WriterSpark Workshops and Presentations (3)
Freelance Fiction Developmental and Line Editor Melissa Bourbon

 

Melissa is a practiced speaker and teacher. She has a background in teaching secondary English/Language Arts, has taught with Southern Methodist University’s CAPE program, and has presented for both Duke and North Carolina State University’s OLLI program.

In addition, she has presented workshops at various Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, RWA chapter meetings, the Atlanta Writer’s Club, and more, both in person and via Zoom.

 

Programs offered by Melissa Bourbon: Writing Coach, Instructor, Freelance Editor

Pinterest for Authors

Pinterest may be one of an author’s greatest—and most underutilized—tools. As a search engine (not a social media platform!) with more than 465 million monthly active users worldwide, 98 million of whom are in the US, it is a prime place to build a presence. Wouldn’t you love to be seen by even a tiny fraction of those users? In this workshop, Melissa will show authors ways to reach potential readers, as well as share tips for creating pins and how to use SEO for pins, titles, and descriptions. Participants will come away excited and ready to dive into the Pinterest world! 

Essential Elements of Ebook Cover Design

The visibility of your ebook cover can be the difference between your book being discovered or lost in a sea of others. In the ever-expanding world of independent publishing, the cover is the equivalent of your book’s digital storefront. In this workshop, Melissa delves into the best practices for indie ebook cover design so authors can capture the attention of their target audience. Participants will come away with a firm understanding of what makes a good ebook cover. 

The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey framework can make an ordinary story extraordinary—all because of the powerful transformation the hero undergoes.  

In this workshop, Melissa explains, with myriad examples, the steps of the Hero’s Journey and why ensuring the protagonist of any given story is on such a journey will ensure a reader’s investment in both the character and the story.

Participants will learn the steps of the Hero’s Journey, with multiple examples, and will begin to apply the steps to their own Work In Progress.

The Hero’s Journey for Mysteries

The importance of story structure in mystery writing is just as important as it is in traditional fiction.

In this engaging and relevant workshop, Melissa adapts the Hero’s Journey and the Three-Act Structure to the mystery genre.

Participants will come away understanding how to apply the Hero’s Journey to their own mystery projects.

The Hero’s Journey for Romance

The importance of story structure in romance writing is just as important as it is in any other genre of fiction. Both the heroine and the hero of a romance story should be on their own journeys, which, of course, become tangled together through the external plot. Their internal conflicts are faced through the hero’s journey they are each on, thus bringing them together in the end.

In this engaging and relevant workshop, Melissa uses popular movies to take participants through the Hero’s Journey. Participants will come away understanding how to apply the Hero’s Journey to their own romance projects.

Creating Characters with Deep Backstory

Fiction is all about the characters. They are why readers come back for more. With that in mind, it is easy to understand why developing deep backstories for the people that populate your books is vital. These backstories are what make characters come alive on the page and make them resonate with readers.

This workshop provides a practical guide to help writers make their characters (in any genre) compelling, realistic, and unforgettable. With examples and tactics, writers will come away ready to deepen their characters’ backstories and make their books so much stronger because of it. 

Writing Compelling Dialogue

What makes dialogue such an essential element? The answer is simple. It can make or break a story, literally. 

Poorly written dialogue will make readers cringe. Characters can easily come across as flat, and verbal exchanges as unrealistic. 

Good dialogue, on the other hand, is appropriate and representative of a character. It rings true. It helps create well-rounded characters who are authentic and realistic. Good dialogue will lead to memorable characters and a book readers don’t want to put down.

This workshop uses examples to guide participants through the elements of great dialogue. Participants will come away with a deep understanding of how to successfully use dialogue in their writing. A Free Guide to Writing Dialogue PDF is available for each participant.

What’s your Story: Begin your Memoir 

What is a memoir? It is a true story based on real-life experiences and written by the person involved in that slice of life. Memoirs are continually acclaimed and top bestseller lists. People love to read about real-life experiences. 

Do you have a story to tell? The short answer is: Yes! 

The long answer is that everyone has a life story worthy of telling. 

Whatever your life experiences, you can turn them into a memoir. Have you experienced a life-changing event? Do you have a foundational friendship, an amazing job or career, or a family story? Are you a survivor. Do you have deep convictions? We all have stories to tell. Even the ordinary can become extraordinary when you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

This presentation can take many forms: A series of classes on memoir writing and an introduction to uncovering memories are two examples. Melissa can adapt the program to fit participant needs. Participants in any memoir program will come away empowered and armed with several story ideas to get them started on their memoirs.

The Business Side of Writing: Marketing Yourself

There is much more to being a writer than just writing. In this workshop, Melissa takes participants through strategies and tactics to help them tackle the marketing side of the writing business. She covers many topics–from social media to Pinterest as a search engine, to sell sheets, appearances, and website content. Participants will leave with a one month, three month, and six month plan leading up to their book release, and they will be armed with tools to help them market themselves in the crowded field of publishing.

Coming Soon: 

Showing versus Telling, What it Means and How to Do It 

Please contact Melissa at  melissabourbonbooks at HEY dot com for more information on presenting for your chapter or group.

Programs offered by Melissa Bourbon: Writing Coach, Instructor, Freelance Editor

Melissa Bourbon’s “Creating Characters with Deep Backstories” talk provides a useful toolkit for making characters in any genre more realistic. She offers helpful examples and actionable building blocks for authors.”


~Heather Redmond, Columbia River Sisters in Crime President (author of the A Dickens of a Crime series)


“I can’t recommend Melissa Bourbon highly enough. A successful hybrid author, former marketing director at a publishing house, and an educator at both the secondary school and adult level, Melissa is well-equipped to present programs for writers’ organizations. She knows how to keep an audience engaged, and offers practical advice and useful information for authors at all levels, from beginner to master.” 

~Diane Kelly, Board Member, Murder We Write and Triangle Sisters in Crime



“Melissa’s talk on mystery writing structure at AWC was a game-changer! Her insights were spot-on, and I left feeling inspired and armed with practical tips.”

~Alexis Robinson,
Atlanta Writers’ Club



“I invited Melissa Bourbon to lead a workshop on her unique interpretation of the Hero’s Journey for our monthly RWA Published Author Power-Up session, and the results were fantastic. Fellow authors couldn’t stop praising the effectiveness of the Hero’s Journey as a writing tool. Melissa’s well-organized and engaging presentation provided a fresh perspective for me, revealing aspects I had been overlooking for years. Despite having nine published novels under my belt, her insights offered me a renewed understanding of storytelling.”

Nancy C. Weeks, Published Author Power-Up (Award Winning Romantic Suspense Author)



“We were pleased to host Melissa Bourbon for a special workshop on unlocking the potential of Pinterest. Melissa’s expertise was a game-changer for our author audience and revealed the untapped power of this dynamic platform. Her insights on crafting attention-grabbing pins and mastering SEO techniques helped equip our authors with the tools to seamlessly connect with readers. We loved Melissa’s enthusiasm for sharing the Pinterest platform.” 

~Kathleen Sweeney, 
BookBrush



“Melissa Bourbon knows the importance of story structure in the writing of mysteries. She is able to describe and compare various methods such as the Three Act Structure and Hero’s Journey. 

Melissa’s ninety-minute presentation covers the classic structure of The Hero’s Journey and how to apply it to the writing of mysteries. Her presentation is clear, engaging, and relevant to readers and writers of crime. 

Feedback on her courses for N.C. State OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) and for Duke OLLI included, “Extraordinary presenter” and “I am halfway through writing my first novel. This course was extremely helpful and got me even more excited to continue writing.”

Melissa would be an asset to the Sisters in Crime Speakers Bureau.”

~Sara E. Johnson, Past President, Triangle Sisters in Crime (Author, Alexa Glock Forensics Mysteries)