Tag Archives: Westport Writers Workshop

Roundup: Longshore Sailing School, Silver Ribbon, Lynsey Addario …

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Longshore Sailing School has a great reputation. The staff is knowledgeable, courteous, friendly and hardworking. Even when they’re swamped (ho ho), they handle everyone — students, renters, people who have no idea what they want — with care and concern.

So things must have gotten really bad for them to post this last Saturday, on social media:

The physical and emotional well-being of our staff and customers is our number one priority. We reserve the right to ask any renter/student to cease visiting our facility if their behavior is deemed to be inappropriate, especially when directed at another customer or Longshore Sailing School employee.

After dozens of “likes,” they added:

We love what we do, and we lover our staff. When you visit, we ask for kindness and readiness for a good time! Get ready for a stellar Sunday! Forecast is looking gorgeous.

It was a great weekend. Let’s hope whoever has been harassing the staff got the message, and took a hike.

Or at least took their obnoxious, entitled behavior elsewhere.

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Deputy Fire Chief Michael Kronick is back in Westport. He just completed a 2-week wildfire assignment with the Connecticut Interstate Fire Crew, battling wildfires in Minnesota and Montana.

Westport Fire Chief Robert Yost says, “I’m proud to welcome back our deputy, who epitomizes Westport’s values of sacrifice and service to others. When communities and states need help, we can support our neighbors in their time of crisis battling dangerous wildfires. The experience and knowledge he gained in working a large-scale incident are invaluable to us.”

Deputy Fire Chief Michael Kronick, in action out west.

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Another longtime Westport business is closing.

Silver Ribbon — for 45 years, a favorite destination for jewelry and more — will shut its doors in the small shopping plaza next to Fortuna’s when its merchandise is gone.

Signs outside say “Going Out of Business.” Inside, they talk about a “Retirement Sale.”

Good quality goods, at all price points, are still available.

Silver Ribbon, next to Fortuna’s.

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The headline on yesterday’s Atlantic story was strong: “The Taliban’s Return is Catastrophic for Women.”

The subhead was even stronger: “As a photojournalist covering Afghanistan for two decades, I’ve seen how hard the country’s women have fought for their freedom, and how much they have gained. Now they stand to lose everything.”

The byline read “Lynsey Addario.” As usual, the Staples High School Pulitzer Prize- and MacArthur “genius grant”-winning photojournalist delivered even more than she promised.

Click here to read the full, harrowing piece. (Hat tip: Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

An Afghan woman (Photo/Lynsey Addario, courtesy of The Atlantic)

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The hits just keep on coming for Courtney Kemp.

The talented writer/producer /creator of Starz’ “Power” franchise — and 1994 Staples High School graduate — has just signed a “high 8-figure overall deal” with Netflix. She’ll “create new series, and develop other projects for a global audience through her End of Episode banner,” says Deadline. Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Judith Hamer)

Courtney Kemp

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COVID knocked the Westport Writers’ Workshop classes onto Zoom. But now they’re back — and in a great new location.

The new gallery-like teaching and event space is 25 Sylvan Road South — just down the hill from the previous site. It’s perfect for workshops, readings, publishing events and collaborations with other nonprofits.

Remote options are still available. Click here for fall schedules — and mark your calendars for an open house on September 9 (6 to 8 p.m.).

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Piglet — Westport’s very famous deaf, blind rescue puppy — will appear with Melissa Shapiro, the veterinarian who made him famous — at the 3rd annual Smart Walk for Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities. The event is October 3, at Sherwood Island State Park.

Shapiro will talk (and Piglet will watch) about her new best-selling book, “Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family.”

“We can’t wait to share a little positive Piglet Mindse with everyone after the walk,” Shapiro says.

The Smart Walk is a day of crafts, games, music, ice cream — and the fundraising walk. Click here for more information, and to register.

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It’s pretty tough to come up with an all-new category for “dumb parking.”

But Rich Stein thinks he’s found one:

(Photo/Rich Stein)

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Longtime Westporter Barbara Reis has spent over 50 years writing musicals.

They’ve been produced at the White Barn Theater, Fairfield Playhouse, Orpheum in New York and others.

She and collaborator Nancy Tobin have just completed “My Millionaire.” The musical is based on a Mark Twain short story.

They believe a presentation at Mark Twain’s former house would be great. They’re also looking for other ideas. Unfortunately, her agent has died. So she’s looking for help from “06880” readers, to move the show along.

If you’ve got ideas — or are interested in learning more — email barbarasmusic@sbcglobal.net

Produce this man’s short story musical!

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Our “Westport … Naturally” feature has never included sports. There’s always a first time …

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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And finally … Nanci Griffith died last Friday, at 68. The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter “kept one foot in folk and the other in country, and was blessed with a soaring voice equally at home in both genres,” the New York Times says. Click here for a full obituary.

Westport Welcomes New Writers’ Studio

Westporters love words. We argue, read — and write.

This town is already home to 2 thriving writers’ centers: Westport Writers’ Workshop and Write Yourself Free.

We’ll soon welcome a 3rd. Fairfield County Writers’ Studio opens in January at 21 Charles Street, near the train station.

Classes will be held by best-selling authors, well-known editors, top literary agents, television pros and publishing experts. Aspiring and established fiction and non-fiction writers can enroll in master classes and workshops.

Westporter Jane Green and Linda Fairstein head the list of instructors.

Hard at work at the Fairfield County Writers' Studio.

