Wanted to express my appreciation for the assistance in helping an author move from “aspiring” to “published.” I had spent years on my own crafting stories that never made it any farther than my Saved Files folder. After enrolling in Gotham Writers Fiction I class, and later the Novel II class, I found a community of writers that was both safe and constructive. With instructors that helped me see beyond the easy answers and drive past clichés, my writing abilities took on a confidence I’m not sure I could have achieved on my own.
I’m thrilled to report that my debut novel Housebroken, which was workshopped in a Gotham online class, was selected for publication through Amazon’s crowd-sourced publishing platform, Kindle Scout. It’s more than I could ever have hoped for with a first novel. I was also fortunate to have my short story “The Shower Gift” published through eFiction magazine, a story I wrote and submitted in that first Gotham class.
Thank you for encouraging writers like me to grasp hold of their dreams and make them a reality. I count my Gotham experience as a crucial stepping-stone along the path of my writing journey.
Brandon Bluhm (writing as The Behrg)
I had been unsuccessfully trying to get my stories published for longer than I care to admit. I was ready to give up my dream, but decided to give it one more shot and enrolled in the Gotham Writers Mystery Writing I class. My instructor, Carole Bugge, taught me how to fix the things I was doing wrong and by the end of the class I had a story that she felt was ready for publication.
I am happy to report that that story was published in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. I then got a flash fiction story published in Wicked East Press’ anthology Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Vol. II. I have another story due out with Sherlock Holmes, and just this past month my first novel, Chasing the Woodstock Baby, was published by Second Wind Press.
I owe all my success to Gotham Writers and my wonderful instructor Carole Bugge. Thank you for helping to make my dream of becoming a published writer come true.
I just wanted to thank Gotham Writers for teaching me the basics of writing and the steps needed to make it work.
My interest was perked when I read that Gotham Writers would sponsor a free class for people who wanted to write. I went to the bookstore in Manhattan and met a group of 20 people in attendance. Susan Breen, the teacher, introduced herself and spoke about the passions of writing.
I signed up for regular Gotham class, Fiction I Then I went on to take Novel II.
Several years later, I am proud to report that my first novel has been published by Dreams Publishing Company—a fantasy entitled The Journey of Mary/Ma Li. I also had a horror short story, “The Taxi,” published by Necrology Shorts.
Thank you again for making my dreams come true!
I have taken several classes with Gotham Writers Workshop over the years— Nonfiction 101, How to Blog, Hit Send: Publishing Short Nonfiction, and the Poetry one-day.
I am happy to report that a nonfiction idea that I developed partially at Gotham has been published by Pelican Publishing, the largest independent publisher in the south. The book is entitled Jewish New York: A History and Guide to Neighborhoods, Synagogues and Eateries. It’s cross-genre: part history book, part travel guide, and part journalistic narrative with primary quotes from curators, historians, shop owners and more. The book has 8 new maps and 30 vintage and contemporary photos.
There has been much interest among venues for me to speak on the book. The Museum at Eldridge Street is co-sponsoring a launch party with the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy. The New York Public Library at Bryant Park is having me deliver an hour presentation, which may be filmed on C-SPAN Books. I am also speaking at the Upper West Side’s Jewish Community Center. Future engagements may include the Tenement Museum and signings at Barnes & Noble, Strand and local bookstores. Many periodicals are expressing interest in reviewing the book, and I have been asked to speak on upcoming panels on writing and getting published, as well as in college classrooms on the book’s content of cultural history.
I have fit writing and the promotion of the books in with a full-time job as a Director of Digital Marketing and Thought Leadership. I have also bridged the two worlds—doing a book signing at work and presenting at a panel on a work-related topic at a conference. The conference organizer purchased 25 copies and gave them away at the conference to interesting attendees. He even let me speak about the book at the end of the panel.
In the meantime, I am studying Children’s Book Writing at Gotham. Perhaps, I can mold some of the content I researched into a children’s book or through a children’s story.
I’ve been a fulltime freelance writer and editor since 2003, specializing in art, antiques, and the residential housing industry. It’s a great way to earn a living and far more fulfilling than my previous incarnations as a Credit and Collections Manager, Sales and Marketing Coordinator, and Office Supervisor. But from the day that I read Nancy Drew, I knew I wanted to write mysteries.
Of course, like many others, life got in the way, even after I started writing for a living. There was always some reason I couldn’t find the time. Then I realized my procrastination wasn’t due to lack of desire, but rather, uncertainty. Where would I start?
I decided to sign up for Gotham’s Fiction I. Under Season Harper-Fox’s caring tutelage, I began to develop the skills needed to turn my fact-based mind towards fiction.
Buoyed by my efforts and Season’s encouragement, I went on to take two rounds of Fiction II, followed by Mystery Writing I and Mystery Writing II. Somewhere along the way I decided I might as well work towards the Fiction Writing Certificate Program. I’m proud to say that I received my certificate in July 2012.
That certificate gave me renewed confidence. In Fiction II, I’d started a short story about a freelance writer and an antiques shop dealer who join forces when a greedy developer comes to their small town. It started to morph into novel during Mystery II. It didn’t hurt that Greg Fallis, the instructor, really believed in my story.
I started working on my novel in earnest on Christmas Eve 2011, completed it by February 2013, and started the long, hard road towards getting traditionally published, revising the manuscript with every rejection. That was a skill I learned after receiving feedback in the Gotham “Booth.” If one person doesn’t like something about your story, that could be personal. If ten people comment on the same thing, it’s time to accept that the story needs fixing.
In May 2014, I submitted a much-refined The Hanged Man’s Noose to Barking Rain Press. I signed the contract in July 2014, with publication scheduled for July 2015.
I’ve also kept on writing short stories. My short story “Plan D” is included in the crime fiction anthology The Whole She-Bang 2 (Toronto Sisters in Crime), while “Live Free or Die” is included in World Enough and Crime (Carrick Publishing). Both books were released in November 2014.
I’m now working concurrently on two novels, a sequel to The Hanged Man’s Noose in the very preliminary stages, and a stand-alone mystery/suspense nearing completion of the first draft. I’m also working on more short stories, which pose an entirely different challenge, and require an entirely different mindset.
I don’t believe any of this would have been possible without Gotham and the talented instructors who taught me along the way. Thank you Season Harper-Fox, David Yoo, Michael Backus, Carole Bugge and Gregory Fallis—for your encouragement, knowledge and support. It meant the world to me.
Judy Penz Sheluk
I am so fortunate to have found Gotham Writers Workshop. I sold my business of ten years to pursue my lifelong dream of writing fiction full time. I was contemplating where to begin when a friend mentioned a Memoir class she’d taken at Gotham.
To see if Gotham was right for me, I took the one-day Intensive in Fiction Writing. Then I enrolled in the ten-week course, Fiction I, where I learned to write short stories. Then I took Fiction II and was able to refine my work as I studied the craft of writing more deeply. I was exposed to literary magazines and given a perspective on what they look for.
Recently, my short story “Hidden Faces” was published in Collier’s Literary Journal. And I am currently working on my first novel!
I’ve always believed that I could write a novel, but I wasn’t clear on how to turn that belief into a reality. Two years ago, I took your Novel II class. The feedback I received from the instructor and my fellow students helped me craft a story that has since become a published novel.
I appreciate that the Novel classes are hands-on workshops instead of pure lecture. The Booth sessions gave me the opportunity to have as much as sixty pages of my story critiqued. It’s an amazing experience to listen to students discuss their sometimes opposing opinions about your material, which helps you understand where there may be a section that requires additional editing to more sharply shape the story.
Not only did I enjoy the Booths, but I also felt I took away helpful writing tips by listening to students critique other students’ submissions—which ran the gamut from fantasy to history to family drama, and everything in between.
Another key on my journey to becoming a published writer was my critique group. I kept in touch with three students that I met in my Novel class. We formed a critique group that met on a weekly basis. This allowed me to stay focused and continue writing. It also ensured that I didn’t write an entire novel with huge plot holes running throughout. Writing is a solitary endeavor. Critique groups help provide the emotional and technical support a writer may need to keep moving forward.
After several months of editing my manuscript, Jaded has found a home with The Wild Rose Press. I could not be more proud of my achievement and the support I received from Gotham for helping make a dream into a reality.
How do I thank thee? Let me count the ways.
I had a highly rewarding professional career in wildlife conservation and was reluctant to retire, but my husband who retired many years before urged me to join him with increasing frequency. Ultimately I gave in. His magic words were, “Now you can write!”
He knew I had always dreamt of writing but English is my third language so I lacked the confidence to plunge in on my own. Gotham gave me the tools and inspiration to pursue writing seriously as my second rewarding career. My friends supplied a wooden block engraved with the words “Use in case of writer’s block” and encouraged my hubby to apply it to my head any time I was “stuck.” I’m glad to report there was no need to use it. I became so involved with all things writing that he has trouble pulling me away from the computer.
All the enjoyable, frustrating and fulfilling hours I spent writing, revising and editing have resulted in the publication of a memoir of my father, In the Unlikeliest of Places: How Nachman Libeskind Survived the Nazis, Gulags and Soviet Communism. It is published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in Canada. Luckily, my advance reviews were more than I ever hoped for and several university professors plan to use my book for their courses. I have book signings in NYC museums and a radio interview scheduled. Heady stuff. Two other manuscripts are ready for my agent. Buoyed by my success to date I’ve taken some tentative steps toward a YA novel. Now I’ll have to fortify myself with new Gotham classes. One should never cease to learn.
Want some unsolicited advice? If you truly believe in your work, do not be discouraged by rejections from agents or publishers. Like Steven King, use them to wallpaper your office.
Spasiba, Dziekuje, Todah Rabah, A Groysn Dank, Merci, Gracias, Grazie, Danke, and Thank You GOTHAM!!
Annette Libeskind Berkovits
In the Unlikeliest of Places
I signed up for a Gotham Writers class as part of a New Year’s Resolution. I was looking for a new creative outlet, and I knew that with my heavy work schedule, I couldn’t do it on my own. Gotham gave me the perfect amount of structure to help get me going.
After completing the class, I continued writing the novel I began at Gotham, The Casquette Girls, but feared not having the assignment deadlines. So, to create the discipline of a writing schedule, I began posting the novel online in real time—never expecting anyone to read it.
Well, people did start to read it. Then more. And more. Until the original draft accrued over one million reads. Several drafts later, I published the novel to the tune of 12k online fans, and The Casquette Girls has since become an Amazon #1 Bestseller and received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. But the coolest thing by far is the community of fans around the book—receiving comments and letters every day from readers all around the world.
More important than helping me find the time to write, my Gotham instructor gave me the right kind of feedback that not only encouraged me, but also pushed me out of my shell enough to get the words on paper. So, special thanks to Daniel Marcus—merci beaucoup!
For those who might be considering writing for the first time, there is never going to be a better time to start than right now. I’m currently working on a sequel, which are words that still make my heart flutter when I type them.
I would like to thank you for the many classes I have taken in your nonfiction fields. I have grown so much as a writer through these experiences. Recently, I took your online course Essay and Opinion I, taught by Jonathan Mandell. This was hands-down the most amazing Gotham class. Please extend my best wishes to Jonathan for making that class such a wonderful learning experience.
In that class, I wrote a short (1,880 word) essay, called “Keeping the Pace,” that was ultimately published in the June 18th edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The essay started at 3 am on a sleepless night, when I decided to get out of bed and get down to business on a homework assignment for Jonathan’s class. He had been working me hard, and he was really challenging me on a certain writing task in this piece. Well, it sure worked, and “Keeping the Pace” was born.
JAMA is one of the most widely read medical journals in the world. I have received hundreds of emails from physicians and patients all over the world thanking me for that piece, and urging me to expand the essay into a book about my experiences as a doctor and pacemaker patient. I am hard at work on this memoir now, and I will be pursuing it further in your Memoir II Book class with Elizabeth Cohen. I have taken a class with her before, which was also outstanding.
I am a Harvard-trained pediatric cardiologist who, for medical, personal, and intellectual reasons, left clinical practice to pursue writing and parenting full-time.
My discovery of Gotham came from a breakfast table conversation between my visiting mother and me, when she said, “Have you ever heard of this writing program, Gotham? It’s in New York.” My immediate response was “I live in Boston, I cannot travel to New York!” I almost did not follow up on her idea, but I sure am glad I did. Gotham has fundamentally changed my writing life, for the better.
Thank you. I will likely be sticking around for many classes to come!
Elizabeth B. Fortescue, M.D., M.P.H.
I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for Gotham Writers. Last year I attended the one-day intensive in Travel Writing. I then followed up with the How to Blog one-day and a one-on-one session, both with Alison Stein, which provided me with the tools to visualize and create a Wordpress blog. The classes were extremely thought-provoking and hands-on, and, thanks to Alison, I was inspired to finally jump in and launch my travel blog.
In the spirit of celebrating my writing accomplishments, I am happy to announce that my travel blog led to an opportunity as a guest blogger for the Four Seasons Hotels online magazine. Two of my travel articles (recent trips to Costa Rica and Hampshire, England) were featured on their website. Although it is always a continuing challenge to expand my blog and increase my readership and subscribers, it has been a great experience, and I look forward to applying my writing skills to future travel writing opportunities.
Thanks again, and please pass on my gratitude and appreciation to my teachers.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a passion for doing comedy. When I was 18 years old, I was hired for the summer to perform at a resort in the Catskills. The first time on stage I was overcome with stage fright and was simply awful. I felt humiliated. I didn’t do much better the next night and was soon let go. I began college that fall, tried to forget what happened, and thought “someday I will try again.”
