Category Archives: School Buzz

Southbury’s Arts Escape to Host Kid’s Egg Painting Workshop & Visit with the Easter Bunny

SOUTHBURY, CT—The Easter Bunny has recently announced that he will be hoppin’ down to Arts Escape in Southbury for a visit with the kids after Arts Escape’s Easter egg painting workshop. Instructor Kothy Hafersat will introduce kids and teens to the art of dot painting which will lead to the creation of beautiful works of art on wooden Easter eggs. 

The instructor Kothy (not Kathy) is a national educator for three sewing machine companies—Singer, Viking and Pfaff. She is a certified Zentangle instructor, co-owns and runs a pattern company that produces quilt and sewing patterns, and is a professional digitizer for the 6D embroidery software company which is sold to use with today’s embroidery sewing machines. She has been teaching kids and adults for over 30 years. 

The class includes three eggs to paint and take home plus a photo with the Easter Bunny after class. Each child will also receive a goody bag. The workshop takes place on Saturday, April 16, 2022 from 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Arts Escape493 Heritage Road, Southbury. The fee for the 2-hour workshop is $25 and the class is limited to 20 students.

Register on Arts Escape’s website by clicking here.

About Arts Escape

Arts Escape is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Arts Escape encourages engagement in the arts through an extensive range of programs and classes. Our community of adult learners explore the arts in a welcoming and nonjudgmental environment. At Arts Escape, our values and goals support the research that participating in creative activities improves adults’ problem-solving skills, self-esteem, and well-being.

“Arts Escape, where creativity and learning promote well-being.”

Westport Writers Workshop Celebrates ‘National Poetry Month’ with New Spring Classes

WESTPORT, CT—Westport Writers Workshop (WWW) is offering a combination of online and in person classes this spring at their new space located at 25 Sylvan Lane, Unit J, Westport, Conn. Their new location features a gallery-like space with a large workshop/community space that enables them to collaborate with other local arts organizations. 

Their spring workshops begin the week of March 28th and open registration is now open. With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, WWW welcomes writers of all skill levels and genres with classes and workshops that are designed to suit any schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs are also held at various times throughout the year. ​

Several of their spring workshops include a creative nonfiction class (Writing About Your Life), Poetry (April is National Poetry month), an Introduction to Screenwriting workshop, an in-person Write to Prompts class (Just Write), and a new workshop on Writing Novels, as well as the classes listed below:

Workshop in Poetry – All Levels with Charles Rafferty: This class is for students interested in learning about the genre from Charles Rafferty, whose poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and O — Oprah Magazine.  Each week, participants will share a poem, and the instructor will lead a discussion of the manuscript, highlighting what is working well and suggesting ways to improve it. As time allows, there may also be general discussions of craft and perhaps some in-class writing.

WHERE: Online via ZOOM

TIME: 7 Tuesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

DATES: March 29, April 5, 12, off, 26, May 3, 10, 17

Introduction to Novel Writing with Rahla Xenopoulos: Embarking on the exciting and, at times daunting business of writing a novel. The class will focus on banishing the pesky inner critic, developing characters, establishing themes and structure, excavating and exploring your story, and deciding on a narrator.

WHERE: Online via ZOOM

TIME: 7 Fridays, 10am to 12noon

DATES:April 1, 8, off, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20

Flash Fiction with Liz Matthews – IN PERSON: In flash fiction, writers become attuned to language on the sentence level. This is good practice for writers of all genres, as you’ll learn how to transform abstract ideas into specific moments. We’ll pay close attention to pacing, metaphor and imagery, endings, and poetic techniques to employ in writing flash. There is room to experiment and take more risks with poetry or prose told in 1,000 words or less. Each week students will study examples of both well-known and more obscure writers who have mastered this form. During and in between workshops, you’ll receive unique writing prompts for continual inspiration and support.   

WHERE: In person at:  25 Sylvan Road South, Suite J, Westport, CT 06880

TIME: 7 Thursdays, 10am to 12noon

DATES: March 31, April 7, 14, off, 28, May 5, 12, 19

Writing Books for Kids with Christine Pakkala: Have you always wanted to write a picture book or a book for children or teens? This writing workshop is targeted for adult writers of picture books, early and middle grade and young adult fiction. The goal will be to support each writer’s efforts to develop and hone new projects as well as works-in-progress. We will explore the art of creating characters that young people care about and with whom they can identify. In addition, we will exercise our ability to bring emotion to our narratives, to bring setting to life, and to strengthen our plots for greatest impact. The weekly sessions will employ positive, non-threatening feedback in a small group environment. Workshop members are invited to bring up to five double-spaced, 12-point-font pages of writing to the first session. Please note: email your pages to the instructor as well as the entire group. Please keep your word count to a maximum of 1250 words.

