top of page


Sessions taught by best-selling authors





4-3-24: The Story Cube: An In-depth Exploration of What Truly Lies at the Heart of All Great Stories


Instructor: Steven James


Three consecutive Wednesdays at 4 pm Pacific Time

Beginning April 3, 2024

Part 1: April 3; Part 2: April 10; Part 3: April 17

3 ZOOM Sessions

CLASS FEE: $49.99



Ever since Aristotle, story theorists have been looking at story through a temporal lens—beginning, middle, and end, or first act, second act, and third act. But what if there was another way of conceptualizing story on a more elemental level? What if there was a way of understanding story that was easy to visualize and remember and that would apply to any genre you write? Well, there is, and in this in-depth seminar you’ll learn how it can transform your writing and storytelling forever.


In Part 1, you'll learn:


●  What a story really is (it might surprise you!).

●  The specific things that your opening needs to accomplish, no matter what genre you write in.

●  Why every story that doesn’t entertain collapses in on itself—and what to do about that.

●  How to use settings to either inhibit your character’s pursuit or enhance it.


In Part 2, you'll learn: 


●  The three realms of struggles within a story and what readers expect to happen within each of them.

●  The centrality of tension, its propulsive force to drive a story forward, and how to enhance it through unmet desire.

●  Why struggles are incubators for growth and why sacrifices that mean nothing to characters mean nothing to readers.

●  Specific tips on creating moral dilemmas that will engage readers, reveal characterization, and add intriguing, unpredictable climaxes.


In Part 3, you'll learn: 


●  Why the necessity of “rising action” is a myth and what to include instead.

●  How to create believable twists that won’t feel too contrived, too predictable, or too outlandish.

●  The difference between stated and implied narrative promises, why it matters, and when to use each of them.

●  Why it’s much more important to be able to state your dilemma than your theme.

Steven James Website: 

4-29-24: Sources of Inspiration For Writers


Instructor: Joseph Badal

Monday, April 29, 2024, 4 pm Pacific

CLASS FEE: $15.99



If you're stumped about what to write, there are several sources of inspiration you can draw upon to help you find the inspirational subject that matches your passion for writing. Award-winning author Joseph Badal will describe the sources of inspiration behind several of his suspense novels and will engage the students in writing exercises to help them identify their own sources of inspiration and to select that one source that can become their next story.

Joseph Badal's Website:

5-8-24: Writing the TV Drama Pilot


Instructor: Matt Witten

Wednesday, May 8, 2024, 4 pm Pacific

CLASS FEE: $29.99



SPECIAL OFFER: Purchase along with Lt. Brandon Watkins' Class as Bundle and save: 

$49.99 for both classes


You have a great idea for a TV pilot. How do you turn it into a pilot script that might actually get made - and at the very least, will be a great sample that can get you work writing for television? This class is a road map for how to take your glimmer of an idea through the outline stage to a finished script.

Matt Witten's Website:

5-14-24: Constructing/Deconstructing the Perfect Fictional Murder


Instructor—DP Lyle--Outliers Co-Creator and VP Education

Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 4 pm Pacific

A ZOOM Session

CLASS FEE: $29.99




When your antagonist plans and executes "The Perfect Murder," he always,

ALWAYS makes a mistake or two. These errors ultimately lead your sleuth to the solution. In this session, I will “construct” the perfect murder in every detail—the where, when, how, and why. I will then don the hat of the protagonist and “deconstruct” the crime while considering the many variables that make plotting a murder fun for the writer and a disaster for the antagonist. I will discuss the killer's Pre-Crime Behavior, the steps taken to "do the deed," and his Post-Crime Behavior from social, psychological, forensics, investigative, and motivational points of view.


The goal is to show you how to create a detailed, realistic, and suspenseful plot and kick you story up a notch.



