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36th Annual Writers Conference

Schedule of Events

Friday, May 5

3:30-4:30 p.m. Registration
4:30 p.m. Welcome and Opening Words
4:30=6 p.m. Open Mic
6-6:30 p.m. Optional boxed dinners available for pickup
6:30-7:30 p.m. Keynote:Is There Anything New to Say About Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War?
Jonathan White, PhD
7:40-9 p.m. What’s So Hard About Screenwriting?
Matt Friedman
7:40-9 p.m. Memoir and Remembering – Pull the Memory Trigger!
Shawn Girvan
7:40-9 p.m. Robots, Wizards and Zombies, Oh My!
James Patrick Kelly

Saturday, May 6

8:15-8:45 a.m. Registration, coffee and continental breakfast
8:45-9 a.m. Welcome and Day’s Agenda by Collin Norman
9-10:20 a.m. How to Get Published
David Hancock, Lisa Ray, Mary Batten
9-10:20 a.m. Powerful Pitch
Toni Robino
9-10:20 a.m. The Art and Craft of the Narrative
David Robbins
9-10:20 a.m. Conducting Historical Research
Johnathan White
10:30-11:30 a.m. Keynote: “Traveling Through the World of Publishing: Making Stops Along the Publishing Landscape, From Adult Books to Children’s Books”
Bonnie Bader
11:30 a.m.-12:50 p.m. Book sales and signings
noon-12:50 p.m. Lunch
1-2:20 p.m. Rewriting: A Guide for the Perplexed
James Patrick Kelly
1-2:20 p.m. It’s Not All About You: Finding the Universal Subject of Your Memoir
Shawn Girvan
1-2:20 p.m. The Pros and Cons of Prose Poetry
Henry Hart
2:30-3:50 p.m. What a Character! The Ins and Outs of Creating Memorable Characters
Bonnie Bader
2:30-3:50 p.m. Writing About Trauma
Bill Glose
2:30-3:50 p.m. Writing for Children in the 21st Century
Kim Norman
4 p.m. Announcement of Contest Winners and Closing Words
Collin Norman

Session Details

You’ve been writing all year. Now is the time to share your words in front of a supportive audience. Readers must read their own work. Time is limited to five minutes. Sign up at the registration table to reserve your spot. Moderated by Michael Khandelwal of the Muse Writers Center.

Writing for film and television requires different tools and a different mindset. Learn what makes a good screenplay, both aesthetically and technically, in this crash course on the art of screenwriting.

In Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott writes: “Remember that you own what happened to you.” In other words, your life is yours to tell. However, remembering the intimate details of life or truly feeling your former self’s points-of-view can be a challenge – even for the most experienced memoirists. In this workshop, we will learn self-explorative techniques that can help the memoirist tap into their past. We will utilize sense memory, consensual memories and other “remembering” exercises to find that memory trigger point, and we will write as the scenes of our past come alive.

We will look at the three most popular subgenres of the fantastic: science fiction, fantasy and horror. While readers expect all fiction to have a pleasing mix of plot, character, setting and theme, writers who venture outside the bounds of reality must also enhance their newly imagined territories with robust worldbuilding informed either by scientific literacy or a coherent magical system. Complicating our task is the current trend to blur the boundaries of the three subgenres. Vampires in space! Magical engineering schools! We’ll compare and contrast some best-selling examples of science fiction, fantasy and horror and boldly go to strange new worlds.

Three panelists will participate in this discussion and answer your questions.

Learn how to craft compelling synopses and create powerful pitch packages, increasing their likelihood of representation.

Much of good storytelling is reliant on the writer’s skill, style and voice. But a great deal of effective story work stands on immutable and repeatable architecture, those pillars of good stories that do not change regardless of plot, genre, format or the author’s talents. Author David L. Robbins will highlight many of these reliable and ever-present tactics for telling your story in the most compelling manner.

Jonathan White will demonstrate how to use some of the websites he has found valuable for conducting his research, including newspaper databases and collections of digitized manuscripts.

You are looking at a sentence that doesn’t work, a scene that has gone flat or maybe an inbox full of rejections. Diagnosing writing problems is easy; prescribing the right treatment is hard. So how do you story doctor a sick manuscript? We will look at techniques you can use to work on your stories (the 10 percent rule and hanging your pages on the wall, for example) and questions you will have to answer before proceeding (i.e., why are you the only person in the world who can write this piece?). We’ll also consider the difference between revising on the fly during composition and reconfiguring a finished draft. Rewriting is not rocket science – anyone can learn the basic principles!

The Creative Nonfiction “Godfather,” Lee Gutkind believes all creative nonfiction writers must “strike a universal chord” to truly reach their readers – even memoirists. We will explore what your memoir is really about. We will search for the universal subject of your memoir and gauge yours and your readers’ relationship to this subject. We will also discuss the differences between personal essay, the autobiography and the memoir.

This lecture and workshop will begin with a brief history of the controversial genre of prose poetry. Contemporary examples will be provided. There will be time to write your own prose poem, with volunteers asked to read their work created in the workshop.

Learn how to create effective and memorable characters through developing unique character traits and writing effective dialogue. Workshop will include writing activities, critiquing work and more!

Ten years after the Gulf War, Bill Glose hadn’t spoken about his combat experiences with anyone. Then he started writing about it and found cathartic relief. This workshop will guide you through various techniques to explore your own traumas and show you how “getting it out” can aid in the healing process.

We all have our favorites from childhood: Dr. Seuss, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Maurice Sendak or more recently, Harry Potter. But in the 21st century, we can’t rely on beloved childhood stories as our models. Children’s publishing has changed drastically in the past 15 to 20 years. This workshop will explore the ways a children’s writer can get published NOW, including a discussion of agents, editors, illustrators and how to break into traditional children’s publishing, in general. Additionally, children’s author Kim Norman will break down the evolution of one of her rhyming picture books from first draft to finished hardback. The workshop will also include Q&A, as well as an overview of self-publishing options that have evolved in the past decade.

Participants will submit in advance up to 10 pages of their writing to be reviewed by an editor. Then they will meet with the editor for a 15-minute critique session to discuss their work. $40 additional fee for conference registrants only. Submissions must be received by April 7, 2017.
One-on-One Editor: James Patrick Kelly, University of Southern Maine

Here’s your chance. “Tell me about your work” means 15 minutes of fame is yours to shine. Participants will meet with an agent and pitch their work for about five minutes, introducing and promoting the concept and trying to grab the agent’s attention. Then they’ll have 10 minutes for further discussion.
Pitch Agent: Toni Robino, Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency

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