Monday, December 2, 2013

When Stories Talk Back: How Flash Helps Writers Revise


Sometimes a story tells you what it’s about; you just have to be listening.
 
A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece of flash fiction. As I advise my students, I let the piece sit before revising it. Also, as I advise people, I went to a different venue to reread the work before tinkering with it. I suggest this because it’s surprising how much you’ll see in your writing when you read it somewhere else. It’s also surprising, especially in flash, how changing a word can change the story.
 
Before I changed any words, I opened a new Word document. With a hardcopy of the original story on the table, I retyped each word into the blank document, thinking as I wrote how the meaning of the piece might change if I selected a different word instead of what I had. In taking each word slowly and making the revision mentally before making it on the page, I could hear internally how the piece changed along with the word change. This worked especially well with flash because of the compact nature of the genre.
 
Word by word, or bird by bird, I revised the piece. Although it was one of those stories that was largely intact when I first conceptualized it, taking it a word at a time and letting the story tell itself made a tighter, more precise piece than I started with. Even more important, the meaning was richer for the careful word choices.
 
If you’re interested in honing your precision with prose, take this lesson to heart, learn your story by ear and practice your art with flash.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ridgefield Writers Conference a Success, Thanks to All

Ridgefield's historic fountain
Thanks to great coordinators, a wonderful workshop faculty and keynote speaker, industry-leading panelists and dedicated attendees, the inaugural Ridgefield Writers Conference on September 28 in historic Ridgefield, Connecticut, was a resounding success, with plans under consideration for a 2014 conference.

The Ridgefield Writers Conference, based on the Master of Fine Arts workshop format, surpassed its attendee goal, with participants coming from as far as North Carolina and northern New England. Due to the positive response to the event, a fiction and creative nonfiction workshop was added, as well as two literary agents to the morning and afternoon media and publishing panels.

The conference was kicked off by keynote speaker and award-winning author Dr. Michael White, founder and director of the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at Fairfield University. The workshops featured fiction with acclaimed author Chris Belden, winner of Fairfield University’s 2013 book award, nonfiction with author and novelist Pete Nelson, whose novel I Thought You Were Dead has been optioned for film, creative nonfiction with award-winning novelist Rachel Basch, young adult fiction with multi-published author Steve Otfinoski and poetry with poetry professor and former Crazyhorse editor-in-chief Carol Ann Davis.

The media and publishing panels featured editors from The Newtowner, Alimentum and Connecticut Muse. Electronic and print publishers included BookTV Girl, Defying Gravity and Globe Pequot Press, and agents included Allen O’Shea, L. Perkins, Rita Rosenkranz and Talcott Notch.

he conference concluded with a wine and cheese reception sponsored by the Ridgefield Library for An Evening With the Authors, featuring Linda Merlino, Chris Belden, Nalini Jones and Pete Nelson. Books on the Common provided a venue for faculty-penned works on-site, and the Chamber of Commerce provided information on local venues.

For more information on the Ridgefield Writers Conference, created by Word for Words, LLC, with Ridgefield-based author Chris Belden and award-winning writer, editor and instructor Adele Annesi, please contact Adele Annesi at Word for Words, LLC, a.annesi@sbcglobal.net.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Stiles on Which the Story Turns: Using Multiple Viewpoints in Fiction

Multiple viewpoints can enrich fiction
If you’re considering using multiple points of view for your novel or short fiction, take a page or two from bestselling mystery and suspense author Anne Perry.

Don’t let the “bestselling” label fool you. Perry’s stories provide some fine examples of literary writing, because despite being mystery and suspense, her fiction emulates that of the character-driven mystery greats, such as Dorothy Sayers. Dorchester Terrace, for example, provides a good example of which characters’ perspectives Perry will feature in the novel. If you’re having trouble deciding which viewpoints to feature, consider this: Select the characters on whom the story turns.

You only need to consider Chapter 1 of Perry’s 2012 Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery to see that although there’s a trace of omniscient third person throughout the work, Inspector Thomas Pitt, his wife, Charlotte, and the recently promoted Victor Narraway will figure prominently in the novel, because they are the characters on whom it turns.

