Melanie Bishop

Writing, Teaching, Editing, Retreats


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Community of Literary Magazines & Presses Honors Glimmer Train

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Linda B. Swanson-Davies and Susan Burmeister-Brown, co-editors

“I could’ve cried when I heard that Glimmer Train was planning its last run. I’ve heard more than a few people refer to this as “the end of an era.” But wow, what these two women have done is so remarkable. I have been lucky to publish stories in their pages three times; I call them my Fairy Godmothers. Susan and Linda have been the glimmer on the literary landscape for nearly three decades–paying writers well, reading every submission themselves, hosting important contests and launching careers. We writers are forever in their debt. THANK YOU, SISTERS GLIMMER!” -Melanie Bishop, author of My So-Called Ruined Life and founding editor of Alligator Juniper.

See the full interview here:

https://www.clmp.org/blog-post/glimmer-train-leaves-the-station/

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James River Writers Conference

James River Writers

https://jamesriverwriters.org/annual-writers-conference/2018-schedule/

Master Classes on Friday, and then so many fun and informative panels on Saturday and Sunday. All of them look terrific, but I’m especially excited to be on the “First Pages” panel, Sunday morning.

2018 SCHEDULE

Scroll down for information on plenarys, intensives, and panels for Saturday and Sunday.  To sponsor any of our sessions, contact Katharine Herndon at execdirector(at) jamesriverwriters.org. Schedule, description, and speakers are subject to change.

Follow a track
The James River Writers conference is designed to help you reach your writing goals, whatever they may be. To assist you in choosing from a variety of sessions, we’ve grouped them into tracks. You may want to follow a certain track throughout the conference to get an in-depth look at one aspect of writing. Or you might choose a few panels from each track to get a well-rounded experience. Then again, feel free to ignore the tracks altogether and follow your favorite speakers. As always, you select the sessions that are most relevant to your circumstances.

Room assignments, moderators, and additional descriptions will be added soon!

This year’s tracks are Methods of Storytelling, The Business of Writing, Elevating Your Voice & Craft, and 21st Century Self-care.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

8:45 – 9:15 Welcome

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Breakout Sessions

Writing Across Genres and Mediums
Speakers: Melanie Bishop, Clay McLeod Chapman, Sona Charaipotra, Pamela Samuels Young
Moderator: Douglas Jones
Room: E10A-B
Track: Methods of Storytelling
From short stories to screenwriting, this panel offers a primer on the techniques, tools, and discipline needed to be successful with different forms of writing, in case you don’t want to write just one.

Publishing Poetry
Speakers: Tyree Daye, Meg Kearney, Pavana Reddy
Moderator: Wendy DeGroat
Room: TBA
Track: The Business of Writing
Getting your poetry out in the world is a different process than publishing other forms of writing. Learn how to find the best markets, what makes houses that publish poetry unique, and what you can do to find your poetry an audience.

Don’t Trip over the Tropes
Speakers: Xhnet Aliu, David Coogan, Lamar Giles, Alex Gino
Moderator: Michael Paul Williams
Room: TBA
Track: Elevating Your Voice & Craft
People are complex and don’t always fit into a convenient word package. Get tips on avoiding the stereotypes, defying expectations, and crafting narratives that reflect people, not archetypes.

Bouncing Back from Rejection
Speakers: Rashida Gray, Lana Krumwiede, Rebecca Scherer
Moderator: Melissa Scott Sinclair
Room: TBA
Track: 21st Century Self-care
Learn methods for coping with rejection and self-sabotage, including dealing with procrastination, fear, and self-loathing.

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Breakout Sessions

Think Like a Word-Entrepreneur
Speakers: Sona Charaipotra, Pavana Reddy, Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Moderator: Erica Orloff
Room: E10A-B
Track: The Business of Writing
The world of freelance writing and independent journalism is competitive these days, but writers can make healthy earnings with the right mindset and business practices. Learn how.

Stop Shortchanging Short Stories
Speakers: Melanie Bishop, Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Virginia Pye
Moderator: Kristin Swenson
Room: TBA
Track: Methods of Storytelling
Have you heard of the New Yorker story “Cat People” and the seven figure deal the author landed? This panel explores why short stories matter, what writing them can do for emerging and established writers, and where to send them.

