Opportunities & Announcements: Week of March 5, 2018

Opportunities and Announcements LogoIn this issue (click to jump to a section):

Opportunities

Second Winter Write-In Retreat March 11 in Burlington

Writers at work during the first winter 2018 write-in retreat.

Building off the momentum of the first write-in, we’re hosting a second retreat on Sunday, March 11 at the BWW space. There are still a few spots available, so feel free to sign up and join your fellow writers for a day of quiet writing in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. RSVP now >

 

BWW open mic  March 12 at the Light Club Lamp Shop

12 Winooski Ave in downtown Burlington

Open Mic 3/12/18Our next open mic night is coming up on Monday, March 12 at 7 pm. We’ll be joining the Lit Club at the Lamp Shop for an evening of poetry, song, and stories. Even if you’re not scheduled to perform, come out to support your fellow BWW members and stick around to sign up for the first-come, first-served portion of the open mic evening to follow our scheduled performers. See the line up and RSVP now >

March Podcast Literary Conversation & Workshop will focus on the longform interview

Saturday, March 24, 10:30 a.m. in Burlington

What creative nonfiction writing techniques make a news story so compelling you can’t forget it? How do good writers use these techniques? How is this relevant to how you read and learn about the world? How is this relevant to your own writing practice? We’ll explore these questions and more by listening to podcasts featuring Rachel and Kaadzi Ghansah, reading the longform journalism discussed in the podcasts, and critically analyzing the writing on our own, then come together for discussion.

The first edition of this new workshop was a highly stimulating conversation about the  literature, #MeToo, and identity. Civil discourse and thoughtful reflection on writing just don’t get any better. Come join the conversation.

RSVP now >

BWW member and workshop facilitator offers poetry as spirituality course

Lizzy Fox, performing her poetry at a 2013 Burlington Writers Workshop reading

BWW member and recent guest workshop facilitator Lizzy Fox is offering Poetry as Spiritual Practice begins March 13 and meets online for 12 Tuesday evenings, 7-8:30pm EST. You can learn more about the course at www.lizzyfoxpoetry.com, and the registration page is open with sliding-scale tuition fees.

About the facilitator:
Lizzy Fox is a poet and educator with an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has taught writing and performance in partnership with the Vermont Arts Council, Flynn Arts, The New England Young Writers Conference, VSA Vermont, and countless schools. Lizzy is a recipient of the Laura J. Spooner Prize and the Corrine Eastman Davis Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of Vermont. Her poems have appeared in journals, anthologies, and art displays. You can reach her directly here. 

Announcements

Mud Season Review issue #36 launches

Congratulations to the staff of Mud Season Review on the launch of issue #36. This issue features the art of Hun Kyu Kim, fiction of Jillian Merrifield, nonfiction of Lynne Feeley, and poetry of Robert Rothman.

Updates from the board

At the February board meeting, longtime BWW member Michael Freed-Thall was voted onto the board to fill the vacant seat. Welcome, Michael! Minutes from the meeting will be available soon.

The next board meeting is scheduled for March 15. Members are always welcome.

Flynn Center blog

Burlington Writers Workshop members regularly blog for the Flynn.

Read Cynthia Close’s preview for The Second City Touring Company’s Look Both Ways Before Talking >

Read Joyce Gallimore’s review of Pilobolus’ Shadowland >

Congrats & thanks

Congrats to Andrea Chesman, whose short story, “A Girl Walks into a Bar,” is now available online at Green Mountains Review.  The story, which was workshopped at the Middlebury chapter of BWW, was a finalist in the 2017 Neil Shephard fiction contest.

Thanks to Barbie AlsopWendy Andersen, and Riki Moss for serving as BWW hosts for this past weekend’s workshops.

Thanks to Karin AmesWendy Andersen, Kristabeth Atwood, Melinda BachandPartridge BoswellPatrick Brownson, Rosa Castellano, Terry Cleveland, Seth Melvin Cronin, Eva Gumprecht, Stephen Kastner, Natasha MieszkowskiRiki MossRita MunroRebecca Starks, and Danielle Thierry for hosting BWW workshops in February.  And thank you to our February guest workshop facilitators, Joni B. Cole and Baron Wormser.

Thanks to Josh McDonald,  Natasha Mieszkowski, and Janet Schneider for hosting open hours at the BWW space in February.

Thanks to Rose Eggert and Terry Cleveland for another month of managing the BWW’s finances.

Thanks to Mindy Wong for another month of managing the BWW space and open hours.

Opportunities & Announcements: Week of February 19, 2018

In this issue (click to jump to a section):

Opportunities

Poetry Master Class with Karin Gottshall

Figuration Smorgasbord: Roll up Your Sleeves and Get Messy with Metaphor
Saturdays: March 3, 10, and 17 at 10:30 a.m. in Burlington

karingotshall_theriverwontholdyouWe’ve just added a great opportunity for our poets in March! Join poet Karin Gottshall—author of 2 award-winning collections of poems and 3 chapbooks published by independent presses—for a deep dive into the realm of metaphor, investigating its ability to widen our minds and perceptive abilities. We’ll look at examples of poems that use figurative effects such as synesthesia, metonymy, and synecdoche, along with our old favorites from elementary school, and then we’ll craft our own poems using generative exercises and prompts.

Karin will be offering 3 separate workshops with us in March (Saturdays, March 3, 10, and 17). These workshops do not need to be taken as a series. Since the workshops are coming up soon, we won’t be holding a lottery for these. Please sign up for each workshop individually.

RSVP for March 3 >
RSVP for March 10 >
RSVP for March 17 >

These workshops are funded in part by the BCA Community Fund.

Prose Master Class with Baron Wormser

Individual workshops to be held Wednesdays, March 14, 21, and 28, 6:30 p.m. in Burlington

These workshops will consider how various approaches to sentence construction can broaden any writer’s approach to his or her material. We will do 2 prompts each session, one from a fiction writer and one from a nonfiction writer.

Each is an individual workshop and they do not need to be attended as a series. Participation in these workshops will be decided via a lottery. The lottery closes on Friday, February 23, midnight. Enter the lottery now >

Open Mic Night

Monday, March 12, 7:00 p.m.
Lit Club at the Light Club Lamp Shop, 12 North Winooski

Mud season can be a boon to our writing, a quiet time to tune our voices word by word, line by line (what else are we going to do?). But come March, if your pen feels a bit stir crazy and your words are dying to get off the screen or page, out on the town and onto the stage…then please join us on Monday, March 12th when the BWW teams up with the Lamp Shop Lit Club for its next thrilling open mic event. Open to all genres, whether read, recited, sung or mashed up with siracha on the side…we invite folks on stage to do their thing—the only restriction, we ask each performer to please limit mic time to 5 minutes or less. If November’s packed reading was a sign, we’re in for another eclectic and electric ride in March.

Sign-ups will be by lottery. To request time on the roster, simply RSVP and leave a comment in the Meetup event by Friday, February 23 letting us know you’d like a spot. We’ll confirm the line-up by Monday, February 26. Preference will be given to those who didn’t get a spot in the last open mic.

Enter the Open Mic lottery >

If you don’t get a spot in the BWW portion of this event, don’t worry! Feel free to come by and sign up for the Lit Club’s continued open mic to follow, with a first-come, first-served sign up system. And keep your eye out for the next BWW open mic coming this summer.

Have you been wanting to join our workshops, but not sure how to get started?

