MWW20, July 23-25: Schedule

Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, IN

  • Registration: Conservatory
  • BSU Bookstore/MWW Bookstore & Merchandise: Pre-Event
  • Sessions:
    • AH: Assembly Hall
    • MR1 / MR2: Meeting Rooms
    • BR: Boardroom
    • CR1 / CR2: Conferences Rooms
    • Library: Networking/Manuscript Evaluations

Thursday – July 23, 2020

9:00 am       Registration [Conservatory]

9:45 am       Welcome, Introductions [AH]  

[Catapult Your Writing: Three-day Workshop: Larry Sweazy & Matthew Clemens, 10 am to 3 pm, Thurs/Fri/Sat: Schedule here]

10:00 am-12:00 pm Intensive Sessions

  1. Email Marketing: Jane Friedman. If you are a published author or about-to-be-published author (even unpublished writers are welcome – the skills can be put to use at any stage of one’s career), you can choose Email Marketing. This intensive offers hands-on help to set up the list, the welcome emails, the design template, the overall strategy and frequency, and so on. You will walk away with a list ready to go and a plan for sending.
  2. Manuscript Makeover: Holly Miller. This interactive intensive is designed for those fiction and nonfiction writers who are ready to take a quantum leap forward in enhancing their writing skills. Participants will send a one-page synopsis and the first 10 pages of a book manuscript in progress by JULY 1 to  subject line: Manuscript Makeover: Holly Miller. Holly will edit and critique these pages and display portions of them to the class as a way of revealing strengths and weaknesses in the material. Additionally, she will lead the students in writing exercises and offer advice on such topics as creating strong titles and opening paragraphs, learning to self-edit, mastering proofreading, finding the right markets for manuscripts and knowing when and how to go into writing full-time. 
  3. Get to Know Your MG/YA Novel: Sarah Aronson In this intensive, Sarah Aronson will present her philosophy on the stages of revision, beginning with reimagination and how writers can discover their most authentic voices. We will look at the three I’s: Inspiration, Intuition, and Intellect. She will offer her best tips, as well as anecdotes for every stage of revision–from concept to word–that are guaranteed to amplify voice and give you the confidence you need to dig deep into your novel narratives. She will provide a hand-out filled with exercises you can use to help you embrace the power of play.
  4. Novel Writing for Blank-Page Beginners: Lori Rader-Day — Are you facing the blank page, or does it just feel like it? Has it been a while since you saw your story manuscript, or are you simply stuck somewhere around…page 35? If you’re ready to give novel writing a try—for the first time or maybe one more time—sign up to learn strategies to get started, to keep going, and to get that first draft finished, finally. We’ll try in-class exercises (made painless) and generate a lot of ideas you can return to next time the blank page shows its ugly face.
  5. Postcards, Footnotes, & Manifestos: Using Borrowed Forms to Tell Your Story: Nonfiction: Kelcey Parker Ervick — In this session we will: 1. read and discuss examples of memoirs that use borrowed forms, 2. practice writing with borrowed forms, 3. discuss structure, or how to incorporate different narrative forms and organize material into a longer memoir.
  6. Writing with and for the Senses: Poetry: Lylanne Musselman — Sensing a poem; teasing out a narrative; shaping the forms; running on empty. We’ll make sure that you never feel like you will not be able to come up with ideas to write poems after you leave here. Lylanne will show you some tried and true tricks that will assure you that if you are motivated to write – you will.

12:00 pm-1:00 pm LUNCH (provided/Deli)

1:00-3:30 pm   Sessions continue


TWO-DAY begins

3:30 pm                 Registration packets for Part II available [Conservatory]                                               

3:45-5:00 pm     

  • Panel: Path to Publication – Discussion/Q&A with MWW alums (moderator: Gail Werner) – Lori Rader-Day, Kelly Stanley, Janis Thornton, Greg Peterson

6:30-8:30 pm       

  • Faculty Introductions: Kelsey Timmerman [Cash bar/refreshments]
  • Networking: “Find Your Tribe” / Open Mic [AH]


Friday – July 24, 2020

8:30-8:45 am   Coffee & community: Conservatory

8:45-10:00 am

  • [AH] Buttonhole the Experts: All Faculty.* Buttonhole the Experts is one of the highlights of our conference. We have 15 tables with an “expert” (our faculty members) at each one, then seven participants sit at each table and chat informally with the expert for about 20 minutes. Then at the ring of a bell it’s like musical chairs (or “speed dating for writers”!): everyone rises and heads to another expert’s table for another 20-minute chat. This process is repeated three times. In other words, everyone learns much about the various genres/topics from our experts.

