Fiction writers workshops and creativity coaching

10 Days of Halloween Specials – Day 9: Fantastic Fiction Decoded

This one’s specifically for all those who dream of writing for a living…



Learn more here!

New Epublishing class starts Monday!


“Self-publishing” used to be a dirty word. Now it’s an inevitability. 

The industry is changing, paradigms are shifting, blah blah blah, you’ve heard this story before. The important thing to know is that you—yes, you—can learn how to take control of your publishing destiny.

Welcome to my latest class: How To Package & Sell Your Self-Published eBook with Joseph Nassise, starting this Monday 

I’ve written more than twenty novels—both traditionally-published and self-published. I’ve seen the industry from both sides, and I know the pros and cons of both. More importantly, I know how to self-publish my work to a professional standard. This is my third time teaching this course—and previous students have already successfully published their own writing, based on the work they’ve done in this class. 

You don’t need a finished project to participate. The class material remains accessible after the course is over, so you can refer to it in the future. During the class, I will answer your questions, help you troubleshoot issues, and give you insight into the publishing industry. Plus, you’ll make some great new friends among your classmates (in publishing parlance this is called networking). 

This workshop is right for you if…

  • … you want complete creative control over your own work, and you don’t want to split your take with an agent or a publisher. 
  • … you want to be a “hybrid author,” seeking traditional deals for some works, and self-publishing others—so, maybe you take your novel to an agent, but you self-publish a collection of short stories. 
  • … you want to learn a new skill—knowing how to properly code and upload an eBook is a good talent to have, especially if you want to work in publishing.

Want to learn more about the course syllabus? Want to see what previous students have to say about working with me? Thinking about signing up? 


Urban Fantasy 101 starts on the 28th!


Join me starting this Wednesday for my latest class over at – Urban Fantasy 101!

ur·ban fan·ta·sy
(ərbən fantəsē)


  1. Pairing fantasy elements with modern settings and situations
  2. One of the hottest—and most fun—genres in fiction

Urban fantasy is one of the fastest growing speculative fiction categories to come along in the past decade or so. Strong characters, detailed world-building, and complex mythologies all combine to create a genre that focuses on the intrusion of the fantastic into the everyday world.

That’s what makes this genre so attractive to me as a writer (and to a lot of people, as readers). As author J.A. Pitts put it, “The world may appear to be one way, but underneath, in the bowels of our subconscious, or the side-ways between moments, the OTHER truly exists.” I love that!

The idea that there is something more out there, something extraordinary, which lurks in the shadows and hides behind the mundane, provides a literal playground for me to explore with my writing.  Even better, the basic framework of the genre allows me to tell a wide variety of stories—from horror to romance to mystery to adventure—while still meeting the expectations of my readers.

Before you can write solidly entertaining urban fantasy, you have to understand it. And that’s what this class is all about.

     — Joseph Nassise

WEEK 1: What is urban fantasy?

Week one will be devoted to understanding the key elements of the genre and what makes it different from other genres, such as paranormal romance and traditional fantasy. Students will examine their own work in progress for the inclusion of such elements and be able to correctly identify them without difficulty.

WEEK 2: Setting and worldbuilding

Week two will look at the importance of setting in an Urban Fantasy novel and discuss various series in which the setting is as important as the main character. Techniques for creating a believable world/setting will be covered in detail.

WEEK 3: Creating believable heroes and villains

Week three will see students introduced to some truly memorable Urban Fantasy heroes and villains, and will have them examine what it is about these characters that makes us love/hate them so much. Techniques for developing story conflict and character motivations will be introduced and students will examine their own projects to ensure that their characters meet these benchmarks.

WEEK 4: Structuring the urban fantasy story

Week four will focus on how developing the plot and structure of your Urban Fantasy novel for maximum effect—both from the perspective of an editor/agent, and from that of the reading audience. Successful books do not happen by accident and creating the proper structure for your tale is a critical component to achieve the results you want.

* Weekly assignments

There will be weekly assignment that will require students to demonstrate their understanding of that week’s lesson, and encourage them to comment on each other’s work. Joe will provide guidelines on what to look for in each assignment, so students aren’t flying blind in their critiques. 

