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Friday, April 3
 

7:00am

9:00am

1A: Social Media Tough Love: Ten Tips for Authors
Limited Capacity full

Despite the fact that social media has been around for more than a decade, many authors are still resistant to using it, or have qualms in the midst of all the privacy issues and chaos of this world. Or if they are using it, they are using it wrong--pushing books annoyingly at people, targeting other writers instead of readers, or just throwing content out without engaging their audience. Social media is still the best place to reach readers and to help control one's own reputation, especially in an age when publishers aren't going to help much, if at all.

Speakers
avatar for Crystal King

Crystal King

Author, THE CHEF'S SECRET
Crystal King is the author of The Chef's Secret and Feast of Sorrow which was long-listed for the Center of Fiction's First Novel Prize and chosen as a Mass Book Awards Must Read. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1B: Perfecting Page One
Limited Capacity full

You know the great opening lines: Ishmael, Manderley, the last camel. Why do those work? And how can you create one for your own novel? How can you set the proper expectations for the story to come, and make every word work? How do you avoid info dumps, dreaded exposition and book-killing backstory? How do you create a first page that will entice editors and enchant readers? (If they don't love the first one, they'll never get to the second one.)

In this class, suitable for any genre, we will dissect and analyze acclaimed first lines and opening paragraphs, and reveal the writing secrets these brilliant examples offer. If you are brave enough, please bring your own first line! Hank and the class will offer advice and guidance—to set you and your book off in the right direction.


Speakers
avatar for Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Author, THE MURDER LIST
Hank Phillippi Ryan is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston's WHDH-TV. She's won 36 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. The nationally bestselling author of 11 mysteries, Ryan's also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, three Anthonys, two Macavitys... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

9:00am

1C: How to Pitch
Limited Capacity full

Description coming soon!

Speakers
avatar for Sandy Lu

Sandy Lu

Literary Agent, L. Perkins Agency
Sandy Lu is a literary agent at the L. Perkins Agency, which she joined in 2009.She holds BAs in psychology and sociology from Queens College, with minors in music, business, and Japanese. Prior to becoming an agent, she attended the Ph.D. Program in Social and Personality Psychology... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1D: Creating Graphic Novels, Memoirs, and Comics
Limited Capacity seats available

Have you ever thought about creating a graphic novel or memoir, but don’t know where to start? Never fear, citizen! In this lecture we’ll explore visual storytelling techniques from American Comics, Japanese Manga, and Franco-Belgian comics. Attendees will learn the principles of short-form comic creation and how to develop these ideas into a full length graphic novel. Writers will learn how to write visually and work with artists.

Speakers
avatar for Anjali Singh

Anjali Singh

Literary Agent, Ayesha Pande Literary
Anjali Singh is an agent at Ayesha Pande Literary. Before becoming an agent, she worked as an editor at Vintage Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon & Schuster and as Editorial Director at Other Press. She is best known for having championed Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis after... Read More →
avatar for Tito James

Tito James

Author, CROSSBONE JONES
Tito W. James is a self-made comic creator with a background in video game art and animation. His travels across the globe and the doors of perception informed his multi-cultural comic book aesthetic and psychedelic philosophy. Whether he’s telling people’s fortunes in speakeasy... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1E: Dangerous Satires
Limited Capacity seats available

Sometimes the mockery of laughter is the most subversive way to address the outrages of an outrageous society. This session will look at how to turn humor into sharp blades within your fiction.

Speakers
avatar for Rion Scott

Rion Scott

Author, THE WORLD DOESN'T REQUIRE YOU
Rion Amilcar Scott is the author of the story collection, The World Doesn’t Require You (Norton/Liveright, August 2019). His debut story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016), was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Hillsdale... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
St. James Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1F: Imagining the Gap: How to Write a Story When the Story Runs Out
Limited Capacity filling up

Have you ever wanted to uncover the story behind your family's silences and secrets? Ever longed to fill holes in overheard rumors and cryptic tales? As creative nonfiction writers, autobiographical novelists, and gossip lovers of all kinds, what do we do when we try to tell a story but the story runs out? And what do we do when the gap becomes so large that it forces us to question our genre choices?

Two writers of personal narrative whose work uses imagined scenes and fictionalized moments to address "gaps" in history will discuss how to turn what might, at first glance, seem like a limitation into a source of possibility. We'll provide specific examples from authors like Loung Ung, Justin St. Germain, Jesmyn Ward, and Helen Fremont, and we'll also provide specific tips and take-home prompts for advancing narratives while engaging daringly with the complex boundaries of genre.

Speakers
avatar for Caitlin McGill

Caitlin McGill

Nonfiction Writer
Caitlin McGill’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, The Chattahoochee Review, Crab Orchard Review, Consequence, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Southeast Review, Vox, War, Literature, & the Arts, and several other magazines. Her writing has been supported by the... Read More →
avatar for Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

Author, THE FACT OF A BODY
Alex Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir (Flatiron Books), which received a Lambda Literary Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the Grand Prix des Lectrices ELLE, and the Prix France Inter-JDD, an award for one book of any genre in the world. Named... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1G: Bottling the Muse: The Not-So-Impossible Task of Writing on Command
Limited Capacity seats available

Many writers have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. They help us push through murky drafts and make difficult choices, and prompt us to write when we may not feel like it. But what happens when the deadline is set, the contracts are signed, the topic is set, and the Muse-- that great breath of inspiration-- is nowhere to be found? Whether you're under contract, short on time, or simply need to get that idea from your head to the page, this session will have something for you.

In this guided writing session, we will write to prompts and discuss techniques for getting your project off and running, even in the face of a painfully blank page or blinking cursor. We will disprove the existence of writer's block and help impart the confidence to slay that upcoming deadline.

Speakers
avatar for Emily Franklin

Emily Franklin

Author, LAST NIGHT AT THE CIRCLE CINEMA
Emily Franklin is the award-winning author of more than twenty novels. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the London Sunday Times, The Cincinnati Review, The Rumpus, and DIAGRAM among other places as well as featured and read aloud... Read More →
avatar for Maria Pinto

Maria Pinto

Fiction Writer
Maria Pinto is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared or will appear in Frigg, Necessary Fiction, The Butter, Word Riot, and Dostoevsky Wannabe Cities: Boston. She studied Creative Writing and Women’s and Gender Studies at Brandeis University, where her work was awarded... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1H: Self-Portraits as Self-Transformation: Poetry Workshop
Limited Capacity seats available

Audre Lorde wrote, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” In this generative poetry workshop, participants will explore what it means to define and represent who they are on the page—and how complicated it is to navigate “other people’s fantasies” for the self. After all, our perceptions and descriptions of ourselves don’t exist in a vacuum but are shaped by family, social groups, culture, history, and politics. Works from both visual art and poetry will be our guides as we dive into the mess of ourselves and strive toward transformation.  

Speakers
avatar for Chen Chen

Chen Chen

Author, GESUNDHEIT!
Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. Bloodaxe Books has recently published the UK edition. Chen's new chapbook... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1I: Moral Villains and Sinning Heroes: Creating Complex Characters
Limited Capacity full

Heroes sin and villains are occasionally good. Struggles of good vs. evil are happening within, so why not write our characters that way? This two-day course will look at various technical approaches to building realistic characters in fiction, challenging the binary form. Characters are as complex on the page as they are off the page, and we will explore this tension through theory, discussion and a writing exercise.

Speakers
avatar for Wayétu Moore

Wayétu Moore

Author, SHE WOULD BE KING
Wayétu Moore’s debut novel She Would Be King was named a best book of 2018 by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Entertainment Weekly & BuzzFeed. Her writing can be found in The Paris Review, Frieze Magazine, Guernica, The Atlantic Magazine and other publications. She’s a graduate... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1J: But How Do I Begin? Taking the First Steps to Writing a Book
Limited Capacity seats available

Description coming!

Speakers
avatar for Cherise Fisher

Cherise Fisher

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


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1K: Self-Translation: Writing from a Non-English Perspective
Limited Capacity seats available

Conveying a non-English world, piece of dialogue, and or a sentiment through English for the sake of a majority English readership is something writers have wrestled with in numerous ways. Choices in how we present languages besides English-- whether in dialogue, description, and more-- can vary from deliberately removing any contextual "clues," offering just enough explanation to English readers, or to suspend disbelief and suggest that all English dialogue is, in fact, being spoken in another language. 

The cultural, socio-economic, and racial implications of these various choices determine who a book is meant for, who has access to what information, and to recreate or reverse a linguistic exclusion that many non-English speakers encounter in contemporary and canonical works of fiction and non-fiction. Come for a thoughtful discussion, examples of how other authors have tackled this problem, and your own questions and ideas. This session is particularly useful for attendees who are writing in a non-English language (or who want to).

Speakers
avatar for Melody Moezzi

Melody Moezzi

Author, THE RUMI PRESCRIPTION: HOW AN ANCIENT MYSTIC POET CHANGED MY MODERN MANIC LIFE
Melody Moezzi is an Iranian-American Muslim writer, activist, attorney, and award-winning author. A United Nations Global Expert and an Opinion Leader for the British Council’s Our Shared Future initiative, she is a visiting professor of creative nonfiction at the University of... Read More →
avatar for Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Author, CHILDREN OF THE LAND
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is the author of Cenzontle, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. prize (BOA editions 2018), winner of the 2019 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award in poetry, The Foreword Indies bronze prize, The Golden Poppy Award from N.C.B.I.A, and a finalist for... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1L: Building & Layering Tension
Limited Capacity filling up

If there's no tension in your story, then there's really no story. But how do you create and build and sustain tension? In this class for committed prose writers, we will explore the many different ways to add and build tension in your work. We'll look at various examples of masters in the art of creating tension and we'll practice with in-class exercises the different ways you can tighten the screws for your characters and your readers, too.

Speakers
avatar for Manuel Gonzales

Manuel Gonzales

Author, THE REGIONAL OFFICE IS UNDER ATTACK!
Manuel Gonzales is the author of the collection, The Miniature Wife and other stories, for which he received the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, and the novel, The Regional Office is Under Attack!, for which he received an Alex Award from the YALSA. His work has been published... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

1M: Paths to Publishing: Where Do I Start?
Limited Capacity seats available

From seeking your first publication to building your publishing career, it may seem as if there's one "right path" to become an author. In fact, the "best" way to publish is complicated, and different for everyone depending on your project and goals.

Author and Writing Coach Annalisa Parent helps authors to publish everyday. She will walk you through some of the important considerations to investigate as you discover the best publication path for you. She works closely with publishing industry professionals to get the most current information, and will share with you the ins and outs of publishing today: from self publishing to hybrid to traditional--and everything in between.

Speakers
avatar for Annalisa Parent

Annalisa Parent

Date With the Muse
Annalisa Parent helps writers to finish, publish and sell their novels. She owns and operates Date with the Muse, LLC, which helps storytellers to publish traditionally at the highest level possible.A Teacher of the Year nominee for her use of neuroscience principles, she applies... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2A: From "Writer" to "Author": Navigating Your Debut Year(s)
Limited Capacity filling up

Congratulations—you’ve sold your first novel. Now what? What can you expect in terms of the editorial process (including those dreaded copy edits and proofreading 1st, 2nd, and 3rd pass pages and beyond), title selection, cover design, publicity and marketing meetings, pre- and post-publication events, launch parties, most-anticipated and best-of lists, social media, book festivals, etc., etc.? No matter whether they’re with a Big Five or an indie press, first-time authors seem to agree that their year is a dizzying and confusing mix of terrifying and exhilarating. Two authors who have successfully made the transition from “writer” to “author” in 2019 share their tips on how best to launch your debut novel without going crazy.

Speakers
avatar for Whitney Scharer

Whitney Scharer

Author, THE AGE OF LIGHT
Whitney Scharer holds a BA in English Literature from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Her short fiction, essays, and interviews have appeared in numerous publications including Vogue, The Telegraph, The Tatler, and Bellevue Literary... Read More →
avatar for Angie Kim

Angie Kim

Author, MIRACLE CREEK
Angie Kim is the author of the national bestseller Miracle Creek, named a "Best Book of the Year" by Time and Amazon, a Washington Post Summer Read pick, a Top 10 AppleBooks Debut of the Year, and an IndieNext and LibraryReads pick. Kim is one of Variety Magazine’s “10 Storytellers... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2B: Forming and Publishing an Essay Collection
Limited Capacity seats available

The road to publishing an essay collection does not have to be a confusing process. In this workshop we will discuss how to polish single essays for journal submission, shop for journals that are a good fit for your work, and what nonfiction editors look for in submissions. We will then transition to strategies for compiling loose essays into a cohesive collection, including tips for writing between the "gaps" of your pieces, how to use key words as thematic anchors, and overall tips for structuring a strong collection.

Speakers
avatar for Artress Bethany White

Artress Bethany White

Author, SURVIVOR'S GUILT: ESSAYS ON RACE AND AMERICAN IDENTITY
Artress Bethany White is a poet, essayist, and literary critic. She is the recipient of the 2018 Trio Award for her poetry collection, My Afmerica (Trio House Press, 2019). Her collection of essays, Survivor’s Guilt: Essays on Race and American Identity is forthcoming from New Rivers... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2C: Writing the Climate Crisis
Limited Capacity seats available

In recent years climate change has risen to the forefront of human concerns. And yet, as David Wallace-Wells points out in his recent book, The Uninhabitable Earth, the dilemmas and dramas of our global environmental crisis are often mismatched to the kinds of stories we tell ourselves.  Can we address it in ways that are realistic and accessible, yet still leave space for hope and resiliency? How do writers address ecological catastrophe while still telling human stories of love, fear, grief, and longing that engage readers? This class will consider excerpts from authors such as Octavia Butler, Richard Powers, Cormac McCarthy, and Omar El Akkad, with the ultimate goal of helping participants formulate tools and strategies to address the changing planetary environment in their own work.

