Local High School Students Receive Scholarships

Elizabeth ChambersJackson Hole High School student Elizabeth Chambers is one of four local area high school students attending the 23rd Jackson Hole Writers Conference on a scholarship. The scholarships are from a grant from the Cultural Council of Jackson Hole. We are excited that she is a repeat scholarship recipient as she added a lot to our conference last year and fully participated in the poetry track.

In addition to the registration fees, the recipients also can have three critiques with established writers.

Caroline Berner from the Community School, Maxine Hansford from Journeys School, and Riley Liljestrom, also from JHHS, also received scholarships thru CCJH.

We at the conference look forward to having these young writers attend.

I appreciate all of the recommendations from school officials and teachers on who would be good candidates for these scholarships. We hope to offer the same level next year.

 

Discount On Wyoming Conferences

VDcSLrbN_normalWyoming Writers Inc.’s 41st Annual Conference June 5-7 in Cheyenne. Early Bird Fee until May 15. Laura Pritchett, Kent Nelson and Aaron Abeyta headline their conference.

If you attend their conference, you can attend the Jackson Hole Writers Conference, June 25-27, at a $150 discount. It’s a great deal and you can make it a part of a Wyoming writing retreat/vacation.

Registration is easy. Then let us know that you are going to both conferences and we will assist you. Email us.

MFA Students Receive Scholarships

Carly Rita FraysierThree MFA candidates at the University of Wyoming have been awarded scholarships to the Jackson Hole Conference. We are excited to name Carly Fraysier (who is pictured above), Dominick Duhamel and  Randall Tyrone.

Carly is from Vermont originally and is working on an MFA in nonfiction with a combined concentration in environment and natural resources. Dominick (pictured below) was raised in California and is working on a novel.IMG_7585 Randall has a BA from the University of Houston and is working toward an MFA in poetry at UW. He is pictured below.

Randall Tyrone

A University of Nebraska graduate English student, Alexandra McKeone, also has been awarded a scholarship to attend this year’s conference. She is working on a collection of essays, Finding Home.McKeone_photo

The funds for these scholarships were made possible by our conference Silent Auction. The auction is on again this year, so watch for details.

Wondering about copyrights

thCheck out Writing Wyoming’s Feb. 10 blog.

We all need to be educated on this issue, especially as we approach publication, whether in a literary magazine, mainstream blog, or by a publisher.

 

Prepping Your Work For the Conference

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Don’t be afraid to spend a little time fine-tuning your manuscript before turning it in for conference readers. Do some of the work ahead of time and you will have a better time of it.

Writing Wyoming again comes to the rescue with some ideas you can actually use. Check it out this Guest Post by Jennifer Top. Sign up for the weekly blog posts by filling in the Follow by Email box. Easy.

 

Testing The Waters

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Ever wondered about webinairs and on-line editing services. Jackson Hole Writers Conference past participant Jennifer Jellen recently took a chance and signed up for a a Writer’s Digest webinair. This is her take-home message:

So much of writing is focused on adding— whether it be developing rich characters, building fantastic worlds, or creating beautiful sentences— that we sometimes forget how essential subtraction can be. Enter the art of editing, that final stroke by which you carve away every nonessential bit, lightening and enlivening your work so that its true heart can show.

I thought I had this part down. Coming from a long line of stoic Teutons, I have no problem wielding a literary ax. Delete that chapter? No problem! Cut that character? He was boring anyway! But a recent webinar with literary agent Kate McKean of the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency showed me that I was missing the point. Editing, it turns out, is much more than hack and slash; it’s a subtle art that, when properly applied, refines your connection with the reader, stripping away any artifice that might get between your audience and your story.

As we gear up for this year’s Jackson Hole Writers Conference, I thought I’d share a few of the many gems that Ms. McKean revealed during her talk.

  1. Let your characters find their end before you commit to their beginning. This sounds a little counter-intuitive, but it’s essential. No matter how well we plan and plot, characters and ideas evolve as we write. Sketch in your beginning, write to the end, and then come back to edit the beginning once you truly know your characters and their whole tale.
  2. Don’t be afraid to jump ahead. This is one of the best writing suggestions I’ve ever received: Insert the abbreviation TK when you’re uncertain or stuck. TK stands for To Come (apparently TC means something else entirely). So if you don’t know what happens next, or are unsure of a detail, simply write TK and move on. You’ll maintain your momentum and later, once the story is fully formed, you’ll be able to fill in those gaps.
  3. Use an active voice whenever possible. When we switch to a passive voice—He was struck by the teacher—we create a space between the reader and the story, whereas the active voice—The teacher struck him—keeps the reader in the moment. Sometimes, we slip into a passive voice without even realizing it. A great way to double check is to search your work for the word by and look at the associated verbs.
  4. Remove anything unessential. We’ve all heard the advice about going easy on the adverbs, but other words can add unnecessary bulk as well. Intensifiers such as very, really, and just don’t advance your story. They don’t tell the reader anything important; they simply act like literary cholesterol, clogging up the arteries of your story and making it harder for things to flow.
  5. It’s not the agent’s or editor’s job to fix your problems. Today’s agents and editors don’t have the time to take a rough, raw work and transform it into something great no matter how much they love the premise, the characters or the writing. It’s our job as writers to craft the best possible story, to hone it through good editing, and then to collaborate with agents and editors to polish and publish it.

