I’m super excited that I have been accepted into Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults! I look forward to my first residency in January, 2021. Please reach out if you are a VCFA WCYA student or alumnx.
Wow, I’m so happy to announce I was selected for the 2020 #PBChat Mentorship program! My amazing mentor is Christian Trimmer, Children’s Author, Editorial Director of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, and all-around kind human being. It has been an incredible experience so far. If you don’t know, #PBChat is an online community created by Justin Colón, a Latinx children’s author, active SCBWI member, and founder of PBChat, the twitter chat and annual mentorship program for picture book creators. He’s also now my hero!
I would have never had a picture book manuscript to pitch were it not for my participation in Julie Hedlund‘s vibrant community of picture book creators, the 12 X 12 Challenge, and the resources I’ve found through my membership in SCBWI. In January of this year, I was feeling stuck with my middle grade manuscript and writing in general. I decided to stretch my imagination a little bit with picture books and joined the 12 x 12 Challenge. Let me tell you, deadlines and peer pressure work. Thanks to these communities of writers and to my awesome critique partner for her honest and helpful feedback. Keep making art, friends.
My family is tucked away in the woods on a rural hillside, riding out all that the world is experiencing and surviving right now. It’s a contemplative time. I have a lot of privilege at the moment – a day job that continues through work at home, a healthy family, supportive – if physically distant – friends, food on the table, safe places to be outside, and a roof over our heads. We wish for everyone to stay healthy and safe. Stay creative if you can. Plan to vote on November 3rd, and take three friends with you when you go.
I started this year with a nice nod from the 2020 We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Program when I was named a finalist. I also made the 2021 wait list for the Lambda Literary Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices – YA category. I continue to explore my writing interests with picture books, a couple of middle grade manuscripts, and even YA speculative fiction and the occasional flash nonfiction. I meet most weeks online for a craft talk with the Lost River Writers’ Retreat which always surprises me. I’ve attended a whole bunch of amazing digital craft workshops through SCBWI. Keep going, you. Here’s to dreaming big, especially now.
My 4-year anniversary of hosting CABIN READS is this month! Join us at the Lost River Trading Post on July 31st from 6-8pm to hear from local award-winning author John Copenhaver and others from THE LOST RIVER WRITERS’ RETREAT as they read from their works in progress:
JENNIFER BUNDY is a poet and author of the audio chapbook Girls (EAT Poems). She is the Director of Bridge Eight Press and Co-director of the Douglas Anderson Writers’ Festival. She has taught at IES José María Infantes, a secondary art institute in Sevilla, Spain, and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Tulane Review, Jelly Bucket, Cagibi, and elsewhere.
JOHN COPENHAVER has been nominated for the Anthony, Barry, Lammy, and Strand Critics awards for his historical mystery Dodging and Burning (Pegasus, 2018). He writes a crime fiction column for Lambda Literary called “Blacklight.” He’s been awarded five DCCAH Artist Fellowships. He’s published in CrimeReads, Electric Lit, Glitterwolf, PANK, Washington Independent Review of Books, New York Journal of Books, and others. He chairs the 7-12 grade English at Flint Hill School and lives in DC with his husband.
MOLLY GALLENTINE is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at The New School. Her written works have been published in places such as The Wall Street Journal, Gulf Coast, and the Normal School. Gallentine is a Pushcart Prize winner, has been twice listed as a notable essayist in The Best American Essays, and is a Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize recipient.
GALE MASSEY‘s debut novel, The Girl From Blind River, received a 2018 Florida Book Award. Her award-winning stories and essays have appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, Sabal, Seven Hills Press, and other places. She has received fellowships at The Sewanee Writers Conference and Eckerd College’s Writers in Paradise, and has been nominated for the 2019 Clara Johnson Award. Massey, a Florida native, lives in St. Petersburg. The Girl From Blind River is a coming of age story centered around family dysfunction, illegal gambling and small-town corruption.
JESSICA HENDRY NELSON is the author of the memoir If Only You People Could Follow Directions (Counterpoint Press, 2014) and the forthcoming textbook and anthology Advanced Creative Nonfiction along with the writer Sean Prentiss (Bloomsbury, 2021). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Tin House, The Threepenny Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Columbia Journal, PANK, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Nebraska in Omaha and is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Denison University. More at jessicahnelson.com.
KRISTIN SHERMAN’s work has appeared in Brevity, Barrelhouse, Flashquake and Silk Road among others. She has been a finalist in many short fiction contests but rarely wins. She lives in Charlotte, NC where she writes English as a Second Language textbooks and spends a lot of time rowing on the Catawba River. She is currently working on a novel.
This year I’m working on poetry for the first time ever and revising my manuscript and Facetiming my long-distance critique partner and organizing this summer’s CABIN READS with the Lost River Writers’ Retreat. I’m also taking a lot of daffodil photos because they are vain like that. Happy reading. Happy writing. Happy Spring.
