Calling all storytellers: Is there a story you’ve been dying to do, or even trying to write, but you know you need help? If so, the Mike Levine Writers Workshop is looking for you. Did we mention it’s free? All you have to do is get to the Catskill Mountains in New York for the long weekend of April 29 – May 2. Some experienced narrative journalists will be waiting to work with you.

So what’s it like? Workshop coach Neil Swidey (whose day job is with The Boston Globe Magazine) describes looking at submitted stories in a supportive but intensive setting:

“There were late nights spent talking about war stories and the stories people had brought with them, conversations continuing through breakfast. It was great to have a focus, something concrete that [participants] were working on. We were actually talking about not just ideas but how to make their stories better.”

Swidey is returning for a second year at the workshop. The roster of other coaches for this year includes Lee Hill Kavanaugh of The Kansas City Star, along with Ben Montgomery and Michael Kruse of the St. Petersburg Times, among others.

mike-levine-workshopWho was Mike Levine? He served as a reporter, columnist, then executive editor at the The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y. Levine died in 2007 at age 54. For a more detailed history, you can read Gregory Favre’s tribute post on or visit the webpage maintained in his memory by The Times-Herald Record.

The workshop is open to working journalists who have between 3 and 12 years of experience (though there is some flexibility in the guidelines). Asked if attendance were limited to print journalists, spokesperson Barbara Gref sent a note saying, “We are open to any kind of media. We’re of the mind that the story should be told in whatever media does it best.”

Gref and all the workshop coaches volunteer their time, in the interest of promoting quality journalism and remembering Levine. According to Swidey, “Those of us who lived and worked with Mike Levine know that he was a guy who helped spot the flight of young writers so that they could reach greater heights. This workshop is for people who think they can fly and want some help getting airborne.”

For more information on the experience, check out Michael Kruse’s blog from last year’s sessions and Ben Montgomery’s December call for entries on The deadline for applications is February 7, and the workshop site says limited funding is available for travel scholarships. Apply here.

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