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The Strangers Gate Writer’s Residency

Hosted and Facilitated by Editor/Writer/Literary Coach Paul Assimacopoulos

Easy Apply, Full Room + Partial Board and Amenities, $18 Application Fee (nonrefundable), Rolling Deadline

 

We are pleased to announce the Strangers Gate Writer’s Residency (SGWR), a 12-day BnB-style urban writer’s retreat, mentorship, intensive private workshop, and literary cultural exchange in the heart of New York City hosted and facilitated by in-demand editor, writing coach, literary advisor, voracious reader, and longtime New Yorker Paul Assimacopoulos. As an editor, rewriter, ghostwriter, and book developer, Paul has been hailed by clients as a “brilliant”  craftsman of “mastery” and “wizardry,” with an “uncanny” sense of language, character, scene, and storytelling, fully in command of how to add style, color, mood, clarity, and interest to every line, who has taught many the “power of mind and imagination” in writing. Notable among the many writers Paul has collaborated with, advised, or nurtured toward publication are Grammy nominee and Latin Grammy winner, writer, producer, and ethnomusicologist, Manuel Garcia Orozco; lauded international concert pianist, Isabel Dobarro; Michelin-starred Master Chef, author, filmmaker, restaurateur, and humanitarian, Vikas Khanna; exoneree, graffiti artist, writer, and motivational speaker Fernando Bermudez aka Most; and debut nonfiction culinary-adventure author and outdoorsman, Peter Gregg.  (*See Projects page for full credentials and CV.)

When:

Spring and Fall (twice per year), beginning Spring 2025.

Where:

A clean and colorful private room and work area with shared facilities in a loft-like live/work apartment in a classic, prewar Manhattan walkup (prepare to climb a few flights) situated amid the vibrant, multicultural Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The dwelling itself is steps from Central Park and its lush, picturesque Strangers Gate entrance and a few steps further away from Riverside Park along the Hudson River. Known as the “Athens” of Manhattan, Morningside Heights has a rich literary and musical history and is rife with cafes, markets, restaurants, 24-hr delis, green spaces, and associated pocket neighborhoods. The area is convenient to all major transportation hubs and easily and affordably accessible by subway, bus, or train. The Met Museum is a scenic, diagonal 30-minute walk across Central Park; and the main branch of the New York Public Library at Bryant Park is an easy 20-minute subway ride from a few blocks away.  The resident’s room has been described by previous guests as “Zen Victorian,” with its relaxing deep-blue walls, soothing natural light, and treetop-and-sunset view. Having both relaxation and stimulation close at hand can make for an ideal writing environment. A writer who is also a runner will feel like they are in paradise.

Who should apply:

International or out-of-region US-based (non-NY, NJ, CT, or PA residents) creative writers 21 years of age or older who want to improve their writing via an existing or proposed project while experiencing New York City for research, inspiration, or diversion (when not working). Applicants needn’t be a published writer or have an MFA or other degree to be considered. Applicant shortlist and final residency awardee will be determined by editorial interest and the applicant’s demonstrated or strongly expressed commitment to their project. Acknowledging room for improvement in the submitted project can actually benefits a writer’s chance at the residency.

Literary fiction, nonfiction, or arts-focused academic work will be prioritized, especially book manuscripts, novellas, essay or short story collections, or longer form stories or articles 5000 words and above. YA, Erotica, Romance, children’s books, or other genre fiction will not be considered (speculative fiction or literary SciFi okay).  One resident awardee plus two alternates will be chosen per session in case the final awardee cannot commit or attend. Alternates may be offered the next available residency, depending on application volume and variety. Before arrival, the awarded resident will be asked to sign a detailed residency and house-rules agreement (i.e. arrival and departure days, general itinerary, and household expecaions such as no pets, no smoking, quiet hours, etc.). The host is a busy working writer so peace of environment and mutual respect is mandatory.

Deadline:

Sooner is better, but the SGWR has no hard deadline. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for the next upcoming Spring or Fall residency. Awardees will be notified via email with ample notice (4–6 months) to schedule the mandatory preliminary resident interview and make travel or other advance arrangements.

