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Writers' Day 2017 -- "Spring Training"

04/01/2017 09:00 AM - 05:30 PM ET
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With Keynote Speaker, Ann Hood

The Writers' Project's twenty-ninth annual Writers' Day extravaganza will run 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 1, at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH. The keynote will be novelist Ann Hood with children's author and illustrator Tomie dePaola. The theme of this year's event is "Spring Training," so there will be a bit of a baseball flavor ... complete with a chance to win a couple of Red Sox tickets. 

Ann Hood, a bestselling American novelist, essayist, and short story writer, is the author of fifteen books, including the bestseller The Knitting Circle, The Red Thread, The Obituary Writer, The Italian Wife and Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine. Her memoir, Comfort: A Journey Through Grief  was a NYT editor's choice and named one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly. Her essays and short stories have appeared in many journals, magazines, and anthologies, including The Paris ReviewPloughshares, and Tin House. Hood is a regular contributor to The New York Times. Her most recent anthology, Knitting Pearls: Writers Writing about Knitting, was published with W.W. Norton and Company in fall of 2015. The winner of two Pushcart prizes as well as two Best American Food Writing Awards, a Best American Travel Writing, and a Best American Spiritual Writing award, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island. Her essays have been selected as the 100 Notable Essays of the year six times, and she holds the record for publishing the most essays in the NYT Modern Love column (5!). Her new novel is The Book That Matters Most. Please visit her website at:


And Special Guest, Tomie dePaola

Recipient of the Inaugural New Hampshire Story Award


Tomie dePaola is best known for his books for children. He has written and/or illustrated over 260 books. Nearly 25 million copies of his books have sold. The Magical World of Strega Nona: A Treasury, The Moon’s Almost Here, by Patricia MacLachlan, and Andy & Sandy and the First Snow are his newest books. 2015 marked Tomie dePaola’s 60th year as a professional artist, and 50th year as an illustrator of children’s books. 2015 was also the 40th anniversary of the publication of Strega Nona. Born in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1934, dePaola received his BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and his MFA from the California College of Arts in Oakland, California. He received a doctoral equivalency in fine arts from Lone Mountain College in San Francisco. In addition to writing and illustrating children’s books, dePaola taught for several years in art and theater departments in colleges in California, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. DePaola has received many prestigious awards, including the Smithson Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota, the Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association, and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award, a prestigious distinction in writing by a New Englander. He was also the United States nominee in 1990 for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award in illustration. The American Library Association named Strega Nona a Caldecott Honor Book and 26 Fairmount Avenue a Newbery Honor Book. He was the 2011 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award recipient for “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” He received the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. The University of Connecticut, Georgetown University and Pratt Institute, among others, have granted him honorary doctoral degrees. Pratt Institute, in 2012, named him “one of the top 125 Pratt icons of all time.” In 1999, he was selected for the New Hampshire Governor’s Arts Award of Living Treasure. DePaola makes his home in New London, N.H., where he works in a renovated 200-year-old barn. Please visit his website at:


Morning Workshops (Space in each session is limited, so make sure you choose the ones you want!)

Session One:  10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Beginnings -- Ann Hood, Hallie Ephron and Charlotte Gordon

Back by popular demand, in this session Kevin Flynn will read the first 500 words of unpublished works to a panel of judges. The entries will be selected at random from pages submitted by registered workshop participants on or before March 15, 2017. The panelists will be instructed to raise a hand if they hear anything that gives them pause; if two hands go up, they’ll take a minute to explain what troubled them and why before Kevin moves on to the next submission. If Kevin gets to the end of your piece without interruption, you may reveal your identity and will be invited to meet with one of the panelists afterwards for some advice on how to turn a brilliant beginning into a published work. Time may not allow for all entries to be heard, but the advice given will help anyone struggling with those make or break opening pages. Please send submissions to:  by March 15, 2017. Please be sure to include your name, your student’s name, if applicable, the title of the piece, page numbers, and Beginnings Session 1 in the subject line of the email and on the numbered page(s) of your submission.


