Tips from an International Best-Selling Author
International best-selling author Jamie Freveletti outlines 20 tips for writing the modern page turner, from the conception of plot and characters, to structuring the action and building to a pulse-pounding climax.
Jamie Freveletti is the internationally and #1 Amazon bestselling, International Thriller Writers and Barry award winning author of the Emma Caldridge series. In addition to her own novels, the Estate of Robert Ludlum tapped her to write for his Covert One series: The Janus Reprisal, released in 2012 and The Geneva Strategy, released in February, 2015. She is a former lawyer, avid distance runner and black belt in aikido, a Japanese martial art. She lives in Chicago with her family.
9-9:30 AM registration and socializing
9:30-12 PM program
Christine Sneed -
The Writer's Voice
In this craft lecture, we'll examine aspects of voice in fiction, which the novelist Alice LaPlante defines as "the specific way that a writer expresses him or herself in writing, depending on decisions he or she makes about style, technique, and the material he or she chooses to explore."
Key elements related to voice are tone, characterization and point of view, and we'll look at different examples from published work by several contemporary writers and will discuss the choices they've made in order to create characters with specific and memorable voices in their stories. Christine will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines.
Christine Sneed is the author of the novels Paris, He Said and Little Known Facts, as well as the story collections Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry and The Virginity of Famous Men.
She has been published in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, New Stories from the Midwest, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, New England Review, and a number of other periodicals. Her books have received AWP’s Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction, Ploughshares' Zacharis prize, the Society of Midland Authors Award, the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award, Book of the Year from the Chicago Writers Association.
Sneed is the director of MA/MFA creative writing program at Northwestern University and she’s on the fiction faculty of the Regis University low-residency MFA program.
Rebecca Johns - Creating Characters Special Off-Site Evening Event!
Rebecca Johns' first novel, Icebergs, was a finalist for the 2007 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for first fiction and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Award. Her second, The Countess—a fictionalization of the life of Elizabeth Bathory, the “Blood Countess”—was published in October 2010 from Crown Books. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, StoryStudio, The Harvard Review, The Mississippi Review, the Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Ladies' Home Journal, Self, and Seventeen, among others.
A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Missouri School of Journalism, she teaches in the English Department at DePaul University in Chicago.
6:00-6:30 PM registration and socializing
6:30-8:00 PM program
Children's Book Writing Group 101:
The WHO,WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY AND HOW!
Individual critiques are not available. However, two manuscripts from those submitted will be selected for group presentation and discussion. Writers can submit – between October 16 and October 20 - up to 5 pages of a picture book or the first chapter of a chapter book (early chapter, mg, YA, nonfiction) + story description/summary. Email the pages as an attachment to email@example.com Label the subject head “Manuscript for Nov. 9 OCWW Presentation.”
Chicagoan Esther Hershenhorn writes picture books and middle-grade fiction, teaches adult Writing for Children workshops at the Newberry Library and the University of Chicago’s Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies and coaches writers of all ages to help them tell their stories. Her latest books include S IS FOR STORY and the baby board book TXTNG MAMA TXTNG BABY. Esther also advocates for children’s book creators via her past service on the Board of Advisors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and current service as the Illinois Chapter’s Regional Advisor Emeritus.
Visit her website www.estherhershenhorn.com to learn more about her books, classes and coaching. She blogs at www.teachingauthors.com
Kelly McKnees -
Five Elements Essential to Snagging an Editor's Interest
In the second hour, we’ll turn to critiques of first scenes and look at how you might address these five important elements in your manuscript to give it the best possible chance of success. OCWW members are invited to submit the first five pages of a novel or short story for Kelly's critique and class discussion on November 16. A nominal fee of $15 per critique will be due at the time of submission. Please see manuscript guidelines for more details.
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.
Using Your Personal Life to Enrich Your Writing
Zoe Zolbrod’s work has appeared in Salon, The Nervous Breakdown, The Weeklings, and The Rumpus. Her debut novel Currency won a 2010 Nobbie Award and received an honorable mention by Friends of American Writers. Her memoir The Telling was published by Curbside Splendor in 2016. Zoe lives in Evanston, IL with her husband, son, and daughter.
9-9:30 AM registration and socializing
9:30-12 PM program
Go Do the Voodoo That You Do So Well: Finding (and using) the Fun in Your Writing
By identifying and then focusing on our strengths as writers, we should be able to solve any problems in our work by leaning harder on those things we enjoy and do well. We’ll look at some examples as a group and then break into small discussions to help each other begin to identify our strengths and how best to deploy them throughout our work. Please submit a paragraph you enjoyed writing by November 24th to be included in our handout. Eric will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.
