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How Does it Work to Work with an Editor?
January 13 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm 

How Does it Work to Work with an Editor?
You’ve written and rewritten, on your own and in a group, but how do you decide when your writing could benefit from the input of an editor? Where do you begin the process, and what should you expect when you put your manuscript in the hands of a stranger? You might be surprised at how positive the experience can be. Come for answers to all your questions about engaging an editor’s services and making the most of the editorial relationship.

Libby Maxey, of Conway, MA, is a senior editor at the online journal Literary Mama, where she has worked in the Literary Reflections department since 2012. She also edits for Amherst College and as a freelancer ( Her clients include short story writers, academics, translators, novelists, memoirists, poets, essayists, journalists, and writers for whom English is a second language. Her own poems and reviews have appeared in Mezzo Cammin, Crannóg, Kestrel, Naugatuck River Review, The Mom Egg Review, Solstice and elsewhereLocally, she has won both the Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest and the Robert P. Collén Poetry Contest, and her work was selected for the Northampton Arts Council’s 2017 Visual Arts and Poetry Biennial. Her nonliterary activities include singing classical repertoire and mothering two sons.

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Writers Read @ The Inn at Norton Hill
January 7 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Jane YolenFEATURED READER:  Jane Yolen is an author of children’s books, fantasy, and science fiction, including Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? She is also a poet, a teacher of writing and literature, and a reviewer of children’s literature. She has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century.
Owl Moon, Winner of the 1988 Caldecott MedalJane Yolen’s books and stories have won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award among many others.

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December 9, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

A Roundtable Discussion with facilitators Ellen Meeropol, Christopher Sparks, & Liz Bedell. Join us for a discussion following the Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award program.

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Writers Night Out
December 5, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

FEATURED READER: Richard Wayne Horton has published in Southern Pacific Review, Meat For Tea, Lonesome October, Aphotic Realm, Danse Macabre Online, and others. He was nominated for a Pushcart. His first book of flash fiction, Sticks & Bones, is available from Meat For Tea Press. He is working on a second book of flash fiction, A Dream Of Vanished Streets set in Texas in the early 50s. Precise language ties together scenes that are gritty, beautiful and at times disturbing. The characters seem real, and the settings close up and bright. Some RWH stories have appeared in horror mags but they are not horror. Instead of being predictable formula fodder for buzzed-out minds, they are rich, strong-boned and speculative, with dream sequences that engage a real emotional second world.

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Writers Read @ The Inn at Norton Hill
December 3, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

FEATURED READER:  Celia Jeffries. Celia’s writing has appeared in numerous newspapers and literary magazines including Westview, Solsticelitmag, and Puerto del Sol, as well as the anthology Beyond the Yellow Wallpaper. She recently finished a novel and is currently working on a memoir. During this time she has taught writing at every level from elementary school through university, adult education, and literacy programs; received a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council; and been named a Massachusetts Humanities Scholar.

Celia will read for 15 minutes, followed by Q&A.
Open mic starts at approximately 3:40. Readers get up to 5 mins to share their work.

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Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award
November 12, 2017 @ 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award

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Writers Night Out
November 7, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm


Gail Thomas has published three books of poetry, Waving BackNo Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley, and Finding the Bear.  Published in 2105, Waving Back was awarded Honorable Mention by the New England Book Festival and includes poems that won the James Hearst Prize and the Pat Schneider Prize.

Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, and she was awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire and Ucross in Wyoming.

Her book, No Simple Wilderness, about the drowning of towns and villages in Western Massachusetts in the 1930’s to provide drinking water for Boston has been used as a text in college courses.  As one of the original teaching artists for the state’s Elder Arts Initiative, Gail has collaborated with musicians, dancers, and storytellers across the state.  She is a frequent presenter at conferences and a featured reader at libraries, bookstores, cafes, and schools.

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Writers Read @ The Inn at Norton Hill

November 5, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm


Eric Laursen will talk about his upcoming publication, The Duty to Stand Aside, Nineteen Eighty-four and the Wartime Quarrel of George Orwell and Alex Comfort.
Eric is an independent journalist, activist, and commentator. He is the author of The People’s Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan (AK Press, 2012), a BookList Editor’s Choice selection; and co-author of Understanding the Crash (Soft Skull Press, Spring 2010), which tells the story of the 2008 economic meltdown in text-and-graphics format. His work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The NationThe Village VoiceIn These TimesZ MagazineThe Indypendent,, and The Arkansas Review. He is currently writing a biography of Alex Comfort. A graduate of Columbia University, he lives in Buckland, Massachusetts.

Bring Your Poetry! Bring Your Prose! Find Your Public! Uplift Our Souls!

Hosted by Jane Roy Brown

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Straw Dog Writers @ Great Falls Word Festival Oct.13-15, 2017

Featured Reader & Open Mic 

with Featured Reader Jan Maher & Host Jacqueline Sheehan

October 13, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm




Poetry Workshop at The Great Falls Word Festival
October 14, 2017 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

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October 3, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Featured Reader: Naila Moreira
I am a writer, journalist, and naturalist living in western Massachusetts. My published work includes science journalism, nature writing, and poetry. I also write for children. I teach in the Jacobson Writing Center at Smith College and am a lecturer in the English department. During the summer, I have taught science writing to high school girls in Smith’s Summer Science and Engineering Program. I am serving as the Writer-in-Residence at the Northampton Forbes Public Library for 2015-2018. You can read brief interviews with me here and here. I received my Ph.D. in geosciences from the University of Michigan.

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Mami DearbornWriters Read @ The Inn at Norton Hill
October 1, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Mary V. Dearborn is the author of six books, the most recent a biography of Peggy Guggenheim. She received a B.A. in English and Classics from Brown University and a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, where she was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities. She lives in Buckland, Massachusetts. Her Ernest Hemingway: A Biography was published by Knopf in May 2017.

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Annual Meeting /Roundtable Discussion 

Sept. 9th, 2017 10:30-Noon
at The Lilly Library in Florence

We have a very short annual meeting every fall. This year, we invite all members and interested writers to join us for the meeting, followed by a Roundtable Discussion.  We want to hear your thoughts about how Straw Dog Writers Guild is doing, and what you would like to see in the future. We will be holding this meeting at The Lilly Library in Florence on Saturday, Sept. 9th from 10:30 – Noon.We look forward to seeing many of you there!

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Writers Read @ The Inn at Norton Hill

September 10th, 2017

Richard Todd Author


Richard Todd has spent many years as a magazine and book editor at The Atlantic, New England Monthly, and Houghton Mifflin. His essays and cultural reportage have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Times, Worth, and numerous other magazines. Author of Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction, co-written with Tracy Kidder.  A member of the MFA faculty at Goucher College, he lives in Western Massachusetts. 

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Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 

FEATURED READER Ed Orzechowski is a journalist whose features and columns have appeared in The Springfield Republican, The Daily Hampshire GazetteThe Journal Register, Early American Life magazine, and other publications.

Ed is president of Advocacy Network and editor of Advocacy Network News, a newsletter for families and guardians of individuals with developmental disabilities. He is also a board member of COFAR, a sister organization in eastern Massachusetts. He has written for The Voice, the newsletter of VOR, and has participated in VOR’s annual conferences and visited Congressional offices in Washington, D.C., in support of legislation to protect the rights of the intellectually disabled. A retired high school English teacher and radio newsperson, Ed lives with his wife Gail in Florence, Massachusetts.

In November, Levellers Press of Amherst published his narrative nonfiction book: You’ll Like It Here—The Story of Donald Vitkus, Belchertown Patient #3394

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AUGUST 6th, 2017

FEATURED READER: Lisa Drnec Kerr is an assistant professor of English at Western New England University. She has published poetry in a variety of journals including Green Mountains Review, English, Cold Mountain Review, Oxford Magazine, Kalliope, and others. Her manuscript Sky Lake Crossing received honorable mention for the 2011 May Sarton Prize for poetry. Her poem WALKING HORSES was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in western Massachusetts.