The Art of Revision
Speakers: Alex Gino, Victoria Christopher Murray, Latoya Smith
Moderator: Patty Smith
Room: TBA
Track: Elevating Your Voice & Craft
Rewriting is the heart of the creative process. How do you ensure that your final literary product–short story, poem, novel, essay, or screenplay–exhibits your best thought, best feeling, and best technique? How do you balance cutting words and adding layers? How many drafts are needed?

How to Create and Heighten Suspense
Speakers: Lamar Giles, Rebecca Scherer, Steven Smith, Pamela Samuels Young
Moderator: Bill Blume
Room: TBA
Track: Methods of Storytelling
Learn how to keep readers on edge with panelists who will share tips on creating impending danger and escalating tension for characters readers care about. Effective elements of suspense writing include infusing desire, apprehension, anxiety, countdowns, phobias, and threats into the story.

11:45 – 12:45 p.m. Buffet Lunch

12:45 – 1:45 Intensives – (Topics coming soon.)

Hands-on workshops focused on actionable items and concrete takeaways. Leave with inspiration and new skills.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions

You Have a Book Contract, Now What?
Speakers: Jessica Felleman, Lana Krumwiede, Chad Luibl
Moderator: Kristi Tuck Austin
Room: E10A-B
Track: The Business of Writing
Your work doesn’t end with your signature on that book contract. Next up, working with an editor, creating a marketing plan, and building your platform. Get your questions answered on how to navigate the challenges ahead.

Manipulating Time: Using Young Adult Novels as a Template
Speakers: Sona Charaipotra, Lamar Giles, Meg Kearney
Moderator: A. B. Westrick
Room: TBA
Track: Methods of Storytelling
Pacing is a defining element in YA. Young readers have no patience for long descriptive passages, and many adults have gravitated toward YA because of the high-quality storytelling. How do you pick up the pace of a story? Is there ever value to slowing down? How do you get this ingredient just right?

From the Page to the Screen
Speakers: Clay McLeod Chapman, Rebekah L. Pierce, Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Brian Weakland
Moderator: Kristin Swenson
Room: TBA
Track: Elevating Your Voice & Craft
Many authors dream of seeing their stories on the screen. But the road to a film or Netflix series is often long and complex. Get tips and tools for the journey from award-winning writers.

Strategies for Managing Beta Readers
Speakers: David Coogan, Leah Henderson, Virginia Pye
Moderator: Shawna Christos
Room: TBA
Track: 21st Century Self-care
From tapping readers with specific expertise or sensitivity to knowing which feedback to incorporate, learn how to get what you need from the readers you trust with your drafts.

3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Plenary Session

A Conversation with Melissa Febos
Speakers: Melissa Febos, Roben Farzad
Room: E10A-B
Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me and Whip Smart, discusses her writing journey and her lessons learned along the way with NPR host Roben Farzad.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

8:45 – 9:00 Opening Ceremonies

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Plenary Session

First Pages
Speakers: Melanie Bishop, Moe Ferrara, Dara Kaye, Latoya Smith
Moderator: Bill Blume
Readers: TBA
Room: E10A-B
Three agents and one editor across a broad spectrum of publishing listen to and critique first pages, read on the spot so the audience can hear their initial reactions. First pages should grab and not let go. Listen to the insights and gentle criticism from the experts. Will someone be “discovered” this year? (To submit your first page for consideration, see this page.)

10:15 – 11:15 a.m. Breakout Sessions

Publishing Trends
Speakers: Sona Charaipotra, Beth Phelan, Victoria Christopher Murray
Moderator: Shawna Christos
Room: E10A-B
Track: The Business of Writing
You may have heard the advice to never chase a trend, but how do you find out what’s hot and what’s not? Learn what our publishing experts have on their radars.

Writing Young: Capturing the Middle Grade Voice
Speakers: Clay McLeod Chapman, Alex Gino, Leah Henderson, Steven Smith
Moderator: Melissa Scott Sinclair
Room:TBA
Track: Methods of Storytelling, Elevating Your Voice & Craft
Middle Grade novels are usually aimed at children ages eight to twelve. But there’s a big difference in an eight-year-old and a twelve-year-old. How does a writer (who’s older than their demographic) craft a compelling and authentic voice for that age range and stay true to their audience?

