Writers Studio Literary Festival

Date and Time:
- 04:00pm
Littleton Campus

Spend a Day with Denver’s Stalwarts and Rising Stars

ACC’s Writers Studio Literary Festival, which will be held on Saturday, April 13 from 8:30am to 4:00pm, brings you the best of Colorado, from upcoming stars and a Colorado Book Award winner to Colorado journalism stalwarts.

Cost is $20 for ACC students or $45 for Community Members; includes lunch. Register for sessions and pay online.

An annual tradition, the Festival offers the opportunity for community members and students alike to spend the day honing their craft and hob-knobbing with professionals. Attendees work with two authors, which you choose from a group of six, for two two-hour sessions:

  • 8:30-9:15am: Check-in
  • 9:30-11:30am: Morning session
    • Steven Dunn - Applying Film Techniques to Writing
    • Joseph Hutchison - The Music of What Happens: Exploring Soundscape
    • Christopher Merkner - Writing About (Not Your) Family
  • 11:30am-12:45pm: Reading and lunch
  • 1:00-3:00pm: Afternoon session
    • Hillary Leftwich and Deanna M. Rasch - Discovering Your Ghosts in Writing
    • Nancy Stohlman - Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction
    • Kevin Vaughn - Finding Your 'e' Spot -- Crafting Stories That Don't Begin 'Once Upon A Time'
  • 3:00-4:00pm: Participant Open Mic

We understand this will be a difficult decision — and that’s how we wanted it to be!

Attendees can expect to learn, to write, to conversate. There will be a continental breakfast served, as well as a hot lunch. Guests will be enamored with the lunch-time reading and will also have the opportunity to share the work they produced at the end-of-the-day Open Mic from 3-4.

About the Sessions and Guest Authors

Morning Sessions

Steven DunnSteven Dunn (morning session)
Writers Studio’s Literary Contest Judge - Creative Nonfiction

Session: Applying Film Techniques to Writing

Film uses space and lighting to evoke certain emotions. We will look at ways to make sentences and paragraphs function like how cameras zoom, pan, tilt, etc. We’ll consider what is in the visual frame—the composition of a scene. We’ll discuss high-key and low-key lighting and what effects those produce. We’ll also view a short video that summarizes camera angles, as well as read and examine passages with a filmic quality. Think of some of your favorite films, and we’ll also discuss some of the techniques and try to transfer them to writing.

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Steven Dunn is the author of the novels Potted Meat (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2016) and water & power (Tarpaulin Sky 2018).

He was born and raised in West Virginia, and after 10 years in the Navy, he earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.

Some of his work can be found in Columbia Journal, Granta Magazine, and Best Small Fictions 2018.

Steven is integral to Denver’s writing community, highlighted by his reading series, The Art of Storytelling at Prodigy Coffeehouse. Mr. Dunn is also a member of Mile High MFA’s faculty.

Joe HutchisonJoseph Hutchison (morning session)

Session: The Music of What Happens: Exploring Soundscape

The music that makes poems memorable springs from the interaction of cadences and the rise and fall in the pitch of syllable sounds. This interaction is called “soundscape”: "An atmosphere or environment created by or with sound.” We’ll explore the impact of soundscape on the reader’s experience and practice some ways of enriching that experience through the fine-tuning of a poem’s soundscape.

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Joseph Hutchison, Colorado Poet Laureate (2014-July 2019), is the author of 17 poetry collections, including The World As Is: New & Selected Poems, 1972-2015; Eyes of the Cuervo/Ojos del Crow (a bilingual limited edition), and a collection of three longish historical narrative poems entitled Marked Men. He has edited three poetry anthologies, translated the flash fiction of Mexico City author Miguel Lupián, and published poems,  fiction (short and flash), creative nonfiction, and literary essays in over 100 journals in five countries. At the University of Denver’s University College, he directs two Master’s programs, Professional Creative Writing and Arts & Culture Management. A native of Denver, Joe lives in the mountains southwest of the city with his wife, Iyengar yoga instructor Melody Madonna.

Christopher MerknerChristopher Merkner (morning session)
Writers Studio’s Literary Contest Judge - Fiction

Session: Writing About (Not Your) Family

Whether we want to or not, and no matter the creative genre we advance in our work, we are more often than not writing about people we know and events we have experienced or have come to know intimately. We can certainly say we are not doing so, and we can insist that our work is not in any way nonfiction or autobiographical, but typically this is all professional smoke-in-mirrors.  Writing who and what you know is not naughty, nor does it indicate a lack of innovation or imagination or creativity. But to do it effectively requires intentionality, craft, and elegance.  This seminar will explore a relatively broad range of writers in prose and poetry who have written successfully about family--theirs, ours, someone else's who cares? We will study and practice four craft techniques relevant to this cause: sentimentality/detachment/distance, voice and tone, and several lenses of witness.

