Saints and Sinners Literary Festival Newsletter

Saints and Sinners Festival Overview

SaintsAndSinnersPic

Tickets to all events listed below can be found here.

THURSDAY MAY 15, 2014

Book launch/Fundraiser
Beauregard-Keyes House: 1113 Chartres St, New Orleans, Louisiana 70116

A benefits event for the Festival and the NO/AIDS Task Force, this book launch will feature readings from the Saints and Sinners Anthology from the finalists of our short fiction contest.

FRIDAY MAY 16, 2014

Master Classes
Hotel Monteleone: 214 Royal St, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Times listed with individual writers below

Jeff Mann 10am

Wilson and Sternglantz 10am

Prep Your Pitch! 11:30am

Felice Picano 11:30am

Edmund White 1:30pm

Carol Anshaw 1:30pm

Michele Karlsberg 3pm

Accomplished writers will teach classes on a number of topics ranging from the importance of humor in a literary work to the task of drawing from and shaping one’s own experiences into a narrative.

SAS Prep Your Pitch! 11:30am Prep Your Pitch! One of the world’s largest independent publishers of LGBTQ literature will be hearing pitches at Saints and Sinners. Bold Strokes Books editor Ruth Sternglantz is taking appointments for 10 minute meetings. The full spectrum of LGBTQ general and genre fictions (including YA) welcome. Email resternglantz@gmail.com to requst an appointment and to learn more, pitch appointments will be during this time slot in Royal B (ballroom). For more information about Bold Strokes Books, check their website: www.boldstrokesbooks.com.

Walking Tour

Leaves from lobby of the Hotel Monteleone: 214 Royal St, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130 and travels all over French Quarter. This LGBT themed literary walking tour will take guests through the often hidden world of gay history in New Orleans while discussing the work of the writers who contributed their voices to the Crescent City’s rich cultural history.

SAS “Glitter with the Literati” Welcome Party
Hermann-Grima House: 820 St Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70112

Join us in the beautiful courtyard of the Hermann-Grima house for snacks and cocktails with some of the writers who will be speaking in the Festival’s panels.

SATURDAY MAY 17, 2014

Hotel Monteleone: 214 Royal St, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

PDF of full schedule of panels to be released soon.
All day included in registration.

Writers from around the world will discuss topics pertaining to writing and literature with a focus on the concerns of the LGBT community Sergei Boissier’s Book Launch and Reception

Sergei’s Home at 833 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, Louisiana 70116

Get an insider’s look at a beautifully unique creole cottage as Sergei Boissier invites us into his home for the launch of his new book. Guests can cool down in the pool and chat up the author regarding his work, literature, or his absolutely incredible house.

SUNDAY MAY 18, 2014

Closing Party
Hotel Monteleone Riverview Room: 214 Royal St, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

Close out the festival with cocktails on the top floor of the Hotel Monteleone in the Riverview Room which offers a breathtaking view of the city. We’ll recognize outstanding members of the LGBT community and induct this year’s class of the Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame for their contributions to LGBT literature.

SPECIAL EVENTS / OTHER OFFERING (VARIED TIMES)

FRIDAY, SATURDAY and SUNDAY MAY 16, 17 and 18th at 10pm 

A GLBT Late Night Variety Show - Every Saint Has A Past, Every Sinner Has A Future: A GLBT Late Night Variety Show

The Shadowbox Theatre: 2400 Saint Claude Ave, New Orleans, Lousiana 70117

A variety show of the queerest sort, produced by Xena Zeit-Geist in conjunction with The Saints & Sinners GLBT Literary Festival ! Burlesque, boylesque, drag, music, fire-eating, dance, prizes, and more! Let us entertain you with three nights of gender-defying performances that would make Oscar Wilde blush.**Seating is limited! Please arrive early!** Drinks will be available for purchase. The Shadowbox only accepts cash at this time.

 

Panel Sampler!

A few treats to look forward to at the 2014 Festival:

PUBLISH IT FORWARD

What happens when an Agent, Publisher, Publicist, Book Reviewer and Bookseller walk into a room? DYNAMICS of course. Innovations in technology and communication have made the written word more portable, accessible, and popular than ever. After offering  presentations and empirically tested advice, we will address your individual concerns during a Q&A session.

DEATH AND DESIRE

Blanche DuBois said, “the opposite of death is desire.” In crime fiction, desire often drives the plot and motivates the characters in ways that surprise and wow the reader. Four top writers of the genre discuss the ways that desire drives their work—and sometimes results in death

SLIPPING INTO COSTUME: TELLING OTHER PEOPLE’S STORIES THROUGH POETRY

Whether from newspaper headlines, media coverage, or something witnessed personally, other people’s stories can provoke as strong a desire to respond creatively as can the details of our own lives.  However, writing another’s story also raises questions of responsibility, appropriation, and strategy. This panel will consider questions of voice, persona, research, accuracy, and the challenges and great freedoms to be found in writing outside the self.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN!  GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: CHRISTOPHER RICE

Cristopher Rice photographed by Toky.

By the age of 30, Christopher Rice had published four New York Times bestselling thrillers, received a Lambda Literary Award and been declared one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive. His latest novel is THE HEAVENS RISE, a supernatural thriller about a young woman who is exposed to a mysterious parasite in the Louisiana swamp that gives her the power to control minds and unleash living nightmares. Together with his best friend, bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, Christopher recently launched his own Internet radio show. An outrageous and irreverent comedy variety program, THE DINNER PARTY SHOW WITH CHRISTOPHER RICE & ERIC SHAW QUINN streams 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at TheDinnerPartyShow.com, with new live episodes premiering Sunday evenings at 8 PM Eastern,5 PM Pacific.

Christopher’s first novel, A DENSITY OF SOULS, was published when he was just 22. The controversial bestseller was greeted with a landslide of media attention, much of it due the fact that Rice’s mother is a legendary vampire chronicler who shares his last name. He served as a contributing columnist to The Advocate for many years and his additional criticisms and witticisms have been featured in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon.com and his own Facebook page, which currently hails over 100,000 subscribers. He recently served on the board of directors of the West Hollywood Library Fund, which was instrumental in securing private funds to build a brand new state-of-the-art library in the heart of the city he now calls home.

We’re thrilled to welcome Christopher back to his hometown of New Orleans as he joins us at the 2014 Festival!

Master Class Spot Light: Life Into Fiction with Carol Anshaw

imageedit_9_6278669580

Have you ever thought the events of your life would make a great book?  Ever wanted to fictionalize true events? Carol Anshaw will lead you in a workshop that blurs the line between reality and fiction, and explores whether the two are ever truly mutually exclusive. In a hands-on seminar, Anshaw will work with participants to craft a story and share with other members.

Carol Anshaw is the winner of numerous honors, including a Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction. The Publishing Triangle declared her novel Aquamarine one of the best gay and lesbian books of all time. Chicago Tribune also called this “the most original American novel in years.” Her new novel Carry the One was hailed as “brilliant” by the Boston Globe.

Don’t miss Carol Anshaw’s Master Class.  Get tickets here.

 

Author Spotlight: Q&A with Edmund White

imageedit_7_5568627901

What is your writing process like?

I have no schedule and no desk except the dining room table.  I write longhand, usually just one draft with lots of word corrections, and then I dictate it to a secretary.  I know how to type but it wears me out–besides, I like to hear the whole thing within a week.  I write non-fiction directly onto the computer.  Speculative fiction requires hours of daydreaming on the couch–what Flaubert called the “marinade.”

How has having a writing community informed your work?

I wrote much of “A Boy’s Own Story” for my gay men’s writing group, The Violet Quill.  Without discussing it, I think we were dividing up the turf–gay boyhood for me, Fire Island for Andrew Holleran, adult gay children forcing parental acceptance for Robert Ferro, etc.  Even today I bore my friends with readings; just yesterday Isabel Fonseca and I read current work to each other.

What was your response to finding out A Boy’s Own Story was chosen as one of the best GLBT books of all time?

I think Boy’s Own is a very odd book to have been chosen, since the boy is pretty neurotic and treacherous, but of course I’m grateful that the writing has been recognized as worthy.

Can you give us a sneak peek of what to expect in your master class at SAS 2014?

I like to discuss technique on the micro-level and the importance of having a career as a writer on the macro-level.

REGISTER HERE to take part in Edmund White’s Master Class, Lives on Paper.

Support LGBT voices!

Become a member!

The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival celebrates books and writers who’ve made an impact with strong GLBT voices. We strive to promote equality and provide community by highlighting viewpoints that have too often been marginalized.  But staging our yearly labor of love comes with a price tag.  That’s why our membership program is vital to the sustenance of Saints and Sinners.

As a nonprofit organization, we rely on contributions from friends like you to continue our mission. Your support will help to provide an avenue of fellowship and inspiration among GLBT writers and book lovers.

Plus, partial proceeds of the Festival benefit the NO/AIDS Task Force.  NO/AIDS provides outreach to those living with HIV and AIDS, offers free testing, and spreads the message of prevention in a community with a rapid rate of new HIV infections.

A membership also carries with it fantastic perks for you! These include Festival tickets, memorabilia, recognition of your generosity in our program book, and more.  You’ll get to enjoy the Fest weekend in style, feeling great knowing that you’re promoting a wonderful cause.

Your support truly helps make a difference. Please consider supporting us.  Membership packages are available for as low as $25.

To donate an amount not listed here, or to talk about monthly giving options, please call our office at 504-581-1144.

