2022 Presenters

Kathleen Stone


A woman in her sixties.




Kathleen Stone is a writer and a lawyer. Her recently published book, They Called Us Girls: Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men (Cynren Press), is a collective biography of women who defied expectations by entering male-dominated professions in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Her book reviews, art reviews, and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, Arts Fuse, Los Angeles Review of Books, Timberline Review and The Writer's Chronicle.

Kathleen lives in Boston and holds graduate degrees from the Bennington Writing Seminars and Boston University School of Law. Read more on her website.

SESSION: How to Act Your Age and Still Get Published

As a writer of a certain age, you bring experience, expertise, and wisdom to your writing. In fact, those very qualities make your writing what it is. But do you have a nagging fear that younger writers are favored in the literary and publishing worlds, even though they seem to lack experience, expertise, and wisdom comparable to yours? If so, this session is for you. In an interactive format, we will talk about strategies for presenting your work to editors, agents, and publishers so it gets the attention it deserves, regardless of your age. For those who are not digital natives (and that's true for many of us), we will review the most important skills for promoting your work, no matter where you are on your publishing journey. We will even discuss how negative stereotypes of older writers originate and what we can do to ensure they do not hold us back. Come with experiences to share and leave with a clear sense of possibility for your writing life, including that long-awaited debut book.  Note: This session is geared toward writers over 50 who are at work on a book, but is open to everyone interested in the topic.

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Madhushree Ghosh


A brown woman, early fifties, long wavy black hair, facing direct, left hand to face, in a white dress with black zig-zag print, and a maroon Indian fabric scarf.




An immigrant and daughter of refugees, Madhushree Ghosh works in oncology diagnostics, and is a social justice activist. A "Ms Magazine Most Anticipated Reads of 2022 for The Rest of Us" and a "22 Books to Read in 2022 by South Asian Authors" by A Brown Girl Bookshelf, Madhushree's food narrative memoir, Khabaar: An Immigrant Journey of Food, Memory, and Family is out April 2022, from University of Iowa Press.

Madhushree's nonfiction can be found in The New York Times, The Washington Post, LA Times, Longreads, Catapult, Guernica, BOMB, and others. Her work has been awarded a Notable Mention in Best American Essays in Food Writing and a Pushcart Prize nomination.

She lives in San Diego, California, and works in oncology diagnostics with a passionate focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the food, healthcare, and biotech world.

Read more on her website.

SESSION: How to Use The Braided Form to Talk About Things That Matter

Recent nonfiction, essays, and even fiction work has been exciting in their use of the braided structure, i.e. multiple threads exploring a common theme or goal.

The extremely interactive session will include examples, and the process of how to create a braided structure in longform and short essays, and highlight what successful essayists/nonfiction writers have done well.

Using childhood memory, objects, food, or news to ask a fundamental query, and to find a commonality in multiple different topics is what we will discuss in this session. Focus will be on social justice, politics, investigation, linked with personal narrative, memoir, and creative nonfiction. We will explore ways to elaborate, investigate, and highlight common themes in a single narrative nonfiction essay (that participants will generate during the session).

While primarily a craft session to talk about braided essays focusing on food with social justice or memory/childhood strands, we will also touch upon how to work with narrative nonfiction editors, pitching, and reaching out to journals, magazines, and news media publications for publication and for building a long-term relationship with them.


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William Martin


William Martin




William Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels, a PBS documentary, book reviews, magazine articles, and a cult-classic horror movie, too. His first novel, Back Bay, established him as "a master storyteller." He has been following the lives of the great and anonymous in American history ever since, taking readers from the Mayflower in Cape Cod to Ford's Theater in The Lincoln Letter to the South Tower on 9/11 in City of Dreams. His latest, Bound for Gold, sweeps readers back to California in the legendary year of 1849 and "solidifies his claim as king of the historical thriller" (Providence Journal). He will publish December '41, a World War II thriller, in June. He was the 2005 recipient of the New England Book Award, given to an author "whose body of work stands as a significant contribution to the culture of the region." In 2015, the USS Constitution Museum gave him the Samuel Eliot Morison Award, for "patriotic pride, artful scholarship, and an eclectic interest in the sea and things maritime." And in 2018, the Mystery Writers of America (New England Chapter) gave him the Robert B. Parker Award. He serves on the boards of many of Boston's historical and cultural organizations, has taught writing at the Harvard Extension School and the famed Maui Writes Conference, lives near Boston with his wife, and has three grown children.

Read more on his website.

