By the time I discovered that Mary Karr was the keynote speaker for the 2016 HippoCamp conference I was out of travel funds. Over the next few months, online friends raved about the event. So, as soon as the 2017 conference opened up, I registered. 

I drove to Lancaster, PA with a fellow student in a Memoir in a Year class. We walked into the Marriott ballroom feeling like outsiders, but by Sunday afternoon it was as if we’d spent the weekend with old friends. 

As an introvert, the phrase meet-and-greet sends chills up my spine. I attend these social gatherings because they’re essential networking activities, but the feeling I most associate with them is awkward. 

I’m not sure whether the potato martini bar or Amish-country vibe set the tone for HippoCamp’s Friday night meet-and-greet. But I know it was my entry into the HippoCamp family.

It didn’t matter if you’d just written your first word or you were the keynote speaker. Everyone was treated like an equal.

Over the past three years, I’ve had the pleasure of learning from so many talented writers. Presentations by Laurie Jean Cannady and Reema Zaman on trauma narratives inspired me to use my experience as a former mental health counselor to design a presentation on writing about trauma.

Listening to Melanie Brooks read from her book Writing Hard Stories, reminded me that we write to heal, and for countless writers, publishing their hard stories has been transformational. Rae Pagliarulo revealed the intricacies of the addiction memoir subgenera while Athena Dixon gave me strategies for dealing with my inner critic. 

While Creative Nonfiction gave me the skills to write well-crafted essays, HippoCamp presenters showed me how to wield those skills with an open heart.

Essays published in Hippocampus Literary Magazine’s online journal exemplify the beauty that results when craft meets heart. 

In 2019, I was one of HippoCamp’s speakers. That same year, one of my essays was a finalist in Hippocampus’s Remember in November contest. I look forward to presenting for HippoCamp again in 2021. 

I’m deeply honored to be part of the HippoCamp family and to support Donna and her team as they work tirelessly to support creative nonfiction writers as they discover their voices and tell their important stories. 

Make a ten-dollar donation to Hippocampus Literary Magazine and you’ll earn four tickets toward this week’s drawing. 

My week three prize is a set of author-signed books published during 2020 by Sharon HarriganAthena DixonLara LillibridgeMolly HowesRose and Anderson AND a spot in Jane Friedman’s self-study Query Master Class.

You’ll also get a copy of the book I recommend most frequently to all authors, The Business of Being a Writer. This prize is a $200 value, all for supporting the organizations that support you. 

To donate,  click here

Other ways you can earn tickets by supporting Hippocampus Literary Magazine:

  • Read a Hippocampus Magazine story or article, comment on it, and share with followers on at least one platform.
  • Suggest a Books by Hippocampus book to a local library, indie bookstore, or to a friend/family member as a holiday gift idea. 
  • Add a Books by Hippocampus book to the “to-read” section of your Goodreads account. If you’ve read one of their books, write a review for both Amazon AND Goodreads. 


 To enter this week’s drawing, send an email to lisa.cooper.ellison@gmail.com.

Please include the amount of your donation or a screenshot of your social media support. 

To learn more about the challenge or how supporting Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, James River Writers, or any other literary nonprofit can help you score tickets for this challenge, click here

Thank you in advance for your literary citizenship. 

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