MEMBERSHIP LEVELS

LITERARY PANEL SPONSOR: $1,500

  • Underwriting of one of the Festival’s literary panels. You will receive credit directly beneath the panel description of your choice in the Festival program
  • An “All Access Pass,” which provides you with admittance to every event during the Festival (includes weekend pass, all master classes, Book Launch Party, walking tour, and any special performances)

ANGEL: $250

  • One weekend pass ($150 value)
  • One Saints & Sinners Master Class ticket
  • Exclusive Saints & Sinners gift item
  • Recognition in the Festival program book
  • Entry to win sample 2014 Festival Library of participating author’s books

SINNER: $125

  • One Saints & Sinners Master Class ticket
  • Exclusive Saints & Sinners gift item
  • Recognition in the Festival program book
  • Entry to win sample 2014 Festival Library of participating author’s books

SAINT: $75

  • One Saints & Sinners Master Class ticket
  • Recognition in the Festival program book
  • Entry to win sample 2014 Festival Library of participating author’s books

DEVIL: $25

  • Recognition in the Festival program book

Call us at 504-581-1144 or visit or website today and help support our 11th annual Festival!

And don’t forget Give  NOLA day happening today, May 6th. You can donate to Saints and Sinner’s parent organization The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival by clicking this link.

 

Master Class Spot Light: Inner Editor

RuthandJohn

Offered by Ruth Sternglantz and John Morgan Wilson.

What’s the difference between a talented writer and a published author? Editing. Cut superfluous language. Hit your points, explore your characters, and – especially if you’re a self-publishing writer – work through the lion’s share of your editing before sending it to your editor. John Morgan Wilson and Ruth Sternglantz lead a class on taking an active role in editing your work and maintaining your message even as you refine your text.

John and Ruth will be offering techniques and practical suggestions that will help authors look at their work the way an editor does. They’ll be offering a plan for self-directed revision, to make the process less scary and more productive. Keep in mind that they each bring varying backgrounds and viewpoints to this topic.  The workshop is designed for fiction writers, though much of their material should also be useful to nonfiction writers.  We’ve asked them a few questions to give you a taste of what their Master class has to offer:

1) What role does the editor play in the relationship with an author?

Ruth: I work with best-selling authors with dozens of books to their credit as well as first-time authors. No two relationships are the same because no two authors have the same needs. With that said, ultimately my job is to guide an author through revisions so the final polished manuscript is the author’s best possible work at that stage of their development. There are several assumptions built in to this, of course. First, the work is the author’s–not mine–and revision is not about asking “Is that how I would write it?” but, rather, “Is that behavior true to your characters?” “Is that figure of speech in your character’s frame of reference?” “Is that word choice true to your voice?” Authors sometime worry that being edited will crush their voice. To the contrary: my job is to enhance an author’s voice, to ensure that every single one of an author’s sentences is as fully in their voice as possible. Second, if I’m doing my job properly–teaching and showing–the author’s best possible work next year will be better than their best possible work today. And five years from now, they’ll be better still.

Bottom line, it’s all about the writing, and it’s a privilege to work with an author to help them make language do what they want it to do.

John: It’s been my experience that the author-editor relationship will vary from situation to situation, often widely.  Keep in mind that you will be working with an editor only if your novel has been acquired for publication, or if you’ve hired one on a freelance basis to help you with early drafts prior to submission or self-publication.  Ideally, the editor will be highly skilled at spotting problems both big and small, and working with the writer in a frank but supportive way, sensitive to the the writer’s publishing experience, skill and confidence level, personality, etc.  Some writers have thicker skin and process feedback well; others are more fragile, defensive or high maintenance, and need more careful handling (within reasonable limits).  I’ve worked with three editors at three houses on ten novels, and found them to be extremely literate, smart and constructive, though often burdened with too much work.  My favorite editor tended to ask questions rather than demand changes, such as: “Do you think a faster opening to that chapter might grab readers more effectively?” or “Is that really the feeling you want to leave readers with at the end of your novel?”  In effect, he guided me toward my own fixes, nurturing my growth as a writer.  All my editors dealt primarily with the big stuff (plot, character development, structure, pace, etc.) and left line editing (grammar, spelling, etc.) to a copy editor.  But don’t count on editors or copy editors to save you; if you submit a manuscript that’s too rough and ragged, it’s unlikely to make it to the acquisition stage.  In this era of downsizing, editors generally have less and less time to work with writers on multiple or extensive revisions, which is why it’s so crucial to develop your own sharp eye and “inner editor,” able to significantly tighten and polish your manuscript before submission.

2) How does an author and her/his work benefit from working with an editor?

John: We get a fresh eye and professional feedback from someone with a strong sense of word craft and storytelling, which can be invaluable.  After working months, possibly years, on a manuscript, we can become so mentally and creatively exhausted, and so close to the material, that we often fail see areas that need more work.  We often get hypnotized by lines or passages we’ve gone over endlessly during revisions, losing our objectivity, or falling in love with certain scenes or characters, blind to how they might be detracting from the story or the reading experience.  A good editor is like a good coach — the best athletes in the world need guidance from time to time to help them refocus, sharpen their skills, and raise their game.

Ruth: I’ve been an editor since I was nineteen years old, in many different contexts, but I’ve also been on the other side of the red pen, as it were, as an author. So I speak from a range of experience here. While this is probably an overgeneralization, if you’re writing to be published, you’re writing for readers. A good editor is first and foremost a professional expert reader–by that I mean an editor can not only tell an author that some character or scene or plot point worked for them (or not), but they can explain why. A good editor can point out missed opportunities, and a good editor can let an author know where the story lags, and which characters converge. Through an editor’s comments and questions an author can revise their work and make it stronger. And an editor can teach an author about their strengths too–I sometimes think the most important thing I do is show an author what they do well and help them realize they can do those great things consistently.

Of course, an editor can also help an author deal with less glamorous aspects of writing, like syntax and word choice and not using the same adjective eighty times in a 60k word work.

3) What are the top three mistakes you see from authors in their work?

Ruth: There are no top three mistakes! There’s really only one. Authors are really scared to revise. I absolutely put myself in this group. You get to the end, you save the file, you breathe a sigh of relief, and then you’re terrified to turn back to page one because you think if you reread it, the masterpiece you’ve composed will crumble to dust before your eyes. But really, the end is just the beginning. Most of the systemic errors large and small that I see in manuscripts can be traced to authors either not revising or not understanding how to go about revising in a productive way.

 

John: a) Overwriting, when less could be more.  b) A lack of patience and discipline during the challenging revision process, when a competently written novel can be significantly improved, distinguishing it from the glut of poorly-crafted novels agents and editors face on a daily basis.  c) A tendency to write in a derivative or superficial manner, falling back on cliches and other lazy shortcuts, rather than tapping deeply into one’s unique self, one’s heart and soul, where a writer is likely to discover a voice, characters, and stories that are more authentic, original, and powerful.  I face these and other challenges every time I sit down to write; we all do.  The key is bearing down and working through them, and giving each piece of writing the best we have to give, even as we realize it will never be perfect, and we might never feel completely satisfied.

4) Why should authors at different stages in their careers take your master class? What do you have to offer authors that will improve their personal editing skills?

John: Ruth and I are planning this workshop as an essential skills class for less experienced writers or those aiming for self-publication, and a refresher course for more established authors.  We plan to get down to the nitty gritty of revision and polishing, discussing a wide range of concrete, practical tips and techniques, some time-honored and well-known, some more offbeat and personal.  As someone who, from the age of 19, was intent on making my living as a freelance journalist (fiction writing was but a secret fantasy), I had to learn a hard truth: being talented is not the same as being professional.  The key difference, I discovered, is craft — the ability, developed over time, to see one’s work more objectively and apply the skills needed to make it more readable and appealing, from first line to last, without sacrificing creativity.  Every writer is unique and will ultimately approach rewriting and polishing in her or his own way; each will take something different away from our workshop, returning home to work on the stories that are waiting to be told, and told well.

Ruth: To my mind, self-editing is part of the writing process–the part that comes after the first draft but before the author sends the manuscript out into the world. Out into the world may mean Smashwords or an editor you’ve hired yourself (if you’re self-publishing); or it may mean publishers and agents (if you’re unpublished but seeking to publish via a traditional route); or it may mean your editor in house (if you’re a previously published author). And it doesn’t matter where you fall: you never want to send your work out into the world until you’ve taken it as far as you can yourself. This is professional, and it is pragmatic. If you’re not yet published, the reasons for the importance of presenting your very best work are obvious. But even if you’ve already got a comfortable spot at the publisher of your dreams, your editor has finite time to work with you. Wouldn’t you rather your editor worked with you on grace notes, on advanced techniques, than on catching point of view slips?

Panel happening Friday May 16, 2014 @ 10AM. Get your tickets here.

And the Winners Are…

SallyBellerose

We are pleased to announce that “Corset” by Sally Bellerose is this year’s Short Fiction Contest winner. Our second place stories are “Love Thy Neighbor” by N.S. Beranek and “Voodoo John” by James Russell.  Congratulations to the winners!

