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Barnes & Noble Book-fair for W&B

Hold off on that next Barnes & Noble purchase!

Don’t rush to buy that holiday gift!

Wait a bit longer to purchase the new album!

On December 14th Writers & Books will be participating in a Barnes & Noble Book-fair!

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What does that mean? We’ll explain:

On December 15th, head out to any participating Barnes & Noble nearby (that’s pretty much every store in the country that isn’t affiliated with a college). After you’ve perused the shelves of books, music, gifts and more, bring your purchases to the checkout. When you get there, tell the clerk that you are participating on behalf of Writers & Books.

You can also give them our ID number for the day: 12313185.

That’s it.

10% of your purchase on books, music, dvds, even cafe purchases, will go towards Writers & Books!

Can you use a gift card? Yes you can.

Can you use your educator discount and still support the book-fair? Sure can.

We’ll be camped out at the Barnes & Noble in Pittsford Plaza and will have readings, discussions, games and more going on throughout the day. All you need to do is come out and mention you’re there for W&B.

Can’t make it out on December 14th? More of an online shopper? Not a problem.

When checking out online, make sure to type in our ID number, 12313185, and Writers & books will still receive 10%! Even better, the online portion of the “W&B Book-fair” lasts for 5 days.

Questions? Call Chris Fanning at 473-2590 ext 104 or e-mail at

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Writers & Books and The Rochester Chapter of the English Speaking Union invite you to participate in:


Sonnet Composition Challenge for High School Students and Adults

!!! $100 First Place Prize !!!

What: A writing challenge in which participants compose an original sonnet and submit it for judging. The challenge rules involve using the Shakespearean sonnet format. Why: Shakespeare’s sonnets are poetic masterpieces addressing themes of love, time, mortality, jealousy, and rivalry among others. They are structured as an argument where the conclusion is summarized in the final two lines. Students are encouraged to master this form to become better writers and to study some of the finest examples of Western literature. As part of the Rochester Shakespeare Competition, students learn to recite these timeless works. Cash prizes are awarded.


Who: Open to Rochester area high school students and, in a separate category, to adults. Students are asked to identify a teacher/advisor. A donation is suggested for adult entries. When: Submission deadline is January 15th 2019. Winners will be announced at the Rochester Shakespeare Competition, part of the National Shakespeare Competition, to be held on March 2nd , 2019 at the University of Rochester. How: Details and rules for the challenge on may be found at: Online submissions only. Send to: Contact: Writers & Books (585) 473-2590 for more information

Details and rules on preceeding below.


1) Three of five hallmarks of the Shakespearean sonnet form need to be included in the submission, see below “Hallmarks”.

2)  Submissions are electronic only (no written submissions accepted)

3) The work must be original and not previously published. Ideally, submissions should be new works, created on or after Sept 2018.


Hallmarks (three of five need to be included):

1) Length of 14 lines.

2)  Three quatrains (quatrain=four lines) followed by a couplet (=2 lines).

3)  Verse of iambic pentameter. This is a verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable: for example, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”.

4)  Rhyming scheme: abab cdcd efef gg.

5)  Thematic structure: A problem is presented in quatrains and resolved in the couplet. Example: Beauty is frail and transient (problem) but can be everlasting when translated into writing (resolution).



1) Any of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets. A great example, Sonnet #18, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”.

For high school student submissions:

  1. Students need to identify a teacher who can guide and assist them. 2. Students need to include the teacher’s name and contact information (phone number/email) with the submission.

For adult submissions:

  1. Adults are encouraged to make a small donation with their submission (does not apply to college students). Suggested donation is $5 or $10.


Rules and Information 

Submission instructions:

1) Include submitter’s full name, address, phone number, and email address.

2)  Students: Include the name of your school (unless home schooled), your teacher’s name, teacher’s phone number and email address.

3)  Adults: Consider making a donation using the Writers & Books website at . Include “Sonnet Challenge” in the “notes about the gift” section if you do.

4) Send the submission and information to Please use the subject line “Roc the Sonnet submission”. No written submissions will be accepted.


Award Categories:

1) All submissions will be evaluated by a panel of judges which will include a poet, a Shakesepeare scholar, and a high school teacher.

