Conversations and Connections DC 2020: Practical Advice on... has ended

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Saturday, April 18


Cross Section: Writing Across Genres.
Mastering one genre is a lifelong task, so what about writers who move deftly among two or more? How do they do it? What is their motivation? How are new, hybrid genres created? A panel of four cross-genre writers will discuss their experience and process."

avatar for Davon Loeb

Davon Loeb

Davon Loeb is the author the lyrical memoir The In-Betweens (Everytime Press, 2018). He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers-Camden, and he is a poetry editor at Bending Genres and Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. Davon writes creative nonfiction and poetry. His work... Read More →
avatar for Tyrese Coleman

Tyrese Coleman

Author, HOW TO SIT
Tyrese L. Coleman is the author of How to Sit, a 2019 Pen Open Book Award finalist published with Mason Jar Press in 2018. She is also the writer of the forthcoming book, Spectacle, with One World, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Writer, wife, mother, attorney, and writing instructor... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Crafting Suspense
Crafting suspense might seem to be the work of writers in various genres—crime fiction and horror most specifically—but all writers (literary too!) can benefit from the tools of the suspense writer. How do you spark your readers’ curiosity for what happens next? How do you tighten tension and escalate conflict to keep those readers turning the page? How can you modulate pacing, navigate reader expectations, and strategize surprise? This session draws on work by writers including Patricia Highsmith, Margaret Millar, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor, Scott Turow and more to illustrate various techniques for incorporating suspense into your own work.  

avatar for Art Taylor

Art Taylor

Associate Professor, George Mason University
Art Taylor is the author of the story collection The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense and of the novel in stories On the Road with Del & Louise, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. He won the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Short Story for... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


How to Write Sex and Love…Without Grossing Readers Out
As a writing teacher, professional editor, and a writing coach for two decades, the one issue that comes up frequently, even among experienced writers, is writing love and sex. Overwriting, gross intimate details no one wants to hear, a barely pornographic scene or two, and wildly inappropriate language are among the few gaffes that come up. Writing love and sex is dependent on the development of the character and the sustained creation of tone and voice. It can be beautiful or terrifying, romantic or tense and depends on the content of your story. Consideration of audience also matters. I have seen too many fabulous manuscripts ruined by bad sex and silly love scenes. This workshop will demonstrate what not to do, what you should do, and will guide writers in the tricky development and language of sex, love and all that goes with it. A brief engaging writing exercise will launch the craft workshop. Rules for appropriate discussion will be enacted to create a safe and sane environment for all people. This workshop encourages diversity, all are free to join.

avatar for Leslie Schwartz

Leslie Schwartz

Leslie Schwartz has written two award-winning novels, Jumping the Green and Angels Crest and most recently (July 2018), published a memoir, The Lost Chapters; Finding Recovery and Renewal One Book at a Time. She won the James Jones Award for best first novel for Jumping the Green... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Murders, Monsters, and Marriage: Writing and Stretching Genre Fiction
Some people call it “genre” writing, but publishers call it gold. Horror, crime, sci-fi, romance, and noir have always been popular, but what challenges do they present for writers? Novelists will discuss their own experiences writing and being published in these genres, as well as tips on how to creatively engage genre expectations, establish your own distinct voice, create suspense, and more.

avatar for Dave Ring

Dave Ring

dave ring is a writer, counselor and dilettante living in Washington, DC.  He is the chair of the OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival and an active member of the Speculative Wordsmiths.  He is also the publisher and managing editor of Neon Hemlock Press.  He has two speculative anthologies... Read More →
avatar for Tara Campbell

Tara Campbell

Tara Campbell is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse. She received her MFA from American University. Previous publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Wigleaf, Booth, Jellyfish Review, Strange Horizons, and CRAFT Literary... Read More →
avatar for Tara Laskowski

Tara Laskowski

TARA LASKOWSKI’s debut suspense novel One Night Gone won the Agatha Award, Macavity Award, and the Anthony Award. She also wrote two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders. She has won the Agatha Award and Thriller Award for her short fiction... Read More →
avatar for Kelly Maher

Kelly Maher

Kelly Maher is the author of contemporary romances that feature smart heroines, witty heroes, and settings that make you feel like you’re living there. Kelly has been published since 2006 and has had stories selected to be part of anthologies from Cleis Press and Black Lace Books... Read More →
avatar for E. A. Aymar

E. A. Aymar

Of E.A. Aymar’s The Unrepentant, Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “gut-wrenching…readers who appreciate depth of character alongside gritty nonstop action will be rewarded.” His past thrillers include the novel-in-stories The Night of the Flood (in which he served as co-editor... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Particular, Resonate, Concise: Writing the Micro
There’s the idea that anyone can write, especially something short, but it takes a special writerly sensibility to write with brevitic empathy, to build resonance in the crucible of a few words, to create dimensional characters who can enthrall and frustrate. Writing the micro (>400 words)  demands that the writer juggle diction and syntax without losing the effect of character, conflict, and setting. How do we create the feeling of story, the movement of narrative, the well-spring of emotion while using the parameters of short word counts?

