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What's Your Story?

Let's put it together and get it out 
to the people you most want to reach.

About Me

I'm a  seasoned writer and filmmaker, published essayist, stand-up storyteller, speechwriter, and former NYU instructor in marketing and writing.


For twenty-five years, I've been helping people and organizations develop narratives, refine messaging and tell compelling  stories across all media.

My client list spans the gamut from Fortune 100 companies in technology,  professional services, banking, and the health care industry to arts organizations and smaller not-for profits.  

My essays have been published in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, The Tennesseean, Creative Maine, NYC's Woman Around Town, The American Classical Orchestra (website), and New England food and design magazines. My documentary films have been shown on invitation at the Berlin Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Ann Arbor Film Festival. The corporate videos I've produced and directed  have won numerous industry awards, including gold and silver Tellys. The original piano compositions I've scored for silent films can be heard in Kino Lorber's boxed Blu-ray disk sets Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers and Cinema's First Nasty Women.


Carolyn Swartz

 (Some of) What I do 

Content and brand messaging strategy and writing

Video: concept and scripting, production and direction from concept through delivery

Magazine features: food, lifestyle, profiles, humor and personal essays

Website communications: design strategy and content creation

Speechwriting and presentation coaching

Creative concept and facilitation

Composing and live scoring silent films

What I Do


Christmas Cabbage, Then and Now

Like people, beets can look a lot of different ways. At farmers' markets, you'll find the widest range in color, size and shape: taut and round, slim and tapered, fat and irregular in a dazzling array from whites and golds to pinks, reds and deep purples... 


Fresh Summer Rolls, Diamonds Optional

JFresh summer rolls are easy to make and require (almost) no cooking.  Ingredients are readily available; the rolling goes fast. And the result makes for an impressive summer appetizer that’s delicious and fun to eat...  


Numbers Game

To put it simply, we’re at odds. It has become an increasingly contentious relationship, with my (reasonable) expectations nothing like what I’m getting back. Yes, I’ve used language I’m not proud of—but only in response to insults I’ve been subjected to and the blunt implication that the truth hurts...


Hers; All That Glitters is the Tub

THE MOMENT I hear that someone will be dropping by my apartment, I find myself draped over the side of the bathtub, a can of Ajax in one hand and a sponge in the other. It doesn't matter who's coming, how long the person will stay or what I happen to be doing at the time. I hang up the phone and head straight for the bathroom... 

Rossini: Composer and Gourmand

So many great classical composers died young, leaving behind such extraordinary torrents of work, we can only wonder what they might have accomplished with more time...

Mozart: So Not a Foodie

Ever wonder what was Mozart’s favorite food? If so, you are not alone. A Google search of those three words, in quotes, brings up around 750 results. Among them: a smattering of capon and pork cutlets – the latter a cause of speculation around the composer’s cause of death. But mostly you’ll find liver dumplings and sauerkraut...

Musical Giants
on Bach and his B Minor Mass

Ludwig von Beethoven, who kept a picture of Bach on his cluttered desk, once famously joked that the composer, whose name means 'brook" in German should instead have been named Meer ("sea") —for his "endlessly inexhaustible wealth of musical ideas."

A Brief Musical History of the Mass

Chanting has surely been central to spiritual practice since our ancestors gathered in caves to summon the spirits favorable to the upcoming hunt. So when early Christians—formerly or descended from Jews—set out to establish a new religion, it is believed that they drew on traditions of Hebrew ritual chants.

Edible Complex

When the food aversions of the mother are inadvertently passed on to the son... 

The Eyes of J.S. Bach

January is National Eyecare Month—a reminder that until recently untreatable eye conditions could curtail productivity at any stage of life; and disastrous attempts at surgical remedies would more often than not bring life to an end...

Felix Mendelssohn: A Complex Legacy

It would be impossible to reflect on on the legacy of the composer Felix Mendelssohn without also considering the impact of his Jewish heritage and the deep-rooted anti-Semitism of his times...


Fanny Mendelssohn:
A Tale of Two Siblings

In early 19th century Berlin, banker Abraham Mendelssohn and his wife Lea (née Salomon) Mendelssohn hired only the city’s top tutors to educate their four children in academics, music, and art...


Beethoven Bites

When it comes to eating, Germans – like people everywhere – enjoy their food. But across Germany, gastronomy has never been the national obsession it is in Italy and France.  So it’s not surprising that Beethoven – whose mind overflowed with groundbreaking musical ideas – regarded food as little more than sustenance to get him from one page of writing to the next...

The Beet Goes On

Like people, beets can look a lot of different ways. At farmers' markets, you'll find the widest range in color, size and shape: taut and round, slim and tapered, fat and irregular in a dazzling array from whites and golds to pinks, reds and deep purples... 

Mozart: A Genius with a few Quirks

Much has been made in books, plays, and films about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's odd, tic-like behaviors and patterns of speech. Still, many viewers and even critics deemed Tom Hulce's portrayal of the composer in Milos Forman's Amadeus—the film adaptation of Peter Schaeffer's play—clownish, extreme, and over the top...

The Chickpea 
Miss Congeniality?


If there were a beauty contest for beans, the chickpea would likely be crowned Miss Congeniality. A little lumpy and just shy of round, it isn’t much to look at.But when judged on versatility, compatibility and all-around friendliness to cook with, the chickpea is a total winner..


Pride and Prejudice


As Mainers in spirit or in residence, we hold an emotional attachment to the sea. Those are our waters that stretch from craggy shores to beyond the distant horizon. We want them to remain vibrant, resilient and rich in bounty for generations to come...

A Complex Legacy of Music and Identity

Some music lovers think of Felix Mendelssohn as the great Jewish composer. Others view him as not so great at all. Speculation about Mendelssohn’s Jewishness, along with whether or not he deserves a place in the pantheon of classical composers, have given fodder to scholars since the composer’s death in 1847... 

Love Handel

George Friedric Handel occupies an exalted place in the pantheon of great composers – revered not only by centuries of music lovers, but also by generations of composers.Bach is said to have called his esteemed contemporary “the only person I would wish to see before I die, and the only one I would wish to be – were I not Bach.”

Haydn: Life as a Surprise Symphony

For classical composers of the 18th century, there was something to be said for steady, salaried employment. To be sure, freelancing offered greater personal and artistic liberty. But then, as now, independence came at a price: financial uncertainty and the continual stress of having to curry favor with multiple patrons....


view more of my films on Vimeo

Writing Coach
If your high school senior is stressing out over the college application essay...

While on the faculty of the NYU Graduate School of Professional Studies, my writing students routinely sought out my guidance in crafting essays for their applications for professional positions or further academic study.  


Working closely with the administration, I also got to look at and weigh in on the essays included in student applications to the program. 


I can help kids uncover, explore and craft a standout college essay–in their own voice, from their own experience and observations. 

Most often, a small personal story creates the strongest impact - not the one about "saving the world" by participating in a  volunteer program in a third-world country.

Working one-on-one, I’ll guide your senior through a process of self-discovery that’s revelatory and productive, non-threatening .and fun.  Having a sense of humor helps.

The result: a college essay that's personal and compelling,  free of bombast and unintentional cliché, and - most importantly - in the student's own words.

Contact Carolyn Swartz

Get in touch!

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