Upcoming events

    • September 24, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    4 Pack includes Remote Sessions on September 3, 10, 17 and 24.

     (OCWW sessions are remote through December 2020)

    “I think all writing is experimental,” the late Irish writer William Trevor once said.  “I experiment all the time but the experiments are hidden.” His words may surprise people who think of experimental writing and conventional writing as operating on separate tracks, especially when an experimental project is aimed at denying or ignoring any connection with real life. What could a writer like Trevor, whose short stories and novels are regarded as masterpieces of conventional and realistic fiction, have been getting at when he mentioned his experiments, and what can be learned from them? 

    In his four workshops, Fred Shafer will try to uncover the experiments that are hiding in Trevor’s fiction and in the work of some other contemporary writers who are also resourceful in meeting conventional objectives.  Each presentation will address potentials and needs that Fred is accustomed to seeing in manuscripts. He’ll show that, in the spirit of experimenting, you can bend or break the usual rules about such things as point of view, plot, structure, and the passage of time, in order to deepen the reader’s sense of the reality and meaning of your story or novel.

    Fred’s presentations will be built around one or two of Trevor’s stories, with occasional references to his other stories and the work of other writers.  At each meeting, Fred will announce the main story he’ll use the following week, in case members of the audience would like to read it.  But reading ahead won’t be necessary, because a handout, with the excerpts he’ll discuss, will be emailed on the day before each meeting and a link to the handout will also be posted in the comments section.  Audience members are urged to bring the handout to the meeting.

    The story Fred will use the first week will be “Giotto’s Angels,” from Trevor’s final collection, Last Stories (Viking, 2018).  The handout will be emailed to all registrants on Wednesday, September 2.  

    Bio: Fred is a literary editor, writer, and teacher of writing.  He was an editor with TriQuarterly, the international literary journal published by Northwestern University, where he taught fiction writing in the School of Professional Studies for many years.  He presently leads three private workshops in short story and novel writing, from which his present and former students have published more than 250 stories and thirty novels and collections of stories.  His own essays, reviews, and interviews with writers have appeared in several periodicals.

    Manuscript critiques are available only to OCWW members who have registered for the session to which a member is submitting. Using the Microsoft Word editing system, Fred will write comments on fiction manuscripts in all genres, for readers of all ages.  Manuscripts in Word, up to 20 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt font with 1 inch margins may be submitted via email to ocww.info@gmail.com. The fee is $3.00 per page. Manuscripts must be submitted and paid for before they will be sent to Fred. You will receive an invoice with a link to pay via paypal or credit card. If you do not receive an invoice within 36 hours of submission please let us know through another email to ocww.info@gmail.com. The deadline for Week 1 is August 20. For Week 2 it is August 27. For Week 3, it is September 3 and for Week 4 it is September 10.  The manuscripts will be returned later in the day on Thursday, but if Fred receives an overload of manuscripts, some may be returned by Friday or Saturday.

    9:00-9:30   Socializing

    9:30-12:00 Program

    4 Pack is nonrefundable. 

    • September 24, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session

    “I think all writing is experimental,” the late Irish writer William Trevor once said.  “I experiment all the time but the experiments are hidden.” His words may surprise people who think of experimental writing and conventional writing as operating on separate tracks, especially when an experimental project is aimed at denying or ignoring any connection with real life. What could a writer like Trevor, whose short stories and novels are regarded as masterpieces of conventional and realistic fiction, have been getting at when he mentioned his experiments, and what can be learned from them?

    In his four workshops, Fred Shafer will try to uncover the experiments that are hiding in Trevor’s fiction and in the work of some other contemporary writers who are also resourceful in meeting conventional objectives.  Each presentation will address potentials and needs that Fred is accustomed to seeing in manuscripts. He’ll show that, in the spirit of experimenting, you can bend or break the usual rules about such things as point of view, plot, structure, and the passage of time, in order to deepen the reader’s sense of the reality and meaning of your story or novel.

    Fred’s presentations will be built around one or two of Trevor’s stories, with occasional references to his other stories and the work of other writers.  At each meeting, Fred will announce the main story he’ll use the following week, in case members of the audience would like to read it.  But reading ahead won’t be necessary, because a handout, with the excerpts he’ll discuss, will be emailed on the day before each meeting and a link to the handout will also be posted in the comments section.  Audience members are urged to bring the handout to the meeting.

    Bio: Fred is a literary editor, writer, and teacher of writing.  He was an editor with TriQuarterly, the international literary journal published by Northwestern University, where he taught fiction writing in the School of Professional Studies for many years.  He presently leads three private workshops in short story and novel writing, from which his present and former students have published more than 250 stories and thirty novels and collections of stories.  His own essays, reviews, and interviews with writers have appeared in several periodicals.

    Manuscript critiques are available only to OCWW members who have registered for the session to which a member is submitting. Using the Microsoft Word editing system, Fred will write comments on fiction manuscripts in all genres, for readers of all ages.  Manuscripts in Word, up to 20 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt font with 1 inch margins may be submitted via email to ocww.info@gmail.com. The fee is $3.00 per page. Manuscripts must be submitted and paid for before they will be sent to Fred. You will receive an invoice with a link to pay via paypal or credit card. If you do not receive an invoice within 36 hours of submission please let us know through another email to ocww.info@gmail.com. The deadline for Week 1 is August 20. For Week 2 it is August 27. For Week 3 it is September 3 and for Week 4 it is September 10.  The manuscripts will be returned later in the day on Thursday, but if Fred receives an overload of manuscripts, some may be returned by Friday or Saturday.