2) The overall winners of the high school and adult categories will receive a $100 cash prize.

3) Runners up in each category will receive gifts. The number of runners up will be determined by the overall number of submissions.

Announcement of winners:

1) Winners will be contacted in mid-February.

2) Winners, including runners up, will be announced at the Rochester Shakespeare Competition for high school students, a regional event for the National Shakespeare Competition, scheduled for March 2nd at the University of Rochester. Winning submissions will be printed in the program for the competition.



Contact Sally Bittner Bonn at Writers & Books for more information at (585) 473-2590 or email

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Writers & Books Celebrates the Past and Looks Toward the Future

Joe Flaherty returns as Interim Director as Kyle Semmel departs organization


Rochester NY: After 3 years of moving Writers & Books towards the next phase of the organization’s mission, Executive Director Kyle Semmel will be stepping down from his position in October. Writers & Books founder Joe Flaherty will return as Interim Director while a Selection Committee begins a nationwide search for a new Executive Director.


“We appreciate Kyle’s work with Writers & Books, including his leadership in developing innovative programming such as the Ladder Literary Conference,” said Trevor Harrison, president of Writers & Books’ Board of Directors. “After a thoughtful and thorough process, Kyle and the Board mutually agreed that this course of action would be in the best interest of all parties.”


Since coming on as ED in 2016, Semmel has made strides to move the organization forward, inline with Flaherty’s original mission: Bringing words and people together in the Rochester community. Semmel achieved this by crafting create new workshops & programs, branching out into the community through partnerships with organizations like BOA Editions, Open Letter Books, the Black Authors Expo, and more, and last June, launching a local literary conference in downtown Rochester, The Ladder.


“I’m proud of what Writers & Books has accomplished during the past few years, but for me, personally, it’s time for a change,” said Semmel. “I have truly enjoyed my time working with the amazing staff, our instructors, and everyone taking our classes. Rochester has such a strong, vibrant writing community and I’m excited to participate in a different way.”


Incoming Board President Bruce Gianniny will be forming the Selection Committee tasked with finding the next Executive Director while working closely with Flaherty and the Writers & Books staff to formulate an efficient and successful search.


“I want to thank the Board for having the confidence in me to come back and lead this organization on an interim basis,” said Flaherty. “And I want to thank Kyle for leaving Writers & Books in a place where I can continue the trajectory he has set.”


Writers & Books, Rochester’s literary center, will continue to operate as usual, offering workshops on reading and writing, bringing visiting authors in for readings & book signings, and producing quality programming to serve the Rochester literary community.


Media questions can be directed to Chris Fanning at



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Not Her Again! AT 2018 FRINGE

September 14th 10 pm Writers & Books

Rochester, NY – Not Her Again! will perform at the 2018 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival (Wednesday, Sept. 12 – Saturday, Sept. 22) on September 14th at Writers & Books (740 University Ave, Rochester, NY 14607). Tickets are $20 at, where more information is also available. Remaining tickets will be available at the door starting one hour before curtain.

For one night only the Fabulous Miranda Marie “Poison Waters” Sugarbaker returns for her drag and comedy extravaganza with some of her favorite comedians, Kevin Markman and Dan Maslyn. They will give you the gift or laughter with music and raw comedy on the first weekend of Fringe. Miranda Marie Sugarbaker is traveling back from her home down South for a One Night Only Show. She is a Brit that found her home in the Roc and is now a Southern Belle with a Northern attitude. She is a legend in the Upstate New York drag scene. Those who know her it is your chance to re-experience the sass and class. Those who have not come become a part of the unique experience for a night to remember.

More about Fringe: Since its debut in 2012, the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival has become one of the most successful fringe festivals in the U.S., attracting more than 78,000 attendees in 2017. Now an 11-day event, this multi-arts festival boasts over 500 performances and events – more than a quarter of which are free – in 25+ venues in downtown Rochester, NY. Celebrating and inspiring creativity, the Fringe – which is partially curated by the non-profit festival and partially by festival venues – includes everything from theatre, music, comedy and dance, to children’s entertainment, spoken word, visual arts, film, and much more. Please visit for a complete schedule, tickets, and more information.