"The Write Life: making the cut in Indiana publishing"

"I write from my heart, for myself-the only way I know how to write. Writing novels is a way of looking "sideways" at the joys, sorrows, fears, regrets, and unanswerable questions of my own life. It's a way of living more than one life: imagining the inside of my head, I see a circle of doors, each one with the whole life of a novel behind it. Mine." 

Barb Shoup Signature

If you go here, you can read the feature article in Nuvo "The Write Life: making the cut in Indiana publishing" online.

Being an Emerging Playwright by Andrew Black

Being an emerging playwright is hard.  Very Hard.

If you are an emerging musician, you can write a new piece of music at your piano and then invite friends over to your house and play it for them.

If you are a visual artist, you can go into your garage, put paint on a canvas and then show it to people and see what they think.

If you are a new playwright, and you write a 30-minute one act with five characters, you have to know five reasonably talented actors who are all available at the same time, have a place that is big enough to accommodate a cast of five and at least five of your friends if you want to experience your own work in a very minimalistic setting.

If you want to see a real production of your 30-minute play, good luck!  You have to find a theater company which is willing to invest in new work and has a space, and some design professionals (costume, director, set design) in order to experience your creation.  And you find that very few theaters (which work on shoestring budgets anyway) are willing to work with you on your project.

That is why the Indiana Writers Center (IWC) in its partnership with Indy Fringe is so important for emerging playwrights.  The Indiana Writers Center provides a setting where playwrights can take a playwriting class.  In these classes, professional actors come and read new work at no charge. The playwrights can re-write based on what they learn.  Professional theater companies partner with the IWC to help develop work through low-cost staged readings (rehearsals and blocking, but no sets, costumes or props).

Finally, Indy Fringe offers festivals where playwrights can see and experience fully realized workshop productions of their own plays, complete with stage, basic set pieces, and an audience.

This year (2016), DIVAFEST features workshop productions of plays by eight emerging playwrights who have come up through this IWC/Indy Fringe connection.  (April 1-April 10)

The next week (April 15-16), The Short, Sharp and Twisted play festival features work by six additional emerging playwrights, four of whom are having their first-ever production of a play.

When you come to DIVAFEST or Short, Sharp and Twisted, you are supporting a process which is making life easier for the emerging playwright in Central Indiana.  Much Easier.

Andrew Black has an MFA from Ohio University’s School of Theatre, where he was the recipient of the prestigious Trisolini Fellowship. His first full-length play Porn Yesterday (co-written with Patricia Milton) has been produced across the country. Since that play reached the stage, it has been a non-stop, full-on adventure! Many productions of short plays and full-lengths followed. Now in Indianapolis, Indiana, Andrew has developed a full playwriting curriculum for the Indiana Writers Center, and is on the teaching staff of the Indiana Repertory Theater and the Young Actors Theater. He is currently developing a one act play, Iceberg, and has a short play in the upcoming Phoenix Theater Holiday Show. Strange Bedfellows (co-written with Patricia Milton) will be produced in Indianapolis in 2016 by Khaos Company Theater.


Help the IWC Celebrate Our New Poet Laureate!

We hope you can join us!
Go here to get your facebook invitation and reply. Thanks for your RSVP!

Parking Info for the Event

The Indiana State Library is located at 315 W. Ohio Street. Parking is available for $5 at the state employees parking garage, just across street. (Enter from New York Street, one block north.) Metered street parking is also available.         
 Click here for a map

In order to get the $5 parking rate in the State Employees Parking Garage, you will need to click here and print the voucher for this discounted rate.  (If you are unable to do this, just let the parking cashier know that you are attending the reception for the new Poet Laureate and they will honor the special rate when you check out of the garage.)

Women Veterans’ Memoirs: A Writing Workshop

Women veterans of all ages are invited to join this free memoir-writing workshop designed to help them craft their military stories through prose or poetry. Led by Shari Wagner, a published writer and instructor for the Indiana Writers Center, each two-hour session will include prompts and models, in-class writing activities, discussion, and feedback. Women at all levels of writing experience are welcome. It’s only necessary that they have the desire to develop their writing skills and share their stories. Workshops will be held twice a month at The Kurt Vonnegut Library (340 N. Senate Ave., Indianapolis) and will run from October through March. The best work from each veteran will be published in a book by the Indiana Writers Center and celebrated at a public reading in May.  Contact Shari Wagner at sharimwagner@aol.com for more details and to register. Shari’s faculty bio is available here.


