Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

FullSizeRender-23My First BinderCon

This weekend saw me attending the BinderCon conference here in New York for the first time. For those of you not yet familiar with BinderCon, it describes itself as “a conference and community for women and gender non‑conforming writers.” I was there wearing a couple of hats–I’m a woman writer who has been part of the BinderCon community online for a couple of years, but I also went to the conference as a representative from Fig Tree Books, the publishing company that I work for.

There’s good news for those who weren’t able to attend: Sessions were recorded and, co-organizer Leigh Stein assured me when we chatted briefly during a Happy Hour, will be made available online.

Meantime, here are a few highlight nuggets I can share with you:

  • From a session titled “Pitching 101 with Bustle and Beyond”: Presenter Rachel Krantz (Senior Features Editor at Bustle) heroically addressed a packed room and shared an excellent handout. Said handout includes these two especially relevant links: “How To Pitch to Bustle” and “How to Write a Personal Essay that Will Get Published Online, in 11 Practical Steps.”
  • I’m still making my way through the resources provided in a session titles “Writing the (An) Other — A Workshop on Writing Other Genders, Races, Sexualities, and Cultures” (and, to be frank, I’m still trying to grapple with the moments in which I experienced a strong sense of alienating “otherness” while sitting in the audience myself). But among the links/sites that session leaders Faith Adiele and Elmaz Abinader pointed us to that I’ve already bookmarked is Nisi Shawl’s “Transracial Writing for the Sincere.” Do check it out.
  • If your tbr list is anything like mine, you don’t exactly need another reading recommendation. But especially after Suki Kim’s keynote conversation with Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, I really want to read Kim’s Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite. (Have any of you read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.)
  • And speaking of recommendations: If you’re ever looking for a good lunch spot in the Cooper Union/NYU/East Village area, I recommend La Palapa, where a somewhat unwieldy group of us conferencegoers gathered for a yummy meal between sessions on Saturday.

Dispatch from the Day Job: The Pawnbroker is Published


Yesterday was the official publication date for Fig Tree’s re-issue of The Pawnbroker, the classic novel by Edward Lewis Wallant. Our new edition features a magnificent new foreword by Dara Horn. Which you can read today on Literary Hub. Then, if you’re sufficiently intrigued, you can mosey on over to the Jewish Book Council’s website for an opening excerpt from the novel proper.

Veterans Day Fiction from the Archive


Today is Veterans Day. Which makes me think of two short stories of mine that feature military settings and characters.

The first, “Lebensraum,” is based on my grandfather’s military service. It’s included in Quiet Americans; a version is also available online here.

The second, Fidelis,” was commissioned by NPR for its Hanukkah Lights series. Though not inspired by my own family history, it’s equally grounded in fact and history.

Thanks to all of our veterans for their service.

6 thoughts on “Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

  1. sandra soli says:

    Erika, I just finished Suki Kim’s account of her time in North Korea. After glowing reviews by The NY Times, Chicago Tribune, and others, I was eagerly anticipating a vicarious visit to that forbidden realm. In a word, I was underwhelmed. In fact I was thinking of you and the Sunday Sentence project. If you decide to roll out a “Least Interesting Sentence” feature, this book will have several worthy candidates due to diction problems and redundant narratives. I so wanted this book to offer more than it did. Reflecting on the reading, I have decided her experience might have made a superb, perhaps even prizewinning article, but there is not enough here to make a superb book. I will be interested in your opinion.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Oh, my. Well, maybe I won’t prioritize it, after all.

  2. Tamara says:

    Thanks so much for the #bindercon highlights. I hope to make it to one of these events someday! Yours, Tamara Sellman

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Yes, Tamara–you know that there’s a West Coast version, too? In Los Angeles–but still, West Coast.

  3. jacoba says:

    Hi Erika
    Enjoy your website and your sharing of resources. Liked the link showing excerpts from Suki’s story which I thought sounded interesting. Couldn’t figure out how to turn up the volume on my computer for fidelis but am really intrigued with Josef and how he will cope with his workers now! Thanks so much!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thank you!

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