The Fun(draising) Begins!

Martin Bock (left) at a workshop at our space in Burlington.

Here’s a phrase you may have heard if you listen to public radio pledge drives: “It’s freely available, but it’s not free.”

Meaning: you listen to all the programming you want without paying a cent, but it does cost someone something. The folks who make the programming must be paid.

That’s kind of how the Burlington Writers Workshop operates, except we have no paid staff. You can use the workshop space whenever it’s open. You can attend as many workshops as you want (so long as there’s room at the table). You have an equal chance of attending our writing retreats (which are based on a random lottery, not on income). You can take advantage of our publishing opportunities through Mud Season Review and The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop series. You can even come to an event and eat all the food you want and we do not charge a dime.

But someone pays for all this. Chances are, next time you’re at a workshop at our Burlington space, someone sitting near you chipped in a few bucks to help pay the rent.

So I’m asking you now (as we do every May and December) to give a few bucks to the BWW.

Give because you once went to a workshop and had a good time and learned something. Give because the comments you received helped you revise a poem or an essay. Give because you made a friend at the workshop who changed your life.

Give because it’s freely available, but it isn’t truly free, and because you are the type of person who steps up and takes action. We can’t run this organization without you and your financial contributions.

Give now. $50 or $100 or whatever amount works for you. We’re trying to raise $5,000 before the end of May. With your help, we can!


Opportunities & Announcements: Week of October 24, 2016

This is a very busy time for the Burlington Writers Workshop! Here are the top 5 opportunities you don’t want to miss over the next few weeks:

Top 5 Opportunities with the BWW

#1 Take the BWW survey

Deadline: October 28, 2016

the-bww-2016member-survey-1Share your thoughts on all things Burlington Writers Workshop—and help to shape what we’ll do in the future. The survey takes about 5 minutes. Deadline is Friday, October 28, 2016.

Take the survey >


#2 Submit your work for publication

Deadline: October 31, 2016

call-for-subsOur call for submissions for The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2017 closes on Monday, October 31, 2016. So make sure to submit your work!

We’re looking for your fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The only criteria for eligibility is to have attended 1 BWW workshop within the past 5 years. Submit your work >


#3 Come to the BWW’s First Annual Member Meeting & Celebration

11-12-16-1Saturday, November 12 at Main Street Landing in Burlington:

Learn about all we’ve done this past year to meet member goals—and how you can get involved. Celebrate our dedicated volunteers. And, join us for our first BWW open mic night to share your talents with your fellow members. RSVP now >


#4 Support the BWW and win a basket of books

october-schedule-1Tickets on sale through Saturday, November 12 event

More than 20 accomplished authors who’ve either been a featured author in Mud Season Review, led a BWW guest workshop or retreat, or joined us for an expert panel or reading, have already donated copies of their latest books. And many of the copies are signed! Meet our authors >

Raffle tickets are $5 each.

And special offer: The first 2 people to sign up to be a BWW sustaining member (an automatic donation of $12 or more per month) this week will get 5 additional raffle tickets!

The drawing will take place at the Annual Member Meeting & Celebration. But don’t worry. If you can’t join us, we’ll contact you if you win.

To buy tickets, ask your workshop leader or make a donation and write your contact info + “raffle tickets” in the comments field. All proceeds go toward BWW programs & publications!


#5 Support the BWW in our online auction

Bidding open through Saturday, November 12 event

vtiff_logo-1Support the BWW—and local businesses—while buying some amazing gifts for yourself and others. Like a Friend Level membership to the Vermont International Film Foundation or a 10-class card to Evolution Yoga!

evolution-yogaWinning bidders can pay online through the auction site or by cash, check, or credit card at the Annual Member Meeting & Celebration on November 12. All proceeds go toward BWW programs & publications. Check out the auction > 


Flynn Blog

Burlington Writers Workshop members regularly blog for the Flynn Center. Check out these recent posts:

