The Hippo


Nov 19, 2019








New Hampshire Writers’ Day

Where: Southern New Hampshire University, 2500 N. River Road, Manchester
When: Saturday, April 23, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Tuition: $230
For students: There may still be Writers’ Day scholarships available; email

Write on
Writers’ Day 2016 is April 23

By Kelly Sennott

 The volunteer-run New Hampshire Writers’ Project is heading into its biggest day of the year — New Hampshire Writers’ Day — and less than three weeks before the event, members were in full force finalizing details.

The event, happening on Saturday, April 23, at Southern New Hampshire University, is a resource for writers hoping to improve their craft, with 22 workshops and opportunities to make peer and industry connections. One of the hardest things about putting it together, said key organizer Kathleen Gillett, is getting the word out.
At the time of the call, Gillett was at home sending finalist notices to entrants of the first New Hampshire Writers’ Project Student Essay Contest, whose prizes include $1,000, a scholarship to Writers’ Day and NHWP membership. The prompt: In New Hampshire today, how does race unite or divide our schools and communities?
“One of our goals was to reach the populations we’re not serving,” Gillett said, noting the state’s rural, minority and youth populations in particular.
The essay contest represents part of this effort, as does 2016 keynote speaker Mitchell S. Jackson, winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award. His autobiographical novel, The Residue Years, touches on growing up black in a neglected neighborhood within America’s “whitest city,” Portland, Oregon.
Gillett said programming also stems from 2015 attendance response surveys. People wanted more nonfiction workshops — hence this year’s “The Art of the Interview” with Richard Adams Carey, “Memoir: Where I’m Calling From” with Howard Axelrod and “Writing for Magazines” with Kevin Flynn — and more critique opportunities, which arrive in two brand-new sessions: “Beginnings” and “Here’s the Pitch.”
In “Beginnings,” inspired by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences in Middlebury, Vermont, NHWP trustee Kevin Flynn will read the first 500 words of previously submitted unpublished works, selections that come from pages submitted by registered workshop participants, during which panelists will raise a hand if they hear anything that makes them pause. If Flynn gets through a piece without interruption, the writer may reveal his identity and meet panelists afterward for advice on how to turn that beginning into a published work.
In “Here’s the Pitch,” NHPR’s Virginia Prescott will deliver anonymous, randomly selected pitches courtesy of workshop participants to a panel of agents and editors, who will offer feedback.
This year’s event also features lunch tables devoted to particular genres — fantasy, romance, mystery, memoir, science fiction, crime — but the rest of the day follows the traditional Writers’ Day formula in which participants attend four out of the 22 writing workshops. Other hot topics this year include short stories, middle-grade fiction, essays and poetry.
All workshops are hosted by noted writers, some new to the event and others who have become regulars, like Elaine Isaak, whose “Promotional Fireworks” draws on her own personal research and observation.
“The focus of my workshop is developing a promotional timeline, which is an area a lot of people don’t think about,” said Isaak, who uses spreadsheets to keep track of her promotional efforts and the results they yield. “People are not always as organized when promoting their books. … They’re so wrapped up in the craft of the book and not necessarily thinking about what’s going to happen next.”
When she’s not presenting, she’ll be attending workshops — one with storyteller Odds Bodkin, another with author and SNHU faculty member Diane Les Becquets.
“Part of the fun of Writers’ Day as a presenter is seeing what other people are up to,” said Isaak. 
Les Becquets said her “nuts and bolts” workshop, “Sight on Scene,” is one also offered through SNHU’s MFA program. 
“Every work of fiction, or even narrative nonfiction, is built upon scenes which show a story, but I think a lot of emerging writers don’t realize how important and how effective a well-written scene can be, and how much it needs to serve the story, whether it be revealing the characters or moving the plot forward,” Les Becquets said.
Les Becquets said she’s thankful for volunteers’ efforts in putting on the event.
“They work tirelessly...,” Les Becquets said. “But you know, it speaks to the real nature of a writer. How many people are out there writing without a paycheck? Getting up between 4 and 6 a.m. before work to write? There’s a drive in them.”

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