The Finalist for the 2014 Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest are (in alphabetical order):

“The Dark Symphony” by Eric Andrews-Katz

“Stinkbug” by Rich Barnett

“Corset” by Sally Bellerose

“Love Thy Neighbor” by N.S. Beranek

“Rhinestone Magic” by J.R. Greenwell

“If On A Dark Night Two Strangers Should Come” by William Hawkins

“Beanstalk” by Clifford Henderson

“Eleusis” by Robert Hyers

“Red Coat” by George Jordan

“Mum’s the Word” by Jeff Lindemann

“Sample Day” by Jerry Rabushka

“Voodoo John” by James Russell

Many thanks to everyone who entered our fifth annual short story contest.  This year’s final guest judge is Jewelle Gomez.  She is the author of the double Lambda Award-winning novel, The Gilda Stories, and the collection of short fiction, Don’t Explain.

The top stories will be published in an anthology from Bold Strokes Books. There will also be a book release party and reading on May 15 to kick-off the 11th annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans.

It will happen at 7 P.M. at the Beauregard Keyes House. Get your tickets here.

 

Under Construction: 2014 Panel Discussions and Reading Series

t.reading

We’re in the process of putting together the final schedule for the 11th Annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. We’d love to have your input regarding topics for this year’s panel discussions.

If you have a topic idea, either for a panel you’d like to be on or one you’d like to hear others address, please let us know.  You can send a full description with a title or just briefs notes on your general idea. Email us your ideas and possible potential panelist with Panel Idea as the subject line.

If you’d like to be on a panel, please let us know.  Send an email with Panelist in the subject line and let us know what general topics you can speak about and if you have a specific idea for a panel.  If you are registering under a name that is different from the name you write under, please be sure to include both names in your email.

There are still slots available in the reading series, but these go very quickly.  You can read from a new published work or something you are currently creating.  If you’d like to read in the series, please email us and let us know.

 

What We Have in the Works

CroppedAngel

And just to get you excited, here’s a sneak peak at some panels we are currently in the process of lining up.

Does Criticism Matter Anymore?

Classic Writers that Have Inspired

The Devil You Don’t Know: Otherworldly Forces in Fiction

An Examined Life: The Mysteries of Memoir

Writing America: New York, San Francisco, New Orleans

Literary Laughs: Entertaining Ourselves

The Return of The Essay

We are also planning short fiction, poetry, and young adult panels.

Check back for more details on the 2014 Schedule soon!

 

2014 Short Fiction Contest (Updated)

SandSImage

Apologizes but we’ve left off some of our 2014 Short Fiction Contest Finalists. Below is the full list.

We are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2014 Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest (in alphabetical order):

“The Dark Symphony” by Eric Andrews-Katz

“Stinkbug” by Rich Barnett

“Corset” by Sally Bellerose

“Love They Neighbor” by N.S. Beranek

“Rhinestone Magic” by J.R. Greenwell

“If On A Dark Night Two Strangers Should Come” by William Hawkins

“Beanstalk” by Clifford Henderson

“Eleusis” by Robert Hyers

“Red Coat” by George Jordan

“Mum’s the Word” by Jeff Lindemann

“Sample Day” by Jerry Rabushka

“Voodoo John” by James Russell

Many thanks to everyone who entered our fifth annual short story contest, and congratulations to our finalists.

This year’s judge is Jewelle Gomez. She is the author of the double Lambda Award-winning novel, The Gilda Stories, and the collection of short fiction, Don’t Explain. Jewelle will select the winning stories and we will announce them on our website in March. One grand prize of $250 and two second place prizes of $50 will be awarded.

The top stories will be published in an anthology from Bold Strokes Books. There will also be a book release party and reading on May 15 to kick off the 11th annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. We hope to see you there! Click here to register.

Save With Early Registration

Bookfair Photo

Join us for a weekend of inspiration, fellowship and fun! The 11th Annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival is going down in the heart of the French Quarter May 15-18, 2014.

Enjoy master classes where you’ll garner tips from pros of the book industry, learn more about the art form we all adore at our literary panels, and get turned on to your next favorite book as authors share their work at our reading series sponsored by the John Burton Harter Charitable Trust.  With topics that run the gamut and a wonderful cast of participants, you’re sure to find plenty to pique your interests.

In addition to getting your learn on, you can also get your swerve on.  Have a blast making new friends and revisiting old ones at the opening and closing parties that make Saints and Sinners a true community.  We can’t wait to see you!  SAS Fest is full of friendly networking opportunities and chances to mingle with kindred spirits. We’ll finish the weekend in style honoring participants and their contributions to LGBT letters.

Partial proceeds benefit the important work of the NO/AIDS Task Force. And it all goes down in the French Quarter, a neighborhood that knows how to stir the soul and feed the writer’s imagination.

Register here.

TheWeekend Pass is your ticket to the all-access SAS experience.  And there’s good news for early birds! At a savings of 20% off our regular prices, early registration is still available.
For a limited time, use the discount code SAS2014
when you register at www.sasfest.com

 

2014 Short Fiction Contest

S and S Fiction Image

We are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2014 Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest (in alphabetical order):

“The Dark Symphony” by Eric Andrews-Katz

“Stinkbug” by Rich Barnett

“Corset” by Sally Bellerose

“Love They Neighbor” by N.S. Beranek

“Rhinestone Magic” by J.R. Greenwell

“If On A Dark Night Two Strangers Should Come” by William Hawkins

“Beanstalk” by Clifford Henderson

“Eleusis” by Robert Hyers

“Red Coat” by George Jordan

“Mum’s the Word” by Jeff Lindemann

“Sample Day” by Jerry Rabushka

“Voodoo John” by James Russell

Many thanks to everyone who entered our fifth annual short story contest, and congratulations to our finalists.

This year’s judge is Jewelle Gomez. She is the author of the double Lambda Award-winning novel, The Gilda Stories, and the collection of short fiction, Don’t Explain. Jewelle will select the winning stories and we will announce them on our website in March. One grand prize of $250 and two second place prizes of $50 will be awarded.

The top stories will be published in an anthology from Bold Strokes Books. There will also be a book release party and reading on May 15 to kick off the 11th annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. We hope to see you there! Click here to register.

Don’t Miss The Early Registration Discount or Our New Speakers!

Cristopher Rice photographed by Toky.

***The early registration discount is open until Friday, January 31st at midnight. Don’t miss this last chance to get a 20% early registration discount by entering the coupon code: SAS2014 when you check out!

Even as we move into winter when the air grows more brisk and snow begins to fall (well, maybe not in New Orleans), we at Saints & Sinners have been hard at work assembling some of the best writers on the block and the line-up just keeps getting better. Recently confirmed will be editors/publishers from Bold Strokes Books, Bywater Books, and Chelsea Station Editions. Also, just added to our line-up of speakers is Christopher Rice!

BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE!

The Master Class Series Has Arrived!

fay_jacobs_speaking_at_panel

We are particularly happy to announce our spectacular master class lineup! Brush off your manuscripts and keep on reading to learn more:

Felice Picano will lead a course covering the career essentials for any writer: how to get published, how to sustain a literary career and – perhaps the most valuable piece of advice – how to stay in control of your career as a writer. An author of over 25 works, Picano’s experience in sustaining a prolific, decade-spanning writing career is testament to his practicing what he teaches. Trust us on this one: you don’t want to miss this class.

Michele Karlsberg also zeroes in on the business side of writing in her social media-centered class, #NetVISIBLE. She’ll cover the social side of business in the nebulous field of social media marketing. In an industry where your name is your brand, Karlsburg will discuss the role of leveraging the slew of platforms available – and which platforms specifically will most effectively help you.

Join Ruth Sternglantz for Prep Your Pitch! One of the world’s largest independent publishers of LGBTQ literature will be hearing pitches at Saints and Sinners. Bold Strokes Books editor Ruth Sternglantz is taking appointments for 10 minute meetings. The full spectrum of LGBTQ general and genre fictions (including YA) welcome. Email resternglantz@gmail.com to requst an appointment and to learn more, pitch appointments will be during this time slot in Royal B (ballroom). For more information about Bold Strokes Books, check their website: www.boldstrokesbooks.com.

If you’re hoping to transition from cyberspace to physical place, Jeff Mann’s class will firmly ground you. You’ll journey from urban to rural, exploring how to craft tone, dialogue, and locality. Mann will examine how different writers approach crafting local cuisine, customs, pronunciations, and jargon to create a world that breathes through your manuscript.

But what if your locale is your own experience? Edmund White leads a class on memoir as part of this year’s lineup. Participants will learn how to render personal experience as vivid as it appears in the mind through techniques in literary observation and selecting episodes to highlight. If you have a story to tell – your own story, specifically – gather your stories and join this class.

Or, what about turning real-life experiences into fiction? Carol Anshaw leads a class on how to blur the line between reality and fiction – and if the two are ever truly mutually exclusive. In a hands-on seminar, Anshaw will work with participants to craft a story and share with other members.

What’s the difference between a talented writer and a published author? Editing. Cut superfluous language. Hit your points, explore your characters, and – especially if you’re a self-publishing writer – work through the lion’s share of your editing before sending it to your editor. John Morgan Wilson and Ruth Sternglantz lead a class on taking an active role in editing your work and maintaining your message even as you refine your text.

Don’t forget the early registration discount is open until Friday, January 31st at midnight. Don’t miss this last chance to get a 20% early registration discount by entering the coupon code: SAS2014 when you check out!

Happy writing and early registering for the Saints and Sinners Festival weekend . We hope to see you at the Festival in May!

