Halligan Tavern’s tiny upstairs function room was full of writers, onlookers, listeners and hopeful walk-ons last Tuesday night. It was the last qualifying event before the New Hampshire Writers’ Project’s Three Minute Fiction Slam final on March 6, and judging by the packed tables and animated conversations, anticipation for the prize at stake — a free ticket to New Hampshire Writers’ Day — was intense.
The judges chose Ed Ting of Derry, with second place going to Catherine Geiger and third to Tony Rivera.
“It’s really nerve-wracking, to go up there,” Rivera said shortly after the winners were announced. “It’s so fast. You have to fit so much in a very small space.”
March is a big month for the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. In addition to the annual fiction slam series, which ends with the finals Thursday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, it’s also the month for New Hampshire Writers’ Day, the signature NHWP annual event. This is the first year the two events will be separated.
“We simply thought the fiction slam event was growing beyond Writers’ Day,” NHWP president John Herman said in an email. “It certainly deserves to be its own special event, so we decided to give it a shot.”
The final will be like the last weeks of American Idol for flash fiction writers, with judges Tim Horvath, Rebecca Rule and James Patrick Kelly deciding the ultimate winner. A wine and cheese reception will precede the event at 7 p.m., and author Kyle Minor will present a keynote speech.
The winner of the Three Minute Fiction Slam will read the winning piece during New Hampshire Writers’ Day, which this year is Saturday, March 22, from 8 to 5:30 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University.
There’s still plenty of room for writers to attend the organization’s signature event chock-full of brand-new workshops, networking opportunities and conversations for “would-be, could-be, want-to-be and most-definitely-are writers,” as board member Rob Greene described in the press release.
To name just a small portion: “Turning Your Family History into Fiction” with Henriette Lazaridis Power; “Everything You Need to Know to Write a Best-Selling Memoir” with Lois Cahall; “The Twists and Turns on the Road to Publication: A Writer’s Journey” with Katharine Britton; “Locking in the First Pages” with Michelle Hoover; and “Circles, Lines and Negative Space: Shaping Up Your Poems” with New Hampshire poet laureate Alice B. Fogel. There will be seminars led by professional writers, editors, agents and publishers, and the opportunity for writers to have face-to-face manuscript critiques and agent/publisher one-on-one pitch sessions.
Writers’ Day keynote speaker is B.A. Shapiro, bestselling author of The Art Forger.
“I think she’ll be a great keynote speaker,” said Writers’ Day organizer Amy Fuchocki. “She has so much information to impart. She’ll talk about balancing family, children, time, all things we struggle with as writers.”
The Writers’ Project, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is a resource for writers, booksellers, literary agents and anyone in related fields. It holds events and meetings year round, but Writers’ Day is the key event each year.
“I’d been attending Writers’ Day year after year,” Fuchocki said in a phone interview. “I learned from workshops about how to make my writing better, and then it finally happened for me.” Barking Rain Press bought her book, Dangerous Denial. Under her pen name, Amy Ray, the book will be released March 11.
The NH Writers’ Project has scaled back a bit this year — it now runs under an all-volunteer model, the way the project began.
As seen in the March 6, 2014 issue of the Hippo.