Melissa Baron is the author of "Twice in a Lifetime," a speculative time travel romance that grapples with mental health issues. "Twice in a Lifetime" received a starred Publishers Weekly review and has been featured on Buzzfeed, Locus Magazine, and Oh Reader. It was a December 2022 Aardvark Book Club pick, and selected for the award-winning Sweet Reads subscription book box.
She is currently working on her second novel, and specializes in writing speculative, romance, horror, and women's fiction. She was a featured panelist at The Heartland Fall Forum, led by the Midwest and Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, and writes regularly for Book Riot.
Baron studied English literature at Governors State University and graduated from the Denver Publishing Institute at the University of Denver. She has also worked as a copywriter for a digital media agency and a technical writer for the financial industry.
How to Build Your Author Brand
Themes: Writing, Publishing, Creativity, Marketing
Now more than ever, being a writer is more than just about writing the book. Even traditionally published authors are taking on more and more of the marketing efforts to promote their books, but it goes deeper than that: once you are a writer, whether you are published or not, success often means approaching your writing career as a business—and all businesses require branding. In this case, you are the brand.
This session will de-mystify and de-stress the process of building your author brand. Creating an author persona for yourself can be a remarkably freeing way to navigate a writing career, particularly if you are a private or introverted individual. Topics covered will include:
- Finding your writing niche
- Identifying your target audience
- Creating your personal style guide: your voice, tone, overall theme and visual imagery
- Social media tips and tactics
- Tools to help polish your marketing efforts (Canva, MailChimp, Link.tree)
How to Write that First Draft
Themes: Writing, Publishing, Creativity
In order to have a book written, you have to start writing it. Starting can sometimes be the biggest hurdle. How do you take an idea and turn it into a book? Moreover, how do you finish a completed first draft of that book in a reasonable amount of time, so you don't end up tinkering with it for 3+ years?
This session will provide a blueprint for helping attendees get started on writing and finishing their first draft, which will include:
- The power of brainstorming: why it's necessary and helpful to daydream and think about your book well before putting pen to paper
- The discipline of writing regularly: not writing every day, mind you, but writing as consistently as your schedule allows, including some tactics on how to keep motivation to write high
- The importance of taking breaks: how intentionally pausing to read and rest can help complete that draft faster
- Pantsing versus plotting: the value and virtues of both writing tactics
- Drafting without editing: tips and tricks to keep yourself from stopping to edit as you write
The Power of Being Vulnerable
Themes: Mental Health, Personal Growth, Empowerment
Mental and chronic illnesses are still largely stigmatized in today's world, and that prevents those of us who do have mental or chronic illnesses from being our authentic selves out loud to our loved ones and to the world at large. That stigma can also promote a level of shame and self-doubt that is detrimental to our personal growth and well-being.
This session will encourage session attendees to engage in the kind of journey that the main character of "Twice in a Lifetime," Isla, goes through by learning how to:
- Be vulnerable
- Ask for help
- Challenge yourself
- Be unapologetic and honest regarding your mental or chronic illness.
I will also draw from my personal experiences with vulnerability to demonstrate the power and importance of being vulnerable—because the most vulnerable thing I did was write about my own anxiety disorder, panic attacks, depression, and chronic illness in "Twice in a Lifetime." I let the world see what I used to be ashamed of admitting, and sharing that journey and those struggles was one of the most empowering and rewarding experiences of my life. Session attendees can absolutely experience this by practicing the art of being vulnerable.
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