WRITERS IN THE MOUNTAINS (WIM) PRESENTS AT THE CATSKILL INTERPRETIVE CENTER’S BOOK FAIR, SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 2017

Writers in the Mountains (WIM), a literary nonprofit organization serving the Catskills and the Hudson Valley area since 1992, offers a variety of creative writing workshops year round, and hosts numerous literary events to promote the written word throughout our region and beyond.
On Saturday, June 24, 2017, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Writers in the Mountains will present at the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center’s Book Fair in Mount Tremper, and introduce some of its finest writers and poets. Presenters include nature writer Leslie T. Sharpe; art writer Simona David; poets Sharon Israel, Sharon Ruetenik, and Lissa Kiernan; fiction and creative nonfiction writers Anique Taylor and Carrie Bradley Neves; and monologist Bonnie Lykes. There will be readings, short presentations, and illustrative class exercises.
Leslie T. Sharpe is a writer, editor, and educator. A member of PEN American Center, she is the author of Editing Fact and Fiction: A Concise Guide to Book Editing (Cambridge University Press, 1994), which is regarded as a “modern editing classic” and “On Writing Smart: Tips and Tidbits,” featured in The Business of Writing (Allworth, 2012). Her new book, The Quarry Fox and Other Critters of the Wild Catskills, published by The Overlook Press in March 2017, is a lyric narrative look at the wild animals of the Catskill Mountains. Ms. Sharpe will be reading excerpts from her new book, and will discuss the genre of nature writing, as it relates to the Catskill Mountains.
Simona David, president of Writers in the Mountains, is a writer and media consultant. She is the author of Self-Publishing and Book Marketing, A Research Guide (2013), Art in the Catskills (3rd. edition, 2016), and How Art Is Made: In the Catskills (2017). Ms. David will discuss her latest book How Art Is Made: In the Catskills, released earlier this year. The book pays homage to the place where American art was born through a series of conversations with some of the world’s most accomplished artists who live and work in the Catskill Mountains.
Sharon Israel is the host of Planet Poet-Words in Space, an edition of The Writer’s Voice program on WIOX 91.3 FM in Roxbury, New York, and serves on WIM’s board of directors. She has just released her first chapbook Voice Lesson, published by Post Traumatic Press. Her work most recently appeared in Per Contra, SPANK the CARP, 5:2 Crime Poetry Weekly, Medical Literary Messenger, and Spry Literary Journal. In 2016, Ms. Israel appeared as a panelist at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem, Mass. As a poet and soprano, she collaborates with her husband, composer Robert Cucinotta, on works for voice, live instruments, and electronics. Ms. Israel will be reading selected poems from Voice Lesson.
Anique Taylor has co-authored works for HBO, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The World (St. Mark’s Poetry Project), Rattle, Common Ground Review, Adanna, Earth’s Daughters, Stillwater Review, and e-Bibliotekos’ Pain and Memory. She’s has been a featured writer at New York City readings including St. Mark’s Poetry Project, Dixon Place, the Speakeasy, and Cedar Tavern. Her chapbook Poems is published by Unimproved Editions Inc. Her chapbook Where Space Bends was chosen as a finalist for both Minerva Rising and Blue Light Press’s 2014 Poetry Chapbook Competitions; and her collection Under the Ice Moon was a finalist in Blue Light Press’s 2015 Competition. She holds a Poetry MFA from Drew University, a Drawing MFA from Pratt Institute, and a diplome in French Literature from the Sorbonne. She teaches Creative Nonfiction for Writers in the Mountains.
Sharon Ruetenik is the author of a poetry chapbook, The Wooden Bowl. She is currently working on a manuscript of sevenlings. Her work has appeared in print and online journals, most recently The Green Door. Ruetenik was awarded a poetry fellowship at the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. As a speaker for the New York Council for the Humanities, she has lectured on short stories, novellas, and poetry. Her day job is working at SUNY Delhi as the coordinator of the Writing Center, the international student advisor, and adjunct instructor in composition and literature. She teaches for Writers in the Mountains The Journey from Theme to Images to Poem.
Lissa Kiernan is the founding director of the Poetry Barn in West Hurley. Her first full-length volume of poetry, Two Faint Lines in the Violet, was a 2014 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award finalist, as well as a finalist for the Julie Suk Award for Best Poetry Book by an Independent Press. Her first book of prose, Glass Needles & Goose Quills: Elementary Lessons in Atomic Properties, Nuclear Families & Radical Poetics will be published later this month. Ms. Kiernan holds an MA from the New School and an MFA from the Stonecoast Creative Writing program, and she teaches for Writers in the Mountains It’s Elemental: The Art of Revision in Poetry.
Carrie Bradley Neves is an Upstate New York native who grew up outside Albany and returned to the area a little over a decade ago. She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Williams College, where she also studied playwriting and poetry; and a master’s degree in fiction writing from the University of New Hampshire, where she studied fiction writing and poetry. For the last twenty-five years, Carrie has focused many of her writing goals on writing lyrics, making records, performing, and touring as a singer-songwriter and violinist. Other current writing and activities and projects include secretaryship of her college alumni publication, writing for her town newspaper, The Times of Halcott, and new work on a musical play. Her work-for-pay life is as a copy editor, specializing in cookbooks. She serves on WIM’s
Board of Directors.
Bonnie Lykes is a monologist, performance artist, and voice-over artist. Her work has been featured in Crack The Spine Literary Journal in both poetry and creative nonfiction, and is also featured in the subscription podcast “The Strange Recital.’ Ms. Lykes is a founder and president of the nonprofit organization Reservoir Food Pantry in Upstate New York. She is the host of Nonfiction Railroad Hour, an edition of the Writer’s Voice on WIOX 91.3 FM in Roxbury, New York, and serves on WIM’s board of directors.
To learn more about Writers in the Mountains, visit writersinthemountains.org.