Ms. McKean’s webinar was a great source of information on the subtleties of editing and their importance to all writers. The webinar was offered through Writer’s Digest online and was well worth the small fee I paid to attend. While I generally don’t recommend paying for advice, this was truly a great learning experience and I hope her tips will help you as well. You can find Kate McKean on Twitter (@Kate_McKean).

 

–Jennifer Jellen

Extend Your Writing Experience In Jackson

View of Mtns from 2 RM Cabin 2-1Last summer we began exploring a creative cross-pollination effort with Patricia Lee Lewis from Patchwork Farms Writing Retreats in Massachusetts. Patricia, who leads writing and yoga retreats around the world, has been visiting Jackson Hole for almost twenty years because her daughter Ponteir Sackrey moved here. But rather than see her mother work while in the valley, she asked her to just enjoy herself. This year Ponteir has given the nod to her mother to offer a retreat in the neighborhood. On January 4 during a workshop at the Center for the Arts we poets in Jackson got to do a test-drive of Patricia’s techniques for inspiring our own unique writing. Nothing cookie-cutter about her approach. She fostered an environment that helped everyone to see a different way into their writing, whether it was poetry or even fiction.

This June, immediately prior to our conference, Patricia will lead a week-long retreat at Turpin Meadows Ranch about 40 miles northeast of Jackson and just outside of Grand Teton National Park, bordering on wilderness. Outside Magazine’s most recent issue featured Turpin Meadows Ranch as a great destination for adventurers wanting to get off the beaten path.

If you want to completely immerse yourself in writing with a meditative component and a little yoga thrown in, this would be an amazing opportunity. And from meeting Patricia I know that any yoga that goes on at Turpin Meadows will not be intimidating.

After the retreat, Patricia is joining our resident faculty for the conference and will offer a workshop on Saturday afternoon for participants who are not having critiques. I know this will be extremely helpful to writers at what level they are at with their craft. Especially if they are looking for a little more creative juice.

–Connie Wieneke

Happy New Year

Watch in our posts for links to submission calendars. If you are writing essays, poetry and short stories, there are lots of markets out there. Some may not pay but they get your name and voice out there.

 

Glimmer Train announces submission calendar. GT also has a quarterly Writers Ask publication. Check it out.

 

If you have suggestions on places to submit, please forward to us at Contact.

Reading your work

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Whether you write poetry, fiction or nonfiction, reading your work out loud is so important. You might feel satisfied with the words on paper or computer screen, but when you speak those same words, they suddenly become clumsy, without rhythm, fall flat. Even as you work through your drafts, practice reading out loud. Or if you have a trusted friend have them read it to you. The beauty of your language and story will come through, just as the places where something is not working.

A recent blogspot by Susan Vittiow Mark at Writing Wyoming’s offers up some tips when reading your work in a more public venue. Seems like wise things to remember.  Might save your audience from fidgeting. Shut up and play your guitar.  Zappa couldn’t have said it any better.

 

Selecting Faculty For The Conference

One of the best parts about working for the Jackson Hole Writers Conference the last three years has been helping Tim Sandlin select writing faculty. I do take suggestions from people I know, especially when they have had first-hand experience with their nominee. You can blame the poets in our poetry group sponsored by Jackson Hole Writers for the poetry faculty. Or give us credit for finding folks who are excellent poets AND teachers.

Occasionally, Tim lets me or a board member offer up a name. Tina Welling mentioned Tobias Wolff. And now he’s coming. He will most likely be the Q&A author on Saturday afternoon. If you are doing a critique at that time, you will miss out.Jewell-Rhodes_600

This year I didn’t have to push hard to have Tim invite Jewell Parker Rhodes. Many years ago she came to Jackson for a free workshop sponsored, I believe, by the Teton County Library. I provided housing for her and so spent time with her in addition to the workshop. As with so many writers who travel a long ways to Jackson, I was stunned by her generosity both as a teacher and as a human being. Sounds trite, I suppose, but she makes the world a better place with her stories and her presence. Nothing academic about her person, though she teaches at Arizona State University. Something to be said for being able to engage with students. Even teachers are students.

Since that time I have recommended Voodoo Dreams: A Novel of Marie Laveau to many fiction-loving friends and fiction-writing friends, who are often the same people.  Jewell delves into the roots in all of her stories. The roots of racism, sexism, power. It is tough soil she has to dig into. She is fearless but doesn’t serve rhetoric over story.

I am looking forward to talking with her, hearing what she has to say about the narrative craft. I envy anyone who has a chance to have her critique their work. Poetry draws me right now, or I’d be standing in line to get her comments.