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Spotlight: Sophfronia Scott

Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers welcomes the return of

Sophfronia Scott


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.


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:

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


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.

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Spotlight: Kamilah Aisha Moon

Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers 2016 welcomes

Kamilah Aisha Moon

Aisha_Author_OfficialKamilah Aisha Moon has published her poetry extensively and is the recipient of fellowships to the Cave Canem Foundation, the Prague Summer Writing Institute, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, and the Vermont Studio Center. Moon’s work has been featured in numerous journals and anthologies, including Harvard Review, jubilat, Poem-A-Day for the Academy of American Poets, Oxford American, Lumina, Callaloo, Essence, Gathering Ground. A Pushcart Prize winner. Kamilah Aisha Moon’s debut poetry collection, She Has a Name, was a finalist for both the 26th Annual Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry and the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry from the Publishing Triangle in 2014.The opening pages of She Has a Name identify the collection as a “biomythography,” a term created by Audre Lorde to describe a narrative based on myth and history, fact and fiction.She Has a Name tells the story of a young woman with autism from multiple points of view. The speakers in these poems—sisters, mother, father, teacher—pursue answers to questions science can’t yet answer.SheHas A Name

“When a loving sister makes up her mind to tell the unmitigated truth about her younger sister, her special sister, her wondrous and gifted sister, and she tells that truth in the most beautiful poetic language she can find, what is born is an unforgettable story called She Has a Name.”

–Nikky Finney

“Her poetry is most poignant, immediate, and effective when it is rooted in the minutiae of life, cataloging small injustices and momentary pleasures. She resides firmly here throughout the book, not only giving name and voice to the daughter-subject of She Has a Name, but also offering a way of considering joy alongside conflict, pain, and struggle.” — Melissa Leigh Gore in The Rumpus, read the entire review: The Rumpus

Link here to view Book trailers for She Has A Name, stunningly produced by Rachel Eliza Griffiths: Book Trailers   and listen to Kamilah Aisha Moon read from SHE HAS A NAME

Kamilah Aisha Moon1

For Festival of Women Writers 2016, Kamilah Aisha Moon will present the workshop,

 Shaking Up Language

Poets often find themselves in a groove that becomes a rut at times, inadvertently leading to less innovation in style and language/syntax choices.Through a series of exercises and parsing a few sample poems, participants will be encouraged to move beyond their usual modes and approaches in the creation of poems —- arriving at meaning in fresh, original ways. For more information and to register for Festival of Women Writers, go to

Festival of Women Writers 2016

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Spotlight on Intensive Workshops

The Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers once again offers an opportunity for the serious individual to work with a seasoned, experienced, published writer.



Our  Intensive Workshops offer an opportunity for committed writers to explore, to be challenged and to grow while working directly with an award winning, published writer. Immerse yourself in the inspiration of Hobart’s mountain vistas and focus on your writing craft for a one-day, six-hour workshop in a small group setting. This year the Writing Intensives are SIX hour sessions, all of which will be held on Friday, September 9th ONLY.  Intensives are limited to 8-10 Participants, so that each individual receives attention. The Intensive Registration deadline is 9/1/16. Intensives are for Participants in the process of developing manuscripts. You will share work and receive feedback on your writing. The Festival will provide space dedicated solely to each Intensive in order to maximize this special opportunity. 

Take the next step. Browse these four workshops and make a decision that could change you and your work.

AUTHOR BREAKTHROUGH:  Turn Your Content Into Cash presented by Dara Lurie


In this Intensive, Participants will explore the deep sources of vulnerability, resilience and inspiration that have shaped their lives, writing about key moments and turning point experiences.  By the end of this Intensive, participants will have a well-crafted turning point story and artfully constructed business narrative. Each will take a deep, adventurous dive into the places where stories live using photographs, poetry and other creative mapping tools to discover, develop and shape a personal narrative from key moments and life experiences.  Participants will then craft their “turning point” stories integrating your “key moments and experience.” Participants will devote themselves to re-purposing “turning point” stories into powerful business narratives. The workshop focus will flip from inward to outward as Participants learn to re-purpose their “turning point” stories into well-crafted marketing content. We will cover important marketing terms & concepts which Participants will integrate using worksheets and group activities to accelerate the learning process. For more information about Dara and her work: about Dara Lurie

elisabeth nonas

Elisabeth Nonas presents – Thinking Cinematically: A Screenwriting Intensive   Learning to think cinematically can be a useful tool for writers of prose and poetry as well as screenwriters. Through in-class writing and discussion, participants will be introduced to the basics of screenplay formatting and structure, from treatment to step outline. They will leave our six hour intensive having written their own properly formatted scenes or sequence of scenes. Screenplay excerpts and corresponding film clips will illustrate the particular challenges facing the screenwriter, not just the need to write economically, but also to create visual equivalents for moods and the relationships between characters.

