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

Block 6 [clear filter]
Saturday, April 4

10:15am EDT

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.

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 EDT
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am EDT

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.

avatar for Ron MacLean

Ron MacLean

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 EDT
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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.

avatar for Sara DiVello

Sara DiVello

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

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 EDT
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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.

avatar for Michelle Seaton

Michelle Seaton

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 →
avatar for Paul Levine

Paul Levine

Literary Agent, Paul S. Levine Literary Agency
Paul S. Levine “wears two hats”–he is a lawyer and a literary agent.Mr. Levine has practiced entertainment law for over 38 years, specializing in the representation of writers, producers, actors, directors, composers, musicians, artists, authors, photographers, galleries, publishers... Read More →

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

10:15am EDT

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.

avatar for David Mura

David Mura

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 EDT
Hancock Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am EDT

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.

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 →

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

10:15am EDT

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.

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 EDT
Statler Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am EDT

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.

avatar for Daphne Kalotay

Daphne Kalotay

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 EDT
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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.

avatar for Jane Roper

Jane Roper

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 EDT
Tremont Room - 4th Floor
  Block 6

10:15am EDT

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

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

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

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 EDT
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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.

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 EDT
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

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

Description coming!

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 EDT
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor