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Friday, April 5
 

7:30am

9:00am

Welcoming Convocation + Keynote: Luis Alberto Urrea
Presenters
avatar for Luís Alberto Urrea

Luís Alberto Urrea

Keynote Speaker, THE HOUSE OF BROKEN ANGELS
Hailed by NPR as a “literary badass” and a “master storyteller with a rock and roll heart,” Luis Alberto Urrea is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph.A 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for... Read More →
avatar for Sonya Larson

Sonya Larson

Muse Director
Sonya Larson joined GrubStreet in 2005, and helped to grow the organization from offering 80 classes a year to over 600. Since then she has managed GrubStreet's many and proliferating programs, and served as Program Director for several years.Now, as the Director of the Muse and Advocacy... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 9:00am - 10:00am
TBA

10:15am

1A: Fund Your Writing Passion
Limited Capacity filling up

Starting, changing, or jump-starting your career? Whether you’re applying for a Fulbright, for a summer residency, as a writer-in-residence, for an MFA, to J-school, or for a journalism grant, you’ll learn tips and tricks for success. Learn how to fund a trip, fund your reporting, fund your writing, or fund your space – on someone else’s dime.

This session will provide an overview of funding sources, provide excerpts of successful project proposals and personal statements; and offer suggestions of how to make the most of your time during and after your fellowship whether it’s one week or one year.

Presenters
avatar for Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of a short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities, and a debut novel, A River of Stars. For two decades, she has been writing, in journalism and fiction, about Asia and the diaspora. She has received... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1B: Narrative Unbound: Experimental Structures in Essays and Stories
Limited Capacity full

Are you struggling to tell a story in a traditional narrative structure? Sometimes it’s not you-- it’s the form that’s got you down. See how a more experimental form can illuminate the story you’re trying to tell, and how leaving your comfort zone can bust open your writing style.

We’ll explore several approaches to narrative structure for both short stories and essays, such as collage and fragmentation, borrowed forms, and associative structures, and see how writers have used them in surprising and moving ways. We’ll provide guidelines to help you work with these structures on your own, as well as a writing prompt to get you started. You’ll come out of this session with new ways to approach narrative writing.

Presenters
avatar for Sari Boren

Sari Boren

Nonfiction Writer, Four Stories Reading Series
Sari Boren is an essayist and playwright who has published in Copper Nickel, Lilith Magazine, The Southeast Review, Alimentum, Hobart, and Pangyrus, among others. She teaches creative nonfiction at GrubStreet, co-manages Boston’s Four Stories reading series. Her solo show EXHIBITING... Read More →
avatar for Ron MacLean

Ron MacLean

Author, WE MIGHT AS WELL LIGHT SOMETHING ON FIRE
Ron MacLean teaches writing at GrubStreet. His short fiction has been anthologized, and has appeared widely in magazines including GQ, Narrative, Fiction International, Night Train, Other Voices, Drunken Boat, Best Online Fiction 2010, and elsewhere. He is author most recently of... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1C: Writing Suspense
Limited Capacity filling up

Alfred Hitchcock said, “There is a distinct difference between ‘suspense’ and ‘surprise.’” Yet many writers confuse the two. Building suspense is just as much about choosing when to reveal information to a reader as it is about choosing what to withhold. As an investigative journalist, Michael Blanding frequently works to create suspense in his narratives, keeping readers captivated even when the ultimate outcome of the story is already known.

Drawing upon examples from fiction, non-fiction, and film, this session will explore practical tips and techniques for crafting stories that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. It will also include time for a guided writing exercise for participants to create their own short, suspenseful narratives.

Presenters
avatar for Michael Blanding

Michael Blanding

Author, THE MAP THIEF
Michael Blanding is a Boston-based investigative journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, WIRED, Slate, The Nation, The Boston Globe Magazine, and Boston. His latest book, The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1D: Researching and Choosing Agents to Query
Limited Capacity full

You’ve spent years of hard work writing and revising your first book, and it is time to begin looking for an agent. You have a query letter with a great hook and your first twenty pages sparkle. Now it’s time to create a well-researched list of agents to query.

A carefully-curated agent list can save you both time and the pain of multiple rejections. Using online tools such as the Publishers Marketplace database and Query Tracker, Louise will show you how to research agents, how to whittle down the list, and tips on how to plan your querying strategy.

Please bring your questions and titles of contemporary books similar to yours in genre, voice and plot. If time permits, Louise will use these to demonstrate how to begin your research during the session.

Presenters
avatar for Louise Miller

Louise Miller

Author, THE LATE BLOOMERS CLUB
Louise Miller is a writer and pastry chef living in Boston, MA. Her debut novel, The City Baker's Guide to Country Living was selected as an Indie Next pick by the American Booksellers Association, a Library Reads pick by Librarians across the U.S., and was shortlisted by the America... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1E: Interiority in Fiction
Limited Capacity filling up

The unique quality of fiction that allows us to become immersed in another human mind is central to its value and to its popularity; we crave the experience of dwelling within a consciousness not our own as it confronts antagonists, goes on journeys, yearns, searches, reacts, muses, reflects, falls in love, and deals with all the stress and emotional difficulties that come with good storytelling.

But how does a writer go about triggering this mystical act of co-creation? The answer, in part, is that we allow readers to experience the exterior world from inside a particular character. This concept is known as interiority.

In this text-based session, we’ll ask ourselves what it is about the inner landscape that makes its so intrinsically irresistible to readers, and we’ll discuss ways that we as fiction writers can make it even more so.

Presenters
avatar for Tim Weed

Tim Weed

Author, A FIELD GUIDE TO MURDER & FLY FISHING
Tim Weed’s short fiction collection, A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, made the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Shortlist and was a finalist in the short story category for the American Fiction Awards and the International Book Awards. His first novel, Will Poole’s... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1F: Revealing Exposition
Limited Capacity full

In writing fiction, exposition can be useful in providing the reader with necessary character description and additional contextualizing information. Sometimes, though, too much exposition (or too little) can alter how the reader engages with the story overall.  

In this session, we’ll look at examples from short fiction and novel excerpts, and study how each writer “reveals" exposition. We’ll focus on how such information can be withheld to produce narrative momentum in the current, presented action, and we’ll also look at how explicit information might be, instead, presented implicitly, thereby creating more tension in the story.

Presenters
avatar for Jon Pineda

Jon Pineda

Author, LET'S NO ONE GET HURT
Jon Pineda is the author of the novel Let's No One Get Hurt (Picador, 2019), originally published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. His other books include the memoir Sleep in Me, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and Library Journal "Best Books of 2010" pick; the... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1G: Object Lessons: An Exploration
Limited Capacity full

This class will explore the role of objects in fiction. The objects that appear in our stories and novels have the potential to open powerful news doors in our pages—to alter and deepen the path of a moment, a scene, even an entire narrative. Together we will look at the ways objects can help us forward plot; complicate character; generate structure; and navigate time (and more!). Texts will include Achy Obejas’s “Kimberle” and Yiyun Li’s “Sweeping Past," among others.

Presenters
avatar for Laura  van den Berg

Laura van den Berg

Author, THE THIRD HOTEL
Laura van den Berg is the author of two short story collections and two novels, most recently The Third Hotel, an ABA IndieNext Selection, a Powell's Indiespensable Pick, and an Amazon Best Book of the Month for August. Her honors include the Bard Fiction Prize, the Rosenthal Family... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
St. James Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1H: First Impressions: How to Hook an Agent or Editor with Your Opening Pages
Limited Capacity full

You only get one chance to make a first impression. When it comes to your written work, this means that your opening pages are critical! Why? Well, if an agent or editor isn’t hooked by your submission immediately he or she will put it down and move on. It’s as simple as that. In this seminar, literary agent Amaryah Orenstein will show you how to capture a reader’s attention with your opening pages and how to avoid the weak openings that lead to instant rejection. Please submit your first 3 pages in advance and bring a copy to class for a lively and engaging critique.

Submit your pages here by Sunday, March 17th.

Presenters
avatar for Amaryah Orenstein

Amaryah Orenstein

Literary Agent, GO Literary
Amaryah Orenstein, founder and president of GO Literary, a Boston-based boutique agency, is thrilled to help writers bring their ideas to life. Aiming to give voice to a broad range of perspectives, Amaryah represents a wide array of literary and commercial fiction and narrative nonfiction... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1I: A Collection, a Book, a Conundrum: How to Make Your Short Story Collection Cohere
Limited Capacity filling up

Short story collections are curious beasts. The individual stories are often the result of many drafts, intensive labor, and rounds of feedback from the workshop. Yet so often the manuscript as a whole is not given the same consideration, and may struggle to form a book, rather than a collection of discrete objects. What are the strategies a writer might use to tie a collection together? How might one use character, geography, theme, resonance of imagery, juxtaposition, and line-level echoes to achieve this goal? How do the stories speak to each other across the collection, and what opportunities might there be for narrative progression in the book? This session will examine these questions and more from an editor’s point of view.

Presenters
avatar for Steve Woodward

Steve Woodward

Editor, Graywolf Press
Steve Woodward is an editor at Graywolf Press, where he has edited books of literary fiction and nonfiction by authors including Anna Burns, Jamel Brinkley, Daisy Johnson, Esmé Weijun Wang, Mark Doten, Angela Palm, Benjamin Percy, Susan Steinberg, and others. Authors he has worked... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1J: It's All in the Details
Limited Capacity full

How do we write fiction and creative non-fiction that makes our readers feel love, hope, dread, sadness, and the impact of loss and betrayal? How do we achieve this without veering into sentimentality? While pacing, setting, and structure all come into the play, one of the most powerful (and often overlooked) techniques for any writer is the use of specific and significant details. As Janet Burroway says, “details (as every good liar knows) are the stuff of persuasiveness”. But too much detail can backfire and too little can take the reader out of the dream. In this session, we will learn how to use details effectively so our readers share our characters’ emotional worlds. We’ll look at how specificity, filtering, and use of the active voice can build meaning for the reader and how to insert details and expository information into drama for the best effect. We’ll discuss examples from R.O. Kwon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison and end with a short writing exercise that will help us apply what we’ve learned.

Presenters
avatar for Marjan Kamali

Marjan Kamali

Author, THE STATIONARY SHOP
Marjan Kamali’s debut novel Together Tea (EccoBooks/HarperCollins) was a Massachusetts Book Award Finalist, an NPR WBUR Good Read, and a Target Emerging Author Selection. It has been translated into several languages and was recently adapted for the stage. Marjan graduated from... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1K: Telling a Story with Your Nonfiction Book Proposal
Limited Capacity filling up

You may have been told that a book proposal is a marketing tool, and it is. But it is also a narrative about why your book should be published. Great proposals use characters, conflict, anecdotes, and memorable details to tell a great story. To write a successful proposal, you’ll need to know how to create a hook, build the tension and offer a satisfying ending.

In this session, we’ll talk about how to use storytelling elements in every section of a proposal to make it more compelling. We will look at excerpts of successful proposals by several writers to identify the narrative techniques they used to build a case for their books.

Presenters
avatar for Tanya McKinnon

Tanya McKinnon

Literary Agent, McKinnon McIntyre
Tanya McKinnon is the co-founder of the McKinnon McIntyre Literary Agency where she represents New York Times Bestselling non-fiction, award-winning public intellectuals, award-winning children's books, and New York Times bestselling graphic novels. She specializes in non-fiction... Read More →
avatar for Michelle Seaton

Michelle Seaton

Author, CHANGE YOUR SCHEDULE, CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Michelle Seaton’s short fiction has appeared in One Story, Harvard Review, Sycamore Review, and The Pushcart Anthology among others. Her journalism and essays have appeared in Robb Report, Bostonia, Yankee Magazine, The Pinch and Lake Effect. Her essay, “How to Work a Locker Room... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

1L: Lessons from the Memoir Incubator
Limited Capacity seats available

The GrubStreet Memoir Incubator program has helped dozens of students turn their drafts into true memoirs. Join the current and former instructors of this unique and rigorous program in an introduction to the most important revision tactics from the early explorations of your manuscript to its final stages. From creating an effective narrative persona to the art of establishing your central question, setting, and scene, this seminar offers a practical overview of what your memoir needs in order to fulfill your hopes for it.

Presenters
avatar for Alysia Abbott

Alysia Abbott

Author, FAIRYLAND, A MEMOIR OF MY FATHER
Alysia Abbott is the author of Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, a recipient of the Madame Figaro Prix Heroine and the ALA Stonewall Award. Named a New York Times Editor's Pick and one of the best books of the year by the SF Chronicle and Shelf Awareness, it was also finalist for... Read More →
avatar for Garrard Conley

Garrard Conley

Author, BOY ERASED
Garrard Conley is the author of a memoir on conversion therapy, Boy Erased, out from Riverhead (Penguin) May 2016. His work can be found in TIME, VICE, CNN, Buzzfeed Books, Virginia Quarterly Review, and others. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 10:15am - 11:30am
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2A: Talking to Others and to Yourself: Using Dialogue and Interiority
Limited Capacity full

Different characters-- as with different people-- have different tendencies to react and respond, to contradict themselves, and to intensify one another's behavior. Two craft elements in particular (dialogue and interiority) can be used to distinguish and deepen characters through their particular lenses. In this session, we’ll examine techniques for using dialogue and interiority to deepen character, and will also examine the points in a story or novel when it's most effective to use each.

We'll discuss excerpts from A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro; Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson; and Aura by Carlos Fuentes, and how each of the authors' techniques further characterization. Handouts will be provided.

Presenters
avatar for Sumita Mukherji

Sumita Mukherji

Fiction Writer
Sumita Mukherji’s work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Monkeybicycle, Bluestem Review, and Ocean State Review. She has an MFA in fiction writing from Warren Wilson College, and in 2016 her fiction was supported by a Bread Loaf scholarship. She is working on a novel.


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2B: Writing a True Beginning, Middle, and End
Limited Capacity filling up

Writers' "drawers" are filled with beginnings. But our great ideas often fizzle out before we reach the middle, much less the end, of a story or essay. What strategies can we use to follow through? Do we need to know how a story or essay will end in order for the writing process to be a success?

In this guided writing session, we will read examples of short pieces of prose that come to a satisfying conclusion, and use them as models for our own stories or essays, focusing on creating a "hook," building tension, and reaching a satisfying landing. You will leave the session with a draft of a complete work of short prose and ideas for prompts that encourage a sense of beginning, middle and end.

Presenters
avatar for Alden Jones

Alden Jones

Author, THE WANTING WAS A WILDERNESS
Alden Jones’s most recent book is The Wanting Was a Wilderness, coming soon from Fiction Advocate. Her story collection, Unaccompanied Minors, won of the New American Fiction Prize, the Lascaux Book Prize, and an Independent Publishers Book Award in Short Fiction. Her memoir, The... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2C: The Big Reveal, or Not: Sustaining Uncertainty in Fiction
Limited Capacity filling up

What is the difference between crafting surprise and forcing it? When we talk about sustaining uncertainty in fiction, we often mean maintaining suspense for the reader, or posing questions to keep the audience engaged. But sustaining uncertainty about what *characters will ultimately risk or lose* gets to deeper questions about what's at stake in the story.

In a time of unprecedented political upheaval, uncertainty both in life and fiction are ever-present contemporary questions. But it can be tricky to figure out when withholding information is and isn't working. To provide some examples of magnificently sustained uncertainty, we'll look at excerpts from Hernan Diaz's In the Distance, Samanta Schweblin's Fever Dream, and R.O. Kwon's The Incendiaries. Novey may also read from Those Who Knew, and discuss trying to sustain her own uncertainty about several key aspects of the plot.

Presenters
avatar for Idra Novey

Idra Novey

Author, THOSE WHO KNEW
Idra Novey is the author of the novel Those Who Knew, a 2018 Indie Next Pick, and Ways to Disappear, winner of the 2017 Sami Rohr Prize, the 2016 Brooklyn Eagles Prize, and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She's translated four books from Spanish and Portuguese... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2D: Greater Than the Sum of the Parts: Transforming Personal Essays into a Book
Limited Capacity full

Personal essays are a popular genre, and sometimes essayists consider turning their work into a collection. But the thought of forming essays into a book can feel daunting and perhaps intimidating. What order? What structure? Which essays fit, which don't, and what if there are "gaps" that must be filled? Most importantly, what is the abiding idea for the book, or the reason for the book’s existence? Coming to understand these answers is not always straightforward.

In this workshop, participants will learn tools and ideas to help writers find ways to begin to think about how a group of essays might become a book. Using these ideas and tools, writers will learn something more about their writing and the larger story of their work.

