Short Story Fest 2022

Short Story Book Club welcomes you to Short Story Fest (SSF) 2022. Please join us for 2 days of panel discussions, author chats, writing workshops, reading workshops, poetry, music, and games! Everything is online, and it’s all free for the family!

Short Story Fest, Day 1

Short Story Fest Opening Session

8:30 am – 10 am ET

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Kick off the festival festivities with remarks from the festival keynote speaker. Then hear from the Short Story Book Club scholarship winner. Immediately after, Short Story Book Club will chat with Kate Folk, author of Out There. Author CeCe Dawson will join us to close the session with a discussion about African-American representation in science fiction.

Saturday Children’s Book Talk

10 am – 1 pm ET

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The Saturday Short Story Fest Children’s Book Talk features experts and authors with reading suggestions for children and teens. We begin with Jessica Woods, librarian for the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Then continue with book talks from Suzanne Bowman Williams, author of It All Started in Africa, and Sabrina Henry, author of I Am So Happy My VP Looks Like Me. The session concludes with a presentation from Dr. Rachel Slaughter on multicultural literature and a panel discussion about the reading needs of young children of color.

It All Started in Africa

Join Suzanne Bowman Williams for the ride of many lifetimes toward a Grand New World of CHOICE opportunities! Her lyrical, rhyming picture book, It All Started in Africa, introduces young children to real-life, historic characters who dare to make wise courageous choices.

I Am So Happy My VP Looks Like Me!

I will share the title of my book and share my reason behind writing it along with details about what’s in the book. I will share the titles of my other books as well and answer any questions regarding my writing journey, publishing, purpose behind my titles.

Presentation: How Avoid the Wave of Book Banning

There is a dearth of multicultural literature in schools since few schools offer a curriculum that promotes multicultural education. However, by the year 2050, ethnic minority children will make up the majority of the United States public school classrooms. Multicultural literature is the building block of a multicultural education which reflects our nation’s diversity and helps all students learn by providing help to bridge the cultural gap, and promote racial awareness. Unfortunately many of the books labeled as ethnically diverse are being banned at an alarming rate. Dr. Slaughter will detail the research that endorses multicultural literature as a genre which celebrates diversity. Additionally, she will model how to use critical literacy and a peer-reviewed metric to substitute biased books or those books slated to be banned with multicultural literature that endorses relevant themes on the American curriculum. As part of the presentation, Dr. Slaughter will deliver lesson plans, a curated book list of multicultural books, and a stepwise plan on how to substitute biased books with multicultural literature that endorse the same themes while exploring how the key aspects of critical literacy honor inclusive practices in literacy for diverse learners.

Panel: Reading Needs of Children of Color

Join Short Story Fest for an engaging discussion about children’s literature and the reading needs of children of color. The panel includes authors Mildred Stokes, Suzanne Bowman Williams, and Dr. Rachel Slaughter with Tia Hamilton, owner of Urban Reads Bookstore, a proud partner of Short Story Fest.

How to Make Your Family Proud (or Hate You)

10 am – 11 am ET

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We are all born into a Grand New World. It’s called our family. But then, over time, we must leave, and find our own new world. This presentation will investigate the journey from old world to new world, and how, and why, we as writers forge ahead. Q&A to follow.

Writing Old

11 am – 12:30 pm ET

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Speculative fiction is often the domain of the young, able, heroic, physically remarkable protagonist overcoming extreme odds, with their health generally intact. Sometimes there is romance! However, as the readers and writers in the genre age, they may be interested in reading about and writing about characters over sixty. Eschewing the wise old wizard, the hag woman, the mysterious herbal healer, doting grandparents, or the ancient evil villain, the workshop participants will brainstorm characters and plot lines enlarging on these tropes, finding new ways to express, in speculative fiction, the multitude of emotions, genre goals, characteristics, physicalities, social standing and occupations of the non-young.

Part 1: Analyzing all the stereotypes, with some examples from Spec fiction

Part 2: Experimenting with new scenarios and characters

Part 3: Writing short fiction or character descriptions

Part 4: Reading to the group (if desired) + feedback.

Mind, Body, Soul: The Answers to Questions that You Needed to Know – The Reading

12:30 pm – 1 pm ET

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Mind, Body, Soul: The Answers to the Questions to that You Needed to Know is a collection of poetry depicting my life, my struggles, and my journey. In my book I give insight to my mental health problems, including depression and anxiety and also issues with grief and a physical disability caused by trauma. I give you, real, raw, uncut pain, but show triumph. My poems also focus on feminism, and a host of social issues that could positively influence people around the world.

Jesse Powers, 1pm Show

1 pm ET

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Jesse Powers is a self-proclaimed “conscious indie-pop” musician based in Columbus, Ohio. Her debut full-length album “Begin.” was released in November 2017. Her second full-length album “To Remember” was released in summer 2021. Join her at Short Story Fest for music and a rare look into her songwriting process.

A Cathartic Journey Writing Fiction

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm ET

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Mark Craemer will discuss his journey as a writer that took many twists and turns, and only materialized after many careers. “I Remember Clifford and Other Stories” was self-published in 2021 and two of the stories were previously published in small literary magazines years ago. In this collection of eight stories he explores identity, the loss of a father, finding one’s voice, and feeling and processing emotions, especially around grief. Following each story is a short reflection regarding how the story came to be, what he was trying to do with it and how he looks back upon it after initially writing it. Mark will discuss the thread of his life that only became clear with the passage of time. He will relay lessons learned regarding the catharsis he found in writing fiction while processing his emotions in the loss of his father, close friends and his first wife.

Jesse Powers, 4 pm Show

4 pm ET

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Jesse Powers is a self-proclaimed “conscious indie-pop” musician based in Columbus, Ohio. Her debut full-length album “Begin.” was released in November 2017. Her second full-length album “To Remember” was released in summer 2021. Join her at Short Story Fest for music and a rare look into her songwriting process.

8:00 am – 4:00 pm ET

Short Story Fest, Day 2

Chat with Morgan Talty, author of Night of the Living Rez

11 am – 12 pm ET

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Morgan Talty, author of Night of the Living Rez, will join author Joseph Holt for an engaging author chat.

THIS TIME! — An Audience’s Historical, Poetic Short Story

11 am – 12 pm ET

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Explore historical events, situated poetically with insightfulness and genuine honesty. Daily polemics in the Nation’s headlines can be exhausting. However, in this hour, audiences are invited to join the conversation. Explore past occurrences and the journey to this most hopeful realization: life’s future pursuits are worth it, regardless!

How to Develop a Reading Habit

12 pm – 1 pm ET

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Presenter Kate Wood says, “I have always thought of myself as a reader, but I realized in 2020 that I didn’t actually read that much anymore. Maybe it was because of work or watching a lot of TV, or maybe because of my time wasting habits of scrolling through various social media feeds, or maybe it was just because I didn’t make it a priority in my life. On December 31, 2020, I made a New Year’s resolution to spend less time on social media and more time reading in 2021. I made a spreadsheet and tracked every book I read with a goal to just read as much as I could. By the end of 2021 I had read 17 short stories and 118 books (31 physical books, 85 audiobooks, and 2 switching back and forth!). This year I’m doing it again and in January I read 4 short stories and 24 books (9 physical books and 15 audiobooks).” In this session Kate will talk about how she makes reading a priority and how she uses reading challenges to keep her excited about what to pull out of her TBR (to-be-read list/pile) next.

Write THAT Book!

12 pm – 1 pm ET

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How long have you been thinking about THAT book? The book you have been longing to write for years? THAT book you started, but didn’t finish. THAT book you have been dreaming about for years. Kimberly Lawson will share three essential reasons why you should stop procrastinating and write THAT book now!

