Log in to bookmark your favorites and sync them to your phone or calendar.

Block 2 [clear filter]
Friday, April 3

10:15am EDT

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.

avatar for Whitney Scharer

Whitney Scharer

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

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 EDT
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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.

avatar for Tim Weed

Tim Weed

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

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 EDT
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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

Description coming soon!

avatar for Michael Zapata

Michael Zapata

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 EDT
St. James Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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

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.

avatar for Alysia Abbott

Alysia Abbott

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 EDT
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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

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.

avatar for Marjan Kamali

Marjan Kamali

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 EDT
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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. Come with questions about your young adult manuscripts or ideas for one, and leave with more perspective of your own.

avatar for Jennifer De Leon

Jennifer De Leon

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

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 EDT
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am EDT

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

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!

avatar for Erin Almond

Erin Almond

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 EDT
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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.

avatar for Henriette Lazaridis

Henriette Lazaridis

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 EDT
Franklin Room - 4th Floor