    We offer a free discounted student membership with discounted session fees at $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30   Socializing

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • October 01, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session  (OCWW is remote only through Dec. 2020)

    Contemporary poets implore us to trust our patience in an age of bite-sized headlines. In this workshop, we will explore how the nuances, forms, and structures of long poems as meditations and investigations by writers such as Larry Levis, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Robert Hayden, Anne Carson, John Murillo, and C.D. Wright, among others sustain our attention in an ebb and flow of information, storytelling, and lyric imagery. We will grapple with ideas of economy, memory, and narrative arcs as we comb through the major tenets of the contemporary poem of length and its necessity in this era of ever-increasing brevity. This is a flexible workshop in which students writing from multiple skill levels and multiple genres will choose to generate new material or revise previously written materials. Please come with a blank page and/or a draft in need of revision.

    Bio: Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a poet, essayist, translator and immigration  advocate. He is the author of the collection Cenzontle (2018), which won the 2017 A. Poulin Jr. prize, and the chapbook Dulce (2018). His memoir, Children of the Land (2020), is his most recent publication. His work has appeared or been featured in The New York Times, PBS Newshour, People Magazine, en Espanol, the Paris Review, Fusion, TV, Buzzfeed, Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, New England Review, and Indiana Review, among others. He currently teaches in the Low-Res MFA Program at Ashland University.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30   Socializing

    9:30-12:00  Program

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.
    • October 08, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (OCWW is remote only through Dec. 2020)

    They say your characters aren't really real until they start to talk back to you, but how do you make that happen? In this session, we'll discuss techniques for fleshing out characters who can help steer your narrative, and infuriate, puzzle, surprise and endear themselves to readers. 

    Bio: Christina Clancy's debut novel, The Second Home, was released June 2, by St. Martin's Press. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, in The Sun Magazine, and elsewhere. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Her second novel, Shoulder Season, will be published summer 2021. 

    Christina will take three manuscripts for critique, selected in order of submission. Please see manuscript guidelines on our website for details.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socialization

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • October 15, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session  (OCWW is remote only through Dec. 2020)

    You've perfected your short story, novel or short story collection--now what? You could send your manuscript directly to an editor, find an agent first, or even go the contest route. What are the pros and cons of these paths? This session led by award-winning author Amina Gautier (The Loss of All Lost Things; Now We Will Be Happy) will explore guidelines, procedures, and pitfalls to avoid on your journey to publication.

    Bio: Amina Gautier is the author of three award-winning short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy, and The Loss of All Lost Things. At-Risk was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award; Now We Will Be Happy was awarded the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction; The Loss of All Lost Things was awarded the Elixir Press Award in Fiction. More than one hundred of her stories have been published, appearing in Agni, Blackbird, Boston Review, Callaloo, Glimmer Train, Hypertext, Kenyon Review, Latino Book Review, Mississippi Review, New Flash Fiction Review, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, and Southern Review among other places. For her body of work she has received the Blackwell Prize, the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, and the PEN/MALAMUD Award for Excellence in the Short Story.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • October 22, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (OCWW is remote only through Dec. 2020)

    This session examines the personal essay as a contribution to a greater cultural and political dialogue that centers the human being. We’ll start with the gut—what do you need to tell, the memories, fascinations, and questions that live not in your head but your bones—and move into craft—how to tell our own stories in ways that are equally urgent to an audience. 

    You’ll walk away from our time together with a piece in the works that best serves your individual artistic needs—is it part of a larger work? Does it tackle a specific publication goal? Do you need to get it out of your body so you don’t have to carry it for one second more? Let’s make it happen. Let’s get at your stories. We need them. We’re trying to remake the world.

    Bio: Megan Stielstra is the author of three collections, most recently The Wrong Way to Save Your Life, winner of the 2017 Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Review of Books. Her work appears in the Best American Essays, New York Times, Poets & Writers, The Believer, Tin House, and elsewhere. A longtime company member with 2nd Story, she has told stories for National Public Radio, Museum of Contemporary Art, Goodman Theatre, and regularly with the Paper Machete live news magazine at the Green Mill. She teaches creative nonfiction at Northwestern University and is a 2020 Shearing Fellow at the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • October 29, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register
    Remote Session (OCWW will be remote only through December 2020) 

    There’s something about sentences that tell me how to feel. “Sally was so sad” leaves me cold. But how do writers convey emotion and mood in not so many words? We’ll be looking at the dynamics of sentences, and doing some fun experiments.

