Book Festival

March 1, 2018


Writers in the Mountains’ Fifth Annual Catskills Literary Festival

SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2018 FROM 12 NOON TO 4 P.M.  


43311 State Hwy 28, Arkville, NY


Writers in the Mountains (WIM) invites you to its annual literary arts and community event and celebration Writers Unbound, the fifth in our series of annual literary festivals. This year the event takes place once again at the Union Grove Distillery in Arkville, NY, on Sunday, April 29 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Union Grove is housed in a big old barnlike building featuring comfortable spaces fitted with stainless steel and copper and wood, a roaring fireplace, and the percolation of fine spirits—along with its wonderful owners and staff, it makes for a perfect environment in which to listen to, talk about, and think about books and writing.

The daylong event welcomes all writers and readers, artists and audience, and community members from every walk to enjoy a warm gathering of successful and fascinating writers, illustrators, editors, educators, booksellers, and publishers from Syracuse to New York City and points between and beyond.

This year’s keynote speaker is Jan Albert. Albert has storytelling in her blood. Her father, Marvin H. Albert, a prodigious fiction writer, produced over one hundred novels (from westerns to private-eye series) under his name and five pseudonyms, and wrote movies for Frank Sinatra and Sidney Poitier, among others. But when it came to her own life’s work, Albert stuck with the facts, since the “stranger-than- fiction”/ “you-couldn’t-make-this-stuff-up” true-life tales of the people she’s met traveling the world and the streets of New York City, producing and writing for radio, television, documentary film, newspapers, museums, magazines, and the Internet have never failed to amaze and inspire her.

Albert began her career at WBAI, a public radio station in New York, where she interviewed hundreds of creative artists, including Al Hirschfeld, Stephane Grappelli, Lillian Hellman, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joan Didion, and Harold Pinter. Also at WBAI, she produced and hosted Behind the Screens, a long-running series of talks with film directors, actors, writers, and producers, followed by A Minute at the Movies, a series of one-minute film reviews heard on WNYC and National Public Radio.

After several years at the Village Voice, where she ran the city desk, Jan moved on to television, crafting news pieces and documentaries for CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, A&E, Lifetime, and the History Channel. She’s worked with legends like Bill Moyers, Diane Sawyer, Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, and Ed Bradley, and her television and radio work has been recognized with two Emmys, a Cable Ace Award, and the Armstrong and CPB Awards.

Albert has also written for newspapers and magazines, including the Village Voice, the NY Daily News, and the Columbia Journalism Review, and has written audio tours and multimedia presentations for the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Intrepid Museum, and other institutions throughout the U.S. and in India, where she crossed Rajasthan, to tell the stories behind some of the region’s greatest forts and palaces. Currently she is blogging for Jan and her husband, Dick Demenus, co-founder of Tekserve (New York City’s original Apple store) split their time between New York City and Pine Hill.

This year’s featured poet is Beth Lisick. Lisick is a writer, actor, and the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller Everybody Into the Pool. Her work has been published in various magazines and journals, including Best American Poetry. She co-founded San Francisco’s Porchlight storytelling series, traveled the country with the Sister Spit performance tours, and received a Creative Work Fund grant for a chapbook series with Creativity Explored, a San Francisco studio for artists with developmental disabilities. Lisick has appeared in films that have screened at Cannes, Sundance, and the San Francisco International Film Festival. She is a resident of Brooklyn and West Hurley and is currently finishing her first novel.

Come by to shop for books directly from their authors, hear readings and peer-to-peer discussions (always with a Q and A element), join in an enticing raffle (books are the prize, of course), and vote in the Best Book Cover contest. Union Grove’s hand-crafted vodka drinks as well as beer and soft drinks will be on sale. (Note, there is no food sold at Union Grove, but the Arkville Bread & Breakfast Diner is right next door.)

The program is as follows:

12:30 p.m.—Poetry Reading hosted by Sharon Israel, author of Voice Lesson / Featured Poet Beth Lisick 

1:00 p.m.—Publishing Panel / Group Discussion Addressing the Latest News and Trends in Publishing

Panelists include Leslie T. Sharpe (author), Sari Botton (editor), Anique Taylor (educator), and Roz Foster (literary agent). Moderated by Simona David.

