News from the world of No You Tell It

Student Story Swap at Legal Outreach

Mike Dressel, Erika Marit Iverson, and Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons, the three-headed dog of NYTI, are headed to Legal Outreach today for a student story swap working with participants in their College Bound program to help strengthen their personal essays for college applications.
This event is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

The Plan

Tomorrow! New podcast episode featuring a fab flip up from poet H.E. Fisher and comedian Ellie Dvorkin from the second half of our “aMuse” show. Subscribe on iTunes, AudioBoom, or right here!

H.E. Fisher and Ellie Dvorkin

First, read this personal essay from (wow) 2007, which how our own Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons first met author H.E. Fisher! We are all in on:


I had my annual checkup. Every year, the experience gets increasingly arcane. I’m like an old car: the more miles, the more servicing. I have parts I never knew existed and none of which can be ordered from the manufacturer to be replaced. It becomes a game of maintenance. From a medical perspective, middle age seems to be all about getting into the best shape possible in order to reach the inevitable in one piece. In other words, my job is to stay healthy until I croak.

To achieve this goal, I was told to lose weight, cut my bad cholesterol in half, and lower my blood pressure. The physician handed me a list of foods to stay away from. It included every food that was white, or had salt, sugar, or fat.

Here’s what remained:

  1. Broccoli.
  2. Romaine lettuce.

A few years back I read a fashionable book that was written to help people lower their cholesterol. The author suggested that readers reduce their intake of carrots. Has anyone in the history of cardio infarction ever had the notation in their medical records: CAUSE: CARROTS? Are there people out there blaming their ample midsections on these lovely orange vegetables?

In any case, I did what the doctor said. I don’t eat cheese or red meat anymore. I’ve switched to whole wheat pasta and rice. I try to stay away from carrots. I limit my sweets. I drink decaf with fat-free milk, and green tea. I exercise. And I smile. A lot. Not because I’m so proud of myself for taking care of my body. I am proud. But that’s not what’s behind this ample grin. It’s that I have a plan. A plan that is called Gluttony at 80.

My plan is simple. Stick to a healthy lifestyle – eat well, exercise, meditate, watch Oprah, take my meds. And then, when I turn 80, blow it all to hell.

First up: cheesecake. One from Juniors of Brooklyn, the other from Venieros in the East Village. Next, pastrami on rye with mustard. The real stuff, nothing derived from a turkey. Whatever vein-clogging part of whatever animal it’s made from, that’s what I’m eating. So long as it’s greasy and smoked.

Bread is on the list. Any kind and a lot. With butter.

Anything vegan is out of the question.

Just to make sure I really enjoy myself, I’m going to put myself in the position of having the munchies. Therefore, I will also re-introduce non-prescription drugs into my aged life. I figure I might as well make it a lot of drugs. I haven’t quite worked out how I’m getting them, but my hope is that I will have college-age grandchildren or even greatgrandchild upon whom I can call to hook Granny up with some good shit.

Now, because I want to eat anything when I turn 80, but will simultaneously desire to retain my slender and fabulously toned physique, I will resume smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Maybe two. And this time, I’m going for broke. Marlboros. Nothing with reduced nicotine. I will be the de facto poster child for mid-century cigarette campaigns. The Marlboro Nana. My wrinkled face shall grace billboards and magazines all across the country with the words GRANDMA SAYS, “SMOKE!”

The suburbs aren’t conducive to high-end, top-shelf enjoyable gluttony. They’re too judgmental. This plan does not include lectures or sideways looks. Therefore, I am going to have to move back to Manhattan. A nice doorman building on the East Side so that there will always be someone there to help me carry up the groceries and recreational contraband.

