2017 Conference

Sullivan_F

Faith Sullivan is the author of eight novels, including Gardenias, The Cape Ann, What a Woman Must Do, The Empress of One, Mrs. Demming and The Mythical Beast, Watchdog, Repent, Lanny Merkel and most recently, Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse. A “demon gardener, flea marketer, and feeder of birds,” she is also an indefatigable champion of literary culture and her fellow writers. She enjoys rubbing shoulders with those who love literature, having visited with hundreds of book clubs.

In fact, Faith prefers to chat about books rather than herself. “I really hate talking about myself. My goal is to have the shortest author bio imaginable. I would much rather have a conversation with my readers.”

Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Faith spent twenty-some years in New York and Los Angeles, returning to Minnesota often to keep her roots planted in the prairie. She now lives in Minneapolis with her husband, retired journalist and drama critic Dan Sullivan. They have three grown children.

In a 2015 interview for Book Snob, Faith talked about her writing:

“My novels are never autobiographical, though I do avail myself of things I know: small town life; teaching in public schools; Catholicism; and since I was a history major, I enjoy throwing a bit of that into the mix.

I became a novelist because I had stories to tell that no one else wanted to write. Or maybe could write. I suppose I could write anywhere. Most writers could. Writing fiction is a fine madness, and those afflicted will find a way to do it, no matter what.”

About her keynote presentation, Faith said “Whether you write mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, poetry, popular fiction or literary fiction—use the finest writing in your genre as your guide. Aim high!”

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Guest_J

In a 2014 interview, Judith Guest commented on what she wished for some of the characters she creates: “…Experiences need to be integrated into the whole of one’s life in order to outlive them and break their spell of shame and rage.”

Judith Guest was born in Detroit, Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in Education. She taught school in Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan. Together with her friend, Rebecca Hill, she has taught a number of seminars in Creative Writing.

Her first novel, Ordinary People, won the Janet Heidegger Kafka Prize for best first novel in 1976. It was made into a movie by Robert Redford that won six Academy Awards, including best picture for 1980. She has written six other novels, two of which are as yet unpublished.

She has written several screenplays, one of which was based on a trio of short stories by Carol Bly and was made into a movie called Rachel River. Judith is currently at work on a TV series based on her mystery novel, The Tarnished Eye.

About her writing career, Judith said “I started writing—without telling a soul—when I was about 10 years old. That tradition continued as a young newlywed and mother. I’d stick my reams of paper in drawers, never finishing anything.”

When she set out to write a novel, it took her three years. “In fact, I decided to quit teaching and concentrate on finishing something. In retrospect, it was the most important decision I’ve made to date about my writing.”

“Some of my characters don’t leave me, and I write to find out how their lies have been going since I last saw them.’

She said that she is able to write for a long time and not get tired. Her endurance, she said, comes from her great-uncle Edgar A. Guest, who was a Poet Laureate of Michigan who wrote a poem a day for the Detroit Free Press for forty years.

She has three children and seven grandchildren and spends half of each year in Minnesota and the other half in Michigan.

About her presentation, Judith said “The basics of TV and screenwriting, plus things I’ve learned from other writers and from my own observations are just plain common sense. Visual presentation is storytelling at its simplest and most powerful form. Participants will learn how to construct a plot, to develop complex characters, plus a couple of tricks to writing a dynamite scene.”

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Landvik_L

Writing and theater were Lorna Landvik’s twin passions when she was growing up in her home town of Minneapolis, Minnesota. After graduating from high school, she and her best friend traveled in Europe, settling in Bavaria where they supported themselves as hotel chamber maids and English tutors. When she returned to the States, Landvik briefly attended the University of Minnesota before moving to San Francisco, where she performed stand-up and improvisational comedy.

Another move took her to Los Angeles, where she worked as a stand-up comic at the Comedy Store and The Improv, supplementing her income with a variety of temp jobs–including one at the Playboy Mansion (“I felt like Margaret Mead studying a secret society”) and working for Atlantic Records.

In California, Landvik married her high school sweetheart. Their first daughter was born in 1985. A year later the trio joined the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament. “A thousand people started the march on the West Coast, but we were stranded in the desert and a core group of about 400 decided to go on,” Landvik recalls. “It ended nine months later with a candlelight vigil at the reflecting pool in Washington D.C.” After the march, Landvik and her family moved back to Minneapolis and she began working on what was to become her first novel. Their second daughter was born in 1991.

Landvik has continued to nurture her interest in theater; appearing with the nationally-acclaimed improvisational group “Dudley Riggs,” and acting in plays such as “Bad Seed,” “Lunatic Cellmates,” “Valley of the Dolls,” and “My Backyard Party.” She often performs a one-woman, all-improvised show called Party in the Rec Room.

Landvik made her debut as a novelist with the critically acclaimed Patty Jane’s House of Curl. She is also the author of Your Oasis on Flame Lake, The Tall Pine Polka, Welcome to the Great MysteriousAngry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, Oh My Stars, The View From Mount Joy, Tis The Season, Mayor of The Universe and Best To Laugh. Her recently released book, Once in a Blue Moon, is a sequel to her first novel.

Regarding her presentation, Lorna said “Whether you’re writing fiction, non-fiction or poetry, your imagination needs to be fired up. In this session, I’ll speak to how I grease the wheels of my imagination and will offer several exercises to unleash your own creativity.”

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Hane_EErik Hane is an associate agent with Red Sofa Literary, where he works on a mix of adult fiction and upmarket nonfiction, including history, science and sports.

He likes plot-driven literary fiction as well as narrative nonfiction that introduces complex subjects to non-expert readers.

Erik has previously worked on the editorial staffs of The Overlook Press and Oxford University Press, both in New York. He is also the co-host of the publishing podcast “Print Run.”

His presentation will tackle the fundamentals of creating a strong book proposal by first detailing the central keys to developing a compelling premise. During his sessions, participants will learn about how to think through questions about readership, competition, selling points, personal expertise and more. All of this as part of identifying the unique strengths of a book project that are worth emphasizing.

This approach, according to Erik, “treats creating a proposal as a discovery process in and of itself. One that can be used to better strengthen your book by understanding how it fits in the larger market.”

 

 

 

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