Inspiration for Something New

by Uriah Young on April 27, 2016

Tesla, an attorney from Philadelphia, was looking for something in the writing world different from what she was used to. At the PWC last year, she got what she was looking for and then some. Check out what her experience like was at the 2015 conference, and what could be in store for you when you attend this year.

Tesla Sra PWC

 

I had the pleasure of attending Philadelphia Writer’s Conference for the first time last June. I was recommended to attend by David Bernstein, President of Words in Progress writer’s group. I am very glad I attended. I found this conference useful on many levels. More than anything, the speakers inspired me to write for myself, which is something that many lawyers like myself don’t always have the time to do. It motivated me to begin the journey of becoming a writer, and taught me critical steps in how to begin doing so.

The classes I took are: The Poet’s Toolbox, The Art of Writing, Publishing and Marketing Young Adult Fiction, How to Become a Social Media Ninja, Improv for Storytelling, Guidelines for Storytelling, Guidelines for Researching, Courting the Spark: Finding and Using your Creativity, and Apples to Writers.

The workshop I enjoyed the most is Improv for Storytelling. Before I took the class, I did not know what to expect. Although I probably wouldn’t apply the instructor’s methods in my own writing process, he had some very useful ideas for one who is struggling with writer’s block. Getting up in front of the class and participating in Improv is something that would normally be stressful, but our instructor made it extremely fun and stress-free.

Probably what I learned most is about the tools that are out there, and how one can find them and use them. From software to publishing companies, to classes to blogging sites, to social media, I learned a lot about how to sell my work, how to approach editors, and how to avoid errors that new writers generally make.

If you are someone who loves libraries, books, and writing this workshop is a great way for you to meet like-minded individuals. Everyone at the workshop was so friendly, and for the first time I felt like I truly fit into a group. I felt extremely comfortable meeting new people and discussing the things I had learned at the workshops. This is a great way to make connections. If you are interested in forming your own writer’s circle, or starting a new project, or finding someone to bounce ideas off from, you will find it at this event. I found a few friends of different backgrounds who had such interesting experiences and perspectives.

Speaking about making new friends, this is also a great platform for networking. More than anything else, this conference provided such a wonderful networking opportunity. I connected with people who helped me to move to the next level in my writing career and who provided me with methods I had not previously considered. I gathered a number of business cards from people who were interested in working with me. In fact, a few months after the conference, I ended up starting a blogging group with one of the people I met at the conference, who added perspective and energy to the group.

After the 2015 conference, I was very excited to begin my writing process and knew how to begin. I had a great time at last year’s conference, and I can’t wait for 2016.

 

We look forward to seeing Tesla in June! If you have not registered yet for the 2016 conference, there’s room for more participants. When you do, chances are you’ll see Tesla that weekend. Expanding that network of writers, or other professionals, can enrich your journey, just like it did for Tesla. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Register today!

 

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Spring Forward Contest

by Jim Knipp on April 24, 2016

Congratulations to Lanny Larcinese whose short piece “Joe College” won the 2016 Spring Forward Contest.

Lanny hails from Philly, has been writing for six years, and has recently been branching out into memoir writing.  Great job, Lanny!  Looking forward to seeing you at the conference this year!

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Who Will Win?

by Uriah Young on April 22, 2016

Winner

PWC Focus on Contests – by Miriam Shnycer

 

This year our annual contests feature four manuscript contests: Poetry, Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Scriptwriting. Contestants must be registered for the 2016 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference to enter. Be sure to check out the contests page for all the rules.

Have you ever wondered about entering a contest? Do you have questions of what it takes to win? Have you thought about the rewards of winning? Read what three contest winners do to submit a winning manuscript. Learn how they reap the rewards of winning a contest.

Stephen Delia, 1st place winner of the 2015 poetry contest says he usually has a fellow poet look over his work because spell check only goes to far. Stephen stresses the value of having a good group of poets, such as, a critique group. He belongs to the Mad Poets Society to hear what other poets are doing and to learn from their readings. “It’s terrific for inspiration,” he adds. Stephen learned the hard way when he didn’t follow the guidelines and was disqualified from past contests. “Double and triple check them,” he says.

