Randy Sue Meyers will give the morning keynote talk.

Why did you become a writer? When did the writing bug first bite you?

When I was a kid, nothing was better than listening to my Aunt Thelma’s stories. She’d take humiliating, awful situations and transform them to eye-popping, comic-tragic tales. Her pain was our gain.

As a child, I made twice-weekly trips to the library. Writers were gods, purveyors of that which I needed for sustenance. Food. Shelter. Books. Those were my life’s priorities.

As an adult, I still feel that way. I’m constantly foraging for books that offer glimpses into a character’s psyche, that go deep enough to make me part of the choir, saying, “Oh yeah, me too, tell it, writer. True that, uh huh.”

And I wrote—the bug hit me early—but without discipline—and I became a writer both early and late, publishing (co-authoring) my first book in my twenties and my first novel in my fifties, when I stopped living drama and began writing it. As a writer, I’ve learned that reaching deep isn’t always comfortable. (My daughters will read this! My husband will think I’m portraying him!) But I push myself to write with a knife held to my own throat, so that my work will hold as much emotional truth as possible.

What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?

Writing transmogrifies fact into fiction, and that remove helps me understand the world around me. Writing forces me to look at angles I hadn’t previously considered and opens my mind. I used to play a song for my daughters, from FREE TO BE YOU AND ME, that swore that crying got the sad out of you. That’s kind of what writing does for me—it gets the sad, the mad, and the glad out of me. Writing calms me. Writing excites me. Writing sorts out my world.

And writing lets me tell stories. Just like Aunt Thelma.

And the most frustrating part of being a writer?

There is no doubt, for me, it’s the business end of the work.

Much is out of a writer’s control when working with a publisher, from pricing the e-book (publishers will want it as high as possible, while you may want it bought more widely and thus priced lower.) It’s often difficult to get to agreement on covers. Marketing budgets are almost nil, and that’s frustrating. One can go on and on, but, for me, the distribution network, the editing, macro and micro, the copy-editing, all of that is incredible.

Another problem is the ease people have in reviewing one’s book online, as for every generous terrific review, there can be someone who just wants to slam you—and their words live in perpetuity. I wrote about how to work with one’s hurt feelings in Soothing Words for Bad Reviews.

Can you tell us about your most recent novel? What inspired it?

THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET tells the story of a family caught in the before, during and after of a Ponzi scheme, told from two points of view: A man with a criminal hunger for wealth, and his wife, who’s unknowingly building her life, her marriage, family, and even friendships, on disappearing sand.

When a scandal unfolds, criminal and otherwise, I wonder two things: What was the self-told story the perpetrator believed that allowed him to hurt so many people? What does it do to his family?

When Bernie Madoff’s crimes came to light, I wondered what it would be like to be his wife and wake up one day to find that your entire life was built on air. When Governor Elliot Spitzer was discovered transferring money to a prostitution ring, I could only imagine the pain for his family. Every crime has multiple victims—including the family of the perpetrator.

Writing this novel allowed me to explore both sides by inhabiting the points of view of the victims and the accused. I have always needed to understand life from as many angles as possible.

You’re the morning speaker for WriteAngles. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re planning?

Every writer takes a different path to publication, but most require talent mixed with patience, and a willingness to work hard, revise, and then work more. My journey to launching my debut novel, THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTERS, involved knowing when to hold them and when to fold them, a nonfiction book, three agents, and six novels.

How long does it take to be published is a question often asked, and one I’ll always answer honestly. For me, the journey included a homemade MFA, perseverance, and facing up to my obstacles and then removing them best as I could.

That’s the soundbite for my talk: a revelation of my blistered path to publishing my first novel at the age of 57.

What are you working on now?

My next book is due to my publisher in December, so I’m racing the clock on revision. The novel tells the story of two women who differ culturally, racially, and vocationally, coming together in what they think will be a battle against weight, but which ends up a battle in the war against women— in that arena where everyone hates a fat woman— as they are challenged to see how far they will go to be thin.

We are ready to announce our program for the conference this November.

We have yet to line up all the literary agents but will let you know as soon as they are confirmed. To get that announcement, be sure you have subscribed to our site. You will receive an email when we make the announcement.

Jacqueline Sheehan, who has long been associated with our WriteAngles conference, will read from her latest book, The Tiger in the House, Tuesday evening, April 4, in Northampton MA.

We are very pleased to have lined up two dynamic speakers for this year’s WriteAngles conference, Randy Susan Meyers and Breena Clarke.

Once we have confirmed all the details of our program we will be posting further information. If you subscribe to this site, you will receive notices of the schedule, panels, and agents via e-mail.

Also, as we begin to publicize the conference, we want to extend a big “thank you” to Ryan Sheffield, who kindly let us use artwork from his Authors Series on our promotional bookmarks, one of which is shown here.

VOICES CARRY performance group

Voices Carry (formerly Voices from Inside/Out) offers performances and readings designed to bring the stories of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women to the public. Voices Carry presentations feature women from minimum-security facilities or women who have been released into the community. Each performance is followed by Q&A.

Since its launch in the fall of 2004, we have performed at venues all over Western Massachusetts, including colleges and universities, local arts centers, churches, and conference centers. We have also performed at local fundraising events, professional development and writing conferences, poetry slams, and more.  If you would like to schedule a Voices Carry performance, please email info@voicesfrominside.org.

Upcoming Voices Carry Events – Spring 2017

Wednesday March 8, 7:00 PM — Reading with other women at Code Pink’s International Women’s Day event in Northampton First Churches, 129 Main Street, Lyman Hall (entrance on Center St), Northampton

Monday March 13, 7:00 PM — Reading at opening of The States of Incarceration Installation, Historic Northampton, 46 Bridge St., Northampton

Saturday March 25, 1:00 PM —  Reading in conjunction with the community reading of Orange is the New Black, Emily Williston Memorial Library, 9 Park St., Easthampton

Wednesday April 12, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM — Panel discussion on criminal justice reform — VFI participant to speak, Holyoke Community College, Homestead Ave., Holyoke

Tuesday April 18, 7:00 PM — Open Mic at Third Tuesday Greenfield Word — featured writers: Voices From Inside, Mill St., Greenfield

Thursday April 20, 7 PM — Speech Matters, on Mass incarceration, in conjunction with Marlborough College course, 113 Elliot St., Brattleboro, VT

Tuesday May 2, 10 AM to 1:00 PM — Campus reading in conjunction with interdisciplinary course (English/Sociology) Orange is The New Black: The Real Story, The Forum at Holyoke Community College Homestead Ave., Holyoke

melaniebrooksMelanie Brooks, a panelist at last year’s WriteAngles conference, will be at Broadside Books in Northampton on Wednesday, February 15, at 7 pm. She will talk about her new book WRITING HARD STORIES: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma.

We have a date!

Please mark your calendars for Saturday, November 18, the date we have reserved with the Willits-Hallowell Center at Mount Holyoke College for  our 2017 conference. Planning is now underway!

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