Friday, April 3, 2015

4th Annual Writers' Weekend Workshop Descriptions

The 4th Annual Writers' Weekend 
is April 17 - 19:
Here's the Official Schedule!

The 4th Annual Writers' Weekend at The Mark Twain House & Museum will run from April 17 to 19. The weekend costs $170, and will include lectures, workshops, panels, readings, receptions, and book signings featuring exemplary writers from all over the United States.  (Single day tickets are also available.) Workshops throughout the weekend will focus on both the craft and publishing aspects of writing, with many and varied instructors as you can see below.
Questions? Email Director of Writing Programs Julia Pistell at
Tickets for the Writers' Weekend are available at under Events, or on under Mark Twain House. You may also register by calling (860) 280-3130.  
This schedule is subject to change. The best way to make sure you see everything is to register for the whole weekend!
Friday, April 17th

Welcome reception: 7:00 pm
Books on the Nightstand Podcast Conversation: 7:30 pm

Books on the Nightstand strives to bring listeners 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. Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman are friends and colleagues who work in the publishing industry. That means that they talk about books all day long to other people who love to talk about books. But sometimes, those conversations have to end before they're ready to stop talking. Thus, the podcast and blog.
Saturday, April 18th
9:00 - 10:00 am Breakfast & quiet writing time
Session 1: 10:00 - 10:55 am - Concurrent Workshops
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.
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.
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!
EXPLORING THE DETAILS with Leslie Johnson 
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. 

Session 2: 11:00 - 11:55 AM - Concurrent Workshops
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.
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!
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.
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.
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Lunch (provided)
Session 3:  1:00 pm - 2:00 pm - Concurrent Workshops
POET AS IMPOSTER with Vivian Shipley
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)  
"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
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.
Session 4: 2:05 pm - 3:00 pm - Concurrent Workshops
SELF-PUBLISHING with Patrice Fitzgerald
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" publisher-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.
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.
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!
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.
4:00 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 andYour 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 his Freud's Last Session, Becoming Dr. Ruth, and Dancing Lessons at TheaterWorks.  Frank Rizzo has been covering the Connecticut arts scene for more than 37 years, 32 of them for The Hartford Courant. He also writes reviews and stories for the New York Times, Variety, American Theater Magazineand other publications.   

7:30 pm: Keynote with DANI SHAPIRO
Dani Shapiro's most recent books include Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, the novels Black & White and Family History and the bestselling memoir 
Slow Motion. Her short stories and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Elle, Vogue, Ploughshares, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among other publications. She lives with her husband and son in Litchfield County, Connecticut. 
Sunday, April 19th
9:00 - 10:00 am Breakfast & Writing Time
Session 5: 10:00 am - 11:00 am - Concurrent Workshops
Writers write. Many writers don't promote. There are amazing opportunities out there to receive free publicity for your book. Because Mike is a media host AND an author, he knows both sides of the publicity dynamic. He'll share insider tips on getting your book exposed plus teach you how to be an engaging guest and effective speaker.
Mike is a 44-year Radio/TV personality including stays in Detroit, New York City, Boston and New Hampshire. His career includes 11,000 shows, playing 400,000 songs and being buried alive three time as publicity stunts. He's a columnist, feature writer and author of FIFTY SHADES  OF RADIO. In 2013, he was given the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for community fundraising efforts.
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.
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 still, 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.
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.
Session 6: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm - Concurrent Workshops
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!
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.
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.
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Lunch break
Session 7: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm - Concurrent Workshops
FINDING AN AGENT with Susan Schoenberger
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.

The Mark Twain House & Museum has restored the author's Hartford, Connecticut, home, where the author and his family lived from 1874 to 1891. Twain wrote his most important works there, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.  In addition to providing tours of Twain's restored home, a National Historic Landmark, the institution offers activities and educational programs that illuminate Twain's literary legacy and provide information about his life and times. 
The house and museum at 351 Farmington Ave. are open daily, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.  (Closed Tuesdays in March.)  For more information, call 860-247-0998 or visit 
Programs at the Mark Twain House & Museum are made possible in part by support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council's United Arts Campaign.. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

4th Annual Writers' Weekend Schedule Available!

Everyone's asking, and we're delivering!