What’s included (at no cost to resident):

Amenities (*pics below):

•Private room and workspace with wifi, queen-sized bed, fan or optional A/C, partially configurable writing nook (two desk options), dresser, mirrors, and closet space (Lightweight travel is encouraged due to limited available storage).
•Shared but private restroom facilities with sink, mirror, toiletry shelf, shower with hot-and-cold running water, etc. Partially shared living room area. Eclectic book and CD collection, and a few plants here and there.
•Full kitchen and shared work space with industrial size table for writing, reviewing printed drafts, research, meetings, advisories, or gourmet cooking—stove, refrigerator, water boiler, rice cooker, pots, pans, plates, glasses, cups, cutlery, and utensils included. Coffee, assorted teas, spices, cooking oil, plus limited staple foods such as rice, pasta, oatmeal or granola provided as part of residency.
•MTA MetroCard ($20 value) for limited complimentary subway and bus travel.
•One hosted ride of the Staten Island Ferry to and from from South Ferry to St. George, Staten Island, and back.
•Two home-cooked meals (Day 1, Welcome Meal; Day 12, Departure Meal, dietary restrictions honored)
•Three formal one-on-ones with mentor/editor focusing on writing craft, style, and structure, etc. pertaining to resident’s individual needs and project.
•Three reading critiques or remedial hands-on partial edits of resident’s writing project.
•Misc. “on call” editorial advisory sessions.

What is NOT included:

Flights, visas or visa arrangements, meals, educational or program certificates, spending cash or any sort of stipend, additional transportation, travel, and entertainment costs, printing or copying (host can recommend a local printshop, but let’s save some trees.) Receiving educational credit for participating would be at the discretion and agreement of the resident’s institution and the SGWR, if requested and applicable.

How to apply:

Please send an email of interest to strangersgatebooks@gmail.com with “SGWR” in the subject line along with the $18 application fee (no exceptions, see below). In the body of your email, include a brief bio about you and your writing aspirations, a description of what you intend to work on if selected for the residency, and how New York City can serve your project. As an attached PDF,  submit a condensed one-page CV/resume with your contact info along with a writing sample of no more than five pages (no more than 6 pages total, and please no embedded images). More selection weight will be given if the writing sample also comprises part of the project you intend to work on. And remember, your email also represents your writing. We carefully consider every proper application and will reply to the selected resident as well as the two alternate residents as soon as possible before the next residency. Please note that like preferring one book or author over another, selecting a final resident is ultimately a judgement call and should not be deemed as a reflection of the quality or prospects of an applicant’s submission. It’s usually a matter of taste.

Application Fee:

$18 payable via PayPal to strangersgatebooks@gmail.com (same as the application email)

*Please notate your payment with your name and working project title so we can match the payment with the person. If you prefer to pay another way, please email us and we will see what we can do.

Residency Format:

The residency format will be partially determined in advance through conversations with the selected resident about their project and their stated and assessed goals and needs. The resident should plan for 15-20 hours of structured editor-writer/mentor-mentee time, between Paul and them, scheduled per day one month before arrival. What the resident chooses to do with their free time is up to them—have fun! The host can recommend interesting local destinations or activities.

Depending on the resident’s wants and needs, the mentor will take a real-world, professionally disciplined, always nurturing, sometimes alla prima approach to helping the writer achieve their literary goals. Having individually tailored style, craft, structure, and scope recommendations can greatly add depth, color, mood, voice, idiosyncrasy, point of view, and authenticity to the resident’s writing. Examples of what can be accomplished during the residency might include: compressing and adding clarity and warmth to a hazy, overly elaborate novella without completely gutting it into a terse, distant, lifeless piece of prose; infusing a character-driven novel with more dimension, reader empathy and identification, and novelty, so the protagonist can take the reader on a far more intimate and compelling narrative journey; converting a memoir or nonfiction work into a fictional piece; organizing and transforming a collection of field notes, research, or journal entries into a commercially viable mainstream book; crafting a query letter and formatting its manuscript according to the sometimes arcane style principles of book layout and design to garner a literary agent or publisher’s interest; or developing a tailored approach to completing the various drafts required of a literary work. To help guide the process, “Ask the editor” sessions with Paul will be available throughout the residency. We can address whatever the resident deems necessary for their development as a creative writer.

Creative-coaching wise, Paul can help with various relaxation and creative-focus techniques to ease the necessary harnessing of memory, observation, life experience, imagination, and innate human storytelling for the sidd as well as tips and tricks how to transcribe as an active presence into text for further refinement. One’s writing style and voice can greatly become more resonant by becoming more in tune with yourself and your writing tendencies and habits. Inspiration must reconcile with perspiration; imaginary flourish must reconcile with technical concision. Success can be achieved when a writer not only has their craft and tools in order, but knows how to visualize and set the terms for the literary work they want to achieve, but also has the hope, habit and vision to complete it while allowing for spontaneous discoveries along the way.

Concluding the residency will be a “before-and-after” dialogue and feedback session for both mentor and mentee about what the resident learned and accomplished, and how they felt about the residency overall.

*Representative Pics:

Private writing nook w/view

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The view (morning)

 

Shared kitchen and workspace

 

Private bedroom
Semi-shared living room

 

Area street

 

Good luck and we look forward to reviewing your submissions!

 

Questions? Please email strangersgatebooks@gmail.com c/o SGWR