Co-sponsored by Straw Dog Writers Guild, Elmer’s Store & The Inn at Norton Hill.

Bring Your Poetry! Bring Your Prose! Find Your Public! Uplift Our Souls!Picture 5

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 

Featured Reader:  Sharon Tracey

Sharon Tracey is a writer, editor, and author of What I Remember Most Is Everything (ALL CAPS PUBLISHING 2017), her first full-length collection of poetry. In these poems, color melds with words as synesthesia and paintings come alive as we ride across a decade, traveling west to the streets of San Francisco then on to Munich, Moscow and beyond. Art and nature are recurring themes in her work. Her poems have appeared in Naugatuck River Review, Silkworm, The Skinny Poetry Journal and are forthcoming in Canary and Common Ground Review. She has enjoyed a varied career as an environmentalist, policy analyst, program manager, editor and most recently, as a communications director at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her Master’s degree from the University of California Berkeley. She is currently working on a series of poems inspired by women artists of the past five centuries.

Picture 5Come Retreat with us ~    Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Twice a year, Straw Dog Writers Guild holds a retreat to evaluate our work, plan for the future, and enjoy a potluck lunch to celebrate our community. The next retreat is planned for Saturday, July 29. In addition to our Board, Advisors and committee members, we invite Straw Dog members who want to become more involved in the organization to join us.

The SDWG retreats, held in January and July, are working meetings of the active members – those who serve on the Board and committees. This time, we are also inviting members who would like to get more involved with our projects. 

We are currently looking for new program committee members, as well volunteers with our fundraising and outreach. We’ll be evaluating past events and planning strategies for the future at the retreat, as well as sharing a potluck lunch.
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Straw Dog Writers Guild & Elmer’s Store are happy to announce our new

Writers Read @ Elmer’s

Writers Read @ Elmer’s
1st Sunday of each month, 3:00–5:00 p.m.*
Elmer’s Store, 396 Main St., Ashfield, MA
Co-sponsored by Straw Dog Writers Guild and Elmer’s Store Come join us this July 2nd, 2017!

Bring Your Poetry! Bring Your Prose! Find Your Public! Uplift Our Souls!

Here’s how it works: A featured writer reads recent work and describes the journey to publication, followed by Q & A.

Then the floor opens to other writers. If you want to read, put your name in the hat before 3:15. (Hint: you get three minutes.) 


We are proud to announce our featured reader for Writers Read @ Elmer’s on July 2: John Crowley! Come to hear him read at 3:00 and put your name in the hat to share your own work afterward!

John Crowley began publishing novels in 1975. His novels include Little, Big; the Ægypt Cycle of magical history (The Solitudes, Love & Sleep, Dæmonomania, Endless Things); The Translator (winner of the Premio Flaiano, Italy); and Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land. He is a recipient of the American Academy and Institute of Letters Award for Literature and the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. His most recent novel is Four Freedoms, about building a giant warplane in the 1940s. A new novel, about crows and death, will appear this fall. He currently teaches fiction writing at Yale University. He’s married to Laurie Block, a media producer, has twin daughters, and lives in Conway.

*September’s Writers Read will happen the second Sunday, due to Labor Day.

Elmer’s Store
396 Main Street
Ashfield, MA 01330

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Informal Discussion/Networking Roundtable:

Setting your summer writing goals

Saturday, June 10th, 2017 10:30-11:30 am   

    Writers Roundtable: Setting Your Summer Writing Goals. Join us for an informal discussion and brainstorming session, no matter what the genre. Share your ideas and strategies while deepening or making new connections with other writers.

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Writers Night Out – 

June 6th, 2017  7-9pm

Featured Reader: Naila Moreira

I am a writer, journalist, and naturalist living in western Massachusetts.  My published work includes science journalism, nature writing, and poetry. I also write for children.

I teach in the Jacobson Writing Center at Smith College and am a lecturer in the English department. During the summer, I have taught science writing to high school girls in Smith’s Summer Science and Engineering Program.

I am serving as the Writer-in-Residence at the Northampton Forbes Public Library for 2015-2018. You can read brief interviews with me here and here.

I received my Ph.D. in geosciences from the University of Michigan.


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 Saturday, May, 13th, 2017 at 10:30 am    

“She Did What? Using the Element of Surprise in Fiction.

Presented by Lisa C. Taylor                  

Straw Dog. Straw Dog Writers, Straw Dog Writers Guild, Writers, Writing, Literary events, Literary, Forbes Library, Lilly Library, Nothampton, Easthampton, Florence, Western MA, writer’s craft, writing craft, Jacqueline Sheehan, Patricia Lee Lewis, Ellen Meeropol, Jane Yolen, Writing Groups, Pioneer Valley, Writing groups, writers guild, New England, Laura Stone, Macci Schmidt, Michael Goldman, Becky Jones, Poetry, Poets, Smith College, Cultural Events, Upcoming Events, Writers Night Out, The Basement, Northampton MA,

Tension is everything to a story. When characters go through predictable paces, readers lose interest quickly. Join Lisa C. Taylor for an immersive journey into using the element of surprise so that it not only works, it transports your story. Keep your reader with you for the whole bumpy ride. Be prepared to write, listen, and ask questions. Her workshops are interactive and hands on. You will leave with new ways to take risks with your fiction.

Lisa C. Taylor’s debut collection of short fiction, Growing a New Tail was released in November 2015 (Arlen House/Syracuse University Press). She’s the author of four collections of poetry including Necessary Silence (2013)and The Other Side of Longing (2011), written in collaboration with Irish writer, Geraldine Mills. Lisa’s honors include the 2015 Hugo House New Works Award for short fiction, a Spotlight feature in January 2015 for the Associated Writing Programs, an L.L.Winship PEN New England nomination, Pushcart nominations in both fiction and poetry. Her poetry, fiction, and book reviews have appeared in numerous literary magazines including Birmingham Poetry Review, Midwest Review, Worcester Review, and WomenArts Quarterly Review. She’s been a guest on numerous radio and television shows in New England and Ireland. Lisa has received residencies from Vermont Studio Center and Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland. She holds an MFA from Stonecoast/University of Southern Maine’s writing program.

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Writers Night Out –

May 2nd, 2017  7-9pm

Featured Reader: Ellen Meeropol

Ellen Meeropol is the author of three novels, Kinship of Clover, On Hurricane Island, and House Arrest. A former nurse practitioner and part-time bookseller, Ellen’s recent short fiction and essay publications include Guernica, The Bridges, The Writer, DoveTales, Cleaver, Portland Magazine, Necessary Fiction, and The Writers Chronicle. Ellen holds an MFA in fiction from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine. She is a founding member and the current board president of Straw Dog Writers Guild.


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 Easthampton Bookfest

April 8, 2017

This is co-sponsored by Straw Dog Writers Guild

Kinship of Clover: a reading – White Square Books, Easthampton 

April 8, 2017, 1 pm

Please join Ellen Meeropol for a short reading from her new novel, Kinship of Clover, and conversation about fiction as an agent of change. Ann Hood describes this book as “examining the big topics of our contemporary world and putting a human face on them.”

Ellen Meeropol is the author of three novels, Kinship of Clover, On Hurricane Island, and House Arrest. A former nurse practitioner and part-time bookseller, Ellen’s recent short fiction and essay publications include Guernica, The Bridges, The Writer, DoveTales, Cleaver, Portland Magazine, Necessary Fiction, and The Writers Chronicle. Ellen holds an MFA in fiction from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine. She is a founding member and the current board president of Straw Dog Writers Guild.

