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Publishing in Literary Journals: Building a Writerly Presence

In this workshop, you'll learn how to approach publishing in literary journals (both online and in print) through organizing and selecting work, finding places to submit work, navigating terminology and potential traps, managing submission tracking, and sending out materials so that they shine! We'll also talk about rejections to be proud of (not all rejections are the same). You'll walk away with insights, practical tools like sample cover letters, and templates for keeping track of work that is ready to go, under consideration, and decided upon (and hopefully accepted).

This workshop is geared towards people who have never published, those who have had some experience, and even folks who have had more experience but could benefit from some fine-tuning in terms of process or simply being rejuvenated in the journey!

Curses& Blessings, Spells & Prayers: The Poetic Power of Repetition

Time Traveler: Exploring Four Types of Time in Flash Fiction

Make Your Sentences Sing: A Workshop in Style

Make Your Sentences Sing: A Workshop in Style

Composing excellent sentences isn’t about rules, it’s about rhetoric: what do you want your sentences to do? This workshop will help you revise poetry or prose with attention to types of sentences (simple, compound, etc.) and cover reasons for revising one sentence into another type. Bring a draft you’re willing to dissect and transform. Participants will leave the workshop with a strategy for revising for style and a list of resources to aid their endeavors. 

Christine Stewart-Nuñez is the author and editor of several books of poetry, including The Poet & The Architect (2021), Untrussed (2016) and Bluewords Greening (2016), winner of the 2018 Whirling Prize. Chrysopoeia: Essays of Language, Love, and Place, new from Stephen F. Austin State University Press, is her first book of prose. Essays in Chrysopoeia appeared in North American Review, Shenandoah, and The Pinch among other magazines, and several earned notable listings and/or awards. Christine served as South Dakota’s poet laureate from 2019-2021, and her work has been the basis for international, cross-artistic collaborations with colleagues in music, dance, visual art, and architecture. With ties to Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota, Christine now lives in Winnipeg where she teaches in women’s and gender studies at the University of Manitoba. christinestewartnunez.com.   

If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’: Reimagining True Stories

Whenever I asked for something as a child, my father often rejected my request by saying, “If if’s and but’s were candies and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.” I had no way of knowing his denial was teaching me something about the power of the imagination. How else was I to get what I wanted but by dreaming it? This is a two-hour class for anyone wanting to create work based on actual events. Come with an event in mind—something from the news, perhaps, or from history, family legend, or neighborhood gossip—and a desire to dramatize it in a novel, short story, work of creative nonfiction, or narrative poem. We’ll spend the first hour, considering techniques for combining imagination (the if’s and but’s) and history (the undeniable facts). During our second hour, you’ll each have a chance to present a three-sentence pitch for what you want to write. We’ll talk about curiosity, imagination, and characterization. Our objective will be to send you home with the tools and the confidence you’ll need to begin writing.

Lee Martin is the author of the novels, The Bright Forever, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction; River of HeavenQuakertown; Break the SkinLate One Night, and Yours, Jean. His memoirs are Gone the Hard RoadFrom Our House, Turning Bones, and Such a Life.  He is also the author of two short story collections, The Least You Need To Know, and The Mutual UFO Network, as well as a craft book. Telling Stories: The Craft of Narrative and the Writing Life. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such places as Harper’s, Ms., Creative Nonfiction, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Glimmer TrainThe Best American Essays, and The Best American Mystery Stories. He is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches in the MFA Program at The Ohio State University, where he is a College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor, and where he was also the winner of the 2006 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.  

Spiraling Through Structure: The Pitfalls and Possibilities of Lyric Form

Sign up for this workshop if you’re curious to learn about (or learn more about) telling true stories that resist chronology and employ logics of pattern, image, and arrangement. First, I’ll introduce a few lyric forms, such as spliced, segmented, and braided. Then, I’ll lead you through an exercise that focuses on either inventing a new creative nonfiction piece or revising a draft into a new form. Participants will leave the workshop with some new or revised work and at least two techniques to use to generate and revise essays with particular attention to structure.

Christine Stewart-Nuñez is the author and editor of several books of poetry, including The Poet & The Architect (2021), Untrussed (2016) and Bluewords Greening (2016), winner of the 2018 Whirling Prize. Chrysopoeia: Essays of Language, Love, and Place, new from Stephen F. Austin State University Press, is her first book of prose. Essays in Chrysopoeia appeared in North American Review, Shenandoah, and The Pinch among other magazines, and several earned notable listings and/or awards. Christine served as South Dakota’s poet laureate from 2019-2021, and her work has been the basis for international, cross-artistic collaborations with colleagues in music, dance, visual art, and architecture. With ties to Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota, Christine now lives in Winnipeg where she teaches in women’s and gender studies at the University of Manitoba. christinestewartnunez.com.   

Writing the Loess Hills: Letting Landscape Guide the Pen

The Loess Hills comprise a unique landform running primarily along the western edge of Iowa but also reaching into South Dakota, Missouri, and Nebraska. The wind-deposited steep slopes of loess are globally unique, with only one other matching site in the world. Its unique topography provides protection for hidden pockets of wildness, including some of the last remaining remnant prairie in the state. An important corridor for migration, and a repository of endangered and threatened species, its ecological significance cannot be overstated. Like most places, it also has a human story, a history of habitation, cities and towns, railroads that came and went, and visionaries of all kinds. From the Black Angel statue in a cemetery in Council Bluffs, to the ancient remains uncovered near Turin, to the story of a ranging mountain lion sporting a radio collar from Nebraska, or the history of agriculture in the valleys between the ridge lines, the older story of bison and elk, or the even older story of the Ice Age, the hills are alive with stories.

Using a variety of examples, prompts and exercises, we will explore the hills creatively, crafting poems, stories and short memoir that reflect the unusual terrain and the experiences held there. We will use the hills as a metaphor to pursue our own internal stories, as well. Whether you already have a connection to the Loess Hills, or your interest is sparked and you’d like to learn more, you will leave this workshop with a renewed appreciation for their fragility and majesty, and multiple new drafts of creative work.

Participants will be invited (but not required) to share a sample of their completed work at a Loess Hills Writers event.

 

 

 

Writing the Hermit Crab: Creative Approaches for Structuring Essays

November 2022

Writers of creative nonfiction often play with forms borrowed from fiction and poetry--but they also take shapes from nonliterary forms out in the world, like quizzes, recipes, board game rules, liner notes, questionaires, field guides, letters or instruction manuals. Coined by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola, the hermit crab essay is a piece that "appropriates existing forms as an outer covering, to protect its sof, vulnerable underbelly. It is an essay that deals with material that seems born without its own caapace--material that is soft, exposed, and tender, and must look elsewhere to find the form that will best contain it." This workshop explores the process of taking "shells" from the world around us and using them to structure our essays. 

Getting Real: Taking Your Writing to the Next Level

It's an irony of the writing life: the better you get at writing, the harder it is to improve. Work that seemed solid a year ago might suddenly feel full of cracks. After publishing a few stories or essays, you might wonder if you have stalled out. How do you level up? How do you reach beyond your present capacity to get where you want to go? Whether you are looking to break into publishing in literary journals or have your sights set on more commerical markets, this class offers practical strategies and support for getting there. Through mini-lectures, readings, conversation, and writing exercises, we will make an honest assessment of where we are in our writing lives and what it is we really want from them. We will take inventory of what might be holding us back and what our next steps might look like. 

So You Want to Write a Children's Book

Alison Pearce Stevens
October - November 2022

Writing for kids seems easy, but is it? What does it take to write one of these tiny tomes for young readers and their parents? And what do we mean by the term “children’s book,” anyway? Join children’s author Alison Pearce Stevens to learn about the world of children’s literature. Four online class sessions will provide an introduction to the various types of children’s literature. Homework and discussions will expand on information presented. You will leave with a solid understanding of kidlit, what it takes to write for this audience, important resources, and some leads on how to break into the industry.

Alison Pearce Stevens is the author of Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds (Henry Holt). She co-authored 5,000 Awesome Facts 3 and three books in the Weird But True series (all with National Geographic Kids Books), and has published hundreds of magazine and e-zine articles for kids. Her next book, Animal Climate Heroes (Henry Holt), comes out Spring 2023. She is also the Regional Advisor for the Nebraska region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Envision and Revision: A Workshop on Generating and Revising Poems

Grace Bauer
October 2022

Whether we’ve been writing for weeks or months or years, it’s a good idea, I think, to check in with ourselves from time to time—to (re)view the poems we’ve been writing through a different lens and to (en)vision new ways of (possibly) making poems. If we want to mix metaphors, we might think of it as adding new tools to our creative toolboxes or as experimenting with old reliable tools in new and different ways. In this two-week workshop, we will do a bit of both.

Week One we’ll concentrate on generating poems—litanies, portraits, personas, ekphrastics, (and more, depending on time)

Week Two we will focus on revising some of the poems written the previous week (with in-class workshop/discussion) and then try a radical revision exercise that might provide insight into our good (and not so good) writing habits.

