October 1, 2020

Dear Young Writers,

We hope you are well and are finding ways to stay creative in these crazy times!

In the spring of 2020, when we postponed the 30th Annual Betty Curtis Worcester County Young Writers Conference, we hoped we could see you all in person this fall. Alas, it is still not safe for large in-person gatherings, and so we regret to say that will wait until March 2021 to resume our conference.

We are optimistic that an in-person event will be possible in March, but if the situation is still too risky, we will hold a virtual or hybrid event.

In the meantime, we invite you to join us for a free virtual writing workshop on October 28, 2020 from 7:30 to 9:00 PM. RSVP required. Click here to save your spot.

Several of our workshop leaders will be in attendance to lead breakout sessions to help you keep the creative juices flowing and generate some new writing! More details to follow in the coming weeks. To stay informed, please join our email list.*


Sincerely,
Diane Mulligan
Conference Director
English Department Chair

*Note: Wachusett Regional School District students -- please do not use your school email address if you register or join our email list. Your school email address does not accept messages from outside your district so I will have no way to contact you.

Why attend the WCYWC?

Welcome, young writers!

In late March 2021 Saint John's High School will host the 30th Betty Curtis Worcester County Young Writers Conference. More details to follow in January, 2021. Join our email list to stay informed!

Frequently Asked Questions

List of 6 items.

  • Who is eligible to attend?

    Students grades 7-12 with an interest in creative writing. Each year, 80-100 students from over 40 schools from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut participate.
  • When and where is the event?

    March 2021 (full details coming soon) Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury, MA
  • What happens during the day?

    Students meet in small and large groups to work on writing skills and share their work.
  • Who runs the writing workshops?

    Local writers who many years of experience publishing and mentoring.
  • What is the cost of the event and what does it include?

    The cost includes breakfast, lunch, and writing materials. The fee is $50.
  • What do I need to register?

    You must complete our electronic form to sign up. To register, you will need to provide
    • your name, 
    • your Email address (or a parent’s Email) and phone number
    • your school and grade, 
    • your English teacher’s name and Email address, 
    • and emergency contact information. 
    The registration fee can be paid online by credit card or with a check by mail.

Workshop Offerings

List of 12 items.

  • As If: Working with Metaphors

    This workshop will begin with games and exercises designed to teach students how to create fresh, startling, and weirdly appropriate metaphors. The many metaphors we produce together will provide the seeds for the individual poems we write. You’ll learn how to use a metaphor to organize an entire poem, how to develop it with word choice and sensory imagery, how to extend it in surprising ways, and how to wrap it up with an unexpectedly meaningful ending.
    Workshop Leader Susan Elizabeth Sweeney

    Susan Elizabeth Sweeney’s poems have appeared in Diner, The Worcester Review, The Journal of Irish Literature, and elsewhere, and have won an Academy of Poets Prize, the Frank O’Hara Poetry Prize, and other awards. Beth has served as president of the Worcester County Poetry Association and as coordinator of the Creative Writing Program at the College of the Holy Cross, where she is now the Murray Professor of Arts and Humanities. In May 2019, she received the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award from Holy Cross, only the second time it has ever been granted. Beth’s chapbook, Hand Me Down (Finishing Line Press, 2013), was a semifinalist in the 2012 New Women’s Voices Competition. She is now writing a series of poems about her namesake, Mad Sweeney—a king, poet, and madman in Irish folklore—and his wife.
  • Fantasy Fiction

    There are benefits to creating your own world in which to write, rather than our own boring and familiar one. Let's discuss Wizards, Elves, Dwarves, Ogres, mythical beasts, and the ways you can use magic in your writing to hold up a mirror to modern themes while setting your stories in a medieval-type world.
    Workshop Leader Chuck Abdella

    Chuck Abdella is a History teacher at St. John’s High School. His writing has appeared in the B.C. Stylus, Worcester Magazine, and The Boston Globe. Chuck’s four published fantasy books include THE OUTCASTS, THE DARKEST FORESTS, WHISPERS OF SPRING, and A FLICKER OF HOPE. 
  • Reporter-for-a-Day Journalism Track