Here is the simple schedule for the 4th Annual Writers' Weekend. In the coming days, we will be adding descriptions and bios of each presenter, but for now, this is a quick and easy look at the overall weekend!

Tickets for the entire weekend or single days can be purchased here. For questions or to register by phone, please call 860-280-3130.


Writers’ Weekend Schedule: April 17th - 19th

Friday Evening:

Books on the Nightstand Podcast Conversation

Saturday: 9 - 10 AM Breakfast & quiet writing time

10 - 10:55 Session 1

Antoinette Brim: Poetry
Mary Sharnick: Fiction
Susan Campbell: Nonfiction
Stacey DeKeyser: Proofreading

11 - 11:55 Session 2
David Handler (fiction)- The Not So Gentle Art of Murder
John Stanizzi (poetry)- Poetry
Caitlin Thayer (social)- Social Media for Writers
Christine Palm (nonfic)- Writing the Personal Essay

12 - 1 LUNCH

1 - 2  Session 3:
CAPA Self Publishing Panel
Vivian Shipley (poetry)- The Poet as Imposter
Leslie Johnson (fiction)- Fiction
Mark Ferguson (fiction) - reading & Q & A from his novel

2 - 2:55 Session 4
Patrice Fitzgerald (self-pub)- Self-Publishing
Judy Mandel (memoir)- Finding the Theme for Your Memoir
Dan Pope (dialogue)- Dialogue
Je Benach & Terence Hawkins (interview): American Neolithic: the story of Terence Hawkins’ first book

4:00 - 5:30 Playwriting panel: Neil LaBute, Christopher Shinn, Mark St. Germain

5:30 - 7 Reception

7:00 pm KEYNOTE: Dani Shapiro


9 - 10 Breakfast & Writing Time

10 - 11 Session 5
Mike Morin (pitch)- The Perfect Pitch
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (nonfiction)- Memoir
Edwina Trentham- Poetry
Lucy Ferriss (fiction)- Writing a Dramatic Scene

11 - 12 Session 6
Matthew Dicks (birth of a book)- Birth of a Book
Yeliza Renfro(nonfiction)- Writing the Braided Essay
Christine Beck (poetry)- Poetry Prompts
Susannah Hardy (mystery) - Writing the Cozy Mystery

12 -1 Lunch & book shopping!

1-2 Session 7
Susan Schoenberger (agent)- Finding an Agent
Hunter Liguore (oral history)- Taking the Oral History of a Family Member
Wayne English(social media)- Writing for the Web
Leslie McGrath (poetry)- Poetry about Animals

2-3 Open Mic-- Syllable! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Writers' Weekend Schedule & Session Descriptions Now Available

We're thrilled to inform you that our Writers' Weekend and Book Fair has come together with a stunning array of writers and subjects. The craft of memoir, researching for your writing, avoiding procrastination, the history of poetry, how to get published, getting a book signed by a favorite writer-- it's all covered in our lineup. See below for full details.

There is still space available to learn from this incredible weekend-- register by calling (860) 280-3130.  The conference runs from April 26th - 28th and includes breakfast, lunch, and an evening reception, as well as all lectures and sessions, for $150.



6:00 p.m. Registration and Reception catered by Salute

7:00 p.m. Anita Diamant in conversation with Julia Pistell, Director, Writing at the Mark Twain House

Anita Diamant is the bestselling author of the novels The Red Tent, Good Harbor, and The Last Days of Dogtown, as well as the collection of essays, Pitching My Tent. An award-winning journalist whose work has appeared regularly in The Boston Globe Magazine and Parenting, she is the author of six nonfiction guides to contemporary Jewish life. She lives in Massachusetts. Her most recent novel is Day After Night. She will talk to Julia Pistell, Director of Writing Programs at the Mark Twain House, about her life as a writer and her work.


8:30 a.m. Registration & Coffee

9:00 a.m. Concurrent one-hour sessions:

1. Mary Sharnick: “The Mississippi River and the Grand Canal:  From Geography to Characterization”

With a nod to Mark Twain and his mixed reviews of Venice, this workshop explores how geographical setting propels characters into the conflicts that vivify novels.  Employing practical, “hands-on” use of photographs, sensate imagery, and travel (virtual and otherwise), participants will draft realistic characters, apt and specific to their respective settings and universally recognizable due to the conflicts they experience with their authors and their readers.

