Workshops & Classes

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“Show, Don’t Tell” but also “Less is More”: Using Scene and Summary in Short Story Writing

Most narratives rely on plot to engage readers, and most plots rely on scenes in order to create a solid structure. Scenes can control the pace of a story and introduce character development. However, while scene is very powerful, there is another tool writers can use: summary. Summary can be used in place of scene to accomplish many of the same things, but summary can also be used to influence characters within the story, or the readers themselves.

In this workshop, we will examine several short stories to look for successful examples of using both scene and summary. Writers can bring in their own drafts with the goal of revising them, or will be able to generate drafts.  Writers in this workshop will find their own happy mediums between “show, don’t tell,” and “less is more.”

Meet the teaching artist: Specializing in fiction through the NEOMFA program, Bridgid Cassin has worked as writer and editor for Youngstown State University’s New Frontiers research publication while also serving on the staff of the Jenny literary magazine. She has led workshops for Lit Youngstown, Winter Wheat, and the Hoyt Center for the Arts in Newcastle, PA. Bridgid has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and attended the Juniper Summer Writing Institute in 2018. Bridgid previously earned Master’s in English from St. John’s University, and also completed a certificate in Children’s and YA Literature at YSU.

Using Scene and Summary in Short Story Writing. Teens & Adults. All experience levels welcome. Wednesday, August 14, 7-9:00 p.m., St. John’s Episcopal Church,  323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $15 (pay at workshop). Need-based scholarships are available. Register here: Deadline August 10.

Submitting Poems & Short Prose for Publication

This workshop will focus on submitting poems and short prose (fiction, nonfiction, essay) for literary journals, anthologies and contests. We will discuss how to find print and online publications that might be a good fit, how to write a cover letter, how to track submissions, and how to find and enter contests. Whether you are new to publishing or an old hat looking for a jump-start, join us for this four-week workshop.

Submitting Poems & Short Prose for Publication. Teens & Adults. All experience levels welcome. Thursdays, May 23, May 30, June 13 & June 27, 7-8:30 p.m., St. John’s Episcopal Church,  323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $25. Need-based scholarships are available. Register here: Deadline May 20.

Karen Schubert is the author of five poetry chapbooks, most recently Dear Youngstown (NightBallet Press). She has published dozens of poems, fiction, creative nonfiction, essays, reviews and interviews in journals including National Poetry Review, Apple Valley Review, diode poetry journal, Waccamaw and


Instructor – Arya F. Jenkins

 The Flash Fiction workshop will focus on experimentation and practice of flash fiction forms as well as the questions—what is flash fiction, how is its power achieved? During this five-week course students will examine and write stories that fall into five flash fiction categories: flash fiction (1000-1500); sudden flash fiction (750 words); microfiction (100 words); the six-word story; and the final class will be on marketing. There will be reading and writing assignments in and outside of class.

Flash Fiction Workshop. Teens & Adults. All experience levels welcome. Tuesdays, March 5-April 2, 7-8:30 p.m., St. John’s Episcopal Church,  323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $25. Need-based scholarships are available ( Registration Deadline March 1.

 Please bring paper/notebook and pens, or an ipad or laptop to class.

Arya F. Jenkins is a writer/teacher/editor.  Her flash fiction has been published in numerous journals and zines such as Anti-Heroin Chic, Black Scat Review, Brilliant Corners, Cider Press Review, The Feminist Wire, Front Porch Review, KYSO Flash, The Matador Review, Metafore Literary Magazine and Mojave Literary Review. Her fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2017 and her fiction and flash fiction garnered three nominations in 2018. She has published two poetry chapbooks and her short story collection Blue Songs in an Open Key was published by Fomite Press November 2018. Blue Songs in an Open Key is available via

 Arya has taught creative writing at Fairfield University and Mahoning County Career and Technical Center. She has worked as an editor for numerous writers, and as a newspaper, magazine and book editor.



Join Rikki Santer in exploring ways that poetry and film can be in conversation with each other.  In this workshop, Santer will present film clips and poems to demonstrate how the movies have influenced and inspired poets throughout the last century.  She will also provide prompts that will guide participants to “read” a movie with more complexity as well as create poems in response to the cinema.  

Saturday March 10, noon to 3:00, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 323 Wick Ave. $15.

