There is still time to sign up for BWW’s July 15th retreat: Writing Fiction with Rebecca Starks. The BWW is offering a series of four writing retreats designed to provide our members with opportunities to gather in quiet, inspiring spaces for more focused discussion, instruction, and writing time—and new connections with other members.
Beginning in July, the BWW will be offering a series of four writing retreats designed to provide our members with opportunities to gather in quiet, inspiring spaces for more focused discussion, instruction, and writing time—and new connections with other members.
The May fundraiser has ended successfully. Thanks to everyone who helped us raise $5,157.57 (our goal was $5k). In all, 52 people made a donation. One person gave twice! The average gift was just over $99. Excluding gifts made in exchange for our manuscript review service (which we provide for gifts of $275 or more), the average gift was just over $62.
About that manuscript service: We offer to folks on the Mud Season Review mailing list a chance to have their book-length manuscript reviewed. Someone on the MSR staff reads the manuscript and comments on it, much like we do in our workshops. During this past fundraiser, nine people gave $275 for these manuscript reviews.
If you’re a BWW member and you have a book that needs the eyes of your fellow writers, we do not charge anything to schedule a two- or three-part workshop, to which we’ll invite a group of peers to read your manuscript in big chunks. If you’d like to take advantage of this option, please contact me.
Overall, though, this manuscript review service is a way attract out-of-state money to support what we do in Vermont. We’ve got a dedicated crew of MSR folks who read these books for our donors, and we’re happy to do it.
We’ve got other stuff to talk about this week. So here are the latest opportunities and announcements.
The latest issue of Mud Season Review is live and it is stunning! Issue #26 features the fiction of Vi Khi Nao, nonfiction of Nancy McCabe, poetry of Seth Copeland, and artwork of Rose B. Simpson. Check out issue #26 >
If you’re a reader of Mud Season Review and want to help us keep the journal going, please consider donating to our December fundraiser. Everything we do here at the BWW—including MSR—is aimed at bringing learning opportunities to Vermont’s writers and editors, while also doing our part to ensure that powerful, relevant writing and artwork continues to get out to the larger world. Donate any amount to help us continue in our mission >
Calls for submission
Call for storytellers for COTS Literacy Event
Come help us share stories with adults and kids alike at the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) Main Street and Firehouse shelters on January 17 and 27, 2017.
We’re looking for 5 to 7 BWW members to participate in these events as storytellers or readers. And we’re looking for stories for both adult and child audiences. You’re welcome to propose anything from an original story to your favorite read-aloud children’s book.
This program is designed to help the COTS literacy committee meet its goal of 5,000 minutes of readings for the shelters in 2017.
Got a story in mind? Please contact Deena Frankel at firstname.lastname@example.org by January 3 with your proposal. Please include the following: a brief description of the story, intended audience, story length, and whether you intend to read or recite.
Call for art submissions for The Best of the BWW 2017
This year marks the BWW’s 5th anniversary of our The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop anthology—a book that is edited by, and features the work of, writers within our community. For this anniversary year, we’re hoping to get local artists involved in the design of the book cover. All Vermont artists are welcome to submit work for consideration. Call for submissions is open through Monday, January 9, 2017. See the submission guidelines >
New to the BWW?
Join us for a new member workshop.
Thursday, January 5 at 6:30 p.m.
If you’ve attended 5 or fewer BWW workshops to date, we’d like to invite you to a workshop specifically designed for new members.
In this workshop, we’ll start off with a brief overview of the Burlington Writers Workshop—including how it all works and opportunities to get involved. Then, we’ll review a member’s work and walk through the workshop process together. Don’t worry about bringing written feedback to the workshop. Just read the work that’s on the schedule and come with some thoughts to share—or even with just an open mind to listen to the conversation of your fellow writers. Writers of all skill levels are welcome! RSVP for this workshop now >
Want to learn how to give better feedback?
Join us for a workshop on giving better feedback with BWW founder Peter Biello.
Saturday, January 28 at 11 a.m.
Feedback isn’t just for the author receiving it. Writing a response to your peer’s piece is an exercise in careful reading. To write a thoughtful response is to become a better reader, and when you become a better reader, your writing improves, too.