WHERE: Online via ZOOM

TIME: 7 Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

DATES:March 30, April 6, 13, off, 27, May 4, 11, 18

Writing About Your Life (Beginner) with Phoenix Glass-Destruge: Thinking about writing a memoir or personal essay? Perhaps you’ve already begun but aren’t sure where to go next. Maybe there are subjects you wish to ignore, that feel taboo, or worse yet, boring. You may ask yourself, “Why would anyone care about what I have to say?” or “How could I possibly share this part of myself?” If you’ve had these fears, or any fear related to writing, I promise you, you are not alone. These concerns are part of the process and mean you are doing something right. Here is the truth: your story matters. It is not too dark nor too dull. Mary Oliver said the writer, “stands between two marvelous and complex things—an experience (or an idea or a feeling) and the urge to tell about it in the best possible conjunction of words.” The merging of experience and written word will be the objective of this workshop, where each week writers will bring pages of new or revised writing to read aloud and receive feedback on what is working and what might be strengthened.

WHERE: Online via ZOOM

TIME: 7 Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 12 noon

DATES: March 29, April 5, 12, off, 26, May 3, 10, 17

For more course offerings this spring and to register, visit the Westport Writers Workshop website. Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public in Connecticut. Their organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. To learn more, visit the WWW SCHOLARSHIPS and SUPPORT US pages.

About Westport Writers Workshop:

Since 2003, the Westport Writers’ Workshop has been offering workshops for every level of writer, from novice to published! Our instructors offer friendly, supportive writing workshops designed to encourage, inspire, and spark your imagination.

With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, we welcome writers of all skill levels and genres. Our workshops are designed to suit your schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. We also host several Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs throughout the year. You can learn more about our workshops by visiting our WORKSHOP page. Let Westport Writers’ Workshop help you discover and develop your own unique writing talent and voice.

Our Philosophy: You can expect a supportive group led by an experienced instructor. You’ll write, read, and learn from each other. Focus is always on the quality of the writing – not on the subject matter. Writing begets writing. The more you commit to your writing, to showing up for your writing group, the more you will write. By joining a community of writers, you will become a stronger writer and influence others to refine their craft. Our philosophy and practices are inspired by Amherst Writers & Artists and Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others.

Our Mission: The Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public. Our organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities.

Our History: In 2003, Jessica Bram founded Westport Writers’ Workshop. In 2010, Jessica moved the workshops into the second floor of the historic building on 3 Sylvan Rd. South in Westport. In 2013, Valerie Leff bought WWW and became the Director. In 2014, Valerie created a Board of Directors and transformed the business into a nonprofit with a mission to offer enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public, and free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. In 2018, Michelle Bradley came on board as the Executive Director, and in summer 2019 when Michelle’s family was transferred to Chicago, Liz Matthews took over as the Director. In March of 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, the workshops transitioned to the Zoom platform and were offered remotely. The organization now offers both in-person and online classes and has grown to include writers and instructors outside of our immediate community.

westportwriters.org

Give the Gift of Creativity with Muse Squad

What do you get the child who has everything? How about the gift of creativity? A Ridgefield  mom and business owner’s unique writing program helps youth in the community to build skills  and polish their craft.  

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ~Albert Einstein  

RIDGEFIELD, CT — For a child who is into gaming, the digital world, and other online  activities, giving the gift of writing might not sound too appealing. However, when you present it  in such a way as Ridgefield Mompreneur Brittney Richardson does, kids will learn through fun  which makes it a win-win.  

Richardson, the founder of Muse Squad, is launching her youth writing program this January.  She designed the creative online course for aspiring young writers to hone their craft in a way  that is fun, engaging, and unique. By the end of completing the program, students will have the  start of a novel, a short story, or several standalone pieces to put in their writing portfolio.  

With Brittney Richardson’s Muse Squad, kids and teens can enjoy the benefits of writing while  working with like-minded individuals. Her writing-club based approach enables students to form  lasting relationships and help initiate ideas they might not have come up with had they been  working alone.  

According to kids writing advocate Andrea Bergstein “Statistics show that reading helps develop  your writing skills, but writing helps develop your cognitive growth, organizational abilities, and  the power to influence others through persuasion. In short, writing powers the brain.”  

She continues, “Studies show that children who practice creative writing more often are  generally better in other subjects too like math, science, and languages. Challenging themselves  to come up with creative thoughts and problem solve, builds the confidence and discipline  students need to succeed in all areas of life.”  

In the winter program Richardson said that she intends to “pass on the literary techniques and  wisdom of outstanding teachers while demonstrating several of my own unique strategies for  generating inspiration. I can say firsthand, that the people I met in workshops during grad school,  were some of the most gifted individuals I’ve ever come across, and I found mentors in my  instructors.”  

Miss Brittney’s interactive teaching method and imaginative writing prompts will foster  creativity and help tweens and teens find their literary voice. Each class has an original theme  and allows time for students to read their work aloud.  

To sign up for the program, visit the Muse Squad website by clicking here.

Westport Writers Workshop Offers Zoom & In-Person Classes for Writers of All Skill Levels

WESTPORT, CT—The Westport Writers Workshop (WWW) is offering a combination of online and in person classes this winter at their brand new space, located at 25 Sylvan Lane, Unit J, Westport, CT just down the road from their former location. Executive Director Liz Matthews stated that their new location features a gallery-like space with a large workshop/community space that enables them to collaborate with other local arts organizations. 