Eric Rampson studied, performed, and taught improvisational and sketch comedy (The Second City, iO, The Playground Theater) for almost 20 years before getting his MFA in Fiction from The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. His short stories have been published in The Matador Review, Change Seven Magazine, The Logan Square Literary Review, and Trembles.
Shake Up your Thinking with the Tools of Oulipo: Generate New Work or Re-envision Character, Scene, Plot and More in Works-in Progress
Working with Oulipo practices can free us from our current literary conventions and be more inventive stylistically and in terms of narrative. These practices can also help shake up our ways of thinking about literary elements like plot, imagery, character, time, and place.
In this workshop, we will begin with a history of the Oulipo movement and look at some examples of successful Oulipian works. We will then turn to writing with constraints, generate and read aloud new works, and discuss how constraints can help generate characters and settings as well as work through writer’s block. You will come away with new writing practices and an understanding of a writing movement that is still vibrant today, in which we can all participate as writers. Manuscripts for critique will be accepted. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.
Jennifer Solheim holds a PhD in French from the University of Michigan and is an MFA candidate in fiction writing at the Bennington Writing Seminars. She has taught at University of Illinois—Chicago, Université de Paris VII, StoryStudio Chicago, and is the creative writing instructor at Academia Institute in Oak Park, Illinois. Jennifer is a Contributing Editor at Fiction Writers Review, and has been published in Akashic Books’ Mondays are Murder series, Conclave: A Journal of Character, Confrontation, Inside Higher Ed, and Poets & Writers. Her novel manuscript Another Paris was a semi-finalist for the 2013 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Award (Novel Category), and her current novel-in-progress, now entitled The Interruptions, was a semin-finalist in the 2015 James Jones First Novel Fellowship. You can learn more about her work at www.jennifersolheim.com.
Amy Jo Cousins
Hot Romance On a Cold Winter Day
Romance is big business, and there's a reason the romance genre is a billion-dollar industry, selling more books than the next two largest genres combined. The search for love and the struggle to make a relationship work are core stories, engaging readers' hardwired need to learn what happens next on a character-driven level. Including strong romantic elements in your manuscript of any genre can strengthen your work, but a well-structured romance has its own story beats. We'll discuss braiding your romance arc into the external plot and theme, and how to engage readers' desire for emotionally satisfying endings.
Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of sexy. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series again. Amy Jo is a hybrid author whose works have been published by Harlequin, Samhain, Dreamspinner and Riptide. She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
What Editors Look For in Short Fiction: Key Elements Paired with Your Unique Voice
Richard Thomas is the author of three novels, three short story collections, a novella and more than 100 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).
"Moves" to Spice Up Your Writing: Using the Absurd to Convey Emotional Truths
Q: How can absurdity lead our readers to genuine emotional experiences in our writing?
A: Via various kinds of unpredictability, the Absurd is able to short-circuit the reader's defenses and ultimately bestow an experience of emotional truth. Absurdity employs methods such as sudden switches from maximalism to minimalism (as we'll see in a short story by Donald Barthelme and a poem by Thomas James); it vacillates between comedy and tragedy (exemplified in a creative memoir piece by Kelly Pearce); it rejects common uses of language (a poem by Jos Charles) and can move extremely slow (novella excerpts from Edward Mullany) to the point of using boredom as an altererd state.
Join Hannah Gamble and the OCWW for a craft talk which will include short writing exercises throughout!
Hannah Gamble is a poet, essayist, editor, and educator. Her first book, Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast, won the National Poetry Series in 2011. In 2014 she received a Ruth Lilly/ Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg fellowship from The Poetry Foundation. You can find her writing on the Poetry Foundation website, and in magazines such as The Believer, jubilat, Fanzine, and the American Poetry Review.
Goldie Goldbloom - Meet Your Conflicts Head On!
Award-winning author and lecturer, Goldie Goldbloom focuses on the way many writers swerve away from from the most difficult interactions in their work, and how to correct that impulse. In the second hour of her program she'll review member manuscripts submitted for critique as examples of how to improve your story by finding the issues and addressing them. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.