Writers Unbound – Literary Festival

FlyerWriters in the Mountains (WIM) invites you to its annual literary arts and community event and celebration Writers Unbound (formerly known as Meet the Authors), the fourth in our series of annual literary festivals. This year the event takes place on Sunday, April 30, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the Union Grove Distillery in Arkville, NY. Union Grove is housed in a big old barnlike building featuring comfortable spaces fitted with stainless steel and copper and wood, a roaring fireplace, and the percolation of fine spirits—all making for a perfect environment in which to listen to, talk about, and think about books and writing.

The daylong event welcomes all writers and readers, artists and audience, and community members from every walk to enjoy a warm gathering of successful and fascinating writers, illustrators, editors, educators, booksellers, and publishers from Syracuse to New York City and points between and beyond. This year’s keynote speaker is Holly George-Warren. As a writer specializing in music history and biography, she has written many journal articles and liner notes, edited compilations and collections, and is author or co-author of more than fifteen books, including her forthcoming biography of Janis Joplin, which will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2018. She also teaches, lectures, and is a consultant, curator, and archivist in the museum arena; she serves as the director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Oral History Program.

Come by to shop for books directly from their authors, hear readings and peer-to-peer discussions, join in an enticing raffle (books are the prize, of course), and vote in the Best Book Cover contest.

Participants include poets Sharon Israel, Anique Taylor, Sharon Ruetenik, Lissa Kiernan, and Clark Strand; authors Leslie T. Sharpe, Nina Shengold, Sari Botton, Dara Lurie, Carrie Bradley Neves, and Simona David; playwright Amie Brockway; illustrators Durga Yael Bernhard and Will Lytle; and publisher Dayl Wise from Post Traumatic Press.

The program is as follows:

12:30 p.m.—Poetry Reading / Featured Poet Sharon Israel

Sharon Israel is the host of Planet Poet-Words in Space, an edition of The Writer’s Voice program on WIOX 91.3 FM in Roxbury, New York. She has just released her first chapbook Voice Lesson, published by Post Traumatic Press. Her work most recently appeared in Per Contra, SPANK the CARP, 5:2 Crime Poetry Weekly, Medical Literary Messenger, and Spry Literary Journal. In 2016 Ms. Israel appeared as a panelist at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem, Mass. As a poet and soprano, she collaborates with composer Robert Cucinotta on works for voice, live instruments, and electronics. She will be reading selected poems from Voice Lesson.

