GWG Blog

  • 29 Mar 2016 11:36 | Deleted user

    Free writing workshops offered by Geneva Writers’ Group

    Explore your mind.

    Create your world.

    Tell your story.

    Teenagers Only!


    Acclaimed contemporary fiction author

    Jason Donald

    Saturday, 9 April, 2016: 10am – 11:15am

    Wall Street English

    Rue Michel-Roset 2, 1201 Geneva (near Gare Cornavin)  

    Limited places, so register in advance at using ‘Teen Workshop’ in the subject line.

    More workshops to follow in May and June

  • 27 Mar 2016 16:06 | Deleted user

    The 10th Geneva Writers Conference was all about Building Bridges with Words, Instead of Walls. We were delighted to have more than 200 attendees from around 40 countries join us in Geneva last weekend. Here is a list of the participating countries:

    Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China,

    Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, India,

    Iraq, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria,

    Northern Ireland, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Scotland, Singapore,

    South Africa, Spain (Canary Islands), Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan,

    Trinidad and Tobago, USA,  Vietnam, Wales

    Thank you to all attendees for your passion, imagination and commitment to writing, your love of words, and your willingness to listen and share stories. 

  • 21 Mar 2016 16:41 | Deleted user

    At the last Geneva Writers Conference we very nearly got snowed in, but this year we held it a month later and our venue (Webster University in Bellevue) was bathed in glorious sunshine for the duration of the conference 18-20 March.

     The conference directors Katie Hayoz and Daniela Norris had put their own writing ambitions on hold for the past few months and single-mindedly focused on getting this event just perfect. And they succeeded brilliantly judging by the many happy faces we saw (thanks also to the selfless help of all the GWG committee helpers and volunteers).

    We had a great mix of instructors and panelists to share their insights, encouragement, inspiration and humour with all of us. We had time to mingle and get to know each other on a personal level, catch up with friends who are now scattered all over the world, get ideas for new ways to approach writing or new topics. The bookshop fed our buying addiction, as well as providing a convivial spot where we could get to know our fellow authors. [Thank you to Kathy, Anne-Willem, Pierre-Yves for fascinating conversations and terrific organizational skills, and to Caroline and Kui for helping out at peak periods!] The instructors’ books were very well received and we apologise to all the participants who didn’t manage to buy a copy, as they sold out rather quickly!

    There was plenty of food and drink, as well as coffee, to revive our bodies after using our minds all day – thank you Team Santiago for your patience and care! And fascinating conversations at the dinner table on subjects as far-ranging as racing cars at Le Mans (thank you, fabulous Patricia Beckham), TV crime drama (Shaun McCarthy) and autistic heroes in books (Liz Jensen).

    As for the workshops themselves, well, what can we say? ‘Awesome’ is an overused word, but let’s not aim for poetic language here!

    Participants in Ann Hood’s session on ‘Every Story Is Two Stories’ came out speechless with delight, but hopefully it won’t be long before they regain their power of speech and writing. Liz Jensen showed us the many dirty little tricks of subjugating your readers, keeping them up all night to ‘read just one more page’. Tessa Hadley demonstrated how important it was to stay close to reality and seek to describe it afresh each time, instead of falling back on lazy old expressions and phrases.  Here she is in full flow, describing a sprig she brought over from England.

    Frederick Reiken explored the paradox why narratives transcribed from actual events often come out flat and ‘untrue’, while Andrea Stuart showed how much even memoir and travel writing rely on story rather than just facts. Her workshop also led to an outbreak of sugar craving (i.e. everyone rushed to buy her book ‘Sugar in the Blood’). Wallis Wilde-Menozzi ran both travel writing and poetry workshops, showing the broad range of her talents, exploring inner and outer worlds through words. Carmen Bugan brought tears to the participants’ eyes not through her cruelty, but by discussing  the craft of writing as a process of healing and of preserving key memories in our lives. Shaun McCarthy proved himself a consummate professional wrangling participants of all ages (including teenagers) and getting them to think creatively about performance and how to meet (or challenge) audience expectations. Meanwhile, our very own Susan Tiberghien talked about the responsibility of writers to bear witness to all that is going on around them, as well as a more personal journey of writing towards wholeness.

    The panelists were a tremendously talented and articulate bunch as well. They shared (with great generosity and endless patience) their best insights, tips and tricks into the art of writing, publishing and marketing your book. Thank you to Jane Friedman, Jill Marsh, Jason Donald, Richard Harvell, Peter Blackstock, Maria Barry, Hellie Ogden and  Kerry D’Agostino. One of my friends enjoyed the panel sessions so much and found them so informative, as well as entertaining, that she feared they might think she was a stalker, because she showed up to all of them!