Goldie Goldbloom is the author of two novels, The Paperbark Shoe (Picador) - a Best Novel of the Year (IndieFab) and winner of the AWP Novel Award - and Gwen(forthcoming), as well as two collections of short stories, You Lose These (Fremantle Press) and The Grief of the Body (forthcoming). Her work has been selected for the Best Australian Short Stories, and has been published in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and Narrative. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson and has taught at Northwestern University ever since being named the Simon Blattner Fellow. She is the recipient of a NEA Fellowship, a Brown Foundation-Dora Maar House Fellowship, a Jerusalem Post Prize, and a Rona Jaffe Fellowship, amongst other honours. Goldbloom is an international speaker of note, most recently as an honored guest at the Assises Internationales du Roman, in Lyon, France. She was a founding board member of an advocacy organization for at-risk LGBTQ minorities and is the writer of the oral history blog Frum Gay Girl .
9-9:30 AM registration and socializing
9:30-12 PM program
Natasha Tarpley -
Writing For and About Children of Color
The “We Need Diverse Books” movement has underscored the need for more diversity in books, and in the publishing industry overall. However, there is also a need for a greater diversity of representation of people of color and others in literature itself. This workshop will encourage dialog around this complex issue as a way of exploring thoughts and assumptions about diversity, and then move into practical suggestions and techniques that can be used to approach and craft rich, multi-dimensional diverse characters in your own writing. Natasha will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.
Natasha Tarpley is the author of the best-selling picture book, I Love My Hair!, as well as other acclaimed titles for children and adults. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship among other awards. When she is not writing books, Ms. Tarpley can usually be found reading them. She has also taken up the cruel and unusual hobby of running marathons. She lives with her husband and the ghosts of two cats on the south side of Chicago.
Rewriting Is Telling Yourself The Story Again and Again and Again
Special Evening Session
One of Chicago's foremost authors and lecturers says the rewrite isn't primarily about correcting mistakes in grammar and punctuation—it's always about story. In this special evening session, the dynamic Stuart Dybek shows how it's done.
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.
6:00-6:30 Registration and Socializing
Jay Bonansinga -
Writing the Modern Page-Turner
Join New York Times Bestselling author of the Walking Dead novels, Jay Bonansinga, in this informative deep dive into the craft of writing a page turner. Through anecdotes, exercises, and plenty of Q&A, Jay will take you inside what makes a bestseller.
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 Walking Dead series.
What Makes Good Theater?
Last year, director, actor and dramaturg Rachel Edwards Harvith led a scintillating session on what makes riveting dialogue in scriptwriting, and how to employ those principles in novels and short stories. This year, she expands the discussion to look at other elements in a script that make for riveting theater, and how the same elements apply to other forms of creative writing.
Rachel Edwards Harvith is a director, actor, and dramaturg with a passion for developing new plays and reimagining classics. She serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Chicago Dramatists and was a founding company member of Mortar Theatre. Harvith has helped hundreds of playwrights refine their plays, in the classroom, rehearsal room, and beyond. As a literary manager, she has worked with Bailiwick Chicago, Syracuse Stage, and Long Wharf Theatre. Recent directing credits include Beautiful Autistic and The Mecca Tales (Chicago Dramatists); 180 Degree Rule (Babes with Blades); Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose (Raven Theatre); and Assassins (Kokandy Productions), which was named the #5 Chicago theatre production of 2014 by Time Out Chicago, and received 5 Jeff nominations. Education: BA in Theatre, Grinnell College; MFA in Directing, University of Iowa.
Nadine Kenney Johnstone
Make Your Story Meaningful
How do you make fiction or non-fiction resonate with readers? In this workshop, writers will learn and discuss methods for giving a story the emotional layering it needs to be satisfying to editors and readers. We will read published excerpts to see how successful authors have layered their stories. You will then do brainstorming exercises and in-class writing activities that focus on layering your writing. In addition to working on craft, we will discuss some innovative publishing options available to today's authors. Nadine will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.
Nadine Kenney Johnstone is the author of the memoir, Of This Much I'm Sure, about her IVF challenges and the healing power of hope. 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, The Moth, 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.
Bringing in Research While Telling a Compelling Tale
In this session, Susanna will discuss what she has learned about writing historical fiction as a historian-turned-novelist, as well as share her own path to publication. In particular, she will focus on such questions as: How can we contextualize our stories historically without just dumping information on our readers? How can we make our dialogue seem authentic, without sounding stilted or archaic? How much historical research is "enough"? In this discussion, Susanna will offer some strategies for avoiding the most common pitfalls in writing historical fiction.
Susanna Calkins writes the Lucy Campion historical mysteries, which are set in seventeenth-century London. Holding a PhD in history, Susanna works at Northwestern University where she directs learning and teaching programs for faculty, offering sessions on such things as providing feedback and learning from failure . As a member of the Midwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, Susanna runs the Hugh Holton critique program, in which established authors provide detailed feedback on unpublished manuscripts.