10:15-11:15 am   BREAKOUT SESSION #1

  • Lori Rader-Day: 14 Tips to Writing Suspense —  Missed train stops. Burned dinners. Late nights of just one more page. Who doesn’t want readers to be so captivated by your story that they walk into walls? Writers of the suspense genres may be on the hook more than most, but every story needs suspense to keep readers turning pages. Catch this session for specific methods you can put to work in stories of all genres.
  • Kristina Riggle: Don’t Be Precious, Be Productive: Time Management for Writers — We’ve all heard the advice about establishing a routine for any task you want to get done. So go ahead, sit in the same spot every day, light your favorite candle, play your favorite background music, dust off your palms, and get writing. But what if….your kid barfed up his Frosted Flakes. Your car has a recall and today is the only day you can bring it to the shop. Maybe you’re a day job writer who works on your lunch hour, but your boss calls an all-hands working lunch. This session will provide practical tips for getting the most out of our tight, crazy, unpredictable schedules and why momentum matters more than word count.
  • Sarah Domet: 90 Days to Your Novel Challenge — A line has been drawn in the sand. Come prepared to cross it and to accept the 90 Days to Your Novel challenge. This session will help you arm yourself with a deadline, some good writing habits, and an outline in order to imagine, structure, and complete a draft of a novel in 90 days. 
  • Kelcey Parker Ervick: The “I” And The “Eye” In Nonfiction — How to strengthen your memoir by developing a persona and writing from a clear and consistent narrative perspective.

11:30 am-1:00 pm LUNCH (on your own) – sign ups on whiteboard

1:00-2:00 pm BREAKOUT SESSION #2

  • Tracy Clark: Listening to The Voices In Your Head. About developing characters, main and secondary. Fleshing them out, giving them distinctive characteristics.
  • Carol Saller: From Yourself to the Shelf: How a Book Gets Published — Knowing in advance what happens in copyediting and proofreading helps writers understand their responsibilities, manage expectations, and work well with editors. This introduction to the publishing process from submission to printed (or digital) product will prepare you to work capably alongside the pros in delivering your work to readers.
  • Sarah Aronson: Picture Book Bonanza! — Bring your manuscript. Let’s make a book dummy. We will work in groups to uncover and discover what this exercise can show you about your next revision.   
  • Kristina Riggle: Putting on Your Big Kid Pants: Taking (and giving) feedback like a pro — Critique is necessary to make your work shine, but even the most brazenly confident writer has to grit her teeth through feedback sometimes. How do you know when to take a critique and when to junk it? How do you choose a beta reader in the first place? And when it’s your turn to share your thoughts, how can you do so in a productive way, and what does critiquing another’s work teach you about your own?

 2:15-3:15 pm BREAKOUT SESSION #3

  • Panel: What constitutes Midwestern Literature? And how to compete against the inherent mystique of the Coasts and exotic locales? How can we make stories from Flyover Country stand out? (Kristina Riggle, Lori Rader-Day, Tracy Clark, Cathy Day – moderator)
  • Simon Tatum: Closing the Void — Focused specifically on screenwriting, this session is designed to enable people to eliminate the fear of the blank page. Everyone has one perfect story or screenplay in their mind, but the distance from the head to the page is an extremely long one. When we’re struck by a brilliant idea for a film or TV show but faced with the enormity of that blank screen and a flashing cursor, where do we begin? It’s a fear that stops most writers in their tracks causing them to give up before they’ve even begun. In this session we will dispel this fear and build a road map of how we see those blank pages as an invitation rather than an obstacle. 
  • Nick Werner: Asking the Hard Questions — A good interview is the foundation for any magazine article. But exploring a stranger’s personal life can make both subject and writer uncomfortable. Veteran magazine writer Nick Werner explains how to embrace the initial awkwardness to push toward emotional and meaningful content. 
  • Jamie Thomas: How to Work with Bookstores to Have an Event — How to know if a store is right for you (no one wants to have an event with no attendees — not the author but also not the bookstore!), how to get on the calendar, how to promote yourself on social media to ensure attendance.

