NU Summer 2013 Writers’ Conference concludes

Northwestern University Summer Program logo   The Conference has concluded, and what a fine, fine Saturday it turned out to be all around, apart from the fact that I dashed into my first workshop a minute after ten, thanks in part to the really plodding bank teller near home and the slowest Red Line CTA train to downtown ever! But my effort was well rewarded with an excellent lecture on Maps for Storytellers: Your Characters Journey through Story presented by renowned author Tara Ison, whose energetic presentation (and cookies) made it all worthwhile. I really like the way Tara Ison thinks about storytelling. She has four books out and you can visit her page on Amazon at As well, Tara is the co-writer of the cult movie Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead. Ronne Hartfield held the floor during lunch as the keynote speaker, and she spoke about her memoir Another Way Home: The Tangled Roots of Race in One Chicago Family. And you should have been there to see her and hear her talk with grace and presence; the room was hers. I even bought her book and had Ronne sign it for me; she really appreciated my question to her about the duration of her book process and how it had changed her. You can see more of Ronne Hartfield on her Amazon page at I decided to sit in on James O'Laughlin's workshop on Dialogue in Fiction: Entangling Voices, Disturbing Selves, and I could not have chosen a better way to end the conference personally. James led the discussion about how dialogue must place the character at risk and even destabilize him or her. Surely, this is true in a more amp'ed up way for short stories, a steeper arc, than for the long form that is the novel. We read and discussed samples from Raymond Carver, Flannery O'Connor, and Hemingway, having run out of time to catch the final panel discussion on Writers' Point of View: How and Why I Publish? Very rewarding, all of it. ~Ignatius  

Northwestern University Summer 2013 Writers’ Conference

Northwestern University Summer Program logo This is Friday, the second day of the Summer Writers' Conference held by Northwestern University downtown Chicago (Visit for more. I'll talk about today in just a minute. Yesterday, however, was a pretty wonderful day, as I moderated a distinguished panel on the subject of publishing and had a terrific time doing it. The topic of discussion: The Here, Now, and Future of Publishing took into consideration several key aspects that included agenting, how to get an agent, what publishers expect from writers wishing to get their work into print, the business itself, the editorial process, and most importantly, how a finished manuscript finds its way onto the shelves of bookstores. I must add here that the discussion would not have been as successful without the expertise of good folks like author and publisher Kathleen Rooney of Rose Metal Press (, agent Marcy Posner of Folio Literary Management in NYC (, publisher Doug Seibold of Agate/Surrey (, and Harry Carrigan, Asst. Dir. and Sr. Editor at Northwestern University Press ( They were all truly incredible in what they had to offer the packed room of eager attendees, and many hands went up with questions to the panel.  Of course, I was hoping for this kind of direct engagement from both sides of the room, and all I could hope for was my ability to carry the whole thing off nicely. And this Friday morning, I sat in on Laurie Lawlor's workshop on Revision, which gave more insight into how published writers work and re-work their manuscripts with such diligence and organization. She's definitely organized! Laurie, who is author of This Tender Place: The Story of a Wetland Year, teaches undergrads writing at Columbia. I enjoyed her class and am sure that the other attendees had a lot to take home with them too. At lunch, Goldie Goldbloom gave her keynote speech on a writer's Landscape as a vessel of thought, which leads to Dreamscape and Imagination. That was excellent! Goldie, who hails from Australia, is the author of The Paperbark Shoe, among other stories. After that, I sat in on Fred Shafer's workshop on Memory in Fiction, a must-take session, I would have to admit for any writer of any genre. Fred is a literary editor, writer, and teacher of writing who has taught at Northwestern U's School of Continuing Studies. He also conducts his own workshops. On to Saturday, another wonderful series of workshops and events I'll write more about later. See ya-- ~Ignatius

Photo Essay, Frozen Branches on La Tolteca, Summer 2013

My photo essay, called "Frozen Branches" is now up at La Tolteca, the official zine of leading feminist Chicana poet, essayist, and novelist, Ana Castillo. To read my photo essay and the summer issue of La Tolteca, please visit: Thanks! Hope you're having a great summer 2013. ~Ignatius