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June 21, 2009

Our Week at Skidmore

We were going to do one big recap blog of our experiences at the IWWG's "Remember the Magic" conference... but we realized there's just way too much to cover! We have books to read and review! We have tons of name-dropping to do. We have ridiculous stories to share (because we spread absurdity wherever we go). So here's part one of our week at Skidmore, focusing on the informative workshops we took this year and the amazing women who taught them.

Last year, while we thoroughly enjoyed and learned from every workshop we attended, we did decide on a Must-Have trifecta for this year... Hope Player. Carren Strock. Heather Cariou.

We'll start with the woman who has the best name in the world: Hope Player. Seriously, HOPE PLAYER. We couldn't even walk by her without shouting out "Hope Playaaaaa!" This year, Hope Player, a CPA, taught the workshop entitled "Coloring the Numbers: Your Book's Business Plan". It's not easy for the ESC to do anything at 9:00 am but starting the day with Hope Player was definitely worth it. And anyone who can put up with us at 9:00 am is clearly a saint. Hope Player (it's ESC law that you must say her full name every time) taught us a lot about our self-publishing options, tax tips for writers, and how to develop a marketing plan once your book is finished. We were also able to offer some tips of our own to some of the women in the class who are amazing writers but maybe not quite as web-savvy as us internet addicts.

Carren Strock, author of Married Women Who Love Women, might be one of our favorite people on the planet. Yeah, I said it. On the planet. Her workshop "The Smart Writer's Guide: What to Know Before, During and After Writing a Book" was incredibly useful (even though we also took it last year, because Carren keeps it fresh with new material each year based on her experiences) and Carren herself is just a lovely person to be around. Even when we were drunkenly babbling to her about BearForce1 one evening, she still wasn't scared off! We need to start a fan site for her... we can call it "Women Who Love Married Women Who Love Women".

Although Heather Cariou still led the troops from NYC to Saratoga Springs on the Amtrak this year, as she does every year (and believe us when we tell you that nothing starts an early morning off better than Heather shouting "Evil Slutopia!" in the middle of Penn Station) she didn't teach a workshop. Outrage! We've already started our campaign to get her back next summer. If you have any ideas for a good slogan, something like "Donna Martin Graduates!" let us know. We love Heather. Every time we see her we say, "Oh my god! It's the bestselling author of Sixtyfive Roses!" (It was funny, maybe, the first three times). The workshop that she taught last year that we loved so much was based on her experiences promoting Sixtyfive Roses, which we'll be reviewing soon, and was so packed full of helpful tips that many pens lost their lives during that hour from all of the furious scribbling. Basically, Heather Cariou is a force of nature.

Last year we only went for a weekend but obviously that just wasn't enough time! This year we did a 5-day week and did make the most of our five days at Skidmore.

We were pleased to finally take a class with Zita Christian - "The Key to Genre Fiction". Although we're not really fiction writers, per se, the techniques we learned in her workshop will definitely help us in our writing. And it was fun too! Of course, we missed the day that she covered writing sex scenes, so next year we will either have to stay the full week or convince her to have sex on Monday. (Um... wait, that's not right). She's one of those people that just has a really great energy that makes you want to be around her and take a class with her no matter what the topic is.

Anne Walradt made us laugh... and laugh again... and then laugh some more in "Secrets of the Ha-Ha Sisterhood: The Community of Women's Humor". We were inspired to write about one of our drunken stories in her class (coming soon?) and later did a live action reenactment in the dining hall. We also debated what's funnier: Rush Limbaugh Sucks or Rush Limbaugh Can Suck It. Anne is always on the lookout for funny words (you know, like knickers or kumquat), so feel free to leave suggestions in comments.

Sheila Levine, Esq., the adorable tiny lawyer who taught "Legal Pitfalls: How to Protect Yourself and Your Work in Print and Electronic Publishing" gave us so much valuable information - and led us to the realization that we have a lot to do to further protect ourselves. (The To-Do list keeps getting longer!!) I think we can safely say that nobody has ever asked Sheila whether they can be sued for telling someone to suck it before.