1:00 p.m.—Publishing Panel / Group Discussion Addressing the Latest News and Trends in Publishing

Panelists include authors Leslie T. Sharpe and Anique Taylor, and publisher Dayl Wise from Post Traumatic Press. Moderated by Simona David.

1:30 p.m.—Keynote Address “The Art and Craft of the Biography” with Holly George-Warren

Holly George-Warren is a two-time Grammy nominee and an award-winning writer named one of the top women music critics “you need to read” by Flavorwire.com. She is the author or co-author of fifteen books, including A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, from the Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor ManPublic Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry; and the forthcoming biography of Janis Joplin, which will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2018. She co-wrote the New York Times bestseller The Road to Woodstock (with Michael Lang), as well as John Varvatos: Rock in Fashion (with Varvatos) and It’s Not Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (with Jenny Boyd). Among her other works are The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years; Punk 365Grateful Dead 365Bonnaroo: What, Which, This, That, the Other; How the West Was Worn (with Michelle Freedman); Cowboy! How Hollywood Invented the Wild West; and the nonfiction children’s books Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country & Western MusicShake, Rattle & Roll: The Founders of Rock & Roll; and The Cowgirl Way.

2:30 p.m.—New Release with Leslie T. Sharpe, author of The Quarry Fox and Other Critters of the Wild Catskills 

Leslie T. Sharpe is a writer, editor, and educator. A member of PEN American Center, she is the author of Editing Fact and Fiction: A Concise Guide to Book Editing (Cambridge University Press, 1994), which is regarded as a “modern editing classic” and “On Writing Smart: Tips and Tidbits,” featured in The Business of Writing (Allworth, 2012).  Her new book, The Quarry Fox and Other Critters of the Wild Catskills, published by The Overlook Press in March 2017, is a lyric narrative look at the wild animals of the Catskill Mountains. Ms. Sharpe will be reading excerpts from her new book, and will discuss the genre of nature writing, as it relates to the Catskill Mountains.

3:00 p.m.—Fiction: Roots and Branches with Nina Shengold 

Nina Shengold writes in many genres. Her books include the novel Clearcut (Anchor Books), a Book Sense Notable Selection; River of Words: Portraits of Hudson Valley Writers, with photographer Jennifer May (SUNY Press); and 13 theatre anthologies for Vintage Books and Viking Penguin. She won the Writers Guild Award for her teleplay Labor of Love, starring Marcia Gay Harden, and the ABC Playwright Award for Homesteaders. Ms. Shengold has taught creative writing at the University of Maine, Manhattanville College, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and locally at Word Cafe, the Omega Institute, and as a visiting guest artist at SUNY Ulster.

3:30 p.m.—Illustrators’ Moment

Illustrators Durga Yael Bernhard and Will Lytle, cookbook editor Carrie Bradley Neves, and art writer Simona David will talk about the ins and outs of illustrated books.

4:00 p.m.The Bounty of Books Raffle, with a prize of ten selected book titles, will be awarded (come early, tickets are limited!), and the winner of the Best Cover Contest will be announced.

Throughout the day, participating authors will read from their works and share their stories with the audience. Admission is free. For more information, visit writersinthemountains.org, or e-mail writersinthemountains@gmail.com.

Writers in the Mountains is a 501 (c) (3) not-for–profit organization with a mission to provide a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation, and sharing of creative writing. Learn more at writersinthemountains.org.

