Workshop Descriptions

UNSTUCK:  Friendly Yet Honest Advice on a Poem You Can’t Seem to Finish
B.J. Ward
Saturday, June 7, 9:00 – 11:00AM

Each participant should bring sixteen copies of a shorter poem (16 lines or less) that s/he needs help with.  There are no restrictions on form or subject matter.  We will dedicate approximately 8 minutes to discussing each poem and providing feedback.  The final minutes of the workshop will be dedicated to giving a specific prompt for participants to generate a new poem after the conference has ended.


Character, Theme, & Viewpoint in Middle Grade / YA: Getting It Right
Jordan Sonnenblick
Saturday, June 7, 9:00 – 11:00AM

This workshop will be broken down into three parts.  The first will be an introduction during which participants present their favorite books in small groups and attempt to generate and list important qualities of “successful” mg/ya writing, followed by a whole-class discussion of the groups’ findings.   The second part will be a journal-writing exercise about a key moment in each participant’s childhood/early adolescence during which s/he felt empowered to do some activity independently for the first time.  This will then be linked to a discussion of such moments in the mg/ya novels the participants have shared.  The third part will be a writing exercise in which participants craft the first page of their own autobiographies in a first-person mg/ya voice.  Participants are asked to bring along copies of one or two favorite middle-grade/YA novels.


The Magic of Place: How to Make Your Setting Sing
Ruth Knafo Setton
Saturday, June 7, 9:00 – 11:00AM

This workshop will focus on the fundamentals of world-building, whether it’s your own neighborhood, an enchanted kingdom or a distant planet.  Through a craft lecture, writing exercises and interactive discussions, we will explore how to maximize your use of setting to develop characters and plot, heighten suspense and intensify conflict, and create a world so rich in sensory details your readers will never want to leave.  Students should bring pen and paper.


Writing Your Life
Beverly Donofrio
Saturday, June 7, 9:00 – 11:00AM

Discover the consciousness-expanding potential of memoir in this workshop designed to take you deeper into your hearts, your souls and your pasts --to discover and depict the transformative movement of spirit in your lives.  Instructor Beverly Donofrio creates a supportive environment in which to give exercises designed to mine your own experience, ask questions of it, contemplate the mystery and depict it on the page.  Bring pencil and paper and come prepared to write.  Telling your story can be profound and fun.  All that is required is a strong desire and the courage to write the truth.


Employing Humor in Our Writing
Lee Upton
Saturday, June 7, 9:00 – 11:00AM

In this workshop, we will examine the writing of exceptional humor writers and immediately manage to write a whole lot better than they do.  No, not seriously.  In this workshop we will examine selected strategies of humor writers in an effort to determine how such strategies might inspire and enliven our own writing and allow us to generate new perspectives on our material.  Impromptu exercises, occasional arm-wrestling and a supportive atmosphere in which we destroy each other’s will to live.  Required:  a great big (or even middling) sense of humor and tolerance.  No need to bring a manuscript; just bring whatever implements you use to write (except for your cat).