Imagine a painting of a drawing room in Victorian England. More than one person is present in the work, but the light falls a bit more on some, and the rest are in shadows. This isn’t to say that the shadowy figures, the secondary characters in fiction, don’t have value. They’re simply not the main characters, and their stories, while supporting the main plot, don’t outshine it. Rather, they feature prominently within the subplots Perry is adept at weaving throughout the whole.

So, if you’re considering a story with multiple viewpoints, consider which characters are central to the story, and without whose personal insights the piece would be impoverished.

For more on writing, visit Word for Words.

Happy writing!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Selgin on Setting: The Incomparable Peter Selgin Speaks on Scene, Setting and Sense of Place

Author, Selgin
Author, teacher and mentor Peter Selgin is the author of Drowning Lessons, winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Fiction, and Life Goes to the Movies, a novel, as well as two books on writing: By Cunning & Craft and 179 Ways to Save a Novel, a personal favorite of mine and almost an MFA in book form. Selgin also penned The Water Master, winner of the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Prize for Best Novel. On faculty with Antioch University's MFA writing program and visiting professor of creative writing at Rollins College, Selgin discusses the role of scene, setting and sense of place in writing. On July 30, he reads his richly woven work, which includes all these elements, at Byrd’s Books in his native Bethel, Connecticut.

AA: How does having been born and raised in Bethel impact your writing? For example, does it flavor your work with a particular sense of neighborhood or community, or of family?

PS: Setting and atmosphere are things I hold dear as a writer, but also just as someone living in the world. And I do think environment plays a crucial role, if not the greatest role, in shaping who we are. When I was growing up there, Bethel seemed to me a fairly ordinary place—a bit shabby, modest in size and in just about every other dimension, a "typical" American town. Now, looking back, "typical" translates to "prototypical" and even to "perfect." it really was the perfect place for a boy to grow in (I assume it was perfect for girls, too, but can't be as sure). I remember the complete freedom with which my pals and I hiked and rode our bikes around, how there seemed to be—no, there were—infinite worlds within that world: fields, forests, railroads, ponds, brooks, caves and quarries, dumps, factories, and so on, all ours to explore.

Just to share one example, in the woods behind a house in a then recently constructed development, I remember stumbling on an old car dump. There must have been at least a dozen antique rusted wrecks of cars and buses dating from 1915 or so, with enormous headlamps and sagging running boards. Imagine the joy of this discovery, the sense of wonder and privilege aroused by it, as if we'd entered the kingdom of Oz! Another time, walking through either a field or a sandlot, I remember coming upon the discarded, zebra-striped long arms of a railway crossing. There they were, disassociated from the railroad tracks that were their raison d'etre, with pie-sized sunflowers sprouting around them. This chance discovery on a sweltering summer day was, in its way, I'm sure, as enchanting as my very first kiss.

I could go on and on about such minor miracles engendered by that setting (the "Oasis" water fountain in the back of the Union Trust Savings Bank, dispensing water so achingly cold it numbed your lips). And how about Mr. Noe, the proprietor of Noe's clothing store, in his white shirtsleeves with his yellow tape measure draped like a surplice around him? Or Dante Vaghi, millworker/flying saucer prophet, taking us boys into the back room of his woodworking shed to share his latest UFO tales? As a teenager intent on flaunting my sophistication through cynicism, I frowned on my hometown. I decided that it was "provincial," a backwater inhabited mainly by philistines. Now I'd give both little fingers to see every last brick and shadow reinstated there just as they were back then, circa 1965. Since I don't have a time machine, and want to keep my fingers, instead I wrote a novel.

AA: How do you view the importance of setting and sense of place in your work? And would you—or how would you—differentiate the two?

PS: My mantra to my writing students: Always be writing scene. For them to do this, they first have to define "scene" in such a way that it doesn't necessarily mean rendering "action" and/or "dialogue" or even "setting," though all of those things may be present however invisible and unstated, but implied. In other words, though we're taught things like "show, don't tell," the dichotomy between showing and telling is, at least potentially, a false dichotomy. As long as a writer knows that she is writing within—or leading us toward—a particular event set in a particular place—then she's writing a scene. As long as there's at least one character, or one implied character, and that character is embodied in a particular time and space and involved in a particular action (for instance, standing at the end of a dock watching the sun set or ironing a shirt), even if all we are reading is that character's thoughts, a series of memories or ruminations, or an essay on the quality of sunlight at dusk or the best way to iron a pleat, still, we're reading a scene.

