Friday, April 17, 2015

4th Annual Writers' Weekend Schedule

Writers’ Weekend Schedule: April 17th - 19th
Begins Tonight!
Walk-in tickets for any (and every!) session available

Friday, April 17th

Welcome reception: 6:30 pm

Books on the Nightstand Podcast Conversation: 7:30 pm

Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman at Books on the Nightstand strive to bring you great book recommendations, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the world of books, bookstores and publishing. They do this through their weekly podcast and frequent blog posts. These fabulous podcasters recommend books, and chat about other bookish things. The most popular feature with listeners is the last segment, “Two books we can’t wait for you to read.” Tonight we’ll connect readers and writers and see what we all have to say to each other.

Saturday, April 18th

Session 1: 10:00 - 10:55

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction with Susan Campbell
Classroom A

Looking to write your family history? A biography on an obscure Civil War veteran? Want to try your hand at freelance magazine/newspaper pieces? This is your workshop.

Susan Campbell used to write newspaper columns and books. Then she just wrote books. Then she went back to columns and books. She also likes licorice and walks on the beach provided they end at a restaurant.
Speaking to Silences through the Epistolary Poem with Antoinette Brim
3rd Floor Library
Workshop participants will write a poem that reads as a letter to address an area in which they have been silent or have felt silenced.  Poets of all levels are invited to attend.
Antoinette Brim is the author of two collections of poetry, Icarus in Love and Psalm of the Sunflower.  Brim is a Cave Canem Foundation fellow, a recipient of the Walker Foundation Scholarship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and a Pushcart Prize nominee.  A sought after speaker, editor, educator and consultant, Brim is an Assistant Professor of English at Capital Community College.

Behind the Scenes at the Publisher: The Editorial Process Demystified with Stacey DeKeyser
You’ve slaved over your book and made it perfect. Do you really need an editor? Whether you self-publish or use a traditional publisher, you do. Find out what to expect your editorial team, from acquisition to proofreading and every step in between, from someone who's been on both sides of the red pencil. You can even test your Word Nerd quotient by taking a copyediting quiz!
Stacy DeKeyser is both an award-winning author of five books for children and a longtime freelance copyeditor for academic, trade, and self-publishers. She lives in Simsbury.
Exploring the Details with Leslie Johnson

Classroom B

Generate material for a new story, or delve more deeply into your work-in-process! Leslie will share exercises designed to spark discovery in writing through detail. This is a participation-based workshop facilitated by an experienced creative writing teacher and author of short stories.

Leslie McGrath is a poet and literary interviewer. She is the author of Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage (2009), a poetry collection, and two chapbooks, Toward Anguish (2007) and By the Windpipe (2014). McGrath's latest book is a satiric novella in verse, Out From the Pleiades (Jaded Ibis, 2014). She teaches creative writing and literature at Central Connecticut State University and is series editor of The Tenth Gate, a poetry imprint of The Word Works press in Washington, DC.

Session 2: 11 - 11:55 AM

The Not So Gentle Art of Murder with David Handler
Classroom A

An Edgar Award-winning master of the whodunit novel shares the secrets of his highly mysterious trade.  Whether your passion is for cozies, the mean streets or white-knuckle thrillers you are sure to come away shaken, if not stirred.
David Handler, the Edgar and American Mystery Award-winning wizard of the witty whodunit, was born and raised in Los Angeles and published two highly acclaimed novels about growing up there, Kiddo and Boss, before resorting to a life of crime fiction. He has written eight novels about the dapper celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag and his faithful, neurotic basset hound, Lulu, as well as ten books in his bestselling series featuring the mismatched crime-fighting duo of pudgy New York film critic Mitch Berger and the lovely Connecticut State Trooper Desiree Mitry. His most recent novel, Phantom Angel, which was published in February by Minotaur, is his second book to feature young Benji Golden, the feisty and street-wise 137-pound New York private detective. Mr. Handler has written extensively for television and films on both coasts and coauthored the international bestselling thriller Gideon under the pseudonym Russell Andrews. He lives in a 200-year-old carriage house in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Social Media in 60 Minutes or Less with Caitlin Thayer

These days, writers need to be using social media to promote themselves and their work. In this workshop we'll talk about how to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to showcase your work, connect with your readers and to sell more books!

