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2017 Writers Conference Presentations


Fanfiction: What it isn’t, What it is, and What to do with it - Joan Petrusky

Lev Grossman, author of the “The Magician” television series and writer for TIME Magazine, said of fanfiction, “The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They're fans, but they're not silent, couch bound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.” Fanfiction is the amateur writing of stories using characters and world building that have already been created by someone else, in ways that the original authors might never have intended. It’s not new though, and arguments can be made that much of the professionally made media we consume today is some sort of fanfiction. Join us as we examine the history of fanfiction, what fanfic writers are up to today, their relationship to professional authors, and the elements of writing and learning to write fiction that come into play. 

Su FlattMaking a 'Zine -  Su Flatt

Participants will be given a short history of 'zines and 'zine culture followed by instructions on 'zine making. Everyone will construct a mini-zine that they can take with them and several templates for larger projects. 







Cynthia RosiWriting the Invisible: Creating Spiritual Memoir - Cynthia Rosi

Writing about spiritual development and growth is tricky. It’s easy to lapse into the dialect of scripture and rely on the great texts that have inspired your path. On top of that, the developments of the spirit are necessarily ephemeral and contain big-concept words like love, beauty and sacrifice. How does a writer convey the mental, emotional and physical shifts that accompany spiritual growth? In this presentation, you will learn the value of anchoring the spiritual world into physical description, and to widen that lens to encompass the experience of other writers. As in painting, shadow helps to underscore the bright, so in writing, an opposite point of view can create the same effect in spiritual memoir.



Yolanda SandersEditing: The Necessary Evil — If You Want to See Your Work in Print - Yolonda Tonette Sanders

After months, or maybe even years, of working on your story, you finally get to the end only to discover that there’s more work to be done! Whether you go the traditional publishing route or you self-publish, editing is an important part of the process. Some people get discouraged at this point and abandon their entire project because the process of editing is so overwhelming. This workshop focuses on editing basics in order to help stories become “print ready.” Guests will learn the dos and don’ts of editing as well as the qualities to look for in an editor. Participants are encouraged to bring a 2-3-page sample of their own work. There will be an opportunity to receive feedback from their peers and the facilitator.




How to Expand a Second: The Practice of Slow Writing in Creative Nonfiction - Elizabeth Dark

The rewards for pausing and hovering over a thought aren’t easily quantifiable. Writers feel tremendous pressure to crank out sentences at a rapid pace, and, as a result, we often choose immediate reaction over thoughtful prose. But the fast rate at which we produce work can also be the rate at which our work is forgotten.

We are writers, though. Our job is to remember and ponder, and our readers need us to occasionally offer memorable works that will leave them pondering as well. We need to be contemplative in our writing-- not to be obscure, but to be accurate.

How do we write something that endures beyond a Facebook post and a few dozen likes? Beyond some retweets and hearts? Annie Dillard wrote, ““Push it. Examine all things intensely and relentlessly. Probe and search each object in a piece of art. Do not leave it, do not course over it, as if it were understood, but instead follow it down until you see it in the mystery of its own specificity and strength.” Slow writing is certainly not the only act of resistance to the onslaught of words we give and receive, but it marks a good place to start. 

In this hour, we will define slow writing. We will make a case for it, offer examples of it, and then select moments from our lives that are asking us to try it out. Participants will leave the hour with new material from which to build new writing.


Cynthia RosiSustaining Suspense in the Mystery Novel - Cynthia Rosi

The mystery novel relies on engaging the reader from first sentence to the last. If the reader stops guessing, the book no longer holds its thrill. However, it’s wrong to imagine that an entirely plot-driven novel will work. Good writing and what the reader learns are equally important in holding attention. This presentation explores how a writer can lay a trail of golden apples for the reader through themes, motifs, morals, and patterns that create tension on each page. It will also discuss the value of research and including a theme which allows the reader to learn about a little-explored aspect of life.

Participants will write a scene from a mystery novel in which they will include an obscure setting or surprise element. Then they will examine the scene’s beginning, middle, and end to ensure that tension is written into each segment. After that, they will explore how to create even more tension in the piece, and how this might fit into a larger work.


Sandee HemphillNight Shift Authors: How to Write Around Your Day Job - Sandee L. Hemphill   

NEWSFLASH: There are no cookie-cutter authors. The variety of titles and genres are evidence of this fact. Each author starts from a different station in life and with varying responsibilities. Therefore, your writing ritual may not mirror that of any other author. Let's be realistic. Writing a book is not an easy task. However, it is doable. You CAN write a highly successful book as you hold down a day job. The key is to arm yourself with the right tools and techniques needed to successfully complete the writing task.   

Do you have a few quirky writing rituals? Who doesn't? You'll find out that other authors may have rituals that are even more bizarre. Yet in the end, each of you can publish a marketable book. In this workshop we'll examine a variety of writing habits and tools to make your writing journey productive. Subsequently, your overall writing satisfaction will improve.    



Kelly SagertPlaywriting 101: Fifteen Can-Do Tips - Kelly Boyer Sagert

This fun, interactive presentation will help writers to create a plan for writing their first play as they learn insider tips that take them from beginning (orienting their play in a specific point in time) to end (working with directors and watching their plays being performed). Kelly Boyer Sagert is a fulltime freelance writer with 27 years of experience, and she has been commissioned to write four plays to date. Freedom’s Light: A Stop Along the Underground Railroad was nominated for Ohio’s Governor’s Awards for the Arts and another served as the basis for the PBS documentary, Trail Magic: The Grandma Gatewood Story where she received PBS writing credits. Her other two plays are Sisters Forever: The Burrell Family Letters and Come In and Play: The Cleveland Metroparks Anniversary Game.

The writing exercise will focus on each participant identifying the “burning question” that will serve as the focal point of his or her play.  



Rob PriceSelf-Publishing 101 - Rob Price

We will discuss include traditional publishing versus self-publishing, print edition and eBook basics, and the four phases of book publishing (editorial, production, distribution, and marketing).