 3:30-4:30 pm BREAKOUT SESSION #4

  • Tracy Clark: Nailing the First Page — Realistically, you’ve got one page or less to grab your reader by the collar and draw them in. In this hands-on session, we’ll explore ways to craft power openings that will keep readers engaged. Bring a pen and notepad. We’ll do some actual writing in this class!
  • Kelcey Parker Ervick: Scene Magic — Kelcey will take you step by step through the writing of a compelling scene, then we will break those scenes down to identify the key parts so you can do it again (and again) on your own.   
  • Sarah Domet: You Finished Your Manuscript, Now What? — Completing your manuscript is only half of your job as a novelist. This session will address the necessary next steps toward publishing and promoting your work. 
  • Lylanne Musselman: The Ability to Stop Time – the Power of Poetry as Narrative — Poetry can be intimidating. Many prose authors have praised poetry as the most sublime of the literary arts. Is it any wonder that many steer clear of poetry when they’re getting their feet wet as beginning writers or as accomplished writers who never try their hand at writing a poem? However, poetry isn’t all line breaks and rhymes. It can be written on the page as a paragraph – it’s called the “prose poem.” It can also be written with line breaks and be a true narrative poem. Still skeptical? Still feel poetry has too many formal rules…too many forms to deal with? Then come discover that you’re not intimidated by poetry after all. In this session, we will examine the narrative side of poetry. How you can “stop time” with a memory – a story told through poetry devices: vivid imagery, concrete details, and concise words. Get answers to your prose as poetry questions, take away a few examples of narrative and prose poems, and leave with a draft of a narrative/prose poem of your own.

5:00-6:30 pm    Fellowship/Dinner [on your own]

7:00-9:00 pm  Evening of Connection, Community [AH]

  • Manny Awards presented      
  • Speaker: Simon Tatum Interview (Kelsey) — Into The WeirdAdventures In Documentary And What It Taught Me About The World Of Story: Having spent more than fifteen years as a documentary filmmaker – from filming tribes in the Amazon, living with Hank Williams III in his haunted ranch, or filming Great White Sharks off the coast of Africa – Simon’s work has taken him to some pretty weird places. He began his career working in movies, working his way up the ranks with the likes of Tim Burton, Ridley Scott and Edgar Wright. But it was only when he quit that life and embraced the world of documentary that his lifelong passion for storytelling was fully re-ignited. In this interview he discusses his work in both documentary and movies and explores how the world of storytelling from one world can inform and enrich the other.


Saturday – July 25, 2020

8:30-9:00 am   Coffee & community

9:00-10:00 am BREAKOUT SESSION #5

  • Sarah Domet: Character + Yearning = Plot — This session will explore how understanding your character–and your character’s yearning–serves as the crucial foundation for the plot of your novel.  
  • Sarah Aronson: To Move Forward, Look Back — Explore backstory to reveal new opportunities for revision and reimagination. In this lecture, Sarah will look at three kinds of back story—your story’s origins, your characters’ past, and your emotions and reasons for writing—as tools for discovery and revision. Writing exercises included.  
  • Jamie Thomas: How to Get Your Book onto a Store’s Shelf – why you should treat booksellers as professionals running a business (aka, don’t cold call on a weekend!), why no indie will carry a book published by CreateSpace (I could do an entire section on self-publishing and the platforms that bookstores will accept, and why consignment is NOT worthwhile for 98% of books), and how to respond if the answer is no. Plus: Why Amazon isn’t your friend – how independent bookstores make names out of authors, how authors can partner with their local bookstore to sell more books, how cultivating relationships with booksellers can make or break your book. Jamie will use examples of Chicago writers like Rebecca Makkai, Megan Stielstra, and Samantha Irby, and a personal story about her relationship with Jeannie Vanasco.
  • Simon Tatum: Nefarious Mind Slather – On Writing Horror: As a screenwriter, horror is a genre he naturally returns to again and again. But why? As a child he was terrified of everything. At night he was convinced that every monster imaginable was in his room just waiting for him to close my eyes. But he was obsessed with the IDEA of horror and the forbidden ideas it contained. Today horror is his living. He’s still obsessed with it. While often dismissed as unimportant fluff, horror is perhaps the most versatile genre in terms of how it reflects and interprets the world in which we live, exploring ideas in a way no other genre can. In this session, he explores the importance and versatility of horror storytelling, its history, as well as laying out a roadmap to writing your own horror masterpiece. 