Sunday Children’s Book Talk

1 pm – 2 pm ET

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The Sunday Short Story Fest Book Talk features R. L. Clark, author of Anthony: A Day of Toys, and writing duo Steve and Dawn Woodburn, co-authors of Marvelous Moosey Adventures.

Anthony: A Day of Toys (book series)

Anthony: A Day of Toys is a fun story about a boy named Anthony who loves his toys so much that he has a hard time parting with them. Toys are his life until one day Anthony learns that there’s a time and place for his toys, and sometimes even in the most unexpected places he can enjoy a day of toys.

You and your child will enjoy Anthony: A Day of Toys, a tale that shows children that there’s a time and place to play and learn. Children may not always get what they want, but sometimes during the most unexpected moments things can change for the better.

Have You Ever Seen a Moose With Blue Hooves?

Steve and Dawn Woodburn will discuss how they came up with the idea and the reasons behind a moose with blue hooves. There’s a whole lot of thought that goes into creating a new brand, especially a top brand that is filled with both large and small companies,. They intentionally created Moosey with blue hooves to be unique. Why be like everyone else. Be you. Be yourself because it’s your differences that make each and every one of us unique and marvelous. They will talk about writing the book and making the packaging, his Moosecase® interactive so it’s not just a throwaway. They will also touch on the second book they’re in the midst of editing and illustrating and all the new characters they’ve created that are also unique and marvelous.

Influence and Evolution: Understanding Your Own First Collection

1pm – 2 pm ET

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Writing can be an instinctual act. We don’t always understand the influences that create our own words. Often it’s not until after stories are published that the writers themselves understand them. Here, writers reflect on the revelations in their own stories after publication and what this means for their work.

Laughter Yoga

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

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Following a chat with Short Story Book Club, author and certified laughter yoga instructor Gerri Bohanan will give the audience an invigorating session of guided, stress relieving laughter yoga.

Write Like the News

2 pm – 3:30 pm ET

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Lead with the future — not background. That’s the most important of 8 journalism skills that will transform how you write and place your short stories. The others: write your readers’ language, be positive (to be both clear and upbeat), lay out logically, be consistent, be precise, be concise (short stories as concise stories) and choose strong verbs. Highlights: lead in a crisis, correct errors the correct way, choose between raw numbers and a ratio and write around generic “he.” (Plus a Speak Like the News skill: avoid “uptalk?”)

Emulate the vivid news examples you’ll see in this workshop, and you’ll strengthen your writing voice with lively, engaging news style. We’ll critique homepage, seeing how to communicate your main point in just a few words. Then we’ll talk our way through the workshop booklet, emphasizing reasons, not just rules, for your writing choices. To cover as much ground as possible, we’ll have just a few writing exercises and most of them will take less than a minute each.

“Concise as news, precise as law” is the goal, building on the many values of conventional business writing. Preview “lead with the future” at , “be consistent” at and how you’ll learn at .

Author Chat with Kerry Dolan

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm ET

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Join author Kerry Dolan for a reading and discussion of her newly released short story collection Safe Places, winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction. Kerry Dolan will read selections from the book and engage in a detailed discussion with author Kathy Anderson. Audience questions will be taken at the end.

About Safe Places: In this prizewinning debut collection, Dolan explores the vagaries of life, human connection, and desire. Called “a rumination on love, loyalty and chance, a story collection brimming with surprises” (Noy Holland), “a must-read collection” (Peter Orner), and “a blues song in the key of Berriault, Michaels, and Paley…with a psychology so fine it aches” (Edie Meidav), the twelve stories of Safe Places chart the uncertainty of modern life.

Literary Game Room: Alice in Wonderland

3:30 pm – 4 pm ET

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Short Story Book Club founder Donna Ledbetter hosts a round of bookish games testing your knowledge of the popular children’s book Alice in Wonderland.