Wilmington Writers Conference

June 24, 2017 @ 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
$25 general public, $20 senior citizens and Museum Members, $15 students with ID, $15 optional boxed lunch

Sorry, this event is SOLD OUT. No walk-ins accepted.

Using the Delaware Art Museum’s unique collection as a backdrop, this full-day conference will include a keynote presentation and craft talk by novelist and Wilmington-native Christopher Castellani, eight other sessions taught by area writers, a lunchtime discussion on Delaware’s literary history, and a panel discussion on the “life of the writer.” The conference is open to individuals of all ages and experience levels—from first-time writers to published authors. Click on the session titles in the below schedule for a detailed session description.


8:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.

  • Registration

9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. 

10:30 a.m. – Noon

Noon – 1:15 p.m.

  • Lunch
    • Lunch options: Conference participants can purchase an optional boxed lunch from Toscana (check box on registration form to pre-order your lunch), bring their own lunch, or visit one of the nearby restaurants and cafes. Boxed lunches include a turkey, pancetta, provolone, and dried-tomato sandwich or an eggplants and mozzarella sandwich. All boxed lunches come with a side of fruit, a bag of chips, a homemade cookie, and a bottle of water.
  • Optional Lunch Sessions:
  • During the lunch hour, attendees will be able to purchase books by conference presenters and have their books signed.

1:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • Panel discussion – Open to all conference attendees:
    • The Writing Life
      In this Q&A session, established writers will discuss the “writing life,” tackling issues such as the importance of support from other writers/the writing community, how to stay motivated, how to deal with rejection, a writer’s responsibility to his or her subject and to self, writing critique groups, and developing a writing practice.


Click on the ‘Tickets” button at the top of the page to register for the conference. Some sessions have limited capacity. You will receive a conference schedule and detailed directions closer to June 24.


The Wilmington Writers Conference is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

Writing in 3D: Creating Landscape, Place, and Setting

Landscape not only creates a distinct sense of place in our writing, it opens up metaphors, provides context, and offers detail and nuance to both fiction and nonfiction. How do we develop this writing? What do we choose to focus on?  This workshop will offer examples both in fine art and (weather permitting) in nature and cityscape and will help writers at all stages of their projects and their writing careers develop setting – indoors or out – as a physical presence in their writing. This session is for participants interested in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. *Note: This workshop may include some walking on gravel paths in the Museum’s Sculpture Garden and standing outside.

Instructor: Lisa Dill

Lisa Dill has been publishing creative nonfiction in trade and literary magazines for almost twenty years. She was the contributing writer to Widening Horizons: 70 Years of the Tatnall School, named 2001’s Book of the Year from the Delaware Press Association. In 2015, she was accepted at the Bread Loaf Environmental Writing workshop, where she studied with acclaimed nature writer Scott Russell Sanders. In 2016, she was named the Delaware Division of the Arts Fellow in creative non-fiction, established. She teaches creative writing, environmental literature, and business writing at the University of Delaware, and is currently working on a book about her month-long boat trip down the Missouri River.

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Damsels Not In Distress

A modern female protagonist has dreams, solves crimes, falls in love, pursues a career, raises a family, participates in her community, enjoys life–all while navigating the various fictional conflicts thrown at her. This workshop will examine how to make a female character a realistic and appealing warrior woman. This session is for participants interested in fiction.

Instructor: Ramona DeFelice Long

Ramona DeFelice Long is a published author and professional editor who received the Delaware Division of the Arts’ 2016 Master Fellowship in Fiction. Her work in fiction, memoir, and creative nonfiction has been published in a variety of literary journals and magazines. She mentors writers in a daily Writing Hour group and teaches workshops on many aspects of writing, creativity, and publishing.

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The Art of Perspective

The success of any work of fiction or narrative nonfiction depends almost entirely on its narrative strategy. Not only which character(s) tell(s) the story, from what vantage point, in the past or present, but why those choices are optimal and how they contribute to the overall effect the author is aiming for. In this session, we will begin by defining narrative strategy, then discuss its relationship to an author’s choice of perspective and his/her manipulation of narrative distance. This session is for participants interested in fiction.

The Art of Perspective: Who Tells the Story by Christopher Castellani is available for purchase in the Museum Store.