Straw Dog. Straw Dog Writers, Straw Dog Writers Guild, Writers, Writing, Literary events, Literary, Forbes Library, Lilly Library, Nothampton, Easthampton, Florence, Western MA, writer’s craft, writing craft, Jacqueline Sheehan, Patricia Lee Lewis, Ellen Meeropol, Jane Yolen, Writing Groups, Pioneer Valley, Writing groups, writers guild, New England, Laura Stone, Macci Schmidt, Michael Goldman, Becky Jones, Poetry, Poets, Smith College, Cultural Events, Upcoming Events, Writers Night Out, The Basement, Northampton MA,

2:30-3:45 pm @ White Square Books, 86 Cottage Street
Us & Them – A writer/translator series

Please join Michael Goldman, Straw Dog member & Straw Dog program committee extraordinaire,  at the 2017 BookFest translation event!  Michael will be joining three other translator/musicians for a program of spoken word from several languages with musical accompaniment.

The event is free and it should be an inspiring treat for the ears!

Straw Dog Authors will be selling their books at the Bookfest Market Place

12pm-5pm @ Eastworks, 116 Pleasant Street
Lit Marketplace featuring authors, poets, essayists, comic book makers, illustrators, and crafters

for more info:

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Writers Night Out!

April 4, 2017, 7-9pm

Featured Reader: Jacqueline Sheehan

 Jacqueline Sheehan, Ph.D., is a fiction writer and essayist. She is also a psychologist. She is a New Englander through and through, but spent twenty years living in the western states of Oregon, California, and New Mexico doing a variety of things, including house painting, freelance photography, newspaper writing, clerking in a health food store, and directing a traveling troupe of high school puppeteers.

Her first novel, TRUTH, was published in 2003 by Free Press of Simon and Schuster and is currently available under the new title, THE COMET’S TALE. Her second novel, LOST & FOUND, was published in 2007 by Avon, Harper Collins. Lost & Found has been on the New York Times Bestseller List and was optioned for film. Her third novel, NOW & THEN, was published in July 2009 by Avon, Harper Collins, followed by PICTURE THIS, in 2012. Her most recent novel, THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, will be published by Kensington Books, in January 2016. She has published travel articles (“Winter in Soviet Georgia”), short stories (most recently in the Berkshire Review), and numerous essays and radio pieces. She was the editor of the anthology Women Writing in Prison. This anthology is the culmination of eight years of writing workshops sponsored by Voices from Inside, an advocacy group for incarcerated women. Jacqueline’s books have been published in over eight countries.

Jacqueline teaches workshops at Grub Street in Boston and Writers in Progress in Florence, Massachusetts.

Playing with Reality W/Andrea Hairston

 Click Workspace, 9 1/2 Market St., Northampton

 March 11, 10:30 – 12:00.

Please join novelist, poet, and playwright Andrea Hairston for short readings from her work and conversation about the inspiration and craft of blurring the traditional boundaries of reality in one’s writing. Come prepared to do a bit of writing.

straw dog writers, Straw dog writers guild, Straw Dog events, Northampton Literary events, writers, writing, pioneer valley, poetry, western ma, creative writing, programs writing, forbes library, lilly library, easthampton bookfest, jane yolen, ellen meeropol, jacqueline sheehan, writer night out, the basement, click workspace, Andrea Hairston is author of Redwood and Wildfire, winner of the 2011 Tiptree and Carl Brandon Awards, Mindscape, winner of the Carl Brandon Award, and Lonely Stardust, a collection of essays and plays. Her latest play, Thunderbird at the New World Theatre, appears in Geek Theater – 15 Plays by Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers. Her third novel, Will do Magic for Small Change, is a New York Times editor’s pick. “Griots of the Galaxy,” a short story appears in So Long Been Dreaming. “Saltwater Railroad” was published by Lightspeed Magazine. She has received grants from the NEA, MCC, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. In her spare time, Andrea is the Louise Wolff Kahn 1931 Professor of Theatre and Africana Studies at Smith College and the Artistic Director of Chrysalis Theatre. She bikes at night year round, meeting bears, multi-legged creatures of light and breath, and the occasional shooting star.

Opportunity for networking afterward!
Please stay afterward for brown bag lunch and conversation.

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Writers Night Out! –

March. 7, 2017, 7-9pm

Featured Reader: MB Caschetta

MB Caschetta is a recipient of the W.K. Rose Fellowship for Emerging Artists, The Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award, and the Seattle Fiction Prize. Her debut novel MIRACLE GIRLS (Engine Books, 2014) was acclaimed as “darkly beautiful” in People Magazine.  It won The 2015 USA Best Book Award for Literary Fiction and a Gold Medal from the Independent Publisher Awards (IPPYs). Her newest book of short stories, PRETEND I’M YOUR FRIEND (Engine Books, 2016) was a People Magazine Pick-of-the-Week. Entertainment Weekly called it, “evocative…a complex tapestry of human experience.”

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Writers Roundtable: “What sustains you as a writer?” 

Feb 11; 10:30 – 11:30 am at Click Workspace.

Join us for an informal discussion/ brainstorming session about what works for you as a writer. Share ideas, successes, pitfalls. Networking opportunity. Picture 5

Writers Night Out…!

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017

Canceled due to bad weather
We are were disappointed that we had to miss hearing Ed Orzechowski read.
To learn more about Ed’s work and his book “You’ll like it here” please visit

 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Featured Reader: Ed Orzechowski

Ed Orzechowski is a journalist whose features and columns have appeared in The Springfield Republican, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, The Journal Register, Early American Life magazine, and other publications.

Ed is president of Advocacy Network and editor of Advocacy Network News, a newsletter for families and guardians of individuals with developmental disabilities. He is also a board member of COFAR, a sister organization in eastern Massachusetts. He has written for The Voice, the newsletter of VOR, and has participated in VOR’s annual conferences and visited Congressional offices in Washington, D.C., in support of legislation to protect the rights of the intellectually disabled. A retired high school English teacher and radio newsperson, Ed lives with his wife Gail in Florence, Massachusetts.

In November, Levellers Press of Amherst published his narrative nonfiction book: You’ll Like It Here—The Story of Donald Vitkus, Belchertown Patient #3394.

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Getting it Right: Resources for Authentic Detail

with Nora Blake and Maxine Schmidt

January 14, 2017-  10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.**
Click Workspace, 9-1/2 Market Street

Anchoring your story with accurate details draws the reader in, and inaccuracies are distracting and cause the reader to lose confidence in the writer’s authority. Learn where you can find answers to questions such as:

Would this flower be found in a swamp?
What was the weather like in Denver on November 9, 1972?
Who lived at 32 Beacon Street in Boston in 1911?
What happens to a body buried in a septic tank?
How do you pronounce the Latin name of a particular plant?

Two experienced librarians, Nora Blake and Maxine Schmidt, will demonstrate some free resources that will help you give the ring of truth to your writing. Bring your questions, or, better, if you already have questions, please e-mail them to Maxine by January 10th at

Over the past 20 years, Nora has worked in a variety of library settings. Most of her work has been to train and support staff at small libraries throughout Massachusetts. For the last year, Nora has been the Director of the Emily Williston Memorial Library and Museum, Easthampton’s public library. Nora is an avid rower, competing at regattas all around New England, and she lives quietly in the town of Chesterfield with her partner Dan and her two cats.

Maxine has worked in libraries off and on since high school, with time off for graduate studies and a career in geology and public health. She is the head of the Science and Engineering Library at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Before she became a librarian, she studied 18th and 19th-century English literature and geology. She lives in Northampton with her partner Becky and their junkyard cat.

**Opportunity for networking afterward! 12pm-1pm

Bring a lunch and join us as we carry on the conversation generated by the program.

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Writer’s Night Out

January 3, 2017

Featured Reader:  Jeannine Atkins

Jeannine Atkins is the author of Little Women in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott (She Writes Press) and three books written in verse. These are Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie and Their Daughter (Holt), Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science, and Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis (both Atheneum). She teaches writing in the MFA program at Simmons at the Carle and has self-published a collection of her pieces on writing called Views from a Window Seat.

