Events & Media Appearances
I love to give readings and meet readers, writers, geeks and nerds. I appear frequently at bookstores, colleges, high schools, book groups and conventions, as well as on radio, TV and Internet media. See the schedule below for my upcoming events and media appearances.
Saturday, Oct 25, Boston Book Festival
Moderating a panel with authors Joanna Rakoff (My Salinger Year), Max Tegmark (Our Mathematical Universe) and Rebecca Mead (My Life in Middlemarch)
Wednesday, October 1, Brattle Theatre
Harvard Book Store event for 101 Two-Letter Words, "a one-of-a-kind celebration of the 101 two-letter words allowed in Scrabble." I'll be interviewing author Stephin Merritt, who is also singer-songwriter of the Magnetic Fields. The book is illustrated by Roz Chast.
Saturday, Sept 27, Plimoth Plantation
Lecture Series: Ethan Gilsdorf presents: "Character as Craft," for the Grand Opening of Plimoth Plantation’s Artisan Craft Center and Bakery. More info on Plimoth Plantation.
Thursday, August 21, Cambridge College
Speaking at the City of Cambridge's College Success Initiative (CSI). Not open to the public.
Thursday, Aug 7, Emerson College
Guest speaking at high school Creative Writers Workshop. Not open to the public.
Tuesday, July 22, CBC Radio "Q with Jian Ghomeshi"
"How Dungeons & Dragons fired up a generation of creative minds." With Junot Diaz. Radio broadcast archived here.
Tues June 3, Boston Book Festival
Middlesex Lounge, 315 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA
"My Salinger Year" Book Celebration & BBF 2014 Keynote Reveal Party,
Celebrate the publication day of Joanna Rakoff's My Salinger Year with a reading, discussion, and party at the laid-back cool Middlesex Lounge, 315 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, at 6pm on Tuesday, June 3. Joanna will be joined in conversation by Ethan Gilsdorf, author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks. Joanna’s recollections of her time spent answering J.D. Salinger’s fan mail are sure to inspire your own Salinger memories, so start thinking about anecdotes or favorite passages you’d like to share.
Tues May 27
WGBH Boston Public Radio
With hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, talking about a forthcoming translation of the landmark Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and new Legoland Discovery Center in Boston. Radio broadcast archived here.
Monday, May 5, Lexington Community Education
Lexington Depot, 13 Depot Square, Lexington, MA
"Hobbits, Heroes, Gamers, Geeks: What Explains the Rise of Fantasy, Gaming and Role-Playing Subcultures, or How Dungeons & Dragons Can Save Your Life! A Talk with Author Ethan Gilsdorf" $10. Register and more info: http://www.lexingtoncommunityed.org/detail.php?q=SDND
Fri-Sun, May 2-4, Grub Street Muse and Marketplace Conference
Park Plaza Hotel, Boston
Leading the Session 3E "Essentials of the Personal Essay" 1:30pm-3:30pm on Friday, May 2nd and Moderating the round table "Promotion & Publicity for the Non-Fiction Writer," 9:00 - 10:15am, Sunday, May 3rd
Saturday, April 12th, Pax East
Cuttlefish Theatre Pax East, Boston Convention Center
"Why D&D Is Still Awesome: A 40th Anniversary Dungeons & Dragons Tribute": In 1974, D&D first appeared on the market. Now, 40 years later, we can see how this revolutionary game caused shock waves in the worlds of pop culture, gaming and play, and influenced how we spend our leisure time and socialize in profound ways. This panel features three of country’s leading experts on D&D, its history and cultural impact: David Ewalt, author of “Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It”; Ethan Gilsdorf, author of “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms”; and Jon Peterson, author of “Playing at the World: A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures, from Chess to Role-Playing Games.” We’ll talk about D&D’s incredible social impact, tell a little history of the game, show slides (OK, nostalgia bait) of its major editions and other historical goodies, discuss why D&D still matters, and maybe give away some free stuff. Followed by a rousing Q&A where you the audience can geek out about how D&D changed your life—- hopefully for good, and not, you know, for Satan. Followed by a book signing with the three authors.
Tues, March 11, Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society
"How Dungeons & Dragons and Fantasy Prepare You for Law and Life": Ethan Gilsdorf in conversation with Jonathan Zittrain. Free, open to all, but RSVP required for those attending in person; event will also be webcast live here. How is a lawyer like a wizard? How does a courtroom resemble an epic battle? How is a casebook like the Dungeon Master's Guide? If you played Dungeons & Dragons in another age, or today, then you know this enormously influential role-playing gaming, which shaped the video gaming industry and geek culture, can be perfect training ground for law and life. This low-tech, pencil-and-paper-and-dice game teaches us how to solve problems, be a heroic leader, and achieve a common goal in a collaborative group environment. But the skills, rulebooks and "laws" required to play D&D --- whether understanding complex "to hit" charts or inventing the backstory of an evil Witch King -- can especially apply to law students. What Dungeon Master or lawyer doesn't need to parley with a foe? In this informal talk and conversation, Gilsdorf and Zittrain discuss how D&D's inherent storytelling skills can champion a role for creative play space in both your work and leisure life. More info.
