In a league of its own: League of Vermont Writers

Joanna Tebbs Young
CIRCLES OF COMMUNITY

Do you have dreams of being a published author? You might want to consider, then, attending the League of Vermont Writers’ Spring Program, being held this year on Saturday, April 28.

The League of Vermont Writers (LVW) has been around quite a while — 89 years to be exact. Co-founded in 1929 by one of Vermont’s own literary superstars, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, the League can claim the title of the oldest statewide writers’ organization. Famous speakers past and present have included the likes of Robert Frost, Frances Parkinson Keyes, Chris Bojahlian and Joe Citro. Burlington author and historian, Lilian Baker Carlisle, the subject of the book I published last year — an opportunity I actually landed through LVW — was herself an active member of the organization, including president at one time, from the 1960s until her death in 2006.

My introduction to LVW came a number of years ago when I attended a conference and “Pitch an Agent” event in Burlington. A few years later, I had the honor of being one of their presenters when they met in Rutland. In fact, as well as their self-claimed ability to adapt to changes in the publishing industry and advancing technology, LVW’s tradition of holding meetings and workshops throughout the state at different times of the year may be a key to their longevity. Open, as their motto goes, to all writers who make writing a part of their life, LVW invites writers of all genres and stages of career, from Burlington to Rutland to the Northeast Kingdom, to emerge from their solitary writing spaces to gather with aspiring and established writers, editors, coaches and agents to learn together, write together, and network together.

As my copious notes will attest, each conference I’ve attended has offered talented speakers sharing valuable information on the personal process, the craft, and the business of writing. But it may be the networking aspect of the organization and conferences which is its best asset. Connecting with and learning from agents, editors, and fellow writers opens the door to writing and publication opportunities as well friendships, feedback groups and self-promotion.

This month, LVW is once again coming to Rutland — well, Killington, actually — to offer Vermont writers information and support in their program, “The Road to Publication,” featuring four presentations by three nationally acclaimed writers.

First up, after everyone has chatted over coffee and settled in, Annalisa Parent and Jennifer S. Wilkov will present, “Your Query Letter,” the first of a three-session series titled, “Top 15 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Pitch: From Query to Pacing, to In-Person Pitch.” In these sessions Annalisa — a Vermont-based, nationally known author, educator and coach — and Jennifer — best-selling, award-winning author and freelance writer, and business consultant — will “pull back the curtain on the top mistakes they see would-be authors making” and give writers “implementable direction on how to prepare for traditionally publishing your book.”

After a short coffee break, the second presentation, run by Annalisa, will focus on “Your First Five Pages,” and after a catered lunch, Jennifer will help writers with “Your In-Person Pitch to an Agent.”

Jeff Sharlet, associate professor of creative writing at Dartmouth College and bestselling author, will round out the day with his talk, “The Straight and Crooked Paths to Publication,” in which he will look at questions such as: How does one build an author profile that will engage agents? And just what are agents for anyway? Jeff wants his audience to consider the realities of the literary by thinking about “what it really is we want from the dream of publication.”

For many, publication is just that, a dream, but learning the nuts and bolts can certainly get you closer to making it a reality. The League of Vermont Writers can help.

IF YOU GO:

League of Vermont Writers’ Spring Program

Saturday, April 28, 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Summit Lodge, 200 Summit Rd., Killington, VT

Register online at leagueofvermontwriters.org/gatherings/

or email Alyssa.berthiaume@gmail.com for more information.

An informal open mic and social is also scheduled at 7 p.m. the previous evening, Friday, April 27. Email to register.

Joanna Tebbs Young, MA-TLA

Joanna Tebbs Young is a freelance writer, author, and expressive writing coach living in Rutland. Email her at joanna@wisdomwithinink.com.

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