Their Winter Workshops begin the week of January 10th and open registration is being held now through January 10th. Classes are limited to even participants to allow for helpful critiques from instructors and fellow writers. With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, WWW welcomes writers of all skill levels and genres with classes and workshops that are designed to suit any schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs are also held at various times throughout the year. ​

Several of their winter workshops include playwriting, screenwriting, fiction, memoir, poetry, and the classes listed below:

Veteran writer Christine Pakkala will teach Writing About Your Life: Memoir for beginner to intermediate writers which focuses on the craft of writing about our own lives in either the personal essay or memoir form. They’ll explore the elements of storytelling that apply to fiction and memoir, as well as memoir’s unique role in making sense of life experience through reflection. Writers will receive feedback in an encouraging atmosphere.

“Our aim is to create a community of writers who support one another by practicing deep listening, compassionate responses, and thoughtful feedback. We recognize that writing is a risky endeavor and that sharing what we write in a workshop setting requires courage. As a community, we support one another in that endeavor by offering rigorous support and a gentle critique,” Pakkala said.

Intro to Screenwriting with Kate Montgomery introduces aspiring writers to the unique craft of screenwriting. Attendees will learn formatting, story structure, character development,dialogue, pacing, and the three secret ingredients to every successful screenplay. Each class is a fun, fast-paced mix of short lectures, group and individual writing exercises, and table reads with course materials you cna keep to reference later. 

For those who are into poetry, Charles Rafferty offers students the opportunity to learn about the genre from a poet whose work was published in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and O — Oprah Magazine.  Each week, participants will share a poem, and the instructor will lead a discussion of the manuscript, highlighting what is working well and suggesting ways to improve it. 

For more course offerings this winter and to register, visit the Westport Writers Workshop website. The Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public in Connecticut. Their organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. To learn more, visit the WWW SCHOLARSHIPS and SUPPORT US pages.

About Westport Writers Workshop:

Since 2003, the Westport Writers’ Workshop has been offering workshops for every level of writer, from novice to published! Our instructors offer friendly, supportive writing workshops designed to encourage, inspire, and spark your imagination.

With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, we welcome writers of all skill levels and genres. Our workshops are designed to suit your schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. We also host several Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs throughout the year. You can learn more about our workshops by visiting our WORKSHOP page. Let Westport Writers’ Workshop help you discover and develop your own unique writing talent and voice.

Our Philosophy: You can expect a supportive group led by an experienced instructor. You’ll write, read, and learn from each other. Focus is always on the quality of the writing – not on the subject matter. Writing begets writing. The more you commit to your writing, to showing up for your writing group, the more you will write. By joining a community of writers, you will become a stronger writer and influence others to refine their craft. Our philosophy and practices are inspired by Amherst Writers & Artists and Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others.

Our Mission: The Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public. Our organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities.

Our History: In 2003, Jessica Bram founded Westport Writers’ Workshop. In 2010, Jessica moved the workshops into the second floor of the historic building on 3 Sylvan Rd. South in Westport. In 2013, Valerie Leff bought WWW and became the Director. In 2014, Valerie created a Board of Directors and transformed the business into a nonprofit with a mission to offer enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public, and free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. In 2018, Michelle Bradley came on board as the Executive Director, and in summer 2019 when Michelle’s family was transferred to Chicago, Liz Matthews took over as the Director. In March of 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, the workshops transitioned to the Zoom platform and were offered remotely. The organization grew to include writers and instructors outside of our immediate community.

westportwriters.org

‘Muse Squad’ on the Rise in Ridgefield

A Ridgefield mom and business owner tells the story of how her unique writing program helps youth in the community to hone their craft.

RIDGEFIELD, CT — Our Small Business Spotlight shines a light on local businesses that we may not know that well. This feature highlights Ridgefield Mompreneur Brittney Richardson who is the founder of the newly launched Muse Squad, a youth writing program.

To a beginning writer, finding a time and place to channel creativity is key. With that in mind, Brittney Richardson designed the online course for aspiring young writers. By the end of completing her unique program, Richardson said, students should have the start of a novel, a short story, or several standalone pieces to put in their writing portfolio.

How did you come up with the name?

Coming up with a name was a bit of a process. I wanted it to appeal to kids without being childish, and it was very important to draw in all genders. My incredibly talented husband did the logo.

Why start a business in this town?

We moved to Ridgefield five years ago, and obviously, fell in love with the town. I was researching creative writing for kids and couldn’t find much in our area. That’s when I got the idea for the program. I’ve always loved kids, and I’ve always loved writing. I knew that if something like this was offered when I was a teen, I definitely would’ve been a part of it!

What business are you in?

I think of Muse Squad as more of a writing club than a business. That being said, I intend to pass on and make accessible, the literary techniques and wisdom of outstanding teachers. I also plan to demonstrate several of my own unique strategies for generating inspiration. I can say firsthand, that the people I met in workshops during grad school, were some of the most gifted individuals I’ve ever come across, and I found mentors in my instructors. So why not offer this experience sooner than college?

