Upcoming events

    • November 29, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL
    Register

    Sex is a messy business, and writing about it can be even messier! What words do we use, what words don't we use? How much should we expose? Should we tease? Go all the way? And what will our mothers (husbands, daughters, wives, partners, children, bosses, employees, pastors) think? 

    This workshop will explore ways to get it on...the page, that is. Literary models and writing activities will make us laugh a little, blush a little, and be willing to write a lot.

    Booklist calls Patricia Ann McNair “an irresistible personal essayist of refreshing candor, vibrant openheartedness, rueful humor, and unassuming wisdom.” Her essay collection, And These Are the Good Times, was named as a finalist for the Montaigne Medal, as one of the most thought-provoking books of 2017. Her short story collection, The Temple of Air, received the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award, Southern Illinois University’s Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award, and the Society of Midland Authors Finalist Award. Her work is published widely, in journals,  

     magazines, anthologies, and textbooks on writing. She has received numerous Illinois Arts Council Awards and teaches in the English and Creative Writing Department Graduate and Undergraduate Programs at Columbia College Chicago where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award and was nominated for the Carnegie Foundation’s US Professor of the Year Award. In her past lives, she sold pots and pans door to door, tended bar, managed a gas station, breaded mushrooms, taught aerobics and worked on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program


    • December 06, 2018
    • 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL
    Register

    Screenwriter Mary Ruth Clark, co-writer of Meet the Parents and script doctor to many, leads a workshop for screenwriters, novelists and memoirists on the art and craft of writing cinematic scenes. Scenes are comprised of what an audience will see and what it will hear. Learning how to tell a story in this external reality is the screenwriter's most basic craft—and it can dramatically improve the page-turning qualities of a novel or memoir, too. 

    In this workshop, Mary Ruth Clark discusses the craft of screenwriting, then analyses the cinematic potential of member-submitted, 1-2 page scenes. Please email these scenes to ocww.info@gmail.com by November 22 in order to be included in the handout and discussion.

    Mary Ruth Clarke co-wrote and starred in the original “Meet the Parents” and co-adapted it into the blockbuster version, starring Robert De Niro. Her screenplay “Chimney Rock” is under option, and she has been a script doctor for many screenplays, including “A Guy Thing” and “Desperation Boulevard.”

    She teaches screenwriting and writing for television at Chicago Dramatists, where she is a resident playwright. She is also a regular guest lecturer at the Chicago Screenwriter’s Network monthly meet up.  Her plays have been produced by The Agape Actors Co-op in Austin, Texas, the Beacon Theater in Philadelphia, the Provision Theater in Chicago and Meta Theater in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Writer’s Guide of America East and the Dramatists Guild.

    6-6:30 Socializing 6:30-08:30 Program
    • December 13, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

     

    In fiction, character is indelibly tied to the story.  As one deepens and develops, so does the other.  In this session, we’ll move past the basics of fictional characters into further investigations of how to best create compelling and original people in your pages.  We’ll focus on such questions as: How can we use dialogue as an essential tool for revealing character?  How do conflict and change in the story’s plot push characters toward memorable actions and decisions?  What’s the best way to write a character who is a lot like you?  What about one who is not?  In this discussion, I’ll offer strategies for taking your characters to the next level of believable complexity.  We’ll read some short excerpts and try a few written exercises, so bring a paper and pen (or a computer).

    Emily Gray Tedrowe is the author of the novels COMMUTERS, BLUE STARS, and the forthcoming THE PRICE OF ART.  She has received awards from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Ragdale Foundation, VCCA, and the Illinois Arts Council.  Her short fiction has appeared in the Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Journal as well as in Fifty-Two Stories, Other Voices, Crab Orchard Review, and other journals.  Her book reviews regularly appear in USA Today.  Originally from New York City, Tedrowe now lives in Chicago where she teaches English and creative writing at DePaul University. Photo credit to Marion Ettlinger

    Emily will accept up to 5 manuscripts for critique on a first come first chosen basis. Please see manuscript guidelines. 

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • December 20, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register


    Jane Hertenstein leads us in a special Flash Fiction and Memoir workshop and contest. We'll get a flash course in writing flash, then Jane will turn us loose to write 500 words or less, fiction or memoir, on something related to holiday experiences. A week later, member participants are invited to submit their final drafts to Jane, who will select up to three entries to feature in the OCWW newsletter.

    Jane Hertenstein is the author of over 80 published stories both macro and micro: fiction, creative non-fiction, and blurred genre. In addition she has published a YA novel, Beyond Paradise and a non-fiction project, Orphan Girl: The Memoir of a Chicago Bag Lady, which garnered national reviews. Jane is the recipient of a grant from the Illinois Arts Council. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Hunger Mountain, Rosebud, Word Riot, Flashquake, Fiction Fix, Frostwriting, and several themed anthologies. Her latest book is Cloud of Witnesses from Golden Alley Press. She teaches a workshop on Flash Memoir and can be found blogging at http://memoirouswrite.blogspot.com/

     9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • December 27, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Humor is a quality all too frequently absent from even the best writing, as if “funny” and “deep” are mutually exclusive. In this single-session workshop led by Rebekah Frumkin (THE COMEDOWN), we will learn how to cast off our notions of literary propriety and make our readers laugh.