Mary Donnarumma Sharnick was a recipient of a 2010 Hartford Council for the Arts Solo Writer’s Fellowship from the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation.  The fellowship afforded Mary the opportunity to live at Instituto San Giuseppe, a Venetian convent of cloistered sisters, during July of 2010, where she researched Thirst.  Chair of the English Department at Chase Collegiate School, Waterbury, CT, Mary leads her writing students on slow travel tours of Italy, the country she considers her second home.

2. Ravi Shankar: “Pan-Asian Poetics: Investigating the Formal and Contextual Possibilities that Exist in International Poetry

In this workshop, we'll look at our inheritance from the Eastern world where arguably the world's first novel was written (Japan's "Tale of Genji"), the oldest poem was discovered (a 4000-year old Sumerian love poem unearthed in Iraq), and where there were forms such as ghazals, pantoum and renga that predate the sonnet and the villanelle. We will work on discovering how to revivify these ancient forms for modern times, learning how we might appropriate an Eastern mode of perception and a pattern of rhythm to create new directions in our own work. This workshop is open to everyone, regardless of experience.

Ravi Shankar is the founding editor and Executive Director of Drunken Boat, one of the world’s oldest electronic journals of the arts. He has published or edited seven books and chapbooks of poetry, including the 2010 National Poetry Review Prize winner, Deepening Groove. Along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he edited W.W. Norton’s Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond, called “a beautiful achievement for world literature” by Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer. He has won a Pushcart Prize, been featured in the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education, appeared as a commentator on the BBC and NPR, received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and has performed his work around the world. He is currently Chairman of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust, on the faculty of the first international MFA Program at City University of Hong Kong and an Associate Professor of English at CCSU.

3. Susan Campbell: “Writing the Biography of You: How to dispassionately and honestly approach your favorite subject: yourself.”

If you're going to write a book, you'd better love your topic, and what topic do you love more than you? How to fearlessly write the truth about yourself.

Susan Campbell is an award-winning author of Dating Jesus and the upcoming biography, Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker. For more than a quarter-century, she was a columnist at the Hartford Courant, where her work was recognized by the National Women's Political Caucus, New England Associated Press News Executives, the Society for Professional Journalists, the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the Sunday Magazine Editors Association. Her column about the shootings at lottery headquarters in March 1998 was part of The Courant's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage. The mother of two adult sons, and the grandmother of seven, she has a bachelor's degree from University of Maryland, and a master's degree from Hartford Seminary, and she lives in Connecticut with her husband.

10:15 Concurrent one-hour sessions:

1. Kate Rothwell: “How Should I Publish?”

Your book is finished! What should you do next? What will a big publisher do for you? How about a smaller mostly ebook-driven publisher? How long will you have to wait to see your masterpiece in print? And what should you do if you publish on your own? The world of publishing is changing every few minutes, but we can talk about some of the trends and requirements for a successful book launch no matter how you decide to publish.

Award-winning author Kate Rothwell publishes romances under her own name and as Summer Devon. She has books with New York publishers (Kensington and Simon and Schuster) and with smaller presses (Samhain, Loose Id and Ellora’s Cave and others) and is now venturing into self-publishing for some of her work.

2. Denis Horgan: "Me and My Big Mouth: Writing About Yourself”

Denis Horgan is a veteran journalist and author, well-known to Connecticut readers for his books and 25-years of columns for the Hartford Courant. His latest book, The Bangkok World, is a memoir of his fascinating days as an Army officer during the war in Southeast Asia and later as editor of the English-language newspaper of that name in Thailand. Earlier books include: Ninety-Eight Point Six ... and other stories, The Dawn of Days and Flotsam: A Life in Debris. A West Hartford resident, he was born in a taxicab.

3. Jon Clinch: “Promises, Promises: First Sentences”

So much depends on your opening sentence -- not just technically, in terms of establishing tone, point of view, pacing, tense, and so on; but practically, in terms of lassoing and commanding the reader's attention. We'll look at the promises made in a handful of extraordinary beginnings, from Garcia-Marquez to Nabokov, from Chandler to Theroux.