Presenters
avatar for Patrice Gopo

Patrice Gopo

Author, ALL THE COLORS WE WILL SEE
Patrice Gopo is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, and she was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. Her essays have appeared in a variety of literary journals and other publications, including Creative Nonfiction, Gulf Coast, Full Grown People, and online in The New York Times... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2E: Nonfiction Idea Clinic
Limited Capacity filling up

In this session, the moderator (an established writer) will offer a brief preamble of the art of the non-fiction idea. Then, you will get two minutes to share your own idea for a non-fiction book for the audience, the moderator, and a panel of experts. The experts are agents, editors and publicists with years of experience working with non-fiction writers to turn their book proposals into reality and to promote them in the marketplace. After you read your idea (preferably from a text you have prepared and brought with you!), the agents and editors will ask you follow-up questions and troubleshoot your idea. You will discuss issues of platform, expertise, the viability of the idea itself, and other elements of the non-fiction market. Please note that presenters will be chosen at random from names submitted in a hat at the start of the session. Unfortunately, given the volume of submissions, we can not guarantee that your name will be called. This is a fun event that aims to be respectful of your idea and illuminate the process a writer goes through when she is developing an idea with an agent and/or editor. The point is not to get through as many writers as possible, but to thoughtfully evaluate your ideas and offer concrete suggestions from which all could benefit. Though most people will be reading ideas for full-length books, you may also read an idea for a feature story or article to assess its viability with the panel of experts.

Presenters
avatar for Ethan Gilsdorf

Ethan Gilsdorf

Author, FANTASY FREAKS AND GAMING GEEKS
A GrubStreet instructor since 2005, Ethan Gilsdorf is a journalist, memoirist, essayist, critic, poet, teacher, performer and nerd. He is the author of the travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and... Read More →
avatar for Lucy Cleland

Lucy Cleland

Literary Agent, Kneerim & Williams Literary Agency
Lucy V. Cleland is a literary agent and dramatic rights manager at Kneerim & Williams, where she works with both new and established authors on a range of projects from groundbreaking “big idea” nonfiction to upmarket fiction and select YA/children’s titles. A Southern transplant... Read More →
avatar for Tanya McKinnon

Tanya McKinnon

Literary Agent, McKinnon McIntyre
Tanya McKinnon is the co-founder of the McKinnon McIntyre Literary Agency where she represents New York Times Bestselling non-fiction, award-winning public intellectuals, award-winning children's books, and New York Times bestselling graphic novels. She specializes in non-fiction... Read More →
avatar for Jessica Papin

Jessica Papin

Literary Agent, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret
Jessica Papin first joined DG&B in 2003, after spending eight years as an editor at Warner Books (now Grand Central). In 2004, she moved to Egypt, where she spent three years working for the American University in Cairo Press. Upon her return to the United States, she rejoined DG&B... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2F: You've Been Acquired. Now What?
Limited Capacity full

This session examines what happens after you sign on the dotted line. Whether an author gets a book deal from a Big 5 Publisher or a regional press down the block, they often have no idea what to expect once a contract is in place. This session will examine how a publisher’s editorial process works, how you can be a valuable long-term client to your publisher, basic marketing steps you can do, how collaborating with a publicist actually works, the value of writing your next book during downtime, what is expected of you around your book’s release date, and more.

Presenters
avatar for Latoya Smith 

Latoya Smith 

Literary Agent, LCS Literary Services
Latoya C. Smith started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to New York Times bestselling author, Teri Woods at Teri Woods Publishing while pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree at Temple University. She graduated Cum Laude from Temple in August of 2005. She then attained... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2H: The Changing Face of Publishing: What All Authors Need to Know
Limited Capacity full

In this illuminating and constantly updated workshop, Literary Change Agent and author advocate April Eberhardt examines the state of publishing today along with the implications and opportunities for authors. She presents five different paths to publication, including a candid discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each approach from an author’s perspective, along with the financial realities of each. Discover what partnership publishing is, along with hybrid authorship, and collaborative (also known as cooperative) publishing. Learn how to choose the right path for you and your work, which sometimes involves different paths for different projects, and how to develop a personalized publishing strategy and approach that meets your goals, dreams, timetable and budget.

Presenters
avatar for April Eberhardt

April Eberhardt

Literary Agent, April Eberhardt Literary
April Eberhardt is a literary change agent and author advocate passionate about helping authors be published in the most effective and satisfying way. After 25 years as a corporate strategist and consultant, Ms. Eberhardt joined the literary world, where she saw strategic opportunity... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2I: Don't Throw the Book Out With the Bathwater: On Dramatically Reenvisioning Your Manuscript
Limited Capacity full

Writing a book may be "like driving at night in the fog," but what happens when your book drives straight into a ditch? Or gets utterly lost, or stuck doing circles in the parking lot? Join this lively conversation with authors Celeste Ng and Mira Jacob, as they describe dramatic transformations they made to their manuscripts on the road to becoming bestselling novels and a groundbreaking graphic memoir. They'll discuss how they played with form, invented new structures, threw out entire storylines, and conjured new ideas by necessity. You'll discuss artistic reinvention as an exciting (and not just daunting) task, and what to do when your book becomes something very different from what you initially envisioned. Come with questions!

Presenters
avatar for Mira Jacob

Mira Jacob

Author, GOOD TALK: CONVERSATIONS I'M STILL CONFUSED ABOUT
Mira Jacob is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, which was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick, shortlisted for India’s Tata First Literature Award, and longlisted for the Brooklyn Literary Eagles Prize. In addition, it received... Read More →
avatar for Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng

Author, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE
Celeste Ng is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the Massachusetts Book Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, she earned an MFA from the University... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2J: Inventing the Real: Writing Fiction about Real People
Limited Capacity full

Though it seems like a recent phenomenon, the genre of "alt-history" or "real name writing" -- in which writers fictionalize the lives of real people and/or depict alternate versions of actual events -- has roots centuries-deep. This combination lecture and discussion class will offer a brief history of the genre, sketch out a few of its permutations, and explore the imaginative space it offers contemporary fiction writers and poets in this so-called "post-truth" era.

Presenters
avatar for Christopher Castellani

Christopher Castellani

Author, LEADING MEN
Christopher Castellani's fourth novel, Leading Men, is forthcoming from Viking in February 2019. He is also the author of The Art of Perspective, a collection of essays on point of view in fiction, and three other novels. Christopher works as artistic director of GrubStreet, was a... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2K: Wired for Success: Neurodiversity in Writing and the Writing Life
Limited Capacity seats available

Writers with AD(H)D and related neurological differences may discover that writing presents very particular challenges. Some of us might feel that our wiring comes with certain literary superpowers: a near-effortless ability to come up with unexpected thematic associations, juxtapositions and absurd humor; a particular understanding of character development and emotion; an ability to craft language in fresh and surprising ways. We might also struggle to forge a writing process that really serves our work, master craft issues like structure, or navigate the social aspects of writing life.

In this interactive session we’ll share support and resources that address the needs and value the strengths of writers with AD(H)D. We'll discuss excerpts from essays and interviews in which writers share their own experiences around neurodivergence. Bring your insights, challenges, and successes to share! Expect to come away with practical strategies around the writing process, long-term projects, publishing and more.

Presenters
avatar for Robin Black

Robin Black

Author, CRASH COURSE: ESSAYS FROM WHERE WRITING AND LIFE COLLIDE
Robin Black’s story collection, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, was a finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Story Prize, and named a Best Book of 2010 by numerous publications, including the Irish Times. Her novel, Life Drawing, was longlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan... Read More →
avatar for Denise Delgado

Denise Delgado

Fiction & Nonfiction Writer
Denise’s fiction and critical essays have appeared in Inch; Dossier; Hinchas de Poesía; the anthology Florida Flash; edited by Lynne Barrett; Gean Moreno & Ernesto Oroza's Tabloid Project; Jai-Alai Magazine; the artist’s monograph Frances Trombly: Paintings; Fiction Writers Review... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2L: Writing About Trauma Without Losing It
Limited Capacity filling up

Harrowing experiences are often central to nonfiction narratives, but notoriously difficult to write. It's easy to render the material too abstractly, weightily, or in way that doesn't quite capture what it is you want to say. Join this important discussion of how writers might handle traumatic material, and transform its elements into excellent writing. We'll examine excerpts from Roxane Gay's HUNGER, Kathryn Harrison's THE KISS, and more to identify the strategies they used. Bhagwati will describe her own lessons learned while writing her memoir, Unbecoming. Come with questions and ideas of your own.

Presenters
avatar for Anuradha Bhagwati

Anuradha Bhagwati

Author, UNBECOMING: A MEMOIR OF DISOBEDIENCE
Anuradha Kristina Bhagwati, MPP, RYT-500, is a former Marine Captain and Company Commander, and Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Trainer. She is the founder of Service Women’s Action Network, a non-profit organization that sued the Pentagon to end the Combat Exclusion Policy... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

2M: Writing and Activism: A Crash-Course
Limited Capacity seats available

How does a writer balance activism and the writing? What are the benefits and potential hazards of marrying the two?

For many of us, all writing is political. We write because, as idealistic as it sounds, we want to help make the world a better place. Yet we’ve all been told, in at least one writing class or listicle, that literary writing does not concern itself with the shifting political climate of the moment. In this session, we call BS on that idea. On a craft level, we’ll discuss ways that writers have navigated these rough waters in the past and connect these to contemporary writers. We’ll talk about the ways the essay and social media can develop your platform. We’ll discuss the elusive speaking engagement: how to find gigs, which ones to accept, how to take that money ethically, how to stick up for your rights when needed, and when to say no.

Presenters
avatar for Garrard Conley

Garrard Conley

Author, BOY ERASED
Garrard Conley is the author of a memoir on conversion therapy, Boy Erased, out from Riverhead (Penguin) May 2016. His work can be found in TIME, VICE, CNN, Buzzfeed Books, Virginia Quarterly Review, and others. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

Lunch Break

Friday April 5, 2019 1:00pm - 2:15pm
TBA

2:15pm

3A: Structure, Risk, and Meaning in Memoir
Limited Capacity full

What drives the writer of personal narrative is often an impulse to speak where there has been silence. Early drafts may be guided by intuition, a gravitational pull towards what lies unresolved. And yet sooner or later, the work requires structure.

Far from being strictly architecture, structure is a means to learn more about what possibilities lie hidden in the stories of our lives. This session will address the process of finding a structure that isn’t merely an organizing principle, but rather calls forth theme and stakes, and how considering structure can help the writer crack through to deeper, riskier layers of meaning. Several recently published memoirs will be discussed, and participants will leave with strategies and exercises to help them deepen and re-energize their own work. Our aim will be experimentation and discovery.

Presenters
avatar for Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

Author, THE FACT OF A BODY
Alex Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir, recipient of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir and the 2018 Chautauqua Prize. Named one of the best books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Audible.com, Bustle, Book Riot, The Times... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3B: 10 Takeaways for Authors Writing Historical Fiction
Limited Capacity filling up

Writing historical fiction is not a straight-forward affair. The most successful novels immerse readers in a world entirely unlike their own and do so in a way that feels believable to the reader. It's a careful balance of fact and fiction, which results from deep research into eras of the past and wrangling information such as fashion, speech, transportation, food and so much more. This session will present writers with ten takeaways from a deeply experienced historical novelist, to help you research, plot and write your historical novels.

Presenters
avatar for Crystal King

Crystal King

Author, THE CHEF'S SECRET
Crystal King is the author of The Chef's Secret and Feast of Sorrow, which was long-listed for the Center of Fiction's First Novel Prize. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3C: The Trouble with Backstory
Limited Capacity full

So you’ve developed a great story with a rich group of characters, and letting the reader in on the complexity of each character’s background feels essential to the arc of your story—but we often hear that too much backstory kills momentum. With the help of several contemporary examples, we’ll discuss how to determine which details really matter to the reader, and explore techniques for including details from a character’s past that help drive, not derail, your story.

Presenters
avatar for Katherine Sherbrooke

Katherine Sherbrooke

Author, FILL THE SKY
Katherine Sherbrooke is the author of Fill the Sky (SixOneSeven Books, 2016)—a novel about three life-long friends who travel to Ecuador in hopes that the shamans there can save one of them from cancer—and a family memoir, Finding Home (2011).Katherine wanted to be an author from... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3D: Working With Book Publicists
Limited Capacity filling up

Your book is slated to be published; now how will it find its readers? What constitutes a successful book publicity campaign, and how will you work with the publicist who has been assigned to shepherd your book into the world?

Two veteran book publicists with different areas of expertise share a wealth of knowledge and discuss specific strategies for promoting fiction and non-fiction.

Topics covered include the book publicity timeline, creative press kits and talking points for authors, author tours, placement of first serial and op-ed pieces, social media outreach, and situations in which an author might hire a freelancer. 

Presenters
avatar for Taryn Roeder

Taryn Roeder

Publicist, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Taryn Roeder is the Director of Publicity at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She manages Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Boston-based publicity team and works on the publicity campaigns for dozens of books a year. Her favorite part of the process is creatively translating the "story" of a... Read More →
avatar for Rachel Salzman

Rachel Salzman

Publicist, W. W. Norton & Company
Rachel Salzman began her career as a book publicist in 1996, when she joined the publicity department at Little, Brown & Company. Prior to that, she worked as both a news assistant and a copy editor at The Wall Street Journal Europe and as a copy editor at Business Wire news service... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3E: Navel Gazing and Other Worthy Pursuits: A Character-Building Game
Limited Capacity full

How do others see us (and our characters), and how do we see ourselves? How can we dredge up very precise details from our lives to make our characters feel compelling and real? Fiction and nonfiction writers alike will enjoy this practical, game-centered session-- using a game called Intersectional Bingo!-- to help us delve into our personal histories, secrets, and experiences to bring depth and detail to our characters. You'll write internal and external personal descriptions, compare notes, and discover a more specific variety of experiences to use in your writing. You'll leave the session with tools to enrich your current or future writing projects, and perhaps a better understanding of yourself as well.
















Presenters
avatar for Angie Chatman

Angie Chatman

Fiction & Nonfiction Writer
A Chicago native, Angie writes both fiction and nonfiction and earned her MFA from Queens University in Charlotte. She’s the Book Reviews Editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal, the Managing Editor for Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and a Fellow of the Kimbilio Center for African American... Read More →
avatar for Athena Dixon

Athena Dixon

Author, NO GOD IN THIS ROOM
Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Athena Dixon is a poet, essayist, and editor. She is Founder of Linden Avenue Literary Journal, which she launched in 2012.Athena's work has appeared in various publications both online and in print. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee (2016, 2017... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3F: Queery-ing: How to Snag an Agent as a Queer Author
Limited Capacity seats available

Despite an uptick in agent and publisher interest for queer stories, many authors are still struggling to find homes for their work. In this session, we’ll explore how to find agents who will be most receptive to your work, how to grab their interest through your query or pitch, and how to handle the question of outing yourself to them in the process. We’ll also briefly look at a few situations you may run into post-offer, such as what to expect from the editor submission process and what to do if your new agent turns out to be an inappropriate fit for supporting authentic queer stories.

Presenters
avatar for Milo Todd

Milo Todd

Author, THE FALCON OF DOVES
Milo Todd is a novelist and manuscript consultant. He specializes in queer, trans, and poverty topics, as well as narrative voice and outline techniques. He’s an alum of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator Program, where he worked as a Pechet Fellow on The Falcon of Doves, a work of... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3G: Fellowships, Residencies, Contests, and Grants, Oh My!
Limited Capacity filling up

Fellowships, residencies, grants, and writing contests: What they are, why you need them, where to find them, and how to scope out/avoid the scams. What's the difference between a residency and a fellowship? Why do I need a writing residency--can't I just write at home? Should I publish my book through a writing contest? We'll discuss these questions as well as offer tips for finding these opportunities, understanding the application and submission process, and learning their advantages and drawbacks.

Presenters
avatar for Amina Gautier

Amina Gautier

Author, AT-RISK
Amina Gautier, Ph.D., is the author of three award-winning short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy and The Loss of All Lost Things. At-Risk was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award, The First Horizon Award, and the Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction Award. Now We Will Be Happy... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3H: Writing the Action Set-Piece
Limited Capacity filling up

The shower scene in Psycho, the train station shoot-out in The Untouchables, the escape from the booby-trapped cave in Raiders of the Lost Ark. These set pieces are what audiences gaspingly recall three hours, three months, three years after they leave the theater. But they are not limited to to the multiplex. We will discuss the timing and arrangement of these crescendoes within short stories, essays, novels, memoirs, films and comics so that you might include similar moments that will transform your stories from merely memorable to iconic.

Presenters
avatar for Benjamin  Percy

Benjamin Percy

Author, THE DARK NET
Benjamin Percy is the author of four novels -- most recently, The Dark Net (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) -- as well as two books of short stories. His book of craft essays -- Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction -- is widely taught in creative writing classes. He is known in comics for... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3I: Getting Noticed, Read and Understood on Sensitive Topics
Limited Capacity seats available

How to take the heat and take charge when taking a stand on hot button issues, such as politics, culture, gender and race. Silence is always a strategy when choosing whether or not to weigh in with op-eds and reported commentary. That may be the temptation, especially in 2018 and beyond when there is no such thing as a non-controversial topic.

So how do you add your voice, and perhaps change the narrative, to the never-ending debate on the issues that matter, while keeping your sanity and the worst of the critics at bay. Yes, there are tips and tricks that may not get readers to agree, but may lead them to grudging respect.

Bring an idea and be prepared to explain it, defend it and get readers to care.

Presenters
avatar for Mary C. Curtis

Mary C. Curtis

Columnist, ROLL CALL
Mary C. Curtis, a columnist at Roll Call, is an award-winning journalist and educator based in Charlotte, N.C. She has contributed to NBC News, NPR, The Washington Post, The Root, ESPN's The Undefeated and talks politics on WCCB-TV in Charlotte. Curtis has worked at The New York Times... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3J: A Nice Problem to Have: A Guide to Publishers and How to Compare Them
Limited Capacity full

While it sometimes seems that the goal is to be chosen BY a publisher, the truth is that many writers will at some point find themselves in the position of choosing between publishers.

This could be because you are determining to which smaller publishers you'll submit, or because your work has interested more than one of the larger houses. You'll likely have an agent at that point who will help guide you but the final decision is always yours and so it is important to understand the differences between the various imprints and editors, what to look for in a meeting, and how to gauge the long term prospects for your book at a house. The financial terms are a significant factor, but sometimes the largest offer is not the best option.

This session will survey the publishing landscape and discuss how to navigate these exciting but nonetheless difficult decisions.

Presenters
avatar for Jonah Straus

Jonah Straus

Literary Agent, Straus Literary
Jonah Straus is founder of Straus Literary, a boutique literary agency based in San Francisco with an office in New York. He specializes in literary fiction, journalism, history, narrative nonfiction, and the culinary arts.Jonah got his start in publishing in the warehouse of Atrium... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3K: Essentials of Style
Limited Capacity filling up

Gustave Flaubert suggested that "...there is no such thing as subject—style in itself being an absolute manner of seeing things.” 

Okay, Flaubert might have gone a bit overboard, but there's an unmistakable provocation in his words that is helpful--perhaps inevitable--for writers to contend with. But what is style, exactly? And if we accept that style goes deeper than ornamentation and profoundly shapes the way we read, how do we apply that insight to our own work? How do we talk about and tease apart something that seems so utterly intrinsic to a work? To what extent can a technical understanding take us closer to prose's pulse, its lifeblood, its dynamic qualities? All of these are questions that we'll explore in this session through a host of models that range from classic to contemporary, minimalist to maximalist, from long, winding sentences to taut, staccato ones, from contemplative to colloquial. We'll try out a handful of style exercises and then stand back to consider the ways that meaning is transformed and distilled by each arrangement.

Presenters
avatar for Tim Horvath

Tim Horvath

Author, UNDERSTORIES
Tim Horvath (www.timhorvath.com) is the author of Understories (Bellevue LIterary Press), which won the New Hampshire Literary Award, and Circulation (sunnyoutside press), a novella. His recent work appears in AGNI, the Collagist, Harvard Review, Conjunctions, and elsewhere. He teaches in the BFA and low-residenc... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

2:15pm

3L: Plot Engine Tricks
Limited Capacity filling up

Whether you’re just starting a novel and unsure where to go with the initial idea, or in the middle somewhere and feel stalled out, this session will get the wheels turning again. We’ll discuss familiar elements of the novel, but we’ll also use tricks from the Novel Generator to shake up your plot: we’ll consider your characters’ secrets and lies, and their general power dynamics.

We’ll discuss the Rule of Neat Stuff, and Magic Objects, two tricks to help the novel gel together. We’ll look at some scenes from published books to inspire us, and we’ll discuss what it takes to finish a novel without going mad-hatter crazy. Bring a pen/paper or a laptop – there will be time to get a little writing done!

Presenters
avatar for Annie Hartnett

Annie Hartnett

Author, RABBIT CAKE
Annie Hartnett's debut novel Rabbit Cake was published in 2017, and was a finalist for the New England Book Award, longlisted for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, and shortlisted for Crook's Corner Book Prize. Hartnett was the 2013-14 writer in residence for the Associates... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

3:15pm

Break
Friday April 5, 2019 3:15pm - 3:45pm
TBA

3:45pm

4A: Developing Your Nonfiction Book
Limited Capacity full

It's a truism by now that it's harder than ever to get books published. But if you're writing narrative nonfiction, self-help, or memoir, do you really have to be Deepak Chopra or Omarosa Manigault to beat the odds? No. Truth is, agents and editors are eager for great nonfiction stories because they sell.

In this session, we'll address seven key questions that will improve your likelihood of finding success. In so doing, we'll look at what understanding your readers (and how to reach them) really entails. We'll see why it's important to have one main conflict or theme, and what that means in terms of developing an entire book. We'll ask ourselves: "So what?," and discover what tricks to employ to make your story more compelling. There will be have plenty of time for Q & A and some on-the-spot exercises that will help you avoid common pitfalls.

Presenters
avatar for Katrin Schumann

Katrin Schumann

Author, THE FORGOTTEN HOURS
Katrin Schumann is the author of the novel The Forgotten Hours (Lake Union, 2019) and numerous nonfiction books. She is the Program Coordinator of the Key West Literary Seminar. For the past ten years she has been teaching writing, most recently at GrubStreet and in MA prisons, through... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4B: Going Global: Engaging with the World's Literatures
Limited Capacity seats available

Only 3% of books published in the United States are works in English translation. Many writers lament this fact, but what are we doing as artists to engage with books from around the globe? What do we miss artistically when we don't read widely and across literary borders—and what do we gain when we do? What new elements of craft might we learn by going beyond American literature?

In this session, we'll examine a range of literatures—some written in English, some in English translation—to consider craft in the context of worldwide traditions and approaches. We'll discuss the importance of engaging with the world's literatures, as well as the particular obstacles writers living in the US might face when writing across cultures. This session will also serve writers looking to expand their cultural perspectives and craft toolkit, whether or not they’re writing about other countries. Through concrete examples, Q&A, and discussion, you'll leave with practical tools and the inspiration to broaden the artistic boundaries of your own work.

Presenters
avatar for Stacy Mattingly

Stacy Mattingly

Author, UNLIKELY ANGEL
Stacy Mattingly is coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Unlikely Angel. Her work has appeared in the Oxford American, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, EuropeNow, and elsewhere. In 2012, she launched the Sarajevo Writers' Workshop in Bosnia and Herzegovina and later helped lead the... Read More →
avatar for Dariel Suarez

Dariel Suarez

Author, A KIND OF SOLITUDE
Dariel Suarez was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1997, during the island’s economic crisis known as The Special Period. He is the author of the novel The Playwright’s House, (forthcoming, Red Hen Press) and the story collection A... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4C: From Personal History to Social History: How To Get Beyond the ME in Memoir
Limited Capacity full

Every writer of memoir and personal essay is at some point dogged with the question: who cares? As creative nonfiction writers, we can see beyond this question by locating socio-historical stories within our personal narratives, uncovering tales that are about much more than the individual narrator.

In this session, we’ll offer tips and techniques for identifying larger themes in your work, including how to avoid common pitfalls, and how to incorporate reporting techniques (such as interviews, historical research, and old advertisements and commercials) without losing your engaging personal voice. We’ll also provide examples from authors like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nick Flynn, and Jesmyn Ward, examining how personal narratives are often inseparable from larger histories, communities, and movements. You’ll leave with several examples and take-home writing exercises that will jump-start your efforts to expand the scope of your nonfiction narratives.

Presenters
avatar for Alysia Abbott

Alysia Abbott

Author, FAIRYLAND, A MEMOIR OF MY FATHER
Alysia Abbott is the author of Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, a recipient of the Madame Figaro Prix Heroine and the ALA Stonewall Award. Named a New York Times Editor's Pick and one of the best books of the year by the SF Chronicle and Shelf Awareness, it was also finalist for... Read More →
avatar for Caitlin McGill

Caitlin McGill

Author, Dogs Run Wild Here
Caitlin McGill’s work has been supported by the Bread Loaf Writers’ conference, The Ragdale Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, The Chattahoochee Review, Consequence, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Southeast... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4D: The Oversight Draft: From Manuscript to Publishable Draft
Limited Capacity full

What keeps a finished manuscript from being accepted for publication, or from catching a judge's eye or attention, or from being read all the way to the end? How do you know when your manuscript is truly done? From flat plots to false dialogue and under researched scenes, we will discuss the most common mistakes that keep a finished manuscript from being ready for publication and then offer suggestions about how to address these issues in an "oversight" draft.

Presenters
avatar for Amina Gautier

Amina Gautier

Author, AT-RISK
Amina Gautier, Ph.D., is the author of three award-winning short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy and The Loss of All Lost Things. At-Risk was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award, The First Horizon Award, and the Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction Award. Now We Will Be Happy... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4E: Establishing Authority
Limited Capacity full

From the first sentence, we know if we are in confident, capable hands. The best writers establish authority immediately. By authority I mean that there is a clear sense of control, and that this confidence is earned with particular language, tone, detail, cadence, and, most importantly, by creating urgency, a simple question of “why should I keep reading?”

No matter the form or genre, first, second, or third person, past or present, speculative or hyper-realistic, fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, establishing authority is the first and most important task of the writer. We will look at numerous first pages across forms, including work from Karen Russell, ZZ Packer, Joe Wenderoth, Lydia Davis, Helen McDonald, Carmen Maria Machado, and many more, subjecting the texts to the same cold reading standard I have at Tin House, where we receive upwards of 20,000 submissions a year.

Presenters
avatar for Rob Spillman

Rob Spillman

Editor, Tin House
Rob Spillman was the Editor and co-founder of Tin House, the seminal literary magazine that published from 1999 to 2019. He is the 2017 recipient of the CLMP Energizer Award for Exceptional Acts of Literary Citizenship, the 2015 PEN/Nora Magid Award for Editing as well as the 2015... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4F: Don't Get Stuck in the Slush: 10 (MORE) Pitfalls to Avoid When Submitting to Literary Magazines
Limited Capacity full

Do you occasionally ascribe action to body parts rather than people, e.g. Her eyes danced across the page? Do you describe actions incrementally ("She began to open the door") when a direct description would be more fitting ("She opened the door")? Are you making simple but easily overlooked lay/lie errors?  

In this session, we'll talk about the nitty-gritty grammatical hurdles as well as lofty theoretical roadblocks that can keep our drafts from serious editorial consideration. With special emphasis on revision practices, this session is designed to help attendees approach their work with fresh ideas for revising their work prior to submitting it to publications. 

Presenters
avatar for Nate Brown

Nate Brown

Liteary Magazine Editor, AMERICAN SHORT FICTION
Nate Brown is a Baltimore based fiction writer and editor whose stories and essays have appeared in the Iowa Review, Mississippi Review, Five Chapters, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Publisher's Weekly, Lithub, and Barrelhouse. He has received scholarships and fellowships from the... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4G: Writing on Race: Your Own Identity & the Identity of Others
Limited Capacity filling up

As race and identity become more central literary concerns, we find acute critiques of how individuals from marginalized groups are portrayed. We also find critiques of white identity and white based social realities. As memoirists or fiction writers, how do we write about race or those of a different ethnicity or race, and do it accurately and well?

For both white and POC writers, this starts with an investigation into one’s own identity-- a far more complex process than many understand. It entails understanding race in a historical and literary context as well as a broad range of fields. It involves addressing the limitations of your own life experience. In other words, writing about race is a worthy but far more difficult task than is often assumed in workshops. This talk will reference writers like Toni Morrison, Baldwin, Hilton Als, Marlon James, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, and Viet Nguyen. Writers will leave this session with an assignment and a plan for exploring race and identity.

Presenters
avatar for David Mura

David Mura

Author, A STRANGER'S JOURNEY: RACE, IDENTITY & NARRATIVE CRAFT IN WRITING
David Mura is a poet, creative nonfiction writer, fiction writer, critic, and playwright. His newest book is A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity & Narrative Craft in Writing.A Sansei or third generation Japanese American, Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4H: Essentials of Humor
Limited Capacity seats available

Do you enjoy reading humorous writing and want to make your own work funnier? We'll break down the building blocks of humor and learn to incorporate humor into our writing without making it too "jokey." We'll also study examples from masters in fiction and nonfiction, identifying their techniques and exploring what makes them succeed. And we'll talk about the particulars of publishing humor writing specifically.

Feel free to come with an excerpt of your writing (500 words or less) that you'd like to improve. We'll do a short in-class exercise and pick a few to workshop as a group.

Presenters
avatar for Steve Macone

Steve Macone

Nonfiction Writer
Steve Macone is a former headline contributor at The Onion. His essays, humor writing, and reporting have also appeared in the American Scholar, New York Times, Atlantic, New Yorker, Boston Globe Magazine, Morning News, VICE and Salon. His work has been featured on NPR, Longreads... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4I: Small Gestures Make Big Characters
Limited Capacity filling up

What is the language of your character’s body? Gesture, or involuntary movement, while not often discussed as an aspect of craft, is a hugely important feature of character development. Gestures big and small bring our characters to life; gestures reveal who our characters truly are. In this session, we will look at examples of extraordinary scenes in which characters’ physical movements demonstrate complex feelings and attitudes. We will do several fun exercises to practice moving beyond familiar gestures (sighing, leaning, shrugging, running hands through hair...) in order to grasp how we can create memorable characters fully alive on the page.

Presenters
avatar for Becky Tuch

Becky Tuch

Fiction Writer, The Review Review
Becky Tuch is the Founding Editor of The Review Review, a website dedicated to reviews of literary magazines, interviews with journal editors and publishing advice for writers.Her fiction has been honored with fellowships  from The MacDowell Colony and The Somerville Arts Council... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4J: Query Clinic: Live Feedback on Query Letters
Limited Capacity filling up

***Important: Please read this description carefully before signing up, and bring all necessary materials to the session.***

Most agencies receive at least a hundred query letters each week, yet respond positively to a very select few. Do you know the secrets to writing a winning query? Do you want to know the most common reasons for rejection? In this session, agents Ayesha Pande and Sorche Fairbank will give direct feedback on audience query letters and use them as examples to discuss both effective and ineffective strategies for getting an agent or editor interested in your work. The goal will be to make your query letters as powerful as possible. If you want your query letter considered, please bring a ONE-PAGE hard copy to the session. Query letters will be chosen at random by a volunteer and put on an overhead projector. After your query letter is read by the agents and the audience, the agents will discuss it, troubleshoot, and offer advice that is both specific to your project and general enough for the rest of the audience to benefit. Given the volume of submissions, we cannot guarantee that your query letter will be read. The point is not to get through as many queries as possible, but to thoughtfully evaluate your ideas and offer concrete suggestions from which all will benefit.

Presenters
avatar for Sorche Fairbank

Sorche Fairbank

Literary Agent, Fairbank Literary
A small, selective agency and member of AAR, the Author's Guild, the Agents Round Table, PEN, and Grub Street's Literary Advisory Council, Fairbank Literary Representation is happily in its seventeenth year. Clients range from first-time authors to international best-sellers, prize... Read More →
avatar for Ayesha Pande

Ayesha Pande

Literary Agent, Pande Literary
Ayesha Pande has worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years. Before launching APL, Ayesha held editorial positions at Farrar Straus & Giroux, HarperCollins and Crown Publishers. She is a member of AAR (Association of Author’s Representatives), PEN, the Asian American... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4K: Rewind, Fast Forward, Pause, Play: Negotiating Time in Fiction
Limited Capacity filling up

In fiction, as in life, timing is everything. When should you pause the dramatic action to dwell on a moment and linger? When should you speed things along? How should flashbacks be introduced? Too many allusions to the past and you risk losing the reader; too few, and your characters may not feel real. We will examine different examples of timing in fiction, and will specifically look at flashbacks (“rewinds”), scenes where time slows (“pause”), and accelerated action (“fast forward”), with an eye towards how these affect pacing and voice.

Presenters
avatar for Maya Lang

Maya Lang

Author, THE SIXTEENTH OF JUNE
Maya Lang is the author of The Sixteenth of June (Scribner), long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and featured in The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, In Style, The Millions, and The Rumpus. She won the 2017 Neil Shepard Prize in Fiction. Her work has... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

3:45pm

4L: Hey! Help! What’s the Difference Between Middle-Grade, Young Adult, and Adult with a Young Protagonist?
Limited Capacity seats available

If you’ve ever tried writing a child or teenager point of view, you may have heard people in your workshops stumble to categorize it. Who is this targeted towards? they might ask. What’s your audience? Kids? Teens? Adults? Sometimes even you aren’t sure; it’s just the thing you’re called to write. That’s great, for a while, but once you start thinking about agents or publishing you need to know the audience your book is meant for. It’s a more complicated question that you might think, but there are some rules to this game. Together, we’ll look at some published examples across the three categories to see what distinguishes them, and help you work towards committing to one shelf over the other in your own work. There will be a discussion and time for a Q&A.

Presenters
avatar for Katie Grimm

Katie Grimm

Literary Agent, Don Congdon Associates
Katie Grimm started as the assistant for Don Congdon Associates in 2007, and she currently maintains her own list of writers as well as handling several agency Estates. In Adult, she focuses on Literary and Upmarket Fiction – be it voicey, historical, mysterious or speculative... Read More →
avatar for Annie Hartnett

Annie Hartnett

Author, RABBIT CAKE
Annie Hartnett's debut novel Rabbit Cake was published in 2017, and was a finalist for the New England Book Award, longlisted for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, and shortlisted for Crook's Corner Book Prize. Hartnett was the 2013-14 writer in residence for the Associates... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

5:00pm

Lit Lounge Cocktail Hour
Friday April 5, 2019 5:00pm - 6:30pm
TBA

5:30pm

The Aevitas Shop Talk Happy Hour
The Shop Talk Happy Hour is an opportunity to network and socialize with invited literary agents and editors, and you may reserve a seat in advance so that you’ll know exactly with whom you’ll be sitting.

