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
Thursday, June 27, 2013
2 – 6 p.m. — Registration
3 – 4:30 — Board of Directors Meeting
5 – 6:30 — Hospitality Suite open
Evening — dinner — on-your-own. Group arrangement at the nearby City Steam Brewery Cafe, on a prix fixe basis. Conferees are being emailed the details.
Friday, June 28, 2013
8 – 8:30 a.m. — Breakfast
8:30 – 9 — Welcome — NSNC President Eric Heyl, Hartford Courant Editor Andrew Julien
9 – 9:30 — Steve Courtney — “Hartford: Mark Twain and Other Literary Lights”
Historian and author Steve Courtney talks about Mark Twain and other famous writers of Hartford. Courtney is publicist and publications editor for The Mark Twain House and Museum. He is the award-winning author of The Loveliest Home that Ever Was: The Story of the Mark Twain House in Hartford (2011) and Joseph Hopkins Twitchell: The Life and Times of Mark Twain’s Closest Friend (2008). Courtney served as a journalist for 36 years, 20 of them at The Hartford Courant. (Click here for bios of our speakers.)
9:30 – 10:15 — Dave Lieber — “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. Dave Lieber, a 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 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 for 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.
10:15 – 10:30 — Break
10:30 – 11:15 — Tracey O’Shaughnessy — “The Lifestyle Section: A Great Place for Your Work”
How do you get your readers to pick up the paper and embrace it? You hit them where they live — in their living rooms, in their dens. You insinuate yourself in their intimate space, largely by opening yourself up and exploring your own foibles. Can you connect that to society at large — pop culture, the media? Sure you can. The more pop references you get, the more branches you give your readers to climb into your space and realize that’s where they want to be.
Tracey O’Shaughnessy is an award-winning columnist and associate features editor for the Waterbury Republican-American. She edits the Tuesday Woman section, the Wednesday and Thursday Accent pages, 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.
11:15 – noon — Mike Morin — “The Outstanding Pitch”
No one wants your new book to succeed more than you do. That’s why you need an insider’s expertise on how to make your pitch irresistible to radio, TV and print outlets. It’s free advertising, baby! Mike Morin is not only a columnist and author but he has spent 42 years in radio and knows exactly what he and fellow media personalities and show producers are looking for in a book pitch from authors. You’ll learn about exploiting the local angles with perspective media outlets, radio tours, book trailers, how to be a good interview guest and a few take-away tips on public speaking.
After four decades as a radio personality in New York City, Boston and now New Hampshire, Mike has written his professional memoir in a new book called Fifty Shades of Radio: True Stories of a Morning Radio Guy Being Wired, Tired and Fired. The book includes 100 favorite humor columns from the Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph. Mike writes for several regional magazines and has written for The Boston Globe and the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. He can be heard weekday mornings on WZID-FM in Manchester, NH.
12:15 p.m. – 2 — Lunch
- 12: 15 — Depart from hotel to Billings Forge. Bus transportation sponsored by DATTCO. Luncheon sponsored by The Kitchen at Billings Forge.
- Roll Call of States, Diane Ketcham, Lifetime Director for Fun
- Presentation of 2013 Jeff Zaslow College Columnist Award winners — Joel Brinkley
- Tour of Billings Forge
- 2 — Buses depart Billings Forge, return to hotel
3:45 — Buses leave hotel for The Mark Twain House & Museum
4 – 6 — Tour, sponsored by The Mark Twain House & Museum
6 – 9 — Dinner — sponsored by Salute restaurant at The Mark Twain House & Museum (dress: business casual)
- Will Rogers Humanitarian Award presentation — Josh Rogers Leuty
- Keynote speaker, Heloise — “Fifty Years of Heloise … and Counting”
- 9:15 — Buses return to Hartford Hilton
9:15 – really late — Hospitality Suite
Saturday, June 29, 2013
8:30 – 9 a.m. — Breakfast
9 – 10 — Rick Horowitz — “Your Choices, Your Voices”
What makes you sound like you? What can get in your way? And where does it say you have to play the same notes every time?
