Welcome to Lawson Writer's Academy!Margie Cartooon

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Lawson Writer's Academy offers online classes for writers of all genres. Cyber classrooms offer . . .


When you register for a course, the lectures are included. No need to purchase a lecture packet.


To Register:

1. Create an account-- If you already have an LWA account, log in below.

2. Log In.

3. Register for online class.


Questions? Contact Margie Lawson.

Courses Available:

Click on course name to see full description.

  • May, 2015: Indie Insider: Smart Indie Publishing

    Instructor:  R. L. Syme

    May 4 - 29;  Fee:  $50

    Ever wished you could sit around with a bunch of successful indie authors, get the inside scoop, and ask your questions? You want to figure out where to go next, how to get yourself started, or maybe what it takes to jump to the "next level."

    Hearing author's experiences in context is important, but being able to formulate strategy based on those experiences is more important.

    Indie Insider will be full of stories from best-selling authors in multiple genres, talking about their ups and their not-so-ups. Then, we will dissect those stories and create strategies that can work for you.

    Indie Insider will cover all the major journey-to-indie basics: books, platforms, business models, marketing, sourcing, tracking, decisions, resources, goals... There will even be a session where you can ask any no-holds-barred questions, talk about what you've heard, and decipher what's myth and what's really possible.

    Each lesson will be loaded with inside information, including an interview with a best-selling indie or hybrid author (from the NYT to the USA to the international markets and digital platforms). Whether they went indie first, or published traditionally... whether they are hybrid or self-published... whether they distribute their own books or use aggregators... This business is big enough that everyone can chop a different path out of the same jungle.

    Indie Author Interviews with:

         -- Lauren Royal

         -- Steena Holmes

         -- Cassandra Carr

         -- Krystal Shannan

         -- Keira Montclair

         -- Amy Jarecki

    The goal of the class is to collate the information that's out there, add your unique personality and stage-in-life/career, and synthesize a strategy that makes the most sense for you and your journey. In short, to practice Smart Indie Publishing.

    Join best-selling indie author and certified development coach R.L. Syme for a four-week look at the smartest way for you to be your own publishing boss.

    View more information and enroll
  • May, 2015: Screenwriting Strategies for Fiction Writers

    Instructor: Susie McCauley

    March 2 - 27;  Fee: $50

    Do you want to learn how to apply screenwriting structure and universal character archetypes to make your fiction compelling? Make sure your plot points are in the right places? And that the acts don’t run too long?

    If so, then join screen and fiction writer, Susie McCauley, and learn to apply structure techniques and character archetypes based on Christopher Vogler’s international bestseller The Writer’s Journey. We will also examine plot and character ideas from Robert McKee, Carl Jung, Aristotle, and more.

    In this course, we will:

    •  Look at how to use the three act structure to strengthen your story
    •  Look in depth at Act I, Act II, and Act III of story and discover the important elements required to drive the story forward
    • Define important moments within the three act structure
    • Look deeply at your story in terms of the three act structure (or help you plan your story if you haven’t yet started writing)
    • Examine character archetypes and the roles they play in story
    • Look deeply at your characters and find ways to enrich them through the psychological power of universal archetypes
    • Discover how your plot and characters work together to create a compelling story

    In this four week course, an abundance of learning opportunities will promote discussion and give you plenty of opportunity to learn from each other. Submitting work will allow you to put the theory to work and benefit from classmates feedback. And as a multi-Margie grad with a masters in writing from the University of Southern California, I'll dig in to your examples and help make your work shine. 

    Susie McCauley:  

    I love writing. I wrote my first screenplay when I was eight years old, and shot it on a camcorder with my cousins. That was just the beginning of a long and exciting journey . . .

    I have a B.A. in Radio-Television with a minor in Theater from the University of Houston, an M.F.A. in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California, and an M.A. in Text & Performance from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and King’s College in London. (I also studied professional acting for two years with Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic ParkIndependence Day) in Los Angeles.)

