Seminars, Lectures, Authors and more!

Writers Weekend

The Mark Twain House & Museum is pleased to announce that WRITERS WEEKEND will take place on Saturday and Sunday, September 29 and 30, 2018.

The Writers Weekend offers writers (and aspiring writers!) two days of workshops, panel discussions, author talks, book signings, and more, featuring a variety of presentations on a wide range of topics.

Your registration fee includes admission to Saturday night’s keynote address by Gary Shteyngart (and a copy of his novel LAKE SUCCESS) PLUS Sunday evening’s capstone presentation by Jodi Picoult (and a signed copy of her new book A SPARK OF LIGHT).

Registrants receive discounted admission to Tapping Into Twain, The Mark Twain House & Museum’s annual brew fest, on Friday, September 28.

Two-day registration is $250; $225 for members of The Mark Twain House & Museum. SIGN UP HERE!

NEW One-Day Passes here.  (Includes Gary Shteyngart keynote talk on Saturday. DOES NOT INCLUDE Jodi Picoult talk Sunday, which is SOLD OUT.)

Visit this page regularly for updates!

PDF of the 2018 Writers Weekend schedule.

List of presenters in alphabetical order:

Gina BarrecaMaking Trouble With Your Very First Line
Saturday, 4-5:15, Auditorium

Gina Barreca is a University of Connecticut English professor and author of  If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse? which was an ELLE Reader’s Prize selection. Her earlier books include It’s Not That I’m Bitter, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World, the bestselling They Used to Call Me Snow White But I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use of Humor and Babes in Boyland: A Personal History of Coeducation in the Ivy League.  




Christine Beck: Having Fun with Poetry Revision
Sunday, 10:30-11:45 a.m., Classroom B, 2nd Floor

Bring a poem you are interested in revising, written either before or during this conference. Beck will demonstrate eight revision strategies to energize and enliven your work. This is not a typical “workshop” but an individual practical application of poetic elements that you can use for any poem. Her new book of poetry is Blinding Light. She teaches a course in Law and Literature at the University of Hartford and creative writing to graduate students at Southern Connecticut State University. She served as West Hartford’s Poet Laureate.





Kim Knox BeckiusWrite Where You Are–Juggling Writing with Traveling, Parenting, a Day Job or Whatever Gets in Your Way
Sunday, 9-10:15 a.m., Auditorium

Kim is a widely published writer and photographer (and reluctant dance mom) who loves telling stories and inspiring people to travel. She is a Yankee Magazine contributing editor, Frommer’s New England 2019 contributor, expert, ghostwriter, web content consultant and the author of seven books.

Kim Knox Beckius: Photography Tips for Writers
Sunday, 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., Classroom A, 2nd Floor

Writers who shoot photos not only boost their chances of landing paying assignments, they tell richer, more accurate stories. In this hands-on session, we’ll explore ways to use your smartphone or camera to take notes, make connections, build a following on platforms like Instagram, and capture publication-worthy images.



Cathleen Davitt Bell/CD Bell:  Wringing Out the Washcloth — How Collaborative Writing Keeps You Honest and Brings New Energy to Your Craft
Saturday, 10:30-11:45 a.m., Classroom A, 2nd Floor

Writing fiction is a notoriously solitary act, and for the most part, that’s a good thing–novels allow us to leave an imprint of our personality, taking stories on twists that are as circuitous as our own psyche. Recently, after years of barely whispering the premise of a new piece of writing for fear of jinxing it, I wrote three books that commenced with a week of group brainstorming.




Susan CampbellDeveloping A Writer’s Eye
Saturday, 9-10:15 a.m., Carriage House Barn

We are nothing without our stories, but how do we get to tell our story so people will listen? Susan Campbell is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a widely read Hartford Courant columnist, and the author of two books, with a third forthcoming. She’s  a regular commentator on WNPR and a guest on CBS “Sunday Morning,” the BBC, WTNH-TV, and the local news show “Face the State.” She is also part of the Connecticut Health Investigative Team, an award-winning health and safety website.



Terry Wolfisch ColeIntroduction to Personal Storytelling
Sunday, 1-2:15 p.m., Auditorium

Ira Glass of This American Life says, “Great stories happen to people who know how to tell them.” Whether you want to tell your story on stage, in a business meeting, or with your grandchildren on your lap, storyteller Terry Wolfisch Cole will teach you skills to captivate listeners and engage any audience. Terry is a Moth StorySLAM and GrandSLAM champion. Her story about running away from home was featured on the Moth Radio Hour on NPR and in Readers Digest. She is the founder of  Tell Me Another: Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Stories, a storytelling show in Hartford.



Susanne DavisPutting Together a Short Story or Essay Collection from Concept to Publication
Saturday, 9-10:15 a.m., Classroom B, 2nd Floor

How to develop and arrange your stories or essays to create a satisfying whole and the strategies for getting your collection the readers you desire! I believe that words have the power to change the world. This belief is the basis for my own writing and for my writing workshops and coaching. I encourage writers to see their words as powerful presence, the origin of which comes from authentic expression. Powerful writing begins with something heartfelt. The craft learned to express it makes it art.