Goals Of This Class

  • Examine several bestselling Urban Fantasy series
  • Understand the key elements of an Urban Fantasy novel
  • Learn world-building techniques designed to bring their setting to life
  • Discover the importance of character conflict and motivations
  • Create authentic, believable characters
  • Examine the importance of proper story structure
  • Learn skills and techniques to apply these lessons to their current writing project


Kobo + Litreactor = An Awesome Class Just For You

I’m very excited to announce that Kobo has come on board as a sponsor for my upcoming “How to Format, Package & Self-Publish Your Ebook” class at!

I’ve been a fan of Kobo’s Writing Life self-publishing platform ever since it opened – was, in fact, one of its beta testers – and it has become one of the three major pillars in my personal publishing program. I think their platform is well-designed and that it is one of the easiest to use in the industry overall.  When it comes to servicing the needs of self-published writers the world over, I fully expect them to be a major rival to Amazon in the near future.  It is one of the reasons that I include in-depth information on Kobo Writing Life in my class and suggest that all independent writers make use of what they offer as a distribution partner.

Says Mark Lefebvre, Kobo’s Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations, “Kobo Writing Life is sponsoring this class because the instructor, Joseph Nassise, is not only a successful writer whose books sell well to Kobo customers around the world, but he is also very well respected as a mentor and teacher to other writers, helping them on their path to success in the ePublishing realm.  Kobo Writing Life is interested in supporting efforts that help writers with both the craft and the business of writing, and feel that this course will help writers who are interested in eBook publishing understand the necessary investments involved to be successful.”

Mark’s not only a Kobo executive but a writer as well and he’s so excited about Kobo’s participation in the course that he’s taking it himself right along with us. In addition, Kobo will be sponsoring a student to take the class and will be giving away a brand new Kobo Touch - Wired Magazine’s 2012 Editor’s Pick for Best eReader – to one lucky class participant!

It is not too late for you to sign up and join us!  Class begins on Nov 26th and runs for three weeks, so you’ll be able to start your self-publishing endeavor just in time to meet the Christmas rush.

Sign up here!

New Class – How to Format, Package & Self-Publish Your Ebook

I’m going to be teaching another class on self-publishing next month for my friends over at Litreactor.  Where the last course was six weeks, this one will be a stripped down version covering the hands-on aspects of self-publishing without all the philosophy behind it.  If you want to learn how to format your ebook, upload it to the various distributor platforms, and generate some visibility for it, this class is for you.

Here’s what Litreactor has to say about it…

Your Instructor: Joseph Nassise (author of Templar Chronicles Urban Fantasy Series)

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: November 26, 2012 – December 16, 2012

Enrollment: 24 Students Maximum

Class Description

Self-publishing used to be a dirty, shameful concept–the realm of authors who couldn’t crack the world of traditional publishing. But with the advent of digital publishing, the paradigm has shifted completely.

Now, self-published books are cracking best-seller lists. Even authors who’ve been traditionally published for years are testing the self-publishing waters, thanks to greater creative control and higher royalty rates. 

A new report from Bowker says more than 235,000 print and digital self-published titles are being released annually in the United States. We know it’s easy to self-publish a book. But it’s not easy to do right. Flip through the self-published offerings on Amazon and you’ll find a lot of books that are poorly edited, wrapped in garish covers, and are generally incapable of finding an audience. 

Urban fantasy author Joseph Nassise is a veteran of both traditional and digital self-publishing. He’s seen success in both, and through a lot of experimenting and perseverance, knows how to successfully format, package and sell a self-published book. 

And he’s here to show you how to do it. From advice on getting a good editor and cover designer, to proper formatting so your eBook will appear correctly on just about every digital format imaginable, Joseph will show you how to take control of your publishing destiny. 

What This Class Covers:

Week One: Ebook Design and Formatting
In this lesson students will learn how to take their manuscript and convert it into a professional looking eBook in a variety of formats.  They will gain an understanding of the best way to layout the material within the text, as well as hands-on experience in adding required elements such as an active table of contents and interior images.