If so, please join us for a new member meeting. Board members Rebecca Starks and Danielle Thierry will help fill you in on how everything works and answer any questions you might have. We’ll also workshop a piece of writing to help you better understand our process of giving feedback to fellow writers. Writers of all skill levels, from experienced to brand new, are welcome! RSVP now >

Announcements

Update on BWW anthology naming poll

Thanks to those who responded to the follow-up poll on whether or not to rename the BWW anthology—and if so, what to call it. The answer to the first question was clear: 62% of responses favor renaming the anthology. On the second point, the comments and objective responses suggest we haven’t come up with just the right replacement yet, and more creativity is in order.

We’ll know it when we hear it! The “right” name will have the kind of wit and fit that “Mud Season Review” has for the BWW literary journal, and we just aren’t there yet.

The staff is just being assembled for this year’s edition, and the call for entries is about to be issued for publication in the fall. So stay tuned for more conversation at workshops, online and at gatherings, and please share your naming brainstorms via the  contact form>

BWW board update

Your board of directors met on Thursday, February 15. Minutes from the meeting will be available soon. The next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 15 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the Burlington Writers Workshop space.

Flynn Center Blog

BWW members regularly blog for the Flynn Center.

Read Cynthia Close’s preview of the 3-part harmony group The Sweet Remains >

Read Joyce Gallimore’s review of Pilobolus’ Shadowland >

Congrats & thanks

Congrats to Cynthia Close, whose review of The Criterion Collection, 100 Years of Olympic Films, 1912 – 2012, was recently featured in Documentary magazine.

Congrats to Terry Cleveland, who was selected for this year’s Vermont Studio Center residency.

Nina Gaby, who won the New Millennium Writings Monthly Musepaper Award for her flash creative nonfiction piece, “The Sum of its Parts.”

Congrats to Margaret Grant, whose short story, “Arrieta 410,” was recently accepted for publication by Kenyon Review.

Opportunities & Announcements: Week of January 22, 2018

In this issue (click to jump to a section):

 

December fundraising success

Thank you to everyone who supported the BWW this December—whether as a sustaining donor, with a one-time donation, by rounding up your change in the checkout line at City Market, or through a Mud Season Review feedback request, full manuscript review, or tip jar donation.

In December, you helped us raise a total of $8,513.27:

In addition, your board members met this past Thursday night to review financials for the year as well as the budget for 2018. Minutes and financials from that meeting will be available as soon as they are finalized.

Opportunities

BWW anthology name change survey and call for staff

First, the survey

In the 2017 annual member survey and at the annual meeting, a number of people suggested changing the name of the Burlington Writers Workshop annual anthology (The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop).

We sought member input through a survey in December to determine whether our wider membership preferred to keep the name or change it, and to gather suggestions to consider if we are to make a change. The survey split down the middle—with 19 votes in favor of a change and 19 votes opposed.

Below are a few points shared through the survey and through discussion, to offer member thinking on this issue:

  • The idea of “best of” feels like a misnomer to some members because:
    • For some members, it doesn’t feel consistent with our supportive organizational culture.
    • For others, because selected works featured in the anthology each year reflect the subjective judgment of each year’s editors rather than an objective standard of what it means to be the “best of,” the language of “best of the BWW” feels like it sets up a misleading sense of competition.
  • Some members feel that given the 5 years invested in the current name to date, changing the name could result in a loss of brand recognition.

Given the tie vote, we are offering a follow-up survey. This survey is meant to share some new naming options for your consideration, ask again “keep or change” in the context of the alternatives, and get feedback on the alternatives to inform a renaming decision, if we go that way. The survey will be open through Monday, February 5.

Take the survey now > 

And now the call for staff

Editors at work selecting submissions

If you expressed interest through this survey in being part of the 2018 anthology staff and provided your name and email, we’ll be contacting you next week with more information. If you didn’t responding in the survey, but you’re interested in possibly joining the staff, please let us know by Monday, February 5. We’re planning an informational meeting to be held in February.

Express your interesting in joining the 2018 BWW anthology staff >

Open hours at the BWW studio: All writers welcome!

During “open hours” at the studio, Burlington Writers Workshop members are invited to come to the workshop space to free write, write with guided prompts, make coffee or tea, and mingle with other fellow writers. RSVP for an upcoming open hours time  below:

Wednesday, January 24, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Hosted by Mindy Wong

Wednesday, January 31, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m.: Hosted by Natasha Mieszkowski

Announcements

Board update

View the board minutes from our December 2018 meeting >

Strategic planning update

View the notes from our January 2018 strategic planning meeting >

Congrats & thanks

Congrats to Anne Charles, whose review of Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America, an anthology edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding, appeared in the Jan. 5 issue of the Lambda Literary Review (Vol. 9. Issue 155).

Congrats to Candelin WahlMud Season Review poetry editor, whose poem” Attending Murmurations Dance” was recently published in MockingHeart Review. 

Thank you to Mud Season Review staff members who will be doing this round of manuscript reviews to help raise funds in support of the journal: Lauren Bender, Patrick Brownson, Emily FerroAnn FisherErin PostRebecca StarksCandelin Wahl, and Mindy Wong.

Thank you to Mieko A. Ozeki, owner of Radiance Studios, for leading a highly informative workshop on building a writer’s website to a packed house this week. And thank you to Cynthia Close for bringing this workshop idea to the group and hosting the event.

Thank you to Natasha MieszkowskiCandelin Wahl, and Mindy Wong for hosting open hours sessions in January.

Thank you again to City Market for their “Rally for Change” program that helped raise funds for the BWW this December, and continues to raise funds to support many important nonprofits. And thanks to Peter Biello for signing the BWW up for this program.

Opportunities & Announcements: Week of December 18, 2017

 

Well, I’ll jump right into it because we have a lot to cover this week. So here you are, this week’s opportunities and announcements from your Burlington Writers Workshop…

Gift match challenge: Donate to the BWW by December 31 and see your gift matched!

If you’d like to help make sure this community can keep offering support to beginning writers, established writers, and everyone in between, please consider donating today. Any amount is deeply appreciated. And an anonymous donor has offered to match up to $250 of all new donations received through the end of the year. So help us turn $5 into $10, $25 into $50, or $50 into $100! Donate now >

Opportunities

For our poets: 2 master class offerings in January

We’ve just added opportunities for you to dig into your craft and study with 2 of Vermont’s master poets:

Vermont Poet Laureate Chard deNiord

Vermont Poet Laureate Chard deNiord

Poetry Master Class with Vermont Poet Laureate Chard deNiord
Monday, January 8, 6:30 p.m. in Burlington
Join Chard deNiord for a workshop focused on reading and writing poems whose speakers place another before them, and then make charged figurative connections to what Walt Whitman called “the other I am.” Read the full description and RSVP now >

 

Vermont poet Gary Margolis

Vermont Poet Gary Margolis

Poetry Master Class with Gary Margolis
Monday, January 22, 6:30 p.m. in Burlington
Join Gary Margolis for a workshop focused on examining the technique and mysteries of the poetic line break. Read the full description and RSVP now >

 

For our prose writers: Good Naked Workshops with Joni B. Cole

This February, we’re offering 3 separate workshops led by Joni B. Cole, founder of the Writer’s Center of White River Junction and author of the new book Good Naked: Reflections on How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier (listed as “One of the Best Books for Writers” by Poets & Writers magazine).