Gluttony at 80 will allow me to take certain liberties. My email will be set to a vacation response saying, “I am out and won’t be returning.” I will advise my accountant to roll my retirement savings into fast food conglomerate investments. I will commission a glassblower to create a lead crystal bong with a platinum bowl. I will host a soiree at a gallery space with a single piece of art: a 65 inch flat panel LCD HDTV featuring a continuous loop of one of those insurance commercials in which a geriatric white couple wearing matching velveteen jogging suits power stroll along a sun-dappled wooded path in a perfectly manicured public park, just to hear my guests comment, “How ironic.” At the end of the evening, I will hand out goody bags filled with food made from processed sugar as well as gift certificates from reliable head shops in New Paltz.

Good health requires hard work and dedication, and alas, relinquishing a certain number of temptations. It seems to me that by 80 we all have earned the right to reclaim at least a few of the things that float our boat. Octogenarians should be able to say, “I’m with the band,” and be handed an all-access-pass to life’s pleasures. Until then, I’ll watch my weight, eat well and exercise, always with a smile on my face.

World Read Aloud Day

Have you heard about #WorldReadAloudDay? Now you have! More answers this Friday, Feb 1st at 7 pm when The Astoria Bookshop hosts a World Read Along Day event, with four local authors including our own Kelly Jean.

Celebrate and curate a love of literacy and storytelling with community members and loved ones (and, if you like, bring a story of your own).

Click here for more info and to RSVP via Facebook.

#Giving Tuesday, Lambda Literary, and Beyond

COMING in 2019! In celebration of NYC hosting WorldPride for the first time and the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, we are teaming up with Lambda Literary in June for a night of queer story swapping. Through No, YOU Tell It!’s unique format of pairing and partnering, this special evening will highlight the multiplicity of the queer experience.

More NYTI 2019 news SOON. But on this #GivingTuesday, YOU can support Lambda Literary, which works tirelessly every day on behalf of #LGBTQ writers and their writing. Hear more from executive director, Sue Landers, below and GIVE today at

In July, I joined Lambda Literary as executive director because I wanted to help amplify LGBTQ voices at a time when the world needs them more than ever. As a teacher recently reminded me, “books make us whole.” That is especially true in the case of LGBTQ youth, who deserve to see positive, complex, and joyful portrayals of LGBTQ life in the books they read at school, which is exactly what Lambda Literary’s LGBTQ Writers in Schools program provides. It’s also true for all the many others who Lambda serves through our programs, including the only writing residency in the world exclusively for up-and-coming queer writers.

YOU can support this necessary, life-affirming work by giving to Lambda Literary this GivingTuesday. It is imperative that Lambda Literary continue to foster and amplify LGBTQ creativity. In our stories are the roadmaps for living, loving, and fighting. Our literature affirms the value of our lives and reflects our expansive humanity. Give now at

– Sue Landers, Executive Director at Lambda Literary

Alum Fun Update: What Doesn’t Kill You

What Doesn’t Kill You: An Anthology of YA Short Fiction features talented No, YOU Tell It! alums including Eliot Schrefer, Tiffany L. Berryman, Hayden Bergman, and Becky Fine-Firesheets among a group of two-dozen distinguished writers from all over the United States and Canada who claim to have survived the harrowing passage of their teenage years—but sometimes just barely! They hope these stories will help you survive too—since they know being a teenager often feels like an impossible task, like it’s trying to kill you for no apparent reason.

The characters in these pages have gone through some stuff—and are still going through some stuff as their stories unfold. (After all, what doesn’t kill you sometimes just keeps trying until the job is done, right?) They’ve been tricked out of money, given up their innocence before realizing what might be lost, and even ended up accidentally traveling through time with the Devil. They’ve thought they’d killed people—and even actually done it. They’ve come out, struggled with eating disorders and OCD, and even had to take on parenting responsibilities all by themselves.

