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Fall Writing Classes At Twain House; Bert Jacobs At R.J. Julia

Special to The Courant
Author Mark Ribowsky discussing "Dreams to Remember" on WRTC'S "Greasy Tracks" on Sept. 5

The Mark Twain House & Museum will offer four writing classes beginning Wednesday, Sept. 2, and running each Wednesday through Oct. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. Each course costs $265 to attend.

Christine Palm will lead the Writing the Land course, in which students will write about place in various genres, such as poetry, memoir, short fiction, creative non-fiction, narrative, humor and dramatic scenes. Palm, a teacher, poet and essayist, has taught creative writing, poetry, grammar and film studies at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and at Kent School's summer workshop for young writers.

Melanie Faranello, an author and teacher, will lead the Fiction workshop, which will combine talks on elements of writing, in-class exercises and critiques and discussions of works in progress. Faranello has won a New School Chapbook Award in Fiction and was in the top 25 in Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction Contest. Her work has been published in literary journals.

Susan Campbell, a former Courant reporter and columnist and author of the memoir "Dating Jesus" and the biography, "Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker" (Garnet Books, $28.95), will teach how to write Non-Fiction in an entertaining and informative way. She has won awards for her reporting and commentary.

Author and storyteller Matthew Dicks, a teacher in West Hartford, will lead a workshop aimed at people with little or no experience doing on-stage storytelling but want to improve their communication and writing skills. Participants will learn to find and structure stories from their own lives, play games to polish speaking skills, employ humor and suspense and develop a story that can be performed. Dicks, a co-founder of a Hartford-based storytelling organization, Speak Up, is the author of the novels "Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend," "Something Missing," "Unexpectedly, Milo" and, most recently, "The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs" (St. Martin's Press, $24.99). He is a columnist for Seasons magazine and has published pieces in The Courant, Huffington Post and The Christian Science Monitor. Information and registration: 860-280-3130 or www.marktwainhouse.org.

At R.J. Julia

On Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m. at R.J. Julia Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Road, Madison, Bert Jacobs will give a free talk about "Life Is Good: The Book" (National Geographic Society, $25) the inspirational self-help book he wrote with his brother, John, which describes 10 superpowers needed to live a fulfilling life. The entrepreneurial brothers founded a T-shirt and apparel company now valued at more than $100 million.

Clarence Jones, author of "Triumph: A Novel" (XLibris, $29.99), will give a free talk on Thursday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. Jones is former president of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts and former president of the Connecticut Judges Association. His book, inspired by cases he judged, is set in the foster care system and details the problems encountered in its efforts to protect children from abuse and neglect.

Animal lovers alert: For every pre-order by Sept. 7 at R.J. Julia of the forthcoming book "Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better,'' (Artisan, $19.95) by Tracey Stewart, $4 will be donated to Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter, the second-largest municipal animal shelter in Connecticut. The book is an illustrated guide to improving the quality of life for animals at home or on the farm. Stewart, an animal advocate and a former veterinary technician, is married to comedian and commentator Jon Stewart. She also is the editor-in-chief of the website Moomah.

All R.J. Julia events require registration: 203-245-3959 or www.rjjulia.com.

Classics Book Club

The Manchester Public Library, 586 Main St., Manchester, will begin a free book club focusing on classic works of literature on Thursday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. with a discussion of Virginia Woolf's novel, "Mrs. Dalloway." Classics are works of fiction that have enduring popularity, say something important about their time period or were a "first" of some kind. The library has copies to lend.

Information: 860-643-2471 or library.townofmanchester.org.

Connecticut Authors Trail

The 2015 Connecticut Authors Trail, presented by a group of libraries in Eastern Connecticut, offers free talks by authors who live in the state or write about it. At each event, guests can acquire "passports" that are guides to the series and offer a chance to win a themed basket. The trail will conclude at The Mohegan Sun Cabaret Theatre on Sept. 10 at 6:15 p.m., with a talk by baker, cookbook author and culinary arts expert Robert Landolphi.

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, at 6:30 p.m. at Aldrich Free Library, 299 Main St., Moosup, Gail Whitmore will discuss her love of dogs and writing, as shown in her series, The Rescue Dog Tales, whose first book, "A Place to Call Home" was inspired by Toby, an abused dog she adopted from the Connecticut Humane Society. Its new edition features activities and discussion questions tailored to middle-grades readers and book clubs.

On Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. at Saxton B. Little Free Library, 319 Route 87, Columbia, Kara Sundlun, an Emmy Award winning TV journalist and anchor for WFSB-TV, will discuss her memoir, "Finding Dad: From 'Love Child' To Daughter" (Behler Publications, $15.95). Her book is the true story of how she forged a bond with her father, war hero and twice Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun, a man she knew about but had never met.

On Thursday, Sept. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Guilford Smith Memorial Library, 17 Main St., South Windham, author, lawyer and former State Senator Donald E. Williams, Jr., will talk about his book, "Prudence Crandall's Legacy: The Fight for Equality in the 1830s, Dred Scott, and Brown v. Board of Education" (Wesleyan University Press, $35). Crandall was the 19th century Canterbury teacher and early proponent of civil rights and equality who integrated her school for girls, was jailed for her efforts and became a national figure in the fight against slavery. In 1995, Crandall was named Connecticut's State Heroine. Her school, a National Historic Landmark, now houses the Prudence Crandall Museum.

Information: connecticutauthorstrail.org/.

Courtney At Cedar Hill

The author of a prize-winning book about Mark Twain's best friend, Asylum Hill Congregational Church minister Joseph Hopkins Twichell, will give a talk on Thursday, Sept. 3, at 5:30 p.m. under a tent at the Colt Monument on Section 2 of Cedar Hill Cemetery, 453 Fairfield Ave., Hartford.

The Cedar Hill Cemetery Foundation is sponsoring the talk by Steve Courtney, author of "Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life and Times of Mark Twain's Closest Friend" (University of Georgia Press, $24.95). Twichell, who was Twain's traveling companion and confidant, was a Civil War chaplain and the first pastor at Asylum Hill. Courtney, a former writer and editor for The Courant and publicist at the Mark Twain House & Museum, won a 2009 Connecticut Book Award for his biography.

Admission is $5.

Information: cedarhillfoundation.org or 860-956-3311.

Redding On the Radio

Author Mark Ribowsky will discuss "Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul" (Liveright, $27.95) on Saturday, Sept. 5, on WRTC'S "Greasy Tracks" program, which runs from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on 89.3 FM, wrtcfm.com. It is the longest-running soul and blues radio program in Connecticut.

Ribowsky has written more than a dozen biographies of music and sports stars, and his new book describes the complex life of Redding, best known for his "(Sitting On) The Dock Of The Bay" which was released less than a month after his death in a plane crash in December 1967.

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