Highland Park Literary Festival - About the Presenters
The Highland Park Literary Festival is honored that these accomplished authors, poets, dramatists, journalists, and songwriters will present workshops this year.
JIM AINSWORTH spent three decades as a financial services professional. He left his career in the corporate world to found a CPA firm in the small town near where he grew up. He later sold his CPA firm and co-founded a broker-dealer in Dallas and served as its president. He trained accountants to become financial planners and stockbrokers all over America and wrote four financial books and hundreds of articles on the subject. Always a wannabe cowboy, he once owned a western wear and tack store. He traveled across Texas by covered wagon and horseback, team-roped, and worked roundups at big Texas ranches. Writing a memoir about his cowboy experiences gave him the confidence to write five novels about the fictional Rivers family. All of his books are based on real events. Jim now spends most of his time mentoring others and writing. Workshop: Five Questions You Should Ask Yourself (And Authors) About Writing. Ainsworth will discuss his journey as a reader and writer and his transition from non-fiction to fiction and the shocking statistics about readers, writers and publishers he discovered when he did. Participants are encouraged to bring their favorite fiction or non-fictional work by other authors or something they have written to read and discuss during the workshop. Questions during and after the presentation will be welcomed.
SUSAN BRIANTE is the author of two books of poetry, Pioneers in the Study of Motion, as well as Utopia Minus, named a Notable Book of 2011 by the Academy of American Poets and one of the Top 30 Books of Poetry in 2011 by Coldfront Magazine. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, The Believer and New American Writing among many other journals. Briante is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Texas at Dallas. Workshop: Sing It! (Making Musical Poetry). What is poetry? Poet and critic Kenneth Koch claims that poetry is a separate language within our language “in which the sound of words is raised to an importance equal to that of their meaning.” In other words, in order for a piece of writing to be a poem, it can't just say—it has to sing. In this workshop, we will review and revise drafts of our own poems to find their particular music. (Students should come to class with copies of one poem that they have written and that they would like to share.)
JOANNA CATTANACH won first place for her personal essay at the 2012 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. A freelance writer and journalist in Dallas, she previously worked at the The Dallas Morning News and continues to write for local and national publications on topics ranging from education to gun laws to racquetball. Her writing is often based on personal experience. Too often that means bruises, bumps and embarrassing moments all for the sake of a good story. A 2006 graduate of Baylor University, she has taught developmental writing and journalism in Dallas at both the community college and university level. She understands the struggles young writers face and works with students to tell a more compelling story. Stories you can't see, taste, touch, feel or smell are hard to write and harder to read. Workshop: Living Your Words. This workshop will explore the fun and sometimes difficult challenges of writing from experience. Whether it is strapping on skates to write a blurb about roller derby, snake hunting for a magazine piece or bumping along in a beat up car in Mexico with a chicken on your lap for an essay project, writing from experience challenges both fiction and nonfiction writers to put themselves in the story. Workshop participants will complete fun writing and brainstorming exercises to help awaken their senses and leave with a list of story ideas they want to write and experience. Those with story ideas in mind are also encouraged to participate.
RON CHARLES is the editor of the Books section at The Washington Post. For more than 15 years he's been reviewing books for national newspapers. Last year, his reviews won first place for Arts & Entertainment Commentary from the Society for Features Journalism, and his satirical series "The Totally Hip Video Book Reviewer" won a Lifetime Achievement Prize from the Moby Awards. In 2008, he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for best criticism. Washingtonian Magazine named him as one of the 40 people who shaped DC in 2010. Workshop: Everybody's entitled to an opinion, right? When you go to a movie, try a restaurant, or read a book, you like some things and you don't like others -- and you want to tell somebody about it. In this workshop, we'll talk about how to shape your opinions into a review that other people want to read -- and respond to.
