A Long Time Coming

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Here I am with some of my classmates after the hooding ceremony at Creighton University.

How’s it going, friends? How’s your writing and reading life? Feel free to post in the comments section about your own journeys.

In the meantime, I’ll give you an update on where I am with my journey. It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on my blog, so I feel as if there is a great deal to catch up on. That being said, I’ll give you the condensed version—we all have a lot of reading and writing to do, right?

Graduation

As of mid-May, I’m officially an alumna of the Creighton University MFA program. It was an honor and a privilege to study under Dr. Brent Spencer, Professor Mary Helen StefaniakProfessor David Mullins, and Professor Susan Aizenberg. Each of them taught me important things about the craft in their own ways.

I was exceedingly grateful to put together a collection of short fiction for my thesis with Mary Helen’s guidance. I’m hoping to have a few more of the individual short pieces published—but my thesis project overall may be a collection I eventually submit to publishers for consideration. More revision would be involved before any such decision could be made with certainty.

My longer works, however, continue to be problematic. Two of my novels died in the MFA program—or rather, I filed them away for now to work on my current novel. That being said, I learned a great deal about my particular weaknesses and hope to overcome them with my new project.

I’ve finished with my Blue River responsibilities. It was an interesting start to a journal that I hope will continue to be published by the Creighton MFA program. The latest issue recently came out, so don’t forget to snag a copy.

Post-graduation life is, simply put, calmer and more manageable.

The Day Job

After an intense summer internship last year, I started working as a contract employee for Tethered by Letters. It’s been a learning experience—I’ve never worked as anything other than a regular employee before—but the challenges have helped me grow as a writer, editor, and publisher. I’m currently the publishing assistant for TBL and I work as the editorial assistant for F(r)iction—TBL’s triannual literary and art journal. Broadly, my responsibilities concern everything from intermediate updates to the website, to social media marketing, to F(r)iction assginments and editing, to pretty much everything F(r)Online.

F(r)iction recently was picked up by Barnes & Noble and other select chain, independent, and college bookstores—so we’re in the brick and mortars nationwide (and Canada too)! Pick up a copy of the journal at a bookstore near you and check out the amazing art and literature that we publish.

Recent Published Work

My most recent publication, “One Woman’s Junk,” is a flash fiction story that was featured in Newfound‘s web issue: Vo. 8, Other Worlds. I’ve read and admired the flash fiction Newfound has published for some time now—so to have my work published by them is quite an honor. The editors are also incredibly kind. Be sure to check out and support this wonderful nonprofit publisher.

In January, my flash fiction story, “Force Play,” was published in issue #1 of Obra. This excellent digital magazine, produced by the MFA of the Americas, makes for a great read. I was thankful to work with the considerate editors on staff. Go check out what great literature and art they have to offer.

The online and print versions of Vestal Review #49/#47—in which my flash fiction story “Trace” was published—are also now available to read. Vestal Review has been publishing flash fiction since 2000 and are “the world’s oldest magazine dedicated exclusively to flash fiction.” They also recently published their fiftieth issue, which you can read here.

Up Next

This summer is shaping up to be a busy one. I’ve been submitting many of my short stories and flash fiction creations to journals and magazines. I’ll be participating in workshops in Omaha and online—because quality critiques often lead to better work. I’m working on that novel—consistently, desperately. And when things get overwhelming, I’ll be playing in my garden dirt.

Thanks for stopping in again, friends. And as always, thanks for reading.

Update: New Writings and Current Projects

F(r)iction #5, Tethered by Letters, literary journal


typewriter-1031024_1920Whoever said the summer months were for vacation probably wasn’t a writer (or an editor). My graduate school classes don’t start up again until late August, but I’m as busy as I’ve ever been. Don’t misunderstand—I’m not complaining. This past month especially has been wonderful! What’s more, I have some new published stories up and some fantastic opportunities to share.

New Flash Fiction Stories:

As some of you already know, I have two new published stories that are now available to read online.

  • “Trace” can be found at Vestal Review online (issue 49) and it is forthcoming in print (issue 47). This story deviates greatly from my normal style. I wrote this to see if I could stretch myself as a writer. Though it may not be what you expect, I hope you enjoy it.
  • “Spacefall” is the fourth installment of a Dually Noted group writing project. The writers used the phrase “Hold this—it’s supposed to relieve stress” as a prompt. It was really fun to write and I hope you enjoy it. It’s a personal favorite of mine.

