Friday, January 19, 2018

Upcoming Classes with Moi!

Two upcoming classes…maybe your resolution for 2018 was to reach more deeply into your creative self? HERE YOU GO!  


Wednesday, January 31
6:30 to 9 p.m.
Politics & Prose Bookstore
Washington, DC
Class: Right Brain Writing: Relationships
Explore your creative side in this session, one of a series of stand-alone classes with prompts designed to get your subconscious flowing. Through guided exercises, we’ll focus on writing about the variety of relationships we have in our lives, significant people, people who are still with us, people who are lost, even relationships with people we don’t know. No writing experience necessary! This is a great class for beginners and also for those fiction writers and/or memoirists with more experience who might be stuck in their current projects and are looking for a jolt of inspiration. Our goal is to have fun in a supportive, nurturing environment and to go home with several promising pieces to work on further. Please bring lots of paper and pen/pencil or a fully charged computer. Note: new exercises!

***

Thursday, February 1
1 to 4 p.m.
Politics & Prose Bookstore
Washington, DC
Class: Elements of Writing: Mastering Effective Dialogue
Dialogue is tricky. It’s not simply recorded speech; conversation must sound natural—while also creating a sense of a character and advancing the action. How does the writer learn that balance, knowing when characters should talk and when maybe they should keep quiet? How can your conversations build layers of meaning? This hands-on, interactive class will focus on helping you learn the tricks needed to get your characters to talk the talk! This class is appropriate for fiction writers, memoirists and anyone looking to sharpen their dialogue skills. All levels of experience are welcome. Please bring a notebook/pen or charged computer for writing exercises.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

DMV: Mark Your Calendars; Silver Girl DC Launches on 3/3

The SILVER GIRL book launch is set for Saturday, March 3, 2018, at Politics & Prose Bookstore, at 3:30 PM. I’ll read/talk/answer questions/pass out Tylenol/tap dance [not really that]/and be delighted to see you!

Here’s my FB write-up:

Help me celebrate the publication of my new novel, SILVER GIRL, set in 1980s Chicago, during the time of the Tylenol killer. Publishers Weekly calls it "a profound, mesmerizing, and disturbing novel that delves into the vagaries of college relationships and how the social-financial stratum one is born into reverberates through one’s life." Kirkus adds, "A dark, intense novel on a hot subject: female friendship complicated by class and privilege."

Dark? Disturbing? Intense? No worries...I'm still the same cheerful gal as ever, and I'd love to see you there!!



Here are the other SILVER GIRL events I have set up, in case there’s a location/date that works better for you. Updated information is always available at my website: www.lesliepietrzyk.com

***
Saturday, March 3
 3:30 PM
SILVER GIRL BOOK LAUNCH!
Politics & Prose Bookstore
Washington, DC

***

March 7 ~ 10
AWP Conference
Tampa, Florida
(Must be registered participant to attend)
Thursday, March 8, 11:30 am-12:00 pm
Book signing @ THE CINCINNATI REVIEW / ACRE BOOKS booth
Friday, March 9, 11:00 am-12:00 pm
Book signing @ CONVERSE COLLEGE LOW RESIDENCY MFA/SOUTH 85 JOURNAL booth
***

Thursday, March 29
Reading
City Lit Books
Chicago, IL

***
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
6 p.m.
Chop Suey Books
Richmond, VA
In conversation with author Patricia A. Smith

***

Thursday, April 5
7PM
In conversation w/ best-selling author Krista Bremer
Flyleaf Books
Charlottesville, VA

***


Tuesday, May 8
Reading w/ William Wall
The Ivy Bookshop
Baltimore, MD

***

Thursday, May 10
Reading w/ Tim Wendel
One More Page Books
Arlington, VA

***

Wednesday, May 16
Reading
7PM
Bards Alley Bookstore
Vienna, VA

***

July 19 ~ 22, 2018
West Virginia Writers Workshop
Faculty: fiction workshop
West Virginia University campus
Morgantown, WV




Friday, January 12, 2018

A Star from PW for SILVER GIRL

I'm so thrilled with the review from Publisher's Weekly, which singled out SILVER GIRL for a STAR, calling it  "a profound, mesmerizing, and disturbing novel." !!!!!

