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SummerWrite memories

The following is a blog post by Sally Bittner-Bonn, SummerWrite coordinator, teacher, and Director of Youth Education and Community Outreach. For more information on SummerWrite and other youth programs, visit our website at or contact Sally at 473-2590 x. 109.

SummerWrite: A Wrap-up 

Last Sunday marked the first official day of fall. Mornings are chilly and the new school year is well underway, but memories of the summer are fresh in our minds. And what an incredible summer it was here at Writers & Books! 2013 was our biggest SummerWrite yet!

It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces returning to Writers & Books, and many new faces as well. That holds true not just for students, but for apprentices and teachers as well!

We had a whole horde of young wizards come to our Harry Potter classes, and learn the great sport of Quidditch:


We even hosted a Harry Potter birthday party one afternoon (on July 31, of course)

HP birthday party

There was a lot of magic in the air here at Writers & Books this summer. One student, from the Magical Stories & Poetry class, when asked, “What did you learn about yourself this week?” responded, “I like magical creatures and I believe in them.”

There was also a lot of serious writing and discussion this summer. One of my favorite moments was overhearing the Percy Jackson class of 9-12 year olds discussing Aristotle and ancient Greek philosophy. That’s just the kind of thing you can expect here at Writers & Books!

Many students dug into literature deeply, in many different ways. Our new Hunger Games class did things their very own special way. They spent the week out at our Gell Center of the Finger Lakes, in the woods learning survival skills, and reading about and discussing social, ethical, and environmental issues facing our present and futuristic world. On Thursday night, students stayed at the Gell Center to show what they learned by building shelters, fires, tools, and playing their own version of the Hunger Games, which encouraged cooperation and team work, as they earned points for skills learned, and helped each other to not get their flags stolen from other students.

HG shelter

And here’s what just a few of our students said about their writing workshops:

• I enjoyed being able to plan out my story and being able to share what I had with my classmates.


• Everyone worked well together with a great group dynamic.


• I got to learn about a different kind of story telling than I use most of the time, and I learned new techniques.


• I learned how much I can benefit from plotting out my story rather than making it up as I go.


• This class has helped me get over my fear of sharing my work.


Even the high school seniors who were here to write their college admissions essays got to play Lava Tag, the signature Writers & Books playground game. They were forced to break from their serious discourse about college and chase each other around the playground! We didn’t manage to catch them on camera, but here is another group of students playing Lava Tag!

lava tag

At the end of each week, many of our classes gave readings or presentations of their work, and some students brought home anthologies of work from the week!

class reading

A huge thanks to all of our teachers and apprentices for helping make the summer run so smoothly!

To take a more comprehensive look at what our SummerWrite students did this summer, take a look at the SummerWrite Blog

And don’t forget to check out the youth classes we have happening this fall!

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Cold Weather, Warm Sweater, Tea, and a Book

The following is a blog post by Community Engagement Coordinator, Kristen Zory King, and PR Associate, Chris Fanning

Tips for a Successful Fall.
Like it or not, fall is here. The sky is getting cloudier, the temperature is dropping, the leaves are changing color and we’re seeing fewer bright pink toenails and more boots and clogs. So, how should you prepare yourself for fall? Your trusty friends at Writers & Books have got you covered with four tips for a successful fall!

1. Acquire a sweater that will keep you warm and toasty. 

Sweater PileSweather Confusion

The weather will soon be fluctuating between forty and sixty degrees, so it’s essential that you have a comfy sweater to keep you warm. We like oversized sweaters – but really any will work.

2. Brew some tea (or coffee! We’re not here to judge your beverages…).

Chris Changing TempLeo
The Writers & Books staff is divided between coffee addicts and tea aficionados. Often we brew our own but we also love to grab a cuppa’ at one of the local coffee shops in the Neighborhood of the Arts (like Starry Nites Café or Joe Bean). For tea, we tend to favor peppermint, pumpkin, ginger peach, or a hearty black tea. For coffee: we like a full, dark roast (with just a spot of cream). Protip: the bigger the mug, the better.