To reserve a spot, you must pay an additional $85 fee and request a table and as you register for the conference and space is limited. Full info is here.

Friday April 5, 2019 5:30pm - 6:45pm
TBA

6:45pm

Spitballing...Returns!
So you're writing a story and feeling "stuck." What began as an exciting venture now seems dull and lifeless. Why not bring this logjam to other writers for revival? How might two heads (or 3, or 4) be better than one?

In this fun and fast-moving event, watch live authors use the "spitballing" techniques of screenwriters to push initial story ideas into wilder and more provocative possibilities.

Come ready to brainstorm, laugh, and contribute your own ideas too. Free and open to the public, but space is limited. Cash bar. Follow the fun on Twitter at #writerspitball.


Moderators
avatar for Michelle Seaton

Michelle Seaton

Author, CHANGE YOUR SCHEDULE, CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Michelle Seaton’s short fiction has appeared in One Story, Harvard Review, Sycamore Review, and The Pushcart Anthology among others. Her journalism and essays have appeared in Robb Report, Bostonia, Yankee Magazine, The Pinch and Lake Effect. Her essay, “How to Work a Locker Room... Read More →

Presenters
avatar for Sari Boren

Sari Boren

Nonfiction Writer, Four Stories Reading Series
Sari Boren is an essayist and playwright who has published in Copper Nickel, Lilith Magazine, The Southeast Review, Alimentum, Hobart, and Pangyrus, among others. She teaches creative nonfiction at GrubStreet, co-manages Boston’s Four Stories reading series. Her solo show EXHIBITING... Read More →
avatar for Sean Van Deuren

Sean Van Deuren

Fiction Writer
Sean Van Deuren is the Senior Communications Manager at the GrubStreet. He earned his BFA in Writing, Literature & Publishing from Emerson College. His short story chapbook, I Am Happy You Are Here, was published by Wilde Press in 2011. He was raised in Maryland and currently lives... Read More →
avatar for Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng

Author, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE
Celeste Ng is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the Massachusetts Book Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, she earned an MFA from the University... Read More →
avatar for Whitney Scharer

Whitney Scharer

Author, THE AGE OF LIGHT
Whitney Scharer holds a BA in English Literature from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Her first novel, The Age of Light, based on the life of pioneering photographer Lee Miller, was published in February 2019 by Little, Brown (US... Read More →
avatar for Ron MacLean

Ron MacLean

Author, WE MIGHT AS WELL LIGHT SOMETHING ON FIRE
Ron MacLean teaches writing at GrubStreet. His short fiction has been anthologized, and has appeared widely in magazines including GQ, Narrative, Fiction International, Night Train, Other Voices, Drunken Boat, Best Online Fiction 2010, and elsewhere. He is author most recently of... Read More →


Friday April 5, 2019 6:45pm - 8:00pm
Berkeley/Clarendon - Mezzanine Level
 
Saturday, April 6
 

7:30am

9:00am

Mid-Muse Keynote: Stacey D'Erasmo on Writing in a Time of Upheaval
Visionary author Stacey D’Erasmo will speak to us on Saturday, April 6th about writing in a time of upheaval-- whether such upheaval is personal, political, artistic, or all of the above. How can we write when writing seems impossible? How can our art transform when things fall apart?

Presenters
avatar for Stacey D'Erasmo

Stacey D'Erasmo

Author, WONDERLAND
Stacey D’Erasmo received a B.A. from Barnard College and an M.A. from New York University in English and American Literature. From 1988 to 1995, she was a senior editor at the Voice Literary Supplement. She was a Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University from 1995-1997. She... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 9:00am - 10:15am
TBA

10:30am

5A: Social Media Hack: Using Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to Authentically Engage (and Not Annoy) Readers
Limited Capacity full

Whether you love it, loathe it, or have yet to even join it, social media is a necessary, effective, and FREE tool you can use to meet and connect with readers. Having a solid platform on social media and a legion of loyal followers will not only make you more attractive to agents and publishers, it will also ultimately help you sell more books regardless if you go the indie or traditional path.

Join authors (and self-confessed social media addicts) Jenna Blum and Sara DiVello as they share their favorite hacks on how to build your author brand on all three social platforms (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) and authentically engage with your community/followers. They will share the unique pros of cons of each platform and demystify how you can powerfully leverage each to best meet your goals. You'll have the chance to craft & share a post in-class for feedback.

Presenters
avatar for Jenna Blum

Jenna Blum

Author, THE LOST FAMILY
Jenna Blum is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels Those Who Save Us (Harcourt, 2002) and The Stormchasers (Dutton, 2010), and The Lost Family (Harper Collins, 2018);  novella “The Lucky One” in the collection Grand Central (Berkeley/ Penguin, 2014... Read More →
avatar for Sara DiVello

Sara DiVello

Author, WHERE IN THE OM AM I?
Sara DiVello is a national yoga teacher, speaker, and the author of the best-selling book, "Where in the OM Am I? One Woman’s Journey from the Corporate World to the Yoga Mat," NIEA-winner for Best Memoir, selected by Shape Magazine as a best book, and named a must-read for anyone... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5B: Writing While Multilingual: How to Leverage Your Languages for Strong Fiction
Limited Capacity seats available

For bi- or multilingual writers, our relationship to language(s) can be complex, and there is a growing appreciation in today’s market for stories that reflect this. Colonization, immigration, belonging versus otherness, the circumstances of our growing up-- all these influence how we use and feel about language.

In this fiction-focused session, we will work to identify our own relationships with our languages and how they influence what/how we write. We'll draw on excerpts by writers such as Junot Díaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edwige Danticat, and Amitav Ghosh, who use their particular flexibility with words in their writing. We will identify some practical techniques for how to use our own languages to craft the strongest, truest fiction for an audience who might not be familiar with all of them.

Presenters
avatar for Anjali Duva

Anjali Duva

Author, FAINT PROMISE OF RAIN
Anjali Mitter Duva is an Indian-American writer, dancer and educator raised in France. She is the author of Faint Promise of Rain, shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and a 2015 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction, and she was a finalist for 2018... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5C: Literary Idol: Nonfiction Focus
Limited Capacity filling up

Important: Please read this description carefully before signing up, and bring all necessary materials to the session if you wish to have your work read aloud.

In this freewheeling session, a trained actor will perform the first page of YOUR unpublished manuscript -- in this case, a work of non-fiction, including memoir and personal essay -- for the audience and a panel of three judges. The judges are agents and editors with years of experience reading unsolicited submissions. When one of the judges hears a line that would make her stop reading, she will raise her hand. The actor will keep reading until a second judge raises his hand. The judges will then discuss WHY they would stop reading, and offer concrete (if subjective) suggestions to the anonymous author. If no agent raises his/her hand, the judges will discuss what made the excerpt work so well. All excerpts will be evaluated anonymously, though, at the end of the session, a winner will be chosen from the group of excerpts that did not elicit any raised hands, and that winner will receive a free Grub Street membership. Please bring THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript, double-spaced, to the session, TITLED, with its GENRE marked clearly at the top. You will leave it in a box at the front of the room, and the manuscript will be chosen randomly by the reader. (Unfortunately, given the volume of submissions, we can not guarantee that yours will be read aloud).

This is a fun event that aims to be respectful of your work and illuminate the process an agent/editor goes through when she receives a new piece of fiction. The point is not to get through as many writers as possible, but to thoughtfully evaluate the work at hand and offer concrete suggestions from which all could benefit. Please be aware that some lines may cause laughter or scorn; in other words, this session is not for the thin-skinned!

Presenters
avatar for Ashley Lopez

Ashley Lopez

Literary Agent, Waxman Literary Agency
Ashley Lopez joined the Waxman Literary Agency in 2015. She received her MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and is a founder and the Managing Editor of Pigeon Pages Literary Journal. Ashley is looking for literary and young adult fiction, narrative nonfiction, memoir, and... Read More →
avatar for Steve Macone

Steve Macone

Nonfiction Writer
Steve Macone is a former headline contributor at The Onion. His essays, humor writing, and reporting have also appeared in the American Scholar, New York Times, Atlantic, New Yorker, Boston Globe Magazine, Morning News, VICE and Salon. His work has been featured on NPR, Longreads... Read More →
avatar for Rakesh Satyal

Rakesh Satyal

Editor, Atria Books
Rakesh Satyal is a Senior Editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. He began his career at Random House (at what was then known as the Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group), then spent five years at HarperCollins. He has acquired and edited numerous New York Times bestsellers... Read More →
avatar for Janet Silver

Janet Silver

Literary Agent, Aevitas
Janet Silver represents a roster of acclaimed writers. Her clients include Cheryl Strayed, whose memoir, Wild, has sold more than 4 million copies; Anthony Marra, author of the New York Times bestselling novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena; Monique Truong, winner of the Asian... Read More →
avatar for Mitchell Waters

Mitchell Waters

Literary Agent, Curtis Brown
Mitchell Waters started working at Curtis Brown in 1995. He represents a wide and diverse array of literary and commercial fiction and nonfiction, including mystery, history, biography, memoir, and young adult.Some recent or representative titles: Bachelor Girl by Kim van Alkemade... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5D: Demystifying Publishing Deals
Limited Capacity full

This will be a "Publishing 101" discussion about what happens after your work is pitched to publishers-- from the offer to the contract and everything in between, with examples of possible outcomes and solid advice. We'll explain important terms and industry standards. You'll leave with stronger information about what to expect as an author, how to choose the best deals, and how to negotiate your most favorable publishing terms.

Presenters
avatar for Marisa Corvisiero

Marisa Corvisiero

Literary Agent, Corvisiero Literary Agency
Marisa A. Corvisiero, Esq., is a literary agent and the founder of the Corvisiero Literary Agency. She is also an author coach, literary consultant, speaker, author, and attorney with more than 18 years of experience in corporate law and trusts and estates in New York City. She holds... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5E: "Dare I Disturb the Universe?" Writing Dangerous Nonfiction
Limited Capacity filling up

Every writer struggles sometimes with the blank page-- but what happens when they're not just struggling with themselves or the words, but with the wider world's reaction to their writing? When, for example, their memoir includes content rumored to be considered anathema in the publishing industry? Or when they're writing an investigative journalism piece-- and realize they need to humanize a person who did horrible things? How can writers at once embrace making readers uncomfortable-- and yet make them keep reading? How can we transcend the safe or accepted narratives, and tell urgent, risky, even unpopular ones-- and do it ethically?

Together we will read and discuss excerpts from nonfiction work that caused a stir and do short writing exercises to discover paths forward in our own work. As T.S. Eliot famously asked, "Dare I disturb the universe?" Together, we will dare.

Presenters
avatar for Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

Author, THE FACT OF A BODY
Alex Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir, recipient of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir and the 2018 Chautauqua Prize. Named one of the best books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Audible.com, Bustle, Book Riot, The Times... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5F: From Your Room to Outer Space: World-Building in Young Adult Fiction
Limited Capacity full

Whether you are writing a contemporary story set in a small town or an intergalactic story set in space, every young adult novel requires world-building. The goal is to always introduce a world while avoiding info-dumping and confusing readers.

World-building encompasses everything within the setting, from currency to geography, politics, religion, and sex. You must consider what matters the most to the characters. Readers should be experiencing this world through the eyes of the character(s) and what is important to them. In this workshop, we will discuss various tips to create a fictional world.

Presenters
avatar for Lilliam Rivera

Lilliam Rivera

Author, DEALING IN DREAMS
Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning writer and author of the young adult novels Dealing in Dreams, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster on March 5, 2019, and The Education of Margot Sanchez, available now in bookstores everywhere. The Education of Margot Sanchez was nominated for a 2019... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5G: Writing as an Encore Career: Using What You Know for Greater Personal Meaning, Social Impact and Continued Income
Limited Capacity filling up

You might be a physician with hopes of being the next Atul Gawande writing about your experiences in medicine in a way that heals outside of the office. Or a professor like Brene Brown with a body of research that you know can provide a wide audience of readers with information and inspiration. Or like Rachel Hollis you've got great business advice targeted to women that you want to pass on. Or you simply want to document your years of career accomplishments in a way that your legacy extends beyond your work environment and coaches others through writing. You have time and ideas but haven't taken a formal writing class since your high school or college English course. We'll talk about what it takes to translate all that know-how into an organized theme, genre, and book or article proposal.

Presenters
avatar for Deborah Plummer

Deborah Plummer

Author, SOME OF MY FRIENDS ARE…THE DAUNTING CHALLENGES AND UNTAPPED BENEFITS OF CROSS-RACIAL FRIENDSHIPS
Deborah Plummer is a psychologist, university professor and diversity thought leader. She currently serves as Chief Diversity Officer at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care.Her groundbreaking and timely book, Some of My Friends Are…The Daunting Challenges and Untapped... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5H: Sex, Race, and Power: Writing About Taboos
Limited Capacity full

Just as our culture suggests that we not talk about certain things, we're also often taught not to write about certain things. For example: It's inappropriate to mention someone's race to their face. It's bad form to speak about our sex lives among strangers or even friends. Most taboos stem from the desire, at some level above us, to protect power. Words and thoughts are related. 

In this session, we'll discuss how to move in the opposite direction-- to boldly examine, in our writing, stigmatized ideas, settings, characters, and problems. We'll discuss the duty of writers to ignore those prescriptions and create expressive works of honesty and thoughtfulness. Most importantly, we'll identify strategies for writing beyond the taboos, examining excerpts by various taboo-shirking authors. You'll leave the session with stronger tools for writing into the headwinds, and to explore in your writing what you really think. 

Presenters
avatar for Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Author, WE CAST A SHADOW
Maurice Carlos Ruffin has been a recipient of an Iowa Review Award in fiction and a winner of the William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for Novel-in-Progress. His work has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, AGNI, The Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5I: The Revisionist: Using Your Inner Editor as a Writer
Limited Capacity full

The biggest step to finishing is revising. But for many writers, this can be the hardest threshold to cross. When receiving feedback, processing feedback, and finding ways to fill plot holes or alter moments for greater impact how do we as writers implement these updates on the page? And how does our inner editor (critic) zero in on those points to smooth out the wrinkles?

In this workshop, participants will compare early versions to final versions of fiction and nonfiction to see what's been added/removed, discuss different methods to tackle new drafts, and do on-site revisions of their own with time left over for feedback to compare the before & after based on discussion. The opening icebreaker will have the group write a short scene together and close with us revising it together.

Presenters
avatar for Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker

Contributing Editor, Electric Literature
Jennifer Baker  is a publishing professional, creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and contributing editor to Electric Literature. In 2017, she was awarded a NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship & a Queens Council on the Arts New Work Grant for Nonfiction Literature. Her essay... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
St. James Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5J: Dare to Break the Ultimate Writing Rule: Why "Show Don't Tell" Is a Crock
Limited Capacity full

Show don't tell has become the cornerstone of creative writing workshops, a slogan cited like scripture. It is also the single most destructive piece of advice aspiring writers ever receive. In this session, we'll look at concrete examples of how the "show don't tell" mantra too often wreaks havoc on our storytelling, by creating confusion, sapping our work of suspense, and causing us to write disjointed scenes. In short, by leaving the reader bewildered rather than dazzled. We'll also discuss how writers can transform their work by following a much more useful creed: Tell the reader just enough to feel what she's being shown. We'll also do a quick writing exercise to bring the lesson home. If you're ready to break the ultimate writing rule sign up and come ready to take your work to the next level.

Presenters
avatar for Steve Almond

Steve Almond

Author, BAD STORIES
Steve Almond is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction, including the New York Times Bestsellers "Candyfreak" and "Against Football." His most recent short story collection, "God Bless America" won the Paterson Prize and his short stories have been widely anthologized... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5K: The Sentence: A Love Story
Limited Capacity full

“Every sentence has a truth waiting at the end of it, and the writer learns how to know it when he finally gets there....There’s a moral force in a sentence when it comes out right. It speaks the writer’s will to live.”

The above (from Don DeLillo's Mao II) is not just an eloquent description of the focus of this class, but an eloquent embodiment of it as well. Together we will be looking at sentences, the bedrock of our prose, with an eye towards rhythm and sense and sound. In so doing we'll hope to clarify, at least for ourselves, the difference between a good sentence, a bad one, and a great one, to say nothing of all those messy and indeterminate efforts that fall between.  

