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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

WV Writers 2009 Summer Conference Workshop Descriptions

This is a work in progress that will be frequently updated. Check back here for the latest news and visit our official 2009 Conference Page for registration forms and lodging/meals forms.


1. Great Characters: I know you’ve read something and couldn’t put it down because there was a character in the book that you could not stop thinking about, cheering for, and hating to the very marrow. Susan Reinhardt will show you where these characters are hiding in the world and how to layer them into a riveting part of your work. (SUSAN REINHARDT)

2. The Business of Writing: When someone mentions the word, “AGENT’, most writers have a thousand horror stories. Susan Reinhardt has a few of those as well, but she will share her view of the underbelly of the ever-changing landscape of the business side of writing. She will talk about agents and publishers and how to react and interact with them to get where you need to be with your work. This is sharing with a writer whose approach has and is a success story. - (SUSAN REINHARDT)

3. Control vs. Creative Chaos: How do you let go of control (or fear?) enough to allow a poem the strength which can come from directed chaos? Learn some methods for pushing yourself outside of the walls that normally define what you allow in your poetry. (DANA WILDSMITH)

4. Focused Energy in poetry: Too many times we smooth our poems into listless shadows of what they should be. Try your hand at revving up the energy levels in your writing.

5. Writing Your Life: Explore how to use your personal stories as raw material for poems that speak beyond the facts of the story itself. (DANA WILDSMITH)

6. The Thick Plottin’s: Have you ever felt like your plotlines were just “going through the paces”? Sandy will discuss techniques that help you discover your story in places you never planned to explore and will show how good pacing and narrative give your story new levels of style. (SANDY TRITT)

7. Editing Your Toughest Customer, You! : They say the best place to hide is in plain sight. Well this is true of mistakes in our own writing. Sandy Tritt will discuss ways to methodically and creatively remove those embarrassing stains in our own prose. (SANDY TRITT)

8. The Nuts and Bolts of the Three Act Play: Even though the style of your dramas may vary, the mechanics of the three act play is basic and contains many working, interchangeable parts. This successful director/writer will show you these steps. (DANIEL BOYD)

9. The Building Blocks of a Good Story, or Screenplay, or Novel, or . . . : Just as if you were building a house, you start with the foundation and then you add block after block, to create the story that you want it to be. (DANIEL BOYD)

10. The Graphic Narrative: or, If You Can’t Afford to Film It, Turn it Into a Book! Unlike the graphic novel, this newer genre is more of an illustrated novel and yes, there is a brand new awaiting audience. (DANIEL BOYD and WILLIAM BITNER)

11. How to Write an Inspirational Romance: This session will shed some light on one of the most popular sub-genres in romance right now. Tips will also be offered on how to follow your own voice and still produce a suitable manuscript for this market. (PAM HANSON)

12. Jumpstarting Your Creativity: This interactive workshop will help spark your creativity. Come prepared to be re-energized! (KARIN FULLER and PAM HANSON)

13. Building Blocks of a Selling Synopsis: What is a synopsis? How do you write one? To submit a proposal to an editor or agent, a writer must write a synopsis, a concise abstract of your manuscript. This workshop will guide you through the steps necessary to produce a successful synopsis, including how to incorporate conflict, characterization and cohesiveness into your finished work. (PAM HANSON)

14. Teens Read Too: An Introduction to Writing Young Adult Fiction: This introductory class gives a clear picture of one of the hottest markets in literature today – the young adult genre. Brad will give descriptions of style and show samples of this market.

15. Collaborating in Writing Young Adult Fiction: The creative juices never stop when you have a partner to share the process of inventing prose. Brad will discuss his positive experiences in writing YA in tandem. (BRAD BARKLEY)

16. Premises and Promises: This important class suits, not only the Young Adult writing, but all prose, all length, all styles. Don’t miss this class – it’s a keeper. (BRAD BARKLEY)

17. Using the Senses to Shape Your Work: Using prompts such as sampling dark chocolate, listening to music, feeling the texture of different fabric and other unconventional prompts, this session will help to unleash the sensual potential of prose. (RENÉE K. NICKLESON)

18. The Music of Line, The Making of a Poem: This session will focus on the sense of music in the line to create and revise poems. Participants will work on the sonic qualities as well as the visual qualities of building poems line by line. (RENÉE K. NICKLESON)

19. Get On the Program: Getting Your Work Out Into the World: Publications, readings, and other outcomes from our writing process may seem mysterious, difficult, and full of rejection. This session focuses on the strategies that work to keep focus on generating work while tending to the business of the writing life. (RENÉE K. NICKLESON)

20. Outdoor Writing: The Whole Ball of Wax: David Samuel will leads us as we stalk the dreaded outdoor essay, report, and article and we will see how this genre is easily one of the most lucrative markets alive. We will discover what outdoor writing is (and isn't), how to connect with the two national outdoor writer associations, how to get into the outdoor writing market, and where these potential markets are lurking (in magazines, newspapers, television, internet, and in books. He will also show us how to write power point programs for presentations on the outdoors. ONE CLASS ONLY. (DAVID SAMUEL)

21. My Father the Minotaur: Elements of the Ridiculous and Surprising in Fiction:
A fine line separates fiction that uses “magical” elements from genre fiction, such as fantasy or science fiction. How can we as writers use elements of the absurd without devolving into the gimmicky or ridiculous, and without crossing the line from “literary” to genre? We’ll look specifically at the work of Karen Russell who has recently made big splash in the world of literary fiction with her collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Exercises will allow participants to try their hand at using the “ridiculous” in their own work. (NATALIE SYPOLT)

22. Beyond She and I: Exploring Alternate Narration in Fiction: This session will focus on the exploration of point of view (narration); we will specifically investigate the collective narrator (first person plural) and second person point of view (including the “Self-Help” format). These are certainly the least often used of all forms of narration, so it’s possible you’ve not had much exposure to them before; even if you have, the chances are that you haven’t experimented much with them in your own writing. We’ll look at sample work and try our hand at writing our own stories using these lesser used POVs. (NATALIE SYPOLT)

23. Drawing the Story of My Life: Examining the Graphic Memoir: The graphic novel is a genre that is becoming more and more popular, especially with the recent cinematic release of the much anticipated The Watchmen; this session will focus not on the graphic novel, but on a lesser known relation: the graphic memoir. It seems no one can quite decide on the correct name for this emerging genre (these works have also been called “graphic narratives”, "book-length comics," and “true comic strip stories). In this session, we’ll discuss this genre, look at some samples, and try our hand at creating some graphic memoirs of our own. Don’t worry if you don’t have any artistic ability; as we’ll soon see, there is more than one way to tell our stories in pictures. (NATALIE SYPOLT)

24. Original Music from Traditional Sounds, Form, and the things that make you write songs: Whether folk, country, blues, pop, all songs follow similar structure. Understanding this from other songs will help to shape new original material that is both pleasant and new. Lyric structure will be covered as well, both from traditional structure, as in metre, rhyme, and patterns, as well as varying the pattern for original musical changes. Keith Pitzer will use traditional, popular and his own songs as teaching tools for this comparative learning experience! (KEITH & JOAN PITZER)

26. Horribly & Humorously True Nonfiction (and Fiction): From breakdowns of woefully unreliable vehicles, run-ins with fraudulent telemarketers, or particularly soul-crushing trips to the DMV (and by that, I mean ANY trip to the DMV), bad things happen to all of us. Oftentimes, however, these "horribly true” events can be humorous in retrospect. Eric Fritzius, author of many a Horribly True Tale himself, seeks to dig out that nugget of humorous gold at the core of the common crappy day experiences we all share. Attend this workshop for help finding your own golden crap nugget. (ERIC FRITZIUS)

27. Blogs, Podcasts and New Media (Not a Lot of Money in it, but Possibly Some Fun): A staple of the Internet for nigh on a decade, weblogs (blogs) have become a branch of the so-called New Media, turning average opinion-holders into real world political pundits and entertainment commentators. Similarly, with the advent of podcasting and vidcasting, nearly anyone can host their own show and reach a fairly wide audience. WV Writers webguy, Eric Fritzius, takes a look into the huge creative avenues to be found in the blogging and podcasting world, from non-fiction to fiction to points in between. (ERIC FRITZIUS)

28. Writing from Life, a personal approach to nonfiction: In this class, these two master writers offer their combined 45 years of experience to help you learn to master the art of turning life’s rich moments into writing that moves, amuses, and inspires readers. You will not only learn about how to write from life, you will experience the satisfaction of combining experience, memory, and narrative that sets a foundation for a good short piece or the basis for a longer work. (KARIN FULLER and GEOFF FULLER)

29. Assembling a Novel: Some novels may be read breathlessly, beginning to end, but most are assembled painstakingly: a foundation built of description and backstory, scenes constructed of dialogue and action. Writer and teacher Geoff Fuller discusses how novels are assembled, passage-by-passage, and reveals the under appreciated physical demands of novel writing.