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Christopher Merkner is the author of the story collection The Rise & Fall of the Scandamerican Domestic, winner of the Colorado Book Award 2015 (editor’s note: and also - hilarious). His stories have been reprinted in the O. Henry Prize Stories and Best American Mystery Stories anthologies, and most recently in the W.W. Norton anthology, New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction. Merkner is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Colorado Denver.

Afternoon Sessions

Hillary LeftwichHillary Leftwich and Deanna M. Rasch (afternoon session)

Session: Discovering Your Ghosts in Writing

Writing and trauma release methods used to find your voice and bring out the necessary ghosts for honest writing. Focusing on the creation of flash fiction/flash non-fiction/poetry pieces, specifically those voices difficult to write due to previous trauma, this workshop utilizes embodied methods, including EFT Tapping and Chi Gong movement to work with writing blocks and/or trauma released by the writing process itself.

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Hillary Leftwich is the author of the forthcoming collection Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How To Knock from Civil Coping Mechanisms (CCM) Press in 2019. She earned her MFA in fiction and poetry from the Mile High MFA at Regis University. She is the poetry and prose editor for Heavy Feather Review and organizes/hosts At the Inkwell Denver, a monthly reading series. Currently, she freelances as a writer, editor, writing workshop instructor, and guest instructor for Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash Workshop. Her writing can be found or is forthcoming in print and online in such journals as EntropyThe Missouri Review, The Review ReviewHobartSmokeLong QuarterlyMatter PressLiterary OrphansSundog LitNANO FictionOcculumJellyfish Review, and others.

Deanna M. Rasch, a recent graduate of the Mile High MFA in Creative Writing Program (Fiction & Poetry) is the author of a young adult SF novel, Freedom's Cost, and a chapbook, Things I Won't Deny. Genderqueer lesbian, itinerant creative and coach, engaged Buddhist are other ways she identifies.

Nancy StohlmanNancy Stohlman (afternoon session)

Session: Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is changing the way we tell stories. Carving away the excess, eliminating all but the most essential, flash fiction is putting the story through a literary dehydrator, leaving the meat without the fat. Readers are discovering something delightful and poignant in these little spaces. Writers are cultivating a new set of skills and writing a different kind of story.  And the stories, far from trivial or lazy, have their finger on a new and necessary kind of urgency. Learn how to write and edit your own flash the lens of brevity in this workshop. Open to all levels of experience with the form.

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Nancy Stohlman is the author of books Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of OdditiesThe Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories (2014), the flash novels The Monster Opera (2013) and Searching for Suzi (2009), and three anthologies of flash fiction including Fast Forward: The Mix Tape (2010), which was a finalist for a 2011 Colorado Book Award. She is the creator and curator of The Fbomb Flash Fiction Reading Series, the creator of FlashNano in November, and her work has been published in over 100 journals and anthologies including the Norton anthology New Microfictions (2018). She lives in Denver and teaches at the University of Colorado Boulder.

When she is not writing flash fiction she straps on stilettos and becomes the lead singer of the lounge metal jazz trio Kinky Mink. She dreams of one day becoming a pirate.

Kevin VaughanKevin Vaughan (afternoon session)

Session: Finding Your 'e' Spot -- Crafting Stories That Don't Begin 'Once Upon A Time'

It's advice that's about as old as narrative writing itself: When you're trying to figure how to organize and tell a story, think about how you would share it with a trusted friend or family member. But the reality is often much more complicated than that -- it's easy to get bogged down in details, scenes and dialogue, and figuring out where to begin and how to unravel the yarn can be a confusing process. But it doesn't need to be. In this session, you'll discover a simple organizational structure that will help you craft stories full of detail, tension, and -- most important of all -- momentum, stories that your readers won't be able to put down. It'll work whether you're drafting a three-page essay or a 10,000-word magazine piece. Bring along an idea for a story you want to tell, and we'll craft a plan and work through the kinks together.

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Kevin Vaughan is a veteran, award-winning investigative reporter for KUSA-TV 9NEWS in Denver, Colorado. Before joining KUSA, he wrote for the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post and worked as an investigative reporter for FOX Sports 1. His 2007 Rocky series “The Crossing” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

He is on the boards of Criminal Justice Journalists and the Denver Press Club and is the co-author (with Jim Davidson) of the New York Times best seller The Ledge: An Inspirational Story of Friendship and Survival.

Contact: kevinvaughan.net or @writerkev