Category Archives: Books

Spotlight: Chinelo Okparanta

Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers welcomes

Chinelo Okparanta

Okparanta Photo

Chinelo Okparanta is the author of Under The Udala Trees, winner of the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for fiction; winner of the 2016 Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Award in Fiction; 2016 Nominee for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award in Fiction; a 2016 NAACP Image Awards Nominee, “Outstanding Literary Work—Fiction”; 2016 Publishing Triangle Award Finalist (Ferro-Grumley Literary Award); and a host of other awards.

Chinelo Okparanta, born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, is a University of Iowa Provost’s Postgraduate Visiting Writer in Fiction as well as a Colgate University Olive B. O’Connor Fellow in Fiction, Okparanta received her BS from Pennsylvania State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was one of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012 and is a Lambda Award winner for Lesbian Fiction, an O. Henry Short Story Prize winner. Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.

Under The Udala Trees

“Okparanta is masterful…Here is writing rich in the beautiful intimacies of people who love each other—and wise about the importance of holding onto those precious connections in a world that is, more often than not, dangerous and cold. Written with courage and compassion, this debut novel by Okparanta stunningly captures a young girl’s coming of age against the backdrop of a nation at war.” —Kirkus, Starred review

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Listen to Chinelo Okparanta‘s interview for Library of Congress’ Conversations with African Writers  She reads excerpts from her fiction.

Chinelo Okparanta is the author of the collection, “Happiness Like Water,” an award-winning collection of short stories.

Hapiness Like Wster

“The stories in Okparanta’s first collection are quiet, often unnervingly so, in the manner of a stifled shriek…One character notes the silences that fall between her and her mother, ‘as if we no longer valued spoken words, as if spoken words were gaudy finishes on a delicate piece of art, unnecessary distractions from the masterpiece, whose substance was more meaningfully experienced if left un-ornamented.’ If this is Okparanta’s goal – the distillation of experience into something crystalline, stark but lustrous – she is well on her way there.” —New York Times Book Review

For Festival 2016, Chinelo Okparanta will present the workshop, “Crafting The Short Story” a practice-based approach to fiction writing. The two-hour session will consist of in-depth analyses of craft elements of selected short stories, in conjunction with hands-on attention to Participants’ own short stories.

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Spotlight: Mary Johnson

Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers welcomes

Mary Johnson

MaryJohnsonWoodsUSE

Mary Johnson, a passionate advocate, writer and teacher is a founding Participating Writer of The Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers. We’re thrilled that she is returning for Festival 2016. Mary Johnson is the author of An Unquenchable Thirst, the story of her twenty years as a nun with Mother Theresa and why she chose to leave The Missionaries of Charity. 

“Readers…will find themselves transported into another world by this powerful, revealing memoir…. Johnson’s portrayal of her time as a nun is likely to be controversial; her memoir is exceptional.” – Kirkus Reviews
An Unquenchable Thirst

Mary began in 2000 to write her story, met a dynamic woman who committed to supporting her writing, and together she and Darlene Chandler Bassett launched A Room of Her Own Foundation to help other women writers. An organization that continues to this day supporting women’s creative work.  For more information on A Room Of Her Own Foundation: AROHO

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For Festival 2016, Mary Johnson will present the workshop, SHOW ME THE MONEY. As a writer who has both received grants, awards, and residencies, and served as a judge on panels awarding them, Mary Johnson will discuss a writer’s relationship to her financial reality; how to research opportunities for grants, awards, and residencies; protocols in grant and residency applications; the need to personalize an application by writing with personality; the importance of tracking your submissions and methods for doing so; as well as, the elements of a creative project plan.

Don’t miss this opportunity to gain insight from a successful author! For more information and to register: Festival of Women Writers 2016

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Very importantly, Mary Johnson is also a Humanist Celebrant, certified through the  American Humanist Society. She facilitates all kinds of Rites of Passage and Transition, including weddings and funerals.