Other Available Writings:

  • “Articulating Agony: The Writer as Antihero” is up on the Blue River blog. While my attempts at being funny may be somewhat laughable… I hope you enjoy it anyway. I would encourage everyone to read the writings of my fellow staff members as well.
  • Helly Luv: The Pop Star Fighting ISIS has surfaced on GERM Magazine. I found this spectacular woman via social media and decided to do a brief feature. She’s a pretty cool artist.
    • As a note: My women’s college and women writers series will be continuing according to one of the editors. You can find a complete list of my GERM Magazine contributions here.

Forthcoming Writings:

  • Interviews:
    • Roger May at Change Seven
    • Molly Rose Quinn at Tethered by Letters
    • Tyler Barton at Tethered by Letters
  • War Song” in The Stark via Wisehouse/Editorial l’Aleph
  • Book Reviews:
    • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders at Tethered by Letters
    • UHaul by Emily Ramser on my blog

Opportunities for Readers and Writers:

I’ve had some exciting adventures with Tethered by Letters lately. As a summer intern for this amazing nonprofit, I have seen first hand how wonderful Dani, Leah, and the staff are to their writers, readers, and business partners. If you’re curious check out what they offer:

  • Readers, participate in the #LitStory Series giveaway for a chance to win a copy of F(r)iction #2, #3, or #4! Here are the details.
  • Free Editing Program: The FEP is a great opportunity for writers. Feedback from an editor is often hard to come by and it can help a writer transform a piece from a fifth draft to a polished work. This program is indeed free once you join the Tethered by Letters community (also free). Here are the details.
  • F(r)iction #5: The anticipated release of this beloved journal of fine art and literature is about to happen—and let me tell you, it is gorgeous. Tell your friends. Tell your friends’ friends. Tell the dude crossing paths with you on the sidewalk—you get the idea. The Kickstarter is up!
  • Dually Noted: Do you want to be part of a group writing project? Submit your story by Friday for your chance to be part of the current TBL story cycle. Submissions are voted upon by a select group of editors and then the chosen story is posted on the website for readers. Try your luck, writers! Submit your awesome 500 word addition—details here—and tell them I sent you.

As fiction editor for Blue River, I’ve been reading some exciting work from graduate students that have submitted to our journal. The great news is that there is still time to submit for the chance to win the Blue River Editors’ Award of $500 (USD). The editors will be giving feedback for each submission. We’re looking for great stories from graduate writers for the first issue and—if you’re a writer in a graduate writing program—we hope to see your work!


Thanks for tuning in and, as always, thanks for reading!

Where You Should Be and When: Urgent Literary Events

Blue River, book drive, donations, literary journal, literary magazine, booksHi friends! There is an explosion of awesome literary events happening in my neck of the woods (and a few other places) that you need to know about. Here’s a quick run down, starting with the most urgent.

At the University of Nebraska Omaha (Omaha, NE):

Tonight 7 pm, Twyla M. Hansen and Tim Hunt will give a reading at the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center. Learn more here.

At Salem College (Winston-Salem, NC):

Tonight at 7 pm, Incunabula is releasing their newest installment of the magazine. Go support some emerging writers if you’re in the area. Learn more here.

At the Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha, NE):

The last Fair Use Reading of the year will be at the Joslyn Art Museum tomorrow night. Get there at 6:30 pm for seats. Make sure to bring books for Blue River‘s book drive! Meredith Spears, Nathan Sindelar, and Shelby Snedeker will be reading.

Enter to win an autographed copy of Pas de Deux: Part One (online):

You’ve got about a day before this opportunity is lost. Put your name in that hat. Also, check out Wynter S.K. and Pas de Deux.

At Salem College (Winston-Salem, NC):

A collegiate publications and journalists conference? Who dare take on such a momentous task? None other than Emily Wonder Woman Ramser of course. Check out this great opportunity coming up April 30. You can learn more here and—never fear—still register by emailing Emily at emily.ramser@salem.edu.

At Pageturners Lounge (Omaha, NE):

Another installment of the literary pub quiz is happening May 4 at 8 pm. Don’t forget to bring your books to donate to Blue River‘s book drive! Learn more about genius and event organizer Theodore Wheeler and about the event.

A Flash Fiction Class for $0.99 (online)?

Yes, the rumors are true, so hurry and sign up. Ilana Masad is teaching this course. Learn more about it here.

Blue River Book Drive (Omaha, NE):

Blue River is seeking book donations for an upcoming fundraiser. Please help us out if you can. Drop them off at Creighton University or at the Fair Use Reading or during the Literary Pub Quiz. Thanks for supporting literature!

