Ethan Gilsdorf | Events, Speaking Engagments, Teaching, Readings and Other Appearances:
See the schedule below for events, readings, classes
I'm teaching and other appearances.
Please let your friends know and I hope to see you out there on the road!
Want to book Ethan?
I love to give readings and meet readers! I've given talks, lectures, slide shows, moderated panels, and fought with foam swords at conventions like Pax East, Gen Con and DragonCon; at book festivals like Decatur (Atlanta), Brooklyn and Boston; at universities like MIT and LSU; and at dozens of bookstores, book groups and other random venues.
If your bookstore, library, book group, writer's festival, college/university, high school, club, game shop, convention, bar, cafe, mother, etc. would like to book me to give a talk, slide-lecture, organize a discussion, or have moderate a panel or Q&A let me know. Contact me here.
Wed, Jan 30, all day
"Read In" at Brookline High School, Brookline Mass.
I'll be reading for high school students and visiting classes, and speaking about my life as a gamer, teenager and geek.
Wed, March 6: Bad Attitude and Bluegrass: Readings and Music
6pm to 8pm, Rosebud Bar and Grill, Davis Square, 381 Summer St (corner of Elm St and Summer), Somerville, Massachusetts, Subway Red Line: Davis Square.
Nonfiction writers Ethan Gilsdorf ("Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks") and Steve Macone ("The Onion," NPR) and poets Janet Wondra ("Bad Attitude") and Ava Leavell Haymon ("Why the House Is Made of Gingerbread") perform their work and promise to deliver a heathy dose of "bad attitude" -- from the playful, irreverent, and transgressive to just plain bad-tempered work. Not your grandmother's literary event. Attendees are invited to drink and some food, and after the reading, stick around for the bluegrass band Best Ever Chicken. The event is free, but there is a $5 cover for the music after 8pm. The Rosebud is located a two minute walk from the Davis Square T stop on the Red Line, in Somerville. More info: www.rosebudbarandgrill.com
March 6-9, 2013 | AWP Conference and Bookfair, Boston
I'll be moderating and participating in two panels:
Fri March 8, 10:30-11:45
Room 109, Plaza Level
F139. The Geek in Me: Writing from the Cultural Fringe. (Ethan Gilsdorf, Lizzie Stark, Peter Bebergal) Geek and fringe subcultures such as Dungeons & Dragons, Larping, psychedelia, punk rock, and comic books can be ideal portals through which to examine the self, construct narratives, and comment on the culture at large. In this session, three panelists whose books mix memoir, pop culture, and ethnography discuss best practices for breaking into subcultures conducting fringe culture reportage and using that research to tell powerful and poignant stories about the human condition.
Fri, March 8, 4:30-5:45
Room 203, Level 2
F264. You Publish, Become Famous, Then Live As a Writer—Or Not: Lifelong Strategies for the Rest of Us. (Ethan Gilsdorf, William Orem, Becky Tuch, Henriette Power, Ted Weesner, Jr.) You plan on becoming a writer as a teen or undergraduate. You have a vision of your inevitable future. Now, you’re in your thirties, forties, or fifties. Some hits. Some misses and disappointments. And yet you go on. In this session, panelists examine the mercurial writerly self-image, then offer practical strategies and advice for recharging batteries, diversifying your work, cobbling together a career, dealing with rejection and envy, and staying active and hopeful in your lifelong commitment to the craft.
Sat, April 6: STORIED NIGHTS IN SOMERVILLE
at Bloc 11 Cafe, 7 to 9 p.m. 11 Bow St, Union Square, Somerville Mass.
￼A series of two free spoken-word shows merging critically acclaimed prose writers and storytellers, under the auspices of the Somerville Arts Council, Saturday, March 23 and Saturday, April 6 at Bloc 11 Cafe, 7 to 9 p.m.
3/23 -- Novelists Stephen McCauley & Andrew Goldstein, storytellers Katie Liesener & Judah Leblang, memoirist Daniel Gewertz & songwriter Thea Hopkins.
4/6 -- Novelist Elizabeth Searle, memoirists Daniel Gewertz, Ethan Gilsdorf & Elaine Mar, & storytellers Randy Ross & Michael Mack.
