Author Workshops


Author workshops will be continually updated.  Below are the workshop topics currently confirmed.

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Mark Ari - "The Spirit of the Forms"

According to D. T. Suzuki, humans make many tools and use them effectively in various fields of activity, but they are always exposing themselves to the tyranny of the tools they have made.  In this workshop we will use those tools most comfortable in our hands, but then set them aside to challenge our notions of our own propensities.  We will improvise. We will play.  Appealing to synthetic intuition, we will talk in tongues the languages of writing, visual art, perhaps music, or whatever.  And we’ll do so for no other reason but to do it and feel what it means.

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Sarah Blackman - "Publishing From the Inside Out—A Writer’s Perspective on the Publishing Market"

How to publish, where to publish, what to publish—where does a writer begin trying to break into the multitudinous and sometimes daunting world of literary magazines and journals? A publishing practicum from both the writer and editor’s points of view.

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Sarah Blackman - "One Day—How to Make Plot Happen"

Whether your story is real or surreal, quiet or rife with explosions, set on Mars or set at the corner bar, something has to happen to make a story go. A workshop in which we will examine both the horizontal and vertically plotted story with an eye toward creating our own instigating events on par with the greatest one day of them all—“One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.”  

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Elissa Schappell - "Creating Authentic Dialogue"

Dialogue isn't what people say to each other, it's what they do to each other," Hemingway - a great talker himself - famously said. It's true. Dialogue is an excellent way to escalate tension and move the story forward. It's also a great way to create a more realistic character. Think about it. The way we talk, (or don't talk) the way our speech changes according to the pressure we're under speaks volumes about us. Not only that, good dialogue gives your work a feeling of authenticity. It's ironic that everybody speaks and yet so many people write dialogue that wouldn't sound natural coming out of the mouth of a sock puppet. The challenge is how to tune your ear and your voice so you can write dialogue that reflects your character, and your own point of view.

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Tim Gilmore - "Place as Character: Speaking the Haunted Landscape"

When Peter Ackroyd wrote his mammoth book about his native city, he called it London: The Autobiography. Often writers think of place merely in terms of setting, but capturing the personality of place means bringing it to life as a character. Every place is haunted historically and psychologically. Getting in touch with that haunting allows you to know the place intimately, not only to bring it to life in your writing, but as Ackroyd’s title suggests, to allow the place to speak through you.

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Sarah Kay - "Spoken Word 101" "Spoken Word Poetry 101"

Are you interested in spoken word poetry but have never given it a shot? Do you want to build on the spoken word poetry skills you already have? This workshop is a great fit for both spoken word beginners and veterans, tackling things questions from "What do I write about?" to "How do I perform?" Students will leave with the tools they need to start creating and performing their own work.
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Brad Lauretti - "DIY Publishing for Songwriters"

You have a song, now what?  This workshop will go through the extensive process of internet strategy, publishing, social media, PR, copyright protection, performing rights, licensing and collecting royalties!

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Brad Lauretti - "Topical Songwriting: I read the news today..."

Songwriters from John Lennon to Woody Guthrie plucked the days news headlines for inspiration when writing songs.  This workshop will go through a quick history of topical songwriting, and then we will actually write songs from the days newspaper.

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Dorianne Laux – “Pen to Page”

We will examine poems that grapple with Political, Social and Cultural content, and use these to drive a number of 15-minute, in-class writing exercises based on model poems by established poets Jamall May, Gerald Stern, Yusef Komunyakaa, Ann Marie Macari, Jane Hirshfield, Jake Adam York and Ruth Stone. Our craft focus will be on structure and technique.

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Will Ludwigsen - "He Said, She Said, We Said: Applying the Power of Gossip for More Compelling Characters"

Some anthropologists and evolutionary psychologists theorize that human language arose for the purpose of gossip: trading important information about the reliability of others in the tribe. Whether that is true or not, there is little doubt that we find talk about our fellow beings to be endlessly fascinating. How can we as writers use that human compulsion to our advantage? How do writers like Stephen King hook us into the lives of even minor characters? In this session, we'll look at how gossip works in fiction and practice some ways of using it on our own.  

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Will Ludwigsen -
"Ghost Stories: Writing the Gossip of the Dead"

Of all the standard "horrors" of fiction -- vampires, zombies, and other monsters -- it is ghosts that seem the most intimate, the most connected to a place or a person or a moment of individual weakness.
What are ghosts? How do they work in fiction? In this session, we'll discover ways to write stories that chill the reader more deeply than mere physical danger ever can.  

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Billy Merrell - "Writing Emotion
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This workshop focuses on the importance of conveying emotion (in both poetry and prose) and will provide exercises for students interested in accessing creative empathy while crafting their art. Participants will discuss their personal choices regarding point-of-view, symbolism, and tone, and will discover new ways to convey both character and voice in a range of writing styles.
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Joseph Millar – “Pen to the Page”                    

We will explore the poetry of Work and Family, and use these to drive a number of 20-minute in-class writing exercises based on model poems by established poets B.H. Fairchild, Belle Waring, Philip Levine and Tess Gallagher. Our craft focus will be on image, narrative and making lines.

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Rick Moody - "Rules For Revision"

A workshop in how to think carefully about revision, and what revision can do for your work, regardless of genre.

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Josip Novakovich - "You Can't Always Get What You Want"

Man is his desire, said Aristotle. Stories come to life from passions of the people taking part. We'll write sketches, evolving tension and plot from characters' motives: desires and fears. For both desire and fear to be believable, we'll practice describing what we want, vividly, and what we fear in lurid detail. We'll also sketch a fantastic scene in concrete earthy details, and a banal scene, in fantastic heavenly and hellish way. A story is a series of sketches strung together around the motive force. It might be easier than you think to write a strong story.  In preparation for this workshop, please read "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez at http://salvoblue.homestead.com/wings.html, and "Ice" by Novakovich at http://thebluemoon.com/4/spr99prevnovakovich.html

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Eve Samples - "Creativity on Daily Deadline: The Newspaper Column as an Art Form"

The best newspaper columns are concise, biting and memorable. They are written on deadline. They make sense of the senseless. We examine the masters of this genre -- from the late war correspondent Ernie Pyle to modern-day newspaper survivors Leonard Pitts and Maureen Dowd --  to consider why the American column endures even as newspapers struggle. During the workshop, students will explore differences between personal essays and columns by writing an abbreviated column of their own.

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Steven Sherrill - “Rise Up {insert character name here}, and Walk the Earth!”

The goal, always, is to create fictional characters that come alive on the page. The über-goal is to make characters so real they walk out of the story and take up residence in the reader’s mind. We’ll do some tricks in this workshop to help flesh out new characters

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Patricia Smith - "The Other Side of the Wall" 

At the risk of being labeled (*shudder*) “confessional,” we will explore ways to reach and write material that we continually shun—or steadfastly ignore—usually because prohibitive emotional content makes it so difficult to access. Writing about stunning sunsets or a first kiss is fine--but the work that changes us, that gives us the resilience to move from one human moment to the next, often lies on the other side of a wall that most of us have decided it's best not to approach. We’ll approach it, we’ll scale it, we’ll scare ourselves more than a little—but the poems we find in that shadowy, uncharted territory will be well worth the journey.
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Kathryn Walat - "Character + Conflict = Drama"


This workshop will introduce writers to techniques for creating characters from images, developing them through the use of "recipes," and utilizing their objectives in creating conflict. Writers can apply these tools to writing for the theater, or for other mediums. This will be a hands-on workshop; come prepared to create.