This generative workshop will take a prompt-based approach to look at different ways to write micro fiction/non-fiction. The prompts will be inspired by fierce and resonate examples from amazing writers who specialize in writing flash and micro stories. We will dig deeper into the writer’s craft decisions and word choices while targeting specific skills we can use to create our own micros. Using these elements of craft, we will create fresh micros full of resonate concision. Having these tools as part of our writing tool kit should enable us to let go of our inner tensions and feel freer to create poignant and exciting micros.

avatar for Tommy Dean

Tommy Dean

Tommy Dean lives in Indiana with his wife and two children. He is the author of a flash fiction chapbook entitled Special Like the People on TV from Redbird Chapbooks. He is the Editor at Fractured Lit. He has been previously published in the Atticus Review, The MacGuffin, The Lascaux... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Writing for Children
Everyone -- from Madonna to Jay Leno -- has written a children's book. So how hard can it be? We will discuss how to write for specific age groups while not compromising on style, content, and themes. This session will discuss the various sub-genres of "kidlit" and cover the needs in the children's literature market.

avatar for Susan Muaddi Darraj

Susan Muaddi Darraj

Susan Muaddi Darraj won an American Book Award for her novel-in-stories, A Curious Land. It also earned the 2016 Arab American Book Award, won the AWP Grace Paley Prize, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Crafting the Lyric Essay
Join essayist Randon Billings Noble for an in-depth exploration of the lyric essay.  What makes an essay “lyric”?  What are the benefits of using imagery and intuition to explore a line of thought instead of narrative and exposition?  In this workshop we'll read short examples, look at some of the myriad forms a lyric essay can take, consider the ways form can intensify content, and do some writing. Participants will leave with the start of a lyric essay as well as a list of places to read and publish them.

avatar for Randon Billings Noble

Randon Billings Noble

Essayist, University of Nebraska Press
Randon Billings Noble is an essayist. Her collection Be with Me Always was published by the University of Nebraska Press in March 2019 and her anthology of lyric essays, A Harp in the Stars, is forthcoming from Nebraska in 2021. Other work has appeared in the Modern Love column of... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


The Art of Pitching Editors
Most nonfiction pieces, whether in magazines or online, begin life as pitches--an email sent from a writer to an editor. In this workshop, we will walk you through how to come up with arresting pitches for everything from book reviews to essays to feature pieces. We'll walk through the anatomy of an effective pitch letter, as well as editor etiquette. We'll also talk about the delicate question of money.

avatar for Hannah Grieco

Hannah Grieco

Hannah Grieco is a writer, editor, and teacher in Washington, DC. She is the author of the hybrid collection “So You Don’t Hear Me” (Summer Camp Publishing, 2022) and the editor of the anthology “And If That Mockingbird Don’t Sing: Parenting Stories Gone Speculative” (Alternating... Read More →
avatar for Samuel Ashworth

Samuel Ashworth

Samuel Ashworth is a novelist, journalist, and teacher. He is a regular contributor of feature pieces to national publications, and his journalism, fiction, and criticism have appeared in Eater, the Washington Post Magazine, Longreads, Elemental, Hazlitt, NYLON, Hobart, Barrelhouse... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Villanelle Crash Course
Improve your villanelle skills, or write your first one. Guided by an internationally published author of villanelles, sonnets, and other metrical poems, you’ll first read classic and contemporary villanelles to see why they work. The class will write a group villanelle, and then, with or without shortcuts, you’ll write one of your own. Next you’ll see how your new poem can be improved by revision. You’ll leave with at least one new (draft) or improved villanelle, as well as insights about how writing poetry in form can unlock deeper meaning and enhance everything you write.

