If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Summer at Yale

 by Paula Gail Benson

Calhoun Residence Hall
When I visited with friends at Thanksgiving last year, I had the opportunity to tour the Yale University campus. For many years, I had read about its famed drama school and hoped I might someday have the chance to study there.

A Calhoun Hall Gate
A few months later, I noticed a message author Lori Rader-Day posted on Facebook. She announced she would be teaching in Yale’s summer writing program and encouraged people to attend. I looked up the information on the website. Yale offered the program to anyone over the age of eighteen and gave it in two consecutive week-long sessions during the month of June. The first session was a general overview of writing craft, and the second was a genre-specific study course. You had the option of signing up for one or both weekly sessions. For the second session, you had to choose a single concentration in one of the following areas: fiction, nonfiction, biography, memoir, children and young adult fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, romance, mystery, poetry, playwriting, or screenwriting. While the second session offered some lectures for all participants, each genre course consisted of twelve hours of instruction and was limited in the number of students. The faculty was impressive. In addition to Lori Rader-Day, it included Sybil Baker, Louis Bayard, Lary Bloom, Elizabeth Hand, Stephanie Hart, Jonathan Levi, Sarah Darer Littman, and Julia Quinn.

My Dorm Room
I submitted an application for the second session and was thrilled to learn I had been accepted in Lori Rader-Day’s class. I decided to stay in Calhoun Residence Hall, to have the “full” Yale experience. I was assigned a spare room (single bed, desk, and closet--no hangers unless we brought them--also, we made our own beds) on the third floor, sharing a common room and bathroom with five other students. To gain access, we carried a card that let us enter the outer gates and doors, and a key, for the interior rooms, including the bath. There was no air conditioning, but a window had been opened. By evening, the cool air filtered through, making me glad I had a blanket!

Lecture Hall
The first lecture was in a timbered classroom where we heard the three rules (no alcohol, smoking, or propping open doors) conveyed by using the rhetorical triangle. We heard the facts (if the rules were broken, we would be dismissed), had an empathetic appeal (protection of students under legal drinking age and of university and private property), and could assess the speaker’s credibility when we heard about previous sessions where thefts had occurred due to the door latches being taped for entry. We learned from a campus security officer [Note: Yale had the first college police department in the country and its standards are very competitive. This officer was selected from 2,000 applicants.] that the campus had over 5,000 summer students and a police
response time of one to two minutes.

Our mystery writing class was made up of only seven students, and we bonded from the start. Before we arrived, Lori asked us what we wanted to learn and tailored her lessons to include all the information we had requested. The first night, we all sat at the same table during the opening reception. Each day followed with three hours of instruction. In addition to talking about craft, Lori had us read selections from books that she felt illustrated excellent development of characters, settings, pace, and dialogue. Then, we considered portions of each other’s work, emphasizing the strengths we found, but also noting where we had questions. And, perhaps most valuable of all, each of us had a private conference with Lori where she reviewed the material we had submitted. Her recommendations were so beneficial and gave me new insight into my characters. She helped me discover what I was doing right and where I needed to improve. And, did I mention, Lori Rader-Day ROCKS!!!!!!!
Trumball Cafeteria
We had meals together with other students and teachers in Trumball Residence Hall’s cafeteria, which looked very much like the dining hall at Hogwarts. I was impressed that among our food options were Shepherds’ Pie, mussels, spaghetti, and pizza. And, one night, we had a cook out.

Special lectures featured Richard Deming, John Crowley, Colum McCann, and Aaron Tracy. In the evenings, the genre instructors offered readings at the Yale Book Store. One afternoon, several classes gathered together to listen as students read from their work. Every moment was inspiring and completely delightful.

Victoria Rinkerman, who had the daunting responsibility of running the program, provided a welcoming atmosphere and never seemed to meet a problem she couldn’t resolve. She and her staff were truly awesome! And, Lori Rader-Day was phenomenal. No wonder her novels have won all those awards!

If you have an interest, I would encourage you to consider the program for next summer. It has given me a new perspective, renewed enthusiasm, and a new group of valued colleagues.
Me -- a Yalie!
Have you attended a writing program that you found inspiring?


Margaret Turkevich said...

I leave in two days for the Midwest Writer's Workshop at Ball State, in Muncie, IN. I attended the MWA-U in Chicago in 2014 and heard many inspiring lectures.

Kait said...

Oh Paula, what a fabulous experience! It sounds like you took full advantage of both the courses and the atmosphere. The photos are gorgeous. The rooms (ok, except for the dorm room and even that ain't bad) look more like church sanctuaries than classes and cafeterias. Glad you had the opportunity to attend.

Warren Bull said...

I have not attended a program like the one you describe but now I want to.

Art Taylor said...

So much enjoyed reading about your experiences here, Paula! I know we'd talked a little about your time at Yale--bits and pieces--but the full recap was interesting and inspiring! Hope you're carrying the momentum well into your writing life beyond the seminar. :-)

Grace Topping said...

What a terrific experience. It only goes to show you that great experiences are out there, you just have to look for them. I have a friend who travels home to England each year to visit family and attends two weeks of art classes at Cambridge University--another enjoyable experience like the one you just experienced.

I was puzzled as to what a rhetorical triangle is and had to do some research. Something new to me. Thanks.

Gloria Alden said...

Paula, it sounds like a fantastic time. I went through college for both my undergraduate degree and my masters as a commuter from home. This was in the days before online classes.

I've gone to several writing events, several that didn't impress me, but the ones I liked most were two at the Seascape Writing Retreat in Connecticut put on by Roberta Isleib, S.W. Hubbard and Hallie Ephron. Hank Phillippi Ryan came to the 2nd one on the last day. I highly recommend them if they're still putting them on.

Carla Damron said...

Ms. Smarty Pants! So glad you got to go. I love opportunities like this, to go away and fully immerse myself in writerdom.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Margaret, I can't wait to hear about your experience at Ball State. I took the MWA-U in Atlanta and found it excellent. It's wonderful to go to a meeting and learn just what you'd been hoping to hear!

Kait, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even the dorm room! I was lucky. My bed was in the usual position. Some beds had been elevated to fit refrigerators under them!

Warren, you would love it. I want to return.

Art, you're one of my inspirations for going. Thank you for encouraging me and for introducing me to Robb Cadigan.

Grace, you're exactly right. You have to be open to finding experience. And, the rhetorical triangle was a new concept for me, too!

Gloria, I was a commuter student, too. It was great to get the feel of dorm life!

Carla, just trying to keep up with you, Miss MFA-Queens. You always told me I would love going back to college to study writing. You were right!

KM Rockwood said...

What a great experience, and what an inspiration! I bet a lot of us will be looking into opportunities like this in the near future.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Kathleen, it was extraordinary. Please consider attending next summer. You won't regret it!