Business Writing Workshop

Business Writing

Writers in the Mountains (WIM) introduces a six week long Business Writing workshop with Dara Lurie, running from August 11 to September 15, 2016. The class will be held Thursdays from 4 to 6 pm at the Phoenicia Public Library.
This class, dubbed Author Breakthrough, is a program for small business owners, artists and freelance writers who wish to create valuable content and great marketing copy. No one understands the heart and soul of your business better than you do. Now it’s time to communicate your vision using effective stories and expert content. You do not have to be a professional writer to create great content. The most important function of your content – whether it’s a book, blog, story or expert article – is to connect with your core message and bring that message into sharp focus for your audience.
In Author-Breakthrough you’ll have access to the experience of like-minded entrepreneurs who will provide the valuable feedback you need to develop and refine your message. The class includes engaging writing and dialoguing activities, content development sessions, creative think-tank environment to develop and test your ideas. By the end of the program you’ll have ready-to-publish articles, stories, or blogposts, and client-attracting copy for email or social media posts as well as an action-plan for best use of your content and copy.
Dara Lurie is an author, workshop leader and book coach who helps writers of all levels discover their passionate and original voices in stories. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Film & Theater from Vassar College and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Hunter College. Her first book, “Great Space of Desire: Writing for Personal Evolution” is a memoir and creative guide for writers. For over twelve years, Dara has facilitated writing workshops and retreats in diverse locations from college classrooms in New York City and the Hudson Valley to an open-air pavilion in the Costa Rican Rainforest. This year, she launched a new online mentorship program for small-business owners who want to create inspired content and marketing copy to grow their business.
To register, call Jean Stone at (607) 326-4802, or e-mail her at jtstone@catskill.net. To register online, visit writersinthemountains.org. Class fee is $100, if you register and pay by July 21, and $125 after that.
Writers in the Mountains is a 501 ( c ) (3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation and sharing of creative writing. Online at writersinthemountains.org.

At “Meet the Authors” – Third Annual Catskills Book Festival

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Featured Poet: Danniel Schoonebeek
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On the Publishing Panel with Leslie T. Sharpe, Lillian Browne, and Anique Taylor
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Keynote Speaker: Rosie Schaap, author of the “Drink” column for the New York Times Magazine
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With the New York Times bestselling author Sari Botton
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Peg DiBenedetto with Linda Lowen
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Cookbook editor Carrie Bradley Neves

At the Union Grove Distillery in Arkville, NY on April 24, 2016

© 2016 Simona David

“Meet the Authors” – Third Annual Catskills Book Festival, Sunday, April 24 at Union Grove Distillery

WIM's Book Festival 2015Writers in the Mountains (WIM) invites you to a literary arts and community event and celebration we call “Meet the Authors,” the third in our series of annual book festivals. This year the event takes place on Sunday, April 24, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the Union Grove Distillery in Arkville, NY, an exciting new enterprise in the area. Union Grove is housed in a big old barnlike building featuring comfortable spaces fitted with stainless steel and copper and wood, a roaring fireplace, and the percolation of fine spirits—all making for a perfect environment in which to listen to, talk about, and think about books and writing.

The daylong event welcomes all writers and readers, artists and audience, and community members from every walk to brave the mud and chill of early spring and enjoy a warm gathering of successful and fascinating writers, illustrators, editors, educators, booksellers, and publishers from Syracuse to New York City and points between and beyond. This year’s keynote speaker is Rosie Schaap, author of the celebrated memoir Drinking with Men as well as the “Drink” column for The New York Times magazine.

Come by to shop for books directly from their authors, hear readings and peer-to-peer discussions, join in an enticing raffle (books are the prize, of course), and vote in the Best Book Cover contest.

Participating authors include Sari Botton, Robert Burke Warren, Linda Lowen, Ginnah Howard, John Gregg, Susan Wilbur, Craig Sanders, Jo Salas, Nava Atlas, Mary Lou Harris, and poet Danniel Schoonebeek, among others.

WIM Book Fair 2015 (1)

 

The program is as follows:

12:30—Poetry reading led by poet Sharon Israel. Featured Poet: Danniel Schoonebeek.

Danniel Schoonebeek’s first book of poems, American Barricade, was published by YesYes Books in 2014. It was named one of the year’s ten standout debuts by Poets & Writers and called “a groundbreaking first book that stands to influence its author’s generation” by Boston Review. In 2015, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and his second book of poems, Trébuchet, was selected as a winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series and will be published by University of Georgia Press. Recent work appears in The New Yorker, PoetryKenyon Review, Tin House, and elsewhere. A recipient of awards and honors from Poets House, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and Oregon State University, he hosts the Hatchet Job reading series in Brooklyn and edits the PEN Poetry Series. His latest book, a travelogue called C’est la guerre, is forthcoming later this year.

1:30—Group discussion on the latest news and trends in publishing. Leslie T. Sharpe, who taught writing at Columbia University and was an editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and now teaches for Writers in the Mountains, will talk about traditional publishing; writer and consultant Simona David will touch on independent publishing; poet, painter and educator Anique Taylor will address getting published in literary journals; and Lillian Browne, editor-in-chief of The Reporter and editor of the Catskill Country Magazine, will share thoughts about her experience with the news media and travel magazine publishing.

2 p.m.—Rosie Schaap, author of the celebrated memoir Drinking with Men as well as the “Drink” column for The New York Times magazine, will deliver the keynote address. Rosie Schaap has been a bartender, a fortuneteller, a librarian at a paranormal society, an English teacher, an editor, a preacher, a community organizer, and a manager of homeless shelters.

2:30—Carrie Bradley Neves, writer, musician, and editor (with a specialization in cookbooks) will talk about new ingredients in the cookbook scene during the “foodie” era. Other illustrated book authors will be in the spotlight.

3:30—The Bounty of Books raffle, with a prize of ten selected book titles, will be awarded (come early, tickets are limited!), and the winner of the Best Cover contest will be announced.

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Throughout the day, participating authors will read from their works and share their stories with the audience. Admission is free. For more information, visit writersinthemountains.org, or e-mail writersinthemountains@gmail.com.

Writers in the Mountains is a 501 (c) (3) not-for–profit organization with a mission to provide a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation, and sharing of creative writing.

 

Creative Writing Workshops in the Catskills

Brochures 2015Writers in the Mountains has announced its 2016 creative writing workshops. In addition to established poetry, playwriting, fiction and creative non-fiction classes, in 2016 the organization will introduce three new offerings:

  • Durga Yael Bernhard will be teaching an Illustration workshop at the Phoenicia Library from June 4 to July 9, 2016. This workshop will be covering style development, visual research, and design. The business aspects of professional illustration will also be covered, including freelancing, contracts, self-promotion, and more.
  • Also at the Phoenicia Library, Dara Lurie will be teaching a Business Writing workshop tailored to small business owners who wish to create catchy marketing copy. The class will incorporate one-to-one content development sessions. It will be held from August 11 to September 15, 2016.
  • New York Times best-selling author Sari Botton will be teaching a memoir workshop called “First-Person Singular” at a location to be determined in the city of Kingston. All levels are welcome in this class, which will be covering anything from short stories and essays to long form narratives.

For more information, and to sign up visit writersinthemountains.org.

Writers in the Mountains at the Andes Roundtable

WIM Self-Publishing Class
WIM’s Self-Publishing Class

Writers in the Mountains (WIM) invites you to the Andes Roundtable, Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 7 pm. The event is held at the Hunting Tavern, on Main Street in Andes, NY. Attendees will learn about WIM’s mission and programs, hear some of the region’s best writers, and have a conversation about the role of arts and letters in the Catskill region.

Writers in the Mountains (WIM) is a literary organization founded twenty-three years ago in Roxbury. Over the past two decades the organization has grown to include more than three hundred writers from all backgrounds, all ages and levels of experience, writing in all genres and styles. WIM offers a variety of creative writing workshops year round throughout the entire Catskill region: fiction, poetry, memoir, playwriting, publishing, business writing, illustration, and more.

In addition to a broad range of workshops and seminars, in 2012 WIM launched an essay contest for middle and high school students in Delaware County. The essay contest encourages young writers to pursue their passion and dare to write – WIM’s motto. This year’s topic is What is your favorite music, and how does it move you?   