VICKI CAROLINE CHEATWOOD was recently named “Best Local Playwright” by the Dallas Observer. She has spent eleven seasons as dramaturg/production coordinator for PUPFest, the annual young playwrights festival produced by Kitchen Dog Theater and Junior Players of Dallas. Her playwriting credits include RUTH at Kitchen Dog Theater, selected one of the best new plays of 2011-2012 by the Dallas Theater Critics Forum, The Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Observer, The Dallas Voice, and Theater Jones. Her work has also been produced Off-Off-Broadway, and regional credits include MANICURES & MONUMENTS for Journeyman Theatre Ensemble, Washington D.C., and multiple productions with Kentuck Arts Festival, Austin Script Works, Echo Theatre, and Ground Zero Theatre Company in Dallas. Playwriting honors include a Dallas Theater Critics Forum award, Best New Play awards from the Southwest Theater Association, and the Robert Bone Memorial Playwriting Award Screenwriting honors include an “Official Selection” screening at the Cannes Independent Film Festival and a Best Dramatic Short Film award from the Long Island Film Festival, Best Screenplay Finalist in the Austin Film Festival, and a Special Jury Gold Award in WorldFest Film Festival. Vicki is a member of the artistic company of Kitchen Dog Theater, and is working with WaterTower Theater this season as their in-house dramaturg. Workshop: Square One: Creating Compelling Characters & Storylines That Don't Stink. This is a creative writing workshop that's focused on playwriting. We'll jump right in with some fun exercises to wake up your creative-writing brain. All skill levels welcome.
EDDIE COKER, an award-winning singer, songwriter, and performer, has entertained over 1,000,000 children nationwide since 1987, created his own radio show for Disney; written music for HIT Entertainment, Borders Books, and Chuck E. Cheese; and recorded hundreds of songs for children and their families. A former opera singer, Mr. Coker spends the majority of his time presenting live musical programs that provide educational and spiritual support in diverse venues, such as schools, churches, temples, youth organizations, and corporations. These unique programs touch on the areas of character building, the fostering of kindness and empathy, physical fitness, and helping children to build, from an early-age, a “core” of self-valuing that is essential in dealing with the world they live in. Workshop: Finding Your Own Voice. Mr. Coker will discuss methods for finding your unique voice and then learning to create from that voice, whether in song, story, poem, or original thought. If that description sounds worse than reading Socrates in Latin -- backwards -- come anyway. It'll be worth it to hear how he paid his kids' college tuitions from writing bad songs for a certain (purple) dinosaur whose name starts with B and ends with Y!
LINDA DAUGHERTY received the 2011 National Award from the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine for her plays dealing with teen issues, The Secret Life of Girls, Eat (It's Not About Food), dont u luv me? and hard 2 spel dad (written with Mary Rohde Scudday). She has also been nominated by the Dallas Morning News arts staff for 2011 Dallas Morning News' Texan of the Year. Her plays, which include lighter fare, comedies and musicals, have been produced worldwide. She is playwright in residence at Dallas Children's Theater, named by Time Magazine as one of the top five theaters in the U.S. for families and youth, and a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. In February, 2013, her new musical, Teen Brain: The Musical, written with Nick Martin, will premier at Dallas Children's Theater. Workshop: Get Started on the Play You've Always Wanted to Write. The session will explore the author's own writing process as well as provide hands-on work on dialogue, stage directions and how to turn your ideas into a script.
SPIKE GILLESPIE is the critically acclaimed author of many books and magazine articles. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Real Simple, GQ, Esquire, Elle, Smithsonian, National Geographic Traveler, Interweave KNITS, The Christian Science Monitor, Texas Monthly, The Dallas Morning News, and other publications. In 2006, Austin Chronicle readers voted her Best Author in Austin. Spike also provides commentary for Austin's NPR affiliate, KUT. And she is the President of the Office of Good Deeds, an informal group of Austinites who enjoy doing nice things for others. She lives in Austin with her partner, four pleasantly unruly dogs, a very loud cat, and a herd of pushy chickens. Workshop: 140 Characters or Less—How the Internet Changed Writing. Each session will include a mini-history lesson, looking at how the Internet has totally changed the face of publishing. Then students will be invited to take two stories--one an existing fairy tale, the other a story from their own lives--and write the "entire" story as a Tweet, a Facebook post, and a text message. (We won't actually log on, but just stay within the limits of these forms). The exercise will inspire consideration and appreciation for shorter form and how to determine which details are most crucial to a story.