3. Find a good book.

Chris Reads Kristen Reads
Generally, as the days get shorter and the nights get colder, we like to curl up with some “heavier reads” (as staffie Kristen says: “summer is great for books that make you think, but not too hard. By fall I’m ready to read some books that blow my mind”). Go ahead and grab a stack of books from your local library, or from our bookstore! We recommend:

  • For those who like to stay up all night terrified (it is almost October, after all), try The Shining by Stephen King.
  • For those who like fantasy and politics, try Storm of Swords by George R. R.  Martin (plus, you can then join in on our discussion series!)
  •  For those who like history with a feisty female protagonist, try Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
  • For those wanted to re-read (or read for the first time!) a classic, try A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, or Moby Dick by Herman Melville (too intimidated by Melville? Read it with a group in this reading seminar) 
  • For those who want a modern gothic tale, try The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse

4. Enjoy. You are now ready for fall. 


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Three New Shows Added to our Fringe Line-up!

We’re pleased to offer three new surprise shows to our Fringe Festival line-up: A musical children’s show by Doug Waterman, a night of stories from our own Steve Huff, and an interactive 3D projection light show on the back of our building. Take a look at the information below. Tickets at or in person at Writers & Books.

MermaidMermaid Writing Prompts
This show is a projection of images and sound onto the Writers & Books’ building. Feel free to bring a lawn chair. Writers of all genres and skill levels will be presented with a number of short writing prompts that will help them create poems and stories about mermaids. Viewers are encouraged to bring a pad and a writing utensil. A lively imagination is also highly encouraged.
Show Length: 45 minutes   Ticket Price: Free Genre: Visual Art 

Ages: All Ages   Show Dates: 8:00 pm Saturday, Sept. 21

Doug Waterman

Music Fun with Mister Doug
Doug Waterman’s songs for families will have you and your young children howling, swimming, flying, dancing and laughing. Come ready to move! Doug’s show “Fun With Fairytales” was a hit at Writers & Books during last year’s Fringe Festival. Doug Waterman has been sharing music with children for over ten years and his CD of children’s songs, Truly Hairy Fairy Tales, topped a 2006 local listeners’ poll.
Show Length: 45 minutes   Ticket Price: $5.00   Genre: Children’s 

Ages: All Ages   Show Dates: 1:00 pm Sun., Sept. 22

Steve HuffIt Just So Happened: An Intimate Evening with Steve Huff
Steven Huff, author of A Pig in Paris, will read from a new group of stories. Expect the hilarious, the absurd, and a few heartbreaks.  A romance is kindled over switched air baggage. A freak show disperses when a circus goes bankrupt. An exotic princess forces a pilot at gunpoint to disrobe and throw his clothes out into the sky.
Show Length: 50 minutes   Ticket Price: $5.00   Genre: Spoken Word 

Ages: 13+  Show Dates: 7:00 pm Tues., Sept. 24

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Gala 2013 — A Recap

With the weeks and months of planning, organizing, and executing, it is hard to believe that the Writers & Books 2013 Gala has come and gone – and that it’s already been a week since! The evening went even better than expected, with guests, volunteers, and staff members alike all embracing the Parisian 1920’s theme – and pulling it off perfectly! With live music from The Pick Pockets, W&B student speakers and performances, and an on-going slide show of Hemingway’s world, we were not lacking for entertainment. With scrumptious French hors d’Oeurves, gourmet crepes and grilled cheese paninis, and an open bar, we were not lacking for cuisine and spirits. And with volunteers, board members, staff members, students, and other book lovers alike all in attendence, we were certainly not lacking for company. Simply put? C’est magnifique.  Thank you to all who came and were able to make this event such a success!


Because the night was so special for so many different reasons, most of us here at W&B wanted to share something which made the gala worth remembering. So, here are some of our highlights – each in a few short sentences (with pictures!). Scroll through and relive the evening for yourself. Weren’t able to attend? Read anyway and then take a look at some more of the pictures on our website and Facebook pages!