Nearly 50 years later, I retired as a clinical psychologist and college professor. I was ready to redeem myself after all those years by doing stand-up in an honest-to-goodness comedy club, facing a group of unfamiliar faces. I was ready.
However, my wife began to suffer from a progressive disease that required around-the-clock care, which I did by myself for many years. I had neither the time nor the wish to pursue my lifelong dream. My ability to see the funny side of life was gone.
The past seven years, I have been fortunate to have a most capable team of caregivers to assist my wife, providing much needed time for myself. Gradually my humor returned, with much encouragement from my caregivers (who I suspect wanted me out of their hair for a while). I enrolled in a Stand-Up Comedy class offered by Gotham Writers. The course, which culminated in stand-up performance at a New York comedy club, was taught by Dave LaBarca. Dave’s lectures, critiques, and suggestions were most valuable. I learned the importance of brevity and rephrasing. By the night of the show, I was all set.
The night was magical. My routine was timed to last eight minutes, but lasted nearly 15 minutes because of the laughter and frequent applause. I was written up in the New York Daily News by a feature editor who was at the show. I was offered a job at a country club, doing a half hour of comedy. I have also been invited to lecture to a group of retired teachers taking a course on Humor sponsored by the United Federation of Teachers.
I guess that 80 is the new 18. (Just when I’m beginning a promising career, I have to worry about being drafted again.)
Thank you Gotham. Thanks Dave. This would not have happened without you.
View a segment of George’s Gotham performance right here.
As a midwife working in New York City hospitals for decades, I had a book’s worth of stories to tell about caring for women from all over the world. But how could I write a book without ever having taken a writing course? My book ambition went onto the list of things I would do “someday.”
After retiring, I ran out of excuses for procrastinating. In the fall of 2011, I discovered Gotham’s website. A Memoir I class in NYC was given at a convenient time and place, so I finally took the plunge, and began a continued study of the art of writing at Gotham.
My Gotham teachers, Kelly Caldwell and Cullen Thomas, were knowledgeable, encouraging and demanding. Weekly assignments gave me much-needed structure and discipline. Fellow students were highly supportive. Gotham Memoir classes enabled me to spin my memories of delivering 1,400 babies into stories on the page—stories that got more vivid with the rewriting that resulted from the critiques of my teachers and classmates.
Two years later, my book, Laboring: Stories of a New York City Hospital Midwife, was self-published. The response has exceeded my expectations. Invitations to read from Laboring and discuss midwifery and maternity care have come from colleges, bookstores, and senior centers. The book is on the curriculum of anthropology and nurse-midwifery courses at several colleges. The reaction of many colleagues who say, “This is my story,” is deeply gratifying. It is thrilling to be able to bring the message about the benefits of midwifery care to a wider audience through my book.
Thanks Kelly and Cullen for helping me transform decades of raw material into a memoir.
I had given up on Parched when I signed up at Gotham Writers Workshop.
After publishing a breezy, contemporary coming-of-age YA novel, She’s With The Band, I naively believed publishers would bare-knuckle box each other for whatever I finished next. They did not; an unsold middle grade novel burnt a hole in my bottom drawer.
My next project, Parched, was an unwieldy sci-fi/romance about a girl who joins a rebel group in a world without water. It was my first attempt at full-blown world-building and a high-stakes action/adventure. After receiving some less than encouraging feedback on the first draft, I’d left the ms in that dreaded bottom drawer for six months.
I signed up for a 10-week Children’s Writing course with children’s book author Michelle Knudsen, and reluctantly turned in the first section of Parched for my first critique session. I was expecting the same lackluster response. I was wrong. Michelle was enthusiastic and supportive, offering pages of thoughtful critiques and suggestions. My classmates were equally eager and insightful. My faith in the project was renewed.
Each class was more helpful than the last, and I signed up to take the course with Michelle again. At the completion of both courses, I had thoroughly workshopped about 30,000 words, which was more than enough to get me through to a solid second draft. After the course ended, I met with fellow students socially and for continual feedback on the final draft.
My agent, Chelsea Lindman, and I sold Parched to Holiday House in 2013. It’ll be out in March 2014. Have a read and let me know what you think. I am now working on my first adult fiction for women: a funny contemporary about beauty.
I extend my thanks to Gotham, Michelle, and my fellow students for your heartfelt encouragement and invaluable feedback.
My advice? Keep going. Persistence is rewarded.
I wanted to write fiction almost all my life (since third grade!), but pursued a career as a computer applications trainer. While I enjoyed my work, I had a persistent urge to write historical novels. The first step I took toward realizing my dream was enrolling in a Fiction course at Gotham Writers Workshop.
It meant a great deal to me that I could study with you, both in New York City and online, while holding down a full-time job. I went on to take two sections of the advanced Novel course and also the Novel Master Class in Novel, with the best writing teachers I’ve encountered anywhere, Masha Hamilton and Floyd Kemske. They were supportive, and the classes were engaging and enjoyable. I came away knowing how to build a scene and structure a novel. Gotham convinced me that fiction writing is a craft that can be taught.
My first novel, I Am Livia, is a new take on the life of the Roman empress who is most famous as the villain in I, Claudius. A finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, it was bought by Amazon Publishing for its Lake Union imprint. Working with outstanding publishing professionals at Amazon has been a great privilege. I Am Livia will be released on May 1, 2014 and has been optioned for film.
I’m now a full-time novelist completing my second book. Thank you, Gotham!
Phyllis T. Smith
In the fall of 2007, I had written sixty or eighty pages of a middle-grade novel. Having recently left my job as a designer of educational children’s software, I was excited about my story—middle-school kids in Providence, RI form a rock band, and an alternative family in the process—but despite years on the periphery of the publishing industry, I was a novice as a writer, and had hit a creative wall. I knew little about my genre and my prospective readership, and even less about how to transform my sixty pages into a compelling, well-structured 65,000-word novel.
A writer friend suggested I join a workshop, and mentioned Gotham as a possibility. A few weeks later, I found myself in a West Village classroom with a great teacher, the children's book editor and author, Marissa Walsh, and an intimate class of students. Everyone in that room was eager to hone their craft and offer constructive feedback on each other’s work. We were off and running!
Over the next year, I continued to work on my manuscript, and I re-enrolled in Marissa’s class. I met some terrifically talented writers who offered me invaluable feedback on my work, and I offered them support as they confronted their own storytelling challenges.
In 2008, after sending a longer, improved manuscript out to agents, I got a couple of inquiries, and turned to Marissa for advice. To my surprise, she told me that she was opening a literary agency of her own, and offered to represent me. It wasn’t a difficult choice—I went with Marissa, and a few months later, she sold Rules to Rock By to Bloomsbury USA. The book came out in 2010, and my second middle-grade novel, A Song for Bijou, was published by Bloomsbury in 2013. In 2014, I will be publishing my first book for adults, a romance, under a female pen name.
It’s no exaggeration to say that I owe my career in writing to Gotham, so thanks to everyone there for the much-appreciated help!
Back in the eighties, when I was in in my early twenties, I worked in Manhattan. Often, I’d pick up a copy of the Gotham Writers' Workshop brochure (pre-Internet) and stuff it in my purse to peruse during my lunch hour. While sitting on the steps of the NYC Public Library, inhaling car fumes, avoiding pigeon poop and indulging in a $1.50 hot dog, I’d browse through the workshops and daydream of one day having the courage to take a creative writing course.
Fast forward twenty years and it’s 2009. I finally took the plunge and enrolled in Gotham’s Romance Writing I and II taught by the very talented Leigh Michaels. I can’t tell you how much these classes changed my life. Leigh was a wonderful teacher, very giving and nurturing. Her support and honest critiques helped me polish what I do best and identified where I needed work.
Fast forward again to present day, and I’m excited to announce that my debut novel, a contemporary romance titled Unexpectedly You, was released this past summer. I had sold my first completed manuscript to Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital first imprint. Considering Leigh has published over 80 books with Harlequin, I can only hope to follow in her magnificent footsteps.
I can honestly say that it is with the help I received from Gotham Writers’ Workshop that I’ve sharpened my voice, improved my craft, and am now living my dream.
Thank you very much and I wish you continued success.
Susan Liwanag, writing as Lily Santana
Hello, my name is Midge Leavey, owner of Miss Midgies Preschool, located on Long Island. I currently have 110 children enrolled in my preschool and I absolutely love my job. However, I felt a calling to do more. That’s when I decided to enroll in your Children’s Book Writing course.
I had a specific goal in mind but had no idea of how to pursue it. My goal was to help children understand and learn techniques of how to deal with separation anxiety. For years I struggled with this problem with my own son, and I became passionate about helping other children who suffer. Finally, after taking your class, I sat down and got to work. I used the knowledge I gained from your class, combined with my experience as a mother and preschool owner, and wrote my first children’s book.
My book The Missing Mommy Cure (which helps relieve separation anxiety) was self-published in April 2013. Since then, I have won an honorable mention award for my book at the NY Book Festival. I have also been invited to speak at several events for “empowered women,” been interviewed on a YouTube show called After Dark with Jenny Watson, and received amazing reviews from people from all over. This was a dream come true!
I have since published my second book The Wolf Who Cried Girl, a role reversal story of Little Red Riding Hood. (To be honest, I think I am incredibly funny in this one.) To top it all off, since this journey has inspired me so much, I am currently writing a memoir. There is no stopping me, and I can’t wait until my books are circling the globe!
Thank you for introducing me to this amazing new path.
In 2007, struck by some rare surge of boldness that I only wish could more consistently be summoned at will, I signed up for a Gotham Article Writing I course. Never had I written anything seriously. Not since high school had I studied writing in any capacity. Of course I realized all this too late. I was already there, at the first class, sitting around a table with all these real writers, waiting for the class and the shame to begin, for them to expose me as a complete novice. I was terrified, almost called it quits and left. But then boldness somehow struck twice and I stayed. And thank the gods I did.
Cliff Hopkinson was the instructor for that Article Writing course. An incredibly knowledgeable and experienced writer, Cliff taught me enough in ten classes to help land me a freelance gig with a community newspaper when I moved to California. And even then, well after the completion of our course, Cliff continued to see himself as my instructor, even taking time to edit articles over the phone from New York.
Autumn of 2012, I took Fiction II with Hasanthika Sirisena, and these were likely the most formative months of my writing life. While certainly encouraging, Hasie also challenged me to develop my writing. Offering invaluable advice and precise instruction in craft, Hasie was a truly exceptional teacher. Ultimately it was my time with her that convinced me to apply for an MFA in creative writing.
And most recently I wrapped up a second Fiction II course with Thais Miller, another absolutely stellar instructor. Not only were Thais’s classes well-structured and professional, but her enthusiasm for writing made it impossible not to be excited yourself. She so obviously wanted us to succeed, was really rooting for her students, and still is. Like Cliff and Hasie, Thais continues to act as a kind of writing mentor, offering encouragement and advice.
This past spring I was accepted into the MFA program for creative writing at Rutgers-Newark. Pretty soon I will be doing nothing but writing. For. Two. Whole. Years. This realization often stops me in my tracks, makes me feel like I’ve won the lottery. But my real luck has been coming through the doors at Gotham, not just once but three times. Cliff, Hasie, and Thais. What did I ever do to deserve such good fortune?!
So, my many, many thanks to everybody at Gotham. Without you I can confidently say that I wouldn't be able to consider myself a writer today. To my instructors and fellow students and all the lovely people behind the scenes (Dana!) who helped things along, I owe you so very much!
Thank you and thank you and thank you again.
Nick Fuller Googins
I want to thank Gotham because my life changed after taking your Nonfiction 101 course. My book The Secrets of Lost Cats, published by St. Martin's Press, was released on July 23, 2013. And lucky me: Publisher's Weekly has chosen it as one of the Top Ten Memoirs of 2013.
Before starting at Gotham, writing had been my shabby secret. Although I thought that I had a decent idea for a book, I lacked the skills to write it. A friend of mine told me to sign up at Gotham and take a class in the Village. Ashley Shelby, an accomplished author and editor at Penguin, was an outstanding and thorough teacher, and she gave me measured and positive feedback—enough encouragement to turn my dream of writing a book into reality. My classmates were warm and interesting people from all walks of life who wrote well but, like me, still needed to learn some basics.
I worked on my manuscript in and out of class. My story was born from the aftermath of having to make a lost cat poster and then search for my missing cat. I had a fortunate outcome, but I wondered about other cat owners. Were they finding their cats? I then began calling the owners on lost cat posters. Their stories ranged from hilarious to poignant. It was Ashley who steered me towards a better book, more than I had imagined it to be. She said that as a psychotherapist I wrote well about other people, but that I was afraid of my own voice. I fought her, but she was right. I had a personal and professional memoir about love and resilience within a book about lost and found cats. Finding an agent and a publisher was a challenge, but that's a different story about resilience.
After my great experience at Gotham I have sent many friends and clients to Gotham. I’ve taken Script Analysis twice because it was thought provoking, fun, and how could I flunk Humphrey Bogart?
I thank Gotham for offering an affordable and rich education. I love Gotham.
Nancy Davidson, PsyD
I’m writing to tell you a little story. The story of how Gotham changed my life.
In 2008 I enrolled in Creative Writing 101, one of your beginner writing classes. I’m not sure what motivated me to sign up, I’d barely written more than a book report my entire life. But I’d gotten it in my head that I wanted to learn to write, and, as my wife always says, “Once the man gets something in his head, it’s like talking to cement until he deals with it.”
So there I was, sitting in my first writing class with a pad of paper in front of me, tapping my new Gotham-provided pen on the edge of the table, when Phoebe Damrosch walked in. Phoebe was our teacher, and she had a way about her, a kind of sparkling center that put everyone in the room at ease. Over the next six weeks, she led the class through writing exercises, and readings, and various techniques that opened my heart to the process of writing. It was a wonderful thing, having one’s heart opened like that. I wrote my first story in that class, and that story, miraculously, got published.
