Writing workshop in September features two published authors

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

Montevideo author and writing coach M E Fuller is hosting a unique event on September 11th at Smith Park. The event is the culmination of two authors coming together to provide a writing workshop for aspiring, owed in part to a grant Fuller received from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through the grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.  Fuller obtained the grant with the original intention to acquire a writing mentor, as upon her retirement she desired to learn the craft of novel writing. Part of that grant included a community aspect. “COVID happened and the state’s art board regrouped and refocused their energies on bringing arts to the communities,” says Fuller. “Especially rural areas and other underserved areas.” Under the new guidelines of the grant, Fuller developed the idea for a free writing workshop involving her own mentor, award-winning sci-fi, and urban fantasy author Lyda Morehouse. 

Author ME Fuller

The workshop will take place at the Smith Park main shelter from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will be targeted at anyone interested in writing aged thirteen to 100. “It’s for whoever is curious about the benefits of getting feedback and how that can help build your skill as a writer,” Fuller says. The event will begin with a meet and greet, and then Fuller will talk briefly about her experience working with Lyda Morehouse as a mentor while working on her fantasy novel. Morehouse will then share her experiences followed by a workshop that will allow participants to write based on prompts. Once the brief writing is complete, the participants will be able to submit their work to Morehouse anonymously to receive feedback. “They don’t have to feel uncomfortable about having their work read aloud because nobody is going to know who it is and they can still benefit from the feedback,” says Fuller. “One of the things that I picked up on early in my learning is that a lot of people are very shy about sharing their work because they don’t want criticism. They don’t want to feel ashamed. The beauty of feedback with critique versus criticism is that critique really has to do with the craft of writing. When we build skills in the craft, the content is just presented so much better.” 

The workshop is free to the public, but participants do need to register online ahead of time. Participants should also bring supplies such as writing paper, pens or pencils, beverages and food, and a face mask in case of inclement weather that would move the event indoors at the shelter house. Participants who register are given the option to order a morning coffee and pastry, as well as lunch catered by Java River, as long as they are registered by September 8th. Participants may also bring their own snacks and beverages. Those who wish to stay for lunch will have the opportunity to visit with Morehouse as well. 

“I’m looking forward to this being very fun and interactive,” Fuller says. “I’m hoping a lot of kids show up, and a lot of older people who are really at that age where they’re thinking about writing their memoir, but are afraid to do it. I’d love to have them show up just to get the feeling of writing something down and seeing how someone else responds to it.”

Author Lyda Morehouse

Morehouse says she is also excited to attend the event. “We’re going to talk a lot about critique and the process of doing critique,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of experience with that both as somebody who has done a lot of work with that through teaching at the Loft in Minneapolis, and I’m in a couple of writer’s groups.”  Morehouse has participated in a number of various critique groups and has mentored individuals as well as for Broad Universe, an International organization of women writing Sci-Fi and Mystery genre works. 

Morehouse began writing science-fiction and fantasy in the 1990s. Her first published novel was titled Archangel Protocol, published in 2001. “I was writing at a time when the hot thing was cyberpunk, but I was doing an interesting mash-up between cyberpunk, religion, and fantasy. So it got some attention,” she says. The novel won a couple of awards and was followed by a series of books published behind it. “Interestingly, even though I was winning awards, I was in an interesting place because I was winning a lot of recognition, but my sales weren’t necessarily bubbling. So in talking with my Editor, I ended up switching to writing paranormal romance. I shifted from being Lyda Morehouse to writing under a pseudonym, Tate Hallaway.” Morehouse has published nine books under the pseudonym thus far. “It’s a funny thing. My science fiction persona was more of an award winner, and my romance persona was more of a best seller. It’s interesting because I never really feel like I shifted genres, so to say, because paranormal romance, while it’s a different genre has so many elements of science fiction and fantasy that I felt very at home there,” she says. 

Morehouse says she’s always been drawn to the science-fiction and fantasy genre in her interests and hobbies. “I was a classic nerd kid. I still am. Anything that came out that had spaceships and aliens, dragons, that kind of stuff - I was there. I think that it was always a personal affinity, but I also think that science-fiction and fantasy is a place where current issues can get discussed in a round-about way and I think this is actually one of the things that continue to keep me here. We can continue to explore each other in the quote-on-quote safe space of the future. You can ask the question, what if this continues - whatever that is, whether it's a social trend or a political trend,” she says. “I still love that. It’s a game I like to play - what if. And everything is possible where you play on the edges of where the mundane intersects the fantastical.”

Morehouse decided to become involved in the world of mentorship because she says she is drawn to the process of thinking about how writing works. “The back and forth about how does writing work - what is the magic that makes the thing in my head get put on a page in enough of a way that we all get the same sense of the story? I love that. I love working that stuff out, and I love interacting with the students and hearing about how the things they’re trying for the first time with writing are working out. That’s true about writing - it’s a constant learning experience. There’s never a point, I hope, where you reach a plateau. And I love taking on students. There’s always so much to learn from students as much as there is to teach,” she says. 

To encourage people to attend writing workshops, Morehouse offers the advice, “It’s important to hear as much about their strengths as what they need to work on. I still, in my writer's groups, teach this to this day. Because my ear is open to hearing the things that I did right, so I don’t just hear the things I need to work on. That’s what’s really important to me is that you take whatever critique you get and work on it, so it's important to hear those positive points as well.”

Those looking to register for the workshop can visit M E Fuller’s website at mefullerwords.com/wokshops/feedback-matters.