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Writer’s Night Out

December 6, 2016

Featured Reader:  Michael Goldman

While working on a pig farm in Denmark over 30 years ago, Michael Goldman taught himself Danish to win the heart of a beautiful Danish girl.  After many years of enjoying Danish literature, he left a successful career as a remodeling carpenter in 2012 to translate full-time.  Since then he has had published over 85 pieces of translated poetry and prose in dozens of national and international literary and translation journals.  He has also taught translation workshops at UMASS, the Univ. of Wisconsin, and for local schools and literary events. 

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A Straw Dog Writers Presentation

December 3, 2016

“From Idea to Book” – A Seminar with Michael White

white_michaelMichael White presented a seminar to help the writer of long prose works (novels and memoirs) develop a process for planning, researching, writing and revising. He used examples from his recent prize-winning novel, Resting Places, including the genesis of the novel, the research that went into it, including “field” research, as well as the writing and revision process.

Michael White’s latest novel Resting Places (March 2016) won the Tuscany Prize for Best Novel. His six other novels include Soul Catcher, which was a Booksense and Historical Novels Review selection, as well as a finalist for the Connecticut Book Award; A Brother’s Blood, which was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers nominee; The Blind Side of the Heart, an Alternate Book-of-the-Month Club selection; A Dream of Wolves, which received starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly; The Garden of Martyrs, also a Connecticut Book Award finalist and made into an opera of the same name; and Beautiful Assassin, which won the Connecticut Book Award. A collection of his short stories, Marked Men, was published by the University of Missouri Press. He has also published over 45 short stories in national magazines and journals, and has won the Advocate Newspapers Fiction Award and been nominated for both a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart. He was the founding editor of the yearly fiction anthology American Fiction as well as Dogwood. He was the founder and former director of Fairfield University’s low-residency MFA Creative Writing Program. He lives on an old horse-farm in Madison, CT with his wife Reni and his two Labs Henry and Falstaff, and writes in a cabin in the woods.

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A Straw Dog Writers Presentation

November 12, 2016

Panel of Small Local Presses – What Do Publishers Really Want?

An inside look at three small local presses. They discussed their identities, successes and what they desire. Green Writers Press, Levellers Press, and Slate Roof Press participated in the panel. This event promoted and differentiated local publishers, plus demystified the submission process for writers. Each panelist described their press and its preferences. Jointly, they conferred on the growth of small publishers and other topics. There was time for questions from the audience.


Green Writers Press is a low-profit publisher based out of Brattleboro, Vermont, dedicated to telling stories that will make the world a better place.

levellers-press-logoLevellers Press was formed by the worker-owners of Collective Copies in 2009. Since then Levellers has brought out sixty titles with four more due out this fall. Embedded in the rich political and cultural environment of Western Massachusetts where many worthy manuscripts go unpublished, Levellers Press hopes to provide a ready vehicle for authors in our area.

slate-roof-logo-1Slate Roof Press is a member-run press, which publishes art-quality poetry chapbooks by Massachusetts and regional poets.

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 Writers Night Out

Nov. 1, 2016

Featured Reader:  Joshua Michael Stewart

Joshua Michael Stewart has had poems published in the Massachusetts Review, Louisville Review, Rattle, Night Train, Evansville Review, Cold Mountain Review, and many others. His first full-length collection of poems, Break Every String, was published by Hedgerow Books in April 2016. He received his BA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and lives in Ware, Massachusetts. He’s a Teacher/Counselor, working with individuals with special needs. Visit him at  More .



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A Straw Dog Writers Craft Workshop

With Novelist Judith Frank on Writing Dialogue

October 15, 2016

Judith Frank photoHow do you write dialogue that sounds realistic, and what do we mean, and not mean, by “sounding realistic”? What kinds of utterances belong in dialogue and what kind belong in indirect speech? How can we make good use of dialogue tags (“he said”) to create pacing and rhythm? What are some of the factors that should guide our use of dialect? These are some of the questions we asked in this workshop on dialogue. We read examples of great dialogue and wrote our own mini-dialogues, both individually and collaboratively.

Judith Frank holds a BA from the Hebrew University and an MFA and Ph.D from Cornell University. She is the author of Crybaby Butch (Firebrand Books), which was awarded a 2004 Lambda Literary Award, and All I Love and Know (William Morrow). In 2008 she received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She has been a resident at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and has published short fiction in The Massachusetts Review, other voices, and Best Lesbian Love Stories 2005. She teaches English and creative writing at Amherst College and lives with her partner and two children in Amherst, MA.    More  

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Writers Night Out

October 4, 2016

Featured Reader:  Emily Arsenault


Emily Arsenault is the author of several literary suspense novels: The Evening Spider, What Strange Creatures, Miss Me When I’m Gone, In Search of the Rose Notes, and The Broken Teaglass. Her first young adult novel, The Leaf Reader, will be released in the summer of 2017. She lives in Shelburne Falls, MA, with her husband and daughter, and is currently at work at another novel.



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2016 Annual Straw Dog Author Showcase

(formerly known as Straw Dog Treats)

September 21, 2016  

Forbes Library Coolidge Museum – Straw Dog Author Showcase 2016

2016 SD Showcase FlyerCo-sponsored by the Forbes Library, includes short readings from newly-published books by members of the Straw Dog Writers Guild, including Jeannine Atkins, Portia Cornell, Michael Goldman, Ellen Hopman, Jane Schneeloch, Molly Scott, Jacqueline Sheehan, Jim Spencer, and Gail Thomas.

Every year, Straw Dog Writers Guild offers members the opportunity to dazzle the public with short excerpts read from their recently published books.

This year, the Straw Dog Author Showcase will be co-sponsored by the Forbes Library and will be held in the gorgeous Coolidge Museum room.

Refreshments will be served, and participating authors will have the opportunity to sell their books and network with other writers.

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Writers Night Out

September 6, 2016

Featured Reader:  Cammie McGovern

Cammie McGovern is the author of the much-acclaimed YA novel, Say What You Will, published in 2014. Her next YA novel, A Step Toward Falling, featured characters with disabilities and was published in 2015. Her book for middle-grade readers, Just My Luck, was published in 2016. Cammie also wrote three adult novels, The Art of Seeing, Eye Contact, and Neighborhood Watch. She of one of the proud founders of Whole Children/Milestones, a resource center for children and young adults with disabilities and their families. She lives in Amherst with her husband and three sons, the oldest of whom has autism.


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Writers Night Out

August 2, 2016

Featured Reader: Daniel Brown

Daniel Brown Photo 2 (3)Daniel Brown’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Partisan Review, PN Review, Parnassus, and other journals, as well as in a number of anthologies including Poetry 180 (ed. Billy Collins) and The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets (ed. David Yezzi). His work has been awarded a Pushcart prize, and his collection Taking the Occasion won the New Criterion Poetry Prize. A new collection, What More? was recently published. Daniel holds a Masters in Musicology, but an interest in computers led him to the IT field, where he has worked at IBM and other companies. He lives in Baldwin, New York.


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Writers Night Out

July 5, 2016

Featured Reader:  Ellen Wittlinger

Wittlinger_E (5)Ellen Wittlinger has an M.F.A. in poetry from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Following her graduate studies, she had back-to-back fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. Ellen has published a book of poetry, Breakers, as well as a number of plays which received staged readings in Boston and New York.

After a stint as a children’s librarian, she began to write novels for young adults. The novel Hard Love won a Printz Honor Award from the American Library Association and also a Lambda Literary Award. She has published fifteen novels and has two more under contract. Her newest book, Local Girl Swept Away, will be published in June 2016.  More…

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Writers Night Out

June 1, 2016

Featured Reader:  Michael C. White

Michael White, authorMichael C. White is the author of six previous novels, including Beautiful Assassin, which won the 2011 Connecticut Book Award for Fiction, and Soul Catcher, which was a Booksense and Historical Novels Review selection. He has also published a collection of stories, Marked Men. The founding editor of the fiction anthologies American Fiction and Dogwood, he also began and was the director of Fairfield University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program.


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Writers Night Out

May 3, 2016

Featured Reader:  Deborah Gorlin

Deb Gorlin (3) DEBORAH GORLIN has published in a wide range of journals including Poetry, Antioch Review, American Poetry Review, Seneca Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Harvard Review, Green Mountains Review, Bomb, Connecticut Review, Women’s Review of Books, New England Review, and Best Spiritual Writing 2000. Before winning the 2014 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize, for her collection, LIFE OF THE GARMENT, she won the 1996 White Pine Poetry Press Prize for her first book of poems, Bodily Course. Gorlin holds an MFA from the University of California/Irvine. Since 1991, she has taught writing at Hampshire College, where she serves as co-director of the Writing Program. She is currently a poetry editor at The Massachusetts Review.  More

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A Straw Dog Writers Salon:

Balancing Solitude and Community in a Writer’s Life

May 1, 2016

Susan Stinson, writing coach, editor, and award-winning author of four novels, joined in conversation with Mistinguette Smith, poet, essayist, and director of The Black/Land Project, an organization that uses narratives to understand the nature of race, land, and place. Solitude can be a great gift to a writer. Isolation is not. Stinson and Smith will talk about strategies for building community that feed a writer’s persistence, productivity, and joy in the work, even when working alone.

Susan StinsonSusan Stinson is the award-winning author of Fat Girl Dances with Rocks, Martha Moody, Venus of Chalk, and Belly Songs. Her most recent novel is Spider in a Tree, about Northampton in the time of eighteenth-century theologian, preacher, and slave owner Jonathan Edwards (Small Beer Press).  She has received the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation and was the keynote for the 2015 WriteAngles Conference. From 2010-2015, she was Writer in Residence at Forbes Library in Northampton, MA, and she is the recipient of the 2015 Trustees’ Award.  MORE 

Photo of Susan by Jeep Wheat

Mistinguette SmithMistinguette Smith is a poet, essayist, and director of The Black/Land Project, an organization that uses narratives to understand the nature of race, land, and place. An alumna of the Cave Canem Writers Workshop, her work has appeared in the journals The Common, Rust, Pluck and the anthologies Does Your Mama Know, Other Countries: Voices Rising, and the forthcoming The Relative Wild. A Buckeye by birth, she now lives in Northampton.


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Moving Through Grief:  Poems, Songs and After

With Jane Yolen and Molly Scott

April 14, 2016 

“Moving Through Grief: Poems, Songs and After” is a celebration of Jane Yolen and Molly Scott’s long productive lives as artists. Both have published books about mourning and the arc of grieving loss to recovery. Their work addresses grief in its many variations, not only the deaths of loved ones—husband, friends, colleagues—but also the horrors of war, Newtown, the lack of civility in modern discourse, plus confronting the gifts, as well as the losses, of aging. Both agree, as Yolen says, “We aren’t letting grief define us, but are using it as a springboard for the rest of our lives—in poetry and in the real world. So of course, our program ends in celebration and the twinning of poetry and song.”

Jane Yolen cw Jason StempleJane Yolen, Smith ’60, is a well-known poet and writer of over 350 books, acclaimed for her work for young people, including “Owl Moon,” “The Devil’s Arithmetic,” and the “How Do Dinosaur…” series. Her books of adult poetry include “The Radiation Sonnets: For my Love in Sickness and in Health” and “Things to Say to A Dead Man: Poems at the End of a Marriage and After,” “tough, angry and moving love poems” about the death of her husband, David. She was recently an invited international poet at the StAnza Poetry Festival in St Andrews, Scotland. Yolen is also a songwriter, an accomplished storyteller, and the recipient of six honorary degrees from colleges and universities, including Smith. She was one of the children’s book responders to the schoolchildren of Newtown, CT after the tragic shootings there and will include poems written from that experience in this reading as well.

(Photograph © Jason Stemple)

Molly Scott PicMolly Scott, Smith ’59, is a singer, poet, psychologist, and international workshop leader who has had many careers: early on in theater, television, concerts, composition and recording, and later, as a clinician, educator and pioneer in the use of the voice in therapeutic treatment called Creative Resonance Therapy. As a poet, she was awarded the 2015 Robert Frost Foundation first prize for poetry and recently published “Up to the Windy Gate: Poems of Grief and Grace” about the loss of her long-term music partner, Sarah Benson. Much of Scott’s musical life has been devoted to social justice, environmental and peace concerns. Her recent recordings include “We Are All One Planet,” “Honor the Earth,” and “Sanctuary,” a live concert recorded after the 9-11 attacks.

This event was Co-sponsored by The Poetry Center at Smith and Straw Dog Writers Guild.  Both poets had their work available for signing after the presentation.

For additional information: More Jane Yolen…      More Molly Scott…  


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Writing the Region; Writing the World

A discussion and reading with four authors whose books connect the communities of western MA with global concerns was held at White Square – Fine Books & Arts in Easthampton as part of Easthampton BookFest 2016.

April 9, 2016

Attendees joined Suzanne Strempek Shea, Ellen Meeropol, Marianne Banks, and Jacqueline Sheehan on journeys from Easthampton to Guatemala, from Hadley to Malawi, from a dead mall in Hampden County to a secret detention center in Maine.

Marianne Banks      Image_1_2-210      Marianne Banks    Jacqueline Sheehan

Suzanne Strempek Shea                              Ellen Meeropol                                   Marianne Banks                        Jacqueline Sheehan

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Writers Night Out – April

April 5, 2016

Featured Reader: Oohagh Doherty

Oonagh Doherty(2) Oonagh C. Doherty was born in Scotland and grew up in both the United Kingdom and the United States.  She has published short stories in 34th Parallel, Epiphany; and Connecticut Review.  Her poetry has been published in Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry, Crannog, Margie, William and Mary Review, and Existere and many other venues. Her book During the Truce, a politically oriented memoir of her time in Bogota, Colombia was published by Leveller’s Press in October of 2015.  Oonagh has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, once for prose and once for poetry.

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Reading like a Writer: Focusing on Character

Led by Cammy Thomas and Liz Bedell

April 2, 2016

Writers read differently: for pleasure, for diversion, yes, but most of all we read to discover how  authors make us care about their characters, to uncover and understand their strategies and craft. In Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose reminds us: “language is the medium [writers] use in much the same way a composer uses notes [or] a painter uses paint.”  In this workshop, we will read selected examples closely, parsing them line-by-line to examine the author’s linguistic choices and how each shapes the emerging characterization.  Participants will have a chance to apply these insights immediately, via short exercises.

Cammy Thomas Cammy Thomas’ second book of poems, Inscriptions, was published in 2014.  Her first book, Cathedral of Wish, received the 2006 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Both are published by Four Way Books.  Her poems have recently appeared in Appalachia, Bateau, The Classical Outlook, The Healing Muse, and Spillway.  A fellowship from the Ragdale Foundation helped her complete Inscriptions.  Thomas earned her Ph.D at the University of California, Berkeley and received an MFA at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.  She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, and teaches literature and creative writing at Concord Academy.  More . . .

 Liz BedellLiz Bedell is a writer, writing coach and editor living in Northampton. She spent over twenty satisfying years teaching literature and writing in rigorous high schools while doing her own writing in the margins. An intangible “what’s next, Mrs. Landingham?” prompted her to uproot that settled existence, and she’s put writing at the center of her life in the last several years. She is at work on a novel set during the Great War and a collection of essays about the writing life. Currently teaching part-time at The Hartsbrook School, she also runs weekly writing groups in Northampton.  More . . . 