TOM HUANG is Sunday & Enterprise Editor at The Dallas Morning News and Reporting, Writing and Editing Fellow at The Poynter Institute, where he oversees the school's writing program. He has worked at the newspaper since 1993, first as a feature writer, then as features editor, and now as the Sunday Page One editor. During Huang's time as features editor, its features coverage was named one of the nation's best by the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards and by the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors. His reporting has taken him from Bosnia and Vietnam and the Athens Olympics to the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks in New York. At Poynter, he teaches seminar sessions in ethics, diversity, writing and leadership issues, and he was co-editor of Poynter's Best Newspaper Writing book for 2008-2009. Before moving to Dallas, he worked at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, where he covered courts, city hall, demographics and general assignments. He is president of the Society for Features Journalism Foundation and serves on the governing board of the Asian American Journalists Association. He is a 1988 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science and engineering. Workshop: Finding the Heart of the Story. Writing is hard, and sometimes when you get stuck, it's because you haven't quite figured out what your story is truly about. Learn about five questions that will help you find your focus and develop your story's underlying theme. This will be a highly interactive session with a lot of writing in class.
KATHRYN LAY has published over 2000 articles, essays, and stories for children, teens, and adults, magazines, anthologies, and more. She has written 26 children's books (including picture books, chapter books, and a middle-grade novel), nonfiction, fiction, books for English as a Second Language readers; and she has rewritten classics such as War of the Worlds, Little Women, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Journey to the Center of the Earth. She has won over 125 writing awards, including the Texas State Reading Association Golden Spur Award for her middle-grade novel, CROWN ME! Her first award was in her senior year, in a contest judged by professors at University of Texas at Arlington. She teaches online writing classes and speaks at schools and to writers groups. Workshop: The Everyday Writer. Writers come from all types of backgrounds and have all types of experiences that will help them in their writing. This workshop will include information on the various types of writing available and how anyone can find things to write about—things they know and things they are interested in. Students will be involved in “what if” situations and encouraged to write paragraphs (and read aloud if desired) about something they know, have experienced, or want to express.
MATTHEW LIMPEDE has been the editor of Carve since 2007 and has published over 75 writers, many of whom had never been published. He teaches creative writing workshops and is dedicated to strengthening the literary community and presence in the Dallas area. He has studied fiction and writing for the screen and stage at both New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and UT-Dallas. Workshop: Taking Risks—Why Writing Your Fears, Flaws, and Dreams Will Help You Be a Better Writer. In this workshop, the editor of Carve, a short story magazine, will give you examples of published stories that take risks and then discuss why they're more exciting to read. Short in-class writing exercises will help you get in touch with your own fears, flaws, and dreams to help guide your imagination and storytelling. In addition, you will learn how to submit your own work to small-press magazines and then you will "play the editor" and read through actual submissions to Carve to learn what kind of stories draw you in and which leave you yawning.
DAVID MEGGYESY played linebacker for seven years with the St. Louis Cardinals, now the Arizona Cardinals. His best-selling football autobiography, Out of Their League, was honored by Sports Illustrated as one of the best 100 sports books ever written. He has written articles for many publications, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and Heartland Journal. During his NFL career Meggyesy was actively involved in the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements, and he was co-founder of the Esalen Sports Center. Meggyesy served as Western Director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the NFL players union, and is Board President of Athletes United for Peace. David's granddaughters Malia and Kennedy Meggyesy graduated from Highland Park High School. Workshop: Writing from the Athlete Within. Athletics are a big part of our lives, and the athletic experience is a goldmine for literary insight and expression. All Highland Park students are affected by sports, whether you participate in a sport, are a fan in the bleachers, or a student who dislikes the whole thing! In this workshop, we will take a look at the athletic experience from the inside out and learn to explore its effects on us and how to express our discovery in writing.