Lauren J. Sanders previews the National Theatre Live’s Frankenstein, coming to Palace 9 Cinemas  on October 27 >

Josh McDonald previews the Middlebury Actors Workshop’s Macbeth, coming to the Flynn MainStage on November 1 >

Lorraine Ryan previews the Capitol Steps, on the Flynn MainStage tonight, October 25 >


Congrats to Anne Charles, whose review of the  2016 memoir A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain by Christina Crosby was recently published by the Lambda Literary Review (Vol. 7, Issue 94, Friday, Oct. 20, 2016). Read the review >

Congrats to Sam Hugheswhose poem “Representation” was recently published in Rattle. Read the poem >

And thanks…

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2016 book tour event in Middlebury. Thanks, especially, to Elizabeth Gaucher for coordinating and hosting, David Weinstock and Ann Fisher for co-hosting and reading, and to all of our readers: Zoe Armstrong, Melinda Bachand, Dennis Bouldin, Cynthia Close.

Thank you to Cathy Beaudoin for hosting our first workshop leaders potluck. And thank you to all the dedicated workshop leaders who made it out for our meeting!

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of July 11, 2016

May Fundraiser UpdateThe May fundraising numbers are in. And they are impressive. Together, we raised a total of $7,802 in Maycombining our regular sustaining member donations and one-time donations coming in as part of the May fundraiser (including Mud Season Review manuscript reviews). This is exciting, as it will allow us to continue supporting the many high-quality, accessible literary workshops, programs, events, and publications that enrich all our livesand the larger Vermont creative community.

In fact, as we speak, your board is working hard on a workshop leader training program that will help our workshop leaders continue to grow in their roles and provide practical tools they can use to keep enhancing the workshop experience for all members. And that’s just one among many efforts to keep the BWW moving forward.

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Opportunities and Announcements: Week of May 31, 2016

BWW 2016 Retreats

Retreat season is upon us once again! In both the 2014 and 2015 BWW member surveys, writing retreats topped the list of member priorities. Last year’s retreat series was a great success and we’re excited to bring you the series again this year.

Our retreat committee has created 4 retreats to be held monthly, July – October. To make sure there’s something for everyone, we’re offering a mix of locations, topics, and retreat types—with 3 guided retreats in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry led by accomplished instructors as well as a free-form retreat with lots of time for focusing on your own writing projects in a quiet, inspiring atmosphere. As with all of our programming, these retreats are free. Participation will be decided through a lottery system.

First up in the series is a Guided Fiction Retreat with Megan Mayhew Bergman, Saturday, July 23 in Georgia, VT. The lottery for this retreat will be open now through June 15.

Learn more about the retreats and how you can participate > 

Fundraising update

We’re wrapping up our May Fundraiser and it’s looking like we’re going to hit our goal! As of right now, we’re just $10 away from our $6,000 goal for the month. Thank you. And if you’d like to be the one to get us to the goal, consider donating $10 or more today. We’ll share the final fundraising numbers next week. It is so inspiring to know that we have the funds to keep programs like the retreat series going!

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Opportunities and Announcements: Week of May 23, 2016

Mud Season Review

Check out Mud Season Review Issue #20 at

Mud Season Review Issue #20 is live this week! I encourage you to check out the environmental artwork of Sally Linder and delve into the writing of Tyler Barton (fiction), Lauren Spinabelli (nonfiction), and Peter Vanderberg (poetry). Read the issue >

If you couldn’t make it to MSR‘s launch party for print issue vol. 2, or you just want to hear the fantastic readings from Robin McLean, Alison Prine, Ralph Culver, and Sean Prentiss again, you can also check out our podcast of the evening.  The print issue can be purchased online or in our Burlington space.

Fundraising update

We’ve raised $4,450 of our $6,000 goal! Thank you so much to everyone who has donated. If you haven’t made your donation yet during our May Fundraiser, I hope you’ll consider giving what you can to help us keep Mud Season Review and all the other great things we’re doing here going for another year. For sustaining donors ($12/month or a one-time, $150 donation), we’ll thank you with a pair of BWW pint glasses.


