Our 2017 Presenters
Jamie Ford is the great grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name “Ford,” thus confusing countless generations. His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. His work has been translated into 34 languages. Jamie is still holding out for Klingon (that’s when you know you’ve made it).
His second novel, Songs of Willow Frost, is set against the backdrop of Depression-era Seattle. This historical novel is a powerful tale of a boy with dreams for his future, and a young woman escaping her haunted past. With many “teachable moments” imbedded throughout this story of hope, forgiveness, and reaching for your dreams, Songs of Willow Frost, is a wonderful book for students.
Ford graduated from the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. He is the proud father of two boys and two girls.
Workshop: Plotting the Storm. From ballads to imbroglios, this workshop is about the fine art of playing god, pulling embryonic characters from the ether and menacing them in search of that unique “ah-ha” moment that is the beating heart of great story. We’ll create worlds with benevolent and malevolent figures, wind up our automatons and let them crash into each other until sparks fly and the curtains catch fire—just to see what happens next.
Keith Goodnight was born in Dallas, and attended Rice University where he obtained a Ph.D. in Biology, specializing in Animal Behavior. He began work on his science fiction universe while still in high school, and kept working on it all through the years when he was supposed to be working on something else. He published his first novel, The Child, in 2013 and currently works as an instructor in the Writers Path program at SMU.
Workshop: Worlds of Story. All stories take readers through fictional plotlines; science fiction and fantasy take them to fictional worlds as well. Whether it’s Middle-earth or the Galactic Empire— or our own world with just one imaginary twist— the world and the story go together. In this workshop we’ll look at how to imagining invented worlds can suggest new story ideas, and how story ideas can suggest new worlds in which to tell them. Along the way, we’ll invent our own new world to explore.
Jill K. Sayre fell in love with Highland Park, especially with the beautiful creek that runs through it. This inspired her first book, “”The Fairies of Turtle Creek””. She used the history of the area to set the stage for her story, weaving in folklore and modern fairy beliefs. Magical realism is a favorite of Jill’s, to read and write. She also loves nature, art, music, and seeking everyday beauty that is hidden in plain sight.
Jill holds a degree in art from UCLA, elementary education from Cal State, Los Angeles, and attends graduate school at SMU for Creative Writing. She currently teaches 6th grade ELA at McCulloch Intermediate School. She is also a professional speaker about “”Writing Your First Book”” and “”Helping Your Child Become a Better Reader and Writer.””
Jill lives in Dallas with her husband, three kids, two cats, and a crazy vizsla dog.
Workshop: How to Brainstorm Your Story Idea and Give it Wings. Students will be given multiple strategies for taking an idea and formulating strong “bones” of a short story or novel. We will look at famous author’s different ways of brainstorming so that students can find what works for them. By creating solid beginnings, their stories will be more likely to “fly”.
Linda Daugherty is Playwright in Residence at Dallas Children’s Theater and member of the Dramatist Guild of America, was nominated by the Dallas Morning News Arts Staff for 2011 DMN “Texan of the Year” and received the 2011 National Award from the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine for her plays dealing with teen issues which have been performed world-wide.
Workshop: Get Started on the Play You’ve Always Wanted to Write. We will explore the author’s own writing process as well as provide hands-on work on dialogue, stage directions and how to turn your ideas into a script.
Sonia Gensler is the award-winning author of Ghostlight, The Dark Between and The Revenant, all from Alfred A. Knopf/Random House Kids. Weird and dreamy from birth, Sonia grew up in a small Tennessee town and ran with a dangerous pack of band and drama geeks. As an adult she experimented with a variety of impractical professions—museum interpreter, historic home director, bookseller, and perpetual graduate student—before finally deciding to share her passion for stories through teaching. Sonia taught literature and writing to young adults for ten years and still thinks fondly of her days in the classroom. She currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband and cat.
Workshop: Building the Perfect Monster. A well-crafted monster is essential to any good horror story. In this session we’ll review types of monsters, their goals, and ways to maximize their capacity for terror and mayhem. Because the effectiveness of a monster is closely tied to the motivations, strengths, and weaknesses of your protagonist, we’ll also spend time brainstorming complex (and flawed) heroes and heroines.
Len Bourland is an award winning columnist for the People Newspapers in Dallas, Texas for over two decades, a freelance writer with credits in local publications including D magazine and the former Dallas Times Herald, and a guest commentator on KERA 90.1 NPR Dallas radio, and created her online blog, “Here’s My Take.” Her new book, “”Normal’s Just a Cycle on a Washing Machine: a Memoir”” was published this fall. She has received multiple awards from the Texas Press Association in feature writing and is a member of the Texas Writer’s League. She was educated at Vanderbilt with a BA in history, and SMU with an MA in history. Her columns can be accessed on her website www.lenbourland.com.
Workshop: Writing for publication in press, book and ebook format as well as broadcasting with an emphasis on humor in writing. Helping a student find his/her style and rhythm. My focus will be on the lead, the body, the wrap up in 600-800 words which is a typical column or radio broadcast. Lively writing that can be read aloud on the air, writing with wit and wisdom about the ordinary, in ways which will leave a reader/listener informed, entertained, and engaged is my goal. Short honest pieces leavened with humor are the skeleton for non-fiction books and e-books to follow. Then getting published.
Eddie Coker since 1987, an award-winning singer/songwriter and performer, has created the Weird, Wild World of Eddie Coker for Disney, recorded 100’s of songs for children and their families, has a huge following on SiriusXM Radio and has entertained well over a 1,000,000 children nationwide as a live concert artist.
A former opera singer, Mr. Coker now spends the majority of his time presenting live musical programs through a non-profit he founded called THE WEZMORE PROJECT. WEZMORE helps young people architect, from an early-age, a “core” of self-& other valuing; a valuing that is essential in dealing with the world they live in.”
Workshop: 1 + 1 = New Jersey. While there are many methods to the madness of writing an original song, melody, story or concept, Mr. Coker has invented his own unique form of mathematics for ‘optimal tapping into’ the land of creativity. Students will be given strategies & NON-strategies that will assist them in building the launching pad of something original.
“Do not ask where the woo-woo comes from, I have no solid answer. It’s merely a response to that strange part of the brain where everybody has a little weirdness up there floating, floating from the cerebellum to the feet to do the woo-woo dance.”
Karen Blumenthal is a long-time journalist and the author of seven nonfiction books for young people, covering subjects as diverse as guns, Steve Jobs, booze, and Hillary Clinton. Three of her books have been finalists for the American Library Association’s award for the best young-adult nonfiction of the year; other books have won the the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award and a Sibert Honor for the year’s best children’s nonfiction book. Her books have also been on the Texas Lone Star and Tayshas lists. Before writing books full time, she was a reporter, editor, and Dallas Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal for twenty years and a WSJ personal finance columnist for five years.
Workshop: Looking for truth on the trail of Bonnie and Clyde. Nonfiction must be true–but how do you know what’s true and what’s spin? We’ll take a look at two Depression-era outlaws and their rampage across the Southwest as seen by their families and law enforcement. Then, we’ll try to find the facts. Be prepared to do a little fact-finding and storytelling of your own.
J. Suzanne Frank is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who has traveled extensively in Egypt, Greece, and Israel. She wrote “The History Quartet” a series of four linked novels, (Reflections in the Nile, Shadows on the Aegean, Sunrise on the Mediterranean and Twilight in Babylon) under her own name. In them, modern hero Chloe Kingsley time-travels to ancient Egypt, Minoan “Atlantis”, Biblical Israel and dawn-of-literacy Sumer, adventuring through pivotal points in Western civilization’s history. Under a pseudonym, Frank penned a light mystery series featuring photo stylist Dallas O’Connor as amateur sleuth. Frank’s most recent novel, “Laws of Migration” follows a woman’s search for an exotic bird through contemporary Morocco, finding danger and romance along the way. Frank is working on more time-travel novels and also directs The Writer’s Path at SMU, an adult education community program designed to teach adults how to write books.
Workshop: Questioning the Quest. The Hero’s Journey is a metaphor for the writing life, in addition to being a map TO writing a story. Starting is easy enough, but what do those “stages” mean? What is supposed to happen? Learn the questions to ask as you move through the Hero’s Journey, gaining a greater understanding for every book and movie ever. In class we’ll follow the questions so you can create your own story. Bring pen and paper.
Joni Wallace Joni Wallace earned her MFA at the University of Montana and is the author of two books of poetry and a chapbook: Kingdom Come Radio Show (Barrow Street Press, 2016), finalist for the Colorado Prize, the Besmilr Brigham Award, Word Works’ Washington Prize, and AROHO’s To the Lighthouse Award; Blinking Ephemeral Valentine (Four Way Books, 2011), selected by Mary Jo Bang as the winner of the Levis Prize; Redshift (Kore Press, 2001), which garnered a fellowship from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Boston Review, Conduit, Gulf Coast, The Volta, Connotations Press, Gulf Coast, and Crazyhorse. Her sound and video work has been featured on textsound.org and is forthcoming on VolubleLab. She currently lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she teaches at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.
Workshop: Poetics of Place. Place, to the writer at work, is seen in a frame. Not an empty frame, a brimming one. Point of view is a sort of burning-glass, a product of personal experience and time. – Eudora Welty
A poet must parse, juxtapose, superimpose upon, blot out, disrupt, and augment his or her outside world for the good of the poem. In this hands-on workshop, we will focus on these techniques to write vibrant personal and imaginative poetic landscapes. We will work to create inventive word installations of our own lives, cities, neighborhoods, and streets. Each participant will find new ways to create vivid poems using clear, concise, and sensory language.
In 2014, Brenda founded The Beacon Family Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a mission to provide resources for families with loved ones fighting cancer. She serves as the Executive Director, and 100 percent of the funds from her book In Grandma’s Garden will be donated through the organization to fund breast cancer research and support initiatives. She is also a proprietor of Coquerel Family Wine Estates, a boutique winery that produces artisanal wines located in Napa Valley.
Cockerell currently resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband Clay, and their two children, Charlie and “Tiger” Lily. Brenda lives each day by the words of her grandmother – “Sing loud even if you don’t know the words,” and “Everything looks brighter from behind a smile.”
Workshop: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Visual Puns and Poems. Children’s books with rhymes and imaginative illustrations are always some of the most popular choices for young readers. At this workshop, students will learn the process and tools Brenda West Cockerell used when writing her book In Grandma’s Garden, including rhyme and meter. At the same time, students will examine how words and phrases can be illustrated in new and creative ways.
Kim Pierce is a long-time, award-winning food journalist and editor at the Dallas Morning News and current senior editor at Edible Dallas & Fort Worth, writing for publications as diverse as Vogue and The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. She’s also a recent graduate of SMU’s acclaimed Writer’s Path fiction program, with her first novel in the works.
Workshop: Why the End is Your Beginning. Yes, it’s counter-intuitive to start your story or novel with the ending. It’s also a brilliant way to keep your narrative on track. Students will pair up in a collaborative, brains-on exercise to create the bones of a short story, starting at the end. A laptop or iPad would be helpful for this workshop.
Matthew Limpede is the Executive Editor of Carve Magazine, a quarterly literary magazine publishing fiction, poetry, essays, interviews and illustrations. Carve also hosts the annual Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, drawing hundreds of submissions from all over the world and awarding over $2000 in prizes. Matthew attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, studying playwriting and screenwriting, and graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a concentration in creative writing. He lives in downtown Dallas, and his favorite authors include Aimee Bender, David Benioff, Amy Hempel, and Raymond Carver. Matthew recently launched a new editorial service, Limpede Ink, designed to help creative writers at any stage of the writing, revising, and publishing process.
Workshop: Does The First Page Matter? (Yes, It Does!) In this interactive workshop focusing on short stories, we’ll first discuss the various types of publishing options available to writers today. Then in small groups, you’ll evaluate, as editors, several first pages of stories to determine which ones hold the promise of an engaging, well-written short story. We’ll discuss what crucial elements make us want to continue or stop reading, and you’ll find out if the first pages you selected were indeed part of a story published by a literary magazine or publisher.
Sue Batterton Sue Batterton earned her M.F.A. in fiction and poetry at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin and is currently a Group Creative Director/Writer at The Richards Group in Dallas, Texas. When she’s not sneaking poetry into commercials for brands like Ferrari, Ram, and Jeep, she’s working on television scripts and screenplays with her husband Peter. Sue is also the mother of two very creative emerging writers, Leo (4) and Charlie (1).
Workshop: Poetry in Advertising. There’s hope for the poets out there – just turn on your TV! From Walt Whitman for Levi’s to Maya Angelou for Apple to a growing number of copywriters crafting original verse for all kinds of brands, there’s been a lot of poetry in advertising lately. This workshop will examine some of the most lyrical current ads and one of the most creative day jobs a writer can pursue – copywriting.
Peter Simek is arts editor with D Magazine where he writes about a broad range of topics, from visual art and music to sports and urbanism. He has written about topics ranging from big wave surfing to the spread of the drug ecstasy for publications such as Playboy, Salon, Film Threat, and SB Nation Longform.
Workshop: Finding and Crafting Non-Fiction Narratives. Finding and Crafting Non-Fiction Narratives: Life is messy. So how do you take the raw material of the everyday and craft it into a story? In this workshop, students will learn how to look at the world with an eye for spotting real-world narratives. Sometimes they come from the headlines, or from people you know, or from your own personal obsessions. Students will spend time talking about what makes a story worth sharing with the world, and they will begin to discover the stories that only they are meant to tell.
Kay Honeyman’s roots in football and Texas run deep: Her grandfather coached high school and college teams in the sport, while Kay was born in Fort Worth, attended Baylor University in Waco, and now lives in Dallas and teaches at Highland Park Middle School. Her first novel, The Fire Horse Girl, received a starred review from Booklist magazine and was nominated for three state awards. Please visit Kay on the web at www.kayhoneyman.com and on Twitter at @kayhoneyman.
Workshop: Relationships – It’s Complicated. Relationships matter. They shape who we are and how we think about ourselves and the world. In stories, relationships challenge characters and their world view. In this session we will think about how writers make the most of the relationships in their stories and how readers can spot potential conflict in those relationships. Then we will try our hand at making our own web of relationships that could reveal a story.
Karl’s been a syndicated cartoonist for Mile High Sports Magazine, Denver Business Journal, Investment Professional, and Central European Business Weekly. He is a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists.
Karl’s cartoons have won multiple 1st Place Awards (Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Press Association, Party Toons). His work has appeared annually in the Best US Editorial Cartoons of the Year book, in USAToday, NPR, Fox News, and in college economics textbooks.
His background (BA History/Yale, MBA/Kellogg, Grad Degree/London School Economics), business experience (20 years as a successful marketing executive), sports focus (2-sport college athlete: football, All-America in lacrosse), and international interest (several years of overseas work in places as varied as Prague and Bangkok), all find their way into his cartoons.
Workshop: Satirical Cartoons and Illustrations – In 2016 A Picture is Still Worth a Thousand Words. This workshop will provide attendees with a broad understanding of the world of editorial cartoons and illustration, including historical context and recent implications, rounded out by some hands-on cartooning. This will include:
– A short history of the craft, illustrated by famous and not-so-famous examples leading to where the field stands today.
– The many challenges of being a cartoonist/illustrator in today’s ever-evolving media world.
– Tools and approaches to the craft presented in an accessible, humorous way.
– Finally, attendees will put tools into practice in an interactive cartooning session.
Lori Ann Stephens writes short stories, novels, and opera libretti. Her award winning-writing has been widely published and honored in national competitions, including the Glimmer Train Stories National Fiction Open, the National Readers’ Choice Awards (RWA), the English National Opera Miniopera Winner, and the Peace Writing Awards. She is the author of Song of the Orange Moons and Some Act of Vision (a Young Adult novel). She’s thrilled to be back in Highland Park to lead a few workshops.
Workshop: Fun with World-building. Although not quite as fun as Sheldon Cooper’s “Fun with Flags” (The Big Bang Theory), we’ll have our own amusing workshop on Fun with World-building. Whether you’re a science fiction aficionado, a fantasy fan, a thrill -seeker, or a classics lover, you know the power of a well-built world. We’ll talk about world-building techniques and play with words as we build our own worlds that mesmerize.
Gary D. Swaim received his A.B. degree in English from the University of California and his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Philosophy from the University of the Redlands (in cooperation with Claremont Graduate University), both in California. He currently teaches for SMU in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program, working with students pursuing the Master and Doctorate of Liberal Studies. He has published over 200 poems, both nationally and internationally(including The New Yorker), had short stories published broadly, and produced several of his plays, in both California and Texas. He was selected Senior Texas Poet Laureate in 2011 as well as Minnie-Stevens Piper Professor of Excellence for the state of Texas. Among his most notable plays is Two to Waken Him, based on the closing years in the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, highly-regarded theologian and significant contributor in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
Workshop: Creating Poetry with a Tangled Mind. A hands-on workshop for the creation of individual poems. Intended to display divergencies in topic and style, focusing on disjunction, rhythm, and surprises.
Joaquín Zihuatanejo is a published poet, award winning teacher, and world poetry slam champion. Joaquín’s work has been featured in Prairie Schooner, Sonora Review, and Huizache among others. Joaquín will finish his MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico in May of 2017. Joaquín has two passions, his wife Aída and poetry, always in that order.
Workshop: I Slam; Therefore, I Am. In this interactive workshop students will hear a couple of poems by world poetry slam champion Joaquin Zihuatanejo and then Joaquin will walk them through the process of writing an original poem conducive to having life breathed into it through voice.
Mike Wilson has been editor of The Dallas Morning News since February 2015. He started his career at the Miami Herald, then worked for 18 years at the Tampa Bay Times. As a reporter in Tampa Bay, he was part of a team that was a finalist for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. His staff won two Pulitzer prizes during his tenure as an editor. In 2013 he moved to New York to become managing editor of Nate Silver’s data journalism website, FiveThirtyEight. During this time he also served on ESPN’s editorial board. He is the author of two books, Right on the Edge of Crazy and The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison. He and his wife, Alisa, live in Dallas and have three grown children.
Workshop: First-Person Perfect: Five Ways To Improve Your Writing About Yourself. Most young writers begin by writing about their own lives. Young people have compelling personal stories to tell, but too often these pieces feel cliche or self-indulgent. This workshop will focus on a few ways in which young writers — all writers, really — can make their stories stronger, fresher and more meaningful.
Workshop: Making a Living Writing and Playing Music in Dallas. Cary will explain how that’s done – playing songs and discussing the craft of songwriting and the different ways that music can pay off. You’ll learn, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. What’s not to love? Everyone attending gets a free album!
Jan Morrill’s debut novel, The Red Kimono, (University of Arkansas Press, 2013) was selected Historical Novel Society’s Editor’s Choice and won the 2014 Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Best Fiction Book award. Other books include Life: Haiku by Haiku and Creative Characterization. Her award-winning stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul and other anthologies. While working on her sequel, Jan enjoys speaking and giving workshops. (www.janmorrill.com.)