Jim Kempner, 1st place non-fiction winner in 2015 and 2014, agrees that critique groups are a good way to get feedback, such as, when group members point out things he didn’t think of. “My suggestion,” he says, “is to listen to all the critics and err by following their advice on writing, i.e., awkward sentences, unclear attributions etc., and then con that with what your subconscious wrote.” He advises that if your deadline permits, lay the piece aside and reread it after a few weeks with fresh eyes.

Lanny Larcinese, 1st place winner of the 2015 fiction contest, routinely sends out his work for at least a copy edit and usually a developmental edit too. He may not accept many of the developmental editor’s suggestions, but he listens to what the editor is trying to tell him. He keeps on top of his writing with beta reads but does not belong to a formal critique group. Lanny reads tons about his craft, and he attends all the local coffeehouse meetings. “I self-edit to a sickening degree,” he says.

All these winners were thrilled to win their contests. They use their winning recognitions for public relations and mention it in query letters. They enjoy the applause and the personal attention they receive from writers in the local writing community.

What do I say? Excellent writing wins. Make sure you have dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s. If you do not follow the guidelines, you will be eliminated. This year PWC has set aside a Sunday session to announce our winners and to give them the immediate opportunity to be congratulated by their peers.

As Jim succinctly says, “So submit. You can’t win unless you submit.”

 

Miriam S. Shnycer has been a PWC board member since 1990. She is the author of the book, The Shadows of Death, A Story of Young Holocaust Survivors and is a freelance writer specializing in speeches, profiles, editing, and newsletters. While in the employ of North American Publishing Company in Philadelphia, she was the editor of three trade magazines. She has authored numerous articles published in magazines and newspapers including the Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed page. She is a Life member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the journalism honor society.

 

 

 

 

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PODCAST HISTORY

by Uriah Young on April 10, 2016

New York Times Best-selling author, Jonathan Maberry had a great conversation today with another fantastic writer, Jon McGoran about their careers and the writing industry during a podcast. It marked the first time in the PWC’s history that a podcast was conducted for its followers and members. Sit back and enjoy the enlightening discussion between these two amazing writers!

 

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Never Too Early

by Uriah Young on March 24, 2016

Jenna Faccenda couldn’t wait to share her PWC experience from last year. Here’s what the ambitious college student had to say:

 

I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to attend the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference last year. My college professor recommended the conference during one of our critique meetings. As an aspiring author, I couldn’t wait to find out what this conference held  for me…

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Jenna Faccenda attended the PWC in 2015

The Truth

College is a time of exploring who you are both academically and socially. You spend four years joining organizations, learning to live on your own, and exploring your interests. You may enter college having no idea what you want to do once you graduate, or you may enter having a straight pathway planned out. Either is okay, because this is your time of discovery.

Whether you know what you want to do after graduation or not, building up your resume is an essential tool for success post grad. There are many ways you can do this, but one of them is attending the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference.

Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a writer to attend the conference. Although Journalism and English majors would highly benefit from the conference, so will majors for other industries,  like business and engineering. The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference is a place to enhance your communication skills, which are great to add to your resume.

 

You Can Network

Hundreds of people attend the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference each year. That is a lot of people to to rub elbows with! Plus it isn’t all just writers. Some people have professions in teaching, corporate offices, and more. The conference presents opportunities where you can have the chance to connect with that guy who is living your dream job. If you really want to leave a good impression during the networking process, purchase some business cards and bring them. Exchange cards with another writer, who could become a potential collaborator. It is essential  to expand your network.

When I attended, I had the opportunity to meet my new writing group. I was so grateful. The  first day of the conference, I clicked with one of the authors leading the workshops. Because I stayed after the workshop to talk to her, I was able to meet other students who had the same interests as me. By the end of the conference, there were about four or five of us that met up with this author every day and just went over each other’s work. We all grew so close that we ended up creating a virtual writing group for after the conference was over.

 

You Can Strengthen Your Writing Skills

The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference have a number of different workshops available for attendees. This year you can learn topics such as grammar for writers, humor writing, polishing your pitches, dialogue and voice, and more. By attending the conference, you will be able to build up your writing skills as well as mention on your resume which classes you took.