2013 Gala: A Moveable Feast

“I stepped away from Paris, onto a 14th floor outdoor patio, to find Rochester looking lovely at dusk.” — Karen van Meenen

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 (Above: Guests mingle and pose on the balcony of Nixon Peabody Building, enjoying a marvelous view of Rochester.)

“We could not have anticipated how magical the space would look once the sun set and the bistro lights & street lamp filled the room with soft lighting. You honestly could have been looking out on the Seine. With The Pick Pockets strolling around the venue like traveling musicians, the delicious food, and good company all around, it was an unforgettable night.”  — Chris Fanning

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(Above #1: The dapper Chris Fanning and stunning Kathleen Quinlan pose for a photo; Above #2: The PickPockets serenade guests aside a scene street lamp and 1920’s Parisian slide show)

“Our Gala was a classy, fun & successful event.  We couldn’t have asked for a better location, it worked out so well logistically, and what an added bonus with the outdoor patio – such an amazing view of Rochester’s skyline!   Thank you to our sponsors, board members, volunteers & W&B staff, what a great team.” — Kathy Pottetti



(Above #1: After rain and wind, everyone was able to enjoy the view of Rochester’s skyline while sipping martinis and enjoying friends ; Above #2: Kathy Pottetti and Kristen King pause to snap a quick pic)


“My favorite part of the gala was seeing all the wonderful costumes and outfits guests came up with. While the theme (1920s Paris) had the potential to be a bit kitsch, many of the gala attendees came up with beautiful, fun, and wonderfully authentic outfits! It was really great to see all our guests with excited smiles – and fantastic fringe!” — Kristen King





(Above 1-4: Some of the evening’s most successful dressers!)

“The band was good. The drinks were strong. No one was murdered.” — Greer Nelson



(Above #1: webmaster Greer Nelson let’s us snap her pic before heading back to work; Above #2: Patron guests enjoy a private French wine tasting before the main event.)

“Saturday night was filled with amazing flapper costumes, great food, unique silent auction items, amazing views of Rochester and great company. Best Writers & Books event yet!!!!” — Kathleen Quinlan




(Above #1: Guests browse the silent auction items — Thank you to donors!; Above #2: A shot of the delectable spread ; Above #3: staffies getting silly!)

“It’s so invigorating and satisfying to see the hustle and bustle of guests in their costumes filling the room after months of planning. Everyone looked so gorgeous and authentic, and seeing their enthusiasm for the gala theme and the organization itself makes all the work to put a gala together worthwhile. In the end it was a dazzling evening!” — Alexa Scott-Flaherty



(Above #1: Director Joe Flaherty and the lovely Alexa Scott-Flaherty! ; Above #2: Guests wine and dine Parisian style)

“Everything came together wonderfully and everyone’s (especially Alexa’s!) hard work was rewarded by the guests’ enthusiasm and enjoyment. The scenic setting, design and ambiance, entertainment (The Pick Pockets and student speakers!), as well as everyone’s fabulous, original attire gave the evening a true 1920’s Parisian sense and was a spectacular pay off. As for me, I was able to suspend belief for a few hours and play out my not-so-secret desire to have been a member of the Lost Generation. Drink in gloved hand and not minding the feather from my flapper-headband in my face — mingling with guests, friends, and fellow lit-heads, was magical. The best time I’ve had in ages – between the dazzling martinis, even more dazzling desert crepes, and the most dazzling company, it was all certainly enough of a distraction for me to forget the six sutures I had gotten in my knee cap only hours earlier!” — Rylie Day




(Above #1: crepes! o lala!; Above #2: WAB students shocked us all with their powerful performances; Above #3: Volunteer Ann and staff members Kristen King and Rylie Day dress to impress.)

And by the end of the evening — months of planning, weeks of anxiety, hours of labor, and several glasses of wine later….



— we were all deliriously happy (or maybe just delirious).

Thank you again to everyone who helped us make the 2013 Gala such a memorable evening!
For more pictures (which you can download, upload, tag, and the works) go to one of these two links: