Wednesday, September 27, 2017

"The Door of No Return" in South Carolina Review

My story “The Door of No Return” has been published in The South Carolina Review. There’s no link online at this time, but why not support a wonderful journal and buy a copy (see below)?

This story came about when I was part of a group writing to pieces of visual art. We were given a bunch of images and asked to pick four we could write about. I liked this picture because I’m often drawn to doors and paths. Plus, it was pretty. Plus-plus, I was certain I’d get my first or second choice. BUT circumstances led to me being assigned my fourth choice, which sort of annoyed me at first, and then stressed me out as I studied the artist’s work and realized that this “pretty picture” was part of a series about the Middle Passage. I knew I had to think hard about my approach to this image to do it honor, and in the end, I'm grateful for this assignment which pushed me out of my comfort zone…and I’m grateful to the South Carolina Review for publishing this piece.

More information about the artist, Keith Morrison: http://keithmorrison.com/
Keith Morrison’s Middle Passage series: http://keithmorrison.com/?page_id=874

Okay, if you’re desperate to read this story, send me a sweet email and I’ll send you a file: lesliepietrzyk AT gmail DOT com





Thursday, September 21, 2017

REVERSING THE RIVER: Serialized Novel Available

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my historical novel is being serialized this summer. REVERSING THE RIVER is set in Chicago, on the first day of 1900, when the city is completing a major engineering feat to reverse the flow of the Chicago River so the sewage moves downstream instead of into the city’s drinking water.

There are only a few more chapters to go, so now is a good time to jump in and get caught up.

You can find REVERSING THE RIVER on Medium: https://medium.com/s/reversing-the-river  There’s a small fee to register for Medium, which is LESS than the cost of a book AND gives you access to all of Medium’s great content. There’s also an audio file.

OR

You can download the Great Jones Street literary app on your phone/iPad; look it up in the Apple Store/Play Store.


Friday, September 15, 2017

My Fall Classes....Space Left for YOU!

I’m teaching two classes at Politics & Prose Bookstore in September…space for you and a friend still available in each! Both are appropriate for beginners or for more experienced writers. Let me know if you have any questions (lesliepietrzyk AT gmail DOT com).


Who’s Telling Your Story? Experiments in Point of View

Monday, September 25, 1 to 4 p.m.

Location: P&P's Classroom (5039 Connecticut Avenue, Unit #7)
Price:  $50 (10% off for members)

Point of view is one of a writer’s first decisions: Who will tell the story? And how? Everyone knows about first person and third person. But maybe your story or novel could benefit from a more unconventional point of view: collective first person or second person. We’ll talk about the possibilities (and challenges) of several POVs and then dig in with some writing exercises, which can be new or based on your work-in-progress. This class is also suitable for nonfiction writers, and writers of all levels of experience.

Recommended Reading:
The Virgin Suicides, Jeffery Eugenides (only chapter 1 of this book will be referenced)
Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (only chapter 1 of this book will be referenced)
How to Become a Writer, Lorrie Moore (found the author's story collection titled, Self-Help)


*****

Right Brain Writing: Shifting Perceptions

Wednesday, September 27, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Location: P&P's Classroom (5039 Connecticut Avenue, Unit #7)
Price: $45 (10% off for members)

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 how our perceptions shift, whether through altered landscapes, the passage of time, or being thrust into a different point of view. Is it we who have changed…or the world around us? This is a great class for beginners, and fiction writers 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!

Recommended Book:
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.




Thursday, September 14, 2017

DMV Writers with a Book Ms....

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Until November 15, 2017, Washington Writers’ Publishing House (WWPH) will accept manuscripts for entry in our annual book competitions, The Jean Feldman Poetry Prize and The Washington Writers’ Publishing House Fiction Prize. Writers who live within a 75 mile radius of the U.S. Capitol in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia are eligible to enter these competitions. The winning manuscripts will be published in the fall of 2018. Visit www.washingtonwriters.org

This competition and this press have brought forth many excellent books, so I'll only point to a scant few of my favorites:

Kathleen Wheaton | Aliens and Other Stories
Brandel France de Bravo | Provenance
Patricia Schultheis | St. Bart’s Way





Monday, August 28, 2017

Your Low-Residency MFA Guide: Converse!