 

I can confidently say that attending this conference was one of the best things I could have done for myself, not only as a writer, but as a college student. I learned so much in such a short amount of time and created long lasting friendships that I will forever be grateful for. There is nothing more inspiring than surrounding yourself with people who have the same passions as you. I am looking forward to attending this year’s conference!

You can learn about Jenna on her website www.jennafaccenda.com.

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If You Want to Go Far…

by Uriah Young on March 15, 2016

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”

~ African Proverb

It is always beneficial for writers to get together and connect. The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference is a great place to meet other writers and network. You never know who you are going to meet. Here is what some writers are saying about the networking experiences they’ve had at the conference.  – Jenna Faccenda

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Networking is terrifying for an introvert with an anxiety disorder like me, but sometimes getting out of my comfort zone leads to good things. One year at the PWC, I pitched Novel A to Denise Camacho of Intrigue Publishing. She asked me to send it to her, so I left our meeting happy. The next day, when I walked into the conference, someone at the main table stopped me and said, “Denise Camacho is looking for you. Make sure you find her today.” I immediately wondered what I had done wrong and worried about it for several hours until we finally crossed paths. It turns out that Denise’s husband, Austin Camacho, had shown Denise the excerpt of Novel B that I had submitted for critique to his class. She liked it so much that she tracked me down to ask why I hadn’t pitched her Novel B the day before! The answer was “Because I only have three chapter written.” Denise told me to send it to her when it was finished because she definitely wanted to read it. In the end, Denise passed on Novel A, and Novel B will be ready to go out later this year, but now I have a relationship with a publisher who likes my writing—which never would have happened without the PWC’s networking opportunities.

– Kerry Gans

http://kerrygans.com/

 

After you’ve established your rudimentary story details, how do you maintain the forward motion, the creativity and the discipline? I find that brainstorming with the network of authors I meet during a conference like the PWC is a good investment for my story. The more I hear myself discuss a plot, scene or character, the more I’m inspired to develop them differently, or happily just pat myself on the back. Writing, creating, developing, and evolving takes work. The epiphanies ignite after we know our topic. The revelations become clear when we complete the puzzle. The tidbits I glean from each speaker guides me along my path. Those “light bulb” moments are the magic and why I attend.

– Nina McKissock

http://ninaangelamckissock.com/

 

After attending several conferences, my network has grown more than I ever dreamed. From poets to novelists and everything in between, I have met some very talented writers. I’ve gotten to know writers like Kerry Gans, Kathryn Craft, Jeanette Juryea, Austin Camacho, Jon McGoran, and may others. I’ve also met some great bloggers, editors, and publishers. It usually starts with a cup of coffee in the lounge area, and then you might find these new acquaintances sitting next to you in your next writing workshop. Before you know it, you’re seeing them on Facebook and Twitter and sharing their posts. Until you actually attend, you really can’t appreciate the opportunity to network at PWC. The writing process itself can be a lonely one, but with the PWC and the networking aspect, it doesn’t have to be.

– Uriah Young

@UriahYoung

 

My single biggest joy of attending the PWC is the opportunity to meet writers and other folks who are part of the writing world.  Through the conference, I’ve met Jonathan Maberry and Don Lafferty – who really are the driving force behind my blog.  Former workshop leader Caridad Pineiro, who wrote her first book on the train between Edison and New York City made me understand that you simply need to find those moments to write.  Author and Agent extraordinaire Marie Lamba, who I met at my first conference, inspires me every time we meet.  It is these connections, these opportunities to see that there is no magic formulae, that we’re all ‘just folks” who share so many fears and goals and inspirations that makes the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference so special.
– Jim Knipp
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When to Write?

by Uriah Young on March 1, 2016

Finding and setting aside time to write can be difficult. For some writers, it’s at night; for others, it’s in the morning. Life can be so busy, but as a writer, it’s essential to discipline yourself, making the time to write. Here are a few writers explaining what time works for them when it comes to writing.    – Jenna Faccenda

 

I find that the best time of day for me to write is as soon as I get up. PWC writer morningI make my first cup of tea, take it to my computer and get to work. I find that I’m fresh first thing in the morning when ideas are flowing. It’s before anything else interferes with my thoughts that I immerse myself in the story and write until I feel myself pulling out. When I was teaching, I went to my computer as soon as I got home and worked until I found myself pulling out of the story.