More info: www.somervilleartscouncil.org/artsunion/2013, or www.Daniel-Gewertz.blogspot.com
Tues, April 16, 4:30pm
THOMAS 224, Bryn Mawr College, Phildelphia/Bryn Mawr, PA
Gilsdorf reads from the book and shows images from his adventures in a slide/lecture talk entitled: "HOBBITS HEROES GAMERS GEEKS: What Explains the Rise of Fantasy, Gaming and Role-Playing Subcultures?" on TUESDAY, APRIL 16 at 4:30 pm in THOMAS 224, Bryn Mawr College. Gilsdorf will also read an excerpt from Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, and the event will end with a Q&A and book signing. The event is free, and sponsored by the Provost's Office and the Departments of History & English at Bryn Mawr College. More info
I'll will also be visiting classes 4/15 and running a private D&D sessions 4/16.
Sat, April 27, 2:30pm
Newburyport Book Festival, Unitarian Universalist Church
"What's Wrong with the Real World? A Fantastic Conversation About Fantasy"
Fantasy is hot. So what explains the rise of this genre -- be it pure swords and sorcery epics about hobbits and quests, or some fantasy/science fictional/dystopian/steampunk hybrid? What elements go into a believable, make-believe universe? And what's so wrong with the real world, anyway? Join Ethan Gilsdorf author of the award-winning travel memoir pop culture investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, and Max Gladstone author of the magical-urban-fantasy-legal-thriller Three Parts Dead, in conversation to discuss the ascendancy of all things fantasy -- from Tolkien to Harry Potter, along with associated topics such as gaming, balrogs, the genre divide, and dice collections. Discussion, reading and Q&A. More info
Grub Street, Park Plaze Hotel, Boston
I'll be part of four events. Sign up in advance if you want to attend:
2:30pm-3:45pm on Friday, May 3rd
If you want to write nonfiction -- memoir, literary nonfiction, creative nonfiction, journalism -- what is the best way to break in? How do you pitch ideas to editors and agents? What is a book proposal? What is the difference between a promising but vague topic and true story with a hook? How can you build a platform in a unique area of expertise to gain an audience and legitimacy and make yourself attractive to agents and editors? What is a scene, a character, a compelling lede, a coherent theme? In this session based on the success of Grub's Nonfiction Career Lab Program and led by one of its instructors, we'll look at nitty-gritty advice as well as general strategies to map out a career as a nonfiction writer. We'll discuss how to see beyond the one memoir or book idea and how to you turn yourself into a lean, mean, versatile, nonfiction writing machine, capable of churning out essays, op-eds, feature stories, blogs, book proposals and marketable book ideas, all skills that will serve you well in charting a nonfiction writing career.
Industry Guide to Publishing: Non-Fiction
11:15am-12:30pm on Saturday, May 4th
Now more than ever you need to understand the inner workings of the marketplace before sending your hard-earned work of non-fiction to anyone (an agent, an editor, a publicist, a self-publisher). Do you know the difference between narrative non-fiction and memoir? Is your book an “idea book” and, if so, do you have enough of a platform? How do you establish a platform, anyway? What are readers looking for in your non-fiction book proposal, and how much of the book needs to be written before you’re ready to approach a publisher? How much should you be tweeting? These and other timely questions will be answered by a panel of editors and agents.
with: Ethan Gilsdorf (moderator/author)
Todd Shuster (Panelist)
Regina Brooks (Literary Agent)
Emi Ikkanda (Editor)
12:45pm-2:00pm on Saturday, May 4th, 2013
These tables are an opportunity to network and/or socialize with invited authors, agents, editors, and presenters. Shop Talk tables are smaller, set further apart from other tables, in a separate part of the Imperial Ballroom, and reserved in advance so you’ll know exactly with whom you’ll be sitting. Participants will be asked to rotate chairs once or twice during the course of the lunch to maximize the number of personal connections to be made at the table. To reserve a spot, you must request a first and second choice of table and pay an additional $75 tax-deductible fee as you register for the conference online.
9:45am-11:00am on Sunday, May 5th
Important: Please read this description carefully before signing up, and bring all necessary materials to the session if you wish to share your non-fiction book idea.
In this session, the moderator (an established writer) will offer a brief preamble of the art of the non-fiction idea. Then, you will get two minutes to share your own idea for a non-fiction book for the audience, the moderator, and a panel of experts. The experts are agents and/or editors with years of experience working with non-fiction writers to turn their book proposals into reality. After you read your idea (preferably from a prepared text), the agents and editors will ask you follow-up questions and troubleshoot your idea. You will discuss issues of platform, expertise, the viability of the idea itself, and other elements of the non-fiction market. Please note that presenters will be chosen at random from names submitted in a hat at the start of the session. (Unfortunately, given the volume of submissions, we can not guarantee that your name will be called). This is a fun event that aims to be respectful of your idea and illuminate the process a writer goes through when she is developing an idea with an agent and/or editor. The point is not to get through as many writers as possible, but to thoughtfully evaluate your ideas and offer concrete suggestions from which all could benefit.