Stacy DeKeyserA Seat-of-the Pants Method to Outline Your Novel
Saturday, 2:30-3:45 p.m., Classroom A, 2nd Floor

Do you want to write a novel but are intimidated by the the blank page? In this workshop, I’ll share a technique for creating a rough outline that you can follow (or not), and that will keep you on track from “Once upon a time” until  “The end.”

Stacy DeKeyser’s novels for children have been listed among the Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best, the Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of the Year, and state award lists in Utah, Missouri, and South Dakota. Her latest novel, The Rhino in Right Field, was an Amazon Editor’s Pick and on Kirkus Review’s list of New and Notable Books.



Matthew DicksTelling Your Story: The Importance of Storytelling in the Creative and Commercial Life of a Writer
Saturday, 10:30-11:45 a.m., Auditorium

Telling stories is what writers do on the page, but in today’s world, the work rarely ends on the page. Being able to speak effectively and memorably to audiences, promote your work, pitch your ideas to publishers, and build a platform will go a long way to determining your success or failure. Understanding how to craft personal stories about your journey, your craft, and your life is critical to reaching potential readers, editors, and publishers.





Patrice Fitzgerald: Quit Querying and Publish Pronto!
Sunday, 1-2:15 p.m., Classroom A, 2nd Floor

What have you written? A family memoir you want to preserve for posterity, a charming collection of personal essays, or a potential blockbuster? Publishing your own material can be fast and affordable and even make you some money–and you will get it out there. How many more years do you want to wait?

Patrice Fitzgerald is a writer and publisher who has been an “Indie” author since Independence Day in 2011. She writes books under her own name as well as two pen names, publishes three other authors in the mystery and romance genres, and produces the Beyond the Stars series of space opera anthologies. Her background includes 15 years as an intellectual property attorney and a misspent youth reading way too many books.


Amity Gaige and Ethan Rutherford: The Short Game vs. The Long Ball: Writing Novels vs. Short Stories
Sunday, 10:30 – 11:15 a.m., Carriage House Barn

How does a writer approach writing a short story versus writing a novel? Come hear a short-story writer and a novelist talk about the joys and sorrows of each form. Bring your short-story and novel ideas!

Amity Gaige is the author of three novels, O My Darling, The Folded World, and Schroder, which was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by The New York Times Book ReviewThe Huffington Post, The Washington Post and others. Gaige is the winner of a Fulbright Fellowship, fellowships at the MacDowell and Yaddo colonies, a Baltic Writing Residency, and in 2006, she was recognized as one of the “5 Under 35” outstanding emerging writers by the National Book Foundation.  In 2016, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction.

Ethan Rutherford is the author of The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, a finalist for the John Leonard Award, received honorable mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection.  His short fiction has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, American Short Fiction, and The Best American Short Stories.  He teaches creative writing at Trinity College.





Jane Haertel: Adding a Romantic Arc to Your Fiction
Saturday, 10:30-11:45 a.m., Classroom B, 2nd Floor

Jane Haertel is an editor of mystery, romance, and women’s fiction for a specialty book-club publisher. Writing as Susannah Hardy and Sadie Hartwell, she is the author of the Tangled Web and Greek to Me Mysteries.






Hank Herman: Make Fun of Yourself!: Turning Your Life’s Less-than-Stellar Moments Into Humor
Saturday, 9-10:15 a.m., Auditorium

When you do something hysterically funny but also seriously stupid and embarrassing, do you look around and hope nobody’s been watching?  Or do you think, Now that would be great material for a humor piece!  If it’s the latter, then you’re on the right track!  I’ve turned the death-defying college application process into a humor memoir, and my futile struggle with a Babybjorn Carrier into a column.  Hank can help you do the same with your “material.”

Hank Herman is the author of Accept My Kid, Please! A Dad’s Descent Into College Application Hell, an acclaimed humor memoir, and Super Hoops, a 15-book series of basketball novels for kids.  He also writes an award-winning humor column, “The Home Team,” as well as a blog, “Beagle Man,” both for Hearst Newspapers.  Hank is a writing instructor at the Mark Twain House and at Trinity College.



Sheryl Kayne: How to Pitch and Query Literary Agents, Editors, and Publishers
Sunday, 10:30 – 11:45 a.m., Classroom B, 2nd Floor

The art of pitching is recognizing what it is you are looking for as a writer and what agents, editors, and publishers are looking for in you. The process is similar to extending your hand out to introduce yourself, your story, vision, writing, and thinking. On one page, it is a sample of your very best writing, clearly presenting your project in two tightly written paragraphs.  The third paragraph includes your credits, background, and goals. Readers of your query are evaluating your communication skills and story along with marketing potential and future sales. Remember, you only need to receive one yes! Social networking has become such an important part of building authors’ platforms, I will also include info on writing personal e-newsletters and blogs.

