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Virtual Writers Workshop, Sunday July 5th

Drum Circle 3

Virtual Writers Workshop at the Etopia Island drum circle

Join us live online for group readings and feedback at Etopia Island in Second Life.

Get writing for our monthly Sunday meeting of the Virtual Writers Workshop, bringing published authors together with writers for synergy and exchange at 12 p.m. Eastern time, 9 a.m. Pacific time.


Authors participating in the Virtual Writers Workshop include:

BarbaraAlfaro2Barbara Alfaro, a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for her play Dos Madres. Mirror Talkher memoir about a Catholic girlhood and working in theatre won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Best Memoir. Barbara is currently working on a novel tentatively titled Roses and Vices.

Joss, hippieJ. L. Morin, author of the award-winning cli-fi (climte fiction) novel, Nature’s Confession. She is also the author of Trading Dreams, ‘Occupy’s 1st bestselling novel’, and writes for Huffington Post. Her Japan novel Sazzae won a Gold medal in the eLit Book Awards and a Living Now Book Award, and her novel Travelling Light was a USA Best Book Award finalist.

 The group offers useful feedback on original fiction, poetry, and lyrics. Writers read their work in the magical ambiance of the Etopia Island in Second Life to the beat of conga drums. After each reading, participants type their real-time reactions in the chat box and discuss each work.

Etopia Island’s virtual venue is the ideal place for this kind of writers’ focus group. Participants as far flung as the Brussels Writers Circle  and Brazil regularly attend.

Anthony Caplan

Anthony Caplan is an independent writer, teacher and homesteader in northern New England. He has worked at various times as a shrimp fisherman, environmental activist, journalist, taxi-driver, builder, window-washer, and telemarketer, (the last for only a month, but one week he did win a four tape set of the greatest hits of George Jones for selling the most copies of Time-Life’s The Loggers.) Currently, Caplan is working on restoring a 150 year old farmstead where he and his family tend sheep and chickens, grow most of their own vegetables, and have started a small apple orchard from scratch His road novels, BIRDMAN and FRENCH POND ROAD, trace the meanderings of one Billy Kagan, a footloose soul striving after sanity and love in the last years of the last century. His latest fiction effort, LATITUDES – A Story of Coming Home, to be released on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords and paperback in the summer of 2012, is a young boy’s transformative journey overcoming dysfunction, dislocation and distance.

Diane Haithman

Author of the debut novel Dark Lady of Hollywood, released for the Ides of March, 2014, Diane Haithman has worked as Arts and entertainment journalist, and Los Angeles Times Staff Writer. She is a major contributor to Deadline Hollywood industry website and its print publication, Awardsline. She serves on the adjunct faculty of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism.  Before joining the LA. Times Diane was West Coast Bureau Chief, movie critic and Hollywood columnist for the Detroit Free Press.  She is co-author of The Elder Wisdom Circle Guide for a Meaningful Life (Penguin/Plume 2007). Diane lives in Studio City, California with husband Alan Feldstein and Alley the dog.

charles-223x300Award winning author Charles Degelman is Faculty in Television, Film, & Media Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. His Vietnam novel, Gates of Eden, won an Independent Publishers Book Award. He has also been a finalist in the American Zoetrope Screenplay Competition sponsored by Francis Ford Coppola, the Cal State Media Arts Festival, the Bellwether Prize for Fiction sponsored by Barbara Kingsolver, and the Diane Thomas Screenwriting Awards sponsored by UCLA Writers Program.

His new novel, A Bowl Full of Nails, will be published in 2014.

KaraBennett2Kara Bennett, PhD, is a psychologist and co-founder of the nonprofit organization Elder Voices. She is the author of a film script entitled, ‘The Galaxy Language’. She has worked for many years on community projects in California, teaching about human rights and exploring ways of solving problems without violence and prejudice. She often uses dramatic arts to help people to discover how to create characters that can act in ways that respect both the individual and community. Now seventy years old, she is using the virtual world as a global stage.  Her recent book, Women and Second Life includes an essay she wrote with her colleague, Dr. Susan Patrice, about how virtual worlds can help people understand the effect of human rights on health care. She is completing a book about a new theory of human intelligence, called Mind Dances.


SERomeSean Elder, whose writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Salon, Slate, Oprah, New York Magazine, Men’s Journal, Details and many other publications. His short story, “The Vale of Cashmere,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and another short story of his, “Stain Removal,” has just been turned into a short film by director Mark Russell. He is currently working on a nonfiction book, “Great Is the Truth: The Horace Mann Sex Scandal and the Secret Life of America’s Perfect Schools” with Amos Kamil, to be published by Farrar, Stauss & Giroux in 2014.