 

– Alice Wootson

www.alicewootson.net

 

This has always been something of a moving target for me. In college, I wrote a great deal of fiction nights between midnight and 3 a.m. In the 1990s I wrote an SF novel by getting up at 5 a.m. each morning and writing before getting ready for work. The novel after that was written mostly over lunch hours and evenings. SF author Connie Willis and I were on a panel in Seattle a few years back and someone in the audience asked this as part of a larger complaint about not finding any time to write at all. Connie told her, “There’s never going to be any time to write. You have to make the time.” You have to make it happen. And that’s kind of the final answer for me these days: The best time of day for me to write is wherever I manage to pry open half an hour.

– Gregory Frost

@gregory_frost

I’m always amazed (and a little jealous) of people who can just flip a switch and write anywhere and anytime.  PWC writer nightMy go to time is after eight  PM.  I’m a night person…the brain simply doesn’t work before noon most days and it takes some time to shed the stresses of the day job before I can even think about writing.  It definitely presents a challenge.  Sometimes, if the day was a busy one, I can’t find the window and nothing gets done.  Other days, I slip in perfectly, find that groove and then look up a few seconds later and find I’ve hammered out ten pages and it’s three in the morning (and I have to get up in four hours!)

– Jim Knipp

@knippknopp

 

I am a sunrise kind of writer. By the time evening comes around, I’m so busy with other things, it’s tough to get into creative mode. When I drafted my first novel, I set up shop in Dunkin Donuts before the sun came up and then typed for an hour. I did this for five months straight, five days a week. I could not have done it at night. Even now, if I have an article to write or need to draft anything, I use my voice-to-text feature on my phone and speak my thoughts while I am driving. Since my morning commute is an hour, I get so much done letting technology grab my spoken words and put it into a file. As a writer, I feel accomplished before my day even begins because I can bang out paragraphs in my car on the way to work.

– Uriah Young

@UriahYoung

 

Finding the best time to write I believe is often determined by our daily disciplines.  One of my daily disciplines is spending time in the morning reading inspirational material and then writing a few thoughts on how it spoke to me.  The discipline of writing something in the morning helps me to consider those thoughts throughout the day.  It also helps me to improve the skill of communicating a thought in written form.  In addition to the daily disciplines, we must also find our personal mind-body rhythm.  My rhythm is one where I am more creative at night rather than in the morning.  Cultivating daily disciplines and embracing the mind-body rhythm will help any writer find their “best time”.

– Jim Hart

@JimHartIII

 

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Valuable Connections

by Uriah Young on February 3, 2016

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell emphasizes how accomplished individuals don’t just achieve on their own. It’s a no-brainer, right? Too many times though, successful people are placed in a box; this box prevents outside observers from knowing the full journey and the help that elevates those who strive. The following writers met some key people at a past PWC. These people eventually played an important role for the PWC attendees. Enjoy how their writing vision manifested once connections were made.

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I wouldn’t have made my most memorable PWC connection in June 2010 if it weren’t for fellow board member Dave Wilson. He’s the one who told me Emily Rapoport was on site from Berkley and she was a great genre fit. I wasn’t going to pitch to an editor because I didn’t have an agent yet; also, the week before I’d learned that the title I’d used and loved for years was coming out on a major new novel, and I was so dejected I didn’t even know what to call my project. Dave said what could I lose? So, with no preparation and with an improvised title, I pitched, and Emily loved it. She didn’t end up taking the project—in fact, she left Berkley soon thereafter—but the amazing thing is that completely without obligation to me, a year later she wrote up a two-page editorial letter that brought my project up to its final level of marketability. With my next batch of submissions Emily’s interest earned me agent interest, and I signed with my agent after revising, in fall 2011.
– Kathryn Craft  @kcraftwriter

 

Children’s Book Author and Illustrator, Judy Schachner shared a rare gem with her class on the first day of the workshop that lit a fire of inspiration in me that is still going strong. She pulled back the curtain on her creative process, allowing us to see her art journals that were filled with sketches and notes of her upcoming stories and characters. Some journals were for one story only and other journals were chock full of her ideas, all of which jumped off the page with color and art and words that made me go out and get my own art journal the very next day. I currently have a story in the works, all because of Judy’s class.