Writing for Strangers
Most of us start out telling the story we want to read, but how do you make your story interesting enough to pass the “chatty stranger on an airplane” test?
Can you win over a jaded audience that is sick to death of over-worked plot lines and doesn't want to distrust your hero? We discuss 122 neat little tricks you can use to maximize audience identification with your characters and interest in your plot. Matt will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.
Matt 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
Never Give Up: The Writing, Resting, Shopping, Despairing, Evolution and Redemption of a Short Story
Peter Ferry's stories have appeared in McSweeney's, Fiction, OR, Chicago Quarterly Review and StoryQuarterly; he is the winner of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Short Fiction. He is a contributor to the travel pages of The Chicago Tribune and to WorldHum. He has written two novels, Travel Writing, which was published in 2008, and Old Heart, which was published in June, 2015 and won the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year award. He lives in Evanston, Illinois and Van Buren County, Michigan with his wife Carolyn.
Making Revision Manageable
Many writers find the idea of revision to be daunting. Crossing the divide between a first draft and a polished novel or short story can seem overwhelming. In this class, we will analyze and unriddle the editing process. We will discuss common writerly mistakes, new ways of thinking about revision, and practicable tools and techniques for approaching your own work. The lecture will include handouts, readings, in-class exercises, and discussion. Abby will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.
Abby Geni is the author of The Lightkeepers, winner of the 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction and the inaugural Chicago Review of Books Awards for Best Fiction, and The Last Animal (2013), an Indies Introduce Debut Writers Selection and a finalist for the Orion Book Award. Her short stories have won first place in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open and the Chautauqua Contest and have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Geni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Iowa Fellowship. Her website is www.abbygeni.com.
What is Creative Non-Fiction and Why is it the Next Big Thing in Your Writing Life?
The pairing of the word “creative” with the word “nonfiction” makes some journalists wince, and with good reason. But “creative” doesn’t necessarily mean loose with the facts. It has more to do with how a piece of nonfiction is put together—with an innovative structure, maybe, or a searing attention to its own musicality, or some other unique effect that lifts the piece out of the routine and into the extraordinary. Together we’ll look at some striking examples from this broad genre, and do some creative experimenting of our own. Lecture/discussion/writing exercises. Appropriate for curious writers of any genre. Amy will accept fiction and non-fiction manuscripts. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.
Amy Hassinger is the author of three novels: Nina: Adolescence, The Priest’s Madonna, and After the Dam. Her writing has been translated into five languages and has won awards from Creative Nonfiction, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Illinois Arts Council. Her nonfiction has appeared in numerous venues, including The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, The Writers’ Chronicle, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches in the University of Nebraska’s MFA in Writing Program. You can find out more about her at www.amyhassinger.com.
Barbara Barnett and Richard Davidson - The Path to Publishing Success
Two of OCWW's most successful authors discuss their very different paths to success.
Barbara Barnett is author of Bram Stoker Award finalist The Apothecary's Curse (Pyr Books) and Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. (ECW Press). Apothecary's Curse recently won the Readers Choice Award for Fantasy/SF at the Killer Nashville Writers Conference. Her work is featured in Llewellyn International’s book Spiritual Pregnancy, and her short stories have appeared in anthologies from Riverdale Ave. Press and Media Bistro. She’s publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics Magazine where she writes on pop culture and politics. BarbaraBarnett.com
Richard Davidson is the author of the self-help guidebook: DECISION TIME! Better Decisions for a Better Life. He has written the five-novel Lord’s Prayer Mystery Series: Lead Us Not into Temptation, Give Us this Day our Daily Bread, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Thy Will Be Done, and Deliver Us from Evil. He is the editor of an anthology, Overcoming: An Anthology by the Writers of OCWW. His latest four novels, Implications, Impulses, Impostor, and Impending form his new Imp Mysteries series, continuing to chronicle the exploits of characters introduced in the earlier series, along with affiliated newcomers.
Mr. Davidson is Past President of Off-Campus Writers' Workshop, the oldest ongoing group of its kind in the U.S. and is the founder of the ReadWorthy Books Book Review Blog and the Independent Mystery Publishing Society (IMPS).
Writing Complex Identities
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. Visit www.maryannemohanraj.com.
Abby Saul, Tina Schwartz: Agent Hunting 101
Two of OCWW’s most popular agents conduct a workshop on how to woo and win the right agent for your work. Abby Saul specializes in literary and commercial fiction, while Tina Schwartz’s focus includes YA, women’s literature, and non-fiction. They will describe today’s market and talk about the qualities of a query letter and opening chapter that grab a busy agent’s attention. Both Abby Saul and Tina Schwartz will accept 1 page query letters to critique for $15. Tina will also accept the first ten pages of your manuscript for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.