Contest and awards

Southern Poetry Review‘s Guy Owen Award offers $1,000 and publication for an unpublished poem. Deadline (postmark) is May 31, 2016. Read the full submission guidelines >

BOA Editions offers $1,000 and publication for a short story collection (90 – 200 pages). Deadline is May 31, 2016. Read the full submission guidelines >

Upcoming workshops

Our first Saturday Prose Workshop is coming up on June 4. Join us at the Burlington space at 10:30 a.m. RSVP now >

Join us for the first of our summer Monday Night Poetry Workshops on June 6, 6:30 p.m. in Burlington. It’s all poetry, all summer on Monday nights. RSVP now >


Do you have interest in a potential children’s writing workshop? We have a member who is eager to see who else might enjoy discussing and workshopping children’s literature. If you’re interested, please contact us so we can gauge interest in a potential workshop.

Flynn Center blog

BWW members regularly blog for the Flynn.

Cynthia Close recently wrote this review of Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq’s May 14 performance at FlynnSpace.

Congrats and thanks

Congratulations to Deena Frankel and Bill Torrey for their excellent showing in The Vermont Moth GrandSLAM II: When Worlds Collide at the Flynn.

Thank you to Eva Gumprecht for her work in securing a great new home for our Montpelier workshops.

Our hours

Stop into our Burlington space (110 Main Street, Studio 3C) during the following times this week to get some quiet writing or reading time in, or to find out more about the BWW:

Monday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Tuesday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Thursday: 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. 

Friday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Being allowed to give


Eva Gumprecht, BWW Montpelier workshop coordinator

Eva Gumprecht, Montpelier workshop coordinator

Coordinating a BWW workshop is sort of like herding cats. And it just so happens that I love cats. But I didn’t set out to be a cat herder. About 2 years ago, I innocently asked Peter [Biello, founder of the BWW] if the BWW had ever thought of holding workshops in Montpelier so that those of us from the hinterlands wouldn’t have to repeatedly risk our lives in the Bolton Flats. He responded, “We’ve thought about it, but didn’t have anyone willing to coordinate them.” The rest is history.

The thing I’ve appreciated most about the BWW has not been what I’ve gotten from it, but what I’ve been allowed to give. How many places do you know of, in this increasingly disconnected and regulated world of ours, where one is allowed to give what one has to offer? And to have what one gives treated as precious.

At its best BWW is not an “organization”—it is a living, breathing communal organism. Most organizations, including most writing programs, are basically service stations. You pay your money, you get services or goods in return, and you leave. At the BWW, there really and truly isn’t anyone here but us chickens (mixed metaphor between cats and chickens, but you get the point). There is the potential for something much more vibrant and rare than an “organization.” There is the rare chance here for a vast interdependent web that we will continue to weave together.

We think so much about what we want to get, to have, from life.  But really, in terms of what makes life worth living, what creates health and a sense of purpose, it’s what we get to give that counts. And to have our talents, our attempts, our energies, our generous and compassionate impulses, even our failures, received with appreciation and care.

I thought, when I attended my first workshops, that I would learn from having my work critiqued. But over these years I have learned far, far more from offering feedback to others. I’ve been blown away by the incredible variety of minds and the courage it takes to expose one’s private world and work to others. There are pieces to which I would never have given a second look if I saw them elsewhere….genres I thought I didn’t like, subject matter which I thought bored me. But the commitment we make to each other, when we sign up to attend a workshop, is to treat each piece the way we hope ours would be received.

It is an honor to be handed someone’s work. And so I expand my world.  I learn to practice patience, to find the gems in the sometimes very roughly hewn rock, to enter into someone else’s mind and heart and ask myself how I can help them to get where they want to go. People achieve things I would never have even attempted. It is an exercise in exchanging minds and souls.

