RC Writer in Residence: Stuart Dybek @ Residential College
Mar 19 @ 9:00 am – Mar 21 @ 9:00 pm

Poet and fiction writer Stuart Dybek will be the RC’s 2015 Artist in Residence, March 19-21, 2015. He will also be keynote speaker at the second annual Voices of the Middle West conference, at the RC on March 21st.

Voices of the Middle West Festival
Mar 21 @ 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Midwestern author Stuart Dybek will be keynote speaker at the second annual Voices of the Middle West festival on Saturday, March 21, 2015, at the University of Michigan Residential College, 721 E. University Ave. in Ann Arbor.

The free festival  features panel discussions by authors and publishers, an open mic event, and an all-day bookfair showcasing literary journals and independent presses from all over the Midwest, with issues and books for sale.

Stuart Dybek, a lifelong Midwesterner and author of The Coast of Chicago, Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, and Paper Lantern, will give a keynote address at 5 pm. A public reception and book signing will follow.

The festival will bring together U-M students and faculty with writers and presses from all over the Midwest to showcase the rich, magnificent work being produced here in the Midwest, the stories that need to be told, the voices that need to be heard. Panel discussions on fables in Midwestern literature, gender parity in publishing, and other literary discussions will feature outstanding regional authors Laura Kasischke, CJ Hribal, Caitlin Horrocks, Anne Valente, Marcus Wicker, Matt Bell, and more. The festival’s authors will read at Literati Bookstore, 124 East Washington Street in Ann Arbor, on Friday, March 20th beginning at 6 PM.

More information at


Curiosity Day @ Nicola's Books
Sep 19 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Nicola’s Books will join other bookstores across the country to celebrate ‘Curiosity Day,’ an annual event that promotes the joy of reading and learning with everyone’s favorite monkey, Curious George. For two hours it will be everything Curious George – books, games, art and activities. Costume contest at 11:00 am (for both kids and adults); come as your favorite character in a Curious George book. Beverages and snacks will also be served throughout the event.

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Michigan Fall Conference @ Thompson-Shore
Oct 3 @ 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

More Information:

Nicola’s Books will be at this event throughout the day selling books.

Homegrown Talent Schedule

Schedule (subject to change)

8-8:55 AM:  Registration / Mingle / Coffee

9-9:10 AM:  Welcome and Opening

9:10-9:20 AM:  Brief Introduction to Thomson-Shore

9:20-10:10 AM:  Kelly DiPucchio – Bulldogs, Babies, and Bacon: Everyone Has a Story
In this humorous and enlightening presentation, Kelly shares 13 concrete ways to improve your picture book manuscript and your odds of being published traditionally.

10:10-10:20 AM: Break

10:20-11:10 AM: Lynne Rae Perkins – A Beginning, a Middle and an End; and Something Has to Happen
If you already know that your story needs these basic elements, then you are ahead of where I started. Twenty-two years ago this October, I got my big break at a regional SCBWI conference in Pittsburgh, PA. I could draw, and I was a reader, but I was a novice in the world of children’s books. Eight picture books and four novels later, I still feel like a novice at times, but I’ve learned a lot. I’ll share the practical info and less obviously practical ideas that have, so far, been the most helpful, interesting, encouraging, and fun. (Image by Lynne Rae Perkins)

10:20-11:10 AM: Ruth McNally Barshaw – Packing the Perfect Portfolio 
We will analyze what works and what doesn’t in making your portfolio the best it can be for presenting illustrator work in the current children’s book industry. If you have one, bring your portfolio and your art. Bring any pieces you’re undecided on whether they’re strong enough for your portfolio.

11:15 AM – 12:05 PM:  Kathleen Merz –  Using Storytelling Techniques to Craft Narrative Nonfiction
How do writers tell engaging stories about real life? How can they capture a person’s life story in thirty-two pages? This presentation will look at the process of using general storytelling technique and sensibility to create well-crafted narrative nonfiction.

12:05-1:20 PM: Lunch / Bookstore / Tours of Thomson-Shore

1:20-2:20 PM: First Pages with Kathleen and Katherine
Busy editors have very limited time to read manuscripts. Some say the “make it or break it” window is thirty seconds per manuscript. During this session, editors Kathleen Merz and Katherine Jacobs will react to first pages of manuscripts read aloud. What makes it compelling? What is a turnoff? What does a first page need to make an editor want to keep reading?

2:20-3:10 PM: Deborah Diesen – Writing Stories in Rhyme: From Inspiration to First Draft in Fifteen Thousand Easy Steps.  Debbie will discuss the process she uses to move from a picture book story idea to a rhyming first draft.

3:10-3:20 PM: Break

3:20-4:10 PM: Katherine Jacobs – The Body Electric: Creating Characters that Spark with Life
Learn how to create characters with rich inner lives, clear motivations, and problems that drive the plot. Look at examples and analyze why they work. Come away with concrete ways to make your characters into people readers long to know.

4:10-5:00 PM: Mary Bigler – Reading for the Love of It 
Join Mary Bigler as she shares the joy and wonder of reading aloud to children. She will introduce books that will tickle their funny bones, light up their eyes, and touch their hearts. Joke books, poetry, picture books and nonfiction books will be shared. Think about your own school visits as Mary presents ideas on how you can engage children with good books and create a love of reading.

5:00-5:05 PM: Catherine Bieberich: Mentorship Program Winner Announcement!

5:05-5:15 PM: Closing Remarks and Awesome Prizes (including a full conference tuition!)

5:15-5:45 PM: Bookstore / Autograph Party

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