    We will familiarize ourselves with various techniques of humor writing, including parody, farce, hyperbole, incongruity, irony, and puns. We will learn how writers have used gallows humor to face hopeless situations and political humor to face election results. You have a chance to experiment in a writing exercise and with will leave with some funny words of your own, a better understanding of what makes readers chuckle, and a goofy grin plastered across your face.

    Rebekah Frumkin is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University, where she teaches fiction writing to grads and undergrads. Her fiction, nonfiction, and journalism have appeared or are forthcoming in Granta, Pacific Standard, McSweeney’s, Catapult, and the Best American Nonrequired Reading, among other publications. Her well-reviewed debut novel, The Comedown, was published by Henry Holt in April 2018. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and an MSJ from the Medill School of Journalism. She is the recipient of the Richard E. Guthrie Memorial Grant and the Meta Rosenberg Fellowship for her fiction.

    She has taught fiction writing at the University of Iowa and currently teaches creative writing at Open Books in Chicago. She also works as a freelance reporter for the Social Justice News Nexus and In These Times

     9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • January 03, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    In this two workshop series, members will receive instruction on writing collaborative fiction and  OCWW member teams will be led through the process of creating a cohort-sourced novel by an award-winning author and celebrated instructor.

    Workshop #1: Explaining and Starting the Process

     Collaborating on an Episodic Novel

    Jay Rehak

    In this two workshop series, members will receive instruction on writing collaborative fiction and OCWW member-teams will be led through the process of creating a team-written novel by Award-winning author and celebrated teacher, Jay Rehak.

    Workshop #1: Explaining and Starting the Process

     Award-winning author and celebrated teacher Jay Rehak takes participants through the step by step process of creating and publishing collaborative fiction, then organizes and begins the process for the OCWW members signing on to write their own section of a team-written novel.

    This session is appropriate for anyone interested in collaborative fiction. Toward the end of the session members will have the option to continue on with the project. (Workshop #2, on pulling together and publishing team-written fiction will be on April 18, 2019)

    Jay Rehak has been a writing teacher for 32 years; he is the author of 27 produced short plays and has co-written 13 novels with his students and friends. Honored as the 2014 Chicago Public Schools Tech Innovator of the year, Jay has spoken at numerous educational conferences around the country; his TedX Northwestern talk, “How to Teach Empathy through Collaborative Writing” is available on YouTube. In 2013, Mr. Rehak created and co-authored the award winning 30 Days to Empathy, the world’s first high school class sourced novel.  Subsequently, Jay collaborated with his students, writing and publishing Someone Else’s Shoes, The Absolutely Awesome Adventures of Internet Ed, and The Long, Strange Trip of Augie Stone. Additionally, his non-fiction work, How to Write a Class-Sourced Novel has been used by teachers around the world to create their own collaborative novels. He is currently working on Sideline Ink, the second book of his middle grade novel series, which helps promote financial and social emotional literacy.  All of Jay’s works are available on Amazon at  http://bit.ly/jaycrehak. Jay is married to award winning children’s singer, Susan Salidor and he has three children, Hope, Hannah and Ali. Additional biographical information can be found at www.sidelineinkpublishing.com.

     9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • January 10, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    In this fun, optimistic, interactive workshop, we will explore 21 expected and unexpected strategies, tools and avenues to publish writing. Writers will explore a wide spectrum of places to submit work, how to set submissions up for success and how to query and pitch like a pro. This workshop is applicable to short and long form, fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry, and supports writers of all experience levels.

    Sara Connell is a Chicago based writer. She has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The View and NPR. She received the Judith Dawn Memorial Grant for fiction and has presented at Northwestern University, Printer's Row Literary Festival, Chicago Writers Association, Chicago Women in Publishing and teaches at Story Studio Chicago. Her writing has appeared in: the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, TriQuarterly, and Mindful Metropolis. Her first book Bringing In Finn was nominated for ELLE magazine Book of the Year.

    No manuscripts

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • January 17, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Whether you've written 100 short stories or none, you'll benefit from this workshop on the structure, essential elements, how to make them your own, why they are important, where to send your work, and the research that goes into that, and more!

    Richard Thomas is the author of three novels, three short story collections, a novella and more than100 short stories. He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of four anthologies: Exigencies (Shirley Jackson finalist) and The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk (finalist for the Bram Stoker Award). In his spare time he is a columnist at LitReactor and Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. He has taught at LitReactor, the University of Iowa, StoryStudio Chicago, and in Transylvania. Richard's novels include Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), and Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications).

    No manuscripts

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • January 24, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Stuart Dybek says endings, like other elements of the storytelling craft, starts with strategy. In this program, we look at the closure strategies and innovations of the writers who shaped the modern story, including Poe, Chekov, Joyce, Wolff and Hemingway.