For more information about Mary Johnson and her work: Mary Johnson

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Spotlight: Linda Lowen

The Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers 2016 welcomes

Linda Lowen

WAW - Kathleen MorettiPhoto by Lisa Levart
WAW – Kathleen Moretti Photo by Lisa Levart

We’re excited that Linda Lowen returns for her second straight year at Festival of Women Writers. She has been a freelance writer for over two decades, Linda Lowen’s work has appeared in print and online. She is the editor of Hopeful, Grateful, Strong, an anthology of cancer survivor stories published in June 2015.  Her essay “Hillary Clinton, Everymother,” is featured in the book Love Her, Love Her Not:  The Hillary Paradox, edited by Joanne Hamburger. Linda is a theater reviewer for the Syracuse Post-Standard / syracuse.com and also writes the award-winning “Storytime” column for Family Times, the Parenting Guide of Central New York. Her non-fiction story “Christmas Eve Service” is included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back.  Linda is co-host/producer of Take Care, an award-winning health and wellness show that features the country’s leading experts on medicine, health, psychology and human behavior, on  WRVO Public Media, an NPR affiliate serving Central and Northern New York. The program can be heard as a podcast through iTunes and is syndicated nationwide through PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.

Hillary Paradoxhopefulgratefulstrong

 

For Festival 2016, Linda Lowen will once again present an absolutely essential workshop for writers, whether established or unpublished.

BLOGS, WEBSITES & SOCIAL MEDIA: Create, Curate, Relate 

“What’s your platform?” is a typical question today. Writers are more likely to have their work published if they have a platform which can be a subscriber list for a blog, website or email newsletter, a following on Twitter, a large number of “Likes” on Facebook, or any social media presence with followers. Lowen brings her expert knowledge from covering tech, the internet, and social media trends for MSN, as well as establishing About.com Women’s Issues as the internet’s top-ranked site.

“A blog is very different because, in many cases, your reader may not be familiar with your work or even know who you are. They may have arrived on your site through various links, and once they land they judge you rather quickly, trying to decide whether it’s worth their time to read and stick around. There are many tips and tricks to optimizing your writing to be read online, and I’ll be going over those in my workshop.”  Linda Lowen

Go to Festival 2016 for more information about all of our workshops and readings.

From Linda Lowen‘s Q&A with Stephanie Nikolopolous, also a returning participating author for Festival 2016 and also a blogger of books and literature, women’s concerns, and Greek-American identity. Visit Stephanie’s blog and subscribe at: Stephanie Nikolopoulos.com

 

Stephanie Nikolopoulos
Stephanie Nikolopoulos

 

Nikolopoulos: Much of your career has been focused on covering women’s issues, from politics to pop culture. How have women’s issues as a category changed in your two decades as a freelance writer? In what way would you like to see it change?

Lowen: We’ve seen a lot of shifts, both good and bad. Twenty years ago few of us could have envisioned a viable presidential candidate who was female, or a First Lady who was a woman of color. Back in 1995, those situations would have been characterized as pipe dreams rather than attainable outcomes. We also would not have foreseen a future in which two women could be legally married to each other–and have that union accepted in every state in the U.S.–or one in which a former male Olympic gold medalist would be accepted as a female and celebrated on the cover of a magazine like Vanity Fair.

But those are the headline-making stories, and they’re always going to be bigger and splashier than the quiet realities of women’s lives. And that’s the problem: many of those smaller, honest stories have been crowded out. These days, the conversation touches less on poverty, single mothers as heads of households, pay inequity, food insecurity, social issues that aren’t so sexy but that more accurately represent what ordinary women in this country face every single day.

Over the course of 15 years covering women’s issues, I’ve found that many of the voices raised against women have become downright vicious, and the vitriol is hard to stomach if you don’t have a thick skin. For a long time I was optimistic that the growth of the internet would level the playing field because words and thoughts in isolation don’t have gender; they simply exist at face value, and when access to a worldwide audience opened up for anyone who had an internet connection, I thought women could do at least as well as men. But from the technology industry to the gaming industry, we’ve seen how women have been shut out of many areas, or if they attempt to enter on equal footing, there are real threats made against them.