    I cannot even begin to express how much these conferences mean to me. I attended my first GWG Conference back in 2012 and it got me writing poetry again (after a twenty year gap) as well as blogging and reviewing. It really opened up my writing life. The 2014 conference introduced me to new friends and new ideas, really motivating me to take writing seriously. But I won’t allow 2016 to be my last conference, even if I am moving away from Geneva in summer. I’ll be back, as someone famously said, so here’s to waiting impatiently for the 2018 event!

  • 04 Mar 2016 19:24 | Deleted user

    Call for entries

    Geneva Writers Group Literary Prize 2016

    Poetry to be judged by Aracelis Girmay

    Fiction  to be judged by Geeta Kothari

    Non-fiction to be judged by Annette Kobak

    *** Entry deadline: May 1, 2016 ***

    Announcement of winners at GWG Convocation: June 11, 2016


    • 1)      Make sure your GWG membership is up-to-date.  You must be a fully paid member, but there’s no fee to enter.
    • 2)      Your entry should be saved as a Word document, 12 point type.
    • 3)      For fiction or non-fiction, double space your text.  For poetry, format as you wish.
    • 4)      You may enter only one category.
    • 5)      For fiction or non-fiction, do not exceed 3,000 words.
    • 6)      For poetry, you may submit one or two poems, not to exceed 50 lines in total. If you are submitting two, attach them as separate files.
    • 7)      Be sure your entry has a title.  Do not include your name on the document – only identify it by the title.  Include the title(s) in the body of your email as well.
    • 8)      Send your entry to with a subject line GWG Lit Prize: Poetry (or) GWG Lit Prize: Fiction (or) GWG Lit Prize: Non-fiction.
    • 9)      In the email, please include your name as you’d like it to appear should your entry win, and add your contact details as listed in GWG membership records.
    • 10)   Only previously unpublished work may be submitted.  Self-published work is an exception and may be submitted.
    • 11)   Once you have submitted an entry, it cannot be altered in any way.
    • 12)   Each category will have a first place winner, a second place, and an honourable mention.
    • 13)   Winning entries will be not be published by the GWG online or in print.  Writers retain full rights to submit their works elsewhere.
    • 14)   Any questions? Feel free to email me! Nancy Freund at


    A bit about our judges…

    Poetry.  Aracelis Girmay is the author of the poetry collections Teeth and Kingdom Animalia. Teeth was a winner of the GLCA New Writers Award. Kingdom Animalia won the Isabella Gardner Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Girmay has received fellowships and grants from the Whiting Foundation, the NEA, Cave Canem, and the Jerome Foundation, among others. Her work has most recently been published in Harvard Review, Prairie Schooner, and Granta. Her most recent book, the black maria, is slated for publication in April.

    Non-fiction. Annette Kobak is a writer and broadcaster based in London.  Her book 'Joe’s War: my father decoded' was read as Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. Isabelle, her previous biography of Swiss-born traveller Isabelle Eberhardt, was made into a film for the BBC2 series Great Journeys, and is now a Virago Classic. Annette devised and presented the BBC Radio 4 series The Art of Travel, thirty-six interviews with iconic travel writers. She has been a judge for the Society of Authors’ Travel Award, and is currently a judge for the Imison award for first radio play. She is working on a book on another writer with a Swiss background, Madame de Staël.

    Fiction.  Geeta Kothari is the nonfiction editor of The Kenyon Review and the editor of ‘Did My Mama Like to Dance?’ and Other Stories about Mothers and Daughters. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including the Kenyon Review, the Massachusetts ReviewFourth Genre, and Best American Essays. Her short story collection, I Brake for Moose and Other Stories is forthcoming from Braddock Avenue Books in 2017.



  • 02 Mar 2016 10:50 | Deleted user

    No news to most of our members that the 10th Geneva Writers' Group Conference is coming up very soon, from the 18th to the 20th of March, at Webster University in Bellevue. If you still haven't quite gotten around to registering yet, tarry no more, as workshops are filling up fast. Here is the link:

    I make no secret that I am childishly excited about the whole event! Here are some of my personal highlights and 'secrets' I've discovered about our panellists and instructors.

    1) Did you know Shaun McCarthy, who will be running workshop on Writing for Performance is not only an award-winning playwright, he has also written scripts for radio plays and a play entitled Collider, which is all about our very own neighbour CERN and the Large Hadron Collider experiments?