    Stuart Dybek's The Start of Something: Selected Stories by Stuart Dybek was published by Jonathan Cape/Vintage in 2016, and two new collections of fiction, Ecstatic Cahoots and Paper Lantern, were published simultaneously by FSG in June 2014. Dybek’s previous books of fiction are Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, The Coast of Chicago, and I Sailed with Magellan. He has also published two volumes of poetry, Brass Knuckles and Streets In Their Own Ink. His work is widely anthologized and appears in publications such as The New Yorker, Harpers, The Atlantic, Tin House, Granta, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Dybek is the recipient of many literary awards including the PEN/Bernard Malamud Prize for “distinguished achievement in the short story”, a Lannan Award, the Academy Institute Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Harold Washington Literary Award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and four O’Henry Prizes. 

    His work has appeared in Best American Poetry and in Best American Fiction. In 2007, he was awarded both a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Rea Award for the Short Story. He is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • January 31, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    You want to write about a moment from your past, but you worry about what your real life characters, your readers, and your inner critic will say. How can you write the truth when there's so much at stake? In this workshop, led by memoirist and personal essayist, Nadine Kenney Johnstone, you will learn why it’s crucial for writers to speak their truth in their writing. In this session, you will read published examples of truthful writing and learn how to write about yourself and your characters in a way that it is both fair and honest.

    Nadine Kenney Johnstone is the author of the memoir, Of This Much I'm Sure, which was named Book of the Year by the Chicago Writers Association. Her infertility story has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Today’s Parent, MindBodyGreen, Metro, and Chicago Health Magazine, among others. She teaches at Loyola University and received her MFA from Columbia College in Chicago. Her other work has been featured in various magazines and anthologies, including Chicago Magazine, PANK, and The Magic of Memoir. Nadine is a writing coach who presents at conferences internationally. She lives near Chicago with her family. Follow her at nadinekenneyjohnstone.com.

    Nadine will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see Manuscript Guidelines on our website.


    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • February 07, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    In real life, we’re polite, repetitive, and a lot of what we say is unnecessary filler. Which means that the more “realistic” our dialogue, the less it serves our fiction. 

    How do we break our own learned conversational habits to craft dialogue that not only convinces but also moves the story forward and oozes subtext? In this craft class, we will look at examples from some of the masters of dialogue, and discuss what makes them work. We’ll also discuss craft details such as pacing, avoiding awkward speech tags, and maintaining longer speeches (monologues) – as well as the larger issue of giving each character a distinct and consistent voice. 

    Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the highly acclaimed novel, The Great Believers, the story collection, Music for Wartime, as well as the novels The Hundred-Year House (a BookPage “Best Book” of 2014 and winner of the Chicago Writers Association Award) and The Borrower (a Booklist Top Ten Debut). Her short fiction was featured in The Best American Short Stories anthology in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and appears regularly in publications such as Harper’s, Tin House and Ploughshares, and on public radio’s This American Life and Selected Shorts. The recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, Rebecca has taught at the Tin House Writers' Conference, Northwestern University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

    No manuscripts

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • February 14, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Conquer your public speaking fears and polish your presentation skills with John S. Green as he shares strategies and tips for a successful book reading. You will learn how to prepare your materials and yourself to focus on the heart of what you are reading. John will explain, then demonstrate his techniques and give feedback to attendees who volunteer to read a short excerpt. Please come prepared with something to read if you wish to take a turn at the podium.

    John S. Green is an award-winning writer. His play, The Liquid Moon, won Chicago’s Jeff and After Dark Awards and was nominated for the Pulitzer. He won the Guild Complex: Leon Forrest Prose Award for his short story, The Me Zone, and a Chicago Jeff Award for Best Actor in Of Mice and Men.  

    No manuscripts

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • February 21, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register
    Join New York Times bestselling author Jay Bonansinga for a fun, informative, rousing session on the evolution of storytelling techniques.  Learn the inside scoop on selling your manuscript in this post-literate world of kindles and kooks!

    In the world of fiction, Jay Bonansinga has established himself as a fixture in the genres of horror and suspense.  He is the New York Times bestselling author of THE WALKING DEAD novels (four volumes in collaboration with the creator of the franchise, Robert Kirkman, and four volumes as solo author).  He is also the author of fourteen original novels, including the Bram Stoker finalist THE BLACK MARIAH (1994), the International Thriller Writers Award finalist SHATTERED (2007), the acclaimed YA horror novel, LUCID (2015), and Jay’s latest horror opus, SELF STORAGE (2016).  Jay’s work has been translated into sixteen languages, and he has been called “one of the most imaginative writers of thrillers” by the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.


