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BATON ROUGE – Creative writing, whether it’s composing a poem or a novel, requires a variety of skills. Organizers of the Louisiana Book Festival have recruited some successful writers of fiction, nonfiction and poetry to present creative writing “WordShops” to beginning writers and those who want to advance their skills, as well as one for those who teach reflective writing.

On Friday, October 28, 2016, the Louisiana Book Festival will present four workshops on writing for the general public – and one for those who teach writing to elementary, middle and high school students. The creative writing “WordShops” take place on the day before the thirteenth annual festival, which is on Saturday, October 29.

In addition to being a learning opportunity, the organizers also view the “Wordshops” as a networking tool for aspiring writers. Information about publishing is often a lagniappe advantage of attending the programs, since the presenters have the experience of having gone through the process.


9 a.m. – noon:

·         Margaret Eby – Location, Location, Location: Writing about Place

·         Catherine Gourley – The Journey Inward: Reflective Writing and the Letters About Literature Program

·         Daniel José Older – Crisis Creates Us: Narrative Fundamentals

1 p.m. – 4 p.m.:

·         Peter Cooley – Influence and Inspiration: Mining Your Obsessions

·         Bill Loehfelm – Casting Characters

A special educator rate of $15 is offered for Catherine Gourley’s The Journey Inward workshop.  The standard registration fee for all other workshops is $45; for a person attending two standard workshops, $85. Space is limited. Registration and payment are due by October 14. After that date, registrations will only be accepted if space allows.

Those interested in participating can register by calling 225-219-9503 or by downloading and mailing the registration form fromhttp://www.louisianabookfestival.org/wordshops.html and sending payment to Louisiana Book Festival WordShops, 701 N. Fourth St., Baton Rouge, LA 70802.

For more information about the “WordShops” and book festival, visit www.LouisianaBookFestival.org.   Details about the workshops follow below. 

“WordShop” and Author details:

Location, Location, Location
Writing about Place
Presented by Margaret Eby

In writing, as in real estate, location is everything. In this workshop, journalist and memoirist Margaret Eby will go through the basics of setting a scene, a necessary skill for crafting anything from a short newsy article to a long form piece of creative nonfiction to a novel. Through examples from both fiction and nonfiction and exercises, participants will explore the most effective methods to situate their story, and use place effectively. Participants are encouraged to bring a work in progress or an idea for a piece to workshop.

Margaret Eby is the author of South Toward Home: Travels in Southern Literature, which The New York Times deemed “well-informed and lively.” Her essays, criticism, and reporting have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Bon Appetit, Bookforum, The Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal, and The Paris Review Daily. She is currently the Culture Editor at Extra Crispy, a new Time Inc. publication about breakfast.

The Journey Inward
Reflective Writing and the Letters About Literature Program
Presented by Catherine Gourley

The Journey Inward is an interactive workshop on reading and reflective writing for educators, librarians, homeschool and afterschool instructors, and parents. The workshop focuses on Letters About Literature, a reading promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and coordinated in state by the Louisiana Center for the Book which challenges students to explore how a writer’s work somehow changed their view of themselves or their world. The workshop has three blocks:

Block 1: Metacognition and the Reflective Writing Challenge
Block 2: Writing Strategies
Block 3: Assessment and the Letters About Literature Writing Contest

Participants will receive a Teaching Guide for incorporating reflective writing and Letters About Literature into their curriculum.    

Presenter Catherine Gourley has been the national project director of Letters About Literature since its inception, 24 years ago. She is an award-winning author of more than 30 books, primarily for young adults, and is currently the principal curriculum writer for The Story of Movies, an educational outreach program on visual literacy developed by The Film Foundation, Los Angeles.

Crisis Creates Us
Narrative Fundamentals
Presented by Daniel José Older

This seminar explores the defining crises of literature and how crisis functions to unify plot structure, world building and character development. Participants will get into the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts of plot and touch on wider questions of art and politics in literature. Consider how crisis plays out across our daily newsfeeds -- problems that have been going on for decades suddenly explode into national consciousness because protest or politics brings it to the forefront, usually employing narratives of crisis. Older explains, “In crafting narrative arcs, our job is to launch our characters head first into crisis, a turning point. These can be giant and earth-shattering or intimate, an apocalypse or a break-up and everything in between.” 

Daniel José Older is the New York Times bestselling author of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books and the Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Scholastic, 2015), a New York Times Notable Book of 2015, which was shortlisted for the Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature, the Andre Norton Award, the Locus, the Mythopoeic Award, the International Latino Book Award, and named one of Esquire’s 80 Books Every Person Should Read. He co-edited the Locus and World Fantasy nominated anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. His short stories and essays have appeared in the Guardian, NPR, Tor.com, Salon, BuzzFeed, and the anthologies The Fire This Time and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond, among others.

Presented by Peter Cooley

While all of us would like to subscribe to the Romantic notion of the poet as self-inspired seer, the truth is that we are all swimming side-by-side in a sea of influences: texts derive from texts. 

Each workshop participant is asked to bring in two poems for critique, a poem of his or her own which is inflected by another poet and a poem whose influences can’t be identified.   Please bring twenty copies of each poem.  Participants, in addition, will write some poems together which derive from contemporary canonical models. The workshop leader will begin the writing session by sharing some of his poems which are “influenced” and “uninfluenced.”

Peter Cooley, Louisiana Poet Laureate, has published nine books of poetry, most recently Night Bus to the Afterlife. A native of the Midwest, he has lived over half of his life in New Orleans, where he is Senior Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Director of Creative Writing at Tulane University.

Casting Characters
Presented by Bill Loehfelm

Bill Loehfelm will lead discussion and writing exercises designed to help in the creation and continuing development of compelling, believable characters in fiction, both in series work and stand-alone fiction. Participants will tackle the challenges of bringing all different types of characters to fully-formed life on the page. Writers are encouraged to bring works in progress. Starting from scratch will also be discussed. 

Bill Loehfelm is the author of six novels, including the critically-acclaimed crime fiction series about New Orleans police officer Maureen Coughlin, published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. The fourth Maureen Coughlin novel, Let the Devil Out, was published in July 2016. He has also written two stand-alone thrillers, and his short fiction and non-fiction have been featured in several anthologies. He's taught fiction writing at the Creative Writing Workshop at UNO and has lectured in writing for Mystery Writers of America. He lives in New Orleans with his wife, AC Lambeth, a writer and yoga instructor. When not writing, Bill plays drums in a rock n' roll band. 

For more information about the “WordShops” and faculty, see http://www.louisianabookfestival.org/wordshops.html


Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
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Buddy Boe/Jessica Ragusa
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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