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The Non-fiction Writer’s Tool Kit: March 21, 2015

Greetings! Our latest MWW mini-conference on March 21st is around the corner, and we like to think spring is too! Plan to join us to learn screenwriting, strengthen your social networking, or up your game with non-fiction writing.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, IN

Cost: $155 (includes lunch)

One of the four sessions is “Shaping the Real Work: The Non-fiction Writer’s Tool Kit” taught by Lou Harry.

At MWW, we’re all about forging new paths as publishing continues to evolve. Plus, we are mindful of our rich legacy. So trust us when we say that non-fiction and fiction writing enhance one another. For that reason, we coaxed Lou Harry to tuck MWW into his jam-packed schedule and teach at the mini-conference. Lou’s made a career of specializing in the many forms of non-fiction.

Some of you may remember Earl Conn and Alan Garinger, who passed away after years of service to MWW. They used to say that non-fiction writing can be a stepping stone to a fiction career. If you doubt them, the evidence is clear. The examples are endless, from Michael Connelly to Elizabeth Berg (our keynote speaker last year) to Neil Gaiman and Chuck Wendig (who is coming this year). Non-fiction writing–from essays to news stories, from columns to blogs–is a great way to get noticed. Just ask our 2013 faculty member Roxane Gay, whose collection of essays Bad Feminist is winning awards and snagging her speaking engagements, as she also promotes her debut novel An Untamed State.

So if you are someone whose first love is fiction, please don’t discount the idea of learning about non-fiction. Lou’s expertise may be just the help you need for getting your non-fiction ideas launched. And writing shorter work has many rewards, such as seeing your byline in print and giving you ideas for your fiction.

Lou Harry’s wildly eclectic output includes books on creativity, sports, drinks, movies, life lessons, gadgets, guilty pleasures, voodoo, excuses, crop circles, Santa Claus (and Martians), curse words, parenting, trivia and, this year, squirrels. The co-creator and editor of Indy Men’s Magazine and current Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Indianapolis Business Journal (www.ibj.com/arts), Lou has written for more than 50 publications including Variety, Mental_Floss, and This Old House. While on journalistic assignments, he has profiled CEOs, escorted a spiral-cut ham into a movie theater, took a pie in the face from Soupy Sales, attended Broadway openings, exposed tarot readers, sat on the Full House couch, gotten attached to a Velcro wall, and turned his honeymoon into a travel story. He hopes one day to have a book for every category in the Dewey Decimal System.

MWW: You showed such enthusiasm and creativity at MWW 2013, I’m wondering what you have in store for mini conference participants. Will there be writing and discussion or mostly a lecture format?

LOU: Lecture, schmecture. Yes, I’ll do some talking and offer solid, specific advice. But we’re also going to dig into fun, engaging, and, most importantly, useful writing exercises. The most important thing to me is helping the attendees move forward.

MWW: Is your presentation aimed toward a certain level of writer or can people enter into the class from wherever they are and jump up a level or more?

LOU: Come as you are. All of the discussion and activity is geared toward taking you to the next level, wherever you stand right now.

MWW: What is the scope of the class? For example, will you cover writing craft mostly or will finding markets and how to query be covered?

LOU: There are three key elements: Finding markets, approaching those markets wisely, and being a writer who is ready for those markets. All three need to happen for successful sales.

MWW: What would you tell those who haven’t met you and/or have never been in such an intensive class or maybe haven’t tested the waters of non-fiction, to help them get off the fence and register?

LOU: Are you satisfied with where you are in the writing universe right now? If not, then strongly consider joining us for an afternoon. I’m going to be teaching the class that I wish I could have taken.

MWW: Please provide a couple of links to your work, if possible, so people can easily find it.

www.louharry.com
www.ibj.com/arts
http://howlround.com/authors/lou-harry

Register soon!

Announcing One-Day Intensive Sessions: March 21, 2015

Midwest Writers Workshop invites you to join us for one of our most popular offerings: ONE-DAY INTENSIVE SESSIONS. This spring take advantage of the opportunity to attend one of four amazing sessions. Choosing which of these dynamite professionals to spend the day with will be a challenge. Look at these helpful sessions:

Manuscript Makeover, Nonfiction, Screenwriting, or Building Your Author Platform. These one-day intensive sessions will be held at the Ball State University Alumni Center, Muncie, IN on Saturday, March 21, 2015 (8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Each session is capped at 20 participants. Cost of each intensive session is $155 (includes a brown bag lunch so the work continues to flow).

So here’s how it works:

1) Register for the mini.

2) If you’re signing up for Manuscript Makeover, you must submit the requested number RECEIVED by MARCH 6, 2015.

3) Come to Muncie, IN on Saturday, March 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for personalized instruction and a chance to network with other writers.

Payment and registration close on March 16, but if you’re signing up for Manuscript Makeover, get registered NOW, pay, and send your pages RECEIVED by March 6.

