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Children & Creative Nonfiction Sessions 2019

LAURA J. OLIVER –  Micro Creative Non-Fiction

We write Micro (brief creative nonfiction pieces of 750 words or less), to capture a moment of change, tension, conflict, contradiction or mystery. The skill is to choose ground worth reporting on and to learn how to tease out why the memory or observation matters. We capture relationships, places where our lives changed course, expanded or contracted, places where our trajectories changed. We use the same tools with which we craft fiction, making micro an excellent learning template for both genres. In Micro, crystalline prose as potent as poetry, resonates in the reader’s mind long after making him laugh or moving him to tears. In Micro we ask not just “what did you observe,” but “what did you find there? Not just, “what do you remember?” but “why do you remember this?” The first question is a gift to the reader. The second, a gift to the writer. We will look at the take away in published examples and distill exactly how the writer delighted us in so brief a time. We can tell a whole life story that way—just one moment at a time.

Laura J. Oliver is the author of The Story Within (Penguin Random House,) named by "The Writer Magazine" as one of the best writing books of the year, and "Poets and Writers Magazine" as one of the best writing books ever published. She has taught essay and fiction writing at the University of Maryland and writing workshops at St. John's College. Oliver is an award-winning writer, writing mentor, instructor and co-creator of The Writing Intensive at St. John's College. Oliver's fiction and essays are published in national newspapers, magazines and top-tier literary reviews (The Washington Post, Country Living Magazine, The Writer Magazine, The Sun Magazine, Glimmer Train Stories, Charleston Magazine, Portland Magazine, The Baltimore Review, Rosebud, Redux, Loose Change and Annapolis Lifestyle to name a few.) She is the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Fiction, an Anne Arundel County Arts Council Literary Arts Award winner, a two-time Glimmer Train Short Fiction finalist, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

JAMES BURD BREWSTER; CAROL FRANKS-RANDALL; MICHELLE MEADOWS  – Picture Book Panel Discussion , moderated by Matthew Swanson & Robbi Behr

Creating children’s picture books can be a daunting task, but our three expert authors—James Burd Brewster, Dr. Carol Franks-Randall, and Michelle Meadows—will take your questions and tell you everything you want to know, from getting started through holding your book in your hands.  You’ll learn about generating story ideas, deciding on formats and text or verse, writing for different ages, finding and working with illustrators, and publishing and marketing.  Our authors will share their experiences so that you can produce picture books that kids and parents will enjoy.

James Burd Brewster authored the successful Glad To Do It! picture book series and is the president of J2B Publishing. Jim was raised in New England, learned to sail on Lake Champlain, and navigated a USCG polar icebreaker to Alaska. He is on the board of the Maryland Writers Association and is a member of the Charles County Chapter. His work has been presented at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, Baltimore Book Festival, and College Park Book Festival. He has given similar presentations at retreat centers and the Brain to Bookshelf writers' conference as well as to Optimist and Rotary clubs.

Carol Franks-Randall, EdD began her career as a special education teacher, and became a Special Education Administrator, Elementary Principal and School Superintendent, all in New York. After retirement in 2008, she relocated to Maryland and continues to work in both New York and Maryland as an educational consultant, workshop presenter, college professor and community volunteer. In November 2017, she published her first children’s book, Jamal and Me. She conducts author’s visits in elementary schools, and professional development workshops for teachers and library-media specialists. Dr. Franks-Randall is presently working on her next book, Playground Heroes.

Michelle Meadows is the author of nine picture books, including Hibernation Station, Piggies in Pajamas, and Super Bugs. She writes both fiction and nonfiction, and her publishers include Henry Holt/Macmillan, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster. Michelle's most recent picture book is Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins. Michelle is represented by literary agent Rosemary Stimola. With a dual degree in journalism and literature from Syracuse University, Michelle loves to get kids hooked on reading. She lives near the beach in Delaware with her husband and son. Visit her online at www.michellemeadows.com

MARY McCARTHY  – Meditative Journaling

In this enlightening session, Reiki Master and bestselling author Mary McCarthy will explore ways to invite deeper self-reflection and inner peace through the combination of meditation and journaling. Using universal healing energy combined with the powerful ability of writing to clear our minds of stressors and emotional baggage, we will explore ways to use the practice of meditative journaling to enrich our daily lives.  