Santer is a Columbus, Ohio, award-winning poet and educator who developed and taught a film studies curriculum to high school students and adults for seventeen years.  She has published film reviews and studied film at New York University, The Ohio State University, Antioch University, The University of Montana, and Wesleyan University and currently serves on the advisory board of Film Columbus.  She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Kent State University and a master’s of fine arts in creative writing from The Ohio State University.  Her poetry has been published widely and Nightballet Press released her fifth poetry collection, Make Me That Happy.  (


Through Others We Find Our Own: Amplifying Voice in Fiction

Ask many beginning writers what they struggle with and you’ll no doubt get a wide range of responses—getting started, finishing, writing dialogue, world-building, and so on—but invariably “finding my voice” is at the top of everyone’s list. So what do we mean by finding our voice? Well, usually what people mean is that they’re searching for their style, that trademark something that makes their work memorable and identifiable, that element that sets it apart from everything else. And while writing and writing often is the only non-negotiable criteria for achieving this, often the best path to discovering your voice as a writer is learning to create distinctive voices in your work—that is, generating stories and poems that crackle with life. This will be our aim during this six-week course. Through a combination of lecture, discussion, and practice, you will learn different ways through which “voice” can be achieved. You will learn that it isn’t just how someone says something but what they say that contributes to the voice of a particular piece of writing. You will learn how setting details and point-of-view can influence voice and how the very structure of our sentences can speak volumes about character and circumstance. By the end of our time together, you will walk away with not only a completed piece of fiction, to which I will have provided detailed feedback, but also the tools with which to identify and amplify the voices contained in your future work.

Amplifying Voice in Fiction: Saturdays, November 4 to December 6, 10-11:30, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $25.

Meet the Teaching Artist: William R. Soldan holds a BA in English Literature from YSU and is a graduate of the NEOMFA program. His writing appears or is forthcoming in publications such as New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, Kentucky Review, Thuglit, The Literary Hatchet, (b)OINK, The Best American Mystery Stories 2017, and many others.

The Hard Way on Purpose: Writing the Beauty of Unglamorous Places

Now more than ever, it is vital for writers of the Rust Belt to represent our sense of place with passion and insight. As politicians, commentators and the entertainment elite try to define us for their own purposes, we must observe and project the reality of our communities and the lives we live here. In this workshop, we will discuss techniques for writing about place, with an emphasis on the postindustrial landscape of Northeast Ohio. The session will include a writing exercise; participants should bring a notebook or laptop.

The Hard Way On Purpose: Friday, August 18, 3:00-4:30, St. John’s Episcopal Church,  323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $15.

Meet the Teaching Artist: David Giffels is the author of The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches From the Rust Belt (Scribner 2014), nominated for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the memoir All the Way Home (William Morrow/HarperCollins 2008), winner of the Ohioana Book Award. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the, Parade, the Wall Street Journal,,, Redbook, and many other publications. He also was a writer for the MTV series Beavis and Butt-Head. He is an associate professor of English at University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program.

Screenwriting: Think the Academy

Think the Academy Screenwriting Workshop. Saturdays, June 24-July 29, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., St. John’s Episcopal Church,  323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $25.

Think the Academy screenwriting class will take writers deep into these topics:

1) Generating Academy Award-Winning Concepts

2) Developing Stories with Pieces that Stick (how screenwriting is like putting a puzzle together, or investigating a mystery)

3) Forming Formatting Formulas (honoring industry-standard script formatting, and establishing personal processes)

4) Don’t Watch. Write! (motivation for persevering through the 1st draft without distractions or discouragement)

5) Advice. Revise. Advice. (getting feedback, and improving unto perfection)

6) Give Oscar Ears (A final lesson in how to thrive in the business; not taking “No” for an answer; etc.)

Daniel Clifton Colvin is a Writer of books, essays, plays, poetry, short stories, songs, and screenplays. His original peace poem, “Armed with a Conscience”, was read on the House Floor and submitted to the Library of Congress in 2003 by Ohio Congressman, Tim Ryan. In 2008, He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Screenwriting; and worked as an assistant at the Cannes Film Festival, in France. In 2015, he wrote and produced his first stage play, a musical, It’s Midnight. Now, as this Youngstown native re-establishes his roots in Northeast Ohio, he offers his passion for the art of screenwriting, and his methods for mastering its creative science.

“A hell of a fat chance my orange bears had!”: Race, Heritage, and Identity in the Rust Belt

Tuesdays, May 23-June 27, 7:00-9:00 p.m., St. John’s Episcopal Church,  323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $25.

