2013 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference and Workshops

cnf.OverbyCenterOverby Center

A gathering of the finest editors, agents, instructors,
and writers in the US!

cnf.lee1Lee Gutkind

May 2-5, 2013
Oxford, MS
On the Campus of the University of Mississippi

cnf.Neil and Dinty at Off SquareNeil White, Dinty W. Moore

More Information! Register Now!

Call to reserve your room at The Inn at Ole Miss
1-888-4 UM ROOM


Co-directors: Susan Cushman, Neil White, Kathy Rhodes


Lee Gutkind * Dinty W. Moore * Neil White * Virginia Morell
Mike Rosenwald * Jessica Handler * Beth Ann Fennelly * Lee Martin
Leigh Feldman * Deborah Grosvenor * Bob Guccione, Jr. * Julia Reed
Stella Connell * Jamie Brickhouse * River Jordan * More!




The campus of the University of Mississippi was on fire with fall, and more than 100 writers there for the 2010 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference were on fire with a passion to write and publish their stories. We all took stories to Oxford with us.

Susan Cushman and Kathy Rhodes at Thacker Mountain Radio

Walking from the Inn at Ole Miss to Overby Center to the student union over a quilt of leaves, I couldn’t help but feel a pull. Leaves red and orange above me, yellow and brown blowing around my feet, like times were changing, cooling, settling down to winter, yet I felt that struggle, like a birth or rebirth, like things are ratcheting up, as if it were spring with new life. Others felt it, too.

By the end of the weekend, we were all ready to go home and write.

Neil White talks about the personal essay.

The Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference was an outstanding success from my perspective as a participant, as well as co-director of the event. I left the quaint Mississippi hill-town with a clear picture of where I need to go with my memoir. I heard so many others say the same thing.

Kathy Rhodes, Carroll Chiles, Susan Cushman in Overby Center

We all left Oxford inspired to focus on the writing. It is all about the writing, we heard over and over. The writing must be good. Books get published because they are well written. As I drove home up the Natchez Trace from Tupelo to Nashville, I kept pressing the accelerator harder as I reviewed the weekend, trying to figure out just what made this conference so super-above-all-the-others-I’ve-attended.

Lee Gutkind talks about reflection, real life, and research in CNF.

First of all, everywhere I looked while on campus I saw smiling, happy faces. What a bunch of positive, upbeat people, all determined to take their projects to success.

Secondly, this conference seemed to go straight to the irreducible minimum of writing, being creative. Be patient, write, get it right before you do anything with it.

I heard Lee speak about his writing schedule. I’ve heard him tell this before, but this time, he seemed to punch the point home. Lee Gutkind, the “godfather” behind the genre of creative nonfiction, gets up at 4:30 AM and writes until he has to be somewhere. It’s a ritual for him; he works every single day, even Sundays and Christmas — you have to write to be productive, he says. It’s like practicing the piano. You can’t expect to be an accomplished pianist unless you stay at it, spend consistent time with it. Many of our presenters were university professors, and they are all dedicated to rigid writing schedules built around their daily classes. I devote my early mornings — from 5 till 7 — to writing, as well, and am wondering if I should feel guilty about not writing on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and as I’m feeling this twinge of guilt, I’m thinking that maybe I have written on those special holiday mornings.

Many of the presenters mentioned that in the evening before they go to bed, they prepare for the writing they will do when they wake up the next morning. I’ve done this, too, and my days are so organized and productive.

I am inspired by the quality of writers and writing represented in Oxford. The people who attended have a passion for their work, a passion for storytelling, and they are committed to seeing the writing process through to being published. All of them, every single one. They were all anxious, but eager to pitch their projects to the eleven agents and editors/publishers at the Pitch Fest.

Pitch Fest

I am uplifted by the positivism shown by the presenters in light of a publishing industry in turmoil. Things are rapidly changing on all fronts in the book world. Davis Kidd in Nashville is closing. Barnes and Noble is up for sale. Independents are evaporating at the rate of 20% a year. Three days ago, the New York Times announced that there is now a best-seller list for e-books. David Magee says that hardcover books are the most romantic things in the world, and I agree, but we’re moving to electronic readers — the Kindle, the Nook, the IPad. We must embrace that; these are opportunities, not evils. The death of a book does not mean the death of literature.

I am assured that in one venue or another in this changing industry, all the concepts and stories that went to Ole Miss for a four-day conference and floated on air waves above leaves crunching on campus sidewalks and sidewalks on the Square downtown, in Off-Square Books above a sleeping Mamacita — all will find a home.

Pitch Fest — Gillian MacKenzie

Pitch Fest — the lines for Dinty W. Moore, Walter Biggins, David Magee,
and Jeff Kleinman

Panel — The Realities of Publishing

Earlybird Deadline Looms

Sign up now!

Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference, with the editors of Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, The Pinch, writers from The Washington Post, memoirists, journalists, in Faulkner’s Oxford, Nov. 11-14, 2010.

Featuring Lee Gutkind, Dinty W. Moore (Brevity editor), Mike Rosenwald, David Magee, Kristen Iversen, Neil White, Beth Ann Fennelly, Jeff Kleinman, Stella Connell, Laurie Chittenden, Robert Goolrick, and more.

Early bird discount if you register before August 1.

More info here:



Kathy Rhodes (kathyrhodes@turnstylewriters.com)

Susan Cushman

Neil White

Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference

Yes, it has a brand new name! Instead of Mid-South, this big gathering of creative nonfiction writers from all over the country will honor the town that is making it all possible! A town rich in writing tradition. Oxford, Mississippi.

Neil White, Kathy Rhodes, Susan Cushman

Neil White of Oxford, Susan Cushman of Memphis, and I (Kathy Rhodes of Franklin TN) met yesterday at Neil’s beautiful office at Nautilus Publishing in the Plein Air development of the artsy community of Taylor, south of Oxford, near Thacker Mountain, to plan, to develop a schedule, to determine our guest speakers.

Charming Artsy Downtown Taylor — the famous grocery and art galleries

Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference
November 11-14, 2010
Ole Miss Campus, Oxford MS

The conference will begin Thursday afternoon with a 4-hour class on creating scenes in creative nonfiction, taught by Neil White. Then Thursday night there’s the Thacker Mountain radio show. All day Friday, there will be four different manuscript workshops, led by Dinty W. Moore, Kristen Iverson, Neil White, and one other, TBA later. Saturday — Lee Gutkind will teach from 8-12, and in the afternoon, there will be a panel of 6 agents, editors, and publicists on the realities of publishing, moderated by Dinty W. Moore. Then, one-on-ones with the agents and editors! Sunday morning, there will be two panels: Writers Off the Page (markets for CNF) and Writers On the Page (the craft of CNF). A detailed schedule with costs for each day is forthcoming. But for the whole conference, the cost is $350 — and there’s an earlybird special of $325 for those who wish to sign up now! Checks can be mailed to Oxford CNF Conference, PO Box 40, Taylor MS 38673. (A website with PayPal is being set up for those who wish to pay by plastic.)

Confirmed staff to-date: Lee Gutkind, Dinty W. Moore, David Magee, Kristen Iverson, Neil White, Stella Connell, and Jeff Kleinman, with 6 others in the wings but not quite yet confirmed.

Conference Co-directors Neil White, Kathy Rhodes, Susan Cushman

Watch for more details and for a new Facebook fan page and in the meantime, if you have questions, please email me! For now, mark your calendar if you have not done so and consider reserving your spot early! Space is limited in some of the classes.

Neil, Susan, and I had a great planning session, lunch at Emileigh’s (thanks, Neil!), and then browsed at the Tin Pan Alley antique shop, where Susan and I shared a fun moment on a swinging bed. Yes, a swinging day bed! How I would love to have that on my porch! (How I would love to have a porch!) Alice who owns the shop wants to attend our conference and write her real life stories — and how we hope she will!

We hope you will sign up, too! I am so pleased and excited about our lineup and look forward to sharing ALL the details with you!

Creative Nonfiction Workshop

So, you’re writing a memoir. Or you’re doing some travel writing. Or, like me, you are trying to write a compelling true story, perhaps about the man next door who murdered his wife, then faked a marriage to the woman across the street and murdered her, too. You are writing CREATIVE NONFICTION, the most widely published genre in the publishing industry today.

If you need a few pointers on writing REAL LIFE, RESEARCH, AND REFLECTION, there’s a workshop for you in historic Franklin, Tennessee. Lee Gutkind, the Godfather behind the genre of Creative Nonfiction will teach “The 5 R’s of Creative Nonfiction” Saturday, September 13, 8:15 – 4:00, in an intensive one-day workshop, sponsored by the Council for the Written Word.

It doesn’t matter how far you live from Middle Tennessee. We’ve got one person coming from Morgantown, West Virginia (Hi, Julie!) and another from Overland Park, Kansas, and others from points in between. Besides, Franklin is a nice literary place to visit. It’s the home of Carnton Mansion, the setting of Robert Hicks’ best-selling novel The Widow of the South. It’s also the home of Robert Hicks. Actually, Franklin [Williamson County] is the home of about 400 documented published authors — people who have lived in Williamson County for at least one year and published a book. So there’s a lot of good mojo here!

More information HERE.

Fall Workshop