Judging for the 2016 Art Young Memorial Award for Poetry

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Art Young (source)

I’m grateful to Marc and Ava (Mr & Mrs Garbanzo) for a great many things. They were the ones who allowed my writing to appear in Garbanzo Literary Journal and then again in Good Morning. So when they asked me to help judge the 2016 Art Young Memorial Award for Poetry, I felt honored.

When I received the poetry packet, however, I found the task to be rather difficult.

I had stumbled upon a pool of talented poets and now had the monumental task of voting for the entry that seemed to “deserve” the prize. I read each poem carefully—studying each word, each punctuation mark, each space, each sensory detail, etc. I was very impressed with the entries. After much painstaking effort and consideration, I offered my votes, which would be added to the votes of the other judges.

I have been on the other end of this process too. I have been the writer submitting work to contests, winning few and losing many. That’s why I so meticulously read and analyzed each poem—because I would want any judge in a writing contest to do the same for me.

January 15, Marc and Ava announced the winners:

The 2016 Art Young Memorial Award for Poetry goes to Terry Severhill for “Beneath the Shadow of the Sun”. An honorable mention goes to Emily Vieweg for “Shadows”. Thanks to all the storytellers who were a part of this event.

Both pieces will appear in the March 1st 2016 issue of Art Young’s Good Morning.

Congratulations to Terry and Emily, and thanks to those who allowed me to read their wonderful poetry submissions.

Upcoming Events

Friends, I wanted to let you know of some upcoming readings I will be participating in. They’re going to be really fun. Please come out and join us if you are close to the area. I’d love to chat with you.

  • Soundz of Freedom presents: Freedom Expressions ~ As seen through the Eyes of a Veteran
    • Thursday, December 10
    • 6-10 p.m.
    • Ralston Arena, 7300 Q Street, Ralston, Nebraska
    • Admission: $12 in advance/$15 day of event
    • I will be playing a very small part in this large event. Around 8:45 p.m. I will be reading a pre-selected work of literature that coincides with the theme for the night: “Seeing the stories of our Veterans through their eyes”
  • Fair Use Reading Series Continued
    • Thursday, December 17
    • 6:45 p.m.
    • Abbott Lecture Hall in the Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street, Omaha, Nebraska
    • Admission: free
    • I will be reading my speculative fiction story “When Continents Collide”, published in F(r)iction #2

 

reading, Creighton University, MFA, writing, fiction, poetry

The Second Fair Use Reading featuring Erin Pulispher, Allison Hraban, and me.

Two Universities, One Reading, New Voices

Creighton University, New Voices, University of Nebraska Omaha, reading, students, fiction, poetry

From left (for Creighton University): our lovely liaison and poet Allison Hraban, poet Aubree Else, and prose writer Nicole Koneck-Wilwerding.

This post is a little late, but I wanted to tell you all about an exciting reading I attended November 19. It was a special event—hosted by Creighton University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO)—known as New Voices. Like the Fair Use readings, it is a series for young and emerging writers who want to read their work aloud to an audience.

There were four writers total, given roughly five minutes to read their work.

Nicole Koneck-Wilwerding began with her funny short story, appropriately titled “Thanksgiving”. It was a series of letters from the main character to her siblings, discussing her upcoming Thanksgiving dinner and the potential problems on the horizon. Through humor, wit, and awkward political battles, Nicole entertained us with a character that is more complex than she originally seems. It was an excellent and engaging piece.

Ashley, a representative of UNO, read next. She read a small collection of poems including “New Moon”, “She’s Human”, “Tabasco Sauce”, and others. Her poems at times were surprising, amusing, and thought-provoking. Some of her images were really interesting and strong. I enjoyed hearing Ashley’s work for the first time.

Nick, another representative for UNO, then read part of his short story “Mile Marker”. His story starts with a dead dog and has this mysterious mixed feeling of a combined Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel and a Stephen King novel. I thought Nick did well with surprise and power dynamics in his piece. I really enjoyed hearing his work for the first time.

Aubree Else finished up the night with a collection of her poems. Some of them I was familiar with from the Fair Use reading like “North G Street House” and “The World Ends for a Fifth Time”. She also read some poems I was not familiar with, like “The Indian Leopard Sticks His Head Into a Pot” and “Waste Places”. I really enjoyed listening to all of them. The last one was my favorite thus far, but each one compelled me to listen and pay attention.

The New Voices readings sometimes feature graduate students, but there are often undergraduate students as well. If you have a chance to attend the next one, I’d encourage you to do so. It’s always wise to support your local writers.