    2) Jane Friedman is one of the best-known and most highly-respected authorities in digital media and publishing, and she will be talking about the choices we now have as authors to make our work more readable and more widely read. I follow her blog religiously and tweet her advice and recommendations regularly.

    3) Breaking news: did you hear that Tessa Hadley, who will be running a fiction workshop on those pesky Beginnings and another on Close Observation, has just won the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction?

    4) I'm sure you still remember Carmen Bugan, talented poet and memoirist, who has recently relocated to the US. But do you know her latest poetry collection Releasing the Porcelain Birds will be published very shortly? Her workshops are intriguingly entitled Writing for the Joy of It and The Evolving, Speaking Self.

    5) Peter Blackstock, senior editor at Grove Antlantic, and Richard Harvell of Bergli Books will join author Jason Donald and Maria Barry of John Hunt Publishing to discuss the particular challenges of writing and getting published as an expat. Did you know they are also on the 'hunt' for international voices and settings?

    6) Are you aware that Liz Jensen, who will be running workshops on suspense and fantasy fiction, is about to see her novel The Ninth Life of Louis Drax transformed into a movie starring Jamie Dornan (of 50 Shades of Grey fame)?

    7) Do you know Jill Marsh, who is based in Zurich and runs an author collective and workshops there? She is the Swiss ambassador for The Alliance of Independent Authors and has interviewed pretty much everybody who is anybody on her outstanding blog.

    8) Did you know Andrea Stuart was born in Jamaica, of Barbadian parents, has studied at the University of East Anglia and the Sorbonne and has been named by Ebony magazine 'one of six Caribbean writers you should take some time to discover' for her poetry-infused non-fiction and family history?

    So that's just a small proportion of people I am looking forward to hearing and learning from... And, for those of you who are as Twitter-obsessed as myself, we will be live-tweeting from the conference using the hashtag #gwgconf

    What about you? What have you signed up for and what do you want to get out of this conference?

  • 21 Feb 2016 09:40 | Deleted user

    What great fun it was to refresh our memory about the art and science of dialogue with Susan Tiberghien at our monthly GWG meeting at the Press Club yesterday! Susan had selected some excerpts of great dialogues for us from fiction, non-fiction and prose poetry, and also gave us some fun exercises to stretch our own writerly muscles.

    We also discussed what dialogues is NOT:

    • ·         Chit chat
    • ·         Aimless conversation
    • ·         Too much like real life
    • ·         Info dump

    So, what is dialogue? It fulfills four main functions:

    • ·         Enhances characterization
    • ·         Moves the plot forward
    • ·         Contributes to tone and atmosphere of the work
    • ·         Conveys information

    We also explored all that is unsaid and hidden in the dialogue, and how to leave room for the reader to interpret things.

    Thank you to all the very keen participants, especially those who had to brave a long journey and the winter holiday traffic jams! Special thanks also to those who volunteered to share their poignant examples of goodbyes between parents and children or lovers. For a light-hearted touch, we also listened to several fun dialogues between two strangers on a plane at the start of a VERY long journey!

    At noon we had two readings: poems from Emily Bilman’s recently published volume ‘Resilience’ and the intriguing opening of Carol Masciola’s YA novel ‘The Yearbook’.

    Finally, thank you to all those who patiently sat through my waffling and explanations of how to use the website, Twitter and Facebook (and thank goodness for the technical support of Massimo!). I hope you get much pleasure from trying out all of the new features, and we hope to post a step-by-step guide very soon up on the website.

  • 14 Feb 2016 19:36 | Deleted user

    After the success of our first writing workshop for teens, we are now scheduling a second one on the topic of 'creating the right atmosphere'. Here are the details below:

    Free writing workshops offered by Geneva Writers’ Group

    Explore your mind.

    Create your world.

    Tell your story.

    Teenagers Only!


    Fantasy and crime fiction author

    Nicholas Grey

    Saturday, 5 March, 2016: 10am – 11:15am

    Wall Street English

    Rue Michel-Roset 2, 1201 Geneva (near Gare Cornavin)  

    Limited places, so register in advance at using ‘Teen Workshop’ in the subject line.

    More workshops to follow April through July

  • 09 Feb 2016 14:05 | Deleted user

    It’s not easy to get teenagers out of bed before 10 a.m. at the weekend, but on Saturday 6th February, we had the great pleasure of welcoming around 20 young writers at the first GWG Writing Workshop for Teens in Geneva. What’s more, they were wide-awake, cheery and full of bright ideas!