    Each year a dedicated team of young, volunteer reporters works together to produce The Writers Conference Rag, a newspaper that chronicles the happenings at that year’s Young Writers Conference. Join us for a day-long track in which we will seek out, interview, and photograph the day’s happenings and, by day’s end, have produced a completely new volume of The Writers Conference Rag. The only experience required is your enthusiasm.
    Workshop Leader: Rodger Martin

    Rodger Martin’s third volume of poetry, The Battlefield Guide, (Hobblebush Books: 2010) uses the physical locations on the battlefields of the American Civil War to reflect upon America today. Small Press Review selected an earlier book, The Blue Moon Series, (Hobblebush Books:  2007) as one of its bi-monthly picks of the year.    He has been awarded an Appalachia award for poetry and a New Hampshire State Council on the Arts Fiction Fellowship.  Additionally he has received fellowships from The National Endowment for the Humanities to study T.S. Eliot and Thomas Hardy at Oxford University and John Milton at Duquesne University.   His work has been published in literary journals throughout the United States.   He and six colleagues have been translated in the book On the Monadnock: New Pastoral Poetry released in China in 2007.   He teaches journalism at Keene State College, and serves as one of the editors in The Granite State Poetry Series.
  • Science Writing that Sparks and Sizzles

    A story about chemistry or physics may cover some tricky material. But it doesn't have to be boring. Kathryn Hulick has been writing about tough science topics for kids and teens for over a decade. She has learned some tricks that help communicate complicated ideas without losing anyone's attention. Many of the same techniques that bring life to fiction writing can also liven up nonfiction, for example bringing in all five senses or using dialogue. Numbers can be presented in ways that make them easier to grasp and more fun (like measuring something in elephants instead of kilograms). In this interactive workshop, participants will work to turn a boring paragraph of text into something that sparks and sizzles, without losing any important information. 
    Workshop Leader Kathryn Hulick


    Kathryn Hulick is the author of Strange But True: 10 of the World's Greatest Mysteries Explained (Quarto, 2019), a book for teens about the science and history of ghosts, aliens, and other mysterious things. As a freelance science writer, she regularly contributes to Science News for Students and Muse magazine. She has also published numerous educational books for kids and teens on topics such as video games, artificial intelligence, energy technology and dinosaurs. She co-directed the New England SCBWI conference in 2011 and 2012 and presented workshops that received very positive feedback in 2014 and 2018. Hulick’s favorite part of writing about science is getting to speak with researchers in many different fields. Once, she spoke with an expert on parallel universes while he was shoveling snow from his driveway. Another time, she called a biologist who was out in the field in Africa, watching a herd of elephants. In addition to writing, she enjoys hiking, gardening, painting and reading. Hulick lives in Massachusetts with her husband, son and dog. Her website is http://kathrynhulick.com/
  • Screenwriting 101

    Interested in writing for film or television? In this workshop, you will learn the basics you need to get started. We will learn about proper screenplay formatting, elements of a screenplay, and what makes good action and dialogue. You will have the opportunity to write your own scene. This workshop is for those with no screenwriting experience.
    Workshop Leader Laina Mullen Pruett

    Laina Mullin Pruett’s fiction has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, and in the BU alumni journal, 236. She was in residence at Yaddo, is a recipient of the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner award, was a 2011 Robert Pinsky Global Fellow, and is a fiction editor at The Worcester Review. She holds an MFA in fiction from Boston University. Laina lives in rural Massachusetts with her husband and young son.
  • This Isn't a Novel: Writing Short Fiction

    This workshop takes participants through the creative process of writing short fiction, including the development of compelling characters, establishing a distinct voice, building "lived in" worlds and making use of fewer words to create dynamic and engaging stories. Participants will engage in timed writing practice while sharing and receiving feedback from their peers as well as share in discussions about writing craft and the development of writing projects.
    Workshop Leader Rob Huckins


    Rob Huckins is the author of four published works, including a novel, two short fiction/poetry collections and a travelogue of essays on visiting China. Rob is the creator and host of the podcast "Trails to Peaks Radio" as well as a co-founder of the nonprofit Chasing Jade Horizons, an organization dedicated to improving education and increasing awareness of youth mental health issues in New Hampshire. Along with writing, Rob enjoys creativity in the visual arts, including photography, drawing and painting. Rob lives in Merrimack, NH and chairs the social studies department for Merrimack HS (NH).
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Writing to Change the World

    Have you ever read something that changed your mind, or changed your life? If writing has such a strong effect on readers, how can you make sure yours changes lives for the better?

