Workshop Descriptions

Saturday and Sunday Workshops (full-conference attenders)

Discovering Your Characters’ (Real) Story
Paul Acampora

Great characters are at the heart of great stories. With a focus on fiction for young readers, this workshop will consider the ways in which action, dialogue, scenes, voice, and plot must work together to reveal your characters’ hopes, dreams, fears and failings. We’ll also discuss and practice techniques for using that knowledge to develop compelling stories that can hook agents, editors and — most importantly — readers.

Writing Your Life
Beverly Donofrio

NOTE: This workshop is CLOSED. If you would like to be placed on a waiting list, contact Conference Director Joyce Hinnefeld at or 610-861-1392.

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.

Writing the Novel: Following a Map that Changes
Kate Racculia

NOTE: This workshop is CLOSED. If you would like to be placed on a waiting list, contact Conference Director Joyce Hinnefeld at or 610-861-1392.

Writing a novel is an act of love and endurance, an intellectual and emotional marathon; it can be the most rewarding and extraordinary of experiences—and a daunting one, whether you are revising a complete manuscript or writing the first sentence. In this workshop, we will discuss practical approaches to great beginnings and memorable endings, creating characters and settings worth exploring, and outlining and organizing wayward plots. Through generative writing prompts designed to be used with your own works in progress, craft lectures, mini-critiques and discussions, you will discover new paths—and new energy to follow where they might lead.You are invited to submit up to 10 typed pages of a novel or shorter work you wish to develop into a novel ahead of the conference, in 12 point Times, double-spaced, with at least 1-inch margins. Send as an email attachment (pdf or Word file) to by Friday, May 8 at noon.

Writing Short
Lee Upton

All writing starts small and short—it’s a matter of putting that first word on the page. By examining short forms that are fertile for writers at any stage of their careers we’ll focus on how a little can mean a lot. We’ll engage in writing exercises that jump-start mini-fables, flash fiction, kaleidoscope narratives, aphorisms, mini-memoirs, one-sentence poems, and hybrid forms. We’ll also talk about ways to make any kind of writing more powerful through concision. Sessions will include lively discussion, impromptu writing in short forms, and the review of one-page samples of participants’ writing. Publishing opportunities for short forms will also be discussed. The workshop is open to writers who like to write “long” as well as those who prefer to write “short.” Bring for discussion the typed and double-spaced first page of your work in any genre.

E A Fresh Break for Your Writing: Viewing A Poem's Line Breaks as Possibilities, Not Endings
BJ Ward

Using examples from poems written in the last 50 years, Mr. Ward will explore how line break choices can augment a poem’s tone by emphasizing images, sounds, and silences. Participants are encouraged to bring 19 copies of an original poem (no longer than one page) they have had trouble revising or seeing clearly.

Saturday Workshops (Saturday-only attenders)

Exploring the Power of Story through Experiential Learning
Catherine Moore

This workshop will demonstrate how traditional narrative study in the classroom can be enlivened with experiential story activities and fieldwork in our community. Participants will learn about The Power of Story, a High School survey course in short fiction, and see how it was transformed into a dynamic learning environment for students. Participants will also experience some of the story activities we do in the following course sections: Act I (Sharing Stories), Act II (Telling Stories), and Act III (Making Stories). Through three major kinds of fieldwork in our community tied to narrative study (working with pairs of Elementary/High School students, High School students from different schools, and High School students/Senior citizens), we will see that experiential story activities outside of the classroom are crucial in understanding stories, their emotional power, and their ability to relate experience about ourselves.

Once Upon a Time at the Office: Storytelling as a Business Skill
Rachel Roland

In this 2-hour session we will examine business “storytelling” in settings ranging from non-profits and community organizations to Fortune 500 companies. The news may be good – the fiscal year may end “happily ever after” or not so much - the Big Bad Wolf may have absconded with the pension fund. But it’s your job to tell the story with words and pictures and the narrative better be tightly woven by the time the media shows up in your lobby. Professional business communicator Rachel Roland will offer a lively discussion about the power of stories that hit the mark and how to handle the obstacles that sometimes impede storytelling. Using actual case studies and exercises, Ms. Roland will help participants develop salient story line points and develop key messages and graphics that your audience will remember.