For more information, go to about Elizabeth Nonas


Esther Cohen

Esther Cohen presents Good Stories: The Deep Red Heart of Life 

This Intensive is for story lovers and story makers who want to make their own stories better. How the world began, all that you know and don’t know, whatever you feel and see and hear. We will look at every part of our lives as rich material for stories, good stories. This Intensive will be experiential: you will tell stories, hear them, read them, and write them, using a wide range of sources, from Naguib Mahfouz to “The Moth Radio Hour.” Participants will look at examples from poetry and prose, from fiction and non-fiction, and from oral traditions, old and new. Your goal will be to create and tell your own story, in the form that matches your own intrinsic voice.  For more information, go to: about Esther Cohen

 Bertha Rogers

Bertha Rogers  presents  “POETRY WRITING INTENSIVE, an advanced practicum, a six-hour opportunity to read, write, revise, edit, and learn how to submit poems. This intensive is for the poet who is not only serious about writing, but serious about getting her poems into the world. Students will bring two poems, one short (no more than 8 lines), one long (9-20 lines) for the workshop. If the participant has a group of poems (no more than 10) that are in the process of being assembled as a short manuscript, students should bring them; the last hour of the intensive will be dedicated to that process. During the workshop, students will study poetic terms (line, stanza, enjambment, etc.) and figurative language (metaphor, simile, alliteration, etc.). They will read works by great poets, both contemporary and classical; and they will write two or more poems in form from examples provided by the instructor (among the forms: Afghani Landay, French Rondeau, Italian Sestina, Japanese Haibun, Korean Sijo, Blank Verse Sonnet, and others).  Participants will discuss how and why poems work and revise and edit their work. They will be given guidance and handouts on how to select and submit poetry to literary journals and how to organize chapbooks and longer manuscripts. There will be substantial discussion on why submission of individual poems before submitting manuscripts is an important step in the process of becoming published poets.

For more information, go to: about Bertha Rogers

Discover the magic of the Catskills. Discover your own magic. Register for an Intensive.

Go to: Festival of Women Writers 2016

Hobart sunflowers overlooking the valley

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Four​ O’clock Flowers speaks to Ginnah Howard

Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers welcomes Ginnah Howard once again!

For more information and to register, go to Festival of Women Writers

Link to Ginnah’s website at: 

Spotlight: LaShonda Katrice Barnett

Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers 2016 welcomes

LaShonda Katrice Barnett

Jam On The Vine
“In an authentic and richly layered novel, history comes to life…Barnett creates an ode to activism, writing with a scholar’s eye and a poet’s soul.”O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE

Press-LaShonda K Barnett ©ellen foto 2014 copy
photo by @EllenFoto


LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s debut novel Jam on the Vine (Grove Atlantic), is a 2016 Stonewall Honor Book, a distinction awarded by the American Library Association.  Jam was an Editor’s Choice pick at the Chicago Tribune; won ElIe Magazine’s Belle Lettres 2015 Reader’s Prize and earned Barnett the Emerging Writers Award at the 2015 Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. Barnett’s other books include:  I Got Thunder: Black Women Songwriters On Their Craft (2007) and the story collection Callaloo (1999). The Appropriate Ones, her trilogy of plays (Homewood; Menemsha; and L’Echange) examine race in the context of one interracial American family. Twice-nominated for the 2015 Pushcart prize for her short fiction, Barnett holds the Ph.D. in American Studies and lives and writes full-time in Manhattan. @LaShondaKatrice

Listen to: LaShonda Katrice Barnett on NPR to hear a discussion with NPR’s Rachel Martin about JAM ON THE VINE.