Additionally, in 2014 WIM ventured into yet another arena: in April 2014 WIM started a book festival for authors, publishers and booksellers in the Catskills and Hudson Valley area. In 2015 the keynote speaker was award-winning author Jenny Milchman, published by Ballantine / Penguin Random House.

Writers in the Mountains hosts The Writer’s Voice, a weekly radio program on WIOX, broadcast Tuesdays at 1 pm, and produced by poet Sharon Israel.

WIM Board of Directors includes professionals with a wide range of skills and expertise: Simona David (consultant), Sharon Israel (poet), Geoff Rogers (writer), Peg DiBenedetto (publisher), Leslie T. Sharpe (professor, author and consultant), Lillian Browne (journalist), Carrie Bradley Neves (editor), Elizabeth Sherr (professor) – all professionals with a strong vision for what the organization is and can be.

Writers in the Mountains is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide to the general public a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation, and sharing of creative writing. For more information, visit writersinthemountains.org.  

Nonfiction Book Proposal Workshop

nonfiction book proposalWriters in the Mountains (WIM) announces Selling Your Nonfiction Book: The Art of Proposal Writing, a Sunday seminar with Leslie T. Sharpe, June 7, 1 to 4 pm, at the Andes Public Library.  In three information-packed hours, Leslie will effectively detail what it takes to write a winning nonfiction book proposal, illustrated with several handouts. In the second half of the seminar, she will invite writers to present their projects for evaluation and input in order to best shape their own top-notch “winning” proposal.

In addition to its diversity of forms, nonfiction also offers writers (which literary fiction does not) the possibility of having an incomplete manuscript accepted by an agent or editor— accompanied by a strong proposal. The proposal—including elements such as an Overview of the book, Annotated Table of Contents, Author’s Platform and Market Analysis—is usually submitted with two or three chapters of text and is, first and foremost, a writing sample as well as a sales tool. What agents/editors look for in a proposal is strong writing with a clear and cogent presentation of the book’s subject and/or narrative arc, depending on the form, and a persuasive rationale forwhy the book should be published, and why the author is the best possible person to write it.

Leslie, author, editor and educator, was a regular contributor to New York Newsday’s “Urban ‘I’” column.  Her essays and articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, International Herald Tribune, Newsday, New York Times, Psychology Today, and The Village Voice, among many othersLeslie recently finished her memoir, Our Fractured, Perfect Selves, and is currently at work on The Quarry Fox and Other Tales of a Catskill Summer. Wearing her editor hat, Leslie wrote Editing Fact and Fiction: A Concise Guide to Book Editing (Cambridge University Press, 1994), a “modern editing classic”and “On Writing Smart: Tips and Tidbits,” featured in The Business of Writing (Allworth, 2012).  Now an editorial consultant, Leslie specializes in literary nonfiction and fiction and poetry. At Columbia University, Leslie was Adjunct Assoc. Professor of Writing and taught in the MFA writing programs.  She taught in City College’s Publishing Certificate Program, and in NYU’s Certificate Program in Book Publishing. Now, Leslie teaches online courses for the cutting-edge all-media website, mediabistro.com—The Nonfiction Book and Nonfiction Writing Master Class.

To register, call Jean Stone at (607) 326-4802, or e-mail her at jtstone@catskill.net. To register online, visit writersinthemountains.org, go to Register Online page, and fill in the registration form.Class fee is $35.

Writers in the Mountains is a 501 ( c ) (3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide to the general public a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation and sharing of creative writing.

Literary vs. Genre Fiction

This past Sunday Writers in the Mountains in partnership with Glaring Omissions Writing Group co-hosted a panel discussion Writing Fiction Today – Literary vs. Genre Fiction: Real Distinction or No Difference at All? at the Golden Notebook bookstore in Woodstock.