Mary McCarthy’s 25-year professional writing career includes her role as Senior Editor for splicetoday.com, as well as work on Salon.com, the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, editorial positions at regional magazines including Chesapeake Family and What’s Up Eastern Shore and a newspaper humor column “Quite Contrary”. She blogged for Katie Couric, appeared on The Today Show, Huffington Post Live and ABC TV News. She has served as an Adjunct Instructor for American University’s continuing education program, guest lecturer for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland and an instructor for The Writer’s Center in Washington, D.C. McCarthy’s debut novel The Scarlet Letter Society was published in by Polis Books in June 2014, reaching #1 on the Amazon bestseller list in its genre. Her second novel The Scarlet Letter Scandal released in November 2015 and her third novel in the trilogy The Scarlet Letter Storm in May 2016. 

DAVID OATES – The Art & Seriousness of Humor Writing

Even if you've never tried to be funny before or are not sure that you are (!), David will help show you that, with some training, anyone can write and perform humor. He will discuss various types of humor, share comedic techniques, and help you find your unique humorous writing style. As an amateur stand-up comic and sketch comedy performer himself, Oates formally wrote comedy for the comic strip Shoe in the ’80s.

David Oates is the host and producer of Wordland, a radio program of poetry, stories, and comedy, and the former host of Great Apes (comedy), both on WUGA, Athens, Georgia's public radio station. He ran the Athens poetry slam, is the current emcee of the Athens Word of Mouth monthly poetry reading and was editor and publisher of Monkey Magazine (slam poetry and satire, mostly). His books are Night of the Potato (fiction and poetry), Shifting with My Sandwich Hand, Drunken Robins and, The Deer’s Bandanna (all three, haiku). He is a member of the Haiku Society of America, Word of Mouth Poetry, Athens, and Los Donderinos writing group. His stories and poems have been published in several magazines, newspapers and websites. His degrees are in writing from The Univ. of Chicago and the Univ. of Illinois–Chicago. Former jobs include reporting, radio announcing, teaching, proofreading, and Burger-Chefing. His website is davidoatesathensga.com.

CHRIS GRABENSTEIN (via Skype) – Everything You Want to Know About Everything You Want to Know 

A special live SKYPE Question and Answer Session with the #1 NY Times Best Selling Author. Chris will address everything you want to know about everything you want to know! Participants are asked to bring questions pertaining to writing, and/or unique questions you might want to know the answers to. Participants will step up to the laptop and talk one-on-one with Chris which will live stream to the audience in real time.

Chris Grabenstein is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning Lemoncello Library series, the Welcome to Wonderland series, the Haunted Mysteries series, and The Island of Dr. Libris. He is also the co-author of several fun and funny page-turners with James Patterson including I Funny, Treasure Hunters, Jacky Ha Ha, Word of Mouse, and Max Einstein: The Genius Project.

MATTHEW SWANSON & ROBBI BEHR  – The Secrets of Collaboration  

Husband/wife, author/illustrator duo Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr will present their humorous whodunit of a middle grade book series The Real McCoys while giving a humorous, lively, image-rich presentation about how they (and the series' two main characters) collaborate to create, produce, and accomplish things that would be impossible on their own. This session will be followed by Q&A. The recipient of starred reviews from Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal, The Real McCoys is a 2018 Bank Street selection, an Amazon book of the month, School Library Guild selection, and a nominee for the 2019 Cartwheel Book Award.

Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr are the husband/wife, author/illustrator co-creators of The Real McCoys (a densely illustrated/humorous/vaguely mysterious middle grade series) and the picture books Babies Ruin Everything, and Everywhere, Wonder. They spend most of their time making books and raising four kids in the hayloft of an old barn in Chestertown, Maryland. They spend the rest of their time speaking, teaching, and leading workshops on collaboration and creative entrepreneurship—and the rest of the rest of their time running a commercial salmon fishing operation on the Alaskan tundra.

Sessions & Speakers 2019




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