It comes down to intent. If you, as the writer, know at any given moment not just who your characters are, but where they are and what they are doing, then, essentially, you're writing a scene and not confronting your reader with disembodied ideas or abstractions. This gets to setting, since what keeps our characters (and our readers) grounded in scene is the embodiment of their sensations (thoughts, feelings, actions, etc.) in a body or bodies inhabiting a particular time and space as conveyed by way of a consistent and thorough point of view. Lose that sense of embodiment, forget that you're writing scene, and you lose that grounding; you lose readers. 

If there's a different between "setting" and "sense of place," it may be that a "sense of place" is a good thing to start with, an appreciation for and grasp of the qualities that characterize a particular environment. But then we need to set our characters in that place—"setting" as verb, something that we, as writers, need not only to feel and consider, but to do.

For more on Peter's life and work, visit Peter Selgin. On July 30, Peter will read his richly woven work, which includes all these elements,  at Byrd’s Books in his native Bethel, Connecticut.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Summer Place for Writers

Happy summer — now that it’s here, check out these writers’ spaces in the New York and New England region.

Get away and write
The Center for Fiction — New York, NY: The Center for Fiction is the only nonprofit literary organization in the U.S. solely dedicated to celebrating fiction. Located on East 47th Street, the center features workspaces, grants and classes to support emerging writers.

Grub Street — Boston, MA: Grub Street is the second-largest independent center for creative writing in the U.S. The community offers classes and services for writers at all stages of development, and information throughout the writing process of inspiration to publication and promotion.

James Merrill House — Stonington, CT: The James Merrill House Writer-in-Residence Program offers one four-and-a-half-month residency between mid-January and the end of May, and three or four shorter residencies of two to six weeks from Labor Day to mid-January. The fellowship provides living and working space to a writer in need of a quiet setting to complete a project of literary or academic merit.

Paragraph — New York, NY: Paragraph is a membership organization that provides an affordable and tranquil work environment for writers of all genres. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Paragraph was created by writers for writers, to provide writers with a quiet, comfortable space.

The Writers Room — New York, NY: The Writers Room provides over 200 writers with a quiet, affordable place to work. In addition to a workspace, the Writers Room offers a reference and research library for members, seminars and workshops, readings of members’ works and a sense of community.

Writers' Room of Boston — Boston, MA: This nonprofit organization is committed to supporting the creation of new literature by providing a secure, affordable workspace and an engaged community for emerging and established writers.

For a comprehensive look at residencies of all types, visit Mesart.

Happy writing and vacationing!  Adele Annesi is an award-winning writer, editor and instructor. Visit her at Adele Annesi.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

"French Women" Author Jamie Cat Callan Shares Her Secrets to Creating Art

Author and purveyor of the secrets of French women, Jamie Cat Callan, has done it again. The author of Bonjour,Happiness! and French Women Don’t Sleep Alone has a new tome on the secrets of French women: Ooh La La! French Women's Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day. Today, Jamie shares her writing sec
By Jamie Cat Callan
rets with us, starting as a young girl dreaming of Paris.


AMA: Thinking back on those late afternoons when you admired the Moulin Rouge print that hung on the wall of your grandmother’s home, what did you imagine as you gazed at the picture?

JCC: Summers at my French grandmother's house, in Connecticut, were always a bit dreamy. I took afternoon naps in her living room. And so, when I fell asleep on the couch staring at the picture of the Moulin Rouge, I imagined a life that was very glamorous. The Guy Dessapt print is from the Belle Epoch era, where ladies wore long dresses and really big hats. Even the men wore big hats. I imagined that France was a place that was lost in time and that if I were to go there, I would actually time-travel. You know, I think this is the very idea that Woody Allen captured in his film "Midnight in Paris." I do believe we all have this feeling that when we go to Paris, we will reconnect with a bygone era. Of course, when I finally arrived in France as a teenager in the 1970s, I found a very different place than what I imagined. But still, I believe there is a connection to our collective past that is still very much there–in the outdoor markets, the delicious smell of perfume, the fashionable people on the streets and the tradition of café life. I believe Hemingway's ghost still walks Rue Monge.

AMA: What is it about your French background that most impacts your writing and creativity?