And then, writing took over. As my wife tells it, “He pretty much went from mildly interested in writing, to a crazy person overnight.”
I did indeed write like a crazy person. On the subway, during work, in bed under the covers. My wife would often roll over and say, “Jesus, can a girl just get a little sleep?”
The summer after my Gotham class, on a whim, I applied to Breadloaf, one of the top writing workshops in the country. I got in, and while there, I studied with some terrific writers. The crazy voice in my head grew louder, Keep going, it said. You might just have something!
I wrote everyday, and the work began to pay off; more publications, private study with a handful of talented writers, a few public readings. I even finished a novel, found an agent, and realized very quickly that my novel sucked. When it didn’t sell, my confidence was crushed. I wanted so bad to be the best writer I could be. To listen to my wife tell the story, “When his novel didn’t sell, it was like dealing with a lump of coal that sat around on the couch and ate Cheetos all day.”
But I didn’t give up. I kept writing, short stories this time. The day I told my wife I wanted to go back to school for an MFA (at the age of forty), she looked at me and said, “And how exactly will an MFA feed our child?” But then she saw my glassed-over eyes, my cement-like demeanor. She smiled and told me to go for it.
I enrolled in the University of British Columbia’s Optional Residency MFA program, and there, I found the perfect home for my Gotham-inspired craziness. While in the program I wrote more short stories, a collection in fact, and when I graduated, that collection (How To Carry Bigfoot Home) sold to Red Hen Press, one of the best independent presses in the country. It will be released in the spring of 2015.
So here I am, six years after stepping foot in a Gotham classroom, published, teaching, reading, writing like I’ve never written before—all of it because of Phoebe’s amazing class and Gotham’s inspirational curriculum. At Gotham, it’s like they know you’re a writer before you do, and if you let them open your heart to the stories inside you, it may just change your life.
I’m a Gotham alumna whose start as a writer of children’s books was in Alex Steele’s Gotham class. Early in 2012, I landed a publishing deal with Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books, and after months of editing and copy editing and hashing my manuscript into an actual book, the unbelievable and incredible day arrived! My debut middle grade novel The Flame in the Mist came out in April—in hardback, and as an audiobook.
It’s been quite a journey since my Gotham days. I’d taken short story courses there, which gave me a great start. But when I signed up for Alex’s Children’s Books I course, I had no clue how to begin crafting a whole novel—or even what to write. The course outline stated that by the end of the term, participants would have their first two chapters written. That sold me. I turned up excited, though slightly chewing my nails. Two chapters? Could I really do that?
Yes, I could—and, as it turned out, a lot more. From the start, Alex’s feedback gave me hope, and faith in my writing. Classes were always hugely informative, with everything clearly laid out week by week. And the in-class exercises were FUN! Thursday evenings couldn’t come around fast enough for me.
A second course with Alex, Children’s Books II, put me well on my way. In the years since, remembering Alex’s encouragement has often helped kick me through slumps and hurdles.
Thank you, Gotham, from the bottom of my heart.
A year ago I signed up for Gotham’s Fiction I Writing class—the very first writing class I had ever taken. I have always been a voracious reader, but never thought I had the skill or talent to be a writer.
My teacher was Thais Miller, and from the first day, I knew it was going to be a very positive experience. Thais started each class with lectures that went beyond basics but helped build solid fundamentals. She wrote detailed, insightful critiques that were extremely helpful, and kept firm control over the class while at the same time encouraging thoughtful discussions.
My first submission was the first short story I had ever written. The response I got, from both Thais and my classmates, gave me a huge confidence boost and the motivation to continue.
My classmates were talented and supportive, and after class ended, a group of us continued to meet to offer encouragement and feedback.
This past fall, I sent out my first submission, a nonfiction essay to Real Simple’s annual Life Lessons contest. I found out in January that I was selected as the first place winner. My essay appeared in the April issue of the magazine.
I never would have imagined a year ago that I would be a published author. I can say with certainty that I never would have accomplished this had I not taken that class.
With many thanks,
Three years ago, I signed up for one of Gotham’s free one-hour Memoir Writing classes. Surrounded by other (more passionate) aspiring writers, I positioned myself directly across from the instructor, waiting to be enlightened. The instructor described writing as a difficult but rewarding job where, as author, I could construct my own story. I signed up to take Memoir I with Marie Carter that evening.
In Marie’s classes, there were lessons about structure, voice, scene, and character, but what I learned from most was the Booth session every class. As an avid reader, I think I know good writing when I read it. What I didn’t know was how to write it. Reading and critiquing other people’s work and having classmates do the same for me, helped me to see what works and what doesn’t. More importantly, my teacher and classmates offered encouragement and constructive ideas on my writing.
The next session, I took Memoir II, and then I took it again, with mostly the same people. We got to know each other’s styles and voices and were able to provide more nuanced critiques because we had seen the development each individual writer made over the course of months. I began to see how a writer’s voice is constructed and developed because I could hear when word choice or sentence structure betrayed the writer’s voice as I had come to know it.
It was just over a year ago that I moved out of New York City, away from my Gotham classes. In my new city, I searched for a writers group because I now understand the importance of critique to the creative process. My group encouraged me to submit a few of the pieces I began working on while at Gotham, and I have just had my first piece published in Brain, Child magazine.
Without the encouragement and enthusiasm of Marie and the other writers in my classes, I am not sure that I would have had the confidence to submit my work for publication. Thank you for not only teaching the mechanics, but providing a safe and open place to practice the craft of writing.
I took Alison Stein's Food Writing One-Day Intensive class in August 2011. And it was more than worth it, although it involved a DC-NYC round-trip. For me, one of the most valuable parts of the class was when Alison evaluated our article ideas. It also helped to hear her latest successful food writing pitch, which she read to us off her smartphone.
Three months later, I successfully pitched my first food writing piece to Maryland Life, a regional glossy magazine. I pitched another food-related piece—this time a personal essay—to another local magazine. It’s due out this spring in Bethesda Magazine. And just recently, I pitched yet another food article to the largest in-flight magazine in the U.S. It will come out this summer. I guess you could say I’m on a roll.
I can’t recommend Gotham’s Advanced Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing workshop enough. I’ve been writing since 2009 and I took the workshop in the summer of 2012. The course was just what I needed to hone my skills generally and to help apply them to writing speculative fiction.
The course was worth doing for Michaela Roessner’s excellent feedback and intuition alone. I also liked the way the course combined teaching with a writing group. I’ve done other courses where people were meant to participate in a forum but didn’t – this wasn’t the case with the Gotham course and it made all the difference. All the content was relevant, but I found the part dealing with pace the most helpful, as that was an area I needed to improve in.
I’ve had my first booth submission, “The Last Unit,” accepted for publication. Another story of which I’d posted the beginning as homework, “Full Fathom Five,” has also been accepted. A third “homework beginning” story is doing the rounds, and I’m in the process of revising my second booth submission, taking on the excellent feedback I got.
Thanks, Michaela! Thanks, Gotham!
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Those words were taped to my desk decades ago, when I was a teenager with dreams of becoming a writer. It took a long time for me to take that single step, enrolling in a Gotham Writers’ Workshop class in the summer of 1998 after a career in teaching and educational administration.
Alex Joseph was my first Gotham instructor. “Find the pleasure in the writing itself,” he told us, as we discussed story structure. “Write every day,” he insisted, as we talked about the needs of our protagonists. “Draw your reader in,” Alex said, as we explored sources of conflict. We talked about sensory description. We examined uses of dialogue and narrative. We discussed setting and pacing. We studied points of view. “But never forget,” Alex said, “you can break all the rules and still write a great story.” At our last session, we talked about the business of writing. “Find the pleasure in the writing itself,” Alex reminded us. “And be ready for rejections.”
I wasn’t ready for rejections, but I was ready to take another step. So, I signed up for a second Gotham class, this time with Adam Sexton. “Write two pages of prose each day,” Adam said, as we reviewed classic story structure. “And remember that structure and plot grow out of character.” We talked about voice. We talked about “the music of prose.” Adam taught us that strong antagonists lead to strong protagonists. He taught us to look for “the texture of real life.” He taught us not to stay in a character’s head for too long. “Become your own editor,” he advised at our last class.
I still wasn’t ready for rejections, but I was ready to take yet another step, writing short stories. I wrote every day, as Alex had instructed, and I found pleasure in the writing itself, as he had taught. I always tried to draw my reader in, and I worked on sensory description. And every now and then, I gave myself permission to break the rules. Finally, I submitted a story to a prestigious contest, and my story won a prize.
I went on to write a novel, writing two pages a day. I focused on voice and “the music of prose.” I focused on strong antagonists (who turned out to be strong bullies) because I knew they’d lead to strong protagonists. I tried really hard to put “the texture of real life” (which turned out to be bullying) into every scene. And, when I completed my novel and revised and revised and revised, I was ready to face rejections; I started an agent search.
Alex had been right: the rejections came. But then a top New York agent signed me on. And I wrote another novel, which I revised and revised and revised. I had become my own editor, as Adam had suggested.
Despite all my work, though, the rejections continued –– this time from editors, who told my agent that they “loved my writing, loved my characters, loved my novels.” But the editors said I had written stories that were too small, because “who wants to read about kids being bullied?” So my agent and I moved on. But my characters continued to haunt me.
Fast forward. Now, sadly, we hear about bullying constantly because bullying’s gone viral. The timing was right –– and the climate was right for editors to act. My agent submitted my manuscripts again. CAMP, my young adult novel, sold quickly. And soon after that, Danny’s Mom, my adult novel, sold too.
Now I’m known as “the anti-bullying novelist,” with books that show what really happens behind the closed gates and doors of our camps and schools. My novels have given me a literal bully pulpit, a platform from which to keep the bullying conversation going so that, in concert with professionals in our communities, we’ll make our camps and schools kinder, gentler places for everyone.
My journey to publication has, indeed, been long. In fact, it feels as if it’s been “a journey of a thousand miles.” But I know that I wouldn’t be a published novelist today had I not taken that single step more than 14 years ago, when I enrolled in a Gotham Writers’ Workshop class.
Thank you, Alex Joseph and Adam Sexton. Thank you, Gotham Writers’ Workshop.
And to readers of this letter, I urge you to keep writing and keep submitting your work. Never give up on your dreams.
In May of 2009, a temp job I was working ended. I was not offered the full-time position. I told myself if I did not get that position I would write my life story, not realizing there was something called a “memoir.” I found Gotham by searching the Internet and trusting Forbes magazine. As a military spouse and mom of four, I wasn’t able to take the courses in NYC, but being an out-of-work college counsellor didn’t help ease the fears I had of attending writing classes online. I needed to speak to a “live” person first. Dana Miller answered my call, and she talked me through it.
I enrolled in Memoir I, a perfect way to adjust to classes online and learn what writing is all about. When my course was completed, I wanted to retake it, but Dana encouraged me to try Memoir II. I didn’t think I was ready for Memoir II, but more than that, I was convinced that this new person, this man, Kyle Minor, could never understand my background—my story. As a woman with a traumatic past, I believed only another woman could do the job.
Kyle’s Memoir II classes were something I had never experienced before and haven’t experienced since. The Blackboard discussions were lively, challenging, and informative. He recommended authors and books from all genres. Kyle gave the most detailed critiques of our work, so much so that the first few times I needed what I called “a Kyle translator.” Never in my life had a teacher inspired me to write the way that Kyle Minor did. Not only did he understand my story, he instructed me on how to improve it with scene-driven narrative. Kyle also helped me fine-tune my voice.
For two years, there was a group of us that repeated his class every ten weeks, faithfully. We formed a bond stronger than one I’ve yet to find in my current MFA Program…and all online.
In addition to pushing me to apply (and eventually being accepted) to an MFA Nonfiction program, Kyle is also somewhat responsible for my first publication. “It Took Three Hours To Do My Daughter’s Hair” was an assignment first written in Kyle’s class back in 2009. He was the one who encouraged me to try for publication. It took two years, but it was finally accepted.
There are not too many days that go by where I don’t mention Kyle or Gotham. I recommend Gotham to people every chance I get, even people in my current MFA program. I can’t say enough positive things about Gotham and the time I spent here. I have lifelong friends from my experience at Gotham, a love of writing, and, thanks to Kyle, the will to always keep going!
Sharisse T. Smith
It has been a year and a half since I took my first online class at Gotham, and already I have two pieces being published this month in splinterswerve, a Canadian literary magazine. Both pieces, "The Window", a short story, and "Into the Souk", a travel memoir, sprang from assignments in my Creative Writing 101 class. It is a great start for me, and more than that, it’s a real thrill knowing they will be “out there.”
GD Peters, who taught my Creative Writing 101 class, brought such a fresh spirit to the class. He was encouraging and open, and under his tutelage I wrote those two pieces that got published.
At Gotham, I also had the exceptional experience of having Hasanthika Sirisena as a Fiction Writing teacher. In the past, I had written and edited journalism-based articles and magazines. I have always been a voracious fiction reader, but the fiction-writing world she opened up for me was absolutely mind-expanding. She taught plot, character development, POV and the all-important MDQ, but, beyond that, she was committed to pushing us to understand the works of great writers, to see the craft elements they applied, and to really understand how they accomplished what they did. She delved deeply into answering all of our questions, and asked many of her own. She helped us as we struggled with concepts, saw many of us through our crises of confidence, and encouraged our small progresses and accomplishments. She had no qualms about pushing us to push our own writing, while doing her best to show us how, and always managed to let us down gently when we didn’t quite make the mark.
I just thought I'd share the good news about my publication. It’s not The New Yorker, but there’s time!
I am writing to thank you for the inspiration your courses have given me. I first worked with Lisa Kaufman in a Screenwriting I course, and her input was invaluable. I could feel that she cared about my work and wanted it to be better. Since then, she has worked with me privately on three screenplays.
My short film “Hi Honey” premiered in Lucerne, Switzerland, then was an official selection at the Rome Independent Film Festival, then won the Golden Honu, Audience Choice Award at the Big Island Film Festival, and it recently played at Hollyshorts at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre 6. And…“Hi Honey” won Best Comedy at the Honolulu Film Awards, and it’s just been nominated for six awards at the Blue Water Film Festival. (It’s great that the crew and cast are being acknowledged.)
I feel so lucky to be in this world of film because I love it.
Tal McThenia was a great teacher as well. He taught me about nuance and the importance of building tension in a scene. And I clearly remember two things he mentioned, about moving a scene forward and wanting the audience to want more.
Right now, I am finishing a TV pilot based on “Hi Honey,” and two other scripts are ready for production—Aiti and The Flower Girl (Jason Greiff, another Gotham teacher, thought of this title).
Thanks so much, Gotham Writers’ Workshop, for your great teachings!
I am writing to thank you for giving me an amazing start to fiction and humor writing. I took my first Gotham class—Level 1 Fiction Writing with Tamara Guidaro—almost two years ago. Until then, I had never written fiction. The introductory lectures and Tamara’s comments on my first attempts at short stories helped me to learn the basics of creative writing: showing rather than telling, avoiding clichés, setting the scene through sensory details, and other such elements that I’d never learned in my careers in law and business. I was hooked by the end of that class.
I took three more online classes, back to back. First, Advanced Fiction Writing with Michael Davis, where I bonded with Mike and the other students through our instructive and often-hilarious weekly chats. Then, with several other Michael Davis groupies, yet another Advanced Fiction Writing class with Michael Davis, where Mike helped me to find my voice, hone my skills, and develop confidence. I started to feel like a writer at this point, and with Mike’s encouragement, I started submitting my short stories to literary journals. After Mike told me that some of my quirky weekly exercises were funny and that I should develop them, I took Humor Writing with Dave Yoo, which not only taught me great techniques, but made me laugh and generally be happy for ten weeks straight.
Earlier this year, my first short story (first workshopped in Mike’s class) was published in New Letters, and another short story (first begun as a writing exercise in Mike’s class and later workshopped in Dave’s humor class) is forthcoming in [PANK]. The other piece I workshopped in Dave’s class was selected as Winner of this year’s Glamour Essay Contest, and was one of the cover stories in Glamour’s July issue.In addition, my short stories have been selected as Finalist in the 2011 Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Contest and the 2011 Tobias Wolff Short Story Contest.
None of this would have been possible without the four Gotham classes I took, the awesome instructors who taught them, and my fellow students who gave me a sense of community. I feel so lucky to have had Tamara, Mike, and Dave as my teachers—all three with a great balance of tough, no-nonsense criticism and motivating encouragement. Without this mix, I would not have had the courage to finish, revise, or submit any of my stories.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I am writing to say gracias for giving me the essential writing tools and encouragement that led me to create my travel blog website, EmilioDawsonTravels.
Last year, I enrolled in the online Travel Writing and Food Writing premium workshops, offered in collaboration with the New York Times Knowledge Network. For twenty-two consecutive weeks, I was busy with lectures, participating in lively discussions, writing weekly assignments, and exchanging feedback with a group of international students eager to learn how to write about their experiences in a structured, concise, and engaging way.
Once the courses ended, my mind was full of ideas about what to do next. Among the potential projects—creating a website to write about my travel adventures with my partner of almost twenty years. After six months of designing the website, writing content and choosing photographs, I went “live.”
I created this travel blog to reminisce about trips taken, describe things that made a lasting impression, and share the excitement of future travels. In addition to writing travel articles and posting photographs, I showcase photos of posters that made me reach out for the camera during my travels. For readers who enjoy travel memoirs, there is also a space dedicated to this type of intimate writing. “Enchanted by Isla Nena”was originally written for the Travel Writing course. The feedback I received truly made the final version a better piece.
As I wrote in my introduction “Trips, Snapshots & Journals,” I owe words of gratitude to my Gotham Writers’ Workshop instructors, Andrew Collins and Evan Rail, for their mentoring throughout the courses; my classmates for their candid critiques; and to Dan Salzstein and Kim Severson, editors of the New York Timesfor sharing their thoughts and experiences during their week-long Q&A.
Before I studied at Gotham Writers’ Workshop, I had a desire to write about my travel experiences, but I did not understand the full spectrum of travel and food writing. At Gotham, I learned the craft elements I can now use to write for people who share a similar passion.
Gracias Gotham. Because of you I gained the confidence to go from writing in my journal to creating a website where I share those experiences with the world.
Jason Emilio Rodriguez,
aka Emilio Dawson
A few years ago, I decided to take a Fiction I class because I wanted to write and knew I had no idea what I was doing. My instructor was the very excellent Michael Backus who was unbelievably thorough and patient with my first submission, which was, I admit, completely incomprehensible. My second assignment however consisted of making a list of things I remember from a place where I grew up. This led to a story about the first apartment I lived in with my parents after we immigrated from what was then the Soviet Union. And that story has now been published in an anthology called HIAS@130: 1+30: the Best of myStory, a collection of 30 short stories and 1 poem.
I was stupefied to find myself in the company of such other writers as Gary Shteyngart and Lara Vapnyar, both of whom I admire greatly.
In yet another surreal twist, Newsday (a Long Island newspaper) asked me for an interview after finding out about the anthology, and today I not only got to participate in an amazing and moving book launch, but found myself featured in a two-page spread in the newspaper.
I have taken many Gotham classes since that first one, with Michael and with Russell Rowland, another wonderful teacher, and I can't express how helpful and illuminating they've been.
I took a memoir writing class with Pat Willard at Gotham in 2007. I decided to take the class on a whim, and I’m so glad I did, because it completely changed my life.
My time at Gotham was entirely different from my previous writing class experiences. Gotham classes offered the perfect blend of a writing group and an academic course. I thrived in the structured environment and also enjoyed the support of peers who came from all walks of life and shared a common dedication to and enthusiasm for strengthening their writing. Pat’s expertise as a teacher and her knowledge as a published author were invaluable. At Gotham, not only did I get the incentive to write, I also learned important tools that improved the quality of my work.
The class gave me the confidence I needed to pitch a memoir piece I had written to a couple of magazines. I was lucky to have one accepted by Marie Claire. I also started working on a young adult novel. It is a different genre than memoir, but without the encouragement I received from Pat and my classmates at Gotham, I’m not sure I would have attempted writing it. I was able to sell my novel to an imprint at Penguin Putnam.
These days, I am a full-time freelance writer/editor. I’m so grateful to Pat and Gotham for helping me to finally take my writing past the hobby level. At Gotham, I was really able to get in touch with the joy inherent in the practice of writing. I always try to pass on that positive spirit when I assist my clients with their own projects and recall it when I sit down to do my own work.
All the best,
It’s been two years, ten days, seventeen hours and thirty minutes since that day. The day when I finally sat down and decided: “Ok, so I’m writing a book.” During four days I hardly ate nor slept, and then 80 pages were done. And then, I did nothing. Until two months later, when my boyfriend and I took six weeks off work, flew to New York, and took a Creative Writing 101 class at Gotham Writers’ Workshop.
My wonderful teacher Stacy Parker Le Melle, my boyfriend, the classmates, the time off work—and New York City—proved to be exactly what I needed. While struggling with writing in English for class, I literally felt how all the creativity was just dying to ”get out” in Swedish. So I wrote. And wrote.
Two months later it was time to pack our bags and go back to Stockholm. Thanks to New York, I did it with some excess baggage. Thanks to Gotham Writers’ Workshop, I did it with a 240-page book.
I spent the summer rewriting, finishing, polishing, editing. And then it was 430 pages long, and I sent it out. A publisher liked it, wanted it, handed me a contract—soon after, a deliveryman rang my doorbell and handed me the very first book from the very first edition of Fadersmord (in English, Patricide).
From the bottom of my heart: Thank you for being such a big part in making this happen.
Time to invest in self…
Restaurant career? Check
Law degree? Check
What to do…what to do…
Wait a minute, what’s this?
Hmmmm…Knowledge Network?...New York Times!?...Gotham Writers’ Workshop!?!...Food Writing!!!!
Encouraging instructor (Evan Rail)…
…and to be critiqued…
(I sell my article to Edible Santa Barbara.)
In Fall of 2007, I was twenty-one years old and living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I'd undergone some heavy changes that summer-my brother, who was also my roommate, moved to Europe, and a close friend of ours took his life a few days later. Writing in my journal was something I started to rely on, and it brought me joy. I worked in Manhattan, and one night I took one of the Gotham newspapers out of the yellow box and brought it home. I signed up for a Creative Writing 101 class with Sarah Grace McCandless and begged my parents to help me pay for it.
In Sarah's class we did a mixture of fiction and nonfiction exercises, and it became clear to me that nonfiction came more naturally to me. I think the most interesting part of this story is that my book-to-be-published will be with the same press that published Sarah's first book: Future Tense Books. One day she brought her book into class and all I could think about was how lucky she was-how I too, one day, wanted to write a book.
My boss where I worked saw how happy writing made me, and for Christmas she bought me my next Gotham class: Memoir I, with Katherine Dykstra. This class was a turning point for me. I realized I wanted to be—and I could be—-a more serious writer. I wrote two essays in that class so unabashedly that they break my heart now.
Since that class taught me so much, and I could truly see myself becoming a stronger writer, I took Memoir II, with Cheryl Burke. Cheryl was a kind and down-to-earth teacher, almost like a broken-in friend. She was living proof that being a writer was a real thing-that it could be a career just like anything else.
I left New York for the West Coast after that, having some writing skills under my belt. I wrote in Seattle, Washington for one year until I went back to Brooklyn. I didn't feel finished with Gotham, so I took one more class, with Gotham teacher Melisa Febos, where we fine-tuned my essays, and I began lining them up like a collection.
While in Seattle, a friend told me that Kevin Sampsell of Future Tense Books might like my work. I emailed Kevin and he said, yes, he liked my work, but that he already had the next three Future Tense Books lined up. He told me to keep in touch. A little over one year later—when I knew my manuscript was ready yet didn't know what to do with it—Kevin Sampsell emailed me asking me to send him my manuscript and told me that he was interested in hearing what I was up to. He decided to publish my book of essays.
Since then, I've learned about the book process and my life has progressively changed. Had I not invested so much time at the Gotham Writers' Workshop, I highly doubt I would be in this position. Gotham graced me with skills, encouragement, and confidence in my writing. It was a vital period in my life and I am grateful to Gotham from the deepest part of my heart. My book of essays, Legs Get Led Astray will be released in April of 2012, and it is now ready for pre-order. The book will include some of my work that I wrote during my Gotham classes.
When I signed up for my first Gotham Writers' Workshop online course in 2007, I was feeling discouraged.
In 2006, in a previous fiction workshop, I submitted the first chapter of my historical thriller, set in Tudor England, for feedback. I got pretty good comments from my fellow aspiring novelists. But this is the email I received at the end of the class from the instructor, herself a novelist with an MFA: "I'd love to see you produce some more material that seems a little closer to you personally, closer to the bone. I mean, you're writing crime thrillers and historical novels, but how about trying to write a story that was closer in spirit to your own time, your own place, your own experience? I'm just saying, please don't be afraid to write your fiction of your own sense of character and personal concerns. These genres feel a little uncomfortable to me, and perhaps you haven't really discovered what your subject matter as a fiction writer is. All Best, T."
This is not the sort of email a budding novelist wants to get.
Yet I kept working on my historical thriller. This is what I wanted to do. I was working fulltime as a magazine editor--I was the articles editor of Ladies' Home Journal and then the deputy editor of InStyle magazine--and I desperately needed deadlines imposed on me to keep going on my novel.
I enrolled in Greg Fallis's Mystery Writing class online. Greg had been a medic in the military, a counselor in a women's prison, and a private detective. Yes, the man had lived. To my tremendous relief, he didn't look down on my book. In fact, he liked it. A lot. I worked on my chapters and read Greg's assignments, novelists ranging from Dorothy Sayers to Walter Mosley. I learned about clues, about how to handle sex and violence. About pacing and crafting interesting characters in a fast-moving plot. I took two classes with Greg.
I have two children, and between work and kids, life got too crazy for a time. My novel went into the proverbial drawer for a number of months. But then I thought, how can I live with myself if I don't finish this book? So I signed up for Gotham's Advanced Novel class with Russell Rowland. I looked him up after I put through payment: He had an MA in creative writing and had written two highly respected modern novels, In Open Spaces and The Watershed Years.
Oh, no, I said. He's going to hate me!
But in Russell's classes I finished my book. With his encouragement and constructive advice I got the momentum I needed. In his class, I found a group of fantastic writers who gave me valuable input.
I finished my book in June 2010; I signed with a literary agent on July 4, 2010; and Touchstone Books bought my book in an auction at the end of July.
Last night I had my first public reading in the Upper West Side Barnes & Noble, and shared with the audience my love of the historical fiction genre. I read aloud the first three paragraphs of my book.
And I had a fleeting memory of that early teacher who told me to try something else. I'm really glad I didn't!
When I signed up for my first Gotham course, Science Fiction/Fantasy I, I read some success stories from other students that were inspirational. I thought I would now share mine.
