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

Hi. Authors Lab applications are closed for 2019. To apply early for the 2020 cohort, use the form at the bottom of this page.

“Without Authors Lab I may have given up trying to write a novel. The progam’s curriculum, professional mentoring, and supportive cohort have kept me on track to finishing a first draft in a year.” — Tamela Rich

What is Authors Lab?

Charlotte Lit’s Authors Lab program helps you to get that book out of your head and onto paper.

Our model: Craft Classes + Cohort Community + Customized Coaching = Creative Success. Here’s what that means:

Craft Classes

Over 12 months, you’ll take 16 classes to help you develop your craft, from some of the area’s most respected writers and writing teachers. These include 12 monthly workshops with your cohort, and four electives from the Charlotte Lit catalog. (There’s more info on this below.)

Customized Coaching

You will work with a writing coach selected to fit you and your genre, approximately two hours each month as your work through your draft.

Cohort Community

A cornerstone of Authors Lab is making the journey with a cohort of writers who support and encourage each other, teach and learn from each other, and help keep everyone on track toward their goals. You will attend classes and socials together, create accountability and critique groups, and participate in a private online forum.

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 through monthly classes, elective classes, facilitated workshopping, individual coaching, and from your coaches and cohort.

What makes Authors Lab different than other book-in-a-year programs?

  • It’s live. Authors Lab happens in person, right here in Charlotte. Most programs are online virtual communities. Your cohort and coaches will all be here, in person, face-to-face.
  • It’s customized for you. We select your coach based on what you’re writing, where you are in the process, and what kind of support you need.
  • It evolves with you. Authors Lab changes as you do, providing the right coaching at the right time. (Some examples are shown in the FAQs, below.)

At the end of the year…

If you follow the plan, you will have either a completed first draft, or, if you began 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.
  • You will have regular one-on-one editorial meetings 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 of the year, if you follow the program and do the work, you will have a completed draft of your manuscript.

Craft Classes

Monthly Authors Lab Workshops

Authors Lab includes monthly writing workshops created especially for the cohort. Here’s the current year’s schedule; 2018’s will be similar.

Workshop List (2018)
  • Jan: What’s this thing called a story? And: What’s YOUR story?
  • Feb: Who is telling the story and how? And: What’s YOUR vision?
  • Mar: What shape is your story? Structures, arcs, and conflicts
  • Apr: How to show and tell: Narrative forms
  • May: How to make your writing vivid: Description, metaphor and more
  • Jun: How to solve plot problems: The muddy middle
  • Jul: How to build a book: Scene study
  • Aug: Say what? The art of dialogue
  • Sep: Hearing voices: Developing distinct characters & voices
  • Oct: How does it end? Sticking the landing
  • Nov: What now? Revising & editing the first draft
  • Dec: What’s next? Reading & performing your work

Elective Classes

Included in the Authors Lab fee, cohort members may also select 12 hours of classes from Charlotte Lit’s extensive course calendar. (Additional classes are 25 percent off regular rates.)

Authors Lab Faculty

The Authors Lab faculty members teach our monthly classes, lead workshopping (feedback) sessions, and coach the program writers. In 2018 we are thrilled to be working with these terrific writers and teachers: Sarah Creech, Paula Martinac, Cathy Pickens, Kathryn Schwille, and Kim Wright. (Our 2019 faculty team will be announced soon.) You can read their bios (along with those of all Charlotte Lit teachers) on our Lit People page.

Your Investment

Your investment has four parts:

  • Your time and energy. To be successful in Authors Lab, you must be dedicated to your writing and to your cohort. This means: writing consistently; attending two monthly activities (one Saturday and one weekday evening); attending elective classes; meeting with your coach and cohort accountability partners; and participating in the online forum. See the FAQs for details of the time commitment.
  • Base fee. The base fee for 2019, which includes 16 craft classes (12 Authors Lab-specific plus four electives), the cohort community, and the first level of coaching (up to two hours per month), is $275 per month for 12 months.
  • Charlotte Lit membership. All Authors Lab participants must be Charlotte Lit members; options begin at $75/year (or $7/month). After you complete your Authors Lab experience, you’ll be a part of an Authors Lab alumni group for as long as you maintain your 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 is the cohort? A cohort is a group assembled for a particular purpose. In Authors Lab, your cohort will be the 12 people who are taking the journey together in that year.

When does the cohort meet? There are at least four different ways that the cohort meets.

The full cohort meets formally on the second Saturday of each month, from 10 am-5 pm. Each day begins with a three-hour craft class from 10-1. The afternoon session will include either an additional class or generative activity (e.g., story planning), or “workshopping,” which is facilitated writing feedback from the coach and cohort.

The cohort also gathers monthly on a weekday evening, usually held in the fourth week of the month. This optional gathering is a working social, and includes both substantive content and cohort-building.

Authors Lab members are also placed into a sub-cohort of three or four writers, who will meet in person and virtually as they see fit. Finally, there is a Facebook-style chat board where you can interact with the cohort and faculty online.

What are the classes like? During the year you will take 12 classes with your cohort, 12 hours of electives from Charlotte Lit’s course catalog. The cohort classes are MFA-caliber craft classes, designed to dramatically improve your writing skills, taught by some of the area’s best teachers.

What if I can’t attend some of the classes? Because conflicts are inevitable, we expect each writer to attend at least eight of the 12 weekend classes. Class materials will be available for those who cannot attend a session in person.

Who are the writing coaches and mentors? The faculty—selected based on the needs of the cohort members—will consist of four extensively-published writers and veteran teachers. Each faculty member will teach three of the monthly classes and coach one of the sub-cohort groups.

What is the coaching like? We will select a primary coach for each cohort member. This coach will meet with you monthly for up to two hours, providing the guidance, advice, and insight you need at the time. For example, the first meeting will focus on planning the book and planning the year. Later sessions might include assessment of your writing, helping you with plot or character problems, or helping you to establish and keep to deadlines.

How much does it cost? Everything described here—12 classes, 12 hours of electives, the cohort activities, and 12 months of coaching—is just $275 per month in 2019; plus Charlotte Lit membership, which starts at $75/year or $7/month.

If I change my mind, can I drop out? Because the cohort experience depends on everyone’s active participation, and because there are only 12 spaces available, we require that you commit to the entire year.

Who is running the program? Paul Reali and Kathie Collins, co-founders of Charlotte Lit, are the program leads. Their bios can be found here.

What if I have more questions? Contact Paul and Kathie at and

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