This 12-session class, running from October 2015 until March 2016, will meet the first and third Tuesdays of each month, from 1:30-3:30 p.m., at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, 340 N. Senate Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Dates: October 6 & 20; November 3 & 17; December 1 & 15; January 5 & 19; February 2 & 16; March 1 & 15

The Indiana Writers Center (IWC) educates, inspires, connects, and supports Indiana writers working at all levels and in all genres.  It recognizes the power of stories and advocates for writing and literature as essential to a community that values clarity of communication, honors diversity, and fosters tolerance and compassion.

Sponsored by: Indiana Writers Center in partnership with Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Veterans Antiquities, and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

Written by Roxanna Santoro — August 14, 2015

Readin', Writin', and Retreatin'


Myra Ann Rutledge

Don’t you just hate that daily life and routine always seem to get in the way of the things you’d really love to do, like writing? How many times have you said to yourself, “If only I could get away for a few days and do nothing except work on my novel (or poetry or memoir or blog or play or essay)! No cooking, no laundry, no dirty dishes, no yard work. Just writing. That’s it!” And with a heavy sigh, you add, “It would be heavenly!”

Me, too. I’ve said those things many times, so when the notice went up late last year announcing a Winter Writers Retreat in early January, I was ready. I was even more psyched to see that it was happening in the next county up from my home in New Castle, near the part of Delaware County where I grew up. Of course, then it became an issue of “Will the weather cooperate? It’s the first weekend in January for chrissake! Those back roads are going to be a bear if it snows.”   This thought was quickly followed by an “Oooooh! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get snowed in for an extra day or two of even more writing?!?” So I signed up.

The weather was cold and the country roads were indeed snow-packed, but there were no problems getting to and from the Oakwood Retreat Center near Selma. The weekend was simply amazing!   I was so taken by the experience that when the Spring Writers Retreat was announced for the first weekend in May at the same venue, I was one of the first to sign up.

What a treat to spend 48 hours in the company of fellow writers of every genre! I live in what I call the hinterlands, away from the city and without easy access to the IWC and the camaraderie that can be found there, so, for me, that was the most satisfying aspects of the weekend. The creativity was so contagious, and hearing works in various states of progress allowed each of us to understand that we all face the same issues and monsters when we write. Beyond the fellowship, there were large blocks of time and plenty of quiet places in our housing, in the main building, and around the farm itself for writing and for inspiration. Needless to say, we were able to enjoy the outdoor areas much more in warm, sunny May than we did in zero-degree January. Andy Black and Alicia Rasley, the IWC facilitators, were available for private consultation, and there were a few scheduled events; even at these, attendance was not mandatory. We were strongly encouraged to attend the Saturday night post-dinner reading and sharing of samples of our work, and every one of us did.   In so many ways, this was one of the most valuable times of the weekend. Listening to poetry, memoirs, fiction, and plays in various stages of development allowed us to offer and to receive constructive suggestions and to see what works and what doesn’t. This is the sort of reinvigoration and inspiration that every writer craves.

I simply must sing the praises here of the Oakwood Retreat Center. Located on 35 acres just north of Prairie Creek Reservoir near Muncie, it is quiet and relaxing and decidedly rural. The staff (most of whom live on site) are accommodating, and the facilities are very well-kept and lovely. Housing for the weekend was most comfortable and pleasant, and the food was absolutely delicious. They have committed to using locally-produced food grown in a sustainable environment as much as is feasible, and they provide organic produce from their own garden in season. We’re talking very tasty food; there are vegetarian and vegan options, but the kitchen staff is happy to please the carnivores among us as well. . They are, likewise, not adverse to those who wish to imbibe moderately in fermented beverages, and thus a nice glass of wine or beer or a wee nip of Scotch could be enjoyed before dinner or as a nightcap with no disapproval.

Am I ready for the next Writers Retreat? You bet! When is it and how soon can I sign up? Anyone who is still wondering if this is for them should consider this: imagine a day of nothing but writing followed by a delightful dinner and glass of wine followed by a give-and-take sharing of awesome work followed by a quiet stroll down a farm lane under a starlit sky where you can actually see the stars far from the lights of the city followed by a restful sleep populated only be sweet dreams. Sound good? It is!