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.
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.
Haunting as Narrative Driver and Resonance Builder - Special Evening Event
From the absences of Sappho to the ghosts of Henry James to the longing-fueled chases driving Laura van den Berg's stories, the idea of haunting presents itself in many forms throughout literature. In this session we'll explore haunting as narrative driver and resonance builder by reading examples of different modes of haunting and appropriating their forms. Whether you're interested in building a traditional ghost story, a tale of unrequited love or lingering grief, or playing with erasures of source materials, this course can help anyone looking for ways of building theme and image-based collateral in a variety of genres. Jac will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines for details.
Jac Jemc lives in Chicago. Her novel The Grip of It is forthcoming from FSG Originals (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) in August 2017. Jemc is also the author of My Only Wife (Dzanc Books), From the absences of Sappho to the ghosts of Henry James to the longing-fueled chases driving named a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award; A Different Bed Every Time (Dzanc Books), named one of Amazon's Best Story Collections of 2014; and a chapbook of stories, These Strangers She'd Invited In (Greying Ghost Press).
Jac's nonfiction has been featured on the long list for Best American Essays and her story "Women in Wells" was featured in the 2010 Best of the Web anthology. Jac received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has completed residencies at the Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus, Hald: The Danish Center for Writers and Translators, Ragdale, the Vermont Studio Center, Thicket, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has been the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Professional Development Grants, and was named as one of 25 Writers to Watch by the Guild Literary Complex and one of New City's Lit 50 in Chicago. She's taught English and Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame, Northeastern Illinois University, Loyola University Chicago, Lake Forest College, Illinois Wesleyan University, Story Studio Chicago, and The Loft Literary Center. She currently serves as a web nonfiction editor for Hobart.
6:00-6:30 Registration and Socializing
Sarah Terez Rosenblum - Writing Sex - Special Off-Site Evening Event
Good writing is like good sex. It takes practice. And writing about sex? That takes practice too!
Join novelist, teacher, and freelance writer Sarah Terez Rosenblum in a dynamic discussion about writing a literarily relevant sex scene. You'll get tips, guidelines, and a chance to read and share work. Manuscripts will be accepted for critique. Please see Manuscript Guidelines for details.
Sarah Terez Rosenblum’s debut novel, "Herself When She's Missing,” was called “poetic and heartrending" by Booklist. She writes for publications and sites including Salon, The Chicago Sun Times, XOJane, afterellen.com, Curve Magazine and Pop Matters. Her fiction has appeared in literary magazines such as kill author and Underground Voices, and she was a 2011 recipient of Carve Magazine's Esoteric Fiction Award and the 2015 1st runner up for Midwestern Gothic's Lake Prize as well as a finalist for Washington Square Review’s 2016 Flash Fiction Award. In addition, she was shortlisted for Zoetrope All Story’s 2016 Short Fiction Contest, receiving an honorable mention. In 2014, she founded the Truth or Lie Live Lit Series. Sarah teaches Creative Writing at Story Studio, and The University of Chicago Graham school.
Follow her on Twitter or on Facebook or visit www. sarahterezrosenblum.com
6:00-6:30 Registration and Socialization
Mary Robinette Kowal
Help for Novel Writers on Structuring a Short Story Idea
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 historical fantasy novels: The Glamourist Histories series and Ghost Talkers. She has received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo awards, the RT Reviews award for Best Fantasy Novel, and has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards. 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 more than a dozen manual typewriters.
9:00-9:30 Registration and Socializing
Book Reviews and the Library Market
Keir Graff will speak to authors from his perspective, both as an oft-reviewed author and as executive editor of Booklist, the American Library Association’s book-review journal for public libraries. In addition to sharing Booklist’s inner workings, he will discuss the business of book reviewing, the current publishing landscape, the importance of the library market, and dos and don’ts of submitting books for review.
Keir Graff is the author of two middle-grade novels (including The Matchstick Castle), and four novels for adults (most recently the thriller The Price of Liberty), with two more books slated for publication in 2018. He is also coeditor of one short-fiction anthology, Montana Noir (2017), and is currently editing a second. Since 2011, he has been cohost of Publishing Cocktails, an occasional literary gathering in Chicago. By day, he is the executive editor of Booklist. You can find him on Twitter (@KeirGraff, @Booklist_Keir), Facebook (Keir.Graff.Author), and at www.keirgraff.com.
We Need To Talk
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 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.
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