    In this workshop, we'll explore how our tone can make readers feel emotions like love or hate, and how we can use that power responsibly—whether we write poems, stories, or social media posts. Through short writing exercises and group discussions, we'll think about how our language can invite readers to care about people they used to hate, to keep an open mind, and to change their communities—and how we can avoid sounding cheesy or preachy. And we'll ask ourselves: in a world where hate often spreads through text, how does our writing contribute to peace?
    Workshop Leader Nasim Mansuri

    Nasim Mansuri is a fiction writer, poet and journalist with a focus on entertainment, community development and spirituality. Originally from Paraguay and a writer from a young age, she lived in four continents before moving to Worcester. She now studies chemical engineering and professional writing at Worcester Polytechnic Institute while writing film, TV and book reviews for Hypable.com, editing articles for BahaiTeachings.org, and writing technical documents for a local engineering company. She has also worked as a freelance editor for science fiction, fantasy and romance novels.

    Nasim has many years of experience as a teacher in the Worcester Baha’i junior youth empowerment program, and in 2019 organized the first installment of a yearly summer online writing workshop, The Young Writers’ Endeavor, for young people who want to use their writing for the betterment of the world.
  • Worldbuilding 101

    We will come up with an SFF twist to our world (e.g., dragons are real; aliens came to Earth 50 years ago) and extrapolate as a group for how the world would be changed in ways both large and small. We will then each write a story in that world, focused on the smaller daily-life details, working in the worldbuilding aspects organically.
    Workshop Leader Tim Mudie

    Timothy Mudie is a speculative fiction writer and an editor of all sorts of genres. His fiction has appeared in various magazines, anthologies, and podcasts, including Lightspeed, Escape Pod, Wastelands: The New Apocalypse, and Interzone. He lives outside of Boston with his wife and son. Find him online at timothymudie.com. 
  • Place and Plot Fiction Workshop

    Explore how to develop a story beginning with an interesting setting. During this workshop, we will practice observation and writing with descriptive language. Through several exercises, both individually and as a group, we will begin to develop an original plot that takes place in your chosen setting. Leave this workshop with the beginning of a new story. There will be a voluntary opportunity to share your work with the group and receive feedback.
    Workshop Leader Laina Mullen Pruett

    Laina Mullin Pruett’s fiction has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, and in the BU alumni journal, 236. She was in residence at Yaddo, is a recipient of the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner award, was a 2011 Robert Pinsky Global Fellow, and is a fiction editor at The Worcester Review. She holds an MFA in fiction from Boston University. Laina lives in rural Massachusetts with her husband and young son.
  • Turn It Up: Starting Your Own Podcast

    This workshop presents the basic steps in creating and running a podcast, including figuring out a theme, writing for podcasting, design artwork, best equipment to use, how to publish and tips on growing your audience. Participants will be taken step by step through the process of creating and maintaining a quality podcast, including tips on writing, recording, and publishing episodes to fit whatever theme one chooses. 
    Workshop Leader Rob Huckins

    Rob Huckins is the author of four published works, including a novel, two short fiction/poetry collections and a travelogue of essays on visiting China. Rob is the creator and host of the podcast "Trails to Peaks Radio" as well as a co-founder of the nonprofit Chasing Jade Horizons, an organization dedicated to improving education and increasing awareness of youth mental health issues in New Hampshire. Along with writing, Rob enjoys creativity in the visual arts, including photography, drawing and painting. Rob lives in Merrimack, NH and chairs the social studies department for Merrimack HS (NH).
  • What Makes a Character?