SESSION: Finding the Fiction in History and the History in Fiction

You have an idea for a historical novel. It might be a thriller, a Michnerian chronicle, a biographical novel, a historical romance, perhaps even a mystery about, say, ancient Rome. But no matter the genre you choose within a larger historical context, you will face unique challenges and enjoy unique advantages when you set your story in the past. First off, remember that you’re writing a novel, not a work of history. All the demands of plot, character, pacing, prose style, and point-of-view that challenge the authors of contemporary novels will challenge you. But you’ll have to be a historian, too, or nobody will believe what you’ve written. William Martin will give you insights on how to navigate these narrative waters and draw creative strength from them. He’ll guide you from the first inspiration and the grand design through all the elements of craft that you will employ as you write. He’ll consider the role of research, the use of setting and specific detail, and the techniques of creating believable but historically accurate dialogue. He’ll discuss the larger question of how to draw upon historical events and situations to create individual scenes that help to create the narrative structure itself. And most importantly, he’ll show you how you employ these elements to achieve a sense of verisimilitude in the lives of characters who walked the earth a decade, a century, or a even a millenium before you decided to write about them…


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Chen Chen


A portrait of queer Chinese American poet Chen Chen, standing in front of a large beige apartment building. His hair is dyed an orangey-blonde. He wears clear-framed glasses, a dark purple button-down with gray polka dot pattern, and a gray blazer. His facial expression is gently joyful.




Chen Chen’s second book of poetry, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency, is forthcoming from BOA Editions this September. His first book, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), was long-listed for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. He has also written four chapbooks and an essay collection, In Cahoots with the Rabbit God, is forthcoming from Noemi Press in late 2023. His work appears in many publications, including Poetry and three editions of The Best American Poetry. He has received two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from Kundiman, the National Endowment for the Arts, and United States Artists. He teaches at Brandeis University as the Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence and also serves on the poetry faculty for the low residency MFA programs at New England College and Stonecoast. This spring he is also an Associate Lecturer for UMass Boston’s MFA program.

Read more on his website.

SESSION: On Beginning (Again)

How did you come to writing? Or, how did writing come to you? And why do you continue to write? During this time of great collective uncertainty and upheaval, it may be difficult to know what role writing has, for those of us starting out on this path as well as for those of us who have been writers for many years. In this generative session, we’ll explore some ways to re-entangle with our boldest, unruliest writing dreams/hungers/questions. Work by Jennifer S. Cheng, Aracelis Girmay, Hélène Cixous, Sean Thomas Dougherty, and Bhanu Kapil will be our guides as we dive into short experiments in language and aliveness. All genres welcome.

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SJ Sindu


A light-skinned South Asian queer femme with short curly hair and red lipstick, in her early-thirties, wearing a black blouse.




SJ Sindu is a Tamil diaspora author of two literary novels, two hybrid chapbooks, and two forthcoming graphic novels. Her first novel, Marriage of a Thousand Lies, won the Publishing Triangle Edmund White Award and her second novel, Blue-Skinned Gods, was published in November 2021. A 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow, Sindu holds a PhD in English and Creative Writing from Florida State University. Sindu teaches at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Sindu’s newest work, a hybrid chapbook titled Dominant Genes, was published by Black Lawrence Press in February 2022. More at her website or @sjsindu on Twitter/Instagram.


SESSION: Manipulating Time in Narrative

Time is one of the most important elements of narrative. Whether it's fiction, nonfiction, or even poetry, the way that time functions in a narrative greatly affects reader experience. In this lecture and Q&A, we will explore how time and chronology function in narrative, and how time can be manipulated through order, stretching, and condensing, to change tone, characterization, plot, focus, energy, and more. We will learn several time shapes and structures that are common across many stories, and learn techniques to control the flow of time in our own work. Participants will also have a chance to write from a brief prompt, share their work if they choose, and discuss how to apply the techniques learned to their own manuscripts.

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Krys Malcolm Belc


A white transmasculine person with a close-shaved buzz cut, large plastic-framed glasses, and reddish beard.




Krys Malcolm Belc is the author of the memoir The Natural Mother of the Child (Counterpoint) and the flash nonfiction chapbook In Transit (The Cupboard Pamphlet). His essays have been featured in Granta, Black Warrior Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Krys lives in Philadelphia with his partner and their three young children and works as an educator in a pediatric hospital.

Read more on his website.

