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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 25, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 21
New Orleans' Saints and Sinners writers' festival
Arts & Entertainment
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New Orleans' Saints and Sinners writers' festival

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

When in New Orleans it is hard not to feel the literary influence of the city. Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Stephen Ambrose, William Faulkner, and so many other greats were nurtured by this sultry city. This is why it's the perfect location for the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival.

The annual weekend-long event just wrapped up its ninth year, and is already preparing to celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2013. Held each May in the city's fabled French Quarter, Saints & Sinners is currently hosted by the Hotel Monteleone, one of only three literary landmark hotels in the United States (the others being the Plaza and Algonquin hotels in New York City). And while attendees don't have to be LGBT, the festival's focus is definitely on our community. A plethora of classes and social events brings together a vast network of writers, agents, editors, publishers, and almost everyone who's anyone in the LGBT publishing world.

Friday night, May 18, was the official opening of Saints & Sinners. After a meet-and-greet, the 10 finalists of the third annual Fiction Short-Story Contest (this year's guest judge was Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina) offered a public reading from their nominated writings. All of the top 10 stories are published in the festival's official annual anthology.

Saturday's focus was four master classes taught by established members of the LGBT publishing world. These included 'Mixing It Up: Adding Literary Techniques to All Genres of Writing,' hosted by Jeff Mann (author of the Gay-themed Civil War novel Purgatory); 'Managing Point of View in Genre Fiction,' hosted by Len Barot (author and president of Bold Strokes Books); 'Memoir: Defining a Life,' hosted by Fay Jacobs (Fried & True: Tales from Rehoboth Beach); and 'Character/Plot Development for General Fiction,' hosted by Jameson Currier (author and founder/publisher of Chelsea Station Editions).

The master classes allowed only a limited number of students to attend, to better concentrate on the subjects at hand. I attended the Character/Plot Development class, where participants were asked to submit a sample of their current work so that each student (and the mediator) could offer their critique. The class was a mix of men and women of different ages and experience levels, who all put aside personal egos and worked together as professional peers. The results were fantastic feedback and commentary.

Sunday's concluding panel discussion was titled 'Is the Sky Falling? Publishing, Plagiarism, and Piracy,' discussing the future of LGBT publishing. Radclyffe (author and Bold Strokes Books publisher), Greg Herren (author and Bold Strokes Books editor), the aforementioned Jameson Currier, and moderator J.M. Redmann (author of the Micky Knight Lesbian detective series) discussed publishing, self-publishing, e-books, marketing, and other issues.

For anyone who is a writer, wants to be a writer, or has ever dreamed of being a writer, the Saints & Sinners Festival is the perfect travel destination. Next year, the Hotel Monteleone will again play host to the event, which will take place May 23-26, 2013. Information will be posted at http://sasfest.org.

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