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2nd Annual-Ins and Outs of Writing for Children:

A panel discussion with young-adult authors and illustrators.

March 12, 2016

Creating the fantastical, funny and bright characters that reside in the books of local authors—this and several other topics were discussed in a panel on Saturday, March 12 at 4 p.m. at The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley. Anna Alter, Molly Burnham, David Hyde Costello and Gina Damico will converse about craft, inspiration, voice, publishing, and more. There was time for questions and answers with the authors as well.

The Panelists:

Press-Anna-Alter-author-photoAnna Alter grew up with a great love for drawing, painting, and reading. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where she studied illustration and began publishing for children. Anna’s books have been selected as a CCBC Choice best book of the year, Bank Street College best book of the year, Junior Library Guild selection, Texas 2×2 Recommended Reading, and twice been included in the Society of Illustrator’s Original Art Show. In addition to writing and illustrating children’s books, Anna has taught art and book making. She worked as a preschool teacher, held art classes for grade schoolers, and taught children’s book illustration at the Montserrat College of Art. Anna lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband Bruno, daughter Tilly, son Hugo, and two cats, George and Wilbur.

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Molly B. Burnham is a former elementary school teacher who graduated from Hamline University with an MFA in writing for children and young adults, who now spends her days writing. Her first book, Teddy Mars Almost a World Record Breaker (2015) will be followed by Teddy Mars Almost a Winner and Teddy Mars Almost an Outlaw. She lives in Northampton with her husband, two daughters, their fabulous dog, Pepito, and a pile of Guinness World Record books.

DavidHydeCostellophoto by Jeanne Birdsall

David Hyde Costello is the author and illustrator of Here They Come, I Can Help, and Little Pig Joins the Band. He is the illustrator of A Crow of His Own by Megan Dowd Lambert. He created the cover illustration for Shelly and the Secret Universe, a book, which exists only in the Wes Anderson film Moonrise Kingdom. With a background in theater and visual arts, David has painted scenery for plays and several motion pictures including Amistad, Spider-man (2002), The Fighter, and The Heat. He is also a ukulele player. David lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.


Gina Damico grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. She has since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and bread monger. She is the author of the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy (Croak, Scorch, and Rogue), Hellhole, and the upcoming Wax (August 2016) and Waste of Space (2017), all published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband, dog, two cats, and obscene amount of weird things purchased at yard sales.

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Writers Night Out

March 1, 2016

Featured Reader:  Sarah Sousa

Sarah Sousa (2)Sarah Sousa’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Fugue, Tupelo Quarterly, and Tuesday; An Art Project, among others. She was awarded the 2015 Anne Halley Prize from The Massachusetts Review. She is the author of the poetry collections Split the Crow (Parlor Press, 2015) and Church of Needles (Red Mountain Press, 2014). She also edited The Diary of Esther Small, 1886 (Small Batch Books) which won the New England Book Festival Award for Regional Literature


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Writers Night Out – February

February 2, 2016

Featured Reader:  Lisa C. Taylor

Lisa Taylor (2)

Lisa C. Taylor’s debut collection of short fiction, Growing a New Tail was released in November. She’s the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Necessary Silence (2013). Another collection of poetry, The Other Side of Longing, is a collaboration with Irish writer, Geraldine Mills. Lisa’s honors include the Hugo House New Works Award for short fiction, an L.L.Winship PEN New England nomination, Pushcart nominations in both fiction and poetry, a Best Indie Lit of New England nomination, and, along with Geraldine Mills, the Elizabeth Shanley Gerson Lecture of Irish Literature at University of Connecticut in 2011. Her books have been taught in college classes. More about Lisa

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Dynamic Presentation Skills for Writers:

Reading Your Work Aloud

January 9, 2016

Have you ever wished that instead of trembling offstage before a presentation, you could confidently stand and speak in your own spotlight? Have you ever wondered what actors do to get that stage presence, that “star” quality? Help your words leap off the page and reach the audience in a dynamic, engaging way!

In this playful, interactive workshop, led by Susan Daniels, writers learned and practiced the same skills professional actors use to relax, focus their message and truly connect with their audience. Participants brought a poem or short Susan-Daniels-20150615_0179.retpiece of prose and joined in what was a very informative and fun experience.

SUSAN GREENLEE DANIELS is an actor, director, college professor and writer. Susan has appeared in major regional theatres, Off-Broadway and on the daytime drama The Guiding Light. She currently serves on the faculty of Mount Holyoke College in her roles as Public Speaking Faculty at the Weissman Center for Leadership, and on the faculty of the Theatre Department.

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Writers Night Out – January

Featured Reader:  Lesléa Newman

January 5, 2016

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Lesléa Newman is the author of 70 books for readers of all ages including the short story collection, A Letter to Harvey Milk, the children’s classic, Heather Has Two Mommies, and the novel-in-verse, October Mourning; A Song for Matthew Shepard. Her literary awards include poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation; the Burning Bush Poetry Prize; and second place runner-up in the Solstice Literary Journal poetry competition. From 2008-2010 she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts. Her newest poetry collection, I Carry My Mother was recently published by Headmistress Press.  More about Leslea.

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Writers Night Out – December

Featured Reader:  Anna Bowen

December 1, 2015

IMG_4937Anna Bozena Bowen is a writer, poet, and nurse. Anna’s holistic approach to Hattielife and connection to spirit is evidenced in her award winning novel Hattie, which, she says, “is a testament to the multidimensional aspects of our human and spiritual lives.” Hattie has received twelve awards including the Eric Hoffer First Horizon award for superior work by a debut author. Bowen was a contributor on the subject of journaling as a healing tool in Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships (2006).

Bowen lives in Western Massachusetts with Doug, her husband of forty years.  More about Anna here. 

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Getting Published Locally

Editors of four local literary journals speak about submissions, editing, and getting published.

Nov 7, 2015

This moderated panel gave four editors the chance to present their journals’ identities:  who they are, what they are looking for, and the process of getting published by them. 
The panel consisted of Jennifer Acker, Editor of The Common; Lori Desrosiers, Editor of The Naugatuck River Review; Elizabeth MacDuffie, Editor of Meat for Tea; and Emily Wojcik, Editor of The Massachusetts Review.
Jennifer Acker is Editor in Chief of The Common. Her short stories, essays, and reviews have been published inn+1, Guernica, Slate, Harper’s, Ploughshares, and The Millions, among other places. She has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and teaches at Amherst College.
The Common is a print and digital literary journal published biannually, in the Fall and Spring. Issues of The Common include short stories, essays, poems, and images that embody a strong sense of place. The Common Online publishes original content four times per week, including book reviews, interviews, personal essays, short dispatches, poetry, contributor podcasts and recordings, and multimedia features. More at
Lori Desrosiers edits Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry. Her debut full-length book of poems, The Philosopher’s Daughter, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2013. A second,Sometimes I Hear the Clock Speak, is due in 2016. A chapbook, Inner Sky is from Glass Lyre Press. Her poems have appeared in New Millennium Review, Contemporary American Voices, Best Indie Lit New England, and many other journals and anthologies. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She teaches Literature and Composition at Westfield State University and Holyoke Community College, and Poetry in the Interdisciplinary Studies program for the Lesley University M.F.A. graduate program. More at
Naugatuck River Review is dedicated to publishing narrative poetry in the tradition of great narrative poets such as Gerald Stern, Philip Levine or James Wright. Open to many styles of poetry, the NRR is looking for narrative that sings, which means the poem has a strong emotional core and the narrative is compressed.  They publish twice a year, Winter and Summer.  More here:

