Hank Phillippi Ryan, John Gilstrap among writers at Midwest Writer's Workshop
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - Hank Phillippi Ryan has spent a lifetime telling stories on 6 p.m. television news and easily blends that reality into fictional reporters and newscasters that earned her critical aclaim as a book author,
And John Gilstrap worked as firefighter and safety engineer while he wrote some of the best selling fiction books like Nathan's Run and High Treason, a recent New York Times best seller.
Those were the writers who took reality and made it into best selling fiction who offered their help to other writers, authors and media people at the 40th Midwest Writer's Workshop at Ball State University this week. English professor Jama Bigger evolved the workshop from regional and local authors to nationally recognized best sellers.
More than 100 people listened to stories by Ryan, Gilstrap and others while offering their own stories, books, websites, blogs and social media offerings, While book authors are the majority of the group, there was growing emphasis on social media, Google and other forms on online information.
Take Rozane Gay, who writes some of the best short stories in the country. She blogs for the Wall Street Journal, Salon and Rumpus and co-edits online and print versions of Pank. Yet she teaches creative writing at Eastern Illnois University.
As she and other writers and most other writers know, only great novelists can live on their stories.
Even Ryan, who grew up in Indiana, is still an investigative reporter for the NBC affiliate in Boston, MS and has worked in television much of her life.
That breaking news like the Boston Marathon bombing and even the September 11, 2001 terror attack is still Ryan's primary job which she recreates as fiction in her first Time book series about a TV reporter named Charlotte McNally and her life dealing with corruption, murder and terror and now the Woman series with a newspaper reporter named Jane Ryland and the same adventure of today's headlines.
Ryan admits having little time outside of reporting the news and then retelling those stories with thriller ttitles like The Wrong Girl or Prime Timehat have plenty of sex besides great stories of corruption and conspiracy.
Glistrap took a different direction talking about his time as a safety engineer that gave him access to business, government and the military, enabling him to write stories about Delta Force rescues and accused teenage killers.
As other writers watched, Gilstrap showed a series of videos about the deadly force of handguns and rifles and the power of the ammunition that can go from making a small entry wound in a body to blasting a head or body to pieces.
Gilstrap even did a reenactment of the President John F. Kennedy shooting, to give writers an idea of whether Kennedy was actually killed by a single rifle bullet.
One of best moments of the workshop was a tribute to the late Alan Garinger, a local teacher who wrote children's books including the Jeremiah Stokely series.. Ron Groves, a writer, artist and Garinger's friend, wrote the tribute that recognized Garinger who was known as a talented author and avid conservationist.