My SF I class was a Christmas gift from my wife who demanded that I follow the path my increasingly boisterous creativity demanded. The class was such a great experience, I followed it up with SF II the next year. Both classes honed my writing skills and introduced me to some amazing fellow students. The classes also taught me how to get published, where to find markets for short stories, and how to prepare a manuscript. The business side of writing wasn't the mystery it used to be.
Within a few months of the end of SF II, I had a short story published. A few months later, a second. In December, a third was released as a podcast by Tales of Old. I will be able to brag to my musically talented brother that I am on iTunes before he is.
But the most amazing development came from an opportunity our instructor brought to our attention. She told us about an open call for novel manuscripts at Samhain Publishing, where Don D'Auria was starting a new horror line. I applied what I had learned in class to polish a story and then submitted it. Well, I nearly had a heart attack when it got accepted. So my novel Dark Inspiration went on sale in November in e-book format and will be released in paperback in February 2012. Yesterday, my second novel Sacrifice was also accepted for publication in 2012.
Gotham classes made the success I have today possible. But it isn't just me. When class ended, six other Gotham grads and I formed the Minnows Literary Group, in order to continue sharpening our skills. Members of that group have since won multiple poetry contests, published short stories, and been invited as guest writers for online magazines.
Anyone out there wondering if an online writing class can really be worthwhile should wonder no more. Gotham is the place to be.
I knocked on your doors when I decided to learn the art of screenwriting. And gladly I landed in a group that was mentored by Pete Jensen. Hence my journey began with the basics of screenwriting.
Just in 10 sessions, Pete very simply put us through some innovative exercises that helped us navigate the structure and process of screenplay writing. I managed to finish a couple of synopses in that semester.
And it seemed like a great idea to join the Advanced Screenwriting, which I did. The goal in Advanced Screenwriting was to at least finish the first draft of the screenplay. The focus was to study and discuss a film script, followed by a discussion of a student's developing script. This whole method turned out to be a great exercise, which not only provided insights but also was very motivating. I managed to finish the first draft of what was then called Four Boys From Dehli (now called Shuttlecock Boys), and I had some valuable feedback from Pete and my other colleagues.
I returned to India and made the film. The film is currently doing the rounds of film festivals in India and the US. It recently played at film festivals in Chicago and Seattle and New York. It is scheduled for a theatrical release in India in early 2012.
When I look back at the whole learning period, I can't thank Pete and my colleagues enough for their encouragement. And thanks to Gotham Writers' Workshops for providing such a tremendous platform.
I started writing when I was thirteen years old and actually got a short story accepted into the San Francisco Examiner. I thought I was Dostoevsky at that point. Alas, I had a reading disorder (dyslexia) that stopped me from reading enough to be able to learn how to write well. That disorder has improved with tons of reading and I am now a licensed Ph.D. in clinical and forensic psychology who must read constantly!
I was already a published author when I came upon the Gotham ads. I am the author of a how-to book based on my psychology practice, Act It Out: 25 Expressive Ways to Heal Child Abuse, which was published by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. in Oakland, CA and that book was in print for nine years. It is a very well respected publishing house, but I thought I could just make the transfer to another genre without problems.
After enjoying many thrillers and mysteries, I came on John Grisham and decided "I can do that!" Oh, yeah, sure. I started writing, copying his style and believing I would put out a book such as one of his. Un un. You actually have to learn the craft no matter how inventive and interesting your story. After five long years of stopping and starting and finishing two novels, with three others "In Development" meaning in various stages of being a mess (but with interesting, disjointed scenes), I came upon the Gotham ad and decided to take a chance.
Boy am I glad. I got wonderful, terrific, unbelievably talented (you think I'm overdoing it? I'm not) Carole Bugge, who kindly, lovingly and thoroughly set me straight about plot, character, logic, words and researching my story. It was thrilling in itself and my last novel was presented at Thrillerfest in New York.
Since that time (although I will be taking her class again as well as another-I'm hooked on Gotham), I got a short story sold to the prestigious Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, and have gotten both a manager and a “possibleâ? agent. I have learned so much in these last five years and have enjoyed the process so much I cannot even tell you. I am most grateful to the teachers and staff at Gotham and intend to continue working with the school many years after I've "made it" in the publishing world. Thanks so much.
Stefanie Stolinsky, Ph.D.
A year and a half ago, I had the opportunity to take the Stand Up Comedy Class with Dave La Barca. I am an actor who has had some success in the theater world having booked two national tours and an Off Off Broadway play in my first year two years in New York.
More and more time started to pass without another acting job and I wanted to stop relying on directors and casting agents to give me the chance to perform. Stand up comedy is one of the most terrifying things you could ever do, so learning to write material in a class setting was very beneficial. Not only did I learn principles of writing comedy, but I was forced to write material every week for others to hear, the most important lesson.
Since the final class performance, I have kept momentum by regularly attending open mics around the city to work on new material and, after a few months, was offered 10-minute spots at CB's Comedy Club and Eastville Comedy Club. After working on a solid 10 minutes of material, I got in contact with a manager who I invited to one of my shows. She enjoyed my set, and we have been working together ever since for auditions in theater, film and comedy opportunities. My original goal was to progress in the acting world by performing stand up and in less than one year I have already seen that happen.
Thanks, Gotham, for offering this class that forced me up onto that empty stage for seven minutes.
It has been just over two years now since the first words hit the paper of my feature screenplay David. Like many aspiring writers in my position, there is a desire to make your first feature film, but, as we all know, it starts with page one. And page one can be daunting, especially knowing there are 90-plus more pages waiting right behind it.
I had passed the Gotham newsletter booths about a hundred times since moving to the city and this time decided to take one of the pamphlets. Easy enough. A new quarter of classes were starting the following week, the price was very reasonable, with a one day a week commitment...so I joined.
What started out intimidating quickly gave way to camaraderie as the whole class structure was designed around peer support. It was a ten-week course and we were expected to write ten pages a week equaling a first draft of a script by the end of the course. Michael Eldridge, an acclaimed writer in his own right, had such a knack for teaching. There are many talented writers out there that can't teach, and vice versa, but he had both skills and really put in the extra effort. He had a way of encouraging his students to not give up and to keep pushing forward, yet gave very helpful critiques that always seemed right on.
Right now, the film is completed and recently won the Audience Award at the Brooklyn Film Festival. It's also showing at the Montreal World Film festival. And it's opening at the Quad Cinema in Manhattan on September 9th for a one-week run. I look back with gratitude on my experience with Gotham and Michael. I invite all Gotham folks to come out to the screening. All the info is available on the website address below.
I just thought I'd write to let you know about the success I've had as a writer after taking my first online Gotham Workshop with Chip Livingston in mid-2005. The feedback that I got from the Booth sessions with Chip and the other students was invaluable and I placed my first story, "Hijos de la Chingada" with Espresso Fiction before that first course had even finished.
Buoyed by that success, I carried on reading and writing and the following year enrolled in Michaela Roessner's Science Fiction/Fantasy I class, which was a marvelous experience, so much so that I took the Advanced class next. I really can't praise Michaela enough. She is a wonderful teacher, a generous mentor and great fun as a collaborator. Again feedback from the Booth sessions was a key part of the creation and revision process for me, and as a direct result of those classes, I've since had the following pieces published:
"The Light Pours Out of Me" - Everyday Weirdness (2009)
"H=G+V+C" - BFS's New Horizons (2010)
"An Unnatural History" - Derailed (Inwood Indiana Anthology 3, 2011)
"Boys Keep Swinging" - Silverthought Press (2011)
So I'd just like to thank Gotham for running such practical and fun workshops and especially thank Michaela for being such an exceptional and inspirational teacher. Keep up the good work.
When I discovered Gotham Writers Workshop, I was an attorney in a corporate legal group. I spent my days reviewing contracts in a windowless converted file room divided into six tiny cubicles. Desperate for a creative outlet and stymied by my inability to complete a project without a deadline, I signed up for classes.
I initially chose the Science Fiction Writing class, but because it didn’t start right away, I signed up for Screenwriting I as well. I had some interest in screenwriting, but I had never pursued it seriously. Impulsively jumping into Daniel Noah’s Screenwriting I class turned out to be a fateful decision. After a great 10 weeks of class, Daniel encouraged me to “push this thing all the way.” He has remained a friend and mentor in the years since, and if I had not taken his GWW class, none of the success I’ve enjoyed since could have happened.
Since completing that class, I’ve completed six feature screenplays and a number of shorter ones, I’ve placed in the top 10-15 percent of the Nicholl Fellowships the last three years in a row, and I’ve placed in the Semifinals in the Scriptapalooza contest, as well as Quarterfinalist and above in many others (including the ASA/Gotham contest). Best of all, this March I was hired to script the action/thriller feature film Time Clockfor Scorpio Studios.
I also learned a great deal in the Science Fiction Writing class that was my initial choice at Gotham. My short story “Testament,” which I wrote and workshopped in Michaela Roessner’s class, was published in the small-press science fiction magazineResident Aliens. It recently placed second in the Critters.org Preditors & Editors Poll in the “Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Story of the Year” category. I’ve also had many other short stories published in various anthologies and magazines, and my story “Planetfall” was turned into a podcast on Escape Pod, and is available on iTunes.
In the years since I took those classes, I’ve quit my corporate job, and now when people ask me what I do, I feel like I can honestly tell them that I’m a professional writer (as opposed to a lawyer with a pipe dream). It still feels a bit unreal, but I’m getting used to it.
I can only hope that the future holds continued writing success for me—but I know that I could not have gotten this far without learning at Gotham. Thanks for all that you do.
Michael C. Lea
I'm writing to share my good news: I am a published author! I was offered a book deal two and a half years ago with a small press (Tell Me Press), and now my book is a reality.
I was a little surprised how easily the book deal came to me, but I had a story to tell, I have a voice (as I am a songwriter and humorist), and I had a platform (my existing fan base from 10-plus years as a touring humorous singer-songwriter). All these things, as I have learned, are what publishers are looking for.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do: write a collection of funny, helpful essays about dealing with chronic illness. I'll help people, make them laugh, collect all my thoughts in one place. It'll be great! But wait... Um, I don't know how to write a book.
The first draft of my book came from the blog I had been writing for two years. I compiled all the entries and cleaned them up a bit, then wrote a few more chapters and submitted my first draft.
Then I promptly signed up for some writing classes at Gotham so I could learn to be a writer while I was waiting for the manuscript to come back to me with suggested edits. I took the 6-week Creative Writing 101 course, the 10-week Humor Writing course (online), and the one-day Personal Essay writing course. The classes were all great. And, when my manuscript came back from the editors, I had a dozen new essays to add to the book, and a lot of improvements to make on my existing material from the first draft.
End result: after three drafts and much rewriting, I now have a book I'm really proud of: How Can You *Not* Laugh at a Time Like This?
Thanks so much for the high standard you set for both your teachers and your students. I am already signed up to take another Gotham class-“never stop getting betterâ? is my motto.
I started thinking about writing my food memoir four years ago. Two years ago, I read an ad in the NY Times about GWW and knew that my first step would be an online food writing class with Gotham. I wasn't wrong. My instructor, Fran McNulty, was patient, supportive, critical and encouraging. All of that, including an incredibly fun group of foodies, created a successful recipe for my future in food writing. I'm now writing as a contributing food writer for edible Orlando.
I had so much fun in Fran's class, I decided to take my second step and enrolled in the Memoir class with Kyle Minor the following session. That class proved to be another base ingredient, blending my desire with my craft to create my food memoir. Kyle stressed the importance of reading and offered publications that mirrored my work. He encouraged me to "show" not "tell".
When I saw that Gotham offered a Book Proposal class, I jumped right in, no more playing in the shallow water for me. I wanted to swim in the deep end. I was amazed at how a three hundred word catalog copy helped shape my story. Talia Rosenblatt Cohen gave me concrete ideas, solidifying my strengths and also expressed concerns where they were warranted.
As a result of the Nonfiction Book Proposal class, I knew I needed a platform to help support my memoir. I had already established a blog, but wasn't comfortable with it. I enrolled in the Blog class and found that the instructor, David Title, and the weekly sessions, were the right mix for me. I'm more focused as a result of this class. I tweaked my theme to create a fresher look and changed my motto to Cook. Eat. Write. Repeat. I invite you to my blog, SeafoodLadyOrlando.com.
With my collection of Gotham tools in hand, I'm now polishing my book proposal for two agents, one in California, the other in New York.
Thanks Gotham for your support, encouragement and motivation to follow my dreams
Maureen Cavanaugh Berry
It's hard to believe that just a few years ago I was a bored attorney working 80 hours a week in a windowless office. Back then, I wrote mainly memos and briefs-those tedious legal documents that require you to eradicate all aspects of creativity or humor from the page.
As a person who loved creative writing, being a lawyer wasn't fulfilling for me. I knew I needed a change. The idea of combining my love for creative writing with my love of television had always been a dream of mine, but I never knew where to start.
Lucky for me, I saw posters advertising Gotham Writers' Workshop while walking in the Village one day. I signed up, and was even more fortunate to get Jim Mendrinos as my teacher. Jim was funny and engaging and he taught me about television writing from the ground up-how to write a spec, the painful but sometimes necessary task of "killing your darlings", how to structure a scene in order to make a joke "pop"... he was great. Moreover, the class was invaluable in launching my career as a television writer. I used the lessons learned from Gotham to write my first spec-the spec that got me into the Warner Bros. Writers Workshop and also got me my first interview for a television show.
Now, I've graduated from writing legal briefs to writing scripts. And as a writer on ABC's Castle, I get to use all the flowery adjectives and colorful humor I want.
Thanks Gotham, for helping make my dreams a reality.