What’s the most difficult moment or challenge you’ve faced as a business owner?

Writing is kind of a niche hobby for middle schoolers, because it doesn’t really become mainstream until they get older. But that doesn’t mean kids this age aren’t just as talented or creative as students in MFA programs. The most difficult challenge is having to do this online, rather than in person like I was intending. There is a certain energy when a group of creative people are in a room together, and I will do my best to achieve this same experience in a virtual world.

Were there any challenges that made you second guess your decision to be an entrepreneur?

I consider myself more of a tireless writer, and an advocate of kids. So no, I never second guessed it. Once I came up with the idea, I had to follow through.

What’s been your proudest achievement since opening?

The overwhelmingly positive feedback I have received, and the anticipation of our winter launch, which begins January 27th, 2022.

How does your business give back or get involved in the community?

I hope Muse Squad can be the start of a local community for young writers. This innovative class is not about graded assignments; it’s about honing your craft. My goal is to run meetings where kids can tune into their creativity and bounce ideas off their peers. This program will give
anyone who joins a chance to showcase their ability and express their point of view, and supply them with the space, tools, and confidence to explore their artistry.

Photo: Brittney Richardson.

Muse Squad business logo by Brian Richardson.

Westport Writers Workshop to Host In-Person Fall Classes in Brand New Space as Well as Online

WESTPORT, CT—Westport Writers Workshop (WWW) is pleased to offer an interesting range of both in-person and online classes this fall for aspiring to established writers. After operating online-only classes and workshops since COVID-19 halted operations, the organization is glad to have a safe, welcoming, place for writers to learn, grow, and network in a brand new, gallery-like space located at 25 Sylvan Lane, Unit J, Westport, CT just down the road from their former location. Westport Writers Workshop welcomes the community to an open house reception on Thursday, September 9th 6 from 6 to 8 pm. The reception is free and open to the public.

Executive Director Liz Matthews said, “After 17 months of offering our creative writing workshops remotely, we are reopening in a new space that we’re really excited about. This new location features a gallery-like space with a large workshop/community space where we hope to collaborate with other local arts organizations in this new space. Along with our workshops, we’ll be offering free readings and publishing events.in our new space.”

Board Chairman Anne Lonergan said, “We are thrilled to be honoring our roots as an in-person workshop that thrives on the energy created by writers around a table.”

Ellyn Gelman is excited to offer the first in-person class at Westport Writers Workshop’s new location, 25 Sylvan Lane, Unit J, Westport, CT. Inventing The Truth – The Craft of Memoir and Personal Essay will explore theme, dialogue, action, structure, scene, character, voice, style and timeline. The instructor will provide prompts based on-topic discussions. Once per term each writer will have the opportunity to submit ten pages for written feedback. This workshop is for all levels. The class will be held on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning on September 10 and running through October 22, 2021.

Intermediate Fiction instructor Jessie McEntee, who will be teaching in-person workshops on Monday mornings shares, “It’s an exciting opportunity for rebuilding community in a new space.”

For those who wish to stick with online classes this fall, author Libby Waterford will teach Intro to Fiction in a nurturing, positive environment.

“Each week we’ll talk about an aspect of fiction and then workshop our writing,” Waterford said.

Writers are asked to bring a story idea to the first class, or work on their in-progress fiction manuscript. Topics explored will include plot, character arcs, conflict, point of view, beginnings, and endings. This class is ideal for writers just dipping their toe into fiction, coming from the world of memoir, or who are having trouble finishing their manuscript.

The class will be online via ZOOM on Monday evenings from 7 – 9 p.m. beginning on August 30 and running through October 18, 2021.

For those who love words in the form of poetry, instructor Shanna Melton is offering a safe haven to gather online in her class, Poetry: Writing from the Inside Out.

“We will surface and honor the internal thoughts and perspectives that we have about life through the powerful medium that is poetry. The mission is to use prompts and other creative tools to motivate the creative process. It also creates a space to share and get a reaction from other writers who can advise us on how to enhance our work. This is a place to develop our writing,” Melton stated.

This class is held online on Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 12 noon beginning on September 1 and running through October 13, 2021.

Adele Annesi’s class, Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Find and Write the Story Under the Surface, teaches writers how to provide readers with their own satisfying emotional journey.

“We also look at how to craft the story’s emotional landscape, its emotional arc and meaning, the plot, and the reader and writer’s emotional journey. Each writer can email up to five pages weekly to the instructor and the group for detailed feedback. Discover the deeper connection with your story, your characters, your audience, and yourself. The workshop is suitable for writers who took the first Emotional Craft of Fiction workshop and those new to the concept,” Annesi shared.

This class is being held online in ZOOM on Thursdays, from 1 – 3 p.m. beginning on September 2 and running through October 21, 2021.

To register for any of these classes, visit Westportwriters.org.