The greatest challenge most women’s issues-oriented sites face comes in the comments section. The internet is largely a place that protects anonymity, and when people can leave comments that they don’t have to personally be responsible and accountable for, the worst of human nature shows up.

 

For more information on Festival of Women Writers 2016, link here: Festival 2016

Support women who write, support our Indiegogo funding campaign: Indiegogo 2016

 

Four O’Clock Flowers speaks with Yesenia Montilla

The Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers is excited to welcome Yesenia Montilla to Festival 2016.

Yesenia has joined co-organizer and host, Breena Clarke, for an interview on Four O’Clock Flowers, a podcast produced for Festival 2016.  Four O’Clock Flowers speaks with Yesenia Montilla

fouroclock    IMG_1790 (1)

Yese6_bw    The Pink Box

Host, Breena Clarke and Yesenia discuss her debut poetry collection, The Pink Box.

Yesenia Montilla is a New York City poet with Afro-Caribbean roots & a 2014 CantoMundo Fellow. Her poetry has appeared in the chapbook For The Crowns Of Your Head, as well as the literary journals: 5 AM, Adanna, Wideshore and others. She received her MFA from Drew University in Poetry and Poetry in Translation. Her first collection of poetry The Pink Box was published by Willow Books in Fall 2015.

Link here for more poetry of Yesenia Montilla: The Wide Shore

To register for Festival 2016:Festival info and registration

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Festival 2016 Indiegogo

 

Spotlight: Writers Conversation

Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers presents

Writers  Conversation:

Why Memoir?

with JP Howard, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, Bessy Reyna and hosted by Simona David

JPHoward     dahlma-llanos-figueroa    Bessy Reyna with sweater    Simona David

Writing Workshops are a solid tradition of the Festival of Women Writers.

In this Writers Conversation: Why Memoir?, JP Howard, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, and Bessy Reyna will discuss their approaches to facilitating memoir writing, mining memories, and focusing on life’s significant events. This Writers Conversation is designed to encourage people to begin to structure the material of their lives and to write their life journeys.

Say:Mirror               Daughters of the Stone

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JP Howard is a poet, author, educator and curator. She founded and curates Women Writers In Bloom Literary salon in New York City,  a forum offering women writers at all levels a monthly venue to come together in a positive and supportive space. She is the recipient of a 2016, 2015 and 2014 Brooklyn Arts Council Community Arts Fund Grant on behalf of the Salon. She is the author of SAY/MIRROR, her lovely though searing debut collection of poetry which was nominated for The Lambda Literary Award for poetry.

for more information, visit JP’s website: JP Howard

Novelist, educator and former Young Adult librarian, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa welcomes visitors to her website with the declaration of her themes and her process.

I’m often asked who I write for. Well, I write for women and men, old and young, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives and people of all cultures. I’m asked why I write. I write because couldn’t find my world on the pages of the books I was given.  

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE STONE, which follows the lives of five generations of Afro-Puerto Rican women focusing on the legacy passed from one generation to the next. Llanos-Figueroa‘s story illumines how each generation deals with their legacy as they engage the changing environment and culture. What happens to communication when language and culture are truncated?

for more information, visit Dahlma’s website at:  Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

Bessy Reyna, is the author of two bilingual books of poetry, The Battlefield of Your Body (Hill-Stead Museum, 2005) and Memoirs of the Unfaithful Lover/ Memorias de la amante infiel (tunAstral, A.C., 2010, Toluca Mexico), She Remembers, a chapbook of her poems published by Andrew Mountain Press in 1997.

