Tag Archives: Stephanie Nikolopoulos

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2016, Linda Lowen will once again present an absolutely essential workshop for writers, whether established or unpublished.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

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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: 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


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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