Replenishing Your Creativity Tool Kit
Speakers: Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Moe Ferrara, Pavana Reddy
Moderator: Kris Spisak
Room: TBA
Track: 21st Century Self-care
As a writer you should aim to always have a new project underway. Learn inspirational and practical tips to foster creative breakthroughs as well as ways to relax and defeat writer’s block. Acquire tools to check work for flow, logic, and typos.

Writing the Unfamiliar
Speakers: Lamar Giles, Virginia Pye, Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Moderator: Patty Smith
Room: TBA
Track: Elevating Your Voice & Craft
We’ve all heard “write what you know,” but what if you want to write about a time or place you’ve never experienced? How do you find and employ the right details to infuse your work with authenticity and make it come alive?

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Lunch & Intensives (Topics coming soon.)

Hands-on workshops focused on actionable items and concrete takeaways. Leave with inspiration and new skills.

12:45 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Breakout Sessions

The Self-publishing Journey
Speakers:  Pavana Reddy, Steven Smith, Pamela Samuels Young
Moderator: Kristi Tuck Austin
Room: E10A-B
Track: The Business of Writing
There are many pieces to put in place if you want to experience self-publishing success. These experts can help make the journey go more smoothly.

Essay-writing Essentials
Speakers: Xhnet Aliu, Melissa Febos, Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Moderator: Ellen Brown
Room: TBA
Tracks: Methods of Storytelling
Essays capture human experience and help us connect with our communities. How do you boil big human emotions down into a small space, and just how much of it has to be true?

But Is it Funny? How to Infuse Humor
Speakers: Clay McLeod Chapman, Alex Gino, Beth Phelan
Moderator: Kris Spisak
Room: TBA
Track: Elevating Your Voice & Craft
Effective humor eases tension, surprises readers, and humanizes characters. You don’t need to be a comedian to make people laugh. Learn how to incorporate humor in your writing.

Coping with Deadline Hell
Speakers: Melanie Bishop, Tyree Daye, Virginia Pye
Moderator: Michael Paul Williams
Room: TBA
Track: 21st Century Self-care
Looming deadlines can make your anxiety feel like it is on steroids. Mistakes easily occur when time is running out. Learn techniques, tips, and the essential checklists to review before hitting send.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions

Memorable Memoir
Speakers: David Coogan, Melissa Febos, Jessica Felleman
Moderator: Annette Marquis
Room: E10A-B
Track: Methods of Storytelling
Is your story compelling enough to have an audience in the wider world? Does it have a unique point of view and a platform that will appeal to a large demographic? How much do you need to worry about your truth vs. reality? Our panelists weigh in on the elements of creative nonfiction that bring you readers.

Protect Your Rights
Speakers: Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Dara Kaye
Moderator: TBA
Room: TBA
Track: The Business of Writing
What do you need to know before you sign a book contract? How are foreign rights or rights for translations different? What do you need to know to protect yourself and treat your writing like the business it is?

What Makes a Story Timeless? Emotional Truth
Speakers: Xhnet Aliu, Meg Kearney, Chad Luible
Moderator: Douglas Jones
Room: TBA
Track: Elevating Your Voice & Craft
The greatest works of literature share an emotional truth that transcends the era in which they were written. Explore how to capture the human experience–in all its raw, messy honesty–on the page.

First Drafts: The Secret Sauce
Speakers: Lana Krumwiede, Victoria Christopher Murray, Pamela Samuels Young
Moderator: A. B. Westrick
Room: TBA
Track: 21st Century Self-care
How do you write a first draft? You work on it until it’s finished. Panelists will share mind hacks, games, and tricks of the trade to get you there as quickly and painlessly as possible.

3:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Plenary Session

The Agent Dating Game

Have you ever heard of the goofy 70s game show where a bachelor or bachelorette was matched with one of three mystery dates? Well, we’ve brought back the popular James River Writers version for a second year!

Here’s how it works . . .

During the two days of the conference, you can drop your name in a bowl, indicating your willingness to participate in The Agent Dating Game and selecting which category best describes your current work. A few examples of categories that may be represented include Nonfiction, YA/MG/Children’s, Thriller and Suspense, and Romance. (Categories for 2018 TBD.)

An agent will take a chair as the “bachelor” or “bachelorette.” Our MC will then select three names from the bowl. If your name is called, take a seat in one of the three mystery date chairs.