Social Commentary in Fiction -- Sanderia Faye, Meg Little Reilly and Patrick Sylvain

John Cheever once said, “I write to make sense of my life.” Of course, Cheever’s stories also reveal cutting truths about the death of community in suburbia without ever preaching about the woes of modern life. In this workshop, Sanderia Faye, Meg Little Reilly, and Patrick Sylvain will explore the writer’s obligation to expose hard truths without stepping onto the soapbox agents and editors universally reject. They will illustrate the difference between telling a reader why global warming, voter suppression, or human rights violations should alarm them and show them how the choices their characters make precipitate the consequences the world endures.


The Short Story: Know Your Arc --Tim Horvath and Jodi Paloni

In this workshop, we'll deconstruct award winning short stories by masters of the form to examine how conflict and structure converge to yield a story's pulse. We’ll examine the techniques they used to build tension and compare these methods to those favored by contemporary authors as we look at the genre itself, its evolution, and how, in the hands of its latest practitioners and innovators, the story is continually reinventing itself. Finally, we’ll talk about how and where to place stories, what editors look for in a collection, and how to find an agent who champions this form.


After the Launch: So your book is in print!  Now what? -- Emilie Christi Burack, Jeff Deck, and Rob Miller

An insider’s look at how the sheltered world of writing meets the (often) terrifying world of sales. Join published authors Emilie Christie Burack, Rob Miller, and Jeff Deck for a lively discussion and Q & A about the complexities, pitfalls, and opportunities they faced once their books were in print.  The panel will share scenarios from boutique, mainstream, and self publishing worlds, with a particular look at marketing/sales support (or lack thereof!), the anxieties of self promotion, and some of the creative things you can do to get you book in the hands of readers.


Making Waves: How Driveway Moments are Born -Virginia Prescott and Taylor Quimby

We’ve all been there—seat belt still bucked, heat blasting, radio tuned to an NPR station as the story you’ve been listening to nears its conclusion. In this workshop, Taylor Quimby, Senior Producer of NHPR’s Creative Unit and Word of Mouth host Virginia will deconstruct story ideas that may or may not have made it onto the air. The session will replicate a radio show storyboard session and is designed to reveal the hallmarks of a compelling narrative. Participants will have a chance to pitch their own radio story for the group’s consideration, so bring your best idea and learn how to make waves when writing for radio, and how to create a driveway moment of your own.


Thinking Back: Stories in Our Heads -Marie Harris

Participants are encouraged to bring one picture book that you have carried into adulthood as we explore what makes the best stories unforgettable. (If it's not still on your shelves, check it out of your library!) What the workshop is not: a nuts-and-bolts how-to on children's book publishing. What it is: a stroll through a child's "garden" with a basket and clippers.  As both readers and writers, we will consider some of the elements of the picture book, including subject matter and setting, language and the role of the illustrator. But most importantly, looking back at the special books of our own childhoods, we will try to discover what made the memories and the magic. If you are working on a picture book, feel free to bring a three sentence description for us to discuss.


Poetry Craft Workshop: Out Far and In Deep -- Alice Fogel

In this workshop & discussion, we'll delve into your drafts of poems with intense attention to a process of revision that can make them ring and sing and blow your own mind. On grand and minute scales, we'll examine what you can do with word, metaphor, sentence structure, image, "idea," and more to take your poems farther and deeper. Bring several drafts with you.



Session Two: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Here’s The Pitch -- Gail Hochman, Annie Hwang, Alexis Rizzuto

Virginia Prescott steps up the mound once again to pitch your ideas to a panel of editors and agents looking for the next big hit. We’ve refined the format this year to include as many participants as possible. In advance of Writers' Day, registered participants may submit a concise summary (capped at 75 words) of a book or story they are hoping to publish. For example:

The Art of Racing in the Rain is the story of Denny Swift, a race car driver who faces profound obstacles in his life, and ultimately overcomes them by applying the same techniques that have made him successful on the track. His story is narrated by his “philosopher dog,” Enzo, who, having a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), believes he will return as a man in his next lifetime.