Fast Feedback
2 separate sessions offered Saturday, February 17 and Saturday, March 3, 10:30 a.m. in Burlington
As part of this workshop for writers of fiction and creative nonfiction, participants are invited to bring 2-3 double-spaced pages of a work-in-progress to read aloud for appreciation and quality feedback. The discussions also will include instruction on craft, and insights on how to cultivate a positive and productive creative process. Both nervous beginners and seasoned authors are welcome.

A Crash Course on Narrative Craft
Saturday, February 24, 10:30 a.m. in Burlington
Newbies and published authors alike will find inspiration in this workshop that invites participants to write from a prompt…and discover where their creativity takes them. The discussions that follow will include plenty of takeaways on narrative techniques, plus tips on how to foster a productive creative process every draft of the way. Bring something to write on, and leave all self doubts at the door

We’re continuing to experiment with ways of making workshop attendance for guest author workshops as fair as possible. In that spirit, we’ll be doing a lottery for these workshops, and other guest author workshops moving forward. The lottery for the Joni B. Cole Workshops will close on Saturday, January 6, midnight.

Learn more about the lottery and enter your name. Enter the lottery now >

All of these workshops were funded in part by the Burlington City Arts Community Fund. Learn more about the BCA >

Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop survey

There’s still time to make your voice heard in answering the question of whether or not to consider renaming our annual anthology. This is our collective anthology, so we’d very much like this to be a decision informed by as many members as possible. After the survey closes, January 2, 2018, we’ll announce the results and—if renaming is in the cards—offer ideas for final selection. We’ll also be in touch with those of you who’ve expressed an interest in volunteering on the anthology staff.

If you haven’t done so, please provide your feedback and let us know if you’d like to be part of the team. Take the survey >

Retreats update

A Write-in: Winter Writing Retreat
Sunday, February 18, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Our winter write-in retreat—designed to bring BWW members together for a day of solid writing time free of distraction—filled up instantly. But if you’d like to attend, please RSVP for the wait list because spots may open up. And, if there are not enough cancellations, you’ll be automatically added to the next retreat, tentatively scheduled for March 11th, celebrating daylight savings time and the return of the light.  This is a great utilization of our space as well as a tribute to our dedicated writers. Join the wait list >

Announcements

Mud Season Review Issue #35 launches

Congratulations to the staff of Mud Season Review for yet another compelling issue featuring art by Adelaide Tyrol, fiction by Florence Sunnen, nonfiction by Mahdis Marzooghian, and poetry by Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad. It’s hard to believe we’ve published 35 online issues (not to mention 3 print volumes) in just a few years! Everyone who works now, or has ever worked, on this publication should be proud.

In addition, a new interview is up on the site. Mark Benton, MSR art editor, recently spoke with Brent Schreiber, Issue #33 featured artist. Read the interview >

Keep rallying for change at City Market

As you do your holiday shopping, remember that “rounding up” at the checkout counter at City Market benefits the BWW. Through their Rally for Change program, 50% of round-up donations go to the Chittenden County Food Shelf, 40% to the Committee on Temporary Shelter, and 10% to the BWW through the month of December. Visit the downtown store or the new location in the South End.  Learn about City Market’s Rally for Change >

 

Flynn Center blog

Burlington Writers Workshop writers continue to blog for the Flynn. Read the latest:

Josh McDonald reviews the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops concert >

Lorraine Ryan reviews the Nebraska Theatre Caravan production of A Christmas Carol >

Congrats and thanks

Thanks to Cathy Beaudoin, past BWW board treasurer and Mud Season Review fiction reader, for her beautiful testimonial about what the BWW has meant to her as a writer. Read Cathy’s testimonial >

Thanks to the retreat committee (Wendy AndersenLinda Ayer, Rose EggertEva GumprechtJen HallieRiki Moss, Candelin Wahl) for the  idea of a winter “write in” retreat. Judging from how fast this retreat filled up, it’s a very welcome idea indeed!

Thanks to Partridge Boswell, BWW board member, for his work in helping to continue expanding and strengthening our network of talented and inspiring guest authors. Look for more workshops and series soon!

Thanks to Rose Eggert for taking the lead on starting up our new digital committee. This committee will be working to assess our needs and strengths across our digital platforms in order to propose ideas for long-term solutions. We’ll keep you updated as we go!

Thanks to Liz Dallas, founder of the Coaching Center of Vermont, for meeting with us to prepare for our upcoming strategy retreat. Look for opportunities to weigh in as we continue to evolve to meet member needs, and feel free to contact the BWW board any time with questions or ideas.

The value of a strong writers’ community

A testimonial from Cathy Beaudoin,
past BWW board treasurer and Mud Season Review fiction reader and forever member

Cathy Beaudoin and her service dog, Winnie, in their new home in California

In 2014, I began attending the Burlington Writers Workshop in earnest. At the time, I couldn’t possibly understand how the depth of the community would have such a positive impact on my development as a writer. The first workshops I attended were held in the basement of the Half Lounge, and it was nearly impossible to hear anything anyone said.  But the beer flowed and the people I met at those sessions kept me coming back for more. In fact, some of those people are still good friends.

As the vision of the organization began to evolve, the group started meeting in a dedicated space on Pine Street. More people got involved, and the breadth of workshops and other writing opportunities expanded. In addition to new and varied workshops, and an annual anthology highlighting selected member writing, a literary journal as well as a robust, and literary-focused, book club were started. The organization moved, and then moved again. Still, with so many motivated artists around me, I finally succumbed to a lifelong desire, and began to write. In the beginning, my writing was mostly nonfiction. I wanted to document my journey as a blind woman. After all, it was my area of expertise. The topic was unique, and the resources to learn how to write a story were at my fingertips. I had no more excuses.

Like most beginning writers, my prose was raw, choppy, unpolished, and difficult to follow. But the creative nonfiction community was patient with me, and provided endless encouragement. With all the feedback, I learned a truly valuable lesson: people were interested in what I was writing. It was just a matter of writing, re-writing, and writing some more. I learned that writing a beautiful sentence did equate to writing a story with a beginning hook, a strong middle section, and a meaningful ending. The value of having a group of people willing to read and give feedback cannot be measured. There is no way I would have ever progressed to writing better nonfiction, and ultimately fiction stories, without the nurturing of the BWW community.

Ultimately, because of workshops offered by BWW leaders, and outside writers like Robin McLean, Jensen Beach, and others, I felt like being a decent writer might be within my grasp.  And two stories that I initially presented at BWW workshops have since been accepted for publication, one in the literary journal titled Five on the Fifth, and the other in a yet to be titled anthology of short stories highlighting the successes of blind people.  I have three fiction stories that are complete, and am working on a fourth. My fiction story, “Gaining Momentum” has been accepted by Scarlett Leaf Review.

Because the BWW was such a valuable resource for me, I tried to give back to the community, working hard behind the scenes to prepare monthly financial and operating reports.  While a life decision led me to move from the Burlington area, I wanted to take the time to express my gratitude to the BWW community.  It is an incredible opportunity for writers to get out of their heads, to measure their progress, to be motivated to write every day. While nothing is perfect for everyone, I know the BWW will always have a place in my heart.  And because of my deep connections with many of the people there, I will continue to support the organization in any way possible. I hope others are motivated to do the same.


Donate to the BWW by December 31 and see your gift matched!

