When a door closes, a window opens, is a phrase I live by. So, when the cozy and quaint and welcoming site where I conducted writing workshops was sold, I was a little letdown, but then elated. Here was my opportunity to arrange a larger writing workshop, in a new space, and put into use all the facets of a successful event. It was like the universe was telling me that I was ready for the big time. Another phrase I live by is “don’t put off joy.”
After a successful writing career that began in high school (circa 1970s), I authored two books, helped a handful of writers get their books completed, and joined the writing staff at Woman Around Town. I began hosting writing workshops in 2008. I had no idea where they would lead me, which is part of the fun. During that time, I met wonderful writers who have great stories to tell; some have completed their books, others are battling the typical struggles of a first-time writer: their own doubts, too many unknowns, negativity from those around them, and on and on. All of this can encourage the writer to put their draft in a drawer, rather than letting it out into the world. I know. I’ve been there. That’s why I am committed to providing inspirational workshops for the new writer, or the established writer who needs a little reinforcement.
The Hudson Valley Writer Fest was born. It’s a daylong writer event (or even for those interested in the writing process, who just love books) with two pros in the industry: Jacquelyn Mitchard, columnist, and author of numerous fictional books, one of which catapulted her into the limelight and became a much-loved movie with Michelle Pfeiffer: Deep End of the Ocean. Our other special guest is WAT’s own Charlene Giannetti! She has amassed a truly impressive resume including magazine editing, writer, and publisher, not to mention collecting seven New York Press Club awards. These two talented writers will provide morning keynote addresses. After a lunch break with some networking opportunities, Jacquelyn will host a writer workshop on planning the story’s plot. We break for a snack while the room gets divided into two where two concurrent workshops will be offered: what every writer needs to know, and how to use social media to increase your sales. But, no worries, there will be a report at the conclusion so that everyone knows what went on in the workshop they did not attend. And, of course, a writer fest isn’t a real fest if you don’t have book signings, and meet and greets.
It’s all taking place on Saturday, April 22, 2017 in historic Goshen, Orange County, in the Hudson Valley, a place that’s just stunning in Spring time. The place? Another historic spot. The Harness Racing Museum on Main Street where the racing sport was born and where a delightful collection of artifacts is on display. I’ve been assured that the museum will be open and during any down time, attendees can wander at their leisure. I believe the event itself will be historic as well since there’s a good chance a whole new slew of books may be written because of this day.
So, whether you have a book in you, are a fan of Jacquelyn Mitchard (who also teaches creative writing around the country, when she’s not writing bestsellers), want to hear about the world of publishing with Charlene Giannetti, ask oodles of writing questions, learn about social media, get a book signed, I invite you to check out the event website: hudsonvalleywriterfest.com, and register before the limited number of tickets are gone.
You’ll be fed, provided with all the water, coffee and tea that you need, and will leave ready to start your own bestseller. Hope to see you there.
With Dr. Strange coming out Friday, (the buzz says that it’s the trippiest Marvel movie yet), inevitably the mind turns to other magicians, wizards, witches, and sorcerers supreme who’ve dazzled us on screen. As the following examples show mastering the Dark Arts is a veritable cinematic tradition.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) This technicolor, musical-comedy-drama-fantasy, based on the beloved Frank L. Baum masterpiece, represents the best of Golden Age Hollywood with Judy Garland in the performance that made her an icon. While (spoiler alert) the titular wizard is a fraud, the powers of Elphalba the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda the Good Witch are very real and propel much of the events of the plot. It was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture but lost to Gone With the Wind. Initially something of a box office disappointment, it would later go on to become one of the best known films in American history and a cultural landmark.
Excalibur (1981) Directed, produced, and co-written by John Boorman (Deliverance and The Tailor of Panama) Excalibur retells the classic legend of King Arthur primarily from the viewpoint of Merlin played with grandeur by Nicol Williamson (Hamlet, Inadmissible Evidence). From the days of Uther Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne in the role that launched his career) to Arthur’s final showdown with Mordred, Merlin steals the show. And this is among a truly great cast including Nigel Terry as King Arthur, Helen Mirren as Morgana Le Fay, Nicholas Clay as Sir Lancelot, Cherie Lunghi as Gwenevere, a young Patrick Stewart as King Leondegrance, Liam Neeson as Sir Gawain, and Corin Redgrave as the Duke of Cornwall. It was all filmed in Ireland, and holds up as one of the best Arthurian adaptions of all time.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987) Directed by George Miller of Mad Max fame and based on the John Updike novel of the same name. Alexandra (Cher), Jane (Susan Sarandon), and Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer), are three women all living in Eastwick, Rhode Island who share two things in common. One, they’re all single having lost their husbands. Secondly, unbeknownst to them, they are all witches, and wittingly they start a coven and start practicing spells. Soon the mysterious Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) comes to town and that’s when things start to get freaky. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and holds an over 70% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) Directed by Chris Columbus. No such list would be complete without including the movie based on the best-selling book series that kicked off one of THE most successful film franchises in history. It helped that to do justice to Rowling’s vision they put together an all-star cast as well including Maggie Smith, John Hurt, Robbie Coltrane, and the dearly departed Alan Rickman. Billions of dollars later, Hogwarts has become a cultural landscape that all children secretly dream of being invited to attend, Dumbledore and Snape are now household names, and it launched Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe’s careers into the stratosphere.
The Witch (2015) Newcomer Robert Eggers wrote and directed this historical period supernatural horror tale that came seemingly out of nowhere to become an indie hit that grossed $40 million on a $3 million dollar budget. A puritan family is banished from their old settlement and builds a new farm by the woods. But beginning with the disappearance of their youngest child infant Samuel it soon becomes clear they are being terrorized by a powerful witch. It has an over 90% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and Stephen King said the movie “scared the hell out of me.”
Top photo: Bigstock