AUTHORS LAB: The best way to get your book written, once and for all

You know that book you have inside you? Let a coach and a cohort help you get it on the outside.

What is Authors Lab?

Authors Lab is a new program from Charlotte Lit, designed to help you to get that book out of your head and onto paper. The model we’re using is simple, but powerful: Coaching + Classes + Community = Creative Success.

Authors Lab is an open-ended program: new cohorts begin in January, and you stay in for as long as you need. When you join, you will meet with your coach to decide your target time frame, usually from 9 to 24 months. While a member of Authors Lab, you will:

  • Write your book, helped along by regular editorial support, and deadlines to keep you on track.
  • Belong to a cohort that will travel with you, providing you with support and getting your support in return.
  • Learn to be a better writer, in monthly training sessions, through individual coaching, and from each other.

At the end of your chosen time frame you will have either a completed first draft, or, if you began the year with a completed first draft, a final draft that is ready for submission or self-publication.

Benefits: Why should you join Authors Lab?

Writing can be a solitary process, but Authors Lab is a community. During the year, you will make the writing journey alongside your cohort companions: learning together, writing together at scheduled write-ins, socializing and talking writing, and forming accountability and critique groups. You will also work closely with Charlotte Lit’s staff and with your assigned coach. During your time in the Lab, all the following will happen:

  • You will imagine and then clarify your book’s purpose and target audience, with the help of your coach and cohort.
  • You will create an outline of the book that is solid, achievable, and editorially-sound.
  • You will write, and you will have deadlines to meet. (And you will learn how to make time for your writing.)
  • You will have a quarterly one-on-one editorial meeting with your book coach.
  • You will attend monthly writing workshops designed especially for Authors Lab writers, and have discounted access to all of Charlotte Lit’s workshops. (See below for a list of planned workshops.)
  • You will belong to a vibrant cohort community, which will include both informal and formal support. Formal support includes weekly writing socials, workshopping groups, and accountability partners.
  • By the end date you choose, if you follow the program and do the work, you will have a completed draft of your manuscript.

Learning Opportunities: Monthly Writing Workshops

Authors Lab includes monthly writing workshops created especially for you, progressing though the year as your needs progress. (Note: this list is subject to change, but not greatly.)

Click to see the workshop list
  • Jan: Planning Your Project
  • Feb: Scene Study
  • Mar: Creating Time to Write
  • Apr: The Art of Dialogue
  • May: Finding Your Voice
  • Jun: The Art of the Sentence
  • Jul: Putting Poetry in Your Prose
  • Aug: Themes, Plot, and Subtext
  • Sep: Strengthening Characters
  • Oct: Effective Use of Symbolic Language
  • Nov: Editing Your Work, Working with an Editor
  • Dec: How to Read Your Work

Authors Lab Faculty

We’re building a great lineup of coaches and teachers to work with you. Here’s who we can tell you about so far:

Click here to see the current faculty list
  • Becca Worthington has written and received full productions of her original works These Are the Days, Bubblegum, Regeneration, The Flip Side, How to Fall Apart, A Day without Parents, and Missing in the Middle, and several co-written as a member of the Serious Theatre Collective. In all, Becca has had twelve of her plays performed in four U.S. states, two countries, and in three languages, and was a finalist for the Mark Twain Prize for comic Playwriting at the KCACTF Festival in 2002. She is currently a resident teaching artist of playwriting for the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.
  • Cathy Pickens is the author of five Avery Andrews mysteries: Southern Fried, winner of the 2004 Malice Domestic prize, Hush My Mouth, Done Gone Wrong, Can’t Never Tell, and Hog Wild. She is also the author of the non-fiction Charleston Mysteries: Ghosty Haunts in the Holy City. Cathy is a professor emeritus at Queens University of Charlotte.
  • Christine Hale is the author of A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations, and the novel Basil’s Dream, which received honorable mention in the 2010 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Christine’s short fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Arts & Letters, Hippocampus, Still, Citron Review, Prime Number, Spry, Saw Palm, Mandala, The Sun, and PMS, among other journals. She teaches in the Antioch University–Los Angeles Low-Residency MFA Program, and the Great Smokies Writing Program.
  • Jeff Jackson is the author of the novel Mira Corpora, which was a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected as one of the Best Books of 2013 by SalonSlateFlavorwire, and The New Statesman. The novel received rave reviews in The Wall Street JournalBookforumVice, and Time Out Chicago. His short fiction has appeared in GuernicaViceThe Common, and The Collagist. His novella Novi Sad was recently published as limited edition art book, and has received acclaim in Electric LiteratureLit Reactor, and The Fanzine. Jeff also edited the literary anthology Topograph: Fiction from the Carolinas and the Landscape Beyond. He holds an MFA from New York University and is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Baryshnikov Arts Center.
  • Jenny Hubbard is the author of the young adult novels Paper Covers Rock, a finalist for the American Library Association’s 2012 Morris Award, and And We Stay, an ALA 2015 Printz Honor Book. Jenny taught English at the high school and college levels for 17 years. She is currently working on her third young adult novel.
  • Jessica Jacobs is the author of the just-released chapbook In Whatever Light Left to Us; and Pelvis with Distance, winner of the New Mexico Book Award in Poetry, an Over the Rainbow selection by the American Library Association, and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Julie Suk Award. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications including Beloit Poetry Journal, The Missouri Review, Rattle, The Oxford American, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Dayseries. She teaches in the graduate program of Lenoir-Rhyne University and serves as a member of Beloit Poetry Journal‘s Editorial Board and Sibling Rivalry Press’s Advisory Board.
  • Jodi Helmer‘s freelance writing has appeared in EntrepreneurHemispheresCivil EatsNational Geographic TravelerAARPFarm Life, WebMD, HealthCNNMoney and Guardian Sustainable Business. She is also the author of four books, including The Green Year and Farm Fresh Georgia.
  • Judy Goldman is the author of the novels Early Leaving and The Slow Way Back, winner of the Sir Walter Raleigh Fiction Award and the Mary Ruffin Poole Award for First Fiction. Her memoir, Losing My Sister was a finalist for both SIBA’s Memoir of the Year and ForeWord Review’s Memoir of the Year.  She is also the author of two books of poetry, Holding Back Winter and Wanting To Know the End, winner of the Gerald Cable Poetry Prize, and all three of the annual prizes awarded for a book of poetry by a North Carolinian: the Roanoke-Chowan Prize, Zoe Kincaid Brockman Prize, and Oscar Arnold Young Prize.
  • Katherine Schwille‘s short fiction has appeared in Memorious, Printer’s Row, New Letters, Crazyhorse, Puerto del Sol, West Branch, Sycamore Review, River Styx and other magazines. Her work has been cited twice for Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize. Katherine is also a freelance editor and writing coach.
  • Nickole Brown‘s books include Fanny Says, a collection of poems, finalist for The Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award and the Julie Suk award, Library Journal’s Best Poetry Books of 2015, and San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Books of 2015; Sister, a novel-in-poems; and an anthology, Air Fare,  co-edited with Judith Taylor. She has taught creative writing at the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and was on faculty at the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, the low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Murray State, and the Writing Workshops in Greece.
  • Paul Reali is the author of Creativity Rising, the editor of two Big Questions in Creativity collections. His articles and essays have been published in the Winston-Salem Journal, InSpine, NC Entrepreneur, Office Solutions, Lawyers Weekly, and others. He is a co-founder of Charlotte Lit, and managing editor of ICSC Press, the imprint of the International Center for Studies in Creativity.