In his poem “The Orange Bears,” Niles native Kenneth Patchen documents the difficulties steel workers faced in the mills. How do factors including race, heritage, gender, and class impact Youngstown’s history and our own contemporary experiences? In this workshop, we will read nonfiction, fiction, and poetry that examines the intersection of identity and Rust Belt culture and compose our own pieces in response. This is a multigene workshop—participants may compose poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. No experience is required, and teens are welcome.

Each week, we will meet for discussions and writing. On Tuesday, June 6, we will discuss the poetry of Rochelle Hurt and Nin Andrews in anticipation of their Lit Youngstown reading at Purple Cat Productions on Wednesday June 7.

We will read and discuss nonfiction, fiction, and poetry excerpted from seven books. All literature will be provided, so there is no need to purchase a book. If you wish to borrow (available from the library via OhioLink) or purchase the books, here is the list we’ll be working from:

Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories edited by Lit Youngtown
The Rusted City by Rochelle Hurt
Why God is A Woman
by Nin Andrews
Steeltown U.S.A.: Work and Memory in Youngstown
by Sherry Lee Linkon and John Russo
Divided We Stand: American Workers and the Struggle for Black Equality
by Bruce Nelson
Remembering Youngstown: Tales from the Mahoning Valley
edited by Mark C. Peyko
Car Bombs to Cookie Tables: A Youngstown Anthology
edited by Jacqueline Marino and Will Miller

Meet the Instructor: Allison Davis is the author of Line Study of a Motel Clerk (Baobab Press, 2017), a full-length collection about small family businesses in northeast Ohio, and Poppy Seeds (Kent State University Press, 2013), winner of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Prize. She holds an MFA from Ohio State University and fellowships from Stanford University’s Wallace Stegner program, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Severinghaus Beck Fund for Study at Vilnius Yiddish Institute. Her work has recently appeared in Best American Poetry 2016, The Missouri Review, and Crazyhorse.

Mothering: The Arc of Your Story

Saturday, May 6 10:00-noon, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $15.

The word “mothering” can conjure all sorts of thoughts and emotions, some positive, some negative. Yet, regardless of our relationship to our mothers and/or children, we have all been formed by a matrilineal line. That relationship line is not only part of the arc of our present story, but also our future stories as we continue to birth our “offspring,” whether these are children, ideas, businesses, or dreams.

Join instructor Ginny Taylor for this creative time of exploring these connections to our female ancestors while also linking these relationships to our future dreams. Bring a journal, and a photo of a female ancestor.

Meet the Instructor: A self-proclaimed journaling activist, Ginny Taylor is a certified Journal to the Self instructor. Her writing background includes an MFA in creative writing from Ashland University, multiple publications, and teaching in college-level writing programs. Through her business called Women of Wonder, Ginny facilitates workshops where she channels her passion for empowering women through difficult challenges and into lives filled with wonder and joy. Writing, gentle yoga, and creative expression are her muses that almost always show up in her programs. Ginny lives in Warren with her husband and two dogs. She has three grown children and one adorable grand-baby who calls her GiGi.

Links: Women of Wonder website:
Writer website:

Editing 101: Red Ink is Your Friend

Saturday, May 6 10:00-noon, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $15

Are you an aspiring writer?  Even the most experienced writers need this valuable skill – successful editing.  Red ink IS your friend!  Join Lori and Stacey to learn the basics about editing as they share some of their personal editing experiences.  Bring along at least one of your personal writing samples, no matter what stage it’s in.  You’ll have a chance to practice self-editing, have your work edited by your peers and receive feedback from Lori and Stacey.

Meet the Instructors: Stacey Schneider is a freelance writer and journal editor, as well as a professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and practiced as a pharmacist for many years in the community but teaching and writing emerged as her true life calling. Writing began for her as a means to heal her own scars and has since transformed into one of her true passions. It’s not unusual to find Stacey sitting at her antique desk engrossed in reading a great book or writing amidst the peacefulness.  Stacey hopes to share her own experiences to empower other women to see the light at the end of the tunnel and realize we must all take our own journeys to find and embrace our true selves. In her spare time, you will find her enjoying running to clear her mind, spending time with family, and relishing in the tranquil serenity of the koi fishpond in her backyard.