I’m just writing to say thanks for helping me take a step forward in my career.
Before I took your How to Freelance class, I had been writing trade news for an NGO for about two years. I was eager to make the jump into “real” (read: private sector) journalism, but had no idea how to go about it. On impulse one day, I signed up for the freelancing class taught by Cindy Price, with input from Francis Flaherty of the New York Times in the final week. I’m very glad I did.
Cindy’s lectures were pragmatic, thorough and eminently readable. Even better, she offered lengthy, constructive feedback on assignments.
One of those assignments—a query letter I wrote for the Christian Science Monitor—proved to be my golden ticket. Cindy made some very helpful suggestions and strongly encouraged me to send it in, which I did right away. I promptly got a reply from the editor and my story was published a few days later. Here’s the best part: the editor also asked me to become a regular contributor.
So thanks for de-mystifying the world of freelance journalism for me, and for helping me get my foot in the door. You guys do great work; keep it up!
All the best,
I'm excited to tell you that my memoir has just been published by DBM Press in Virginia. The title of my book is My Race: A Jewish Girl Growing Up Under Apartheid in South Africa.
A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to write the story about my life growing up in apartheid South Africa, but I needed help putting it on paper. Gotham to the rescue! I attended a number of Gotham Workshop classes and the teachers and classmates were extraordinarily helpful. The "boothing" process proved to be invaluable as we critiqued each other's writings. I learned how to "show" rather than "tell" and how to paint a picture with words. I also learned how to organize my thoughts and put my story into chapters. In the "Gratitude" section of my book, I gave Gotham a big plug and I'll always be grateful for all their help in making my goal a reality.
Watch a short video of Lorraine discussing her book at youtube.com.
2010 passed in a blur. It started with a curiosity in short stories, a few written in the late hours after work, which led to a Canadian author purchasing the rights to publish a story on her site. My initial excitement turned to disappointment after she edited my story by cutting it in half and re-arranging a few sentences and paragraphs. I was at a loss for words after reading her "butchered" version, unable to comprehend how a significant part of my story, which I had spent so much time creating, could vanish just like that. Then I re-read her version many more times and realized it was actually better than the original. I finally understood the effectiveness of brevity.
There is some truth in that you cannot teach good writing. But to progress as a writer, I think everyone needs the basic building blocks of writing technique, and of course, to learn the importance of editing. The Canadian author recommended Gotham as a good place to start, so I registered for two fiction courses online. I was still a bit stubborn with my writing, but with the guidance of two great teachers-Carole Bugge and Meghan Kenny-I immediately saw improvement in my stories. They not only cheered me on with my writing, but also provided me with valuable, critical feedback, and the occasional, much needed, scolding to stay on track, i.e. not to let my stories taper off into complete nonsense.
With the mentoring I received from Carole and Meghan, I am happy to report that I just won the Hometown Tales Writing Contest at ShortbreadStories.com for my story, "That's Minnesota." Without their guidance on how to organize a few thousand words into something special, I wouldn't have won this amazing one week trip to a writer's retreat in southern Spain.
Thank you Carole and Meghan!
I always wanted to try my hand at writing science fiction, but as a practicing lawyer, I could never find the time.
A few years back, however, I was finally able to retire. So I purchased some self-help books and started writing. Unfortunately, all I managed to generate was a pile of rejection letters and the growing suspicion that I was wasting my time.
I was about to move on to other things when I learned that Gotham offered courses specifically devoted to the writing of science fiction.
I enrolled immediately and was fortunate enough to have first Michaela Roessner and then Marta Randall as my instructors. They, together with my various classmates, quickly disproved the old adage, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
In fact, they taught me so many tricks (both old and new) that Metahuman Press recently agreed to purchase my short story "Murdock's Last Stand" which will appear in the third volume of their Pulp Empire anthology.
Thanks for a truly great learning experience.
I'm writing to tell you that my essay, "Jack," about my relationship with a six-year-old boy whom I counseled as a psychologist in a day treatment center has been accepted for publication by Prairie Schooner. I wrote this essay while in Marie Carter's Memoir II class.
I have had a number of plays produced, one play published, and I've received a number of honors for my playwriting. However, having an essay accepted by Prairie Schooner, a much respected literary journal, makes me feel more like a writer than any of the other things I've done.
Marie's enthusiastic response to "Jack" gave me the confidence to submit it to Prairie Schooner. If it hadn't been for her encouragement, I don't think I would have submitted to them. Marie also suggested that I write a collection of similar essays about my work as a psychologist in human service agencies; I've just completed my second essay toward this book.
Five years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom caring for my twin daughters. As of August 3, I became an officially published author!
My debut novel, Georgia's Kitchen, published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, can be found at bookstores everywhere ... and even in Target. There's no doubt in my mind that had I not enrolled in that very first Fiction I class with Dave Koch, I wouldn't be obsessively checking my numbers on Amazon (a dreadful habit, and one of which I'm not proud), and I certainly wouldn't be working on my second novel.
After that first class, I was lucky enough to enroll in Susan Breen's fabulous Fiction II class. I don't know if all classes are like ours, but something about our group just clicked, I think for all of us. We were a diverse bunch, ranging in age from 22 to 70 (that's a guess, Jo!), arriving from uptown, downtown, Queens, Brooklyn, Connecticut and upstate.
That three-hour session was the highlight of my week. After, a classmate and I would walk back to Grand Central, talking about authors we loved and writing. The camaraderie was just what a fledgling writer who'd recently left the city for the solitude of the country needed. And the instruction was top notch: Susan is a sharp, insightful, encouraging and funny teacher, who made the experience of being critiqued enjoyable (yes, enjoyable) and positive. It was in Susan's class that I realized my novel-in-progress had a shot at being published, not a big shot, but a shot nonetheless.
Thank you, Gotham, for giving me deadlines and providing a classroom where I could hone my voice, test out characters and work through plot points. I recommend your classes to everyone I know and to anyone who's ever felt they have a story to tell, but needs help getting it on the page.
Your classes have been indispensable in helping me to complete my first novel Living Proof. On my first day in Alex Steele's Advanced Novel Writing course, he asked the class how far into our novels we were. I recall my intimidation as the other students responded that they had written tens or hundreds of pages; I had only the seed of an idea, not even a first line.
But Alex did not scoff at my goal of completing a book within a year-at age 22. He expertly led our workshop through the fundamentals of the craft, with just the right blend of lectures, examples, and critiques of our own work. When the ten weeks were up, I had 60 pages written and was only just getting started. I signed up for two consecutive Gotham workshops, relishing the sense of community I found in a group of other writers endeavoring to tackle the same mind-boggling task. I gained much valuable feedback and even formed a few lasting friendships. I also ended up beating my original deadline, finishing my book within nine months, while again enrolled in one of Alex's classes.
I am thrilled to share that Tor Books will publish Living Proof in the summer of 2011. Thank you, Gotham, for helping me to see my project through; my success is yours!
I am thrilled to let you know that I recently published my first novel, Life After Yes (HarperCollins/Avon). To date, my book-an honest tale of love and loss in post-9/11 Manhattan-has received some wonderful praise from fellow authors (including #1 NYT Bestseller, Gretchen Rubin) as well as a very positive Booklist review.
Over the past several years, I have participated in Gotham's online courses. Most notably, I worked with instructor Russell Rowland in the context of multiple fiction and novel writing classes. Russell, whom I deem my “Montana mentorâ? and thank for his keen insight and guidance in the acknowledgments of my debut effort, held my shaky hand, page by page, until my story was complete and compelling. I hope very much to work with Russell to complete my second novel.
I have told many friends and blog readers as much, but Gotham truly got me from dream of writing to reality of publication. In working with your incomparable teachers and fellow students, I was able to find my voice and hone my craft-all while raising my two young girls. I would never discount my education in this existential equation, but I am very much indebted to your wonderful institution.
Thank you so much for your help in getting me here. I am indeed living my dream!
Aidan Donnelley Rowley
Just before leaving on a 20-city book tour for my independently published humorous memoir Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life, I wanted to write and thank you for the wonderful advice and encouragement I received in the Advanced Memoir classes with Ana Maria Spagna and Kyle Minor. Both instructors and fellow students were crucial to my success with Alphabet City, a story about my life as a gay Mary Tyler Moore working as a publicist for Tyra, Whoopi and publishing giant Conde Nast.
While I shopped the book around to agents, I launched ABCityblog.com to release chapters and test the waters of critical feedback. The blog became immediately successful with a dedicated following. I realized that I could capitalize on that momentum and publish the book myself rather than wait years for a mainstream publisher. And boy, what an amazing decision! The book has been written about by New York Post's PageSix, Fox News National, New York magazine, Dallas Observer, Boyculture.com, Jezebel and numerous celebrity gossip sites.
My book tour is being sponsored by Kimpton Hotels and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. As part of Gay Pride, I will be appearing at Kimpton Hotel guest wine hours and then at a reception for Task Force members. Kimpton is also distributing a special 32-page excerpt of the book to guests this summer. In addition, stories about Alphabet City will appear at the beginning of the tour on Advocate.com, Edgeonthenet.com, Gay.com, Dallas Voice, and more.
I happily recommend the classes at Gotham to anyone who will listen. And even included Ana Maria and Kyle in my acknowledgements.
Jon Paul Buchmeyer
It's nice to have a dream, and the pursuit of one can be exciting. But living it is the ultimate.
When retirement loomed in 2005, I felt no trepidation. I was happy that after forty years, real estate investment banking was in my rear-view mirror and now I could do whatever I wanted. I intended to write a novel, but faced a major problem: I didn't know how.
Yes, offering brochures that I prepared for property sales and financings were often praised by my peers. But they weren't stories. And I was once paid what I considered the highest compliment by one of my colleagues. He had read minutes of a meeting I had written-I always volunteered to prepare the notes-and said, "I never worry when I miss a meeting that you're at, Joe, because when I read your report, I'm there." But meeting minutes are far from publishable fiction.
Gotham Writers' Workshop was the answer for me. Like a four-year old who is brought to a tennis pro for lessons, I had no bad habits. (In fact I had no habits at all.) I listened to my coaches, Dave Koch and Susan Breen, and absorbed their lessons on craft. As for the workshops, the "famous" critiquing sessions in the Booth, I found them to be energizing; people who knew what they were doing were reading my work and telling me how to make it better.
I first presented Waking Up as a short story to Susan's group. When I reviewed my notes from the Booth, I counted up more compliments than critiques; one in particular I remember was, "Thanks for a great ride."
It took me over a year to expand the short story from thirty pages to 416, and another eight months to re-write. Words cannot recreate my euphoria on the day I received an email from Cambridge House Press advising of their interest in acquiring Waking Up. The pen I used to sign the contract sits on my fireplace mantle. And the sessions in the Booth at Gotham prepared me well for the most arduous part of the process of getting published-being edited.
I type these words four days before the release of Waking Up, filled with anticipation. But no matter the level of success of the novel and the others to follow, I will always remember that my decision to spend a year in Gotham's training sessions changed my life and made my dream a reality.
I wanted to write you a letter of thanks. I took your Fiction Writing class with Jacob Appel several years ago. Not only did I enjoy the class, but it truly motivated me to become more committed to my writing. Not only has Jacob continued to be a valued mentor and friend, he also helped me develop the work that became my portfolio for MFA program applications.
I received my MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College last spring where I had an amazing experience and received both the Himan Brown Award for Fiction and the Lainoff Prize for Fiction. Since then I've had one story, "Exactly Halfway Down," published in The L Magazine and another in The Brooklyn Review. I was also a finalist for a Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers.
So...thanks! Not only for all you did for me, but also all the good work you do in supporting new writers.
I'm a former student who took Romance I in 2005 and Romance II in 2008, both taught by Leigh Michaels. Just wanted to share my good news!
My dark Crusader romance The Devil's Temptress, about a disgraced Muslim knight and an ardent Christian lady at Eleanor of Aquitaine's court, recently sold to Dorchester and will be a November 2010 release. The deal was agented by JD DeWitt at The View Literary Agency. And The Devil's Mistress, a dark Tudor romance about a lady assassin who's blackmailed to poison Anne Boleyn, sold to Samhain Publishing and will be a June 2010 release. Both novels are written under my pseudonym Laura Navarre.
The work I did with Leigh Michaels through Gotham Writers Workshop was crucial to finishing these novels and making my sales!
(writing as Laura Navarre)
I'm a physician in Washington DC who was introduced to Gotham Writers' Workshop through a local course that used the GWW book, Writing Fiction. It was so good, I started to plan trips to New York to take some of your one-day intensives. My first one, in 2008, was on essay writing, taught by Kelly Caldwell.
Kelly is a superb teacher. Her down to earth style combined with huge enthusiasm made the class last far longer for me than the hours I spent in class. Months afterward, I contacted Kelly once more for help composing a query letter. She generously gave her time and expertise.
This year, I've taken her excellent teaching to heart and published opinion pieces-on medical and non-medical issues in the news-in several outlets, including the New York Times, McClatchy News, the Stockholm daily The Local, and, most recently, the Washington Post.
It's been a good year for writing for me, and I'd like to thank Gotham Writers', and especially Kelly Caldwell.
With best wishes,
Andrea Meyerhoff MD
I took Gotham's How to Freelance featuring the New York Times taught by Cindy Price with New York Times editor Mike Hale answering questions from the class in the final week.
The class provided information and support beyond my expectations. Cindy was an incredible instructor: knowledgeable, supportive, and kind. Her lectures were informative and covered all the information I needed to get started in freelance writing. The week of questions and answers with Mike Hale was informative and offered a fascinating look into the world of the New York Times.
