Under new leadership and working toward a new era in the organization, Literary Cleveland hopes to attract writers and readers of all levels and ages with engaging presentations, workshops and events. With the addition of executive director Christine Howey— a respected theater critic, playwright, poet and former Scene writer — the organization intends to increase membership and influence writers in the area to understand others' voices while also finding their own.
Howey says she hopes to expand the organization and provide as many opportunities for its members as possible, and has already increased the number of classes and workshops available. The process has not been easy, but she is excited for this new chapter in her career.
"It's been very busy, but good busy," Howey said. "Fortunately, we have a very active and talented board of directors that helps enormously, and [our] associate director Matt Weinkam is gifted in areas that I am not, which makes us a very effective team."
Weinkam has been delighted by their membership's support, increasing 33 percent since the beginning of the year, and the organization's increased engagement on social media and through mixers and open mic nights.
"As always, the more important things [we ask ourselves] are: How are we helping individual writers improve their skills? How are we strengthening the local writing community? How are we helping more people tell their story?" Weinkam said. "That's what we focus on every day."
Howey and Weinkam are both excited for the new Reader Series being introduced, considered by Weinkam as literary "crash courses" for a topic or author.
One of these events that's perfect for the Halloween season is Quintessential Ghost Stories, moderated by local author D.M. Pulley and covering three mystery and thriller novels that directly inspired Pulley's own new novel and how to take inspiration from works such as those. The event will run on Wednesdays through October and early November.
Similarly, there will be a workshop titled How to Write Horror moderated by author EF Schraeder on Oct. 20, perfect for those hoping to start writing scary stories.
Another event geared toward helping people find their voice and encouraging continued writing is Developing a Writing Habit with instructor and former executive director of Lit Cleveland Darlene Montonaro, held the first four Wednesdays in October.
For writers who are also local sports fans, there will even be a Cleveland Browns-centered event on Dec. 17, for works on members' favorite sports teams.
For those wondering if they should take part and join Lit Cleveland, Weinkam says the best way to find out is simply to come to a class or workshop and take that next step.
"[I would say] just try it. Why write in isolation or spend your life wondering 'what if' when you can join a supportive community?" Weinkam said. "Whether it is your first time writing, or you've been writing every day of your life, or you're a published writer — something miraculous happens when people from all walks of life gather around their enthusiasm for writing, stories and language."
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For more information on Literary Cleveland, all their upcoming events and to join, visit litcleveland.org.
Other Events from Literary Cleveland
Mission Possible: Breaking Into Freelance Writing
Instructor: Jen Jones Donatelli
Date: Sept. 28
Revision: How to Polish Your Own Writing
Instructor: Lee Chilcote
Dates: Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22
Making Meaningful Poems
Instructor: Diane Vogel Ferri
Date: Oct. 5
Writing Out Loud
Instructor: Dana Norris
Dates: Oct. 5, 19, 26; Nov.
9, 16, 23; live reading Dec. 5
Making Voices Come Alive: From Persona in Poems to Characters in Fiction
Instructor: Marion Starling Boyer
Dates: Oct 30; Nov 6, 13, 20
Reader Series: A Deep Dive
into the Works of Colson Whitehead
Instructor: Michelle C. Smith
Dates: Nov. 2, 9, 16