If you’ve ever felt like the world’s out to get you, then this book’s for you. Buy your copy of What Doesn’t Kill You on Indomita Press or by visiting

Alum Fun Update: Raquel I. Penzo’s Péinate

In a time when women’s voices need to be shouted and not silenced, we are proud to recommend:

Péinate: Hair Battles Between Latina Mothers & Daughters includes stories, poems and essays about fights, acceptance, insecurities, and identity, and how it shapes the mother-daughter bond in Latinx households. Little girls longing to be accepted, and considered beautiful, by their moms; and mothers who, guided by fear or stress or not knowing better, who just want the world to accept their daughters. The pieces in this anthology get to heart of the stories most Latinas know too well.

Congratulations to friend and alum Raquel I. Penzo for bringing this fabulous anthology into the world! Click here to get your copy today.

But that’s not all. This weekend you can get a jump on Halloween with this spookalicious Brooklyn Lit Crawl event presented by La Pluma y La Tinta. Saturday, October 6th at 6 pm. Click here for more info and to RSVP.

El Cuco & Other Scary Stories

Orlando Ferrand, Mariana Goycoechea, and Alexis Francisco share tales from their childhood about El Cuco (the boogie man), and what he looked like in Cuba, Guatemala, and Mexico, according to the scary stories their moms told.

Happy Opening! All I Want Is One More Meanwhile…

Light up the Go Glow! Tonight at 7:30 pm the Midwest premiere of ALL I WANT IS ONE MORE MEANWHILE by our own Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons takes flight!  Pay-What-You-can tickets are available now at in Chicago.

Photo credit: Steven Townshend,

Twenty years ago she was Perfectra, an artificially engineered superhero impervious to humanity’s flaws. Today, she is Jane, a real woman who gave up power and perfection to become a mother. But estranged from her daughter and battling against a no-longer-perfect physique is not the ending she planned on. Discovering her daughter has not only been kidnapped by a canine-controlling criminal but worse still, engaged to a local superhero- can this supermom stand by and let her daughter spend her life dangling in distress? Especially as she suspects her daughter might have a secret of her own…  Click here for more photos!

All I Want is One More Meanwhile… 
Written by Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons
Directed by Nathan Pease*

JANE / PERFECTRA – Elizabeth Macdougald*
ADARA / CHORUS – Gaby Fernandez+
CANIUS / CHORUS – Dylan Schaefer*

*Ensemble Member
+Artistic Associate

September 26, 2018 – October 27, 2018
Thu & Fri at 7:30pm, Sat at 2:30pm & 7:30pm, Sun at 2:30pm
PREVIEWS – September 26 – 28, 2018
OPENING NIGHT – September 29, 2018
Otherworld Theatre, 3914 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60613
*Note: There is no matinee on September 29th or October 6th*


Alum Fun Update: Jeanine T. Abraham’s “Community Organized!”

This is the era to take a stand, but generations of African American Women have been standing up for our entire lifetimes.

Community Organized!  is a collection of five short plays written by friend and alum Jeanine T. Abraham, centering the unique experience of American Black Women and Girls who reside on the front lines of activism in our communities while leading the dominant culture with our style, resilience, humor and beauty while (the majority of us) are invisibly visible in America. Hope to see you on the 19th!

Click here for more info and tickets

Writer, Producer, Actor – Jeanine T. Abraham was inspired to write and produce these plays during the 2016 election cycle and after the election results.

Five plays are:

  • Kiel’s Lotion – Takes place at Equinox Gym Brooklyn HeightsLadies dressing room right before the Women’s March 2017
  • And Then They Came For… – Takes place in the near future in front of the Donut Plant on Bergen & Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn
  • Lacefront – Takes place in 2015 at the NYC Traffic Violations Bureau in Brooklyn
  • Natural – Takes place in 2018 on line at the World of Curls Natural hair Festival in Prospect Park Brooklyn
  • Community Organized! – Takes place in 2022 in the Community room of First Baptist United Church in Bed Stuy Brooklyn

Written by Jeanine T. Abraham

Directed by Shannon Patterson

Co-Produced by VisAbleblackwoman Productions & GroundShift

Alum Fun Update: Timmy Waldron’s “Stories for People Who Watch TV”

Our own Kelly Jean is thrilled to be back at Fairleigh Dickinson’s summer writing residency working with faculty, students, and alums of FDU’s MFA in Creative Writing program. No, YOU Tell It! “Schooled” is this Sunday, August 5th, featuring “switched-up” storytellers: Andrew Condouris, Eliot Schrefer, and Tiffany L. Berryman.