At this workshop, we’ll look at a few strategies for writing a response to someone’s work-in-progress. We’ll also attempt a response to a published piece. RSVP for this workshop now >
Want to deepen your poetry craft?
Join us for a Winter 2017 Poetry Craft Workshop Series with Partridge Boswell
Thursday mornings at 10:30 a.m. (January 12, 19, and 26)
This small-group workshop series will benefit poets at any level who want to improve their poems, from the inside-out & bottom-up, bones & all. In 3 weekly sessions poets will be (re)introduced to elements of craft—devices which accompany us consciously and unconsciously as we excavate and make the poem within. Reading excerpts from Kim Addonizio, Mary Oliver, Mark Strand, Eavan Boland, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Richard Hugo and Annie Finch, along with diverse and ample poems as examples along the way, you’ll gather useful tools to help you shape your raw material and bring the experience of your poem to life.
There’s just 1 spot left in this workshop! RSVP now >
Mud Season Review interviews
Congrats and thanks
Congrats to Nina Gaby, whose “One Rule from a Working Life” (an excerpt from a collection of vignettes in progress, due out this spring) won runner-up in the annual Quarter After Eight Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest. In addition, Nina’s “The Edge of Shivers” (excerpted from the collection, “Overheard: Story/Gesture”) has been chosen for Proximity‘s special issue on guns, due out in January.
Congrats to Kerstin Lange, whose book review of Middlebury author Jack Mayer’s Before the Court of Heaven was recently published in Seven Days. Read the review >
Our poetry editor, Michelle Watters, recently had this exchange with Zoe Armstrong, who will be reading her poetry at the upcoming The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2016 book tour event at Shelburne Vineyard. Here’s what Zoe had to say about her poetry and the inspiration for her writing.
How long have you been a member of the Burlington Writers Workshop?
Since June of 2014.
Do you feel it has helped your writing?
Yes, the BWW has helped me gain more confidence to be bold, silly, and controversial with my writing in a public forum. It has helped me think strategically about editing both of my own work and other people’s work. I have gained skills in hosting writing events and work-shopping.
In this year’s anthology, your poem “Wooly Worms” describes the narrator as “a huge alien in a big blue space ship.” Has there been a time in your life when you felt like an alien?
Most days I generally feel modern humans have a disconnect with nature as much as we are connected to it. When I am on a highway in my car, a.k.a my spaceship, I observe the other space ships swirling around me on our tar pathways and I think the wild life would experience us as we would experience an actual alien in the sky from a space shape.
You may have heard that Mud Season Review launched its second print issue at Hotel Vermont a few weeks ago. If you missed the readings by Robin McLean, Alison Prine, Ralph Culver, and Sean Prentiss, you can listen to them here!
You can purchase your copy of Mud Season Review here.
Our podcast is available on iTunes, so feel free to subscribe to it there!
If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to check out Mud Season Review’s Issue #16, which was published just this past week. The issue features art by LiQin Tan, fiction by Rebecca Fishow, poetry by Luisa A. Igloria, and nonfiction by Arthur Plotnik.
Congrats to the MSR staff on yet another stellar issue. And, if you’re not on the staff but think you might like to be, you should know that MSR is looking for fiction readers! Read this invitation from JD Fox, MSR‘s co-editor of fiction, to learn more >
For today’s Opportunities and Announcements, I’d like to share with you the results of the 2016 BWW Member Survey. Thank you to everyone who took the time to take this survey. Your answers are helping to shape our 2016 budget, which we’ll be sharing in the new year. And your feedback and suggestions are critical to helping us continue to grow and improve.
In order to help us provide the free workshops, expert panel discussions, writing retreats, and other programming that you’re most interested in, we hope you’ll consider making a donation today. Together, we’ve raised $3,735.00 donated so far—and with your help we’ll get to our $5,000 goal. Thank you again to everyone who has donated!
Here’s a recap of what you said in the survey:
As a writer, how important are each of the following to you? Please rate each of the choices below on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being not at all important and 5 being extremely important):
Because I want your opinion – and yours – and yours – of my writing. Because I want to read what you’re writing, think about what you’re trying to accomplish, and talk with others about ways to achieve that. Because I want to learn how to string words together so they make you laugh, make you cry, make you wonder.