Westport Writers Workshop will be hosting an open house at their new location, 25 Sylvan Lane, Unit J, Westport, CT, on Thursday, September 9th from 6 – 8 p.m. Executive Director Liz Matthews said, “We hope you’ll stop by to check out our new space, meet our instructors & other writers, and have a drink to toast the re-emergence of our in-person workshops and events! This event is free and open to our community. Come around back to our entrance – there’s plenty of parking. Bring a friend who is interested in learning more about Westport Writers! Music by Dustin Lowman and photography by Jim Waterbury.”

For more information, visit Westporwriters.org.

About Westport Writers Workshop:

Since 2003, the Westport Writers’ Workshop has been offering workshops for every level of writer, from novice to published! Our instructors offer friendly, supportive writing workshops designed to encourage, inspire, and spark your imagination.
With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, we welcome writers of all skill levels and genres. Our workshops are designed to suit your schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. We also host several Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs throughout the year. You can learn more about our workshops by visiting our WORKSHOP page. Let Westport Writers’ Workshop help you discover and develop your own unique writing talent and voice.

Our Philosophy: You can expect a supportive group led by an experienced instructor. You’ll write, read, and learn from each other. Focus is always on the quality of the writing – not on the subject matter. Writing begets writing. The more you commit to your writing, to showing up for your writing group, the more you will write. By joining a community of writers, you will become a stronger writer and influence others to refine their craft. Our philosophy and practices are inspired by Amherst Writers & Artists and Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others.

Our Mission: The Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public. Our organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities.

Our History: In 2003, Jessica Bram founded Westport Writers’ Workshop. In 2010, Jessica moved the workshops into the second floor of the historic building on 3 Sylvan Rd. South in Westport. In 2013, Valerie Leff bought WWW and became the Director. In 2014, Valerie created a Board of Directors and transformed the business into a nonprofit with a mission to offer enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public, and free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. In 2018, Michelle Bradley came on board as the Executive Director, and in summer 2019 when Michelle’s family was transferred to Chicago, Liz Matthews took over as the Director. In March of 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, the workshops transitioned to the Zoom platform and were offered remotely. The organization grew to include writers and instructors outside of our immediate community.
westportwriters.org

Aspiring & Established Writers Are Invited To Westport Online Writing Workshops

WESTPORT, CT— While vaccines are rolling out to more age groups in Connecticut, many still find themselves quarantined and working from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only impacted the way we live but has also changed the way we learn. Students and adults alike have learned the ins and outs of Zoom which has been an important tool for students, employers, and other organizations.

The Westport Writers Workshop found the Zoom online platform to be invaluable in enabling them to continue their online learning workshops not only in Connecticut but across the nation.

Liz Matthews, Executive Director of Westport Writers Workshop said, “Now that our workshops are being offered remotely, we have writers joining us from all over the country. The writers benefit from a broader range of feedback, and we preserve the closeness of each group with a max of seven participants.”

Matthews, a writer, and editor began her professional career in publishing at a literary agency and as an Editorial Assistant at Random House before teaching middle and high school English at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. A mom of two school-aged children, Matthews learned to adapt to juggling responsibilities of working from home, homeschooling her children, and running a nonprofit agency since the COVID-19 shutdown back in Mach of 2020.

Last spring Matthews shared that their swift decision to move to online classes and workshops was due to being located in a town with one of the highest numbers of Coronavirus cases in the state. She added that “rolling with the changes” was something they had to do for the sake of everyone’s health and sanity.

“Writing, like many, provides a creative escape in the crazy times we’re living in,” she said.

Since last spring’s launch of an online-only learning environment, they have added even more classes and workshops to cater to the needs of their current and soon-to-be attendees. Students range from beginning and aspiring writers to published authors. All are welcomed in a supportive environment that offers valuable feedback and positive critiques that have enabled their student to land literary agents, book deals, prestigious awards, and more.

“The class gave me material for further exploration! Also, my classmates were wonderful. It’s as though we all became friends through the class and it felt as though we were all in a non-virtual class together, fully participating.” -M.S. a student.

Since its inception in 2003, the Westport Writers Workshop has developed into one of the most highly respected programs in the area for writers of fiction, memoir, romance, playwriting, children’s literature, and much more. Through leadership and training from a stellar team of published, award-winning authors, students gain a deep understanding of the elements of writing and many go on to be published authors as well.

Spring 2021 Westport Writers Zoom Workshops offerings are as follows:

Memories Real & Imagined with Rahla Xenopoulos

· This workshop is designed for experienced, published authors as well as for novices who have a hidden story to excavate and tell. It is designed for people who have a flickering feeling that they might have a book hidden within but need to discover what that book is about, for people who have been sitting on a book but haven’t managed to start and so too it is designed for people who enjoy the therapy of creative writing. But, above all it is designed for people who yearn for a place of kindness. Bring pen, paper and an open heart. All people who identify as women are welcome.

