One Story Literary Debutante Ball: The Pictures!

There's Got to be a Morning After (640x427)Thanks to everyone who came out to our 2014 Literary Debutante Ball on May 22nd at Roulette in Brooklyn. It was a wonderful night, honoring Mentor of the Year Colum McCann and the first books of our seven Literary Debutantes: Molly Antopol (The UnAmericans); Rachel Cantor (A Highly Unlikely Scenario); Amelia Kahaney (The Brokenhearted); Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You); David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals); James Scott (The Kept) and Ben Stroud (Byzantium). Here’s some pictures of from that wonderful night! You can also read a great play-by-play of the evening over at The Story Prize blog.


One Story’s first online course: Become Your Own Best Editor

Editing an English language documentIn the summer of 1996, a few months after I finished my MFA at Ohio State, I got the luckiest break of my writing career: I landed an editorial job at Story, the fabled literary magazine that prided itself on discovering great new writers, from J. D. Salinger and Carson McCullers in the 1930s and 1940s to Junot Díaz and our own Hannah Tinti in the 1990s.

I say it was the luckiest break of my career because even though I’d been writing fiction for eight years, editing stories taught me how to write them much better. My job at Story also gave me insight into what I could expect when the day came that I’d be working with an editor myself.

In putting together One Story’s first online course, Become Your Own Best Editor, I thought a behind-the-scenes look at the editorial process—using actual marked-up manuscripts—would be as instructive for other writers as it was for me. And I had the perfect story in mind: Laura Spence-Ash’s debut, “The Remains” (issue #188). Laura was great to work with, a writer who was open to feedback and who improved upon our suggestions, making her story even better than we envisioned.

In addition to drafts of “The Remains,” the ten-day course (March 21-30) will include daily online lectures, assignments, and a message board where you can share ideas and manuscripts with other writers who are committed to becoming better editors of their own work. To find out more about this course, go here. Deadline to sign up is March 21st. I hope you’ll join us!

Introducing One Story’s 2013 Staff Debutantes: Marie-Helene Bertino, Elliott Holt & Julie Innis

One Story is run almost entirely by volunteers. Many of these volunteer readers and editors are also writers! Since our last benefit, two former and one current member of our staff have made the leap and published their first books. So we will be taking a moment at this year’s Debutante Ball on June 6th to acknowledge these three lovely and talented ladies: our own Staff Literary Debutantes: Marie-Helene Bertino, Elliott Holt & Julie Innis. Let’s meet them now!

Marie-Helene Bertino, Safe as Houses (University of Iowa Press)

safeashousesMarie-Helene Bertino was a reader, an editorial assistant, and later an associate editor at One Story. For the past three years, she’s been teaching at One Story’s Summer Workshop for Writers. Her collection of short stories, Safe As Houses, was published in October of 2012 by the University of Iowa Press.  She received a Pushcart Prize in 2007 and a Pushcart Special Mention in 2011.  Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Pushcart Prize Anthology XXXIII, North American Review, Mississippi Review, Inkwell, The Indiana Review, American Short Fiction, and Five Chapters, among others.  Many of the stories in Safe as Houses are set in a supernatural Philadelphia, where everything that happens seems to come out of left field and keeps the reader guessing.  Bret Anthony Johnston has said of the book: “From the first remarkable story to the last, the author takes risks that left me gasping and applauding.  This is affecting and inventive work, work that breaks your heart with humor and mends it with compassion.”

Elliott Holt, You Are One of Them (Penguin Press)

youareoneofthemElliott Holt was a reader for One Story, and later a contributing editor. Her first novel, You Are One of Them is a moving debut, that the NYTBR called “a hugely absorbing first novel from a writer with a fluid, vivid style and a rare knack for balancing the pleasure of entertainment with the deeper gratification of insight.” Holt was born and raised in Washington, DC, but has lived in cities all over the world.  While working, she maintained a full time job in Manhattan as well as participating in an MFA program at Brooklyn College.  You Are One of Them confronts the way we define ourselves and the secrets we keep in the process. Holt highlights the pain of a broken friendship, evoking emotions in those of us who know what lengths people will go to take back what they have lost. Editor in Chief Hannah Tinti said of book: “Like the cold war, this remarkable novel revolves around hidden truths and unreliable friendships. Elliott Holt skillfully draws out her characters’ secrets, delivering a well-wrought tale of international and emotional intrigue.”

Julie Innis, Three Squares a Day With Occasional Torture (Foxhead Books)

3squares.cover.1.0312Julie Innis is a current reader for One Story. She lives in New York, but is originally from Cincinnati. Her work has appeared in Post Road, Pindeldyboz, and Gargoyle, among others, and has received several awards and mentions including two Pushcart nominations, a Glimmer Train Top-25 New Short Fiction designation, and, most recently, a Notable Story recognition in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012 anthology.  Three Squares a Day with Occasional Torture is Innis’s first book, about ordinary people with extraordinary problems. Christopher Allen described these remarkable stories by saying: “Humor is like a tight-rope made of razor blades. Some writers who try it come away with more cuts than it’s worth. Innis dances on razors. And she does this by being generous to her characters, indulging their whims, allowing them to be bizarre in their humanity, human in their absurdity.”

We’re so proud of our One Story Staff Debutantes! And we look forward to raising a glass to them on June 6th. Won’t you join us?

2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award Long List!