The agents and editors will listen to NHPR’s Virginia Prescott deliver as many anonymous, randomly selected pitches as she can in the time allowed, and the panelists will then offer feedback as to what does and doesn't work.  If something interests them, they will invite the writer to follow-up with them after the session. Registration for each of the two sessions will be capped at 40; pitches will be read in the read in the order in which they are received. Please send submissions to:  by March 15, 2017. Please be sure to include your name, the title of the piece, and Here's The Pitch Session 2 in the subject line of the email and on the page of your submission.


It’s a Mystery: How To Craft A Page-Turner -- Hallie Ephron and Jessica Estevao

In this workshop we'll explore the elements that go into crafting a novel readers can't put down. Beginning with the set-up, we’ll walk through the critical elements of story, including a complex protagonist, characters with competing goals, and well orchestrate plot twists with unexpected revelations that drive the story forward. Learn how to raise the stakes in your novel, and take-home our list of tips and tricks for modulating momentum.


Memoir: True Story -Katrina Kenison

How to tell the truth, why it’s important, and how to resist the temptation to stray from it – surely these are among the thorniest issues for memoir writers. Honesty is at the heart of memoir.  And yet real life is always messier than fiction and truth in memoir is invariably a complex business. Our own stories don’t unfold according to tidy, narrative arcs. Real people are more complicated and less knowable than fictional characters. And the consequences of sharing our own deeply personal experience with the world can put us and others at emotional risk.  Little wonder that as we set out to tell “what really happened” we often find ourselves stuck, stranded on the narrow threshold between fact and fiction. What is a memoirist to do? In this workshop, we will explore both the factual requirements and the truth-telling challenges of memoir. If we are bound by the form to honor the facts, how do we figure out just how much to reveal? As we rely on memory in our efforts to reach toward the truth, how do we contend with its fallibility?  If not everything is worth telling, how do we sift through the accumulated experience of a lifetime in search of the nuggets that move our story forward?  If a memoir is first and foremost a literary work, when, if ever, is it acceptable to bend small, literal truths in service to a larger emotional one? 


The Query Letter -- Suzanne Kingsbury

You’ve put everything into your manuscript, you’ve lost sleep, lovers, friends and meals for this baby, and now you want to send it out to the great publishing cloud in the sky.  The query is the big bad bird to get you there. Did you know that more writers get rejected for their query letters than for anyone other reason? And that there is an insider industry secret to writing one that turns agents’ heads? Do you know the secret sauce to length, book summary and bio?  Do you know who to send the query letter to and how long before you get back in touch? And the strategies to do that?  Did you know that queries for books are different than for any other kind of writing?

In this workshop you will get the know-how you need as we write the query letter for your specific manuscript.  You will walk away with a proven formula for a bestselling query letter plus the confidence that you can ace that coveted book deal. Don’t forget to bring laptop and/or pad of paper and pen!


The Podcast -Rebecca Lavoie and Kevin Flynn

More than 57 million Americans listen to podcasts, more than actively use Twitter. This provides a unique opportunity for writers to distribute their work and promote themselves to a large, enthusiastic audience. With long-form journalism podcasts like “Serial,” dramatic series like “The Black Tapes,” and panel discussions like “Book Riot,” content creators have the ability to put together professional-sounding, internationally-accessible shows from their own basements.


Historical Fiction: This is How it Happened -- Charlotte Gordon

Historical fiction is one of the most rewarding genres to write. But it is also one of the most challenging. You have to tell a good story, but you also have to get the facts right. Are your characters using forks before the fork was invented? Does your heroine dance to a tune that has yet to be written? Do you want to tell a sweeping generational saga of your own family’s struggle in America? Or do you want to share a fascinating story from the past that most people don’t know? In this workshop, we will discuss how to frame historical stories and how to research them. We will also discuss how historical settings and events can (and should) shape the inner lives of your characters.