· 7 Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

· March 30, April 6, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18

Workshop in Poetry, All Levels – Manuscript Course with Charles Rafferty

· This class is for students interested in learning about the genre from Charles Rafferty, a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. Each week, participants will share a poem, and the instructor will lead a discussion of the manuscript, highlighting what is working well and suggesting ways to improve it. As time allows, there may also be general discussions of craft and perhaps some in-class writing. The manuscript component of this course will be the following: each student may submit one poem in advance of each class to the instructor, for classroom discussion.

· 7 Tuesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

· March 30, April 6, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18

Picture Book Writing 101 with Valerie Bolling

· Have you always wanted to write a picture book? Maybe you have a story idea but haven’t written it down yet. Perhaps you have a draft of a manuscript that you want to revise. No matter where you are in your writing journey, this course is specifically designed for you … if you want to WRITE A PICTURE BOOK! Plus… A special guest will visit one of our sessions! James McGowan, an agent at BookEnds Literary Agency, has generously offered to answer class participants’ questions about picture books and the publishing industry.

· 7 Tuesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

· March 30, April 6, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18

Creative Writing for Kids with Christina Pakkala

· Join Christina Pakkala for an hour of writing fun! Yes, you heard right. Writing CAN be fun when the only rule is to let your imagination FLY. We’ll play some writing games, write some stories, poems, and whatever we feel like. For grades 3 through 5. Christine Pakkala is the author of six books for children, including a picture book, Chasing Ricky.

· 7 Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

· March 31, April 7, 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19

Young Adult Fiction with Mike Belanger

· This workshop deals with the nuts-and-bolts of writing young adult fiction. Throughout the workshop, the focus will be on different aspects of craft, including voice, setting, plot, and dialogue. Examples from current popular YA novels will be provided along with exercises to help hone your work in progress or inspire your new novel. Students will share their writing and receive feedback from other students and the instructor. This class is for adults writing novels in any genre (i.e. realistic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction) for young adult readers, and is suitable for all levels of writers.

· 7 Thursdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

· April 1, 8, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20

Register for a class by clicking here. To check if a class is full, call (203) 227-3250 or email exec@westportwriters.org.

All of the Westport Writers Workshop spring workshops offered on Zoom are open to writers of all skill levels. Visit their Zoom tutorial pages to learn more about how to use the platform or contact Liz Matthews Executive Director, Westport Writers’ Workshop at exec@westportwriters.org or (203) 227-3250.

About Westport Writers Workshop:

Since 2003, the Westport Writers’ Workshop has been offering workshops for every level of writer, from novice to published! Our instructors offer friendly, supportive writing workshops designed to encourage, inspire, and spark your imagination.

With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, we welcome writers of all skill levels and genres. Our workshops are designed to suit your schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. We also host several Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs throughout the year. You can learn more about our workshops by visiting our WORKSHOP page. Let Westport Writers’ Workshop help you discover and develop your own unique writing talent and voice.

Our Philosophy: You can expect a supportive group led by an experienced instructor. You’ll write, read, and learn from each other. Focus is always on the quality of the writing – not on the subject matter. Writing begets writing. The more you commit to your writing, to showing up for your writing group, the more you will write. By joining a community of writers, you will become a stronger writer and influence others to refine their craft. Our philosophy and practices are inspired by Amherst Writers & Artists and Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others.

Our Mission: The Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public. Our organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities.

Our History: In 2003, Jessica Bram founded Westport Writers’ Workshop. In 2010, Jessica moved the workshops into the second floor of the historic building on 3 Sylvan Rd. South in Westport. In 2013, Valerie Leff bought WWW and became the Director. In 2014, Valerie created a Board of Directors and transformed the business into a nonprofit with a mission to offer enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public, and free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. In 2018, Michelle Bradley came on board as the Executive Director, and in summer 2019 when Michelle’s family was transferred to Chicago, Liz Matthews took over as the Director. In March of 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, the workshops transitioned to the Zoom platform and were offered remotely. The organization grew to include writers and instructors outside of our immediate community.

westportwriters.org

Photo credit: Westport Writers Workshop

“EGG” Your Friends This Easter with a Custom Lawn Sign Package or a Unique Gift Basket from Salutations Custom Greetings!

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CT—A local mom has created a new business that’s geared towards helping children and families celebrate the holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions while still remaining socially distant. What started as ‘Veggie-Grams” this past summer, Advent deliveries for local church kids this past Christmas, as well as sympathy, birthday, get well, and general pick-me-up baskets had one entrepreneur thinking that this surprise greeting is a welcome idea during difficult times.

Salutations Custom Greetings was born out of the owner, Wendy Mitchell’s idea to bring her vegetable surplus to family and friends during the early months of the quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. It then turned into customized cards and gift baskets for her family who she could not visit due to lockdown, and packages for her friends and neighbors. This past month, Wendy she created a highly successful “You’ve Been SHAMROCKED!” fundraiser at a nonprofit where she volunteers and soon after decided to launch her own business.

