Welcome to my teaching hub. I am a national bestselling author, writing coach, instructor, and podcaster. I teach online and in-person workshops and offer presentations for writers.
If you’re passionate about writing and eager to work with someone who can help take your group, conference, or organization attendee’s skills to the next level, you’re in the right place!
A Wide Range of Workshops & Presentations
First, let me say that I am very proud to offer a wide range of workshops and presentations for writers. They are all designed to meet the needs of writers at every stage of their journey. There is something for everyone!
Additionally, I am available for virtual and in-person events. Whether you’re looking to sharpen your storytelling techniques or learn more about the business side of the publishing world, I’ve got you covered.
Upcoming and Past Presentations
Feb 17, 2024: Atlanta Writer’s Club
March 16, 2024: March, Suffolk Mystery Writers Conference
April 13, 2024: Beyond the Pen, Triangle Sisters in Crime
Sept 14, 2024: Pinterest for Authors, Triangle Sisters in Crime (NC)
Sept 28-29, 2024: Georgia Writers Museum and SEMWA present Southern Baked Crime, Georgia
Book Brush: “Pinterest for Authors”
Published Writers Group, Power Up with Romance Writers of America: “The Hero’s Journey for Romance”
Sisters in Crime, Columbia River Chapter: “Creating Characters with Backstories”
Sisters in Crime, Hudson Valley: “The Hero’s Journey for Mysteries “
Sisters in Crime, Grand Canyon: “The Hero’s Journey for Mysteries”
NC State OLLI / Duke OLLI: “The Hero’s Journey and The Hero’s Journey for Mysteries
I am a practiced speaker and teacher with a background in teaching secondary English/Language Arts and have taught with Southern Methodist University’s CAPE program and have presented for both Duke and North Carolina State University’s OLLI program.
In addition, I have presented workshops at various Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and RWA chapter meetings, both in person and via Zoom.
Presentation topics include:
Pinterest for Authors
Essential Elements of Ebook Cover Design
Podcasting for Authors
Are you looking for a dynamic way to engage with your audience, share your expertise, and expand your platform? Look no further than the world of podcasting! In this presentation, Melissa delves into the exciting realm of “Podcasting for Authors” so you can discover how this powerful medium can elevate your brand and connect you with listeners around the globe.
If you’re eager to harness the potential of podcasting as a promotional tool and creative outlet, this presentation will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to launch your own successful podcast and captivate audiences with your unique voice and vision. You’ll walk away feeling inspired, empowered, and ready to embark on your podcasting journey with confidence.
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.
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.
“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
“One of the highlights of our Grand Canyon Writers chapter meetings this year was having national best-selling author, Melissa Bourbon, discuss “Understanding Scene Structure.” Her insights from a long-standing writing career of more than 34 mystery books were helpful in identifying the value of crafting scenes to engage with readers. She provided tips about how scenes move the plot forward and the key to giving each one a purpose with emotional and physical reactions by the characters. A former English teacher, Melissa’s love of teaching definitely comes through with enthusiasm. It’s clearly the foundation for the success of her WriterSpark Academy as a natural step to help other writers.” ~Nicolette Lemmon, Vice President, Sisters in Crime Grand Canyon Writers
“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 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, author of the A Dickens of a Crime series (Columbia River Sisters in Crime President)
“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)