Lifestyles and the Writing Life
37th Annual Conference – June 27-30, 2013
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Hilton Hartford Hotel, Hartford, Conn.
Click for general information about the conference, including hotel reservations and registration
Eric Heyl is president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. As vice president, he succeeded President Larry Cohen when he died in 2012. Heyl is a staff columnist and former reporter at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and a longtime member of the NSNC. He has been a three-time finalist in the NSNC annual column contest. He had been serving as vice president of the NSNC Education Foundation before he assumed his current position. Heyl is a graduate of Duquesne University.
Andrew Julien is editor of the Hartford Courant. A 20-year-plus veteran of the Courant newsroom, Julien most recently served as integrated media editor for the Courant and Fox Connecticut, a position in which he played a leadership role in blending print, broadcast and digital operations to create Hartford’s fully integrated newsroom. Julien’s previous positions at the Courant include metro editor, city editor, investigative reporter and health writer. He was part of the reporting team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for coverage of the shootings at Connecticut lottery headquarters and led the reporting team that uncovered corruption at Hartford City Hall, leading to the arrest and conviction of the mayor at the time.
Dave Lieber is a former conference chair (Grapevine 2005) and is a regular contributor to The e-Columnist newsletter. Having become very active in the National Speakers Association, Dave will be doing a presentation he developed for both speakers and writers, “Your Column Blows Me Away: Secrets of Amazing Storytelling.” Every columnist can tell a great story, right? Actually, there’s a tried-and-true storytelling formula that’s been around since the dawn of mankind. This longtime newspaper columnist and professional speaker shares that formula. Plus, he adds the key ingredients used by legendary “new journalists” such as Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese to place readers in the center of any story: scene-by-scene construction, dialogue in full, strong personal point of view, and use of status details. By attending this session, you’ll learn techniques that help readers and online viewers give you their full attention. You’ll learn how to develop strong characters with a single sentence, the power of plot, conflict and the dramatic storytelling arc. This works for any kind of writing there is, whether it’s a blog post, a column, a magazine story, a speech or a book – anyone who wants to entertain and inform in more memorable ways. Dave Lieber, the Watchdog investigative columnist of The Dallas Morning News, is the author of three books and two writers’ manuals and a rising international speaker. He served many years on the NSNC board and newsletter editor and received the 2002 Will Rogers Humanitarian Award. Dave is secretary of the NSNC Education Foundation.
Tracey O’Shaughnessy, associate features editor at the Waterbury (Conn.) Republican-American, will present “The Lifestyle Section: A Great Place For Your Work.” What do editors look for when they’re seeking columns for the Lifestyle Section? As a winner of national competitions for her columns and art criticism, this experienced journalist knows what it takes to build and retain a strong reader base. She edits the Tuesday Woman section as well as the Wednesday and Thursday Accent pages for the Republican-American and also writes two columns a week as well as covering the visual arts and writing various features. She started in journalism when she was 16 and during her career has learned how to come up with column ideas and many other valuable lessons that can help both beginners and seasoned writers deliver stories that editors like.
Mike Morin, veteran broadcaster and newspaper columnist, will present “The Outstanding Pitch.” If you don’t tell the world about your great new book, who will? The host of New Hampshire’s highest-rated morning radio broadcast shows you how to pitch the media for coverage. Many writers are self-publishing, and even traditional presses make authors do the bulk of the promoting these days. His four-decade career as a radio personality includes stints in Washington, D.C. (where he worked at the nation’s first all-comedy station), New York City, Boston, and currently at 95.7-WZID in Manchester, N.H. He was recognized as Radio Personality of the Year in 2000 by the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters. Since 2005 he has written a weekly humor column for the Nashua Telegraph and also contributes feature stories. He has been a familiar face at Author School workshops and Writers’ Day programs of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project.
Steven Courtney, publicist and publications editor at The Mark Twain House & Museum, is an authority on the 19th-century humorist, lecturer and social critic. As our first speaker, he will address “Hartford: Mark Twain and Other Literary Lights.” Later on June 28, the conference will visit the facility for dinner and tours. Courtney’s most recent book, published in 2011, is The Loveliest Home That Ever Was: The Story of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, with a foreword by actor Hal Holbrook. Courtney won the 2009 Connecticut Book Award, Biography or Memoir, for Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life and Times of Mark Twain’s Closest Friend. Courtney has been a journalist for 36 years, more than 20 of them at the Courant, where he held a variety of positions.
Heloise, the household advice author and syndicated columnist, will present “Fifty Years of Heloise and Counting.” The lifestyle management guru with the most famous name in household advice grew into her role at the knee of her legendary mother, who began writing the first “Hints from Heloise” column in 1959. She worked with her mother for several years and took over the column in 1977 when the original Heloise died. Specializing in lifestyle hints, including consumer issues, pets, travel, food, home improvement and health, the daily column runs in more than 500 newspapers, including many foreign editions. Heloise also does several radio interviews a month with stations across the country, has written 11 top-selling books, and is a frequent guest on TV network and cable shows. Her PowerPoint presentation of Heloise through the years includes a number of pictures of her mother.
Rick Horowitz, nationally known writing coach, will present “Your Choices, Your Voices.” Here’s an expert on getting a message out who can show you how to do it by finding and refining your writer’s voice. He’s an award-winning writer with a national reputation as a writing and editing consultant. He has led writing workshops for national, state and regional journalism organizations, newspaper groups and individual newspapers of all sizes. He has an impressive background in journalism — online, print, TV and radio — as well as law, policy and government service. He won two National Headliner Awards for his syndicated column and two Emmy Awards for his commentaries, audio ones have been aired on NPR and videos on YouTube. He is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post. He’s a life member of the Association of Opinion Journalists (formerly National Conference of Editorial Writers), with which he served as dean of NCEW U, organizing pre-convention skills sessions. He also is a longtime NSNC member. At the end of 2011 he ended his twice-weekly column of political satire and offbeat social commentary to become founder and wordsmith-in-chief of Prime Prose, LLC, an enterprise which provides writing, editing and messaging assistance to a variety of organizations. One of his prized compliments is: “He’s unique: a serious humorist.”
Lisa Smith Molinari, family lifestyle columnist as “Military Mom,” will be on the panel “Family Lifestyles.” After earning a law degree and a job as a litigation attorney, she met and married a military man and abandoned her legal career to have children and manage a family while moving all over the world every few years. Along the way she began writing, and now her weekly humor column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” appears in newspapers and on “Stripes Military Moms,” a website associated with the newspaper Stars and Stripes. She also writes a monthly column for Military Spouse magazine. Her blog was voted the Top Military Family Blog on the Circle of Moms website.
Jerry Zezima, family lifestyle columnist as “Boomer Dad,” will be on the panel “Family Lifestyles.” An editor at Newsday of Long Island, N.Y., he also writes a humor column for his hometown paper, the Stamford (Conn.) Advocate. His column is distributed by McClatchy-Tribune and has run in newspapers across the U.S. and around the world. He has won four awards for humor writing from the NSNC and many other awards. He also has written for magazines and has recorded humorous commentaries for public radio. He is a popular public speaker in the New York metropolitan area and has performed stand-up acts at comedy clubs in Manhattan. He is the author of Leave It to Boomer: A Look at Life, Love and Parenthood by the Very Model of the Modern Middle-Age Man.
John Avlon, senior political columnist for Newsweek and the Daily Beast, will speak on “America’s Greatest Newspaper Columnists.” Avlon also is a CNN contributor and is the author of Independent Nation and Wingnuts. Previously, Avlon was a columnist and associate editor for the New York Sun. He won the NSNC’s award for best online column – large websites in 2012. In 2011 he co-edited with Jesse Angelo and Errol Louis Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns. They followed with a second volume in 2012, Deadline Artists: Scandals, Tragedies & Triumphs. Avlon lives in New York City.
Gina Barreca — humorist, author, speaker — will speak on “A Lesson in Humor” and moderate the panel “Breaking Into Public Speaking.” Ms. Magazine called her a “feminist humor maven,” and Dave Barry said she was “very, very funny … for a woman.” She is the author of It’s Not That I’m Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worring About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World. She has appeared on 20/20, 48 Hours, NPR, the BBC, The Today Show, CNN, Joy Behar and Oprah. She regularly writes blogs and columns for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Psychology Today, the Courant and The Washington Post. (She wrote a Point-Counterpoint type series of columns with the late Larry Cohen for the Courant). She is professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut.
Joel Brinkley, syndicated columnist, will be on the panel “Breaking Into Public Speaking.” He is the Hearst Professional in Residence for the journalism program at Stanford University, a position he assumed in 2006 after a 23-year career with The New York Times. There he served as a reporter, editor and foreign correspondent, winning the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1980. He writes a weekly op-ed column on foreign policy for Tribune Media Services, is a foreign affairs writer for Politico.com and maintains an active public speaking career. He began his career with The Associated Press then moved to the Richmond (Va.) News Leader. At the Louisville Courier-Journal, he served as a reporter, special projects writer and city editor. He has worked in 46 states and more than 50 foreign countries and has won more than a dozen national reporting and writing awards. He is the author of several books, including Cambodia’s Curse: A Troubled History of a Modern Land.
Alan Zweibel, co-author of Lunatics, a novel written with Dave Barry, will be on the panel “Breaking Into Public Speaking” and later present the NSNC Lifetime Achievement Award to Barry. An original Saturday Night Live writer, Zweibel has won multiple Emmy, Writers Guild of America and TV Critics awards for his work in television, which also includes It’s Gary Shandling’s Show, Monk and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He co-wrote screenplays for the films Dragnet, North and The Story of Us, and his many theatrical contributions include Billy Crystal’s Tony Award-winning 700 Sundays, Martin Short’s Fame Becomes Me and the off-Broadway play Bunny Bunny — Gilda Radner, A Sort of Romantic Comedy. His humor has appeared in Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times op-ed page, The Huffington Post and Mad Magazine.
Panel: “How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Work”
As more and more print columns move online and new blogs pop up daily in the webisphere, it’s more important than ever to use every resource at your disposal to drive traffic to your site. In today’s Internet-driven society, editors and advertisers are measuring page hits as closely as they used to look at newspaper circulation numbers. But for those who are new to social media, the sheer number of resources available can be overwhelming and the idea of taking time away from your writing to “tweet” or Facebook post can seem counter-intuitive. W. Bruce Cameron and Tracy Beckerman, two successful columnists and authors, have learned how to utilize social media to pump up their followings in a way that doesn’t bite into their writing time and help their brands stand out in the crowded marketplace. Find out? which social media platforms are worth your time, how to create community and increase your fan base, and why services that measure your online influence like Klout may be important in helping you get your blog or column to the next level.
Suzette Martinez Standring — columnist, author and writing instructor — will moderate the panel “How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Work.” She is syndicated with GateHouse News Service for her spirituality and humor columns. She is the award-winning author of The Art of Column Writing: Insider Secrets from Art Buchwald, Dave Barry, Arianna Huffington, Pete Hamill and Other Great Columnists (Marion Street Press, 2008). The book has won many awards and is part of the journalism curriculum in a number of schools. The Florida Writers Association chose her as their 2009 “Person of Renown” for its first-ever compilation of short stories written by members on the topic of family. She hosts and produces It’s All Write With Suzette, a half-hour TV show about writing, and she presents writing workshops nationally. Certified in hypnotherapy, she has demonstrated how to use guided imagery to enhance creativity in writing at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio and at the 2012 NSNC Conference in Macon, Ga. Her archived columns are at her website www.readsuzette.com.
