Thursday, December 30, 2010

Q&A with author Vickie Weaver

Billie Girl, from author Vickie Weaver, won the 2009 Leapfrog Literary Press Contest and was published Sept 1, 2010. Vickie is a 2005 graduate of Spalding University’s MFA Program (Louisville, Kentucky). Her next novel, Job’s Daughters, is taking form on the page. On Vickie’s website you’ll find event schedules, a ‘reader’s guide’ and more info about her writing.

Thanks for joining us, Vickie. Tell us a bit about Billie Girl and how the story came to be.
After reading As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner, I kept returning to the end of the novel, and the woman Anse Bundren marries right after burying his first wife. As we know, Anse was far from what we'd call 'a catch.' How desperate might a woman be to marry this man? Surely, no one else wanted her or she would not have become the second Mrs. Bundren. So the idea of a girl that no one wanted stuck with me. The remainder of the inspiration came from century-old photographs of pioneer women: unplucked eyebrows, no makeup, unflattering hairstyles, weathered faces and stern expressions, shapeless dresses. Many of them look like men in women's clothing. Billie Girl was born out of these two observations. 

How have the fall promotions come along for you? I’ve noticed you’ve done a lot of traveling for booksignings and related events. How do you manage your writing time while keeping up with the “business” side of things?
Touring is part of the package when a book is published. It’s tough for a first-time unknown author to get her name out there, so I go as much as I can. It’s my routine to head to my office after dinner to write, revise, research, brainstorm—and I like to stick with that because it grounds me. Sure, there have been times when I’m not as productive because I’m tired or distracted. When I have tour details to iron out, three hours in my office to write can be reduced to fifteen minutes, but it’s my goal to at least say hello to my characters every day. They miss me.

You’ve won several awards for your writing, which leads us to the natural conclusion that you’ve also entered a number of contests. How do you determine which ones to enter? How do you know what contests may be right for your work?
Placing in contests is a good way to build writing credits. My writer friends often give me a heads up about contests. Many are listed in publications such as Poets & Writers—it’s a great resource for contests, and grants, too. Besides reading the contest blurb, I check out the contest website for all details to make sure my work is a fit (subject matter, length, genre). I do standard submissions, too (no contest fees!). I can’t always study the literary journals I submit to, to see if they are right for me; I can’t afford to subscribe to them all, and honestly, I don’t like to take the time. I probably should not admit that but it’s true. There are days when I do a Hail Mary and send off my work.

What can you tell us about your experience with the Spalding University MFA program? Do you keep in touch with many of your alumni?
I went to college late in life; I was 48 when I earned a BA in English (minors in Creative Writing and Women’s and Gender Studies). I enrolled at Spalding University in 2003. The first time I stepped into a plenary lecture I was overcome with emotion (it sounds trite but it’s true) to be in a room full of writers. Without speaking to anyone, without knowing one person there, I knew we shared a passion for the written word that had brought us all to the same place. Spalding is the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing, and for my sense of self. I do keep in touch with a handful of alumni, and return to Kentucky often, to visit during every residency that I can. It’s become my second home.

You’ve also done a fellowship at Spiro Arts Community. What did you work on and how was the fellowship beneficial to you?
Because my writer friends encouraged me to try retreats, I did an online search one night and found Spiro Arts. I applied and was absolutely floored that I was chosen. Most of my time there (May 2009) was spent revising the two novels I’d written, Below the Heart and Billie Girl. And I had just started my third novel, a contemporary tale of Job’s daughters (from the Bible). The fellowship was a gift—to be able to write any time I wanted without thought of home-related tasks (laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, social commitments) was a bit surreal. But that month gave me more than time to write. It helped me (at the age of 57) to look inward, to listen to my heart, to build self-confidence and independence. The Spiro Arts Community values the arts, and it showed in their respectful regard for my profession. I will ever be grateful to them. There are many fellowship opportunities for writers; all you have to do is some research. Apply, and cross your fingers! 

What are you working on now?
While I am still tweaking Below the Heart, and writing a short story every now and again, most of my writing time is spent on Job’s Daughters. I just try to write something every day. I love what I do.

*****

For the latest news and details regarding Vickie’s events, visit her website: http://www.vickieweaver.com/.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Low-Res MFA Handbook officially available!

