Book Festival
May 19, 2018 10am - 6pm
City Hall
Book Festival
May 19, 2018 10am - 6pm
City Hall

Gaithersburg Book Festival to Host Free Writing Workshops for Adults and Teens on May 20

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Courses on Crafting Children’s Books, Fiction and Mysteries;
Writing Haiku and PR Strategies for Authors


Gaithersburg, Md.  – Do you love writing and want to hone your skills? Are you an author – or author-to-be – and want to know how best to promote your work? If so, don’t miss the free writing workshops being offered in partnership with The Writer’s Center and area professionals at the 8th Annual Gaithersburg Book Festival. The 55-minute workshops will take place during the Festival, Saturday, May 20, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds of City Hall (31 S. Summit Ave., Gaithersburg, MD 20877).

Interested participants can join the workshops on a first-come, first-served basis by signing up at the workshop tent on the day of the Festival.

Workshops, which are designed for ages 16+ unless otherwise noted, include:

Write Your Way Into College (Grades 9-12) Presented by Mason Henderson

Writopia instructor Mason Henderson, who organizes the Scholastic Writing Awards for the D.C. Metro Region, will help college-bound high schoolers identify unique and meaningful personal stories and tell them in their authentic voices. Instructors provide guidance on structure and editing and will help students explore themes, expand on ideas and create drafts.

Writing Children’s Books – Presented by Mary Quattlebaum

Have you always wanted to write for children? Award-winning children’s author Mary Quattlebaum will guide a discussion on plot, character, audience and voice, while exploring stories for ages 2 to 8, such as picture books and magazine stories. This workshop is ideal for adults interested in writing for the children in their lives and/or for publication.

Intro to Fiction Presented by Con Lehane

In this hands-on workshop, mystery author Con Lehane will share insights on developing the basic structure of a story and lead an exercise that calls for turning memory into fiction. After reviewing participants’ exercise results, he will discuss the difference between what happens in life and what happens in fiction. Participants also will write a 500-word story and leave with a process that can be used to produce a full first draft.

Mystery Writing Presented by Alan Orloff

If you’ve always wanted to write a mystery novel, but didn’t know where to start, this workshop is for you. Mystery author Alan Orloff will examine characteristics of the many subgenres (thrillers, too!) and share mystery-specific conventions and pitfalls, such as TSTL syndrome, macguffins, red herrings, killer twists, wacky sidekicks and smooth clue-dropping, among others.

Haiku To Go Presented by Melanie Figg

New to poetry or want to strengthen your muscles with language? In this interactive workshop, participants will write their own haiku—that little 17-syllable Japanese form about nature. Join 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow Melanie Figg for a fun crash course in the basic rules and challenges of haiku. Participants will discuss images and practice paring down their thoughts to fit into the haiku form. Then, everyone will have a chance to write and share a haiku of their own.

Promoting Your Book: An Author PR Toolkit – Presented by Cherrie Woods

This workshop, led by PR veteran Cherrie Woods, will teach authors how to develop a strong “Author PR Toolkit,” including headshot, bio, book synopsis and website; choose the right book cover and determine the right social media channel(s) for their book.

How to Write Winning Short Stories Presented by Nancy Sakaduski

What do writing contest judges and publishers look for? Publisher, editor and contest organizer Nancy Sakaduski will share insider tips about judging criteria, opportunities and pitfalls, contest red flags and how to create a “wow” factor that will make your story stand out from the others. Learn how to write the kinds of short stories that win contests and get published from the author of “How to Write Winning Short Stories.”

Thinking Like a Child: Explaining the Constitution to Young ReadersPresented by Syl Sobel

The workshop will show participants how authors find, analyze and interpret documents to explain legal and historical concepts to young readers. It is based on Sobel’s book ​for children ages 8-12, “How the U.S. Government Works,” which explains the three-branch structure of the U.S. government as embodied in Articles I, II and III of the Constitution. Participants will be divided into three groups, each of which will be responsible for analyzing one of the three Articles. The groups will come together for a joint session to review and discuss their answers to increase their understanding.

Teen Creative Writing (Ages 13-18) – Presented by Lucinda Marshall

Using participatory writing prompts, teen writers will have an opportunity to experience and learn more about workshopping techniques that can assist them in their creative writing. They also will have a chance to share their work and receive feedback.

For more information about the workshops, the presenters and the schedule, including additional workshops geared to younger writers, please visit the Workshop page of the GBF website.


About The Writer’s Center

The Writer’s Center cultivates the creation, publication, presentation, and dissemination of literary work. We are an independent literary organization with a global reach, rooted in a dynamic community of writers. As one of the premier centers of our kind in the country, we believe the craft of writing is open to people of all backgrounds and ages. Writing is interdisciplinary and unique among the arts for its ability to touch on all aspects of the human experience. It enriches our lives and opens doors to knowledge and understanding. In addition to providing writing workshops—both on-location and online—we also host more than 50 outstanding literary events each year, featuring authors of local, national, and international renown. And with our partner organizations, we promote the local arts scene. For more information, visit


About the Gaithersburg Book Festival

The Gaithersburg Book Festival is an annual all-day celebration of books, writers and literary excellence. Quickly becoming one of the premier literary events in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, the 2017 Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 20, on the grounds of Gaithersburg City Hall, in Olde Towne Gaithersburg, Md. Activities will include author appearances, discussions and book signings; writing workshops; a Children’s Village; onsite sales of new and used books; literary exhibitors and food, drink, ice cream and more. FREE admission and shuttle will be available from Shady Grove Metro and Lakeforest Mall. The Gaithersburg Book Festival also hosts author events in Montgomery County throughout the year as a way to encourage continued appreciation for all things literary. For more information please visit or follow on Twitter @GburgBookFest.


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Sponsors & Partners!

The Gaithersburg Book Festival is one of the nation's premier literary events, featuring talks and signings by some of the world's top authors, writing workshops, children's activities and performances, literary exhibitors, book sales, music, food, and fun for everyone!
Starts: 05/21/2016 10:00
Duration: 6 hours:
Gaithersburg City Hall, 31 S. Summit Avenue
Gaithersburg, MD
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