    While living in Los Angeles, I worked as a writer, actress, producer, and college English instructor. During that time, I wrote the story for and produced a short film, which later won awards at the Houston International Film Festival and the Seabrook Film Festival. In 2002, I moved to London. In London, my stage adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose” was performed as well as scenes from my play The Prisoner: Princess Elizabeth. I returned to the U.S. in 2005. In 2007, I was the line producer of the Emmy Award nominated Civil War short film Now & Forever Yours: Letters to an Old Soldier.  My short story "The Nest" was published in an anthology in 2014. My next short story, "The Cask", will be released in 2015, and is currently being made into a short film. I am a contributing writer for Writers Who Love Readers website: www.Readerlicious.com. You can also visit me on the web at www.sbmccauley.com

    I’m currently polishing my second middle grade novel, and I teach writing for the University of Houston Clear Lake and Lawson’s Writer’s Academy

    View more information and enroll
  • May, 2015: Lights! Camera! TENSION!

    Instructor:  Sarah Hamer

    May 4 - 29;  Fee: $50

    What keeps us reading?  Is it the characters? (Maybe) Or the plot?  (Probably not)  Or the setting?  (Not!)

    I believe it's the tension.  It's the heart-racing, surprise-around-every-corner, what's-going-to-happen-next tension that keeps me turning that page, because tension belongs:

    ·        In every book

    ·        In every scene

    ·        On every page

    Without it, who cares?  The whole story falls flat.

    In this class, we'll drill deep to find exactly what creates tension in a scene or a character and we'll learn dozens of ways to make sure you'll use Margie's orange highlighter at all the right moments.

    These include:

    Tension through dialogue and subtext

    Tension through goals and conflict

    Tension between characters' agendas

    Tension within the characters

    Tension in the pacing - too much is just as bad as too little

    When we're done, you'll have a whole toolbox full of ways to add tension to your story - so that your reader won't be able to put it down.

    Sarah (Sally) Hameris eternally fascinated by people and how they 'tick' and works hard to incorporate individual idiosyncrasies to create living, breathing characters in her many works of fiction. She writes in many genres - mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, medieval history, non-fiction - and has won awards at both local and national levels, including two Golden Heart finals.

    A teacher of beginning and advanced creative fiction writing and screenwriting at Louisiana State University - S for over ten years, she also is a book coach, with many of her students and critique partners becoming successful, award-winning authors.

    View more information and enroll
  • May, 2015: It's All About Character: Using Character Themed Words

    Instructor: Elizabeth Essex

    Dates: May, 2015; Fee: $50

    This course will teach writers how to find and use character-themed words specific to their heroes, heroines, and even villains. Every word in your novel should serve two purposes: to move the plot forward and give greater insight into the characters.

    Using character-themed words will grab your reader’s attention and hold it throughout the novel. Readers remember real characters. Characters that are so fully-developed, they walk off the page and into our hearts.

    Editors, agents and great teachers like Margie Lawson talk about fresh writing, but that term is sometimes difficult to understand. To me, fresh writing means showing the reader the world of the novel through the fresh and unique eyes of each character.

    I will teach you how to get inside the minds of your characters by using “power words,” “scene-themed words,” but more especially “character-driven words.”

     -  Power words give strong images & associations, and drive up tension.

    -  Scene-themed words give vital information about where and when we are in the story.

    -  Character-driven words give insight into the mind & thoughts of our characters.

    Each teaching point will be illustrated by stellar writing from a variety of best-selling authors in multiple genres. Delve deep into the fresh waters of Character Driven Writing.

    Elizabeth Essex is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Reckless Brides series of  historical romances for St. Martin’s Press. When not rereading Jane Austen, mucking about in her garden, or simply messing about with boats, Elizabeth writes, and has done so for over twenty years. She graduated from Hollins College with a BA in Classics and Art History, and then earned her MA in Nautical Archaeology from Texas A&M University. While she loved the life of an underwater archaeologist, she has found her true calling writing historical romance full of passion, daring and adventure.

    Elizabeth is a multi-Margie grad, having taken all of Margie’s core classes, either on-line or in workshop, and has survived two Immersion Master Classes. As a result of this painful dedication to craft, her books have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and RWA’s prestigious RITA Award, and have made Top-Ten lists from Romantic Times, The Romance Reviews and Affaire de Coeur Magazine, and Desert Isle Keeper status at All About Romance. Her fifth book, A BREATH OF SCANDAL, was awarded Best Historical in the Reader’s Crown 2013.

