Writers' Day

Writers' Day at Bay Path University



Saturday, October 24, 2015


Location: D’Amour Hall for Business, Communications and Technology, Rooms 5 & 6, Bay Path University Longmeadow Campus, 588 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow, Mass., 01106


One workshop is $45; two workshops, $85; three workshops, $115; and four workshops, $145.

Registration/Check-in starts: 9:00 a.m. and continues throughout the day.

Register Online Today!

Coffee will be served in the morning. Bring a bag lunch or visit a nearby restaurant.

Drop-ins accepted only if there is space available. Mininum 7 participants/maximum 40 participants per session

Please note that admissions are non-refundable unless a speaker cancels


Session One - 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.:

Writers of a Certain Age Panel with authors, Bernadette Duncan Harrison, Nina Gaby, Bunny Goodjohn, and Ellen Meeropol.

Four authors were in mid-life when their first books were published. Ellen Meeropol, Nina Gaby, Bunny Goodjohn and Bernadette Harrison will lead you along the paths they took to writing, how they fit writing into their already very busy lives, and how only at this age could they become the writers they were meant to be. Writers of any age, including those who have been around more than a few decades, will gain much from this panel discussion. Post-discussion question-and-answer session for those with curious minds and a desire to know more.

Session Two - 11:05 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.: 

Making Memoir Come Alive with Craft with Alexis Paige, writer, editor and essayist.

A common misconception is that only those with zany, traumatic, or death-defying experiences have stories worthy of memoir. But the truth is that even the most hair-raising life story can fall flat on the page, while the seemingly banal can sing. The difference between a memoir that soars and one that flops comes down to craft, just as with any writing in any genre or form. So how do you fashion your raw material into gripping narrative nonfiction? Master memoirists borrow liberally from novelists to make their stories come alive. This workshop will explore how raiding the novelist's toolbox can help writers of memoir to hone their craft. We will focus in particular on narrative structure, voice, writing cinematic scenes, and mining metaphor for patterns that deepen theme and story. This one-hour workshop will offer both macro- and micro- strategies, along with practical tips and prompts to take home to your writing practice.


The Memory as Artist with Doug Anderson author of three books of poetry: The Moon Reflected Fire, Blues for Unemployed Secret Police, and Horse Medicine, as well as a memoir, Keep Your Head Down: Vietnam, the Sixties and a Journey of Self-Discovery.

Most of us can agree that a memoir is composed of events that actually happened. However, it is not so easy in some cases to know what actually happened. We have only our memory of it, and to be honest, memory is something of a trickster. Memory will creatively structure things in order to make sense of them. Gabriel Marquez, in Living to Tell the Tale, offers the following anecdote. He remembers himself wearing a toy helmet, sporting a toy sword, and saluting a company of soldiers marching by. But he does the math and realizes that his memory has combined the two events: he could not possibly have been wearing the toy helmet and sword at the same time as the presence of soldiers in his home town. Even with external corroboration, it may be difficult to pin down the facts of a particular event.  Doug ran into this problem with his own memoir about the Vietnam War. Doug’s talk will involve the artistic challenges posed by memory and the way he responded to them.

Dialogue: One of the most difficult aspects of memoir writing is the use of dialogue. Doug remembers key phrases, idioms, and wordplay of the speakers in my memoir, as well as what was actually said. However, he can’t remember the dialogues word for word. Ultimately, he had to give himself permission to approximate the conversations because they were important.

Time: Doug often did not remember the sequence of events and had no way of knowing what happened before or after something else. When he began writing his memoir he looked for "hot spots," that is, memories of such intensity that they would draw the reader in. He began with hotspots so that the rest of the memoir fell in place around them. He then worked with his editor at Norton, Carol Houck Smith, to re-sequence the events chronologically.

Many of the "hot spots" he sought in the memoir had already been written as poems in his book of poetry, The Moon Reflected Fire.

Doug will share these particular problems with the audience, as well as his solution of them.

Session Three - 1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.:

How I Went Deep: Writing Intimate Stories about Other People—With No Regrets with Nell Lake, author of The Caregivers.

Compelling stories often take readers deeply into characters’ lives. A big part of a writer’s work is to shape readers’ experience of characters’ personalities, challenges, strengths, weaknesses—a process that can be both fascinating and challenging. For her book, The Caregivers: A Support Group’s Stories of Slow Loss, Courage, and Love, journalist Nell Lake spent two years immersed in the lives of members of a support group for family caregivers. In this session, Nell will talk about the experience of growing closer to her subjects, and of seeking to portray them with accuracy and care. She'll lead discussion about writing narrative—whether fiction or nonfiction—with intimacy, compassion, and respect. You’ll have the opportunity to talk about your own writing, to share ideas and challenges, and consider new ways of approaching your creative work.

Session Four - 2:35 p.m. - 3:50 p.m.:

Dogs on the Page with Helen Peppe, author of Pigs Can’t Swim and Suzanne Strempek Shea, author of eleven books including the novel Make a Wish But Not For Money and the biography This Is Paradise.

Whether we make them up or use our own, dogs walk into our stories and make themselves at home. How do they aid characterization? Plot? Story? Physical and sensory setting? Timing? Are they characters themselves? How do we make our writing about dogs, with dogs, for dogs, different than all that’s been done? Is this possible? Toto drives plot and develops character, but can a dog get in the way of story, slow momentum, distract the reader? Join us for a discussion on how dogs can play powerful roles in all genres.

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



If you have questions not answered on our website, please contact:
Briana Sitler
Director of Special Programs
Bay Path University
588 Longmeadow Street
Longmeadow MA 01106
Phone: 413.565.1066 or 413.565.1000 Ext.1066


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