– Shelley Szajner

www.shelleyszajner.com

 

My most memorable connection made at PWC has been a constant building of a broad base of writers, year after year, who add bits and valuable pieces to my writing perspective. It allows me to grow and appreciate the very complex and enjoyable writing world. It has allowed me to create a best-selling novel that has been published in seven languages.

– David Wilson

 

Meeting Jim Knipp was an important connection I made at the PWC. Initially, it was through email when he had no idea who I was or what my writing goals were. Basic questions he answered in a timely manner made me realize how on top of his game he was as I started attending conferences. The subsequent years went by, and I remember collecting my badge and folders from him at the registration table. Arms folded, but with a grin, he’d greet me and drop a quick joke or helpful tip. As each June came and went, I observed how approachable and friendly he was toward many attendees. After a while, I was approached by Jim to lend a hand with the blog. How could I say no? Now, because of Jim, I am honored to be a part of something I love doing: bringing the writing community together through blogging.

– Uriah Young  @UriahYoung

 

The most memorable connection I made at a PWC conference was with Glo and Bill Delamar when I was just getting started with my writing. I learned a lot from them. They taught the necessary skills and provided personal feedback. They also allowed feedback from others in the class. I found their instruction so helpful that I took every workshop they offered through the Cheltenham Adult School until I started having booksignings at the bookstores at the same time as the class was held.

 – Alice Wootson

 

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Strength in Numbers

by Uriah Young on January 19, 2016

Writing can be a lonely practice. However, no one said a writer’s path has to be lonely. At the PWC, writing communities converge on that evil army of minions who feed on our insecurities. Doubt, criticism, and rejection try to defeat us as individuals. With other writers who’ve got your 6 and flank to your left and right, there’s no way you’ll go down. The following writers share insight on how to build and strengthen the writing community. Enjoy.

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I recognized early in my writing life that associating with other writers was crucial in many ways. Attending groups improved my attitude and productivity, provided feedback, access to training, and more. I concluded that participation in writing groups is a minimum requirement to live a writer’s life. After showing up at meetings for a while, I realized that writing groups need volunteers to keep them going. By contributing to writing groups, I realized I was adding value not just to myself and fellow writers, but to the entire community. In addition to volunteering in groups, I also promote the writing community by touting other writers, and supporting them in their efforts to reach readers.

– Jerry Waxler @jerrywaxler 

 

To me the first thing is to try to find a way to pull different communities together, or at least make them aware of one another—because there isn’t one writing community. We’re not that organized (seriously, what can you expect from people who sit by themselves in a room and make things up?).

Just locally there are dozens of writing communities. There are communities associated with local bookstores like Big Blue Marble and Main Point Books and Open Book; there are communities built around projects and ‘zines, like the Philadelphia Stories community; and around genres, like the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society; there are communities built around conferences such as PWC, of which there are many of all shapes and sizes; and those that have grown around the Writers’ Coffeehouses that some of the local Liars Club members have helmed for years now. And there’s an inestimable number of small writing workshops—anywhere from two-person “writing buddy” teams who meet at coffeehouses, to dozen-member critique groups. Those communities cross-pollinate to some degree, too; but one way to strengthen the whole is to make the smaller groups aware of each other, aware of available resources…help them connect. And I think one of the goals of PWC each year in drawing upon writers across the spectrum, is to afford individuals the opportunity to network and discover what lies outside their experience.

– Gregory Frost  @gregory_frost

 

I can’t imagine being on the outside of the writing community. I’d be pretty sad. My confidence would collapse, and my dreams would probably drive themselves off a cliff. Can’t afford that, so I make it a point to contribute as much of my time and effort as I can to support other writers. Writing groups are helpful, and people shouldn’t join one just for networking purposes. Offering constructive feedback to fellow writers helps each members’ growth process. In addition, online support helps strengthen communities. Goodreads is a great site to show love fellow writers. Retweeting authors within my community is another way I attempt to push wind into the sails.