30. Reasons For Writing Poetry: This discussion/workshop – for beginning to advanced poets – will explore some traditional answers to the question: Why write poetry? We will examine how different answers to this question can influence the form and content of a poem.

31. Writing the Imagist Poem: This workshop – for developing to advanced poets – will present some examples of different kinds of imagist poems and will involve writing (and possibly revising) a short poem with an imagist perspective. (JOHN J. McKERNAN)

32. Some Ways to Use Prose In The Writing Of A Poem: This discussion/workshop – primarily for advanced poets – will divide the writing process into three stages and discuss how prose passages can help in the early, middle, and revising stages of writing a poem.

33. Writers Present A Favorite Poem: This panel-discussion will enable a group of poets to read and comment on favorite poems. Each poet will read one poem by another poet and comment. Audience questions at the end of the panel. (JOHN McKERNAN and STAFF POETS)

34. Representations of Women in Appalachian Literature: In this session we will look at various categories of women portrayed in works of Appalachian literature: wives, mothers, working women, outcasts and misfits (and sundry other types). We will also use a number of dichotomies as a way of approaching depictions of women: real vs. ideal; round vs. flat characters; negative vs. positive traits; etc. (SANDRA VRANA)

35. Lives of Coal Mining Families: In this session we will examine which aspects of the lives of mining families are addressed and which are ignored. Some categories we will discuss: private vs. public selves; the individual vs. the family unit; recreation vs. work; also, modes of communication among family members; expectations according to gender and age; (etc).

36. Show Me! Don’t Tell Me! (Except Sometimes). Learn to “act out” your scenes so readers can watch your characters in action and eavesdrop on their dialogue; learn when “telling” is absolutely permissible and necessary. (RHONDA BROWNING WHITE)

37. Writing Your Own Eulogy! Join Wilma Acree for this fun workshop. Some of the most classic and fun eulogies, epitaphs, etc. are in the form of poetry, poetry of all types. Bring pen and paper and prepare for the fun. (WILMA ACREE)

38. What the dead can tell us: scopes and limitations of a Forensic Pathology Autopsy. Manner and Mode of death. What case(s) constitute a Medical Examiner-Coroner’s case or not. Myths of a typical Forensic Pathology Autopsy (ANDREW WHEELER)

39. Serial Killers: Dismembers of Your Family. Types of Serial Killers, Crime Scene dynamics, Profiling Serial Killers, Genetic link? (ANDRE WHEELER)

40. Sexual Assault: The All-American Crime. Five different principals involved in sexual assault, how to proper handle of all kinds of sexual assault crimes, contemporary issues of sexual assault through the victim’s perspective. Types of offenders, motivations, false allegations and false confessions, profiling the offender, child molestation, and the maligned investigator. Special population-juvenile sexual offenders, female sexual; offenders, gerophiles, serial rapists, and sexual sadists (ANDREW WHEELER)

41. People’s Choice Prose (Friday Session) We’ll have two sessions of People’s Choice Prose, wherein participants have 4 minutes to read an original short piece of prose which will then be judged by the vote of their People’s Choice Session Peers. Awards will be given at the Saturday Awards Banquet for first, second and third places.

42. Show Me the Money! Grant Proposal Writing. Learn the ‘thousand little tricks’ of grant writing with a man who knows grants and grant writing, from all perspectives. (GEORGE LIES)

43. Insights On Starting a Writer’s Group. Writers groups exist in some communities in the state, offering a unique way to obtain peer feedback on your prose and poetry. This session offers proven ways to organize a writer’s group in your hometown. Attendees will learn how West Virginia writers in the Morgantown Writers Group survived the ebb and flow of group dynamics to celebrate its 15th Anniversary. This information session includes lots of handouts on how to contact local writers, that first meeting, setting-up a schedule, doing promotion, how to do manuscript critiques, finding well-known guest writers, sponsoring open workshops, how to find small grants or donations for special events and, oh yes, tips on handling personality clashes. The presenter, George Lies, former President, WVW, Inc., and founding member of MWG, in 1994, will discuss and explore ways to start a writer’s group – and keep it going. Informative! (GEORGE LIES)

44. People’s Choice Prose (Repeat on Saturday)

45. People’s Choice Poetry (Friday Session) We’ll have two sessions of People’s Choice Poetry, wherein participants have 4 minutes to read an original poem which will then be judged by the vote of their People’s Choice Session Peers. Awards will be given at the Saturday Awards Banquet for first, second and third places.

46. People’s Choice Poetry (Repeat on Saturday)

47. People’s Choice Youth

48. The West Virginia Commission on the Arts Listening Tour (description to follow)