    No manuscripts

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • February 28, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    From Rick Bass’s lyrical descriptions of ice in “The Hermit’s Tale” to uncanny fertility dolls in Lesley Nneka Arimah’s “Who Will Greet You at Home,” images, when done well and consciously shaped into a pattern, can make a story unforgettable and mysterious. In this prose session, we'll explore the mechanics behind the magic, including how to use images to structure your narrative, to transition in time and space, and to modulate setting, pace, and voice. We’ll study the works of several image-driven stories. We'll also write our own pieces, attempting to pull something altogether unexpected from our magician’s hats.

    Rachel Swearingen’s stories have appeared in VICEThe Missouri Review, Kenyon Review, Agni, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. Her work has garnered several awards, including the 2015 Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Fiction, a 2013 MacDowell Colony fellowship, a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and lives in Chicago.

    No manuscripts


    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • March 07, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    When people are struggling to write short fiction, the problem usually begins with the idea. It often leads to a story that is too long, really the beginning of a novel, or is so simplistic that it is dull. In this workshop, we'll walk through how to create and structure a short story idea.

    Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of The Glamourist Histories series, Ghost Talkers, and the Lady Astronaut duology. She’s a member of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses and has received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo awards, and the RT Reviews award for Best Fantasy Novel. Her stories appear in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, and several Year’s Best anthologies. Mary, a professional puppeteer, also performs as a voice actor (SAG/AFTRA), recording fiction for authors including Seanan McGuire, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Visit maryrobinettekowal.com

    No manuscripts

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • March 14, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Storytelling revolves around characters and the things they must overcome—conflict. When novels fail to find a publisher, it's often because they don't have enough conflict. In this session, editor/author Kelly McNees outlines different sources of conflict and how to use them to make your story more scintillating, from first page to last.

    Kelly O'Connor McNees began her editorial career at Harper Collins and the University of Michigan Press. She launched Word Bird Editorial Services in 2008, and has helped writers of all stripes—including a CIA agent, a musician, a New York City bartender, a newspaper columnist, a dentist, an organic farmer, an art house cinema owner, and many, many others—improve their writing and pursue their publication goals. Kelly is the author of Undiscovered Country (coming in 2018), The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, In Need of a Good Wife, and The Island of Doves. She is passionate about coaching writers and troubleshooting manuscripts to help them succeed. 

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • March 21, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register


    Agents Abby Saul (adult fiction) and Tina Schwartz (YA, children's literature, non-fiction) reprise last year's rousing session on finding and working with an agent. Their presentation will include an emphasis on Q & A, and a review of member-submitted critiques and first pages of manuscripts. Abby will critique query letters and Tina will critique manuscript first five pages (see website for submitting and fee details).

    Agent Abby Saul founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing at John Wiley & Sons, Sourcebooks, and Browne & Miller Literary Associates. She’s worked with and edited bestselling and award-winning authors as well as major brands. Abby also has helped to establish ebook standards, led company-wide forums to explore new digital possibilities for books, and created and managed numerous digital initiatives.

            As an agent, Abby is looking for great and engrossing adult commercial and literary fiction. A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Abby spends her weekends—when she’s not reading—cooking and hiking with her husband. 

    Tina P. Schwartz is a writer of ten traditionally published books. She is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor's degree in Marketing Communication with an Advertising emphasis. After spending many years in advertising, Schwartz gave up a career in media sales to pursue her true passion of selling manuscripts when she opened The Purcell Agency, LLC in July of 2012. She enjoys spending time with family, playing games and sports. She is a huge movie lover and a self-proclaimed tomboy. You can find out more about her at www.tinaPschwartz.com or www.ThePurcellAgency.com. 

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • March 28, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    As writers, we’re always told to keep our eye on the arc of our story, making sure it rises and rises until we get to the climax and then, whoosh, back down the hill we go toward our stunning, unexpected-yet-right ending. Most of the time, during the writing, it feels like we’re rising and rising and rising and rising and, oh, c’mon, we’re still rising, I’m running out of momentum here, story, and this hill is going to kill both of us, I just want to get to the whoosh! already… Well, what if you did get to maybe not the whoosh but a whoosh, a little bit of downward slope that let you regain your momentum to get up the next stretch? What if instead of one, long arc upward toward the climax, you instead laid in little plateaus where you could catch your breath and muster your strength? And what if these little plateaus let you make the most out of the important moments of your story? Pretty great, right? Well, that’s what we’ll be talking about: taking a page from the best of television (and a number of novels and stories), we’ll look at “episodic” structures that build one main arc out of a bunch of little arcs, discuss what these structures give us as writers, and even how to start building them into your existing work (it’s easier than you might think).

    Eric Rampson is a Chicago-based writer who spent almost 20 years studying, performing, and teaching improv comedy before getting his MFA in Fiction from The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. His fiction has been published in Change Seven Magazine, The Matador Review, Typishly, Metonym, The Gateway Review, Leaf~Land Journal, and Broad River Review. His novel-in-stories Always Already and story collection Hazards are currently looking for good homes while he works on his new novel.