    She has taught her “It’s All About Character” Class to numerous writing groups, including the Yellow Rose Romance Writers, Dallas Area Romance Writers, and Writer’s Guild of North Texas.

    View more information and enroll
  • May, 2015: Creating Reader's Guides for Young Adult and Middle Grade Novels

    Instructor: Koreen Myers

    May 4 - 29;   Fee: $40

    For many authors, the hardest part of the publishing world isn't writing a book. The tough part is getting those stories into the hands of readers. Authors who write young adult and middle grade fiction have a perfect place to market their work—schools.

    Entice teachers to use your books over others by making their jobs easier. Ever seen those 'No Fear' guides students use for books in school? Create your own guides. Many teachers use author/publisher-generated questions for discussion and activities.

    However, many authors don't take advantage of this key marketing strategy because the thought of collecting all of that information and organizing it into a guide may sound daunting. What should I include? What do teachers/students need or want? Can my novel compete with 'the classics'?

    No fear. No one is more authorized to create a guide for your novel than you are. In this session, you will learn how to create a simple, easy-to-use guides which can be used to lead discussions, enhance learning, and get your novel in front of readers: adults and teens and middle graders.

    This course will show you...

    · Easy ways to generate discussion questions (for book clubs and for teachers)

    · Activities to entice teens with different learning styles (art, music, science, etc.)

    · Online puzzle generators (for bonus materials)

    · How to calculate your story's readability score (which grade-level to market)

    · Where to find Common Core standards for those grades

    · How to apply 1-2 standards to your novel (easy way to make school administrators happy)

    · How to relate nonfiction articles (big for the new standards)

    · Ways to include supplemental materials (pictures, videos, etc.)

    · Places to market your guides (for teachers and teens)

    · And much much more!

    Koreen Myers is an award-winning writer who has the ability to bring together the nerd-power of a techie and the emotional empathy of a writer. She has a BA in English/art through Adams State College—Go Grizzlies—and a MA in educational technology through CSU Sacramento. She worked her way through college by taking pictures and writing articles for newspapers and magazines. Since her college days, she's taught courses in English, writing and technology for students ranging in age from 6th grade to adult. She uses her visual media background, teaching experience, and  technology skills to help Margie grads become super-empowered writers.

    View more information and enroll
  • Immersion Central

    Immersion Central

    A powerful gathering place for Immersion Master Class Grads!

    Click in and check it out!

    If you're an Immersion grad, email Margie and she'll add you to the list.

    View more information and enroll
  • April, 2015: Diving Deep into Developmental Edits

    Diving Deep into Developmental Edits

    April 5 - May 31;   Fee: $90

    Your words shine and each line glisten. But you’re still getting rejections!

    Pansters and plotters, at some point you’re going to have to step back from the words, the lines, and even the paragraphs, and look at the big picture issues.

    Diving deep into developmental edits is an intense fourteen lecture course for those writers who have finished at least one draft of a novel.

    This course is all about seeing your work as an editor, and learning how to analyze what you have on the page, so you can make the big decisions that will take your novel from fine to powerful.

    This two-month course is packed full of tips, ideas, and learning opportunities not only aimed at helping writers make their current work in progress shine, but also teaching writers how to make future novels stronger.

    With a completed draft in hand, writers will work independently or with a partner to hone their big picture editing skills and learn techniques for:

    • Play by genre/category rules and target markets.
    • Look at typical novel structure and where and how your work falls into the norms, and what to do if you’re way off.

    How to tackle a first read:

    • Reconcile the  character on your page with the one in your mind.
    • Discover and develop story themes. 
    • Turn plodding plots into powerful plots. Pick pacing, logic and not missing those missed opportunities.
    • Identify killer beginnings and how to up yours to a beginning that deserves a life sentence.
    • Empower those murky middles.
    • Create kick-A.. endings.

    How to tackle  the second read:

    • Dive into deep point of view.
    • Find and keep voice and style.
    • Take dialog from stilted to rich.
    • Discover how to share a scene versus tell a scene.

    Third read focuses on:

    • Use setting to its best.
    • Use narrative summary and exposition effectively.
    • Polish stories until they shine.

    And so much more!

    Be sure to visit the class and read how to get started before class begins.

