The Strangers Gate Writer’s Residency 2025

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

Easy Apply, Full Room + Partial Board and Amenities, $19 Application Fee, Biannual Deadlines


We are pleased to announce the Strangers Gate Writer’s Residency (SGWR), a 12-day homestay-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 authors and clients as a “visionary” craftsman of “mastery” and “wizardry,” with an “uncanny” sense of language, character, scene, and storytelling; a creative wordsmith fully in command of how to add style, mood, structure, clarity, and interest to written works, who has taught myriad writers the “power of mind and imagination.” Notable among the writers Paul has collaborated with, advised, or nurtured into publication are Grammy-nominated, Latin Grammy-winning producer, writer, 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.


Residency Details and How to Apply


Spring and Fall (twice per year), starting Spring 2025. Twelve (12) days’ duration. Day 1: Arrival; Days 2–11: Work/Leisure; Day 12: Departure. Exact dates in March–June, or August–November, respectively,  to be coordinated with awarded resident.


A comfortable, well-kept private room and work area with shared facilities in a loft-like live/work apartment in a classic prewar Manhattan walkup 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 and its adjacent pocket neighborhoods have a rich literary and musical history and teem with cafes, markets, restaurants, 24-hr delis, and green spaces. This leafy area is convenient to all major transportation hubs and is easily, affordably accessible by subway, bus, or train. The Met Museum is a scenic 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, earth tones, soothing natural light, and treetop-and-sunset view. Having both relaxation and stimulation close at hand makes for an ideal writing environment. A writer who is also a runner or avid walker will feel like they are in paradise.

Why (from Host, Facilitator, and Founder Paul Assimacopoulos): 

The Strangers Gate Writer’s Residency represents something I have always wanted to do: create a community of diverse, ultimately successful writers around my literary editing, advising, and coaching practice while exploring my interests in cultural exchange and apprentice-style learning and writing education. Think of the SGWR as a “LitBnb,” a creative homestay with purpose where a writer can feel a sense of accomplishment while discovering a new place, with writing as the focal point of the stay. Being a self-educated writer/editor, longtime apprentice learner, and avid traveler fortunate enough to live in one of the great literary engines of the world, I want to support writers from afar who might consider a New York visit either too cost-prohibitive or overwhelming, or who lack the resources for higher-level writing education. I want to make both more accessible in my own small but positive way. The SGRW offers both a great travel opportunity plus an informal but supportive-and-rigorous learning opportunity. Writing can be fun and inspired, but writing also requires hustle and hard work. Nothing embodies these like New York does, and I imagine SGWR residents will feel the same. I consider the residency part of my creative and instructional mission—and purely as an editor, reader, and great believer in the written word, I love working with interesting writers on interesting projects to help both reach their full potential.

Who should apply:

Invited to apply are international or US-based out-of-region (non-NY, NJ, CT, or PA residents*) creative writers 21 years of age or older who want to excel at 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 resident awardee will be determined by SGWR’s editorial and developmental interest in their project as well as the applicant’s demonstrated or expressed commitment to and aspirations for it. New and seasoned writers, published or unpublished, are welcome to apply. However, a stated desire for improvement and editorial support regarding the submitted project can benefit a writer’s chance at the residency. (*Note: close friends, family, and current clients of the host are also not eligible.)

What we are looking for:

Of particular interest to the SGWR project-wise are proposed or in-progress original, as yet unpublished works of literary fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, history, biography, graphic novels, urban geography, adventure, memoir, or architecture; American-studies or arts-and-culture focused mainstream or academic work; or more literary takes on genre forms for adult or new adult readers (as opposed to children or YA), such as speculative, revisionist, hard-boiled, or science fiction, or interesting hybrids of any of the above. Full or novella-length manuscripts, manuscripts for essay or short story collections, book, thesis, or MFA chapters, or longer form stories or articles 5000 words and above would all make great projects to work on and improve during the residency.


Application deadline for Spring residency: October 15th; Application deadline for Fall residency: March 15th. Residency awardees will be notified via email with ample notice (4–6 months) to schedule the mandatory preliminary resident video interview and make travel or other advance arrangements.

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

Amenities (scroll down for representative pics*):

     •Private room and workspace with WiFi, queen-sized bed, fresh bedding, 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 individual restroom with fresh towels, sink, mirror, toiletry shelf,  hair dryer, 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 workspace with industrial-size table for writing, reviewing printed drafts, research, meetings, advisories, libations, or gourmet cooking—stove, refrigerator, water boiler, rice cooker, pots, pans, plates, glasses, cups, cutlery, and utensils included
     •Basic food provisions such as coffee, assorted teas, spices, cooking oil, and staple foods such as rice, pasta, oatmeal, or granola
     •Complimentary MTA MetroCard ($20 value) for subway and bus travel
     •One hosted ride of the classic Staten Island Ferry route from South Ferry to St. George, Staten Island, and back
     •Two home-cooked meals (Day 1: Welcome Meal; Day 12: Departure Meal)
     •Three formal one-on-ones with mentor/editor focusing on writing craft, style, structure, etc. pertaining to resident’s individual needs and project
     •Three limited reading critiques or remedial hands-on partial edits of resident’s writing project
     •Misc. “on call” literary advisory sessions

What’s not included:

Flights, visas or visa arrangements, extra meals, computers, typewriters, or other writing equipment, course or program certificates or additional spending cash, stipends, transportation, travel, entertainment, or printing and copying costs (host can recommend a local print shop, but prefer to save some trees). If requested and applicable, receiving school or other credit for residency participation would be at the discretion and agreement of the resident’s institution and the SGWR.