avatar for Claudia Gary

Claudia Gary

Claudia Gary is author of “Humor Me” (2006) and several chapbooks, most recently “Genetic Revisionism” (2019). Internationally published and anthologized, she is also a former poetry editor, three-time finalist for the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and a health science writer... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Writing as Gratitude/Gratitude as Resistance
The art of writing and the art of gratitude are often interwoven. In this generative writing workshop, participants will examine joy and gratitude as active pursuits in both writing and life. We will study contemporary poems and essays that effectively acknowledge, appreciate and, in turn, resist the world around them. Each writer will leave with a draft of one poem, prompts to use for further writing and recognition of, as the poet Rumi declared, the “hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

avatar for Kristen Zory King

Kristen Zory King

Founder, MoonLit
Kristen Zory King is a writer and artist facilitator based in Washington, DC. Kris is a three time recipient of a DC Commission on Arts and Humanities Fellowship and an alum of the 5th Woman Poetry Fellowship in Knoxville, TN and the 202Creates Residency Program in Washington, DC... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


The Editors Panel
What makes a story/poem/essay stand out in the slush pile? What do editors love? What are their secret pet peeves? This panel of literary magazine and small press editors is here to pull back the curtain and let you know what happens behind the scenes of the submission and rejection and acceptance process and answer your questions about publishing and the writing life.

avatar for Marisa Siegel

Marisa Siegel

Editor-in-Chief, The Rumpus
Marisa Siegel lives, writes, and edits near NYC. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Mills College in Oakland, CA. Her essay “Inherited Anger” appears in the anthology Burn It Down (Seal Press, 2019) and her debut poetry chapbook, Fixed Stars, is forthcoming from Burrow Press i... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Finding and Building Your Writing Community, In-person and Online
Deepen your writing life by socializing your writing! We'll explore what it means to be a good literary citizen and discuss ways to find both resources and your place in the literary community. Connect with other writers, support your local literary scene, and develop your craft. Leave the session with concrete tips for finding your people.

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Working in the Literary World: Opportunities for Literary Nonprofits, Organizations, and Initiatives
Writing is a form of activism, and many writers have also built successful careers in advocating for the literary arts. Four panelists who have worked and/or founded organizations that lift up the role of literature in individual lives, in schools, in regional programs, and other forums will discuss their path, as well as talk about what inspires their work. The relationship between advocacy and creativity will also be discussed.

avatar for Melanie Hatter

Melanie Hatter

Melanie S. Hatter is the author of two novels and one short story collection. Selected by Edwidge Danticat, Malawi's Sisters won the inaugural Kimbilio National Fiction Prize and is published by Four Way Books, 2019. The Color of My Soul won the 2011 Washington Writers' Publishing... Read More →
avatar for Dan Brady

Dan Brady

Poetry Editor, Barrelhouse
Dan Brady is the author of the poetry collections Strange Children (Publishing Genius, 2018) and Subtexts (forthcoming from Publishing Genius, 2021), and two chapbooks, "Cabin Fever / Fossil Record" (Flying Guillotine Press) and "Leroy Sequences" (Horse Less Press). He is the poetry... Read More →
avatar for Carla Du Pree

Carla Du Pree

Executive Director, CityLit Project
Carla Du Pree is a fiction writer, consultant, state arts ambassador and advocate, and the executive director of CityLit Project, a literary nonprofit in Baltimore that nurtures readers and writers with two signature events. She’s featured regional and transnational authors at festivals... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Writing Through Trauma
Nearly all of us have experienced some form of trauma—whether it be personal, historical, or communal—from oppression, abuse, war, mental illness, loss, or disease, among other causes. While there are many methods available to help us cope with trauma, this session will explore how and why writers mine their pain, examine it up close, reflect on it, and write about it—as well as why they may sometimes choose NOT to put their traumatic experiences into writing. The process of telling our stories can offer healing and even transformation, but often, in a society keen on denial and erasure, there is power in writing our stories and owning them. We are saying, wait a minute, this thing happened. This workshop has less to do with personal healing or transformation and more with identifying which stories we have that “need” to be told and how best to tell them. We will explore various means of representing personal, historical, and communal trauma, from more expected genres like lyric poetry and memoir to less autobiographical approaches including fictionalized narratives, persona poems, and the personal academic.

Panelists will briefly discuss how they identified the traumas they needed to write about and read from their own work, followed by allow ample time for attendees to discuss their own experience with writing around trauma. We will also offer exercises for exploring traumatic experiences.

avatar for Kirsten Porter

Kirsten Porter

Kirsten Porter is a freelance editor, poet, professor, and guest lecturer. She earned an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. Porter has taught creative writing, composition, and literature studies at Marymount University. Her poetry and teachings focus on women... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA