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The League of Vermont Writers (LVW) is open to all who make writing a part of their lives. We offer encouragement, motivation, and networking opportunities to writers with a broad range of writing experience. You do not need to be published to join. Visit our Membership Page for more information about benefits and fees.

Founded in 1929, LVW's mission is to:

  • Help writers develop their skills
  • Promote responsible and ethical writing and writing practices
  • Increase communication between professional writers and publishers
  • Promote an enduring appreciation for the power of the word


Saturday, January 23, 2016 for Annual Meeting -- at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Burington.

The League's mailing address is: PO Box 172, Underhill Center, VT 05490

Fall Program“What Would You Tell a Room of Writers, if Given the Chance?”

Join the League of Vermont Writers on September 19th at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier for the annual Fall Program! We'll be hosting three fantastic speakers: Sara J. Henry, Sydney Lea, and Katherine Quimby Johnson.

Register now using our "Sign Up Today" box at the right to pay by Credit Card, using PayPal. ---->

Or download the mail-in registration form here and pay by check.

Rates for Members: $45. For Nonmembers: $50

Schedule for the day is on the Registration Form here.

The Program

Creating Strong Openings: Why and How First Chapters Can Fail

Sara J. Henry will discuss strong openings, review some of them, and talk about why these openings workand why and how too many first chapters fail. She will critique opening pages of participants’ work who have submitted in advance, and discuss some of these, if the writers agree (anonymously, if desired). Henry will cover: the importance of pacing and how to keep things moving; choosing what tense and person to use; what genre your work falls into; how to find critique partners and how to use critiques; the importance of revision; and more tips to make your manuscript come alive. She'll also review how to write a strong query letter and review successful samples submitted by participant (bring yours, if you have one, or submit in advance). And she'll touch on selecting the right agent and the pros and cons of self-publishing. This will be a fast-paced session, with questions welcomed throughout.

HOW TO SUBMIT FOR CRITIQUE: First chapters may be submitted (up to 5,000 words) for a fee of $25 per submission. Queries (one standard page) can be submitted without fee. Sara can accept a limited number of submissions, so get in touch for details on how to submit. If you'd like to send work for comment or critique at the event, contact Sara J. Henry at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


ABOUT SARA: Sara J. Henry wrote the award-winning A Cold and Lonely Place (2013) and Learning to Swim (2011). Sara has a master’s in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, and was a writer and editor at Rodale Books and at Women's Sports & Fitness magazine. She has edited many nonfiction books, worked as a newspaper editor, written for numerous magazines, and written and co-written nonfiction books on health and fitness. Her novels have won the Anthony, Agatha , Mary Higgins Clark , and Silver Falchion awards, and both were Target picks. Learning to Swim was also published in Germany and Italy, and A Cold and Lonely Place has appeared in Readers Digest Select Editions in six countries. She’s a Tennessee native who calls southern Vermont home.

Narrative Values, Lyric Poems

In "Narrative Values, Lyric Poems," Sydney Lea will suggest how the properties of conventional fiction, such as plot, character, and setting, can provide entrées for readers of our poetry, can include them, rather than excluding them, like so much current verse. 

ABOUT SYDNEY: Vermont’s Poet Laureate, Sydney Lea, has been described as “a man in the woods with his head full of books, and a man in books with his head full of woods.” His affection for story, moreover—an affection derived in no small measure from men and women elders in New England—colors his poetry, just as a relish for the musical properties of the word colors his prose. His lifelong passion for the natural world informs almost his every utterance. Lea, widely known as an adept in several genres, founded New England Review in 1977 and edited it till 1989. His most recent collection of poems, I Was Thinking of Beauty, is available from Four Way Books. Among previous poetry collections, Pursuit of a Wound (University of Illinois Press, 2000) was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. The preceding volume, To the Bone: New and Selected Poems, was co-winner of the 1998 Poets’ Prize. In 1989, Lea also published the novel A Place in Mind with Scribner, still available in paper from Story Line Press. His 1994 collection of naturalist essays, Hunting the Whole Way Home, was re-issued in paper by the Lyons Press in 2003.

Lea has received fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright and Guggenheim Foundations, and has taught at Dartmouth, Yale, Wesleyan, Vermont and Middlebury Colleges, as well as at Franklin College in Switzerland and the National Hungarian University in Budapest.