That’s why I give to the BWW.
Its challenging and supportive workshops. The community of writers who quilt a larger world – more opinions, experiences, and knowledge – than the microcosm in my skull alone.
That’s why I give to BWW.
The generous and deeply thoughtful professional writers who come to sit at our table and share their thoughts about the craft of writing, and the art. Writers who inspire us. The retreats that eject us out of our routines and totally immerse us in a writing world for a day.
Because it gives so much to me. That’s why I give to the Burlington Writers Workshop.
Each week in our Wednesday Workshop, we go around the table and answer a question posed by our resident questioner and longtime BWW member, Walt Mahany. The questions are sometimes thought provoking and sometimes humorous, but they always draw responses that spark conversation and help us all get to know each other better. This past Wednesday, Walt’s question was simple and in the spirit of Thanksgiving: “What are you thankful for?” What was telling to me was the number of members whose answer included “all of you.” This includes my own. I moved to Vermont 5 years ago now, but it wasn’t until I got involved with the BWW that it truly began to feel like home. Thanks to what Peter started and what everyone in this community has helped to continue, the BWW has become an incredible mix of creativity, support, and friendship. So in honor of this holiday, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for that.
And now, onto the news:
This past week brought the launch of Issue #14 of Mud Season Review. Congrats to our amazing Mud Season staff for yet another beautiful issue! Check out the featured art by Harry Wilson, fiction by Jacob Guajardo, nonfiction by Megan Bush, and poetry by Karen J. Weyant for some excellent Thanksgiving holiday reading.
Speaking of holiday reading, we hope you’ll join us on Sunday, December 6th for the last stop of The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2015 tour. We’ll be at Barnes and Noble in South Burlington from 2 pm to 5 pm. Several Best of 2015 authors will be reading, including: Michael Freed-Thall, Nina Gaby, Mark Hoffman, Linda Quinlan, Michelle Watters, and Darlene Witte-Townsend. Nina will also be facilitating a mini-workshop with writing prompts and a discussion of authors’ favorite writing guide books.
This will also be an important fundraiser for the BWW. Barnes and Noble will donate a portion of the days’ sales to the BWW. So please consider coming out to participate in the event and do some holiday book-buying to support the BWW! Look for our event voucher code in next week’s Opportunities & Announcements.
The lottery for our final writing retreat of the year is now open! This is a small-group retreat, designed to offer lots of free time for working on your own projects as well as the chance to come together with the group for targeted discussions on the craft of writing. The retreat will be led by Peter Biello, BWW founder and board chairman.
As with all of our retreats, a lottery system will ensure an equal chance for all active BWW members. The lottery opens today and closes at midnight, Monday, September 14th. If you’re an active member, sign up for the lottery now >
The launch of the first ever print issue of Mud Season Review is coming up this Saturday at Hotel Vermont at 7 p.m. I hope you’ll be able to make it. This journal represents the hard work of a lot of BWW members and we’re very proud of it. The party is free for all, so come on down and bring a friend!
A few new opportunities are in this week’s opportunities and announcements, so please do take a look! Continue reading
I was inspired by Dede Cummings, who said at our “Writing and Money” panel last month that every time you get a rejection letter, you should send out three more queries (I’m paraphrasing). Last month, I received one rejection letter, so I sent out fifteen submissions today. Not exactly the same ratio, but the idea is the same: I’m giving myself more chances to succeed, and I only need one out of the fifteen to say “yes.”
As for where I submitted my work: I aimed high. As you’ll see on my sticky note system, I’ve sent my story to a few recognizable names. (Note: These places don’t use Submittable, which is great at keeping track of submissions, so I’m resorting to this. This is why Mud Season Review uses Submittable. It’s just easier.)
I’m hoping to do some writing tonight and then maybe send out a few more pieces. If the rejection letters come in, I’ll just keep returning fire.
Anyway, all that is to say: I’ve had a productive snow day, and I hope you have, too. If not, get on Duotrope and find a place for your work, and send it out!
Here are this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading
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.
Here are this week’s opportunities and announcements.
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.
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.