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Block 10 [clear filter]
Sunday, April 5

11:45am EDT

10A: Media Training: Being Your Best at Readings, On Radio, and On Television
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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.

avatar for Lynne Griffin

Lynne Griffin

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

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 EDT
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10B: Tell It From All Sides: Writing a Story with Multiple Points of View
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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.

avatar for Angie Kim

Angie Kim

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

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 EDT
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

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.

avatar for Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Kali Fajardo-Anstine

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 EDT
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10D: Plotting, Pantsing and Everything in Between: How to Find Your Way Through That Messy First Draft
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“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.

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

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 EDT
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

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.

avatar for Pooja Makhijani

Pooja Makhijani

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

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 EDT
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

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.

avatar for Elizabeth  Ames

Elizabeth Ames

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 EDT
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10G: How to Sell a Memoir If You Aren’t a Celebrity or a Politician
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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.

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 EDT
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

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

avatar for Elizabeth Shelburne

Elizabeth Shelburne

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 EDT
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

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.

avatar for Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton

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

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 EDT
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10J: Writing on Your Own Terms: How to Start, Promote, and Maintain a Compelling Blog
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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!

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 EDT
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

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.

avatar for Rita Banerjee

Rita Banerjee

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 EDT
St. James Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10L: Literary Idol: Fiction Focus
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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!

avatar for Neal Thompson

Neal Thompson

I'm the author of Kickflip Boys: A Memoir of Freedom, Rebellion, and the Chaos of Fatherhood, which goes on sale May 15, 2018. I've written four other books -- biographies and narrative nonfiction -- and have blabbed about those on ESPN, the History Channel, PBS, C-Span, Fox, TNT... Read More →
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 EDT
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level