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14th Writers' Day

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Spend the day soaking up talks on fiction, nonfiction, editing, and publishing, as a host of professionals share their formulas for success and provide tips for your own writing.

Registration and Check-in begins at Noon, in D’Amour Hall for Business, Communications and Technology, and continues throughout the sessions.

Coffee will be served 


Session One: 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Pairing Writing with Photography with Author John Sheirer

This workshop will explore how photography can connect with several forms of writing, including children's literature, poetry, memoir, fiction, and reporting on current events. Attendees will also explore how photographs can inspire us to break even the worst case of writer's block. Writers of various genres and photographers all focus on how specific details fit within a larger context to create a unified whole. Not all writers of literature for children and young adults are gifted with the ability to draw or paint, but photography offers an underutilized alternative to help us pair imagery with our writing and break into the children's book market. Poets, memoirists, and fiction writers can employ photography to accent the expression of a personal observations or fictionalized stories and as catalyst for deeper exploration into figurative language, memories, or scenes. Photography can also be an essential partner for writing about the social, psychological, political, and newsworthy events of our world. Most important, writers can turn to photographs for the inspiration we all need to jump-start our creativity. Workshop participants are encouraged but not required to bring their own photographs to use as writing prompts. Participants will also use Sheirer's book, What's the Story? 50 Photographs and 1,000 Ideas to Inspire Creative Writing, as a source to stimulate our writing.


The Journey of a Freelance Piece with Author Suzanne Strempek Shea

How does a freelance piece go from an idea to a story found on within a magazine on the newsstands? The story behind a recent Yankee Magazine story will be told by its author, Suzanne Strempek Shea, who will share notes from her editor, Mel Allen, on the process of getting a piece accepted and published. Suzanne has freelanced for Yankee over the past 26 years, 25 of them working with Mel Allen. Her most recent story, “The Promised Land,” details the story of Blue Star Equiculture, a draft horse rescue in Suzanne’s home village of Bondsville, Mass. This talk will be of special interest to those interested in freelancing, and will include information on how to pitch a freelance piece, what happens when it’s accepted, the relationship between author and editor, the various staffers who appear along the path, working with the assigned photographer, and spreading the word that the magazine is out.

Session Two: 2:35p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Persistence Pays Off; or, The Rocky Road to Publication with Author M.P. Barker

If you're trying to land a contract with a traditional publisher, finding an agent and an editor who'll say "yes" can seem like a quest for the Holy Grail. Author M.P. Barker has been there, done that, and is happy to share her experience and advice. She slogged through dozens of rejection letters before her historical novel, A Difficult Boy (Holiday House, 2008), found a publisher. In this workshop, she will discuss why you might want to find an agent for your work; how to match your project with the right agent or editor; how to polish your query letter and synopsis; and how to plan a successful submission strategy. She will also discuss querying etiquette, how to tell when "no" might mean "maybe," and share her experience with turning a "no" into a "yes." She will even give you a little advice for taking the sting out of those rejections. (Note: This workshop does not discuss self-publishing.)

(Note: This workshop does not discuss self-publishing.)


Weaving Human Nature into Nature Writing: Environmental Writing with Emotion with Author Mary Heather Noble

Few writers squirm under the banner of their genre classification more than “Nature Writers” do. Why? Because these authors worry that the label may limit their audience, or that their work will be perceived as nature and environmental writing is all-too-often perceived: as quiet and contemplative, or too serious and depressing, or downright boring and scientific. And yet some of the most beautiful personal narratives in contemporary literature can be found in the “Nature” section of the bookstore, making them both successful works of literary art and powerful agents for environmental advocacy. This workshop will examine the work of a few contemporary environmental writers, and how incorporating the personal into the environmental has allowed them to connect to a broader readership while furthering their cause. We will study specific strategies to heighten the emotion in your environmental writing, play with some writing prompts to enrich your writing practice, and discuss opportunities to find homes for your environmental work.

Session Three: 4:10 p.m. to 5:20 p.m.
The Ghost (Writing) In Your Machine with Author/Editor Dave Stern

Writing, ghostwriting, editing – they’re all part of the same process, i.e., telling a specific story. A story defined by viewpoint, topic, and form. A story constrained by considerations commercial and aesthetic. A forest, if you will, defined by the trees you plant in it. Writers, of course, know all too well the parable about trees, and forests. Another parable: other people’s mistakes are much easier to identify than your own. This is one of the reasons why the lessons you learn ghostwriting – the cold-blooded limitations imposed upon you by a particular project – can become valuable tools in your own creative process. In this talk/discussion, bestselling author/editor Dave Stern (Blair Witch, Crosley, Shadows In The Asylum, Star Trek) shares some of the lessons he’s learned – and those he is still absorbing - as a ghostwriter/dumpster diver/starship captain/concert pianist over the course of his own publishing career.


Revising Your Creative Prose with Author Penny Guisinger

It’s through the revision process that any piece takes shape, gains focus, and emerges as a finished work. In this session, author Penny Guisinger will provide tools and approaches for revising prose (fiction or nonfiction). She’ll talk about bringing a cold eye to the page, looking for unnecessary words, and mining an early draft for those gems that emerge as the heart of a finished piece.


  • One workshop is $45
  • two workshops, $85
  • three workshops, $115

Payment must be received in advance. Please note that admissions are non-refundable unless a speaker cancels.

  • Pre-registration is strongly recommended to ensure a session runs. 
  • Drop-ins accepted only if there is space available.
  • Minimum seven participants/maximum 40 participants per session.


D’Amour Hall for Business, Communications and Technology, Check-in at the Foyer, Rooms 5 & 6.

 A limited number of copies of the authors' books will be available for purchase and signing.