So you've written a book — now what? How will you pitch your complicated plot in the standard 250 words? Does your labor of love need revisions before you expose it to the harsh light of day? What are literary agents really looking for?
The League of Vermont Writers aims to help writers answer those questions with a July 19 conference at the Hampton Inn Burlington called Writers Meet Agents. As the name indicates, seven agents are scheduled to attend, representing companies such as BookEnds, LLC, and Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. Besides attending group sessions with the pros, writers can sign up (for a fee) to pitch their completed books one-on-one.
The conference also offers presentations on various aspects of the craft. Vermont YA writer Jo Knowles will talk about revising, for instance, while Peter Biello, founder of the Burlington Writers Workshop, will discuss how writers can get the most out of feedback. Montpelier-based science writer David Dobbs, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker and many other publications, will deliver the keynote address.
Meanwhile, summer means authors, authors, everywhere!
The Northeast Kingdom's Back Roads Readings series kicks off its second season on July 6 with novelist Howard Norman and poet and essayist Ron Padgett. Poet Ellen Bryant Voigt shows up on July 20, followed on July 27 by poets Judith Chalmer, Michiko Oishi and Nadell Fishman. All those events take place on Sunday afternoons in Brownington, but the series will also branch out this year with a Statehouse reading and reception honoring poet Galway Kinnell on August 7. Among the guests who will read their favorite Kinnell poems are Sharon Olds, Marie Howe and Michael Collier. Watch this space for more info.
To the south, Rochester's BigTown Gallery has been running a reading series to highlight the area's stellar summering writers since 2006. This year, the gallery is collaborating with Middlebury's year-round NER Reading Series — sponsored by the New England Review — on a special event. On July 6, widely published poets Terri Ford and Jamaal May will read their work, followed by a catered reception in the garden. (It's free, but attendees must RSVP.) As the summer continues, look for readings by novelists Henriette Power, Rebecca Makkai and Tracy Winn, among others.
And starting this Sunday, the Vermont College of Fine Arts will once again share the wealth of its faculty and alumni in a public reading series accompanying its Summer MFA in Writing Residency. Among the guests is transgender author Alex Myers, whose historical novel Revolutionary tells the story of his ancestor, Deborah Samson, who disguised herself as a man to fight in the Continental Army. Earlier this year, the New York Times called it "a bona fide and unforgettable Revolutionary War novel."
Also on the schedule are Barbara Hurd and Emily Raboteau — both honored with Pushcart Prizes and places in prominent anthologies for their creative nonfiction and fiction — and poet and translator Padgett.
So go out and get those books signed! Unfortunately, you'll soon no longer be able to buy them from Rutland's Book King, which will close its doors at the end of July after 42 years in business. In a WCAX report, owner Elizabeth Dulli cited her inability to compete with online sales as a deciding factor. It's a sad sign of the times, and another reminder that browsing alone doesn't support indie bookstores — buying does.
Writers Meet Agents Event, Saturday,
July 19, at the Hampton Inn Burlington
in Colchester. Registration through June 30: $140; $125 for LVW members. After
June 30: $160; $140 for LVW members. Pitch sessions: $25 each.
Back Roads Readings, Sunday, July 6, 20 and 27, 3 p.m. (followed by reception and book signing at 4 p.m.), at the Brownington Village Congregational Church. Free.
'A Celebration of the Life in Poetry of Galway Kinnell', Thursday, August 7, 3 p.m., at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier. Free.
Vermont College of Fine Arts Summer MFA in Writing Residency readings, Sunday, June 29, to Thursday, July 3, various times, in College Hall Chapel, Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Free. vcfa.edu
Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.