The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild and L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library will partner to host seven craft talks this summer as part of the Writers Guild’s free Virtual Writers Retreat. 

Collectively, these 45-minute virtual talks will cover a range of genres and topics such as nonfiction reportage, historical fiction, poetry, the lyric essay, children’s literature and more.  

Registration is required to attend the free events.  

To register visit: and click “Register Now” for the events you’d like to attend.

The following events, which are on Tuesdays and begin at 7 p.m., will be offered:

• May 11: Carson Vaughan presents “Distilling the Extra from the Ordinary: Writing and Reporting in Flyover Country.”

Vaughan will talk about the genesis of his first book, "Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream," and his work as a freelance journalist focused on rural culture.

• May 18: Phong Nguyen presents “Building Strong Connective Tissue: Beyond Plot, Character, Setting and Theme.”

This craft talk will look at the connections between plot and character, between character and setting, and between setting and theme, etc., and strengthen the connective tissue between the various aspects of fiction.

• June 1: Larry Watson presents “40 In 40: Lessons From 40 Years of Teaching Condensed into 40 Minutes.”

Watson will try to condense more than 40 years of teaching into a 40-minute presentation that will focus on narrative modes, conflict in story and how it corresponds to story structure, and the storytelling devices that do a particularly effective job of engaging readers. 

• June 8: Margi Preus presents “‘Can I Pull This Off?’ and Other Questions That Drive Our Writing and Inspire Our Stories.”

This session will involve taking a look at the questions writers raise in their stories, the questions they ask themselves as they write, and the questions that keep them writing.  

• June 15: Amanda Skenandore presents “Writing the Past.”

There are common elements that make stories from the past resonate with modern readers. This discussion will focus on those key elements as well as common pitfalls that plague historical fiction authors. It also will explore research techniques and ways to blend historical details into writing.

• June 29: Madison Poet Laureate Angie Trudell Vasquez presents “Poetry for the People Workshop.”

This craft talk will explore poets from all over the globe. Trudell Vasquez will share her work and poetic influences, including Carolyn Forché, Joy Harjo, Simon Ortiz, Eduardo Galeano, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Arthur Sze, among others, and the craft techniques they employed in their work.

• July 27: Matthew Gavin Frank presents “Turning Away from the Explosion, Or, The Power of Free Association in the Lyric Essay.”

This program will feature a conversation with Frank on the power of association as an entry point into the lyric essay.