Choose ONE of these four sessions:

Manuscript Makeover – Dennis Hensley & Holly Miller

This intensive session is limited to 20 participants who have book projects–either fiction or nonfiction–in progress. The six-hour workshop is led by Holly G. Miller, author of Feature and Magazine Writing and consulting editor to two national magazines, and Dennis E. Hensley, chair of the professional writing department at Taylor University and author of Teach Yourself Grammar and Style in 24 hours. After registering for the class, each participant should e-mail a one-page synopsis–with a working title–plus the first nine pages of his/her book project to Dennis and Holly. Please double-space and format in 12-point Times New Roman font. Holly and Dennis will personally edit all pages to return to the authors at the workshop. In addition, the instructors will display on a screen and discuss portions of each student’s manuscript. Students will receive folders filled with handouts plus their edited manuscripts midway through the day. As time permits, Miller and Hensley will discuss plots, character development, editing techniques, finding an agent, and marketing a published book. The instructors have co-authored seven books–including a series of novels–as well as completed several solo book assignments. Dennis just signed a multiple-novel book deal, co-writing with Diana Savage, with Whittaker House Publishing Company. Don’t hesitate; this workshop always fills up quickly and is offered only once a year.

Shaping the Real World: The Non-fiction Writer’s Tool Kit – Lou Harry

The non-fiction writer’s task is to shape and frame a piece of the world, whether that’s in an opinion column, a travel tale, a review, a celebrity profile, a news story, or a feature story. At this workshop, the Indianapolis Business Journal‘s Lou Harry, recently seen on CBS News Sunday Morning and the author of more than 25 books, helps you maximize the impact of your stories and increase demand for your writing. The Society of Professional Journalists award winner will open up a tool kit collected from penning

hundreds of stories in more than 50 publications, from Writer’s Digest to Variety and from Men’s Health toThe Sondheim Review. He’ll guide you through exercises to improve your interviewing skills, shape opening paragraphs, find your rhythm, and develop a passionate curiosity about any subject. Manuscripts up to five pages can be submitted two weeks ahead of the workshop for critique and use in class. Bring your laptop, your questions, and your open mind for a lively day of working with words.

The Basics of Compelling Cinematic Storytelling – Matt Mullins

We’ll run the gamut of the basics of storytelling for film, beginning with the building blocks of spec screenwriting format and style, how to approach it and what to avoid, and then moving on to the core elements of visual/cinematic storytelling structure and content. This includes, among other things, how plots are shaped and how they arc, how characters are constructed and why/how they change, how scenes work, and how/when to use dialogue versus/along with visual exposition.

The Best (and I Mean BEST) Way to Build Your Author Platform – Linda Taylor

Authors don’t like to think about the importance of building a platform. They want to just write their books and watch them climb best-seller lists. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. But building your platform isn’t about tooting your own horn or getting people to buy your book. Instead, it’s about finding your “tribe,” appreciating others’ work, connecting, and being interested in what others are doing. This is important (even vital) for all writers-published or not-because we’re all part of the literary community. In this all-day session, we’ll learn about blogging and tweeting and connecting–all to join the literary community and build a platform in a non-scary way. Come if you’re published; come if you’re not. It’s about “literary citizenship.” Bring your laptop and be prepared for a day of encouragement and hands-on training.

Meet the Faculty:

Holly picHolly Miller is an editor with The Saturday Evening Post and co-author of Feature & Magazine Writing. She and Dennis Hensley have collaborated on four novels and three nonfiction books. Holly’s byline has appeared in Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Digest and TV Guide. She is the author of 14 fiction and nonfiction books. She has won awards from the Associated Press, Society of American Travel Writers and Society of Professional Journalists.

Hensley DDennis E. Hensley, Ph.D., is a contributing editor for Writers’ Journal and the author of eight textbooks on writing, including How to Write What You Love and Make a Living at It. He has written 51 books, including  Millennium

Approaches (Avon), Uncommon Sense (Bobbs-Merrill), and Money Wise (Harvest House). He directs the professional writing major at Taylor University. His 3,000 freelance articles have appeared in Reader’s Digest, Success, People, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, and Downbeat, among dozens of others.

Lou Harry‘s wildly eclectic output includes books on creativity, sports, drinks, movies, life lessons, gadgets, guilty pleasures, voodoo, excuses, crop circles, Santa Claus (and Martians), curse words, parenting, trivia and, this year, squirrels. The co-creator and editor of Indy Men’s Magazine and current Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Indianapolis Business Journal (www.ibj.com/arts), Lou has written for more than 50 publications including Variety, Mental_Floss, and This Old House. While on journalistic assignments, he has profiled CEOs, escorted a spiral-cut ham into a movie theater, took a pie in the face from Soupy Sales, attended Broadway openings, exposed tarot readers, sat on the Full House couch, gotten attached to a Velcro wall, and turned his honeymoon into a travel story. He hopes one day to have a book for every category in the Dewey Decimal System.

