“Leslie created a supportive environment where writers of all levels could feel comfortable. I love her energy and humor and smarts! She definitely made me feel welcome and like I was in a playful, creative zone where I could really get into the flow, explore, go all kinds of places with my writing and not be judged harshly. She gave me great feedback on my pieces and made me feel like she was truly listening, truly interested in my stories.”
Jen – Bethel, CT
Let’s get this out of the way: I am not a famous writer. Hell, I’m not even a well-published writer. I’m not a writing professor, either, although I have an MFA in Creative Writing, and training and certification to lead writing workshops in the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) Method, which is how I ended up here on this page.
Consider me your Writing Hostess: someone who brings people together to write, writes along with them, offers support and positive advice, and keeps the snacks and conversation flowing. I love a great story, believable characters, engaging dialog, and ways of seeing the world that I’ve both considered, and never even dreamed of.
I worked in the publishing industry for six years, first for a literary agent, where I did some ghost writing for a non-fiction client, and then at publishing houses Tor, Penguin, and Abrams, working on all types of books: “New Weird” sci-fi, literary dystopia, paranormal romance, mysteries, thrillers, craft books, cookbooks, and even a robot historical fiction. Later, I worked in academia, shaped up my novel-in-progress via an MFA at The New School, then got inspired to put myself out there as an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press–a great read for writers and aspiring workshop leaders, and I’m not even being paid to say that (in fact, I had to pay to say that)!
All joking aside (but never that far aside), I’m truly excited to introduce others to this warm, welcoming, validating approach to getting writers together to write–and to feel great about their writing–whatever level of experience they might have. I seriously believe that writing is an art form–like music, like painting–where you don’t have to be Fats Domino or Taylor Swift, Cezanne or Bob Ross, to be able to call yourself a musician or a painter and practice your art as you like. My goal, my whole reason for doing what I do, is to inspire other people to believe this too. Writing is healing, writing is catharsis, writing is communication, writing is art.
It’s been an amazing experience, meeting writers from all over, hearing their work, sharing my own writing, and discovering first-hand that the core beliefs of AWA hold true: that writing is an art form available to all, regardless of experience, publication credits, economic class or educational level, and that we were all born with creative genius that can be lead out and nurtured in a safe, supportive, constructive space; the kind of space I hope my Cast Off! party will provide for folks like you.
I am also a teaching artist with Global Writes, working with fourth and fifth graders on literacy through game design, and I’ve tutored adults, kids and teens on their writing. I am ESL trained, and have taught English to kids and adults in Japan, as well as lead Japanese adults in a creative writing retreat in 2018. I’ve been a juror for the annual Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for teens, three years running, and I’ve had my non-fiction writing published in places such as The Brooklyn Rail, SF Reader, Volume Magazine, Tom Tom Magazine, Performer Magazine, Under The Radar, The New Zealand Herald, and the illustrious Zinester’s Guide to NYC.
A friend arranged for a lot of funny pictures to be taken of me in a hat at the Jalopy Theater.
To help explain all the beautiful stock sailing photography and overdone boating theme/lingo on this website, I should add that I’m an ex-sailor of dubious sailing talent. I have a “Shellback” certificate to prove that I crossed the equator in a vessel, and a nautical journal full of travel writing allegedly authored by the above (and below) pictured dog. While I’d like to one day knock the “ex” off of the “ex-sailor” moniker (and publish that dog’s journal), for now the only sailing I do is wassailing, in the original Saxon toasting sense of word–and not even much of that, since having this little fellow.
Right. Now that I’ve hit all the major marketing points with these “About” photos (dogs and toddlers), I’m signing off. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope to write with you very soon!
“When I write in workshop sessions with Leslie, I’m riveted to my seat. She has things to say in her writing that are all her. Sign-up for a workshop and give her approach a try. She is passionate and committed to the idea that everyone is an artist with something unique to express.”
Diane – Newburyport, MA