If you’d like to help make sure this community can keep offering support to beginning writers, established writers, and everyone in between, please consider donating today. Any amount is deeply appreciated. And an anonymous donor has offer to match up to $250 of all new donations received through the end of the year. So help us turn $5 into $10, $25 into $50, or $50 into $100! Donate now >

 

Opportunities & Announcements: Week of December 4, 2017

Support your writing community and fight hunger by rounding up at City Market

December is the Burlington Writers Workshop’s month for City Market’s “Rally for Change” program. Throughout the month, 10% of all funds raised from patrons who “round up” at check-out will come to the BWW as a donation. The other 90% goes to programs addressing hunger. So whether City Market is your go-to grocery store, or you want to make a special trip to support the BWW and hunger programs, please consider rounding up at check-out!

Donate to the Burlington Writers Workshop directly

Support the Burlington Writers WorkshopDecember is traditionally a fundraising month for us here at the Burlington Writers Workshop. If you already donate—monthly online, a once-a-year check, or a few dollars in the donation box at a workshop—thank you on behalf of everyone who benefits from the BWW.

And if you’re so inclined, please consider giving a special donation this month to help fuel our efforts as we head into 2018. Together, we’ll be bringing even more of what members like you say they want most—more craft workshops, more retreats, more open mics, more opportunities for connecting. If we each give what we can, we’ll help to ensure we’ll all get what we need from this beautiful community of ours. Donate today >

Opportunities

The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop

It’s time to start planning!

We’re beginning plans for our 6th annual anthology of member work—but we’re doing things a little differently this year. After all, we’ve learned a lot in the 5 years we’ve been publishing this labor of love and we want to use what we’ve learned to make it even better for the anthology’s staff, the writers we publish, and the BWW community overall.

So, first things first, a survey! Some members have suggested we rename the anthology. We’d like to explore that as a community, even as we start plans for the next issue. Please take a few minutes to tell us if you like the name as it is, or if you’d like to change it—and any ideas you might have for a new name. Take the survey now >

Are you interested in staffing the 2018 edition? We need lead editors, copy editors,  designers, marketers, and project managers. If you’re interested or want to know more, let us know (take the survey) what roles pique your interest. We plan to hold an in-person learning and information session to answer your questions and start to build a team. If you’d like to be involved, but you don’t have editing experience, don’t worry! One purpose of the anthology is to help members learn new skills, and we’re here to support you. Volunteer for the journal >

3rd Annual Stories by the Fire

Saturday, December 9 at Hotel Vermont

Join us this Saturday as Gin Ferrara hosts first-person, true stories by BWW and community storytellers, told without notes in the style of The Moth. Our media partner for this event is RETN. RSVP now >

The Writer’s Website: Presenting and Managing Your Work on the Internet

Thursday, January 18 at the BWW space in Burlington

Looking for help creating your writer’s website? Join Mieko A. Ozeki, owner of Radiance Studios LLC, for a workshop designed to take the anxiety out of the process. Mieko will provide an overview on how to plan, create, curate, and manage content for your website. We’ll review a selection of all-in-one website builder platforms such as SquareSpace, Wix, and WordPress. And you’ll get tips on how to promote traffic to your site and optimize search results that point to your work. RSVP now >

Announcements

Winter workshops

Many of our workshops are now scheduled for January and February. Check out the calendar >

Note: If you’re wondering why you don’t see any Wednesday Workshops, or some Mondays, yet, it’s because we’re working on securing guest authors for craft workshops and series. We expect to have those confirmed soon, and will update the calendar—and announce the details in Opportunities & Announcements—as soon as we have dates.

Board meetings

Minutes from past meetings:

Minutes are now available for the annual meeting and the most recent board meeting.

Read the annual meeting minutes >

Read the 11/29 board meeting minutes >

Next board meeting: December 16, 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

The next meeting of the BWW board of directors is scheduled for Saturday, December 16, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.  Due to hectic holidays schedules, this will be a phone meeting. If you’d like to listen in as an observer on the call, please contact us and we’ll get you the conference line details. Minutes from the meeting will also be posted, as usual, on the site.  Contact us >

Flynn Center Blog

Burlington Writers Workshop members regularly blog for the Flynn:

Cynthia Close reviews Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy’s “A Celtic Family Christmas” >

Lorraine Ryan previews “A Christmas Carol” >

Thanks and congrats

Thanks to Erin Post for leading 2 collaborative team meetings for the Mud Season Review staff as we continue working to increase the journal’s long-term sustainability. And thank you to everyone on staff who came out to these meetings to share their ideas and their dedication.

Thanks to Patrick Brownson for yet another successful season in our literature reading series. What started with “Infinite Summer” has now become a beloved, year-long opportunity for members to gather for meaningful and challenging discussion of some of the great works of literature. Up next is our 3-month winter series featuring Middlemarch, a Study of Provincial Life by George Eliot (aka, Mary Ann Evans). Seats are filling up fast. Grab yours today >

Thanks to Wendy Andersen, Kristabeth Atwood, Melinda Bachand, Rosa Castellano, Terry Cleveland, Seth Melvin Cronin, Eva Gumprecht, Natasha Mieskowski, and  Mindy Wong for leading recent workshops.

Thanks to Barbie Alsop and Dennis Bouldin for their work in getting winter workshops and submissions scheduled.

Thanks to Eva Gumprecht for testing out the instructions for maintaining member submissions on our site as we begin the process of spreading this responsibility around.

Thanks to the retreat committee (Wendy Andersen, Linda Ayer, Rose Eggert, Eva Gumprecht, Jen HallieRiki Moss, Candelin Wahl) for their work on a proposal for more retreats throughout the year—and their continued work to make them happen.

Thanks to Margaret Grant and Cynthia Close for keeping the board apprised of ongoing grant opportunities for the BWW and Mud Season Review.

Thanks to Lauren Bender and Rebecca Starks for their work in capturing minutes for the annual meeting and most recent board meeting.

Thanks to Rose Eggert and Terry Cleveland for another successful month of tracking the funding that makes all this possible!

Opportunities & Announcements: Week of November 14, 2017

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2nd BWW annual meeting! What a great kickoff to our strategic planning for this community’s future. The generous sharing of  perspectives and experiences made for a strong foundation to an ongoing conversation about where we want to go together.

For anyone who wasn’t able to join in the meeting, here’s a look at the timeline for our  strategic planning process that will unfold over the next several months. There will be  many opportunities for input and collaborative exploration at workshops, online, and at the strategic planning retreat.

If you missed the meeting, here are the slides presented. And here are the survey result charts. Two important notes on the slides regarding survey data and responses:

  1. A very small portion of our membership took the survey this year. So the results do not reflect a general consensus among members. This survey will be just a small input into the overall discussion, with more focus put on the annual meeting discussion and continuing inputs (in person and online).
  2. The slides showing member top interest only show the results of the #1 choice of members in those questions. So please keep that in mind when viewing. For example, no one picked Best Of as their #1 choice of things to be involved in. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still a positive part of their experience.

In the coming weeks, notes from the meeting will be posted as well and a link provided in O&A.

In the meantime, please keep creating. Everything we’ve ever done in the BWW has come out of member ideas. So, if you have an idea for workshops, readings, publications, or other programming and events, please always feel free to let us know  what you have in mind and how you want to be part of making it happen. Whether it’s using the space in Burlington for a small-group writing session or organizing a reading at your local coffee shop or even your house—we can offer you tips on how to go about it, help you reserve the BWW space, give you BWW books to bring to display at a reading if you’d like, and help to promote your workshop or reading in our communications. Remember, the BWW is our shared community. We want you to make it yours.