Link here to our full spotlight on Bessy Reyna:

Spotlight: Bessy Reyna

 Writers Conversation: Why Memoir? will be hosted by Returning Participating author, Simona David. The host of a weekly radio interview program and a Festival of Women Writers stalwart, Simona curates an arts interview program on WIOX 91.3 FM WIOX. Simona David is the author of ART IN THE CATSKILLS, THIRD EDITION, The Definitive Guide to the Rich Cultural Life of the Catskills and SELF-PUBLISHING AND BOOK MARKETING, A Research Guide. Simona David is a Communications and Public Relations Consultant living in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

For more information and to registe for Festival of Women Writers 2016, go to: Festival of Women Writers 2016

View and support our Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign: Indiegogo

Spotlight: r. erica doyle

Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers welcomes

r.erica doyle

rericadoyle photo

r. erica doyle’s debut collection of poetry, proxy (Belladonna* Books, 2013), won the 2014 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America and was a Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry. Her work has been widely anthologized including  Best American Poetry, Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Gay and Lesbian Writing from the Antilles, Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writing and her poetry and fiction appear in various journals, including Ploughshares, Callaloo, Bloom, From the Fishouse, Blithe House Quarterly and Sinister Wisdom. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Black Issues Book Review and on the Best American Poetry and Futurepoem blogs. 

Proxy

“R. Erica Doyle’s Proxy wanders in this oppositional space, between “never” and “if only,” exploring sexuality in an oppositional frame, through a protagonist who teaches the reader ideas of love and desire and who shows human beings guarding against hurt and loss, only to become vulnerable again.” – L.A. Review of Books by Randall Horton – read more: L.A. Review of Books

“Proxy, R. Erica Doyle’s new collection, is a book of exceptional beauty, passion, and intelligence.” – Muzzle Magazine by Corrina Bain –  read more: Muzzle Magazine

r.erica doyle

Watch the video: r. erica doyle reads proxy

 Link here for excerpts of proxy : poetry

Tante Merle did use to promenade through Brooklyn, striding down Nostrand Avenue Atlantic Avenue, out of Bedford Stuyvesant, through Crown Heights, Park Slope, give a nod to Fort Greene Clinton Hill, until finally she turn around when she reach the river. Then she coming back around — Atlantic Avenue Nostrand Avenue, and finally reach Macon Street, where she did live. read more of the story, Tante Merle

visit this website for more information on her work: r. erica doyle.com

 For Festival of Women Writers 2016, r. erica doyle will present the workshop, INTO THE CHAOS, an invitation to look “into the chaos” through a practice of generative play and mindful contemplation. Participants will focus on giving attention to their writing habits, predilections, idiosyncrasies, hang-ups, blocks, assumptions in order to de-program their process and dance and tangle in the space between knowing and understanding. For more information about this workshop and to register for Festival of Women Writers 2016: Festival of Women Writers 2016

View and support our Indiegogo fundraising campaign:    Indiegogo                 

 

Spotlight: Sophfronia Scott

Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers welcomes the return of

Sophfronia Scott

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Sophfronia Scott, Harvard University graduate who went on to achieve her MFA in creative writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts,  returns to The Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers 2016. Scott will be presenting the workshop,

THE ESSAY COLLECTION AS MEMOIR:  Telling Your Story in Pieces

Many writers find the concept of tackling a memoir daunting because they don’t know how to organize a life narrative that will fill 300 pages. The good news is you don’t have to do it all in one big chunk.Writing your memoir as an essay collection can be easier and more satisfying for both author and reader. We’ll examine examples of this art form that is rising in popularity and explore the best techniques to develop your collection so it offers strong cohesion and a powerful impact. Participants are encouraged to bring a list of memories, events, or issues they feel best illustrate the life story you want to tell and we’ll discuss strategies for how you can pull it all together.

    SScott

When Sophfronia Scott and her Time Magazine colleague David Gross examined Generation X for the story “Twentysomething,” they became the magazine’s youngest cover story writers. She has since gone on to write the best-selling novel All I Need to Get By and the heralded work of nonfiction Doing Business by the Book: How to Craft a Crowd-Pleasing Book and Attract More Clients and Speaking Engagements Than You Ever Thought Possible. She has contributed to three Chicken Soup for the Soul books and the book Forty Things to Do When You Turn Forty. As well, she edited How the Fierce Handle Fear—Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times. Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., proclaimed Scott “one of the best writers of her generation.”

