Midwest writers love Writers’ Institute; author offers free session

Writers know a good thing when they see it–a chance to meet editors and publishers, and to get published.

That’s what the popular Annual Writers’ Institute offers about 250 writers each year and why the Continuing Studies program is almost sold out–even though it’s several weeks away on the weekend of April 13-15.

But the public can get a taste of the advice offered at the conference and rub shoulders with John Vorhaus, the author of five novels (including his newest, “Lucy in the Sky,” which is set in Madison and Milwaukee) at a free session on Friday, April 13 at 8 p.m. at Lowell Center, 610 Langdon St.

Vorhaus will talk about How to Use Humor When You Don’t Think You’re Funny.” He said he’ll address how anyone can improve their lives by using humor whether at a singles bar, on the job, or while writing a book.

Known for his expertise in penning humor, Vorhaus has authored two how-to books: “The Comic Toolbox” and “Creativity Rules,” which are considered bibles of the genre. In addition, his latest poker book, “Decide to Play Great Poker,” (co-authored with Annie Duke) is consistently the top-selling poker book on Amazon. Vorhaus also travels the world training television writers and creating television shows. He is a former scriptwriter for several successful U.S. TV programs, including “Charles in Charge” and “Head of the Class.”

A few of the many instructors that will help writers polish their writing, craft an attention-getting pitch for a writing project, and actually present the pitch to a professional publishing agent, are:

  • A panel of last year’s conference participants who were successful at getting published by attending Writers’ Institute
  • Penelope Trunk, writer of the blog “Brazen Careerist” which is published in scores of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal and The Boston Globe.
  • Brian Christian, author of “The Most Human Human,” which was named a Wall Street Journal bestseller, called one of the best books of 2011 by the New Yorker, and translated into 10 languages.
  • Jeannette Hurt, a former reporter at The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She is the author of five books and a contributor to two others. Her book, “The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide,” received first place in the 2010 Mark Twain Travel Writing Awards Competition. She is also the author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Cheeses of the World,” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tapas.”

Agents include: a former features editor at Redbook and Seventeen, who now represents authors; the former owner of a Berkeley, Calif. bookstore who left his 30-year long career and became an agent; a former editor from HarperCollins and Random House, and others.

For details, contact conference director Laurie Scheer at lscheer@dcs.wisc.edu or 608-265-3972.