Here's the review:
Silver Girl
Leslie Pietrzyk. Unnamed (PGW, dist.), $17 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-944700-51-5
                       
The latest from Pietrzyk (Pears on a Willow Tree) is a profound, mesmerizing, and disturbing novel that delves into the vagaries of college relationships and how the social-financial stratum one is born into reverberates through one’s life. The unnamed narrator—hailing from a poor family headed by an abusive father in Iowa—is befriended by her roommate, Jess, a charismatic Chicago socialite, during their freshman year at an unnamed university in Evanston, Ill. She wants to hide her past and reinvent herself. Meanwhile, Jess’s father sends his mistress’s daughter to live with the two girls after she accidentally poisons her mother. This strains the alliance between the two young women, already tenuous because of underlying jealousies and competitiveness. The narrator makes the same mistakes over and over again in her personal life, and the author posits that there is a way out, but at a cost. In addition to capturing college life on a Midwest campus, Pietrzyk brilliantly depicts the push-and-pull dynamics between the two women, resulting in a memorable character study. Agent: Kerry D’Agostino, Curtis Brown. (Feb.)

Here's the link so you know I'm not lying!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Distinguished Fellowships at Hambidge....App deadline 1/15

Act fast! I love-love-loved my two weeks at Hambidge, in the lovely mountains of north Georgia…highly recommended:


Creatives of all kinds applying to the Hambidge Creative Residency Program Summer Session will be considered for a Distinguished Fellowship which provides a 2-week residency and a $700 scholarship for outstanding first-time residents.

We are now accepting applications for the 2018 Summer Session (May-August). The deadline is January 15, 2018Find out more and apply online at our website.


Distinguished Fellowships for Summer 2018

The CPT Bill Badoud Fellowships for Veterans for an outstanding Veteran in any discipline.

The Patricia Callan Fellowship for Ceramics for an outstanding ceramicist working in either sculpture or functional pottery.

The Fulton County Fellowships (multiple) for outstanding applicants in any discipline who resides in Fulton County, Georgia.

The Garland Fellowship for an outstanding applicant in any discipline.

The Griffith Fellowship for an outstanding applicant in any discipline.

The Lee and Margaret Echols Fellowship for Musicians for an outstanding musician and/or composer.

The Wisebram Culinary Fellowship for an to applicant working in or writing about the culinary arts: chefs, cooks, cookbook writers and/or those whose work involves the artisanal preservation or production of food.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pre-Publication Praise for SILVER GIRL

I was updating my website (early!) this morning and was just feeling so, so happy about all these kinds words about my forthcoming novel!! And I’m grateful to the writers who took time out of their busy writing lives to read the book and offer their support.

“They think she is a simple, well-mannered girl, quiet and helpful. But the reader has seen into her past, knows her uncle, her little sister, her father, and all that happened back in Iowa. She is anything but. A dark, intense novel on a hot subject: female friendship complicated by class and privilege.”


“Leslie Pietrzyk’s haunting SILVER GIRL begins in 1980, with a nameless narrator starting her freshman year at a prestigious Chicago-area university. The narrator escaped her economically depressed Iowa hometown, but the emotional baggage of a grim childhood and dysfunctional family continue to weigh her down like the bulky, cheaply made trunk that holds her belongings… SILVER GIRL concludes with a surge of hope, like the spring thaw after an icebound Chicago winter.”

~Meg Nola, Foreword Reviews (5 /5 stars)

“In SILVER GIRL, Leslie Pietrzyk fearlessly explores the complex inner life of a young woman and her myriad complicated relationships with friends and sisters, while unearthing secrets about her traumatic past. Pietrzyk treats her characters with incredible empathy and tenderness, producing a deeply affecting novel about the terrible things we ask our young women to endure.”

~Mandy Berman, author of PERENNIALS

“Unflinching, thoughtful, and sharp. SILVER GIRL is the story I’ve been waiting to read: complicated women navigating life with grit and grace. From small town Iowa to Chicago, rural to urban, haves to have-nots, SILVER GIRL delivers a poignant truth about how relationships and regret shape our definitions of home.”

~Melissa Scholes Young, author of FLOOD

“SILVER GIRL is a blunt and piercing character study of a young woman making choices that are both understandable and unthinkably wrong; we watch helplessly as our unnamed narrator digs herself in deeper and deeper, sabotaging nearly every relationship in her life. Pietrzyk writes insightfully about female friendship, personal morality and accountability, unspooling an eminently compelling plot and delivering us, finally, to a redeeming moment of grace.””