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The panel discussion was moderated by Jenny Milchman. Jenny’s debut novel, Cover of Snow, earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, as well as praise from the New York Times, San Francisco Journal of Books, the AP, and other publications. It was an Indie Next and Target pick, won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for best suspense novel, and was nominated for the Macavity and Barry Awards for best first novel. Her second book Ruin Falls, also an Indie Next Pick, was published in 2014 to starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, and chosen as a “10 Best of 2014” by Suspense Magazine. Jenny’s third novel, As Night Falls, will be published on June 30th, 2015.

Before I summarize the panelists’ remarks, allow me to make a few general considerations. Right before the panel discussion started, I googled literary vs. genre fiction. And the fastest answers I got were:

  • Literary is about explaining the world;
  • Genre is about escaping the world.

Also:

  • Literary fiction takes the awards (there are exceptions to this rule, as we shall see!);
  • Genre fiction makes the bestseller lists – it gets the money!

And:

  • Literary fiction is more about advancing the intellectual discourse;
  • Whereas genre fiction is more about playing with emotions.

Last November Joshua Rothman from The New Yorker wrote A Better Way to Think About the Genre Debate (you can find full article here). Rothman pointed out that contrary to the general belief that genre fiction doesn’t get nominated or receive literary awards, Station Eleven, a dystopian novel by Emily St. John Mandel, made it in fact among the fiction finalists for the National Book Awards last year. Rothman also pointed out that novels such as Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment are both literary and genre fiction.

Now going back to last Sunday’s panel, here is what the panelists had to say.

Alison Gaylin

“I just like to write a good story. Booksellers find the distinction helpful to know where to shelve a book. And also publishers find it helpful to know how to market the book. There are many genres: romance, thriller, sci-fi, etc.”

Gaylin, a USA Today and international best-selling author, received an Edgar nomination for her first book Hide Your Eyes. Her Shamus Award-winning novel, And She Was, was also nominated for the RT award, the Thriller and Anthony awards. In addition to her six published crime fiction novels, she’s published the Young Adult mystery Reality Ends Here (Simon and Schuster/PocketStar). Stay with Me, her eighth book – and the third in the acclaimed Brenna Spector series – was just nominated for an Edgar Award for best paperback.

Elizabeth Brundage

“I agree with Alison that bookstore owners need to know where to put the book, but it could backfire in a way. I like to call my books literary thrillers. Because I put a lot of effort in every sentence that I write. I think it’s mostly the way the books are marketed that had created this distinction. My last book Stranger Like You was marketed as a thriller, as opposed to my first two which were marketed more like general literary fiction. Stranger Like You sort of got lost, and people couldn’t find it. The distinction is not what motivates me to write; I just want to tell a good story. And I think what people like is some sort of driving narrative focus. The effort you put into character development is what makes a novel more literary – the voice of the characters and things like that.

Write a book that conveys your vision of the world.”

Brundage holds an MFA from the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received a James Michener Award. Before attending Iowa, she was a screenwriting fellow at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Her short fiction has been published in the Greensboro Review, Witness, and New Letters. She is the author of three novels, Somebody Else’s Daughter, The Doctor’s Wife, and A Stranger Like You, all published by Viking. Her new novel, All Things Cease to Appear, is forthcoming from Knopf in 2016.

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Peter Golden

“I think this distinction became a problem for bookstores after WWII. It’s a post-war problem. Writers wrote for markets. But in the 1950s, early 1960s writers began to go to universities, and write for tenure. That was a different novel than writing for the markets. They needed different reviewers saying good things about their books. And then what happened was that people in the academia became very resentful of people in the marketplace, and vice versa. Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises because he wanted to become a commercial writer; he didn’t think he could make it by just writing short stories.”

Golden is an award-winning journalist and the author of six full-length works of non-fiction and fiction. His first novel, Comeback Love, was published by Simon & Schuster. Some of his work has appeared in the Detroit Free Press Magazine, Albany Times Union, New Jersey Monthly, Microsoft’s eDirections, Beyond Computing, Electronic Business, Midstream, The Forward, and Capital Region Magazine. 

