April 21, 2021

Gaithersburg Book Festival to Present Free Virtual Writing Workshops for Adults, Teens and Children on May 8 and 15

The Gaithersburg Book Festival, which has grown in short time to become one of the Washington area’s top book festivals, will be a virtual event for the second straight year due to the COVID-19 health crisis. However, the online event will again be filled with written words covering a wide range of categories. In addition, the Festival will offer a variety of free workshops for readers and writers of all ages.

Founded in 2010, the Gaithersburg Book Festival is a celebration of books, writers and literary excellence. The 2021 Festival will take place virtually throughout the month of May, featuring author appearances, panel discussions and writing workshops. The festival also will host author events in Montgomery County throughout the year as a way to encourage continued appreciation for all things literary..

The workshops will take place via Zoom throughout the day on Saturdays, May 8 and 15. Spaces are limited. Registration opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 1. Links to register are located on the Gaithersburg Book Festival website at https://www.gaithersburgbookfestival.org/gbf-2021/.

The schedule of adult workshops will include:
  • Funky Forms in Flash Fiction. May 8, 10 a.m.
    Come ready to read unusual forms of flash fiction and write your own off-kilter creations. The workshop will be led by Tara Campbell, a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow and fiction editor at Barrelhouse. She is the author of a novel, “TreeVolution,” and three collections: “Circe's Bicycle,” “Midnight at the Organporium” and “Political AF: A Rage Collection.” Her fourth collection, “Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection,” is forthcoming in 2021.
  • Create a Brand New World! May 8, noon.
    Through exercises and short instruction, this workshop will help participants create a fully-fleshed world, not just with streets and roads, mountains and waterways, but artifacts, technology, politics, economic systems and the power dynamic between characters. This workshop will be led by Hildie Block, a writer who taught writing at American and George Washington universities and has published more than 50 short stories in many literary magazines, such as Gargoyle, 0-Dark-Thirty, Cortland Review and the San Francisco Review. Her book, “Not What I Expected,” debuted in 2007.
  • How to Write a Key Scene. May 8, 2 p.m.
    Writing exercises will give participants a hands-on feel for how to add texture, dynamism and drama to a story. The session also provides practical, hands-on guidance about the rewriting process. The workshop will be led by John DeDakis, a novelist, writing coach, and manuscript editor, who is a former editor on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." He is the author of five mystery-suspense novels, including “Bullet in the Chamber,” winner of Reviewers Choice, Foreword INDIES and Feathered Quill book awards. In his most recent novel, “Fake,” protagonist Lark Chadwick is a White House correspondent dealing with “fake news” in the era of #MeToo.
  • This Is What America Looks Like: Writing America in 2021. May 15, 10 a.m.
    A generative writing workshop designed for all ages. Via creative prompts, participants will write short fiction or poetry on the idea of America in 2021. The workshop will build off of the excitement surrounding Amanda Gorman's poem for the inauguration, as well as the new anthology, “This Is What America Looks Like: Poetry & Fiction from D.C., Maryland and Virginia,” co-edited by workshop leader Caroline Bock. She also is author of "Carry Her Home," winner of the 2018 Fiction Award from the Washington Writers' Publishing House, and the young adult novels: "Lie" and "Before My Eyes." She is currently at work on a novel set in 2050.
  • Erasure Poetry. May 15, noon.
    No prior experience with poetry is needed. Texts to “erase” will be provided. This workshop will be led by Melanie Figg, a writer, teacher and certified professional coach. Her award-winning poetry collection, “Trace,” is hailed by Kirkus as a “roaring memorial for the voiceless.” Figg has helped hundreds of writers, from beginners to published authors, to improve, finish and submit their work, rein in their inner critics, and enjoy their writing lives. Her work is widely published and has received many national awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council. Melanie teaches throughout the Washington, D.C., area and also works one-on-one with writers.
  • Creative Non-Fiction in Under 1000 Words: Writing Your Story in Small Moments. May 15, 2 p.m.
    Participants will read a variety of short flash essays, explore the publications that accept these works and begin two new pieces of their own. The workshop will be led by Hannah Grieco, a writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., area. Her work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction. Her essays, articles and interviews can be read in The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Parents Magazine, Washington City Paper and more. Her short stories, creative non-fiction, and poetry appear in a wide variety of literary journals. She is the senior creative non-fiction editor at JMWW, the fiction editor at Porcupine Literary, and the founder and organizer of the monthly reading series, “Readings on the Pike.”
The schedule of children’s workshops will include:
  • Astronauts Zoom! Astronauts Write! May 8, 11 a.m.
    Discover how real astronauts on the International Space Station live and work every day (and night). In the new book, “Astronauts Zoom!,” you will hear and see how they spacewalk, how they have fun, how they sleep and what they see when they look down at Earth. Then imagine you are an astronaut on the station and write a letter or email to your family or friends. The workshop will be led by Deborah Lee Rose, an internationally published, award-winning children’s author. Her newest book, “Astronauts Zoom! An Astronaut Alphabet,” is illustrated with “you are there” NASA photos of female and male astronauts on the ISS. Her other STEM books include “Scientists Get Dressed,” “Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle,” and “Jimmy the Joey.” She also wrote the beloved “The Twelve Days of Kindergarten” and “The Twelve Days of Winter.”
  • Create Haiku Poetry! May 15, 11 a.m.
    After reading sample poems and discussing the craft of writing Haiku poetry, we will create mini artworks and write our own. This workshop will be led by Jenny Klein, who has worked as a classroom teacher, gifted and talented teacher, staff developer and reading specialist for Montgomery County Public Schools. She also has taught classes at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn, Glen Echo Park and the Rehoboth Art League; and led workshops at museums and school systems with her co-author based on their two books, “Using Art to Teach Reading Strategies” and “Using Art to Teach Writing Traits.” Her poetry appears in Cricket Magazine and Written in Arlington.