decisions about what to read based on reading only a few pages--or just the first page--of a new story. As writers, that means part of our job is to grab readers from the very beginning of a story. In this class, we will discuss what makes story openings effective, and techniques for making our own stories shine from the start. 

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Samantha Hastings has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of Reading (Berkshire, England), and the University of North Texas. She met her husband in a turkey sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, and chasing her kids. Her first novel, The Last Word, is available now. The Invention of Sophie Carter comes out on July 14, 2020 and A Royal Christmas Quandary arrives October 2020.



Use the four T's: tension, thoughts, talking, and touch, to create scenes that simmer and leave your reader breathless.

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Sheena Boekweg is a former slush editor, blogger, and theatre nerd who's watched every Marvel movie in the last ten years and has strong opinions on Star Wars. She's an alumni of the Pitch Wars mentoring program 2015 and mentored in 2017 and 2018. Her novel Glitch Kingdom will press start February 18, 2020 from Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends. She lives in Utah with her family and the world's most spoiled puppy. Visit her online at boekwegbooks.com, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SheenaBoekweg




Playing video games can make you a better writer! In this class, we'll talk about how to apply what you've learned from grinding points, character selections, and fighting Big Bads into making unputdownable books that are as addictive as Candy Crush. This is a working class, so bring your laptops or notebooks (game controllers will be provided).


A native to the ocean and transplanted to the mountains, Shelly Brown has always loved children and books so it made sense when she started writing books for children. In her spare time she helps her husband, author Chad Morris, write MORE children's books. In her extra-extra spare time she loves the theater and traveling. She is also one of the worst tap dancers you will ever meet. But she does it anyway. She has no regrets, one husband, three chickens, five children, and sixty-four Pez dispensers.




Editors and agents comment all of the time that they are looking for something with great voice but few of them can tell you exactly what that means. Some of them even treat voice like it’s a magical something nobody can put their finger on. But it’s actually not that hard if you break it down. Shelly can show you the tips and tricks to pull your own unique voice out onto the page so your writing gets noticed. 


Tahsha Wilson is a founder of Teen Author Boot Camp and the Director of Purchasing and Volunteers. She loves to put her crazy brain to work to organize the huge amount of teens who come through the doors. She is a member of Writers Cubed and has several novels in the works. She lives at the base of the beautiful Utah mountains with her husband and three (soon to be five) kids. 




WORKSHOP : Writing Prompt Battle!

Get ready to write! Join in with a fun variety of writing prompts and games to get you unstuck in your writing! Prepare to go head to head, rap-battle style with other teen writers or just get feedback from the group. There will be prizes and opportunities to share your work.

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Tiana Smith is a copywriter turned novelist who grew up in the Rocky Mountains. When she isn’t writing, she’s chasing after her ninja son, reading, or binging the Disney Channel. She has double degrees in Honors and English from Westminster College but wants to go back to school to be a lion tamer. She is the author of Match Me If You Can and How To Speak Boy, both from Swoon Reads/Macmillan.



Do you plot out everything in your novel? Make it all up as you go along? A mix of both? Great. No matter what, this method can work for you. Combining elements of Save the Cat, the Snowflake Method, and Romancing the Beat (if you choose to have a romantic plot line), this flexible structure allows you to map out the important parts of your story so you can get to writing. Best of all, it also works during edits to identify parts that aren’t working. Learn about the key plot points every book needs during this workshop and then fill in as much or as little as you like before jumping in. Every book and genre is different, and this method allows for that.

220 W Center St, Provo, UT 84601, USA


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