Caitlin Thayer is the owner of Barefoot Media, a social media consulting company that has been teaching people how to use social media since 2009. Caitlin is an avid reader and is currently working on her first novel.

The Art of the Personal Essay with Christine Palm
Classroom B

To a young writer, the essay is the most dreaded of literary forms. But in this workshop, we'll challenge most of what we learned about this imaginative, persuasive genre. For "essay" is also a verb meaning to try, to endeavor, to venture. With our essays, then, we will essay to move people -- to tears, to laughter, perhaps even to action.

Christine Palm  is a writer of feature articles, essays, poetry and op-ed pieces. She has taught in the creative writing department of the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and serves as Communications Director for the Connecticut General Assembly’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, the state’s leading force for women’s equality. She has been a reporter for several newspapers, including The Hartford Times and The Hartford Advocate, as well as a columnist for The Hartford Courant. Palm worked with the Arthur Miller Literary and Dramatic Trust, helping to prepare the playwright’s journals for publication, and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her essay writing.

Sit, Stay: The Dog as Metaphor in Poetry with Leslie McGrath

3rd Floor Library

The dog’s role in American life has evolved a great deal over the last fifty years, moving from pet to intimate companion.  Many poets have found rich metaphor in this relationship. We’ll be reading poems by Gerald Stern, Billy Collins, WS Merwin and others, examining how the dog has come to inhabit an important place in our poetry. We’ll also write a poem based on a prompt from Leslie McGrath.

Leslie McGrath is a poet and literary interviewer. She is the author of Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage (2009), a poetry collection, and two chapbooks, Toward Anguish (2007) and By the Windpipe (2014). McGrath's latest book is a satiric novella in verse, Out From the Pleiades (Jaded Ibis, 2014). She teaches creative writing and literature at Central Connecticut State University and is series editor of The Tenth Gate, a poetry imprint of The Word Works press in Washington, DC.

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Lunch (provided), Hal Holbrook Hall

Session 3, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Poet as Imposter with Vivian Shipley
Classroom A
Fiction is, well, fiction. Many people assume that poets seek to find truth, personal or universal, in their poetry. But, does poetry need to be literally true? Can and/or should the poet be a good liar? Come and find out whether Vivian Shipley really trekked the Inca Trail to get to Machu Picchu, hiked up Av. Du-Lachaise to visit Jim Morrison’s grave, was a surfer chick, a dominatrix or hammer thrower.  If she wasn’t, learn how she wrote poems about the subjects for her forthcoming ninth book, The Poet. (Louisiana Literature Press, SLU, 2015)  

Cliché in word, thought, and character with Mark Ferguson

"A cliché is dead matter. It causes gangrene in the prose around it, and sooner or later it eats your brain." - Verlyn Klinkenborg, Several Short Sentences About Writing

Clichéd phrases are easy enough to spot, and with a little self control easy enough to get rid of. But what of cliché in thought, character, or story? What of cliché in phrasing, clichéd ideas? This session will focus on the concept of cliché and why it's so difficult to avoid. The group will discuss strategies for spotting and eliminating cliché in their writing.

Fictional Voices with Mary Sharnick
Classroom B

Voice is what we hear and tone is how we feel.  Workshop participants will bring our protagonists to life through exercises in interior monologue and dialogue with other characters.

Mary Donnarumma Sharnick is the author of Thirst and Plagued, both published by Fireship Press, as well as the forthcoming Orla's Canvas, to be released by Penmore Press this year.

Session 4: 2:05 pm - 3:00 pm

Je Banach in conversation with author and Yale Writers' Conference Director, Terence Hawkins

Je Banach, a returning member of the Yale Writers' Conference faculty and former CT Artist Fellow, speaks with Terence Hawkins--the Founding Director of The Yale Writers' Conference--about his life, his career, and his latest novel, American Neolithic, a Kirkus Best Book of 2014.