The business is a women-owned, mother-daughter venture in which Wendy’s 20-year-old apprentice, Ruby Mitchell, helps with buying, packing, delivering, and shipping packages. Ruby said, “I’ve worked with my mom for the last few years with her kids events and I’m a creative person so this is something that’s fun for me to do. Plus aI can go to school [at WestConn] and help out with this when I have my free time. I think it’s a great idea and people really seem to like the baskets. We have ones for pet owners too!”

All food items are from U.S.A. Mom & Pop businesses whose quality and safety standards are second to none.

Salutations Custom Greetings, states on their social media pages that they are “Super EGG-cited” to bring their very FIRST lawn sign/gift basket offering to the local community….”You’ve Been EGGED!” is an Easter lawn sign package that brings the holiday spirit from your hearts to your loved ones’ homes.

Those who purchase the package(s) can surprise their kids, friends, teachers, a local hero, and/or loved ones with a colorful lawn decoration set that says, “You’ve Been EGGED!” The package includes a festive lawn sign with two egg smaller Easter signs, a dozen candy-filled eggs and a personalized poem. Additional offerings include a gourmet Easter candy basket with gourmet chocolate-peanut butter bunnies, chocolate-dipped Peeps, chocolate covered Oreos and more. Another option is a candy-free toys only basket that includes a mini sketch journal, colored pencils, bubbles, sidewalk chalk and a cute pink, purple, or blue stuffed bunny.

While Salutations Custom Greetings’ website is under construction, they’re asking you to HOP on over to their Eventbrite page to peruse their one-of-a-kind gifts and goodies. Order by clicking here before they’re all sold out!

QUESTIONS? Call, text, or email (203) 501-7424 SalutationsCustomGreetings@gmail.com.

Danbury Area Children’s Theater Open House Includes Free Face Painting, Theater Games & Fun: Saturday, Sept. 7th

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DANBURY, CT—A local children’s theater troupe is inviting area children to come out to their fun and free children’s theater open house with the Danbury Youth Theater Troupe this Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. at the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center, 6 Lake Ave., Danbury, Conn. The event includes free face painting, theater games, arts and crafts, refreshments, and a meet and greet with the teachers.

Led by theater director Mrs. Wendy Mitchell, the theater classes encourage self-expression for children ages 3 – 12 years old in a safe, nurturing environment while educating kids about Irish folklore and various cultures. All productions are 100% original, written directed and produced by “Miss Wendy,” as the kids call her, who specializes in teaching beginner’s theater classes.

Miss Wendy has her Head Teacher Certification in Early Childhood Education and over 20 years of experience teaching theater, preschool and working as a daycare director. Each child is taught at their own pace and kids of all skill levels are welcomed and embraced!.

Students who sign up for the musical theater fall/winter 10-week session on the day of the open house will save 10%! The 10-week session is $150/student with a 10% sibling discount. Classes begin on Saturday, Sept. 28 and run each Saturday from 10-11:30 a.m. through Sat. Dec. 7, the day of their big show.

A free mini-production of “Wandering in the Willows” will be held at their Halloween blacklight GLOW party on Sun. Oct. 26th at 12 p.m. Songs from the popular movie “Coco” will be the backdrop for this colorful, engaging production.

The winter production of “Christmas Around the World” will be held on Sat Dec. 7th with a dress rehearsal on Fri. Dec. 6th. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for kids 3+up. All proceeds from the winter show go to benefit the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, a charity that helps those in need in our community. In addition, we also hold a toy drive for Family & Children’s Aid the day of the winter show.

The youth theater company is community-minded and teach kids that they can use their gifts and talents to help those in need in their community.  The weekly theater classes are for kids ages 3-12 years old. Siblings and friends are welcome and encouraged.

Questions? Call, text or email Miss Wendy: wendyannmitchell@Live.com (203) 501-7424.

Who & What is ‘CT Buzz News’ and How Can I Share My Business Information? Find Out Here!

wendy stars

RIDGEFIELD, CT — Hello CT Buzz News readers, followers, and new group members! We’ve seen a recent large spike in traffic on our website and many new members joining our 10 group Facebook pages so we wanted to explain who we are and how it works with sharing posts and information in our groups.

CT Buzz Media is a news and information website with a passion to help small businesses and nonprofits in our community. We encourage residents and readers to shop local and strive to do the same. The main towns we cover are Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, Newtown, New Fairfield, New Milford, Redding, Ridgefield, and Southbury but we also occasionally cover Monroe, Wilton, and surrounding towns.

Wendy grew up in Sandy Hook, attended Bethel High School and graduated from Newtown High School. She has also lived in Brookfield and New Milford and now lives in Ridgefield with her husband, 23-year-old son, 19-year-old daughter, and 5-year-old rescue dog, a black lab mix. Her oldest son lives in Brooklyn and is a SAG/AFTRA actor in NYC. Wendy is very connected to the community and serves on a number of boards and committees as a volunteer.

Now that you know about all CT Buzz and its Queen Bee, learn how to share your story and your news on our website and social media pages.