Opportunities

Share your story by the fire at Hotel Vermont

Saturday, December 9, 6:30 p.m. at Hotel Vermont

People have been sharing stories around the fire since they discovered how to light that first spark. And we’re continuing that tradition with the 3rd annual Stories by the Fire event at Hotel Vermont on Saturday, December 9.

Come be part of the tradition. We’re looking for a few BWW writers who have winter or winter holiday themed stories to share out loud, performed rather than read, “Moth-style.” We can even offer coaching if you’ve never told an oral story to an audience before. Send a brief (1 paragraph or less) description of your 8-minute oral story today. Pitch your story >

Announcements

Congrats and thanks

Thank you to everyone who helped in preparations for the annual meeting, from helping to create the presentation to making food: Lauren BenderPartridge Boswell, Terry ClevelandCynthia Close, Eva GumprechtDeena FrankelRebecca Starks, and Danielle Thierry. And thanks again to everyone who came with their ideas and their positive energy!

Thank you to the Fletcher Free Library for providing the space.

Thank you to Deena Frankel for coordinating the amazing BWW open mic. Thank you to Partridge Boswell, our warm and inspiring emcee. Thank you to our readers (Barbie AlsopCynthia Close, Joy Cohen, Annie CooperNina Gaby, NoahGenrose Lambert, Michael Sevy, and Candelin Wahl) and our singer-songwriter Nate Orshan. Your performances were impressive and moving. Thank you to Lee Anderson and the staff of the Light Club Lamp Shop for their generous hospitality. Check out the photos from the event >

Thank you to Eva Gumprecht for the wonderful idea of building upon the mission-based questions posed at the annual meeting to continue collective brainstorming  in workshops and other sessions.

Thank you to Peter Biello for having the foresight to sign the BWW up for City Market’s Rally for Change program several years ago. We’re now at the top of the list, and we’ll be the nonprofit recipient of 10% of donations throughout the month of December. More on this next week, but in the meantime, check out the program information >

Thank you to Mindy Wong, our space manager, for the terrific idea to create “open hours” times on the Meetup calendar for folks to come to our shared space to write, drink coffee, and connect. Look for open hours coming soon!

P.S. There are a lot of people to thank this week. So if we missed you on the list, please know it wasn’t intentional and that all of your contributions—big and small—are deeply appreciated.

Congrats to Cynthia Close, who is currently being spotlighted in The Woven Tale Press.

Congrats to Kerstin Lange, whose commentary is highlighted on Vermont Public Radio.

Congrats to  Ilamae Lund, who will be speaking at reading at the Emile A. Gruppe Gallery in Jericho on November 26 between 3 – 4 p.m.

Opportunities & Announcements: Week of October 30, 2017

There are just 2 spots left on the performance schedule for the BWW’s first open mic night at the Light Club Lamp Shop. We’ll be gathering in the magical living room that is the Light Club on Thursday, November 16 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. to share stories, poems, and songs. If you’d like to share your work, please see the instructions on the RSVP page. Or, just join us to listen and support your fellow BWW members! RSVP now >

This event is sponsored in part by a grant from the Burlington City Arts Community Fund.

Keep reading below for more opportunities and announcements.

Opportunities

BWW annual member survey

Open through November 4
If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to fill out our annual member survey. We’ll present the results to help serve as a foundation for discussion at the annual member meeting. We’ll also use the results throughout the year to ensure we’re meeting member needs . Take the survey >

BWW annual member meeting

November 11, noon, at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington
Join us for a creative exercise to kick off our upcoming strategic planning process, followed by readings and performances from some of our many talented members. RSVP now >

NaNoWriMo Write-In at the Vermont Steampunk Expo

November 4-5 at the Sheraton Hotel in South Burlington
In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the Vermont Steampunk Expo will be hosting a “write-in” during the weekend event. Learn more about this opportunity >

Announcements

Mud Season Review

Mud Season Review issue #33 launched this October 20th. This issue is a special one, celebrating poetry and allowing us to feature more of the amazing poets we’re connecting with around the world—from New Jersey to the Netherlands to Nigeria.

The issue features the work of 12 poets: Hussain Ahmed, Aileen Bassis, Alexis Bates, James Blevins , Moushumi Chakrabarty, Savannah Cooper, Natalie Crick, Jessica Lee, D.S. Maolalai, Kristian O’Hare, Milla van der Have, and Rachel Walker.

Rounding out the issue is the featured artwork of Brent Schreiber.

Congrats to the entire Mud Season Review staff on the launch of this issue. And special thanks to the MSR poetry team for bringing this poetry supplement to life: Lauren Bender, Bette Jane CampNancy Malhotra, Grier Martin, Aurora Nowak, Emma Parkinson, and Candelin Wahl.

Flynn Center blog

BWW writers regularly blog for the Flynn:

Josh McDonald previews Soovin Kim and Gloria Chen performing the violin sonatas of Charles Ives >

 

Congrats and thanks

Congrats to Peter Biello, whose recent report on the Manchester, NH VA’s lack of private access to their women’s clinic for female Veterans resulted in announced plans to relocate the clinic. Read more about this issue >

Congrats to Kane Gilmour, whose new novel with Jeremy Robinson, Viking Tomorrow, is now available. Learn more about the book >

Thank you to our 2017 Retreat Committee for an amazing summer and fall full of warm, collaborative, inspiring retreats. Committee members and retreat hosts include: Wendy AndersenLinda Ayer, Terry ClevelandRose Eggert, Eva Gumprecht, Jen HallieRiki Moss, and Candelin Wahl. Thank you, as well, to this year’s retreat instructors: Robin McLeanJericho ParmsRebecca Starks, and Baron Wormser.

Thanks to everyone—from past and present board members to our scheduler and space manager to our workshop leaders, retreat committee, and Mud Season Review staff—who is helping to pitch in extra during this time of transition. Your support and attention to all the many details that keep this organization running is deeply appreciated.

Have you published something recently, won an honor or award, or have an accomplishment to share? Please let us know so we can help share your good news with your fellow BWW members. Contact us >

A message from your BWW board

 

Dear BWW members,

If you have seen the most recent Opportunities & Announcements or Facebook posts, you know that Peter Biello, founder of the BWW, has resigned from his leadership roles. Speaking for ourselves and for the larger community, we are sad to see him go, and filled with deep gratitude for his passion, vision, and dedicated service to the organization he founded and nurtured these many years. We are glad that he will stay connected as a member. As a board, our ultimate goal is to honor Peter’s legacy, while looking forward to what we can keep building together.

We hope members can be positive and patient and understanding in this transition. Given the strength of what we have built together, current member engagement, and the depth of skill and non-profit leadership experience on the board, we have great cause for optimism about our future as an organization. No doubt Peter’s announcement has raised questions in members’ minds, and we hope through this message to answer these and lay out some next steps.

