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.


MARK TWAIN HOUSE WRITERS’ WEEKEND SCHEDULE

FRIDAY


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.


SATURDAY


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 http://undercovers.hplct.org/.

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 (www.antrimhouzebooks.com), 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.


SUNDAY


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!


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