TO SHARE YOUR NEWS:
Anyone can share local news to the page it pertains to: Ex: An accident in Danbury would go on Danbury CT Buzz. We ask that you don’t “dump and run.” Take a few minutes to talk to others on the page, share your local tips, photos and local news and be active on the pages to boost engagement.
If you want to post about your business please follow the rules below. If you want to share a press release or are requesting coverage for your local fundraiser and/or event, please email CTBuzzNews@gmail.com.
We have *paid sponsors who support the website who we share info about on a daily, weekly or bi-weekly basis. You’ll know who they are because you will see #sponsored on the post.
For **unpaid sponsors, anyone is allowed to post if you follow these simple rules:
  1. LIKE the main CT Buzz Media page by clicking this link: https://m.facebook.com/ctbuzzmedia/?__nodl&_rdr
  2. Join the CT Buzz Media (Group Page) Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CTBuzzMedia/
  3. Only share ***ONCE a week, on “Follow Friday” and only post on the town where the event is located and the main CT Buzz Group Page. Ex: If your business is in Ridgefield, only post on Ridgefield CT Buzz & CT Buzz Media Group pages. The CT Buzz Group page is for any town in CT.
***IF you would like your announcement, coupon, event or business information shared to neighboring towns or more than once per week, please email Wendy to become a paid sponsor at CTBuzzNews@gmail.com. We offer very reasonable rates that give you maximum exposure across all of our platforms: Facebook, Facebook Groups, Twitter, Instagram, CT Buzz website, e-news blasts.
**A paid sponsor is a business who pays weekly or monthly to support the website.
***An unpaid sponsor is a business who pays weekly or monthly to support the website.
Follow Friday
WHO ARE “WE?”
“We” is mainly me, Wendy Mitchell. I’ve been a news editor, journalist and local reporter in the greater Danbury area and Fairfield/Litchfield counties for the last 12 years and have lived in Newtown/Bethel/Danbury/Ridgefield nearly my entire life, save for a brief stint one summer on Martha’s Vineyard and two years in Mesa, AZ. I sometimes have students, interns and bloggers share their stories on our site.
You may recognize my name from Patch.com, a national news website I worked for on and off for 7+ years. I have also been a “SEEN” photographer for the Danbury News-Times, worked for ORTV, Cumulous Broadcasting and other local newspapers. I have been very active in the community, volunteering with nonprofits and running my own.
I work as a professional marketing and social media consultant for a number of small and large local businesses helping them to gain an online presence through the creation of a strategic marketing plan personalized for their business, content creation, social media, digital advertising, event planning and much more.
I launched my CT Buzz Media website in 2011 and took a break in 2012-2013 to volunteer to open a nonprofit children’s arts organization in the wake of the tragic school shootings in my hometown of Sandy Hook. Read more here. After several years, I took another break to focus on raising my kids and also to battle the “Evil C Word,” breast cancer. You can read my story here.
I am now four years cancer free and I am redesigning and relaunching after a number of post-cancer health scares.
CT Buzz News Ad
My advertisers have been very happy with their ads and have seen an increase in their business and Facebook likes since signing on with CT Buzz Media. We do weekly shout-outs, giveaways,  “Tip of the Week” columns, events, and much more to help raise awareness for local businesses. 
We also write “advertorials” that include an interview with the business owner and a full photo gallery and/or video. Email CTBuzzNews@gmail.com for a rate sheet and more information.
Thanks for listening and help spread the BUZZ about CT Buzz!
wendy theater kids
Pictured: Wendy Ann Mitchell and her children’s theater students. In addition to running CT Buzz News, Wendy teaches ages 3-12 from the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center on Saturday mornings and donates the proceeds from the shows to local charities. For more information, click here.
More about Wendy:

Wendy is an award-winning marketing manager, regional editor, entrepreneur and communications professional with expertise in brand development, strategic communications, print design, project management, and marketing. As the founder of CT Buzz Media, Wendy creates positive and innovative aesthetically-focused storytelling for small and large business owners across industries ranging from nonprofits to attorneys and medical practitioners. She has been featured on national news sites and is an award-winning writer and marketing professional.

Wendy sits on the Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation’s Board of Directors, manages all publicity and marketing for the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #58, creates marketing campaigns. manages events from concept to completion for audiences of up to 3,000 and much more. The Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Wendy brings a diverse background to her role, with more than 15 years of experience in nonprofits including fundraising and events, over 15 years of marketing and communications experience, and 25 years of customer engagement including 10 years in retail and restaurant management.

Wendy has won numerous awards, attended dozens of leadership workshops and brings passion, energy, enthusiasm, and creativity to her work.

•Winner: Townvibe Reader’s Choice Awards 2017, Best Art/Music School, Arts & Nature School of Ridgefield.

•Awarded #7 of “Top 10 Most Fascinating People of 2013” in the Greater Danbury Area by Hearst Media Services for volunteer work at the Sandy Hook Arts Center for Kids, a nonprofit I founded in response to the tragic school shootings of 12/14.

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Wendy Ann Mitchell
Owner/Editor, CT Buzz Media
ctbuzznews@gmail.com
(203) 501-7424
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