At Saturday’s board meeting, we will accept Peter’s resignation and elect a new chair, and then take up the business that was already facing the board. The work ahead includes:

  • Fielding the annual member survey next week, with a greater focus on future direction and assessing what is working and what needs adjustment with regard to BWW publications. The survey is an essential cornerstone to beginning a new strategic plan.
  • Preparations for the November 11 annual membership meeting where we hope to have broad input and a free-wheeling, creative session about strengthening what we are today and envisioning what we want to be tomorrow.
  • Scheduling and shaping our strategic planning process.
  • Continuing work begun last weekend with the Mud Season Review staff to ensure that MSR is well positioned to fulfill its ambitious vision, that staff have a rewarding experience, and that we can meet the expectations and needs of our authors and readers.

Last Saturday, five members of the board had a thoughtful and well-informed conversation with the Mud Season Review staff. One of the outcomes of that conversation was that we decided to put the 2018 Vol 4 print issue on hold for now. We want to get the whole staff together for a meeting soon, and during that meeting, we’ll talk more about the print issue and how we want to move forward with it in the future. But we want to allow time to have that discussion and explore our options before jumping into the work of putting the volume together. Lauren Bender is staying on board as we search for our next Editor-in-Chief. Several other staff members have expressed interest in taking on greater roles. So, more to come. If you are not currently involved in MSR, but would like to be, there are roles to fill. The October online issue, which is dedicated to poetry, will be out on the 20th.

With your help, input, and support, we look forward to building on the solid foundation of the BWW and all it has to offer, and to helping it evolve organically to best meet its members’ needs.

If you have questions, concerns, ideas, etc., please contact any member of the Board.

Sincerely,

BWW Board of Directors: Lauren Bender, Partridge Boswell, Terry Cleveland, Deena Frankel, Rebecca Starks, Danielle Thierry

RSVP for the Annual Meeting here

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of April 24, 2017

Author Jericho Parms reads from her essay featured in Mud Season Review Vol. 3.

To everyone who came out for our 2017 Book Launch Celebration, thank you! What a wonderful night of celebrating everything that makes the BWW what it is—the creativity and inspiration of the literary arts experienced within an open and generous community and supported by passionate volunteers whose dedication keeps it all going.

Thank you to everyone who bought a copy of Best of 2017 and Mud Season Review. Vol. 3. We appreciate your support!

Thank you again to the staffs of The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2017 and Mud Season Review Vol. 3, to everyone who helped make the event happen, and to the wonderful poets and authors who read during the celebration: Julia C. Alter, Peter Biello, Elizabeth Gaucher, Benjamin Hale, Jericho Parms, and Meg Reynolds.

For those who couldn’t join us, I wanted to share with you what I announced at the launch party. And that is that I have decided to step down as organizer in May.

After 2 years of serving as organizer, and a year before that serving as managing editor of Mud Season Review, it feels like the time is right to take a breath and create some more space for my family and my own creative pursuits. I will still be serving on the board and working on behalf of this community—so I’ll look forward to still seeing and working with you all. It’s been such an amazing experience working with you all, and an honor to serve as your organizer. I can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve shown me in this role.

More info will come soon from the board as we work through the transition. In the meantime, workshops will continue as always and you can feel free to contact us any time with questions or concerns!

Opportunities

Volunteers needed!

Mud Season Review is looking for volunteers to join the fiction and art staff. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Lauren Bender, editor-in-chief, at editor@mudseasonreview.com.

We’re also looking for a space manager at our Burlington location. This involves keeping the space stocked with supplies and looking nice, coordinating volunteers to help keep the space open for our members, and being the point of contact for space-related questions. This is an important role for the organization and is ideal for an active member who’d like to use the space regularly during non-workshop hours for writing time. If you’re a BWW member interested in this role, please contact us.

And, we’re looking for 3 members to join a new Marketing Committee. This committee will work to help spread the word about the BWW through social media, print, and around town. If you’re interested in being on this committee, please contact us.

Announcements

Mud Season Review launches online issue #28

Congratulations to the Mud Season Review staff on the launch of issue #28! Check out the stunning artwork of Toni Hamel and the gorgeous writing of Chen Chen (poetry), Noelle Q. de Jesus (fiction), and Jericho Parms (nonfiction). Read issue #28 >

 

Congrats and thanks

Congrats to Lauren Bender, Mud Season Review editor-in-chief, whose poem, “Harm,” was recently accepted by Yes Poetry. Read the poem >

Congrats to Cynthia Close, BWW board member, who will be reading from her memoir-in-progress at the CORNELIA STREET CAFÉ 29 in NYC in June.

Thank you to the volunteers who helped to make the launch party such a successful event: Anne AverytLauren BenderPeter Biello, Cynthia CloseRose Eggert, Laura Napolitano, Erin Post, Jody SmithRebecca Starks, and Mike Sweeney.

Thank you to High-Low Jack for providing the evening’s music, to Have Your Cake Catering for providing the bar, and to Burlington City Arts and the City of Burlington for hosting us. And to our book cover artists Robert Waldo Brunelle, Jr. (Best of) and Toni Hamel (Mud Season Review).

Thanks, as well, to Jericho Parms and Benjamin Hale for leading crafts workshops in conjunction with the Mud Season Review Vol. 3 launch. Both workshops got rave reviews from our members and we’re looking forward to having Jericho and Ben back for future workshops!

 

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of April 17, 2017

Author and BWW founder Peter Biello will read at The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2017 launch party on April 21.

As we gear up for this Friday’s book launch party for The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2017 and Mud Season Review Vol. 3, we continue to talk with authors whose works are featured in the books.

This week, we’re talking to our own Peter Biello, founder of the BWW and the Best of anthology series.  Peter’s short story, “The Man in the Orange Shorts,” is included in this year’s Best of. In our interview, Peter talks about the story’s evolution through the workshop process here at the BWW as well as the history of the Best of series and his own writing endeavors. Read the interview  >

Join us this Friday (4.21.17) from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at Contois Auditorium (in Burlington’s City Hall) for author readings, live music, refreshments, and good fun. The event is free and open to the public so feel free to bring friends. RSVP  now>

Opportunities

Volunteers needed!

Mud Season Review is looking for volunteers to join the fiction and art staff. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Lauren Bender, editor-in-chief, at editor@mudseasonreview.com.

We’re also looking for a space manager at our Burlington location. This involves keeping the space stocked with supplies and looking nice, coordinating volunteers to help keep the space open for our members, and being the point of contact for space-related questions. This is an important role for the organization and is ideal for an active member who’d like to use the space regularly during non-workshop hours for writing time. If you’re a BWW member interested in this role, please contact us.

And, we’re looking for 3 members to join a new Marketing Committee. This committee will work to help spread the word about the BWW through social media, print, and around town. If you’re interested in being on this committee, please contact us.

Live music at the launch party

Friday, April 21, 6 – 9:30 p.m.

Come listen to HIGH-LOW JACK, an old-time Mom & Pop duo consisting of Sarah Hotchkiss and John Mowad, at the Best Of 2017Mud Season Review Vol. 3 launch party!

HIGH-LOW JACK features old-timey fiddle tunes, gambling songs, bad guy songs, railroad songs, songs of sin and sadness, real music for real folks, good-timey and bad-timey music. The perfect music for writers and the perfect prelude to the evening’s readings.  RSVP  now>

Announcements

Flynn Center blog

BWW writers regularly blog for the Flynn:

Lorraine Ryan previews Annie >

Joyce Gallimore reviews Christal Brown’s The Opulence of Integrity >

Congrats and thanks

Congrats to Margaret Grant who was selected to be a mentee in the AWP (Association for Writers and Writing Programs) Writer to Writer Mentorship Program for Spring, 2017.

