And so it begins: One Story Summer Workshop, Day One

Twenty writers, eight staff members, five panelists, two instructors, one craft lecturer, and an infinite supply of cheese descended upon Manhattan’s Center for Fiction today. This can only mean one thing: the One Story Summer Writers’ Workshop is back in full swing.

This is the third year that One Story has hosted our own workshop, and it is already off to a great start, thanks in part to our friends at the Center for Fiction who have welcomed us into their fabulous space. The week will feature small group workshops, craft lectures by award-winning authors, and panelists from literary agencies, publishing companies, and MFA programs. After this morning’s workshops, led by Marie-Helene Bertino (past Associate Editor of OS) and Will Allison (current OS contributing editor), we were thrilled to hear Ann Napolitano, author of A Good Hard Look and Within Arm’s Reach, give a craft lecture on the art of description. She highlighted nine key points about description, including the importance of specificity, the usefulness of nouns and verbs in place of adjectives, and the significance of word choice, quoting Mark Twain: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

Next, we were each given the opportunity to do our own describing when Ann passed out a variety of odd fruits and told us to write about them using the five senses. After getting up close and personal with what looked like a fuzzy green oyster, I eventually compiled a nice list of sentences from the exercise (though I still have no idea what fruit I was actually describing. A rare cousin of the peach? Perhaps.).

After breaking for dinner, the writers reassembled for a panel of five literary agents: PJ Mark, Julie Barer, Jim Rutman, Julie Ferrari-Adler, and Renee Zuckerbrot. The panel helped to answer questions about getting an agent and offered their own stories from the publishing industry. While the world of agents has always seemed quite mysterious to me (I half-expected them to come in wearing tuxedos and sunglasses reminiscent of Will Smith’s attire in Men in Black), the panel helped to clear up most of my confusion. So, what is it that agents look for? The conclusion, it seemed, was unanimous: everybody’s looking for love. Each agent really wants to fall in love with a manuscript, and once they do, they’ll be the writer’s biggest advocate, establishing that necessary link between writer and publisher. Love, though, is hard to find, and it’s up to the writer to make a good first impression. When we all seemed a little down-trodden after hearing how difficult it is to catch an agent’s attention, PJ Mark reassured us: “All agents are optimists. You have to remember that we are all eager to see your work.” After the panel, we had the opportunity to converse over wine and cheese, connecting with the agents one-on-one (and maybe even mustering up the courage to pitch them our novels).

It was a lovely first day at the Center for Fiction, and we cannot wait to hear craft lecturer Simon Van Booy and the panelists from various MFA programs. Stay tuned for more updates!

One Story & the 2012 Pushcart Prizes!

Hey One Story readers! The 2012 Pushcart Prize Anthology has just been published, and we are thrilled to have so many One Story authors in the mix! Two of our stories won 2012 Pushcart Prizes: “Nephilim” by L. Annette Binder (OS issue #141) and “Number Stations” by Smith Henderson (issue #136). And two other One Story writers, Anna Solomon (issue #73, “What is Alaska Like?”) and Celeste Ng (issue #86, “What Passes Over”), have new stories in the anthology as well. But that’s not all: OS author Ben Stroud (issue #119, “Eraser”) received a special mention, as did our former associate editor Marie-Helene Bertino for her story “Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph.” We’d like to congratulate all our writers, and if you want to check out the 2012 Pushcart anthology, you can get your copy here!

Will Allison joins One Story as a Contributing Editor!

We are excited to welcome Will Allison to the One Story staff as a Contributing Editor!

Former Executive Editor of Story magazine and Former Editor-at-Large for Zoetrope: All-Story, Will Allison is the author of the novels What You Have Left (Free Press, 2007) and the New York Times bestseller Long Drive Home (Free Press, 2011). Will is also the author of One Story Issue #47, “What You Have Left” and taught a workshop in this year’s One Story Summer Workshop for Writers.

“As a One Story subscriber from the start,” Will said, “I’ve been amazed at what Hannah and Maribeth and the rest of the staff have done with the magazine—not only the great fiction they’ve published, but the important institution they’ve built. I’m humbled to be a part of it.”

“Will understands both sides of the publishing desk—as an editor and also a writer,” said Hannah Tinti, One Story co-founder and Editor in Chief. “He’s going to be a huge asset for One Story, and we are thrilled to have him joining our team.”

Please join us in welcoming Will Allison to One Story!

God Bless America by Steve Almond

On October 25, keep an eye out for One Story author Steve Almond‘s new story collection, God Bless America, which will be published by Lookout Books. The collection features “always enjoyable, often hysterical stories” (New York Times Book Review) about the American Dream. Publisher’s Weekly has declared that it “defines a new American gothic.” We’re thrilled about Almond’s latest collection, and, even more exciting, he’s coming to Brooklyn on October 28th to discuss his work! The event, which also features OS author Ben Greenman, will take place at Greenlight Bookstore on 686 Fulton Street. The discussion begins at 7:30 PM. For more information, click here!