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2023 Speakers, Workshops and Readings

Chapbooks: Why, how, and what next? (workshop)

Chapbooks are short literary books, poetry or prose, usually independently designed and published in limited editions by individual authors or small presses. Chapbooks epitomize the independence of writers, artists, writing groups, and publishers beyond the world of commercial publishing. This workshop will cover methods for publishing chapbooks in small editions, either by using easy modern software or by creating handmade books. We will end by looking at ways in which writers can connect with others to create a small press or collective to support making and sharing chapbooks.

Create Compassion with Middle-Grade and Young Adult Fiction (workshop)

In this workshop, we’ll study recently published middle-grade and young adult novels to learn how authors use their stories to create compassion for particular characters and demographics. Bring a laptop or notebook and pen for writing exercises designed to send you away with compassion-generating story ideas of your own.

The Novel as Process  (talk)

This is a step-by-step guide to novel writing, structured to allow for the author’s individuality and creativity.

Try, Try, Trying Again:  Rejections, Perseverance, and the Writing Life (keynote)

Writers are great at imagining stories. When we get rejected, though, we often lean into a negative, internal narrative that slows us down. Maybe the work isn’t good enough, we wonder. I’ve been wasting my time writing, we worry. That pressure—not to mention all the hype about platforms and audience and seeing friends get book deals—can freeze our creative output. Laura Stanfill, founder and publisher of Forest Avenue Press, has been rejected many times, including shelving two novels before her debut found a home. She’ll talk about believing in your work, how rejections are part of the process (and often they’re not even personal), and how to keep going despite creative obstacles, fallow periods, and life challenges.

Workshop: Zines as creative process (workshop)

Join Katie Kulla and Rebecca Minifie in learning about “zines” as a unique genre and how making zines can be a creative practice for opening doors to new ideas. They will set aside perfection and make fun fresh connections. Participants will make a mini zine during the session; supplies provided.

What makes a great poem? (workshop)

In this interactive workshop, we’ll look closely at a selection of indisputably great poems to analyze what defines their excellence. You’ll gain confidence in your ability to decide for yourself what poems you think are “great,” and why. And your enjoyment of poetry will be enhanced. In preparation (optional), please be ready to add a favorite poet and/or poem to a group list.

Beyond Wikipedia:
Researching Your Creative Nonfiction Essays (workshop)

Sure, you know how to use Google, but how do you find the information that will enrich your narrative and make it stand out? Research helps you uncover not just the facts that strengthen your essay or story, but also the nuggets that add texture, quirk, and soul. We’ll explore the research methods available to writers, including primary sources, immersion, and interviews. We’ll start with the most seemingly obvious routes and learn how to follow breadcrumbs down rabbit holes. We’ll also discuss how to decide what to use—and how to find your way out of the rabbit holes and write!

Writing the Weird West (keynote)

For years, Leah Sottile has written about the fringe characters of the western United States: from Elvis impersonators to backyard wrestlers, bikini baristas to nuns. In 2016, that specialty took a turn, and her expertise on covering the fringe became vital in understanding America’s deep divides. She has come to specialize on reporting on the religious and political fringe of the region: from armed standoffs to ideologically-motivated violence and conspiracy theories. She’ll discuss her unlikely writing career, where it started, where it has taken her and where she might go next.

After the Writing, the Selling! Or How to Work with Bookstores to Sell Your Book (talk)

You wrote a book—now it’s time to sell it. Get tips from a longtime bookseller and independent bookstore owner about how to approach your local bookstore about stocking your newest tome.


Publishing Panel: Finding Your Audience (panel discussion)
No matter what stage you are in the publishing process, if you want to have readers, you have to find ways to connect with them. Join independent publisher and novelist Laura Stanfill, fiction author Michelle Ruiz Keil, and nonfiction writer Emily Grosvenor for a discussion on how, where, and why to discover your readers.

Layers of Landscape: Harnessing the Power of Place (workshop)

Though we live in a world chock full of chain restaurants and department stores, on-screen communications, and cross-country airplane travel, we ignore the power of place at our own psychological and, increasingly, physical peril. Truly, place and landscape are active forces in all our lives. They shape and re-shape us; they offer us foundation and refuge; they challenge us to be good citizens of our biotic and built communities. In life and in writing, we ought to be aware of this; we ought to try to understand and harness the power of place. This session offers writers four ways they might begin to do just that. Participants are asked to bring a pen and paper or a laptop computer for in-session writing.

Insisting on Joy: Poems of Gratitude and of Loving the World (workshop)

Journalist Krista Tippett of The On Being Project counsels us to “insist on joy” and to “make the muscular choices of love and hope.”  If “poetry is the human voice,” as Elizabeth Alexander declares, how do we as poets lead the way toward enacting these choices?  In this generative workshop, we will study poems by Ross Gay and Martín Espada to write poems expressing love and envisioning hope. We will also explore poems by Claribel Alegría and Mary Oliver and imagine our own to “keep loving the world” and to “announce our place in the family of things.”

18 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2015 5:47 pm

    I’d like to add I am children’s book author with seven books in publication through traditional publishing houses (Tiger Tales, Sleeping Bear Press and Simon & Schuster UK). I am also published through Highlights for Kids. — Stephanie Shaw

  2. March 14, 2015 5:53 pm

    The Path to Publication Presenation is geared toward the unpublished children’s book writer who is interested in the ins and outs of traditional publication of kid lit. Using my experience as a published author, I will touch on the writing process and then address issues such as resources for polishing work, submitting to publishers, working with an agent, relationships with illustrators and more.

    I welcomes your curiosity about the children’s book industry.

  3. Dorothy Louis permalink
    February 21, 2017 4:11 pm

    There is no description for the Lisa Olen Harris workshop, The Artifact as Axis, what is it about?

    • March 13, 2017 9:51 am

      Hi Dorothy, Lisa Ohlen Harris is not giving a workshop this year.

      • March 14, 2017 1:11 am

        The online registration form and the printable one say different things–that’s where the confusion about Harris comes from.

      • March 28, 2017 9:48 am

        Sorry, I’m confused. Can you send me a link to what you are looking at?

      • April 7, 2017 10:29 am

        It’s been fixed now. It’s just that the online schedule and the printable schedule were slightly different and one had the Harris workshop listed. 🙂

  4. March 31, 2017 4:07 pm

    Hello, is it possible to view the schedule for this event? I cannot seem to find the schedule of the presentations. Many thanks!

    • April 17, 2017 10:16 am

      The schedule is on the registration form here:

      See you soon!

      • nese delzell permalink
        April 13, 2018 11:46 am

        The following is the response when clicking on the link you so kindly provided. 😦 “We are terribly sorry, but the URL you typed no longer exists. It might have been moved or deleted, or perhaps you mistyped it. We suggest searching the site:” Please advise.
        Thank you so much for all the work you are doing, Emily!

  5. March 31, 2017 4:08 pm

    Hello, is it possible to view the schedule for this conference? I cannot seem to find the schedule of these presentations. Thank you!

  6. April 10, 2017 10:07 am

    Thanks for understanding! We are a very small group of volunteers putting this on and sometimes wires get crossed.


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