JOHN OWHONDA is a well-known storyteller and award-winning author of children's books, short stories, and screenplays. He is a longtime friend and favorite of the HP Literary Festival. Mr. Owhonda mesmerizes audiences as he performs original stories in a style handed down through centuries of oral tradition in his native Nigeria. His publication credits include the screenplay Akeem and the Golden Wristband and the works Congo; Nigeria, a Nation of Many People; Musa the Mouse; and Forest of Doom. He lives in Fort Worth with his wife and two children. Workshop: From Storyteller to Writer. Discover the mindset and ideas that carry Mr. Owhonda from storytelling to the published book, short story, and screenplay—a personal journey.
CARY PIERCE is a music producer, songwriter and performer. His mission is to connect with millions and millions of people and make their lives better through his music, performance and production. His songs and co-writes have appeared on over 4 million records. Cary also played the largest one-day ticketed event of all time, BlockBuster Rockfest in Dallas with almost 500,000 people in attendance. He has appeared on Rosie O'Donnell, Conan O'Brien and countless other national and local TV shows and written songs with Katy Perry, Stan Lynch, Franne Golde (Faith Hill, Randy Travis), Jamie Houston, and many others. Cary is on the Creative Council for Art House Dallas, and he has been commissioned by the highly acclaimed Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts to work with selected kids to write and produce songs for commercial release. He is also half of the band Jackopierce, and for twenty-five years, he and Jack O'Neill have toured in 44 states and 10 countries on 3 continents. They've recorded 10 records; their latest, "Everywhere All The Time," came out in August 2012. Cary married a HPHS Belle, went to SMU, and lives in UP with his wife and family. Workshop: Can You Make a Living Writing & Playing Music in Dallas? Cary will answer that question and discuss the current state of the music business as a whole. He'll talk about his writing. He'll sing songs and he'll talk about all the different ways that music can pay off. You'll learn, you'll laugh, you'll cry. AND: If you're bored during Cary's workshop, he'll give you a full refund. Everyone that attends gets a free album! What's not to love? Come one, come all!
PHIL PRITCHETT is leader of Phil Pritchett and the Full Band. After starting his indie rock outfit in 1995, Pritchett has released ten self-produced albums on his own label. A “cottage industry” musician known for his live-wire shows, thoughtful lyrics, eclectic albums, and sense of humor, he tours the U.S. regularly and has a following in Europe, South Africa, and Australia. Workshop: Out of Thin Air! Songwriting and Unleashing The Poet Within. HP graduate Phil Pritchett discusses his own writing process and plays samples from some of his own songs. Then he straps on a guitar and grabs a piece of chalk (dry erase marker?) to construct songs on the fly with ideas and lyrics suggested by the students. Caution: The results may have some workshop attendees walking the halls of HP singing catchy tunes about high school life, cafeteria food, and the joys and perils of living on the mean streets of Highland Park. "A splendid time is guaranteed for all....."
JAN SEALE is the author of seven poetry volumes and several books of short fiction and essays. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Texas Monthly, The Yale Review, and Writer's Digest, and it has been chosen for numerous anthologies and featured on National Public Radio. She has received a fellowship in creative writing from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mrs. Seale lives in the Rio Grande Valley, where she advocates for its unique environment. Presently, in her role as 2012-13 Texas Poet Laureate, she is traveling throughout Texas making presentations on writing. Workshop: Ah-ha Moments—Ideas at Your Command! Creativity requires direction. Some writers are so full of ideas they don't know where to start. Others have the urge to write but are not sure what to write about. This workshop presents ways you can get ideas and directs you to begin using them for writing that you'll have fun with and be proud of. If you're already full of ideas, it will help you prioritize and give focus to your subjects. Examples and exercises show how a tiny seed of an idea can blossom into an effective story, poem, or commentary.