    In this workshop, we will come up with characters by listing various archetypes (teacher, adventurer, etc.), locations, personality traits, and wants. We will then randomly connect those to create characters and write brief stories. After that, we will choose a different thing for our character to want and write a separate story, seeing how a character's motivation is the driving force in fiction. 
    Workshop Leader Tim Mudie

    Timothy Mudie is a speculative fiction writer and an editor of all sorts of genres. His fiction has appeared in various magazines, anthologies, and podcasts, including Lightspeed, Escape Pod, Wastelands: The New Apocalypse, and Interzone. He lives outside of Boston with his wife and son. Find him online at timothymudie.com. 
  • Lend Me Your Poem

    In this workshop, students will not only share poems they have just written but will also use them to inspire and construct still more poems. You’ll have a chance to experiment with a range of different forms of poetic adaptation and collaboration, including the exquisite corpse, the golden shovel, the call and response, the switch, and the tapestry. Writing poems off of, against, for, and with poems by other writers is a fun way to stretch your mind and develop new ways of working with words.
    Workshop Leader Susan Elizabeth Sweeney

    Susan Elizabeth Sweeney’s poems have appeared in Diner, The Worcester Review, The Journal of Irish Literature, and elsewhere, and have won an Academy of Poets Prize, the Frank O’Hara Poetry Prize, and other awards. Beth has served as president of the Worcester County Poetry Association and as coordinator of the Creative Writing Program at the College of the Holy Cross, where she is now the Murray Professor of Arts and Humanities. In May 2019, she received the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award from Holy Cross, only the second time it has ever been granted. Beth’s chapbook, Hand Me Down (Finishing Line Press, 2013), was a semifinalist in the 2012 New Women’s Voices Competition. She is now writing a series of poems about her namesake, Mad Sweeney—a king, poet, and madman in Irish folklore—and his wife.

Conference Schedule

 
Tentative Schedule

  • 9:00 – 9:30 – Participant Registration and Coffee
  • 9:35 – 10:45 – Student-led writing activity and ice breakers
  • 10:50 – 11:50 – Workshop 1
  • 12:00 – 12:40 – Lunch
  • 12:50 – 1:50 – Keynote Speaker
  • 1:55 – 2:55 – Workshop 2
  • 3:00 – 3:30 – Writer Panel Discussion
  • 3:30 – 4:00 – Coffee house break – snacks and student free writing time
  • 4:00 – 5:00 – Student Open Mic
*Note: Start and end times are set, but the workshop schedule is subject to change.

Pictures from the 25th Annual WCYWC (2015)

25th Annual Worcester County Young Writers Conference
    • WCYWC

      WCYWC

    • National Youth Poet Laureate

      Kara Jackson

      National Youth Poet Laureate

To Register

Click here to register for our free virtual workshop on October 28.

WCYWC Keynote Speakers

List of 8 items.

  • 2020: Kara Jackson

    Chicago native, Kara Jackson is the 2019 National Youth Poet Laureate. Ms. Jackson is a student at Smith College. In addition to writing poetry, she is a talented songwriter. You can hear her work on Soundcloud.
  • 2019: Andy and Veronica Fish

    This husband-and-wife team of graphic artists has been offering their unique and popular workshops for over 10 years to students of all ages. Andy Fish is a noted comic book artist, illustrator and painter—his work has been published all over the world and exhibited in galleries as far away as Sydney, Australia. His most recent graphic novel is Dracula’s Army: The Dead Travel Fast, an adaption of Dracula brings to light storylines that only lurked in the shadows of the original. Veronica Fish’s paintings have been shown in galleries around the world, and she's also worked on character design, storyboarding for film and TV, apparel design, and editorial illustration. Veronica recently illustrated a comic entitled Blackwood, a supernatural fantasy about a magical murder in a sorcery school. As visual storytellers who often work with writers to develop comics and graphic novels, Andy and Veronica bring a fresh, new perspective to our conference. The keynote address will begin at 4:00 and is free and open to the public.
  • 2018: Terry Farish

    Terry Farish is a writer with a passion for following the stories of people from many cultures who come as immigrants or refugees to the U.S. The Good Braider is her free verse novel for young adults and adults about 17-year old Viola and her family’s journey from war-torn Sudan, to Cairo, and finally to Portland, Maine.  She wrote The Good Braider after travel to Kakuma Refugee Camp on the border of Kenya and South Sudan and years of collecting oral histories among southern Sudanese families in Portland. The novel was selected as a Best Book of the Year by the American Library Association, Bank Street College of Education, and School Library Journal.  Her picture books include The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup, illus. by Barry Root and The Alleyway set in Lawrence, MA.  The Alleyway, about a small boy whose brother has been deployed in the US Army, is in production and will be illustrated by Oliver Dominquez. In 2015 her novel, Either the Beginning or the End of the World, will be published by Carolrhoda Books. Through the New Hampshire Humanities Council, Terry leads literacy programs with refugee and immigrant parents, and she also teaches writing at Manchester (NH) Community College. You can visit her site at http://terryfarish.com.
  • 2017: Regie Gibson