Though most people will be reading ideas for full-length books, you may also read an idea for a feature story or article to assess its viability with the panel of experts.
Ethan Gilsdorf (Author)
Eve Bridburg (Literary Agent)
Amy Gash (Editor)
Joanne Wyckoff (Literary Agent)
Hannah Elnan (Editor)
Happy Father's Day! I'll be reading and doing a book signing with Lizzie Stark, author of Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games, and Peter Bebergal, author of Too Much To Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood. More info
PAST EVENTS 2012
AWP (Associated Writing Programs) 2012 Annual Conference & Bookfair
February 29-March 3, 2012, Chicago, Illinois, Hilton Chicago & Palmer House Hilton
Sunday, April 8th at 1:00pm, Merman theatre.
"How D&D Saved My Life -- and How It Could Save Yours!"
Ever wonder how to explain to your spouse/parent/loved one why you dig Dungeons & Dragons? Why it's important to you? And what the game has given you that you can use in real life? D&D taught Ethan Gilsdorf how to emerge from his -5 Shell of Introversion and become a confident, decisive, even cocky, creative soul. If you can run a D&D campaign - a months-long series of adventures requiring infinite attention to detail, exacting execution and on-the-fly problem-solving - you can run an advertising campaign, an IT company, or a freelance life. In this humorous, self-deprecating and inspirational talk - punctuated by Gilsdorf's own 1970s and 1980s-era slides and movies of maps, dungeons and character sheets and snapshots -- Gilsdorf will take you on a nostalgic trip through his own love affair with D&D and his personal transformation, and show you how to feel good about all those years spent in the dungeon.
Muse and the Marketplace conference, Grub Street, Boston Sat May 5 an Sun May 6 Exciting! On Saturday, I'm moderating the session "2L: Industry Guide to Publishing: Non-Fiction" (11:15am-12:30pm) and presenting the "Hour of Power" "Option 5: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Writers" (3:45pm-4:45pm). Then, I'm Sunday I'm presenting "4G: The Self As Character" (9:45am-11:00am).
NEW DATE and location: Transgressions: Thurs July 19, Middlesex, 315 Mass Ave, Cambridge; time TBA: Take a walk on the wild side. Sounds like Lou Reed knew about our fourth Lounge Lit event when he wrote those lyrics. Join local writers Dawn Tripp, Chris Castellani, Holly LeCraw, Ethan Gilsdorf, and Henriette Lazaridis Power as they read their short essays and stories about transgression. Law-breaking, rule-bending, convention-busting, paradigm-shifting. They'll do it all. And we decree that the statute of limitations has expired on any story these writers tell! Tickets for each event--which go to support the Boston Book Festival and The Drum and include complimentary appetizers and beer or wine--are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Click here for all the details. More info:http://www.bostonbookfest.org/bookfest/schedule_detail/schedule_lounge_lit_transgressions/
2nd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group cruising in the ruins: the question of disciplinarity in the post/medieval university 20-22 September 2012 Panel: Getting Medieval on Medieval Studies (time and date TBA) This roundtable panel will explore the concatenation of medievalism in popular culture and medieval studies. Put more bluntly and in less boring terms, how can the Potterverse, Westeros, the World of Warcraft, “The Knights of Badassdom,” “Your Highness,” and LARPing teach students about the Middle Ages and the way that the medieval period is portrayed in contemporary culture? We will also debate the reasons why Medieval Studies is often still seen as marginal or arcane within the academy at the same time that MMORPGs have tens of millions of unique users, Rennaissance Faires are held every weekend throughout the country, and “Game of Thrones” is the hottest new show on cable tv. Panelists will give short presentations, followed by questions, debate, and discussion. Ethan Gilsdorf, author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: “Speak Friend and Enter: The Curious Lure of Dungeons, Dragons, Middle-Earth, and Medieval Derring-do” Darin Hayton, History, Haverford College: “Maximilian I, The Last Medieval Knight: Then & Now” Myra Seaman, English, College of Charleston: “Medieval Drag, Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The SCA” Jamie Taylor, English, Bryn Mawr College: “The Curious Margery Kempe” Elly Truitt, History, Bryn Mawr College: "Sex, Stoners, and Rock ‘n Roll: Screening Medieval History”
Sat Oct 27 | Boston Book Festival
I'll be moderating a panel THE HOBBIT: THERE AND BACK AGAIN with three Tolkien experts: Corey Olsen, aka the Tolkien Professor, will discuss his companion volume, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Wayne Hammond andChristina Scull will show the original artwork drawn by Tolkien himself in their new book The Art of the Hobbit. 11:00am at the Boston Common Hotel.