Speakers
avatar for Tim Weed

Tim Weed

Author, A FIELD GUIDE TO MURDER & FLY FISHING
Tim Weed’s short fiction collection, A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, made the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Shortlist, and his novel, Will Poole’s Island, was named to Bank Street College of Education’s list of the Best Books of the Year. Tim is the winner of... Read More →
avatar for Julie Carrick Dalton

Julie Carrick Dalton

Author, WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG
Julie Carrick Dalton's debut novel Waiting for the Night Song is forthcoming from Tor/Forge Macmillan in January 2021. Her second novel, The Last Beekeeper, comes out in 2022. Owner of a 100-acre farm in rural New Hampshire, Julie is passionate about the representation of climate... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2D: A Collection, a Book, a Conundrum: How to Make Your Short Story Collection Cohere
Limited Capacity seats available

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

Speakers
avatar for Steve Woodward

Steve Woodward

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


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2E: At the Beginning of the World: Writing Historical Fiction
Limited Capacity filling up

Description coming soon!

Speakers
avatar for Michael Zapata

Michael Zapata

Author, THE LOST BOOK OF ADANA MOREAU
Michael Zapata is the author of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau (Hanover Square Press/HarperCollins). He is a founding editor of the award-winning MAKE: A Literary Magazine. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction and the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
St. James Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2F: From Personal History to Social History: How to Get Beyond the ME in Memoir
Limited Capacity full

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Alysia Abbott

Alysia Abbott

Author, FAIRYLAND, A MEMOIR OF MY FATHER
Alysia Abbott’s memoir, Fairyland, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice, and was named Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and Shelf Awareness. It’s been translated into Polish, Spanish, Italian, and French and has been awarded the ALA Stonewall Award and the... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2G: It’s All in the Details
Limited Capacity full

How do we write fiction and creative non-fiction that makes our readers feel love, hope, dread, sadness, and the whole range of emotion embodied in our work? While pacing, setting, and structure all come into the play, one of the most powerful (and often overlooked) techniques for any writer is the use of specific and significant details. But too much detail can backfire, and too little can take the reader out of the "dream." 

In this session, we will learn how to use details effectively so our readers share our characters’ emotional worlds. We’ll look at how specificity, filtering, and use of the active voice can build meaning for the reader. We’ll discuss examples from R.O. Kwon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison and end with a short writing exercise that will help us apply what we’ve learned.

Speakers
avatar for Marjan Kamali

Marjan Kamali

Author, THE STATIONERY SHOP
Marjan Kamali was born in Turkey to Iranian parents and spent her childhood in Kenya, Germany, Turkey, Iran and the United States. She is the author of the novels The Stationery Shop (Gallery/Simon&Schuster), which was an Indie Next Pick, one of Newsweek’s Best Summer Books, and... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2H: Uninformed: Creating New Forms in Poetry
Limited Capacity seats available

Poets have used received forms for centuries, as their tight constraints prompt us to innovate constantly. But what if you want to write something more modern and unexpected-- a form of your own invention? Participants in this session will create a series of constraints to construct a form of poetry on their own. This exciting workshop will tempt writers into breaking all the rules of form poetry as we know it, in an attempt to create work new and unseen.

Speakers
avatar for Porsha Olayiwola

Porsha Olayiwola

Author, I SHIMMER SOMETIMES, TOO
Porsha Olayiwola is from the future! Black, poet, queer-dyke, hip-hop feminist, womanist: Porsha is a native of Chicago who now resides in Boston. Olayiwola is a writer, performer, educator and curator who uses afro-futurism and surrealism to examine historical and current issues... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2I: The Art of Perspective in Young Adult Fiction
Limited Capacity seats available

Perspective-- and point of view-- is arguably the most important craft element that every fiction writer must consider. But "perspective" takes on new meaning in the realm of young adult fiction, in which characters-- by virtue of their youth-- bring an urgency to the conflicts they navigate.

In this session, we'll discuss the unique challenges and opportunities of writing from the perspective of younger characters, and for a younger reading audience. We'll discuss particulars of voice, dialogue, plot (and sub-plots!), psychic narrative distance, and more, and the presenters will share their own "story behind the stories," and shifting perspectives, while writing their young adult novels. (to trim down?) Come with questions about your young adult manuscripts or ideas for one, and leave with more perspective of your own.

Speakers
avatar for Jennifer De Leon

Jennifer De Leon

Author, DON'T ASK ME WHERE I'M FROM
Born in the Boston area to Guatemalan parents, Jennifer De Leon is the author of the novel Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (Simon & Schuster/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2020) and the editor of Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). She graduated... Read More →
avatar for Desmond Hall

Desmond Hall

Author, YOUR CORNER DARK
I was born in Jamaica, West Indies and moved to Jamaica, Queens.I graduated Marquette University with a BA in Journalism and was selected for the “Who’s Who of American College Students.”I’ve written and directed an HBO feature movie, A Day in Black and White which was nominated... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am

2J: Desires, Fears, Urges, & Inhibitions: Narrating Your Characters’ Fantasy Lives
Limited Capacity filling up

As writers, we’re already personally familiar with how it feels to be moving through one reality in the physical world while our minds are often somewhere else – but how do you narrate such a scenario for your characters? We’ll take a look at a wide range of literary characters with active fantasy lives to answer this question. Walter Mitty is the classic example, but we’ll also look at additional historic and contemporary examples of literary characters whose reality is deeply affected by their fantasy lives. We’ll also study examples of non-fiction – like the best-selling memoir Educated – in which the narrative is propelled partly by the tension between the fantasy upheld by the author’s family and her experiences in the “real” world.

Along the way we’ll discuss how illuminating characters’ fantasy lives is a kind of hack. Why? Because accessing their fantasies allows you to convey your characters’ deepest fears and desires, urges and inhibitions, through the stories they dream up. You’re not stuck having characters think explicitly about their fears and desires — instead, they tell themselves a story that reveals aspects of their interior life that they, themselves, might be blind to. Whether it’s Sylvia Plath imagining herself as a fig tree or George Saunders’ lonely barber crafting elaborate erotic daydreams that fall apart even in his imagination, giving your characters active fantasy lives is a great way to reveal interiority, create tension between characters with competing fantasies, and propel your plot forward.



Come ready to talk about your fictional characters’ fantasy lives or – for the bravest among us – your own!


Speakers
avatar for Erin Almond

Erin Almond

Author, WITCHES' DANCE
Erin Eileen Almond is a novelist, short story writer, essayist and reviewer. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe, Colorado Review, Normal School, Small Spiral Notebook, and on WBUR's Cognoscenti, and The Rumpus.net. She is a graduate of the UC-Irvine MFA program and Wesleyan... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2K: Intuitive Timing: Using Patterns of Music for Strong Narrative Structure
Limited Capacity seats available

Try this: calculate the two-thirds mark in a piece of music and listen to see what happens at that point in time. Chances are, things become more complicated, denser. Melodies and patterns likely come to a sort of climax at right around that point in the music. Music isn't the only art form that often adheres to a structure of thirds. Some of the oldest narrative forms--fairy tales and folk tales--do too, and they've loaned their structure to many classic forms of narrative that follow.

In this session, we'll listen to short pieces by composers as wide-ranging as Wagner, Thomas Newman, Coltrane, and Beyoncé, among others, to hear how music tells its stories in three parts. You'll learn how to borrow from elements like the leitmotif, the coda, the refrain, to build stronger narrative structures for your novels, short fiction, and essays.

Speakers
avatar for Henriette Lazaridis

Henriette Lazaridis

Author, THE CLOVER HOUSE
Henriette Lazaridis is the author of the Boston Globe best-selling novel The Clover House. Her work has appeared in publications including ELLE, Narrative Magazine, Salamander, New England Review, The Millions, The New York Times online, and elsewhere, and has earned her a Massachusetts... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2L: Writing the Synopsis: Essentials, Tips, and Tricks For Crafting a Professional Synopsis
Limited Capacity full

Description coming!

Speakers
avatar for Kaitlyn Johnson

Kaitlyn Johnson

Literary Agent, Belcastro Literary Agency
After receiving a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, Kaitlyn refused to leave the concept of nightly homework behind. A literary agent for Belcastro Literary Agency, she is also a freelance editor at her own company, K. Johnson Editorial. Kaitlyn started her literary journey as a copyeditor for academic publisher codeMantra, a YA editor for Accent Press, a Conference Assistant for GrubStreet, Boston, and a former agent with Corvisiero Literary Agency. She has written various articles for Writer's Digest and has h... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

2M: Writing the Literary Thriller
Limited Capacity seats available

The “literary thriller” is, by definition, a hybrid genre, utilizing the techniques of great mysteries and thrillers—plot, pacing, unexpected twists, crime—to create a work of fiction that extends beyond mere potboiler and into the meaningful reservoir of literature. If that sounds simple, it isn’t. The literary thriller has a double job: It must work as a mystery thriller and as a resonant piece of writing. How do you manage to create the nail-biting tempo of a propulsive plot while managing to create meaning characters and ask the harder and less solvable questions? This seminar will offer some possibilities on style, structure, plotting, and ambitions when attempting to write a “literary thriller.” What makes a piece of work exciting literature? How do you stay true to plot and to character? How do you satisfy the reader's expectations and still feel you’ve written important material? A literary thriller can feel like trying to juggle rabid squirrels on fire, but this session will ask and answer these questions and more.

Speakers
avatar for Christopher Bollen

Christopher Bollen

Author, A BEAUTIFUL CRIME
Christopher Bollen is the author of four novels, Lightning People [2011], Orient [2015], The Destroyers [2017], and most recently, A Beautiful Crime [2020]. His novels have been published in several languages. He is also a journalist, who has written for a number of publications including... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

12:30pm

Muse Keynote: Viet Thanh Nguyen
Speakers
avatar for Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Keynote Speaker, THE REFUGEES
Viet Thanh Nguyen is a University Professor, Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 12:30pm - 1:30pm
Grand Ballroom - Mezzanine Level

1:45pm

3A: Literary Horror: What Is It and How Do You Write It?
Limited Capacity filling up

In the last decade or so, a new publishing category has arisen:  literary horror. It's been associated with some of the most exciting writers working at the darker end of the literary spectrum, a list that includes Nadia Bulkin, Brian Evenson, Hye-young Pyun, Jac Jemc, Victor LaValle, Samanta Schweblin, and Paul Tremblay.  

Through a consideration of selected passages from their work, we'll sketch the topography of this developing field. We'll examine narrative perspectives that are de-centered from the one traditionally associated with horror stories (i.e. white, male, and cis), and narrative approaches drawn from a variety of postmodern and experimental sources. From there, we'll use this map to point out possible routes interested writers might follow in their own fiction.

Speakers
avatar for John Langan

John Langan

Author, CHILDREN OF THE FANG AND OTHER GENEALOGIES
John Langan’s 2016 novel, The Fisherman, won the Bram Stoker and This Is Horror awards. He is the author of another novel, House of Windows (Night Shade 2009), and of three collections: Sefira and Other Betrayals (2019), The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies (2013... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

3B: The Conversation Without Answers: Writing Better Dialogue
Limited Capacity full

Dialogue is a convenient way to provide exposition and advance plot. But when writers concentrate only on these aims, the dialogue they write barely resembles the way people really talk. In this session, we’ll focus on how conversations -- with their interruptions, non sequiturs and misunderstandings -- can be used to characterize speakers and bring their relationships to the next level. We’ll look at transcripts from real conversations, as well as excerpts from published fiction that will include “Tomi” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine and “Our Lady of Peace” by ZZ Packer, among others. And we’ll use a series of writing prompts to try out techniques right in class.

Speakers
avatar for K Chess

K Chess

Author, FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED
K Chess is the author of Famous Men Who Never Lived (Tin House Books, 2019). Her writing has appeared in The Chicago Tribune’s Printer’s Row Journal, PANK, Salon, Tor.com and other outlets. Her short stories have been honored by the Nelson Algren Literary Award and the Pushcart... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

3C: The Big Q's: What to Ask Prospective Agents
Limited Capacity full

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

Speakers
avatar for Amy Elizabeth Bishop

Amy Elizabeth Bishop

Literary Agent, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret
Amy Elizabeth Bishop joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret in 2015 after interning for them in 2014. After a short stint as the financial & subrights assistant, she started assisting Jane Dystel, and in addition to managing her own list, now also oversees the office and the interns. Her... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

3D: Polished to Published: Placing Your Short Fiction in Literary Magazines and Small Presses
Limited Capacity full

Do you have short stories, essays, or poems that have been put through the wringer? Are you ready to take the leap into the submission world? Or perhaps you already have, but acceptances have been hard to come by? 

This session will demystify the submission process and provide specific strategies to maximize your chances at successful publication. From determining when your writing is ready for submission, to learning what parameters editors use to evaluate your work, to familiarizing yourself with the literary journal and small press landscape, you will receive resources, strategies, and tips that will ensure that your submissions are taken seriously. Whether you are working on individual stories or a full manuscript, realist fiction or more experimental work, we will discuss effective approaches to engage with a wide range of publications and ultimately find a home for your writing.

Speakers
avatar for Dariel Suarez

Dariel Suarez

Author, A KIND OF SOLITUDE
Dariel Suarez was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1997, during the island’s economic crisis known as The Special Period. Dariel’s story collection, A Kind of Solitude, was selected as the winner of the 2017 Spokane Short Fiction Prize... Read More →
avatar for Joy Baglio

Joy Baglio

Fiction Writer & Editor
Joy Baglio's short stories have appeared in or are forthcoming from Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, New Ohio Review, TriQuarterly, PANK, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere, and she's received fellowships and grants from The Corporation of Yaddo... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

3E: Please Sir, I Want Some More: How to Construct a Story with Multiple Timelines or Protagonists
Limited Capacity full

With the publishing world at last opening up to a diversity of voices and viewpoints, writing a single protagonist story with a single timeline in a single locale might feel, well, less than inspiring. Why can’t we have more? 

This session will explore the reasons for and against such a choice as well as how to find the right balance and structure to make it all work. Participants will leave with methods to create cohesion and continuity as well as ideas for organization and how to keep the writing flowing.

Speakers
avatar for Michelle Hoover

Michelle Hoover

Author, BOTTOMLAND
Michelle Hoover leads the GrubStreet Novel Incubator program and will be coordinating the 20th Anniversary Massachusetts Book Awards for the Mass Center for the Book. She is a 2014 NEA Fellow and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

3F: Get Out of Your Head: For Writers Considering Self-Publishing
Limited Capacity seats available

The thought of becoming a published author is daunting for most writers. We get stuck in our heads. We think we need validation from the “Big 5” to be taken seriously. News flash! You don’t need validation from a major publisher to publish a book.

