The International Women’s Writing Guild

Summer Conference

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2020 Summer Conference Program descriptions


A new offering for 2020. Writers need to understand that publication is a business and your book, a product. So, how do you know the best option for you and what is expected of you as a writer and business professional? The Business Track covers five key elements every writer will encounter on the way to publication – whether traditionally published or not. Some sessions may be offered more than once in the schedule in order to afford as many conference attendees as possible the opportunity to attend.

Building Your Platform While Writing Your Book Paula Chaffee Scardamalia
Whether you are self-publishing or publishing with a traditional house, you are the one responsible for creating your brand and building a platform. That doesn't start after your book is finished but way before. You need to decide who you are to your audience, who your readers are, and how to reach and engage them. Newsletters, blogs, social media, press packets, and street teams are all tools to help you get your books sold and read. Paula will introduce these to you as well as help you identify which of these tools might be the best fit for you.

Legal Issues for Writers – Caridad Pineiro
Learn about the different kinds of terms writers may encounter in traditional publishing contracts as well as terms of service and contracts for self-publishing venues. There will also be a brief introduction to intellectual property and how writers may protect their works.

Path to Publication – Caridad Pineiro
Review the various publishing options (traditional path for fiction and non-fiction, hybrid presses pros and cons, decision to self-publish), and how to decide what approach is best for you. Also, the key elements of presentation – your elevator pitch about your book, what a query must do, what must be in a good book proposal and more. 

Steps to a Book Launch Cathleen O'Connor
How to plan for and run a successful book launch whether you have an online presence or not, whether you are traditionally published or self-published. Timelines and planning goals will be reviewed as well as some discussion of two social media platforms – Facebook and Instagram.

What Editors Want Lynne Barrett
Learn about submitting fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to magazines (print and online) and anthologies, including how to find and assess journals, with an overview of the stages of the submission process, including record-keeping, understanding rejections, persistence, and making the most of publication when it happens.


Advanced Fiction Intensive: A Path Through the Labyrinth
– Lynne Barrett
Take your fiction on “A Path Through the Labyrinth,” in a manuscript-based advanced fiction workshop in which you’ll receive feedback on your work in progress and learn how to approach revision in productive stages. We’ll focus on aspects of fiction technique including scenic development, the roles of active characters, plot, point of view, effective use of place, pace and time, exposition, and outcomes, as well as understanding stages of revision and the process of submitting work for publication. Reserve your place now to be in a group of no more than ten fiction writers who’ll get individual constructive feedback and gain experience in assessing drafts, making clearer the pathways and options a piece opens up, and come away with guidance on how to bring your fiction projects to a new level.

Work can be in any fiction genre: realist, mystery, suspense, fantasy, sci-fi, historical, romance, western, etc. for adults or YA audiences. Participants must, of course, be open to suggestions for revision.
Advanced registration and advanced submission are required. $100 fee. Space is limited. Samples are due by 6/15/20 and can be a complete short story, a section of a story, novella, or novel, or multiple pieces of flash fiction, but must come to no more than 3,000 words in standard fiction format for manuscripts. Full details will be provided after you register. 

Fiction Critique Cathleen O'Connor & Caridad Pineiro
Offered on Wednesday and Saturday, critique sessions are open to all. You'll sign up for a 15-minute reading and feedback session. We ask that you bring and read at least the first page of your work—not an excerpt from somewhere in the middle of your piece—and no more than the first four pages. Verbal feedback is given by the session leader, followed by feedback from peers. Feedback is couched in positive terms, and is meant to help you grow, not to cut you down. You’ll learn as much by participating in critiquing as from having your own work critiqued, so make a point to drop in!

Kidlit 101 – Jen Malone
If you’re interested in expanding your writing repertoire or simply curious about the children’s book market, this intro to “kidlit” session is for you! Over the course of the week we’ll do a deep dive into the category (from board book to young adult)
examining trends in the marketplace, hallmarks of books for each age group, and do's and don'ts of content to include or omit. We’ll discuss how to research for young readers, ways to market to them, and where to seek homes for your stories. Most importantly, we’ll devote time to developing or enhancing an authentic kid voice to grab readers and hook them in, with time dedicated to writing prompts and peer critique.