Grace Bauer’s most recent collection is Unholy Heart: New and Selected Poems (University of Nebraska Press, 2021). Previous books include MEAN/TIME, The Women At the Well, Nowhere All At Once, Retreats & Recognitions, and Beholding Eye, as well as several chapbooks. She also co-edited the anthology Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. Her poems, essays, and stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, and have been awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Society of Midland Authors’ Book of the Year Award, The Idaho Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Nebraska Arts Council, The Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, and others. She has also received numerous awards for her teaching. Bauer is the Aaron Douglas Professor Emerita at the University of Nebraska.

So You Want to Write a Memoir

Lucy Adkins
September - October 2022

We all have a story or two to tell, and whether you’re interested in capturing a few of the most memorable or writing a full length memoir, this four-week intensive workshop will help get you started. Together, we’ll work to help you uncover your stories, discuss what the memoir wants, and explore storytelling techniques used by successful memoirists.

In addition, each time we meet, we will write, so plan to go home with the beginnings of several pieces you may use for your own memoir. In addition, we’ll discuss ways to dig deep into your writer’s soul, and strategies to keep on the writing path long after the workshop has ended.

Traveling Well with Less -- A Woman's Guide

Laura Moncrief
August 2022

What, not another travel book?

No, something better!

Author Laura Moncrief has traveled to over 70 countries and every continent, and she wants to save you from the many pitfalls that can be a disaster when you travel. This presentation tells you how it is (and it ain’t like it used to be) and how to ensure you will have what you need to travel well without dragging along the kitchen sink.

Her presentation will include tips on all aspects of travel, but the most important parts of her book are THE LISTS – what to pack and what to wear. Print off those lists for every trip, and whether you are going for a week or a month, you’ll never forget something important that might ruin an adventure.

Laura Lee Moncrief is the author of Traveling Well with Less - A Woman’s Guide. She is a native Nebraskan who has lived in Colorado, Georgia, Virginia, Montana, and moved to Arizona in 2012. At age 43, Laura went back to college and graduated with high distinction from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1991. After graduating, Laura was an American Express Financial Advisor for seven years; and then investigated security clearances for the federal government for the next three years. Laura also taught senior finance classes at the University of Nebraska for two years before retiring to Colorado.

Today, Laura volunteers her time at her church, plays pickleball two times a week, and, travels all over the world. She is the published author of nine genealogy books including three about the early pioneers of Divide and Woodland Park, Colorado and  Homerville Cemetery in Gosper County, NE. 

Laura is the mother of three daughters, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of two.

Finding Inspiration: Writing from Art, Song, History, and Life

Karen Gettert Shoemaker
July 2022

 “The Muse is just looking for someone with a pen in their hand.” That really is all it takes to start writing. Writing is an action that takes very little preparation. You just have to show up at the page and write.

But about what? How does one find inspiration to write something new? Hasn’t it all been said before? In the face of such questions many of us find the pen refuses to budge even when we dutifully arrive at our desks at the appointed hour.

Think about this: the corollary to the idea that the Muse is looking for a writer with pen in hand, is the idea that what the Muse wants is to sit down with someone who pays attention to the world around them, who looks for details that beg new questions, who digs beneath the surface, peers around corners, imagines new possibilities.

In this four-week class we explore the ways other artists have found inspiration in the world that came before them, and then we’ll borrow their methods and make them our own. We’ll practice ways to always be inspired to write, because the world we live in is an amazing place, and new discoveries are just waiting for your pen to touch the page.

Karen Gettert Shoemaker writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book reviews, journal entries, and endless lists. Her recent work, a reflection on the role of ordinary people during a pandemic, was published in the New York Times in 2020Her novel, The Meaning of Names, was selected for the One Book One Nebraska statewide reading program in 2016 and the Omaha Reads community reading program in 2014.

Bringing Memoir Alive Using Techniques from Fiction

Nancy McCabe
June 2022

Many of us have important personal stories to tell, but how do we transform interesting anecdotes or fragmentary episodes into fully realized pieces of writing that will engage and move readers? Join fiction writer and memoirist Nancy McCabe in exploring techniques to find the story you’re really trying to tell and turn it into a lively, engaging piece. Through discussion, examples, and writing exercises, you'll learn to apply devices from fiction to create or enrich your own memoirs.