Presenters
avatar for Rob Cohen

Rob Cohen

Author, AMATEUR BARBARIANS
Robert Cohen, Professor of English and American Literatures, is  a novelist who teaches both literature and creative writing courses.  His books include Amateur Barbarians, Inspired Sleep, The Here and Now, The Organ Builder, and a collection of short stories, The Varieties... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

10:30am

5L: Essentials of Structure
Limited Capacity full

Every story needs structure, a framework on which to build drama and emotional connection. While the right structure can certainly help pull a reader through a story, it can also help push a frustrated writer through a difficult draft. In this seminar, we’ll discuss-- supplemented with exercises and examples-- how structures from classic to experimental can organize an author's thoughts into an effective fiction or non-fiction piece.

Presenters
avatar for Adam Stumacher

Adam Stumacher

Fiction & Nonfiction Writer
Adam Stumacher‘s fiction has appeared in Granta, Narrative, The Kenyon Review, The Sun, TriQuarterly, and others, was anthologized in Best New American Voices, and won a Nelson Algren Award and the Raymond Carver Short Story Award. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 11:45am
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

Lunch Break

Saturday April 6, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm
TBA

1:00pm

6A: First Page Clinic: Making the Most of It
Limited Capacity filling up

Important: Please read this description carefully before signing up, and bring all necessary materials to the session if you wish to have your work read aloud.

In this session, four seasoned authors -- who, among them, have published over twenty-five books of fiction and non-fiction -- will offer on-the-spot concrete advice on the first page of your novel, short story, memoir, or personal essay. First pages will be chosen randomly and read aloud by a volunteer.

Over the course of the hour, each author will also read an published first page (possibly one of his/her own) and discuss what makes it work, and/or the decisions they made to get it to its final form.

Please bring FIVE COPIES of THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript double-spaced, to the session, TITLED, with its GENRE marked clearly at the top. STAPLE the copies together into a packet. You will leave the packet in a box at the front of the room, and it will be chosen randomly by the reader. (Unfortunately, given the volume of submissions, we can not guarantee that yours will be read aloud).

Presenters
avatar for Christopher Castellani

Christopher Castellani

Author, LEADING MEN
Christopher Castellani's fourth novel, Leading Men, is forthcoming from Viking in February 2019. He is also the author of The Art of Perspective, a collection of essays on point of view in fiction, and three other novels. Christopher works as artistic director of GrubStreet, was a... Read More →
avatar for Michael Borum

Michael Borum

Social Media Consultant, OXFAM
Michael Borum has been working in digital media since 1994, holding in leadership positions at agencies and non-profits in technical, marketing, and creative roles. In addition to his extensive corporate experience, he established his own digital marketing agency, etherweave, in 2002... Read More →
avatar for Stephen McCauley

Stephen McCauley

Author, MY EX LIFE
Stephen McCauley is the author of six novels, including The Object of My Affection and Insignificant Others. Several have been national bestsellers, an three have been made into feature length films. He currently serves as Director of Creative Writing at Brandeis University. His seventh... Read More →
avatar for Mameve Medwed

Mameve Medwed

Author, OF MEN AND THEIR MOTHERS
Mameve Medwed--Bangor, Maine's other writer--is the author of five novels, Mail, Host Family, The End of an Error, How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life, Of Men and Their Mothers. Her short stories, essays, book reviews have appeared in, among others, the New York Times, Boston... Read More →
avatar for Sebastian Stuart

Sebastian Stuart

Author, THE MENTOR
Sebastian Stuart's novels include: The Mentor, a Book of the Month Club selection; The Hour Between, winner of the Ferro-Grumley Award and an NPR Season's Reading selection; and To the Manor Dead. He has co-written a national bestseller published in 8 languages, 24-Karat Kids; and... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

6B: Lessons from the Novel Incubator
Limited Capacity full

Now in its eighth year with ten book contracts under its belt (and counting), the GrubStreet Novel Incubator program has helped dozens of students turn their drafts into true novels. Join the instructor in an introduction to the most important revision tactics from the early explorations of your manuscript to its final stages. From the ways in which character creates structure, through the art of establishing mystery, tension, setting, and scene, this seminar offers a practical overview of what your novel needs in order to fulfill your hopes for it.

Presenters
avatar for Michelle Hoover

Michelle Hoover

Author, THE QUICKENING
Michelle Hoover is the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University and teaches at GrubStreet, where she leads the Novel Incubator program. She is a 2014 NEA Fellow and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner of the PEN/New... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

6C: You Need A Website! A Practical Guide to the What, Why, and How of Building Your First Author Website
Limited Capacity full

Author website? I know what you’re thinking: "Don’t need one; I have social media.” Or, “I’m just starting out.” Or, “I’m not tech savvy and can’t afford a web designer.” Or, “I know I need one, but I don’t know where to start.”

The truth is that all writers need websites: online home bases where readers can connect with them and learn more about their works. In this session, we’ll cover:
1. Reasons every writer must have an author website.
2. Why it’s never too early for a writer to create their first author website.
3. A demonstration on how to build a simple website that can grow with your writing career.
4. Pros and cons of different platforms for building websites, and other tools of the trade.
5. An Author Website Essentials Checklist to help you build your first site!

Presenters
avatar for Li Yun Alvarado

Li Yun Alvarado

Author, WORDS OR WATER
Li Yun Alvarado is the author of the chapbooks Words or Water and Nuyorico, CA. A poet and scholar, her work has appeared in VIDA Review; Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education; The Acentos Review; Aster(ix), and Cura: A Literary Magazine of Art and Action, among others. She has... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

6D: All In: Raising the Stakes – and Making them Matter – in Fiction
Limited Capacity full

Do your characters live in the grip of necessity, under pressure to make meaningful choices in life-changing moments? Or do your stories often suffer from cautious conflict, with characters at risk marginally, if at all? In this session, we’ll talk about how to be all in: writing real conflict and serious stakes that rise as the story progresses, without false drama or melodrama. We’ll explore practical techniques to increase danger and dimensionality, so your readers can trace the progress of tension and feel its escalation.

Presenters
avatar for Ron MacLean

Ron MacLean

Author, WE MIGHT AS WELL LIGHT SOMETHING ON FIRE
Ron MacLean teaches writing at GrubStreet. His short fiction has been anthologized, and has appeared widely in magazines including GQ, Narrative, Fiction International, Night Train, Other Voices, Drunken Boat, Best Online Fiction 2010, and elsewhere. He is author most recently of... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

6E: The Literary Page Turner: Learning to Write with Both Pedals
Limited Capacity full

The literary page turner: Not an oxymoron or a myth. Young adult author and GrubStreet faculty member Katie Bayerl will provide a framework for thinking about that elusive breed of novel (artful yet gripping, high-concept with heart) that publishers seem to always be seeking and writers often struggle to conceive and execute. She'll provide model texts that manage the balance well and will offer abundant practical advice you can apply to your writing process to keep yourself--and your readers--hooked as you explore the deeper themes and layers of your story. A brief set of writing exercises will get you started in applying those lessons to your own novel concept.

Content applicable to writers of young adult, adult (literary or genre), and middle grade fiction.

Presenters
avatar for Katie Bayerl

Katie Bayerl

Author, A PSALM FOR LOST GIRLS
Katie fell in love with books before she can remember and with teaching when she was just a teen. The writing books for teens part came a bit later. She jumped right in and hasn’t looked back.Katie has degrees in education from Brown, teaching from Tufts, and writing from Vermont... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

6F: The Big Q’s: What to Ask Prospective Agents
Limited Capacity full

So you’ve gotten the e-mail (or the phone call) and the Agent of Your Dreams wants to talk to you about representation. Even if their offer makes you feel like you’ve set an entire kaleidoscope of butterflies free in your stomach, you’ll want to have some questions lined up to hear about their process, the ins and outs of how this whole thing works, and suss out whether you think you’ll have a good working relationship with them. After all, the author-agent relationship is (and should be) a close one and one that hopefully will be the through line of your publishing career. In this class, we’ll be discussing what questions to ask (and why you should be asking them!).

Presenters
avatar for Amy Bishop

Amy Bishop

Literary Agent, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret
Amy Elizabeth Bishop joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret as a literary agent and assistant in 2015 after interning for them in 2014. She represents a wide variety of adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as YA and middle grade. Before diving into the world of publishing, she graduated... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

6G: Disentangling Time
Limited Capacity full

What’s past? What’s present? What’s shown onstage? What’s held for later? How much of the past is just background information, what really matters, and when (and how) should it emerge? Whether it covers ten minutes or thirty years, proceeds chronologically or starts in medias res, unravels a mystery or crosscuts to show multiple simultaneous actions, the structure of any narrative form is a representation of time. We’ll discuss the relationship of time and point of view, how time may be slowed, sped up, and skipped, and how the past—or future—can emerge through discovery or disclosure. And we’ll look at how timelines can help you see your material and make decisions about structure, and how to help the reader keep track, too.

Presenters
avatar for Lynne Barrett

Lynne Barrett

Author, MAGPIES
Lynne Barrett's third story collection Magpies received the Florida Book Awards fiction gold medal. Her handbook What Editors Want guides writers through the submissions process, and she’s editor of the nonfiction anthology Making Good Time: True Stories of How We Do (and Don’t... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

6H: How I Wrote This: Discussion of THE ANSWERS, by Catherine Lacey
Limited Capacity seats available

We’re thrilled to welcome author Catherine Lacey as our Muse 2019 Fellow in Fiction, for her phenomenal book, The Answers. A “novel of intellect and amplitude” (NYT), The Answers is a biting look at social intrusion on our most private moments, and how well we can truly know each other. Start reading The Answers now, and join Lacey for an in-person discussion of her writing process with Laura van den Berg (The Third Hotel).

This event is free & open to the public! If you're not attending the Muse, RSVP here.

Presenters
avatar for Catherine Lacey

Catherine Lacey

Author, THE ANSWERS
Catherine Lacey is the author of the novels The Answers and Nobody is Ever Missing , and the story collection, Certain American States. She has won a Whiting Award, was a finalist for the NYPL's Young Lions Fiction Award, and was named one of Granta Magazine's Best Young American... Read More →
avatar for Laura  van den Berg

Laura van den Berg

Author, THE THIRD HOTEL
Laura van den Berg is the author of two short story collections and two novels, most recently The Third Hotel, an ABA IndieNext Selection, a Powell's Indiespensable Pick, and an Amazon Best Book of the Month for August. Her honors include the Bard Fiction Prize, the Rosenthal Family... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Exeter Room - Mezzanine Level

1:00pm

6I: What Booksellers Want Authors to Know
Limited Capacity full

It’s happened to every author at some time: The bookstore event with the stack of your books and one person in the audience. There are no guaranteed formulas, but there are sound ways to build relationships with bookstores and to help them help you. We’ll discuss tips to increase your audience and partner with your local indie—and any bookstore where you’re having an event—to up your odds of success.

And what about once you’re there? An understanding of author expectations before, during, and after an appearance will give you the confidence to shine.

Beyond events, booksellers are an author’s front-line sales team. They know their customers and hand-sell books they love. We’ll chat about ways to connect with, and support, indie bookstores at any stage of your publishing journey.

Presenters
avatar for Leah DeCesare

Leah DeCesare

Author, FORKS, KNIVES, AND SPOONS
Leah DeCesare is the award-winning author of Forks, Knives, and Spoons. Her writing has been featured in The Huffington Post, Eligible Magazine, Simply Woman, The International Doula, and The Key, among others. Leah is the cofounder of the nonprofit, Doulas of Rhode Island, and she... Read More →
avatar for Allison Hoch

Allison Hoch

Fiction Writer & Marketing Coach
Allison Pottern Hoch is a writer and event coach with over eight years of experience in marketing, publicity, sales, and event planning. She spent four years promoting academic titles at The MIT Press before she went to work for Wellesley Books as a bookseller and event coordinator... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

6J: The Inside/Outside Story: Balancing Character Emotion & Story Action
Limited Capacity filling up

In this session, you’ll learn to balance crafting compelling characters with choosing fresh plot lines, manipulating pacing, and highlighting setting in ways that support the central action and themes of your stories. Yet Robert Olen Butler has said that “in the most exciting literary works, internal conflict runs parallel to, or resonates through, some larger conflict in the external world." In other words, the writer must capture the interaction between the inside story and the outside story forming a uniquely propulsive narrative.

In this session, you’ll learn how to balance crafting compelling characters with choosing fresh plot lines, manipulate pacing, and highlight setting in ways that support the central action and themes of your stories.

Presenters
avatar for Lynne Griffin

Lynne Griffin

Author, GIRL SENT AWAY
Lynne Reeves Griffin is the author of the novels Girl Sent Away (SixOneSeven Books), Sea Escape (Simon & Schuster), and Life Without Summer (St Martins Press), and the nonfiction guides Let’s Talk About It: Adolescent Mental Health (SixOneSeven Books), and Negotiation Generation... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

6K: Agents & Editors of Color Roundtable
Limited Capacity full

Join a lively and vital discussion among prominent authors, literary agents, and editors of color as we share experiences of issues we've uniquely encountered in our projects and our careers. Get advice on what you might expect in your own career and how to navigate it. The talk will build on ideas discussed in last year's vibrant Writers of Color Roundtable, but all attendees are welcome!

Presenters
avatar for Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker

Contributing Editor, Electric Literature
Jennifer Baker  is a publishing professional, creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and contributing editor to Electric Literature. In 2017, she was awarded a NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship & a Queens Council on the Arts New Work Grant for Nonfiction Literature. Her essay... Read More →
avatar for Anuradha Bhagwati

Anuradha Bhagwati

Author, UNBECOMING: A MEMOIR OF DISOBEDIENCE
Anuradha Kristina Bhagwati, MPP, RYT-500, is a former Marine Captain and Company Commander, and Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Trainer. She is the founder of Service Women’s Action Network, a non-profit organization that sued the Pentagon to end the Combat Exclusion Policy... Read More →
avatar for Cherise Fisher

Cherise Fisher

Literary Agent, Wendy Sherman Associates
Cherise Fisher began her career in publishing as the assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of Dell Publishing a month after graduating from Yale University. Over the course of her twenty-five year career as an acquiring editor at Simon & Schuster and the Editor in Chief of Plume (an imprint... Read More →
avatar for Emi Ikkanda

Emi Ikkanda

Spiegel & Grau, Editor
Emi Ikkanda is a Senior Editor at Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House. Before joining S&G in 2016, she worked as an editor at Henry Holt & Company.Emi has edited acclaimed authors, including Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award Finalist Carla Power, New York Times Bestselling... Read More →
avatar for Rakesh Satyal

Rakesh Satyal

Editor, Atria Books
Rakesh Satyal is a Senior Editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. He began his career at Random House (at what was then known as the Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group), then spent five years at HarperCollins. He has acquired and edited numerous New York Times bestsellers... Read More →
avatar for DongWon Song

DongWon Song

Literary Agent, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency
DongWon Song is an agent at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency representing science fiction and fantasy for adults, young adult, and middle grade readers as well as select non-fiction. He was formerly an editor at Orbit, a product manager for an ebook startup, and has taught as an adjunct... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

6L: Image Systems
Limited Capacity filling up

In a story, novel, or memoir, an image system is a set of related descriptive details adding up to a larger constellation of sensory information. Image systems are an important but infrequently discussed technique for crafting stories that accumulate meaning and resonate on a subliminal level. These hidden patterns appeal to the deep-rooted human affinity for unity and order, and contribute to a gripping reading experience. But they must be organic to the story in question, and they must be used with subtlety and skill.

In this practical, interactive craft talk, we’ll use passages from modern and classic novelists to illustrate the uses of image systems. We'll discuss ways to recognize and harness material that may already exist within your own work-in-progress to increase its emotional impact.

Presenters
avatar for Tim Weed

Tim Weed

Author, A FIELD GUIDE TO MURDER & FLY FISHING
Tim Weed’s short fiction collection, A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, made the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Shortlist and was a finalist in the short story category for the American Fiction Awards and the International Book Awards. His first novel, Will Poole’s... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

2:30pm

Break
Saturday April 6, 2019 2:30pm - 3:00pm
TBA

3:00pm

7A: I Want You To Want Me: Using Desire to Create Complex Characters
Limited Capacity full

Maybe you’ve heard Kurt Vonnegut’s advice: “Every character must want something, even if it’s only a glass of water.” Are your characters thirsty enough? And if they really want water so badly, why are they knocking over the glass and storming out of the room?

A multi-layered exploration of desire – and all the ways it makes us act – can help us turn flat characters into robust, complicated ones. In this session, through lecture and several lively exercises, we’ll discover more of what our characters want and how that can better propel our fiction.

Presenters
avatar for Heather Abel

Heather Abel

Author, THE OPTIMISTIC DECADE
Heather Abel’s debut novel, The Optimistic Decade, published last year, was an Indie Next Pick and received praise from the New York Times, People Magazine, the New York Post, New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, Bustle, the Seattle Times, and the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, among other places... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

7B: Anatomy of a Query Letter
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The first impression is sometimes your only impression so a strong query letter is essential to piquing an agent's interest. In this workshop, instructor and literary agent Annie Hwang (Folio Literary Management) will deconstruct and demystify the three essential components of a query letter. You will discover what agents really look for in a query and why. All participants should come with copies of their query letter and be prepared to workshop their query letter in real-time!