    Bio: Goldie Goldbloom is an Australian writer living in Chicago with her eight children. Her latest novel is On Division, which was launched on September 17, 2019 from Farrar Straus and Giroux. Her fifth book, Marguerite and Eleanor, is forthcoming in 2020, also with Farrar Straus and Giroux. Her fiction and nonfiction have received many prizes and awards, including from the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Chicago, the Brown Foundation, Best Australian Short Stories, Le Monde and others. You can find her writing in many fine journals, including Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner and at NPR and Le Monde. Goldie teaches at the University of Chicago and in Northwestern University's MFA program for writers.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • November 05, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (OCWW is remote only through Dec. 2020)

    While poets from Mary Oliver to Ross Gay have shown that the pastoral is not an experience limited to the poetic adventurings of straight, white men, wilderness writing is still a frontier dominated by the conventions of colonialism and domestication. However, as more of us leave the garden and go off-road, new poetic exploration occurs. In honoring the complexity of our relationship to the wild and what each individual experience of gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity might bring to the intersection of the human and non-human world, we’ll write poems or prose towards answering the questions that critic Carol Anne Douglas has posed: “What is wilderness? A European invention to make the natural world seem more mysterious and forbidding? A place in which to scare ourselves into feeling brave? A place that belongs to other species, which humans should enter only on their terms? Any place that gives humans a wilderness feeling, whether it be a child's backyard lot or a city street at night?” Through our own poetic explorations, we’ll learn to wield the chainsaw that cuts that line between ourselves and the wilderness on the page.

    Bio: Keetje Kuipers is a poet, essayist, story writer, and editor. She is the author of three poetry collections: Beautiful in the Mouth, The Keys to the Jail, and All Its Charms. Her poems have been featured in the Best American Poetry anthologies, The Academy of American Poets’ Poems have been featured in the Best American Poetry anthologies, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, and NPR. In addition to her poems, Keetje’s essays and short stories have appeared in over a hundred journals and magazines. She has been a Stegner Fellow, a Bread Loaf fellow, and PEN Northwest’s Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident. Keetje lives with her wife and children on an island in the Salish Sea, a short ferry ride away from Seattle, where she teaches at Hugo House and serves as Senior Editor at Poetry Northwest.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • November 12, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (OCWW is remote only through Dec. 2020)

    Sometimes our fictional landscapes take on a particular and peculiar quality: it's as if the characters' feelings have invaded the setting, reflecting the characters' own sense of estrangement. I am calling such landscapes "Wonderlands," which have a strong emotional charge, as the characters try to understand what laws or rules govern the odd locale they have stumbled into. A Wonderland is easy to wander into but difficult to escape from.

    I will be using examples ranging from Shakespeare's Macbeth up to Jordan Peele's film Get Out. 

    Bio: Charles Baxter is the author of six books of stories and six novels, most recently The Sun Collective (Pantheon) to be released in November. He has written two books on the writing of fiction, Burning Down the House and The Art of Subtext. His work has been translated into several languages and his novel The Feast of Love has been adapted for film. He is the Edelstein-Keller Professor of Creative Writing Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, and he lives in Minneapolis.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • November 19, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register
    Remote Session (OCWW will be remote through December 2020) 

    There’s an old saying: “Prose is the museum where all the old tools of poetry are kept.” In this course, we will study how to implement the tenets of poetry-writing to craft stronger, more evocative prose. These tenets include structure, story, music, imagination, brevity, and clarity (from Gregory Orr’s “Four Temperaments and the Forms of Poetry”). 

    We will examine the craft of prose-writing at three levels –– the word unit, the sentence unit, the paragraph unit –– in relationship to the units of poetry –– the word unit, the sentence unit, the paragraph unit. We’ll ask, “How can studying line breaks help us write more muscular, varied sentences? How can reading and writing poetry help us be more deliberate in our word choices? What can the poetic stanza teach us about paragraph pacing? “

    By the end of the session, you’ll have a clearer and deeper understanding of how to implement the tools of poetry into your fiction and nonfiction. All writers welcome. 

    Bio: Jane Huffman's poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere, and she is a 2019 recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Jane is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and currently works for the Iowa Youth Writing Project. She is editor-in-chief of Guesthouse, an online literary journal. Twitter @janechuffman

    Jane will accept manuscripts for all genres. She will also judge our poetry contest. Please see manuscript and contest guidelines on our website ocww.info for details.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • December 03, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register
    Remote Session (OCWW will be remote through December 2020)

    In this session, we’ll explore some of the ways writers give voice to the sublime and the beautiful, as well as the profoundly difficult. Our workshop will serve as an experimental space to share resources for writing through difficult times. We’ll discuss these ideas while exploring elements of craft through generative exercises meant to add to your own creative work and practice. This workshop is open to writers of all levels working in poetry and/or prose.

    Bio: Brian Turner is a poet and memoirist who served seven years in the US army. He is the author of two poetry collections, Phantom Noise and Here, Bullet, which won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, The New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection, the 2006 PEN Center USA “Best in the West” Award, the 2007 Poet’s Prize, and others. In addition to his poetry, he is editor of the anthology, The Kiss (2018), a diverse anthology of essays, stories, poems, and graphic memoirs. Turner’s work has been published in National Geographic, The New York Times, Poetry Daily, Harpers Magazine, and other fine journals. Turner has been awarded a United States Artists Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship a Lannan Foundation Fellowship and more. Turner is director of the MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College.  His recent memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country, has been called, “achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful.”

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • December 10, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (OCWW is remote through Dec. 2020)

    Most of us have been told this at some point: “Show, don’t tell.”

    In a nutshell, this all-too-common phrase means “Use scene, not summary, in your writing.” But many writers struggle with this idea, both conceptually and practically. What is the difference between scene and summary? How can each be used to greatest effect? What does a well-paced story look like? Award winning author Abby Geni will provide guidance on pacing, story speeds, how to balance scene and summary in your writing, and why telling is just as important as showing. Includes handouts and exercises.