JCC: This may surprise you, but I believe it's my French background that makes me a very practical artist. My family was never very wealthy, but they lived a rich life. During the Depression, my grandmother sewed all my mother's dresses for her to wear to school. She cooked the most wonderful meals, with very few resources. My grandfather had a big garden in the summer and a cold bin for vegetables in the winter. My grandmother made use of what was available, but whatever she did, it was done with a sense of art and beauty. I began my writing career as a poet, and then I went on to write three young adult books in the 1980s (Over the Hill at Fourtee
Author and teacher, Callan
n,
my most successful book, sold half a million copies and was a Scholastic Book Club selection). When the YA genre seemed to dry up, I went on to film school, wrote screenplays at UCLA, worked in development at Paramount Pictures, and wrote a lot of literary short stories. I also wrote a few novels that have never been published. But you know, that's okay. I found a niche with my nonfiction/French women books. And I am now writing a novel about three American girls in Paris for the first time. All this is to say, that my French grandmother's example of coping and making the simplest things artful (whether it's a pretty lace dress made from an old curtain or a rabbit stew with garden vegetables) has taught me that anything can be beautiful and well-made. It's a matter of intention. And so, while the self-help genre might seem less than literary, I believe with honesty, attention to detail, and an eye for beauty, the genre can rise to the level of art.


Publishers Weekly had this to say of Ooh La La!: "This charming foray into French femininity will make a perfect cadeau for any Francophile lady." For more about author and teacher Jamie Cat Callan, visit Jamie Cat Callan.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Why Writers Should Still Write What They Know

Write from the heart
For years, fiction writers were exhorted to write what they knew about stories, themes and characters. With virtually limitless information now at the ready, we're more adventurous, exploring unfamiliar terrain. Yet, the sage advice of writing what we know still applies, perhaps less to the intellect, and more to the heart.

It's possible for a writer to have factual knowledge of her subject, but not intimate knowledge. This doesn't mean writers must experience all we write about, although the most meaningful stories have a kernel of truth. It does mean the writer must have a feel for the subject, a passion for the work and a personal sense of the characters that can't be achieved through research alone. Such knowledge takes a willingness to spend quality time with the story and its inhabitants on a regular basis, daily, if possible. Only time, and the trial and error of revision, can create the kind of knowledge our mentors really meant when they said, write what you know.

For more on this topic, see this supporting point: “Write What You Know” – The Most Misunderstood Piece of Good Advice, Ever.

And this counterpoint: Don’t Write What You Know.

Happy writing!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The First Ridgefield Writers Conference, Not Just Another Conference


I'm pleased to announce, along with my esteemed MFA colleagues Chris Belden and Rebecca Dimyan, the first Ridgefield Writers Conference—a new literary writers conference slated for September 28 in historic Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Visit the Ridgefield Writers Conference

You may wonder, why yet another writers' conference? With all the other conferences out there, I'd wonder the same. Modeled after the MFA residency experience, the Ridgefield Writers Conference has a different focus and feel. We cater to emerging and established novelists, short story writers, poets, writers of young adult works, nonfiction writers, memoirists, playwrights and screenwriters dedicated to perfecting their craft, because we're dedicated to perfecting ours.

We're also dedicated to modeling as closely as possible the experience of the MFA residency — a mentor-style approach to learning the art and craft of creative writing and poetry that gives each attendee personalized attention and follow-up.

In an always-on, always-plugged-in age, we offer a day to unplug from the routine and connect, or reconnect, with your creative roots. In the model of the MFA residency, each workshop runs two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, interspersed with hour-long publishing and media panels that feature literary agents, publishers and editors.

Our dedicated faculty comprise acclaimed novelist Chris Belden, award-winning nonfiction writer and author Pete Nelson, director/playwright Joanne Hudson, young adult author Steve Otfinoski and poet Carol Ann Davis.

Our media and publishing panels of literary agents and publishers will feature lively discussions on today's vast and varied world of publishing.
Books on the Common

Scheduled to deliver the inaugural keynote is novelist Dr. Michael C. White, author of the Connecticut Book Award-winning Beautiful Assassin and director of Fairfield University's Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing.

Also featured is An Evening With the Authors, with readings by award-winning authors Pete Nelson, Nalini Jones, Chris Belden and Linda Merlino.