The release date may very well say January, but amazon and other online retailers are shipping orders! If you shop on amazon.com, you can also use the “Look Inside” feature to catch a glimpse of a few chapters. Here’s the basic rundown of what’s inside:

Features 49 programs and 150+ interviews

Available now from Continuum Books
The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students
(ISBN 978-1-4411984-4-0)

Table of Contents
Preface
Chapter 1: An Introduction to Low-Residency MFAs 
Chapter 2: Is the Low-Residency Model Right for Me? 
Chapter 3: The Selection Process 
Chapter 4: The Application Process 
Chapter 5: Funding 
Chapter 6: The Programs 
Chapter 7: The Residency Experience 
Chapter 8: Non-Residency Semesters 
Chapter 9: Pedagogical Preparation 
Chapter 10: Learning from Experience 
Chapter 11: Life After the MFA 
Chapter 12: AWP Membership & Services 
Appendix A: Extended Interviews 
Appendix B: Quick Reference 
Appendix C: Additional Resources 
Acknowledgements

Kudos
“What an invaluable handbook! Lori A. May has done her research, knows her stuff, and, what's best, lets the programs speak for themselves through her extensive interviews. There's a chorus of quotes from faculty, students, and graduates in The Low-Residency MFA Handbook. Anyone making the decision to apply for an MFA should consult this wise guide. May's clarity and authority make it a gold standard." 
- Molly Peacock, author of The Second Blush

The Low-Residency MFA Handbook is an important book, not only for prospective students, but for program faculty and administrators as well. This guide will prove invaluable for students preparing to apply for low-residency MFA programs and will inform them of what to expect once they gain acceptance. The low-residency MFA in creative writing is increasingly popular, and there has been a lack of resources available to students, faculty and administrators. The Low-Residency MFA Handbook fills that void." 
- Derick Burleson, author of Melt

Click here to order The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students on amazon.

Friday, December 24, 2010

new issue of The Ambassador Poetry Project


The Ambassador Poetry Project publishes poems from and about Michigan and Ontario. Submissions are open year-round and the journal is published online two to four times each year. 

The Winter 2011 issue is now online and features work from eleven poets including Linda Leedy Schneider, Gregory Loselle, and Lynn Tremblay. 

Visit http://www.ambassadorpoetry.com/ for the current issue and the ongoing call for submissions.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

words + paint + scissors

I was digging around in one of my stationery folders, on the hunt for watercolor paper, when I came across a small collection of oddities: ‘greeting cards’ I made a few years back with ink, watercolor, and magazine cutouts.

I’m not a ‘serious’ artist – as you can see in full visual evidence – but I do, from time to time, like to play with texture and color to get the creative juices going in preparation for a writing session.

I am also not afraid of embarrassing myself, so I’m happy to share…



"Virgin Gets Around"

"Divas"



"Art Imitates Life"
 
 
I know, clever titles, right? But, these are simply a means to generate the creative vibe. Perhaps I should just stick to writing. ;)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Interview & Poetry in The Smoking Poet!

I’m honored to be featured in the Winter issue of The Smoking Poet. Zinta Aistars, the founder and editor-in-chief of TSP chatted with me about so many writerly things (ideas and creativity, teaching, editing, the lit community, etc) and shares this really in-depth interview with me here.

The issue includes three of my poems: 
Down on the Corner, Public Display of Affection, and Triangular Distortions.

TSP was also kind enough to reprint Zinta's recent review of stains: early poems to accompany the interview. Be sure to check out The Smoking Poet for a full and fantastic winter issue that also features a great interview with Dorianne Laux, an abundance of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and detailed info about the upcoming TSP 5th anniversary reading: Puttin’ on the Dog.

Thanks to Zinta for an enjoyable interview!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

reviews/ immigration/ haiku

I have an assortment of news bites to share today:

The latest issue of Poets’ Quarterly is now online at http://www.poetsquarterly.com/. The issue is packed with 20 new reviews and four author interviews. Do check it out and if you’re interested in submitting, have a look at the Submission Guidelines. Also, PQ is looking to fill a few volunteer editorial positions. See link and info on the main page. 

Speaking of reviews, I have a review of Slant Room by Michael Eden Reynolds up on Northern Poetry Review.

I’m also pleased to have a creative nonfiction piece, “Rearview Mirror,” online at Phoebe Journal (George Mason University). This piece was written about a year ago and is a reflection of some of my (driving) experiences in my first year as a US resident.

Like haiku? I have six poems over at Black Dahlia Journal. Have a look!

And, finally, just a reminder that Review Copies of The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students (Continuum Books, Jan 2011) are available. Send an email with your name, postal address, and publication affiliation to lori@loriamay.com.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Is a low-residency MFA right for you?

Chapter 2 Excerpt in The Writer

The release of The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Students (Continuum Books, Jan 2011) is right around the corner and you can get a sneak preview in the January issue of The Writer magazine.


An excerpt adopted from Chapter 2, “Is a low-residency MFA right for you” is on pages 21-22. Click here to see the Table of Contents for the January 2011 issue of The Writer.