Lea’s stories, poems, essays and criticism have appeared in periodicals such as the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New Republic, the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and more, as well as in more than forty anthologies. His twelfth poetry volume, No Doubt the Nameless, will appear from Four Way Books in the spring, and his fourth collection of lyrical essays, What's the Story? Short Takes on a Life Grown Long, will be published by Vermont's Green Writers Press in the fall.

Sydney Lea lives in Newbury, Vermont, and is active both in literacy efforts (see cvabe.org) and in conservation (see downeastlakes.org).

Finding Your Place in "The Great Conversation"

Katherine Quimby Johnson says, as solitary as writing is, writers are also social creatures, and not only with personal writing to friends and fellow League members. “Finding Your Place in 'The Great Conversation,'” addresses two aspects of being part of the larger writing community. We know what we care about, what we are passionate about, but how do we figure out how our work fits into “The Great Conversation”? That is, how do we find a place and make a contribution to what has already been written? In particular, how can we turn what the late Harold Bloom called “the anxiety of influence” into the consolation of community? In this segment, Kathy will discuss what it means to read like a writer, other ways to study the craft, and when and how to share your work and learn from feedback. Social media is now part of the “Great Conversation,” as well as a place where many writers work hard to sell their product. Social media is Continued on page 6 a virtual reality that competes for time and attention with the virtual realities we writers create, whether we are constructing fiction or nonfiction. This part of Kathy’s presentation will cover the benefits and pitfalls (other than the oft lamented time-suck!) of blogging, tweeting, and other social media platforms, and will focus on using social media to become part of a community (writing or otherwise).

ABOUT KATHERINE: A past LVW board member, Katherine Quimby Johnson (Kathy) has held too many book-related jobs to count, including a brief stint as a children’s librarian. She has also worked as a medical secretary and an administrative assistant, and has written for a number of Vermont-based newspapers and magazines. Kathy earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her creative work has been recognized with the Norma Fox Mazer Award and the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. She currently teaches in the Professional Writing Program at Champlain College in Burlington, is a scholar for the Vermont Humanities Council, and a co-Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers’ and Illustrators(SCBWI).

Born and raised on the edge of the Northeast Kingdom, Kathy’s quest for education took her to Maine, Austria, and Missouri before she returned to her roots with her husband to raise her now-grown daughter. When she’s not writing, Kathy gardens and generally enjoys the outdoors at her home in beautiful Cambridge, Vermont.

This event is taking place at the Chapel, 2nd floor of College Hall at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.

Read all about it, and find registration info and directions to the college in the September edition of League Lines here.

LVW Events - League of Vermont Writers

"Into the Words"—LVW's Summer Retreat and Member Showcase!

Congratulations to everyone who was involved with bringing the Summer Showcase Event "Into the Words" into being at Jerry Johnson's beautiful site in Albany, VT.

[Full-disclosure: I was a presenter - Pat G O'B - but I can't take credit for creating this super event. The Program Team that did the work was stellar. Thanks especially to our talented President, Ally Berthiaume, who envisioned this event and deftly guided it into being. I'm confident we'll hear more about all of the volunteers who worked so hard on this one as we progress toward publishing recaps of the event in the next League Lines.]

Purposefully named “Into the Words” playing off the hit-musical and movie Into the Woods, event planners wanted to create that feeling of getting lost in the thing that you love (words) with people who share that adoration (writers).

I'd say they succeeded.

And a heartfelt thanks from the League of Vermont Writers to all of our members and supporters who came out to spend this time with each other. We had a large and wonderful crowd of writers to share the day. You folks are the proof of the pudding -- your participation made all the difference!

Presenters and Workshops

See the day's Schedule here!

LVW Events - League of Vermont Writers

Thanks to all who participated in our Spring Program at the Franklin Howe Conference Center in Rutland!


Joanna Tebbs Young

How to find your story beneath the scripts given us by family and society. How to find your own voice. How to write from a place of personal truth that will resonate with readers as universal.

Ben Hewitt

At once humorous, inspiring, and entertaining, Ben explored the rules of good writing. These rules are not what you think. Writers came away with a new perspective on the craft.

Cheryl Young

A good story comes in many ways, expected and unexpected. Cheryl's talk spoke of the story behind the stories, and the rewards and challenges they bring with them.

And thank you to all of the LVW members and friends who came along to listen, learn, and share.

Thanks for all you do!

LVW Events - League of Vermont Writers

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THE VERMONT TRADITION grapples energetically with the basic problem of human conduct...how to reconcile the needs of the group, of which every man or woman is a member,..with the craving for individual freedom to be what he really is.

—Dorothy Canfield Fisher, 1953