Saints and Sinners Holiday Special And Fiction Entry Deadline Reminder!

btn-buytix

Join us for the 11th Annual Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival! Saints and Sinners Literary Festival is four days of the latest publishing news, workshops and panels from internationally known writers, publicists, publishers, agents and booksellers. You will get the chance to exchange information and swap stories with fellow industry favorites from around the world. We hope to see you this year!

Save 20% and Register Early for Saints and Sinners 2014!

Struggling to find the perfect gift for that writer, reader or publisher in your life? Maybe a gift for yourself? Think about Saints and Sinners as you put together your holiday list (Tickets? Travel? Accommodations?).

We are happy to announce that pre-registration for the 11th Annual Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival is now available. As an extra special holiday offering, we are extending a 20% registration discount to those who register by January 15, 2014. Please click here to peruse a listing of events and their descriptions.

Register early to save 20% off your weekend panel pass registration as well as any other ticketed events you purchase. This includes the 5th Annual Short Fiction Contest book launch party and reading, our LGBT literary walking tour of the French Quarter, Master Classes, and partner/guest welcome party tickets. Enter this coupon code during checkout to receive 20% off your tickets: SAS2014

Early registration discounts end January 15, 2014.

Fifth Annual Short Fiction Contest

Submissions are now open for our Fifth Annual Short Fiction Contest.

The winner will be selected from this year’s submissions of original, unpublished short stories between 5,000 and 7,000 words with LGBT content on the broad theme of “Saints and Sinners.”

This contest would not be possible without a generous grant from The John Burton Harter Charitable Trust.

Judge: Jewelle Gomez (pictured), author of the double Lambda Award-winning novel, The Gilda Stories, and the collection of short fiction, Don’t Explain, will select the winning stories.

Prizes: One grand prize of $250 and two second place prizes of $50 will be awarded. In addition, the top stories will be published in an anthology from Bold Strokes Books. There will also be a book release party and reading held during the 11th annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans in 2014. A list of the top 10 finalists will be posted on our website and in our e-newsletter.

Have a question about one of our writing contests? Please send questions to: contests@tennesseewilliams.net.

Eligibility:

  • The annual fiction contest is open to authors at all stages of their careers and to stories in all genres.
  • Only previously unpublished stories will be accepted.
  • Stories that won this contest in previous years are ineligible; their authors remain eligible but must submit new work.
  • Stories submitted to this contest in previous years that did not place in the top ten are eligible.
  • Stories that have won any other writing contests are ineligible.

Guidelines:

  • Submissions should be in standard manuscript format (double-spaced, one inch margins, 12 point font). Please include a word count on first page under the title.
  • Your name and contact information should NOT appear on the manuscript.
  • No bios or resumes. We only consider manuscript quality.
  • Word count: 5,000 to 7,000
  • Submit only original, unpublished short stories.
  • Theme (interpret as you wish): Saints and Sinners

Entry fee: $15 per story. There is no limit on the number of stories each author may enter.

Deadline: December 23, 2013 (postmark) Submissions for the 5th Annual Contest are now open. 

2014 EARLY REGISTRATION AVAILABLE HERE! 20% Discount!

SAS walking tour

We are happy to announce that pre-registration for the 11th Annual Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival is now available. As an extra special holiday offering, we are extending a 20% registration discount to those who register by January 15, 2014. Please click here to peruse a listing of events and their descriptions.

Struggling to find the perfect gift for that writer, reader or publisher in your life? Maybe a gift for yourself? Think about Saints and Sinners as you put together your holiday list (Tickets? Travel? Accommodations?).

Saints and Sinners Literary Festival is four days of publishing news, workshops and panels from internationally known writers, publicists, publishers, agents and booksellers.  Don’t miss this chance to exchange information and swap stories with fellow industry favorites from around the world. Don’t miss the chance to travel to New Orleans! Enjoy and share the bowls of gumbo, late nights in dark jazz clubs, and strolls through historic neighborhoods as you connect with the literary landscape of the city.

Save 20% and Register Early for Saints and Sinners 2014!

Register early to save 20% off your weekend panel pass registration as well as any other ticketed events you purchase. This includes the 5th Annual Short Fiction Contest book launch party and reading, our LGBT literary walking tour of the French Quarter, Master Classes, and partner/guest welcome party tickets. Enter this coupon code during checkout to receive 20% off your tickets: SAS2014

Early registration discounts end January 15, 2014.

Weekend panel pass registration includes admittance to the following events at the 11th Annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival: access to all of the panels and readings on Saturday and Sunday, the welcome party on Friday night, and the closing reception on Sunday. Enhance your Festival experience by attending additional events like our LGBT literary walking tour and the book launch party.

If you have any questions, please call our office at 504.581.1144 or email Paul at pjwillisnola@aol.com

We look forward to seeing you in May for an informative and entertaining weekend!

Be an Angel (or a Devil): Become a Member Today!

2013 Photo Competition Entry

“One of the things that stood out most to me over the weekend was the ways in which everyone really went out of their way to ensure that no one was left out. I’ve never before witnessed a writers’ space where posturing was simply absent. People were genuinely invested in talking to one another, gaining different opinions, and figuring out ways to get queer stories out into the world to the readers that want them without tearing each other down in the process. I left the conference (10th anniversary Saints & Sinners) more committed than ever to the queer writing career I’ve been building, and more inspired to continue to work on my new novel.—Sassafras Lowrey, author of Roving Pack and Kicked Out

*Photo Contest 2013 Contribution (pictured)

If you’ve attended past Saints & Sinners events, we’re sure you’ll agree with Sassafras Lowrey’s experience. Each year the Festival assembles publishers, editors, and authors of all stages of their career in an intimate setting to discuss writing, share experiences, and network with other LGBT industry professionals.

Planning for the 11th annual event is already underway, with all Saints and Sinners converging in New Orleans’ French Quarter May 15-18, 2014. Click here to look at our ticket line and offerings online. We have an exciting line-up of authors planning to participate that includes:

  • Carol Anshaw is the author of the novels Carry the One, Lucky in the Corner, Seven Moves, Aquamarine. She has won the Carl Sandburg, Society of Midland Authors, and Ferro-Grumley awards for fiction;
  • Celebrated author Edmund White whose new Paris memoir called Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris (Bloomsbury) debuts in February;
  • John Morgan Wilson has won the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award and multiple Lambda Literary Awards for best gay men’s mystery;

In addition to inspiring master classes, panel discussions, and readings of new LGBT literature, your weekend registration includes an invitation to our Glitter with the Literati welcome party at the historic Hermann-Grima House (you may recognize it if you are watching American Horror Story: Coven). Our inaugural LGBT literary walking tour in the French Quarter was a great success. James D. Geraghty will be back to lead the tour with an additional time slot added for your convenience. We’re also excited about a new venue for our Thursday night kick-off Book Launch Party for the SAS short fiction contest. We will be at the Beauregard-Keyes House located at 1113 Chartres Street, opposite the Old Ursuline Convent. The property was owned by the nuns until 1825, at which point they sold several pieces of land, including four lots purchased by auctioneer Joseph LeCarpentier.  Here, LeCarpentier built his family home that would eventually become known as the Beauregard-Keyes House.  It is named for two of its residents, Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant (P.G.T.) Beauregard and novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes.

 

Become a Member and Win a sample Festival Library of Books

devilangel-300

To ensure a fantastic 2014 Festival, we need the help of literary-minded Festival goers and cultural patrons like yourself. Membership packages are available in a range of prices, starting at just $25. Become a member by January 1st and you are automatically entered in to win a prize package that includes a sample library of 2014 participating authors. By becoming an ANGEL ($250 level), you become registered for your weekend pass and receive a master class ticket of your choice. Questions about automatic monthly giving options or sponsorship/donation options? Call our office at 504-581-1144 or email saintandsinnola@aol.com

MEMBERSHIP LEVELS

LITERARY PANEL SPONSOR: $1,500

  • Underwriting of one of the Festival’s literary panels. You will receive credit directly beneath the panel description of your choice in the Festival program
  • An “All Access Pass,” which provides you with admittance to every event during the Festival (includes weekend pass, all master classes, Book Launch Party, walking tour, and any special performances)

ANGEL: $250

  • One weekend pass ($150 value)
  • One Saints & Sinners Master Class ticket
  • Exclusive Saints & Sinners gift item
  • Recognition in the Festival program book
  • Entry to win sample 2014 Festival Library of participating author’s books

SINNER: $125

  • One Saints & Sinners Master Class ticket
  • Exclusive Saints & Sinners gift item
  • Recognition in the Festival program book
  • Entry to win sample 2014 Festival Library of participating author’s books

SAINT: $75

  • One Saints & Sinners Master Class ticket
  • Recognition in the Festival program book
  • Entry to win sample 2014 Festival Library of participating author’s books

DEVIL: $25

  • Recognition in the Festival program book
  • Entry to win sample 2014 Festival Library of participating author’s books

 

Become a member online, or download main-in form. Don’t forget it is time for end of the year donations! If interested in sponsorship, contact Paul Willis at pjwillisnola@aol.com.

Festival Surroundings: New Orleans’ French Quarter and the Hotel Monteleone

Paul and Dorothy

“Saints & Sinners is hands down one of the best places to go to revive a writer’s spirit. Imagine a gathering in which you can lean into conversations with some of the best writers and editors and publishers in the country, all of them speaking frankly and passionately about the books, stories and people they love and hate and want most to record in some indelible way. Imagine a community that tells you truthfully what is happening with writing and publishing in the world you most want to reach. Imagine the flirting, the arguing, the teasing and praising and exchanging of not just vital information, but the whole spirit of queer arts and creation. Then imagine it all taking place on the sultry streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter. That’s Saints & Sinners—the best wellspring of inspiration and enthusiasm you are going to find. Go there.”