Support

Support for the BWW comes from A Book of One’s Own Literary Services. Janice Obuchowski is a longtime fiction editor who helps cull and refine writing.  Through offering substantial feedback and developmental suggestions on short stories, essays, and book-length manuscripts, she can make your writin

An interview with Peter Biello

Author and BWW founder Peter Biello

Peter Biello, founder of the BWW and the organization’s Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop series, has a short story (“The Man in the Orange Shorts”) featured in this year’s anthology. To hear Peter and other talented writers read from their work, join us on Friday, April 21, 6 p.m. at Contois Auditorium in Burlington’s City Hall for the Mud Season Review Vol. 3 & The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2017 launch party.  RSVP for this free event now >


You have a story included in this year’s book, but you’re also the founder of the Best Of series. Can you give readers a little background on how the anthology came to be? 

In 2012, a group of regular BWW attendees wanted to publish an anthology of work by folks who had attended at least one meeting. We weren’t as big an organization back then—we had no official business registration, no expenses except for the Meetup.com fees—but we did have a solid base of members we thought would submit work. So we raised a little more than $3,200 on Kickstarter and, long story short, we used that money to publish The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2013.

Did you envision, at the start, that this series would still be going five years later? How has it changed over the years? And where do you see it going from here?

At the start, I wasn’t sure how The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2013 would be received by the public. But I did a lot of legwork selling these books, the idea being that the proceeds would finance the following year’s anthology. We got some good publicity in Seven Days and a few other media outlets, which helped the workshop itself grow. Membership swelled and interest in Best of as a publication swelled, too, so by then I was fairly certain the anthology would be around indefinitely.

The book’s quality seems to improve each year, which tells me (1) we’re still growing and deepening our bench of talent within the workshop and (2) the workshop is helping the writers who stick with a writing routine and attend workshops regularly. Little things about the book have changed. For example, we didn’t have our green logo when the first book came out, but since 2014 that little green circle has appeared on the spine of each book. Some versions of the book often reserve space for the author to discuss their story, as The Best American Short Stories anthology series always does. I like seeing that, but it’s not always necessary.

My hope is that the anthology doesn’t change too much. Consistency over time feels right to me. I like the brevity of it (144 pages seems right). I like the mix of genres. And I love the collaboration between workshop members serving as editors and those who have submitted work. The workshop is a social experience; the work we do requires that we put down our cell phones and talk to each other like human beings and sort out aesthetic differences. Like everything the BWW does, publishing this book is a learning experience.

Your story that’s featured in this year’s Best of (“The Man in the Orange Shorts”) is one you’ve workshopped through the Burlington Writers Workshop. Can you talk about how the story evolved through the workshop process?

Sure. This story was originally called “Boo’s House”—the man in the orange shorts was yelling for a guy named Boo in early drafts, not Charlie—but workshop members thought it was a little too reminiscent of Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird. Other interpretations involved ghosts. Those were not avenues down which I wanted my readers’ minds to travel, so I nixed the name “Boo”.

This story was the first piece I put before the workshop back in 2009. This was at the second or third (probably third) meeting of the workshop, which was held in someone’s backyard in Winooski. It may have been the first story that was emailed to participants in advance. Most of the time, in those early days, folks would just read stuff aloud at the meetings.

The story didn’t necessarily start as one about class guilt, but over the years, Sarah’s feelings about her new, privileged station in life stole the spotlight. The man in the orange shorts became a challenge to Sarah’s idea of herself as a generous, caring person. How many comforts would you give up to accommodate someone who is less fortunate? Everyone has a line. Sarah found hers.

When you submitted this story, you went through the same thing that all BWW members who submit to Best Of dowaiting to find out if your story got into the anthology. And, because we have a blind submission process, there was no guarantee your piece would be selected on the merits of the author being the anthology’s founder. You submit, and have had work featured in, many other journals. Is there anything different about waiting to hear from the anthology that represents your own writing community and the anthology you founded?

For me, there was no difference. I was glad that there was an anonymous way to submit. We don’t want even the perception that a story is published because of who the author is and not the story’s merits.

This is a story that, in some ways, the workshop deserves the credit for. I must have taken this story to the workshop at least three times over the years. Each time it had been significantly revised and I don’t think too many workshop participants saw this story more than once. I received a lot of suggestions. (Spoiler alert!) One suggestion came from our good friend Alexey Finkel, who said it was probably unwise of Sarah and Tim to bury the body in the backyard. I thought more about this and realized he was right, and the solution that Tim and Sarah came up with became another decision point for Sarah.

So—to get back to the question—I felt like the anthology deserved first crack at publishing it, so I didn’t send it anywhere else. If the workshop rejected it, I would have moved on to other markets. But I’m glad the editors took it.

What inspired the story of The Man in the Orange Shorts? You mention that it didn’t start out being an examination of class guilt. Where did it start and what sparked the ideaand its evolution?

An actual man in orange shorts inspired this. One night, when I was living in Wilmington, N.C., a man in orange shorts wandered up Market Street from his downtown hotel room and somehow found my living room door. There were two doors: a screen door, which we had left unlocked, and another door made entirely of small glass panels, which fortunately was locked. He was banging away at the glass door and screaming to get in. My wife at the time and I called the police, who took forever to get there. The cops determined he was on some kind of drug and simply drove him back to his hotel room. There was no justice. From that moment on, my wife was terrified of living there. The guy had ruined it for her. I was a little less frightened, probably because I’d grown up in a city where potentially dangerous people were more or less a fact of life.

That sparked the idea for the story. It was a very clear problem and good fiction often needs a clear problem. But how to solve it? Recently at my MFA workshops in Wilmington, we’d been talking about the idea of solving problems the simplest way possible. Your protagonist is going to try to solve the problem, but she can’t start with the extreme solution; she’ll lose the reader’s sympathy because she’s not acting logically. So she needs to start with a simple, logical solution everyone would turn to: call the police. If that doesn’t work, she needs to try a different solution. Build a fence, for example. If that doesn’t work, get a big, vicious dog. If that doesn’t work—well, wouldn’t you, as a reader, like to see what she does next?

All of the above, by the way, appeared in early drafts of this story. It became an exercise in escalating, failing solutions, hoping to make the extreme solution that she and Tim eventually use seem reasonable, if not admirable.

You mentioned that this story was workshopped several times. Is work shopping part of your writing process for all (or most) of your stories? And how does it fit into the overall process of writing? Do you find that stories often change as much as this one did through the workshop process?

I love the workshopping process. In some ways, it feels like a rough draft of a story is a dirty bit of laundry and the workshop is my laundry machine. And just like with a real laundry machine, some stains take more than one wash to clear up.

In general, I like going to the workshop with a piece once I’ve got a story with the beginning, middle, and end, and I’ve done everything I could possibly do without outside influence. One thing I don’t like in workshops—and what I’ve made sure we avoid at the BWW—is when the conversation steers toward rewriting the story at the workshop table. “Move this here” or “make this character do X” or other such comments can really hijack a story early in the process. Peer observations about what’s happening, without attempts to rewrite the story, can help an author steer a draft toward its true purpose. The story matures into itself. And I feel like my peers made keen observations that helped me see where this was going. Little seeds of class consciousness on Sarah’s part. Once I was in tune with that part of her, I followed the clues to see where they’d go.