5-22-24: Make It Real: A Q&A With Homicide Investigator Lt. Brandon Watkins


Instructor: Lt. Brandon Witkins, Homicide Detecive, Tusla OK Police Department

Wednesday, May 22, 2024, 4 pm Pacific

CLASS FEE: $29.99



SPECIAL OFFER: Purchase along with Matt Witten's Class as Bundle and save:

$49.99 for both classes


Have a problem with your detective novel that needs a real world solution? Ask Lt. Brandon Watkins, the lead homicide investigator for the Tulsa Police Department (as seen on the First 48 on A&E), who brings 27 years and nearly 400 homicide investigations' experience to your questions. Students can send in specific questions before the class and get an answer to their dilemma. 


Students will learn how a detective gets selected, what kind of experience goes into picking a detective, and what is expected of a new detective on day one. Further, students will learn how a detective gets assigned a case, how the first steps of an investigation are important (or completely unimportant) and why speed in an investigation is crucial for detectives. Learn the methods that detectives use in an interrogation, how important it is to get an confession and why lies can be almost as useful as facts when interviewing a suspect. Students will also learn about the common impediments to an investigation and how detectives have to overcome them, the political pressures behind homicide investigations and the behind the scenes drama that doesn't make it to the pages and screens of police procedurals. 

6-12-24: The Autopsy of a Thriller: Deconstructing The Terminator


Instructor DP Lyle--Outliers Co-Creator and VP Education


Wednesday. June 12, 2024, 4 pm Pacific

A ZOOM Session

CLASS Fee: $29.99




How do you learn to plot your story? How do you determine the sequence of your scenes and when to reveal the key story elements to the reader, or viewer? How do you build tension scene by scene and keep the reader/viewer engaged? What will keep readers turning the pages, and viewers on the edge of their seats?


Mastering the plot can make your story sing, or fall flat.


The best way to develop this skill is to deconstruct successful plots. See what makes them work. And then, apply this knowledge to your own stories.


In this class, we will undertake a scene-by-scene analysis of The Terminator—“the perfect thriller.” We will look at storytelling by showing how this movie follows the 3-act structure, progressively raises the stakes, ramps up the tension, and forces the protagonist, Sarah Conner, to alter virtually everything in her life, heart, and soul in perhaps the greatest character arc ever.  You will learn techniques that will allow you to analyze other stories and ultimately master plotting.


7-10-24: Crack the Amazon Code: Earn More Royalties, Sell More Books, and Promote Your Author Career!


Instructor: Vincent Davis

A 4-Part Interactive ZOOM Workshop

Part 1: 7-10-24; Part 2: 7-17-24; Part 3: 7-24-24; Part 4: 7-31-24

Each at 4 pm Pacific Time



Part 1: Amazon Boot Camp

Amazon is where books are sold. Nearly 80% of all eBooks are sold on Amazon, and upwards of 40% of paperbacks are sold there as well. But if other online stores feel like barren deserts, sometimes Amazon can feel like attempting to sell in shark-infested waters. But there are tools and tricks available to all authors to improve their visibility on Amazon, and in this intensive we’ll be discussing some of the very best. We’ll go over the basics of metadata (keywords and categories), price points and price promotions, and the benefits of Amazon exclusivity. Whether you’re a bestseller or a first-time author, this course will give you additional tools to help your book become more discoverable on the world’s largest bookstore.


Part 2: Book Launch Myths, and What You Should Do Instead

There are a few things we’re all told we need to do around a launch. Pre-orders, reviews, sales, and best seller’s lists, the list of tips are endless. But many of these common industry tropes are outdated or aren’t grounded in what works with Amazon’s algorithms in the first place. In this class, you’ll learn what strategies and tips really work to make your launch as successful as possible, and avoid actions that are unhelpful or downright hurtful to your book’s long-term sales success.


Part 3: How To Make Money with Self-publishing

Most authors would write full time if they had the ability to do so, but few have that option. With bills to pay, mouths to feed, and lifestyles to maintain, most authors don’t have the luxury to leave their day jobs. On top of that, getting a book self-published can also be very expensive and the publishing arena is consistently competitive. So, is there any way to earn an income with your writing? In this course, author Vincent Davis will help you develop the proper business practices and foster the correct mindset to begin earning consistent royalties on your books. It’s never easy, with dedication and hard work, you too can begin your path to becoming a full-time author.