Born and raised in the remote heart of upstate New York, Jon Clinch has been an English teacher, a metalworker, a folksinger, an illustrator, a typeface designer, a housepainter, a copywriter, and an advertising executive. His first novel, Finn—the secret history of Huckleberry Finn’s father—was named an American Library Association Notable Book and was chosen as one of the year's best books by the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Christian Science Monitor. His second novel, Kings of the Earth, was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post and led the 2010 Summer Reading List at O, The Oprah Magazine. His new novel, The Thief of Auschwitz  was recently praised by the Jewish Daily Forward as "a page-turner with style."

11:30 Concurrent one-hour sessions:

1. Tom Ratliff: “Research & Your Writing”

One of the most important aspects of writing is research, and all too often this stage of the writing process is overlooked or glossed over. Almost all creative processes involve some kind of research – and a good storyteller does not confuse the reader with anomalies, anachronisms, or inaccuracies. Integrating research to create a story that is precise, interesting, and exciting can be challenging but it can be one of the most rewarding aspects of writing.

Tom Ratliff teaches history at Central Connecticut State University and in the community college system. He is the co-author of the Matty Trescott series and has written for Scholastic Books, Barrons Publishing, the National Geographic Society, Salariya Books of London, and the Newspapers in Education Program.

2. Chris Knopf: “All Things Unknown: Creating a Mystery”

There are no rules for writing mysteries but there are general guidelines that successful writers often note.  This session will be a review of those “generally accepted practices,” including pacing, character development, plot structure, dialogue and POV.  We’ll also discuss defining sub-genres within the broad mystery category, the publishing process, and where to go to get more information – conferences, organizations, online/offline publications, blogs, etc.

Chris Knopf has authored ten books, including two series set in the Hamptons, one starring Sam Acquillo (Black Swan, 2011) and a spin-off featuring Sam’s lawyer Jackie Swaitkowski, including Ice Cap, released June, 2012. Dead Anyway, first in a new mystery thriller series, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus and Library Journal. Publishers Weekly listed it as one of the Top Twelve Mysteries of 2012, and mystery critic Hallie Ephron, writing in the Boston Globe, named it a  Ten Best Crime Books of 2012 Kirkus honored it as a Book of the Day and listed it among their Top One Hundred Novels of 2012. A sequel, Cries of the Lost, will be published in 2013.

3. Carole Goldberg: “Pursuing Publicity: How to Get Attention for Your Book”

These days, authors must be their own marketers and publicists, and many publishers insist on seeing a marketing plan before offering a book contract. Free media coverage is out there, but you have to know what’s available, what you want (which may not be what you need), what best suits your book and how to get it. This workshop offers advice on publicizing books for new authors.

Carole Goldberg, of West Hartford, is a former Books Editor for the Hartford Courant. As a freelancer, she writes author interviews and a weekly books events column, the Write Stuff, for the paper’s CAL section. She also writes Under the Covers, a twice-weekly blog about new books acquired by the Hartford Public Library, at

12:30 Lunch, catered by Salute (included in registration)

1:30-2:30 Concurrent one-hour sessions

1. Cindy Brown Austin: "Memoir Writing; Unwrapping the Gift of Memory." 

Memoir writing is not simply about recording mental recall. It's about processing and developing those revelatory life-experiences that can produce redemption in the souls of readers.

Former columnist and cover-story writer for The Hartford Courant's Sunday magazine, Northeast, Cindy is best known for providing searing insights into the hidden world of Hartford's impoverished Street culture. She is the author of "By the Rivers of Babylon", (Simon & Schuster, 2007), and is at work on a Hartford memoir entitled, "Diary of a Dreamer."

2. Dan Pope: “Structure in Fiction”

We will examine the use of structural elements in crafting a story or novel, looking at beginnings and endings, the passage of time, the use of back story, etc.

Dan Pope is a 2002 graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop.  His first novel, IN THE CHERRY TREE, was published by Picador in 2003. His second novel, HOUSEBREAKING, is forthcoming from Simon & Schsuter in 2014. He has published short stories in McSweeneys, Iowa Review, Shenandoah, Harvard Review, Witness, Post Road, Crazyhorse, Best New American Voices 2007, and many other journals.