Join National Headliner and Emmy Award winner Rick Horowitz in exploring the elements that give your column its distinctive personality, its “voice”– and the decisions you can make to make that voice even stronger and more effective.
Rick is a syndicated-columnist-turned-nationally-known-writing-coach, and the founder and Wordsmith in Chief of Prime Prose, LLC. His lively Saturday-morning session, “Your Choices, Your Voices,” will offer plenty of practical tips, plus advice on how to avoid those all-too-common columnist potholes. You’ll come away energized and more confident, with some valuable new tools in the toolkit and exciting new ways to think about the writing you do. The fun begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. Set your alarm clock, definitely worth it.
10 – 10:15 — Break
10:15 – 11:15 — “Family Lifestyles” — Lisa Smith Molinari and Jerry Zezima
A lot of writers think they have to go on fabulous adventures or do incredible things for column material. Not so. The best — and funniest — stuff happens to you, often in your own home. Learn how to see what’s right in front of you and turn it into column gold, and how to find your niche in the process. Family lifestyle columnist and “Military Mom” Lisa Smith Molinari and nationally syndicated humorist and author Jerry Zezima will offer tips, observations and, yes, laughs in this informative and entertaining session.
11:15 – noon — John Avlon — “America’s Greatest Newspaper Columnists”
What makes a writer stand out in the age-old profession of column writing? Learn by example in this fascinating overview by New York City columnist and author John Avlon. He spearheaded a project to identify America’s greatest newspaper columnists and, with two other editors, catalogued such work in two volumes that make compelling reading for all writers.
12:15 p.m. – 2:15 — Lunch, Hartford Hilton
Keynote — Professor Gina Barreca — “A Lesson in Being Funny”
2:30 – 3:15 — Gina Barreca, Joel Brinkley and Alan Zweibel — “Breaking into Public Speaking”
A talk that is compelling and entertaining is vital to public speaking. A trio of sought after speakers will share their secrets. Explore how to turn personal experiences or a signature sense of humor into a talk that will provoke, inform, celebrate, make trouble, and make your work memorable.
Gina Barreca is a best-selling author of six books and a professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut. Her Hartford Courant columns are distributed worldwide by McClatchy-Tribune. Joel Brinkley, a Pulitzer Prize winner and foreign affairs columnist, is syndicated with Tribune Media Services and is featured on TMS’s American Voices op-ed list. Producer and writer Alan Zweibel is renowned for his work on Saturday Night Live, PBS Great Performances, and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.
3:15 – 3:30 — Break
3:30 – 4:15 — Tracy Beckerman, W. Bruce Cameron and Merry Clark with Suzette Standring, moderator — “How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Work”
Social media — from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest to Instagram — are thriving. New ones pop up all the time. As a columnist and blogger, how much attention do you need to give to these virtual communities, from the established ones to the start-ups? Find out how to build your brand online without compromising your voice, how to schedule social media into your writing day, and how you can use these platforms to become more attractive to readers, editors and brands, and even get a book deal.
Effective strategies are shared by New York Times best-selling author W. Bruce Cameron, columnist and author Tracy Beckerman, and Merry Clark, editorial director of Heloise Inc. and multimedia consultant for content and branding. Use social media to stand out in a crowded marketplace and use them as a negotiating tool with publishers.
4:30 – 5:30 — Book Fair and Scholarship Silent Auction open
6:30 – 9:30 — Reception and Dinner, Hartford Hilton (business dress)
- Alan Zweibel will present the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award to Dave Barry, The Miami Herald
- Presentation of NSNC Column Writing Contest Awards
10 p.m. – really, really late — Hospitality Suite
Sunday, June 30, 2013
8:30 a.m. – 9 — Breakfast
9 – 11 — General Membership Meeting, Election of Officers
11 — Adjourn (We hope to close by 10:30)