Going back to Jenny Milchman, a couple of days prior to this panel discussion, she started a Facebook thread, and engaged with fellow writers in a passionate, well-argued debate. One commenter remarked that good writing is good writing, and bad writing is just that – bad writing. Another one said that he thought at literary fiction more in terms of general fiction, whereas genre fiction is a clearly recognizable genre (or maybe even a niche genre, I would add). Yet another one added that it’s become fashionable to label almost anything outside of the genre fiction as literary, and that makes the label meaningless. One commenter discussed the dichotomy ideas vs. emotions: ideas as pursued in literary fiction by those intellectually oriented, and emotions as explored in genre fiction for readers looking to have an emotional experience. Someone else summed up that this is an overrated question, and that readers don’t understand or care about.

What are your thoughts about literary vs. genre fiction?

Writing Fiction Today: Literary vs. Genre Fiction

DSC_1026Writers in the Mountains (WIM) invites you to Writing Fiction Today – Literary vs. Genre Fiction: Real Distinction or No Difference at All? Sunday, May 3 at 1 p.m. at the Golden Notebook Bookstore, 29 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY. The event is co-sponsored by Glaring Omissions Writing Group, one of the longest-running critique groups in the Hudson Valley.

What kind of book do you like to read? What form does your writing take? If you’re like most readers or authors or poets or scribes, an answer came to your mind right away. But what happens when we begin to poke at that answer? Is there such a thing as a literary mystery? Or an experimental novel with a secret at its heart? Can a poem mystify? Moderator Jenny Milchman leads a conversation with panelists Elizabeth Brundage, Alison Gaylin, and Peter Golden as they question the foundation that lies beneath bookstore shelving, library categorization, and the ways we define words on a page. If these divisions are arbitrary–or at least miss a great deal of what truly goes on in a work–then perhaps we can come up with something better. A meaning that helps us to identify and create what we all are really after… great writing.

Jenny Milchman’s debut novel, Cover of Snow, earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, as well as praise from the New York Times, San Francisco Journal of Books, the AP, and other publications. It was an Indie Next and Target pick, won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for best suspense novel, and was nominated for the Macavity and Barry Awards for best first novel. Her second book Ruin Falls, also an Indie Next Pick, was published in 2014 to starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, and chosen as a “10 Best of 2014″ by Suspense Magazine. Jenny’s third novel, As Night Falls, will be published on June 30th, 2015.

Elizabeth Brundage holds an MFA from the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received a James Michener Award. Before attending Iowa, she was a screenwriting fellow at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Her short fiction has been published in the Greensboro Review, Witness, and New Letters. She is the author of three novels, Somebody Else’s Daughter, The Doctor’s Wife, and A Stranger Like You, all published by Viking. Her new novel, All Things Cease to Appear, is forthcoming from Knopf in 2016.

USA Today and international best-selling author Alison Gaylin received an Edgar nomination for her first bookHide Your Eyes. Her Shamus Award-winning novel, And She Was, was also nominated for the RT award, the Thriller and Anthony awards. In addition to her six published crime fiction novels, she’s published the Young Adult mystery Reality Ends Here (Simon and Schuster/PocketStar). Stay with Me, her eighth book – and the third in the acclaimed Brenna Spector series – was just nominated for an Edgar Award for best paperback.

Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist and the author of six full-length works of non-fiction and fiction. Peter Golden’s first novel, Comeback Love, was published by Simon & Schuster. Some of his work has appeared in the Detroit Free Press Magazine, Albany Times Union, New Jersey Monthly, Microsoft’s eDirections, Beyond Computing, Electronic Business, Midstream, The Forward, and Capital Region Magazine. 

Please come peruse a brand new gallery of books set up by the Golden Notebook, share drinks and light refreshments, and become a part of this very stimulating conversation! The event is free and open to the public. Book buying is encouraged to support our community bookstore.

Writers in the Mountains is a 501 ( c ) (3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide to the general public a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation and sharing of creative writing.

Glaring Omissions Writers Group hosts a monthly reading series at the Golden Notebook.