Conference Workshops

Jacqueline Woodson, Libba Bray, Janet @ ALA 2009
Jacqueline Woodson, Libba Bray, Janet @ ALA 2009

Writing Workshops

conferences and writers associations.


bookstore events, or educational talks for teachers and librarians.


centering workshops designed for a retreat setting

Contact Janet to set up a presentation. 

The Workshop Menu below lists a variety of titles, but there are always new ideas simmering on the back burner. If you’re interested in any of the workshops below, contact me via e-mail. If you’re looking for a writing topic not currently on the list, I’m happy to discuss new workshops to fit your conference needs. One year when a presenter fell suddenly ill at Write on the Sound, I was asked to present a workshop on endings. I scampered to the office, wrote the entire workshop on site, and presented it that same afternoon. (The Muses were definitely on my side that day!) I’m not sure if I could pull off that magic trick again, but the workshop I wrote that day entitled, Ending It All, is still one of my favorites.

Janet taught novel writing for more than ten years at Bellevue College and Lake Washington Vocational College. She now devotes herself to writing full time and teaching at conferences, Lit Festivals, Librarian Conferences, and writing retreats. She’s presented workshops and panels at NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), Surrey International Writers’ Conference, Missouri Children’s Literature Festival, Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, Whidbey Island Writers Conference, Willamette Writers Conference OR, Write on the Sound, GeekGirlCon, VikingCon, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) WA and OR chapters, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, Library Media Association Conferences in WA and GA, and Keynote addresses for The Missouri Children’s Literature Conference, and regional SCBWI.

Media Experience: Interviews for Magazines, Blog Tours, Radio, and TV interviews in the US. Magazine interviews in UK. BBC radio and TV interviews in the UK. Media interviews Radio and TV in Japan for the primer of the movie “Ano Sora Wo Oboeteru” based on her book, Wenny Has Wings Sony films, Japan.


Surviving the Writing Life

Do you have trouble finding time to write? Are you dealing with rejection? Tired of riding an emotional “writer’s roller coaster?” Discover survival tips to help you reach your writing goals. You’ll leave inspired and ready to live out your writing dream.

Plot and Passage: Matching Plotlines with Character Transitions

The plot problem often introduces a “worst case scenario” at a particular time in the characters life. Learn how to create events that will significantly impact your main character and set your story in motion. The plot is the match. The character is the fuse. Add the element of dramatic timing and you ignite memorable fiction your reader can’t put down.

Geek Girl Con
Geek Girl Con

Hoop of Fire: Writing Dynamic Scenes

Each scene challenges the writer to develop the storyline and deepen characterization through action and dialogue. Learn how to write with dramatic tension by zeroing in on “the emotional focal point” of the scene.

The Turning Point: Creating Character Change in a Novel

Create a plot that personally impacts your character and forces them to grow. Discover the steps you need to take to bring your character to “the turning point” in the final scenes of your novel.

Note: There are two Turning Point workshops available.
The first is designed for writers of general fiction and genre novels for adult readers with examples from Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides , Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club and Hamlet.
The second is designed for writers of children’s and YA novels featuring examples from Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, C.S. Lewis’s The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.


Roughing It: Twelve Guideposts Through Rough Draft Territory

Trying to write a perfect rough draft is the quickest way to writer’s block. Learn how to break past first draft fears into first draft flow. Discover twelve ways to let yourself explore, dream and tell the story you really want to tell.

Who Will Tell the Story?

Determining who will tell the story is one of the most important decisions a writer makes. The main character’s viewpoint usually creates a strong dramatic flow, but some stories thrive when told from an outsider’s view. Learn how to choose the best possible viewpoint to successfully launch your story.

Voice Lessons: Writing Fiction in the First Person

Having trouble writing in a character’s voice? Do you find first person prose too limiting? Perhaps you haven’t found a character strong enough to sustain the storyline. The character who narrates your novel must be a keen observer with a storytelling style all his own. Come learn the hidden gifts a first person story has to offer.

