A Change in BWW Leadership

In lieu of the usual “Opportunities and Announcements” post this week, I’m writing to let you know that I’m stepping down as leader of the Burlington Writers Workshop.

thankyoupbThis decision was one of the toughest I’ve ever had to make. I’ve accepted a position as All Things Considered host at New Hampshire Public Radio. This is an exciting opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to pushing the “ON AIR” button in the Granite State. NHPR is a leader in the industry and its staff is incredibly talented and creative. I’m sad to be leaving the talented, creative folks at VPR, but opportunity knocked loudly.

Even though I’ll be leaving Burlington for Concord, New Hampshire, one thing is certain: I will always be a member of the Burlington Writers Workshop. Since I moved here in 2009, my fellow BWW members have been my friends, careful readers, and sources of comfort during tough times. When I moved here, building something like this was not in the plan, but once it became clear that there was a force greater than me pushing this group onward and upward, I couldn’t step away.

This change in my professional life comes at a time when the BWW is ready for new leadership. That’s why I’ve asked Danielle Thierry to take my place. Danielle is a freelance writer and content strategist, and she whips Mud Season Review into shape every month as its managing editor. In addition to being an excellent writer, she’s also an organizational mastermind. The flow-charts she develops are nothing short of astonishing. I do not say this lightly: she will outshine me as a leader. I’m 100% confident that things will continue to grow in a sustainable, well-managed manner under her leadership.

For the next several months, Danielle will shadow me. Someone will shadow Danielle as managing editor of Mud Season Review, and the official take-over will happen on June 1, 2015. I’ll be working with Danielle to generate detailed governing documents, including job descriptions for volunteer positions.

After June 1st, I’ll be happy to serve on the advisory committee and lend long-distance support to Danielle and anyone else within the organization in need of help or advice. I’ll also be a donor, and I’ll be challenging you to contribute to the BWW when our fundraisers come around.

It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to serve you in this way. I have learned so much—about writing, marketing, website development, social media, fundraising, and management. You guys have made me a better person and I’ll always be grateful for that. And I’ll always remember the stories you’ve told me about how your writing improved because of the BWW.

My last event as the BWW’s leader will be the launch of THE BEST OF THE BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP 2015 at Arts Riot on Pine Street in Burlington on Friday, April 3rd. I hope you will be there—not to say goodbye, because I’ll be back to participate in workshops as a member, but to celebrate a remarkable publication and everything else you’ve helped me build these past six years.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for everything. And keep in touch.

-Peter

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of February 23, 2015

Bestof2015coverI’m happy to announce that two of Burlington’s coolest restaurants, El Cortijo and New Moon Café, are sponsoring the launch of our next book, THE BEST OF THE BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP 2015.

That means you can come to the party on Friday, April 3rd, have a tasty dinner, and enjoy a reading of work by members of the BWW. There is no cover charge—but you’ll have to buy your own drinks. And of course, we hope you’ll take home a copy of BEST OF 2015.

So please do RSVP, either on Facebook or Meetup.com (or both) and we’ll see you then!

Here are this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of February 16, 2015

Walt Mahany tends to his bear, the inspiration for this story.

Walt Mahany tends to his bear, the inspiration for this story.

Sometimes you find inspiration in a loved one. Sometimes that loved one is a stuffed bear.

This week, BWW member Walt Mahany shared an excerpt of his novel-in-progress, CONVERSATIONS WITH THE BEAR, in which the narrator engages in conversation with a talking stuffed bear. Is the bear real? Is the narrator nuts? Is the bear his muse? We had an engaging conversation about the character of the bear, the state of the narrator’s mind, and the many ways in which a chapter can leave you wanting to read more.

I mention this because this workshop was a welcome respite for me. This time of year, I’m susceptible to the winter crazies. If it stays this cold much longer, I’m going to be talking to stuffed animals, too. The workshop space is open for you all day long, so stop by, have some coffee, and write something great.

Also, we’ve got these opportunities and announcements you should know about. Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of February 9, 2015

"Sterling Hardwoods," photo by Rob Lietar

“Sterling Hardwoods,” photo by Rob Lietar

This week we unveil the work of seven photographers and seven writers who set out to profile Burlington’s South End. Join us on Thursday at 7 p.m. for a look at the words and images that, we hope, reflect the diverse character of this part of this very artsy city.

This project was funded by the PlanBTV initiative, which is looking at the future of the South End as an arts and culture as well as a business district.

RSVP to the event here.

There’s more happening within the BWW, and plenty of opportunities for you to get involved, so please take a look at this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of February 2, 2015

submissionsystemWhat did you do on this snowy Monday? I spent a few hours sending out a short story I spent several months working on last year.

I was inspired by Dede Cummings, who said at our “Writing and Money” panel last month that every time you get a rejection letter, you should send out three more queries (I’m paraphrasing). Last month, I received one rejection letter, so I sent out fifteen submissions today. Not exactly the same ratio, but the idea is the same: I’m giving myself more chances to succeed, and I only need one out of the fifteen to say “yes.”

As for where I submitted my work: I aimed high. As you’ll see on my sticky note system, I’ve sent my story to a few recognizable names. (Note: These places don’t use Submittable, which is great at keeping track of submissions, so I’m resorting to this. This is why Mud Season Review uses Submittable. It’s just easier.)

I’m hoping to do some writing tonight and then maybe send out a few more pieces. If the rejection letters come in, I’ll just keep returning fire.

Anyway, all that is to say: I’ve had a productive snow day, and I hope you have, too. If not, get on Duotrope and find a place for your work, and send it out!

Here are this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of January 26, 2015

From left to right: Peter Biello, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Dede Cummings, Zach Despart, Suzanne Kingsbury, and Kerrin McCadden.

From left to right: Peter Biello, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Dede Cummings, Zach Despart, Suzanne Kingsbury, and Kerrin McCadden.

This week, we hosted a panel discussion called “Five Writers on Writing and Money.” Panelists Megan Mayhew Bergman, Dede Cummings, Zach Despart, Suzanne Kingsbury, and Kerrin McCadden shared their thoughts on a variety of writing/money-related issues, such as taxes, grants, conferences, MFA programs, and finding the balance between work and writing.

One of the big takeaways of the evening, for me, was: guard your writing time. Kerrin McCadden described her ten-hour writing sessions at an airport as a way to protect herself from interruptions. It’s good advice. As you know, life gets in the way of writing. We ought to protect those writing hours from whatever else may intrude.

We’ve produced a podcast of the event, so if you couldn’t make it, you can still benefit from the wisdom these five writers shared.

Now, here are this week’s opportunities and announcements.

Opportunities

The BWW is assembling a team, led by Laban Hill, to reach out and tell the stories of new Americans in Chittenden County. This team would engage the local immigrant population in a variety of ways, to be determined by the volunteers on the team. Our goal is to attract people who may not naturally find us and empower local immigrants through first-person storytelling. Contact us if you’re interested in helping out.

Poem City in Montpelier and Randolph is happening in April, and you can send your submissions here.

Announcements

Jerry Johnson will be giving a reading with Reeve Lindberg on Saturday, February 7th from 3-6 p.m. at Star Cat Books in Bradford, Vermont. Learn more here.

Author and teacher Stephen Kiernan and New York Times book reviewer Christopher Lehmann-Haupt will speak at the League of Vermont Writers’ annual meeting on January 31st at 8:30 a.m. More information is available here.

Sponsors

Thanks to the Marble House Project for sponsoring the BWW this month. You can learn more about the Marble House Project here.

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of January 19, 2015

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Photo by Terry Cleveland for the PlanBTV South End project.

This week, writers and photographers are teaming up to profile Burlington’s South End. It’s part of a project funded by a grant from PlanBTV. Writers and photographers paired up to create a poem/photo pair that captures the essence of a particular aspect of the South End (artists, business owners, residents, senior citizens, immigrants/new Americans, etc.). The work will be on display at a reception on February 12th. If you enjoy really getting to know a place—its people, its businesses, its art—then this is a great event for you.

There’s more going on this week, so let’s get right to this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of January 12, 2015

Editors Marisa Keller, Deena Frankel, and Zoe Armstrong collaborate on the order of the pieces in THE BEST OF THE BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP 2015.

