“Mary’s a beautiful soul and a wise teacher, with plenty of exercises to shake writers up and help writers generate the words they aren’t expecting. She gave me helpful, honest feedback on my story and recommended lots of new writers for me to read.”~Sheri Reynolds, author of Bitterroot Landing, and The Rapture of Canaan (an Oprah book club selection and New York Times bestseller).
“I was impressed by Mary’s exacting commentary on my writing and observed as she deftly adjusted her style and commentary to suit the needs of each individual group participant. I have a renewed sense of determination about my writing and a greater sense of permission to explore my own creativity and quirky ideas.”-Meg Harris
“My abandoned novel, hidden for months at the bottom of my desk drawer, nudged me to sign up for Mary Carroll-Hackett’s one-on-one workshop at the lovely Porches Writing Retreat. I expected, and wanted, intense criticism and instruction. And that’s what I got. Mary had studied every page of my manuscript multiple times. Her concrete suggestions spurred me to think hard about plot, characters, and craft. We sat down each day and specifically examined how placement of chapters adds tension to plot, how to frame dialog within text for deeper meaning, and how slight changes in point of view often strengthens the entire piece. In the evenings, Mary’s magical storytelling came into play. Just when I found myself caught in her conjured world, she would relate all of it to my own work. As my understanding of my characters grew, my trust in both them and myself increased. I returned home ready to make my book the best it could be. Those few days of Mary’s wise guidance changed my writing life forever.”~Kathryn Milam
When I made the leap to apply to MFA programs, Mary helped me do three things (okay, really, a million, but this is a statement, not a dissertation):
pick schools based on my personal needs, not just the schools that everyone else was applying to;
tailor my statement of intent so that it actually sounded like my passions and my dreams in my own voice; and
make sure my writing sample was the best representation of where I was at that moment.
I absolutely don’t think I would have gained admission to (and since graduated from!) my top choice without Mary’s help, and for that I am eternally grateful.~Amy Whipple, MFA in Nonfiction, University of Pittsburgh, 2011
I am so indebted to Mary. I applied to four MFA programs total. I applied to the first program without Mary’s input and it was the only school I didn’t get accepted to. When Mary was done reviewing my application, personal statement, and manuscript, I got three acceptances and a scholarship offer.
Mary sees people—she can see the potential in your work and where your strengths lie. She gave me the permission to trust my voice and helped me find where I had lost it in the stressful work of applying for an MFA program. I graduated from Bennington in 2009 and am so grateful for the program that busted my writing life wide open and set me on this wild journey. I will always be thankful for Mary’s hard work and belief in me.~MeLaina Evans Ramos