    Eric will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines on our website.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • April 04, 2019
    • 6:30 AM - 8:30 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL
    Register

    Memoirist and novelist Zoe Zolbrod will discuss the use of multiple storylines in fiction and nonfiction narratives, which can result in work that’s deeper than the sum of its parts. She’ll provide examples of various sorts of braided narratives, analyze how they function, suggest ways to avoid possible pitfalls, and talk about her own use of them. The second hour of the program will include writing exercises designed to unveil connections between characters, time periods, or topics that will get writers thinking about new ways to structure their work. 

     

    Zoe Zolbrod is the author of the Ippy-award-winning memoir The Telling and the novel, Currency. Her essays have appeared in places such as Salon, The Guardian, Lit Hub, the Manifest Station, and The Rumpus, where she served as the Sunday co-editor. Zoe teaches at StoryStudio.            

    6:00-6:30 Socializing 

    6:30-8:30 Program 



    • April 11, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Dorothy Allison suggests (in her book Skin:  Talking about Sex, Class, and Literature) that the best writing happens when one is terrified, and writes through the fear.  That's great advice, but the question is *how* does one write through the fear?  It's often frightening when you're trying write about subject matter that is in some manner taboo: material that violates social norms, that might upset family members, or that is simply personally difficult to confront.

    In the hands-on workshop, we'll explore a variety of taboo topics.  We'll look at how brilliant writers have delved into material that was forbidden for their place and time (some of which might seem quite tame by today's standards), and then work through a series of exercises designed to push you into challenging places.  At the end of the session, you should have some tools to lead you to stronger, braver work that takes more risks.  Maybe it'll challenge your audience too!

    Important note:  You won't be required to share this work with anyone, though I may ask for volunteers to read bits of what they've written.

    Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins),
    The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and eleven other titles. Bodies in
    Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today
    Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages.  Mohanraj
    founded the Hugo-nominated science fiction magazine, Strange Horizons,
    and serves as editor-in-chief of Jaggery, a South Asian literary
    journal (jaggerylit.com). She received a Breaking Barriers Award from
    the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts
    organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was
    Guest of Honor at WisCon. She serves as Director of two literary
    organizations, DesiLit (www.desilit.org) and The Speculative
    Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org).  Mohanraj is Clinical
    Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at
    Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside
    Chicago, with her husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog.
    She is currently working on a breast cancer memoir, a science fiction
    novel, and a collection of poetry.  http://www.maryannemohanraj.com   
     

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • April 18, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Publishing Team-Written Fiction: Putting it Together

    Workshop #2 of award-winning author and celebrated teacher Jay Rehak's instruction on episodic story telling, reviews and sews the OCWW team-written project together and discusses the joys & implications of shared publication.

    This session will be of interest to anyone wanting to learn about pulling the pieces of a team-written novel together, and the process of self-publishing this type of project. Everyone on the team is expected to attend.

    Jay Rehak has been a writing teacher for 32 years; he is the author of 27 produced short plays and has co-written 13 novels with his students and friends. Honored as the 2014 Chicago Public Schools Tech Innovator of the year, Jay has spoken at numerous educational conferences around the country; his TedX Northwestern talk, “How to Teach Empathy through Collaborative Writing” is available on YouTube. In 2013, Mr. Rehak created and co-authored the award winning 30 Days to Empathy, the world’s first high school class sourced novel.  Subsequently, Jay collaborated with his students, writing and publishing Someone Else’s Shoes, The Absolutely Awesome Adventures of Internet Ed, and The Long, Strange Trip of Augie Stone. Additionally, his non-fiction work, How to Write a Class-Sourced Novel has been used by teachers around the world to create their own collaborative novels. He is currently working on Sideline Ink, the second book of his middle grade novel series, which helps promote financial and social emotional literacy.  All of Jay’s works are available on Amazon at  http://bit.ly/jaycrehak. Jay is married to award winning children’s singer, Susan Salidor and he has three children, Hope, Hannah and Ali. Additional biographical information can be found at www.sidelineinkpublishing.com.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • April 25, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

     

    Writers read. It's a platitude: we all know this. But how do you look at a text you admire for its craft elements? From grammar and syntax to sense and clarity, voice, mood, and tone to character and metaphor—as well as narrative strategies it can be helpful to understand how to analyze a literary text for these elements to use in turn in your own writing. Drawing from the French tradition of explication de texte (textual analysis), this talk will show you how to read for writing craft, as well as demonstrate exercises for drafting and revision based on this close reading technique. 

    Jennifer Solheim is a writer, freelance editor, literary translator, and teacher. She has a PhD in French from the University of Michigan and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She is the author of The Performance of Listening in Postcolonial Francophone Culture (2018, Liverpool University Press) and a Contributing Editor at Fiction Writers Review. Her short stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the Bellevue Literary Review, Confrontation, The Pinch, and Poets & Writers, among others. More about her work www.jennifersolheim.com.

    Jennifer will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines on our website.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • May 02, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House , 620 Lincoln, Winnetka, IL
    Register

    By revisiting our stories, we re-enter our imaginations to discover more about our characters’ inner lives. When we open ourselves to this process, we become the writers we need to be to write the stories we need to write, to bring our characters to life on the page so that they may live in the hearts of our readers.