This story changed more than most of my stories, but that may be a function of how long it took me to write it. I started it in 2009 and I finished it in 2017, so that’s eight years of writing a bit, then putting it aside for months or even a year, and then picking it up again and seeing it with fresh eyes. I grew as a writer. My sensibilities and interests changed and evolved. I suppose if you held up side by side the first draft and the last draft you’d think two different people took a crack at the same concept.

You’re working on a collection of short stories now. Can you share a little about that collection?

This collection features stories about people and living space. How does a home interact with the person living in it? How can a home generate conflict? And how can a home reflect someone’s emotional state? I don’t have a clear title for the collection yet, but I’ve got all the stories that I want to include.

One early reader of the entire collection, Megan Mayhew Bergman, told me that masculinity is one of the dominant themes. I had considered this a secondary theme, but I’m guessing this secondary theme going to stand out and perhaps overwhelm the first. Masculinity in general is not a subject I’m comfortable speaking about in public just yet.

The stories take place in Wilmington, N.C., Maine, and Cape Cod. Only one has any action in Vermont, but then those characters quickly move to New Hampshire. But the setting I’ve been happiest to revisit is my hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts. A few stories, including “The Man in the Orange Shorts,” take place in Fall River. It’s a former mill city that is now incredibly poor—high crime and high unemployment. The recession really hurt Fall River. It’s a place pounded by the opioid epidemic and there seems to be a strong belief there that addiction is not a disease, just a moral failing. I love the city in part because I carry so much of that place with me all the time—in the language I use, for example—but I don’t love it enough to live there. Writing about it occasionally is what I do instead.

What do you mean when you say you carry language with you?

Fall River’s language is unlike any I’ve heard anywhere else. It’s English with Portuguese words (slang or otherwise) sprinkled in. One of the obvious ones is chourico, that Portuguese sausage. It’s pronounced “sho-REESE” in Fall River. But it looks like “chorizo” and pronounced “sho-REE-zo” everywhere else. Another one I felt inclined to use recently was “quackish,” which refers to underwear. I’m not sure I’m spelling that correctly. There are others. They’re mostly dirty words, but you get the idea. Sometimes that language appears in my stories and I think those moments feel real, though they may seem like errors to readers who don’t know the city.

What’s your next project?

Well, I’ll probably spend the summer tidying up these stories about houses/masculinity and then searching for an agent. I’d also like to try my hand at writing a novel about the Lizzie Borden trial—another Fall River story—but I’d like it to not have much Lizzie Borden in it. I think that’s the cliché those who write about Lizzie Borden fall into. Rather than tell it from Lizzie’s perspective, I’d like to tell it from the perspective of someone who has had romantic feelings for her but has never expressed them. I think his anguish during the trial will drive him to do stupid things, and that seems like a fun challenge for me. How do I portray a man doing stupid things in 1892 and still make the reader like him? I’ve got some work to do.

More about Peter

Peter Biello is a reporter and the host of All Things Considered on New Hampshire Public Radio. His stories have appeared in Gargoyle, Lowestoft Chronicle, South 85 Journal, and other publications. Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, he now lives in Concord, New Hampshire.

To hear Peter and others read their work from this year’s anthology, join us for The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2017 and Mud Season Review vol. 3 print launch party: Friday, April 21, 2017 6-9:30 p.m. at Contois Auditorium in Burlington’s City Hall. RSVP now >

More about The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2017

This book is the fifth installment in the Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop series. Founded in 2013, the annual anthology features work that is written, selected, and edited by BWW members. The mission of the anthology is to showcase the work of new, emerging, and established Vermont writers while offering Vermonters the opportunity to learn first-hand about the editing, publishing, and book marketing process. The 2017 edition will be available for purchase soon. Learn more or purchase a copy of past anthologies in the series >

 

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of April 10, 2017

Author Benjamin Hale will read from his work at the Mud Season Review/Best of the BWW launch party, on April 21, 2017.

Both The Best of the BWW 2017 and Mud Season Review Vol. 3 are back from the printer and our editing teams are looking forward to sharing them with all of you at the upcoming launch party on Friday, April 21!

Join us on 4.21.17, 6 to 9:30 p.m. at Contois Auditorium (in Burlington’s City Hall) for author readings, live music, refreshments, and good fun. The event is free and open to the public so feel free to bring friends. RSVP  now>

As an added bonus for the launch weekend, Mud Season Review featured author Benjamin Hale has graciously agreed to hold a craft workshop for BWW members while he’s in town for the launch.

Join Ben on Saturday, April 22, 10:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m. in our workshop space in Burlington for a craft workshop on experimental fiction. RSVP for the workshop >

Ben also recently spoke with Mud Season Review co-fiction editor, Natasha Mieszkowski,  and editor-in-chief, Lauren Bender, about his work, his craft, and his advice on writing. Read the interview >

Opportunities

Workshops

What is experimental literature? A craft workshop with Benjamin Hale
Saturday, April 22, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

As mentioned above, join us for a workshop on experimental literature with Benjamin Hale, author of the novel The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore (Twelve, 2011) and the collection The Fat Artist and Other Stories (Simon & Schuster, 2016). In this session, Ben will first lead participants through an exploration of the definitions and purposes of experimental literature (including essays and stories relevant to the discussion by Kafka, Nabokov, Roland Barthes and Zadie Smith). This will be followed by a workshop, for which participants should feel free to bring copies of their own creative work for peer review and discussion.

RSVP for this workshop >

Retreat committee

BWW guided poetry retreat

It’s time to start planning our 2017 writing retreats! If you’re interested in being part of the retreat committee for creating the retreat experiences, please contact us this week.

Live music at the launch party

Friday, April 21, 6 – 9:30 p.m.

Come listen to HIGH-LOW JACK, an old-time Mom & Pop duo consisting of Sarah Hotchkiss and John Mowad, at the Best Of 2017Mud Season Review Vol. 3 launch party!

HIGH-LOW JACK features old-timey fiddle tunes, gambling songs, bad guy songs, railroad songs, songs of sin and sadness, real music for real folks, good-timey and bad-timey music. The perfect music for writers and the perfect prelude to the evening’s readings.  RSVP  now>

Announcements

Flynn Center blog

BWW writers regularly blog for the Flynn:

Cynthia Close reviews 42nd Street >

Joyce Gallimore previews Christal Brown: The Opulence of Integrity >

Congrats and thanks

Congrats to Cynthia Close, who was recently accepted to attend a NY conference for writers pitching full-length manuscripts.

Congrats to Hank Lambert, whose memoir, Highgate Switchel : A Vermont Memoir, the First Thirty Years is now available at Phoenix Books in Burlington and Essex and The Eloquent Bookstore in St. Albans as well as online at Lulu.com. Buy a copy online >

Congrats to Kerstin Lange, whose commentary on health care as a political issue was recently featured on Vermont Public Radio. Listen to the commentary >

Congrats to Jimmy Tee, whose poem “Donny” is featured in the Vermont Stands With… art exhibition sponsored by Art Alive at Main Street Landing for the month of April.

Support

Support for the BWW comes from A Book of One’s Own Literary Services. Janice Obuchowski is a longtime fiction editor who helps cull and refine writing.  Through offering substantial feedback and developmental suggestions on short stories, essays, and book-length manuscripts, she can make your writing more compelling, polished, and ready to submit to agents and literary journals.  Contact her at ownbookliterary@gmail.com to inquire about specific pricing and services, or visit ownbookliterary.com.