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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

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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

Reading With A Pen

file000424834161I recently found this fascinating article about reading with a pen by Tim Parks in The New York Review of Books. The gist is this: the printed word is powerful, but it’s also seductive, so don’t let yourself be seduced too easily.

He’s referring to a common, dangerous assumption: if a book is published, it must be good. We may believe that each sentence has been vetted for clarity, each paragraph hangs together, and the author’s logic holds water. This isn’t necessarily true, Parks reminds us. He provides several examples of badly written published works to make his point.

Readers definitely fall into this trap. I’m definitely guilty of it, too. But if readers are at times not critical enough, creative writing workshop participants may be too critical. Workshoppers may assume that if a piece of writing isn’t published, there must be something wrong with it. This assumption isn’t necessarily correct, and if it isn’t consciously banished from your brain, you may blind yourself to the author’s intent.

Note: this isn’t the first time I’ve warned against “looking for errors” in a work-in-progress. I speak about it at length in “On Giving Feedback.”

It’s wise to be alert while reading, to “resist enchantment for a while, or at least for long enough to have some idea of what we are being drawn into,” as Parks says. But I would caution against being so alert that you find problems that aren’t really there. A general, almost neutral awareness of your responses to each part of the piece is the real weapon here—a weapon that takes time and effort to cultivate.

Meet The Editors

We’re proud to announce that we’ve selected editors for the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to be published in The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2015. All the submissions are in the hands of these capable editors.Zoe Armstrong, poetry editor.

zoearmstrong2Zoe Armstrong will select and edit the poetry. She is a spoken-word poet and essayist. Her work has been published in Wolf Moon Press, Curve Magazine, HSU Matrix, and activist ‘zines. Her radio program “Patterns of Chaos” has been featured on community radio stations in Maine, Vermont, and California. She is a Ver-mainer living in Burlington.

What You Want To Do, And How We’re Going To Do It

The survey results are in. Thanks very much to everyone who took the time to fill it out. The long and short of it is: you want more writing retreats, more professional writers giving classes and workshops, and you’d like to have a chance to talk to agents. There are other things on the list as well: more weekend workshops, more seminars on elements of craft like the workshops we held on Saturdays in November, and a return of the BWW book club. I’ll have more specific numbers for you soon.

In general, if it’s free, we can definitely do it with volunteer facilitators, so please get in touch if you’d like to make one of these things happen.

The top priorities cost money, though, so the financial advisory committee and I have worked out a budget that’ll help us make these things happen. These things will be in addition to the things we already do. So let me start this pitch by saying:

We’re trying to raise $5,000 this month.

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It may sound big, but it’s doable. Here’s a breakdown of what your tax-deductible contribution will pay for.

Retreats: The number one priority for you was more writing retreats. You’ll get them! We’ve done a few, but more are needed, and it’s likely we’ll have to rent one or two of the venues. It’ll also be nice to not have to worry about preparing food during the retreat. After all, we’re supposed to be writing, not worrying about the little details of life! That’s what a retreat is for. They’ll be free and we’ll all have an equal shot at attending one (or more). So we’re estimating the price tag will be $1,500.

Professional Writers: You said you wanted more published authors to join us for workshops and hold classes. We can do this. However, it’s going to take some cash to bring them in. I can’t reveal in public how much we’ve budgeted for this because it will compromise our ability to negotiate fees, but I’m happy to answer your questions privately.

Agents: We decided that we can’t do this unless we raise $8,000 this month instead of $5,000. We believe this is unlikely to happen, but you never know kind of angel donors will drop down and save us. It would likely cost around $3,000 to fly agents from NYC and LA to Vermont, put them in hotels, feed them, and pay them for their time. So we’ll shelve this item unless an generous donor comes down and gifts us with an enormous sum.

These new things would be in addition to the things we normally pay for:

The Workshop Space: We rely on those automatic monthly contributions to help us pay for this space. We’re hoping you can come through and make automatic contributions of $12 or $20 a month to help keep this place open. I am very thankful for everyone who already does this, but we need more help. Can you join this team of “sustaining members” and help pay the rent?

Mud Season Review: The MSR staff is doing a great job raising funds through our “paid review” feature on Submittable, but the costs are large: AWP, Submittable, marketing, website hosting, and printing. Our goal is to make Mud Season Review one of the best literary journals in the country, and with our brilliant volunteer staff and adequate funding, we can make it happen.

So here comes my personal appeal. I spend an average of 20 hours each week on workshop-related stuff. It’s an enormous amount of work. But I love doing it. Love love love it. “Work” doesn’t seem like the right word to describe it, because it’s so much fun. You are the best bunch of people I’ve ever known: generous, thoughtful, kind, ambitious, and smart. This kind of thing couldn’t happen anywhere but Vermont, where the community spirit is unusually strong. I’m also especially grateful that when I decided to sign a lease for our workshop space, you stepped up and helped pay for it. Thank you all very much.

My hope now is that you’ll come together now and help us reach this important goal. I’ll update you regularly as we get closer to reaching our goal. Make your contribution now. Thanks very much, everyone.



Opportunities and Announcements: Week of November 24, 2014

Okay, here’s the deal: We’ve launched an anonymous survey to gather your opinions about what literary projects we should tackle in 2015. The survey closes tomorrow. It’s very, very important for us to gather your opinions on what we should do. The good news: It takes less than two minutes to complete.

I know sometimes people say “it takes two minutes” when it really takes five or ten. But really, it’s just two minutes.

Why is this so important? We make our best decisions when we make them together. So please—two minutes of your time is all we need. Here’s the survey.

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

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of November 17, 2014

surveyimageThis week’s news is short and sweet. The Annual BWW Survey is ready, so please take two minutes to tell us what you think we should do in 2015. Here’s the link.

The deadline to fill out the survey is midnight on Tuesday, November 25th. Don’t waste this opportunity to guide the growth of your local writing workshop.

Here are the opportunities and announcements for this week. Continue reading