    Sharon Darrow will talk about emotional resonance, why it is necessary, what we need to achieve it, what obstacles we might encounter, and some practical technical steps to achieve it in revision. This session will include writing exercises, sharing our results, discussion and Sharon will take questions at the end of the session.(Appropriate content for writers of all genres)

    Sharon Darrow was a member of the faculty of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts, from 1997 to 2018. She also taught at Columbia College Chicago in the English department from 1996 to 2003. She is the author of Picture Books (Old Thunder and Miss Raney, art by Kathryn Brown; Yafi’s Family, co-author Linda Pettit, art by Jan Spivey Gilchrist; Through the Tempests Dark and Wild: A Story of Mary Shelley, Creator of Frankenstein, art by Angela Barrett) and Young Adult novels (The Painters of Lexieville and TRASH). Her poetry for young people has been included in Home to Me: Poems Across America, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins and her poems, short stories, interviews, and personal essays for adults have appeared in literary journals Rhino, Folio, Whetstone, ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), Columbia Poetry Review, Great River Review, Other Voices, The Writer’s Chronicle, and in the anthology, In the Middle of the Middle West, edited by Becky Bradway. Her most recent book for adults is Worlds within Words: Writing and the Writing Life.

    The Darrow Lecture Series, named in her honor, is held annually in Montpelier, Vermont, with lectures delivered by distinguished authors who are graduates of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • May 09, 2019
    • 6:30 AM - 8:30 PM
    • The Mallinckrodt Community Center - Senior Center 1041A Ridge Road Wilmette, Illinois 60091 (parking on left side of building)
    Register

     In this session, we'll discuss how to use dialogue effectively in both adult and young adult novels. We'll talk about how to make characters' voices distinct, how to make dialogue do more than one thing at once, and how to avoid common dialogue-related issues. We'll read some sample dialogue and discuss it together, and we can also talk about your own writing.

     Michelle Falkoff is the author of PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD, PUSHING PERFECT, and QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU. Her fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake, and the Harvard Review, among other places.  She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and serves as Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

    6:00-6:30 Socializing 

    6:30-8:30 Program 



    • May 16, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register


                Andrea Hall             Emily Clark Victorson             Anna Michels

     Albert Whitman and Company         Allium Press                       Sourcebooks

    Three of Chicago's premier book editors share their thoughts about today's market for fiction and non-fiction, and insights into the editorial review process of queries and manuscript submissions. Panelists include Emily Victorson, editor and publisher of Allium Press, a cutting-edge small press publisher of adult fiction;  Andrea Hall, an associate editor at Albert Whitman & Company who specializes in children's picture books; and Anna Michels, Senior Editor at Sourcebooks acquiring adult fiction and nonfiction.

    Andrea Hall is an Associate Editor at Albert Whitman & Company where she focuses primarily on picture books. She is particularly drawn to stories that have layers of meaning and diversity. Some of the titles she’s acquired include Far Apart, Close in HeartChester Nez and the Unbreakable Code, and Finding Christmas. Andrea started her publishing career at Pearson Education and is a former ARA of the Central and Southern Ohio Chapter of SCBWI.

    Emily Clark Victorson is the publisher/editor of Allium Press of Chicago. After receiving degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Michigan she moved to the Chicago area. Prior to starting Allium Press she worked as a librarian, historian, and book designer for such organizations as the Newberry Library, the Chicago History Museum, and History Works, Inc.

    Anna Michels is a Senior Editor at Sourcebooks, acquiring adult fiction and nonfiction. Anna is looking for a wide variety of books under the mystery/suspense/thriller umbrella, including psychological suspense, cozy mysteries, and contemporary crime fiction in the vein of Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis; book club fiction that hits the sweet spot between commercial and literary; and memoir by writers who connect the events of their lives to readers through incredible storytelling, as well as a wide variety of prescriptive and narrative nonfiction on both historical and contemporary topics.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • May 23, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    You can’t tell a great story without great scenes, but this basic unit of storytelling often gets glossed over.  What clever tricks can you use to juice your scenes with more impact and emotion?  In the first half, Matt will work through his Scene Work checklist, then in the second half, he’ll move on to Theme.  What’s the difference between theme and moral?  How can you use ironic dilemmas to magnify the meaning of your story?  Matt will bring lots of examples and some new videos.    

    Matt will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.

    Matthew Bird has an MFA from Columbia University, but a lot of the advice he hands out now is the opposite of what he was taught there.  He is the author of the bestselling writing guide “The Secrets of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers”, published in 2016 by Writer’s Digest Press.  He lives in Evanston, Illinois with his wife and two adorable children. Matt can be reached on his website: www.secretsofstory.com

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • May 30, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    All great literary thrillers have a few things in common: a streamlined plot, unrelenting tension, and complex characters. In this class, award-winning author Abby Geni will share her insights about how to write a page-turner, covering everything from plot architecture to unreliable narrators to red herrings. We will focus on infusing your work with tension through pacing, point of view, dialogue, description, characterization, and even setting. The literary thriller has something to teach writers working in any genre. We will talk about how to create a powerful inciting incident, how to deepen and strengthen your plot, and how to arrive at a satisfying ending.