Self-Publishing with Patrice Fitzgerald
Classroom A

Tired of waiting to see yourself in print?  Maybe you have a killer novel manuscript tucked into a drawer, wisdom to share with the world in a non-fiction book, or simply a family story you want preserved for the ages… but you haven’t found an agent or a publisher.  Or maybe you don’t want to waste time going through all that, knowing the odds are long.  

Come learn about the realities of becoming an “indie” writer—via ebook or in print—and the specifics of what it takes to get your book out there in a professional way.  Hear about self-publishing from someone who’s been in the trenches.

Patrice Fitzgerald is an attorney, author, and publisher.  She’s been self-publishing since Independence Day of 2011, and two of her books have become Kindle best-sellers, including an anthology that reached #6 on all of Amazon (briefly!)  Patrice gives presentations and workshops on Self-Publishing, and serves as a consultant for those who seek guidance along the way.

Memoir Structure and Theme with Judy Mandel
3rd Floor Library

Find the right structure to transform your life stories into a captivating memoir. Learn how to uncover and develop the theme of your memoir. Jump start your memoir if you haven’t begun, or learn techniques to keep the writing moving.

Judy L. Mandel is the author of the award-winning memoir Replacement Child (Seal Press, 2013). Judy’s essays and articles have appeared in Connecticut LIFE, ASJA Monthly, Complete Wellbeing Magazine, Connecticut Authors and Publishers Newsletter, and The Southampton Review.

Beginnings in Fiction with Dan Pope
Classroom B
This workshop will address techniques about BEGINNINGS in short fiction and novel writing.  First impression are vital, in life and in fiction, and this workshop will show you techniques how to capture the reader's attention right from the first sentence. What to dos, and what not to dos!
Dan Pope is the author of Housebreaking (Simon & Schuster, 2015) and In the Cherry Tree (Picador USA, 2003). His short stories have appeared in many journals, including Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, Iowa Review, McSweeney's (No. 4), Shenandoah, Gettysburg Review, and others. He is a 2002 graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, where he attended on a Truman Capote Fellowship. He is a winner of the Glenn Schaeffer Award from the International Institute of Modern Letters, and grants in fiction from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Free time! Shop in the store, catch the Mark Twain documentary in Hal Holbrook Hall, read or write outside, enjoy our galleries, grab coffee or a snack in the Nook Café (2nd floor of the Twain House), or take a tour. If you plan to tour the Twain House, make sure to get your tickets early in the day. Weekend tours nearly always sell out.

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Playwrights Panel with Neil LaBute, Christopher Shinn, Mark St. Germain, and Frank Rizzo


Our Fourth Annual Playwrights Panel welcomes three of the most acclaimed writers working today!  Neil LaBute is best known for his taut dialogue, confrontational style, and controversial subject matter.  In addition to his screenplays for In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors, LaBute has written the plays Bash: Latter Day Plays, The Shape of Things, Fat Pig, and the Tony-nominated reasons to be pretty.  Wethersfield native Christopher Shinn is best known for dramas that plumb dark, complex emotional terrain.  With premiere productions in London and New York, Shinn’s work has been at Hartford Stage (Dying City and the upcoming An Opening in Time) and TheaterWorks (Four).  Mark St. Germain is one of the busiest playwrights today with works that have been seen across the United States and span a variety of genres.  Local audiences have enjoyed hisFreud’s Last Session, Becoming Dr. Ruth, and Dancing Lessons at TheaterWorks.

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm: Light reception in Hall Holbrook Hall

7:00 pm: Keynote with Dani Shapiro

Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and has been broadcast on “This American Life”.  Dani was recently Oprah Winfrey’s guest on ”Super Soul Sunday,” and was chosen by Arianna Huffington to speak at the New York City “Thrive” conference. She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School and Wesleyan University; she is co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. A contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler, Dani lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Her latest book is, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life.