~Carolyn Parkhurst, NYT Bestselling author of The Dogs of Babel, Lost and Found, The Nobodies Album and Harmony

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Leslie and her stories is the courage and ferocity of her women. Women who must negotiate a culture not of their own design and not of their own choosing. Women who have experienced tragedy and misfortune. Women who have made mistakes. Women who are honest in their testimony, resourceful in their lives, daring, not shy.”

~Robert Olmstead, award-winning author of Savage Country, Far Bright Star, Coal Black Horse, and The Coldest Night


Monday, December 11, 2017

Registration Open for My Winter Classes at Politics & Prose: Prompts & Dialogue

I’ve got two classes coming up at Politics & Prose in DC in the new year…love to see/your friends there!!

Right Brain Writing: Relationships

Wednesday, January 31, 6:30 to 9 p.m.


Explore your creative side in this session, one of a series of stand-alone classes with prompts designed to get your subconscious flowing. Through guided exercises, we’ll focus on writing about the variety of relationships we have in our lives, significant people, people who are still with us, people who are lost, even relationships with people we don’t know. No writing experience necessary! This is a great class for beginners and also for those fiction writers and/or memoirists with more experience who might be stuck in their current projects and are looking for a jolt of inspiration. Our goal is to have fun in a supportive, nurturing environment and to go home with several promising pieces to work on further. Please bring lots of paper and pen/pencil or a fully charged computer. Note: new exercises!

Text: The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, edited by J.D. McClatchy
*Please note that although this is a poetry book, you are not required to write poetry.


*********

Elements of Writing: Mastering Effective Dialogue

Thursday, February 1, 1 to 4 p.m.

Dialogue is tricky. It’s not simply recorded speech; conversation must sound natural—while also creating a sense of a character and advancing the action. How does the writer learn that balance, knowing when characters should talk and when maybe they should keep quiet? How can your conversations build layers of meaning? This hands-on, interactive class will focus on helping you learn the tricks needed to get your characters to talk the talk! This class is appropriate for fiction writers, memoirists and anyone looking to sharpen their dialogue skills. All levels of experience are welcome. Please bring a notebook/pen or charged computer for writing exercises.

Text: Best American Short Stories 2017, edited by Meg Wolitzer

**Please read "Last Day on Earth" by Eric Puchner, and "Famous Actor" by Jess Walter; other examples from the book may be cited, though these are the only stories that will be discussed fully.





Thursday, November 30, 2017

Best Books, 2017

As usual, this list is taken from the books I’ve read during 2017. Who cares what year a good book was published, really? I believe in buying lots of books and then letting them rise to the surface at the right time. I also believe in keeping this list to 10 or under, so I’m being pretty ruthless here (augh, the anguish!). What are the books I relentlessly urged onto other people? What are the books that haunt me months later?

One difficulty with my list is that I try to keep it free of books written by my friends, which feels more honest to me, but I am lucky to have SO MANY accomplished and prolific writer friends! Also, in this age of social media, is someone I know from Facebook a “friend” or a friend? What if I met someone once at an event…are they my friend/“friend” and therefore excluded from my list? (Clearly I have time on my hands to be worrying about this.)

Anyway, my solution is to keep a separate list of books I loved that I read this year that were written by my friends (below), and I allowed two books that blur the “friend”/friend line to sneak onto the first list.

Anyway-anyway, let’s just get to the dang books! Presented in random order:

MY BEST BOOKS, 2017

Mother, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell: This is the book I recommended the most this year. Short stories about gritty women in a forgotten corner of Michigan, written by a master. This one went straight to my “Best Books” shelf, my highest compliment, FWIW.

Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny: Smart, funny, insightful stories about contemporary life. I inhaled this book!

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott: I recommended this one a lot, too. Sort of billed as a mystery, but really an exploration of life inside the family of an elite (Olympics-level) young gymnast. What does it mean, what does it cost to be “special”?

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: A re-read after seeing “The Select,” an hours-long theatrical adaptation. The antisemitism is tough to take, obviously…but this book is a classic for a reason. Lost, yearning, broken, aimless young people—who are, unfortunately for them, smart enough to recognize their plight.
  