Presenters
avatar for Annie Hwang

Annie Hwang

Literary Agent, Folio Literary Management
Originally from Los Angeles, Annie represents literary fiction and select nonfiction. As a former journalist, she possesses a keen editorial eye which she brings to her approach to agenting, taking an active role in helping clients reach their full potential. Since joining Folio Literary... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

7D: Structuring a Novel with Good Bones
Limited Capacity filling up

Whether writing one’s first novel or fifth, writers can get lost in the morass of researching and sketching their novels. For those beginning a novel (or those who have begun many a book, but never finished) this session will provide an approach for building the framework for your novel, using the “how do you eat an elephant” approach: one bite at a time. A step-by-step method, moving from initial idea to “what if,” to concept paper, characterization, indexing and building a spine, leads to a skeleton on which to construct one’s novel. (Bring index cards!)

Presenters
avatar for Randy Susan Meyers

Randy Susan Meyers

Author, WAISTED
Randy Susan Meyers' novels are informed by her work with families impacted by emotional and family violence. Her debut novel, The Murderer’s Daughters, was named one of the “2011 Ten Best Works of Fiction” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book and was a finalist for the Massachusetts... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

7F: It’s HOW You Say It: Exploring Voice in Fiction
Limited Capacity full

You’ve heard agents and editors say it: “We’re looking for unique voices.” But what IS voice? And what makes one unique? What makes Raymond Carver sound so different from Truman Capote or Mohsin Hamid, and Toni Morrison from Jhumpa Lahiri or Elizabeth Strout?

From diction to narrative distance, attitude to phrasing, we will explore the many components of voice. By deconstructing a variety of excerpts and using short, practical, hands-on exercises, we will gain a better understanding of how voice is conveyed, leaving you better prepared to craft your own!

Presenters
avatar for Mira T. Lee

Mira T. Lee

Author, EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL
Mira T. Lee's debut novel, Everything Here is Beautiful, was selected as a Top 10 Debut title for 2018 by the American Booksellers Association, and named a Top Winter/2018 Pick by more than 30 news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Poets & Writers, and O... Read More →
avatar for Val Wang

Val Wang

Author, BEIJING BASTARD
Val Wang is an author and filmmaker interested in the intersection between the personal and the global. She is the author of the memoir Beijing Bastard as well as the director of the documentary The Flip Side, which won Best Documentary Short at the 2018 DisOrient Asian American Film... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

7H: Person and Place: Writing Effective Settings
Limited Capacity full

Setting isn’t just the backdrop over which we drape our other story elements, and effectively writing setting means more than painting, however impressively, a static picture. This session will explore the relationship between settings and the characters who navigate and narrate them. Sometimes setting asserts itself in an obvious way--through a lethally harsh landscape, for example--but more often the writer manipulates subtler shades of comfort or discomfort, familiarity or unfamiliarity, nostalgia or surprise. How does setting description differ when characters explore places new to them, versus when characters enter a place so excruciatingly familiar it’s crowded with their own remembered selves?

We’ll examine and discuss examples of effectively written settings in literature and consider how the authors were able to bring to the page the complexities of the relationship between person and place. With writing exercises we’ll practice activating our own settings, putting them to work in our stories.

Presenters
avatar for Caitlin Horrocks

Caitlin Horrocks

Author, THE VEXATIONS
Caitlin Horrocks is author of the novel The Vexations (Little, Brown, 2019) and the story collection This Is Not Your City (Sarabande, 2011), which was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her stories and essays... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

7I: Elements of Nonfiction: Structure, Premise and Style
Limited Capacity full

Make your essay or long-form nonfiction pieces informative, engaging and persuasive by paying close attention to such fundamental elements as organization, observation, and argument. Clarify essential aspects that animate compelling narratives, including conflict, purpose and desire. Learn the importance of strong openings, nut graphs, scene-setting, skillful use of facts and figures, sensory evocation and choosing revelatory details. By adhering to a few critical aspects of nonfiction storytelling, you will illuminate the answers to questions most readers are likely to have, among them: 1) Why you are writing this piece now? and 2) Why is your work worth reading?

Presenters
avatar for Jabari Asim

Jabari Asim

Author, WE CAN'T BREATHE
Jabari Asim is an associate professor of writing, literature and publishing at Emerson College, where he directs the MFA program in creative writing. He is the former Executive Editor of The Crisis magazine, a preeminent journal of politics, ideas and culture published by the NAACP... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

7J: Writing Dark Humor
Limited Capacity full

This session focuses on the art of writing humor, with a special focus on dark humor, the tragicomic, and satire.

Presenters
avatar for Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Author, HEADS OF THE COLORED PEOPLE
Nafissa Thompson-Spires earned a PhD in English from Vanderbilt University and an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She is the author of Heads of the Colored People (Atria/ 37 Ink; Chatto and Windus) and a novel under contract with the... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

7K: Thrusting Swords and Quivering Orchids: How Not to Write Sex Scenes
Limited Capacity full

Sex is an action like any other in fiction: it should reveal character, be relevant, and move the story forward. So why are sex scenes so difficult to write, and why, even in good stories and novels, are they often painfully awkward? What distinguishes a good sex scene from a bad one?

In this session, led by novelists Whitney Scharer and Chip Cheek, we will discuss the craft of writing sex scenes: practical suggestions, the problem of diction, what makes it gratuitous, and more. We’ll discuss writing about sex from different gender perspectives. And we’ll look at lots of examples—from hot to unsatisfying to laughably awful.

Adults only, please. This session will be NSFW.

Presenters
avatar for Chip Cheek

Chip Cheek

Author, CAPE MAY
Cape May is Chip's first novel. His stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Harvard Review, Washington Square, and other journals and anthologies. He has been awarded scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Tin House Summer Writer's Workshop, and the Vermont... Read More →
avatar for Whitney Scharer

Whitney Scharer

Author, THE AGE OF LIGHT
Whitney Scharer holds a BA in English Literature from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Her first novel, The Age of Light, based on the life of pioneering photographer Lee Miller, was published in February 2019 by Little, Brown (US... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

7L: On Writing Epic Novels: A Conversation with Min Jin Lee
Limited Capacity filling up

Family sagas, tales passed through generations, and stories that travel the globe...those of us who love reading thick, epic novels often want to write one too. But this cumulative style of storytelling has unique demands. Join a fascinating Q&A with Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko, on writing stories that span large swaths of time and geography. What are the uniques challenges of such a large scope? How to transition through huge leaps in time or location? How to sustain tension in a book that requires many hours to read? What research might be required, and how can you keep track of it all? And do epic stories take an epic time to write? Come prepared with your questions and ideas, and be ready to walk away one step closer in developing your epic manuscript.

Presenters
avatar for Christine Pride

Christine Pride

Editor, Simon & Schuster
Christine Pride joined Simon and Schuster in 2016. She spent more than a decade as an editor at various corporate imprints including Doubleday, Broadway, Crown and Hyperion, and then, most recently, struck out on her own for a wonderful three year stint as a freelance editor and ghostwriter... Read More →
avatar for Min Jin Lee

Min Jin Lee

Author, PACHINKO
Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko is a finalist for the National Book Award, a national bestseller, a New York Times Editor’s Choice and an American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next Great Reads. It is an Amazon Top Ten Books of the month and a selection of the Book of the Month Club... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

7M: The Perfect Pitch
Limited Capacity full

The key to getting an op-ed, a reported article, or even an essay can lie in the perfect pitch. Editors don't have time to fill in the blanks of a great story idea that is imperfectly pitched. Knowing how to write an incisive compelling pitch is also essential for anyone who wants to approach a literary agent or editor.

This session will look at how editors pick work, the secrets of getting an editors' attention, crafting pitches that stand out, and, also as importantly, once you get the "yes," then what? This workshop will help you best present not only your material, but yourself as an author.

Presenters
avatar for Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Author, THE EVENING HERO
Marie Myung-Ok Lee is an acclaimed Korean-American writer and author of the novel Somebody's Daughter. Her next novel, The Evening Hero, on the future of medicine, immigration, North Korea, is forthcoming with Simon & Schuster.  She graduated from Brown University and was a Writer... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

7N: Blurred Boundaries: Blending Fiction & Non-Fiction
Limited Capacity full

As writers, we often feel pressured to label our work, filing it under fiction or non-fiction, journalistic, commercial, or literary - but few readers have tastes that can be categorized by a single keyword. Life isn’t split up into mutually exclusive compartments, and it isn’t always possible, or even preferable, to write as if it were. Most of us live in a space where genres overlap, and it is only natural that our books follow suit. Increasingly, fiction is veering into realms that have traditionally been the province of non-fiction, and vice versa. Novels are being used to communicate concepts, becoming idea driven rather than plot driven, while non-fiction becomes less journalistic, and more personal and experiential.

In this seminar, we will deconstruct the characteristics of conventional fiction and non-fiction and discuss various ways of combining these elements, so as to best fit our unique, individual style, or to serve the particular project at hand.

Presenters
avatar for Tasneem Zehra Husain

Tasneem Zehra Husain

Author, ONLY THE LONGEST THREADS
Tasneem Zehra Husain is a theoretical physicist and a writer. Her work has appeared in Nautilus, as well as various anthologies of science writing for both adults and children. She is a columnist for 3quarksdaily.com, and the author of the popular science novel Only The Longest Threads... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8A: Writing In the #MeToo Era
Limited Capacity filling up

Memoir writing often stems from (or is steeped) in #MeToo-themed trauma, like harassment, assault, abuse, or incest. But what does it mean to write those stories in nonfiction, and move through the steps of sharing them with the world? In this discussion, we will examine various contemporary memoirs where authors have written about such hard truths. We will tackle questions like: How do details function in the writing of traumatic histories and stories? What personal identifying markers should I include? How much psychic distance is necessary in writing these stories? What is the potential backlash, both online and in person, and how can I mitigate this or be prepared? Come prepared for a frank and important discussion.

Presenters
avatar for Krystal Sital

Krystal Sital

Author, SECRETS WE KEPT: THREE WOMEN OF TRINIDAD
Born in the republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Krystal A. Sital is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Secrets we Kept: Three Women of Trinidad. A finalist for the PEN/Fusion Award, Krystal A. Sital's debut memoir Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad has garnered rave... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8B: Super-Powered Storytelling
Limited Capacity filling up

Twenty pages, five to seven scenes. Splash pages, two-page spreads, gutters. A plots and B plots and C plots. Heroes and villains and love interests and sidekicks. Emotional arcs. Panels and layouts. I could go on, and I will – during this SMACK-BLAM-POW lecture, which addresses how the medium has made me a better novelist, screenwriter, essayist and short story writer.

Presenters
avatar for Benjamin  Percy

Benjamin Percy

Author, THE DARK NET
Benjamin Percy is the author of four novels -- most recently, The Dark Net (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) -- as well as two books of short stories. His book of craft essays -- Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction -- is widely taught in creative writing classes. He is known in comics for... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8C: Breaking The Rules: Writing Without an MFA
Limited Capacity full

The number one rule to becoming a writer is simple: there are no rules. At times, finding a place for your work can be more challenging than the work itself. The industry can feel impenetrable, especially to those who don't have an MFA. In this lecture, Neel Patel will debunk some of the most popular myths about getting published while talking about his own path to becoming a writer--from that first rejection letter to signing a two-book deal. He'll offer advice on how to place your work and where to find an agent, as well as answer questions from attendees.

Presenters
avatar for Neel Patel

Neel Patel

Author, IF YOU SEE ME, DON'T SAY HI
Neel Patel is a first-generation Indian American who grew up in Champaign, Illinois. His book, If You See Me, Don't Say Hi, was named a New York Times Editors' Choice and has been optioned for TV. His work has appeared in The Southampton Review, Indiana Review, The American Literary... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8D: Reject Rejection: On Fueling Your Work Instead of Your Doubts
Limited Capacity full

There isn't a writer-- living or dead-- who hasn't faced rejection at some point in their career. As artists, we know it’s just part of the process. And as much as it stings to hear “no” about your dazzling idea or must-be-told story, rejection can also be valuable in helping to focus your work, drill down to the true essence of your vision, and unearth something golden, new, and wholly innovative.

This presentation will give writers actionable tips and practical tools for how to shape rejection, constructive criticism, and instructive notes about their work into the fuel that drives their writing to the next level. Turn that “nice no” into a resounding yes!

Presenters
avatar for Nicole Blades

Nicole Blades

Author, HAVE YOU MET NORA?
Nicole Blades is a novelist, speaker, and journalist who has been putting her stories on paper since the third grade. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, by Caribbean parents, Nicole moved to New York City and launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine. She later... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8E: Hybrid Publishing: How it Works and What it's Like
Limited Capacity filling up

Hybrid Publishing is hotter than ever, giving authors more control over their destiny. But what happens after the books are printed? Learn how Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, author of EDEN: A Novel (She Writes Press, May '17) to hybrid publishing to assemble a team to create buzz, find traction, and achieve her dream of connecting with readers. She'll teach you how to evaluate a hybrid press, what to look for in a publicist, and what you’ll have to do on your own. Coming off a one-year journey, she'll also discuss her strategies for social media, breaking into book stores, and getting reviewed...and why she's doing it again for Novel Number Two.

Presenters
avatar for Jeanne Blasberg

Jeanne Blasberg

Author, EDEN: A NOVEL
Jeanne Blasberg is the author of EDEN: A Novel. The winner of the Beverly Hills Book Awards for Women's Fiction, and finalist for the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Fiction, and Sarton Women's Book Award for Historical Fiction, EDEN was released in May 2017 by She... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8F: Outlining: Charting Your Book to Reach Your Destination
Limited Capacity full

Writers often hate to outline their novels, feeling the practice constrains creativity and saps inspiration. But why set out on "the long sea voyage," as Melville called novel-writing, without some sort of map to your destination? The Webster's definition of plot is "to chart out in points," and New York Times bestselling novelist Jenna Blum will show you how to chart your book while remaining creatively flexible and inspired.

Why is an outline necessary? What constitutes an outline? Can you think outside the traditional outline format, and if so, how? Jenna will share outlines to her own books, explain how they helped, and provide tips for writers to create their own maps to that ultimate destination: The End.

Presenters
avatar for Jenna Blum

Jenna Blum

Author, THE LOST FAMILY
Jenna Blum is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels Those Who Save Us (Harcourt, 2002) and The Stormchasers (Dutton, 2010), and The Lost Family (Harper Collins, 2018);  novella “The Lucky One” in the collection Grand Central (Berkeley/ Penguin, 2014... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8G: Publishing Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Children's Books: Ask a Rockstar Editor
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What moves a young adult editor to acquire a book? What’s an editor willing to work with, and what are red flags she avoids? Once she’s bought a book, how does she work with an author? Where does marketing come into play?

Continuing the popular series, rockstar editor, Beverly Horowitz, Senior Vice President, Publisher, Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, will sit down with Rachel Barenbaum, author of the forthcoming A Bend in the Stars (Grand Central, 2019), to discuss these questions and more. Beverly has spent over three decades at Delacorte/Dell/Bantam/Doubleday/Random House, acquiring and editing a long list of middle grade and YA #1 bestsellers. Her authors include Judy Blume, Louis Sachar, E. Lockhart, Marisha Pessl, Sophie Kinsella, Adeline Yen Mah, Veronica Chambers, Bryan Stevenson and many other well-known and debut authors. Horowitz has been a longtime advocate of First Amendment rights and and has worked against censorship.

Presenters
avatar for Rachel Barenbaum

Rachel Barenbaum

Author, A BEND IN THE STARS
Rachel is a graduate of GrubStreet's Novel Incubator. Her debut novel, A Bend in the Stars, is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (May 2019). In a former life she was a hedge fund manager and a spin instructor. She has degrees from Harvard in Business, and Literature and Philosophy... Read More →
avatar for Beverly Horowitz

Beverly Horowitz

Sr. VP & Publisher, Delacorte Press
Beverly Horowitz is SVP & Publisher of Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Horowitz began her career in the editorial department of Little, Brown in Boston. Curious from the start to learn all aspects of the publishing... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8H: Blacks Writing Truth to Power: Narrative Choices for Fearless Nonfiction
Limited Capacity seats available

Essayists and memoirists often explore topics from marginalized positions in society, but what happens when you want to speak directly to those who are doing the marginalizing? What can this kind of bold and fearless writing look like, and what techniques can help us effectively speak truth to power?

In this session, we’ll discuss truth-telling approaches in nonfiction, focusing on examples from black writers throughout history who leveraged their perspective to communicate to a dominant audience. Using essays by W.E.B. DuBois, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Isabel Wilkerson, and more, we will examine techniques of framing, the direct "you" address, exhaustive research, reinterpretation of common ideas, narratorial attitude, and audience awareness to see how their writing worked directly to decolonize the white American canon. Discover what risk-taking writing looks like, and how deliberate techniques can reveal truth and change minds. Participants will leave with tools to write an approach for their own work, and a handout of literary examples.