Writing From and About Childhood

Teri Youmans
June 2022

I believe Flannery O’Connor spoke a large truth when she wrote, “Anybody who has survived childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” But how to revive that golden and fraught kingdom of childhood in a way that is captivating, authentic, and honest? How to make that particular time, place and sensibility come alive on the page? During our four weeks together we will uncover and investigate our origin stories, explore our childhood territories, dissect imagery and what makes certain details more powerful and authenticating. We’ll also learn how to write with “uncertain certainty” in order to resuscitate the past so that we can feel its beating heart. All of this exploration will result in re-seeing our childhood with the complexity, generosity and clear-sightedness required of us as writers. In addition to a great deal of generative writing, we’ll look at various poems and excerpts from memoirs and fiction that have captured childhood evocatively and thoughtfully. Being able to access our own childhood affords us the ability to better access the world of childhood more freely, which makes this class beneficial for not only memoirists and poets, but fiction writers as well.

 

Who Am I This Time? The Role of Voice and Persona

Lee Martin
May 2022

Virginia Woolf said, “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” Writing personal narratives, even if you consider yourself a fiction writer or a poet, can add resonance to your characters, images, and stories. This four-week workshop will concentrate on techniques for working with voice and persona to create rounder characters and to deepen aspects of our writing that we might otherwise overlook. Our objective will be to add more texture and meaning to our work. I’ll invite participants to generate material and to share it as time permits.

 

Get Published: An Insider's Guide Through The Publishing Process

Kate Gale
May 2022

You're a creator.  You write great stories, you make magic. But you want to find a way to get your stories to find their way into the zeitgeist, to be published, to be part of the big intellectual conversation.  We will talk about how to get an agent, whether you need one, how to build the relationships that will help you toward finding a publisher, how to be the kind of writer who gets published.

Light from Any Source

Kelly Madigan
February 2022

The persistent grey of winter often darkens the human spirit. Let’s spend a day focused on light as a guide for inventive new writing. Starlight, dappled light, lamplight, bonfire, bioluminescence—we’ll shine it all onto the page using a series of well-lit writing prompts. At the conclusion, you’ll have multiple fresh drafts.

 

We Need to Talk: Writing Dialogue Like a Playwright

David Williams
February 2022

Has this happened to you? You read over your novel-in-progress and there’s a lot to like.  Your plot runs like clockwork, your prose is gorgeous, and your characters are fascinating.  When these amazing people you’ve created open their mouths, though, everything falls apart.  It all sounds too boring to be interesting, too clever to be believed, or too cliched to be memorable.  Since you don’t want to turn your protagonist into a mime, what do you do?

In this one-hour webinar, I’ll give you the fundamentals on how playwrights write dialogue and the lessons you can take with you into fiction writing.

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Follow the Coyote

Kelly Madigan
June-July 2021

Coyote, industrious scavenger and alert opportunist, has much to show us about creative writing. Deeply revered by some and equally despised by others, who knows more about dealing with critics, or finding a way when the way appears blocked? We will learn more about this remarkable animal and use coyote wisdom to launch writing that is surprising, ingenious, and durable. This is a generative workshop, where we will be producing new drafts together each week, guided by exercises that make it easy to get started.  We will also be visited by local and national experts for educational components about coyote behavior and the need for good practices to achieve coexistence.

This workshop is part of the The LoHi Series, writing workshops that utilize the Loess Hills and their inhabitants as inspiration for writing that is deeply connected to the natural world.

 


 

 

Make Your Readers Sit Up and Take Notice

Lucy Adkins
March-April 2021

Want to take your writing to the next level? This five-week intensive workshop designed for fiction and memoir writers will help you do just that. We’ll look at basic narrative elements such as dialogue, point of view, scene vs. summary, interiority, use of the significant detail, and more. And by study of accomplished writers and in-class writing exercises, learn to master these elements of the craft, and write to keep readers turning the pages. You will also have an opportunity to discuss the ups and downs of the writing life, have a little fun, and receive kind and constructive feedback on your work.

“The work that is being undertaken at Larksong is remarkable! My experience was truly exceptional and I have taken many online workshops. The environment was replete with writers who felt comfortable presenting and talking about their writing. Lucy Adkins is a gem of an instructor and has a wealth of knowledge. I highly recommend Larksong to beginning or experienced writers. Something to be gained by everyone.” Linda Y.

 


 

 

How Can It Be A Poem If It Doesn’t Rhyme? A Celebration of Poetry with Marjorie Saiser

April 2021
Marjorie Saiser

Kick off Poetry Month with Marjorie Saiser, the author of seven award-winning books and one of Nebraska’s most beloved poets. Marjorie will recite some of her favorite poems – both her own and others - and talk about what makes them poetry. An educational and entertaining way to dive into April’s celebration of poetry! The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Karen Gettert Shoemaker.