1:30 p.m.—Keynote Address with Jan Albert 

2:30 p.m.—Illustrator’s Moment with cookbook editor Carrie Bradley Neves and illustrator and children’s book author Durga Yael Bernhard 

3:00 p.m. —Writing Fiction: Leaping from the Known to Unknown with Ginnah Howard

3:30 p.m. — Catskill Fish Stories / Angler Tall Tales: The Ones That Didn’t Get Away, reading moderated by Dr. Bil Birns (readers include Stephen Sautner, Leslie T. Sharpe, Anique Taylor, and Sharon Israel)   

4:00 p.m. — The Bounty of Books Raffle, with a prize of ten selected book titles, will be awarded (come early, tickets are limited!), and the winner of the Best Cover Contest will be announced.

Throughout the day, participating authors will read from their works and share their stories with the audience. Admission is free.



Publishing Panel 

Simona David (Moderator) 

Simona David is a Communications and Public Relations Consultant living in New York. She is the author of Self-Publishing and Book Marketing, A Research Guide (2013), and Art in the Catskills (2014, 2015, 2016), available on and Kindle. She currently serves as President, Board of Directors, Writers in the Mountains, and is co-founder of the Greater Roxbury Business Association. In addition, Ms. David is a Producer and Radio Host at WIOX Roxbury, NY 91.3 FM, online at For more information, visit 

Leslie T. Sharpe (Author) 

Leslie T. Sharpe is an author, editor, and educator. She began her editing career at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and is currently an editorial consultant specializing in literary nonfiction, literary fiction, and poetry. A member of PEN American Center, she is the author of Editing Fact and Fiction: A Concise Guide to Book Editing (Cambridge University Press), which is regarded as the “modern editing classic.” Leslie was a regular contributor to New York Newsday’s “Urban ‘I’” column, and her essays and articles have appeared in a wide variety of publications including the Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Global City Review, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, New York Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, and Village Voice, The Villager, The Writer, and Psychology Today. Her poems for children have appeared in Ladybug Magazine, and she is currently at work on a poetry collection, Little Possums Book of Poems. She recently finished her memoir, Our Fractured, Perfect Selves. Her new book, The Quarry Fox and Other Tales of the Wild Catskills, a lyric narrative look at the wild animals of the Catskill Mountains, was published by The Overlook Press in the spring of 2017. Leslie has taught writing and editing at Columbia University, New York University and the City College of New York. She teaches a Nature Writing workshop for Writers in the Mountains and serves on WIM’s Board of Directors.

Anique Taylor (Educator) 

Anique Taylor has co-authored works for HBO, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The World (St. Mark’s Poetry Project), Rattle, Common Ground Review, Adanna, Earth’s Daughters, Stillwater Review, and e-Bibliotekos’ Pain and Memory. She’s given featured NYC readings at St. Mark’s Poetry Project, Dixon Place, the Speakeasy, Cedar Tavern. Her chapbook Poems is published by Unimproved Editions Inc. Her chapbook Where Space Bends was chosen Finalist for both Minerva Rising and Blue Light Press’ 2014 Poetry Chapbook Competitions and Under the Ice Moon was Finalist in Blue Light Press’ 2015 Competition. She holds a Poetry MFA from Drew University, a Drawing MFA from Pratt Institute and a Diplome in French Literature from the Sorbonne. She has taught Creative Writing for Benedictine’s Oncology Support Program, Bard LLI, Artworks and Phoenicia Poetry Workshop. She teaches Creative Nonfiction for Writers in the Mountains.

Sari Botton (Editor)

Sari Botton is a writer, editor and teacher living in Kingston, NY. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Village Voice, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, plus other publications and assorted anthologies. She is the editor of the award-winning anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York and its follow-up, the New York Times bestselling Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York. Sari is the operator of Kingston Writers’ Studio, and editorial director for the non-profit TMI Project. You can learn more at

Roz Foster (Literary Agent)

Roz Foster is an agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency ( She’s also a freelance editor ( Roz specializes in serious nonfiction in the areas of history, politics and current affairs. In addition, she’s interested in technology, business, sociology, cultural studies, urban studies, science, design and memoir. She’s also interested in adult literary and commercial fiction and is actively looking for crime / mystery / thriller, contemporary, multi-cultural and literary sci-fi.  She works from the Catskills of New York. Select sales include Google’s Über Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness, Daniel Russell’s The Joy of Finding Out (MIT Press); historian Claire Potter’s Click Bait Nation (Basic Books); historian Michael Honey’s To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice (W.W. Norton), historians Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts’s Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy (The New Press), and historian Arthur Eckstein’s Bad Moon Rising: How the Weather Underground Beat the FBI and Lost the Revolution (Yale University Press).


