On Friday, April 26th, I had the pleasure of joining Lisa Lieberman in presenting the writing workshop “Passport to Adventure” at Worcester State University. Like me, Lisa writes historical mysteries. Hers follow the adventures and intrigues of Cara Walden from 1950s Hollywood to England and Italy (special guest appearance by Cary Grant!) to Hungary during the Revolution and soon to Indochina. Lisa is also Vice President of Sisters in Crime New England. In that role she’s been working to bring new blood, so to speak, into our organization. This fun work shop is one means she is rolling out to do so. I was happy that she asked me to join her.
To give you an idea of how fun and inspirational this work shop is, here’s Lisa’s description: “The Surrealists used to pool their money and buy a one-way ticket to the furthest destination they could afford. They’d send one person off on an adventure and they’d have to make their way back somehow, and tell the others all about it when they returned. Along they way, they’d collect talismans that helped them navigate the dark places they encountered. In this workshop, we’ll be sending each of you off on an adventure and when you get back, you’ll have the outline of a short story.”
Of course, we didn’t literally send anyone off ‑ that would be a really long workshop. More pragmatically, we had a display of all kinds of intriguing objects from which participants could choose for the “talismans” or souvenirs. For a destination for their journey into the mysterious, we had them select one sealed envelope from an array, each with a different noir image to inspire their journey into creativity. They had time allotted to get started on who one character in the image was and what his/her concern was. Then, to spice things even more, I got to do individual tarot reading of past, present, and future of their characters ‑ which would aid them in thinking through where their characters had been, what conflict they were in now, and how that conflict might be resolved. It was fun for me to give vague interpretations of the cards and then watch our writers run with them, already inspired by their images and selected souvenirs. Wonderfully, the writers all seemed pretty well pleased with what they had come up with and planned to continue their tales. One fellow even told me he had finished his short story and had submitted it to the Al Blanchard Short Fiction Contest. Since he’s one of my students, of course, I’m pulling for him to win!
Our faculty liaison, Cleve Wiese was so excited by our endeavors, that he not only now has a story he wants to finish, but asked us to come back next fall to do the session with the WSU writers’ club INK. Another faculty member wants us to do the workshop with his course The Writers Life in the spring! And here’s the good news for everyone else out there! Lisa and I would be delighted to come to schools or writers’ groups to do the workshop as well! So let me or Lisa know if you would like us to work with you. Once again, Sisters in Crime is out there making a difference for writers, published and unpublished! Joining was one of the best decisions I ever made!