    Bio: Abby Geni is the Chicago-based author of The Wildlands (September 2018), The Lightkeepers, winner of the 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction and the Chicago Review of Books Awards for Best Fiction, and The Last Animal, an Indies Introduce Debut Writers Selection and finalist for the Orion Book Award. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Iowa Fellowship. Her website is www.abbygeni.com    

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • December 17, 2020
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register
    Remote Session (OCWW will be remote through December 2020)

    We know how essential revision is to our writing. Some authors make ongoing revisions while working on their drafts, while others prefer to wait until their drafts are complete, yet others put it off until courage comes knocking. No matter, there is no single magic way, and we must revise, because rewriting always brings us closer to a refined work. Or does it? And how often must we revise? How do we know when we are finished?  In this craft lecture, we will take on these questions. Ignatius will share strategies, and frame revision as a journey of discovery, wrong turns, and surprises that breathe fresh life into our stories. Ignatius will show us that revising is not so much an act of taking up a shovel and digging through the draft as it is employing a deep-well augur to find our true source. Come with notebook and pen at hand.

    Bio: Born and raised in India, Ignatius Valentine Aloysiusearned his MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern University. He is a lecturer, designer, and musician, and author of the novel Fishhead. Republic of Want (Tortoise Books, 2020). Ignatius was selected as a 2020-21 Creative Writing Fellow by the Ludington Writers Board and the Ludington Area Center for the Arts in Michigan. He serves on the curatorial board at Ragdale Foundation, and was a featured July 2020 author for Ragdale’s By-and-for-Artists Series. Ignatius is also co-curator of Sunday Salon Chicago, a bi-monthly literary reading event series in Chicago. He is currently at work on his next novel and lives with his wife in Evanston, IL.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • January 07, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (OCWW may add access to a live session with separate registration)

    Matt returns to preview his upcoming book from Penguin Random House, which is provisionally titled Believe Care Invest: How to Make Anyone Care About Your Hero in Ten Pages or Less.  Most gatekeepers will only commit to reading your first ten pages, so how do you grab them and compel them to read the whole thing?  As usual, Matt will bring lots of examples showing off various tips and tricks.  

    Bio: Matt Bird has a Masters in Screenwriting from Columbia University.  He is the author of the Amazon bestseller The Secrets of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers. He lives in Evanston with his wife (author Betsy Bird) and two adorable children.  

    9-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12 Program 



    • January 14, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (OCWW may add a live session with separate registration)

    Every novel or short story, no matter what genre, contains an element of suspense. It's one of the universal "drivers" of fiction. It's also important to know for non-fiction work, such as true crime or investigative journalism. Learn how to incorporate suspense into your writing in a workshop from an  award-winning suspense/crime fiction author.

    Bio: Libby Fischer Hellmann left a career in broadcast news in Washington, DC and moved to Chicago over 35 years ago, where she, naturally, began to write gritty crime fiction. Fifteen novels and twenty-five short stories later, she claims they’ll take her out of the Windy City feet first. She has been nominated for many awards in the mystery and crime writing community and has even won a few. She has been a finalist twice for the Anthony and four times for Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year. She has also been nominated for the Agatha, the Shamus, the Daphne, and has won the IPPY and the Readers Choice Award multiple times.

    Libby will be judging a Suspense Scene Contest. Please see the Manuscript and Contest Guidelines on our website for details.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing & Registration

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • January 21, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register
    Remote Session (OCWW may add a live session with separate registration)

    This workshop will encourage writers from all genres to discover compelling material through memory, observation, and imagination. Guided writing activities expose you to your own unique and (extra)ordinary content; explorations in ways of telling, structure, and form will help you identify and make work that resonates. Whether you are creating imagined new worlds or writing autobiographical pieces, fiction or nonfiction, prose or poetry, these explorations in emotional veracity, specificity, and universality will feed your muse.

    Bio: Patricia Ann McNair has managed a gas station, served as a medical volunteer in Honduras, sold pots and pans door to door, tended bar and breaded mushrooms, worked on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and now teaches in the English and Creative Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award, and a nomination for Carnegie Foundation’s U.S. Professor of the Year. McNair’s The Temple of Air received Southern Illinois University Devil’s Kitchen Readers Award and the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award. And These Are The Good Times was a Montaigne Medal finalist. Responsible Adults, a Cornerstone Press Legacy Series selection, is scheduled for release in December 2020.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • January 28, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (OCWW may add a live session with separate registration) 

    Whether you are writing a play, screenplay, teleplay, or adapting a novel or memoir into one of these dramatic forms, riveting scenes are the key to a gripping story intended to be performed by actors. 

    This workshop will deep dive into your scenes.  Participants are invited to submit their scenes ahead of time to the instructor, who will critique them and select the most compelling to be read by professional actors at the workshop. 

    The workshop will begin with a brief overview of what elements make for great scene work:

    •    A desire on the part of each character in the scene
    •   How they go about getting what they want
    •   The conflict/obstacle to them getting what they want**
    •   An escalation
    •   And an emotional change from the beginning of the scene to the end

    ***Conflict doesn’t mean people shouting at each other!  Because that doesn’t usually get a person what they want.  Ask yourself:  What’s getting in the way of what my characters want, and how does each of them go about getting that?  (Hint: Oftentimes, they try this, that, and the other thing.)

    We’ll then jump right into reading your scenes, followed by a Q&A with the instructor and the professional actors.  (Much can be gleaned from their perspective on how they approach scene work.) If your scene doesn’t make the cut, you will still have a hard copy critique from the instructor.