Now the fun begins. Our agent will ask each writer a question (for instance, “What would be your main character’s idea of a perfect date?” or “What does your protagonist want most of all?”) The three writers will then be given the chance to respond. After a few rounds of follow-up questions, our MC will encourage the agent to select a winner. And no, the winner will not take a sunset cruise with the agent, but they will have their proposal and first chapter read (nonfiction), or their synopsis and three chapters read (fiction).

The audience will gain insights into the thinking of agents—and who knows? One of our own dates just might find the perfect relationship.

Don’t miss it!

MC: Brian Rock

Agents/Editors participating: TBA
Room: E10A-B

Conference Closing


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Going to Richmond in October.

 

Watershed events in writing, reading, and community

2018 MASTER CLASSES

On Friday, October 12, 2018, we will offer six pre-conference Master Classes. Each two-hour Master Class, taught by one of our conference guest speakers, takes an in-depth look at a particular topic of interest to writers and published authors.

Each class is $45 for members and $65 for non-members. When you register for the conference, you will have the opportunity to add up to three Master Classes.  Classes are offered from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Master Classes will be held at the Richmond Public Library, Main Branch, 101 E Franklin St, Richmond.

Registration is open to conference attendees through October 1, 2018. After October 1, if space is still available, registration will be open to those not attending the conference. Lunch is not included, but there are many lunch locations near the library.

This year, we will be offering:

9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Indie Publishing Unwrapped with Steven Smith

Steven Smith photo
Steven K. Smith

Getting your words out to the world has never been more possible. But with the seemingly endless publishing options in today’s marketplace, how can you make your book the best it can be? Is indie/self-publishing your best route for success? Steven K. Smith will help attendees unwrap the indie publishing landscape. Topics will include identifying your goal as a writer, choosing partners, tools, and companies to work with, marketing and sales basics, answering lots of questions and more.

Steven K. Smith is the author of ten books including the middle grade series The Virginia Mysteries and Brother Wars. He has also written the parenting memoir Splashing in the Deep End and the adult fiction novel Harborwood (as Steven Sawyer). Steven has spoken at more than eighty schools throughout Virginia, and his first book, Summer of the Woods, is in development for film. He lives in Midlothian, VA, with his wife and three sons.


9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Stealing from the Other Camp: What Plotters Can Learn from Pantsers and Vice Versa with Lana Krumwiede

Lana Krumwiede photo
Lana Krumwiede

Forget about the great debate between plotters and pantsers. In this class, we’re starting with the conclusion that both approaches can be successful. We’ll pick apart each method and examine the pros and cons. Using writing activities, we’ll take those methods for a test drive and explore ways to combine them. Here are just a few of the take-aways from this class:

– A deconstructed view of both the plotter’s and the pantser’s process

– An understanding of the strengths and pitfalls of each method

– A solid grasp of when and how to use each approach effectively

– A vision of what an “ambidextrous” approach might look like

– The benefits of occasionally using your non-preferred method

Lana Krumwiede began her writing career by creating stories and poems for publications such as HighlightsHigh FiveSpiderBabybugThe Friend, and Chicken Soup for the Child’s Soul. Her first novel, Freakling (Candlewick, 2012), was named a finalist for SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Member’s Choice Award and an honor book for the International Reading Association’s Intermediate Fiction Award. Freakling was followed by two more novels, Archon (2013) and True Son (2015). Lana is also the author of the picture book Just Itzy (2015) and editor of the anthology River City Secrets: Stories from Richmond (2016). She lives with her husband and daughter in Midlothian, VA.


11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

The Author/Agent Relationship with Latoya C. Smith

Latoya Smith photo
Latoya C. Smith

What does a good author/agent relationship entail? Latoya C. Smith, an agent with the L. Perkins Agency, will help attendees understand what it is like to work with an agent. This class will cover ways to find the right agent, review why customizing your pitch matters, outline what agents should do, and address when to part ways.  Smith’s session will detail what an agent should bring to the table and how to use your agent for help with manuscript edits, contracts, covers, final books, and publicity/promotion.

Latoya C. Smith has over a decade of editorial experience, having worked for publishers such as Teri Woods Publishing, Kensington Publishing, Grand Central Publishing, and Samhain Publishing. She is the winner of numerous awards and provides editorial services through her company, LCS Literary Services. She is also an agent with the L. Perkins Agency.