But there's tons more to check out. http://www.bostonbookfest.org/attend/schedule2012
The Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort, Myrtle Beach, SC, I'll be teaching and meeting with students individually, andteaching these sessions:
>Friday: WHAT’S THE BIG (OR LITTLE) IDEA: NON-FICTION BOOT CAMP: Matthew Frederick & Ethan Gillsdorf
>Saturday: NINE HABITS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL AUTHORS: Ethan Gilsdorf
>and I will participate in the Saturday Book Signing / Mixer
Past events, Fall 2011:
In this seminar, well examine, discuss and debunk the myths, dreams and tough realities of becoming a writer and then map out realistic action plans for making the leap to a full or part-time commitment to writing. Well look at concrete strategies, such as: creating short (one to two year) and long-term (three to ten year) series of goals; understanding the sacrifices necessary to build a career and the importance of working on multiple projects in different genres; tackling psychological issues such as writer's block and rejection; and grasping the value of networking and putting yourself out there. For beginners or anyone looking to re-inspire or re-commit themselves as writers. Instructor: Ethan Gilsdorf Level: For Everyone Type: Seminar Registration Deadline: Monday, August 29, 2011 register as a member $50.00 register as a non-member $65.00 http://tinyurl.com/6ftgtky Grub Street Inc. 160 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 02116
In this seminar, you will how to write killer pitch letters (AKA query letters or cover letters) for submitting essays, op-eds, articles and feature stories to editors of magazines, newspapers, literary magazines, and online publications. We'll look at top mistakes that writers make and examine pitch letters that actually worked. We'll also see how to leverage your background and expertise to best present yourself, even if you don't have a lot of publishing experience. Optional: Bring 15 copies of a draft of any pitch letter (its OK if youre not sure how to write one) for a piece you are currently working on and well try to quickly workshop as many of them as we can. Instructor: Ethan Gilsdorf Level: For Everyone Type: Seminar Registration Deadline: Monday, September 12, 2011 register as a member $50.00 register as a non-member $65.00 http://tinyurl.com/6ftgtky Grub Street Inc. 160 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 02116
You want to write feature stories for the Boston Globe or the Cambridge Tab, essays for salon.com or slate.com, or op-eds for USA Today or the New York Times. Now what? In this seminar well discuss how to come up with ideas that editors want, where to get insider information on who edits what. Well also look at the dos and donts out of contacting editors and cover the basics of pitching stories and writing pitch letters. Equally important is grasping how much various markets pay, being able to read a contract and understand your publication rights, and developing a realistic game plan for your success. (Note: this class wont cover corporate writing or freelance copywriting.) Instructor: Ethan Gilsdorf register as a member $50.00 register as a non-member $65.00 http://tinyurl.com/6ftgtky Grub Street Inc. 160 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 02116
This teaches the basics of what makes great, compelling, readable, narrative-based personal essays and how to write them. We'll focus on structure, voice and form, and how to best identify a story to tell. We'll look hard at exemplary writers from a variety of traditions and steal (OK, borrow) from their bag of tricks. After two or three weeks of in-class exercises and material-generation exercises, workshops of longer student essays will begin. If you are in need of extended prompts or writing assignments to generate an essay, these will be given, or you can work on essays of your own design. Students will likely have two essays workshopped (though this depends on class size). On the last class or two, well discuss markets for where to publish your finished personal essays, and go over the best ways and strategies for submitting them. More info and registration: http://bit.ly/oeOMfy Grub Street Inc. 160 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 02116 .
Families provide writers with their best material: secrets, joys, humor and tragedy. But how do we make family members, beloved and otherwise, into rich, multi-dimensional characters, neither saints nor monsters? And having done this, how do we avoid hurt feelings, libel suits and wrath? In this panel discussion, three authors of books that center on family and personal experience will talk about these issues and entertain your questions. Time and location TBA. More info: http://www.salemlitfest.com/ Salem Literary Festival Salem, MA, USA 01970
8pm, Kaplan's Annual Virtual Conference
What is the lure of fantasy worlds? The "psychology" of gaming?