    Submission criteria: Comedy, Drama, Dramedy
    Plays, Screenplays, Teleplays
    Aim for no more than 3 characters (but no worries if there are more)
    Maximum 6 pages, less is better

    How to format a play:  Here’s the formatting criteria for the Dramatists Guild: https://www.dramatistsguild.com/script-formats

    How to format a screenplay or teleplay:  Here’s a good guide: https://screenwriting.io/what-is-standard-screenplay-format/  (especially the link to John August’s site)                                       

    This workshop is for playwrights, screenwriters, teleplay writers, as well as novelists and memoirists.

    Please see Manuscript and Contest Guidelines on the OCWW Website for details.

    Mary Ruth Clarke co-wrote and starred in the original Meet the Parents and co-adapted it into the blockbuster version, starring Robert De Niro. Her play Bonhoeffer’s Cost  has been produced at The Agape Actors Co-op in Austin, Texas, Philadelphia's Beacon Theater, and the Provision Theater in Chicago.  Agape also produced her farce Suffer The Long Night, co-written with her “Meet The Parents" partner, Greg Gliennaas did the Meta Theater in LA.

    Her play Address Unknown was produced in Chicago by 20% Theater Company, and Fury Theater; her solo performance, I Could Kill Him For Dying, ran at Three Cat Productions in Chicago, and her musical, Fay Burns! had a 28 Hour Workshop and two staged readings at Chicago Dramatists, where she is a Resident Playwright and heads up the screenwriting and television classes. 

    Recent Saturday Series staged readings include Alice and Celia and Whatever It Takes, a comedy screenplay, directed by Second City’s Pat McKenna, and her play Right In Front of Us.

    Mary Ruth is a screenplay consultant for clients in LA and Chicago, a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, where she heads up the screenwriting program, and teaches screenwriting at Story Studio.  She lectures regularly at the Chicago Screenwriter’s Network, and has presented workshops for the Off Campus Writer’s Group, the Chicago Independent Film Project, and Renaissance Theaterworks Milwaukee. She is a member of the Writer’s Guide of America East and the Dramatists Guild.

    Mary Ruth will accept Comedy, Drama, Dramedy, Plays, Screenplays, and Teleplays up to 6 pages for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines on the website: ocww.info.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • February 04, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (Out of town speakers, so remote only)



    How does a manuscript go from query to submission to acquisitions to contract? In this session, (pictured left to right) editor Terri Bischoff and literary agents Saba Sulaiman and Abby Saul will give an overview of the submission process from both the publishing house and agent perspectives, including how agents work with their clients and what editors really discuss at acquisition meetings.

    Bios: Terri Bischoff began her life in books as a bookseller at Kramerbooks in Washington, DC. After moving home to the Midwest, she worked at a feminist bookstore before purchasing and operating Booked for Murder in Madison, WI. She spent 10 years at Midnight Ink as their acquiring editor and published 36-40 books a year. Terri has a wealth of experience and knowledge in both mysteries and in bookselling, particularly as a book buyer and reviewer. Terri’s interests lie in mainstream, suspense, thrillers, quirky and humorous cozies, LGBTQIA, and diverse characters/storylines.

    Saba Sulaiman is an agent at Talcott Notch Literary Services, a boutique agency located in Milford, CT. She holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MA from the University of Chicago, where she studied modern Persian literature. In children’s fiction, she is looking primarily to build her Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult lists, and is particularly interested in contemporary realistic stories. In adult, she's open to literary, upmarket, and commercial fiction, category romance (all sub-genres except paranormal), tightly plotted, character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries à la Agatha Christie, and memoir. A first-generation immigrant who is constantly negotiating her identity and sense of belonging in a place she now calls “home,” she is committed to highlighting more diverse voices with compelling stories to tell; stories that demonstrate the true range of global perspectives and address urgent and often underexplored issues in both fiction and non-fiction with veracity and heart. Follow her on Twitter @agentsaba. Website: sabasulaiman.com

    Abby Saul founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing at John Wiley & Sons, Sourcebooks, and Browne & Miller Literary Associates. She's worked with and edited bestselling and award-winning authors as well as major brands. A zealous reader who loves her iPad and the ebooks on it, she still can’t resist the lure of a print book. Abby’s personal library of beloved titles runs the gamut from literary newbies and classics, to cozy mysteries, to sappy women’s fiction, to dark and twisted thrillers. She’s looking for great and engrossing adult commercial (including mysteries/thrillers, women's, and historical) and literary fiction. She's not looking for fantasy, sci-fi, or political thrillers - and no kids' books. A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Abby spends her weekends—when she’s not reading—cooking and hiking with her husband and son. A longtime OCWW contributor, you can follow her @BookySaul on Twitter.

    Saba Sulaiman will critique up to 15 single-page, single-spaced query letters on a first-come   basis.  