10:15-11:15 am   BREAKOUT SESSION #6

  • Panel: Outliner or Pantser? [Tracy Clark, Sarah Domet, Sarah Aronson, Kristina Riggle, Simon Tatum, Gail Werner – Moderator]
  • Kelcey Parker Ervick: Searching and Researching: How To Write What You Don’t Know — How to take your memoir to the next level by making connections to history, politics, science, and culture.
  • Carol Saller: Acts of Submission: Working with Editors — Each year writers and editors submit thousands of questions to the The Chicago Manual of Style, and for more than 20 years, editor Carol Saller read them all. To her, the number of questions beginning “My editor insists . . .” began to present a theme: that in editorial battles, the reader is the one who loses. Her book The Subversive Copy Editor is all about win-win strategies for editors and writers. This session presents advice from the book Publishers Weekly called “practical, relentlessly supportive and full of ed-head laughs.”    

11:30 am-1:00 pm LUNCH (on your own) / Lunch Board White Board sign-ups

1:00-2:00 pm BREAKOUT SESSION #7

  • Tracy Clark: Crafting Dynamic Dialogue — Now that you’ve got your characters set, they’ll need something meaningful to say. In this session, we’ll practice crafting story-propelling, dialogue. Come prepared to write and share. We’ll work it out together.
  • Carol Saller: 10 Very Last Things: Your Submission Checklist — You’re done writing and ready to submit. Ten last-minute double checks will put your manuscript into top form before you click Attach. Learn what’s important and what’s not in formatting and styling a manuscript or cover letter for submission. Learn basic Chicago styles that make you look like a pro, and feel confident that your agent or editor will focus on your content and not be distracted by flaws in presentation.
  • Nick Werner: Getting Started Freelancing — Building a business isn’t easy. Nick explains how to start freelancing in the lucrative fields of copywriting and brand journalism, including how to find success in the potentially perilous world of gig websites.
  • Angela Jackson-Brown: From the Page to the Stage: Writing Your Feelings – Words matter in all writing but they particularly matter when we are creating scenes that will be reenacted on the stage, because through our words we are giving our actors the tools necessary to break open the souls of the characters they are playing and reveal those souls to the audience. In this workshop, you will learn how to take your own personal stories and use those stories to create original plays that take the emotions from the page to the stage.

2:15-3:15 pm BREAKOUT SESSION #8

  • Kristina Riggle: Keeping it Real: Research tips for writers of contemporary fiction — Riggle came from the world of journalism, where cold-calling random strangers and asking esoteric, awkward questions was part of her daily routine. Learn tips from the world of reporting that can lend realism to your fiction, and embolden you to branch out into worlds outside your own direct experiences. “Write what you know”, sure; expand what you know, your work will be richer for it.
  • Sarah Aronson: No More Subpar Subplots — Are you stuck in the muddy middle?  Worried that your novel sags and drags? Or are you just plain lost? Perhaps you need to ramp up your subplots!  In this session, Sarah will break down the art of writing compelling secondary characters and subplots, and help you increase the conflict and pace your novel. Come prepared to do some writing exercises and self-editing. Warning: this process may lead to the death (or creation) of brand new characters!  
  • Jamie Thomas: Behind The Scenes of Selling Books — how booksellers work with the publishers, and how we use Edelweiss (a frontlist catalog website) to order, propose events, find comps, support books we like, etc., “My book is getting published. What happens between the publisher and the bookstore to get it on a shelf?”

3:30-4:30 pm

  • Panel: What No One Tells You About the Writing Life, But Should — All Faculty [AH] 

4:30 pm   CLOSING – Assembly Hall


Speakers and program sessions subject to change

Every effort will be made to adhere to this schedule; however, all programs and times are subject to change.