It is this exchange that I support when I give to the BWW. I hope you will too.

—Eva Gumprecht, BWW Montpelier workshop coordinator

Donate to the Burlington Writers Workshop >



Opportunities and Announcements: Week of May 16, 2016

may 2016 fundraiser (2)Another week brings another huge thanks to everyone who has donated to our May Fundraiser so farand an extra thank you to Michael Freed-Thall for his generous matching challenge.

Together, we’ve raised $3,540 and we’re more than halfway to our $6,000 goal with half the month still remaining. This means that we’re well on our way to fully funding the many events, programs, and publications that start from your ideas and continue thanks to our collective work, dedication, and passion for this community and what it brings to all of us.

If you haven’t made your donation yet, I hope you’ll consider giving what you can. And remember, if you’re able to become a sustaining member (at $12/month or a $150 one-time donation), we’ll thank you with a pair of BWW pint glasses.


Speaking of the events, programs, and publications that come to fruition through member ideas and dedication, our June 2016 calendar is up and includes both ongoing workshops as well as some new offerings. Here are just a few workshops to check out:

Infinite Summer 2016

Infinite Summer: A Guided Reading of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest
Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. in Burlington, June 7 – August 30

Infinite Summer is back and it’s filling up quickly! Join us for a 13-week guided reading of David Foster Wallace’s epic Infinite Jest. Whether you’ve always meant to read this masterpiece of postmodern literature, started it but couldn’t stick with the challenge, or have read it before but want to dig in deeper, this is the perfect way to commit to a full reading—and get more out of the book by sharing the perspectives of a community of readers. This series is led by Patrick Brownson, workshop leader for the BWW’s literature reading series, who has read Infinite Jest 6 times to date. Sign up now >

New Saturday Prose Workshop
Every first Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in Burlington

Thanks to BWW board member and Mud Season Review fiction reader Cathy Beaudoin, we’re now offering a monthly Saturday prose workshop. Join us on the first Saturday of each month to discuss two short works of fiction or nonfiction submitted by workshop members. The first workshop will be held on Saturday, June 4 at 10:30 a.m. in Burlington. RSVP now >

New Member Informational Meeting
Monday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m. in Burlington
If you’ve been wanting to attend a BWW workshop, but haven’t been sure how to get started, here’s your chance. Please join us for an informational meeting for new members. We’ll talk about how the workshops work, our approach to giving feedback, how to submit a request to have your work reviewed, and the many other opportunities for getting involved in the BWW. RSVP now > 
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The BWW changed my life

Deena Frankel, leader of the BWW oral storytelling workshop

Deena Frankel, leader of the BWW’s oral storytelling workshop

The BWW changed my life. Really.

I’d been to a bunch of workshops, but never submitted work, as I struggled to transition from the dry writing in my day job to creative nonfiction. Then one idle Thursday night, I went to an oral storytelling workshop for want of a better plan, and I went home with a draft of my first “Moth-style” story. This new medium turned a key in my creative life. I’ve been telling oral stories ever since AND for me those oral stories became the gateway to the writing I’d been striving for. [Editor’s note: To see how far Deena’s storytelling has taken her, come hear her weave her storytelling magic on the Flynn MainStage for The Vermont Moth GrandSLAM II, Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 8:00 p.m.]

Workshopping member writing is surely the heart of the BWW—for writers and readers alike. But the BWW is so much more. A place of continuous learning about the art, craft, and business of storytelling in its many forms. A community of colleagues and friends. Rich opportunities to try on new professional roles, whether staffing Mud Season Review or The Best of the BWW, or leading a workshop.

And all for one low price of admission: nothing. But of course it isn’t really free; it’s just on the honor system. We may operate on a staff-less shoestring, but you’ve still got to buy the shoestring.

What we provide and produce together at BWW is quite an extraordinary feat of community. I feel honor bound to do my part for that community by donating my money, as well as my time. I hope you will too.