Key topics will include:

  • File types per platform
  • Basic ebook layout
  • Do it yourself formatting first into html, then converting to epub/mobi
  • How to outsource the formatting and what to expect if doing so
  • Embedding images
  • Embedding sound and video

Week Two: Preparing Your Book for Sale
Presentation is everything when it comes to ebooks.  From the cover art to the downloadable sample, you want to make sure that your book is presented to the potential customer in the best possible light.

Key topics will include:

  • Creating or acquiring cover art
  • The importance of your book description
  • Keywords and how they impact visibility
  • Proper category selection
  • The need for reviews – good or bad.
  • The many theories on pricing
  • Author Central accounts

Week Three: Raising Your Visibility
With more than a million titles on the virtual shelves, authors need to find a way to raise the visibility of their book and to keep that visibility high.  This final lesson will discuss strategies to do that by using the various systems already in place via the various platforms.

Key topics will include:

  •     Categories and keywords
  •     Bestseller lists
  •     New Release lists
  •     Kindle and Nook daily picks
  •     Tagging
  •     Rankings
  •     Special programs such as KDP Select and Nook First


New Class and New Interview

My new LitReactor class – Self-Publishing in the Digital Age – starts on June 25th. If you’ve got an interest in learning how to turn your manuscript into a professional-looking ebook for sale at any of the major distributors, this class is for you.  We’re going to do just that in a step-by-step, hands-on fashion that you can use for any of your future projects as well.

Rob Hart over at LitReactor interviewed me about the class this past weekend and the results of our conversation are live over at the LitReactor site this morning.  Drop by and check it out!

And, of course, feel free to sign up for the class by clicking the banner below…


Self-Publishing in the Digital Age – new class at


I’ve recently signed on as an instructor at and will be launching my first class for them on June 25th called Self-Publishing in the Digital Age.  If you’ve got an interest in putting our your frontlist or backlist titles as ebooks but aren’t sure just where to start, this class is for you.

We’re going to be taking a manuscript of your choice from start to finish – coding and compiling into multiple ebook formats, creating and commissioning cover art that doesn’t suck, writing cover and promotional copy, choosing the right distribution platforms, devising a publications plan, and launching your first title – all in six weeks.

You can find out more about the class at

Here’s a brief description (full breakdown of individual classes and content at the link above)…

This class will help you prepare, upload, and publish your first professionally produced eBook.  Author and publisher Joseph Nassise has designed a complete and very hands-on approach, so you’ll actually be working through all the steps from formatting and design to uploading the metadata and the actual files themselves.

What’s more, you’ll understand the concepts behind independent publishing, and you’ll learn not only how to select the platforms that are best for you, but how to use those platforms in a way that makes you look like a pro. You’ll learn to design and format your book—or at the very least, what you need to know to make sure the designer you hire understands exactly what you need and can do it right. You’ll learn how to commission or develop cover art. And then we’ll take you by the hand and go through the complete process of uploading everything so it is ready for publication. All you’ll have to do after that is hit the Publish button and start earning royalties. From editing and formatting, through cover art and book description on your Amazon page, your eBook will look like it came from a legacy publisher.

This class will cover an amazing amount of material in only six weeks, and it will require some work on your part, for sure, but you’ll find that it’s all clearly laid-out, understandable, and very doable. None of your questions will go unanswered. Looking like a pro your first time on deck has never been this easy.

Writing a Killer Book Proposal – Coming April 30th

A strong novel proposal is your key to the world of publishing. Whether you are looking for an agent or marketing your latest completed work, a solid proposal is necessary to open the doors to those who can propel your writing career to a reality. But what, exactly, goes into a proposal? And how do you know if it is compelling enough to capture the reader’s attention? What makes one proposal better than another? How do I separate myself from the midst of the pack?

On April 30th I’ll once again be offering my online class, Writing a Killer Book Proposal.  This 4 week online class combines written instruction with hands-on coaching to help you craft a proposal worthy of the book it represents.

Lessons include:

  • Week One: The Elements of a Powerful Proposal
  • Week Two: Writing the Query Letter and Synopsis
  • Week Three: Making Your Sample Chapters Sing
  • Week Four:  Researching and Selecting Your Targets

By the end of the class you will have drafted a complete proposal – from cover letter to sample chapters – and will have selected a first wave of editors/agents to receive your proposal.