–Dorothy Allison, National Book Award finalist for Bastard Out of Carolina, and author of the critically acclaimed novel Cavedweller  (pictured with Festival Director Paul Willis)

Our home base in the French Quarter of New Orleans offers a singular environment to an equally singular Festival. New Orleans has served as the muse to some of America’s most creative and well-known writers.

Even our conference hotel, the Hotel Monteleone, is an official Literary Landmark—eternalized by Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, and Ernest Hemingway in their writing and their personal trips to the Crescent City. While at the hotel for the Festival, why not stop by the famed Carousel Bar, a favorite haunt of Williams? It’s said that Williams found inspiration for this characters from the Carousel guests. Who knows? You many find your very own Stanley or Stella sitting next to you sipping a Ramos Gin Fizz at the Carousel Bar.

Short Fiction Contest Finalists

Judged by Jewelle Gomez

We are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2014 Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest (in alphabetical order):

“The Dark Symphony” by Eric Andrews-Katz

“Stinkbug” by Rich Barnett

“Corset” by Sally Bellerose

“Love They Neighbor” by N.S. Beranek

“Rhinestone Magic” by J.R. Greenwell

“If On A Dark Night Two Strangers Should Come” by William Hawkins

“Beanstalk” by Clifford Henderson

“Eleusis” by Robert Hyers

“Red Coat” by George Jordan

“Mum’s the Word” by Jeff Lindemann

“Sample Day” by Jerry Rabushka

“Voodoo John” by James Russell

Many thanks to everyone who entered our fifth annual short story contest, and congratulations to our finalists.

This year’s judge is Jewelle Gomez. She is the author of the double Lambda Award-winning novel, The Gilda Stories, and the collection of short fiction, Don’t Explain. Jewelle will select the winning stories and we will announce them on our website in March. One grand prize of $250 and two second place prizes of $50 will be awarded.

The top stories will be published in an anthology from Bold Strokes Books.

New Works By 2013 Festival Participants

Booklover_s_GT_New_Orleans-150Susan Larson’s revised and updated edition of The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans is the definitive resource for understanding the city’s long love affair with literature. She not only explores the legacy of Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner through historical landmarks, but also draws in modern-day celebrities like Anne Rice and James Lee Burke and details the literary resilience of a post-Katrina New Orleans. Whether you’re attracted to the relics of Kate Chopin’s southern society, or the Gothic subculture of Poppy Z. Brite, or the amphibious, socially striated future of Moira Crone, this comprehensive guide provides a key to knowing the books, authors, festivals, bookstores, and famed addresses that make the Crescent City a literary destination. Purchase the book.

ASlenderTether1-150Amid the turbulent weather of Europe’s Little Ice Age, A Slender Tether, by Jess Wells, offers three compelling tales of self-discovery, woven into a rich tapestry of 14th century France. Christine de Pizan, daughter of a disgraced court physician and astrologer, grapples with her ambition to be the first woman writer in France. A doctor finds an unusual way to cope with the death of his wife. And opportunity alternates with disasters in the lives of four commoners, yoked by necessity: a paper-maker struggling to keep his business, a falconer with a mysterious past, a merchant’s daughter frantic to avoid an arranged marriage, and a down-on-his-luck musician with a broken guitar and the voice of an angel. Reviewers call “the writing… sure, the voice arresting and original. Places come alive; the seasons are painted skillfully, there for the reader to experience.” Purchase the book. 

rachel_cover-150

Full of snappy and sharp Southern characters, Who the Hell is Rachel Wells? by J.R. Greenwell is a debut collection of clever, big-hearted tales of spunky souls and damaged hearts. Both serious and silly, bittersweet and joyous, these unique eleven short stories introduce a wise and wonderful new author. Purchase the book.

Coming Soon

join us-150

In upcoming e-newsletters we will have information on early registration discounts, hotel accommodations, and program updates. We’ll also announce the criteria for applying for the second annual Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award sponsored by Rob Byrnes.

Support the Festival: Purchase Our 2013 Anthology

2013-anthology

The 4th Annual Short Fiction Contest Anthology, Saints + Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2013, is available for the first time as an e-book. Both the paperback and e-book are available at the Bold Strokes Books website.

Save the Date for the 11th Annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival

Literary Icons-150

This May 15-18, 2014, LGBT writers, readers, and publishing professionals will come together in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans for the 11th annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. The Hotel Monteleone will be the Festival Headquarters where attendees can sit in on lively panel discussions, partake in our series of hands-on writing workshops, and listen in on our finest LGBT authors reading from their latest works.

We’re currently collecting program ideas and making plans to offer a slate of scintillating topics for discourse as part of our offerings next spring. If you are interested in attending and have literary panel topic ideas and/or would like to participate in our Saints and Sinners Reading Series sponsored by The John Burton Harter Charitable Trust, please get in touch with Paul Willis at: pjwillisnola@aol.com

We look forward to seeing you at the next Saints and Sinners event which will kick-off with our 5th annual Short Fiction Contest Book Launch Party. See below for entry details.

Big Thanks to All

Special thanks for our Foundation and Grant support:

The Arts Council of New Orleans
National Endowment of the Arts
Hotel Monteleone
John Burton Harter Charitable Trust for their sponsorship of the Saints and Sinners Reading Series and the 4th Annual Short Fiction Contest

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Bold Strokes Books for their sponsorship of the Festival and the publication of Annual Short Fiction Contest Anthology Saints + Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2013
Louis Flint Ceci for his generous sponsorship of the Young Adult vs. New Adult Panel
Mystery Writers of America for sponsoring Setting the Mystery Scene
Rob Byrnes for sponsoring the Annual Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award
Bywater Books
Chelsea Station Editions 

Special thanks to the following for their support of the Festival:

A&M Books
Bon Maison Guest House
Crescent City Books
Crescent City Tour Booking Agency
Faubourg Marigny Book Store
Fleur de Lit
Gallery Orange
Goldring Family Foundation
Patty G. Henderson
Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses
JohnPaul’s Bar
LocalGayBusiness.com
Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management
QueerMojo/Rebel Satori
Sibling Rivalry Press
University of Wisconsin Press

Best Sellers at the Book Table

FAB-150

Special thanks to Otis Fennel and the volunteers of Faubourg Marigny Book Store for providing a wide variety of books by this year’s Festival speakers.

Buy the Books!

2013-anthology

The 4th Annual Short Fiction Contest Anthology, Saints + Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2013, is available for the first time as an e-book. Both the paperback and e-book are available at the Bold Strokes Books website.

We encourage all of you to support the authors who spoke at the Festival by purchasing their books online or at your local book store. Peruse the bios of this year’s speakers.

Festival Wrap-Up

The 10th Anniversary Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival was a great success and a good time was had by all.  We want to thank everyone who made this year’s event possible including our sponsors, speakers, volunteers, and everyone who attended this very special event.

Dates and details for Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival 2014 will be on our website in early August.

Congratulations to These Festival Favs!

Michele Karlsberg won our first photo contest. The winning photo depicts Michele and ?SAS? speaker Val McDermid (a native of Glasgow, Scotland) locking arms, with the caption “Let’s shake on it, Glaswegian style.”  We will be posting the photos on Facebook over the next few months, so please continue to send us any fun photos that you took during the Festival.

arm-wrestling

Congrats to William Sterling Walker, the winner of the first Annual Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award, for his debut collection of short fiction, Desire: Tales of New Orleans.

And we welcome our 2013 Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame Inductees: Amie M. Evans, Andrew Holleran, Jeff Mann, and Marianne K. Martin (pictured below).

hall-of-fame

Enter the Great Saints and Sinners Raffle

When you buy a concession item or donate to our $10 for 10th Anniversary campaign during the 10th Anniversary Festival, you’ll be automatically entered for our raffle prize. Act now to win:

Winner to be announced at our closing reception on Sunday, May 26.

Saints and Sinners is Just Around the Corner!

Copy to come

colorful-characters

Festival 411

S+S_2013_cover-150

The Festival is almost here! Here’s some need-to-know information about checking in, picking up passes, and purchasing tickets. Looking forward to seeing everyone soon.

If you have pre-purchased a ticket:

Please note that online sales will CLOSE on Tuesday, May 21 at noon (CST). 

To purchase tickets onsite during the Festival:

  • The box office will be open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. beginning Friday, May 24. It is located at the  Royal Salon A at the Hotel Monteleone. When registering onsite, you will receive a paper ticket to give to the door attendant at the session. 

Q&A with Michael Montlack

Montlack-Michael150

Michael Montlack is the author of the poetry book Cool Limbo and the editor of the essay anthology My Diva, which was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist. He is the recipient of residencies/scholarships from VCCA, Ucross, Lambda Literary Foundation, Tin House and Squaw Valley. His newest release is Divining Divas, the poetry follow-up to My Diva.

Come see Michael at the Poetry Panel: Intro to Bodybuilding (Saturday, May 25 at 1:00 p.m.) and the Diva Reading Panel (Saturday May 25 at 4:00 p.m.) at the 10th Anniversary Festival!