Join me as I host CABIN READS again this year. I’ll introduce some of my favorite people to the tiny Appalachian town of Wardensville in the eastern panhandle of WV when the authors of the LOST RIVER WRITERS’ RETREAT read from their works in progress at the LOST RIVER TRADING POST on AUGUST 2nd at 6pm. UPDATED with photos of this event.
Then, on OCTOBER 6th, join us at the WARDENSVILLE GARDEN MARKET in partnership with the MD/DE/WV Regional Chapter of the SOCIETY OF CHILDREN’S BOOK WRITERS + ILLUSTRATORS for a free WV CREATORS’ CAMP on the farm, a writing and sketching event for SCBWI members or for those interested in learning more.
I’m so excited to be the recipient of a 2018 Individual Artist professional development grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, approved by the WV Commission on the Arts. Getting tangible help and positive feedback on my writing and community-building efforts is just amazing. Thank you to all the arts organizations who are still pushing ahead with a mission to give resources and support to artists and writers of all kinds.
THE BOOK OF DUST, by Philip Pullman, is another amazing journey from one of my all-time favorite authors, this time with baby Lyra and new and old characters to protect her. I love this series, forever and ever.
THE RIVER, by Gary Paulsen, a fast-paced survival story that follows his amazing story, HATCHET. I read it in one sitting!
1973 Newbury winner JULIE OF THE WOLVES, by naturalist Jean Craighead George. “‘Change your ways when fear seizes,’ he said, ‘for it usually means you are doing something wrong.’” I now feel I can survive the tundra. I already know how to live with wolves.
I vividly recall my kindergarten teacher handing us a form to indicate what we wanted to be when we grow up. There were different careers listed in the boy column vs. the girl column. (It was 1970.) The closest thing I could find that matched me was in the boy column, so I nervously picked it: Cowboy. I have definitely been fighting stereotypes ever since. Because no child should feel uncomfortable being who they are, my Read #3 is FLYING LESSONS & OTHER STORIES, fullof diverse authors and protagonists, just as it should be. My favorite so far is Tim Federle’s Secret Samantha, with a protagonist I would have loved as a kid. #weneeddiversebooks #representationmatters
CABIN READS returned this summer – now in partnership with the nonprofit, youth-powered farm WARDENSVILLE GARDEN MARKET – with a second annual reading by the LOST RIVER WRITERS’ RETREAT. Participants in this year’s loveliest of readings were:
MATTHEW ALBERSWERTH is a recent graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA for writers. He currently lives in his hometown of Washington DC.
JOHN COPENHAVER’S debut novel, Dodging and Burning, will be published by Pegasus Books (Pegasus Crime) in March 2018. For three consecutive years, he has been awarded an Artist Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. In 2015, he won the Larry Neal Writers’ Award for short fiction, judged by Alice McDermott, and launched a new crime fiction column for the Lambda Literary website called “Blacklight.” His fiction has appeared in various literary magazines, including Glitterwolf and Gaslight. He is Lambda Literary Fellow and received his MFA in fiction from George Mason. He chairs the 7-12 English Department at Flint Hill School in Oakton, VA. He lives with his husband and two insanely photogenic dogs in Washington, DC.
ERIKA NICHOLS-FRAZER is an MFA student in Fiction at Bennington College’s Writing Seminars, as well as the Communications Manager of the Children’s Literacy Foundation. She writes fiction, poetry, and the occasional essay, and her work has appeared in Runaway Parade, Haggard & Halloo, and Please Do Not Remove: A Collection Celebrating Literature and Libraries, as well as in several of the Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop’s anthologies. She also served as the poetry editor for that publication’s debut issue. Erika holds a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Waitsfield, Vermont with her husband, dogs, and chickens.
KAREN SOSNOSKI’S fiction and nonfiction, most recently in Argot Magazine, Sunlight Press (pending) and on Romper, explores what happens when people face their limitations through disability, illness, sports, or other intense encounters (such as art). Her work has also appeared in the LA Times, Poets and Writers, Word Riot, Grappling, Bitch, Radioactive Moat, decomp, Identity Theory, Chaffee Review, Yellow Mama, Psychology Today, Camroc Review and on Studio 360, This American Life and Boundoff. Berkeley Media distributes her documentary film, “Wedding Advice: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace.” Her story “Too Sweet” is published in the seventh anthology (Fall 2016) in the Grace & Gravity series of fiction by Washington, DC-area women. A mother, disabilities advocate, and Special Ed PTA board member, Karen is working on a novel Elizabeth Hillman’s Teeth about a poorly connected, adjunct English instructor who disavows her life-long meekness to avenge a famous artist she believes has stolen her destiny.
ROSS WHITE is the author of How We Came Upon the Colony and The Polite Society. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Tin House, New England Review, and other literary journals. He serves as the Poetry Editor for Four Way Review and Director of Bull City Press. The winner of the 2016 Larry Levis Postgraduate Fellowship from Warren Wilson College, Ross teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.