Photo: Re: 190405-news-authorfest

Panel discussions during this year’s Derry Author Fest will include pointers on publishing, but the main focus will be on the writing process.

DERRY — The Derry Author Fest, a free writers convention, will be headlined by New York Times bestseller Anita Diamant, and other area writers, agents and industry specialists at the Derry Public Library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Organizer Erin Moulton said this year’s convention is its fifth year, and will feature panel discussions and talks focused primarily on writing technique, with a few pointers on the publishing process. She said it’s the perfect event for up-and-coming writers looking to dust off their old manuscript or picture book idea, and are ready to start submitting their work for publication.

“This year is a touch of technique, last year was all about publishing,” Moulton said.

Diamant, who is the bestselling author of five novels including “The Red Tent,” “The Boston Girl” and “The Last Days of Dogtown,” will be the first speaker of the day. She has also written several guides on contemporary Jewish living.

“I think she’s going to be a big draw for the morning,” Moulton said.

Following Diamant’s talk, literary agent Lorin Rees of Rees Literary Agency in Boston will give pointers on how to write a query letter and sell a story to an agent.

Boston Globe reporter and nonfiction author Jenna Russell will talk about narrative style.

“She’s going to focus on elements of narrative nonfiction and how to make them interesting to the reader,” Moulton said.

Russell is the author of “Long Mile Home,” about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2017 for her work as a Spotlight reporter exposing inadequacies in the Massachusetts mental health system.

Maine-based author of over 50 picture books Maryann Cocca-Leffler (formerly of New Hampshire) will describe the process of writing picture book manuscripts “from spark to completed projects.”

The day wraps up with panel discussion about the process of publishing. Panel members — New Hampshire authors Dan Szczesny, Ginger Johnson, Mohini Durgampudi and Ceara Comeau — will discuss the process of self-publishing, traditional publishing and indie publishing. Moulton will be moderating.

Moulton said the Derry Author Fest started as an idea by former library trustee Elizabeth Ives, now deceased, who wanted to see a local writers convention that was free and open to the public.

“From year to year, we’ve gained more traction,” Moulton said.

She said sponsorships, especially from the Derry Medical Charitable Foundation, make a huge difference in being able to afford stipends for guest authors.

Books will be on sale during the event via Gibson’s Bookstore of Concord.

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