A Monthly Newsletter from the Westport Writers' Workshop
with news of the WWW Community,
writing wisdom, prompts,
announcements of upcoming events  





Read your work aloud, or just come and listen:


Open Mic Night

April 9

Only $5 









where you will also find special offers and advance invitations.

We're going to France!


When Susan Lynton, a writer in Suzanne Hoover's Fiction Writing:Crafting Your Novel suggested last fall that we hold our next Writers' Retreat in the small town in the south of France where she owns a home, my response was, well, yeah, maybe. Packaging, organizing, and leading our Writers' Retreats is one of our most complicated undertakings. Yet we do it because participants love the combination of private time to write with daily workshops. The retreats always fill, and each has been magical in its own way.


The idea of doing it for ten days in France, however, no matter how alluring, seemed, to say the least, (as the French say) formidable.


Then along came Susan with all the details worked out: participants would stay in the charming hotel alongside her home, where the daily workshops would be held.  She has even arranged with the hotel and local restaurants three-course dinners, accompanied by wine each night, to be included in the price of the retreat.


Tout alors! We're going France. 


Several of our writers quickly claimed spots, which leaves only twoRooftops available spaces for our Collobrieres, France Writers' Retreat.  If this sounds like the perfect way to celebrate yourself, honor your writing, and launch a glorious, creative summer, please join us. More information is below.


Can't get to France or our Watch Hill, RI retreat?  Why not arrange a summer retreat of your own? Block ten days off your calendar, commit to meet a writing partner at your favorite library in another town (my two favorites: the Darien Public Library and the Pequot Library in Fairfield) or even a picnic table at the beach, lock your cell phone in your car, and see what happens.



JB Signature 




Westport Writers' Workshop 


Monday, April 9
7 - 9pm



We want to know what you're writing.
Please sign up to share your work with us at our next Open Mic Night. All genres are welcome, including fiction, memoir, and poetry. Read a selection of your work to an audience of your peers and other interested listeners, or just come to listen and be inspired. 


The cost is only $5 per person or free for WWW members. Come enjoy free coffee or tea, cookies, and fellowship. Friends and family members are welcome.
Just let us know you're coming. To register or for more information call us at (203)227-3250 or email

News of Our Writers

We are very proud of WWW writer 
Ed Masseywhose short story "Daughter of the Pioneers" was featured in last month's issue of Frontier Tales Magazine. Ed is a longtime participant in Matt Debenham's Intermediate Fiction workshop and is currently working on a novel.
Congratulations are in order for Christine Pakkala, who has a new agent at ICM (World) and just sold her second children's book. LAST BUT NOT LEAST LOLA: Wild Chicken is the second title in her debut middle-grade fiction series about an unintentional troublemaker with a lot of heart. Christine has worked with Suzanne Hoover, Jessica Bram and Pat Hermes, and recently led Writing for Children: An Introduction for the Absolute Beginner (see "In Case You Missed" below).


Way to go, Marcelle! We were thrilled to learn that American Public Media's The Story will feature WWW workshop leader Marcelle Soviero's essay "Hall of Famers". Marcelle will discuss the essay on the radio show, airing in April. The essay will be published on The Story's website in conjunction with the show. We'll be sure to let you know when it airs.  
Keep the good news coming.  If you've been published or have a success to report, please let us know.  
In case you missed...

Susan Granger is an internationally syndicated movie critic who is known locally for her syndicated movie review column; Liz Rueven is founder and editor of the popular food blog Kosher Like Me; Erica Sanders-Foege is a reviewer for The New York Times Book Review; and Laurel Tuohy is a former music critic for The News Times in Danbury.  


On March 26, these four local critics appeared at the Westport Writers Workshop in a panel entitled "Be A Critic."  In a wide-ranging discussion, they shared their insights on issues such as how to break into the business of professional reviewing, honing one's craft, and what makes a good review.