Editors Marisa Keller, Deena Frankel, and Zoe Armstrong collaborate on the order of the pieces in THE BEST OF THE BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP 2015.

The editors of THE BEST OF THE BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP 2015 met this weekend to iron out some production details. We’re on track to submit the final PDFs to the printer by early February. Deena Frankel, our nonfiction editor, is also taking charge of designing the book. She brought some sample pages of her new design and it’s very handsome. You’re going to love both the content and design of our third annual anthology.

I hope you’ll take a moment to RSVP to the launch party on Friday, April 3rd. We’ll have readings, free food, cash bar, and a few surprises, too.

Here are this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of January 5, 2015

The new tables are now in use. Feel free to visit our workshop space and write something awesome.

The new tables are now in use. Feel free to visit our workshop space and write something awesome.

There are lots of things to tell you about this week, so let’s get right to them. Here are this week’s opportunities and announcements.

Opportunities

The organizers of NOFA Vermont Winter Conference are looking for stories and poems for their “Story and Poetry Slam” event on Sunday, February 15th at the Davis Center at UVM. The theme of this year’s conference is Growing the Good Food Movement. In support of the theme, NOFA Vermont seeks stories or poems focused on food equity, race, class, farm worker rights, or food sovereignty. Pitches for stories and poems should be short, around 30 seconds long, and can be submitted for consideration by calling the NOFA Vermont office at 802-434-4122, extension 30. The deadline for submissions is January 23. More information is available here.

VPR’s Art Hounds is looking for recommendations on artsy events happening anywhere in Vermont. This program puts your voice on the air and asks you to recommend an event that you plan to attend. It could be theater, an art gallery reception, a music show, a poetry reading…whatever it is, recommend it! The catch is that it can’t be your event. You must be recommending it without having a personal stake in it of any kind. Call this number: 1-800-778-9585 or fill out the submission form here.

Tweeting and Storytelling converge in this month’s Digital Storytelling Workshop with Nate Herzog. This workshop is funded by a grant from the Vermont Community Foundation.

Need a professional headshot done for your author FB page, book jacket, or website? Join us for this free photo and website development day in February. We’ll learn the basics of WordPress while professional photographer Carolyn Bates takes your photo. RSVP today and we’ll assign you a 10 minute session with Carolyn. Limit 30 people.

Announcements

Cynthia Close has had her essay, “Ode To Eve Ensler,” accepted by 34th Parallel Magazine. Congrats, Cynthia!

Michelle Watters had two poems accepted by Black Heart Magazine. Congrats, Michelle!

If you have publication news to share, or an author website you’d like us to put on the page we have dedicated to such things, please contact me.

Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for a blogpost on the BWW survey results.

The BWW Financial Advisory Committee is meeting on Tuesday, January 20th at 6:30 p.m. at the workshop space. If you have questions for the committee about anything finance-related, please contact any of those members, or me. They are: Cathy Beaudoin, Cynthia Close, Walt Mahany, and Wendy Andersen. Contact them here.

And finally, a standing invitation: this is your community writing workshop. It is what you make of it. If you want to get involved and have an idea to propose, let us know.

 

 

 

Thanks For Your Support!

THANK YOU!Two words fit this moment perfectly: thank you!

During our December campaign, BWW members and supporters raised $3,692. This money will allow the BWW to fulfill its mission, which is to provide more learning opportunities to all Vermont writers. We’re starting 2015 on the right foot. Thank you for that!

We did not meet our overall fundraising goal of $5,000. As an organization, we don’t go into debt to pay for things in our budget, so it’s likely that we will cut back our spending plans. Later in January, the BWW’s Financial Advisory Committee will meet and look for areas to trim that won’t be too detrimental to the mission.

Overall, though, we didn’t fall short by much, so the trimming will be slight. There’s a good chance we can make up some ground in our mid-year campaign, too.

Like most nonprofits, we rely on the good will of the community we serve. Like public radio, we give the product away first and then ask for optional donations. In describing this campaign, one writer told me, “as soon as I made my donation I was inspired to begin writing again.  Maybe you should tell people that a donation will bring the muse.” My hope is that this campaign allowed you to think about what this community means to you, and brought you a few warm fuzzies, too.