    The theme of the session was ‘Where Do Ideas Come From?’.  Author and teacher Nicholas Grey  instantly got the young people talking, discussing, walking around the room to get to know each other, sharing ideas and building upon them, playing around with ‘What If’ scenarios and much more.  He also brought in some objects and invited the participants to create a story about one of them.

    Some feedback from the participants and their parents:

    ‘My kids were thrilled. Thank you for organising this!’

    ‘Can we have something like this every week?’

    ‘It was very sociable and fun. People had such good ideas, it made my own ideas so much better.’

    ‘I don’t like writing essays, but this wasn’t like classwork at all. It was really helpful and fun.’

    ‘Both my kids - 11 and 13 - were blown away by the teenagers writers workshop on Saturday - after a complete lack of enthusiasm on the way there. They were positively buzzing when they came out and they don't often agree on anything.’

    Thank you to the Wall Street English for being such gracious hosts. Thank you to Nicholas Grey for the inspiration and to Rosalind Yarde-Jumbe for pulling it all together.

    We will be holding a session a month until June. The next session will be on Saturday 5th March from 10-11:15 at Wall Street English, Rue Michel Roset 2, 1201 Geneva. Places are limited, so we would ask everyone to pre-register (even if you have attended the first session) on, with ‘Teen workshop’ in the subject line.

  • 02 Feb 2016 16:54 | Deleted user
    Why did no one warn me that writing a synopsis is so difficult? I’ve written book reviews of other people’s books and blurb-like teasers under the misguided impression that this was what an editor or agent would expect from a synopsis. But, even after reading excellent advice on how to write a synopsis, my own efforts seem exceedingly bland. Would you want to read a book with the following synopsis (opening paragraph only)?

    Melinda is a 40-year-old trailing spouse to a banker husband, Graham, and is finding it difficult to adapt to the expat community in Geneva. A dreamy mathematician of Romanian origin who turned accountant to accommodate the family, she does not have the right background or social skills to blend in well with the snobbish environment she encounters.

    Yawn? Exactly! Too much back story and, besides, the story doesn't really start here.  starts with a death. Of course it does, it’s crime fiction after all. So my question is: when you start at a certain crisis point in the novel, then move backwards to show how they got to that point, should your synopsis follow the chronological story or the way you’re revealing things gradually on the page?

    So here are some articles which helped point me in the right direction. 

    1. From The Writers' Workshop: A synopsis is not the same as a blurb for the back of a book and the text should not be 'salesy'.
    2. From Jane Friedman: Don’t make the mistake of thinking the synopsis just details the plot. That will end up reading like a very mechanical account of your story, and won’t offer any depth or texture; it will read like a story without any emotion.
    3. Caro Clark's 5 steps to writing a synopsis:
    • List your scenes (so you are following the order that you lay them out in the book)
    • Condense them into a summary (this is where you can lose a lot of the back story)
    • Enrich it to give a flavour of your style (this is a part which I found missing in most synopsis advice, which is why most examples I read sounded terribly dull)
    • Check for sense (is it an accurate and honest representation of your novel?)
    • Reflection (this is where you can test for plotholes or clichés, unrealistic motivation or other flaws)
    Finally, for real-life synopses critiqued with humour and a sharp tongue, see the no-holds barred blog of a literary agent writing as Miss Snark.

    So here is my second attempt at a synopsis (opening paragraph only), after reading all of the above. 

    Melinda and Rob, two bored expats in Geneva, are attempting a drug-fuelled tryst with a charismatic young gigolo, Max. To their horror, Max has a seizure and dies. Desperate to conceal their affair from their respective partners and afraid that the police will accuse them of manslaughter, they decide to hide the body in nearby woodland. What they don’t know is that Max was also the protegé of Adnan, the king of cocaine in the area, and Rob’s drug supplier.

    Still not perfect, but at least it won't put you to sleep, I hope...

    I would love to hear your experiences with synopses, or else what articles and books on the topic would you recommend?

  • 18 Jan 2016 16:08 | Deleted user

    Free writing workshops offered by Geneva Writers’ Group

    Explore your mind.

    Create your world.

    Tell your story.

    Teenagers Only!


    Fantasy and crime fiction author

    Nicholas Grey

    Saturday, 6 February, 2016: 10am – 11:15am

    Wall Street English

    Rue Michel-Roset 2, 1201 Geneva (near Gare Cornavin)  

    Limited places, so register in advance at using ‘Teen Workshop’ in the subject line.

    More workshops to follow from March through June

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