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Life of a Writer: August 2022

August 24, 2022



Kelly Adams (writing as K. L. Going) (WC4CYA) sold a picture book called Big Kids that she wrote as part of her first independent study at Spalding. The book sold to Margaret Raymo at Little Brown and Company and is slated for a 2025 publication date. The story was inspired by one of the novels-in-verse on her reading list, and she worked with Lesléa Newman on multiple drafts before submission.

Elaine Alexander (PW) staged a reading performance on May 7 of her new full-length dramatic comedy Thanksgiving: 2016 at the Visual Arts and Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, N.C. The play, which centers on an American family immediately after the 2016 election of Trump, takes a darkly hilarious look at the political divide in this country.

Mary Avenanti (F) has had essays published in the spring and summer issues of Mag Pie Magazine, an award-winning Cedar Falls, Iowa, online publication. Mary’s piece in the spring issue, “Quill,” is a semi-autobiographical parable about dreams and determination. The summer issue asked for submissions around the theme of “fresh.” What’s fresher than a daisy? Mary’s essay, entitled “I Am the Day’s Eye,” was started as an assignment during the Naslund-Mann spring residency. She submitted some of her own photography and watercolor to accompany both pieces. Both issues can be accessed on the Mag Pie Magazine site.

Theresa Anne Carey’s (SW) screenplay, Mestengo, advanced to the quarterfinal round of the 2022 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. Her script is one of only 359 entries to emerge from the 5,526 screenplays submitted. Mestengo was written under the tutelage of mentor Sam Zalutsky and polished under mentor Larry Brenner, with copious rewrites based on notes from her Spalding peers and lessons learned from mentors Charlie Schulman and Gabriel Jason Dean.

Cheré Coen (F) began a Southern Writer Spotlight on her blog, Weird, Wacky & Wild South, in which she features several guest author posts. The author spotlights, part of the blog’s “Southern Reads” section, took place over the summer. Cheré also wrote a blog post called “The Witch Tree of Louisville“ after attending the Old Louisville Ghost Tour before spring residency. Various myths surround the gnarled osage orange tree at the corner of Sixth and Park streets in Louisville, and the tree that it replaced, and today residents and visitors place tokens on the current tree’s branches and roots.

Tyrel Kessinger (F ’22) will be leading a lecture on the submission process at the Writer’s Block Festival November 12 at Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg, Indiana.

Toni Trapani’s (F) short story “Looking for Jimmy“ was recently published in The Mud Season Review.


Dianne Aprile (CNF) will read at the season opener of the InKY Reading Series, 7 p.m. ET on September 8. The readings will be presented live on Zoom.

Beth Ann Bauman (W4CYA) was a guest fiction editor for the spring 2022 issue of The Louisville Review.

Roy Hoffman (F, CNF), as prose-writer-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institution, July 10-15, gave a lecture, “Literary Inspiration: Where Stories Come From”; in NYC on July 18 was in dialogue with Charles Salzberg at the Mysterious Bookshop about Roy’s novel, The Promise of the Pelican; and was interviewed about his novel on the South Carolina Public Radio show Walter Edgar’s Journal. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Cynthia Tucker chose The Promise of the Pelican as a summer reading pick. Roy was also a judge for an essay contest about the personal impact of poetry, “Poetry Unites Alabama,” on Alabama Public Television, part of an ongoing national program.

Jason Kyle Howard’s (CNF, PW) essay “Perfume Genius Sings the Body Electric” appeared in The Atlantic in June. He has an essay forthcoming in Oxford American and will be part of a reading to benefit Hindman Settlement School, which sustained significant damage in the recent Eastern Kentucky floods and has provided meals, supplies, and lodging to those impacted in the surrounding communities. The reading will be held at 3 p.m. August 28 at Luigart Studio in Lexington, Kentucky.

Erin Keane (CNF, PW) just wrapped recording the narration for the audiobook of her new memoir in essays, Runaway: Notes on the Myths that Made Me. The book is out September 27 from Belt Publishing, and Blackstone Audio will be releasing the audiobook. Here’s what she learned: “Listen to your director—they’re there to help you sound your best. You’ll want to snack just enough during breaks to keep your stomach from rumbling—green grapes and bananas are good. And you will learn just how many words you’ve been mispronouncing your entire life, all at once.” Erin's book launch takes place at Carmichael's Bookstore on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville on September 27; she will be in conversation with Katy Yocom.

Robin Lippincott (F, CNF) and alum Liza Mattison (F ’17) have collaborated (Robin’s text, Liza’s illustrations) on what they think of as a picture book for adults—not that it’s X-rated or anything. Now they’re looking for a publisher and wonder if anyone in the Spalding community has ideas, suggestions, leads, or is an interested publisher?

Karen Mann (administrative director) recently read The Other Mother by faculty member Rachel Harper and The Light Always Breaks by faculty member Angela Jackson-Brown. Karen recommends you put both of these books on your reading list now! The following is a personal note from Karen and Sena Jeter Naslund: “While we were unable to attend the gala celebration in May, we both enjoyed the virtual get-together on May 26 and received many kind notes and emails. We send a big thank you to Cindy Brady for her generosity and for naming the school in our honor. We are both humbled and honored and thank all of you for making our experiences so rewarding.”

Lee Martin’s (F, CNF) new novel, The Glassmaker’s Wife, will be out on December 6. A pinch of white powder, a scorched paper, a community eager to assign guilt, an apothecary’s imagination, a young girl’s first steps into the tangles of revenge, a life waiting for her on the other side. Based on the true story of Betsey Reed, who was accused of poisoning her husband in 1844, The Glassmaker’s Wife is a story of the contradictions and imperfections of the human heart that lead people to choices and the consequences they’d do anything to be able to escape.

Nancy McCabe’s (F, CNF) young adult novel Vaulting through Time is forthcoming from CamCat Books in summer 2023. Her essays and poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Bright Flash Review, the Brevity Blog, Evening Street, Chautauqua, Spillway, and Coachella Review.

Lesléa Newman (W4CYA) has received two Certificates of Excellence from the Cat Writers Association, one for her board book 1-2-3 Cats, and one for her board book ABC Cats.

Maggie Smith (P) has a memoir, You Could Make This Place Beautiful, coming out on April 4, 2023, from Atria Books/Simon & Schuster. The book is available for preorder now.

Jeanie Thompson (P) took part in the Mystikos Poetry Workshop on the island of Serifos, Greece, June 11 - July 1. Twenty-four poets from around the country were invited to workshop with poets Carolyn Forché, Ilya Kaminsky, and Scott Cairns. Jeanie had ample time to begin new poems and also two commissioned essays. “Successful Daily Living,” about Alabama outsider artist Rev. Benjamin F. Perkins, with whom Jeanie worked on a poetry/photography project in the early 1990s, has just been accepted for publication in Tributaries, the journal of the Alabama Folklife Association. Jeanie’s second essay begun in Greece, “A Generous Becoming,” will be included in an anthology of pieces by older women writers and artists describing how their art practice has sustained them throughout their lives. The anthology will be published by The University of Georgia Press under the imprint New South Books in Summer 2023.

Katy Yocom (associate director) appears in conversation with novelist Cynthia Newberry Martin (Tidal Flats) on August 25 at Carmichael’s Bookstore, on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, to talk about their respective books. After that, she’s thrilled to be a conversation partner with faculty member Erin Keane on September 27 at Carmichael’s at the launch event for Erin’s new memoir, Runaway: Notes on the Myths that Made Me. She and Kathleen Driskell will appear on October 29 at the Kentucky Book Festival at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington with their co-edited anthology, Creativity & Compassion: Spalding Writers Celebrate Twenty Years.