    With a plethora of examples, assignments, and Rhay’s--Let’s think about this--we’ll explore, discover, and unlock the mysteries of developmental edits.

    About Rhay Christou: Two of the things I love are teaching and creative writing. With my MFA in writing from Vermont College, I have had the great fortune to combine them. I’ve taught everything from creative writing to academic writing at the university level as well as writing workshops in the USA and on the lovely island of Cyprus, in Greece, where I live.

    I teach three other courses online for Lawson Writer's Academy:  Create Compelling Characters, From Blah to Beats: Giving Chapters a Heart and Diving into Deep Point of View.


    View more information and enroll
  • April, 2015: Story Structure Safari

    Instructor:  Lisa Miller

    April 1 - 30;  Fee: $60

    Beautiful words and exciting scenes aren't enough to propel the reader through a novel. Stories need structure, a plan, a focus from beginning to end.

    Story Structure Safari will guide you through the dense jungle of information about story. Our trek will include excursions into the lands of Story Structure and Transformational Character Arcs and Plot.

    We'll step back and explore the sweeping overview of several popular novels and movies to explain and reinforce the concepts. We'll also take some intimate hikes to zoom in on the work and knowledge of plot and story structure superstars.

    Throughout the class, I'll share information from award-winning authors and writing experts including James Scott Bell, Nancy Pickard, and Larry Brooks. They will discuss how they structure their stories for success. Editor Deborah Halverson, and plot consultant Martha Alderson, The Plot Whisperer, will talk about story structure strategies. Strategies that will strengthen your chance to sell.

    Using a variety of techniques, you'll have opportunities to infuse these ideas into your story, creating a tantalizing experience for the reader.

    Reactions of past students:

    "I only wish I did this course 10 years ago. Heck, even 1 year ago would have made a difference."

    "This has been one of the best classes I've ever taken -- Ever! I am so pleased that I am pretty much ready to finalize my outline and start writing. I struggled with Story concepts but now feel I have a much firmer grasp than I ever have. I've taken Robert McKee's Story workshop and others, but found them very theoretical - which is great, but it wasn't until I was able to practically apply these concepts through the exercises Lisa so carefully prepared that I understood what I needed to in order to plot/write my book."

    "I LOVED the methodology you taught and from the moment that we had divided our novel into quadrants I was hooked. Before Safari, I had been stuck for a couple of months with my story idea but hadn't done anything with it besides research (even though I'd really tried) and in your class I realized it was because it was such a big story (first time I'd truly tackled a full-length novel) that the idea of writing it by the seat of my pants was very overwhelming. It was like dropping someone into a country they're unfamiliar with and then saying, "see you in X town" and then leaving them there. Safari gave me a map and a compass and a GPS device."

    "Your feedback on things was priceless. The information and the timeliness of your responses were fantastic."

    "This class was great in helping me see just where my story wasn't working."

    "Impressed with the calibre of this course, how the material was handled and how it was presented. I could tell that our instructor cared about the craft of writing and hoped to pass on her knowledge - I'm a bit of a course junkie and had been looking for this type of course: nuts and bolts of the how to's, nothing skimmed over."

    Lisa, this class went beyond my expectations. I started it feeling that I really didn't need the class. My story was fine. I felt that I was taking too many classes and not focusing on my writing. I was very wrong. I needed this class TO focus on my writing. This helped me pull together so many weak parts of my story. I could never do outlines for stories. Never really liked them, but this felt so loose and free like writing should be. I am amazed at the time you dedicated to this class and for so little money. I was bragging about this class to anyone who would listen. Most of all, you showed me I can make time to write. It's all about focus and dedication and pushing yourself to be better. Lisa, you are just a marvel. I am humbled by your wisdom, appreciative of your time and encouraged by what you have taught. This was a well spent month. I will miss spending so much time with you. Thank you!

    "Lisa, thank you so much for a class that has gone way beyond anything I expected. This class has been so important for me that almost daily I have shaken my head in wonder and pleasure at the ah-has and the knowledge that I've been getting from it. It has been one of the most exciting classes I've ever done! I have learned that my rather different story of a woman's life does fit a framework and I now have a clear view of where I need to emphasise the developments within the framework so that the reader can understand where they are and the significance of those developments. This includes inserting the right text, mood, hints etc into dialogue, action, description, narrative, the lot. It would have been great to have taken this class a couple of years ago, but then I wouldn't have had the grip on my story that I have now, and this has contributed to my excellent progress in this class.

