Writer's Conference – Session Descriptions


Listen Deep—On Distraction and Resonance

The best of our work comes from our stillness, our quiet and deep reflection, even in the middle of our busy and noisy lives. We will consider the exploration of the words and stories we carry inside, and our listening deep in order to hear them. Patricia Ann McNair, fiction writer.



a) Writing and Connecting: A Blogging Workshop

Explore the value of a blog for writers and artists with artist/blogger Philip Hartigan. You will look at the essentials: choosing the right blogging software; defining your blog and its audience; creating a blog or improving an existing one; tips for better blogging. Philip Hartigan

b) Do You Hear Voices? 

Do you see characters moving and shifting on a stage? Can you imagine the lights and embodiment that comes with writing for the stage?  Then you have the playwright’s impulse.   Still, in this most public of genres, the challenges are many.  How do we write characters who will embody the voices we hear and shape a plot that can be driven solely by dialogue and action—the basic tools of the playwright? Using poems as a spring board, we will focus on the very short play based on characters’ desires, a singular conflict, lack of compromise, and high stakes.   This is an introduction, using realistic models as prompts, but these strategies may be applied to more experimental forms of theater as well. Anne-Marie Oomen

c) Say What You See

Poems offer a rare forum to say what you really see, what you really want, how you really feel. We’ll look at examples of poets saying the Unsayable, or at least the Very Difficult. How do they do it? What are the impacts on readers? We’ll use model poems as inspiration to get started on our own. Teresa Scollon



d) Writers’ Road Trip

This fiction workshop will focus on structure and movement, using the fictionalized journey as a way to anchor and advance a short story or chapter. Activities will draw on participants’ own story material in order to provide content for a structural sequence. Come with journals and pens (no computers, please) and the willingness to explore new territory. Maps provided. Patricia Ann McNair

e) Cinematic Writing: Crafting a Screenplay That’s Worth Reading

Explore the merits of the screenplay as literature, and look at how writers can craft screenplays that are not only enjoyable to read, but effectively use language to create the movie they imagine. How do screenwriters use literary devices? How do they handle point of view? When is it appropriate to incorporate cinematic techniques such as camera movement into a screenplay? These questions and more will be investigated, and you will get some hands on screenwriting exercises to engage your cinematic writing muscles. Lesley Tye 

f) Writing the Renegade Book Proposal  

If you’re a nonfiction writer, you know the Book Proposal is the tool authors use to sell their nonfiction book ideas to publishers. In this workshop, we’ll explore the basic rules of a book proposal and then discuss how to break some of the rules to create a book proposal that truly stands out. Led by author Heather Shumaker, who sold a book from the slush pile using an “organic” proposal—find out how you can write a book proposal that will shine. Heather Shumaker



Publishing Tales from the Trenches

Ever wish you could sit down and ask published authors everything you’ve always wanted to know? Local authors Heather Shumaker, Mardi Link, and Aaron Stander will give you honest answers to your burning questions about writing, pitching, publishing and promoting books. From writing schedules to agents, editors, platform, publishing, self-publishing, book blog tours and more, this panel will answer the questions you want to know that can take you and your writing to the next level.


Closing Session

Wrap up your day of exploration with inspiration as you hear excerpts of published work from the pens of the presenters. Immerse yourself in crafted words, fresh ideas, and memorable images to bring new life to your own writing.