Granger began the talk by citing her passion for her subject matter. "You have to wildly adore movies..." Read More Here
WWW Founder/Director Jessica Bram with (left to right) movie critic Susan Granger; food critic/blogger Liz Rueven; NY Times Book Reviewer Erica Sanders-Foege; and music critic Laurel Tuohy.



In case you missed...
Many writers wonder what makes a great children's story. Is it a precocious main character? A whimsical and imaginative setting? A series of fantastic events? 


On Saturday, March 31, participants in author Christine Pakkala's Writing for Children: An Introduction for the Absolute Beginner workshop examined these questions through discussion, reading, and writing exercises. Participants learned that while whimsy and imagination are important, many of the best children's stories are grounded in the writer's own interests, experiences, and family history.





If Writing for Children: An Introduction for the Absolute Beginner reminds you that you a great idea for a middle-grade children's story of your own, or you already have a manuscript on your desk, please consider registering for Writing Middle Grade Children's Fiction with Ann Haywood Leal.   (Don't worry about missing the first meeting; we'll pro-rate the fee.)


It's not too late to register for


8 Wednesdays, 10am - noon

April 4, 11, 25, May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

$445  (or $420 for WWW members)


For more information or to register CLICK HERE

This Month's Featured Workshop:

 with  Paul Epstein, ND

What is the challenge of writing creatively, if not to put down in words that which is hidden deep within? Mindfulness meditation allows access to one's inner wisdom and deepens insight. It is thus a powerful tool that a writer can use to spark inspiration, enhance creativity, and overcome obstacles in order to produce truly inspired writing.


Join us for an illuminating and thought-provoking 6-week workshop with Paul Epstein, ND. Together, we will explore how to integrate mindfulness into our writing practice and daily lives. The workshop will also demonstrate how meditation and other mind-body techniques can be powerful, practical tools to deepen creativity and enhance the art of writing. 

6 Mondays

April 23, 30, May 7, 14,21, June 4


$295 (or $270 for  WWW members) 




Dr. Paul Epstein is a naturopathic physician, speaker, mind-body therapist, mindfulness meditation teacher, and workshop leader. He cofounded the Israel Center for Mind-Body Medicine and is the author of Happiness Through Meditation. More on Dr. Paul Epstein.



Space is limited and pre-registration is required.


 For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.

Just Announced...


2012 Writers' Retreat
June 20-30, 2012
Collobrieres, France
FranceRetreatJoin us for a most inspiring experience - our next Writers' Retreat in the South of France. 


Joined by workshop leaders Jessica Bram and Suzanne Hoover, you and 6 other writers will will enjoy 10 days of quiet, uninterrupted writing time in a supportive atmosphere, against the breathtaking landscape of Collobrieres, a small medieval village in the South of France. 
This intimate and inspiring retreat will enable you to spend the days writing in your private room at the Hotel Notre Dame, on the terrace of the recently restored village house where the workshops will be held, at a cafe in the town's square, or on quiet Mediterranean beaches only a short drive away. 
You will also attend daily workshops, and have the opportunity to participate in brief talks on various aspects of craft, writing skills workshops, and informal conversations about writing. MORE INFORMATION.
The terrace at the workshop
The village house where workshops will be held

Registration is limited to 7 participants. 

To register call (203)227-3250 or email

On Writing


Life is research; thus, the memoir. 

By Fenton Johnson 

Last month WWW founder/director Jessica Bram and workshop leader Marcelle Soviero attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Chicago, IL. We wanted to share with you these remarks offered as part of a panel entitled "Research and the Memoir." Reprinted with permission of the author.


Fenton Johnson is Associate Professor of English, on the faculty of the creative writing program at the University of Arizona. Fenton Johnson is the author of two novels, Crossing the River and  Scissors, Paper, Rock, as well as Geography of the Heart: A Memoir and Keeping Faith: A Skeptic's Journey among Christian and Buddhist Monks.  (See full bio at end of article.) 


Remarks delivered at the Associated Writing Programs 2012 Conference, Chicago, Illinois, 3 March.