SESSION: How I Made This: The Natural Mother of The Child

Muse Fellow in Nonfiction


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adrienne maree brown


Black mixed race woman with curly hair in pink tank top that says Black is Beautiful and a Kenyan skirt in pink and yellow, outdoors in Detroit nature.




adrienne maree brown is the writer-in-residence at the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, and author of Grievers (the first novella in a trilogy on the Black Dawn imprint), Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation, We Will Not Cancel Us and Other Dreams of Transformative Justice, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements and How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office. She is the cohost of the How to Survive the End of the World, Octavia’s Parables, and Emergent Strategy podcasts. adrienne is rooted in Detroit.

Read more on her website.

SESSION: How I Made This: Grievers

Muse Fellow in Fiction


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Crystal Maldonado


A fat, Puerto Rican woman in her mid-thirties with long, dark, curly hair, black cateye glasses, and wearing a small smile and a star-speckled navy and gold dress.




Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author who writes inclusive stories about fat, brown girls. Her debut novel, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, is a 2021 New England Book Award winner, a Cosmopolitan Best New Book, and a POPSUGAR Best New YA Novel. Her newest novel, No Filter and Other Lies, explores teenage life in the social media age—and the lies we tell to ourselves and others. By day, Crystal works in higher-ed marketing, and by night, she is a writer whose work has been published in Latina, BuzzFeed, and the Hartford Courant. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and journalism, with a minor in women’s studies, from the University of Connecticut. She currently lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog. Follow her everywhere @crystalwrote or visit her website.


SESSION: Be the Main Character: How to Use Your Own Life to Inspire Your Craft

What does it mean to write what you know, and how can you use your own personal experiences, memories, and senses in your craft to develop your story’s voice? In this workshop, we’ll explore how to draw from our own life experiences to successfully create inspiring, authentic, and heartfelt narratives, while tapping into your best resource: you.

We’ll examine passages from young adult authors Julie Murphy, Adib Khorram, Aiden Thomas, and Laura Taylor Namey. Please come prepared with one memory from your youth that you’d like to work with in this session. Though this class will focus on YA voice, the exercises can be applied to writing for any age group.

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Sanjena Sathian


Indian American cisgender woman, black hair, green sweater, leaning against a tree.




Sanjena Sathian is the author of Gold Diggers, which was named a Top 10 Best Book of 2021 by the Washington Post, longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, chosen as an Amazon Best of 2021 pick, a Good Morning America Buzz pick, and more. She is working on the television adaptation with Mindy Kaling’s production company, Kaling International. Her award-winning short fiction also appears in The Atlantic, Conjunctions, Boulevard, and more, and she’s written nonfiction for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, TIME, and more. She’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, from which she received a Michener-Copernicus Fellowship, and where she was supported by the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.

Read more about Sanjena on her website.

SESSION: Locating Strangeness in Realist and Unreal Fiction

A man wakes up as a giant bug. A nose earns a promotion. A woman suspects her husband has been replaced by his doppelgänger. A 'hysterical' wife is consumed by her wallpaper. In art, anything can happen. And adding elements of unreality, absurdity, artifice, magical thinking, or the "Protean," as Salman Rushdie has put it, can sometimes allow us to *better* articulate reality than reality itself. How does this work, and why is it true?

Sanjena Sathian, who writes both real and unreal fiction, will discuss modes of accessing strangeness while maintaining access to true, concrete, physical reality in fiction. Drawing on the Russian formalist Viktor Shklovksy's notion of estrangement, she'll discuss how to balance the strange and the real in realist and nonrealist writing alike.

Together, we'll do a guided writing exercise inspired by the techniques of cartoonist and novelist Lynda Barry. Afterward, we'll look at published writing in-class as part of a craft lecture. No preparation is required, but participation is encouraged.

While this class is focused on techniques of fiction, the writing exercise is genre-agnostic, and the practice of estrangement may be useful to writers who write nonfiction or poetry as well. In-class texts will include poetry and non-fiction (think Sylvia Plath and Joan Didion).


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Gish Jen


A middle-aged Asian American woman in Venice.




Gish Jen is the author of nine books, the most recent of which are The Resisters and Thank You, Mr. Nixon. The recipient of Radcliffe, Guggenheim, NEA, and Fulbright grants, as well as a Lannan Literary Award and a Strauss Living, Jen has published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The New Yorker and The Best American Short Stories of the Century. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is currently a visiting professor at Harvard.

Read more about Gish on her website.


SESSION: Must We Be So Western?

Is there a "Western"self? An "Eastern"self? Do the different selves narrate differently? And what are the implications for fiction? Drawing on studies in cognitive psychology, this talk will examine the culture out of which many mainstream ideas about writing grow. With a cultural lens we we will take a look, too, at many iconic works of fiction, and consider what all this means for our own work.


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