Homes For Poems -- Dede Cummings, Alice Fogel, Brendan Gillett, Marie Harris, DaMaris B. Hill, Patrick Sylvain, and publishers TBA

Poets, editors and publishers will share everything they know about contests, open submissions, publication calls, journals, readings and other sacred spaces waiting to welcome to poems you’re writing. We’ll do the note taking for you; all attendees will leave a complete handout of every secret source revealed.



Lunch in the Dinning Center 12:30-1:30p.m.


After Writers’ Day: What’s Next: What’s Next 1:30-2:00 p.m.

Directors and/or fellows from writing residencies including Tin House, Bread Loaf, The Mac Dowell Colony, Writers in Paradise, The Spannocchia Writers’ Workshop, Gateless Writing and The Fifth Semester among others will join admissions representatives from MFA programs at SNHU and The New Hampshire Institute for an information sharing session, including next steps for those interested in pursuing a course of study. Organizers from local book festivals, conferences, and workshops will also be on hand to answer your questions, and presenters will be stopping by their genre tables to sign their books and hear about yours.



Afternoon Workshops (Space in each session is limited, so make sure you choose the ones you want!)

Session Three: 2:15-3:15 p.m.


Here’s The Pitch (Same game, new inning. Designated hitter, Dede Cummings will join Gail Hochman, Annie Hwang, Alex Rizzuto in the batting rotation.

Please send submissions to:  by March 15, 2017. Please be sure to include your name, the title of the piece, and Here's The Pitch Session 3 in the subject line of the email and on the page of your submission.


Sight on Scene, Revised -- Diane Les Becquets

How do you create scenes that will ratchet the readers’ attention, build your story, and deepen your character? Too often, we write a scene not really understanding what a scene is, or what exactly that scene is supposed to do.  In revision, we can pare away what does not inform character or move the story forward. In this workshop we will analyze how scenes change from the first draft to the published manuscript and, in some cases, the silver screen to reveal how to fine tune your internal editor and polish every word until your stories dance and move and get somewhere meaningful. Participants are encouraged to bring a scene that they are working on to the workshop, as they will be given the tools to analyze their own work.


The Book Proposal: What Agents Want -- Glenn Stout

Learn the nuts and bolts on the practice and purpose of a nonfiction book proposal. You've got the idea, but if you want to write a book, the next step is writing a book proposal to attract the attention of an agent and, hopefully, a publisher.  Glenn will provide a basic descriptive template, discuss the elements needed in a proposal and provide a realistic guide to how to turn that idea into something that might make a reader turn the pages.


Crossing the Genre Line -- Marie Harris, DeMaris Hill, Adi Rule

What defines a YA novel as such?  Is a memoir written in verse poetry? Genre, a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter, is the way we have come to know the literary cannon and identify styles of literary composition. In this workshop, we will take a close look at genre and genre constraints and discuss how, when and why writers and readers chose to cross these lines.


In the 603: Write Locally -- Rick Carey and an editor from New Hampshire Magazine

Like Pokémon monsters, riveting stories all around New Hampshire are waiting to pounce onto the pages of magazines, newspapers, and literary non-fiction. In this workshop, Rick will talk about how he first heard about and then researched the story he chronicles  In The Evil Day  and editors from various local publications will join him in a discussion about how to craft local stories with universal appeal. (Adam Wade, a twenty-time Moth Grand Champion, will Skype in with a story about falling in love at Webster School or taking his aunts to dinner at the Clam King.) Learn how mine the stories around us and discover what local publishers are looking for.


