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.

  • August, 2014: 30 Days to a Stronger Novel

    Instructor: Lisa Wells

    Aug 1 - 30;  Fee: $40


    Change is hard work. But that's what it takes if you're trying to land an agent or a contract and all you get is rejections.

    30 Days to a Stronger Novel is for all frustrated writers who have spent their hard earned money on books and conferences only to realize that their manuscripts are receiving a "Pass" from agents and editors.
    If you've read the how-to books, attended the conferences, have mastered the art of story structure, and know your grammar rules, you're only halfway there. Sure - you have a manuscript that is better than most being sent to agents and editors. But better than most is not getting you published. Why? Because your manuscript is not yet at the WOW level.
    It doesn't matter if your plot points and pinch points are all in the right places. Or if your character arcs are stupendous. Of if your hooks are incredible. None of these things matter if you don't have the knowledge to add in the WOW factor to your manuscript.
    I'm not talking about the big things that are taught so beautifully by Margie Lawson. I'm talking about the little things. The little things that add up to SOLD.
    What is the Wow factor? It is that elusive something that takes a manuscript from solid to sold.
    Solid + the little things = Sold.
    The WOW factor is what agents and editors are saying you don't have when they say your manuscript just didn't grab them the way they'd hoped for.
    Do you want to add the WOW factor to your manuscript? Yes? Then this class is designed for you.
    There are 30 days and 15 WOW assignments. How much time you put into the assignments will have an impact on how great of a change you bring about in your book.
    Here are a few of the lessons in this action packed class:
    • Reader Emotion Scavenger Hunt - if you take this course for no other reason than one - this is the ONE reason to take this class. You've taken classes and read books on how to get across to the reader what emotion your character is feeling, but have you taken a class on manipulating what the reader is feeling?
    • Backstory Funeral
    • The Puzzle Effect
    • Get a MacGuffin - not to be confused with an Egg McMuffin
    • Structure Check-up
    • Spank Your Characters - no, this is not an X-rated assignment.
    • Pick a Scene and Get It High
    • Firsts
    • Lasts
    • Character Trait Sneak Attack - a fantastic approach to revealing character traits to the reader. This is a: DON'T WANT TO MISS IT LESSON.

    Give me 30 Days, and I'll give you a stronger novel.

    View more information and enroll
  • August, 2014: Creating Reader's Guides for Young Adult and Middle Grade Novels

    Instructor: Koreen Myers

    August 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
  • August, 2014: Self-editing Your Manuscript

    Instructor:  Kathy Ide

    Aug 4 - 29;  Fee: $50

    Whether you're submitting to an agent, traditional publisher, or subsidy publisher, every manuscript needs editing, because there's no such thing as a perfect first draft.

    Self-editing will vastly improve your manuscript, which will greatly increase your chances of acceptance by a traditional publisher. If you're planning to self-publish, editing is vital since you probably won't have anyone else to do it for you. Even if you've already had your manuscript accepted by a publisher, the more self-editing you do, the less the publisher's editors will have to do, and that will make your publisher very happy. And if you plan to send your manuscript to a professional editor, self-editing your work as much as possible first will save you money in the long run.

    In this course, Kathy Ide goes through ten stages of self-editing you can take—from the overall picture down to the nitty-gritty details—to make your manuscript stand out.

    • objective edit
    • organizational edit
    • structural edit
    • substantive edit
    • copyedit
    • line edit
    • fine-tune edit
    • objective edit #2
    • final proofread
    • professional edit

    As Ernest Hemingway said in A Moveable Feast, "The only kind of writing is rewriting."

    And to quote Patricia Fuller, "Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear."

    Kathy Ide, author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, has written books, articles, short stories, devotionals, and scripts. She has ghostwritten ten nonfiction books and a five-book novel series. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor/proofreader/mentor for new writers, established authors, and book publishers. She speaks at writers' conferences across the country. Kathy is the founder and director of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com). For more about Kathy, visit www.KathyIde.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or Pinterest.

    View more information and enroll
  • August, 2014: Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts

    Instructor:  Margie Lawson

    Dates: August 4 - 30;  Fee: $50

    Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts

    This workshop teaches writers the importance of including visceral responses when emotions run high, and how to write them fresh. Topics include:

    -- The full range of visceral responses

    -- Writing fresh

    -- Placement in scene

    -- Motivation Reaction Units

    -- Using the Four Levels of Powering Up Emotion

    -- How to crescendo emotion

    -- Stimulus/response patterns

    -- Overwriting and underwriting

    -- Cliché twists and cliche play

    -- How to hook your reader viscerally.

    Multiple teaching points will be provided. Examples of visceral responses will be dissected and analyzed. 