Viking Con
Viking Con

Ending It All

By the end of the story the plot problem has been addressed or resolved. The character has reached a new understanding of self and world. Sound difficult? It is! How do you reach this kind of satisfying ending? Learn how to take your tale to its best possible conclusion.

Ordinary Heroes

Readers love stories about ordinary people overcoming the odds and doing heroic acts. Learn the three basic requirements to create an ordinary hero for your novel, and readers will follow your hero to the ends of the earth.

Speaking of Dialogue

How is character revealed in dialogue? How can you create dialogue that increases story tension? Learn how to listen to your characters. Discover ways to set up dramatic dialogue that engages and informs the reader.


Where would Sherlock Holmes be without his nemesis Professor Moriarty? Nothing serves the plot better than a good adversarial relationship. This workshop explores “the good guys” and “the bad guys” and uncovers the powerful role this key relationship plays in your fiction.
story CPR

Story CPR: How to Revive a Failing Story

Have you tried again and again to revive a story? Have you given up and stuffed it in your sock drawer? Well pull it out. It’s not too late. Learn how to resuscitate a dying story using Story CPR.

Ghost Voice: Haunting a Character with a Hidden Past

“You’ll never amount to anything.” His father said it only once, but once was enough. Now the voice echoed in his head whenever he set out to try something new. This workshop explores the power hidden subconscious messages play in forming character. At a crucial moment in the story, a character will either fight the “ghost voice” or buckle under the weight of it. Which will it be?

world building

Writing Fantasy — Full Day Writing Workshop

Janet created this Full Day Fantasy Writing Workshop for a one day writing intensive at Field’s End. Whether you’re already writing fantasy or just interested in trying the genre, come join us for this interactive workshop that covers Story Germination, Story Structure, increasing the dynamic relationship between Plot & Character, World Building, Mythical Story Sources and more. Handouts, group discussion, and writing games explore new worlds, enrich your work, empower your writing craft, and restore your story passion.

World Building: Creating Believable Sci-Fi and Fantasy Worlds

World building challenges us to create worlds with believable ecosystems and interdependent life forms. Creating the natural setting from the ground up is just the beginning. The next phase requires us to determine social structures along with the political, religious, and economic systems in our characters’ societies. It’s a demanding process, but doable when you focus on the story’s central issues. Ask the right questions and all the elements from natural setting to social structures combine to create the inevitable conflicts and tensions each story demands. Come ready to discuss ideas and do a world-building activity.

magic wand

The Rules of Magic: Writing Convincing Fantasy

It’s commonly thought that fantasy stories are easy to write because there are no rules. Just the opposite is true. Fantasy writers understand that the vast freedoms fantasy offers necessitates a strict set of rules. Break the rules and the magic disappears. How can writers learn to create within this paradox? Come explore the rules of magic.

The Power of Place

Create a setting so vivid the reader longs to step into the story world. Every spot on earth has a history going back into primordial time. And every place has its secrets. Learn how to tap into the wellspring of knowledge each place has to offer.

Getting in Character

Can you step inside your character’s skin? See the world through his or her eyes? Those of us who work on the page can learn a lot from the stage. Discover the actors’ approach to characterization. Learn secrets that will deepen your characters and enrich your fiction.

Body Language

Much of human communication is done through body language. From small gestures to intense action, learn how to make each movement speak. Write scenes that tell the story through facial expression, gesture and action.

When You Hit the Wall

Has your story or novel come to a crashing halt? Are your plot and characters up against the wall? Well at least you’re not alone. All writers hit the wall at some point in their writing life. Learn tricks five seasoned authors use to get past the wall and back into the story.

Book signing Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Association Conference
Book signing Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Association Conference

PRESENTATIONS: Bookstores, Libraries, Teacher Associations.