Instructor: Christopher Castellani

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Worth a Thousand Words: Making Poetry from Art

“Ekphrasis is, basically, ‘Description’ in Greek. An ‘ekphrastic’ poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the ‘action’ of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning. A notable example is ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn,’ in which the poet John Keats speculates on the identity of the lovers who appear to dance and play music, simultaneously frozen in time and in perpetual motion…” ~Poetry Foundation, glossary term. In this workshop, we will do some practice exercises, talk about the definition and joys of Ekphrastic writing, and visit the Pre-Raphaelite Gallery to write about a work of art of our choosing. This is a kick-start for any poet that can be used for years to come. This session is for participants interested in poetry.

Instructor: Lisa Lutwyche

Lisa Lutwyche received an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College (Vermont) in 2013. Poet, artist, produced playwright, writer, and actor, she has been anthologized and published across the US and in the UK since the 1990s; Mad Poets Review; Minerva Rising; In the Questions, Poetry By and About Strong Women; the cancer poetry project 2; Sparrow’s Trill; Fiction Vortex; and more. Lisa was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her poetry in 2000 and again in 2015.

Lisa’s full-length book of poetry, A Difficult Animal, was Published by Saddle Road Press in 2016.

Her artwork has been used on the cover of several poetry collections, including Undoing Winter, by Shannon Connor Winward (Finishing Line Press), and Lisa’s own collection, A Difficult Animal. Lisa’s background includes a BFA in painting and a BA in art history, twenty-two years in architectural design, teaching creative writing at CCArts from 1992-2012 & teaching art and theatre to special needs adults since 2008. Her one-act play, Juggling Act, will be produced in Philadelphia this coming summer. Lisa is currently an adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Cecil College in Maryland.

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Exploring Delaware’s Literary History

Not only had American literary artists like Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Hart Crane, and F. Scott Fitzgerald played roles in Delaware’s literary history, and interacted with our local poets and authors, our past literary artists also provided insights into our local and national social and cultural environment. Who were John Lofland, George Alfred Townsend, Margaret E. Chandler, Anne Parrish, John Biggs Jr, to name only a few? This workshop will explore Delaware’s rich literary tradition. Open to writers and non-writers.

Instructor: Steven Leech

Among the more than 400 published articles, stories and poems that Steven Leech has written are articles in mainstream magazines like Wilmington’s Out & About. He became editor of The Delaware Valley Star between 1976 and 1982, Wilmington’s only Black weekly newspaper. In 1980 he became an editor of the literary magazine Dreamstreets, a position he continues to hold. He also produced all of Dreamstreets’ radio productions. His op-ed articles have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Wilmington News Journal, and The Delaware State News. Other articles have appeared in The Broadkill Review, as well as many other periodicals and small magazines. He has published six novels, as well as a few novellas, short fiction and non-fiction collections. He earned Individual Artist Fellowships in Literature from the Delaware Division of the Arts in 1993 and 2002.

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Docent Tour of The Original Mad Man: Illustrations by Mac Conner

This comprehensive and lively installation explores the work of one of America’s original “Mad Men.” McCauley (“Mac”) Conner (born 1913) created advertising campaigns for a variety of products during the decade when the advertising industry was at its height and centered on Madison Avenue. His illustrations for leading women’s magazines such as Redbook and McCall’s animated a wide range of popular literature, from romantic fiction and detective stories, to topics of import such as Cold War anxiety and juvenile delinquency. His work is a “time capsule” of an era when commercial artists helped to redefine American style and culture.

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Spoken Word Poetry

Description coming soon

Instructors: Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills, Delaware’s Twin Poets Laureate

The Twin Poets have won many awards for their work including the Village Award from the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families (2006), Bank of America’s Local Heroes Award (2006), Citizens of the Year from Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (2006), Christi Award for Community Service through the Arts (2005), Mentors of the Year from the City of Wilmington (1998), The Mayors Award for Service to Children (1997), and Outstanding Young Wilmingtonian Award for Community Service (1997).

The Twin Poets have also been featured on the Peabody Award-winning HBO program Def Poetry, BET’s Lyric Café, and NPR’s Poetic License, and they are the subject of a Hearts and Minds Films documentary called Why I Write. They have toured nationally and internationally, most recently with the Poetically Incorrect Tour.

The Twin Poets have authored several poetry books and have been included in many anthologies. Their latest work, a children’s book entitled Homework For Breakfast, is illustrated by Robyn Phillips-Pendleton and is scheduled for release in 2016 (Mariposa Ranch Press).

