Speakers Bureau

What is Windy City’s Authors Speakers Bureau?

The Windy City Speakers Bureau includes a variety of programs and workshops facilitated by participating Windy City authors. Events can be booked for libraries, writing groups, book clubs, and anywhere else the love of romance novels and writing are appreciated.
If you have a topic in mind not on our list, please let us know and we can discuss how to accommodate your needs. Feel free to message us at speakersbureau@windycityrwa.org



Group programs are facilitated by multiple authors usually from different genres of romance at various stages of their careers from newly published to seasoned veterans as well as a mix of Indie, traditionally published, and hybrid authors to give depth and variety to the programs we offer. Group programs can range from panel discussion form, to group participation activities, to Q&A sessions, open forums, or reading salons just to name a few.
*(A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation)


Romance Genre Bingo—Begin with a brief breakdown of the different romance sub-genres with popular examples. Then play “bingo” where a blurb or summary is read and the players must get a Bingo on a card with the corresponding sub-genres in the squares. Book prizes for winners.


Scene from a Hat–Group activity where the audience teams up with professional authors to create a scene within one of the common romance sub-genres using elements drawn from a hat, including tropes and cliché settings. The program will start with a brief breakdown of the different subgenres in the romance genre. Include giveaways/raffles.

A spotlight on Chicago-area authors writing about Chicago—a selection of Chicago authors reading from their works with an opportunity for a signing and raffle giveaways.

10 Things We Wish We Knew about Writing Romance Before We Started—a group of romance authors talk candidly about some of the surprises they ran into when they started their writing career. With an opportunity for questions and answers.



Our single author programs are more subject-oriented and geared toward writing and the individual needs of writers in general. They are coordinated and facilitated by individual authors based on their skill-set and comfort level with the topics. These are presentations and workshops our Windy City authors have developed and honed themselves. We are proud that they represent the Windy City Chapter of RWA.


Sonali Dev

  • Using Backstory to Build Character and Story
  • Applying Lessons from Blockbuster Bollywood Films to Romance Novels
  • The Culture of Your Story Is Not Just For ‘Multiculturals”
  • Leveraging Both The “Social” and the “Media” in Social-Media
  • Using Theatre Design to Build Sets for Your Story (With Robin)
  • Developing Critique Partner/Beta Reader relationships and the Fine Art of Decoding Feedback


Allie Pleiter

  • The Five Friends Every Writer Needs–A touching, tickling look at the role of friends in every writer’s life
  • Aunt Allie’s Guide to Level-Headed Hysteria–How not to let life’s roller-coaster take you for a ride
  • The Chunky Method of Time Management–Learn how to get “chunky” about your time and watch your writing productivity rise and stress decrease
  • How to WRITE When Everything Goes WRONG–How to muck through the mire without losing your muse
  • Dynamic Dialogue–Strategies for getting the most out of what your characters say–and how they say it
  • Perfect Pairings–How to build characters who capture the hearts of your readers, your editors, and each other

She’s used the following formats:

o   1 hour presentations

o   2-hour workshops

o   Full day seminars

o   Multi-day retreats


 j leigh bailey

  • Show and Tell: It’s not just for Kindergarten–One of the most widely spread “rules” of writing is the infamous “show don’t tell.” In this program, we break down the hows and whys of this important guideline, and also discuss situations in which it’s better to tell than to show. Geared specifically for new writers, this session will provide some quick and dirty tips to ensure readers experience the story through action, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through exposition, summarization, and description.
  • Mastering the Meet-Cute–The very first encounter between the romantic leads of your story sets the tone for the rest of the book. This encounter either pulls the reader deeper into the story or makes them decide the book isn’t for them. The meet-cute–the quirky, funny, sexy, and/or memorable way two people meet for the first time–has been used for decades in film, television, and novels as a way to get the audience immediately sucked into the romantic storyline. This program will use examples from popular movies, television shows, and books to identify the main characteristics of an effective meet-cute, to recognize the basic formulas and tropes of the meet-cute, and to explore ways to create fresh versions of this classic plot device.
  • Using short stories to develop craft, challenge yourself and explore genres
  • Using writing to overcome/work through depression, anxiety and other mental illness