Presenters
avatar for E Dolores  Johnson

E Dolores Johnson

Author, SAY I'M DEAD
E. Dolores Johnson’s writing on race has appeared in Narratively, the Buffalo News, the Writers of Color Anthology, Lunch Ticket and Pangyrus. Her multi-generational memoir on mixed race life (Say I’m Dead) is forthcoming from Chicago Review Press. She has done readings at Boston’s... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8I: Me, Myself, and I: Establishing and Sustaining First Person POV in an Entire Novel
Limited Capacity full

First person point-of-view is increasing popular in novels these days, prized for the storyteller's voice and intimacy. But over 400 pages of an entire book, this limited perspective can suffocate an otherwise rich and expansive story. In this session, we will discuss what’s fresh in first person POV novels, and how to transform a traditional single narrative into something provocative and sustainable. We’ll consider work by R.O. Kwon, Mira T. Lee, Bill Clegg, Marilynne Robinson, and Louise Erdrich, among others. We will talk about the importance of establishing voice and distance, and discuss how to avoid traps that can drag down and dull novel-length fiction. Students will be invited to send in the first page of their work in progress in advance for possible inclusion in the class discussion.

Presenters
avatar for Susan Bernhard

Susan Bernhard

Author, WINTER LOON
Susan Bernhard is a Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship recipient and a graduate of the GrubStreet Novel Incubator program. She was born and raised in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, is a graduate of the University of Maryland, and lives with her husband and two children... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8J: Twitter for (Writer) Dummies
Limited Capacity seats available

More and more, writers are finding passionate audiences on Twitter, and connecting with readers and fellow writers they might not have found otherwise. But Twitter can also be a distraction, time suck, and breeding ground for trolls and fights. In this session, learn how to capitalize on Twitter's offerings for your career as a writer in an age of crazy. Make it work FOR your writing, and not against.

Presenters
avatar for Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins

Author, FORWARD ME BACK TO YOU
Mitali Perkins has written twelve novels for young people, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award), Rickshaw Girl (a New York Public Library top 100 books for children in 100 years; film coming soon), and Tiger Boy (winner of the South Asia Book... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8K: Not so dear Jenny: Collaborating with Existing Texts
Limited Capacity full

Whether it’s a letter from a loved one, a public document written by a stranger, or a medical bill mass-produced in a language we hardly understand, encountering real texts in the world can help us discover new ways of reading (and writing!). In this session, we’ll explore ways that authors have built stories in conversation with existing texts, starting with a piece that holds intense meaning for you. Tseng will describe her own father’s journey to America, the letters he wrote to her over a period of thirty-odd years, and the book of poems she made with them, called Not so dear Jenny. Come ready to share similar examples, experiment with existing texts to make new ones, and look at examples of other collaborative texts. If you'd like, bring a "real-life" text that holds intense meaning for you, or that's simply captured your imagination.

Presenters
avatar for Jennifer Tseng

Jennifer Tseng

Author, THE PASSION OF WOO AND ISOLDE
Jennifer Tseng is the author of three award-winning poetry collections; a collection of flash fiction, The Passion of Woo and Isolde, a Firecracker Award finalist and winner of an Eric Hoffer Book Award; and a novel, Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness, finalist for the PEN American Center’s... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8L: Irresistable Characters
Limited Capacity full

This intensive (but fun-filled!) seminar will investigate why some characters leap off the page, while others just sit there. We’ll look at the work of Joyce Carol Oates, Virginia Wolff, Dickens and others to help explore ALL the many ways (most of them overlooked!) that great writers create rich, nuanced, irresistible characters. We’ll do a quick in-class exercise to bring the lesson home. Come prepared to rock.

Presenters
avatar for Steve Almond

Steve Almond

Author, BAD STORIES
Steve Almond is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction, including the New York Times Bestsellers "Candyfreak" and "Against Football." His most recent short story collection, "God Bless America" won the Paterson Prize and his short stories have been widely anthologized... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

4:30pm

8M: How I Wrote This: Discussion of THIS WILL BE MY UNDOING by Morgan Jerkins
Limited Capacity seats available

We’re thrilled to welcome author Morgan Jerkins as our Muse 2019 Fellow in Non-Fiction, for her striking essay collection, This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America. Jerkins is lauded as "a deft cartographer of black girlhood and womanhood" (Roxane Gay), and readers can join her for an in-person discussion with author Kim McLarin on her writing process. Pre-reading the collection is recommended, but not required!

This event is free & open to the public! If you're not attending the Muse, RSVP here.

Presenters
avatar for Morgan Jerkins

Morgan Jerkins

Author, THIS WILL BE MY UNDOING
My name is Morgan Jerkins and I'm a writer based in Harlem. I have a Bachelor's in Comparative Literature, specializing in late nineteenth century Russian literature and post-war Japanese literature, and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars.I am the author of This Will Be My... Read More →
avatar for Kim McLarin

Kim McLarin

Author, WOMANISH
Kim McLarin is the author of the critically-acclaimed novels Taming It Down (1999), Meeting of the Waters (2001), and Jump at the Sun(2006), all published by William Morrow Inc. Her memoir Divorce Dog: Motherhood, Men, & Midlife was published in 2014 by C&R Press. McLarin is also... Read More →


Saturday April 6, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Exeter Room - Mezzanine Level

5:30pm

Lit Lounge Cocktail Hour
Saturday April 6, 2019 5:30pm - 6:30pm
TBA

5:30pm

Writers, Agents, and Editors of Color Meet-Up
For the third year running, we're hosting a fun and casual gathering for all attendees, authors, editors, and agents at the Muse who identity as people of color, though all are welcome to join in.

Saturday April 6, 2019 5:30pm - 6:30pm
TBA

8:30pm

All-Conference Party
Join us for a relaxed and all-around awesome Mid-Muse Party, unwinding after a jam-packed Saturday. Commune with friends old and new--all Muse-goers are welcome! Cash bar. Bring your conference badge, which will serve as your admission ticket.

Saturday April 6, 2019 8:30pm - 11:00pm
Democracy Brewing 35 Temple Pl, Boston, MA 02111
 
Sunday, April 7
 

8:30am

10:00am

9A: Yeah You're Working, Building a Mystery
Limited Capacity full

Every story is a mystery, whether or not Aunt Agnes has keeled over in her porridge. What are we reading to find out? How can the slow reveal of information entice, rather than infuriate, a reader? What clues can we plant early in a story and harvest at the end? In this session, we’ll discuss the architecture and planning—the mystery building—of both literal mystery stories and their less overtly mysterious counterparts.


Presenters
avatar for Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai

Author, THE GREAT BELIEVERS
Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Great Believers, The Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for Wartime. Her short fiction won a 2017 Pushcart Prize, and was chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9B: Crossing Paths: The Map of Opportunity in Story
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One of the earliest meanings of the word “plot” is “an area or piece of ground, especially one used for some special purpose.” Whether the setting of your story is a real location, entirely invented, or somewhere in between, learning how to think about place, movement, and territoriality can help you to handle aspects of plot that worry writers, like coincidence, chance, dramatic action, and satisfying resolution. We’ll look at how the map of your story (short story, novel, play, memoir, or narrative nonfiction) can open up scenic invention and opportunities to test and reveal characters, make change plausible, and build underlying coherence and meaning.

Presenters
avatar for Lynne Barrett

Lynne Barrett

Author, MAGPIES
Lynne Barrett's third story collection Magpies received the Florida Book Awards fiction gold medal. Her handbook What Editors Want guides writers through the submissions process, and she’s editor of the nonfiction anthology Making Good Time: True Stories of How We Do (and Don’t... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9D: Public Speaking for Writers
Limited Capacity seats available

As your writerly prominence grows, opportunities to read, present, and promote your work in public become ever-more important. In this interactive class, participants will learn how to enunciate, project, and command a room. With examples from prose and poetry, participants will learn the importance of speaking with confidence to engage various audiences. You'll craft a basic 30-second elevator pitch of your work and receive helpful critiques. Come ready to listen, read, discuss the art of public speaking, and expect to leave with improved presentation skills and boosted confidence.

Presenters
avatar for Shirley Jones-Luke

Shirley Jones-Luke

Fiction Writer
Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet, a writer and a public speaker. Ms. Luke lives in Boston, Mass. She has an MA in Integrated Communications from Emerson College, an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College and an MA in English from UMass Boston. Shirley attended Writer's Workshops... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
St. James Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9E: Perfecting Voice in Historical Fiction
Limited Capacity seats available

The language we choose when writing historical fiction can either bring the past to life or spoil it for our readers. The pitfalls of wrong tone, word choice, or cadence are ever present, and yet, when we get it right, we can succeed at integrating all aspects of our story to make a distant era as real as our present day. Through close readings of Jim Shepard’s The World to Come, Paulette Jiles’ News of the World, Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train, and Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, we’ll study how authors combine contemporary and period language to build their fictional worlds. We’ll also look at examples of where it goes wrong: fussy, old-timey, or pseudo-historical language that disrupts the narrative. We’ll then consider our own writing, applying what we’ve learned as we find our own most perfect, historically inspired voice.

Presenters
avatar for Virginia Pye

Virginia Pye

Author, SHELF LIFE OF HAPPINESS
Virginia Pye is the author of two award-winning novels, Dreams of the Red Phoenix and River of Dust, and the recent story collection, Shelf Life of Happiness. Her stories, essays, and interviews have appeared in Literary Hub, The New York Times, The Rumpus, Huffington Post, The North... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9F: Launching Your Novel: The First Year
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You've sold your book - congratulations! But what happens next? Many writers enter this phase of their publishing careers with little knowledge of the publishing process or how to set up their book for success. As a debut novelist, I found myself having to learn quickly about the difference between publicists and marketers, why it's important to make yourself an expert in your book's subject matter, and how to secure events and readings for yourself.

In this lecture with plenty of room for discussion and Q&A, we'll discuss the process that led my debut novel to publication, and the steps I took to prepare my book for that magical day — pub day. Topics discussed will include building a presence on social media, finding your book's audience, book groups, reviews, your local bookstore community, and other aspects of author outreach.

Presenters
avatar for Blair Hurley

Blair Hurley

Author, THE DEVOTED
Blair Hurley received her A.B. from Princeton University and her M.F.A. from NYU. Her stories are published or forthcoming in The Georgia Review, Ninth Letter, West Branch, Mid-American Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and elsewhere. She received a 2018 Pushcart Prize and scholarships... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9G: A Trip to the Playground: How to Make Writing Fun Again
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In his memoir and craft book On Writing, Stephen King says: "When I'm writing, it's all the playground, and the worst three hours I ever spent there were still pretty damned good." But not every (adult) writer feels that way, and many think that the pleasure of writing only comes once you have a finished, polished, project. Too often we forget that the act of creation, the act of pretend, is supposed to be fun. We take it too seriously. We've lost our sense of play. In this session, we'll learn some tips and tricks to make our own writing fun again. We'll gather inspiration from writers who've spoken about enjoying the writing process. We'll discuss the role of routine and the power of community. We'll also learn how to make our self-doubt get the heck out of the way, because we're headed to the swing-sets! Me first!

Presenters
avatar for Annie Hartnett

Annie Hartnett

Author, RABBIT CAKE
Annie Hartnett's debut novel Rabbit Cake was published in 2017, and was a finalist for the New England Book Award, longlisted for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, and shortlisted for Crook's Corner Book Prize. Hartnett was the 2013-14 writer in residence for the Associates... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9H: She's Terrible, and I Love Her: On "Unlikable" Female Characters
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Female characters are often given the dreaded moniker “unlikable” compared to male counterparts with similar traits, many of whom are considered “compelling.” Writers might be tempted to force their characters into boxes they don’t fit. What's the difference between characters who are complicated vs. unlikable? When is it feedback to take to heart, and when is it reader preference? In this session, we’ll explore the origins and gender implications of the term and provide examples of writers who have "gotten away with it" and why they were able to do so. We’ll also dig into strategies to ensure character stakes and motivations are clear—and how to combat the voice in your head that tells you to make a character likable when they really just wanna be “bad.”

Presenters
avatar for Kelly J. Ford

Kelly J. Ford

Author, COTTONMOUTHS
Kelly J. Ford is the author of Cottonmouths, named one of 2017’s best books of the year by the Los Angeles Review. Her work has appeared in Black Heart Magazine, Fried Chicken and Coffee, and Knee-Jerk Magazine, and is forthcoming in Post Road Magazine. Kelly is an instructor for... Read More →
avatar for Michelle Hoover

Michelle Hoover

Author, THE QUICKENING
Michelle Hoover is the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University and teaches at GrubStreet, where she leads the Novel Incubator program. She is a 2014 NEA Fellow and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner of the PEN/New... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9I: Essentials of Flash Fiction and Nonfiction
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Flash fiction and creative non-fiction (narratives under a thousand words) are wildly popular in the internet age, yet often wildly misunderstood. This session will provide a basic overview of the key qualities of excellent flash prose, by reading flash fiction and non-fiction from multiple writers and paying close attention to craft techniques specific to flash. Participants will have an opportunity to craft their own short pieces using some of the techniques, and learn methods for revising their flash. Participants will also learn about publishing options for flash prose and where to submit completed work.

Presenters
avatar for Tyrese Coleman

Tyrese Coleman

Author, HOW TO SIT
Tyrese L. Coleman is a writer, wife, mother, attorney, and writing instructor. She is also the reviews editor at SmokeLong Quarterly, an online journal dedicated to flash fiction. An essayist and fiction writer, her flash has appeared in several publications, including PANK, Brevity... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9J: Getting Media Attention for Your Book
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Do you know how to tap into national media outlets with compelling pitches to get the word out about your novel, memoir or nonfiction book? Getting exposure on television, radio, print or on heavily trafficked sites can really move the dial in terms of sales. In this session, two seasoned authors will share tips on finding the right hooks for your book, and tailoring your message to your target media and audience. We will do an interactive exercise called “Great Pitch or Strikeout?” to learn which angles work and which ones fizzle. You will learn to begin thinking of yourself as an expert, and putting yourself in a busy producer or editor’s shoes. Come along and learn how to hone in on and emphasize your themes, even if you have yet to complete your opus.

Presenters
avatar for Lynne Griffin

Lynne Griffin

Author, GIRL SENT AWAY
Lynne Reeves Griffin is the author of the novels Girl Sent Away (SixOneSeven Books), Sea Escape (Simon & Schuster), and Life Without Summer (St Martins Press), and the nonfiction guides Let’s Talk About It: Adolescent Mental Health (SixOneSeven Books), and Negotiation Generation... Read More →
avatar for Katrin Schumann

Katrin Schumann

Author, THE FORGOTTEN HOURS
Katrin Schumann is the author of the novel The Forgotten Hours (Lake Union, 2019) and numerous nonfiction books. She is the Program Coordinator of the Key West Literary Seminar. For the past ten years she has been teaching writing, most recently at GrubStreet and in MA prisons, through... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9K: History Walks With Us: Mythology, Memory, & Fantasy in the World and in Fiction
Limited Capacity seats available

Mythology, history, and memory all play central roles in how we process the world, form narratives about our lives, and make sense of our current crises. In this lecture and discussion, we'll dive deep into how these overlapping languages can clash and collaborate to create great stories.

As an author of fantasy fiction-- both historical and contemporary-- Older is fascinated by the way we tell stories, and make mythology from the past to determine the future. We'll discuss: What do the crossroads of myth and history tell us about where we go from here? How can art and story change the world? And most importantly, how do we USE this knowledge as we return to our desks, to write our own fiction and nonfiction? Come for an engrossing, high-stakes conversation.

Presenters
avatar for Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older

Author, DACTYL HILL SQUAD
Daniel José Older is the award-winning author of both YA and adult books. His most recent book is Dactyl Hill Squad (Scholastic, 2018), his first middle grade book, which Publisher's Weekly called, "a delightful historical fantasy" in a starred review. His New York Times bestselling... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9L: Do Not Think: On Creating and Sustaining the Narrative "Dream"
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Master novelist and short story writer Richard Bausch says, "Do not think, dream. If you think you're thinking when you're writing, then think again; you're working with the dreaming side of your mind, so dream, dream, dream it through." I could not agree more. I also believe that this holds true whether you’re writing fiction or creative non-fiction and memoir, because when we explore our lives through the subjective lens of our own memories, we’re still "dreaming" our way back.

But how-- technically speaking-- does one "dream" fully and honestly, with mere words? In this session we'll lay out techniques for this approach with a bit of lecture, in-class creative writing exercises, and a constructive critique of what comes out of you, one honest word at a time.

Presenters
avatar for Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus III

Author, GONE SO LONG
Andre Dubus III is the author of seven books: The Cage Keeper and Other Stories, Bluesman, and the New York Times bestsellers, House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, Gone So Long and his memoir, Townie, a #4 New York Times bestseller and a New York Times "Editors Choice... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

10:00am

9M: Let Me Tell You a Story About My Kids (GROAN!!!)
Limited Capacity seats available

For nonfiction writers who are parents, our children are one of the most important parts of our lives, and it's natural that they'll make their way into our essays and memoirs. But crafting original and compelling nonfiction about our own children is notoriously difficult. On one hand, no one wants to read about how our kids are angels, sent from above to enrich our lives and put everything into perspective. But on the other, no one wants to listen to us gripe about our ungrateful, mouthy offspring who leave their dirty laundry everywhere.

