Writers Talk Shop, Novel, and Pitch Conference
     Commentary by conference attendees

     A Conversation With Stephen R. Levine

Stephen is an award-winning former news reporter who spent more than a dozen years covering news and feature assignments for daily newspapers including The Press of Atlantic City, the Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, N.J.) and the Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.). He also wrote for ADWEEK Magazine in New York City and he now writes Web copy for Rowan University in southern New Jersey. His literary thriller, BAD RABBI, developed from a story he covered as a beat reporter in Cherry Hill, N.J. It's the tale of a womanizing clergyman who has his wife murdered in the midst of his extramarital affair with a worshipper.

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My character is sort of a modern day Roskolnikov - too smart for his own good - and the story has universal appeal. It's not just the story of a BAD RABBI but a man corrupted by power and ego. Hopefully others will see it that way too.

- SRL

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NYC: What did you find most effective about the New York experience?

SRL: The best part had to be making direct pitches to editors but a close second was my interaction with other writers in my group. We had a very supportive, eclectic group and it was a lot of fun working with them over four days. The feedback I got from editors, colleagues and our moderator, Tim Tomlinson, was really terrific. While I didn't sell my novel at the conference (yes I arrived with dollar signs in my eyes) I feel I'm well on my way in part because of it.

NYC: What inspired you to write BAD RABBI?

SRL: When I began writing it I'd been a journalist for about a dozen years and was looking for a project that would be more lasting than yesterday's newspaper. The irony is that yesterday's newspaper held the story I was looking for, one with all the elements of good fiction a strong, highly flawed character caught up in great conflict.

NYC: How has the story evolved?

SRL: My lead character, Rabbi Louis Abrams, is a hedonistic, charasmatic clergyman with a 30-year trail of broken wedding vows. Though he'd been unfaithful in the past his life changes when he falls in love with a young Public Radio journalist. Abrams decides he can't divorce his successful businesswoman wife because a messy public divorce might jeopardize his standing in the community so he recruits a bumbling handyman to kill her. The plan begins to unravel almost immediately when the killer crashes his van fleeing the scene of the crime.

NYC: What made you choose to attend the New York Pitch Conference?

SRL: My novel is done but I've only begun to market it and thought the New York Pitch Conference would be a great place to start. I was really looking for some direction in honing my pitch and that's exactly what I found.

NYC: Do you feel the novel is improved as a result?

SRL: Well, I haven't reworked it much yet but certainly my approach to marketing it and positioning it has. When I arrived at the conference the tone of my pitch was humorous but that wasn't exactly right for the novel. An editor at the conference helped me realize that.

NYC: Where does BAD RABBI go from here?

SRL: Hopefully into the hands of a great editor with a big house! I feel I've got a very compelling story the case on which it was based was featured twice on Dateline NBC and I believe I've written it in a very compelling way. My character is sort of a modern day Roskolnikov - too smart for his own good - and the story has universal appeal. It's not just the story of a BAD RABBI but a man corrupted by power and ego. Hopefully others will see it that way too.


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WRITERS AND AUTHORS
TALK ABOUT THE
New York Pitch Conference


Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Madhu Ghosh. This conference is very different from others in that it is what it says it is. Most conferences try to cram in craft lectures with readings and then interviews with editors and agents, which can get chaotic and confusing.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Randy Susan Meyers. The critique isn't for the faint of heart, but is for those who truly want to hear where they need to work on their presentation, how commercial their ideas are, and about the effectiveness of their pitch  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Stephen R. Levine. My character is sort of a modern day Roskolnikov - too smart for his own good - and the story has universal appeal. It's not just the story of a BAD RABBI but a man corrupted by power and ego. Hopefully others will see it that way too.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Jim Buck. I started looking into agents and publishers last fall and was startled to find how difficult it is for an unpublished author to even get a return letter.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, writer Christine Stewart, writer in residence at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, Director of the Write Here, Write Now workshops, founding co-sponsor of the Baltimore chapter of the Maryland Writers Association, and recipient of the Ruth Lilly Fellowship.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, author Kate Gallison. Her second mystery series featured Mother Lavinia Grey, an Episcopal priest in a small town in New Jersey struggling to keep her church open and solve the occasional murder.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Alex Keto. Alex was a journalist for twenty-one years. He joined Dow Jones Newswires and worked New York City as a reporter, in Amsterdam as a bureau chief, and Bonn as a reporter. He returned to the U.S. in 1995 and worked as the company's White House correspondent for ten years.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Michael Kopiec. My father was a soldier who survived three years of nearly constant combat with the Nazis. The story is very exciting, but I kept rewriting until finally, it felt right.  



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