Research deepens and enriches memory.  I search for prompts, which in turn direct the research, which in its turn sparks memory.  I take issue w/ the panel description's use of the word "objective" - as in, "the researcher's objective findings."  Vladimir Nabokov, who would know, wrote that reality is the only word that ought always to be enclosed in quotation marks - "reality."  The great beauty of creative nonfiction is that, while the writer is morally and aesthetically bound in service to truth, she or he is liberated from service to the mythology of objective fact.


Now that is not at all to advocate making up facts or distorting them for the sake of aesthetic convenience... Read More


Get Away with Murder




Mystery fans and writers should know about an exciting two day event at the Easton Public Library, Murder 203. Attendees can enjoy panel discussions, book signings, writing tips from professionals, mingling with fellow crime fiction enthusiasts, and lots of fun. Guest of honor is New York Times bestselling author Michael Palmer. Please come back and tell us about it.  For more information or to register.


It's not too late to register:
Unicorn Writers' Conference
Saturday, April 28
Saint Clements Castle, Portland,CT

There's still time to register for the all-day Unicorn Writers'Conference taking place on Saturday, April 28, at the Saint Clements Castle in Portland, CT(near Middletown, Conn.).




The conference is suitable for new and published writers alike, and features professionally-led workshops and tutorial sessions on everything from writing picture books to getting manuscripts noticed by publishers. A networking dinner and party at the end of the day will provide further opportunities to connect with other writers and publishing industry insiders

Want to car pool?  Jessica Bram and several WWW writers will be driving together to the conference, which is about an hour's drive from Westport.  Call (203)227-3250 if you'd like to join us. 


Last year this conference sold out.  There may still be time to register, but space is limited.  
For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.

Well Said


Not all sentences end up in novels or stories. But novels and stories consist of nothing but. Sentences are the bricks as well as the mortar, the motor as well as the fuel. They are the cells, the individual stitches. Their nature is at once solitary and social. Sentences establish tone, and set the pace. One in front of the other marks the way.  

~Jhumpa Lahiri

Further Reading...

Writers are always looking for inspiration, tips, and new perspectives on reading and writing.  Last month, all three became available courtesy of "Draft," The New York Times' new series on writing, reading, and language. The series features essays from notable authors, thinkers, and grammarians. This month's "Well Said," excerpted from Jhumpa Lahiri's essay "My Life's Sentences" is one example of what you'll find in this new series from The New York Times.

Upcoming Workshops  


There is still time to register.


There are a few Spring 2012 workshops that have not yet started, or space is still available in workshops already underway. For example:


NEW 8 Wednesdays, April 4, 11, 25, May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 10 am-12 pm WRITING MIDDLE GRADE CHILDREN'S FICTION with Ann Haywood Leal. $445 or $420 for WWW members. (will pro-rate for missed session.)


6 Mondays (bi-weekly), 12-1:30 pm, April 9, 23, May 7, 21, June 4, 18 "GET PUBLISHED" MASTERMIND with Marcelle Soviero. $195 or $170 for WWW members.


NEW 8 Tuesdays, April 24, May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5, 12, 7-9 pm ON BEING A CRITIC with Erica Sanders-Foege. $445 or $420 for WWW members.


NEW 6 Mondays, April 23, 30, May 7, 14, 21, June 4, 7-9pm MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION FOR WRITERS with Paul Epstein, ND. $25 or free for WWW members. Space is limited. Pre-registration is required.  


NEW Saturday, May 11, 9 am to noon, CRAFTING HISTORICAL FICTION with Steven Otfinoski $125. Space is limited. Pre-registration is required.  Call for details.  


For more information or to register see
individual links above or go to

or call (203)227-3250.



Westport Writers' Workshop

3 Sylvan Road South 

Westport, CT 06880


Please feel free to forward this newsletter WORD-for-WORDS to your friends and fellow writers. Visit our website to sign up for newsletters. You can also read past archived issues here.  
For questions or more information about our workshops, events, or Westport Writers' Workshop membership go to  or call (203) 227-3250 or