Join this lively discussion of what makes for excellent writing about our own kids. With examples from published essays and memoirs, we'll identify the craft elements that set these works apart, and discover strategies for depicting our own kids in ways that aren't cloying, predictable, off-putting, or unethical. Come with your own essay and memoir ideas, or problems you're currently wrestling with. (But please, leave your kids at home!)

Presenters
avatar for Jane Roper

Jane Roper

Author, DOUBLE TIME
Jane Roper is the author of a memoir, Double Time: How I Survived–and Mostly Thrived–Through the First Three Years of Mothering Twins, and a novel, Eden Lake. Her short stories, essays and humor have appeared in Salon, The Millions, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Cognoscenti, Post... Read More →
avatar for Calvin Hennick

Calvin Hennick

Author, ONCE MORE TO THE RODEO
Calvin Hennick's debut memoir, Once More to the Rodeo, will be published in late 2019 by Pushcart Press. His essays, fiction, and journalism have appeared in dozens of publications, including Yahoo Parenting, Parent & Child, Esquire, Runner's World, Bellevue Literary Review, and The... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:15am
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10A: The Textures and Music of Language: Learning from Poets
Limited Capacity seats available

Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking, wrote Paul Valery, and in this session we will explore how prose writers can pick up a few dance moves from poets. By looking closely at the stories and memoirs of poets such as Gregory Pardlo, Beth Ann Fennelly and Natasha Tretheway, we will consider what it means to pay attention to music and imagery, form and figurative language, and how we can apply these tools to the worlds of fiction and non-fiction. Through a mixture of lecture and guided writing exercises, participants can expect to leave this session writing prose that sounds anything but prosaic.

Presenters
avatar for Ben Berman

Ben Berman

Author, THEN AGAIN
Ben Berman’s first book, Strange Borderlands, chronicled his time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zimbabwe and won the 2014 Peace Corps Award for Best Book of Poetry and was a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Awards. His second book of poems, Figuring in the Figure, turned its... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10B: Releasing Yourself from the Clutches of the Green-Eyed Monster: Dealing with Envy in the Writing World
Limited Capacity filling up

Whether you're just beginning as a writer or have published widely, it may seem that everyone else is getting what you want or think you deserve. As writers, we can feel jealous when writers we know—or sometimes don’t know—publish work, sign book contracts, win awards, and receive praise. These feelings of jealousy can potentially derail us and prevent us from fully engaging with our own work. In this workshop, we’ll lead participants in a discussion about writer envy as well as share tips for how we can release ourselves from the clutches of the green-eyed monster. We’ll talk about ways to turn jealous energy into something that can help us thrive AND help us celebrate the successes of others. We’ll incorporate a short exercise in self-reflection and make space for other people to share their stories about what has helped them deal with writer envy.

Presenters
avatar for Patrice Gopo

Patrice Gopo

Author, ALL THE COLORS WE WILL SEE
Patrice Gopo is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, and she was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. Her essays have appeared in a variety of literary journals and other publications, including Creative Nonfiction, Gulf Coast, Full Grown People, and online in The New York Times... Read More →
avatar for Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan

Author, THE BODY PAPERS
Grace Talusan is a writer and writing teacher. As a child, she immigrated to the United States from the Philippines with her parents. She has published essays, longform journalism, fiction and book reviews in Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Boston Magazine, Boston Globe, The Rumpus... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10C: Literary Idol: Fiction Focus
Limited Capacity filling up

Important: Please read this description carefully before signing up, and bring all necessary materials to the session if you wish to have your work read aloud.

In this freewheeling session, a trained actor will perform the first page of YOUR unpublished fiction manuscript for the audience and a panel of three judges. The judges are agents and editors with years of experience reading unsolicited submissions. When one of the judges hears a line that would make her stop reading, she will raise her hand. The reader will keep reading until a second judge raises his hand. The judges will then discuss WHY they would stop reading, and offer concrete (if subjective) suggestions to the anonymous author. If no judge raises his/her hand, the judges will discuss what made the excerpt work so well. All excerpts will be evaluated anonymously, though, at the end of the session, a winner will be chosen from the group of excerpts that did not elicit any raised hands, and that winner will receive a free GrubStreet membership. Please bring THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript (fiction only, please) double-spaced, to the session, TITLED, with its GENRE marked clearly at the top. You will leave it in a box at the front of the room, and the manuscript will be chosen randomly by the reader. (Unfortunately, given the volume of submissions, we can not guarantee that yours will be read aloud).

This is a fun event that aims to be respectful of your work and illuminate the process an agent goes through when she receives a new piece of fiction. The point is not to get through as many writers as possible, but to thoughtfully evaluate the work at hand and offer concrete suggestions from which all could benefit. Please be aware that some lines may cause laughter or scorn; in other words, this session is not for the thin-skinned!

Presenters
avatar for Sorche Fairbank

Sorche Fairbank

Literary Agent, Fairbank Literary
A small, selective agency and member of AAR, the Author's Guild, the Agents Round Table, PEN, and Grub Street's Literary Advisory Council, Fairbank Literary Representation is happily in its seventeenth year. Clients range from first-time authors to international best-sellers, prize... Read More →
avatar for Serene Hakim

Serene Hakim

Literary Agent, Ayesha Pande Literary
Prior to joining Ayesha Pande Literary in 2015, Serene Hakim worked at Laura Gross Literary Agency in Boston. Serene holds an M.A. in French to English translation from NYU and a B.A. in French and Women’s Studies from the University of Kansas. Born to Lebanese immigrants in the... Read More →
avatar for Steve Macone

Steve Macone

Nonfiction Writer
Steve Macone is a former headline contributor at The Onion. His essays, humor writing, and reporting have also appeared in the American Scholar, New York Times, Atlantic, New Yorker, Boston Globe Magazine, Morning News, VICE and Salon. His work has been featured on NPR, Longreads... Read More →
avatar for Kiana Nguyen

Kiana Nguyen

Literary Agent, Donald Maass Literary Agency
Kiana Nguyen joined Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2016, where she assisted several agents, and is now building her own client list. She is seeking YA fiction across genres, particularly those with POC and queer voices. She is also interested in Adult romance and domestic suspense... Read More →
avatar for Steve Woodward

Steve Woodward

Editor, Graywolf Press
Steve Woodward is an editor at Graywolf Press, where he has edited books of literary fiction and nonfiction by authors including Anna Burns, Jamel Brinkley, Daisy Johnson, Esmé Weijun Wang, Mark Doten, Angela Palm, Benjamin Percy, Susan Steinberg, and others. Authors he has worked... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10D: Stealing from Sports: Using Sports Training Techniques to Get More Out of Your Writing Life
Limited Capacity seats available

If you’re the rare writer who hasn’t ever wrestled with motivation, confidence, and time-management skills, then stop reading right now. But if you’ve had trouble sitting down at the desk, or staying there, or concentrating on your own words, or if you’ve been struck by a bad case of the impostor complex, then this class is for you. We'll discuss motivation-boosting techniques every writer can borrow from that seemingly unlikely source: sports. No matter what your experience with exercise, you’ll learn how to use an athlete’s tools like interval training, periodization, and the concept of training zones to help you embark on and complete your writing project. You'll leave the session with a plan for how to accomplish your short-term and long-term goals.

Presenters
avatar for Henriette Lazaridis

Henriette Lazaridis

Author, THE CLOVER HOUSE
Henriette Lazaridis' debut novel The Clover House was published by Ballantine Books in 2013 and was a Boston Globe bestseller and a Target Emerging Authors pick. Her work has appeared in publications including ELLE, Narrative Magazine, Salamander, New England Review, The Millions... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10F: Op-ed Writing for Novelists and Nonfiction Writers: Making Your Voice Heard in Polarizing Times
Limited Capacity seats available

Writing commentary is an art form, akin to crafting an essay. It helps even beginning fiction and nonfiction writers get first publication credits, and make their voices heard on the issues of the day before a wide audience. Write a few op-eds for national publications, and TV and radio shows might come calling.

Competition to get on the op-ed page is fiercer now, because so many writers want to make their views heard and inspire change. So how do you get an editor to choose YOUR op-ed out of the pack? In this hands-on workshop, we'll discuss: How do you get started? What grabs the attention of op-ed editors at the New York Times and other places? You’ll brainstorm ideas, write a top of a commentary, and get tips on how to get op-eds published from an experienced op-ed writer and author.

Presenters
avatar for Linda K. Wertheimer

Linda K. Wertheimer

Author, FAITH ED: TEACHING ABOUT RELIGION IN AN AGE OF INTOLERANCE
Linda K. Wertheimer is the award-winning author of Faith Ed, Teaching About Religion In An Age of Intolerance. While Linda is a veteran journalist and a former Boston Globe education editor, don’t confuse her with the Other Linda of NPR. During her nearly 30-year journalism career... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10G: Improve Your Freelance Game
Limited Capacity seats available

Freelance writing can be hard, but also a gratifying and a fulfilling career path for a writer. In this session, we'll discuss how to find freelance jobs, how to pitch essays and features, how to use your network, and how to make freelancing workable for you.

Through writing exercises and discussion, we'll discuss pitching, identifying and pursuing writerly topics you care about, and the practical concerns of managing timelines and budgets. This workshop is open to writers of all levels, and is especially geared toward writers of color and underrepresented writers who may not have considered freelance writing as a viable career choice.

Presenters
avatar for Willona Sloan

Willona Sloan

Nonfiction Writer
Willona Sloan is a writer and literary host from Washington, DC. She has published in literary journals such as BlazeVOX, Bohemia, The Rumpus, Remolinos (blog of riverSedge) and Words Apart.As a literary host, Willona has led writing workshops and literary events in the U.S., Canada... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10H: Scene CPR
Limited Capacity filling up

The writer Sandra Scofield describes a “pulse” – that spark that makes the story come alive – as a vital element to all scenes. But what is a “pulse,” and how can a writer ensure each scene has one? How can we write in such a way that our characters come to life, that a scene breathes emotion and urgency, while moving the plot forward and keeping tension taut?

Using published examples and exercises, we will look at the scene both as a discrete unit with its own internal dynamics, and in terms of its function in the plot of a novel or memoir. You will come away from this class with a checklist to help you determine whether a given scene in your manuscript passes the pulse test – and if not, how to bring it to life.

Presenters
avatar for Lisa Borders

Lisa Borders

Author, THE FIFTY-FIRST STATE
lisaborders.com.">Lisa Borders’ second novel, The Fifty-First State, was published by Engine Books in 2013. Her first novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land, was chosen by Pat Conroy as the winner of River City Publishing’s Fred Bonnie Award, and received fiction honors in the 2003 Massachusetts... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10I: Killer First Sentences
Limited Capacity seats available

We've all had those drafts that seem to start strong, but slowly whimper out. Sometimes the issue is that the opening doesn't contain the narrative jet fuel to take us the distance. The opening has to establish the kind of organic pattern that will see us through to the end of the narrative.

In this class discussion/guided writing, we will examine those crucial beginnings. We will examine the fundamentals of narrative art by looking at killer first sentences that build momentum for novels or short stories. We will discuss technique and form by studying examples from enduring literary works. Lastly, in the session we will write and workshop your original openings.

Presenters
avatar for Spencer Wise

Spencer Wise

Author, THE EMPEROR OF SHOES
Spencer Wise is the author of the novel, The Emperor of Shoes (HarperCollins, 2018). In addition to working at a shoe factory in South China, Spencer Wise has professional experience ranging from gutting chickens and selling ginsu knives to editorial work at Sports Illustrated and... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10J: Sizing Up Your Publishing Prospects: What do Literary Magazines *Really* Want?
Limited Capacity seats available

Editors say that before submitting to their literary magazine, you should read a recent issue. That's because even they can't adequately describe what they're looking for. Just read their submission guidelines! But even after you read an issue, how can tell if a magazine is right for your work?

In this session, we'll use four prominent literary magazines as models for mining unwritten submission guidelines-- meaning what editors really publish in terms of style and subjects. From the editors of those magazines, we'll share publishing statistics, break-in genres, as well as personal pet peeves, guilty pleasures, and other insider tips. Not only will you leave knowing how to find the magazines right for your work, you might go home with a magazine, too.

Presenters
avatar for Jenn Scheck-Kahn

Jenn Scheck-Kahn

Author, Journal of the Month
Jenn Scheck-Kahn is a writer and instructor and the founder of Journal of the Month, a subscription service that delivers an assortment of print literary magazines. Her prose has placed in contests hosted by the Atlantic and Glimmer Train and has appeared in a number of literary journals... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10K: How to Sell a Memoir If You Aren’t a Celebrity or a Politician
Limited Capacity filling up

The memoir market is more competitive than ever. Two dozen agents told me my memoir was beautiful but no publisher would buy it because I wasn’t a celebrity. Instead of getting discouraged, I retooled my approach, found an agent, and got a publishing deal.

In this session, I’ll unpack how I turned things around. I’ll discuss how I framed my memoir as more than just a personal narrative by identifying and amplifying themes that resonate with cultural conversation. We'll broaden the scope by looking at other successes, including Educated, by Tara Westover; Sick, by Porochista Khakpour; and The Fact of a Body, by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. A handout will show passages where each writer rose above her personal narrative to address a contemporary cultural conversation. By the end of the session, you’ll see your material from a fresh perspective. You’ll walk away with concrete examples of how to up your memoir game and carve a path toward publication.

Presenters
avatar for Catherine Guthrie

Catherine Guthrie

Author, FLAT
Catherine Guthrie is a memoirist and an award-winning magazine journalist. Her new memoir, FLAT: Reclaiming My Body From Breast Cancer, debuted in September 2018 from Skyhorse Publishing. Catherine is a graduate of GrubStreet's Memoir Incubator (class of 2014-15) and is the first... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10E: Magic Carpet: Creating a Sense of Place in Fiction
Limited Capacity seats available

In this interactive, hands-on workshop, participants will learn how to weave together the three strands of plot/emotion, place, and character into a single, gripping scene. They will be equipped to engage the five senses in creating a sense of place to transport readers directly into the scene. Participants will write in class and get feedback on the spot from the instructor in a guided, positive discussion.

Presenters
avatar for Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins

Author, FORWARD ME BACK TO YOU
Mitali Perkins has written twelve novels for young people, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award), Rickshaw Girl (a New York Public Library top 100 books for children in 100 years; film coming soon), and Tiger Boy (winner of the South Asia Book... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

10L: Researching Into the Void
Limited Capacity full

Unless every character you write is exactly like you, fiction involves writing across difference. Those differences might be ones of identity and demographics, or they might be ones of knowledge, experience, setting, and historical era. With so much valid concern and debate around the touchy issue of appropriation, writers can find themselves crippled by fears: Do I have permission to write this? What if I get it horrible wrong? Even if I do it well, will people be upset that I wrote outside my own life?

Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers is a novel that took the author far outside her own lived experience and her own identity, and in this talk she will share not only the essential questions she asked herself as she wrote, but the strategies—of research, of craft, and of publishing—she arrived at by the end. We’ll discuss techniques for researching lives unlike our own, for approaching filter readers, and for making sure we’ve done our approached our characters with the respect they deserve.


Presenters
avatar for Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai

Author, THE GREAT BELIEVERS
Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Great Believers, The Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for Wartime. Her short fiction won a 2017 Pushcart Prize, and was chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 11:30am - 12:45pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

1:00pm

Marketplace Keynote: “Writing While Working”
We all want writerly achievement, but how can we find it while doing the necessary daily labor of earning money, studying, caring for family, and managing the unexpected-yet-inevitable Life Things that come our way? It's an age-old problem, but we hope to address this tension in a lively, fresh, and REAL way. Come ready for a lively, provocative conversation.

Moderators
avatar for Rani Neutill

Rani Neutill

Nonfiction Writer
Rani is a dog and TV obsessed writer, thinker, book lover and vintage clothes collector. Her favorite city is Baltimore, MD. She was a professor of Ethnic American and Postcolonial Literature at institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and Johns Hopkins University. Her work has appeared... Read More →

Presenters
avatar for Mira Jacob

Mira Jacob

Author, GOOD TALK: CONVERSATIONS I'M STILL CONFUSED ABOUT
Mira Jacob is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, which was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick, shortlisted for India’s Tata First Literature Award, and longlisted for the Brooklyn Literary Eagles Prize. In addition, it received... Read More →
avatar for Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older

Author, DACTYL HILL SQUAD
Daniel José Older is the award-winning author of both YA and adult books. His most recent book is Dactyl Hill Squad (Scholastic, 2018), his first middle grade book, which Publisher's Weekly called, "a delightful historical fantasy" in a starred review. His New York Times bestselling... Read More →
avatar for Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai

Author, THE GREAT BELIEVERS
Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Great Believers, The Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for Wartime. Her short fiction won a 2017 Pushcart Prize, and was chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four... Read More →
avatar for Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Author, WE CAST A SHADOW
Maurice Carlos Ruffin has been a recipient of an Iowa Review Award in fiction and a winner of the William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for Novel-in-Progress. His work has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, AGNI, The Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review... Read More →


Sunday April 7, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm
TBA