Matt Mullins is a writer, experimental filmmaker, videopoet, and multimedia artist. His videopoems have been screened at conferences and film festivals in the U.S. and abroad. His fiction and poetry have appeared in a number of print and online literary journals including Mid American Review, Pleiades, Hunger Mountain, Descant, and Hobart.  His debut collection of short stories, Three Ways of the Saw, was published by Atticus Books in 2012 and was named a finalist for Foreward Magazine‘s 2012 Book of the Year. And his work in screenwriting has won awards from the Broadcast Education Association.  Matt teaches creative writing at Ball State University where he is an Emerging Media Fellow at the Center for Media Design. You can engage his interactive/digital literary interfaces at lit-digital.com.

Linda Taylor has been working in publishing and doing writing and editing for the last three decades. She also loves teaching about social media for authors, editing, and publishing at writers’ conferences and at Taylor University where she is an instructor in the professional writing department.

 

Interview with Lou Harry

Midwest Writers has an amazing faculty slated for our 40th workshop!

Returning to teach the Intensive Session (Thursday, July 25) “Writing Everything: A Freelancer Book of Tricks” is LOU HARRY.
MWW committee member Cathy Shouse interviewed Lou about his writing and why he believes writers should be “interested in everything.”

Harry LouQ. I’ve enjoyed seeing you when our paths have crossed at the Indiana Historical Society Holiday Author Fair in December and last week at the Indiana Travel Media Marketplace. You seem to have your thumb on the pulse of publishing as well as the arts in Indy. Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of how your current work came about? Also, are you as extroverted as you appear at these events?

Second answer first. I’m not really extroverted at all. I’m a terrible guest at parties if there isn’t a board game involved. But the combination of growing up working on the Wildwood, NJ, boardwalk and spending almost a decade working in comedy clubs taught me that you have to offer engagement if you want to engage. And I’m genuinely honored if someone wants to talk about the things I’ve written.

As to the first question, my current work is a wide range of things–my arts writing for IBJ (Indiana Business Journal), my theater writing, my book work. All of it, I suppose, came about because of a desire not to settle for doing okay, That means being a brutal editor of my own work but not to let that editor squelch me while I’m in the initial, freewriting phase (every book or play or article is the tip of the writing iceberg–there’s a LOT of material that I cut. Always.) And it means to constantly try to be a better communicator. Because that’s really the business we are in. It’s about figuring out how to pass on a story or pass on information or pass on a feeling in a way that makes it welcomed and understood by the receiver.

Q. It seems you’ve done it all, from working for an Indianapolis men’s magazine, to your current work as Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Indianapolis Business Journal, to my family’s favorite book of yours, The Biggest Trivia Book Ever. And the list goes on. What achievements are you particularly proud of, and/or do you have a project that is especially near and dear to your heart?

Pride is a tricky thing. It’s easy to be proud of the effect rather than the work. I’m proud, for instance, that I was able to negotiate a deal on a small book project years ago that still brings a royalty check every six months. And it’s fun to tell people that my novel was optioned by Warner Bros. But for the work itself, I’m proud of a short story I just rediscovered that I wrote in college. I’m proud of a one-act play called “Predictable” that does everything I want it to do even though I didn’t know while writing it what I wanted it to do. And there’s a poem or two where I feel I brought a clarity that I can’t really source. I don’t know where they came from. That’s usually the work I’m oddly proudest of, the stuff that comes from an unplanned place.

Q. Your intensive at MWW13 this summer, Writing Everything: A Freelancer Book of Tricks, encourages attendees to “be interested in just about everything.” This is a bit of a contrarian approach from those saying to specialize. What is one reason, or three, that writers need to generalize to succeed?

Well, one reason is because it usually makes you a more interesting human being. The person who knows exactly who he or she is is usually the person not open to other ideas and visions. They aren’t having a relationship with you. They’re lecturing. The best writers, I think, are curious. They research because they want to learn. They write because they want to figure out how to arrange what they’ve learned and discover what questions remain. Another reason for being open to lots of subjects is survival. A significant percentage of my freelance career–especially early on–has been on assignments whose subjects I had little knowledge of before taking the gig. That doesn’t mean don’t specialize. But it does mean don’t build walls too high around your specialty. The first column I wrote–which evolved into my first book–was on U.S. History, a subject I knew little about when I made a case for myself to be the column’s writer.

Q. Please share something about yourself that might help people to know you better, to feel more at ease upon meeting you for the first time this summer. Be sure to include that most important question: PC or MAC?

I’m just a blue-collar kid from the Jersey shore who picked his college based on the fact that, at Temple U., foreign language wasn’t a requirement. (I just couldn’t make my mind work that way.) I’m writing the stuff now that I feel I should have been writing 15 years ago. I feel lost at the beginning of just about every writing project.

PC.

Q.  Do you have tips on getting the most out of a conference?

Don’t come in looking for approval or validation or flattery. Come in wanting to leave a stronger, more motivated writer. Don’t be afraid to take a step back in order to make a leap forward.

Q. What would you say to those on the fence about coming to MWW13?

It can’t be very comfortable sitting on a fence. And, besides, people are starting to talk.

Q. Please share whatever else might be on your mind. 

Writing is a relationship you instigate.