Writers: I wrote in the Twain House library—and you can, too!

Get a feel for what writing in Twain’s library is like in this special episode of my Youtube series THIS WRITING LIFE.

I’ve been more focused on producing work so far this year than ever, and while that’s entailed not doing so many cons, it’s also entailed looking for new, cool places to hang out and write.

The Mark Twain House in Hartford, as part of its mission to be a local resource for area writers, opens Twain’s library up for three hours of writing time four times a year, and I had the opportunity to bang out almost 3000 words there on St. Patrick’s Day.

If you’ve never been to the home before, this aptly-named room houses a massive collection of his books and overlooks the Conservatory, which is filled with plants and the soothing noise of a burbling fountain.

I can’t recommend this experience enough. One of the things I learned was that I’ve become so used to juggling my work around life and writing amidst chaos that it took me a little bit to be able to focus. I not only came away with more words than I’d thought, I came away with a promise to write in the quiet more often.

In addition, this is a fantastic way to raise additional funds for these historic properties, which are always at risk of being cut from state and federal budgets; I hope other homes will follow suit. I could be wrong about this, but it seems there wouldn’t be much overhead, really, save for a staff member keeping watch over the session and a little bit of extra electricity.

After all, touring the country and writing in every famous writer’s home would make for one hell of a vacation!

The next Writing in Mark Twain Library sessions and costs are as follows:

Saturday, April 16th from 7am to 9am ($30 for special two hour session)

Sunday, April 17th from 7am to 9am ($30 for special two hour session)

Thursday, June 23rd from 6pm to 9pm. ($50)

Thursday, September 22nd from 6pm to 9pm. ($50)

As of today’s date, there is also one posted for 2017 on Thursday, January 26, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

SPACE IS VERY LIMITED, SO IF YOU’RE THINKING OF GOING, GET YOUR TICKETS NOW. I’ve already got mine (and my husband Nathan will be joining me as he’s got his novel he has to start cleaning up) for September 22.

You can purchase tickets online here: http://www.marktwainhouse.org/writing/twains_library.php


This is a historic home and it’s truly a privilege to be able to have access to it for inspirational purposes. That said, there have to be rules—perfectly reasonable ones—for everyone’s safety and the protection of this historic property. Here are some tips on making your time there productive, and a few of the rules so you’re prepared.


♦ I personally found being up there with all that valuable stuff intimidating. Not to worry. An experienced staff member (monitor) will accompany the writers to the house and stay there the whole time, so you won’t be alone.

♦ Each participant is given a folding chair and wooden “snack” table on which to write. If you get sore easily, I’d suggest bringing a pillow to sit on – and make sure you get up and stretch every 45 minutes or so.

♦ Yes, there is a bathroom. Just ask the monitor and he’ll take you.

♦ You’re guaranteed three solid hours of peace and quiet, and this is aided by the fact that THERE IS NO WI-FI! You will therefore not have to worry about being tempted by your Candy Crush or Criminal Case.

♦ Yes, you’re allowed to type—in fact, this is the ideal situation for an Alphasmart.

♦ If you MUST have your phone on, please set it to silent so that you’re not disturbing others (I found mine came in handy for some quick research I had to do).


♦ You must be at the museum center to check in by 5:45 p.m. (or 15 minutes before start time if the time is different).

♦ No one wants to be remembered for accidentally spilling coffee on Mark Twain’s favorite settee, so absolutely no food or drink of any kind is allowed in the house. If you must have some water or whatever, let the monitor know and she’ll let you step outside.

♦ It would be horrific if your pen or marker leaked all over the carpet or anywhere near the house’s collection of centuries-old books, so no pens or markers are allowed. Bring a bag of sharpened pencils if you plan to write by hand.

♦ There are no electrical outlets in the house for public use. If you do bring your laptop to type on, be sure your machine is fully charged.

♦ No photographs inside the home. They don’t tell you why, but my guess is it prevents the antiques from getting flash-damaged.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at kristipetersenschoonover.com.

Posted on April 4, 2016, in Events, News, The Writing Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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