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Special Event: “Self-Publishing in 2013 – The Year for Your Novel” … Literary Traveler Welcomes Novelist and Editor, Jennifer Ciotta!

February 5, 2013 in Literature, Self-Publishing, Special Events, Uncategorized, Writing Advice

Are you an aspiring writer who dreams of being published? Do you have an idea for a novel but just don’t know where to start?  Start here.

Event Details:
Novelist and Editor, Jennifer Ciotta
Thursday, April 11, 2013 6:30-8:00 PM
Cafe at The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA

Please join us on Thursday, April 11, 2013 from 6:30-8:00 PM for an intimate night of literary conversation with writer and editor, Jennifer Ciotta, as she discusses her experience as a first-time novelist, and provides some tips on the business of self-publishing.  Jennifer will share her personal challenges and triumphs as a writer, and share the professional advice she has gained throughout her years in the creative editorial and writing world.

Jennifer will also give a short reading from her award-winning debut novel I, Putin, which imagines the first-person perspective of Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his personal aide, Gosha, to create a vivid fictional narrative.

The event will conclude with a Q&A.

About the Author: Jennifer holds a master’s degree in creative writing from the Gallatin School at New York University. She self-published I, Putin in 2012, and it went on to receive Honorable Mentions at the 2012 New York Book Festival & Hollywood Book Festival.

Previously the Editorial Director for Literary Traveler, Jennifer is currently a book manuscript editor at Pencey X Pages, and an advisory editor at Author Salon, a community of writers, agents and publishers.  She is also the author of the No Bulls**t Guide to Self-Publishing, and her short stories have been published in Del Sol Review and New Voices in Fiction.

Light refreshments will be offered.  Beer, wine and more substantial fare will also be available for purchase in the Armory Café.

Tickets are $10 and should be purchased in advance to reserve a space.  A limited number of tickets will be available at the door for $15.

For tickets please visit our Eventbrite page!

This event will fill up fast, so reserve your space today. For additional information please e-mail

To learn more about Jennifer Ciotta, please see her website and watch our short video interview.


The Key West Writers Guild: Writing Key West’s Literary Future

December 2, 2011 in Contemporary Literature, Key West Travel, New Writers, Writing Advice

From Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams to Elizabeth Bishop, Key West is steeped in literary history.  You can see Bishop’s house on White Street, have a drink at the bar where Hemingway was a regular and attend a show at the theatre named in Tennessee Williams’ honor.  Key West has as much to offer literature aficionados as it does beach bums, but, you may ask, what can Key West offer the contemporary writer?  The literary scene in Key West is far from a thing of the past.  In fact, Key West has much to lend aspiring writers hoping to follow in the footsteps of their literary predecessors who once called Key West home.  In addition to the annual Key West Literary Seminar, The Key West Writers Guild, a non-profit organization founded in 1995, has been supporting local writers since its inception.  According to their website, the Guild “provides a friendly forum for authors to share their writings and receive encouraging and helpful feedback.”  They meet twice a month and provide an inclusive community for all writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and prose, both published and unpublished.  In addition to providing a forum for discussing their work, the Guild also holds an annual short story contest.  The winning submissions have subsequently been compiled into anthologies, which are available for purchase locally in Key West. The latest edition, Voices from Key West, is available on  In conjunction with the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, they also honor one writer annually with an award for the best work in progress.

While it is not a requirement, many members of the Guild are published, and their works run the gamut from thrillers and children’s books to romance novels and literary fiction.  Although not a prerequisite, it is no surprise that many of the Guild’s members are creatively inspired by their surroundings.  Joanna Brady Schmida, a member since 1998 and the Guild secretary, won the annual award in 2009, and her self published novel, The Woman at the Light, is praised on as “a wonderful ‘trip’ to Key West’s past.”

The members of the Guild come from all walks of life, bonded together through their love of writing.  The Guild president, Diana Reif, is an attorney, and the members’ day jobs cover as wide a spectrum as the genres in which they write.  Dorothy Francis, music teacher and mystery writer extraordinaire, has written books for both children and adults, and her Key West mysteries include the aptly titled Conch Shell Murder and Pier Pressure Mike Dennis, musician and professional poker player, also found inspiration in his surroundings.  His second published work Setup on Front Street is the first of a trilogy of noir novels set in Key West.  Peg Gregory, a retired nurse turned romance writer, penned Starfish, a piece of romantic fiction inspired by the city’s past.

Whether historical fiction, romance novel or psychological journey through the region’s darker side, local writers cannot help but be fascinated by the rich culture and breathtaking beauty of Key West.  I think sometime-Key West-resident Hemingway would agree. After all, his only novel set in the United States, To Have and Have Not, is set in Key West, where he began writing it. Strangely enough, although Hemingway and Tennessee Williams resided in Key West simultaneously, they reportedly only met once.  Providing a community of intellectual nourishment and mutual admiration, it is safe to say that if Key West is to ever again see the likes of two such literary greats, they will have met more than once… perhaps even twice a month at Guild meetings?


Henry James, Meditations on the Novel

April 15, 2011 in American literature, LIterary Traveler Birthdays, Writing Advice

Henry James, Library of Congress

by Katie Davis

Henry James was not a one-hit-wonder novelist. Throughout his lifetime he wrote more than 22 novels, in addition to over 100 short stories, and many essays and plays. Though not all of his works became classics, he produced such gems as The Turn of the Screw, Daisy Miller, The Portrait of a Lady, The Wings of the Dove, and The Ambassadors, the piece James considered his “most perfect work of art.”

James’ accomplishments alone suggest a passion for the novel as a literary form, but in his essay “The Art of Fiction,” James makes his feelings explicit. As most people during the late 19th Century did not consider novels to be serious, meaningful works, James strived to convince them that the novel should be viewed as “one of the fine arts” rather than a work of mere “make-believe.” Fortunately for us, James sprinkled the essay with advice on how to craft the perfect novel.  So, for all you (budding) novelists out there, listen up! Henry James has something to say:

“The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does compete with life.”

As a true proponent of literary realism, James believed a novel should strive to portray events as authentically as possible in order to capture the texture of the human experience. To accomplish this he advocated strict attention to detail and the use of thorough description. Without an “air of reality,” James believed there was no point in writing a novel at all.

“A novel is in its broadest definition a personal impression of life.”

For James, the real did not signify the objective. He believed the novel was indeed a reflection of the author’s personal experience in the world and that a work would possess more “truth of detail” if it came out of the writer’s individual impressions. Therefore, James prescribed to the well-worn mantra “Write what you know!”

“The only obligation to which in advance we may hold a novel without incurring the accusation of being arbitrary, is that it be interesting.”

Though Henry James believed the novel to be a literary art form, he did not ignore its primary function: to entertain. So if you are stuck in a writer’s rut, don’t be afraid to have a little fun. After all, James believed that novelists should enjoy the creative freedom of writing and he urged us to “take possession of it, explore it to its utmost extent, reveal it, rejoice in it.”

Happy Birthday to Henry James b. April 15, 1843

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