Deborah Begel (CNF ’06) published an editorial in the My View column of the Santa Fe New Mexican on August 6. “The Rio Arriba Way—can it change?” praises a county commissioner for calling on her colleagues to be more transparent and open to public comment. It also sings the praises of a state district judge who seems determined not to let a woman who embezzled $80,000 from students at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola avoid jail time.

Whitney Collins (F ’18) has a second short story collection forthcoming with Sarabande Books. Ricky & Other Love Stories will be published in January 2024. Whitney’s first collection, Big Bad (Sarabande, 2021), won the 2019 Mary McCarthy Prize, a 2022 IPPY Gold Medal, and a 2021 INDIES Bronze Medal. Whitney also received a 2020 Pushcart Prize, a 2020 Pushcart Special Mention, and won the 2020 American Short(er) Fiction Prize and Grist’s 2021 ProForma Contest. Whitney’s stories have appeared in AGNI, Gulf Coast, American Short Fiction, and Best Small Fictions 2022, among others.

Joan Donaldson (CNF '08) won the SCBWI-MI mentorship contest with her YA manuscript Brotherhood. For the next year, Kelly Baptist will critique and guide Joan as they work together on the manuscript.

J. Gabriel Gates (F, W4CYA ’15) recently released the first two books of his Luck Gods series, a YA contemporary fantasy series featuring a female protagonist with OCD and a unique luck-based magic system. The books were published by Steed Publishing and Media, LLC, an independent publisher that Gates founded.

Karen George (F ’09) had an erasure poem of a page in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “Circe’s Palace,” part of his collection Tanglewood Tales, published at Heron Tree. She also had three poems inspired by Andrea Kowch paintings published at Cultural Daily and had a poem selected as part of the Poetic License Exhibit, where artist Stevan Jennis created a work of art in response to her poem—a collaborative project between Arts Society of Kingston and Poetry Barn. Karen also had an excerpt from a novel-in-progress longlisted for the 2021 Novel Excerpt Contest at The Master’s Review.

Jason Hill’s (F '14) piece “Cerro Santa Lucia, or The Chile Story” will appear in the Silver Rose Anthology: Heartbreak​​​ this fall. “It’s my first anthologized piece, so that feels cool. It’s the fifth story from my collection Connecting Flights​​​, which is currently seeking a home, to be accepted for publication,” he says.

Lynn Hoffman’s (SW, W4CYA ’15) monologue, “In Translation,” will be published in March by Smith & Kraus in their forthcoming anthology, WE/US: Monologues for Gender-Minority Characters. She wrote the monologue in 2019 when she was a fellow at the Kennedy Center’s Summer Playwriting Intensive.

Andra Laine Hunter (PW ’21) is thrilled to announce that the world premiere of her MFA thesis play, The Abbey of the Holy Lonesome, is coming up October 20 - November 6 at The Lab Theater Project in Tampa, Florida. Tickets will be available, both live and streaming, soon. Abbey is also available in podcast format (for free!) from The Garden of Voices wherever you get your podcasts! Additionally, her play Rocking has been selected for production at Heller Theatre Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The production is slated for March 2023.

Alice Jennings (P ’14) is pleased to announce that one of her “Centos for Ukraine” has been accepted for publication by 14, an annual poetry magazine devoted to poems of 14 lines only.

Samuel Krauss (SW ’22) has been chosen as a 2022 Virtual Entertainment Lab Fellow by RespectAbility. Read the write-up in The Hollywood Reporter.

Maryann Lesert (F ’03) was a writer in residence at Storyknife Writers Retreat in Homer, Alaska, for the month of May, where she worked on a new novel with the beauty of the Kenai Peninsula and its wildlife as inspiration. Applications for Storyknife’s 2023 season are now open, and Maryann encourages all eligible writers to apply. Upon her return home, she discovered that her first novel, Base Ten (2009), appeared on Book Riot’s May 27 list of some of the best books about women in space.