Sheryl Kayne is the author of Immersion Travel USA: The Best and Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living, and Learning Excursions (Countryman Press, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.), recipient of the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation’s Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award in the Best Travel Guidebook category and Volunteer Vacations Across America, (Countryman Press), named on Amazon’s List of Best New Travel Books. Fully media trained and a seasoned performer, she helps authors prepare for readings, radio and television appearances, and podcasts. “Come say Hi! and sign my Guest Book!”


Chris Knopf: Demystifying the Mystery Novel
Sunday, 9-10:15 a.m., Classroom A, 2nd Floor

There are no rules for writing a great mystery novel, but there are aspects of craft important in achieving success in today’s market, whether you self-publish or seek to engage with the agent/editor/publisher complex to score a traditional release.

Chris Knopf is the author of Dead Anyway (winner of the 2013 Nero Award), Cries of the Lost, and the Sam Acquillo mystery series, including The Last Refuge, Two Time, Head Wounds (which won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Mystery), Hard Stop, and Black Swan.



Jacques Lamarre, Ann Sample Lineberger, and David Polgar: How to Avoid Lawsuits and Other Awkward Encounters
Sunday, 2:30-3:45 p.m., Auditorium

Everyone says “write what you know,” but what if what you know might get you in hot water with friends, family or frenemies? In this session, novelist Ann Lineberger (“The Adjustments,” “Sunday Best”) and playwright Jacques Lamarre (“Raging Skillet”) discuss how they’ve covered their tracks well enough to avoid getting drinks thrown in their face and other unpleasantries. Attorney David Ryan Polgar will give insights into how to stay on the right side of the law.


Dana Meachen Rau: Injecting Your Character with a Dose of Emotion
Saturday, 9-10:15 a.m., Classroom A, 2nd Floor
The best characters are the ones that readers connect with on an emotional level. But abstract emotions are not easy to capture in words. This workshop will explore the many ways authors can inject emotion into the page so that emotion drives the story and helps dictate all the choices you make as the writer. We will explore techniques to show, not tell, readers how our characters feel in a way that encourages empathy—feeling emotions along with characters as they face the challenges, obstacles, and accomplishments of their stories.


Bessy Reyna: Poetry As Memoir
Saturday, 10:30-11:45 a.m., Carriage House Barn

This workshop provides poems as prompts. Participants will be encouraged to integrate the themes in the poems to write about their own experiences. Bessy Reyna is the author of two bilingual books of poetry, The Battlefield of Your Body and Memoirs of the Unfaithful Lover, and a chap book, She Remembers.  She is an award-winning poet and writer and a popular writing presenter at The Mark Twain House & Museum.




Frank Rizzo: So You Want To Be An Arts Journalist? Variety’s Frank Rizzo Offers Some Critical Thinking — And Advice
Saturday, 2:30-3:45 p.m., Auditorium

The world of professional arts criticism and writing has undergone a seismic change in the last decade, with traditional media print platforms downsizing the role of reviewer– and of arts coverage. But there’s hope — and even opportunity — for writers who are savvy enough to navigate a new media terrain. Arts writer Frank Rizzo has seen this media landscape change as dramatically as the shows he’s covered for 40 years as arts writer and theater critic for more than 33 years for The Hartford Courant and its Tribune network of newspapers.



Kate Rushin: Practicing Haiku — Observation and Images
Saturday, 2:30-3:45 p.m., Carriage House Barn

Writing poetry in Haiku form is a sure way to fire your imagination. Use Mark Twain’s house and grounds as inspiration. Kate Rushin will be your guide to creativity.

Kate Rushin is the author of The Black Back-Ups. Her The Bridge Poem appears in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, a ground-breaking feminist anthology edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa. Recipient of the Rose Low Rome Memorial Poetry Prize and the Grolier Poetry Prize, her work is widely anthologized and has been published in such journals as Callaloo.



Susan Schoenberger: Short Stories: Gateway to the Novel
Sunday, 1-2:15 p.m., Classroom B, 2nd Floor

If your goal is to write a novel, consider writing short stories first. You’ll learn about the craft of writing fiction, and you may find that a successful short story provides the seeds for a successful novel. Schoenberger, of West Hartford, Connecticut, is the award-winning author of two novels, A Watershed Year and The Virtues of Oxygen. Her short stories have been published in Inkwell, Village Rambler, and






Marie Shanahan:  Think Mark Twain Would Have Used Social Media?
Sunday, 1-2:15 p.m., Carriage House Barn

For writers, social media is both a tool and a trap. Learn how to use popular social media platforms for discovery, for audience engagement and to build your reputation as a writer and a thought leader. We’ll talk about personal email newsletters, too.
As an associate professor of journalism at UConn, Marie Shanahan helps students gain proficiency in digital news production. Her research and teaching focus on the intersection of journalism and digital communication technology. She is a former reporter and on line editor for The Hartford Courant. Her first academic book, Journalism, Online Comments, and the Future of Public Discourse. was published in 2017.  Last year she launched two new student-driven online publications: a weekly e-newsletter known as #TheRoundupCT,  and a Connecticut journalism podcast called “Behind the Stories.”