Can you remember the first time you wrote a poem? How did it begin?
My first “serious” poem was called “Cover Charge,” which is in my collection Cool Limbo. I wrote that while backpacking through Europe, at age 24 or 25, on a train in Italy. The poem was about my first experiences going to gay bars after I came out, how they often were so dark, almost as if lit to conceal identities, like back rooms. Being young and wanting so badly to make my first gay friends, it bothered me that many places seemed built to cruise more than to socialize and I wondered if that was residue from our history of being in the closet. The poem began with imagery of shoes — all kinds: boots, sneakers, loafers — as they were often more visible in the angled lights than faces were.

I can’t remember writing my first poem specifically. Though before my mother passed a few years ago, she found a report card from my second grade teacher praising my writing, as well as an award from the local library for a story telling contest. I don’t remember that contest but can remember loving writing in class, as far back as second grade. All through junior high and high school I wrote what I called lyrics, many of them narrative, mostly because I didn’t know a lot about poetry and hadn’t realized that was what I was writing.

Read more

Your poetry seems to keep humor close to its heart. We are often given a humorous image, or some kind of wordplay that entertains as much as it informs.
I grew up in a home where sarcasm (or humor) was a form of affection. I am a huge fan of comedy, especially female comics, and attend shows regularly. I think, as one of my favorite poets Edward Field put it at a reading once, wisdom is most easily imparted through humor. He was referring to his own work and to how Judaism teaches. I don’t think myself wise or religious at all. So it’s more of an automatic mode for me and a form of inspiration. It’s the way I see. I try to balance the poignant with the funny to avoid sentimentality, and just to entertain, too.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you do to support yourself?
I’d be a photographer, I think. I see my poems as portraits in words. I minored in photography as an undergrad and can see the influence it has had on my poetry.

That influence certainly shows in your latest book, Divining Divas. You’ve essentially edited an anthology of portraits, drawn by poets, of some of history’s most iconic divas.
Yes. Odes, if you will, to the divas. Originally, I collected poems AND essays at the same time for My Diva but immediately saw that they were separate books. The essays needed to be on their own as the poems broke their rhythm, and vice versa. The first anthology was so well recieved in reviews and at events (as well as being a Lambda Finalist), that it made sense to follow up with more of a good thing. Whereas My Diva had 65 essays, Divining Divas had room for 100 poems, and somehow even more diversity with additions to the roster like Oprah, Greta Garbo, Miss Piggy, Gertrude Stein, Frida Kahlo, Alice in Wonderland, Lady Gaga, even Jerri Blank (played by Amy Sedaris) of Strangers with Candy. There were more divas who needed their props and the poets needed to have their turn to do it.

Does writing get easier the longer you do it?
It depends. Some poems come easier and faster than others. I find it helpful to sit on a draft for a while, not looking at it for a couple days or weeks, then coming back to it to revise. Sharing poems with writer friends and workshopping are always helpful. I used to have to cut out a lot in drafts. So my poems would be there on the page and just needed editing. My MFA program helped me to realize that so I write more concisely now, even in drafts.

I finished a draft of my first novel recently, a YA novel. I enjoyed drafting it. Now that it is done and revised and I am about to send it off to agents and publishers, my concerns are more about commercialism and marketing … things I never had to bother worrying about in poetry.

Call for Local Volunteers

Limited volunteer slots available!

We’ve lined up our who’s who of LGBT publishers, writers and readers, but we’re still looking for the real stars of the show: our volunteers! As a non-profit organization, we depend on our volunteers to help us ensure that the weekend’s festivities run smoothly. Without their generosity, we would not be able to pull it all off.

Please consider signing up for a volunteer slot; your helping hand will be invaluable to us. We’ll need:

  • Ticket takers, site managers, and assistants for the panels, master classes, and special events

  • Assistants at our box office staff/information desk/concessions

As a token of gratitude for your time and effort, we will offer you a free weekend panel pass ($150 value), which allows access to events featuring Dorothy AllisonBernard CooperGreg HerrenAndrew HolleranJustin TorresSummer Wood, and many more.

All we ask is that you commit to working a shift of 4-5 hours during the Festival. And please spread the word on our behalf!

Sign yourself up for a slot on our online sign-up form where you will “order” the time slot during which you will volunteer. If there is an event you’d especially like to see, please DO NOT sign up to volunteer during that shift, as we cannot guarantee the venue where you will be assigned.

Once you sign up, your shift is your responsibility. Check in 10 minutes before your shift begins in the Royal Salon A at the Hotel Monteleone.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We look forward to working alongside you during the weekend of the Festival!

New Events Added, Plus First Ever Photo Contest!

We’re counting down the days until our 10th Anniversary Festival! We’re excited to announce several new, can’t-miss events to our already jam-packed schedule. Read on for full descriptions, and then check out the rest of our schedule to start planning your weekend.

There’s still time to buy tickets online. Online tickets will be available until Tuesday, May 21 at noon (CST). If you don’t purchase tickets before the Festival, you can still get them at our box office at the Hotel Monteleone, Royal Salon A during the Festival, Friday through Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM. All tickets are available for sale at this location, provided that the event has not already sold out.

See you soon!

Announcing the First Official Saints and Sinners Photo Contest

photographer-150

Help us document our 10th Anniversary Festival! Send us your best photos capturing the spirit of the #SASFest13 weekend. The saint or sinner with the best Festival-themed photo will win a free ticket to the next Saints and Sinners event, a Festival gift bag, and a shout-out via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Guidelines:

  • Entries will be accepted from 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 23rd until noon on Sunday, May 26th.
  • You may enter as many photos as you wish.
  • All photos must be emailed to SASFestival@gmail.com. Photos may be attached or set in the body of the email.
  • Photos must be in .JPG format. No other format will be accepted.
  • The email subject line must be “#SASFest13 Photo Contest.”
  • The body of the email must include your name, contact information, and a brief caption of the photo.
  • No sexually explicit or otherwise inappropriate photos will be accepted.
  • Photos must be taken at the 2013 Saints and Sinners Literary Festival.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with! Good luck!

Festival Updates

With only 3 weeks until the 10th Anniversary Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival starts, we are bursting with anticipation and wanted to share it with you. There is still time to register for a weekend pass, purchase tickets to the Thursday Night Book Launch Party, schedule a Literary Walking Tour of the French Quarter or register for a Master Class. If you haven’t become a member or participated in the $10 for the 10th please consider doing so.

The tentative schedule is online, and ready for your perusal!  Here’s a sampling of the wonderful panels being offered this year:

ricker_jeffrey-150YOUNG ADULT vs. NEW ADULT: THE COMPLICATIONS OF WRITING FOR TEENS AND TWEENS
Moderated by Ruth Sternglantz with Trebor Healey, Greg Herren, Sassafras Lowrey, and Jeffrey Ricker (pictured)
The genre of young adult fiction has been one of the few areas of publishing that has continually seen growth in the last decade, and queer fiction for teenagers has also grown significantly. The modern publishing world is a lot more welcoming to queer characters in young adult fiction, but it still makes some libraries and parents a little queasy. How much sex is too much sex? How much reality can go into fiction for teens? And what is this new category called “new adult”?

This panel sponsored by Louis Flint Ceci.

smithkCLEANUP ON PAGE 23: THE ROLE OF EDITORS AND EDITING IN YOUR BOOK’S SUCCESS
Moderated by Michele Karlsberg with Jameson Currier, Michael Thomas Ford, Kelly Smith (pictured), and Ruth Sternglantz
Getting our work into the world is in many ways easier than ever before. But whether you self-publish or go the more traditional route, with so much of the focus being on publicizing and marketing our work, the crucial step of editing is often minimized or overlooked. This panel examines the importance of editing to the publication process and success of a book, and looks at the increasingly important role of freelance editors. We’ll talk about how to form a successful author/editor partnership, how to find an editor for your self-published project, and why all of this matters anyway.

holleran-andrew-300STATE OF THE ART: LGBT WRITING PAST AND PRESENT
Moderated by Thomas Keith with Dorothy Allison, Andrew Holleran (pictured), Val McDermid, and Felice Picano
Where do LGBT writers fit in today’s publishing marketplace?  Prior to about 1960, very few authors identified as LGBT, then came decades of acknowledgement, openness, pride, and relief for authors and readers alike. Why do some lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender authors identify as LGBT while others do not? With their distinct talents, backgrounds, outlooks, and voices, these four acclaimed authors will discuss what the LGBT designation means to them — from breakthrough beginnings to present day success — in a conversation that also includes a look at today’s publishing environment, their sources of inspiration, their mentors, and some of their favorite younger authors today.

And as always you will have the opportunity to hear a large and diverse group of festival authors debut their latest works in our SAINTS AND SINNERS READING SERIES: WRITERS READ sponsored by The John Burton Harter Charitable Trust. Expect to be entertained, engaged and thrilled by the written word read out loud by authors.

Looking forward to seeing all of you in NOLA!