Thinking outside of the box…that’s what Lori Bodkin does best!  You might say creativity is her middle name and it certainly keeps her passion for life in overdrive.  Lori lives in St. Clairsville, Ohio, is the Continuous Improvement Coordinator for Fyda Freightliner Pittsburgh, Inc. and has been married to her husband Bob for nineteen years.  Together, they enjoy spending time with their teenage son and daughter.  “Make a difference everyday” is Lori’s personal mission statement, and it is evident in her daily activities.  Lori has coordinated and led many leadership workshops, fun-themed retreats, Bible studies and women’s events for various organizations where she has enjoyed being a mentor and a motivational speaker.  Lori has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, is a certified Christian Lay Counselor and also writes an encouragement blog called Arrows of Integrity.  With active children, free time always comes at a premium, but when it’s available, Lori enjoys scrapbooking, reading, baking, and especially visiting with her girlfriends over a cup of good

Poetry Mimetics: Mimicking Other Poems to Deepen Our Own Voices

Wednesdays, March 1 (Poetry reading at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts; all remaining dates at El Tapatios), 8, 15, 22, 29 & April 12 & 19  7:00-9:00 p.m., El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant & Cantina,  3632 Belmont Ave. A purchase at El Tapatio is not required, but appreciated. Course fee: $25.

Developing a unique poetry “voice” comes with the hazard of writing the same poem over and over. In this workshop, we’ll do a close reading of other poets’ work, and try our hand at mimicking different styles and content. In this way, we’ll stretch and strengthen our own work. No experience is required, and teens are welcome. We will be writing poetry, but writers of other genres are welcome.

We will begin the workshop at the reading of Sean Thomas Dougherty and Terry Murcko on Wednesday, March 1, 7:00, at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts. This evening, we’ll attend the reading only. The following Wednesdays, we’ll meet at El Tapatio at 7:00 for our weekly discussion and writing (we will skip Wed. April 5, as Lit Youngstown is hosting Mark Winne this evening).

We will look at poems from six books. All poems will be provided, so no book in hand is necessary; however, if you wish to borrow (available from the library via OhioLink) or purchase the books, this is the list we’ll be working from. The poets will all be featured readers in our 2017 First Wednesday Reading Series.

Scything Grace by Sean Thomas Dougherty
Hotel Utopia by Robert Miltner
Why God is a Woman by Nin Andrews
The Rusted City by Rochelle Hurt
Twice Told by Caryl Pagel
American Dervish by Steven Reese

Meet the Instructor: Karen Schubert was a 2017 writer-in-residence at the Vermont Studio Center. Her most recent chapbooks are Black Sand Beach (Kattywompus Press) and I Left My Wings on a Chair (Kent State Press), selected by Kathleen Flenniken for a Wick Poetry Center Chapbook Prize. Her poems and interviews appear in Diode, Best American Poetry Blog, Waccamaw, PoetsArtists. She is a graduate of the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, creative non-fiction editor for Ragazine and a founding director of Lit Youngstown.


The Road Less Traveled: The Journey Narrative

Tuesdays, March 14-May 2, 5:15-6:45 p.m., Mocha House,  7141 Tiffany Blvd., Boardman. A purchase at Mocha House is not required, but appreciated. Course fee: $25. Deadline March 5.

If the road of your life had a fork and you chose one path, what might have happened if you’d taken the one less traveled upon? This workshop will explore journey, coming of age, the picaresque and self-exploration through story, memoir, and narrative poem. This workshop is open to older teens (17-18) and adults of all ages. Writing experience not required.

Meet the Instructor: Mari Alschuler is a poet and fiction writer who earned an MFA from Columbia University. Her work has been published in literary journals and anthologies for over 35 years. She is on the social work faculty at YSU and is in private practice in Poland as a poetry therapist and psychotherapist. 


Sharing Your Family Story

Sundays, March 26 and April 9, 1:00-3:00 p.m., First Unitarian Church of Youngstown, 1105 Elm St. Course fee: $15. Deadline March 12.

A practical approach to writing the story of your ancestor(s) or living family member(s). Even if you have only a vague notion of the story, the class will help you clarify it by exploring ways to gather information, write the story, and share it with your intended audience.

Meet the Instructor: Liz Hill coordinated Lit Youngstown’s Phenomenal Women project, which created a book of first-person narratives from 12 Youngstown women. She’s also created and self-published two memoir books for her own family. More at

Knowing Is Half the Battle: The Knowledge Matrix as a Writing Tool

Thursday, September 1, 5:00-7:00 p.m., First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown,  1105 Elm St. Course fee: $15.

They say to write what you know, right? But what do you know? What do you not know? In this workshop, we will explore how taking stock of what we know and don’t know might offer us clarity, perspective, and insight – all important elements of effective writing. And, who knows, we might even write a poem or two.

Meet the Instructor: Caitlyn Ryan is a graduate of the NEOMFA program and teaches writing at YSU, but that doesn’t really tell you much about her. She is a lazy poet and a lazier fiction writer who periodically takes up and then abandons hobbies like crocheting, ink-making, and walking across the country. Oregon was cool.

The “Me” in Memoir

*Registration closed* Wednesdays, September 14 to October 12, 5:30 – 6:45 p.m., YWCA, 25 W. Rayen Ave. Free parking in the YWCA lot on Phelps. Course fee: $25. Preregister here by September 10. No Walk-ins, please.

This workshop is designed for students interested in writing personal essays, creative nonfiction and short memoir. We’ll begin with modeling techniques and discussing the goals and challenges of autobiographical writing. Students will then work with the instructor on individualized projects along with sharing their work, if desired, with others in the class. Writers of all experience levels are welcome. Bring along whatever you prefer to write on (computer, iPad, paper, your choice), and come ready to write!

Meet the Instructor: Kelly Bancroft writes personal essays, fiction, poetry and plays. She has taught writing to students of all ages in schools, detention centers and community centers and at YSU. She is a prize-winning graduate of the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program. Her prose and poetry have been widely published and two plays have been produced. She is currently working on a collection of essays about an ancestor, as well as a YA novel with friend and writer, Colleen Clayton.

Persona Poetry: The Power of the “I” Who Is Not You

 Sundays October 2 to October 30,  3:00 – 5:00 p.m., Pressed Coffee Bar & Eatery, 215 Lincoln Ave. Not wheelchair accessible. Lincoln Ave. is under construction, but there is free street parking nearby. Course fee: $25.
Can a strategy that moves you away from your own experience yield intimate poems that dramatize history, vocalize the previously unspoken, or animate the inanimate?
Creating personal poems is an energizing and insightful strategy for writers of any genre. And, if you recall the pretend play of your children, it might even restore an element of joy to your writing process.

Meet the Instructor: Karen Kotrba is the author of the poetic sequence She Who Is Like a Mare: Poems of Mary Breckinridge and the Frontier Nursing Service.

Getting Published: the Where, What, When, How and Why of Submitting Poetry and Short Fiction

Saturdays, October 15 & 22, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m., Austintown Public Library, 600 S. Racoon Rd. Course fee: None.

As a result of attending this class, participants will acquire a “savvy” regarding

  • the process of submitting individual pieces to journals and manuscripts to presses
  • finding resources for information regarding calls for submissions and publication overviews
  • creating a check list and pointers for choosing the best presses for one’s work and presenting those pieces in the best possible light
  • the conventions of sending out work to publishers
  • composing an impressive cover letter and biographical statement

Meet the Instructor: Barbara Sabol is a speech therapist, teacher and editor. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Original Ruse and The Distance between Blues. Her work has most recently appeared in the Tupelo Press Poetry Project, The Louisville Review, The Examined Life, San Pedro River Review, Common Ground Review, Ekphrasis, Pentimento, Chrysanthemum and Modern Haiku, Pudding Magazine, and forthcoming in The Comstock Review and Blue Lyra Review. Her poetry has also appeared in a handful of anthologies. In 2015, Barbara’s poetry was displayed in a collaborative visual art exhibit at the Box Gallery in Akron, and at Heights Arts. Her poetry has also been adapted for song lyrics by folk artist Sam Sapp. Barbara was awarded the Mary Jean Irion Prize in Poetry, sponsored by the Chautauqua Institute. She holds an MFA from Spalding University. Barbara reviews poetry books for the blog Poetry Matters. She lives and works in Cuyahoga Falls with her husband and wonder dogs.

5 thoughts on “Workshops & Classes

  1. Pingback: Workshop Enrollment is Live! | Lit Youngstown

  2. sophia iqbal

    Am interested in writing workshops geared towards middle school/high school kids.

  3. kathleen shannon

    i want to write about my life struggle w depression and addiction from a counselor, me. I have alot to say that I feel can reach alot of people and help advocate for mentsl health issues and decrease stigmatization.

    1. lityoungstown

      Kathleen, this sounds like a meaningful project. We send our encouragement. We will host more writing workshops in the spring, and will feature monthly readers who may inspire you along the way.

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