Story Structure Superpowers! – Cathleen O'Connor
We'll c
over the elements of story structure:
● Hook your readers from the beginning – create a first chapter that has the reader wanting more
Create a powerful narrative arc
Give your reader a captivating ending
The first chapter is fun, the middle a bit of a struggle (for everyone!) and the last chapter sometimes an afterthought. No longer! You are in this course to claim your Story Structure Superpowers! And that means first chapters with an irresistible hook, last chapters that have the reader wanting to move in with you and a middle that hits all the right points on the story arc. This course is for writers of fiction, narrative nonfiction and memoir – a good story is a good story! There will be ample time for reading and discussion.  Note: this is not a critique class. In-class writing, and reading, will be based on the workshop material. Attendees are welcome to bring writing in progress or just work with the concepts presented in class. All levels welcome.

One With Others and the Earth: A Post Modern Writing Workshop – June Gould
This hands-on writing workshop will reveal how using postmodern strategies such as embedding, silence, footnotes, listing, and letters can enliven our poems, narratives and memoirs. Readings from inspirational poems related to the theme of this workshop, time to write and respond to one another’s work will be included these workshops. All genres. 

Provoke Yourself: Make a Small Book of Writing Prompts in 5 Days – Suzi Banks Baum
A mixed media and book art workshop for all levels. Make a small book with just enough words in it to instigate your daily writing after you leave the conference. Experiment with art techniques to create a master sheet of deliciously decorated paper that will then be cut and folded into a small book form. Once the books are formed, the pages will be handwritten or stamped with questions, dares, and provocations. Expect this workshop to begin with a centering ritual, to be filled with inspiring art supplies, and to include daily sharing at the close of each session. There will be a modest daily materials fee. Open to all levels. Techniques accumulate each day; book will be complete on day five. Bring an apron.

Silent No More: Writing from a Standpoint of Power – Jan Phillips & Cheing LaRon
The voices of marginalized women have much to teach us about oppression, resistance and the experience of “otherness.” Anyone who differs from the societal schema of ”average white male” is an outsider. The publishing industry has awakened to the value of diversity, and we are now able to enter into the lives of women from many cultures who have been traditionally silenced. Through them we see that resistance to oppression comes largely from self-valuation and self-definition.

We will explore shorts texts/poems from Jewish, Hispanic, African American, Asian, and LGBT writers to see how they self-define, interrogate privilege, speak truth to power, draw attention to the heart of the matter. We will use their writings as prompts for truth-telling, to draw out our own fierce and non-negotiable self-authority. We will also have the benefit of learning LIVE from guest teachers from IWWG. June Gould will speak on holocaust poetry and psychoanalyst/poet Barbara Haber will create a conversation about poetry's effectiveness in helping us better understand the experience of another.

  • Increase the power of your writing by claiming your "otherness" and writing from that viewpoint
  • See and feel how the silencing of women impacts your creative work
  • Learn new ways to think and write about experiences you’ve kept hidden
  • Learn what publishers are seeking in this era of "diversity"

Soul Collage – Judith Prest
Working with images can take us deep. Images can get to “the words below the words” and can help us bridge the gap when there are experiences for which we don’t yet have the words. Working with SoulCollage® is like awake dream work. You will find that working with images can be refreshing and can recharge your creative batteries. No previous “artist experience or skill” needed. Come with “beginners mind”, ready to engage in deep play and discovery! In this workshop, you will learn about the process of SoulCollage®. Each day we will cover a different facet of the process, and each day you will be able to create cards for your individual, intuitive deck of SoulCollage® cards. Part of the process is written dialogue with the images on the cards you have made. Each day, you will have the option to use some of the workshop time to write from your cards. Even though all art supplies will be furnished, please feel free to bring copies of photos of important people, animals, landscapes in your lives, or to bring any images that call to you between now and then.