Elizabeth MacDuffie Meat for Tea (8)Elizabeth MacDuffie, along with Alexandra Wagman, is a founding editor of Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, an arts and literary journal published in Western, MA and committed to recognizing and featuring the work of the artists, musicians, and writers living in Western Massachusetts and beyond. Elizabeth produces multi-media events, (Cirques), to celebrate the release of each issue. 
Meat for Tea has been a winner in its category for the 57th Annual New England Book Show and is a winner again for the 58th. Elizabeth lives and works in Easthampton, with her husband, Mark Alan Miller, a chief engineer and co-owner of Sonelab, where the Cirques are held. She delights in her three small grandchildren and her three grown children.  Find more at
Emily Wojcik has worked in nonprofit publishing for more than a decade, currently as managing editor of the Massachusetts ReviewShe received a PhD in English, with a focus on modernist publishing and little magazines, from the University of Connecticut, in 2011. She is co-editor of Sisters: An Anthology (Paris Press 2009), and her reviews and criticism have appeared in the Women’s Review of Books, New Hibernia Review, PLOP! and Communal Modernisms: Teaching Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture in the Twenty-First Century Classroom (Palgrave Macmillan 2013).Founded in 1959 by a group of professors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke, and Smith, the Massachusetts Reviewis one of the nation’s leading literary magazines, publishing fiction, poetry, essays, and the visual arts—by both emerging talents and established authors, including Pulitzer and Nobel prizewinners.  Special issues have covered women’s rights, civil rights, war, and Caribbean, Canadian, and Mediterranean literature.; Submissions:

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Writers Night Out – October

Featured Reader: Patrick Donnelly

October 6, 2015

Patrick Donnelly is the Poet Laureate of Northampton. Patrick’s books are The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003, since 2009 part of Copper Canyon Press) and Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin(Four Way Books, 2012), a 2013 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. In 2013 he received a U.S./Japan Creative Artists Program award to fund a 3-month residency in Japan during 2014. Donnelly, 2015 – 2017 poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, is director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, and an associate editor of Poetry International. With Stephen D. Miller, Donnelly is co-translator of the Japanese poems inThe Wind from Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013). More about Patrick here.

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The Translator’s Craft and Literary Innovation

Jeffrey Diteman and Michael Goldman

 Oct 3, 2015

Through the sharing of inspirational experiences and concrete exercises, two local literary translators revealed the craft of translation. Everyone knows that translation and adaptation create literary bridges to other cultures, but that’s not all: they also go to the very core of literary production. Some of the greatest works of prose (Ulysses, Le Morte d’Arthur) and poetry (Pound’s Cantos, Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” Spicer’s After Lorca) derive much of their content and their charm from foreign sources and aesthetics. In this workshop, we examined the productive power of translation, and how working with foreign literatures can help a writer discover surprising metaphors, structural innovations, and transcendent connections. 

Jeff Diteman is a writer, translator, and multimedia artist from Idaho via Portland, Oregon and Paris, France. His translations and original writings have appeared in Drunken Boat, The Missing Slate, Jerkpoet, and Nailed Magazine. His book Dnghu Kantos: the Poems of Popakos in Pseudo-Proto-Indo-European is due out from Mother Foucault’s Bookshop in 2015, and his constrained translations of Raymond Queneau will soon be appearing in the journal Inventory from Princeton University. Diteman is excited to be starting the PhD program in Comparative Literature at UMass Amherst.


To win the heart of a Danish girl, Michael Goldman taught himself fluent Danish 30 years ago while working on a pig farm in Denmark.  Over 50 of Michael’s translations of 4 prominent Danish authors have been published in 30 literary journals and he has a dual language poetry collection due out from Norvik Press in 2017.  He recently was inside a Danish classroom for the very first time when he taught translation at the University of Wisconsin.  The Midwest Book Review calls his audiobook series, Poetry for the Rest of Us, “superb choices for connoisseurs of multicultural poetry.”

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Writers Night Out – September

Featured Reader: Gail Thomas

September 1, 2015

 Gail Thomas has published three books of poetry, Waving Back (Turning Point), No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley (Haley’s), and Finding the Bear (Perugia).  Her poems have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies including The Beloit Poetry Journal, Calyx, Hanging Loose, The Evergreen Chronicles, North American Review, The Chiron Review, Cider Press Review, and The Naugatuck River Review.  She is the recipient of writing and teaching grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and was awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross.  Thomas is a learning specialist and teaches at Smith College.   More about Gail here.

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Writers Night Out – August

Featured Reader:  Lori Desrosiers

August 4, 2015

Lori Desrosiers’ first full-length collection of poems, The Philosopher’s Daughter, is from Salmon Poetry, and another will be out in 2016. A new chapbook, Inner Sky is from Glass Lyre Press. Her poems have appeared in New Millenium Review, Contemporary American Voices, BigCityLit, Blue Fifth Review, Pirene’s Fountain, The New Verse News, The Mom Egg, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish-American Poets and many more. She publishes Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry and lives in Westfield, Massachusetts. More here.

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Straw Dog Treats, Year Two!

Recently Published Members Read

with Doug Anderson, Maryanne Banks, Linda Cardillo, Michael Goldman, Eileen P. Kennedy, Ellen Meeropol, Rich Michelson, Susan Schroder, Gail Thomas

Saturday, June 13th

An afternoon of celebration of the publishing successes of Straw Dog members who have published a book in the past year.  Eight Straw Dog members read from their work before an appreciative and enthusiastic audience.

Authors offered their books for sale.

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Writers Night Out – July

Featured Reader: Diana Whitney

July 7, 2015

Diana Whitney’s first book of poetry, Wanting It, was released in August 2014 by Harbor Mountain Press and became an Indie bestseller. Her poems and essays have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Crab Orchard Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her irreverent parenting column, Spilt Milk, was syndicated in several newspapers, ran as a public radio commentary series, and is currently being collected into a book.  A yoga teacher by trade, Diana blogs about the darker side of motherhood for The Huffington Post and runs a yoga studio in Brattleboro, Vermont, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and fourteen chickens.  More here.

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Writers Night Out – June

Featured Reader: John Sheirer

June 2, 2015

John Sheirer is the author of several books of memoir, essays, fiction, poetry, and photography. For the past 22 years, he has taught writing, communication, and literature at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Connecticut.

John is also the author of several other books, including 2012’s Tales of a Real American Liberal, exploring politics and current events from an unapologetically patriotic liberal perspective, the 2011 short story collection One Bite, the 2008 memoir Loop Year: 365 Days on the Trail, which received the Connecticut Green Circle Award for environmental activism, as well as the 2005 memoir Growing Up Mostly Normal in the Middle of Nowhere, a finalist for the Sante Fe Writers Project Literary Award. More here.

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Writers Night Out – May

Featured Reader: Amy Dryansky

May 5, 2015

Dryansky’s first book, How I Got Lost So Close To Home, was published by Alice James, and individual poems have appeared in a variety of anthologies and journals, including Orion, The New England Review and Harvard Review. Dryansky has received honors/awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference.  She’s also a former Associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center at Mt. Holyoke College, where she looked at the impact of motherhood on the work of women poets. Dryansky currently teaches in the writing program at Hampshire College and writes about what it’s like to navigate the territory of mother/artist/poet at her blog, Pokey Mama
About Amy Dryansky’s newest poetry collection, Grass Whistle, Major Jackson says: “poems that reconcile the spiritual freedom of your spine and the presiding restraint at the doorstep of your brainstem…a lyricism that feels gorgeously fresh”.


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Revision is Risky Business: Advice and Exercises

with Celia Jeffries

Saturday, April 25th

unnamed-3What separates merely talented writers from truly accomplished ones is revision—the risky business of questioning all that has been done. How does a writer move from a first draft to the final one where the truth of the writing sparkles and shines? Participants brought pieces they’d been struggling with, and explored and wrote into the heart of their stories.
Celia Jeffries holds an MA from Brandeis and an MFA from Lesley University. Her short stories, interviews and memoir pieces have appeared in various publications, includingPuerto del Sol, Westview, Writer’s Chronicle, Solsticelit.mag and the anthology Beyond the Yellow Wallpaper.