Sat, March 1, 2014
2014 AWP Conference & Bookfair, Washington State Convention Center & Sheraton Seattle Hotel, Seattle, WA
DUE TO UNFORSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES, I WON'T BE AT AWP AFTER ALL. BUT THESE GREAT EVENTS WHICH I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE PART OF WILL GO ON WITHOUT ME:
9:00 am to 10:15 am, Room 3A, Washington State Convention Center, Level 2 S111. Geeks, Punks and Freaks: Writing from the Cultural Fringe.
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm, Room 303, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 3 S255. Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, and Depression: Troubleshooting the Seven (Deadly?) Sins of the Writing Life.
Sun, February 9, 2014, 9pm
Brattle Theater, Harvard Square, Cambridge MA
As a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics, I'll be introducing the film The World's End, about five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier and unwittingly become humankind's only hope for survival. Director: Edgar Wright; Writers: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright; Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman. More info.
Past Events, 2013
Thurs, Dec 5, Tufts University, Eaton 206, 8:30pm
I'll be giving a talk and slide lecture: "HOBBITS HEROES GAMERS GEEKS: WHAT EXPLAINS THE RISE OF FANTASY, GAMING & ROLE-PLAYING SUBCULTURES?" There will be a trivia contest, a couple goodies to give away, refreshments, and a book signing. Free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Beyond the Light (the Tufts Science Fiction and Fantasy Society) and open to the public.
Tues Nov 12, Tufts University
Classroom visit, Grace Talusan's first year writing class. Not open to the public.
Wednesday, October 16th, 10pm,
The Showdown: Comics Vs Poets
FREE, The Burren (back room) 247 Elm St.
Davis Square, Somerville
Comics and poets. Jokes and Verse. Head-to-Head in a battle royale to determine once and for all which group will claim victory in the war of words! An amazing group composed of some of Boston's finest comics and funniest poets --- including Grub instructors Steve Macone and Ethan Gilsdorf --- comes together for an epic night, guaranteed to rock the crowd with laughter. Performers receive 5 mins each to do their thing and each round of 1 comic vs. 1 poet will be judged by the audience on hilarity and craft. Best of 5 rounds wins. More info: http://weshazard.com/words-which-kind-shall-prevail/
Saturday, October 19, Boston Book Festival, Copley Square area
2:00PM SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19
OLD SOUTH MARY NORTON, 645 BOYLSTON STREET
It’s your turn behind the microphone in this flash-fiction recording session. No need to sign-up ahead of time—just take a number when you arrive and be ready to step up to the mic and read your very, very short story. The Drum, an audio literary magazine, will record each story and choose the best ones for publication in the magazine. Each piece must be no longer than three minutes, so rehearse! We will hear as many stories as time permits. Hosted by Ethan Gilsdorf and Steve Macone. Sponsored by Amazon.com
ALL DAY SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19
COPLEY SQUARE, BOSTON
For a fiction experience set during the Boston Book Festival, take a listen to Books, Actually, an audio flash-fiction project created by some of Boston’s most exciting writers for The Drum Literary Magazine and the BBF. Use the Moveable Feast app on your smartphone to play one of eight stories, read aloud by their authors, and follow a range of characters—from the reporter and aspiring novelist to the self-published teen selling his book—on Festival day. Come to The Drum’s exhibitor booth to find out how to get started on your journey! The writers who collaborated on this project are: Stace Budzko, Catherine Elcik, Ethan Gilsdorf, Katrina Grigg-Saito, Clarence Lai, Henriette Lazaridis Power, Becky Tuch, and Ted Weesner
Friday, September 27, 8pm Mortified, Oberon Theater, Cambridge
This will be my third appearance Mortified. I'll be reading all new (well, old), never-before-heard in public, 100% mortifying material from my pathetic adolescence. "Hailed as a "cultural phenomenon" by NewsWeek and celebrated for years by the likes of This American Life, The Today Show, The Onion AV Club, & Entertainment Weekly, Mortified is a comic excavation of teen angst artifacts (journals, poems, letters, lyrics, home movies, schoolwork) as shared by their original authors -- in front of total strangers." Tickets $15.
Saturday, September 14, 4:30-5:15pm Boston Festival of Independent Games, MIT, BostonFIG Main Theater
Back in the Dungeon: A Conversation with Brian O'Halloran and Ethan Gilsdorf on how D&D changed their lives.
Digital gaming all began with graph paper dungeons, a handful of dice and the Monster Manual. Join actor Brian O’Halloran (“Dante Hicks” in Clerks) and writer and critic Ethan Gilsdorf (author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks) as they geek out about the importance and impact of Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs and tabletop games on the gaming industry, and how these old-school games changed their lives for good, not evil (mostly). There’ll also be giveaways of Ethan’s book and other goodies. We’ll end with a Q&A, book signing, and autograph session immediately following the event.