Sharing a hometown with Toni Morrison, Scott is originally from Lorain, Ohio. Sophfronia now resides in Newtown, Connecticut. Find out more about her work at: www.sophfronia.com

In a Q&A with fellow returning Festival participant Stephanie Nikolopoulos, Scott shares how structure allows creativity to flourish, what her editing process looks like, and how to avoid getting pigeonholed as an author

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Nikolopoulos: You’re leading the intensive workshop Structuring a Novel to Completion. Some authors say they don’t know how a story will end until they begin writing it and that they feel stifled by outlines. How does structure actually free up one’s creativity?

Scott: Understanding the structure of what you’re writing does two things for a writer. First, it helps you to be more committed to the project. I’ve observed many writers will more easily abandon a piece of writing when they’re constantly thinking, “I don’t know what this is, I don’t know if it’s any good, I don’t know what it’s about.” It’s hard to continue working on something when your energy around it is so low so much of the time. But if you know the story you’re trying to tell in your novel, and if that story excites you, you will be more eager to work on it and that makes it more likely you’ll finish it.

Nikolopoulos: What is your editing process like? Do you do a quick and messy first draft or do you labor over a near-perfect first draft? Do you get feedback as you’re writing or wait until you have a draft you’re happy with before asking for other writers’ or editors’ opinions? 

Scott: I’m very much a story-minded novel writer—I want to make sure I have a strong, multi-layered story that can be sustained over 300 or more pages. I think about who my characters are, what they want, and how to create a dramatic arc for them over the course of the novel’s pages. First I think of my big picture story, then I figure out what my climax point is and I aim for that. I try to know my beginning and ending, and I’m fully aware both might change during the process. Once I know where I’m going I start writing. After I get a draft written, I like to print it up and lay it out so I can look at it and hold each chapter in my hands. That’s when I can see the holes, what’s missing in the manuscript.

When I was in an MFA program I had the luxury of a teacher/editor reading everything as the book progressed. But now my readers are my agent, (Brettne Bloom of The Book Group, who is a fantastic reader and gives precise and thoughtful editorial notes) and a couple of writer friends whose opinions I trust. I also choose one or two readers who are not writers, but they fit my idea of the audience for the book so I can see how they experience the manuscript.

Nikolopoulos: While at Time Magazine, you and David Gross collaborated on the story “Twentysomething,” about Generation X. From the Lost Generation to the Beat Generation, and from Generation X to Generation Y, society tries to label groups of people based on when they were born and their shared historical and cultural experiences. As a writer, in what ways do you see yourself speaking for your generation?

Scott: The point of the Time Magazine story was that our generation, having observed and taken in the issues of the previous generation, seemed to be proceeding with our lives in a very thoughtful, observant manner. As a writer I tend to pursue my projects in similar fashion. Yes, I want to tell a good story or write an engaging essay but I’m also conscious of the fact that the story or essay has a deeper meaning. The story or essay interests me for a reason—I know I’m trying to say something important even if I don’t know right away what it is. The novel I recently completed explores sexuality, love, identity, and faith and when you read it you may find it challenging to what you believe about these things. In the big picture my writing, I hope, on some level will always leave you questioning who you are, what you believe, what your life is, in a style that will move you in positive ways.

Nikolopoulos: You’ve written a novel about a New York City tax accountant who has to confront two powerful men from her past (All I Need to Get By) and a business book about how to attract clients and get speaking engagements (Doing Business By the Book), you’ve edited a book about overcoming fear (How the Fierce Handle Fear), and contributed essays to three Chicken Soup for the Soul books (Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul, Inspiration for Writers, and Reader’s Choice) and Forty Things to Do When You Turn Forty. Authors are sometimes told to think of themselves as a brand. How do you avoid being pigeonholed yet still build upon your previous work?

Scott: Well, at the moment I have a pretty clear vision of who I want to be as a writer—I didn’t have that when I published my first novel. The vision causes me to challenge myself to write better and be more ambitious. My best advice on this would be to define yourself so strongly that no one else will have room or cause to do it.

Register for Festival of Women writers 2015 at: http://bit.ly/1brkNH9

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