    Abby Geni is the Chicago-based author of The Wildlands (September 2018), The Lightkeepers, winner of the 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction and the Chicago Review of Books Awards for Best Fiction, and The Last Animal, an Indies Introduce Debut Writers Selection and finalist for the Orion Book Award. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Iowa Fellowship. Her website is www.abbygeni.com    

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



Past events

November 15, 2018 Steven Trumpeter - Radical Revision
November 08, 2018 Goldie Goldbloom - When All the World Was Green: the Deep Mystery of Gorgeous Fiction
November 01, 2018 Rebecca Johns - Diving Deep into Three Act Structure
October 25, 2018 Vu Tran - What Movies Can Teach Us As Writers
October 18, 2018 Kelly McNees - Muscle Up a Sagging Middle:How to Build and Sustain Page-Turning Momentum
October 11, 2018 Hannah Gamble - Resistance in Writing
October 04, 2018 Amanda Goldblatt - Associative Structures: Making Relationships & Resonance
September 27, 2018 Fred Shafer- The Music of Sentences #4
September 20, 2018 Fred Shafer- The Music of Sentences #3
September 13, 2018 Fred Shafer- The Music of Sentences #2
September 06, 2018 Fred Shafer-The Music of Sentences 4 Pack 2018-2019 Members Only
September 06, 2018 Fred Shafer- The Music of Sentences #1
May 31, 2018 Kelly McNees- Writing Great Endings
May 24, 2018 Keir Graff - Book Reviews and the Library Market
May 17, 2018 David W. Berner — Writing Great Beginnings
May 10, 2018 Sarah Terez Rosenblum - Writing Sex - Off-Site Evening Event
May 03, 2018 Jac Jemc — Haunting as Narrative Driver and Resonance Builder - Evening Event
April 26, 2018 Abby Saul & Tina P. Schwartz - Agent Hunting 101
April 19, 2018 Mary Anne Mohanraj - Writing Complex Identities
April 12, 2018 Barbara Barnett and Richard Davidson - The Path to Publishing Success
April 05, 2018 Amy Hassinger - What is Creative Non-Fiction and Why is it the Next Big Thing in Your Writing Life?
March 29, 2018 Abby Geni - Making Revision Manageable
March 22, 2018 Peter Ferry - Never Give Up: The Writing, Resting, Shopping, Despairing, Evolution and Redemption of a Short Story
March 15, 2018 Matt Bird - Writing for Strangers
March 08, 2018 Susanna Calkins - Bringing in Research While Telling a Compelling Tale
March 01, 2018 Nadine Kenney Johnstone - Make Your Story Meaningful
February 22, 2018 Mary Ruth Clarke-Adapting Fiction for the Performing Arts: Is It a Play? TV Show? Movie?
February 15, 2018 Jay Bonansinga - Writing the Modern Page-Turner
February 08, 2018 Stuart Dybek - Rewriting Is Telling Yourself The Story Again and Again and Again
February 01, 2018 Natasha Tarpley - Writing For and About Children of Color
January 25, 2018 Goldie Goldbloom - Meet Your Conflicts Head On!
January 18, 2018 Hannah Gamble - "Moves" to Spice Up Your Writing: Using the Absurd to Convey Emotional Truths
January 11, 2018 Richard Thomas - What Editors Look for in Short Fiction: Key Elements Paired with Your Unique Voice
January 04, 2018 Amy Jo Cousins - Hot Romance on a Cold Winter Day
December 14, 2017 Jennifer Solheim - Shake Up your Thinking with the Tools of Oulipo: Generate New Work or Reenvision Character, Scene, Plot and More in Works-in Progress
December 07, 2017 Eric Rampson - Go Do The Voodoo That You Do So Well: Finding (and Using) the Fun in Your Writing
November 30, 2017 Zoe Zolbrod - Using Your Personal Life to Enrich Your Writing
November 16, 2017 Kelly McNees - Five Elements Essential to Snagging an Editor's Interest
November 09, 2017 Esther Hershenhorn - Children’s Book Writing Group 101: The WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY AND HOW!
November 02, 2017 Rebecca Johns - Creating Characters- Off-Site Evening Event
October 26, 2017 Christine Sneed - The Writer's Voice
October 19, 2017 Jamie Freveletti - Tips from an International Best-Selling Author
October 12, 2017 Rebecca Makkai - I'm Stuck
October 05, 2017 Lori Rader-Day - Point of View, Your Story's Foundation
September 28, 2017 Fred Shafer 30th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon
September 28, 2017 Fred Shafer - Showing vs Telling Revisited Session 4
September 21, 2017 Fred Shafer - Showing vs Telling Revisited Session 3