There will be a voluntary daily donation to help cover the cost of art supplies. SoulCollage® is a process for creating small collages on matboard. This process was developed by Seena Frost. For more background on SoulCollage®, visit

Storytelling A-Z: Afrofuturism to Zen – Dorothy Randall Gray
Storytelling motivates, inspires, empowers, opens minds, shares, and changes history. Through the lens of African, Asian, European, ancient and contemporary tales you are invited to write from the pregnant past, the powerful present, and the possible future. Create work in any genre that calls you – spoken word, mad memoir, futuristic fairy tales, poetic performance, song and soliloquy. Stretch the perceptions of your creativity beyond their limits with mindful intention and the elasticity of experience. Let Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, Ursula LeGuin, and Margaret Atwood guide you to discover new boundaries, territories of limitlessness, power, purpose, and reclamation of what was, is, and can be.

The Writer's Path – Jan Gary
Three days addressing the nuts, bolts and heart of the writing life:
Day 1. Getting It Done: Tips and Tools for Coming Back to the Writing
Day 2.
Revision: Learning to See with New Eyes
Day 3. Submission: The Art of Rejection and Resilience

Finding Our Stories: Active Imagination – Susan Tiberghien
“We are story. All of us.” But how do we find our stories? We'll first will look at what is story. How is it found in the dark, in our imagination. Then how do we access our imagination? C.G. Jung shows us a way which he called active imagination. The way is ancient
– from Plato to Meister Eckhart to Jung –  and opens the door to the inner world, to our creative self. We will practice active imagination to uncover our stories, crafting them in journal entries, personal essays, stories, or poems. And we will look at how, in sharing them, “we change the world, one story at a time.” There will be handouts with excerpts from contemporary writers and writing exercises. The sessions will build on each other. All are welcome, for one day or five days! [quotes are from Richard Wagamese, Native Canadian novelist, 1955-2017]

The Art of Memoir Writing – Maureen Murdock
Memoir’s particular appeal lies not only in its truth telling but in the effort the writer makes to reveal herself.  Mary Karr writes “A psychological self-awareness and faith in the power of truth gives you courage to reveal whatever you unearth, whether you come out looking vain, or conniving or hateful or not.” The essence of a great memoir is the voice of the writer and how she brings the reader into a scene with sensory details. Memoir has to deliver vivid characters, evocative settings and pitch-perfect dialogue for the reader to remain interested. This workshop aims to help you uncover your truth, develop insight into the larger themes of your story, and cast yourself as a compelling character. We’ll read excerpts by published memoirists and do in-class writing exercises each day.

From Memories to Memoir: Five Key Elements for Building Your Story – Marsha McGregor
A memoir that wants to be told is waiting to be shaped in a way that resonates with your truth while keeping the reader’s attention until they reach the last page. If your stories exist in bits and pieces or you’re stuck mid-draft, this workshop will give you specific, essential tools for translating your memories into the kind of compelling memoir that comes alive on the page.

From Memory to Meaning: Advanced Intensive in Writing Memoir – Judy Huge
Mary Karr writes that memoir is held together “most powerfully by the sheer, convincing poetry of a single person trying to make sense of (her) past." Recreating this quest for meaning on the page requires the memoir writer succeed at telling the real story that needs to be told, using structure that keeps the reader moving along on the right path, writing in the voice of a narrator the reader will trust, and doing all this in language that is fresh and authentic. In short, success rests on making the best decisions before, during, and after writing your own story.

This intensive workshop helps you see the writing decisions you are making in light of both reader response and objective criteria. Close, collaborative attention focused on your short pieces can reveal strengths and liabilities that have taken up or could take up residence in your longer ones. We will work each day with writing submitted ahead of time, using a step-by-step process that isolates each stage of decision-making and allows you to consider adjustments that will create the best ground on which to meet and fully engage your reader.

Intended Audience: Those already engaged in writing short- and long-form personal narratives.Advanced registration and advanced submission are required. $100 fee. Space is limited.

Memoir/Non-fiction Critique – Judy Huge and Susan Tiberghien
ritique sessions in nonfiction are open to all. If you wish to read a short piece of your writing (under 1,500 words), you are asked to sign up on-site. Signups will begin on the first day of the conference, and remain open until all slots are filled. You will have 15 minutes, half the time to read and half the time to listen to the critiques given positively in the form of suggestions. The sessions are highly valuable not only for the readers, but also for all who participate and who learn from the active discussions on craft and content. Please bring three copies of your excerpt: one for yourself and one for each of two session leaders who will be leading the critique. You will receive written comments from the leaders.