For Festival of Women Writers 2016, LaSonda Katrice Barnett will present: The Truthful Lie: Reading & Writing Historical Fiction. The historical novel is produced in several forms: a historical personage as the main character; fictional characters working with historical personages; and fictional characters within a real historical event or merely within an historical period/society. A good historical novel demands the wise selection of the right fact for the right effect; it doesn’t surfeit readers with too much information or starve them with too little. This workshop group will consider the practical challenge at the core of writing historical fiction: the seamless integration of fictive imagination and historical fact.For complete information about LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s workshop and to register for Festival of Women Writers 2016, go to

For more about Barnett:


Amazon Author page

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Spotlight: Bessy Reyna

The Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers 2016 is very excited to welcome Bessy Reyna, poet, activist and opinion columnist in English and in Spanish as a Returning Participating Writer.


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. Her Spanish language writing, published in Latin America, includes a poetry chapbook, Terrarium (Instrucción Programada de México, 1975), and a collection of short stories, Ab Ovo (Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Panama, 1977). Her poetry can be found in numerous anthologies, including El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina PoetryIn Other Words: Literature by Latinas of the United States, The Arc of Love: Lesbian Poems and The Wild Good.  She is a contributor to Gathered Light: The Poetry of Joni Mitchell’s Songs (Lisa and John Sornberger, Eds. 2013) and Penelope: Antologia de Cuentistas Centroamricanas (Consuelo Meza Vasquez, Ed.)



Bessy Reyna with sweater

At Festival 2016, Bessy Reyna  will participate with  JP Howard and Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, in “Writers Conversation: Why Memoir?”,  on SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 @ 9:30am

What family secrets are waiting to be written? Whose stories are straining to be told? Are they our stories to tell? What complications and challenges arise when painful memories haunt us? Who were we as teenagers? Young lovers? Close friends? Tired workers? How do we use the materials of memory, e.g. photographs, letters, old magazines to tell our stories, to write our poems?  These are just some of the questions that arise and are aroused as the memoirist explores her personal narratives, pictures, and oral histories.

This Writers Conversation is designed to encourage people to begin to structure the material of their lives and to write their life journeys. For the complete description of this workshop event and for the complete schedule of readings and workshops for Festival of Women Writers 2016 is on our web page at http://www.hobartfestivalofwomenwriters.comessy Reyna CT Author

For an in-depth interview with Bessy Reyna in UCONN Today, link here:  Reyna, an alumna of the university talks about her family, her poetry, her stubbornness, her strength in this “Portrait of Strength”


Video Bessy Reyna

“Like Panama, the country of her childhood, Bessy Reyna’s poems provide a channel, a way to bridge east and  west by reconciling the warring needs of the body, the mind and the heart. Whether Reyna is dancing with a stalk  of sugar cane in Hartford, Connecticut, or in her birthplace of Cuba, poem after poem is as lively as a salsa. Like chewing sugar cane, her poems ultimately reward with their hard-won sweetness, with the taste that leaves us wanting more.” —Vivian Shipley

Read excerpts of Bessy Reyna’s  work, at:

Bessy Reyna with mike

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Four O’Clock Flowers speaks with Elizabeth Searle

Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers 2016 welcomes,

Elizabeth Searle!

Elizabeth Searle and Breena Clarke


Four O’Clock Flowers speaks to Elizabeth Searle

Please listen to Hobart Book Village Festival’s new podcast Four O’Clock Flowers

Four O’Clock Flowers. Host, Breena Clarke, will speak with some of the participating writers for Festival of Women Writers 2016. For this episode of our podcast, Breena is speaking to Elizabeth Searle, novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and teacher.

Elizabeth’s film script based on her novel A Four-Sided Bed was produced as a Staged Reading in Hollywood, starring TV/Film actors Evan Ross (The Hunger Games), Lucy Griffiths (True Blood, Preacher), Gia Mantegna (Under the Dome) and Kenny Leu (NCIS; Independence Day: Resurgence), performed at Zephyr Theater in LA on May 19th. The performance was produced by Amy Carpenter Scott/Creatrix Films as part of the ongoing project to develop A Four-Sided Bed as a feature film. Elizabeth is also working on a theater version of the ‘menage a trois love story’ script.  Stay tuned!

E. Searle & Co
Elizabeth with stars Kenny Leu and Lucy Griffiths in Hollywood at Zephyr Theater

For information about Elizabeth and her work: Elizabeth Searle

Register for the Festival at Hobart Festival of Women

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