Featuring readings from:
Ethan Gilsdorf, author of the award-winning travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms; and frequent contributor to the New York Times, Boston Globe, wired.com, WBUR, BoingBoing, GeekDad and psychologytoday.com and others.
Andrew Goldstein, author of the novel The Bookie's Son, publisher at SixOneSeven Books, and recipient of the Bread Loaf Fellowship.
Linda Schlossberg, Assistant Director of Studies for the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Harvard University, where she teaches courses in literature and creative writing, and author of the novel Life in Miniature (Kensington, 2010).
Michelle Seaton, journalist and author whose fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, Harvard Review and Best American Nonrequired Reading, among others; longtime contributor to Robb Report and NPR's "€œOnly a Game"; and co-author of The Way of Boys.
Plus double the guest-host fun with both Steven Beeber and Steven Brykman!
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
Grub Street, Park Plaza Hotel, Boston
I'll be part of four events. Sign up in advance if you want to attend:
Session 2B: Charting the Non-Fiction Writing Career 11:15am-12:30pm on Saturday, May 4th Todd Shuster (Panelist) Session 6L: Non-Fiction Idea Clinic
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.
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)
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)
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
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 also be visiting classes 4/15 and running a private D&D sessions 4/16.
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
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
Fri March 8, 10:30-11:45Room 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.
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.
Past events 2012
Fri Jan 13, 10pm
Oberon Theater, 2 Arrow St, Harvard Sq, Cambridge more info
I'm back, performing with Mortified: Boston. What you might hear: love letters to Ren Faire hotties; comic books about pedophiles; and poems about drug trips at our January angst straveganza. Tickets: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/28325
Sat Feb 18 Boston Westin Waterfront
Saturday, 11am, Galleria/Discussion Groups: Writing Freelance: How to Pitch Your Ideas
This Grub Street instructor and author of several articles in publications like The Boston Globe talks about how to pitch your SF/F ideas to publications.
Saturday, 2pm, Carlton: Tabletop Gaming in the Electronic Age
What's the future of "Dungeons & Dragons" and other tabletop games played with dice, maps, and the imagination -- when everyone is playing "Call of Duty: Black Ops" on their PS3s, or "Angry Birds" on their iPhones? D&D/Wizards of the Coast just announced a major effort to reinvigorate their brand, re-engage their player base, and revamp the rules. So now is a key moment for the tabletop role-playing game industry. What is the role of tabletop games in an increasingly Internet/MMO/video gaming world? Come to this panel to hear and share perspectives, hopes, and fears. Walter H. Hunt, Bob Kuhn, Jacob Sommer, Ethan Gilsdorf (Moderator)
Saturday, 3-3:30pm, Galleria-Art Demos: Growing Up Geek
D&D taught this author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, how to emerge from his -5 Shell of Introversion and become a confident, decisive, even cocky, creative soul. This humorous, self-deprecating and inspirational talk -- punctuated by the author's own 1970s and 1980s-era slides and movies of maps, dungeons and character sheets and snapshots -- will take you on a nostalgic trip through a love affair with D&&D, and show you how to feel good about all those years spent in the dungeon. Ethan Gilsdorf
Sat 4pm-5pm, Galleria-Autographing: Autographing: Ethan Gilsdorf, and Walter H. Hunt
AWP (Associated Writing Programs) 2012 Annual Conference & Bookfair February 29-March 3, 2012, Chicago, Illinois, Hilton Chicago & Palmer House Hilton
Thursday- March 1, 2012
Thurs, 10:30 A.M.-11:45 A.M.
(Christopher Castellani, Ethan Gilsdorf, Lisa Borders, Jill McDonough)
Continental A, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
Every workshop has problems: the dude who won’t stop talking; the lady who keeps psychoanalyzing; the inappropriately dirty/violent/creepy story. Every workshop needs new ideas: unique exercises that always yield worthwhile pages; rules that structure conversation without squashing spontaneity. In this panel, instructors of all genres will share case studies of how they deal with common problems and also reveal their best strategies for maximizing the effectiveness and fairness of workshops.
Friday, April 6th at 1:30pm, Cat Theater "How to Start Playing D&D"
with: Greg Tito [Games Editor, The Escapist]; Ethan Gilsdorf [Author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, journalist and critic for New York Times, Boston Globe, wired.com's GeekDad]; Alex Guzman [RPG Networker / Game Organizer, Bad Wrong Fun]; Shelly Mazzanoble [Associate Brand Marketing Manager for Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast]
Let’s face it, all those rulebooks and funny-shaped dice can be intimidating. What do I roll to kill the goblin with my sword? What does charm person do again? Why is that gazebo attacking me? The truth is that all tabletop roleplaying needs is a creative gamemaster and some players willing to go on an adventure. We’ll help you make sense of esoteric game manuals so you can stop just lurking on RPG websites or hearing about other gamers' campaigns and start actually roleplaying. If you used to play D&D in the 80s or you have trouble with a male-centric hobby, we'll show you how to find a group that matches your playstyle and get you back into gaming. New dungeon masters can learn how to form a group, while we’ll show all prospective players that there’s no reason to be afraid of rolling a few dice on a Friday night
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