Congratulations to 2013 Saints and Sinners Participants for Their Recent Acknowledgements:

The Lambda Literary Foundation announced that Trebor Healey is one of the recipients of the 2013 James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize, and Sassafras Lowrey will be receiving one of the Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Awards.
The following SAS authors attending our 10th anniversary celebration are currently finalists for Lambda Literary Awards to be announced in New York on Monday, June 3.
  • Gay General FictionA Horse Named SorrowTrebor Healey, University of Wisconsin Press; and The Lava in My Bones, Barry Webster, Arsenal Pulp Press
  • Gay Erotica: Raising Hell: Demonic Gay EroticaTodd Gregory, ed., Bold Strokes Books; Secret SocietiesWilliam Holden, Bold Strokes Books; and Strawberries and Other Erotic FruitsJerry L. Wheeler, Lethe Press
  • Lesbian Mystery: Ill WillJ.M. Redmann, Bold Strokes Books; and Rest for the WickedEllen Hart, Minotaur Books
  • Lesbian Romance: Love MatchAli Vali, Bold Strokes Books; and RunawayAnne Laughlin, Bold Strokes Books
  • Lesbian EroticaThe Harder She Comes: Butch/Femme Erotica, D.L. King, Cleis Press
  • LGBT Debut Fiction: Desire: Tales of New OrleansWilliam Sterling Walker, Chelsea Station Editions
  • LGBT Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror: Night Shadows: Queer HorrorGreg Herren and J.M. Redmann, eds., Bold Strokes Books

Why Saints and Sinners?

ford

“No other city is like New Orleans, and no other writers conference is like Saints & Sinners. Where else can you bring beignets and chicory coffee from Café Du Monde to your morning panel on creating realistic murder scenes? Where else are you going to have crawfish etouffee while exchanging ideas with half a dozen other writers from all around the country over lunch between sessions? Where else can you take a vampire tour after the day’s events are over?

The magic of New Orleans enlivens everything about the conference, resulting in an atmosphere that recharges the creative batteries and reminds us why we love to write.

I’ve been going to conferences for more than 20 years, and never have I enjoyed them as much as I do when I’m at Saints & Sinners. The conversations with other writers outside of the sessions are just as informative and inspiring as the panel discussions and workshops, and the opportunity to spend time with writers from so many different genres makes this a completely unique experience you won’t get from any other conference.

When I come home from Saints and Sinners I’m always more excited about my work—and about the work of my fellow writers — than when I left, and I immediately start counting down the days to next year’s conference.”
—Michael Thomas Ford

Michael Thomas Ford has been nominated for eleven Lambda Literary Awards, twice winning for Best Humor Book and twice for Best Romance Novel. Ford began his writing career in 1992 with the publication of 100 Questions & Answers about AIDS: What You Need to Know Now, one of the first books about the AIDS crisis for young adults. Named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, the book became the most widely-used resource in HIV education programs for young people and was translated into more than a dozen languages.

Q&A with Elana Dykewomon

Dykewomon-Elana-150

Elana Dykewomon has published seven award-winning books foregrounding lesbian heroism, including the classics Riverfinger Women, Beyond the Pale, and 2009?s Risk. A former editor of the international lesbian feminist journal Sinister Wisdom, she’s also a long-time cultural worker and social justice activist. In 2009 she received the Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists’ Prize at Saints & Sinners and is delighted to be back. Friendship is the current she swims in, while living happily in Oakland with her partner, Susan, and stirring up trouble whenever she can. She offers classes in writing from life experience and private editing on her website. For more info, visit www.dykewomon.org

Read more

Who is your favorite author and why?
Monique Wittig, for her re-imaginings of form; Toni Morrison for her skill and grace with complexity; Louise Erdrich for teaching me how to use imagery; Muriel Rukeyser for the enormity and humor of her language; Gloria Anzaldúa for her ability to create light in the caverns of life by rubbing insights together and creating sparks.

Any poet I can turn to when I am restless and casting about whose lines soothe or encourage or teach or give me direction, from Rilke to Nikky Finney.

And, oh wait! Irena Klepfisz, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Wislawa Szymborska, Adrienne Rich, Jewelle Gomez, Dorothy Allison, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Pat Parker, Toni Mirosevich, Sherman Alexie, June Jordan, Grace Paley, Cheryl Clarke, Audre Lorde, Barbara Ruth…

How can we have a favorite, beyond a favorite for this minute when I sit in my chair and long to read x? (The revelation of what “x” is: something new! New to me, when it appears.)

What role do you believe Saints and Sinners plays in the LGBT writing community?
It’s one of the few places we can come together as writers to talk about our work, the nuts and bolts of it, the internal and external struggles of being a LGBT cultural worker. At Saints and Sinners we revel in the opportunity to hear folks from places we otherwise might not travel (in every sense), while having a hell of a good time.

What’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d know at the start of your career?
Not to take myself so seriously. And to take my career more seriously.

And by that I mean, in the first instance, that when we believed the “revolution was around the corner,” I, and many other young dykes, acted with the zeal of the newly illuminated, and took any divergence from our ideals as a personal affront. I still cleave to those ideals, but I have a lot more flexibility and patience now. And as for my career, I would have published more, with less conditions on the publishers and more focus on getting read, on participating even more in the lesbian conversations of my time.

Your Master Classes at the 10th Anniversary event will be “Reclaiming the Scene from Yourself”. Will you share with us what you think is the root cause of authors trapping themselves and derailing their stories with their own expectations?
Everyone’s root causes are different. But many of us have idealized our pasts and futures, the places we want to write about. We may have idealized certain forms of suffering; or a particular story that portrays a relationship dynamic exactly; or an act of heroism our character achieves at great peril. That is, we see our stories as serving a purpose. We are eager to get to that purpose (revenge, revealing truth, unearthing grief, burnishing our love until it gleams, proving the cosmic joke, exposing injustice). In our eagerness, we write right past a lot of the “good stuff:” the story below the story, the other senses we could access if we stopped to consider them. Even (or especially) the most practiced of us needs to stop in the middle of certainty and let everything we don’t know rush in – at least once in a while.

Follow Fleur de Lit!

www.fleurdelit-150

Candice Detillier Huber founded Fleur de Lit on March 30, 2012. Fleur de Lit is dedicated to promoting and endorsing the local New Orleans literary scene, from authors and small publishers to literary non-profits, libraries, and local book sellers. Its goal is to be your one-stop-shop for all things literary in the New Orleans metro area, and its mission is to provide free advertising and promotion for literary people and organizations that do not have the means to promote themselves. It’s not just your run-of-the-mill literary event listing site. Sure, you get that, but you also get to discover local authors, new books, cool bookish things, literary haunts, and the most interesting literary landmarks in New Orleans. The only thing Fleur de Lit likes as much as books, writing, and New Orleans is talking to other people about books, writing, and New Orleans. Check it out at www.fleurdelit.com.

Like on Facebook: www.facebook.com/fleurdelit

Follow on Twitter: @nolafleurdelit

And the Winners for the Fourth Annual Short Fiction Contest Are…

Lambert-Sandra-Gail-150

The winner of the Fourth Annual Short Fiction Contest is “In a Chamber of My Heart” by Sandra Gail Lambert (pictured).

The two runner-ups (in alphabetical order) are “Sky Blue” by ‘Nathan Burgoine and “What Took You So Long?” by Vince Sgambati.

Our Finalists for the Fourth Annual Saints & Sinners Short Fiction Contest (in alphabetic order) are:

  • N.S. Beranek, “Thou Shalt Not Lie”
  • ‘Nathan Burgoine, “Sky Blue” (Runner-up)
  • George E. Jordan, “Looking for Philip”
  • Sandra Gail Lambert, “In a Chamber of My Heart” (Winning story)
  • Joe Landrum, “The Favour of a Reply”
  • Anne Laughlin, “It Only Occurred to Me Later”
  • Jeff Lindemann, “Bruno’s Last Supper”
  • JR Greenwell, “Silver Pumps and a Loose Nut”
  • James Russell, “Mountainview”
  • Vince Sgambati, “What Took You So Long?” (Runner-up)
  • Jim Stewart, “Bucky and the Woods-Cop”
  • Karis Walsh, “Stained Glass”

All of the finalist stories will be included in the anthology Saints & Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2013 to be published by Bold Strokes Books and released at the Book Launch Party on May 23 to launch the 10th anniversary festival. Tickets are available for the Book Launch Party with an evening of (complimentary) cocktails and readings from the anthology Saints and Sinners 2013: New Fiction from the Festival. All guests receive a copy of the book

We’d like to thank everyone who entered the Fourth Annual Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest. We’d also like to thank Felice Picano who served as our final judge and Bold Strokes Books for publishing this year’s collection. Finally, we are especially grateful to The John B. Harter Charitable Trust’s continued support of Saints and Sinners and LGBT Literature by sponsoring this contest.

Full Speed Ahead

S+S_2013_cover-150

We just wrapped up a successful Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and will be turning our full attention to producing our 10th anniversary Saints and Sinners event. Our next newsletter will announce our panel and reading series schedule. We are working hard to include everyone that has expressed interest in participating. Looking forward to seeing you all in New Orleans in May. 

Saints and Sinners Walking Tour

James-Geraghty-150

Tickets are available for our first LGBT literary walking tour in New Orleans that reveals, in an entertaining way, the culturally rich, vital and often hidden gay history of the Crescent City. Read more.

Date: Friday, May 24 at 3:00 p.m.
Duration: 2 hours
Price: $20

Announcing the Winner of the 4-Night Stay at the Hotel Monteleone

jacobs-fay-150

Congratulations to Fay Jacobs, our Hotel Monteleone winner. And thanks to everyone who became an Archangel member. We had our most successful membership campaign to date!

Q&A with Ellen Hart

Hart-Ellen-150

Ellen Hart is the author of 28 crime novels in two different series. She is a five-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery, a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Best Popular Fiction, a three-time winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award in several categories, a recipient of the Alice B Medal, and was made an official GLBT Literary Saint at the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans in 2005.