11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Writing Short Stories: How to Find Your Inspiration & Shape Your Beginning with Virginia Pye

Virgnia Pye photo
Virginia Pye

In this class, we will focus on how to get started writing a story, where to look for inspiration, and how to shape the beginning. Award-winning author Virginia Pye will review sample short story openings, offer prompts to help participants get started, and allow time for writing and sharing during the session.

Virginia Pye is the author of two award-winning novels, Dreams of the Red Phoenix and River of Dust, and the forthcoming short story collection, Shelf Life of Happiness. Her stories, essays, and interviews have appeared in The North American ReviewThe Baltimore ReviewLiterary HubThe New York TimesThe RumpusHuffington Post, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Virginia helped establish and run James River Writers in Richmond, VA, and now lives in Cambridge, MA.


2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

How to Write and Pitch Awesome Science Fiction & Fantasy

Moe Ferrara photo
Moe Ferrara

This session, taught by a literary agent who represents (and adores) speculative fiction, will share helpful tips on how to write great SF/F, how to set your work apart from other submissions, how to make your unique world come to life, and how to effectively pitch your science fiction and fantasy to literary agents and editors.

Becoming an agent was fitting for the girl who, as a small child, begged for a book because it “had a hard cover.” Moe Ferrara had a difficult time finding YA books outside of Christopher Pike when she was growing up and instead tackled her mom’s romance novels. Though her career path zigzagged a bit–she attended college as a music major, earned a JD from Pace Law School, then worked various publishing jobs–Moe was thrilled to join the BookEnds team in May of 2015 as a literary agent and their subsidiary rights director. @inthesestones


2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

The Writing Retreat: What, Where, Why and How? with Melanie Bishop

Melanie Bishop photo
Melanie Bishop

From the most prestigious and competitive artists’ colonies—like Yaddo, MacDowell, and Djerassi—to the A-I-R program in the national parks, from mentored retreats to the “design your own” model, writers increasingly depend upon retreats to sustain their writing practice. Some find they have better access to the muse while on retreats. Being stimulated by a new locale and landscape recharges the senses, restores inspiration, and often generates new material. What exactly should we expect from a retreat? What are the advantages of group vs. solo retreats? Where have writers historically found inspiration, sustenance and momentum, away from the distractions of their daily lives? Why do we need to go away? (Isn’t writing from home good enough?) How should I design a retreat if I have a day, a week, a month? Some residencies award retreats; others ask writers to pay; how do I write a competitive application for a place like Djerassi? What are the best ways to strategize for productivity, while also maximizing rejuvenation and renewal? The first half of this class will instruct about retreat options and resources; the second half will replicate aspects of a retreat in progress.

Melanie Bishop has taught writing or led creative writing retreats in Prescott, AZ; in Arizona’s Sierra Ancha Wilderness; at Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti; in the Cycladic Islands of Greece; in Vancouver, British Columbia; and in Carmel-by-the-Sea. She’s been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook, Ucross, Playa, Eastern Frontier Society, Hambidge Center for the Arts, and Djerassi. Melanie has published fiction, nonfiction, and a YA novel, My So-Called Ruined Life. On the creative writing faculty at Prescott College (Arizona) for twenty-two years, she was also founder and fiction/nonfiction editor of Alligator Juniper, the college’s award-winning, national literary magazine.


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More great news from clients!

I can hardly keep up with all their successes!

Congratulations to Pia Chaudhuri for her first place win in the Fresh Voices Screenplay Contest, Science Fiction category.   

AND, congratulations to Heather Knowles on her first publication, an essay titled “Holes” which went live today on Barnstorm, the online literary magazine out of University of New Hampshire’s MFA program. The publication includes Heather reading aloud a two- minute excerpt. Check it out here.

 

 

 


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Client News

Congratulations to Linda I. Meyers, whose memoir, the tellwill be released on June 8th!

Beautiful, poignant, funny, smart book. Order your copy here:

BookCover_TheTell

 

Congratulations to Alison Kleppinger, who recently completed a second draft of her memoir, Something Shiny About Us. Looking forward to seeing this one in print!

 

Congratulations to Pia Chaudhuri, whose screenplay Perfectus, was just named a top-five finalist in the Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition! Winners announced April 9th.