SPECIAL SHOUT OUT to FDU and NYTI alum & friend, Timmy Waldron, who has a new short-story collection. Learn more about Stories for People Who Watch TV at and click here to grab a copy!

In Stories for People Who Watch TV, from start to finish, Timmy Waldron deals deftly with the characters of his generation:  the mischief they get up to, their jobs, their coworkers, their new suits, the bars, their parents, their husbands and wives, their dependence on technology and the credit-card grifters, the physical and spiritual fights with one another and themselves.  Waldron’s fictional portrait – as befits a master craftsman – is so impeccable one begins to fear that it is real, and maybe it is – regardless, the reader will continue breathlessly turning pages.  Stories for People Who Watch TV is not to be missed.  Waldron is a writer who delivers!

-Thomas E. Kennedy, author of the Copenhagen Quartet (

Want to HEAR some of Timmy’s work today? Click here listen to him switch up his story in Episode 2 of our podcast.



From Page to Stage: Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute Workshop


Excited to share that Mike Dressel and Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons are teaching a five-week workshop in collaborative creative nonfiction at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence this fall: ‘

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 until Tuesday, October 23, 2018 from 10-12 PM.

Click here for registration details.  & Help us spread the news!

From Page to Stage: Writing Creative Nonfiction for Performance with Mike Dressel and Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

Nothing informs your story like hearing someone else perform your story!

Compose a creative nonfiction story using the collaborative process created by the producers of the nonfiction reading series, No, YOU Tell It!

Whether developing a true-life tale for a venue like The Moth or RISK! or working to sharpen it for publication, our “page to stage” process allows writers to gain a new perspective on the story they want to tell by hearing their words read out loud by someone else, while also improving their own stage presence.

This five-week session takes you from brainstorming, through drafting, to a finished piece of creative nonfiction.

  • Session one features generative exercises such as “I Remember” and “Sensory Blitz” to brainstorm memorable moments and sharpen sensory details.
  • Sessions two and three feature group exercises with targeted feedback for each writer. We’ll also explore revision strategies to find shape and structure, develop your “I-character,” and raise the stakes.
  • Sessions four and five address pacing in performance, strengthening story beats, and rehearsing basic stage techniques to help embody your partner’s story and give it a little oomph in the final reading.

By the end of this workshop, participants take an idea from a thematic suggestion all the way through to a polished draft, engage in useful feedback and revision techniques, and consider the importance of audience and delivery.

Click here for registration details! 

No, YOU Tell It! is a “switched-up” storytelling series dedicated to performing true-life tales with a twist: Each participant develops their own story on the page and then flip scripts with a partner to present each other’s story on stage. We’ve found that this shared storytelling format creates a sense of trust and ownership, and blends the collaborative process of creative writing workshops with the intimacy and immediacy of theatrical performance.

Mike Dressel is a writer and educator. His work has appeared in publications such as Litbreak, The James Franco ReviewChelsea Station, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn, among others, as well as in the anthologies Best Gay Stories 2016 and Best Gay Stories 2017. He has been a judge for The Prose Bowl, a flash fiction reading series, and a panelist on the comedy news show Fight the Feed.

Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons is a writer, teacher, and storyteller. Her recent work has appeared in Hippocampus MagazineMarie ClaireBlack Fox Literary MagazineNewtown Literary, and she is a 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominee. After earning her MFA in creative nonfiction from Fairleigh Dickinson University, she created No, YOU Tell It!, a switched-up storytelling series with a twist: Each NYTI participant develops their own story on the page and then flips scripts with a partner to present each other’s story on stage.

1 2 3 10