Two men sitting at a table on stage

Reading, Writing, & Retailing Symposium Showcases Renowned Speakers

From screenplay writers, authors, script writers, journalists, and composers – there are all kinds of writers out there – and The Council for Retail and Sales gathered some of the best at their recent Reading, Writing & Retailing symposium which was held at DeSales University on Friday, April 19, 2024. Over 60 guests attended, ranging from aspiring writers, publishers, avid readers, students, and more. The symposium featured the very best from industries across the board.

The day opened with a “Conversation with the Dans,” featuring the talents of Dan Lauria and Dan Roebuck, renowned actors who are equally accomplished as writers.  The “Dans” let us in on their creative processes, offering insights on transforming writing into marketable products, both on Broadway, television, and the big screen.

Dan Lauria is an actor, playwright, producer, and author, best known for his role as the dad on the highly acclaimed Emmy winning ABC television show, The Wonder Years. Dan’s most recent work, Just Another Day, is set to open Off Broadway in May.  Roebuck is a Lehigh Valley native who is an author, producer, director and star of several films including Getting Grace, Lucky Louie, and Hail Mary.  Both Dans are friends with James R. “Doc” Ogden, who chairs the Council for Retail and Sales.

“I’m grateful to have these two as longtime friends, and am obliged that they both joined us for this fun and educational day,” said Ogden.

Although the Dans didn’t personally know each other before the event, they run in the same circles and found plenty of friends and things in common to chat about. They spoke about the drastic changes to the audition process today versus the pre-Covid days, such as how auditions are no longer held in person and are now submitted via a pre-taped film. The Dans talked about the pros and cons of taking a play on-Broadway versus off-Broadway and let us in on the creative ways that writers use to fund their projects. The session was moderated by Dr. Denise Ogden, professor at Penn State Lehigh Valley and author of several marketing textbooks.

“It was a blast. I got to spend some time with the Dans and met some wonderful people. Hope you guys do it again,” said attendee and long-time author, Larry Deibert.

After hearing from the Dans, guests attended small interactive discussion groups where they chose between topics that interested them the most, including: “Using Social Media to Leverage Yourself” by Robin Gow; “Ideation Creation” by Dr. Nikki Gutgold; “In-Store Promotions: Author Signings and More” by Karen Rose; “Finding a Publisher: Through the Wringer” by Eric Hinrichs; “So you want to Compose?” by Barry Anderson; and “Writing Textbooks” by Dr. Denise Ogden.

Shelley Dennis joined via Zoom as the keynote speaker during lunch. Shelley brought a variety of experiences to the discussion, most notably her current role as television writer for ABC’s The Conners. Shelley’s in her third year as a writer for the show and is anxiously awaiting news if it’ll be picked up for another season. Channeling her time spent as a stand-up comedian, which started only as a way to get more comfortable in front of an audience, Shelley brought many stories and laughs to the room. Guests asked questions about the development of each episode and Shelley was gracious in letting the audience in on a piece of the process, giving examples of how certain story lines came to fruition.

The final discussion featured Maria Rodale (author and former CEO of Rodale Press), Dr. Katherine Ramsland (professor and author of over 72 books on criminology and serial killers), and Vicki Mayk, (long-time journalist and author). The three women brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the panel. Although all three are writers, each walked a slightly different path along their journey and the room of aspiring writers was at attention, asked questions, and were feverously taking notes. Rodale, Ramsland, and Mayk were full of tips for writers of all ages. The panel was moderated by Dr. Gaetan Giannini, Vice President of Graduate and Adult Education at Alvernia University and an author himself.

For those who love all things writing, this was an event not to be missed. The day was fun, informative, and inspirational. Thanks to sponsors NextEvo Naturals, Edward Jones, Poster Boy Productions, and Walmart, students were able to attend at no cost.

This symposium was part of Meet the Experts (MTE), a speaker series featuring top-notch experts from different industries.  CRS hosts MTE events annually. To learn of upcoming events and get involved, follow @thecrsorg on social media and/or visit the website to become a member.