    Literary Performer and educator, Regie Gibson, received his MFA from New England College. He’s lectured and performed in the U.S., Cuba and Europe. Representing the U.S., Regie competed for and received the Absolute Poetry Award in Monfalcone, Italy. Himself and his work appear in “love jones”: a feature-film based on events in his life. He is a former National Poetry Slam Champion, has featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, WBUR’s On Point, Radio Boston, and various other NPR programs. Regie has performed at TED X Boston, Ted X Bedford and TED X Natick, and has been nominated for a Boston Emmy. He’s received the Walker Scholarship for Poetry from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and a YMCA Writer’s Fellowship. He’s been published in Poetry Magazine, Harvard’s Divinity Magazine, and The Iowa Review, among others. His volume of poems, “Storms Beneath the Skin”, has received the Golden Pen Award. He has received both an MCC Poetry Award and a Lexington Education Foundation Grant. Regie has performed with and composed texts for The Boston City Singers, The Mystic Chorale and Boston’s Handel+Haydn Society. He performs regularly with Atlas Soul: a world-music ensemble, his own word-music ensemble, The Regie Gibson Project, and is He one half of the duo, Shakespeare to Hip-Hop: An education and performance vehicle integrating the performance and study of classical and modern texts into English curriculums.
  • 2016: Jasmine Mans

    An author, performer, poet, teacher...yes to all of those titles, but more importantly Jasmine Mans is an artist...an artist who enjoys having various forums to express her thoughts, moods, opinions and a voice to speak out on behalf of others and the community around her. A recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison (2014), Jasmine received her BA in African-American Studies (Black Theory & Literature) and is the recipient of the Star Ledger – NJPAC; Arts Millennia; and (New York) Knicks Poetry Slam Scholarships and awards. However, Mans began stringing rhymes together as a middle-school student in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey. Those artistic skills were honed while attending the first performing arts high school in the nation, Newark Arts High School.

    http://www.jasminemans.com/

  • 2015: Adam Gottlieb

    Adam Gottlieb is a Poet, Singer/Songwriter, Teaching-Artist who advocates for the power of the spoken word. He was featured in the film Louder than a Bomb, a documentary described as a "celebration of American youth at their creative best." 

    "None of this prepares the viewer for the bomb that is Adam Gottlieb (from tony Northside College Prep), whose first reading at the 20-minute mark, of a poem celebrating poetry, announces a promising new American talent. It’s difficult to resist the comparison to Allen Ginsberg in Gottlieb’s nearly breathless recitation, his use of incantation and rhythmic attack, and the sense of an epic unfolding before our ears. His subsequent reading, on his Jewish roots in Chicago, is pitched in an entirely different register and suggests a novelistic sensibility." - Variety

  • 2014: Juliette Fay

    Author Juliette Fay was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Worcester County Young Writers Conference. Students from around the area gathered to work with writing professionals and share their own work in front of their peers. Student slam poets who competed at the Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam in Boston performed, and writing mentors spoke at a panel on publishing.

    Shelter Me, Juliette’s first published novel, was designated as one of the ten best works of fiction in 2009 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress. It was also named to the Indie Next List of the American Booksellers Association, was chosen as one of six novels for Target’s 2009 Bookmarked Club, and was a Good Housekeeping featured Book Pick. Her second novel, Deep Down True, was published in January 2011 by Viking Penguin, and was short-listed for the Women’s Fiction Award of the American Library Association. The Shortest Way Home, her third novel, was chosen as one of Library Journal‘s Top 5 BEST BOOKS of 2012: Women’s Fiction.

    JulietteFay.Com
  • 2013: Matthew Quick

    Matthew Quick (aka Q) is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Academy Award-nominated film. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, among other accolades. Q lives in Massachusetts with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette.

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