    View more information and enroll
  • August/October, 2014: Fab 30: Advanced Deep Editing, A Master Course

    Instructor: Margie Lawson

    August 18 - October 31:  Fee: $125

    (Yes. The fee increased, and it's still a squeal-it's-a-deal bargain.)

    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
  • September, 2014: Submissions That Sell!

    Instructor: Laura Drake

    Dates:  Sept. 1 - 26;  Fee: $40

    Submissions That Sell!

    Put Your Query in a Power Suit!

    Your writing is amazing. You've edited your manuscript until the reflection alone will blind.


    But without an equally shiny submission package, those agents/editors will never know about you, and that you could have been their next great author.

    This course will teach you everything you need to know to make a knowledgeable, professional submission that will impress.

    We will cover:

    Finding and researching Editors/Agents.

    Writing queries and critiquing them in class – you'll leave with a query as shiny as your manuscript!

    Reviewing your query, including formatting and what to include. This course does not cover your synopsis.

    Tracking your submissions and staying organized.

    Agent/Editor etiquette.

    Afraid? Apprehensive? Anxious? 

    I have tips to help you to blast through!

    As a Master Margie Grad, I'll be checking your submission for backloading, cadence, and power words too.

    Laura Drake doesn't take 'no' for an answer. When she queried her first manuscript, she sent it to 170 agents, and received 170 rejections. After a total of three novels, and 391 queries, the 392nd turned out to be a charm. In June of 2011, she scored an agent -- Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill and Associates.

    In December of that same year, she sold a 3 book deal to Grand Central. The first, The Sweet Spot, was released in May of 2013.  She has since sold her 'biker-chick' romance, Her Road Home, to Harlequin's Superromance line. It was released in early August, 2013.

    In March, 2013, Laura nailed a contract for three more Superromances. In 15 months she sold seven books.

    She's a member of the Orange County Chapter, as well as a former President of RWA's Women's Fiction Chapter.

    Visit Laura's web site

    Visit the Writers in the Storm Blog

    View more information and enroll
  • September, 2014: Story Structure Safari

    Instructor: Lisa Miller

    Sept. 1 - 30, 2014;  Fee: $50

    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, 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
  • July, 2014: Battling the Basics: A Primer of the Essentials of Writing

    Instructor: Sarah Hamer

    Dates: July 1-28  Fee: $50

    A mechanic doesn't pop the hood for the first time and immediately know what's wrong with the car.  A pilot doesn't slide into the cockpit without logging the required hours of training. A master author doesn't magically hit the bestseller lists.

    A master author knows the basics. And there are a lot of basics to master.

    Writing is work. You’ve heard the saying, “You have to learn the rules to break them.” Cliché or not, good writers understand the basics. They know how to write tight. They know how to write strong. They know how to write compelling, powerful stories.

    In this class, dig deep into realistic and driven dialogue.  Discover the impact of a clearly written setting. Explore character, conflict, and story arc. Learn how to use plot, placing, and tension to propel your story forward.

    Writing is work. But writing can also be fun. Join me in Battling the Basics and take the first step toward seeing your name on the bestseller list.

    Bio: Sarah (Sally) Hamer is 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
  • July, 2014: Story Starters

    Instructor: Koreen Myers

    Dates: July 1-28  Fee: $40

    When writing a novel, many authors don’t know where to start. Does the reader need backstory? How much? Should the action simply begin? Or, should the story open with character/setting description?

     Writers often feel overwhelmed with all of these decisions. Worse, both potential agents and readers jump to conclusions about a story in a few short sentences or paragraphs. The pressure can crush an author’s spirit. Don’t worry, this course will cover the elements of a story’s opening, where to start and mistakes to avoid. Participants will create a controlling premise for their stories (or strengthen what they have), complete several short activities specific to their openings, analyze professional examples, and participate in peer critiques. Each participant will also receive personalized instructor feedback.

     This course will show you…

    ·              Different ways to open your story (you’ll try several and get peer/instructor feedback)

    ·              Which POV to use to create your best opening

    ·              How to introduce your main characters and setting without overwhelming the reader

    ·              Which action should start your story (aka Kick Action)

    ·              How to create urgency

    ·              Ways to cut unnecessary backstory

    ·              Whether to include a prologue or to cut it

    ·              How to avoid vague/confusing openings and other common mistakes

    ·              How to match the atmosphere of your opening (characters, setting and plot) to your story promise

    ·              And more, and more, and more!


    Bio: Koreen Myers is an award-winning author 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. Today she hopes to use her visual media background, her teaching experience and her technology skills to help Margie grads become super-empowered writers.


    View more information and enroll