The “In” Crowd!

I’m in with the “In” crowd
I go where the “In” crowd goes
I’m in with the “In” crowd
And I know what the “In” crowd knows

Sure, my friends and I are smart and cool and tons of fun, but in this case, “In” is short for Institute, as in the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute.

This year’s Institute was the best one yet (for me). I didn’t have the stress of pitching but I did have the honor of participating on an amazing panel discussing the Benefits of Critique with Kathleen Tresemer and Catherine Conroy, moderated by Kristin Oakley. Despite not getting a lot of love on the website, being scheduled Saturday night at 6:30 against a stellar team in the room next door, and competing with the Elite Eight (then Final Four, now in the championship game) Badgers, we had an impressive turn-out. It was a great experience and I think we we made a positive impression on our audience.

We kicked off our four day weekend with Thursday’s introductions featuring Dawn Frederick with helpful Tips for Finding an Agent, and a boisterous Lane Shefter Bishop on Crafting a Winning Logline. And crafting it again. And by “crafting” we mean cutting. And cutting again. Honestly, this was the most haunting subject of the weekend. I guarantee ten days of real life have not interrupted the back burner editing of our loglines.

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I was able to attend many of the Q&A groups– intimate conversations with those in the literary know. Gordon Warnock, Dawn Frederick, Lane Shefter Bishop, and Victoria Skurnick shared important industry insights. We talked about queries, loglines, pitching, trends, process and much more.

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The keynote speakers were clever and funny, educational and inspirational. John Dufresne, Ann Garvin, and closing with Dawn Frederick and her tribute to The Phantom Tollbooth

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My favorite sessions included Gordon Warnock‘s The Difference Between YA and New AdultJohn Dufresne on Flash Fiction and again with How to Write a Draft of your Novel in 6 Months.

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New this year, well new to the “official” schedule, was The Writing Mixer. (We “mix” every year!) What a wonderful addition for the “In” crowd! It was here that the Word of Art vol. 1 was introduced to John Dufresne. In his Flash Fiction class, he talked about how stories don’t begin as words, they form as images in our heads. Authors transcribe their images to words so that readers can create images from them. When he said that, I thought WORD OF ART! I happened to have a book with me, as well as the company of several authors/artists who contributed. We signed it and gave it to John. And John gave us this. (Click the link! An official reading recommendation! How cool is that?!)

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I don’t remember the last time I laughed as much as I did at this conference. (Probably last year!) It’s an open and welcoming environment with great learning opportunities. So many people with so much to offer. I just can’t say enough about the featured guests, or my fellow authors. Thank you Laurie Scheer, Christine DeSmet, and Laura Kahl (as well as everyone else involved with the planning and execution of this wonderful event).

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If you would like to be in with the “In” crowd, next year’s Institute will be April 15-17, 2016. I think you should attend. It’s good to know what the “In” crowd knows.


(FYI, for those of you who don’t have it stuck in your head by now, The In Crowd is a song. Click on any of the highlighted “In” crowds to hear it.)


About Mary Fran Says

I am an artist, crafter, designer and writer. I enjoy working with mixed media-- applying visual and tactile manipulations to telling a story. Not a lot of market for that, though, :), so I'm focusing on short story submissions and novel completions. Yes, plural. Lots of beginnings, too many ideas, not enough focus.
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5 Responses to The “In” Crowd!

  1. Thanks for the info, Mary. I sure wish I could have heard your panel discussion “The Benefits of Critique.” Have you ever presented it to In Print Writers? (I love the reference to the song too, although it’s now going to be stuck in my head all day.)

  2. The Life and Times of Poopwa Foley says:
  3. lisa reily says:

    What a great recount of the Writers” Institute, Mary! I went last year. Couldn’t make it this year. But you’ve made me wIsh I was there!! Maybe next year??

  4. Excellent! You rock! Hugs, Catherine

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Pingback: Our Thing | Mary Lamphere

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