In this session, writers will learn how to self-publish a professionally bound book in simple steps that are digestible and attainable for every writer. Come learn from a self published author who will share intimate details about the process of publishing and writing. Aspiring published authors will receive step by step instructions on how to turn an idea into a manuscript, the art of choosing a book title, and how to successfully work with designers and copy editors to create an aesthetically pleasing book worthy to be sold in bookstores and on Amazon.

Speakers
avatar for Nakia Hill

Nakia Hill

Author, I STILL DID IT
Nakia currently resides in the South End in Boston. She directs 826 Boston's Writers' Room program supporting K-12 teachers and students. Nakia was named one of seven 2018 Boston Artists-in-Residence by Mayor Marty Walsh. She felt extremely blessed to collaborate with local government... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

3G: Place as Character: Bringing the World to Life on the Page
Limited Capacity full

The places where we love and die, the homes we inherit and adopt, the library, the corner store, the basketball court, the city block and the small town meeting hall--the writer neglects the importance of such locations at her peril. When a piece of writing doesn't seem to be happening anywhere, we sense something's amiss, but when it takes full advantage of place, we find ourselves settling into the story's narrative, ready to be transported there.

In this directed writing session, attendees will explore strategies for fully fleshing out the "where" of the matter. In a series of short exercises, attendees will thoroughly imagine and map out their pieces' setting so that the characters they create will have a proper place to live, whether that's the treehouse in the banyan or the city in the sky

Speakers
avatar for Maria Pinto

Maria Pinto

Fiction Writer
Maria Pinto is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared or will appear in Frigg, Necessary Fiction, The Butter, Word Riot, and Dostoevsky Wannabe Cities: Boston. She studied Creative Writing and Women’s and Gender Studies at Brandeis University, where her work was awarded... Read More →
avatar for Paloma Valenzuela

Paloma Valenzuela

Director, Producer, & Writer, THE PINEAPPLE DIARIES
Paloma Valenzuela is a Dominican-American writer, director and actress originally from the city of Boston. She is the creative director of the production operation La Gringa Loca Productions based in Boston and the Dominican Republic. Paloma has worked on several Dominican productions... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

3H: Writing While Multilingual: How to Leverage Your Languages for Strong Fiction
Limited Capacity seats available

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Anjali Duva

Anjali Duva

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


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

3I: Art of the Book of Poems: Structure and Surprise
Limited Capacity seats available

In this interactive talk, we’ll be discussing strategies behind putting together a manuscript of poems. We’ll look briefly at some models of collections, talk about beginnings and endings of books, and we will also talk about prompts that may assist in filling manuscript holes. Participants in this session will attempt exercises that may benefit the structure of a larger work.

Speakers
avatar for Oliver de la Paz

Oliver de la Paz

Author, THE BOY IN THE LABYRINTH
Oliver de la Paz is the author of five collections of poetry: Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby, Requiem for the Orchard, Post Subject: A Fable, and The Boy in the Labyrinth. He also co-edited A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. A founding member... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

3J: When the Protagonist is You: Using Novelists' Techniques for Your Memoir
Limited Capacity full

Fiction writers spend a lot of time developing their protagonist, creating conflict for them, and moving them through a propulsive plot. But what if you're writing a memoir, and the protagonist is you? What craft techniques can memoirists learn from novelists?

In this class, we'll discuss how to apply the craft elements commonly associated with fiction-- including character development, narrative arc, structure, plot, and more-- to our memoirs-in-progress. Before the author Reyna Grande embarked on her memoir-writing journey, she first wrote two novels, and learned how the two genres can learn from one another. She'll share tricks from fiction that she used to write her memoirs, The Distance Between Us and A Dream Called Home, which will come in handy as you become the protagonist of your story.

Speakers
avatar for Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande

Author, A DREAM CALLED HOME
Reyna Grande is the author of the bestselling memoir, The Distance Between Us, (Atria, 2012) where she writes about her life before and after she arrived in the United States from Mexico as an undocumented child immigrant. The much-anticipated sequel, A Dream Called Home (Atria... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

3K: Nonfiction Idea Clinic
Limited Capacity seats available

In this session, the moderator (an established writer) will offer a brief preamble of the art of the non-fiction idea. Then, you will get two minutes to share your own idea for a non-fiction book for the audience, the moderator, and a panel of experts. The experts are agents, editors and publicists with years of experience working with non-fiction writers to turn their book proposals into reality and to promote them in the marketplace. After you read your idea (preferably from a text you have prepared and brought with you!), the agents and editors will ask you follow-up questions and troubleshoot your idea. You will discuss issues of platform, expertise, the viability of the idea itself, and other elements of the non-fiction market.

Please note that presenters will be chosen at random from names submitted in a hat at the start of the session. Unfortunately, given the volume of submissions, we can not guarantee that your name will be called. This is a fun event that aims to be respectful of your idea and illuminate the process a writer goes through when she is developing an idea with an agent and/or editor. The point is not to get through as many writers as possible, but to thoughtfully evaluate your ideas and offer concrete suggestions from which all could benefit. Though most people will be reading ideas for full-length books, you may also read an idea for a feature story or article to assess its viability with the panel of experts.

Speakers
avatar for Jessica Papin

Jessica Papin

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

Linda K. Wertheimer

Author, Faith Ed.
Linda K. Wertheimer, a veteran journalist and a Grub Street instructor, is the author of Faith Ed, Teaching About Religion In An Age of Intolerance, published by Beacon Press in August 2015. Faith Ed, which grew out of a nonfiction proposal she wrote in a Finding Your Book course... Read More →
avatar for Jonah Straus

Jonah Straus

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

Annie Hwang

Literary Agency, Ayesha Pande Literary
Before joining Ayesha Pande Literary, Annie began her career at Folio Literary Management where she had the pleasure of working with debut and seasoned authors alike. As a former journalist, Annie possesses a keen editorial eye which she brings to her approach to agenting, taking... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

1:45pm

3L: Adapting Books for Film and TV
Limited Capacity seats available

How does a book get made into a film or TV show, and how can authors help make it happen? In this nuts-and-bolts presentation, Phil Cohen-- literary scout for Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema-- will demystify the acquisition process, and reveal the many steps of how a novel or nonfiction work gets adapted for the screen. Celeste Ng will share her story from the author's perspective, as her bestselling novel Little Fires Everywhere comes out as a Hulu show in mid-March, and whose Everything I Never Told You is currently being made into a feature film. What, if anything, can an author do at each stage of the acquisition and adaptation process, to help our books become successful films or shows?

Come with your questions, and a riveting conversation.

Speakers
avatar for Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng

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

Phil Cohen

Literary Executive, Warner Bros.
Phil Cohen is a developmental editor and literary executive for Warner Bros. Throughout his time there, and in his previous role at Sony Pictures, Phil has acquired dozens of books, comics, graphic novels, and long-form articles to develop into feature films and television series... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

Friday Afternoon Break
Friday April 3, 2020 3:00pm - 3:30pm

3:30pm

4A: Realism with a Twist: Bending the Truth to Get Closer to It
Limited Capacity seats available

Franz Kafka transformed his unhappy Samsa into an insect. Colson Whitehead brought Cora from slavery on an actual underground train. Mohsin Hamid sent his refugees through a door to a different life. All of these books tweak the boundaries of realism. They tell of worlds that look much like our own – no dystopian futures or imagined planets – but some element is made strange. And as a result, we can see our troubled world more clearly.

When we’re writing about frightening political, social, and climate situations, realism can’t always adequately describe the real world. In this session, through lectures and exercises, we’ll explore adding magic and metaphor to the realist novel. We’ll look at work by Zadie Smith, Ruth Ozeki, Valeria Luisella and others as we talk about ways to wake up our readers. How can we defamiliarize difficult truths that we often try to ignore? What can we learn from allegories and fairy tales? How can we, as writers, pay attention differently in order to know the world better?

Speakers
avatar for Heather Abel

Heather Abel

Author, THE OPTIMISTIC DECADE
Heather Abel’s debut novel, The Optimistic Decade was an Indie Next pick, a Massachusetts Center of the Book 2018 "Must Read" and received praise from the New York Times, People Magazine, New York Magazine, and the Seattle Times, among many other places. Her essays have appeared... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

4B: How I Wrote This: Discussion of CONFESSIONS OF THE FOX by Jordy Rosenberg, with Andrea Lawlor
Limited Capacity seats available

We’re thrilled to welcome author Jordy Rosenberg as our Muse 2020 Fellow in Fiction, for his hilarious and fascinating novel, Confessions of the Fox. Rosenberg's book imagines the real-life, infamous thief Jack Sheppard as a transgender hero, and follows their escapades in gender-fluid, 18th century London. Praised for its "vulpine versatility" and a "comedy spliced with period erotica," it's like nothing we've ever read. Hosting the conversation is Andrea Lawlor, author of the transfixing Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl.

Join Rosenberg for an intimate discussion about his construction of Confessions of the Fox, his writing process, and more.

This event is FREE & open to the public. Pre-reading the collection is recommended, but not required.

Speakers
avatar for Andrea Lawlor

Andrea Lawlor

Author, PAUL TAKES THE FORM OF A MORTAL GIRL
Andrea Lawlor teaches writing at Mount Holyoke College, edits fiction for Fence magazine, and has been awarded fellowships by Lambda Literary and Radar Labs. Their writing has appeared in various literary journals including Ploughshares, Mutha, the Millions, jubilat, the Brooklyn... Read More →
avatar for Jordy Rosenberg

Jordy Rosenberg

Muse 2020 Fellow in Fiction, CONFESSIONS OF THE FOX
Jordy Rosenberg is the author of Confessions of the Fox (Random House, 2018) - a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, a Publishing Triangle Award, and the UK Historical Writers Association Debut Crown Award. Confessions has been recognized... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

3:30pm

4C: Writing Sentences that Sing
Limited Capacity filling up

What are captivating sentences, and how do we write them? How can we borrow from music and poetry to produce vivid, arresting prose that activates the imagination and delights our inner ear? In this session, we’ll explore concrete strategies for crafting musical sentences in fiction and non-fiction. We’ll look closely at how to harness rhythm, meter, assonance, consonance, alliteration, internal rhyme, and other techniques to deepen meaning and create unforgettable prose that readers will love. You'll have a chance to try out these techniques in your own writing, and we'll discuss examples from contemporary authors such as Justin Torres, Sonya Larson, and Jesmyn Ward. Together, we'll work toward a collective understanding of what makes great sentences sing.

Speakers
avatar for Colwill Brown

Colwill Brown

Fiction Writer
Colwill Brown is an instructor and manuscript consultant at GrubStreet, an associate editor at Bat City Review, and an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the recipient of the Wellspring House Emerging Writer Fellowship, the Henry Blackwell Essay Prize, and... Read More →
avatar for Jonathan Escoffery

Jonathan Escoffery

Fiction & Nonfiction Writer
Jonathan Escoffery’s writing has appeared in The Paris Review, AGNI, Pleiades, Salt Hill, The Caribbean Writer, Creative Nonfiction, Solstice Literary Magazine, Pangyrus, and elsewhere. His most recent honors include a Distinguished Story citation in The Best American Short Stories... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

4D: Negotiating Time in Memoir and Novels
Limited Capacity full

In books, as in life, timing is everything. How do we deliver a story in the right order? How should a book unfold? In memoir and fiction, linear chronology can be boring, but if we play around with the sequence of events too much, the reader may feel confused or disconcerted. 

In this session, we will think about structure and how to organize a story's timing for maximum impact. Specifically, we look at how to incorporate backstory. Too much of it up front and you risk losing the reader; too little, and your story may lack depth. We will examine how to raise the stakes so that flashbacks feel necessary and urgent. We will also explore when in time a story should begin. We'll consider techniques and strategies to manipulate the reader's experience of time, with an eye towards how these affect pacing and voice.

Speakers
avatar for Maya Lang

Maya Lang

Author, WHAT WE CARRY
Maya Shanbhag Lang is the author of What We Carry: A Memoir, forthcoming from Random House in April 2020, and The Sixteenth of June: A Novel. Her novel was featured in The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and In Style, was a Finalist for the 2015 Audie Awards for best... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

4E: Researching and Choosing Agents to Query
Limited Capacity full

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

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

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


Speakers
avatar for Louise Miller

Louise Miller

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


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Amina Gautier

Amina Gautier

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


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

4G: Omniscience
Limited Capacity filling up

The omniscient point of view provides a fictional narrator with a boundless range of motion, whether it’s traversing miles or decades in a single sentence, soaring high above the story-world, or darting like a trout in and out of the consciousness of even the most minor character. In this craft-oriented session, with the help of notable passages from classic and contemporary novels, we’ll examine the tactics and strategies of omniscience. The goal will be to develop a clearer grasp of this expansive point of view and how it can be used in the current age to create stories of unusual depth, clarity, and emotional complexity.

Speakers
avatar for Tim Weed

Tim Weed

Author, A FIELD GUIDE TO MURDER & FLY FISHING
Tim Weed’s short fiction collection, A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, made the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Shortlist, and his novel, Will Poole’s Island, was named to Bank Street College of Education’s list of the Best Books of the Year. Tim is the winner of... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

4H: A Tale of Two Narrative Modes: Linear vs. Atmospheric Storytelling
Limited Capacity full

Are you someone who relies on drama to push your stories or essays forward? Or do you prefer to "feel" your way into a narrative by creating a distinctive atmosphere?

This session will consider two different "modes" of storytelling and explore the strengths and challenges of each. We’ll examine excerpts from two highly accomplished authors: international bestseller Elena Ferrante (translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein) and Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano (translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti, among others). While Ferrante often uses events and plot points to drive her narratives, Modiano's atmospheric novels lure the reader toward a truth or mystery that is ultimately elusive.

Through discussion, Q&A, and, as time allows, writing prompts, we’ll consider the effects of these different narrative approaches. You’ll leave with tools to discover compelling forms for your own project.

