Here’s what to expect from Islanders Write

And a schedule of the day's events


On Monday, August 10, Islanders Write (IW) will return to the Grange Hall. The event is organized and sponsored by the MVTimes and MV Arts & Ideas Magazine, which is published by the TImes. (Co-sponsors include Noepe Center for Literary Arts, WCAI, Bunch of Grapes, and Rosewater.) Below Islanders Write organizer Kate Feiffer answers a few questions we thought our readers might ask.

What is Islanders Write?

We’re describing it as a day devoted to the art, craft, and business of writing. What that means is it’s a day to explore process, to find out about different genres, and connect with writers and people who love to write, as well as people in the business of writing. This year we are excited to introduce panels about writing screenplays, song lyrics, and poetry.

What else is planned?

In terms of panel discussions, we thought that it was a good time to engage in a discussion about the issue of censorship and freedom of the press. This is an issue that news organizations, large and small, grapple with on a daily basis. What gets reported, what doesn’t, and how much influence political, corporate, and other external pressures have on editorial decisions.

On a much lighter note, we have a panel on humor writing, which is sure to generate a lot of laughs. This year, we also have three incredible novelists talking about developing character and voice. And we’ll have two panels on publishing. The day opens at 8 am with a discussion about the growing trend of self-publishing. Then at 10 am, we will take a look into the book business with three respected publishing insiders: an agent, an editor, and a publisher.

What makes Islanders Write unique?

There are a lot of writers that both live on the Vineyard and visit the island. We only invite writers with ties to the Vineyard to take part in the day. A lot of them know one another. We like to say that Islanders Write is like a literary barn raising. It is a day to celebrate writing with our community. Also, it is free.

What’s different from last year?

Last year was our first year. We had no idea what to expect. When we decided to do it again this year, we looked at what worked last year and what could be tweaked. The panels will be slightly longer this year. Noepe Center for Literary Arts will be back running workshops this year, but they are offering a wider variety of workshops. Niki Patton’s Writers Read will be here for the first time, and John Hough will give a dialogue-writing workshop. Like last year, we will offer book signings with IW authors, but this year Bunch of Grapes will also bring a fabulous selection of books about writing. Also this year, Rosewater Market will be selling pastries and sandwiches, and perhaps most important, this year we will have coffee. Last year we didn’t have coffee. This year you can start the day with a cup of coffee from the Chilmark Coffee Co.!

Last year David McCullough closed the event with an inspiring talk. What is the last act this year?

We are going to jam out of here this year. Our final panel of the day is “Writing Lyrics that Sing.” We have four fantastic singer-songwriters, and after they speak, they’ve each agreed to play a few songs for us.


8:00–9:00 Self-Publishing
The do-it-yourselfers of the book business reveal how much self there is in self-publishing.
John Sundman, Katherine Scheidler, Amy Reece, Michael West (moderator)

9:00–10:00 Writing Poetry
“The Perils of Poetry”: poets on courting couplets, marrying metaphors, and aggravating alliteration.
Rich Michelson, Jennifer Tseng, Donald Nitchie, Justen Ahren (moderator)

10:00–11:00 The Business of Publishing
Publishing industry insiders discuss the business of books.
Rosemary Stimola, Jamie Raab, Dawn Davis, Tony Horwitz (moderator)

11:00–12:00 Developing Character and Voice
Novelists on stealing from the living and bringing the dead to life.
Geraldine Brooks, Nicole Galland, LaShonda Katrice Barnett

12:00–12:45 Lunch Break Workshop with John Hough Jr.
A novel or story can rise or fall on the quality of its dialogue. Come with questions and ideas of your own, for a lively discussion of what Mr. Hough, author of “The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Dialogue,” considers his primary strength

1:00–2:00 Censorship, Free Speech, and Journalism
What isn’t reported, and why.
Christi Parsons, Jon Randal, Peter Oberfest, Lucinda Franks (moderator)

2:00–3:00 Writing for Laughs
A serious discussion about writing funny.
Fred Barron, Nancy Aronie, Jenny Allen, Arnie Reisman (moderator)

3:00–4:00 Writing a Screenplay
Because everybody has that screenplay in their desk drawer
Sarah Kernochan, Lucy Dahl, Amy Holden Jones, Lawrence Blume (moderator)

4:00 Writing Lyrics that Sing
The secrets of songwriting, and some music to end the day. (That’s right music!)
Jemima James, Willy Mason, Shawn Barber, Matthew Siffert (moderator)

Workshops sponsored by Noepe Center for Literary Arts
10:00–11:00  Justen Ahren on establishing a daily writing practice
12:00–1:00 Niki Patton brings Writers Read to Islanders Write
1:00–2:00 Susan Klein, Spice of Life: Organizing and writing memoirs
3:00-4:00 Michael West on finding your inspiration