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Poetry, Creative Connections and Electric Rest

“But work might be electric Rest/to those that Magic make” — Emily Dickinson

with Janet Aalfs and Mary Clare Powell

April 12, 2015

Janet Aalfs and Mary Clare Powell read and performed some of their poetry. They discussed the creative process and the joyous work of interweaving poetry and other art forms such as movement, music, visual art, etc. Q&A followed.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 2.30.38 PMJanet E. Aalfs is a poet, dancer, martial artist, educator, community peace activist, and published writer. For almost four decades she has been performing weavings of poetry and martial arts dance, and teaching empowerment skills, healing methods, and safety strategies. Janet was the poet laureate of Northampton, MA from 2003-2005. Since 1982 she has directed Valley Women’s Martial Arts: Institute for Healing and Violence-Prevention Strategies, and is a founding member of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation. She has an MFA in Poetry. In addition to four chapbooks, her most recent collection of poems isBird of a Thousand Eyes (Levellers). Other books include Reach (Perugia), Full Open(Orogeny), and Of Angels and Survivors (Two Herons).

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 2.30.51 PMMary Clare Powell is a professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches in an M.Ed. program for teachers called Creative Arts in Learning.  The program offers classroom teachers K-12 the opportunity to experience in some depth each of the arts–music, poetry, dance, drama, storytelling, and visual arts–so that they can integrate these arts into their curriculum.   She is author of several books of poetry–Things Owls Ate, Academic Scat (poems from academia), In the Living Room–poems about aging, and Box of Water–poems about light and God and swimming.  Powell lives in Greenfield where she writes and cares for a granddaughter Lilly.  Her preoccupation these days is learning to accept whatever comes, and finding joy in ordinary things.

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Writers Night Out – April

Featured Reader: Ellen Meeropol

April 7, 2015

Ellen Meeropol is the author of two novels, House Arrest(2011) and On Hurricane Island (2015). A former nurse practitioner, a part-time bookseller, and a literary late bloomer, Ellen is fascinated by characters balanced on the fault lines between political turmoil and human connection. Her short fiction and essays have been published in Bridges, DoveTales, Pedestal, Rumpus, Portland Magazine, Beyond the Margins, The Drum, and The Writers Chronicle. Her dramatic script “Carry it Forward,” telling the story of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, was produced most recently June 2013 in Manhattan, starring Eve Ensler, Angela Davis, and Cotter Smith. Ellen holds an MFA in fiction from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine. She is a founding member of Straw Dog Writers Guild. More here.

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Structural Steps to Building a Novel with Good Bones

with Randy Susan Meyer

March 28, 2015

unnamedRandy Susan Meyer’s craft program in September was a huge success, and many of you asked for MORE. In response, Straw Dog Writers Guild and Writers in Progress collaborated on a full-day version of Randy’s workshop.  She presented a step-by-step method of moving from initial idea to “what if”, to concept paper, characterization, indexing and building a spine and a skeleton on which to construct your novel.

Randy Susan Meyers is the author of two novels. The Murderer’s Daughters was named a Must Read Book and one of the 2011 Ten Best Works of Fiction by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her second novel, The Comfort of Lies, is “sharp and biting, and sometimes wickedly funny when the author skewers Boston’s class and neighborhood dividing lines, but it has a lot of heart, too” (Boston Globe). Randy is a founding member of Beyond The Margins, a multi-writer site dedicated to the craft of writing and the business of publishing. She is also a regular contributor to The Huffington Postand has recently co-authored the guide What To Do Before Your Book Launch with writer MJ Rose. 

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Ins and Outs of Writing for Children: with  Four Local Authors

March 7, 2015

Four local authors who write for children and young adults talked about dreaming up the realistic, dark, and paranormal characters who inhabit their books. Corinne Demas, Jeff Mack, Dawn Metcalf, and Greg Ruth explained their approaches to voice, craft, research, and publishing in a panel discussion co-sponsored by Straw Dog Writers Guild and The Odyssey Bookshop.





Corinne Demas is the author of thirty books including two young adult novels, two short story collections, a memoir, a collection of poetry and numerous books for children. Her recent YA novelReturning to Shore received terrific reviews. It tells the story of a fourteen-year-old and her father reconnecting. Corinne is a professor of English at Mount Holyoke College and fiction editor of the Massachusetts Review. She lives with her family in Western Massachusetts and spends the summer on Cape Cod.

Jeff Mack has written and illustrated many picture books, chapter books and early readers includingClueless McGee, Good News BadNews, Ah Ha, Duck in The Fridge, Frog and Fly, the Hippo and Rabbitseries, among many more. He has also illustrated many books for other authors, including James Howe’s Bunnicula and Friends series, and Eve Bunting’s Hurry! Hurry!, one of School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2007. Originally from Syracuse, New York, he now resides in South Hadley, Massachusetts where he writes and illustrates.

Greg Ruth has written and drawn stories for Dark Horse Comics, DC/Vertigo, Fantagraphics and The New York Times. His first picture book, Our Enduring Spirit, was written by Barack Obama. Subsequent illustrated picture books include Pirate’s Guide to The First Grade, The Pirate’s Guide to Recess both written by James Preller, and Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji Li Jiang. Greg’s debut graphic novel The Lost Boy hit the New York Times Bestseller list with much praise.  Coming Home, a stunning picture book written and illustrated by Greg Ruth, topped many best of 2014 lists. He lives in Ashfield, Massachusetts.

Dawn Metcalf writes dark, quirky, sometimes humorous speculative fiction. She has written three young adult novels. Dawn’s current book Invisible is the second in The Twixt series, which lies somewhere between reality and myth. The first book in the Twixt series isIndelible. Her debut novel isLuminous, a paranormal fantasy with a Latina-American superheroine. Dawn was influenced by fairy tales, British humour and graphic novels. She resides in Connecticut.

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Writers Night Out – March

Featured Reader: Jennifer Rosner

March 3, 2015

Featured Reader: Jennifer Rosner is author of the picture book, The Mitten String (Random House) and the memoir, If A Tree Falls: a family’s quest to hear and be heard (Feminist Press).  She is currently at work on a novel about a mother and her two daughters, hidden during WWII.    Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, The Daily Forward, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere.   
Jennifer holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stanford University, and is editor of The Messy Self (Paradigm Publishers). She lives in Northampton with her family.


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Writers Night Out – February

Featured Reader: Jane Yolen

February 3, 2015


Jane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America” (Newsweek), is the author of well over 360 books, including OWL MOON, THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC, and HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT. Her work ranges from rhymed picture books and baby board books, through middle grade fiction, poetry collections, nonfiction, and up to novels and story collections for young adults and adults. She has also written lyrics for folk rock singers and groups, several animated shorts, and done voice over work and talk radio. She won last year’s New England Public Radio Arts and Humanities award, the first Valley author to do so. Also worthy of note, she lost her fencing foil in Grand Central Station, fell overboard while white river rafting in Colorado, has gone dog-sledding in Alaska, and her Skylark Award–given by the New England Science Fiction Association–set her good coat on fire.

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Writers Night Out – January

Featured Reader: Doug Anderson

January 6, 2015

Doug Anderson’s book of poems, The Moon Reflected Fire, won the Kate Tuft’s Discovery Award. His book, Blues for Unemployed Secret Police received a grant from The Academy of American Poets. His memoir, Keep Your Head Down, was published by W.W. Norton in 2009. He has taught in the Bennington and Pacific University of Oregon MFA programs,  Smith and Emerson Colleges.  His work have received awards from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Massachusetts Cultural Council, and other funding organizations.  He has recent work in Prairie Schooner and work forthcoming in  Cimarron Review and Massachusetts Review.  He lives in Thorndike, Massachusetts.

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 – Further Past Events –