How to apply (please read carefully):

(1) Please send an email of interest to strangersgatebooks@gmail.com with “SGWR 2025” in the subject line, concurrently with the $19.00 application fee (see below, no exceptions). In the body of your email, include a brief bio about you and your writing aspirations, a description and working project title of what you intend to work on if selected for the residency, and how a stay in New York City can directly or indirectly serve your project and you as a writer. Be sure to include one additional mode of contact, preferably WhatsApp. For verification also include a legitimate public profile, social media, or webpage link. (2) Attach as a single PDF a condensed one-page CV/résumé plus a writing sample of no more than five double-spaced pages (no more than 6 pages total, with no embedded images).

More selection weight will be given if the writing sample also comprises part of the project the writer intends to work on—and remember, your email of interest also represents your writing. Applications and their associated fees will be acknowledged by email upon receipt. We carefully consider every proper application and will reply to the selected resident plus the two alternates as soon as possible before the next residency. One application is allowed per residency year, to be considered for both Spring and Fall of that year. 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 and the SGWR’s assessed match of writer, project, and residency.

Application Fee:

$19.00 payable via PayPal to strangersgatebooks@gmail.com (same as the application email). The fee is nonrefundable and valid for 2025 SGWR residency applications only.


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

Resident Selection

One primary resident awardee plus two alternate residents will be selected per session, contacted via email. In the case the primary awardee cannot commit or attend, the first alternate will be offered their residency. Depending on the volume of applications and the quality of their submission, the second alternate may be offered the next available residency. Before arrival, the final awarded resident will be asked to sign a detailed residency and house-rules agreement (i.e. arrival/departure days, general itinerary, household expectations such as no pets, no smoking, no additional guests, quiet hours, etc.). The editor-host is a working writer/editor with active projects, so peace of environment and mutual respect is mandatory.

Residency format and what to expect:

The residency format will be partially determined in advance through conversations with the selected resident about their project goals and writerly needs. The resident should plan for 15-20 hours of structured editor-writer/mentor-mentee time between Paul and them, scheduled by the 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. Receiving individually tailored style, craft, structure, and scope advisories plus specific book recommendations from a working creative professional can go far in adding depth, color, mood, voice, idiosyncrasy, point of view, and authenticity to the resident’s writing.

Beyond the SGWR program, the resident writer is welcome to set their own work agenda. Some common procedures sampled from real-world projects a writer may want to accomplish during their residency or learn how to better accomplish post-residency could include but are not limited to:
     •Compressing and adding clarity and warmth to a hazy, overly elaborate novella without completely gutting it into a terse, cold and distant piece of prose, the goal being that it’s no longer overwritten and wordy, but elegant, propulsive, and expressed at just the right density of evocative and efficient detail
     •Embracing the “propagation” method of completing a manuscript, wherein a book is “grown” in and around a lattice structure rather than constructed linearly
     •Learning what goes into developing an “ear for words” and musicality in written prose
     •Calibrating character names to add intrigue, charisma, affect, complexity, or additional layers of meaning to a story
     •Infusing a character-driven novel with more emotion, human dimension, novelty, and reader empathy and identification, so the protagonist can take the reader on a far more intimate, profound, and compelling narrative journey
     •Increasing the readability and clarity of an academic paper or dissertation chapter while keeping within academic or other style guidelines (APA, MLA, etc)
     •Adding more punch, interconnection, subtle exposition, sly humor, or authenticity to otherwise flat and disconnected character dialogue
     •Restructuring a manuscript in a more interesting, nontraditional, even nonlinear or avant-garde way to effectively upend or subvert classic story structure
     •Converting a memoir or nonfiction work into a fictional one (characters and all) and the hows and whys of doing so
     •Organizing and transforming a collection of field notes, research, life or social observations, 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 more compellingly garner a literary agent or publisher’s interest
     •Adding more tension, obstacles, grit, mystery, and complexity to believably increase the intrigue and stakes in a plot-driven narrative
     •Developing a specific, tailored, dedicated creative approach to completing the successive drafts required of a final, submittable literary work

To help guide the process, “ask the editor” sessions with Paul will be available throughout the residency to address whatever the resident creative writer deems necessary for their development. Paul is also a gifted grammarian and book doctor, so the resident can take full advantage of how to solve problems with pesky punctuation, slippery sentences, egregious ‘graphs, or choppy chapters.

Creative coaching:

Equipped with a Psych degree, a multidisciplinary educational and work background, and much personal-development work, Paul can recommend effective relaxation and focus techniques to overcome blocks, fear, and “blank page fever” to ease the sourcing of memory, dream, imagination, observation, and life experience to release the innately human storytelling impulse. Paul can also impart tips how to more closely transcribe one’s active conscious presence into the text for use as raw material as well as how to relax into your word output rather than try to force it. The key is to relax, warm up, and get out of your own way. Writing style, voice, and depth can also be greatly enhanced by making it your daily habit to become more in tune with yourself, your life, and your environment. Ideally, a writer develops confidence in their craft, knows how to visualize and set the terms for their desired literary work, and also bears the hope, habit and vision to complete it while allowing for discoveries along the way. When inspiration reconciles with perspiration, and imaginary flourish reconciles with technical prowess, originality and success can be achieved.

* * *

Concluding the residency will be a “before-and-after” feedback session where mentor and mentee can discuss what the resident learned, what they accomplished, plus the next steps to take with their project. The resident will also be invited to freely voice their impressions about the residency and mentorship overall.

*Representative pics:

Private writing nook w/view


The view
Another view
Shared kitchen and workspace


Private bedroom


Semi-shared living room


Area street


Good luck and we look forward to reviewing your applications!


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