Why mystery? What drew you to writing crime novels?
I’ve always read mysteries. I believe that the element of mystery is central to all good stories. Because crime novels give that element center stage, they remain one of the most popular fictional forms. Mystery occurs in a novel any time a writer poses a question or establishes a threat that isn’t immediately answered.

Reading has always been central to my life. Because of that, and because of my interest in stories as vehicles for exploring ideas, human behavior, moral and ethical issues, humor, character — all the good stuff — writing a novel was something I knew I had to try. During my late thirties, four elements came together — a synchronicity of sorts. I had a job that gave me my summers off. A neighbor, a good friend and a professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Minnesota, had begun writing a mystery. When he finished, he offered it to me to read. I loved it. Another friend sent me a copy of Murder in the Collective, by Barbara Wilson, one of the first lesbian mysteries to be published, which, in a sense, gave me the permission I needed to write about my own life. And finally, I started reading P.D. James and ended up using her books as a tutorial — they taught me much about how to write a crime novel.

Read more

What is one thing you have learned writing 28 novels that you wish someone had told you when you were working on the first draft of the first novel?
I guess it would be something like, “Don’t wait for the Muse to come sit on your shoulder.” A writer can’t wait for inspiration to strike. Not that inspiration doesn’t strike, but it doesn’t mean much if you aren’t sitting down, working. Discipline is everything, even if you aren’t trying to meet a deadline. I’ve been teaching creative writing for sixteen years. In that time, I’ve come across many fine writers. What I don’t know about them is whether these individuals have the discipline to complete the book, and that means multiple revisions, being willing to not only take, but hear criticism, to make the necessary changes to make the book the best it can be and then work with an editor to make it even better.

I was impressed to see that on your website www.ellenhart.com you have starting points for discussion for book groups who are reading your works and you offer up the options for you to attend book groups in person or over Skype. Could you share your philosophy behind these two items with our readers?
I think a writer has to try everything to reach readers. That being said, writers also have to be smart with their promotional efforts. I wish I had the money to travel to bookstores and libraries all over the country when I have a new book out. Alas, I don’t. One way to travel to book groups on a budget is through Skype. I hope this promotional tool grows in popularity because it’s really fun for everyone involved. Providing book group questions is a great starting point, especially for the person facilitating the discussion.

In the past, you have said your best advice to writers was to read, read, read. What are you currently reading and what is your all-time favorite book?
Let me take a little more time with this one. “Favorite” anything, whether we’re talking food, a movie, a novel, a piece of music — there are just too many.

I’m always reading multiple books. Right now, that would be:

  • Outlaw Marriages: Rodger Streitmatter’s discussion of long-term gay and lesbian relationships in history.
  • Death In The City Of Light: David King’s exploration of a serial killer in Paris during the German occupation in WWII. (I love true crime.)
  • Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: T.D. Max’s fine bio of David Foster Wallace. (I love biography.)
  • Drift: Rachel Maddow’s fascinating take on the history of how the U.S. goes to war. (Also love history.)
  • The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (I’m doing research on human consciousness for a book. I’m usually reading something about science or technology. )
  • Michael Tolliver Lives: adore Armistead Maupin and the Tales of the City stories.

Favorite Book (if I must): The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien. (I think O’Brien is an alchemist with words.)

Favorite Mystery: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Favorite Novel: The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

This Just In

We’re thrilled to announce that novelist Ayana Mathis will be joining our Saints and Sinners lineup! Ayana’s The Twelve Tribes of Hattie has won rave reviews from everyone from Marilynne Robinson to Oprah. The novel, which traces the lives of an African-American family through Great Migration and beyond, had us wowed. But just don’t take it from us. Upon choosing the book for her Book Club 2.0 selection, Oprah said, “I can’t remember when I read anything that moved me in quite this way, besides the work of Toni Morrison.” Ayana will speak to “finding your characters voice” and will participate in our reading series.  

 

Finalists for the Fourth Annual Saints & Sinners Short Fiction Contest

sasbooks

We’d like to thank everyone who entered the 4th Annual Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest. The entries were top-notch and the judges had a very difficult time narrowing down the field. We’d like to especially thank Felice Picano, our final judge, who is currently in the process of selecting the winner and two runner-ups. Look for the announcement of the winners in our next newsletter. We are especially grateful to The John B. Harter Charitable Trust’s continued support of our contest and the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival.

Our Finalists for the 2013 Saints & Sinners Short Fiction Contest are:

Nancy Beranek, “Thou Shalt Not Lie”
‘Nathan Burgoine, “Sky Blue”
George E. Jordan,“Looking for Philip”
Sandra Gail Lambert,“In a Chamber of My Heart”
Joe Landrum,“The Favour of a Reply”
Anne Laughlin,“It Only Occurred to Me Later”
Jeff Lindemann, “Bruno’s Last Supper”
J.R. Greenwell, “Silver Pumps and a Loose Nut”
James Russell, “Mountainview”
Vince Sgambati, “What Took You So Long?”
Jim Stewart, “Bucky and the Woods-Cop”
Karis Walsh,“Stained Glass”

Spotlight Interview with Dorothy Allison

Dorothy Allison

Dorothy Allison will be facilitating a Master Class on Friday, May 24, at 1:30 PM as part of the 10th Anniversary Saints and Sinners Festival programming.

DOROTHY ALLISON MASTER CLASS: A VOICE LIKE THUNDER, A TEXT IN WHISPERS
Let’s talk frankly about the performance aspect of reading off the page. What if you are a better reader than you are a writer? Can performance become a part of the craft? Is there a set of rules and exercises that help make this process more useful? Can performative aspects detract from the written work? How do you train yourself to use performance to improve the work on the page? Is performance necessarily a lesser work? Finally, are there ways to write out verbal expressions that enliven performance but seem awkward or obscure on the page? These are just a few of the things we will cover in my workshop on the performative aspects of writing.

Dorothy Allison received mainstream recognition with her novel Bastard Out of Carolina, a finalist for the National Book Award. The novel won the Ferro Grumley prize, became a best seller, and an award-winning movie. Her second novel, Cavedweller became a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, finalist for the Lillian Smith prize, and an ALA prize winner. In 2003, Lisa Cholendenko directed a movie version featuring Kyra Sedgwick. Awarded the 2007 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction, Allison is a member of the board of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Her new novel, She Who, is forthcoming. For more information, visit dorothyallison.net

We had the opportunity to catch up with Dorothy who has been a long-time supporter of the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival.

Q: As someone who has attended numerous Saints and Sinners, why do you think the festival is important to the LGBT writing community?
Allison: Sometimes, after reading the work of young authors in a workshop, I find myself asking them ‘who do you write for?  Who do you write to?’ Some answer me immediately—my daddy, my mama, my first lover, the preacher who scared me so badly when I was thirteen. But some just stare at me, not knowing how important the question actually is. Of course, we write for ourselves. Of course. But even making notes in a journal or commenting anonymously on some blog, we have an observer in the back of our heads—a reader, a witness. It is that witness that shapes the work—focuses it or, now and then, pushes us past what we are first willing to share. Tell me the truth, that reader/witness demands. Say what you fear. Say what you love. Tell me something no one else has ever told me. Out of that demand comes the best work—the richest most revealing narratives, what we never imagined we could share but discover in the writing.

That witness/reader is not always trustworthy. Sometimes the demand scares us too deeply and we cannot rise to the challenge—not immediately anyway.  But it is those nagging demands that we circle back to over and over that take us into stories that might change everything, that might use all of us, and by taking us so far into our fear or desire—show us who we really are, or can be.

One must create that witness, cultivate that imaginary reader, seek out that audience.  The community to which we address ourselves is shaped over our whole lifetime—and it is that community that takes us to our best selves as writers, as readers of other writers and as members of an often misunderstood or misrepresented minority.  For me that murmur of voices, that eye and ear and heart has always been shaped in part by exposure to audiences like those that come to Saints and Sinners. I write for them, toward them—those widely read, demanding individuals who will not let me shrug off my responsibilities, my fears or my great aching hopes.  Not all of them write, but all of them read. All of them push me to my best work.

Q: What are you currently reading for fun?  
Allison: Poetry.

Just read The Gift of Tongues, the anthology of work done at Copper Canyon over the last twenty-five years—like reading history, but better. Wonderful, wonderful work.

Q: If you could only share one thing with an emerging author, what would it be?
Allison: Be afraid but don’t let it stop you. And take revenge.  At its best revenge becomes justice. At its worst it is at least small compensation—and those you hurt on the page can always come back on another page.

Q: Your Master Classes at the 10th Anniversary event will be “A Voice Like Thunder, A Text in Whispers”.  In your opinion, what role does performance play in the toolbox of the author?
Allison: Performance at its best in the realization of the connection between the artist and the audience. One hears and feels the response immediately—the indrawn breaths of genuine engagement, the rustling that signals a loss of attention—or in some cases the shouts or whispers of the congregation testifying to the resonance of the work in their own lives. It sidesteps the delay inherent in publishing. 

More importantly, performance is a complicated tool—a razor sharp way to focus your energy and insights but also a constant hazard.  You can caricature yourself and your people just as easily as you can make them breathtakingly real and vulnerable.  Each individual writer must find their own way into the actualization made possible by performance—while avoiding the pitfalls.

image Saints and Sinners Literary Festival
938 Lafayette St., Suite 514 | New Orleans, LA 70113 | 504.581.1144 | 800.990.FEST saintandsinnola@aol.com  |  http://sasfest.com