For one of the class assignments, I created a query for Brain, Child: The Magazine For Thinking Mothers. Cindy liked it, made some suggestions to make it even better, and encouraged me to submit it to the magazine, which I did after the class ended. I am happy to say that, thanks to Cindy and to Gotham, my piece, Remembering Mr. Wrong, was published in Brain, Child's Winter 2009 Edition.
Thank you, again, to Gotham, and thank you to Cindy Price and my other wonderful Gotham instructors for teaching me that there is always more to learn.
Only two things thrill me more than the fact that my Gotham teacher wrote for the New York Times.
Following on from the online Article writing course, I get a cover story in Nylon magazine. And I'm currently freelancing for an editor who himself writes for New York Times.
Talk about hitting the big time headlines, and without even leaving the provincial suburbs of London. It's all done remotely.
At present I'm spending a few months lecturing at a university on magazine journalism and fashion writing. (I went and got a journalism degree upon completing the Gotham course.)
I can honestly say that my ten weeks at Gotham are just as relevant as my degree, and it also underpins my own current teaching manifesto today - that anyone can write, they just need the confidence to do so.
Next stop, write my book. Where do I sign up?
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am happy to announce that my debut YA fantasy novel. The Breakthrough (Arctic Wolf Publishers) was just published. I never could have done it without you.
Over the last two years I took several Gotham classes. In the online How to Get Published class, taught by literary agent Daniel Lazar, I learned how to write a query letter that really attracts attention. As soon as I made the changes he recommended, I started getting favorable feedback from agents. In fact, the back cover of my novel includes a few lines Daniel Lazar suggested.
In the ten-week online Children’s Bok Writing class taught by Eric Kraft, I improved my writing by listening to the feedback from my fellow classmates and the instructor. It was so much fun that I was bummed when the ten weeks were over.
Now comes the hard part… marketing my novel. Of courses I’ll turn to Gotham for help on creating internet buzz. My next class will be How to Blog. Thank you again.
Almost five years ago, I completed the first draft of what has turned out to be my first novel, Amish Snow, picked up by Sabellapress. Like so many other authors' works, the manuscript kind of languished, and I realized I would have to do something if I seriously wanted a publishing contract. So I signed up for Fiction Writing I online taught by Irene Zabytko. I don't think I would have been published without Irene's expert hand and the feedback from other aspiring authors. I went on to take Fiction Writing II online taught by Terri Brown-Davidson, and How to Get Published online taught by Daniel Lazar. I'll be back for more courses.
Anyway, I'm excited! I'm about halfway through the first draft of my second novel, and am juggling my time between working on it and helping to promote Amish Snow. I think I'll start with some of the usual marketing strategies, you know, an Oprah appearance, a White House book signing . . .
Roger Rheinheimer, Author (I love saying that!)
I've loved to write from the first day I could do it, as a young child, and I've written with some consistency since then. But it was only when I took a Gotham Fiction Writing class, taught by Carole Bugge during the winter of 2008, that I wrote a story worthy of publication. And it was published!
My short story, "Tough As Diamonds" has recently been published in issue #2 of the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. The story is about a private investigator who can spot a client's lie or pull the rug out from under a guilty man's best alibi quicker than you can say Hammett or Chandler.
I wrote and workshopped the story in Carole's class, and she suggested I submit it to SHMM. So I owe Gotham, especially Carole Bugge and my classmates, a huge thanks for helping me find my voice as a writer, write a story others seem to enjoy reading, and get published.
Anyone interested in reading my story can find a copy of it in issue #2 of the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, available on amazon.com.
Last summer, my agent and I were discussing final steps before submitting Confections of a Closet Master Baker to publishers. Should we send it in "as is" or was it begging for another polish? What to do, what to do?
It's a lonely vacuum, this writing life. And even with a wonderful agent, sometimes it's tough to look at your work objectively after staring at all those words for months on end. It all melts into a phonetic pile of blah blah blah after a while. I just wanted to be done with it. But I thought of Kathleen. I might have another revision in me and I could wait to send off my first book into the publishing abyss for a few more months if Kathleen Finneran was able to take a look at it and give me her thoughts and notes.
Mind you, I've never met Kathleen. Not physically. But in the cyber world, she has become a writer and teacher I admire and from whom I learned to trust my writer's voice.
I signed up for a nonfiction class with Gotham when I was searching for a way to harness my writing into something coherent and entertaining. As a grown woman with a law degree and a corporate gig, there was only so much time to devote to a pipedream. Because honestly, if I was meant to be a writer of worth I'd have found my way to the pen in college and have my MFA and my first novel behind me, right? But there was something about this place, a learning haven on the Internet, where I could participate on my own time and where I'd essentially be anonymous with no one to judge my sad ambition to better myself in prose.
Gotham and Kathleen gave me a swift kick in the writer's arse. It's never too late to learn, not if you're willing to put the work into your passions. And there are teachers and mentors who will come into your life long after your days of formal schooling are over to guide and inspire you, if you let them.
What Kathleen taught me at the ripe old age of "none of your business" changed my life when I believed there wasn't much left to change. Thank you Kathleen and Gotham for setting me on the path to being a writer.
I wanted to send you a note and let you know that I just published my first book, The SIN of Addison Hall (Block Island Books).
I took both group and private classes at Gotham and I can honestly say that I could not have written The SIN of Addison Hall without Gotham's help. In the group classes I workshopped my story for consistency and credibility, and in my private instruction I worked on craft to develop my characters and tell my story in a compelling way.
I have taken several different writing classes over the seven years it took me to write The SIN of Addison Hall (yes I said seven years!) and the instruction I received at Gotham was unsurpassed. Rather than try and "shoehorn" me into their preferred writing styles, my teachers allowed me to develop my own unique voice, which one described as a "blend of Vonnegut, Orwell and Atwood." I am humbled by the comparison.
I hope The SIN of Addison Hall resonates with readers. I am proud of my accomplishment and grateful to Gotham for helping me realize a dream I had since completing a book report on Orwell's Animal Farm (complete with a shoebox diorama) as a high school sophomore. Now if they could just help me achieve some of my other goals-play the entire soundtrack to Disney's High School Musical on the glockenspiel, juggle a chain saw, a raisin and a feather and win the annual hot dog eating contest in Coney Island. Do I ask too much?
All the Best,
I wanted to let you know that I recently published my first book, The Pale of Settlement (University of Georgia Press, 2007). It won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, the Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, and the Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction.
It's been a while since I first picked up one of Gotham's newsprint flyers from a sidewalk box and enrolled in Adam Sexton's fiction class back in 1995. But without Adam's encouragement and the support of my Gotham classmates, I would never be writing today. Adam's class inspired me to quit my job and leave New York City to get my Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Utah. I now teach creative writing at Denison University, in Granville, Ohio, as well as in the low-residency MFA program at Queens University. My stories and essays have appeared in such literary journals as Conjunctions, The Gettysburg Review, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, The Western Humanities Review, and many others. Thanks to Gotham, writing is now my life and my career.
I have recommended Gotham to many friends, as my class there was one of the best writing classes I've taken. It's the model I still hold in my head as I teach today. There is nothing better than a smart, supportive, challenging group of writing peers.
Thanks so much.
Keep up the great work!
During last year’s hot summer months, I was pedding around Manhattan doing research for the upcoming Walk NYC for The Suzy Guides when I spotted one of those plastic newspaper containers on the corner with “Gotham” written on the front. That evening I reviewed the programs and signed up for Steve Snyder’s Article writing course.
Life altering events happen. Taking his class signaled a hard right turn for me. The class gave me tools. Those “how to” and “markets” and “formats” and the list really does go on and on. Mr. Snyder’s guidance helped me see mistakes rather than stumble through trying to understand why an article wasn’t being considered.
I followed Mr. Snyder’s class with Cindy Price’s How to Freelance course. This pulled together all the pieces of the puzzle. In an email to Ms. Price, I told her my goal was to be published before the end of the class. I didn’t succeed. However, a few weeks ago and two months since the class, a major US magazine accepted one of my articles. Besides a needed by-line and tear sheet, this success brought with it confidence. The feeling is difficult to explain; but, my enthusiasm has doubled and new queries go out daily.
Would I have succeeded without taking the Gotham classes? Maybe…eventually. How many trials and errors can a person endure? Gotham Writers Workshop is like aspirin. It eases the pain and lets you get on with it.
Thanks for the boost.
The Suzy Guides
I wanted to let you know that I recently had a short story, "The Dive" published online at notesfromtheunderground.co.uk. The story was first workshopped in Dominic Preziosi's Fiction I class at Gotham. I made some changes based on useful feedback from Dominic and the class, but I would never have had the confidence to try to get it published if Dominic had not encouraged me to do so. In fact, I had very little confidence at all in my writing until I took the Gotham class.
I would advise anyone who thinks they might have it in them to be a writer, but is not sure how to start, to give Gotham a try. I found Dominic's class invaluable; I went on to take a second class with Carol Bugge, and I am still in touch and sharing ideas with several people from the first class nearly a year later.
Keep up the good work!
About five years ago, I signed up for an online class in writing for children at Gotham. I'd never taken an online class before. I was especially nervous about (gasp) "the Booth."
The class ended up being a blast; my fears about "the Booth" (memories from The Phantom Tollbooth? John Wilkes Booth?) were unfounded. I can remember reading and rereading Deborah Perlberg's written lectures, and I can still remember some of the stories other participants wrote.
In that online class, I ended up meeting Chris Woodworth and John J. Bonk, my present critique group members. After Gotham, we critiqued each other's work online for a couple of years, and worked out a nice weekly schedule. Once a week, one of us would submit a chapter. We weren't allowed to submit unless we were up-to-date on our critiques. And once a week, just as in the Gotham workshop, we'd get online and “chatâ? for an hour-about how to deepen character, how to tweak a plot, or, frankly, about American Idol, our kids, or our cats! The chat helped us become close, though we'd never met face-to-face.
We met for the first time at the New York SCBWI meeting one winter. We joked that, since we'd never seen each other, we'd be wearing red carnations. I was so excited to meet Chris and John in person, after getting to know and love them, through their writing, online.
All of us have books now...John J. Bonk is the author of the hilarious Dustin Grubbs, One-Man Show and Dustin Grubbs: Take Two! both published by Little, Brown. Chris Woodworth is the author of the award-winning When Ratboy Lived Next Door, Georgie's Moon, and Double-Click for Trouble, all published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. I am the author of Eleanor Hill and The Princesses of Atlantis, published by Cricket Books, and Write Before Your Eyes, just out from Delacorte Press.
Of course we're proud of the books, but the best thing that has come out of this has been the deep friendship that has developed as we have read and appreciated each other's stories over the years. Thanks for bringing us together, Gotham!
Lisa Williams Kline
As I have just graduated with my MFA from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts-Whidbey Writers Workshop and have taken on some exciting editing projects (including submissions editor for SmokeLong Quarterly and editing an anthology titled Dogs Wet & Dry: A Collection of Canine Flash Fiction) I wanted to send you a long overdue thank you before the next wave of busyness sweeps me over.
Prior to starting the MFA program, I took four classes from Gotham: Humor Writing with John Kachuba, two Fiction Writing Classes with Brandi Reissenweber, and a Fiction Writing class with Terri Davidson-Brown.
I just reviewed the archives (which by the way is a wonderful asset for Gotham to provide) and realized that from all four classes I've had work published or forthcoming in places like: Talking River Review, South Dakota Review, North Idaho Lifestyles, Stolen Island Review, Lunch Hour Stories and a couple of anthologies. Pretty dang cool for taking only four classes.
The Gotham classes played a large role in my growth and self-confidence as a writer. The lectures and discussions were pertinent, thought provoking, and lively. The teachers were talented and encouraging, and the fellow-students, hardworking and motivated. You've got a great program going, and I wanted to let you know that I find myself frequently recommending Gotham Writers Workshop.
Hope all is well,
stefaniefreele.com & dogswetanddry.com
I have great news to share! My first book, A Quick Guide to Improving Note-Taking and Idea-Making in Content-Area Writing is due out early next year.
My dream to write this book became a reality when I enrolled in Stephanie Staal's Nonfiction Book Proposal course. Her guidance was invaluable because she was able to help me find my voice and bring it out in my writing. She provided me with sample proposals, which I used as a mentor to write my own.
Ann-E Wood read my book when I was ready to revise it. She gave me feedback, which helped me to make my manuscript as strong as possible.
I am pleased with my experience at Gotham and I plan to continue to take courses.
Thanks for the motivation,
I was notified recently that my short story, “My Brother’s Keeper,” won the Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest. It will be published in the March, 2009 issue of Cowboys and Indians.
Last year, I was privileged to work with Greg Fallis in two mystery writing classes, a Mystery class and a one-on-one session. Mr. Fallis helped me polish my craft with his thoughtful reviews and interesting challenges. I know I would not have been able to writing this story without Gotham.
June Marie Avery
I have some exciting news from Leigh Michaels's Gotham class on Romance Writing. The novel I began in her class, Half Moon Rising, has been published.
Samhain Publishing bought my book and the e-book was published in March of last year with the paperback edition following in October. It's been doing well and the reviews, including 4 stars from Romantic Book Times, have been positive.
Before Leigh's class I had been trying to break into the romance market for several years. The form rejection letters had their own file at my writing desk and it was getting thicker every year.
I had read many “how to” books and articles on romance writing, but it was Leigh's comments and guidance that made the difference with this project. Having her point out the specific weaknesses and strengths of my story proved invaluable in taking my writing to a higher level. Half Moon Rising wouldn't have made it to print without her.
Whenever I run into a fellow romance writer seeking publication I mention Gotham and Leigh's class. The lectures reveal new insights to the specifics of the romance genre, the assignments provide both goals and the chance for quality feedback, and, finally, the connection and time spent with other writers very simply feeds the soul.