Speakers
avatar for Shuchi Saraswat

Shuchi Saraswat

Fiction & Nonfiction Writer
Shuchi Saraswat's work has appeared in Ecotone, Tin House online, Literary Hub, Women’s Review of Books, and Quick Fiction. Her essay "The Journey Home" received a special mention in Pushcart XLII 2018 and is anthologized in Trespass: Ecotone Essayists Beyond the Boundaries of Place... Read More →
avatar for Stacy Mattingly

Stacy Mattingly

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


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

4I: Addressing Race and Racial Identity as Writers and Readers
Limited Capacity seats available

In our race-conscious society, white people are asked, often reluctantly, to define themselves as racial beings, a process to which people of color have been socialized since birth. Racial identity is the psychological connection we have with our race; its resolution process occurs for everyone, regardless of one’s identified race.

As writers, how might our characters, arguments, and storylines reflect any conscious and unconscious racial bias that we hold? As readers, how might our racial identities affect how we resonate with, review and recommend books, short stories, essays and poetry?

In this engaged conversation, two writer-psychologists explore with participants how to challenge and reframe dominant narratives about race, how to sharpen our perceptions of the impact of our racial identity on our writing, and how to read with greater racial consciousness. Using our collective wisdom, we will work toward a more enlightened understanding of race and racial identity in writing.

Speakers
avatar for Molly Howes

Molly Howes

Author, A GOOD APOLOGY
Molly Howes is a graduate of both the first Memoir Incubator and the only Nonfiction Career Lab, two of GrubStreet’s yearlong, intensive programs.Her work has appeared in the New York Times “Modern Love” column, Boston Globe Magazine, WBUR “Cognoscenti” column, NPR Morning... Read More →
avatar for Deborah Plummer

Deborah Plummer

Chief Diversity Officer, UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care
Deborah L. Plummer, PhD is a psychologist, university professor, diversity thought leader, author, and speaker on topics central to racial equality, inclusion, and mutual respect.Her groundbreaking and timely book, Some of My Friends Are…The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

4J: Show Me the Money: The (Surprisingly Lucrative) World of Freelance Writing
Limited Capacity filling up

"Writing?" your relatives ask you, a look of pity in their eyes. "Can you really make enough money to get by?"

You can do a whole lot more than that.

While much of the current discussion around freelance writing centers on stagnant word-rates and shrinking editorial budgets at major magazines, the happy truth is that a talented and hard-working writer can earn an income well into the six figures. The trick is to look beyond the newsstand and search out lucrative, unadvertised opportunities in high-demand sectors like technology, business, healthcare, and even the nonprofit world. Organizations in these fields often have an insatiable demand for new content, along with the sorts of budgets that -- for a disciplined writer -- can result in thousands of dollars of work per week.

This session will cover how to identify, seek out, and create new opportunities, as well as how to quickly build up expertise in areas of high demand.

Speakers
avatar for Calvin Hennick

Calvin Hennick

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


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

4K: The Poet's Marketplace
Limited Capacity seats available

Prose-writers often speak of agents and synopses and book proposals, but what do you do if you're a poet? How do find enthusiastic audience for your poetry, whether in submitting collections to presses and contests, networking with editors, or building an audience poem by poem? Join this lively discussion among prominent poetry editors, publishing staff, active community members, and fellow successful poets about an opaque but vital topic: the "marketplace" of poetry. You'll leave with a clearer understanding of this landscape, and how to proceed in finding the readers you'll connect with most.

Speakers
avatar for Kristina Darling

Kristina Darling

Author, DIFFICULT: ESSAYS ON CONTEMPORARY FEMINIST POETRY
Kristina Marie Darling is the author of thirty-four books, including DIFFICULT: Essays on Contemporary Feminist Poetry (Black Ocean, forthcoming); Look to Your Left: A Feminist Poetics of Spectacle (Akron Poetry Series, forthcoming); Angel of the North (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming... Read More →
avatar for Martha Rhodes

Martha Rhodes

Author, THE THIN WALL
Martha Rhodes is the author of five poetry collections, most recently The Thin Wall (Pitt Poetry Series, 2017). She teaches at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and at Sarah Lawrence College. She is a guest editor at Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the Colrain... Read More →
avatar for Regie Gibson

Regie Gibson

Poet, STORMS BENEATH THE SKIN
Regie Gibson, has lectured and performed in the U.S., Cuba, and Europe. In Italy, representing the U.S., Regie competed for and received the Absolute Poetry Award (Monfalcone) & the Europa en Versi Award (LaGuardia di Como). Himself & his work appear in love jones: a feature-film... Read More →
avatar for Frances Donovan

Frances Donovan

Poet, MAD QUICK HAND OF THE SEASHORE
Frances Donovan’s chapbook Mad Quick Hand of the Seashore (Reaching Press, 2018) was named a finalist in the 31st Lambda Literary Awards. Publication credits include The Rumpus, Snapdragon, and SWWIM. She holds an MFA in poetry from Lesley University, is a certified Poet Educator... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

4L: When Small Presses Take You Big Places: Maximizing the Impact of Small Press Book
Limited Capacity seats available

Big publishing houses want big stories – stories that reaffirm what people already believe, stories that they “know” will sell well. Small presses, on the other hand, can-- and want to-- take bigger risks, challenging readers with unexpected stories. They often value quality and originality over marketability and "platform,” and give authors more personalized attention than a large press. This session features authors who had original, unexpected stories to tell, and who each eventually decided that a small press would give them greater freedom to tell these stories truthfully. Is your story "difficult?" Does it challenge dominant beliefs? Is your form creative or nontraditional? Then maybe a small press is right for you, too. This session will discuss how these authors made their choices, and suggest how you might make your own.

Speakers
avatar for Nina McConigley

Nina McConigley

Author, COWBOYS AND EAST INDIANS
Nina McConigley is the author of the story collection Cowboys and East Indians, which won the 2014 PEN Open Book Award and a High Plains Book Award. She was born in Singapore and grew up in Wyoming. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston and an MA from the University of Wyoming... Read More →
avatar for Ron MacLean

Ron MacLean

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

Nathan Rostron

Editor, Restless Books
Nathan Rostron is the Editor and Marketing Director at Restless Books, an independent, nonprofit publisher of international literature, based in Brooklyn. Restless is devoted to championing essential voices from around the world, whose stories speak to us across linguistic and cultural... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

4M: History Walks With Us: Mythology, Memory, & Fantasy in the World and in Fiction
Limited Capacity seats available

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Rion Scott

Rion Scott

Author, THE WORLD DOESN'T REQUIRE YOU
Rion Amilcar Scott is the author of the story collection, The World Doesn’t Require You (Norton/Liveright, August 2019). His debut story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016), was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Hillsdale... Read More →
avatar for Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older

Author, SHADOWSHAPER LEGACY
Daniel José Older is the award-winning author of both YA and adult books. His most recent adult novel is The Book of Lost Saints (Macmillan, 2019), which Publisher’s Weekly, in a starred review, called, “thoroughly transportive,” and Marlon James called “spellbinding... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

4:45pm

LGBTQ+ Writers, Agents, and Editors Meet-Up
We're hosting a fun and casual gathering for all attendees, authors, editors, and agents at the Muse who identify as LGBTQ+, though all are welcome to join in.

Friday April 3, 2020 4:45pm - 5:45pm
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

4:45pm

5:30pm

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

To reserve a spot, you must pay an additional $100 fee and request a table and as you register for the conference and space is limited.

Friday April 3, 2020 5:30pm - 6:45pm
Maggiano's 4 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02116

6:45pm

Spitballing... Or Is It?
In this fun and fast-moving event, watch live authors use the "spitballing" techniques of screenwriters to push initial story ideas into wilder and more provocative possibilities. This year, we’re adding a twist: in exploring the “Imagination & Reality” theme, our author-panelists will brainstorm ideas for Things That Are Not What They Seem. Come ready to brainstorm, laugh, and contribute your own ideas too.

Friday April 3, 2020 6:45pm - 8:00pm
Avenue 34 - Lobby Level
 
Saturday, April 4
 

7:00am

9:00am

5A: Different Worlds and Different Bodies: the Disabled Figure in Literature
Limited Capacity seats available

From Tiny Tim to the Seven Dwarves, disability in literature all too often falls into ableist tropes that continue to perpetuate disabled exclusion. 

How, then, do we look to expand disability representation in literature? How can we work toward representing the vast richness of disability experience on the page in thoughtful, inclusive ways?

Join writer Amanda Leduc on a part-history adventure, part-brainstorming discussion, all-round fabulous discussion class on how to increase disability representation in your work in ways that centre and respect the disabled experience.

Speakers
avatar for Amanda Leduc

Amanda Leduc

Author, DISFIGURED: ON FAIRY TALES, DISABILITY, AND MAKING SPACE
Amanda Leduc is a disabled author with cerebral palsy whose essays and stories have appeared in publications across Canada and the US. She holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews, UK. Her first novel, The Miracles of Ordinary Men, was published... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

5B: Perfecting Voice in Historical Fiction
Limited Capacity filling up

The language we choose when writing historical fiction can bring the past to life or spoil it for our readers. The pitfalls of wrong tone, word choice, or cadence are ever present. Yet when we get it right, we can succeed at integrating all aspects of our story to make a distant era as real as our present day.

Through close readings in Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers, Edward P. Jones’s The Known World, Paulette Giles, News of the World, and Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Chamber, we’ll study how authors combine contemporary and period language to build their fictional worlds. We’ll also look at examples of where it goes wrong: fussy, old-timey, or pseudo-historical language that disrupts the narrative. Then we’ll consider our own writing, applying what we’ve learned as we find our own best, historically inspired voice.

Speakers
avatar for Virginia Pye

Virginia Pye

Author, SHELF LIFE OF HAPPINESS
Virginia Pye’s Shelf Life of Happiness won the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Award for Short Fiction. Her novel, Dreams of the Red Phoenix, was named a Best Book of 2015 by Richmond Times Dispatch, and her debut novel, River of Dust, was an Indie Next Pick and a 2013 Finalist... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

5C: #QueryTips: Demystifying the Query Process
Limited Capacity full

The act of querying can feel dizzying, confusing, overwhelming, [insert panicked adjective here]. In #QueryTips, you’ll learn about common mistakes to avoid with your queries, suggestions on where to find the right agent, and ways to make your query stand out. Take heart: querying just might be simpler than you think!

Speakers
avatar for Amy Elizabeth Bishop

Amy Elizabeth Bishop

Literary Agent, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret
Amy Elizabeth Bishop joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret in 2015 after interning for them in 2014. After a short stint as the financial & subrights assistant, she started assisting Jane Dystel, and in addition to managing her own list, now also oversees the office and the interns. Her... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Statler Room - Mezzanine Level

9:00am

5D: When Revision Becomes Re-Envisioning
Limited Capacity full

Revision is the most essential—and for many, the most difficult—aspect of the writing process. Ideally, revision should open up new directions that allow you to re-envision your entire project, but after investing so much energy in the first draft, it can be hard to see new possibilities.

Through lecture and lively exercises, we will explore a variety of revision strategies meant to help you see the possibilities ready to burst from your latest draft. Whether you approach your manuscript spatially, visually, musically, or one word at a time, you'll find new ways to energize your writing.

Speakers
avatar for Brendan Mathews

Brendan Mathews

Author, THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG
Brendan Mathews is the author of the short story collection This is Not a Love Song and the novel The World of Tomorrow, both published by Little, Brown. The World of Tomorrow was chosen as an Honor Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards, longlisted for the Center for Fiction First... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

5E: How to Save Your Character From a Drowning Story
Limited Capacity seats available

As writers, we've all experienced that moment when it becomes painfully clear that the story we're working on just isn't. We've tried to twist and bend it this way and that, but we've come to the end of the rope on the manuscript and have to let go. But what if the character/protagonist won't let go of you? What if the character continues to haunt you and you simply cannot give up on them? Here's how to rescue a great protagonist from a less than great story and not end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

This presentation will offer actionable tips for ways to salvage the "good" from a story before hitting DELETE.

Speakers
avatar for Nicole Blades

Nicole Blades

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

5F: Getting Read, Noticed, and Understood on Sensitive Topics in Impossibly Polarized Times
Limited Capacity seats available

Learn to take the heat and take charge when taking a stand on hot-button issues, like politics, culture, gender, and race. This skill is more important than ever in today's polarized climate. Silence is a temptation, but not an option. Mary C. Curtis, award-winning journalist, columnist and essayist, will share how to add your voice - and change the narrative - to the never-ending debate on issues that matter, while keeping your sanity and the worst of the critics at bay, and offer tips on how to craft writing that is marketable to a variety of publishing outlets, no matter their particular persuasion. Yes, there are ways that may not get readers or editors to agree, but may lead them to grudging respect. Bring an idea and be prepared to explain it, defend it, and get readers to care. Walk away with a one-page sheet of never miss writing essentials.

Speakers
avatar for Mary C. Curtis

Mary C. Curtis

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

5G: Dialogue: Crafting Conversation in Fiction
Limited Capacity filling up

Excellent dialogue is crucial in the creation of in-real-time scenes. In this hands-on, interactive workshop, participants will see how conversation can be used to reveal more about character and plot, learn to identify and fix seven common mistakes, and discuss examples written by master writers.

Speakers
avatar for Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

5H: How to Think About Comparison & Competing Titles
Limited Capacity seats available

Description coming!

Speakers
avatar for Jessica Papin

Jessica Papin

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

9:00am

5I: Why YA: The Unique Power of Young Adult Literature to Engage Difficult Topics
Limited Capacity seats available

Fiction writers in 2020 are surrounded by contemporary topics that demand attention, and yet challenge honest treatment. Grounded in his own experience writing about the aftermath of a school shooting, author Joseph Moldover will explore the power of Young Adult literature to addressing difficult, seemingly intractable topics, and the ability of the young voice to find unique perspectives on these problems.

We will ask what it means to address adult issues from a young perspective, how this differs from books about similar topics written from adult perspectives, and whether it makes sense to differentiate young adult from adult material in a world in which the older generations bequeath so many problems to the young.

Speakers
avatar for Joseph Moldover

Joseph Moldover

Author, EVERY MOMENT AFTER
Joseph Moldover is the author of Every Moment After, a Young Adult novel exploring the long-term impact of a school shooting. He has also published works of short fiction in MonkeyBicycle, One Teen Story, Typehouse, The MacGuffin, and elsewhere. Much of his prior work appeared under... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Hancock Room - Mezzanine Level

9:00am

5J: Balancing Act: The Writing Life, the Day Job, and Everything in Between
Limited Capacity seats available

Maintaining a writing practice when you have a demanding day job, family, and life happening can be tough. But it's doable! In this session, Melissa Rivero will discuss how she managed to write a novel while working as a lawyer in a tech startup, raising a family, and what she's learned from the publishing process. Come with your own challenges in maintaining the "balancing act," and we'll share tips, tricks, and solutions.

Speakers
avatar for Melissa Rivero

Melissa Rivero

Author, THE AFFAIRS OF THE FALCÓNS
Melissa Rivero was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of NYU and Brooklyn Law School. She currently works as in-house legal counsel at a startup. Melissa still lives in Brooklyn with her family. Her debut novel, The Affairs of the Falcóns, won the New American... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

5K: Hybrid Publishing: How It Works and What It's Like
Limited Capacity seats available

Hybrid Publishing is hotter than ever, giving authors more control over their destiny. But what happens after the books are printed? Learn how Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, award-winning author of Eden (She Writes Press, 2017) and The Nine (She Writes Press Aug ’19) chose hybrid publishing, and assembled a team to create buzz, find traction, and achieve her dream of connecting with readers. She'll teach you how to evaluate a hybrid press, what to look for in a publicist, and what you’ll have to do on your own. Coming off a three-year journey, she'll also discuss her strategies for social media, breaking into book stores, and getting reviewed.

Speakers
avatar for Jeanne Blasberg

Jeanne Blasberg

Author, THE NINE
Jeanne Blasberg is the author of The Nine and Eden, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Awards for Women’s Fiction and finalist for both the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Fiction and the Sarton Women’s Book Award for Historical Fiction. Eden was released in May 2017... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

5L: From Page to Stage: Writing for the Moth, Story Slams, and Live Storytelling Events
Limited Capacity seats available

Description coming!

Speakers
avatar for Adam Stumacher

Adam Stumacher

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

9:00am

5M: Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence: Writing Your Logline
Limited Capacity seats available

Called “The Book Whisperer” by CNN, prolific producer Lane Shefter Bishop has the answers for how to sell what you write. During this "Loglines" session, Lane will give insider information only found in her book Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence (Norton, 2016) which teaches writers the secret to selling their work to agents, editors, publishers, and producers. After all, you can have the best material in the world but that doesn’t matter if you can’t sell it!

Speakers
avatar for Lane Shefter Bishop

Lane Shefter Bishop

Literary Agent, Vast Entertainment
Lane Shefter Bishop is a multi-award-winning producer/director who has received numerous accolades for her work including an EMMY, six Telly Awards, a Videographer Award, three Communicator Awards, a Sherril C. Corwin Award, an Aurora Award, a Davey Award, a New York Festivals Award... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

6A: Query Clinic: Live Feedback on Query Letters
Limited Capacity full

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Sorche Fairbank

Sorche Fairbank

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am

6B: Narrative Unbound: Experimental Structures in Essays and Stories
Limited Capacity seats available

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Ron MacLean

Ron MacLean

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

Sari Boren

Playwright, TO REST
Sari Boren is an essayist and playwright who has published in Copper Nickel, Lilith Magazine, The Southeast Review, Alimentum, Hobart, and Pangyrus, among others. She teaches creative nonfiction at GrubStreet and co-manages Boston’s Four Stories reading series. In 2019 she was... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

6C: Social Media Hack: Utilizing Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to Authentically Engage (and Not Annoy) Readers
Limited Capacity filling up

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Sara DiVello

Sara DiVello

Author, WHERE IN THE OM AM I?
Sara DiVello is the author of the best-selling book Where in the OM Am I? One Woman’s Journey from the Corporate World to the Yoga Mat, NIEA winner for Best Memoir, selected by Shape Magazine as a best book, and chosen by Working Mother as one of the top eight memoirs of the year... Read More →
avatar for Jenna Blum

Jenna Blum

Author, THOSE WHO SAVE US
Jenna Blum is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels Those Who Save Us (Harcourt, 2002) and The Stormchasers (Dutton, 2010) and novella “The Lucky One” in the collection Grand Central (Berkeley/ Penguin, 2014). Jenna is also the author of the audiobook... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

6D: Your Nonfiction Book Proposal: Key Questions to Answer
Limited Capacity seats available

You may have been told that a nonfiction book proposal is a marketing tool, and it is. But it is also a narrative about why your book should be published. To tell this story, you will need to answer important questions: Why are you telling this story? Why is this book important now? Who is your ideal reader? What books do your readers already love and why?

In this session, we’ll talk about how the answers to these question will help you craft every section of a proposal so that it is more compelling. These answers can even help you sharpen the focus of your book and create the outline of chapters. We will look at excerpts from successful proposals and discuss how the writers answered these questions to build their proposals.

Speakers
avatar for Michelle Seaton

Michelle Seaton

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

6E: To Whom Are You Telling Your Tale? Race & the Question of Readership
Limited Capacity seats available

In some writing workshops, writers are told not to worry about their audience, but to focus on their craft. And yet, in Playing in the Dark: Whiteness & the Literary Imagination, Toni Morrison exposes issues of race that underlie the question, To whom are you telling your tale? “For reasons that should not need explanation here, until very recently, and regardless of the race of the author, the readers of virtually all of American fiction have been positioned as white,” Morrison writes. The implication here is that white writers don’t think about readers of color; in contrast, writers of color are aware their work will be read and judged by white readers even if some, as Morrison did, feel they are writing primarily to their community.

How are writers to navigate the question of readership in America’s rapidly shifting demographics? Can or should one write for a specific audience? How are these questions related to four fundamental questions of any narration, either in fiction or nonfiction: Who is the narrator? To whom is the narrator telling their tale? When is the narrator telling their tale? Why is the narrator telling their tale? This session explores aesthetic choices that often go unexamined to help writers discover how considering their intended reader can be liberating, rather than restrictive. For writers of color, this may entail a deeper freedom to own their own voice and material; for white writers, this may mean expanding their vision and material.

Speakers
avatar for David Mura

David Mura

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Hancock Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am

6F: Last Evenings on Earth: Writing the Otherworldly
Limited Capacity seats available

When we write fiction, we create parallel worlds. As such, possibility is not only a question of genre or believability on the page, but also one of language: what if?

This is especially true of Latin-American fiction, in which the relationship between the past and the future, the real and the unreal is often blurred beyond recognition. Through a close reading of two stories by Claudia Hernández, this class will explore these relationships and discuss writing techniques and strategies to create the otherworldly.

The class will include a short lecture on Latin-American literary traditions; craft discussion; and an exercise.

Speakers
avatar for Michael Zapata

Michael Zapata

Author, THE LOST BOOK OF ADANA MOREAU
Michael Zapata is the author of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau (Hanover Square Press/HarperCollins). He is a founding editor of the award-winning MAKE: A Literary Magazine. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction and the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

6G: Do Leave Them Hanging: Why Suspense is Critical in Any Fiction And How To Create It
Limited Capacity full

Some stories offer themselves naturally as arenas for suspense. Death is near; disaster looms; desire turns dangerous. But what about a story in which the dramatic stakes are quieter, or not quite clear from the start? How can we make a reader hold her breath even when she’s not sure what she’s holding it for? 

This session will explore the critical role suspense plays in any fiction, help reframe our notions of what constitutes and creates suspense, and provide concrete examples of writers using pacing, imagery, structure, repetition, syntax, etc. to heighten tension and compel readers to keep reading.

Speakers
avatar for Anna Solomon

Anna Solomon

Author, THE BOOK OF V.
Anna Solomon is the author of three novels—The Book of V., Leaving Lucy Pear, and The Little Bride—and a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. Her short fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, One Story, The Boston Globe, Tablet... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Statler Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am

6H: Stealth Description
Limited Capacity filling up

We’ve all had the experience of reading a book or story and finding ourselves skimming—perhaps even skipping—a stagnant paragraph of scene-setting description. Yet there are ways to describe actively, to incorporate exposition organically, even to set a scene without “describing” at all. This seminar will present effective, original, and artful approaches to “stealth description”: keeping the reader engaged and the story moving forward without drawing undue attention to the act of describing. 

We’ll learn how to put descriptions to work in ways that serve multiple story elements at once, while addressing common pitfalls (the unincorporated block of prose; the flashy detail that calls too much attention to itself; generic depictions of the familiar). This is a combined lecture-discussion, so bring a pen and paper for note-taking and exercises.

Speakers
avatar for Daphne Kalotay

Daphne Kalotay

Author, BLUE HOURS
Daphne Kalotay’s books include the bestselling novels Sight Reading and Russian Winter—winners of the 2014 New England Society Book Award and the 2011 Writers’ League of Texas Fiction Award, respectively—and the fiction collection Calamity and Other Stories, shortlisted for... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

6I: The Rhythm and Structure of Memoir
Limited Capacity filling up

The most engaging memoirs move seamlessly from specific moments to general significance and back again, striking an artful balance between scene, summary and exposition, while serving a larger narrative arc. In this session, we’ll look at excerpts from published memoirs to discover and discuss how authors manage to pull off this feat. Along the way we’ll explore topics including narrative distance, dialogue, transitions, and finding the shape of your memoir. Texts will include When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, The Suicide Index by Joan Wickersham and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

Speakers
avatar for Jane Roper

Jane Roper

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

6J: How to Be a Great Publishing Partner: The Author’s Job as Industry Insiders See It
Limited Capacity seats available

Congratulations! You’ve put in the work, have written an amazing book, and found a wonderful publisher. Most aspiring authors dealing with the challenges of the craft and finding an agent haven’t thought beyond this point-- and yet there is still a lot of work to do. In a no-holds-barred, lively conversation, literary agent Stéphanie Abou and acclaimed author Christopher Castellani will informally walk through the dos and don’ts of life after a book deal, to help make you the best partner to your publishing team.

Examples of Possible Topics (with questions and real life situations to illustrate):
*What is your agent's role after selling your book? What exactly do they do?
*What does your editor do (besides edit), and how can you partner with them effectively?
*What are the most effective ways to communicate with your agent, editor, and your publishing team?
*Publicity is key, but what does that (holistically) mean?
*I'm struggling to complete a non-fiction work sold on proposal, or struggling to make revisions. What should I do?
*Tips on what NOT to do

Speakers
avatar for Stephanie Abou

Stephanie Abou

Literary Agent, Massie McQuilkin Literary Agents
Stéphanie Abou is an agent with Massie McQuilkin Literary Agents. Originally from Paris, where she completed a Master’s in Comparative Literature at the Sorbonne, she decided to make a career out of her passion for literature after an internship at Farrar, Straus and Giroux in... Read More →
avatar for Christopher Castellani

Christopher Castellani

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

6K: Essentials of Structure
Limited Capacity seats available

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

Speakers
avatar for Adam Stumacher

Adam Stumacher

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

6L: A Nice Problem to Have: A Guide to Types of Publishers and How to Choose Between Them
Limited Capacity seats available

Description coming!

Speakers
avatar for Jonah Straus

Jonah Straus

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

11:30am

12:30pm

1:45pm

7A: From Research to Narrative
Limited Capacity seats available

Description coming soon!

Speakers
avatar for Jeffrey Colvin

Jeffrey Colvin

Author, AFRICAVILLE
Jeffrey Colvin was born and raised in Alabama. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Harvard University, and Columbia University, where he received an MFA in fiction. His writing has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Hot Metal Bridge, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rain Taxi... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

7B: We the Narrators: Writing the Collective Experience
Limited Capacity seats available

In this interactive session, we will explore and then try our hand at the first person plural narrative voice, a voice as old as the Greek chorus and as fresh as “We the Animals.” Some questions the session will explore include: Why would you would want to represent the collective experience? What can the first-person plural narrator say and do that other perspectives can’t? What kinds of stories is it best suited to rendering?

The first person plural can take many forms and we will look at a number of successful examples to study what and how they are achieving their effects, paying particular attention to the varying degrees of differentiation within the collective experience that different authors provide. Within the different categories we identify, you will then try your hand at writing in the collective voice.

Speakers
avatar for Val Wang

Val Wang

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

7C: Structure, Risk, and Meaning in Memoir
Limited Capacity filling up

What drives the writer of personal narrative is often an impulse to speak where there has been silence. Early drafts may be guided by intuition, a gravitational pull towards what lies unresolved. And yet sooner or later, the work requires structure. Far from being strictly architecture, structure is a means to learn more about what possibilities lie hidden in the stories of our lives. This session will address the process of finding a structure that isn’t merely an organizing principle, but rather calls forth theme and stakes, and how considering structure can help the writer crack through to deeper, riskier layers of meaning. Several recently published memoirs will be discussed, and participants will leave with strategies and exercises to help them deepen and re-energize their own work. Our aim will be experimentation and discovery.

Speakers
avatar for Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

Author, THE FACT OF A BODY
Alex Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir (Flatiron Books), which received a Lambda Literary Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the Grand Prix des Lectrices ELLE, and the Prix France Inter-JDD, an award for one book of any genre in the world. Named... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

7D: How to Publish (and Promote) Your Book on Your Terms
Limited Capacity filling up

After the hard work of writing and editing (and editing) the writer faces another question: how to put the work out into the world on his or her or their own terms. In this session, we'll talk about how to make sure you create the publishing experience you want, by conducting a self-inventory of your publishing needs. Topics will include: expanding your options, defending your rights, dealing with rejection, and choosing your battles. 

Helpfully, the instructor has published with huge presses and tiny presses and everything in between. He also makes DIY books. And he has screwed up many times in his career, so you can reap the benefit of his idiocy. Strap in. This is gonna be fun. 


Speakers
avatar for Steve Almond

Steve Almond

Author, WILLIAM STONER AND THE BATTLE FOR THE INNER LIFE
Steve Almond is the author of eleven books of fiction and non-fiction including the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies, including the Best American Short Stories, the Pushcart Prize, the Best American... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Statler Room - Mezzanine Level

1:45pm

7E: Reclaiming Our Narrative: How Black Women Writers Showcase Versatility Through Storytelling
Limited Capacity seats available

It's no secret that in 2019, Black women are still plagued with stereotypes that rob us of our humanity. These tropes have permeated every crevice of popular culture and are so routine, they have become normalized. We are consistently portrayed or viewed as sexually insatiable, ardently pliant or irrationally angry. With Black women noticeably invisible in white American literature and the publishing world, how can we employ storytelling to fully capture our narrative?