Workshop:Creative Characterization: Getting to Know Your Character by Interview and Letter Writing. Would you like to know your characters’ secrets? Have you ever thought of asking them? In this workshop, Jan Morrill will use discussion and exercises to demonstrate two methods that will entice your character to “tell” you what you need to know to keep your readers turning the pages. Based on Jan’s workbook, Creative Characterization.
Salim Nourallah is an accomplished, internationally recognized musician & producer. His back catalogue includes songs written for HBO’s “The Wire”, Fox’s “The New Girl,” the Academy Award-winning film, “The Wrestler” & many others. After gaining initial acclaim with the Denton-based Nourallah Brothers, he’s gone on to release 6 solo albums & produce a fine list of many others (including the Old 97s, Rhett Miller, Carter Albrecht, Deathly Davies & the Damnwells). His solo debut Polaroid (2004) was met with reviews like this one: “discovering a singer-songwriter who can stop time is rare, but Salim Nourallah is such a find…” (Rolling Stone). In 2006, Salim swept the Dallas Observer music awards with Best Album/Best Song & Best Producer. He went on to win 7 consecutive Observer Awards for Best Producer.
Workshop: Songwriting with Salim Nourallah. “Are you interested in the many aspects of the songwriting process?” Salim Nourallah has spent a lifetime writing, recording & performing his own compositions. Join him on a 45-minute journey that will take you from inspiration to realization, with plenty of insightful stops in between. From his 1st forays into songwriting on acoustic guitar to drum & bass inspired compositions found on his latest solo record, Skeleton Closet. Salim will cover the ins & outs of the process & craft.”
Kael Alford is a photojournalist and educator who photographs and writes about issues of culture, politics, and the human relationship to the natural and physical environment. She develops long-term bodies of work that involve immersion in the communities where she reports. Her photographs and writing have been published in a wide range of prominent journalism publications and her photographs have been exhibited at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the De Young Museum in San Francisco.
Workshop: Does photography change the world? This workshop will address the role of photojournalism in an image-saturated world. Students will respond to compelling images about contemporary social issues followed by a discussion about the production, distribution and impact of news photos from the perspectives of working photojournalists. The instructor will offer an insiders’ perspective on field reporting methods, journalistic ethics, and story-telling techniques. Students will be asked to write in response to photographs during the session and answer for themselves – how does a viewer’s “media literacy” affect how photographs are understood in social media or news publications? Do the images we see influence our thinking or stimulate social change?
Keven Ann Willey began her journalism career at The Associated Press in Phoenix in 1980. She later joined The Arizona Republic where she covered everything from murders to school boards and presidential campaigns, eventually becoming the newspaper’s editorial page editor.
In late 2002, Keven was named vice president and editorial page editor at The Dallas Morning News. Three editorial writers under her direction won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing for the ongoing Bridging Dallas’ North-South Gap editorial project. In 2011, the National Conference of Editorial Writers named The Dallas Morning News Opinion Page of the Year for newspapers with 100,000-plus circulation.
Keven is in her ninth and final year on the Pulitzer Prize board of directors and is this year’s board co-chair. A past president of Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, she has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northern Arizona University, where she was a walk-on varsity volleyball player.
Workshop: Opinion Writing – How to Tell the Good from the Bad and Ugly. Everybody has an opinion. But what good is shouting from the rooftops if nobody listens? It’s all about the ability to persuade. We’ll talk about finding the facts, getting into the heads of your audience, assertion versus argument, how to be strategically persuasive, blending self interests, and building trust and credibility.
Susannah Charleson is a New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs about her work beside talented dogs–Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog and The Possibility Dogs: What a Handful of Rescues Taught Me About Service, Hope, and Healing. Charleson has been a fiction, nonfiction, and broadcast news writer for 35 years. Her first book, Scent of the Missing, was optioned for screen rights by CBS Television.
Workshop: Make Your Story Matter. Great personal writing, like memoir, happens when writers reveal themselves and their world with a voice that is uniquely and powerfully their own–and when they can make that story connect even with readers whose lives are very different. Who tells your story? You do. How to write from who you are with power.