Saturday Breakouts Two

Saturday Breakouts Session One (Choice of one from four)

Choice 1

Choice 2

Choice 3

Choice 4

How to Write a Blurb that Sells or a Query that gets a Request


My Strategy for Successful Self Publishing

Keeping Them in Suspense


Grand Designs:

Discovering the Building Blocks of Story

Gracie O’Neil

Tracey Alvarez, Wendy Vella and Bronwen Evans

Brynn Kelly and Frances Housden

Kathy Derrick

 1. How to Write a Blurb that Sells or a Query Letter that Gets a Request

As readers we’re familiar with back cover teasers. Our bookshelves are full of them. We should know how to write one. So why are they so hard? Gracie offers some easy steps to guide you through the process of making blurbs flow and most importantly sell! Take these tools and tips and use them to develop that killer query letter.

Speaker Bio: Gracie O’Neil

Gracie O’Neil is a romantic suspense author and a long time member of RWNZ. Her work has won the Romance Writers of New Zealand Clendon Readers’ Choice Award, and the Mainstream with Romantic Elements Category NTRW Great Expectations Competition.

She loves making sure the villain gets what’s coming to him and the heroine gets her ‘happy-ever-after’. You can find her most mornings at her local cafe drinking cappuccino and working on her next book.

2. Panel: My Strategy for Successful Self-Publishing

A question and answer session discussing how three RWNZ members have made a success of self-publishing. What strategies did they adopt and how to keep up with the times.

Speaker Bio’s: Tracey Alvarez, Wendy Vella and Bronwen Evans (also moderator)

Fuelled by copious amounts of coffee, USA Today bestselling author Tracey Alvarez writes steamy but heart-warming contemporary romances set in New Zealand. Her two series, DUE SOUTH and FAR NORTH, both focus on small coastal towns, close communities, and family.


With 21 books published, best-selling author Wendy Vella’s passion for romance novels has grown stronger with every new release. She has multiple ideas running through her head at all times, and loves writing strong heroes and feisty heroines. Humour is her trademark, and mix that with sensuality and intrigue and you have a book that will keep you turning the page until the end. Wendy writes, contemporary, Regency, and historical paranormal romances.

USA Today bestselling author and current RWNZ President, Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes. Evans is a three-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand with her dogs Brandy and Duke.

3. Keeping Them in Suspense

Harlequin editor Allison Carroll joins award-winning authors Frances Housden and Brynn Kelly to share their secrets for keeping your readers hanging on your every scene, in a panel discussion. They’ll help you learn tools and tricks for building suspense with every element of your story and bring it all together for an explosive climax. While the emphasis will be on the broad sub-genre that is romantic suspense, the tips will help writers of any genre hook readers and keep them turning pages way after bedtime. Because, after all, every romance is about the suspen—.

Speaker Bio’s: Brynn Kelly and Frances Housden

Brynn Kelly writes high-octane romantic suspense for Harlequin’s HQN imprint. RT Book Reviews has named her a “hot new talent” in romantic suspense, New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers called her debut, Deception Island, “romantic suspense at its best”, and New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards called her latest novel, Edge of Truth, “a breathtaking romantic thriller”. Brynn has won the Pacific Hearts and Valerie Parv awards, and was a finalist in the Golden Heart. She spent two decades as a journalist, copywriter and manuscript copy editor in New Zealand, Australia and the UK and wrote four non-fiction books before becoming a full-time novelist. See

Rita-nominated author Frances Housden was first published in contemporary romantic suspense and even now that she has become immersed in writing Scottish medieval romance, the element of suspense always creeps back into her books—a feature she hopes her readers enjoy as much as she does. Although she now lives at New Zealand, at the other end of the earth from the Scotland where she was born, her memories of the Scottish history that surrounded her while growing up feature in her books. See

4. Grand Designs – Discovering the Building Blocks of Story. (New to mid-level.)

Storytelling is in our DNA. Whether our stories have been painted on cave walls or told around the hearth or read in printed or digital media, they are part of our foundation, an inherent human need. Modern stories have grown out of the myths, legends and folktales of our ancestors.

This workshop will look at how these traditional tales were structured and how modern stories follow similar patterns. We will then look at how this knowledge can be used to create or strengthen our own stories. This workshop is suitable for beginner writers in all genre, and especially useful for romance writing.

Speaker Bio’s: Kathy Derrick

Kathy Derrick lives in Kerikeri, Northland. She trained as an engineer but, after starting her family, decided to explore a different set of building blocks and turned to writing. Kathy teaches Myth, Legend and Folk Tale, and History of Literature courses for the Northtec Applied Writing Diploma. She has also organised and presented at a number of workshops and conferences for the Northland branch of NZSA, including the highly successful NorthWrite 2012, 2014 and 2105 workshop series. Kathy has over twenty years’ experience as a writer and is currently studying for a Masters of Creative Writing through the University of Edinburgh.