Students receive a written lesson each week, as well as a homework assignment.  A weekly phone call gives us time to discuss and review the assignments in detail as well as answer any questions the client might have for that week.

Start Date:                   April 30th

Cost:                            $150.00

Space Available:         15 students

The “Jump Start Your Novel” Workshop Returns!

For the last few years I’ve been teaching a workshop entitled Jump Start Your Novel which focused primarily on helping writers get better organized before they started their next novel-length writing project.  Students from my workshop have gone on to land their first agent, sell their first novel to traditional publishers, and more recently, to successfully self-publish their work while maintaining complete creative control.

With all of the publishing opportunities available to writers today, it is now more important than ever to 1) produce excellent quality work and 2) produce that work in an efficient and timely manner. 

On January 23rdth, I’m going to be kicking off another session of the Jump Start Your Novel Workshop and this year we’re going to be focused entirely on making sure that you can do those two things and do them well.

In the workshop you’ll learn:

  • Why a road map is better than an outline
  • How to properly establish your premise before you write
  • An easy way to develop your plot with the Story Flow Blueprint
  • Ways to dissect your scenes to ensure better story flow
  • The four elements of a strong beginning
  • Methods for fixing a sagging middle and delivering a rockin’ ending
  • How to keep your research from eating up all your time and energy
  • A simple method for organizing your work in progress
  • Know exactly what happens when with the time line exercise
  • The sure fire way to increase your daily productivity

The methods I teach in the workshop are the same ones I’ve used for the last eight years, selling sixteen novels to major publishers in five countries.  They are the same methods that have allowed me to increase my productivity more than 400% – from one full length novel in 2008 to five full-length novels in 2011.  They are the same methods that have allowed me to add a full slate of independently published novels into an already full writing schedule and greatly increase my income as a result.

Participants in the Jump Start Your Novel Workshop will receive a weekly lesson and, when the lesson is completed, will get written feedback and one-on-one telephonic coaching to help them understand and improve their technique.   They’ll also get a copy of the accompanying ebook that includes actual examples of how these techniques were used on a day-to-day basis while writing several of my own works.

As both a professional writer and a certified life and creativity coach, I have the experience and the skill to help both experienced writers and those new to the craft.  If you’re looking to take your writing up a notch, I’d love to work with you.

The workshop is open to twenty students and costs $150.00.  I’m happy to chat with anyone who is considering signing up and will do what I can to answer any questions you might have before hand.  Feel free to use the contact page to get in touch.

Summer Writing Intensive

There’s nothing quite like it. That feeling of walking into the bookstore and seeing your name on the cover of a new release sitting there on the shelf. It’s pretty damn magical, if I do say so myself.

But there’s also nothing quite like the feeling you get when, after waiting for weeks, sometimes months, you finally get a response from the editor or agent to whom you submitted your latest work and…it’s another rejection. Even worse, there isn’t any helpful feedback – no sense of where you went wrong or what you can do to make it better. How are you supposed to improve if no one is telling you what you’re doing wrong? How are you supposed to make yourself stand out from the thousands of other submissions they are receiving?

I know, you say to yourself, I’ll sign up for one of those live workshops. One taught by a team of successful authors. Surely they can help me, you think. But every workshop you look at costs hundreds of dollars per session, never mind what it will cost to travel and stay in the hotel for the week. By the time you’re done you’ve spent well over a thousand dollars. Who can afford that?

There has to be a better way. You know what? There is.

It’s called the Summer Writing Intensive and it’s taught by two successful authors, Jon F Merz and Joe Nassise, who have sold more than thirty books between them in the last eight years to publishers such as Simon & Schuster, Harlequin/Gold Eagle, Kensington, St. Martin’s Press, HarperCollins and Tor.

You want to be confident the next time you submit your work. You want that submission to generate interest; for that editor or agent to sit up and take notice. Ideally, that interest will turn into an offer of publication and eventually, later on down the road, you’ll be the one walking into that bookstore looking for that first sight of your new book on the shelves, waiting for a legion of crazed readers to buy it.