The Half-Known World by Robert Boswell: A craft book about writing based on a series of lectures given at the Warren Wilson low-res MFA program. I never write in books, but I scribbled the hell out of this one, marking a thousand different passages. I also immediately trashed the opening of the story I was working on and rewrote it, thanks to this book.

Insurrections by Rion Amilcar Scott: Okay, I’ve met Rion a couple of times. Nevertheless, I’m compelled to mention these short stories, which all take place in an imaginary town in Maryland that had the only successful slave revolt in America. (That’s imagined, too.) Smart and hard-eyed stories, and a great writer to study for dialogue and voice.

Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire, A Study of Genuis, Mania, and Character by Kay Redfield Jamison: I’m sort of obsessed with Robert Lowell, so obviously I’m going to love a giant NF book that examines his genius and life through the lens of mental illness, written by an expert in the mental health field who writes poetic sentences.

The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard: I’m probably the last writer on earth to read this fine collection of essays. But if I’m not, YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK. I don’t care if you don’t like essays/prose/reading/women/whatever. Trust me. Here’s her most famous essay, about the grad student who shot professors/students at the University of Iowa physics department, where Beard once worked. You’re welcome.

Eveningland by Michael Knight: I was on a real short story kick this year, and this book is one of the reasons why I kept looking for more. No gimmicks, no flash. Just solid, deep, insightful story-telling. These all take place in the Mobile Bay area of Alabama, which made for an excellent reading experience while I was in Fairhope, AL. And this is the book I gave as a hostess gift to the lovely Fairhopeans (?) who hosted me for dinner…until the bookstore ran out.

Story Problems by Charles Jensen: Okay, I also know Charlie in that “’how are you’ at an event” sort of way. These are prose poems written in the form of (guess!) math story problems that brilliantly explore loss. I know, I know…you “don’t get” poetry. Try just this tiny sample and you will be hooked: http://thediagram.com/17_1/jensen.html

Bad Kansas by Becky Mandelbaum: Might as well wind up with short stories! This book won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, for which I screened manuscripts. This book was not in my stack to read…and if it had been, I probably would have stopped right there. (Not really, I’m very responsible.) Smart, funny, sorrowful, and voicey—all these stories take place in or relate to Kansas, a geographic place and a state of mind.

BOOKS I READ/LOVED WRITTEN BY MY FRIENDS/“FRIENDS”

Virgin and Other Stories by April Ayers Lawson: uncomfortable short stories; the first and the last are especially stunning

Twin of Blackness by Clifford Thompson: memoir about growing up in old, pre-gentrified D.C.

Magic City Gospels by Ashley M. Jones: Poems! That send ice through your veins, they’re that on point!

Day of the Border Guards by Katherine E. Young: More poems! Remember Soviet Russia? Here it is, harsh and detailed, witnessed thoughtfully through intelligent eyes.

Flood by Melissa Scholes Young: You can’t go home again, or can you? Returning to blue-collar Hannibal, Missouri, home of Mark Twain, here a muse and an all-encompassing tourist industry.

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon: A troubled, tricky relationship between two ex-pat diplomatic wives set in the Middle East during the rising Arab Spring.

Apprehensions & Convictions: Adventures of a 50-year-old Rookie Cop by Mark Johnson: You won’t always like what you read in this account of life on the streets of Mobile, Alabama, but your eyes will be opened…widely.

Good House by Peyton Marshall: Dystopian novel where boys with genetic criminal tendencies are incarcerated, and worse. (Really, this all could probably be taking place right now, beneath our noses.)

Perennials by Mandy Berman: How I love great writing about girls at camp! Good one to study for managing POV in a large cast of characters.

Dancing by the River by Marlin Barton: Alabama stories by a master story-teller. A slow burn of a book.

I’m the One Who Got Away by Andrea Jarrell: A chilling memoir about coming to terms with an abusive and confusing girlhood.

Mountains of Light: Seasons of Reflection in Yosemite by R.Mark Liebenow: Memoir and nature writing winding together with the force of El Capitan itself. I read this on the plane flying home from California, and it was as if I were still in Yosemite, treading the paths, gazing at those ethereal granite formations, one with nature.

*****

Finally, thank you to ALL writers EVERYWHERE! I would be lost without books and stories. Believe me, I appreciate how hard it is to write, and I am grateful for each hard-earned word you share.

Work-in-Progress

DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.