– Uriah Young  @UriahYoung

 

The best way to strengthen the writing community is to support the efforts of other authors. Just think of what you wish other writers would do for you and do that. Watch for book signings at local libraries and bookstores. Your presence tells the world it’s an event of interest. When you hear about a local author appearing on television or a radio show, spread the word on your social media channels. And when you appear or speak someplace, don’t be reluctant to ask other writers to do the same. Cross promotion is a key function for building a community of writers. Also, don’t just join a nearby writer’s club, attend the meetings and offer to present. Finally, attend conferences like the Philadelphia Writers Conference and the Creatures, Crimes & Creativity Con in MD (www.creaturescrimesandcreativity.com). Surrounding yourself with writers, learning from those more successful than you and sharing what you’ve learned with aspiring authors is the best way to build a strong writing community.

– Austin Camacho  www.ascamacho.com

 

There are so many things we can do to strengthen the writing community. We can feature local authors and host book signings at our bookstores and cafes. Networking through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is helpful, too. Join local writing and critique groups, and if writers are unable to attend meetings, they can join online critique groups or take writing courses online. Attend workshops in the area to sharpen skills, and network with published authors. Mentor an aspiring writer in the area by sharing markets we submit to, passing on trade magazines and books, and sharing our knowledge and encouragement.   Most important, write a letter telling an author how much you enjoyed their book or article. When trying to strengthen the writing community, any of these small gestures could inspire a discouraged person to keep on trying.

– L.A. Strucke  @LAStrucke

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Leaving a Mark

by Uriah Young on January 8, 2016

Those who’ve attended the PWC know that it’s great to network and be around other writers. What may get overlooked sometimes is the impact an instructor can have on those who attend the workshops. Here’s how some board members feel about their most memorable classes.

PWC

 

Kelly SimmonsFor my most memorable class, I’d have to go with the “Novel: Character” class taught by this year’s opening speaker, Kelly Simmons in 2011.  Kelly was an excellent teacher, but on the second day of the workshop I read something I had written as part of our homework, and she said something like “I’m probably not supposed to say this, but that was effing awesome.” It was a huge confidence booster to keep pursuing this crazy dream to become an author.  Whenever I feel like maybe I should give up, I think of her saying that it it keeps me going.

– Jim Knipp @knippknopp

 

Don Lafferty and Jonathan Maberry at Clinton BookshopThe most memorable class I ever attended at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference was the very first class I attended — Jonathan Maberry’s “Nuts & Bolts of Publishing” — a two day feature where he broke down the work a writer must do before and after the writing. About the business of publishing, and the professional expectations of editors and agents. When I attended the PWC for the first time in 2005, it was the first writing conference I’d ever attended. I had no idea what to expect, so when I started off with Maberry, whom I barely knew at the time, I was unprepared for the sheer excellence and relevance of the information he shared with us. I’d been a successful sales executive for years, so his “blocking and tackling” concepts powered by best-in-class business practices made perfect sense, and empowered me to blow the roof off my writing career. It was the information I needed at the right time in my growth as a writer. I have since gone on to attend hundreds of sessions at conferences all over the country, and frequently teach at writing conferences. While every now and then somebody still blows the roof off my writing career, nothing compares to the awakening I experienced in my very first class, at my very first conference, ten short years ago at the PWC.

– Don Lafferty @donlafferty

 

A few years ago, PWC ran two “NOVEL” classes. Kelly Simmons’s was in the morning, mine in the afternoon; she taught Structure and I taught Character. I sat in on hers with the idea of being able to build on things she said. I was unprepared for the amount of very smart and easy-to-apply information she was providing her class—so much information in fact that I jettisoned maybe half of my prepared lecture and just built out from where she’d begun. It is always a wonderful experience to sit in a class and be surprised, dazzled, and exposed to a whole new way of thinking about your own writing.

– Gregory Frost @gregory_frost

 

Lynn LevinIf I can only choose one class, it might have to be Lynn Levin’s three-day workshop on the lyric poem. It provided me definition for the form and freedom to experiment. One “homework” assignment led to a published poem. Lynn is an excellent communicator and teacher.
– Dave Kozinsky
PWC

 

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