In this session, led by writers Candace McDuffie and Ashley-Rose Salomon, we will discuss how steeping our works in our identity not only peels back the layers of our marginalization but allows us to have a seat at the table for a meal that was never meant for us. We will discuss how embracing our identities in the publishing world has led to success, and how maintaining self-care is vital for a healthy and abundant career as a writer.

Speakers
avatar for Candace McDuffie

Candace McDuffie

Nonfiction Writer
Candace McDuffie is a dedicated journalist and teacher who holds a Master's Degree in Education specializing in Critical and Creative Thinking from the University at Massachusetts Boston. She is a monthly contributor for the Under 30 Section at Forbes. Her work has also been featured... Read More →
avatar for Ashley-Rose Salomon

Ashley-Rose Salomon

Poet
Ashley-Rose is an award winning Haitian-American educator, organizer, actress and award-winning poet from Boston, MA. She was honored by Mayor Marty Walsh with the OneIn3 Impact Award for being one of the most influential people under age 35 in Boston and in 2016 she was awarded Boston’s... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

7F: Approaching Race as a White Writer
Limited Capacity filling up

How can white writers address their own racial subjectivity, and that of others, in ways that are artistically meaningful and challenging? We'll talk about questions of appropriation and representation, approaches to research and inquiry, and ways to introduce anti-racist conversations in literary spaces.

Speakers
avatar for Jess Row

Jess Row

Author, WHITE FLIGHTS
Jess Row is the author of the novel Your Face in Mine, two collections of short stories, The Train to Lo Wu and Nobody Ever Gets Lost, and a book of essays, White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Tin House... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

7G: Building Your Communities: How to Make the Most of Residencies, Conferences, Awards, and Writing Programs
Limited Capacity filling up

Emerging writers often find themselves isolated and eager for mentors and connections, and this session will delve into what it takes to build a community that will support you in achieving your professional goals. Are residencies frivolous or invaluable—and how do you decide? Does receiving a writing award really make a difference? Do you need an MFA to make it in the cutthroat world of publishing? At what point should you start (or stop!) going to conferences and taking workshops? Even when time and money are in short supply, there are ways to be strategic and make use of these game-changing opportunities.

You’ll get the perspective of a novelist who runs programming, scholarships and awards for a literary nonprofit, and a memoirist and writing professor who, through trial and error, have learned how to determine what actually works for them, and will share resources and tricks of the trade.

Speakers
avatar for Katrin Schumann

Katrin Schumann

Author, THIS TERRIBLE BEAUTY
Katrin Schumann is the author of the Washington Post bestseller The Forgotten Hours, and This Terrible Beauty, a recently released novel about art, politics and love set in communist East Germany, as well as numerous nonfiction titles. She teaches writing at GrubStreet, was an instructor... Read More →
avatar for Rani Neutill

Rani Neutill

Nonfiction Writer
Rani is a dog and TV-obsessed writer, thinker, book lover and vintage clothes collector. Her favorite city is Baltimore, MD. She was a professor of ethnic American and postcolonial literature at Harvard, Yale, and Johns Hopkins University. Her work has appeared in Salon, The New... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

7H: Writing Evil: How to Harness Lethal Characters in Stories of Tragedy and Trauma
Limited Capacity seats available

How do we tell stories about heinous crimes committed at the hands of our protagonists and antagonists in a way that’s palatable for readers? How can we prevent glorification of horrific actions? Why should villains get intimate page time? And how can writers manage sensitive subjects without succumbing to heavy dread during the creative process?

We’ll explore these questions as well as the power of complex characterization and necessary storytelling through selected readings. Our discussion will be followed by thoughtful writing strategies to help us navigate and meaningfully develop problematic characters.

Speakers
avatar for Sahar Mustafah

Sahar Mustafah

Author, THE BEAUTY OF YOUR FACE
Sahar Mustafah is author of The Beauty of Your Face (W.W. Norton, 2020), her first novel, and Code of the West, a short story collection and winner of the 2016 Willow Books Fiction Award. Her stories have earned a Distinguished Story citation from Best American Short Stories 2016... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

7I: Public Speaking for Writers
Limited Capacity seats available

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

Speakers
avatar for Shirley Jones-Luke

Shirley Jones-Luke

Essayist
Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet and a writer. Ms Luke lives in the Dorchester section of Boston. Shirley is an English teacher for the Boston Public Schools. She teaches ELA and Humanities at the middle and high school levels. Ms. Luke is also a public speaker. Shirley has spoken at... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

7J: How I Wrote This: Discussion of THE COLLECTED SCHIZOPHRENIAS with Esmé Weijun Wang
Limited Capacity seats available

We’re thrilled to welcome author Esmé Weijun Wang as our Muse 2020 Fellow in Non-Fiction, for her singular essay collection, The Collected Schizophrenias. Wang's book is lauded as "an intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness...Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the 'collected schizophrenias' but to those who wish to understand it as well."

Join Wang for an intimate discussion about her construction of The Collected Schizophrenias, her writing process, and more.

This event is free & open to the public. Pre-reading the collection is recommended, but not required.

Speakers
avatar for Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang

Muse 2020 Fellow in Nonfiction, THE COLLECTED SCHIZOPHRENIAS
Esmé Weijun Wang is a novelist and essayist. She is the author of the New York Times-bestselling essay collection, The Collected Schizophrenias (2019), for which she won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. Her debut novel, The Border of Paradise, was called a Best Book of 2016 by NPR... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

1:45pm

7K: First Page Clinic
Limited Capacity full

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

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

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

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

Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm

7L: Place: From Where to Why
Limited Capacity seats available

In the crafting of fiction, place involves more than the factual depiction of setting. Place can bring characters into stronger focus and come to life as much as any character. This session will explore the vital role that place plays not just in developing characters but also establishing the larger reason-to-be of a fictional work. Through readings of examples, generative writing exercises, and conversation, we'll examine different approaches to place, so as to make its role more meaningful in storytelling.

Speakers
avatar for Pitchaya Sudbanthad

Pitchaya Sudbanthad

Author, BANGKOK WAKES TO RAIN
Pitchaya Sudbanthad is the author of the novel Bangkok Wakes to Rain, published by Riverhead Books (US) and Sceptre (UK), which was selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice pick and a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. He has received fellowships in fiction... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
Hancock Room - Mezzanine Level

1:45pm

7M: The Revisionist: Utilizing Your Inner Editor as a Writer
Limited Capacity seats available

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

3:00pm

Saturday Afternoon Break
Saturday April 4, 2020 3:00pm - 3:30pm

3:30pm

8A: When Science is Your Main Character
Limited Capacity seats available

In an increasingly science-suspicious world, many writers are wanting to incorporate scientific material into their fiction. But doing so presents some unique challenges.

In this session, we'll discuss approaches to writing fiction about science. How-- in a fictional world-- might we adhere to scientific fact? How can we make science central to our novels' conditions and conflict? How can we make the science work in the plot, without seeming like dull exposition? How might the progress of our characters' research-- or its dead-ends and failures-- drive change? We'll examine excerpts from writers such as Ursula K. LeGuin, Delia Owens, Gregory Benford, Mary Doria Russell, Margaret Atwood, and Barbara Kingsolver, to discover the choices they've made in diction, exposition, and science-as-plot-point. This session will be especially useful for anyone writing about characters who are scientists or researchers.

Speakers
avatar for John Farrell

John Farrell

Author, THE CLOCK AND THE CAMSHAFT, AND OTHER MEDIEVAL INVENTIONS WE STILL CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT
John W Farrell is a writer and producer working in Boston. He is the author of The Day Without Yesterday: Lemaître, Einstein, and the Birth of Modern Cosmology from Basic Books, an imprint of the Perseus Books Group. A graduate of Harvard College with a B.A. in English and American... Read More →
avatar for Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Author, TALKING TO SNAKES
Rebecca Bratten Weiss is a writer, educator, and eco-grower.​She is the author of Mud Woman, a collaborative chapbook with Joanna Penn Cooper (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). Her creative work has been published in Two Hawks Quarterly, The Cerurove, Lycan Valley Press Publications, Figroot... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

8B: Productive Revision: How to Stop Perfecting Your Paragraphs and Think About the Story
Limited Capacity full

Often writers of fiction and narrative nonfiction, long or short, get bogged down in the revision process. Sometimes the problem is polishing too soon or, exasperated and wanting to be done, making desperate "fixes," when what’s needed are ways to re-see what's there in order to develop and structure the material. This workshop will offer strategies for finding opportunities in a messy draft, understanding habits that can limit you, tackling what you’re afraid of, and using your writing time well. We’ll discuss ways to evaluate drafts, looking at scenic development, presentation of characters, timeline, pace, and measurable change to help you find your way on the path to constructing complete and satisfying stories.

Speakers
avatar for Lynne Barrett

Lynne Barrett

Editor, MAKING GOOD TIME
Lynne Barrett's latest book is the new nonfiction anthology Making Good Time: True Stories of How We Do (and Don’t) Get Around in South Florida. Her story collection Magpies received the Florida Book Awards fiction gold medal, and her handbook What Editors Want guides writers... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

8C: Writing the Extremely Personal: Sex, Health, Family
Limited Capacity filling up

What does it mean to write the extremely personal? How do you navigate the inclusion and publication of deeply personal details in your fictional or nonfictional work? In this lecture, two writers for The Atlantic and The New York Times' "Modern Love" discuss how to navigate the writing process when your work includes deeply personal details about yourself or others -- sex, family, health, romance, etc., How do we approach the writing process, and what public and private considerations should we keep in mind during and after the publication process? What are the advantages and disadvantages of plumbing your own life for artistic truth? How does the personal differ in fiction and nonfiction, if at all?

Speakers
avatar for Courtney Sender

Courtney Sender

Fiction & Nonfiction Writer
Courtney Sender’s fiction appears or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, AGNI, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, Tin House, and others. Her nonfiction appears in The New York Times “Modern Love,” The Atlantic, and The Lily at Washington... Read More →
avatar for Christine Gross-Loh

Christine Gross-Loh

Author, THE PATH: WHAT CHINESE PHILOSOPHERS CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE GOOD LIFE
Christine Gross-Loh is a journalist and author. Her most recent book is The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life, coauthored with Professor Michael Puett. The Path, an international bestseller, has been published in nearly 30 countries. She is also the... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

8D: Don’t Send Your Query Letter in a Box of Doughnuts, and Other Stories: How NOT to Become an Anecdote When Submitting Your Work to Agents
Limited Capacity filling up

In this query letter and pitch-focused workshop, we’ll explore all the ways, good and bad, authors can get noticed by agents. From pitching an agent in the restroom at a conference (don’t!) to having a great elevator pitch (do!) we’ll give you all the secrets to a stellar submission that will have agents talking…in a good way!

Speakers
avatar for Carrie Howland

Carrie Howland

Literary Agent, Howland Literary
Carrie Howland founded Howland Literary, LLC in 2018, after thirteen years as an agent, most recently at Empire Literary.Carrie holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Albion College, where she was the Poetry Editor of The Albion Review. Her poetry has appeared in various... Read More →
avatar for Cassie Mannes Murray

Cassie Mannes Murray

Literary Agent, Howland Literary
Cassie Mannes Murray is a literary agenting at Howland Literary. While representing brilliant authors, Cassie also designs for Ecotone Magazine and Lookout Books, writes book reviews and interviews authors for Raleigh Review, and is completing her MFA in creative nonfiction at UNCW.Her... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

8E: Writing Great Artist Statements for Fellowships, Residencies, MFA programs, & More
Limited Capacity seats available

Whether you want to enhance your craft or win more writerly time and support, chances are that someday you'll face a competitive application process. At such times, a well-written artist statement can go a long way to make you stand out from the pack. In this session, we'll discuss the key components that every artist statement should include, as well as other ways to make your application as strong as can be.

Speakers
avatar for Jonathan Escoffery

Jonathan Escoffery

Fiction & Nonfiction Writer
Jonathan Escoffery’s writing has appeared in The Paris Review, AGNI, Pleiades, Salt Hill, The Caribbean Writer, Creative Nonfiction, Solstice Literary Magazine, Pangyrus, and elsewhere. His most recent honors include a Distinguished Story citation in The Best American Short Stories... Read More →
avatar for Shubha Sunder

Shubha Sunder

Fiction Writer
Shubha Sunder's prose has appeared in The Bare Life Review, Lenny Letter, Crazyhorse, Narrative Magazine, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Two of her stories were named as notable in The Best American Short Stories 2016 anthology. In 2016 she was named a Massachusetts Cultural... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

8F: How to Create an Irresistible Narrator
Limited Capacity seats available

Many a short story, novel, and memoir have gone unpublished because the author fails to create a strong narrator, one who can act as a wise and entertaining guide to the reader. In this class, we'll examine the work of Didion, Salinger, Austen and others -- and try an in-class exercise -- in an effort to make sure your next narrator isn't just strong, but irresistible.

Speakers
avatar for Steve Almond

Steve Almond

Author, WILLIAM STONER AND THE BATTLE FOR THE INNER LIFE
Steve Almond is the author of eleven books of fiction and non-fiction including the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies, including the Best American Short Stories, the Pushcart Prize, the Best American... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Statler Room - Mezzanine Level

3:30pm

8G: Plot Engine Tricks: Getting a Novel Started and Keeping it Moving
Limited Capacity filling up

Whether you’re just starting a novel and unsure where to go with the initial idea, or in the middle somewhere and feel stalled out, this session will get the wheels turning again. We’ll discuss familiar elements of the novel, but we’ll also use tricks from the Novel Generator to shake up your plot: we’ll consider your characters’ secrets and lies, and their general power dynamics. We’ll discuss the Rule of Neat Stuff, and Magic Objects, two tricks to help the novel gel together. We’ll look at some scenes from published books to inspire us, and we’ll discuss what it takes to finish a novel without going mad-hatter crazy.