Clever As a Cat and Working Like a Dog: How To Create a Stir Before Your Book’s Launch -- Ann Garvin and Lissa Warren

In this session, we’ll look at the choices writers, publishers and publicists make to get readers and reviewers buzzing about a new book release. Learn why your title may change at the twelfth hour and who chooses the cover art.  Find out why some authors gets sent on an all expense paid national book tour while others must find innovative ways to get their books into a reader's hands.  Should you give away bookmarks, or release a book trailer on YouTube? What kind of social media is most effective when it comes to building buzz?  Discover the things you can do before your book comes out to build anticipation before the release date and how this matters in terms of who makes it onto the bestsellers list.


Writing Prompts and other Tools -- Bill Littlefield

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” 
― Albert Einstein

Good teachers have the right answers, great teachers ask the right questions. In this workshop, Bill Littlefield draws on 39 years of classroom experience to get you writing in response to a quote or image or line of dialogue you overhead at, for example, a restaurant last night. Educators will come away with tips to use with their students, but anyone who needs to reboot their writing life will find the jolt of energy they’ve been missing over the long winter months. As Bill tells it, when a class meeting once conflicted with a basketball game he needed to cover, he brought the students along and told them that “their assignment was to look for something that no sportswriter would include in his or her game story – the little kid dribbling the ball around at half-time, the cheerleader bailing out on a potentially dangerous move, the parent in the stands covering her eyes, the kid at the end of the bench paying no attention to the game, whatever.” Come prepared to write, edit, and windex the lenses through which you’ve been watching the world; leave feeling compelled to take notice, read more, and, if you are a teacher, pass on all you will have learned.


Plotting: the Dark Art -- Jim Kelly

Although in some circles, plot is regarded as secondary to characterization and perhaps not even all that important, in most of the genres of popular fiction, deft plotting is a regarded as a virtue.  Students of plot know that they come in all sizes, from the fleeting incident of flash fiction to the tangled history of a trilogy (or more!) of novels.  What are the similarities?  What are the differences?

Of course, plot and character are to story as wave and particle are to the electron; they can't be separated since they are different aspects of the same thing.  But for the dark purposes of this presentation, we will pretend this isn't so and take a very mechanistic view of plot.  Over the ages, writers have developed schemes and techniques and shortcuts and, yes, tricks of plotting.  (What, mistaken identities again, Mr. Shakespeare?)  We'll look at some of the easiest, the best and the most dangerous of these.  Only those who feel certain that they can resist succumbing to the dark art of plotting should plan to attend.


Session 4: 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Beginnings -- Dianne Les Becquets, Jim Kelly and Ben Nugent

See session one for a full description) Please send submissions to:  by March 15, 2017. Please be sure to include your name, the title of the piece, and Beginnings Session 4  in the subject line of the email and on the numbered page(s) of your submission.


The American Novel: Reinventing the Form -- Dr. DaMaris Hill

Ezra Pound told his fellow writers to “Make it new.”  Elizabeth Stroud and Jennifer Egan pushed the limits of the connected short story structure in ways emerging writers now emulate. Cross-pollinating between genres is not new, but the innovative leaps contemporary writers have taken as they blend and bend traditional literary forms have won the praise and recognition of many, including the Pulitzer Award committee. In this workshop, we will take a close look at genre and genre constraints. Then we will discuss how to manipulate genre constraints in order to create hybrid and new forms. 


Anthologize This: What Editors Want -- Katrina Kenison and Glenn Stout

Katrina Kenison, former editor of Best American Short Stories and Glenn Stout, editor of Great American Sports Stories, discuss what they look for in a story—what draws them in, what red flags might make them stop reading. They’ll read excerpts from submissions they received and invite participants to vote on whether or not to include the piece in an anthology before revealing which ones made it into the collections they edited. There may be time to hear the first paragraph of a piece you’re working on, so come prepared.


