A Reading On Sex and Death

Years and years ago, I decided that the best way to keep myself writing was to hang out with other writers.
So I set out to find other writers in the area and eventually joined a tight-knit writers’ group who met once a week in the author, Anne Batterson’s living room.
All these years later, I will have the honor of reading from my (still not done) memoir with one of those ladies, and you all know her, Sherry Horton, who has just had her manuscript picked up by a house in Maine.
Not only that, Sally Terrell, another one of our bunch, will be there as well, not reading, but playing the piano and singing.
This coming Saturday at Gallery on the Green in Canton. May 16th, 2015. @ 7 p.m.
I’d be thrilled to see you in the audience. Thrilled.
I mean, if I can fly in from Ireland to make it, you can get there too!

Want To Learn More About Traditional Publishing?

Are you a writer who wonders what it would be like to have your work on (virtual or print) bookstore shelves? Do you have expertise in a non-fiction area and want to write a book to help get your message out to the public? Then join the NCAC for Book Publishing 101: What Writers Need to Know to Increase Their Book Publishing Chances.

This workshop (held on April 25th, 2015) will cover the business of book publishing, including: the decision makers and what they want; what assets authors need to have in order to appeal to the literary gatekeepers (agents and editors); what authors need to have in place before contacting an agent; how to find agents and editors and the appropriate ways to approach them; in what circumstances an agent might contact you; weighing the option of self-publishing.

This workshop is presented in partnership by
Northwest Connecticut Arts Council and
UCONN’s Litchfield County Writers Project
and is for both novice and seasoned writers

Valerie Peterson is currently the Book Publishing Expert for About.com and — in addition to doing her own storytelling — consults with authors and brands to get their stories out into the world. Prior to her writing and consulting career, she held marketing positions at Random House, Doubleday and John Wiley Publishers where she developed campaigns for authors ranging from James Lee Burke to Mark Bittman to Xena: Warrior Princess (!) and for brands such as Betty Crocker and Frommers Guides.

Valerie is also the author of four books and over the course of her career she managed, touched and/or had a front-row-seat to nearly every part of the book publishing process — from contract negotiations to manuscript prep to book jacket design development to creating promotion and publicity campaigns to stocking bricks-and-mortar bookstore shelves.

She hopes you’ll join her to learn more about the business that she loves. For more information, visit ValeriePeterson.net.

You can register for the event here:

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The Birth of a Book

Know how to eat an elephant?  Yes, that’s right, one small bite at a time.  Everyone knows that. That’s how you run a marathon, how you earn a college degree, and how you accomplish any hairy, audacious goal worthy of your time and energy.  Building a book involves making one decision, then another, and creating one small chunk of material at a time. Because to contemplate the project in its entirety is to set your self up for insanity and failure; it’s the best recipe I know for overwhelm.


Our own Ann Sheybani has just published a brand new, bouncing baby book. How to Eat the Elephant:  Build Your Book in Bite-Sized Steps will guide you, laughing all the way, through the minefields of content creation, revision, and publication.

• Separate yourself from the dreamers
• Locate your inner grit and long-lost focus
• Follow a fuss-free and completely foolproof set of steps
• Throw away the angst, and enjoy the ride
If you want to finish your book, publish it and become an ass-kicking, gets-things-done
author, there’s only one thing left to do….WRITE!  How to Eat the Elephant will show you how.

Ann Sheybani, East Hill Writers, How to Eat the Elephant, Memoir, Novel writing, Publishing Success , ,

Would You Like to Get Into an MFA Program?

Well, you’re not alone.  Without some practical writing experience, however, it’s pretty damn hard to get in.

But one of our students–Jennifer Manley–is now participating in the UCR Palm Dessert MFA program.  This is a low residency program that is KICKING her around.  She’s loving the experience, and what it’s doing for her novel.

Here’s what she has to say about her experience with us on the Hill:

Almost every handout you gave me is taped to my wall.  I would have been so hopelessly unprepared If I hadn’t workshopped with you.  Seriously.  It would have been scary.

Jennifer Manley, MFA programs, Novel writing, UCR Palm Dessert, Uncategorized, Writing Classes , , , ,

More and More Success

Every time one of our students submits his or her work for publication we get goosebumps.

We like to see bravery in the face of possible rejection.  Fear of rejection, by the way, is what keeps us all playing small.

We’d like to congratulate two of our workshop participants.

Srini Mandavilli just got a poem accepted and published in SN Review.  If you’d like to read it, click HERE.

And Beth Brody had her manuscript accepted by a publisher for children’s book development with the intent to publish.

Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!