    Terri Bischoff will accept up to 15 20-page manuscripts on a first-come basis. Please see the manuscript guidelines on our OCWW Website for details.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing & Registration

    9:30-12:00  Program

    How does a manuscript go from query to submission to acquisitions to contract? In this session, (pictured left to right) editor Terri Bischoff and literary agents Saba Sulaiman and Abby Saul will give an overview of the submission process from both the publishing house and agent perspectives, including how agents work with their clients and what editors really discuss at acquisition meetings.
    • February 11, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register
    Remote Session (out of town speaker, so remote only)

    How do we write about grief right now, when there are so many (and simultaneous) forms of grief to address? Can poems speak to job loss, loss of everyday routines, loss of future plans, missing friends we don't know  when we’ll get to see again? And what if we simply can’t write poems or prose at this moment—what do we do with the loss of our sense of being poets or writers? In this generative workshop, we’ll make space for all these questions, looking to a range of elegies not for neat answers (which don’t exist anyway) but a deepening of our attention to where we are, who we are, in the midst of crisis.

    Bio: Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, the GLCA New Writers’ Award, and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, and named one of the Best of 2017 by the Brooklyn Rail, Entropy, Library Journal, and others. His work has appeared in many publications, including Poetry, Tin House, Poem-a-Day, The Best American Poetry, Bettering American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Chen earned his MFA from Syracuse University and is pursuing a PhD in English and Creative Writing as an off-site Texas Tech University student. He lives in frequently snowy Rochester, NY with his partner, Jeff Gilbert and their pug dog, Mr. Rupert Giles. Chen is the 2018-2020 Jacob Ziskind Poet-in Residence at Brandeis University.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing & Registration

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • February 18, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (OCWW may add a live event with separate registration)

    Have you ever wondered how memoirists and essayists capture such vivid details from their past? Join author and writing coach, Nadine Kenney Johnstone, for a morning of memory mining. Nadine will lead writers through visualization exercises to resurrect crucial details from their past. During in-class writing time, the group will take those memories and morph them into engaging scenes that will captivate any reader.

    Bio: Nadine Kenney Johnstone is the author of the memoir, Of This Much I'm Sure, which was named Book of the Year by the Chicago Writers Association and received press coverage in Cosmopolitan, Today’s Parent, MindBodyGreen, and Metro, among others. Nadine teaches at Loyola University and received her MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Her other stories and interviews have been featured in places such as Chicago magazine, The Magic of Memoir, the Author2Author podcast, and the Don't Keep Your Day Job podcast. She is a writing coach who works with authors around the globe, and she lives near Chicago with her family. You can find her at nadinekenneyjohnstone.com.

    Nadine will accept manuscripts for critique. See our website ocww.info for guidelines.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing & Registration

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • February 25, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (OCWW may add a live event with separate registration)

    Writing that surprises the reader with unexpected or compound-complex formal structure also surprises the reader with unexpected emotions and images, helping them identify and engage with our writing on a much deeper level. What’s the difference between “The rusty old car sat in the neighbor’s yard,” and “The old Grand Am, rust-bitten and cushion-torn, has languished for years in the neighbor’s yard”?

    In this seminar, we will examine different ways of writing sentences to appeal to the pathos of our readers, write more fluid and cumulative scenes and descriptions, as well as better writing that editors want to publish. We will look at specific devices, such as apposition, syntactic ordering and clustering, and cumulative layering. We will engage with these devices on their own and in relation to other imaginative and lyric devices, including simile, metaphor, personification, and overall character building. We will talk through how to think more deeply about our own writing processes and how to properly revise our work, making it more engaging, emotive, and lush.  

    We will look at examples from award-winning writers, including Judy Jordan, Carl Phillips, Vievee Francis, James Kimbrell, Julia Levine, Louise Gluck, and Shane McCrae in a mix of lecture, discussion, and generative exercises. Handouts will be provided before or during the event. No prior prep work is required. While most examples will be pulled from narrative poems, the examples and lessons are equally applicable to any mode of writing. Additional learning resources will also be provided.

    Bio: John McCarthy is the author of Scared Violent Like Horses (Milkweed Editions, 2019), which won the Jake Adam York Prize; and Ghost County (Midwestern Gothic Press, 2016), which was named a Best Poetry Book of 2016 by The Chicago Review of Books. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets 2015, Copper Nickel, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Journal, New Poetry from the Midwest 2017 and 2019, Pleiades, and TriQuarterly. He is the 2016 winner of The Pinch Literary Award in Poetry. John is an Associate Editor at RHINO Magazine and lives in Evanston, Illinois. 

    John will accept poetry and prose for critique. Please see the manuscript submission guidelines on our website ocww.info for details.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing & Registration

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • March 04, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register
    Remote (OCWW may add a live event with separate registration) Writers at all stages can benefit from building a platform, engaging with other readers and writers, and gaining recognition through branding and extracurricular writing. This presentation will touch on websites and online platforms in general, with a focus on how to engage a following of book lovers within Instagram's #bookstagram community. 