So now that the December campaign is over, let’s get back to the meat and potatoes of the BWW: our workshops. A new year has begun and it’s time to write, get feedback, revise, get feedback, revise, and then, hopefully, publish.

Onward!

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of December 29, 2014

‘Tis the season for New Years Resolutions. Most writers I know resolve to write more in the coming year. Count me among this group. Last year, I pledged to write twenty minutes a day. Just twenty. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t stick to this, but I can say that I did more writing in 2014 than I’ve ever done in a single year. In part, I was inspired by my friends in the BWW. You write well and write often.

This is the last Monday post of 2014. I hope you’ll keep your New Year’s resolution simple—and I hope you’ll go easy on yourself if you don’t stick to it one-hundred percent. Life happens.

And anyway, writing is supposed to be fun. That’s why we do it. On some level, it’s satisfying and enjoyable. Perhaps my resolution for 2015 is to reach for those moments when writing and editing feel good.

A brief fundraising update before we get into our opportunities and announcements.

We’ve raised $2,777 so far toward our overall goal of $5,000. Lots of activity occurs at the end of campaigns like these, so I truly believe we can make this goal. But we need you to help. Just twenty-two people at $100 each and we’re basically there. I would rather meet this goal than cut back on what we’re hoping to accomplish in 2015, so please help out your local writing community with a contribution. Thanks!

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And by the way, when you do, you’re entered into a drawing for one of two $50 gift cards to Bluebird Barbecue. Any amount gets you entered!

And now, here are this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading

Why I Contribute

Wendy Andersen reads at the launch of THE BEST OF THE BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP 2014.

Wendy Andersen reads at the launch of THE BEST OF THE BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP 2014.

For me, the Burlington Writers Workshop is as good as it gets – the best writers’ community I’ve participated in. Workshops for writers working in so many genres – from poetry to radio plays to digital storytelling, and it also offers opportunities to participate in publishing, events with writers, retreats, readings by members.

My writing’s not perfect, and neither is the Burlington Writers Workshop. That’s why I contribute to BWW, to continue making my writing and our group better. Members’ reflections and reactions push me: my personal growth, my education about craft, my breadth of vision about what I’m putting on the page. This community of writers – many ages, many faces from many places, many pasts, many dreams – is why I support BWW.

I want and need this community, our Third Place, to thrive. This community filled with creative people who share their striving to say something that matters and to help others do the same supports our passion. I passionately hope you’ll support BWW.

 

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Opportunities and Announcements: Week of December 22, 2014

The BWW writing center is closed this week, but a few writers will stop by later today to touch up the paint on the walls and sand/stain the new tables.

Since January, we’ve used donated tables of different sizes. These new tables will match and look really nice. Our writing, and the group itself, gets better slowly, with help from friends. I’m looking forward to the growth we’ll see in 2015.

On that note: We’re still doing the whole fundraising thing. I know—loads of fun, right? We’re doing pretty well with our goal. We need another $2400 to reach our overall goal. It would be easy to say that means 24 people giving $100 each, but the math rarely works out that way. Generally speaking, people chip in what they can. I hope you will, too.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are this week’s opportunities and announcements.

Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: December 15, 2014

Thanks to our generous donors and challengers, the BWW has now raised $2,442 toward our overall goal of $5,000 this month. Thank you!

The BWW is now giving away a $50 gift card to Phoenix Books. Make a contribution in any amount by midnight on Friday and you’ll be entered to win. Yes, you could even give $5 and be entered. And if you’re a “sustainer”—if you give automatically every month—you’re already entered into this drawing.

Please make your tax-deductible contribution today.

We’ve got lots to news to discuss this week, including an exciting partnership, so let’s get right to it. Here are this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of December 8, 2014

Thanks again to everyone who has made contributions to the Burlington Writers Workshop during our December campaign. We’ve raised about $700 toward our goal!

We’re on track to reach our goal, but we need BWW members to make contributions to help us produce more Mud Season Review and hold workshops led by professional writers. Thanks for your support!

We’ve got lots of BWW member publications to announce today, so let’s get into this week’s opportunities and announcements.

Continue reading