Quincy Gray McMichael (CNF ’22) announces the publication of two essays. Her lyric piece “Pigs in Winter” was published by The Dewdrop in July. This essay was a poem in a former life (thanks, Silas!) and is part of Quincy’s hybrid memoir, which explores obsession and overwork through a blend of poetry and prose. Appalachian Review subscribers may notice “Grasping at Grace” in the Summer 2022 issue. This essay, which Quincy began in response to a prompt from Roy Hoffman during her first term at Spalding, explores familial pain and healing through the lens of Paul Simon’s Graceland. When not at her writing desk, Quincy stewards her farm, Vernal Vibe Rise, on Moneton ancestral land in the mountains of West Virginia.

Angie Mimms (CNF ’15) wrote a personal column about baseball, her daughter, and the Miracle League of Louisville that ran in the Courier Journal in July. Also that month, she attended the Appalachian Writers Workshop in Hindman, Kentucky, where she left her comfort zone and took a poetry workshop. The workshop leader, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, was exploring the choreography of poetry, so Angie had to choreograph some of her poetry and perform it for the class. If only she had known! It was a great workshop but ended too soon when the flooding struck. Angie is thankful attendees stayed safe. If anyone wants to support Eastern Kentucky’s flood recovery, the Hindman Settlement School, where the workshop is held, is a more-than-worthy organization. Angie volunteers for Radio Eye, a reading service for people who have difficulty reading printed material. The service offers recordings of Kentucky newspapers as well as magazines, books, shopping guides, and children’s literature.

Andrew Najberg (P ’10) has a horror novel forthcoming from Cactus Moon Press, winter 2023. His short story “Where We Leave Ourselves” appeared in Prose Online. He also had the following poems published in the last year: “Fighting Fermi,” in Brain Mills Press, May 2022, winner of the Brain Mills Press National Poetry Month competition; “How to Carry On,” in Good River Review, April 2022; “There is always one left,” in Asheville Poetry Review, Spring 2022; “How I Believe in Ghosts,” forthcoming in North American Review, 2022; “Year of the Rat,” in Broad River Review, December 2021; “When I grow up,” forthcoming in Coastal Shelf 2021 End of Year issue; “Yesterday, The Split of Prokaryotes,” forthcoming in Coastal Shelf, Winter 2022; and “Things I Need to Know,” in Symposeum, Fall 2021.

Brett Neveu’s (PW ’15) play Eric Larue is being adapted into a film, directed by Michael Shannon in his directorial debut. The cast includes Judy Greer, Paul Sparks, Alison Pill, Tracy Letts, and Alexander Skarsgard.

Portia Pennington (SW ’17) is happy to share the publication of her article “A Time for Every Purpose: Hospice Care in Kentucky in the Summer 2022 issue of Kentucky Folklife Magazine.

Premiering August 15 on Netflix is a new animated kids’ show called Deepa and Anoop! Atul N. Rao (SW ’16) served as head writer and story editor for thirty-six episodes and two specials. The first episodes are now airing on Netflix! “Please watch as many episodes as you can!” he says.

Graham Shelby (CNF ’10) recently accepted the Jesse Stuart Media Award from the Kentucky Association for School Librarians (KASL) for his work directing the documentary City of Ali. KASL president Deidra Bowling-Meade says, “As Kentucky media librarians, we are always looking for resources that engage students from a cultural, social, and historical perspective. City of Ali does that and more; it captures the attention of young people who may not be aware of Muhammad Ali’s tremendous impact outside of boxing.” More information on City of Ali and its free educational curriculum is available here:

Rosanna Staffa (F ’14) is thrilled to announce that her debut novel, The War Ends at Four, will be published by Regal House Publishing in May 2023.

Katerina Stoykova (P ’09) has two new books published this summer. One of them is her poetry collection American Delicacies (ICU, 2022, Bulgarian), and the second is a volume of her selected poems, translated into Arabic by acclaimed poet Khairi Hamdan and published by Dar Al Biruni press in Jordan.

Kylie Ayn Yockey (F ’22) recently sat down with Blue Stone Writers founder Claire Campbell to discuss literary academia, community, and the ways we circle our origins as writers. You can read the full interview here.


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