Session 5 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Memoir: The Remembered Life with Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

Autobiography skirts the surface of a life without allowing the reader access to the messy, conflicted and unapologetically subjective material of a memoir.  Let us come to understand the requirement that the memoirist be willing to expose that subjective mess in order to create an irresistible, compelling and publishable memoir.

Smith has published ten critically acclaimed novels, and her short fiction and essays have appeared in several collections.  Her memoir, GIRLS OF TENDER AGE, has been a favorite of book clubs since it came out in 2006.  A novel, MASTERS OF ILLUSION, centered on the Great Hartford Circus Fire has been optioned for a film by Amazon Studios.  In 2010,  Smith was named the recipient of the Diana Bennett Fiction Writing Fellowship, at the Black Mountain Institute, UNLV, and spent a year writing the first draft of THE HONOURED GUEST when she wasn't being disappeared by David Copperfield at MGM Grand.

All Together in a Sudden Strangeness:  Breaking Our Writing Patterns with Edwina Trentham
3rd Floor Library

In “Keeping Quiet,” Pablo Neruda suggests that “we all keep still” and see what will happen when we find ourselves “all / together in a sudden strangeness.” This workshop is not about keeping stil,l but it is about taking chances, about breaking out of our familiar writing patterns. We will both read and write poetry, using writing exercises to nudge ourselves out of our safe path as poets and encourage us to explore new voices.

Edwina Trentham is the Founding Editor of Freshwater.  Her collection of poetry Stumbling into the Light, was published by Antrim House in 2004, and she was a featured reader at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in June 2005. She was awarded a 2010 Solo Writer’s Fellowship from the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

Writing a Dramatic Scene with Lucy Ferriss

The scene is at the heart of the story -- at the heart, one might say, of all imaginative writing, be it drama or prose or even poetry. Some stories consist of only one scene, whereas others seem to "layer" their scenes with exposition, description, and dialogue, so that the story moves through time and reaches its climax in a final or penultimate scene rather than in a single line of dialogue or exposition.

Lucy Ferriss’s latest novel is A Sister to Honor (Penguin 2015). Recent work appears in the New York Times, The American Scholar, and Missouri Review, and has received recognition from the NEA, the Mid-List First Series, and the International Society for Narrative. She is Writer-in-Residence at Trinity College and lives in Connecticut and the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Her website is

Session 6: 11 am - 12:00 pm

Birth of a Book: From the Author's Mind to the Shelf with Matthew Dicks

This workshop will pull back the curtains on the complex and confusing world of publishing. We will discuss how authors find agents, how books are pitched and sold to publishing houses, how authors earn advances and royalties, how books are sold to foreign markets, and how books are made into films. The oftentimes opaque machinery of the publishing process exposed at last!
Matthew Dicks is the author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing, Unexpectedly, Milo and the upcoming The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, as well as the rock opera The Clowns and the musical Caught in the Middle. When he isn’t writing, he fills his time as an elementary school teacher, a professional storyteller, a wedding DJ, a minister, a blogger, and a life coach. Matthew is a 16-time Moth StorySLAM champion and GrandSLAM champion who has been featured on the Moth Radio Hour and This American Life. He’s the co-founder and producer of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization.
Five Poetry Prompts to Change Your Life with Christine Beck
3rd Floor Library

If you are stuck in a rut or worse yet, are staring at an empty page, let me show you five poetry prompts that will help you get moving. You can use these prompts both as a teacher and as a writer. They are designed to help edit your poetry to its essential, write with compassion about the "other," explore sonic appeal, use lists in new ways, and mimic lines or forms that will alter your standard syntax.

Christine Beck holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Southern Connecticut State University.  She teaches creative writing both at Southern and at the University of Hartford.  She is also active in The Connecticut Poetry Society and Riverwood Poetry Series. Her book, "Blinding Light," Grayson Books, was released in 2014.