Nnamdi Chukwuocha is a member of the Wilmington City Council and chairs the city’s Education, Youth and Families committee. He is a community-based social worker who sits on an array of boards and commissions including the Sustainable Energy & Utilities Commission and the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission. Chukwuocha has well over 30 years’ experience in the nonprofit world, was recently awarded the Wilmington Urban League’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, and has been recognized as an outstanding Delaware State University Alumni. Photo Credit: Cylinda McCloud-Keal

Al Mills is a community-based social worker deeply rooted in the juvenile justice system. Mills has designed and led organizations that provide services for delinquent youth and their families. As a therapist, he serves New Castle County Delaware’s Multisystemic Therapy Services. Mills is a certified A.R.T. therapist, and takes pride in his efforts to utilize art as a tool for foundational change in youth, families, communities, and our society. A cofounder of G.O.A.L.S., and S.Y.A.-Tutoring and Mentoring Programs in Wilmington, Mills is also an honored army veteran who served in Iraq and speaks about his struggles with PTSD as a result of the war.

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Novel Inspirations

In this creativity workshop, we will explore your idea for a novel or short story and all the directions it may go, using guidance from Jamie Wyeth’s working sketches and how he fleshed out a painting step by step. Participants will leave the workshop with a better understanding of how stories are layered. This session is for participants interested in fiction.

Instructor: Ramona DeFelice Long

Ramona DeFelice Long is a published author and professional editor who received the Delaware Division of the Arts’ 2016 Master Fellowship in Fiction. Her work in fiction, memoir, and creative nonfiction have been published in a variety of literary journals and magazines. She mentors writers in a daily Writing Hour group and teaches workshops on many aspects of writing, creativity, and publishing.

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The 90-Minute MFA in Short Fiction

We will discuss the major elements of short stories, including character, setting, and dialogue.  We will also discuss flash fiction.  The group will look at some examples of published stories and engage in writing exercises. This workshop is intended for writers of all skill levels to demystify the writing process and to amplify the individual elements that make stories work. This session is for participants interested in fiction.

Instructor: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson received an MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers-Camden. His fiction has appeared in the Fox Chase Review, the Rehoboth Beach Reads anthology series, and the crime collection Insidious Assassins.  In 2014, he received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts as the Emerging Artist in Fiction.  He is an Adjunct Instructor at Wilmington University.

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Shattering Time: Alternate Structures for Personal Essay and Memoir

One of the biggest difficulties for those writing creative nonfiction–whether a single personal essay or a full-length memoir– is how to structure the experience, which often centers around a significant person or event. Typically writers “begin at the beginning” and move chronologically though time, adhering to the order of events as they happened. Often, though, this chronological time line creates the organizational problems that so overwhelm the writer. Participants in this workshop will learn a number of unique, fun, alternatives to the chronological time line–along with examples–that will infuse new life–and structure–into the personal essay or memoir. This session is for participants interested in creative nonfiction or memoir.

Instructor: Maribeth Fischer

Maribeth Fischer is the author of  two novels, The Language of Goodbye (Dutton 2001), and The Life You Longed For (Simon & Schuster, 2007) She has published essays in such journals as The Iowa Review, Creative Nonfiction and The Yale  Review and  has received two Pushcart Prizes for her essays: “Stillborn,” 1994 and “The Fiction Writer,” 2014. Maribeth founded the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild (RBWG) in 2005, where she currently serves as Executive Director. She teaches classes in both novel writing and creative nonfiction for the RBWG.

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Picture It! Using Collage to Shape Your Story

How do visuals inform and inspire our writing? In this workshop, we would use found images via magazines, art catalogues, and other print media to create a collage that represents a work of fiction. We can examine collages, brainstorm ideas for a piece of fiction (either short fiction or a larger work) and then use the collages to inspire an original piece of work started in class. This session is for participants interested in fiction.

Instructor: Jessa Mendez

Jessa Marie Mendez is a Nuyorican writer and editor currently living in Wilmington, Delaware. Her most recent project, Rough Magick, an anthology that she co-edited with award-winning author Francesca Lia Block, was included in Luna Luna Magazine’s roundup, “40 Books Published in 2015 That Should Be On Your Shelf.” She has appeared in the Wilmington edition of the national reading series Listen to Your Mother and performed original work at the Delaware Art Museum in partnership with the Latin American Community Center and Delaware Shakespeare Festival. Jessa also recently served as the Production Manager of Delaware Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural Fall Tour, which brought performances of Pericles, Prince of Tyre to underserved communities throughout the state, and is passionate about fostering diverse, inclusive arts programs. She is currently working on her first novel.

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Questions? Contact Molly Giordano, Director of Development and External Affairs, at mgiordano@delart.org or 302.351.8515.


This program is partially funded by a grant from the Delaware Humanities Forum, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support was provided, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

  Delaware Division of the Arts