The Summer Writing Intensive can help get you there. Best of all, you can do it from your own home at a fraction of the cost of other writing retreats.

The workshop consists of eight live webinars; each focusing on a key element of the writing craft that you need to know in order for your manuscript stand out from the rest and to make your career what you want it to be.

Each webinar session will be an hour long and will include handouts and real-world examples to illustrate the point of each lesson. As a participant you’ll be able to ask questions and interact during all of the sessions, allowing you the opportunity to learn from your fellow participants as well as from the instructors. Transcripts of each session will be available after the workshop for you to refer back to at a later date, so you’ll always have the material on hand when you need it.

Here’s a quick look at the sessions and what you’ll be focusing on in each one:

Story Structure: Crafting a Plot that Begs the Reader to Keep Reading

In this lesson you’ll learn:

  • How proper structure is necessary for a story to work
  • Why conflict is the key to any story, regardless of genre
  • The three pillars of plot that support your story
  • The best ways to build complications that make sense and increase the conflict

Living, Breathing Characters: Make Your Heroes and Villains Come Alive

In this lesson you’ll learn:

  • Techniques to design and execute character arcs in your stories
  • How to give your heroes larger-than-life qualities
  • The proper use of backstory and how to provide context to your characters’ actions
  • How to create villains that your readers love to hate

Pacing: Getting to the Climax is Just as Important as Having a Good One

In this lesson you’ll learn:

  • How to craft an effective hook to open your story
  • The importance of adding tension to every page
  • Why so many books sag in the middle – and what you can do to prevent it from happening to yours
  • Five ways to craft a knock-out ending

Action Scenes: It’s a Gun Fight not a Ballet

In this lesson you’ll learn:

  • The basics of a fight: emotion, adrenaline, and tactics
  • Armed and unarmed fighting for writers
  • Structuring your fight scene so it leaves the reader breathless
  • Does it make sense? Understanding anatomy and how the body responds to being punched, pulled and crushed

Revision: Sharpen that Knife, Baby!

In this lesson you’ll learn:

  • How proper structure can keep your revision work to a minimum
  • Specific techniques to organize your revision work so that you don’t waste unnecessary time
  • How to know what to revise and what to leave alone
  • Ways to polish the good stuff to make it great

Proposals: In Order to Sell, it has to Sing

In this lesson you’ll learn:

  • The three key elements of a great proposal
  • How to write a synopsis that grabs them by the throat and won’t let go
  • How to write a query letter an agent or editor will actually read – then act upon!
  • Ways to craft a proposal package that will have your editor or agent wanting more

Social Media Marketing: Using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to Build Your Career and Promote Your Work

In this lesson you’ll learn:

  • What’s behind the Facebook craze and why it’s important to you
  • The difference between a solid Twitter presence and a poor one
  • How using LinkedIn can enhance your career and provide opportunities you might have otherwise missed
  • How to measure and monitor your social media impact

Digital Editions: Stop Leaving Money on the Table

In this lesson you’ll learn:

  • What you need to know before putting digital editions of your work up for sale
  • Tips and tricks to properly format your book for sale on the Kindle
  • How to get format and upload your book for sale on the iPad
  • Ways to promote and publicize your digital editions to make the most of your offerings

The techniques Joe and Jon will be teaching in the workshop have helped them write and sell successful novels in a variety of genres – here’s just a sample of what they’ve published recently:

Better yet, the workshop has been designed with the would-be author’s pocketbook in mind. You get:

  • Eight sessions focused on improving your craft
  • Handouts and real-world examples to help you put the techniques into action
  • A written transcript of each session
  • Feedback and advice from two bestselling writers

All for just $125.00

The workshop begins July 21st and runs through Sept 8th, meeting each Wednesday night. Sessions start at 9:00 pm EST and run for an hour. (If you have to miss a session, the workshop transcript and materials can be sent to you following the session.)

If you’re thinking about submitting your work in the next few months, you don’t want to miss the Summer Writing Intensive. We’re limited to 100 slots, so get your registration in early!

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