 Watch the IWC website for the Fall Retreat Dates

To Be Announced ASAP


Written by Indiana Writers Center — May 18, 2015



Hi everyone, we’re Katie Morris and Teal Cracraft – the kindred-spirit team behind SpeakYourStory. We started this project to create a website dedicated to telling the unfiltered stories of all women. We deeply believe that every woman has a story to tell, and that the story-telling process is cathartic, brave, and redemptive.

 Too often, our most life-changing, beautiful, messy and sometimes ugly truths are hidden from those we love out of fear, shame and judgment. We know, because we’ve done it too. What we’ve come to realize is that we don’t have to let these experiences isolate and alienate us. Instead, we’ll use our stories to empower and connect. Our goal is to form a strong community that embraces the stories of women with love and compassion.

 Our story sharing platform is designed to be safe and inclusive. We don’t edit the stories and we publish everything we receive. Every woman has a unique voice and we encourage all forms of self-expression. Your story may be a song, a poem, an audio recording, video, a painting, written words, or a photograph. Literally, anything that speaks to your true self has a home at speakyourstory.org.

 We hope that you consider joining our community and sharing your stories with us. Stories can be submitted on our website at speakyourstory.org or through email at speakyourstory1@gmail.com. 

Written by Indiana Writers Center — May 07, 2015

Call for Volunteers Summer 2015- Building a Rainbow



This summer we are excited to partner with St. Florian Center, LaPlaza, and Concord Neighborhood Center to present “Building a Rainbow,” a creative writing memoir program for disadvantaged youth. The summer program runs from June 22 through July 31, 2015.

We are seeking volunteer teachers, writers, and community members to help us work with our students. As a volunteer, you will be working directly with student writers ages 6 to 16, the Indiana Writers Center’s instructors, the Education Outreach Director, the Executive Director, and other volunteers. With your team, you will be responsible for helping to facilitate and teach students narrative writing techniques.  

St. Florian will meet every Monday and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at IPS #27 (545 East 19th Street) from June 22- July 31. LaPlaza will meet every Monday and Wednesday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. from June 22 through July 24 at Gambold Preparatory High School at 3725 Kiehl Avenue in Indianapolis. Concord Neighborhood Center will meet every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Concord (1310 South Meridian Street). (Dates for Concord TBA).

 We will host a voluntary training session Thursday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m at the Indiana Writers Center. We can train you on site as well.  

If you are interested in volunteering, please email either Education Outreach Director, Dr. Darolyn “Lyn” Jones, at ljones2@bsu.edu or Executive Director, Barbara Shoup at barbshoup@gmail.com. If you are interested in attending the training session, please email Lyn at ljones2@bsu.edu.

The Indiana Writers Center (IWC) educates, inspires, connects, and supports Indiana writers working at all levels and in all genres. It recognizes the power of stories and advocates for writing and literature as essential to a community that values clarity of communication, honors diversity, and fosters tolerance and compassion.

Written by Indiana Writers Center — April 28, 2015

The IWC and IndyFringe Present the Short Play Festival April 17/18

by Andrew Black

I was fortunate when I taught my first class in playwriting at the Indiana Writers Center. I had three bright female students who did good work. I had provided a theme for which I asked them to develop a short ten-minute play. The plays were good. And, coincidentally, Indy Fringe was getting ready to produce a festival of short plays by women. We submitted the plays as a “package” and got into the fest.   The playwrights went from concept to production in about six months.

Rarely do aspiring playwrights have this kind of opportunity. Successive students have asked me several times if we could do a showcase of their work. I always reply positively, if neutrally, because I know that putting together a showcase is an incredible amount of work, but not a task I am interested in pursuing. I have my own writing to do, as well as my teaching. I am not a producer, nor do I care to be.

 Then, one of my students who asked the inevitable question about a showcase was part of the Indy Fringe production team. (Her name is Elise Lockwood.) She had written a short and very funny play about a woman who is trying to convince her own vagina to be more responsive to a male suitor. I was enthusiastic about seeing this comedy on stage and even better, Elise had the infrastructure to create a showcase without my having to do it myself!   Pay dirt!

I reached out to all former students and solicited short plays for what would be called the Short Play Festival, co-produced by the Indiana Writers Center and Indy Fringe. We received many wonderful submissions. The only challenge at this point was selecting six plays out of the strong work I received.