September 14, 2017 Fred Shafer - Showing vs Telling Revisited Session 2
September 07, 2017 Fred Shafer - Showing vs Telling Revisited Member 4 Pack
September 07, 2017 Fred Shafer - Showing vs Telling Revisited
May 25, 2017 Rebecca Makkai - Making a Scene
May 18, 2017 Abby Geni - Setting & Description
May 11, 2017 Lori Rader Day - Using Mystery Tools for Any Story
May 04, 2017 Christine Sneed - Breaking Into the Literary Fiction Market
April 27, 2017 Ellen T. McKnight - Best of Both: Plot and Pace with Depth
April 20, 2017 Ellen T. McKnight - Best of Both: Depth and Artistry with Plot
April 13, 2017 Ellen Blum Barish - Identifying Your Writer’s Voice
April 06, 2017 Frances De Pontes Peebles - Keeping The Pace
March 30, 2017 Jamie Freveletti - Writing Action and Conflict
March 23, 2017 Mary Robinette Kowal - The Rest of the Cast
March 16, 2017 Abby Saul - Copy that Sells Your Book
March 09, 2017 Mare Swallow - Building Your Literary Community
March 02, 2017 Zoe Zolbrod - Strategies for Structuring Memoir and Long Narratives
February 23, 2017 Randy Richardson - The Art of Self-Promotion *SPECIAL EVENT*
February 16, 2017 Patricia McNair - The Writer's Road Trip
February 09, 2017 Rachel Harvith - Make Your Dialogue Work
February 02, 2017 Sarah Hammond - The Big Idea
January 26, 2017 Susanna Calkins - Critiquing and Being Critiqued
January 19, 2017 Shawn Shiflett - Building Characters From Real People
January 12, 2017 Christine Maul Rice - How to develop your unique voice on the page
January 05, 2017 Eric Rampson - Creating and Using Humor
December 15, 2016 Richard Thomas - Neo Noir and the Fiction of Darkness
December 08, 2016 Peter Ferry - Character Devolpment
December 01, 2016 Samantha Hoffman - The Art of Revision
November 17, 2016 Christine Sneed - Conflict in Genre v. Literary Fiction
November 10, 2016 Dana Kaye - Launch Your Own Publicity Campaign
November 03, 2016 Jennifer Day - Reading, Writing and the Value of Literary Criticism *SPECIAL EVENT*
October 27, 2016 Rebecca Johns - Structuring Your Novel *Special Event*
October 20, 2016 Jane Hertenstein - Flash Memoir
October 13, 2016 Jennifer Rupp - Book Readings That Sell Your Book
October 06, 2016 Rebecca Makkai - Build It Up
September 29, 2016 9/29 Fred Shafer - The Role of Questions in Fiction Writing
September 22, 2016 9/22 Fred Shafer - The Role of Questions in Fiction Writing
September 15, 2016 9/15 Fred Shafer - The Role of Questions in Fiction Writing
September 08, 2016 Fred Shafer - The Role of Questions in Fiction Writing
August 25, 2016 OCWW Summer Prompt Session
May 26, 2016 Rebecca Makkai — Ending It All
May 19, 2016 David Michael Kaplan — Revising Prose For Power and Punch
May 12, 2016 Stuart Dybek — How To Write Stories That Are Smarter Than You Are
May 05, 2016 James Sherman — Playwrighting
April 28, 2016 Neil Tesser — Seeing The Music
April 21, 2016 Kelly James-Enger—Six-Figure Freelancing
April 14, 2016 Scott Onak — Free Your Writing
April 07, 2016 Ellen T. McKnight—Orchestrating Tension
March 31, 2016 Andy Nathan—Blogging for Your Business
March 24, 2016 Tina Schwartz—Top Five Questions Writers Most Frequently Ask
March 17, 2016 Paul McComas—Stories in the Spotlight
March 10, 2016 Meade Palidofsky — Memoir Theatre
March 03, 2016 Jill Pollack — The Science of Stories
February 25, 2016 Wendy McClure — Craft & Revision
February 18, 2016 Richard Chwedyk—Why Science Fiction Matters
February 11, 2016 Scott Whitehair — Presentation Styles
February 04, 2016 Cheryl Besnjak - Copyright Law
January 28, 2016 Andy Nathan - Internet Marketing
January 14, 2016 Pitch to Your Peers
December 17, 2015 OCWW Holiday Party
December 10, 2015 Esther Hershenhorn: Writing for Children
December 03, 2015 Rick Watkins on Character: The True Essence of Story
November 26, 2015 Thanksgiving
November 19, 2015 Writing the Next Chapter
November 12, 2015 Allie Pleiter: Dynamic Dialogue
November 05, 2015 Jody Nye: Structuring Your Novel
October 29, 2015 Paul McComas: Beginning Hooks
October 22, 2015 Paul McComas: Meaningful Memoir
October 18, 2015 OCWW Meet & Greet

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620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL 60093

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