KeepReadingJacobJoseph_lgWe’re thrilled to announce that seven One Story authors & one former One Story staffer have made the longlist for the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award! The award will be presented at the culmination of the Cork International Short Story Festival in September. Until then, we will be cheering a big congratulations to One Story authors:

& One Story former assistant-editor & current teacher at our One Story Summer Workshop for Writers:

Congratulations, all! We are so proud of you!!!


Announcing the 2013 One Story Literary Debutantes!


One Story is thrilled to announce our 2013 Literary Debutantes:

SAVE THE DATE and raise a glass as we toast these seven One Story authors who have published their first books in the past year. The One Story Literary Debutante Ball will take place on Thursday, June 6th at Roulette  in Brooklyn, NY and include music, dancing, food, and specialty cocktails. It is our most important fundraising event of the year. It is also a lot of fun.

Sponsorship Tickets will be on sale March 26th.

Individual Tickets will be on sale April 23rd.

To discuss sponsorship opportunities for the One Story Literary Debutante Ball please contact

One Story Workshop, day 4: Characters, Cats, Community

A colossal event of epic proportions hit New York today. It wasn’t zombies. It wasn’t The Derecho. It was the penultimate day of the One Story Workshop, and it was marvelous.

We began the day with delicious bagels, then proceeded to workshop. As seems to be the theme throughout the week, the authors in workshop were verbosely happy with the readings and advice they received.

Overheard at lunch: “I just want to go to my hotel now and write.” It was agreed by all surrounding that this sort of optimistic drive is the best possible feeling that a workshop can give.

After consuming heaps of falafel, we trekked onwards and upwards for Myla Goldberg’s craft lecture: “How To Fake It: Creating Characters That Don’t Seem Made Up.” Myla had asked us to read Aimee Bender’s odd, beautiful story, “What You Left In The Ditch” so we could discuss the elements at work. Myla, with wit, and wild vocal inflections, stressed the difference between creating a likeable character and an empathetic character, noting that the latter is more interesting. “It is your job as a writer,” she told us, with the tone of a manifesto, “to inhabit every single character you invent.”

Other gems of advice culled from the Q/A session included:

-Subtlety is a muscle that you develop over time.

-The more scenes you write, the more you get a sense of what a scene is.

-It’s okay to know that you need to fix something and not fix it right away.

-Write until you get stuck. Then go back and make corrections.

-Read your work out loud.

-Trust yourself. Follow your character around and be open to things.

After the lecture, we took a writing break, a wine-cheese break, and met again for the evening event: a reading by Joshua Henkin, director of the Brooklyn College MFA and author of Swimming Across The Hudson, Matrimony, and, most recently, The World Without You. Josh was introduced by Marie-Helene Bertino (his former student and one of our workshop leaders) before he read two excerpts from his most recent book. The novel tells the story of the first time a family has been together since a son was killed in Iraq. Heartbreak, comedy, and delicate hybrids of the two ensue as the family members’ habits and beliefs slam into each other.

Josh’s manner was open and honest—his presence allowed a sense of openness rare in post-reading Q/A. “We both create our stories,” he told us, somberly, “and are created by them.” While we basked in the sageness of his widsom, he cracked a joke. The discussion ranged from too-beautiful sentences to bad soap operas (hint: any plotline can become one, but no plotline has to be one) to showing other people our work. “When I first started,” he confided to us, “I couldn’t write a paragraph without showing my cat. I didn’t even have a cat.”

As the workshop hurtles toward its close, there’s a palpable sense of satisfaction in the Center For Fiction. We’ve heard great advice from marvelous people—people who live in the literary world that so many of us are climbing toward. It’s been inspiring, while also being a uniquely accessible experience. We’ve formed a literary community. It deepens in every workshop and during every meal, and strengthens with every craft lecture, panel and reading. In applying to this workshop, we have followed our passion, and with each day of attendance, we are learning together how to make a life out of it.

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!

Harper Perennial Summer Short Story Sale

Few things surpass the joy of discovering great new fiction with the July sunlight warming your face.  One thing that may make it better, though, is getting that enthralling new book for under two bucks.  Our sponsor and partner, Harper Perennial is offering thirteen of their favorite short story collections in digital edition for $1.99 each through the month of July. 

Collections of two One Story authors, Ben Greenman and Lydia Peelle, are included in the sale, as are works by Simon Van Booy, Deborah Willis, Holly Goddard Jones, Barb Johnson, Kevin Moffet, Rahul Mehta, David Vann, Justin Taylor and Valerie Larken. 

There’s still a week to go on the sale. To take advantage of these low prices and maybe find a new favorite story, visit the summer short story sale HERE!

Katharine Haake’s The Time of Quarantine

One Story author Katharine Haake (issue # 32, “The Immortal Feet”) has a new novel out: THE TIME OF QUARANTINE, published by What Books Press. In this futuristic, end of the world novel, a boy is raised alone in the woods by computers. He believes himself to be the last living human. But when he discovers that everything he’s always imagined to be true is, instead, a lie, he goes on a journey, back into the world. David Starkey, author of It Must Be Like the World said of the book:

“Katharine Haake’s The Time of Quarantine is the latest in a recent flurry of distinguished dystopian novels. Like Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, The Time of Quarantine takes place after unthinkable environmental disasters have come to pass, yet Haake’s ruined world is far more nuanced than Atwood’s and infinitely more tender than McCarthy’s. Her post-apocalyptic story of loss and redemption is compelling, but the real wonder is Haake’s prose: every paragraph, every sentence its own fantastic realm—equal parts nightmare and dream.”

Support this One Story author, as well as a great independent publisher, and go out and buy your copy today!

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!