Hard at work at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio.

Fairfield County Writers’ studio was founded by Tessa Smith McGovern and Carol Leonetti Dannhauser. McGovern is a top-selling Amazon author, and teaches at Sarah Lawrence’s Writing Institute. When her children were in Westport schools, she taught workshops for their classmates. She helped her son Phil and his baseball teammates publish an app of their sportswriting.

Dannhauser has written for the New York Times, Business Week and Good Housekeeping. She teaches journalism at Quinnipiac University.

“Our chief aim is to create a nurturing community where writers and artists can come together in our creative space, and find the instruction and support they need to have fun, write and publish — wherever they are in their careers,” McGovern says.

Write on!

Christine Pakkala’s Nightmare, Prize-Winning Trip

There’s a lot to learn at the Westport Writers’ Workshop. But it’s not all about the words.

Christine Pakkala has taken workshops, and been mentored, at the Sylvan Road center since 2008. Beyond important writing skills, she’s gained confidence. And learned to put herself waaay out there.

She did it so well that her essay — “The Vacation Nightmare That Changed My Life” — won 1st place in the prestigious Ladies’ Home  Journal writing contest. Chosen from thousands of submission, it earned her $3,000 — plus publication in the June issue.

Christine Pakkala (Photo by Kristin Hoebermann)

Christine Pakkala (Photo by Kristin Hoebermann)

Christine wrote grippingly about her fear of flying. She finally overcame it in order to spend Christmas in Costa Rica with her husband, attorney and author Cameron Stracher, and their kids (Simon, then 13, and Lulu, 10).

The vacation turned grim when Cam collapsed after a run. The only CAT-scan machine in the country was in San Jose — and the only way to get there was on a tiny plane.

Back in Westport — after a long commercial flight — the couple learned that a major artery was 90 percent blocked. He had survived only because his runner’s heart was so strong.

After a stent and medication, he’s back running. Christine has flown half a dozen times since then. And, of course, she writes.

A former Fulbright Scholar who received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she says, “I’ve had Pulitzer Prize-winning writing teachers. But the best advice came from Jessica Bram and Suzanne Hoover” — 2 of her Westport Writers’ Workshop teachers. “They taught me to first listen to myself, then listen to others.”

Now others are listening to Christine. Last month she taught students how to break into children’s books. She should know: She’s got a multi-book publishing deal.

Christine got interested in writing for kids when Simon was in kindergarten. Her tales incorporated his classmates as characters. She read them aloud, and teachers encouraged her to do more.

She listened. She wrote. She branched out from kindergarten to middle grade fiction, and now to a harrowing but healing account of her terrible trip to Costa Rica.

Which — thanks to confidence gained through the Westport Writers’ Workshop — is a prize-winning essay, shared with Ladies’ Home Journal readers everywhere.

Westport Writers Workshop

(To read Christine’s essay, click here.)

Shameless Self-Promotion

One of the advantages of having your own blog is being able to blog about teaching blogging.

So here goes:

I’ve teamed up with Westport Writers’ Workshop to offer a 2-evening session called “Be a Blogger.”  On Thursday, July 14 and 21 (7 to 9 p.m.), I’ll help aspiring bloggers — this means you! — learn how to:

  • Choose a topic.
  • Generate ideas.
  • Create content.
  • Find a voice.
  • Respond to the Dude, Anonymous, or whoever else comments on your stuff — and create a community in the process.

We’ll also cover the mechanics of choosing a platform, finding graphics, and marketing and maintaining your blog.

That’s the 1st Thursday.  In the hands-on, interactive 2nd session you’ll develop your own blog, write the 1st post, put it online — and hear immediate feedback from fellow workshop participants.

Here’s 1 free hint on how to start blogging:  Embrace action verbs.

But you have to pay for the rest.

(Westport Writers’ Workshop is at 3 Sylvan Road South.  Anyone age 14 and up is welcome.  For more information and to register, click here.  Space is limited to 12 soon-to-be-awesome bloggers.)

Avoid The Internet!

It may seem counter-intuitive to post a notice of this event here in cyberspace, but we live in weird world.

So here goes:

The Westport Writers’ Workshop has announced “Writing Hours Unplugged.”  Called “a nurturing program for writers who seek a quiet space in a setting conducive to creativity, free of the distractions of the Internet,” it takes place at the Workshop (3 Sylvan Road South) most days of the week, beginning at 8 a.m.  (Check email early!)

Writers can unplug when workshops are not in session — including Sundays, the traditional day of rest.

Not a workspace the Westport Writers' Workshop wants to see.

In addition to no whirring computers or chirping cellphones, the facility offers overflowing bookshelves, bright windows and stacks of resources.  (Plus a kitchen.)

The lack of internet access includes wireless.  Westport Writers’ Workshop founder Jessica Bram says “the single greatest impediment to productive writing is the distraction provided by access to the Internet.”

Of course, there is no such thing as free non-internet access.  Writing Hours Unplugged is available only to Workshop members ($150 per year; includes program discounts and free admission to speaker events).  Memberships are available to “any writer or would-be writer in the community.”

“06880” likes the theory of unplugging, and writing in glorious, undistracted, quiet, contemplative, sylvan solitude.

But how would we know when The Dude, Jeffxs or any of our other fans readers comments on this post?

(For more information about the Westport Writers’ Workshop and Writing Hours Unplugged, click on www.westportwritersworkshop.com, or call 203-227-3250.)