From Miss Marple to Nancy Drew to Jessica Fletcher to the modern cozy mystery, traditional mysteries never go out of style. This workshop will introduce you to the cozy mystery (you already know what it is--you just may not know what it's called), as well as give you tips and techniques on how to write your own while working within genre expectations. We'll cover setting, characters, and the construction of a twisting, turning plot that will keep readers guessing. A reading list will be provided.

Susannah Hardy thinks she has the best job in the world: writing mystery stories and recipes to go along with them. Her first novel, Feta Attraction, was published by Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin Random House) and is available now from all major retailers, to be followed by book 2 in the series, Olive and Let Die, on November 3. Writing as Sadie Hartwell, she will release Yarned and Dangerous, the first book in a new mystery series, on November 23 from Kensington Publishing. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, she lives in Connecticut.

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Lunch break

You’re on your own today! Bring your own, grab a salad or sandwich from our Nook Café, or head out to one of the many nearby restaurants (ask Julia or our front desk for recommendations).

Session 7: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Finding an Agent with Susan Schoenberger
3rd Floor Library

What does it take to find an agent in this uber-competitive marketplace? Do you even need an agent with all of the non-traditional publishing options available? We'll talk about how to research agents, how to query them, why you might or might not need one, and what they actually do for writers. Bring your questions!

Susan Schoenberger worked for news organizations as a reporter, copy editor and editor for three decades before becoming the Director of Communications at Hartford Seminary. She is the author of two novels, A Watershed Year, which won the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and The Virtues of Oxygen, released in 2014. She also teaches fiction at the Mark Twain House and Museum.

Taking the Oral History of a Family Member with Hunter Liguore
Classroom B
Are you an amateur historian? Have you always wanted to preserve your family history? Have a story of your own that you need to write? Here is your chance. Through oral history, we preserve not only the past, but the voices of those we care about. In this workshop, we’ll learn the logistics of conducting an oral history. We’ll create a list of interview questions, and complete sample exercises to get you started. Participants have opportunity to be included in One Bookshelf oral history project through American Athenaeum literary journal.
Hunter Liguore is an American writer, with degrees in history and writing. Her published work has appeared internationally; most recently, "Design of One’s Day," is a 2015 finalist in the Austin Chronicle short story contest. She is the editor-in-chief of the journal, American Athenaeum, considered to be a “museum of words.” Her novel, Next Breath, is represented by Regal Literary. She teaches undergraduate and graduate writing in New England.

Writing and Promoting Your Content with Wayne English
Classroom A
Writing for the web and social media is a necessity for every writer and author. Today we discuss
writing headlines, media releases, your blog, InfoGraphics, white papers, and e-books. And, if we
have time, how to use tools like HootSuite and Klout to promote all that hard work.

Wayne English is president and founder of Web Content Rx, LLC. A Web content and social networking professional, author, writer, and consultant. An accomplished speaker, Wayne presents seminars, speaks on panel discussions, and business groups on writing for the Web and social networking. His first book, Web Content Rx, A Quick and Handy guide for Writes, Webmasters, eBayers, and Business People was a Top 5 Business Title in Leadership Books at The Washington Post. See, read his blog at, and follow him on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Publishing Panel

Researching and choosing the best publishing method for one’s book is a huge decision made complicated by the ever-changing landscape of traditional publishing and self-publishing.  Vanity presses, independent publishing and now partnership publishing all offer methods for getting an author’s work out there, but is the purpose or end result always the production of a quality product?  The goal of this panel is to clarify the options and provide resources for those writers and authors interested in exploring their publishing alternatives.

Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS)
SheWrites Press (SWP)
Brian Jud, President; Premium Book Company & Executive Director of APSS
Gina Panettieri, President; Talcott Notch Literary Services
Cindy Eastman, Author; SheWrites Press
Cynde Acanto, Bookstore Owner; Book Club
Moderator: Donald Allen, Media Relations, Simon/Zef Publishing

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm: Open Mic with Syllable Series!

We close out our weekend of inspiration and information with an open mic to read your work. Curated by Syllable, the Reading Series, this is a chance to show off your best work or put new work in front of friendly listeners for the first time.