The Nervicited Mule Arielle Silver
In the wild lands that border prose and poetry, the lyric essay believes in both, and rather than either, or. As with light/shadow and sound/silence, lyric essay allows for the natural questions that come with adjacency, blurred lines, and uncertain contemplation. Sometimes the best way to describe something is in the negative space around it. In this workshop, we will generate daily new writing inspired by lyric essay's unlimited structures, playful language, and abstract ideas. Writers of all prose and poetic forms are welcome.


Play Lab: Writing and Producing Your Short Play, Scene, or Monologue for the Stage
(double session)
– Kelly DuMar
Have you always wanted to write for the stage, but didn’t know how to begin? Short play and monologue festivals are a regular feature of theatre companies, offering novice and experienced playwrights opportunity to see their writing performed. You’ll develop in class (or bring) a draft of (1) a ten-minute play; (2) a monologue; (3) an excerpt from a one-woman show; or (4) a short scene from a longer play. In-class writing, script reading, and feedback will explore theatrical structure, setup, dialogue, plot, character development, theme, theatricality, and production. We’ll discuss successful plays and monologues and tools for avoiding common pitfalls. Our Lab culminates in a performance on Wednesday evening for an enthusiastic audience of conference attendees, where actors will read your play on stage so you can hear your script on its feet. Our final session focuses on revision and submitting to play festivals for production. No prior playwriting experience is required. This workshop will meet for a 6th time on Thursday morning.

Pre-registration and full-week conference participation required; limited to ten participants on a first-come, first-served basis. $100 Fee. To reserve a spot, select the option when you register for the conference. Kelly will be advised of your intent to participate. If you have questions you want answered before registration for the program, email Kelly at

So You Think Your Life’s A Movie? What’s Reel And What Isn’t? – Linda Bergman
No experience necessary! This cumulative class is not just for screenwriters. It is for novelists, memoirists, personal essayists, short-story writers, or anyone who wants to learn to get to good story FAST. Linda focuses on the importance of a vivid log line and the industry standard, three-act structure of a salable script. As an experienced buyer and seller in the entertainment industry, Linda uses popular films to teach you scene-writing, sub plots, plot points and act breaks. And on the last two days, she will stop and start an Academy Award film so you can see the structure of the film in action! Dialogue, character, research, and the legal aspect of the process is also covered in this fun and entertaining class.
This workshop will meet for a 6th time on Thursday morning.

Speaking in My Writer’s Voice: Writing Craft – Mel Ryane
One of the most efficient tools to define, edit, and advance your writing is by reading aloud. Mel Ryane is teaching a three-day intensive for nine writers. Any genre is welcome. The workshop will involve text scanning and techniques to lift writing off the page in order to hear and see the work anew and with clarity. Writing is a lonely and often blinding task that can leave us wondering "What have I written? What do I want to say? Does this work resonate? Does it even make sense?" Each writer will have one-on-one coaching and attention to their project in an intimate, safe environment with eight fellow writers. You will be asked to submit one, double-spaced, page of writing to be considered for the workshop.
3-day program. Advanced registration and advanced submission is required. $60 fee. Space is limited.


Art and Craft of Poetry: Surprise Yourself! – Linda Leedy Schneider
Come share the life-changing and healing mystery of poetry. You will learn to engage all of your senses in the process of writing, which is a way of finding and making meaning in our lives as well as creating art. This workshop will stimulate new work, build your confidence as a writer, and help you to strengthen your unique voice. Poets, would-be poets, prose writers, and the curious are all welcome. Much of your time will be spent writing. There will only be positive feedback on your in-class writing if you choose to read. Poetry, physical prompts, class discussion, visualization, movement, and music will be some of our ways into the writing. Prepare to be surprised!

Contemporary American Women Poets: Aracelis Girmay, Ada Limón and Layli Long Soldier – Vanessa Jimenez-Gabb
Focusing on one of these poets and a sampling of her work each of the days, we will have the opportunity to closely read, unpack and analyze the various formal techniques employed, the poetic elements at play and the subject matter in which she is invested. The seminar style of this workshop will lend itself to organic and dynamic discussion and exchange about the work, and will develop and nuance our skills as readers. While we will spend much of the time in this mode, each workshop will begin and end with generative writing prompts that are meant to facilitate thinking through our own voices, poetics and poem-making vis-à-vis the material for the day. Each day will build upon the previous so that we can experience the full weight of the poems, how they work on their own, as well as in dialogue with one another and with ourselves, though each workshop also may be experienced as a stand-alone session.  Open to all levels. 
3-day program.
Advanced registration required. $60 fee. Space is limited.

Going Forth: Nostalgia and Memory – Myra Shapiro
We can explore the difference between nostalgia and memory in the reading and writing of poems. Doing so gives the opportunity to reflect on the ways we relate to the past, history, and tradition, in order to extend our vision and our voice.

Poetry Critique Vanessa Jimenez-Gabb and Myra Shapiro
This integrated workshop and critique group is open to anyone, though best suited for writers of poetry who (1) want to realize their poems beyond their habitual ways of seeing and saying; (2) are committed to assessing a poem on its terms, whether or not they “like” the poem or value its aesthetic; and (3) recognize that a critique of a poem is not a critique of the poet. We will interrogate each poem’s integrity in terms of content and form, sense and sound, the personal and the universal, and offer suggestions, local and global, for revision/re-vision. If you wish to receive feedback on your work, bring 10 copies, if you’re able to, of a 1-page poem. We may be able to accommodate more poems per poet over the six sessions, depending on the class size. We can also critique writing generated during the conference, with or without copies. Anyone, not just poets seeking feedback, can participate in the critiquing. You do not have to attend all sessions to participate. However, a sign-up sheet  for critiquing slots will be created at the end of the first session, for attendees whose poem we didn’t have time to critique. A signed-up poet who does not attend the next session will be moved to the end of the running list, after that session’s attendees whose poem we didn’t have time to critique. Come daily to maintain your place in line.

Poetry, Protest, and Writing for Performance – Pamela Sneed
This is a workshop for writers of all levels, designed to explore a multiplicity of ways of writing for the page and performance. Through texts, prompts, light movement, and viewing video performances, we will experiment with ways to write and to take the personal story and shape it into poetic monologue, poetry, and non-traditional texts for the stage. There will be an emphasis on the language of protest woven with the autobiographical and historical: the interface of the personal and political. We will write and also examine writing for performance through the lenses of culture, current events, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. The goal of the class is for students to further develop their voice, work on form and content, and to create a body of text that reflects them uniquely; to have fun while creating and explore new possibilities with their work. Some of the artists surveyed will be Layli Longsoldier, James Baldwin, Sekou Sundiata, Amiri Baraka, Dorothy Allison, Audre Lorde, Ntozake Shange, Chrystos as well as new and contemporary women voices. Students should be prepared to write, experiment, share with group, read, record, and present their work to others.


A new offering for 2020. A basic understanding of technology and how to use it to promote yourself as an author and your book is vital today. The Technology Track covers five classes on aspects that are most important for a writer to learn about and know how to use. Whether you delegate these activities to someone else or not, as the writer, you need to have a fundamental understanding of why technology should be an important part of your marketing strategy.

Creating Memes & More – Morgan Lett
This interactive workshop will demonstrate how to create memes, short videos, and other engaging content using online services such as Canva, iMovie, Inshot, and more. It will also instruct writers on how to utilize free streaming services such as YouTube and Vimeo for building a strong brand.

Self-Publishing Primer – Caridad Pineiro
Have you decided to take the self-publishing route? If so, do you know what you need to do to prepare your manuscript for publication?  Learn the fundamentals of what you need to do to be ready to self-publish, from Word formatting and alternatives such as Scrivener to working with the various online publishing platforms to prepare your e-books and print books for publication.

Social Media Engagement: Building the Buzz, Part 1 – Morgan Lett
Explore the basics of social media, why it’s important, and the major functions of each platform: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Social Media Engagement: Building the Buzz, Part 2 – Morgan Lett
We'll explain the basics of how to build and track engagement and set up automation. Learn how to create, manage, and analyze Facebook and Instagram Ads.

Wordpress– Caridad Pineiro
This hands-on workshop will introduce writers to building a website and blog using Wordpress. Attendees will follow along and learn how to choose themes, plugins, and other useful tools so they can have an effective online presence.

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