Andrew Binks2Andrew Binks’ first novel, The Summer Between, was published in May 2009, by Nightwood Editions. He recently placed second in Prairie Fire’s 2012 non-fiction contest. His second novel Strip will be published by Nightwood in the fall of 2013. He won honorable mention in the Writer’s Union of Canada’s short prose contest, Glimmertrain’s Family Matters contest, and he was a finalist in the Queen’s University Alumni Review poetry contest, and This Magazine’s “Great Canadian Literary Hunt.” An excerpt of his novel, The Catalytic Seduction of Brian White, was first published in HSE’s Voice from the Planet. His fiction and non-fiction has been published in Joyland, Galleon, Fugue, Prism International, Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly (U.S.), Bent Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and Xtra, among others.


Stan2Acclaimed author of the collection of short fiction The Fire on Poteau Mountain, Stan Duncan’s writings draw on his experience working as a pastor, jazz pianist, and developmental economist. He is a Harvard Divinity School alumnus, has lived in six countries, and speaks broken English in three languages. Stan has published a book on human rights in El Salvador and four books on economic development in the Third World as well as numerous commentaries for the National Public Radio, and for Huffington Post.



James StobaughJames P. Stobaugh has a MDiv from the Princeton Theological Seminary, was a Merrill Fellow at Harvard University, and earned a DMin from the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Jim, a Presbyterian pastor, has sold over 60,000 copies of his books in the last three years. His primary market is the growing 2.9 million home educated evangelical Christian community.



tdolembo2Tom Dolembo, Harvard ’67 English cum laude, MBA ’71, David McCord writing scholar. An excerpt of his novel The Grapes and the Fox appears in HSE’s Above Ground anthology. Tom lives on a farm and bird sanctuary in the village of Kewadin in Northwest Michigan. A native Hoosier born in Michigan City, Indiana, he is the author of numerous tracts, novels, poems, and articles. He can be found near lakes, rivers, streams, and low marshy places often looking for wildlife who are effortlessly avoiding him. His recent writing projects have included an enormous Civil War Trilogy, a shorter book of children’s poems, and filler articles for rural newspapers on raising chickens and astronomy.



Alisa Clements from Brazil, who read an excerpt from her far-out new sci-fi novel about the Outernet, where people logon to the collective unconscious by meditating, and organize to fight the Top Five corporations before they snowball into one entity and imprison humanity.

The novel, All at Once, was just released in November 2012.


WickiWickham Boyle, known as Wicki, wears many hats: journalist, writer, finance consultant and theater producer. She writes about the arts, finance, parenting and travel for The New York Times, Savoy, National Geographic, Budget Travel, and Downtown Express. She was one of the founders of CODE Magazine, and editor-in-chief of THRIVE. Her short story, “Don’t Think You’re Calling Too Much,” appeared in HSE’s Voice from the Planet. Her essays can be heard on the AARP radio stations during their Prime Time show.



SONY DIGITAL CAMERASoviet author Ruben Varda whose humorous story ‘Consultation’ about a celestial computer class experimenting in virtual worlds was first published in the HSE anthology Voice from the Planet, later reprinted in Cambridge Book Review, and was lauded by British reviewer The Truth about Books, which named Planet ‘Book of the Month’.




Just create an avatar, download the Second Life Viewer, by clicking on the ‘downloads’ link on the right, launch the viewer application, and go to this location by pasting this link in the browser in the upper left of the Second Life viewer for a primer on how to move your avatar.

…Then, on the first Sunday of the month at 9 a.m. Pacific time, click on Visit Etopia Island and hit then hit the orange  “Teleport Now” button in the middle of the page, and then the gray “Teleport” button at the bottom of the popup to participate in the reading Sunday at 9 a.m. Pacific time when everyone will be here… or  meet us here by pasting this link in the browser in the upper left of the Second Life viewer:


Chat by typing into the chat box and hitting ‘enter’. To be able to hear the talk, hit CTRL P, and on the preferences screen, lower the volumes on the media, music, and sound effects, and raise the volume on the voice chat. Right click on the drums to play, ‘stand up’ to stop. If you’d like to read, when it’s your turn, press the ‘speak’ button on the bottom of the screen to talk. For best results, use a headset or Mac. Be sure to turn the speaker button off when you’re done talking to avoid feedback (worse than criticism!)

Improve the sound by standing near the person who is talking.

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