Third Annual Dave Arneson Memorial Gameday
5:00 to 6:30, Brooklyn Strategist, Brooklyn NY
panel discussion: "The World Dave Made: Arneson’s Legacy in Modern Culture"
This discussion will explore all the things we owe to Dave Arneson's life and work, from his seminal involvement in the original roleplaying games Braunstein and Blackmoor to his co-creation of Dungeons & Dragons and his later career teaching game design at Full Sail University. Panelists will present key aspects of Arneson’s legacy, including the concept of having a character that represents you in an imagined realm and is described by statistics that reflect your advancement as a result of experience, and talk about how these ideas continue to shape progress in their own fields.
If you're about to publish a nonfiction book, you've probably got questions about how to best publicize it, and you're probably wondering how soon to begin your PR campaign, and which ideas work best. Whether you have a big or small publisher, or chose self-publishing, this seminar will outline both traditional and non-traditional methods to identify, reach and build a target audience in various potential book-buying communities. We'll discuss planning and executing a master timeline for book promotion; setting up a promotional budget; creating a book tour (and not just at bookstores but using non-traditional venues); brainstorming special contests, promotions and giveaways unique to your book; establishing yourself as an expert and tying in your book to current events; writing tie-in op-eds and commentaries; pitching yourself to traditional media like print, TV and radio; creating a website and DIY book trailer; and jumping on social media to develop a fan base and create buzz. We'll also look at what your publisher should do and what you can do, and the problems that self-publishing creates (and how to work around them). Come with questions. Info and registration: http://bit.ly/oeOMfy Grub Street Inc. 160 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 02116
This intensive class is geared specifically for students wishing to write and get personal essays and columns published. Each week, we will examine work that appears in both local and national newspapers, magazines, websites and other media outlets (such as New York Times "Modern Love"; the Globe and Huffington Post; NPR commentaries; parenting, cooking, and outdoors magazines, etc). Then, we write a personal essay or column that adheres as closely to that publication's format and style. Depending on class size, we will either workshop each student's assignment each week, or take turns on a rotating schedule. We will do a few in-class exercises, and will also spend time learning how to pitch essays and columns to editors --- how to find the right market, write a cover letter, and position the writer as an "expert" in their chosen topic or angle. The goal: by the end of the course, students will write and revise at least three personal essays or columns and send them out for publication. info and registration: http://bit.ly/oeOMfy Grub Street Inc. 160 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 02116
I'll be participating in the Boston Book Festival, in a panel discussion with Sherry Turkle ("Alone Together") on the theme of her book, how technology is affecting our relationships. With Sue Hallowell, Andrew McAfee (host)
Finding the heart of your memoir can be vexing. What story do you want to tell? How do you tell it? How can you make your reader care about your life? This seminar will help writers who are beginning to write a memoir (or want to write a memoir) find a shape and form for their story. We will discuss how to narrow and frame your life experiences in memoir, and examine some common structures for telling the story, with the goal of ultimately helping you find the heart of what story to tell. Quick exercises will help you "map" your memoir's scope --- the time frame, theme, plot, character arc, and key moments. We will discuss chronological time vs. narrative time, and dilemmas of "truth" and memory as it relates to recovering and recreating the past. Please bring a brief and rough (under 300 word) summary of a real or potential memoir project. Info and registration: http://bit.ly/oeOMfy Grub Street Inc. 160 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 02116
Lecture with questions, and then book signing, as part of Haverhill Public Library having chosen Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks for their "One Book, One Community"program. Free copies of my book at the library! More info: http://www.haverhillpl.org/haverhillreads.htm
In this seminar, you will learn how to write killer pitch letters (AKA query letters or cover letters) for submitting essays, op-eds, articles and feature stories to editors of magazines, newspapers, literary magazines, and online publications, and for submitting nonfiction book proposals to agents. (Sorry, we wont discuss how to pitch short fiction or novels.) We'll look at top mistakes that writers make and examine pitch letters that actually worked. We'll also see how to leverage your background and expertise to best present yourself, even if you don't have a lot of publishing experience. Optional: Bring 15 copies of a draft of any pitch letter (its OK if youre not sure how to write one) for a piece you are currently working on and well try to quickly workshop as many of them as we can. info and registration: http://bit.ly/oeOMfy Grub Street Inc. 160 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 02116