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Sessions & Speakers 2019

Fiction Sessions

AMY SCHISLER  Using Dialogue to Advance a Plot

Drive your story forward without having to do too much except what we do in our daily lives, speak! Join Amy Schisler as she teaches you how to speak in your writing through the use of dialogue to grow your characters and turn them into real, relatable human beings, describe the scenes of your novel, create the sense that the reader is actually part of the action, drive the plot of your story, and more!

Amy Schisler has been writing all her life as an author and freelance writer. She has released five clean romance novels and two children’s books. Picture Me, was the winner of the 2016 Illumination Award. Whispering Vines was awarded a LYRA and a 2017 Illumination award. Island of Miracles was the winner of a 2016 Illumination Award. Amy grew up in Southern Maryland and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Science. A former librarian and teacher, she now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with her husband, three daughters, and two dogs where she’s an active community volunteer.


JOHN DEDAKIS  How to Write a Novel

A practical 15-point plan that demystifies and deconstructs novel-writing--from the mere germ of an idea all the way through the creative process, with an eye on getting a finished book into the hands of potential fans. We'll discuss how to tap into your subconscious and life experiences to transform them into a book-length project, populated with interesting characters, a twisty-turny plot, snappy dialogue, and an interesting setting. We'll also look at strategies for finding an agent, marketing the finished product, and facing your writing and marketing fears.

John DeDakis, journalist, novelist, and writing coach, is a former Senior Copy Editor on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." DeDakis is the author of four mystery-suspense novels. His most recent novel, Bullet in the Chamber, is the winner of Reviewers Choice, Foreword INDIES, and Feathered Quill book awards in 2017. The novel deals, in part, with the death of John’s youngest son in 2011 due to an accidental heroin overdose. DeDakis regularly teaches novel writing at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda and the Politics & Prose Bookstore in D.C. Visit his website at www.johndedakis.com



JOSHUA ISARD  – Autobiographical Inspiration: Finding Effective Ways to Keep Yourself in Your Fiction

Many writers mix some parts of their personalities or life experiences into their fiction. There is a long tradition of this, from Baldwin to Plath to Kerouac and many more. But some writers feel too tied to the real-life inspirations behind their fiction and refuse to change anything, to the point of making the work bloated or unbelievable. Other writers feel like they should try to excise all parts of themselves from their fiction, which can lead to a story lacking a feeling of authenticity. What, then, is the proper balance? Like so many issues with writing, there is no one answer, but through critical self-analysis it is possible for writers to figure out what works best for themselves. In this presentation, Joshua Isard will help each participant find the best way to weave autobiographical elements to enhance their fiction.

Joshua Isard is the author of the novel Conquistador of the Useless (Cinco Puntos Press, 2013), and his short stories have appeared in journals such as Wyvern Lit., Northwind, and Pithead Chapel. Currently, he’s the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Arcadia University. He lives outside Philadelphia with his wife and two children.


KRIS FAATZ  – Creating Layered Fiction  

This workshop session will focus on the importance of creating layered fiction that implements both "top story" (surface plot/action) and "bottom story" (why the top action matters: how it affects and changes the characters). Successful fiction requires the use of both story layers. The session will begin with a presentation about top and bottom story and how to create both elements in writing fiction. Participants will then read and discuss an example of a piece of fiction that uses both layers, and will receive a writing prompt, which they'll begin work on during the session, in which they will focus on creating these layers in their own piece. .  

Kris Faatz (rhymes with skates) is a writer and musician. Her debut novel, To Love a Stranger, was a finalist for the 2016 Schaffner Press Music in Literature Award and was released in May 2017 by Blue Moon Publishers (Toronto). Her short fiction has appeared in various journals, including Kenyon Review Online, Potomac Review, and Reed, and has received recognition in competitions run by Woven Tale Press, Glimmer Train, and NYC Midnight. Kris has been a contributor at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a teaching fellow at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshops and was a preliminary judge for the 2018 Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award. She teaches writing workshops for the Baltimore County library system and for Washington DC’s Writopia Lab.

TARA CAMPBELL    The World in a Flash

How do you fit the world into 1,000 words or less? This is your opportunity to explore the genre of flash fiction and create your own compact masterpiece. Together we'll analyze published flash fiction pieces and discuss the techniques that make them effective. You'll learn how to adapt the elements of fiction to the constraints of flash and write to prompts to practice your newly acquired knowledge. We'll also discuss opportunities for further reading--and perhaps future publication.

Tara Campbell is a fiction editor at Barrelhouse and an MFA candidate at American University. She has received the following awards from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities: the Larry Neal Writers' Award in Fiction, the Mayor's Arts Award for Outstanding New Artist, and an Arts and Humanities Fellowship. She is also a Kimbilio Fellow and recipient of the 2018 Robert Gover Story Prize. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, b(OINK), Booth, Spelk, Jellyfish Review, Strange Horizons, and Queen Mob's Teahouse. Her debut novel, TreeVolution, was published in 2016, and her collection, Circe's Bicycle, was released spring 2018.


MICHELE CHYNOWETH, SUSAN REISS, LYNN SCHARTZ  – CHARACTERS with CHARACTER: PANEL DISCUSSION: 

Three popular authors answer your questions and tell you everything you need to know about creating and portraying believable, compelling characters, establishing their point of view, finding their “voice” through dialogue that’s natural and memorable, and revealing their inner values in ways that are integral to the plot. You’ll learn what motivates characters, how they change through the “character arc,” what triggers reader empathy versus sympathy, and much more.

Michele Chynoweth is the best-selling and award winning author of The Faithful One, The Peace Maker and The Runaway Prophet, contemporary novels based on Old Testament stories filled with the same suspense and romance found in the Bible yet written so that today’s readers can easily see themselves in the characters and understand what God is saying. Michele is also an inspirational speaker, book coach and writing instructor for the Continuing Education program at Cecil College in North East, MD. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she and her husband have a blended family of five children.

Susan Reiss, a native of Washington, D.C., trained as a concert pianist then worked as a television writer/producer for many years at the network level and as head of her own production company. Her work has received a Silver Medal, New York International Film Festival, Cine Golden Eagle, three Tellys and Emmy nominations. Her Silver Mystery novels are set in St. Michaels. She was named a Scribe of the Shore in 2015 and the Sheldon Goldgeier Memorial Lecturer at CBMM in 2016. Recently, she returned to television and has two miniseries under consideration in LA.

Lynn Auld Schwartz is a writer, story development editor, and has ghostwritten three books. Her plays and staged readings have been performed in NYC, including Lincoln Center. She founded the Temple Bar Literary Reading Series in NYC, has received two Individual Artist Awards in Fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council, and a Literary Arts Annie Award from the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County. Schwartz has taught fiction at St. John’s College and The Writer’s Center and produces a Page to Stage series for adults and teens in Annapolis. www.writerswordhouse.com.


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