 


 

 

Long Story Short: A Micro-memoir Workshop

Patricia Henley
March 2021

If you want to write a memoir but don’t know where to begin, this workshop is for you. We will excavate your most memorable biographical events and write short lyric essays distilling those memories into one to five pages. We will also take the time to read and discuss examples of micro-memoir, and discuss possible places to submit.

“I loved working with Patricia. The examples she used were thought provoking and helpful.” Lea P.

“An excellent introduction to the micro-memoir format for personal essays.” Herbert D.

 


 

 

What’s “I” Got To Do With It:Writing Beyond the Personal

Grace Bauer
February 2021

Portraits. Personas. Epistles. Ekphrasis. And more. This workshop will explore possibilities for writing poems that go beyond speaking in the writer’s personal voice. While many wonderful poems have been written (and will continue to be written) in that traditional lyric style, trying approaches that go beyond speaking in what we might think of as “our own voice” can expand the range of that voice, open up a world of subject matter(s), and new ways of making poems.

“Another excellent offering from Larksong! The instructor was an accomplished teacher. I came away with excellent prompts for future application and helpful feedback.” Kathy J.

“It was a great workshop experience for me, in all aspects. The content was appropriate for the time we had and it was highly educational. I felt great about what I got out of the few hours of this workshop.” Herbert D.

 


 

 

So You Want to Find a Writers’ Group: A Best Practices Workshop

Karen Gettert Shoemaker
February 2021

There comes a point in most writers’ lives where the page gets just a little too lonely and we want to connect with other writers. Picture us, blinking in the bright light of day as we search for a partner or a group we can trust with our small creative flames. Like the little duckling in the children’s tale “Are you my mother?” we’re too often as likely to find a kitten, a cow, or a Snort as we are our mother. Maybe there’s a way to increase our chances at the outset to find the ones who can nurture us and listen carefully to our stories. This two-hour workshop will discuss the best practices to finding, and more importantly, maintaining a productive, nurturing workshop that fits your needs. 

 


 

 

The Loess Hills: A Place-Based Writing Workshop

Kelly Madigan
January-February 2021

From the Black Angel statue in Council Bluffs, to a cave in Sergeant Bluff, to a lighted star on a bluff in Turin, to a young female cougar with a radio collar, a long-lost uncle with a steep driveway, a badger letting you know to back off, a voice heard in the night, the view from a turkey blind, or a miraculous harvest of morel mushrooms, the Loess Hills are alive with stories. Using a variety of examples, prompts and exercises, we will explore the hills creatively, crafting poems, stories and short memoir that reflect the unusual terrain and the experiences held there. Participants will be invited (but not required) to share a sample of their completed work at a Loess Hills Writers event.

This workshop is brought to you by The LoHi Trail, a network of people coming together to explore a sustainable, long distance walking route through the Loess Hills, combined with ideas and enthusiasm for preservation of the steep slopes and fragile ecosystem. We recognize that there is also a trail of stories.

“Working with Kelly revived me as a writer. She holds space with honesty and compassion, and she guides writing and discussion with thought-provoking insight. As someone seasoned in writing workshops, I can say with certainty Kelly’s are among the best being offered!”

“Kelly Madigan brings a genuine sense of joy to her writers workshops. She is a distinguished poet and author, and her experience and her ear for language are important, to be sure. But her greatest asset is in “team building.” The members of the workshop were genuinely excited over one another’s progress. No ‘writer’s block’ when Kelly makes it all so damn much fun!”

 


 

 

Jump-Start Your Creative Writing

Twyla M. Hansen
January 2021

Creative writing is a process that thrives on practice. This writing workshop focuses on the creative writing process for poems and short prose, and tools for jump-starting this process. Twyla will use readings of her own and others’ writing— along with prompts, guided writing exercises, and assignments— to create an interactive and supportive workshop. Through these exercises, participants will retrieve their own and others’ experiences to generate new writing that can be shaped into poems, essays, or stories.

“Twyla was a great workshop leader. I enjoyed her readings, writing tips, and writing exercises. I also enjoyed hearing from the other participants whether it was something about writing or reading from something written.” Kate C.

“I loved all the writing prompts and ideas for unlocking my memories and making my writing come alive, Also loved the reading selections and hearing the other folks in the class read their work and talk about their writing.” Gwendolyn M.

Donate

Larksong is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are committed to supporting both the writers who come to us for instruction and the writers who come to us to teach. We keep our class fees low, offer free programming, and pay our instructors. Please consider supporting our mission by making a tax-deductible donation.