    Lisa Miller is a 26-year veteran teacher, as well as a certified counselor. She branched out to pursue her long time passion for writing fiction six years ago. A graduate of all things Margie Lawson, Lisa created and coordinates the DSDB Alumni Yahoo Loop. Not always finding the writing classes she needs, Lisa scours the internet and how-to books for self-instruction. She  funneled that knowledge into an online course and merged it with her teaching skills in a desire to share what she has discovered with other writers who want to strengthen their stories.

    View more information and enroll
  • April, 2015: Creating That Historical Feel

    Instructor:  Anne Mateer

    April 1 - 30;  Fee: $50

    Course Description

    Writing historical fiction involves more than dressing your characters in vintage clothing. It requires building an entire historical world which transports your readers to another time and place. Sound daunting? Not really. A little bit of research can go a long way if you know the kinds of things to look for.
    In this four week course, we will explore what makes a novel “historical” and what makes a novel feel historical to a reader. We’ll each choose a time period and place to work with through the course, then we’ll discuss and practice:  
    • Balancing fact and fiction
    • Understanding the “big” history of an era  
    • Discovering the realities of daily life for your characters
    • Enhancing the historical feel with clothing and culture
    • Avoiding anachronistic characters
    • Getting the words right in narrative and dialogue
    • Putting together the final product
    If you are just beginning to delve into writing historical fiction, this class is for you. So grab your time machine and let’s go! 

    Anne Mateer is the author of four historical novels with Bethany House publishers. She has had a passion for both history and fiction since she first began reading as a child. Armed with a B.A. in history from Southern Methodist University, she enjoys exploring the lives of characters from bygone eras, both factual and fictional. 

    View more information and enroll
  • April, 2015: Love Your Voice

    Instructor: Julie Rowe

    April 1 - 30;  Fee: $40

    Every writer wants a fabulous voice. This workshop helps identify what makes your voice special, and shows how to capitalize on your natural strengths, with a look at the seven key elements of every author's unique voice. Participants will see specific examples of how each one works, followed by writing exercises that provide them with the tools to refine, polish, and -- depending on the kind of writing they want to pursue -- possibly even change their Voice.

    The elements include:


    • Emotion: How much? What kind? How do you show it?
    • Core Story/Theme: The core idea that inspired your novel
    • Setting & Description: Environment is a critical element of Voice
    • Pacing: An art of its own
    • Conflict: What characters want and why they can't have it
    • Characterization: Who you write about and how you develop them
    • Mechanics: The rules of writing and when to break them


    Julie Rowe writes contemporary and historical medical romance, and fun romantic suspense for Carina Press and Entangled Publishing.

    In late 2011 Julie began creating tweets for Carina Press's new releases as a way to show her support to her fellow authors. She continues to post two unique tweets for each book on release day.  

    Julie's writing has also appeared in several magazines such as Romantic Times magazine, Today's Parent, and Canadian Living. You can reach her at www.julieroweauthor.com , on Twitter @julieroweauthor or at her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/JulieRoweAuthor

    View more information and enroll
  • Jan-April, 2015: Fab 30: Advanced Deep Editing, A Master Course

    Instructor: Margie Lawson

    January 19 - April 20:  Fee: $175

    Three Prerequisites, Online Courses or Lecture Packets:

    1. Empowering Characters' Emotions

    2. Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More

    3. Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist

    Do you want to dig deep into deep editing?

    Do you want to work in an advanced class with all multi-Margie-grads?

    Do you want Margie's Deep Edit Analysis for 30 pages of your WIP?

    If so, this squeal-it's-a-deal class is for you!

    Lectures will be short, compared to Margie's other courses. Emphasis is on applying deep editing to your WIP.

    We'll focus on making each word, line, sentence, paragraph, page, and scene provide a clear, smooth, empowered read.

    Enrollment is limited to 30.

    Join me in Fab 30 and give your writing and writing career a rocket-powered boost!

    View more information and enroll