Speakers
avatar for Annie Hartnett

Annie Hartnett

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

8H: More or Less: Maximalist and Minimalist Approaches to Telling Your Story
Limited Capacity seats available

This craft class will start with a very brief overview of minimalist and maximalist approaches, with a focus on how writers have used them to achieve emotional impact in their work. We will then look at a few texts by Susan Sontag, Wayne Corbitt, and Rebecca Makkai -- writers who are dealing with similar material in very different ways to great effect. If we have time, we'll also look at two works by Octavia Butler and Timothy Donnelly. Throughout the class, you might be self-diagnosing yourself as a minimalist or a maximalist and clinging to that artistic identity, but -- spoiler alert! -- one main point here is that you don't have to choose.


Speakers
avatar for Christopher Castellani

Christopher Castellani

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

8I: Joke’s on You: The Serious Work Of Using Humor in Your Writing
Limited Capacity seats available

Do you enjoy reading humorous writing but wonder how to make your own work funnier? Sadly, it's impossible, since being funny is a natural gift that only a few magical people are born with. Kidding—it's actually a simple craft issue. One that writers can work to improve just like any other. In this class we'll study the building blocks of humor and examples from masters in fiction and nonfiction, identifying their techniques and learning to incorporate them into our own writing without making it too "jokey." We'll also examine works of pure "humor writing" like The New Yorker's "Shouts & Murmurs" or McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

We'll also discuss humor as a craft issue with real-world stakes. While few writers get called out online when their plot or setting doesn’t work, failed humor can elicit unintended backlash. So we'll consider humor not as a whimsical, throw-stuff-at-the-wall-and-hope-it-sticks element of story, but as a powerful craft tool that writers must utilize with both skill and consideration.

Speakers
avatar for Stephen Macone

Stephen Macone

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


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Hancock Room - Mezzanine Level

3:30pm

8J: Agents and Editors of Color Roundtable
Limited Capacity seats available

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

Speakers
avatar for Aemilia Phillips

Aemilia Phillips

Literary Agent, Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency
Aemilia Phillips joined Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency after completing the Columbia University Publishing Course. She graduated from Harvard University with high honors, and is putting her English degree to good use in the world of publishing, working with a range of fiction and... Read More →
avatar for Kiana Nguyen

Kiana Nguyen

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

Amber Oliver

Editor, Harper & Harper Perennial
Amber Oliver is an assistant editor at Harper and Harper Perennial. Amber has published Lambda Literary Award winner, Claire O’Dell’s A Study in Honor and The Hound of Justice and has forthcoming titles such as Robin Page’s Small Silent Things, Lee Matalone’s Home Making... Read More →
avatar for Emi Ikkanda

Emi Ikkanda

Editor, Seal Press
Emi Ikkanda is the Senior Editor at Seal Press, an imprint at Basic Books / Hachette. She previously worked at Spiegel & Grau / Penguin Random House and at Henry Holt & Company / Macmillan. She acquires books on current and global affairs, social justice, race, feminism, history... Read More →
avatar for Jennifer De Leon

Jennifer De Leon

Author, DON'T ASK ME WHERE I'M FROM
Born in the Boston area to Guatemalan parents, Jennifer De Leon is the author of the novel Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (Simon & Schuster/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2020) and the editor of Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). She graduated... Read More →
avatar for Nina McConigley

Nina McConigley

Author, COWBOYS AND EAST INDIANS
Nina McConigley is the author of the story collection Cowboys and East Indians, which won the 2014 PEN Open Book Award and a High Plains Book Award. She was born in Singapore and grew up in Wyoming. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston and an MA from the University of Wyoming... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

3:30pm

8K: Lessons from the Essay & Memoir Incubators
Limited Capacity seats available

The GrubStreet Essay and Memoir Incubator programs have helped dozens of students turn their drafts into excellent nonfiction pieces. Join Ethan Gilsdorf and Alysia Abbott-- instructors of these rigorous programs-- for the most important craft lessons and revision tactics for taking a nonfiction piece from its earliest exploratory draft to its final form. From creating an effective narrative persona to the art of establishing your central question or investigation, crafting scene, narrative summary and reflection, to understanding the kinds and forms of essays and book-length memoirs, this seminar offers a practical overview of what your nonfiction project needs in order to reach its full potential.

Speakers
avatar for Alysia Abbott

Alysia Abbott

Author, FAIRYLAND, A MEMOIR OF MY FATHER
Alysia Abbott’s memoir, Fairyland, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice, and was named Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and Shelf Awareness. It’s been translated into Polish, Spanish, Italian, and French and has been awarded the ALA Stonewall Award and the... Read More →
avatar for Ethan Gilsdorf

Ethan Gilsdorf

Author, FANTASY FREAKS AND GAMING GEEKS
Ethan Gilsdorf is a journalist, memoirist, essayist, critic, poet, teacher, performer and nerd. He is the author of the travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

8L: Essentials of Pitching
Limited Capacity seats available

Description coming!

Speakers
avatar for Kerry D'Agostino

Kerry D'Agostino

Literary Agent, Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Kerry D’Agostino is a literary agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Bowdoin College, her masters in Art in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her certificate in publishing from the Columbia Journalism School. She... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm

8M: Diversifying Your Income as a Writer
Limited Capacity seats available

Courtney Maum has worked on 4 book projects with her agent: two with “Big 5” publishers and two with indie presses, and a current collaboration on a film adaptation of one of Courtney’s books. Throughout her career, Courtney's agent has stepped in to act as her editor, her publicist, her film agent and her producer, effectively becoming a brand manager who has encouraged Courtney to diversify her income stream through screenwriting, newsletters, original audio content, webinars, and other creative ideas. Courtney has had to learn what to say yes to, and when to push back so that she can protect the time and quiet she needs to write her fiction. In this extremely candid discussion, Courtney will discuss what it takes to make a living as a modern writer in the current publishing arena, without the writer feeling like you are “selling out.”

Speakers
avatar for Courtney Maum

Courtney Maum

Author, BEFORE AND AFTER THE BOOK DEAL
Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre (a GOOP book club pick and one of Glamour Magazine’s top books of the decade), I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and Touch (a New York Times Editor’s Choice and NPR Best Book of the Year selection), and the handbook... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

4:45pm

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

Saturday April 4, 2020 4:45pm - 6:15pm
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

6:00pm

All-Conference Party
Saturday April 4, 2020 6:00pm - 8:00pm
The Brahmin 33 Stanhope Street, Boston MA 02116
 
Sunday, April 5
 

8:00am

10:15am

9A: What Booksellers Want Writers to Know
Limited Capacity filling up

It’s happened to every author at some point: the bookstore event with the stack of your books and one person in the audience. While there are no guaranteed formulas, there are sound ways to build relationships with bookstores! Booksellers are an author's front-line sales team who know their customers and hand-sell books they love. We’ll cover ways to connect with, and support, indie bookstores to help them help you!

Get insider tips on how stores choose and market the books they shelve while working with authors and publishers to promote new titles. Gearing up for a bookstore event? Learn what to expect before, during, and after your event and how to make your events part of the narrative of your writing identity.

Whether you’re pre-published or an established author, you'll learn marketing strategies to increase your audience and partner with your local indies to up your odds of success.

Speakers
avatar for Allison Pottern Hoch

Allison Pottern Hoch

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

Leah DeCesare

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


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

9B: Query Letter Skills
Limited Capacity seats available

Description coming soon!

Speakers
avatar for Christina Morgan

Christina Morgan

Literary Agent, Serendipity Literary Agency
Christina Morgan has over ten years experience in the book publishing industry. She worked as an agency assistant at Curtis brown Ltd. and at Harpercollins and HMH. She specializes in adult literary fiction and nonfiction and some young readers projects. She also loves a good mystery... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

9C: Dramatis Personae, or, What Are All These Characters Doing in Your Story?
Limited Capacity filling up

Whether two characters spend five pages in a bar or a cast of hundreds fills your trilogy: who are they and why are they in your story? How can the reader tell them apart, remember them, grasp their relationships to each other, and understand the parts they play in forming a coherent tale? Do you need them all? Who can be combined or lopped? What helps make them distinct? Whose history matters? In this workshop we’ll look at techniques to help you assess and articulate your characters, looking at order of appearance, entrances and exits, major and minor characters, roles they play, definition of characters in relation to and contrast with each other, and ways of articulating the shifting alliances and tensions between them. Above all, we’ll look at what they do, as the web of their actions and reactions build a strong, memorable story.

Speakers
avatar for Lynne Barrett

Lynne Barrett

Editor, MAKING GOOD TIME
Lynne Barrett's latest book is the new nonfiction anthology Making Good Time: True Stories of How We Do (and Don’t) Get Around in South Florida. Her story collection Magpies received the Florida Book Awards fiction gold medal, and her handbook What Editors Want guides writers... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

9D: Hero of Another Story: the Antagonist that Drives the Story Forward
Limited Capacity seats available

The best stories have antagonists who, in another book, are the heroes of their own story. While your main character should be the only one to whom the story can happen, a multi-faceted person blocking your protagonist from their goals drives the plot forward and creates compelling, gripping fiction. With exercises and discussion, this workshop will help you get to know your antagonist, how they oppose your protagonist, and how to be as invested in them as you are in your main character.  

Speakers
avatar for Anne Gaughen

Anne Gaughen

Author, REIGN THE EARTH
A. C. Gaughen is the author of the Scarlet Trilogy (Scarlet, Lady Thief and Lion Heart) and the Elementae series (Reign the Earth, Imprison the Sky). She serves on the board for the non-profit Boston GLOW, creating opportunities to encourage and engage teen girls in the Greater Boston... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Hancock Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am

9E: Scene CPR
Limited Capacity seats available

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Lisa Borders

Lisa Borders

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


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

9F: Character-Driven Plot
Limited Capacity seats available

Students often express the concern that overemphasizing plot will rob their work of literary merit and focusing too much on character will make their story boring—but writers who take this seminar will find that there are many ways to balance plot and characterization.

Speakers
avatar for Lauren Wilkinson

Lauren Wilkinson

Author, AMERICAN SPY
Lauren Wilkinson earned an MFA in fiction and literary translation from Columbia University, and has taught writing at Columbia and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was a 2013 Center for Fiction Emerging Writer’s Fellow, and has received support from both the MacDowell Colony... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

9G: Writing Transgender Characters
Limited Capacity seats available

With demand for transgender and non-binary narratives on the rise, more cisgender (non-trans/NB) people are adding trans and NB characters to their stories. But what can you do to make sure you’re providing accurate representation? In this session, we will explore the "Three E’s" of wanting to write a trans/NB character (empathy, education, and empowerment), the best craft approaches for each, and their potential pitfalls. We’ll also go over inappropriate reasons to write a trans/NB narrative, general do’s and don’ts, and an overview of the experiences most often used incorrectly in stories.

Speakers
avatar for Milo Todd

Milo Todd

Fiction Writer
Milo Todd writes trans historical fiction based on people and events that have often been distorted, erased, or cis-washed. He’s presented at Muse and the Marketplace and the Boston Book Festival, is an instructor at GrubStreet, and an alum of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator Program... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

9H: Don't Just Try to Please Me: On Incorporating Editorial Feedback (Or Not)
Limited Capacity seats available

After months (and often years) of toil, blood and tears, the writer finally shares the work. This triumphant moment inevitably tilts toward anxiety. What has been an intimate conversation between the mind and the computer screen is now opened up to others: a professional editor, literary agent, or perhaps fellow writers in a writing group. The vulnerability often causes authors to surrender to the (over)eagerness to please those responding to their work. This might result in writer's block/paralysis, finished work that feels choppy, or a manuscript that is disconnected from the writer's original imagination.

This discussion will offer the best practices for a writer on how to thoughtfully incorporate suggestions from others, effectively push back on feedback that is off base, and distinguish between a resistant ego and a true creative impulse.

Speakers
avatar for Cherise Fisher

Cherise Fisher

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


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

9I: Essentials of Voice
Limited Capacity seats available

Voice is arguably the storyteller’s most powerful tool. Voice, after all, is what tells the story. Voice is integrally tied to atmosphere, tension, mood. Voice helps make characters come to life and off the page.

This workshop will help us develop this most essential device for characterization and plot. Combining close readings with writing prompts, we’ll identify and try out various techniques for how to listen for and develop voice in order to help us create authentic characters and stories that speak to us and through us to the reader. Get ready to start creating interesting, distinctive voices.

Speakers
avatar for Mona Awad

Mona Awad

Author, BUNNY
Mona Awad was born in Montreal and has lived in the US since 2009. Her debut novel, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (Penguin), won the Amazon Best First Novel Award, the Colorado Book Award and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Arab American Book Award. It was also long-listed... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

9J: Yes, You Can Write That in Your Memoir: On Line-Crossing, Competing Memories, and Giving Yourself Permission
Limited Capacity filling up

Who has agency over our memories? When do we withhold writing our stories to satisfy and preserve our relationships? What about fact-checking, libel, and other legal tangles? These are thorny questions that the memoirist struggles with from the moment we begin to compose our stories. Even with the mildest of secrets, or living in this golden age of personal disclosure, we still contend with cultural contexts, honoring or ignoring the dead, family loyalty, and geographical considerations.

In this workshop, we will learn how other writers approached ‘telling’ on and about their families. We will talk through strategies that can work in your writing, so you leave with ideas to enrich your story without sacrificing your ownership of it.

Speakers
avatar for Daphne  Santana-Strassmann

Daphne Santana-Strassmann

Memoir Writer
Daphne Santana Strassmann is a memoirist. Her work has appeared in Creative NonFiction, GrubWrites, Tex{t}Mex, and textbooks. She is a recent member of the Macondo Foundation.She writes about the intangible spaces between her Latino heritage and her American life. She focuses on personal... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

9K: Literary Idol: Nonfiction Focus
Limited Capacity seats available

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

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Sonali Chanchani

Sonali Chanchani

Literary Agent, Folio Literary Management
Sonali Chanchani is an associate agent at Folio Literary Management, where she represents character-driven upmarket and literary fiction with a strong, distinctive voice. In particular, she’s drawn to smart women’s fiction; quirky, heartfelt family stories; nuanced psychological... Read More →
avatar for Ashley Lopez

Ashley Lopez

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

Nathan Rostron

Editor, Restless Books
Nathan Rostron is the Editor and Marketing Director at Restless Books, an independent, nonprofit publisher of international literature, based in Brooklyn. Restless is devoted to championing essential voices from around the world, whose stories speak to us across linguistic and cultural... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am

9L: Workshopping the First Page
Limited Capacity seats available

There may be no more important page than the first. It’s where your relationship with the reader begins, establishing tone, character, setting, and more. In this session, we’ll look at a few examples and discuss what ideally happens on a first page. We'll then break into small groups to workshop what attendees bring to class. This is a practical, hands-on session with the goal of crafting a first page that draws readers into your novel/story. Please bring the first 1-3 pages of a manuscript you're working on.