Your Investment

Your investment has two parts:

  • Your time and energy. You must be willing to do the work required, which for most book-length works means a minimum of four hours per week for writing alone (with more, of course, being better). Expect an additional 1-4 hours for participation in the cohort community, one half-day per month to attend a writing workshop, and three hours per quarter for your editorial meeting. In addition, there will be regular opportunities for cohort social and writing events.
  • Program fee. All the benefits listed above—classes, coaching, community—is $2500 to begin, then $150 per month—stay as long as you need, leave at any time. After your primary work is complete, you’ll be a part of an Authors Lab alumni group as part of your regular Charlotte Lit membership.

Authors Lab FAQs

Click here to read the FAQs…

How do I know if I’m right for this program? Do you want to write a book, but don’t know where to start? Have you tried to write a book, and stalled? Do you want the support, encouragement, and accountability from other writers? Do you want to get it done, once and for all? Any of these are reasons to join the program.

Don’t most writers do this on their own? Many do, but that doesn’t mean that you have to. Writing a book is a difficult, nuanced, complex process. It can be immensely helpful to have professional guidance and peer support. And, our expectation is that you will write a far better book this way.

What if I’ve written and published books in the past? Authors Lab is designed to meet you where you are, taking advantage of your experience. What’s different about writing a book while in the Lab is that you’re not isolated, not going it alone. You will have teachers, coaches, and a cohort of writers to guide and support you. And, your prior experience will be very valuable to you and to the others in your cohort.

If I want in, am I’m automatically in? Spaces are limited, so there is an application process. We will evaluate your book idea and writing samples, and look for a fit with other members of the Authors Lab cohort and our coaching team.

What if I don’t live in Charlotte? Authors Lab is structured to accommodate those who have to travel a bit to get here. The monthly workshops are on Saturday, and there will be an online component so that you’ll still be connected to the cohort.

What if I can’t attend some of the workshops? Because conflicts are inevitable, our expectation is for each participant to attend at least eight of the 12 weekend workshops. Workshop materials will be available to cohort members who cannot a session in person.

Who is running the program? What are your credentials? Paul Reali, co-founder of Charlotte Lit, will be program lead and coordinator. In addition to his work here, Paul is the managing editor of ICSC Press, the imprint of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State, which publishes books and journals with a creativity focus. At ICSC Press, Paul runs a distance version of the Authors Lab program, which currently has eight authors working on their first books. Paul has a B.A. in Journalism and an M.S. in Creativity, both from Buffalo State. He has written and edited professionally for more than 25 years, with four books and dozens of magazine articles to his credit. Among other works, Paul is the co-author of Creativity Rising, and the co-editor of two editions of the annual Big Questions in Creativity collection (2013 and 2016).

Who are the writing coaches and mentors? The coaching team will be selected based on the needs of the Authors Lab writers. You will be matched with a writer who has extensive experience in your genre or format.

What if I have more questions? Contact Paul Reali at

How to Apply

The application process allows us to assess whether the program is a good fit for you, and to help us manage the cohort size. During the application process, we will learn more about you and the book you want to write. In addition to the application form, we’ll also ask you to provide a writing sample and to attend an information session. To begin the application process, click here.

Thank you for your interest in Authors Lab. Questions? Email Paul Reali at