Barbed Wire

We’re always surprised at the talented people we trip across in the course of our work.  While we were conducting a memoir writing workshop for Charter Oak Cultural Center a few months back, we discovered Ralph Gagliardo.  This is the essay he wrote.  Remember, good writing is all about letting people into our world.  And this is a world most of us would prefer only to read about.  See if you agree.

Prison—A place where persons are confined (Webster’s)


It has recently come to my attention that my baby’s mama (for lack of a better term) has been placed under arrest and is now a member of the female population at York C.I. in Niantic. Having been recently released in October myself I cannot honestly say that this is such a bad thing.  Although many of us choose not to admit this (especially to law enforcement,) going to prison is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.

It is a sad fact that within the prison multitudes, there is a small percentage that makes a conscious decision to go in for the winter, as opposed to wrestling with the cold weather and overcrowded shelters.  In prison-speak, this phenomenon is often referred to as “throwing in the brick.”  Is this really a viable solution for the problems related to chronic addiction and homelessness?  Of course, the answer should be…no.

As Americans we probably live better in prison that many residents do in a good majority of third world countries.  That fact notwithstanding, what I am talking about is the saving of lives.  As in M.B.’s case, her once joyful radiant beauty was left sadly diminished by crack and heroin, leaving her emaciated and gaunt, skin loosely clinging to a skeletal frame, sunken eyes unable to hide the desperate loneliness of a private hell.  Her strong will making her a prisoner; in a prison of addiction.  The brick and mortar prison will give her freedom, or at least a temporary reprieve.

I have personally experienced this metamorphosis and been witness to countless transformations of malnourished unhealthy addicts, who like myself, had been through a gamut of detox and rehab options, only to find myself getting real meaningful clean time only after a brief (or not so brief) stint in the Hoosegow.  This being said, I still steadfastly refuse to use the term “Department of Corrections.”  Not only is it an obvious misnomer but the words “department” and Corrections” should be forever banned from occupying the same space in a sentence, and, only in the same paragraph if done skillfully by someone as well-versed in the literary arts, Faulkner or Hemmingway perhaps……..

(cut for brevity)

What I am simply trying to point out is that prison saves an awful lot of people: sometimes from themselves.  So what I am suggesting is before we judge, stereotype or otherwise entertain negative thoughts towards those in prison, recently released, or even with criminal records, perhaps we should take a brief moment, consider our own lives…and ask ourselves…what prison have I put myself in?  A wall does not a prison make.


Charter Oak Cultural Center, East Hill Writers, Memoir, Prison, Ralph Gagliardo, Writing Classes , , , , ,

Another Success!

We’re happy to announce that Srini Mandavilli, who participated in the East Hill Writers’ Poetry Workshop facilitated by our own Chivas Sandage, has just received news that his poem “Snow Globe” is accepted for publication in the 15th anniversary issue of Freshwater. Congratulations, Srini!

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Internship Possibility For Writers

Antrim House is currently seeking a single intern.  Here’s what they have to say about the opportunity:

We are looking for an applicant with strong skills in writing, research, communication, and social media. A demonstrated ability to work independently, meet deadlines, and complete projects is required. This is a research-focused yet low-pressure and creative position in which an aspiring writer can contribute significantly to the exciting and important work that we’re doing while gaining invaluable knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of publishing. Graduate and exceptional undergraduate students in writing, literature, and publishing programs are invited to apply. We strongly encourage nontraditional/adult students to apply, as well as adults who are not in a degree program but have strong skills and seek professional experience in publishing.

If you have any questions about Antrim House or the internship program, please contact us at info@easthillwriters.com

Go for it!

Antrim House, Writing Internship , ,

East Hill Meets Charter Oak

This month, our own Ann Sheybani will be conducting a Memoir writing class at Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford.  Charter Oak Cultural Center harnesses the power of the arts to create positive social change. To learn more about this worthy inner-city organization, click Here.

Here’s a quick course description:

Thinking about writing a memoir? If you’re human, you’ve probably got lots of questions and concerns.

Join Ann Sheybani of East Hill Writers’ Workshops as she addresses some of the most common issues that hold writers back:

  • Who cares about my life story?
  • How can I write about family or friends without hurting them?
  • How closely do I have to stick to the truth?
  • How do I keep from sounding whiny?
  • How can I faithfully reconstruct a conversation that took place ten years ago?
  • Where should I begin?

Get a cup of coffee, some paper and a pen, and settle in. Because what you have to say matters.


Charter Oak Cultural Center, East Hill Writers, Memoir, Writing Classes , , ,


Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.’s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

(Marge Piercy, from “The Moon Is Always Female”, 1980)