Sponsors for the event and evening authors' reception include Word for Words, LLC, Books on the Common and the Ridgefield Library.

"This is a great opportunity for writers to come together and share their love of the written word," says media coordinator Rebecca Dimyan. "It will be a day of making new connections and expanding literary horizons through workshops with well-known authors, and panels with the industry's finest agents and publishers."

For more information, visit the Ridgefield Writers Conference Web page, or download the brochure and application included here.

For general information, contact Adele Annesi at Word for Words, LLC.

The inaugural Ridgefield Writes Conference takes place on September 28 in the North Hall of picturesque St. Stephen's Episcopal Church at 351 Main Street in historic Ridgefield, Connecticut, 06877.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Author Joe Carvalko on the Magic of Writing and the Strength to Tell Stories

Attorney, musician, teacher and author Joe Carvalko has written his first novel, We Were Beautiful Once, Chapters from a Cold War. He shares how the story came to be and how formal study informed his craft and art.

How did you come up with the idea for the novel?
Attorney, musician, teacher and author Joe Carvalko
Twenty-five years ago, I tried a case against the government demanding an accounting of Roger Dumas, a Korea War soldier [the government] claimed was MIA. The trial followed years of cover-up by the Army and the CIA; however, I won the first, Federal court-ordered reclassification of a U.S. soldier from MIA to POW. The documentary "Missing, Presumed Dead: The Search for America's POWs," narrated by Edward Asner, details my trial efforts. I fictionalized the events drawn around the case as tried, delving into the issues of PTSD, and generally converting it into a mystery with many characters over a wide expanse of time. 

Having tried many cases, I used experiences from actual trials and created a dramatic courtroom testimony that parallels events on the battlefield and in the prison camp. The juxtaposition of the courtroom and the battlefield makes the real seem surreal. In some sense, it has the feel of The Rack, a 1956 movie where Paul Newman portrays an American soldier who collaborated with the Chinese while being held in a prison camp during the Korean War, or A Few Good Men, where Tom Cruise cross-examines Jack Nicholson in defending Marines.

What makes this different from other stories you've written?
In addition to my knowledge of the trial, I researched the Korean War and used this in setting various battles, troop movements and troop surrenders. I have firsthand knowledge of the story's settings, having made visits to Korea, working for a short while with the highest level of the Korean Department of Defense in Seoul. I am also a Cold War veteran of the Cuban Crisis, the Vietnam era and served in the Air Force with veterans of the Korean War. So, my story tracks the Korean War with a high degree of fidelity. There are many books about war, however relatively few about Korea. And the recent success of James McBride's The Miracle at St. Anna (WWII) leads me to conclude that there also may be a sizeable interest in the war that preceded Vietnam.

I have published two other books: A Road Once Traveled, Life From All Sides (a memoir that deals with military service and war) and A Deadly Fog (poems, essays and short stories about war). I also recently published The Techno-Human Shell, a nonfiction book about the future of medical technology and how we may become virtual cyborgs in the future. This is my first novel, so in that regard it is different.

How did getting an MFA help your writing and this project?
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things, and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave." My [MFA] mentors all paid heavily in learning their craft and taught me much about what it means to hear, smell, touch and see through a finer-tuned perspective, a keener sense of what things are, what things mean, a skill still in the making that lets me put finishing touches on thoughts that laid buried for so long.

I came from hard-headed disciplines: engineering, science and law. My career was filled with successful and failed inventors, corporate flights of fancy, mergers, lawsuits and high-rollers who gamed the system. My retreat had always been storytelling, nonfiction, fiction and poetry. I taught college courses and played piano part time. My vocation was a job; my avocations were my passions. But my writing, teaching and music were neither well-schooled nor mentored.  Being around good writers and being piloted to good books helped me improve in expressing my thoughts through the magic of writing, and brought me to the place I am now.