Carmela Martino

  • Great Beginnings:  How to Hook Readers and Keep Them Turning the Pages — There’s a great deal riding on the opening paragraphs of any piece of writing, whether it’s a picture book, novel, short story, or nonfiction work. In this workshop, author and writing teacher Carmela Martino will explain the concept of the “implicit promise” and why it’s so important to hooking readers. Using examples from fiction and non-fiction, and from picture books to adult novels, she’ll also discuss the four key elements of intriguing openings.
  • Finding Your Writer’s Voice–What is voice? How do you develop yours? In this presentation, author and writing teacher Carmela Martino explores the answers to these questions. She’ll discuss the power of voice and introduce resources and techniques for sharpening yours to draw readers in and keep them turning the pages.
  • Turning Life into Fiction–Writers often base their stories on actual people, places, and events, either from their own lives or the lives of others. But translating real life into compelling fiction can be a challenge—it often requires letting go of “what really happened” in favor of what best serves the story. In this presentation, author and writing teacher Carmela Martino describes some of the steps in this process. Using examples from her own work, she shares techniques for creating composite characters, researching setting details, and mining memories for story ideas.
  • The Pleasures and Perils of Writing Historical Fiction–Historical people and events can be great sources for story ideas, but bringing such stories to life is often challenging. In this presentation, author and writing teacher Carmela Martino will discuss the process she went through to research and write Playing by Heart, a historical romance inspired by the lives of two amazing 18th-century sisters who lived in Milan—one a linguist and mathematician, the other a musician who became one of the first Italian women to compose a serious opera. Martino will also explain some common pitfalls when writing historical fiction and how to avoid them.
  • Coping with Your Inner Critic–Whether you’re a beginning writer or an established professional, you’ve likely struggled with the inner critic—that nagging voice in your head that berates you and disparages your work. What if you could turn that critic into an ally? In this presentation, author and writing teacher Carmela Martino shares ways to transform your inner critic into a writing assistant, or at least quiet the critic long enough for you to get some writing done.
  • Presenter bio:  Carmela Martino (www.carmelamartino.com ) is an author, speaker, and writing teacher who holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. Her middle-grade novel, Rosa, Sola (Candlewick Press), which was inspired by her experiences growing up in an Italian-American family, was named a Booklist “Top Ten First Novel for Youth.” Carmela’s credits for teens and tweens also include short stories and poems in magazines and anthologies. Her articles for adults have appeared in such publications as the Chicago Tribune, Catholic Parent, and the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. Carmela has taught writing workshops for children and adults since 1998 and she blogs about teaching and writing at www.TeachingAuthors.com. This fall, Vinspire Publishing will release her debut young-adult novel, Playing by Heart, a historical romance inspired by the lives of two amazing 18th-century sisters: one a linguist and mathematician, the other one of the first Italian women to compose a serious opera.
  • A sample of Carmela’s speaking experience: Carmela has presented at conferences for teachers, librarians, writers, and other organizations, including:
    • Catholic Writer’s Guild (CWG) National Convention and their online writing conference
    • Catholic Library Association’s (CLA) National Convention. (Her presentation was reprinted in their journal,Catholic Library World.)
    • Illinois Reading Council State Conference
    • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Illinois Prairie Writer’s Day
    • SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Conference
    • American Italian Cultural Society
    • Illinois Young Authors’ Conference
    • 5th Annual Midwest Literary Festival


Barb Warner Deane

  • Women of WWII, on the Front Lines and the Home Front. Includes a slide presentation, videos, and some reference books and memorabilia regarding how American women served in different roles, both in the military and as civilians, during WWII and the impact that made on the war effort.  The program is approximately 40 mins. long, giving time for Q&A and a book signing, if possible, in under a hour.