Keep up the great writing classes.
I wanted to share the news that I have recently begun an MFA program in Writing for Children at The New School. I have taken several Gotham classes with wonderful teachers—Susan Breen, Carolyn MacCullough, and Alex Steele—who were all instrumental in helping me get into The New School.
When I started in my first Fiction class with Susan, I was quite nervous about sharing my writing with others. Through gentle challenges, she encouraged me to produce my best work and helped me build confidence to believe that an MFA program was a possibility. It was in my Writing for Children class with Carolyn that I developed a passion for writing for middle grade and young adult readers, leading to my decision to attend the New School. Finally, the Novel classes I took with Alex were the last big push I needed to finish a rough draft of my first full-length middle grade manuscript, which I anticipate presenting in my workshops this fall.
While I am enjoying my new teachers, after the rich learning experiences I had at Gotham, the New School has some pretty big shoes to fill.
I'm pleased to report that I will be publishing my third book, Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots in September '08. I ran several of the chapters of the book through Cliff Hopkinson's Article Writing II class last year, and the feedback I received sharpened my writer's voice and refined my storytelling ability.
When the galleys recently came back from the publishing company, I reread the book once again and thought, “It's all true, it's really tight, and I wouldn't change a word.â? That's high praise coming from an author who feels that writing is rewriting.
I've taken writing classes all over the city and honestly believe that Gotham's are superior. The caliber of the students is high and the dedication of the teachers, unrivaled. The atmosphere in the classes is one of camaraderie and gentle competition. We are all pushing each other to turn in our best work, to be better critics, to become better readers and ultimately, better writers.
I'll be taking Cliff's class again next semester. I have a new book in mind so watch out world.
I admit that Gotham's Writer's Workshop was not my introduction to writing; I had taken classes with Shawna McCarthy in Science Fiction & Fantasy and with Elaine Edelson in Memoir at the New School here in NYC. However it had been fourteen years since I had last written a short story, during which time I had been in the Ph.D. program at CUNY, met and married my husband and became a mom at the age of forty.
Marta Randall, who teaches Science Fiction and Fantasy writing at Gotham, is a phenomenal teacher. Her warmth and willingness to extend herself to her pupils helped me greatly. I wanted to write an Urban Fantasy novel and her guidance and support allowed me to work on it and finish it within a relatively short period of time. I signed up for her course again and again. In her classes I completed two short stories which became my first professional magazine sales since the early nineties. In the years since I took Marta's course, I have continued to write. I have sold three short stories to anthologies, two of them soon to be released in Northern Haunts and Terrible Beauty, Deadly Symmetry.
I have returned to Gotham this semester to study with Stephen Barbara who teaches a class in how to be published. Though I've sold five short stories, that Urban Fantasy novel I originally wrote in Marta's class has only gotten rejects. Time to learn something new, like creating the perfect query letter for agents! Hopefully the next time you hear from me it will be about the sale of my novel, Chasing the Trickster.
A big thank you and hugs to Marta and all the wonderful teachers at Gotham for giving me such great information and support upon my return to the writing world.
(writing as April Grey)
I just learned that Ingram Book's booksellers magazine will be featuring my co-authored novel, Unraveling (available July 7, 2008 from Random House) on the cover of their July/August issue. Here's a recap of how this happened.
In Susan Breen's Fiction 1 class, I revised Unraveling. At the end of this class, we discussed query letters. Armed with one, I handed it to panelists at book events, and snail mailed everywhere. I did not have an agent. Three miracles occurred in just a few months- three houses said I could submit my ms to them. Marking those envelopes “Solicited Manuscriptâ? was a thrill I'd never have dreamed possible before Gotham. Over the next few months, one house passed, another never responded, and one editor sent a letter discussing what worked and what didn't. And, if we revised, she'd take a second look. IF?! Advanced Fiction classes were about to begin and I enrolled, despite missing the early enrollment specials.
Once again workshopping our novel, I came away with suggestions for making the time frame easier to follow, the mother character more sympathetic, and the opening “hookier.â? The pearls of my peers and Susan Breen facilitated enormous changes to the manuscript. Several months later, my co-author and I delivered our stone tablets, Random House made an offer, we accepted (duh), and sought out an agent to finalize contract details. Yes, with a subject line like “have offer, need agentâ? it's not as daunting a process.
Because of Gotham and a large dose of chutzpah, I'm awaiting the birth of Unraveling, first in hardcover and two years later in paperback!
I can be contacted through my website, www.lynnbiederman.com. I hope writers reading this see that it really can happen.
I wanted to let you know that I recently sold my first novel, Skin and Bones, to Random House and am very grateful to Gotham for all of the support and direction I've gotten for my work. I workshopped two drafts of Skin and Bones in Advanced Novel Writing with Masha Hamilton and not only got great feedback and advice but learned the art of listening to feedback.
In addition to working with teachers who provide practical, real-world advice, I have to say that one of the best things a writer can get from the Gotham model is to learn to listen to what people are saying about your writing and to be open to change. This skill came in handy during the process of selling my novel when I was asked to participate in a conference call with my prospective editors and listen to their feedback.
Before the call I put myself into the same state of mind needed when your work is up for review in class. During the call, I took notes, responded to questions, and stayed open to their suggestions as I was impressed by how carefully they read my manuscript. I used the same approach when reading my rejections. Instead of thinking of them as negative, I was impressed by the time many editors took to give specific comments. As I work on a rewrite, I am incorporating some of their suggestions as well.
While writing is a solitary act, the process of editing and shaping the story is infinitely better served with the feedback and perspective of peers and committed readers. Gotham opened me up to that and for that I will always be appreciative.
I have and continue to recommend Gotham to writers of all stages. The quality of teacher and approach to writing is unmatched.
I've always loved to write, but it was not until I started taking classes at Gotham that I began to think about the possibility of becoming a published author. I started in the Beginning Children's Book class, moved on to the advanced class (which I took twice), and emerged with most of a middle grade novel. The quality of instruction was outstanding, and in each of my three classes, my classmates and I really came to see ourselves as a community of writers.
The work I did in my classes at Gotham went a long way in helping me land an agent, and my experiences inspired me to continue writing, even when I no longer had the weekly classes to keep me on track. This past September, Random House published my first novel, Spanking Shakespeare, which was named a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association and received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly. I am currently finishing revisions on a second young adult novel that Random House will publish next year.
Thank you, Gotham, for creating an environment that inspired me to pursue my writing more seriously and for setting me on the path to becoming a published author.
All the best,
I read your most recent newsletter and thought I would share my experience with Gotham. I enrolled in two consecutive courses on travel writing and found them very valuable. I had not had any previous courses in writing, but have a degree in fine arts. Over the years I have done a lot of work in marine photography with shows, sales and inclusion in a number of collections.
A national boating magazine, PassageMaker, had contacted me to inquire about some of my photographs. They were going to do a piece on the history of lobster boats from Maine. I asked who was going to do the piece and they told me it had not been assigned. I offered my services, which they promptly declined, saying they preferred previously published writers.
I told them I was leaving for Maine the following week and would submit an article with photographs on spec within a month and asked that they at least critique it. I did, and they did...they liked it and bought it.
I have done about a dozen published pieces for them in the last three years, and then this past December they offered me the position of Contributing Editor!
Thank you, Gotham, for giving me the basics and the confidence to move forward.
My debut novel The Boy Who Killed Caterpillars was published in September by Marick Press. It is a novel that I worked on over the course of two fiction writing classes with Peter Markus and four novel writing classes with Masha Hamilton.
Both my instructors and my classmates at Gotham were essential in the process of “findingâ? my story and crafting it, so I wish to let you know that I really appreciate what your program has given me and how it has helped me achieve something I wouldn't have dreamed of achieving prior to attending your workshops.
I found my true calling at Gotham Writers' Workshop, and as my writing career unfolds, I'll continue to spread the gospel of Gotham.
When I think back to my first year in New York, what stands out are the Gotham workshops I took. Having never shared my writing before, I timidly entered my first classroom with all sorts of preconceived notions of how snobby NYC writers would be. What I found instead was a warm, welcoming group of like-minded people who were there to write.
Three classes later I had the courage to submit my short story "Sushi" for publication. That story was chosen as one of twenty winners in a contest for new young writers and published in the book Virgin Fiction 2. Since then I've gone on to publish two novels (Eliot's Banana and Luscious Lemon), a novella (The Happiest Day of Your Life), a fiction anthology (Before: Short Stories About Pregnancy), numerous short stories (two of which I workshopped through Gotham), personal essays, and nonfiction articles in national and regional publications.
I always thought I'd get around to finding an MFA program, but once I started seeing my work in print I never did, partly because those first Gotham classes gave me the confidence to share my work, taught me to give and receive constructive criticism, and provided me with my first group of writing pals-three things which have served me well in the grueling, rejection-filled world of publishing.
A story I worked on in Michael Lucas's Advanced Fiction class has been accepted by Level Best Books to appear in the 2007 anthology Still Waters, which features crime stories by New England writers.
The story, "Tit for Tat" had been gathering dust in my desk drawer for some time. Michael and my fellow students in the Gotham online workshop helped me put just the right amount of polish on my fiction to make it publishable. Their insights, enthusiasm, and patience were invaluable. I recommend Gotham to many writers I know, and I intend to return to the online classes to help me shape new work.
Many thanks to all at Gotham-students, faculty, and administrators alike. You guys rock!
Leslie Schultz Lombino
I took a Travel Writing class last fall and wrote an article on salsa dancing for one of the class assignments. The class gave me feedback, and the teacher gave me great detailed comments. I submitted my article to Time Out Magazineand they bought it!
Except....they wanted me to rewrite it as a mini weekend vacation in Harlem. Turned out everything in the salsa article was Mon-Thurs, which I didn't notice until I was in the middle of the rewrite. I wound up writing a completely new article (which actually didn't have anything to do with salsa).
As I was rewriting the article into this completely new format, I could hear my teacher’s voice and her instructions.
The article came out this past August in the Alone section.
Thanks so much for all you taught me.
I just wanted to let you know that I just published my first book, The Late Bloomer's Revolution (Hyperion). I workshopped several of the pieces in the book at Gotham, and for that I could not be more grateful.
I recommend Gotham classes all the time, as my first class there was one of the best writing classes I've ever taken. And I've taken plenty. I tell people it's all about writing without the ego (the teacher's that is, because so often with star authors, the class becomes about what they like and students are encouraged to write like them).
That's why I think Gotham is so great. It's a jury of your peers. And they're there to help. Everyone I've told to take Gotham classes loves them.
I really hope people enjoy my book. I've gotten a ton of incredible letters, many from writers asking for advice with their memoirs. I talk about honesty and how hard it was for me to go really deep, especially in writing, about how within a year I lost my mother, my job, my boyfriend and my face (to an eight-month rash.) And also about how many drafts and years it takes to develop your voice. And I tell them to run to Gotham!
Thanks so much and keep up the great work.
I started screenwriting four years ago when I had a three-month sabbatical from Vassar. I took a couple of screenwriting classes at Gotham including the one-day workshop, the introductory 10-week class, and a film analysis class. I wrote my first screenplay, Staying Afloat, through that class, which got picked up by a producer and shopped around for a year, but ultimately never went anywhere. My second screenplay, The Escape Artist, won the Final Draft Big Break competition which included $10,000 and a trip to Hollywood.
Since winning the contest, The Escape Artist has been optioned by a British director-but that's all I'm allowed to say at this point. I finished a third screenplay, The Border, and there is a lot of interest in that script. And finally, as a result of a chain of connections from the contest, I had the opportunity to rewrite a screenplay written by another writer, and actually get paid for it!
Julia Van Develder
I wanted to let you know that "The Blue Dress," a short story I worked on in an Advanced Fiction online class this past winter with Manuel Gonzales, has just won the John Gardner Memorial Prize for Fiction and will appear in the journal Harpur Palate this summer. It comes with a $500 award. Manuel's criticism was invaluable to me. When I tried out some of his suggestions, I found that a story that had almost worked suddenly really did work. I'm so grateful.
I had some other good news before this, too, about stories I worked on in my first two writing classes, with Tommy O'Malley and Carol Bugge. "She Was Somebody's Baby, Too" appeared in the online jimstonjournal.com. Both that story and another, "A Lucky Man," were chosen to appear in a forthcoming new anthology, The Creative Writer.
I found the feedback of the teachers and the students, too, enormously helpful in giving me a handle on how the stories came across, what worked, and what didn't. I'm pleased as can be with my experiences at Gotham.
You've got a good thing going, keep it up!
I took a TV writing class taught by Jim Mendrinos at Gotham a while back, and I wanted to take a moment to thank you. I eventually got a job writing for a show that's just premiered on F/X - The Riches, with Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver. I love the show and I had a great experience writing for it. I know I wasn't particularly prolific when I took your class - I'd just had my baby girl and was moving through life in a haze - but your class was a real turning point for me. You taught me a lot, and I would not have gotten this job without it. So thank you. My episode airs April 23rd. I hope you can catch it and I hope you enjoy it.
As a "serial"Gotham student I am happy to report that Tall Grass, a compilation of three of my dark comedies, will be shown Off Broadway from March 3-April 15.
Each of these three plays were completed from start to finish in Gotham Playwriting classes, two with Richard Caliban (one live and one on-line) and another in
I took an online fiction workshop last summer with Irene Zabytko. One of the stories I submitted for class critique, "The Storm Painter," has been accepted for publication by Crimson Highway magazine for their February issue.
The critiques of the story, particularly by Irene, helped me to make it a better story. I'm sure that is why it was accepted.
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