Deena Frankel, leader of the BWW’s oral storytelling workshop, design editor of The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2016, and senior nonfiction reader for Mud Season Review

**Become a sustaining member at $12/month or a one-time donation of $150 and we’ll thank you with a pair of BWW pint glasses! Donate now >

Are you hungry?

BWW member Darlene Witte-Townsend

BWW member Darlene Witte- Townsend

Are you a writer? I am.

I checked out the Burlington Writers Workshop on a warm Wednesday night in June of 2013. I was part of other writer’s groups in the distant past and I hoped to find a nurturing community here in Vermont. Was it even possible?

The address written on my hand was 136 1/2 Church Street. I set out. Where was Church Street? How can an address be 1/2 of something? I needed a map. The map Google showed me was dated 1822. Really? I trudged up and down.

Eventually, I found Church Street but not the address I was looking for. Was it hidden? Why? I searched the crowd for the helper whom I knew was likely to appear, the ingenue, the innocent who would hold the key. Soon I noticed a young woman walking alone and asked if she knew how to get to 136 1/2 Church Street. She eyed me with surprise and said, “I’m looking for it too.” Ah.

I followed her through the twilight until she pulled open a heavy old lead-paned street door near the Red Onion Cafe. I too stepped carefully inside.

We crept through dim light down lumpy stone stairs into a long narrow room. There were five small tables with thirteen people seated around, all of them chomping. Biting. Savoring. Devouring. Sipping. Masticating. Sampling. Smacking their lips. Picking their teeth. Swirling new and old flavors in their mouths. It was not everyday food that focused their attention, however, but chunks of original writing. Poems. Stories.


BWW writers gathered in One-Half Lounge

Writers gathered in One-Half Lounge, one of the BWW’s meeting places before securing our own Burlington space


With this company I fed on strong words and left satisfied. Thank you BWW. I have a place at the table. I have a place to be at home.

Are you hungry? Are you ready?

Darlene Witte-Townsend, BWW member since 2013

Support the Burlington Writers Workshop to help us keep this great thing going. And join us for a workshop in our new space at 110 Main Street, Studio 3C.

Who Wants a Pint (or Two)?


A thank-you gift for your contribution. Beer not included.

Hey, how would you like to own two of these fancy-looking BWW pint glasses?

When you make a contribution of $150 or become a sustaining member of the BWW at $12/month or more, we’ll give you a pair of these as a big ol’ thank you. It’s that simple.

Why are we asking for money? Because bills. But bills are good! Because we’re investing in Vermont’s literary community. We’ve got to pay the rent on our new workshop space, where we hold as many as five free creative writing workshops each week. We’re investing in Mud Season Review to make it a world-class literary journal. We celebrate local talent with The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop. We bring established writers to our workshop table to give you feedback. We provide free writing retreats and put together panel discussions.

Also, we’re an all-volunteer workforce. No salaries. Just volunteers putting in the hours for the love of the game.

Because you’ve taken advantage of this service, we hope you’ll become a sustaining member at $12/month. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Visit our donate page using a computer (not a phone or an iPad or other tablet; the mobile site these devices use doesn’t allow monthly gifts).
  2. Click on the yellow “DONATE” button.
  3. Once you’re at this page, enter the donation amount ($12 or more) and make sure you check the “Make This Recurring (Monthly)” box (see image below).









If you make your donation before Friday, April 29th, you can pick up your pint glasses at the launch party for The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2016. We hope to see you there!

If you have any questions, please let us know. Cheers!

A Trustworthy, Supportive Group

Walt Mahany, BWW board member

Walt Mahany, BWW board member

Like many, I was little intimidated by preconceptions of the process that takes place in a writing workshop. I was defensive and reluctant to participate in the discussions. When I eventually ratcheted up enough courage to submit my work, I was terrified. I envisioned an experience similar to dropping a piece of fresh meat into a pool of piranha. The visions were macabre. What would they do to my poor story, or to me for that matter? Such was the paralyzing nature of a fear, which is not all that uncommon among new writers.