Back to school time already…which reminds me that the application deadline for the low-residency MFA program at Converse College, where I SOOOOO HAPPILY teach, is fast approaching: October 1.

So, if you’re thinking about an MFA, here are some links to help you start thinking about Converse:

Here’s why I personally love this program! (Bonus: some thoughts from Lisa Hase-Jackson, one of our grads, on why she decided to get an MFA.)

Here’s an interview with our director, Rick Mulkey, who talks about the benefits of a graduate writing program. (This is part 3, but the links for the first two parts are at the bottom.)

Are you nervous about being a student, for any reason? These pieces by two of our first semester students, Frances Neville and Edmund Schubert, will help allay your concerns.

Do you still have concerns? Here’s where to find answers and where to direct any and all questions. Scroll down to the bottom for “contact us” and find Sarah Gray, Associate Director.

Are you ready to apply? GO HERE!


Hope to see you in South Carolina in January!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Colson Whitehead, Mohsin Hamid, Lev Grossman to Headline 2017 Fall for the Book

Fall for the Book’s 19th annual festival will run from October 11-14 at George Mason University and locations around Northern Virginia. National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad, will kick off the festival on October 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Harris Theater on Mason’s Fairfax campus. Also reading in Harris Theater will be Mohsin Hamid, author of the New York Times bestselling novels Exit West and The Reluctant Fundamentalist on Friday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m., and Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians trilogy—now a hit show on the Syfy channel—on Saturday, October 14 at 5 p.m. to close out the festival.

Other major writers will include poet Ellen Bryant Voigt, author of Headwaters, nonfiction writer David Shields, author of Other People, novelist Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs, and poet Tarfia Faizullah, author of Seam.

The festival will also welcome a robust list of poets, historians, novelists, memoirists, children’s authors, YA writers, cookbook authors and more. For the first time, Fall for the Book is partnering with the City of Fairfax’s Fall Festival on Saturday, October 14, to bring a day of literary and artistic events to audiences from throughout the region. For a full list of authors, visit www.fallforthebook.org or download our free app from your app store.

This is Fall for the Book's nineteenth year, and events are free and open to the public. Last year's festival attracted over 22,000 attendees to our readings, panels, workshops and exhibits. More information about Fall for the Book can be found at our website: www.fallforthebook.org

Here's the complete schedule:

And here are a few friends/friends of friends/Facebook friends/writers I ESPECIALLY recommend checking out:


Fiction

Tara Campbell
Mollie Cox Bryan
Marita Golden
Elizabeth Hand
Dave Housley
Matthew Klam
Elise Levine
Margot Livesey
Virginia Pye
Melissa Scholes Young
Amber Sparks

Poetry

Kim Roberts
Ellen Bryant Voigt

Publishing

Joanne Lozar Glenn
Anna March


History & Biography

Andrea Pitzer
Michael Sims

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction

Douglas R. Dechow
Timothy Denevi
Anna Leahy

Monday, August 14, 2017

What Writers Talk about When They Talk about Short Story Writing

Looking up something for something, I came across this list of quotations about writing short stories, and they are so brilliant and so inspiring, that I absolutely had to drop the something I’m working on and share these IMMEDIATELY. I suggest that you drop everything and read them right now!

Here are few of my favorites:

A short story is the ultimate close-up magic trick – a couple of thousand words to take you around the universe or break your heart.” – Neil Gaiman

“A good [short story] would take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.” – David Sedaris

“Most stories we tell in real life are under 500 words. You’re at a party, everyone has a glass of wine, and suddenly you have the floor. You throw out your little story like a grenade. ‘Once I knew a guy who…’ And if you have any social graces at all, you probably keep it under 500. So my advice would be this: Don’t get all up in your head thinking short-short stories have to be poetry without the line breaks. Don’t put on your beret. Just tell a story, an actual story. Quick, while they’re still listening.” – Rebecca Makkai



Work-in-Progress

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