PETER SIMEK is the arts editor of D Magazine, where he manages, edits and servies as the primary movie critic and reports for D's arts and entertainment website, FrontRow. Before coming to D Magazine, Simek launched the well-loved, if short-lived, "Renegade Bus," an online journal that brought out-of-the-box perspectives to Dallas life and culture. He has written about a wide variety of topics and personalities, from politics to sports to business, for various publications in Dallas, Chicago, and Rome, Italy. Workshop: Kiss Kiss, Tweet Tweet: Film Criticism Today. What is film criticism, what is its role and value, and how have changes in digital and social media changed what it is film critics do? During this workshop we will look at a variety of forms of contemporary film criticism — from video essays and tweets to podcasts and traditional written forms — and discuss the nature and role of criticism, its value to the artistic process, and how new forms of media have changed the way criticism is practiced — and what has stayed the same. We will also try to identify students' own criteria for evaluating the movies and tap into their critical instinct through a written exercise.
LORI ANN STEPHENS writes short stories, novels, and opera libretti. Her writing has been widely published and won finalist places in national competitions, including the Glimmer Train Stories National Fiction Open and the 2006 Peace Writing Awards. Writer Neil Gaiman (author of Coraline and The Sandman series) selected her opera libretto as a finalist for the English National Opera's Miniopera competition (which she subsequently won). Her short story, "The Epidural," was featured in the Arts & Letters Live Series, Texas Bound, at the Dallas Museum of Art. Song of the Orange Moons, Lori's debut novel, was published in November 2010 by Blooming Tree Press. Workshop: "Fatal Flaw." Everybody loves the underdog: the girl who volunteers as “Tribute” to save her little sister, the “wimpy kid's” exploits, the scholarship kid with an incurable crush on the girl out of his league. The underdog has moral integrity, a secret talent, and true grit. But if you're writing a character that doesn't have a flaw, you might just end up with a flat, predictable bore. How do you create a believable, three-dimensional character with just enough "flaw" to keep the reader intrigued? You must bring to this workshop a one-paragraph description of a character. We'll take the paragraph through a series of "fatal flaw" exercises to breathe life into your character.
ROSALYN STORY is a professional classical violinist, journalist, and author of both fiction and nonfiction. A member of the violin section of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, she divides her time between performing and writing magazine and journal articles on the visual and performing arts. She has also written three books. Her articles have appeared in multiple periodicals, and she has been a frequent contributor to Opera News, writing about black opera singers, since 1990. Her first book, So I Sing: African American Divas of Opera and Concert, was the inspiration for the PBS documentary Aida's Brothers and Sisters: Black Voices in Opera. She has written two novels. Workshop: Turning your passion into prose. Writing can be the most intimidating thing, but how many times have I begun a writing piece full of intimidation and dread, only to discover that the more I write, the more I realize how passionate I am about the thing I'm writing about? And, most importantly, the more fun I have. Writing doesn't have to be a chore; it can be a means of self-discovery and exploration into the world of your passionate imagination. One sentence leads to another, and before you know it, you've learned something about yourself you never knew before. In this workshop we'll explore the idea of 'point-of-view,' and how to use our greatest gift — language — to bring those burning, sometimes crazy, and usually very interesting ideas to life on the printed page.
BEATRIZ TERRAZAS is a writer and photographer based in North Texas. She enjoys exploring literature and cultural issues, and she is a contributor to The Dallas Morning News and Mamiverse. Her work has also appeared in More, D, Skirt! and The Texas Observer magazines, and she's among the writers anthologized in TCU Press's Literary El Paso. She was part of The Dallas Morning News team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for a series titled "Violence Against Women: A Question of Human Rights," and she has won first place in the American Society of Sunday and Features Editors and in the Society of American Travel Writers Lowell Thomas Awards. Her essay "My Mother's Brain," won first place in the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) in 2011. She's a reader for Carve magazine, a Harvard University Nieman Fellow (class of 1999), and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the American Society of Media Photographers. Workshop: Finishing the story—Tips and Exercises for Revising and Editing. Writing is one of those crafts that can always be improved, no matter how many drafts you've written. So how do you know when you're finished with an essay or a story? This workshop will offer tips and exercises for revising and editing your pieces. We will do some hands-on exercises to polish existing drafts, as well as learn a trick or two that will help you get to the heart of new stories you want to write.
ROSS VICK – songwriter, singer, producer, philanthropist, husband, dad, and grandpa – departed a 20- plus-year career in the toy industry selling Slinkys, Frisbees, Super Soakers, singing fish, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to embrace a new career in music. In 2007 his song "The Road," co-produced with his brother, HP grad Patrick Vick, his sister Karen V. Cavazos, and multi-platinum producer/arranger Gary Leach (LeAnn Rimes) reached the top 30 in the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart. His second single, "Plan for Peace," won the UK Songwriting Competition in the faith/Christian category in 2010. Ross has navigated the music industry through the tricky currents of radio, live performance, and social media. But his love is songwriting, and he currently contributes songs for Fort Worth-based Kids Who Care, a musical production company, and serves on their board of directors. He also wrote the website theme music for Dallas-based Big Thought and serves on their board of directors. When not volunteering, writing, recording, or tending his family tree farm in East Texas, Ross enjoys watching his daughter Ginna play soccer on the 2012 State Champion Highland Park Lady Scot Varsity team and perform marimba and percussion in the Highlander Marching and Concert Bands. Workshop: Songwriting: How It Happens and What to Do About It. Taking the mystery out of the process may help strike a spark with some unsuspecting student who will invariably enroll in this class solely for the entertainment value. This is a workshop for music lovers of all abilities. You will learn something you probably didn't know about the process of songwriting – of making music, recording it, performing it – and actually enjoy it.
JOAQUIN ZIHUATANEJO is a poet, spoken word artist, and award-winning teacher. Born and raised in the barrio of East Dallas, in his work Joaquín strives to capture the duality of the Chicano culture. Sometimes brutal, but always honest, his work depicts the essence of barrio life. A National Poetry Slam Finalist, Grand Slam Spoken Word Champion, and HBO Def Poet, Joaquín has performed his poetry at universities, conferences and poetry slams all over the Unites States, Canada, Mexico and Europe; he has shared a stage with Billy Collins, Saul Williams, E. Lynn Harris, Alicia Keys, and Maya Angelou, among others. He also co-wrote and produced of fire and rain, a CD spoken word collaboration with award-winning poet Natasha Carrizosa. Selections from of fire and rain were selected by Poetry in Motion to be published in poster form on buses, light rail, and trains throughout the United States—the series attempts to capture the work of modern American poets alongside the work of the masters. He was chosen to represent the U.S. at the 2009 World Cup of Poetry Slam in Paris, a competition that he won by besting 15 poets from 15 different nations, which made him the number-one-ranked slam poet in the world on both sides of the Atlantic. Workshop: Poetry Out Loud: Finding and Giving Voice to the Poems Within You The goal of this workshop will be to inspire students to write poems that are conducive to having life breathed into them with voice. The focus of the workshop will be on performance poetry, but at its core this workshop simply focuses on the beauty and significance of poetry. Students will work together in groups to perform original group or team piece poems that we will write and rehearse and perform in class. Sound intimidating? It isn't. I'll be there to help you along the way. Together we will create poems that dazzle the ear and lift the soul, not a bad way to spend a morning or afternoon.
MARKUS ZUSAK grew up in Australia hearing stories about Nazi Germany, about the bombing of Munich, and about Jews being marched through his mother's small, German town. He always knew it was a story he wanted to tell. At the age of 30, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today's most innovative and poetic novelists. With the publication of The Book Thief, he is now being dubbed a literary phenomenon by Australian and U.S. critics. Zusak is the award-winning author of four previous books for young adults: The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger, recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature. He lives in Sydney. Workshop: Burning, Looting and Writing. This session involves writing on the spot with no previous preparation required. Writing doesn't come naturally to 99% of writers, let alone 99% of people, so this workshop is about what we bring to the page before we even start. We'll start by stealing from what we already know to create a fictional piece of writing. As for the burning and looting, I guess we'll figure that out on the day and see where the workshop takes us.