What I discovered, however, was that I had become a part of a trustworthy, supportive group whose sole desires were to help improve the quality of my writing while at the same time honing their craft skills.

I didn’t think it could get any better than that, except that it does because it’s free.  To my way of thinking Burlington Writers Workshop is worth my time, energy, and contributions because of what they do to promote the development of writers.

I’ve made a contribution. Will you be a contributing member, too?

—Walt Mahany, BWW board member

A Talented and Diverse Group of Individuals

Cynthia Close, BWW board member and art editor, Mud Season Review

Cynthia Close, BWW board member and art editor, Mud Season Review

I wasn’t sure what I was looking for when I joined the Burlington Writers Workshop. What I found was a talented and diverse group of individuals, all working together with the common goal of helping its members become better writers, whatever their ability or background. The open yet professional atmosphere has fostered close friendships and provided a haven for many folks seeking a sense of community within the larger social and cultural fabric of the City of Burlington.

The BWW is infused with the energy of its all-volunteer staff, reflecting an active, growing organization that has expanded beyond Burlington to foster groups in Montpelier and Middlebury. I have taken advantage of many opportunities offered to members: the retreats, the special events, the chance to publish in the annual anthology, and the Flynn Center’s blogging program.

As an active board member and art editor of Mud Season Review, our newly established art and literary journal, I’ve been able to give back a small portion of the benefits I have received as a member of the group.

I also contribute financially to the BWW, and I hope you will, too. The BWW needs donations to help pay the rent for the meeting space we all use. Your donations also cover the costs of our forays in publishing. Consider what these benefits are worth to you and make a contribution in any amount, either as a one-time gift, or as a sustaining member. (Just click the ‘Make this recurring (monthly)’ checkbox on the donation form to give that amount automatically each month as a sustaining member).

Cynthia Close, BWW board member and art editor, Mud Season Review

P.S. We’ve currently raised $3,735.00 of our $5,000 goal for this December Fundraiser. Thank you to everyone who has donated! 

Workshops Make the Difference

Rebecca Starks, Mud Season Review editor-in-chief, leads the BWW's 2015 Free Poetry Retreat

Rebecca Starks, Mud Season Review editor, leads the BWW’s 2015 Free Poetry Retreat

In the last year and a half, as I’ve put my energies into Mud Season Review, I’ve seen the difference between the work of those who have workshopped their writing and those still working in solitude. Without exception, when we accept a piece from an emerging writer, we learn that it’s already had a number of eyes on it. It makes the difference.The Burlington Writers Workshop provides much of what many writers pursue MFAs for: valuable feedback on one’s writing; a supportive creative community (that doesn’t end after a couple years); opportunities to publish, give readings, and learn from established authors; and the chance to work on a literary journal that connects with writers and artists around the world.

And the difference between an MFA and the BWW is that an MFA costs tens of thousands of dollars. I give to the BWW because I believe in making these opportunities available to everyone, regardless of ability to pay; and because I’m grateful to the members who give so much of their time and energy, as well as donations, toward making it succeed.

I hope you’ll consider donating, and that it inspires you to take full advantage of all the BWW offers.

Rebecca Starks, editor, Mud Season Review, and BWW board member

Opportunities and Announcements Week of June 8, 2015

OfficiallyIt’s official. The Burlington Writers Workshop is now an independent 501(c) 3 organization.

This means we are now able to accept tax-deductible donations directly from our donors. We’d like to thank the Vermont League of Writers for their generosity and guidance as our fiscal agent to date. Please stay tuned in the coming months for information regarding our new organizational bylaws, member survey, and annual member meeting as we move forward as an independent nonprofit.

We’re moving forward with a terrific show of support from our members and donors. The numbers are in from our May fundraiser. We surpassed our goal by more than $1,000—raising a total of $4,379. Thank you again to everyone who donated.

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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.