3. John Stanizzi: Natasha Trethewey: Our United States Poet Laureate

This lecture will introduce the audience to poet, Natasha Trethewey, one of the youngest writers to ever serve as U.S. Poet Laureate.  The 45-minute presentation traces Ms. Trethewey's early years with her bi-racial parents in Gulf Port, Mississippi, where bi-racial marriages were illegal.  It covers her influences, the issues that inspire her to write, and what she perceives as poetry's place in society.  Including excerpts from her poems, this lecture touches on Ms. Trethewey's handling of the themes of racism, feminism, slavery, prostitution, and history, and endeavors to give the audience a clearer look at Natasha Trethewey the woman, the person -- beyond her poetry, her Pulitzer Prize, her installment as U.S. Poet Laureate.

John L. Stanizzi is the author of Ecstasy Among Ghosts, now in its fourth printing, Sleepwalking, Windows, Dance Against the Wall (, and After the Bell (BigTable Publishing). His poems have appeared in The New York Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Freshwater, Passages North, The Spoon River Quarterly, Poet Lore, The Connecticut River Review, and many other publications, as well as being featured on The Writer’s Almanac.  Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, in 1998 Stanizzi was named The New England Poet of the Year by The New England Association of Teachers of English. He teaches English at Manchester Community College and Bacon Academy, where he also directed the theater program for fifteen years. He lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry, Connecticut.

2:45 – Playwrights Panel: David Lindsay-Abaire, Nikkole Salter, and Theresa Rebeck

After last year’s Playwrights Panel became a highlight of the Writer’s Weekend, we’ve lined up another blockbuster panel of today’s hottest dramatists!  Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire snagged theatre’s top honor with his searing family portrait Rabbit Hole.  He is currently represented on screens worldwide with the blockbuster Oz the Great and Powerful.  Theresa Rebeck was a Pulitzer Prize-finalist for Omnium Gatherum and has been represented on Broadway with Seminar, Mauritius and Dead Accounts.  She has been a producer-creator-writer on television’s Smash and Law & Order: CI.  Rounding out the panel is Obie Award-winner Nikkole Salter who hit the ground running with her hit play, In the Continuum.  Her latest play Carnaval recently enjoyed a sold-out, extended run.  Moderated by Hartford Courant and Variety critic Frank Rizzo, this discussion will be an insightful look into the creative minds behind some of your favorite stage plays.

David Lindsay-Abaire is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, screenwriter, lyricist and librettist.  His plays include Rabbit Hole, Good People, Fuddy Meers, Kimberly Akimbo, and Wonder of the World, among others.

Theresa Rebeck’s New York productions: Dead Accounts, Seminar, The Understudy, Mauritius, The Scene, The Water’s Edge, Bad Dates, The Butterfly Collection, Spike Heels, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann, View of the Dome, and Omnium Gatherum (co-written, Pulitzer finalist).
Her Publications: Collected Plays Volumes I, II and III, Free Fire Zone, all with Smith & Kraus, and two novels, Three Girls and Their Brother and Twelve Rooms With a View, with Random House/Shaye Areheart Books. Her Film: Harriet the Spy, Gossip, and the independent features Sunday on the Rocks and Seducing Charlie Barker (adapted from her play The Scene). Awards include the Writer’s Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama and a Peabody Award for her work on “NYPD Blue,” the National Theatre Conference Award, the William Inge New Voices Playwriting Award, the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award, the Athena Film Festival Award, an Alex Award, a Lilly Award and in 2011 she was named one of the 150 Fearless Women in the World by Newsweek. She is the creator of the NBC drama, “Smash.”