Part 4: How to Revive a Dead Book

You published a book. Maybe the launch went well, and you sold a lot of copies. Maybe you even won awards of hit a best seller’s list. However, in the days, weeks, months, and even years since then, the book has fallen into obscurity. That’s what some Amazon experts call the “Amazon Blackhole” the commonplace phenomenon where books are only found by using the exact title or author name, rather than being discovered organically. But there is a plethora of ways to give new life to an old book. No matter how long it’s been, or how slow sales are, a book can have new life. There is nothing more valuable to authors than their published titles, but many authors and publishers abandon books that haven’t sold well or have grown stale. Now, we no longer have too. With the strategies we’ll discuss in this class, you can make your book(s) relevant again, and achieve heights never considered possible previously.

7-15-24: A Book Proposal Coach’s Secrets To Selling Your Book


Instructor: Amy B. Scher

Non-fiction is almost always sold “on proposal.” That means you get to show publishers what you plan to write, but don’t actually have to write it until you get a book deal. It’s pretty awesome. But there’s a catch. Your proposal, which outlines your project for a publisher, has to be so insanely good that editors fall in love with it and believe that readers will, too. It has to be not only a good idea or good writing, but a solid business proposition. The problem? Most writers can’t get there alone. They simply don’t think like business proposal writers. But Amy is going to change that. In this 90-minute class, she’ll tell you exactly what she does to make sure the editor sees why a book must be published, along with why the author is the right person to write it and why it has to be now. Using guided prompts, formulas, and exercises, you’ll  learn exactly what you must include in your proposal to get attention for your work—and exactly how to say it for the greatest impact. Ready to share all the tips and tricks she’s learned over the years, you’ll do some of the actual writing during class and leave with confidence, knowing exactly what you need to do to finish strong.



AMY B. SCHER is known as a secret weapon to literary agents and editors because she helps them sell books. Amy has sold five of her own books on proposal plus has helped countless others make their book deal dreams come true, too.She is the bestselling author of five books which have been translated into over 20 languages. Amy’s work helps people break through blocks to become their happiest, healthiest, and most creative selves. With over a decade’s experience in publishing, business, and marketing (former marketing director for Harley-Davidson), she has a knack for seamlessly combining the necessary elements a proposal needs. She helps authors think like a “business person” to write a compelling book proposal that gets noticed—and garners offers for a deal. Her work has been featured in Oprah Daily, CNN, CBS, Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Good Morning America, and more. She lives in New York City. 


Amy’s Website:

8-7-24: Missing Persons Investigations: The Nuts, Bolts, and Inside Information

Instructor: PI and Retired NYPD Investigator John Ferriso

John's Website:

Three consecutive Wednesdays at 4 pm Pacific Time

Beginning August 7, 2024

Part 1: August 7; Part 2: August 14; Part 3: August 21



People go missing for a variety of reasons. The investigation that follows possesses many moving parts and requires the involvement of numerous personnel and the consumption of many resources. Join PI and retired NYPD Investigator John Ferriso for a three-part, in-depth look into these complex investigations.


PART 1: From the 911 caller to the detective squad office investigation

* The 911 caller – who is the caller and what they are saying? 

* The first officer at the scene – usually the rookie cop. 

* What is considered a missing person?

* What is not considered a missing person? 

* The preliminary search – where searched and why.

* The Detective Squad office investigation and social media

* The suicide – where usually located.  

* The child abduction – the needed resources.  

PART 2: The case work dynamics.  

* The lead investigator – who and why. 

* The inner workings of the casework- why utilized now.  

* The office cop humor. 

* The psychic caller – when they call and what they say.  

* The online sleuth – the good, bad, and in-between.  

* The detective personalities – social worker, top cop, and all in-between.   

* The private investigator- the paradox of a separate investigation. 


PART 3 : The targeted investigation to the cold case. 

* The suspect- family friends or the neighbor. 

* The crime scene- what Hollywood has incorrect. 

* The outside jurisdictions. 

* Re-interviews of past witnesses. 

* The surveillance - or the harassment. 

* Conferral with District Attorney.  

* When does a case become a cold case? 

* How a cold case is investigated.

bottom of page