    Bio:
    Kimmery Martin is an emergency medicine doctor-turned novelist whose works of medical fiction have been praised by The Harvard Crimson, Southern Living, The Charlotte Observer and The New York Times, among others. A lifelong literary nerd, she promotes reading, interviews authors, and teaches writing seminars, speaking frequently at libraries, conferences, and bookstores around the United States. Kimmery completed her medical training at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She lives with her husband and three children in Charlotte, North Carolina. For the last two years, she’s been working on a novel about a group of female doctors on the frontlines during an emerging viral pandemic; it will be released from Penguin Random House in 2021. Her latest novel, The Antidote for Everything, is available now.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing & Registration

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • March 11, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote (OCWW may add a live event with separate registration)

    Clichés take hold for a variety of reasons: they are apt, they are (prior to overuse) vivid, they are memorable, etc. The trouble is that their familiarity can make them the first phrase we reach for—and even if they adequately convey our meaning, they do not capture the imagination of the reader. Becoming thumb-worn from excessive use, clichés cease to impart anything particular or immediate—they have been reduced to approximations, vestiges of the concepts and feeling states they once evoked. As a tool of revision, a productive filter for sharpening prose is to review each draft with a focus on identifying and excising phrases, images, and ideas that a reader will have encountered before and to be fully deliberate in our literary decisions about them. Sometimes, clichés or familiar images have a place and serve a purpose, so a blanket prohibition makes no sense—the aim is that every choice serves our goals for the piece we're making. Where a cliché is simply serving as a placeholder—as they so often do—we must exercise our ingenuity to substitute something livelier and more interesting. We will walk through an exercise using a passage I'll provide to practice this specialized kind of revision.

    Bio: Ian Belknap is the founder of WRITE CLUB, a competitive readings series that's been monthly in Chicago since 2010, and has chapters in 3 other US cities. His essays, criticism, and satire have appeared in The Rumpus, Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, New City Chicago, and elsewhere. He is pursuing a Creative Writing MFA at Bennington College. He is a longtime writing instructor and coach. - https://www.writerianbelknap.com/

    Ian will accept manuscripts for critique in fiction and nonfiction.  Please see manuscript guidelines on our website: ocww.info

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing & Registration

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • March 18, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote (OCWW may add a live event with separate registration)

    Place is more than a physical location, and setting is more than just historical coordinates. The origins of a piece of writing can be the physical realities of the world or a casually spoken phrase that asks for further explanation. In this brief talk, we’ll begin with the question “Where are you from?” and then try to follow the answers home. 

    Eudora Welty stated that place was not only a source of inspiration in her writing:

    “It is a source of knowledge. It tells me the important things. It steers me and keeps me going straight, because place is a definer and a confiner of what I’m doing. It helps me to identify, to recognize and explain. It does so much for you of itself. It saves me. Why, you couldn’t write a story that happened nowhere. I couldn’t, anyway. I couldn’t write anything that abstract. I wouldn’t be interested in anything that abstract.”

    - From  “The Art of Fiction No. 47Paris Review Fall 1972

    “Without even leaving one’s door, one can know the whole world.” 

    - Lao Tse

    Reading: Bryan Washington’s short story “Alief,” but I highly recommend the entire collection, LOT, if participants have time to read it. It is one of the best examples of how place and setting enliven, deepen, and even define an author’s work. 

    Bio: Elizabeth Wetmore variously tended bar, taught English, drove a cab, edited psychology dissertations, and painted silos and cooling towers at a petrochemical plant before becoming a writer. A West Texas native who lived in a one-room cabin in the woods outside Flagstaff, Arizona while she worked as a classical music announcer,  she is most at home in the desert, near the sea, or on the side of a mountain. She lives in Chicago, but she dreams of being bicoastal (Lake Michigan and Lake Travis). 

    She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council as well as a grant from the Barbara Deming Foundation. Her work has appeared in a number of literary journals including the Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, and others. Her novel, VALENTINE, published on March 31 by HarperCollins, debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List and has been long-listed for the Center for Fiction's 2020 First Novel Prize. 

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • March 25, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote (OCWW may add a live event with separate registration)

    Do you have a backlog of abandoned stories and essays? Have you revised the life out a piece, trying to make it perfect? In this course, we’ll discuss some less common ways of waking up your prose and unlocking narrative energy. Toward this end, we’ll examine thrilling turns in several stories and essays. Some of the strategies we’ll cover include: finding and fanning hotspots; using transitions as transport; modulating register, diction, and rhythm; and making space for rough edges and mischief. 

    Optional: Bring a few "unworkable" pages from a work-in-progress. 

    Bio: Rachel Swearingen is the author of How to Walk on Water and Other Stories, winner of the 2018 New American Press Fiction Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in VICEThe Missouri Review, Kenyon ReviewOff AssignmentAgniAmerican Short Fiction, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2015 Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Fiction, a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction. In 2019, she was named one of 30 Writers to Watch by the Guild Literary Complex. Swearingen holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a PhD from Western Michigan University, and teaches at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • April 01, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote (OCWW may add a live event with separate registration)

    The flash fiction, the short short story, the micro-tale, the mini-essay: whatever you call them, it is in these tightly compressed forms that the techniques of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction meet and merge to create exciting new modes of expression. Through brief (under 1,000 words, and in many cases under 500) readings by historical and contemporary writers, we'll see how such tiny stories can pack a huge punch, and will explore what these “smokelong” tales can teach us about longer forms.  We'll also discuss Rose Metal Press, an independent publisher dedicated to literary work in hybrid genres, and what editors are looking for when it comes to work of this sort. You'll have the chance to do in-session exercises, and will walk out with rough drafts of a couple very short stories you can continue to hone, as well as with a new sense of how to bring economy to your sentences in writing of all lengths and genres. 

    Bio: Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a nonprofit publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, as well as a founding member of Poems While You Wait. Her most recent books include the novel Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and The Listening Room: A Novel of Georgette and Loulou Magritte .Her World War I novel Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey was released by Penguin in August 2020, and her criticism appears in The New York Times Magazine, The Poetry Foundation website, The Chicago TribuneThe Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago and teaches at DePaul.