Available January 2011 from Continuum Books
The Low-Residency MFA Handbook:
A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students
ISBN 978-1-4411984-4-0
Pre-order for $13.46 at amazon.com

Reviewers, contact lori@loriamay.com
More information: http://www.loriamay.com/

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

review copies! The Low-Res MFA Handbook

Review copies are now available for The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students (Continuum Books, Jan 2011). If you would like to request a review copy, please send an email with the name of your media outlet and your full contact information: lori@loriamay.com



Available January 2011 from Continuum Books
The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students (ISBN 978-1-4411984-4-0)

Features 49 programs and 150+ interviews

The Low-Residency MFA Handbook:
A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students

Table of Contents
Preface
Chapter 1: An Introduction to Low-Residency MFAs
Chapter 2: Is the Low-Residency Model Right for Me?
Chapter 3: The Selection Process
Chapter 4: The Application Process
Chapter 5: Funding
Chapter 6: The Programs
Chapter 7: The Residency Experience
Chapter 8: Non-Residency Semesters
Chapter 9: Pedagogical Preparation
Chapter 10: Learning from Experience
Chapter 11: Life After the MFA
Chapter 12: AWP Membership & Services
Appendix A: Extended Interviews
Appendix B: Quick Reference
Appendix C: Additional Resources
Acknowledgements

Kudos
“What an invaluable handbook! Lori A. May has done her research, knows her stuff, and, what's best, lets the programs speak for themselves through her extensive interviews. There's a chorus of quotes from faculty, students, and graduates in The Low-Residency MFA Handbook. Anyone making the decision to apply for an MFA should consult this wise guide. May's clarity and authority make it a gold standard." 
-  Molly Peacock, author of The Second Blush

“The Low-Residency MFA Handbook is an important book, not only for prospective students, but for program faculty and administrators as well. This guide will prove invaluable for students preparing to apply for low-residency MFA programs and will inform them of what to expect once they gain acceptance. The low-residency MFA in creative writing is increasingly popular, and there has been a lack of resources available to students, faculty and administrators. The Low-Residency MFA Handbook fills that void."
- Derick Burleson, author of Melt

Available for pre-order:
Amazon.com               Continuum Books

Reviewers, please contact lori@loriamay.com.
More information is available at http://www.loriamay.com/.

Friday, December 3, 2010

website, handbook, and the art of prioritizing

Newly updated website! (Finally... and hurrah!)

Humbling, but true. Yes, the writer who advocates effective use of social media and connecting with others… fell off the map. Humbling? Yes. Hypocritical? Goodness, no. Because really, as great a medium as social media is, we writers also have a gazillion other responsibilities to manage and sometimes, well… sometimes that means we have to prioritize and fall off the dot com map for just a moment. Just long enough to breathe and catch up.

I do think social media is one of the most important tools we writers have in our proverbial toolbox, particularly in terms of keeping up with the community. How else would I hear about Jessie Carty’s adventures with her writing class or the lovely and talented Kelly Davio receiving not one, but two Pushcart nominations (!), or Jane Friedman’s first new coat in six year (completely relevant: we writers need to stay warm!). Social media – Facebook, Twitter, blogging, all of it – is necessary to my survival as a writer and necessary for my ‘keeping up with what’s what.’ Mostly, keeping connected online makes me feel like I’m not alone and, really, writing is pretty solitary, right, so why not feel part of a larger community?

And… yet… there comes a time or two in one’s writing life that the deadlines pile on, submissions are stacked high, editing awaits, and if a person has any sense of life in the real concrete world there are general life to-dos and busywork to be done. It’s normally quite easy to keep up with the online business while tending to all of the above, but sometimes even social media advocates need a break. As you can see from the lack of blog posts in the last week or so, I took that much-needed pause to just get back above water.

It’s all about balance. And balance is often a battle and one that never really goes away. Yet, it’s possible to find – make – the time to fit in all of these little tasks and bigger priorities, take a break, and come back healthier for it. It’s like tucking away a nearly complete poem or story and spending time away from it before revisiting with an editorial eye. Our brains just need a pause now and then.

But then we get back to work. So here I am, happy to be back and renewed, eager to share some upcoming events, releases, and post some new author Q&As to the blog, etc, etc. If you’d like to be a Q&A guest on here, please let me know! I’m happy to showcase emerging and established authors alike.

I’m sure over the next couple of months you’ll grow tired of it, but I have to start sharing some pretty exciting (to me, at least) news about my next release: The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students. I’ll save the hardcore info for another post, but you can get a sneak peek on my recently updated website. I’m also pretty stoked about some new poetry acceptances soon to appear in journals including Ragazine, Ramshackle Review, and Caper Literary Journal.

There’s much on the horizon so you’ll soon see… I may take a break now and then, but even in the quiet moments I’m working, working, working. It’s all a part of finding that balance we all seek.

Until next time…