We do not see process; we only feel it. My time spent pulling the oars under the beat of a first-rate [MFA] faculty impressed every fiber of my being with a point of view that gives me strength to tell my story and the stories of others, some mundane, some fascinating, some silenced in pursuit of their own journey. The first journey I wanted to take [as a novelist] was into the plot that became We Were Beautiful Once, Chapters from a Cold War.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sting of the Heat Bug, by author Jack Sheedy

Someday, the heat bug will sting. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Tolstoy was so wrong when he began Anna Karenina with the oft-quoted sentence: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Our happy, Eisenhower-era family had its ups and downs, happy moments and unhappy ones, none of them at all like those of other families. We never considered ourselves an "unhappy family," even though we had unhappy moments; and in our happy moments, we still felt different from other families in our happiness.

Author Jack Sheedy

In fact, we felt protected. Other families — happy or otherwise — occasionally experienced poverty, disaster, disease, even death. We looked on in horror and sorrow, and we thanked our Catholic God (if he is so!) that he protected us against such calamities. When we did have to endure troubles — such as losing most of our possessions in the flood of 1955 — we at least recovered eventually. God seemed to be protecting us, even as our parents grew old and we five siblings entered middle age.

And then it ended.

My older sister, Peggy, a Type 1 diabetic, went into an insulin coma in 1985 and died three months later. Peggy was my "Irish twin," born just a bit more than 10 months before I was. From infancy, we shared a bond no one else shared. As kids, we spent hours watching ants in the driveway. We listened to the "heat bug," the cicada high in the trees on a hot summer day. I asked her if it stings. She said yes, if you bother it. I asked how you could tell if you were bothering it. "Because it stings," she said.

As adolescents, she taught me to dance — or tried to. As adults, we had each other's backs when things went wrong. And now, just weeks after her 40th birthday, she was dead.

The Catholic miracle didn't happen. Whatsoever I asked for in Jesus' name was not granted unto me.

If I chose, I could have re-categorized our family as unhappy. Instead, I decided to write about Peggy's death, to make sense of it, to figure out whether God had abandoned me or I had abandoned him. Why did the heat bug sting me?

A poignant work of hope

I wrote most of the 60 short chapters of Sting of the Heat Bug  between 2004 and 2008 while a member of Shepaug River Writers, a writing group centered in Litchfield. When I was too maudlin, the other members let me know. When I was too flippant, or too depressing, my critics gave me the thumbs down.

My goal was not to get readers to say, "Oh, poor Jack!" I wanted them to say, "Poor me! I wish I had known Peggy!" If I had tried to elicit pity for myself, most likely readers would have thought, "Get over it already. So you had a tough time. Who hasn't? Deal with it!"

Before attempting to write, I had to get to a place where I no longer needed pity. I had to get to where I could feel hope. I recalled the reactions of other family members and acquaintances to this and to other misfortunes, and in every case I saw people taking positive control of their lives — getting more involved in church or community activities, reaching out to even less fortunate people, saying a kind word. I was amazed at the depth of their faith. They seemed to echo the words of Job: "Shall we receive good from God and shall not receive evil?"

The heat bug stings us all, sooner or later. We won't see it coming. We won't know just why it stings. We won't know what we might have done to bother it. But if we're lucky, we will survive it. We might even get healthier because of it.

To learn more about Sting of the Heat Bug, go to Signalman Publishing, where there is a link to both the paperback edition and the e-book.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cool Resources for Writers

Helpful online resources
Scriptologist: This site combines the three most powerful elements of online marketing content, commerce and community for those in screenwriting.

Sips Card: This paying market puts short fiction and poetry in local coffee shops around the country. Each card has a quick response code loaded with a short story or set of poems from an independent writer meant to last as long as a cup of coffee. The card includes the author's name, story title and website/email.

Stoneslide Books: Launched in February 2012, this fiction press seeks narratives — primarily novels — that prompt readers to think, ask questions and "move the mind forward."

Teachers and Writers Collaborative (T&W): T&W sends professional writers into schools and communities to teach creative writing, and conducts professional development workshops for teachers and administrators. T&W has published more than 80 books, and publishes Teachers & Writers Magazine.

Writer's Bloq: This supportive site is about and for writers and their writing. Writers can create a portfolio and share their work with writers and gain a readership that can open publication doors. The community is based on creative cooperation and idea promotion.

Writers Conference & Centers (WC&C): This database allows writers to search for regional, national and international conferences, centers, festivals, residencies and retreats. Search by region and/or genre, and find scholarship opportunities as well. WritersNet www.writers.net/agents: This site helps writers showcase their work to be found by agents, editors and publishers.