    Kathleen will judge a 500-word Short Short Contest. Entries are due March 11. Please see Manuscript and Contest Guidelines on our website for details.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • April 08, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote (OCWW may add a live event with separate registration)

    More than four decades passed since Esther Hershenhorn attended her first OCWW Writing for Children Workshop and officially took up residence in the ever-changing Children’s Book World. Her award-winning books led to her current success in teaching and coaching children’s book writers, and her work with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators as an advocate for children’s book creators. In this workshop, Esther shares in Show, Don’t Tell fashion what’s new – as well as not-so-new, in stories, formats, publishers, agents and markets as well as Reader needs and Reader connections. Two submitted participants’ manuscripts will be presented for group discussion.

    Bio: The descriptive appositive TeachingAuthor describes Esther Hershenhorn perfectly. She authors picture books, middle grade fiction and nonfiction while teaching Writing for Children at Chicago’s Newberry Library and the University of Chicago’s Writer’s Studio.  Helping others tell their stories, especially to children, is truly her story.  She proudly considers her writers and students her “storied treasures.”  Esther is also honored to serve as the Illinois Regional Advisor Emerita for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 

    Individual critiques are not available. However, two manuscripts from those submitted will be selected for group presentation and discussion. Writers can submit – between March 15 and March 22, 2021 - up to 5 pages of a picture book or the first chapter of a chapter book (early chapter, mg, YA, nonfiction) + story description/summary. Email the pages as an attachment to: esthersh@aol.com Label the subject head “Manuscript for April 8, 2021 OCWW Presentation.”

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • April 15, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (out of town speaker, so remote only)

    One of the most important decisions we make as fiction writers is point of view. What are the limits and advantages of each? How do we choose, and after we do, what other things about our chosen perspective should we consider? In this session, we will examine various stylistic and formal strategies of first-person narration in particular and the way these strategies relate to characterization, voice, description, narrative distance, retrospection, narrative occasion, present action, and emotional stakes. We will explore various ways of inhabiting a first-person voice, examining how the telling of a story is inextricable from the story itself, with a particular attention to story beginnings.

    Bio: Natalie Bakopoulos is an assistant professor at Wayne State University and the author of Scorpionfish (Tin House, 2020) and The Green Shore (Simon & Schuster, 2012). Her work has appeared in Tin House, VQR, The Iowa Review, The New York Times, Granta, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, The Mississippi Review, O. Henry Prize Stories, and various other publicationsShe received her MFA from the University of Michigan. In 2015, she was a Fulbright scholar in Athens, Greece.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • April 22, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote (OCWW may add a live event with separate registration)

    What exactly is a writer’s “voice”? Is it a unique prose style or formal approach, a distinct tone or atmosphere in the writing, a set of thematic concerns that frames a particular point of view on the world? And what does it mean to “find” one's voice? How does one actually do that? This craft talk will address these questions by first dispensing with the notion of originality in a literary voice, or that there is any mystery or magic in its development. We will look at it as nothing more—and nothing less—than the process of writing sentences that you truly believe in, which involves something even more difficult: understanding who you think you are, who you want to be, and who you might inevitably and irrevocably be.


    BIO: Vu Tran's first novel, Dragonfish, was a NY Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of the Year. His short fiction has appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Best American Mystery StoriesPloughshares, and other publications.  He is the winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award and an NEA Fellowship, and has also been a fellow at Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Yaddo, and the MacDowell Colony. Born in Vietnam and raised in Oklahoma, Vu received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his PhD from the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas. He is a criticism columnist for the Virginia Quarterly Review, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Practice in English & Creative Writing at the University of Chicago, where he directs the undergraduate program.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9-9:30 Registration  

    9:30-12 Program


    • April 29, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register

    Remote Session (out of town speaker, so this session will be remote only)

    In this lecture, I’ll explain the all the reasons that life is so strange (hat-tip to William Maxwell’s “The reason life is so strange is that so often people have no choice.”) After that, we’ll examine the energy that options, or a lack of them, can bring to dramatic narratives. lyric essays, and confessional poems. You don’t need to read anything ahead of time, but we’ll likely look at excerpts from the novels “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid, “Salvage The Bones” by Jesmyn Ward, and “The Secret History" by Donna Tartt, as well as poems by Danez Smith, Paige Lewis, and Louise Gluck. You don’t need to read all these texts ahead of time, because some of this is subject to change. Let’s keep our options open.

    Bio: Dean Bakopoulos is an author from Detroit, Michigan. He is an assistant professor of English at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Dean’s third novel, Summerlong, was published by Ecco/HarperCollins in June 2015. He is currently at work on a nonfiction book called Undoing, as well as a screenplay and a television pilot. Dean’s first novel, Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon (Harcourt, 2005), was a New York Times Notable Book; his screenplay adaptation of the novel is being developed for the screen by James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini productions; His second novel, My American Unhappiness, published in 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, was named one of the year’s best novels by The Chicago Tribune. He received his BA from the University of Michigan and his MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to teaching fiction and creative nonfiction workshops at Grinnell, Dean has taught creative writing at UW-Madison, Iowa State University, and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. The winner of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Dean also reviews books for The New York Times Book Review and ​the San Francisco Chronicle.

    We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at ckatz17755@aol.com for details.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12:00  Program

    • May 06, 2021
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM (CDT)
    • Remote
    Register