Los Angeles-born, OBIE Award-winning actress and writer Nikkole Salter arrived onto the professional scene with her co-authorship and co-performance of IN THE CONTINUUM (ITC). For its Off-Broadway run and international tour, she received an OBIE Award (2006), and the NY Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Award for Best New American Play (2006), the Seldes-Kanin Fellowship from the Theatre Hall of Fame, and the Global Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations. Miss Salter also received Helen Hayes and Black Theatre Alliance nominations for Best Actress for her performance. ITC, published by Samuel French, was pronounced - by New York Times, Newsday and New York Magazine - as one of the best plays of 2005 and was featured in Essence Magazine, American Theatre Magazine, the Los Angeles Times and NPR’s Leonard Lopate Show. Miss Salter can be seen in Gavin O’Connors feature film “Pride & Glory” and as the voice of ‘LATICIA’ in Rockstar Games' video game release, Midnight Club: Los Angeles. She received an IRNE award nomination for Best Actress for her performance in STICK FLY co-produced by Arena Stage and the Huntington Theatre in Boston. Ms. Salter’s most recent work, CARNAVAL, was selected to be a part of The New Black Fest 2011-2012 season and received its world premiere production at  Luna Stage's 20th Anniversary Season. Miss Salter also founded and serves as Executive Director of THE CONTINUUM PROJECT, INC., a non-profit organization that creates innovative artistic programming for community empowerment and enrichment.


8:00 — Coffee and breakfast

9:00 —Finding an Agent, Susan Schoenberger

In this era of self-publishing, do you even need a literary agent? This session will focus on what agents do for their authors as well as how to go about finding one. We'll talk about the query letter, the research required to search for the right agent, and how to stay resilient in the face of rejection.
Susan Schoenberger is a writer, editor and copy editor whose first novel, "A Watershed Year," won the William Wisdom-William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition in 2006 and was published in 2011. She has a contract with Amazon Publishing to re-release her first novel and for a second novel tentatively titled "The Virtues of Oxygen."

10:15 – Concurrent one-hour sessions

1. Mary-Ann Tirone Smith: “The Art of the Memoir:  The Remembered Life”

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 speak of that subjective mess and learn how to embellish everything but the truth through the creation of an irresistible and compelling narrative voice.

Mary-Ann Tirone Smith has written nine novels including The Book of Phoebe, an American Killing and Masters of Illusion: A Novel of the Hartford Circus Fire. She collaborated with her son Jere Smith on Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery. Her memoir, Girls of Tender Age, published in 2006 is still merrily making the rounds of book clubs, and has been optioned for the stage.  She was the recent recipient of the Black Mountain Institute's writing fellowship, and was awarded a writing grant by the Connecticut Commission for the Arts. Her work has been published in seven foreign languages.  She teaches fall sessions of Fiction classes at the Mark Twain House & Museum.

2. David Handler: “Howdunit”

A modern master shares the secret to how he creates an intricate mystery plot.  Exactly what is the difference between a thriller and mystery? What does it mean to call a crime novel "hard-boiled" as opposed to a "cozy?" All will be revealed.

David Handler, the Edgar Award-winning master of the witty whodunit, has written eight novels about the dapper celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag and his faithful, neurotic basset hound, Lulu, as well as nine 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. In August of 2013, his novel Runaway Man will mark the debut of 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 presently lives in a 200-year-old carriage house in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

3. Hillary Rettig: "Seven Secrets of the Prolific”

Why do some writers seem to write effortlessly, turning out page after page, chapter after chapter, and book after book, while so many others struggle over every word? The difference often comes down to how one relates to one’s work. In this workshop you'll learn how prolific writers create a context for themselves that promotes their productivity, and in particular how they solve problems related to procrastination, perfectionism, ambivalence, traumatic rejections, and constraints of time and other resources. Come and learn how to write more per hour--and have more fun doing it--than you ever thought possible!

Hillary Rettig is author of The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer's Block (Infinite Art, 2011). She has taught productivity classes at Grub Street Writers in Boston and many other venues for more than a decade, and is also an internationally recognized productivity and time management coach. Hillary was born in the Bronx, currently resides in East Boston, and like Mark Twain himself is an animal lover and a proponent of author empowerment via indie publishing.

11:30-12:30 – Closing Session: Davy Rothbart, Found Magazine

Davy Rothbart is the creator of Found Magazine, a frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life, and author of the story collection The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas. He writes regularly for GQ and Grantland, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Believer. He’s the founder of Washington II Washington, an annual hiking trip for inner-city kids, and is also the co-director of the documentary film Medora, to be released in 2013. He splits his time between Los Angeles, California and his hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

12:30 — Writers are free to go, OR enjoy the book fair, bookstore, tours of the house, and museum center!