Stunning Debuts -Meg Little Reilly, Dan Szczesny and Lissa Warren

Everyone remembers the first time; join these recently published authors as they discuss the trials and triumphs they encountered in their efforts to bring their groundbreaking works into the world. After a brief reading from each of their critically acclaimed literary debuts, the writers will answer your questions on everything from why mentors matter to how universal themes like global warming, grief, love, family and identity informed their work and inspired agents and editors to share their stories.


Literature Out Loud -- Masheri Chappelle, Ann Garvin, Brendan Gillett, Rebecca Rule, and actors TBA

Your big moment has arrived. Imagine it’s opening night, and as the lights go down, professional actors take the stage to deliver lines you wrote. Under the direction of NHWP Hatbox Theater Readings Producer Masheri Chappelle, a team of spoken word poets, stage and screen actors, stand up comics, and storytellers who have performed in countless venues will star in the world premiere of your novel or poem. Teachers are encouraged to also submit a piece by one of their students, and may leave with a  recording of the performance along with a host of techniques designed to get students on their feet and into the world they invented. Please send submissions to:  by March 15, 2017. Please be sure to include your name, your student’s name, if applicable, the title of the piece, and  Literature Out Loud  in the subject line of the email and on the numbered page(s) of your submission.


Building a Better Platform -- Sanderia Faye, Karen Kenney, Suzanne Kingsbury, Kasey Mathews

What's a "writer platform", why do I even need it, and how the heck do I get one? The days of leaving all the marketing and promotion to your publisher or publicist are quickly becoming a thing of the past. The responsibility has shifted, and writers are now expected to play a primary role in the promotion and sale of their own books. Most writers just want to write - but these days we're told that if we want our work to be read - we must work on both our craft AND on building a strong author platform. The reason behind it - "The bigger your reach (visibility, engagement and influence), the more books you're likely to sell". In this workshop, a group of writers from different backgrounds and in various stages of the writing process, will pull back the curtain, answer your questions and take away some of your uncertainty and overwhelm. You'll leave the workshop with helpful tips, resources and practical strategies to start creating your own writing platform (before you may even need one) and also take home ideas of what to do once you're published and want to keep your momentum going.


A Sense of Place: How To Render a Changing World -- Dede Cummings and Tim Weed

In this panel, we consider literature of place in a time of environmental crisis. What role does the environment play in literature? How can instilling a vivid sense of place help literature fulfill its role as a form of solace, enrichment, and betterment for writers? Can literature of place contribute to the formation of new paradigms that will lead humankind in a more sustainable direction, or at least help us imagine a world where tensions between humans and their environs are better informed?

We live in a time of environmental crisis. In the face of this, writing might seem to be a futile pursuit, and yet, if we look back at the power of literature to influence individuals and collective culture, perhaps writing is not so futile. This panel will empower writers to articulate a human desire to know a place deeply through a close study of how setting in both fiction and nonfiction narratives drives plot tension, and helps us explore the effects of atmosphere on the human condition.


Characters That Stick -Adi Rule

Who are your favorite literary characters? We remember them long after the book is over. What makes them tick? Why do we care about them? And how can we infuse life into our own protagonists, sidekicks, and villains? We’ll talk about how to create multifaceted characters that stay with our readers beyond The End. 

Bottom of the Ninth: 4:45-5:30 p.m.

Please join Virginia Prescott, Bill Littlefield and Glenn Stout for one last pre-season pep rally. Red Sox fans take note—Glenn will demystify The Selling of the Babe and Bill may forever change the way you hear Take Me Out To Ball Park. After their readings, Virginia will interview both authors, a conversation which will include questions from the audience. Popcorn, peanuts, and Cracker Jacks will be provided; Ball Park drafts may be purchased at 2004 prices. Two tickets to a Red Sox Game TBA (smart money says it will be against the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs in late April) will be raffled off; must be present to win. Tickets to Bottom of the Ninth are free, but limited. All Writers’ Day Participants will receive one ticket. 


Check out the participant biographies here.


Click here to register online!

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