Poetry Reading 

Sharon Israel (Host) 

Sharon Israel is the host of the monthly radio show, Planet Poet–Words in Space, on WIOX 91.3 FM in Roxbury, NY. Her debut chapbook Voice Lesson (2017) was published by Post Traumatic Press. Her work has appeared in Per Contra, SPANK the CARP, 5:2 Crime Poetry Weekly, Medical Literary Messenger, and Spry Literary Journal, and her poem, “Melodrama at the Biograph” was nominated for “Best of the Net 2016.” Her website is


Illustrator’s Moment 

Durga Yael Bernhard is the illustrator of over three dozen children’s books – all of which she designed except for one – including fiction and non-fiction, natural science titles and multicultural folktales. She has also written several unique concept books for children. Her illustrated books include A Ride on Mother’s Back (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); While You Are Sleeping (Charlesbridge Publishing); In the Fiddle is a Song (Chronicle Books); and Never Say a Mean Word Again (Wisdom Tales Press). Most recently, she has published a calendar of fine art paintings titled The Jewish Eye. Bernhard’s work encompasses several different styles, and has been published on everything from book, magazine and CD covers, to business logos, brochures, websites, corporate promotional materials, and publicity for religious and ecological causes. Yael teaches The Business and Art of Illustration for Writers in the Mountains. Her website is

Carrie Bradley Neves is an Upstate New York native who grew up outside Albany and returned to the area a little over a decade ago. She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Williams College, where she also studied playwriting and poetry; and a master’s degree in fiction writing from the University of New Hampshire, where she studied fiction writing and poetry. For the last twenty-five years, Carrie has focused many of her writing goals on writing lyrics, making records, performing, and touring as a singer-songwriter and violinist. Her work-for-pay life is as a copy editor, specializing in cookbooks.


Writing Fiction:  Leaping from the Known to Unknown with Ginnah Howard 

Ginnah Howard’s work has appeared in Water~Stone Review, PermafrostPortland Review, Descant 145, Eleven Eleven JournalThe Tusculum Review, and elsewhere. Several stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Night Navigation, Book 2 of her upstate novel trilogy, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Chronogram called Book 3, Doing Time Outside (Standing Stone Books, 2013), “a beautiful read.”  Book 1 of the trilogy, Rope & Bone: A Novel in Stories (Illume, 2014) was listed by Publishers Weekly as one of the “best of the best” Indie books of 2015. In her latest book, I’m Sick of This Already: At-Risk Learning in a High School Class, Howard focuses on a year of working with students in a small rural town. Currently she is putting together a collection of poetry and prose titled An Opera of Hankering. For more information visit:

Using excerpts from her Upstate novel trilogy as examples, Ginnah will talk about building fictional worlds from both what she “knows,” and finding her way inside “places” where she’s never been. Her novel “Night Navigation” was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, “Rope & Bone” was named one of the “best of the best Indies 2015” by Publishers Weekly, and “Doing Time Outside” was called a “beautiful read” by Chronogram. For more about Ginnah’s work, visit


Catskill Fish Stories 

Dr. Bill Birns (Moderator)

Dr. Bill Birns is the author of three Catskill-themed books: A Catskill CatalogThe Myth in the Mountain; and I Was Corning a Beaver, Like You Do. An active Delaware County citizen for 45 years, Bill taught a couple generations of Catskill Mountain kids, both at Margaretville Central School and Onteora High School. A Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric and Linguistics, Bill’s 1986 dissertation is the most in-depth study of the dialect of the Catskills. He teaches Writing Mountains for Writers in the Mountains.

Stephen Sautner

Stephen Sautner has been fishing in the Catskills for nearly 30 years. A regular contributor to The New York Times “Outdoors” column, his fishing stories have also appeared in The New York Times MagazineFly Rod and ReelAngler’s JournalOutdoor Life, and Underwater Naturalist. He edited “Upriver and Downstream” a collection of favorite Times’ “Outdoors” columns, published by Harmony Books in 2007. In 2016, he wrote the “Fish On, Fish Off,” published by Lyons Press. His next book, “A Cast in the Woods: A Story of Fly Fishing, Fracking, and Floods in the Heart of Trout Country,” will be published by Lyons Press in September. He owns a cabin in Hancock, New York.

Leslie T. Sharpe (see above)

Anique Taylor (see above)

Sharon Israel (see above)


Comments are closed.