 Once the selections were made, Elise had identified six theater companies in Indy who would take on the task of casting, rehearsing and preparing the plays for performance. A creative jigsaw puzzle whose various pieces will now be assembled at the Indy Fringe Theater on Friday and Saturday, April 17 and 18.

The playwrights whose work will be featured include Elise as well as Jerry Holt, Louis Janeira, Stacy Post, Stacey Katz and Enid Cokinos. The plays range from the ribald (Elise’s lady parts play) to the serious (Stacey’s play about a young girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness).  I have a short piece to frame the evening, posing a dramatic question to be answered by the other plays themselves.

We encourage all members and friends of the Indiana Writers Center to show their support of this project (and find out more about our playwriting program) by coming to the event. If you want to buy tickets, advanced purchase is advised. The event is likely to sell out!

Go to http://www.indyfringe.org/ and click on tickets and times. You can order for the Short Play Festival from that website.



Written by Indiana Writers Center — April 02, 2015


by Teri Costello

At some point early in our lives, we come face to face with our “one-ness” – with being only “one” in the middle and muddle of many other people. Because of circumstances, individual experiences, genetic makeup, unique intellects - we all approach this one-ness differently. Then one day, we stumble upon a shiny thing we have come to label self-awareness. We pick it up, turn it this way and that in our hands, and either embrace the mystery of it, or lay it back down for a later time - perhaps a little later, perhaps much later. For me, the shiny thing, once embraced, became a wondrous, confounding, trouble-making burden that nonetheless continues to lead me through my life’s journey. Along the way, as my awareness strengthened, it brought about previously unimagined changes in me – it mended relationships, disturbed relationships, kept me sane, made me crazy, helped me speak my mind, gave me joy I never would have thought possible. And, ultimately, will take me home.

From early on, I confused my own one-ness with loneliness, grieving the loss of my tribe, which clearly had wandered off somewhere without me. This tribe was made up of my fellow seekers, buddies, best friends, soul mates maybe - the people who would “get” me, and whom I would get, people who may even have glimpsed their own self-awareness. I believed I saw them from time to time – on a movie screen, on television talk shows, in school, acquaintances - people who voiced my own thoughts, kind of - people who were searching. On occasion, one or another of us got up the courage to speak, to share our differences and watch the glow start. But there weren’t many of these accidental meetings, and when they did happen, we were cautious with each other, afraid that at some level of communication, our language would become dissimilar.

About four years ago, I found myself living in Indianapolis by way of Chicago. I had done a little writing over the years, and my last efforts had been in a casual writing group there. I saw the Writers Center advertised here, and signed up for a class.

Am I about to tell you I found my soul mates, my tribe? No. But I did find searchers like me, who wander around bumping into things, and sit in classes shifting their own shiny objects from one hand to the other. By writing, they look for truths - their own, the universal ones, even truths I never knew to seek. When we choose to share our writing, our one-ness with each other, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, most often we are quietly inspired by each other. And people are there who are very unlike each other, thinking up stuff – silly stuff, profound stuff – or just exploring possibilities. Fellow travelers, we are not trying to be reflections of each other, just people trying to see themselves, their lives, in their own mirrors - and write down what they see.

Please join us at the Gathering of Writers on March 21st. If you have attended before, this will be even better, and if this will be your first time, come and see what I’m talking about.

Teri Costello is the Programs Manager at the Indiana Writers Center. 









Written by Indiana Writers Center — February 12, 2015

Speaking of Love: A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Sunday January 18th the IMA opened its galleries for a celebration of poetry and music in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Indiana Writers Center partnered with IMA, Old Soul Entertainment, and Know No Stranger to create three hours of delightful and energized creative exploration. Microphones were set up in several different galleries of the museum, and throughout the afternoon a variety of poets, spokenword performers, musicians, and dancers took to the mic to expound on the theme of love. Indiana Writers Center was happy to invite featured poets Allyson Horton, Lydia Johnson, Norman Minnick, Tracy Mishkin, and Rachel Sahaidachny to fill the halls with their own words. Guests moved in mass, following the flow of the arranged performances from gallery to gallery.

In the Pulliam Family Great Hall crowds congregated for interactive entertainment. Guests of the IMA were invited to step up to the microphone and present their own words. Indiana Writers Center hosted a station that welcomed people to sit down and compose their own love notes or poems.

Written by Indiana Writers Center — February 02, 2015

© Indiana Writers Center 2012