The Child Hero

Many readers need to know a hero: not a perfect hero who is accomplished, intelligent and strong, but an ordinary hero who discovers courage by overcoming a difficult situation. Books featuring child heroes pass courage along to the young reader. By traveling alongside the hero in the tale, children learn about ordinary people just like them who:

  • Face and overcome their fears.
  • Fail and try again.
  • Choose to go forward even when the path is difficult.
  • Change themselves and change the world around them.

How Stories Give Us Hope

“When all the doors are shut, and I feel as if there’s no way out, a book is like a window flooding light into the room.” Lecture highlights stories across all categories and genres that encourage us as human beings and bring light into the world. Janet shares short readings from favorite authors and concludes with a discussion on the challenges of writing about change, loss, and death in novels for children and young adults. She uses examples from her award-winning novel, Wenny Has Wings. “This story is about the death of a child,” says Janet. “Yet writing the book in epistolary form freed the voice of eleven-year-old Will North. His voice is hopeful and the story is permeated with light because of his near-death experience.” Janet has received many letters from readers like the one which began, “Your book changed my life,” and went on to share how reading Wenny Has Wings when she was ten helped her deal with her brother’s death. She coped by writing letters to her brother in a journal, the way Will did in the book, telling her brother about her life and how much she missed him.
Word by word we light our candles in the dark and help each other along. Come discuss how stories can inspire courage and give us hope. Bring your favorite story or novel to share.

Story Is a Doorway to Understanding

What’s the difference between a news story and a novel? How does a history text differ from a historical fiction book? Join Janet Lee Carey as she discusses how fiction opens the doorway to understanding by putting a personal face on events and connecting us with our common humanity.Hero

The New Female Hero

How does the new female hero in YA fiction break traditional stereotypes and offer new challenges for teen readers? From rescued to rescuer, from one who is banned from battle, to one who’s fighting on the front lines. Are these female heroes new or are storytellers doing a kind of role reversal, exchanging handbags for hand grenades? Young women are coming into their power and many YA books are celebrating the broader choices and opportunities for young women. YA author Janet Lee Carey takes an in-depth look at the challenges authors face when creating a female hero for modern day readers. Using character examples from her novels, the work of current fantasy and dystopian authors like Kristin Cashore and Suzanne Collins and others, Janet discusses the emerging possibilities for teen heroines. Come add your insights and join the discussion.

Bookstore and Library Presentations for Kids

Janet at Parkplace Book Co. Kirkland WA

Ride the Wild Words: Journal Writing Workshop

Do you like to write stories, poems or just scribble ideas on the page? Come join author Janet Lee Carey for a journal writing workshop. We’ll brainstorm ideas, break in a new journal with innovative word games and launch new stories. Blank journals are provided. Just bring your pencil and your imagination and let’s get started!

The Magician’s Assistant: How Readers Help Create the Story

Janet reads and discusses short scenes from her books and other favorite children’s books then invites children to visualize characters and settings. Bookstore presentation designed to make readers aware of their importance in helping the author create the story.


The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts
Time to get away, center and revitalize your spirit. Janet’s retreat workshops offer a chance for quiet reflection and a deeper connection to the creative process.


Fourth Annual Full-Bodied Writing Retreat 2019
Entering the Heart of Your Story

June 28-30, 2019. Explore the writer’s mind-body connection in a peaceful, relaxing setting at St. Andrew’s House, Hood Canal. Authors Katherine Grace Bond, Peter Kahle, Janet Lee Carey, and acting coach, Andrew Bond invite you to approach your characters, plot and setting from the inside by using a variety of physical prompts, group interaction, and private reflection. Learn the practice of Deep Characterization and enter your story in a way you never thought possible. Two professional massage therapists will be on hand to provide a relaxing massage or wellness consult included in retreat cost. Katherine, Peter, and Janet will offer one-on-one manuscript, creativity or career consultations.

More info here.

The Well of Silence

Much of creative writing is learning to listen on paper. Through music and meditation, this workshop takes you on a quiet returning to the source. Creativity is renewed when we sit beside the well of silence.