Speakers
avatar for Anthony Marra

Anthony Marra

Author, THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO
Anthony Marra is the author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013), which won the National Book Critics Circle’s inaugural John Leonard Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in fiction, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, and appeared on over twenty year-end lists. Marra’s... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
St. James Room - 4th Floor

10:15am

9M: Working Backwards: Understanding & Leveraging How Readers Think
Limited Capacity seats available

Description coming!

Speakers
avatar for Tasneem Z. Husain

Tasneem Z. Husain

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


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

10A: Media Training: Being Your Best at Readings, On Radio, and On Television
Limited Capacity filling up

It's never too early or too late to prepare for your time in the spotlight, especially as you're building a long career as a professional writer. This session will teach you the most important elements to focus on when publicizing your work and representing yourself on TV and radio interviews, and at readings. 

As part of a lively critique session, we will show clips of authors in a variety of situations and invite participation in a discussion on what works to engage an audience and sell books. Topics include: What to avoid at all costs (behaviors, language, gestures, appearance); how to get your message across while plugging your work graciously; how to hide nerves and find the right mind-set; how to connect with an interviewer; and how to handle tricky questions/situations.

Speakers
avatar for Lynne Griffin

Lynne Griffin

Author, GIRL SENT AWAY
Lynne Reeves Griffin RN, MEd is the author of the acclaimed novels Life Without Summer (St. Martin’s Press, 2009) and Sea Escape (Simon & Schuster, 2010), and the parenting guide Negotiation Generation (Penguin, 2017). Her short stories, essays, and articles have appeared in Solstice... Read More →
avatar for Katrin Schumann

Katrin Schumann

Author, THIS TERRIBLE BEAUTY
Katrin Schumann is the author of the Washington Post bestseller The Forgotten Hours, and This Terrible Beauty, a recently released novel about art, politics and love set in communist East Germany, as well as numerous nonfiction titles. She teaches writing at GrubStreet, was an instructor... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

10B: Tell It From All Sides: Writing a Story with Multiple Points of View
Limited Capacity filling up

Some stories are told from a single point of view, while others are told by many characters who take turns giving us their own (sometimes conflicting) version of events. How do you decide when to tell your story using multiple perspectives? Which characters should serve as narrators? And once you’ve decided to use multiple perspectives, how do you create voices that are strong and distinct? 

In this workshop, we will discuss the when, why, and how of writing an effective multiple-POV story. We’ll use short writing exercises and our own powers of empathy to practice creating different characters’ voices. Then we’ll talk about how to best use them to deliver a powerful, multi-layered narrative.

Speakers
avatar for Angie Kim

Angie Kim

Author, MIRACLE CREEK
Angie Kim is the author of the national bestseller Miracle Creek, named a "Best Book of the Year" by Time and Amazon, a Washington Post Summer Read pick, a Top 10 AppleBooks Debut of the Year, and an IndieNext and LibraryReads pick. Kim is one of Variety Magazine’s “10 Storytellers... Read More →
avatar for Mira T. Lee

Mira T. Lee

Author, EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL
Mira T. Lee's debut novel, Everything Here is Beautiful, was selected as a Best Fiction title of 2018 by the American Booksellers Association, Amazon, Goodreads, and O Magazine, among others. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Tin House... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

10C: Writing Homelands: Place in Literature
Limited Capacity seats available

This craft intensive lecture is designed for any writer concerned with notions of homeland, both real and the imagined. This course will focus on helping writers utilize setting in ways that push, expand, and further the idea of place. The goal of this intensive is to provide students with the tools needed to create a fully realized and immersive fictional world that thrums with the breath of life.

Class will have four components: readings, story generating exercises, and first-blush in-class feedback, and research tips. In this intensive, we will also focus on ways to conduct research and how to incorporate folktales, music, photography, and other art forms into our place-based writing.

Speakers
avatar for Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Author, SABRINA & CORINA
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is the author of Sabrina & Corina, a Finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Sabrina & Corina has been selected as a campus one-read by the University of Colorado and Regis University. Fajardo-Anstine’s fiction has appeared in The American Scholar, Boston... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

10D: Plotting, Pantsing and Everything in Between: How to Find Your Way Through That Messy First Draft
Limited Capacity filling up

“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra

Do you write like J.K. Rowling or more like Stephen King? In other words, do you make a detailed outline before writing your first scene, or do you follow the muse wherever it leads you? Most writers fall somewhere on the spectrum between extreme planning and seat-of-the-pants pathfinding. Whichever way you intuitively get through that first draft, you can streamline your process and minimize frustration (and writer’s block) by understanding the pros and cons of your personal style.

In this session, we will define these different approaches to writing, assess which category best describes you, and offer specific strategies that help you both capitalize on your strengths and overcome the challenges of your usual process. You'll leave with new and enhanced strategies to get to a strong finished draft.

Speakers
avatar for Michele Ferrari

Michele Ferrari

Fiction Writer
A Brooklyn-bred, Boston-based writer, Michele Ierardi Ferrari holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Cornell University and a PhD in American Literature from the University of Virginia. She teaches Novel In Progress at GrubStreet. She completed GrubStreet's Novel Generator... Read More →
avatar for Andrea Meyer

Andrea Meyer

Author, ROOM FOR LOVE
Andrea Meyer’s first novel, Room for Love (St. Martin’s Press) is a romantic comedy based on an article she wrote for the New York Post, for which she pretended to look for a roommate as a way to meet men. The book was included in Cosmo’s “Lit We Love.” She completed her... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

10E: The Things People Don't Say: Writing What Is Taboo
Limited Capacity seats available

In this discussion, we will explore the power and transformative nature of writing non-fiction about what is taboo. For us presenters, that has meant writing about postpartum depression, job loss, manic depression, invisible disabilities, and divorce (a taboo in South Asian American culture). How might we say the unsayable? What forms, structures, and other elements can help us craft effective "taboo" essays and memoirs? And what might writing about taboos-- and sharing these stories via publication-- do to the taboo itself, or ourselves as writers?

We'll examine how some writers have done exactly this, including excerpts from Roxane Gay's Hunger and Bad Feminist, Carley Moore's 16 Pills, Esmé Weijun Wang's The Collected Schizophrenias, and Cheryl Strayed's "The Love of My Life," about infidelity and her grief over her mother's death. We'll also do 1-2 short writing exercises, to help put these strategies into practice.


Speakers
avatar for Pooja Makhijani

Pooja Makhijani

Editor, UNDER HER SKIN: HOW GIRLS EXPERIENCE RACE IN AMERICA
Pooja is the editor of Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race in America (Seal Press), an anthology of essays by women that explores the complex ways in which race shapes American lives and families. She is also the author of Mama’s Saris (Little Brown Books for Young Readers... Read More →
avatar for Sejal Shah

Sejal Shah

Author, THIS IS ONE WAY TO DANCE
Sejal Shah is the author of the debut essay collection about race, place, and belonging: This Is One Way to Dance: Essays (University of Georgia Press, June 2020). Her essays and stories have appeared in Brevity, Conjunctions, the Kenyon Review, Literary Hub, the Rumpus, and the anthologies... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

10F: Back to School with Our Books: Finishing the Manuscripts We've Started
Limited Capacity seats available

Summer break may be on the horizon, but in this session we’ll talk about harnessing the power of the school year to finish our books. In this practical and hands-on session, Elizabeth Ames Staudt will share strategies she employed to finish her novel, The Other's Gold, in much less time than an finish an earlier (and drawer-dwelling) novel. From stickers to schedules to study hall, we’ll discuss how motivation, routine, and environment can help us make breakthroughs and complete projects. We’ll pack our craft backpacks with tips from other writers, and Elizabeth will share some of the strategies that helped her publish a novel after some false starts. There may be time to write/pass notes, so please come with your preferred school supplies.

Speakers
avatar for Elizabeth  Ames

Elizabeth Ames

Author, THE OTHER'S GOLD
Named for Iowa but born and raised in Wisconsin, Elizabeth Ames is a writer living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, Elizabeth has lived in Seattle, France, and Rwanda... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

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

Arguably, memoir is the toughest genre to sell. Two dozen agents told me my memoir was beautifully written but that no publisher would buy it because I wasn’t a celebrity. Instead of getting discouraged, I retooled my approach, found an agent, and got a publishing deal. 

In this session, I’ll reveal how I turned things around by identifying and amplifying themes that resonated with current cultural conversations. We'll broaden the scope with examples of other memoir successes by non-celebrity authors, such as Educated, Sick, and Maid. Extensive handouts highlight passages where these writers connected their prose to a broader conversation as well as positioned themselves as credible voices with valuable insights to share. By the end of the session, you’ll see your writing from a new perspective. And you’ll walk away with concrete examples for how to communicate what's urgent and important about your nonfiction writing to agents and editors.

Speakers
avatar for Catherine Guthrie

Catherine Guthrie

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


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

10H: Micro-Level Revision: On Writer Tics, Filler Words, Grammatical Habits, and Other Sources of Slow Prose
Limited Capacity filling up

The difference between your manuscript getting a “yes” or a “no” is often in cutting what Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner’s editor called “extraneous baggage.” In this interactive class, author and former Atlantic staff editor Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne will help you torch your manuscript of the filler words that junk up stories and slow prose.

Through instructor examples and a brainstorming session, we will establish a list of words and then strike out on the prowl, using Find and Replace as our weapon. Together, we will flush out those tic words and brainstorm cuts or replacements. Bring your computer and a willingness both to share your words and laugh at the instances of their use! You will leave with a cleaner manuscript and a toolkit for line-editing that will have you one step closer to being ready to submit, whether to an agent, an editor, or the reading public!

Speakers
avatar for Elizabeth Shelburne

Elizabeth Shelburne

Author, HOLDING ON TO NOTHING
Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne grew up reading, writing, and shooting in East Tennessee. After graduating from Amherst College, she worked at The Atlantic Monthly. Her nonfiction work has been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Boston Globe, and Globalpost, among others and her short... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

10I: Resilience on the Winding Road to Book Publication
Limited Capacity seats available

The road to publication can be challenging, disappointing, and take longer than we want. Hear from two authors who debuted books at mid-life in conversation about how they maintained their motivation and developed resilience amidst invisibility, rejection, and self-doubt on the road to writing and publishing. 

We will do a brief writing exercise and discuss approaches to maintaining positivity, remembering why you write, and building a supportive writing community.

Speakers
avatar for Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton

Author, THE TALKING DRUM
Lisa Braxton is an essayist, short story writer, and novelist. Her debut novel, The Talking Drum, is forthcoming from Inanna Publications in May 2020.She is also a “debutante,” one of five debut novelists chosen for the Debutante Ball, a group blog for authors making their debut... Read More →
avatar for Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan

Author, THE BODY PAPERS
Grace Talusan was born in the Philippines and raised in New England. As a toddler, she came to the US with her parents from the Philippines. She grew up in New England and became a US citizen in her twenties. She thought she was going to be a physician, like her parents, but while... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

10J: Writing on Your Own Terms: How to Start, Promote, and Maintain a Compelling Blog
Limited Capacity seats available

For many of us writers, we often fall into the routine of writing amazing poetry and prose without it ever being read, and become discouraged when our work is rejected from countless literary journals and magazines. Well, what if I told you there's a way to publish your work on your terms, promote it the way you want, any one in the world can read it, and you'll have an online presence. Drum Roll...start a blog!

Through her experiences, Serina will give essential tips and resources on how to build and track your blog using WordPress and Google Analytics, how to find your niche topic, how you can make money off blogging, and how your blog can make you a stronger writer. She'll also share pros and cons to publishing your work, how to protect your work from plagiarism, copyright policies, how your blog can grant you opportunities, and more!

Speakers
avatar for Serina Gousby

Serina Gousby

Nonfiction Writer & Poet
Serina Gousby is the founder of her lifestyle blog, The Rina Collective, where she posts reflective, literary, and pop culture essays. She is the Development Associate and Boston Writers of Color Group Coordinator at GrubStreet, and Events Chair on her alumni council board at Suffolk... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

10K: Genre-Curious? Becoming a Successful Multi-Genre Writer
Limited Capacity seats available

From Carmen Maria Machado to Ocean Vuong, Alexander Chee, and Ben Lerner, in today’s literary world, writers are increasingly jumping the genre tracks.  Speculative fiction writers are producing memoirs, poets are producing novels, novelists are producing essay collections, and essayists are becoming poets.  So why are so many authors today so genre-curious?  By writing in more than one genre, do authors continue to tap into their creativity daily and avoid writer’s block?  Moreover, what about the myth that successful, commercial writers only produce work in one genre?  In this talk, we will discuss how authors can navigate the publishing world, learn new craft techniques and genre forms, negotiate with agents and editors, and produce the books they need to while building a career as highly successful multi-genre writers.

Speakers
avatar for Rita Banerjee

Rita Banerjee

Author, ECHO IN FOUR BEATS
Rita Banerjee is the Director of the MFA in Writing & Publishing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and the editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, 2018). She is the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (FLP... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
St. James Room - 4th Floor

11:45am

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

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

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

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

Speakers
avatar for Steve Woodward

Steve Woodward

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

Cherise Fisher

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

Christina Morgan

Literary Agent, Serendipity Literary Agency
Christina Morgan has over ten years experience in the book publishing industry. She worked as an agency assistant at Curtis brown Ltd. and at Harpercollins and HMH. She specializes in adult literary fiction and nonfiction and some young readers projects. She also loves a good mystery... Read More →
avatar for Bibi Lewis

Bibi Lewis

Literary Agent, Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency
Bibi Lewis is a literary agent at the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency where she represents Children's fiction and nonfiction and adult fiction. A contract nerd through and through, Bibi manages subsidiary rights for the agency as well. She was born and raised in NYC.She is looking... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

1:00pm