In this day and age, Karen Levine’s undertaking almost seems backward. Instead of moving a brick-and-mortar organization online, the Huntington author has moved writers who usually communicate with each other online into a physical space.
She’s running The Long Island Writers House on the first floor of a house on Green Street in Huntington Village, welcoming all Long Island writers to meet for workshops, book launch parties, open houses featuring multiple writers’ books and even “Yoga for Writers” classes. Some days, she opens just so writers can have a place to write with others in an inspiring atmosphere with quotes from Edgar Allan Poe’s and Walt Whitman’s works hanging on the walls.
“It’s a very nice environment,” says William Russell III of Bellport, author of “Chermpf” (Border Station Press, $9.99), a middle-grade novel about a little girl named Grace and her cat named Roscoe. He says he networks with other writers in online forums, but it’s great to meet them in person. “It’s nice to get out from behind the screen, which you’re behind all the time anyway,” he says.
‘MISSING ON LONG ISLAND’
Levine, 54, of Huntington Harbor, author of a children’s book called “All About Color Blindness” (Halesite Press, $15.95), experimented with meetings out of a private home in June 2014 and, once interest grew, moved into the commercial space on Green Street this summer. “What was missing on Long Island was a place where writers could meet,” she says. “I wanted to make it a writing center for Long Island, which is filled with incredible talent. The biggest problem is getting people to know about it.”
At the entrance to the space is a small shop where Levine sells Long Island writers’ books and writing-related art on consignment. Then there are several rooms where she holds events — one recent weekend she held an open house for children’s and young adult book writers, and about a dozen writers sat with their books behind tables and chatted with visitors.
“This is the greatest place,” says Linda Maria Frank of Massapequa Park, who writes the Annie Tillery mystery series, which includes “Girl with Pencil, Drawing” (iUniverse, $13.95). “It’s a place where authors can meet and talk about how they write their books, how they publish their books and how they market their books. Being a self-published author, you have to do your own marketing. It’s a profession and we each have our own store of knowledge. If we share that, it helps the entire profession.
“Then, of course, we elbow each other out of the way when we’re selling our books,” she jokes.
Help with marketing is what drew several authors to a recent event at the Writers House, they say. “Writing now is so much about marketing, because you don’t have Random House calling you anymore,” Russell says. “Writing the book is easy. Everything else is a bit more challenging.”
Jacqueline S. Gutierrez of Levittown, who wrote “What Happened to My Strawberry Yogurt? Ever Wonder What Happens to the Food You Eat?” (Sprouting Seed Press, $7.95), had her book release event at the Writers House. “I think it’s a good forum for writers, especially those without huge followings yet,” Gutierrez says.
Selene Castrovilla of Island Park, who wrote the young adult love story “Melt” (Last Syllable Books, $11.99), agrees. Castrovilla attends open writing sessions because it’s better than a coffee shop where music is playing. “I’m always more creative when I’m with a bunch of artists. My mind just flourishes,” she says. “I don’t know of any other place where I can do that.”