We attended another session of Susan Tiberghien's "The Mosaic of Creative Nonfiction: From Journals, to Essays, to Memoir", this time focusing on Op-Ed writing and travel writing. Of course, we have a lot to write about in the Op-Ed category. It definitely inspired us to get working on some opinion writing again. (Well, okay... almost all of our writing is opinion writing, but we're inspired to work on some actual Op-Ed pieces for the future). And who knows, maybe we'll even get a travel piece out of it too... especially considering all the traveling we've been doing this year!!

We sat in on one day of the workshop "Women and Hunger: Nurturing and Nourishing the Spirit" primarily because we wanted to spend an hour with the teacher, therapist Maxine Poupko (a.k.a. "Mahala"). She had such a calming, gentle, peaceful energy and that was really what we needed that morning. In "Memento Mori: The Divine Comedy of Love, Death and Writing," Diane Gallo led a discussion in which women went around a circle and shared stories that moved us in so many ways. In Rachel de Baere's "Letters, Language and Literature" workshop we each wrote letters to people with whom we had unfinished business. When we read aloud our salutation lines, the class did get a kick out of "Dear bitchy teacher from the last session". (More on that another time... maybe).

And although we didn't get to take her class (again, boooo!), we still feel compelled to mention Jan Phillips. Yeah, no specific reason really, except that we want to namedrop her. We both ended up getting sick (damn dining hall!) the last day that we had set aside to take Jan's class and are still feeling a little pissed about that. Next year we decided we just need to suck it up and take her class first before it slips away from us yet again!

Obviously, five days was still not enough. Next year we plan on staying the full 7-day week if money allows. (By the way, you can help send the ESC back to Skidmore next year by clicking here). We still have a lot more to write about regarding the trip, but in the meantime, we'd also love it if you were able to support any of the women mentioned here - they are all amazing people and talented like nobody's business.

Note: We didn't have web information for all of the women we discussed here. If anyone from the Guild - or anyone not from the Guild too - notices that we've left something out and has current/updated info please do let us know.


Dollface said...

Hope Playaaaaaaa

Nice write up! It's so lonely in dining hall without all the Guild members! Yesterday there were 3 people in dining hall including me.

Hope Playaaaaa said...

The week was fun wasn't it? Campus was so quiet after you left. Next year you have to stay the entire week! I'm looking forward to the pool party!

Heather Cariou said...

EVILSLUTOPIA ROCKS SKIDMORE! You two were seriously a joy to have around! Thanks with all my heart for your kind support...I do think I will be a workshop leader next year. MUST TAKE classes for YOU next year (besides mine): Jan Phillips, Eunice Scarfe, June Gould. Looking forward to more from both of you...Heather Cariou, Force of Nature :)

Zita Christian said...

Okay, it's official. Next year, I'll cover sex on Wednesday ... maybe even Tuesday.

A big "thank you" for your kind words about my workshop. The energy you both brought to the classroom was delightful.

Anonymous said...

Hip hip hurray for Evilslutopia. You guys really rock. As I've said before, if only your vitality and zest for life could be bottled. What a wonderful world we'd have.

ceirdwenfc said...

To Zita Christian -

why don't you cover sex in every class during the week?

I was just saying how much I missed you guys - typing fair use right now.

maxie's pad said...

Thanks for the wonderful comments on my class! I love reading Evil Slutopia !!
Feel free to write or call anytime, for some of my energy. I'm also a hypnotherapist ! Maybe you caught the drift of my hypno side !
Hurray for Skidmore......went by too fast, but I carry my skidmore sisters in my heart.
maxine (aka mahala)


Aw! We feel like Sally Field! :)

We're so happy, flattered and honored to have all these comments in a row from such awesome women!

Anne Walradt said...

Thanks for the laughter! I had a great time with the class and with you. You must come to the Skidmore conference for the entire week next year. I can hardly wait to see the funny stuff you wrote. :) Do send all the funny words you can find!