Tracy Beckerman, columnist and blogger, will be on the panel “How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Work.” She writes the nationally syndicated humor column and blog “Lost in Suburbia,” which is carried by over 400 newspapers in 25 states and 250 websites to more than 10 million readers. Tracy also blogs at several other sites including Lifetime Television’s hit morning show, The Balancing Act, Aiming Low and Huffington Post Parents. She is the author of a humor collection called Rebel without a Minivan, and has a second book coming out in April, a “momoir,” published by Perigee Books, an imprint of Penguin. She has appeared on The Today Show, CBS Early Show, LX New York, Better TV, and in a feature story about Erma Bombeck for CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. She appears semi-regularly on The Balancing Act and on dozens of radio shows and podcasts talking about how to be a cool mom in the ‘burbs. She also speaks frequently at conferences and schools about humor writing, syndication and social media, finding your voice and building your brand. Tracy has won an Emmy, a Writer’s Guild of America award, and an NSNC award for humor. She is on the faculty of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and is a past NSNC board member.
W. Bruce Cameron, the best-selling author and humor columnist, will be on the panel “How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Work.” He is a hugely successful syndicated columnist and author of best-selling books, including 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which was made into a popular TV sitcom starring the late John Ritter. He has recently segued into fiction and wrote the best-selling book A Dog’s Purpose, the sequel A Dog’s Journey and Emory’s Gift. Dreamworks is developing A Dog’s Purpose into a movie. He and his wife and writing partner, Cathryn Michon, wrote the screenplay. He also co-wrote the feature film 40 Is the New Dead, to be released in 2013. Among his many honors, he has received the Robert Benchley Award for Humor in 2006 and the NSNC Columnist of the Year Award in 2011. He has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, including Oprah, CBS Early Show and CNN Headline News. He has 224,450 followers on A Dog’s Purpose Facebook fan page, and he answers every single one of their posts.
Merry Clark, a consultant and former multimedia journalist and editor, will be on the panel “How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Work.” This former Texan runs MERRYCLARKMERRYCLARK, a New York City-based consulting company that provides content development services and project management for websites, companies, lifestyle brands, individuals, book packagers and publishers. She states: “We effectively convey your message in the multimedia platform of your choice. We create content with clout!” Clark is an experienced and skilled newspaper, magazine and Web journalist and editor. Her career in New York includes posts as a publishing executive at Hearst Corp. and King Features Syndicate and as a magazine writer and editor at New York Magazine. Clark is editorial director at Heloise Inc. Clark has co-hosted workshops for writers with Heloise and gave her a chicken tortilla soup recipe which the famed advice columnist calls “fabulous.”
Dave Barry is the recipient of the NSNC’s 2013 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award. For more than two decades, Dave Barry was a syndicated newspaper columnist, based at The Miami Herald, whose work appeared in more than 500 newspapers in the United States and abroad. In 1988 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary “for his consistently effective use of humor as a device for presenting fresh insights into serious concerns.” He retired from the grueling demands of weekly column writing in 2005, but still contributes special projects, including his signature Christmas gift guide and year-in-review pieces. He filed reports from the London Olympics and the national political conventions in the summer of 2012.
Barry’s journalism career began in 1971 as a reporter with the Daily Local News of West Chester, Pa. He worked briefly as a copy editor for The Associated Press at its Philadelphia bureau before in 1975 joining Burger Associates, a consulting firm that taught effective writing to business people. In 1983, Barry was hired by Gene Weingarten as a humor columnist for the Herald. His career at the Herald brought him worldwide acclaim as a humorist with a distinctive style and a best-selling author of 31 books of humor and parody, as well as 13 novels and children’s books.
A TV situation comedy, Dave’s World, based on two of his books, was broadcast by CBS for four seasons. For a 1992 American Booksellers Association convention, several authors including Barry, and his late sister, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, formed a band for charity called The Rock Bottom Remainders.
Barry has attended two past NSNC conferences, the most recent being Philadelphia in 2007 where he was a speaker on the program.
He lives in Miami with his wife, Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman.
Barry has defined a sense of humor as “a measurement of the extent to which we realize that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason. Laughter is how we express the anxiety we feel at this knowledge.”
These notable writers have confirmed they’ll be at NSNC’s Hartford conference. The roster may change slightly as the weekend nears. Updates will be posted here.