It’s the most wonderful post of the year…

IMG_0687It’s late fall, and your every-other-year-or-so community update is here. (I apologize if I missed you—I might not have your current email. You should be in touch!)

Thanks for sharing your good news, your successes, your new directions—it’s one of the highlights of my year to receive all these updates.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Emily Conner moved to Portland and started a Master’s in teaching program at Lewis & Clark! She says “I’m student teaching at an awesome middle school (and I get to teach creative writing sometimes!); I’ve been working on illustrations for Druid City Garden Project, the school garden nonprofit that I used to work with in Alabama; and I’ve had a few small illustration projects, including continued collaboration with The Southern Letterpress and for Wendy Rawling’s author website!”

Melanie Madden has been performing with FST! (pronounced “Fist!”) Female StoryTellers since August 2013, and this year joined FST!’s executive board as chair of the storytelling committee, curating FST’s monthly shows in Tucson. See one of Mel’s performances here.

Tammy Delatorre reports that 2015 has been a good year: “I was honored with the 2015 Payton Prize for my essay, “Out of the Swollen Sea,” judged by Cheryl Strayed, and the 2015 Slippery Elm Prose Prize for my essay, “Diving Lessons,” judged by Brendan Kiely.” She’s published eleven other stories and essays this year!

Naomi Williams‘ first novel, Landfalls, was published by FSG in August and long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. The book has also appeared in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany (in translation). An Italian edition is forthcoming.

Laura Passin is writing a monthly poetry column for The Toast and her poetry/feminism/pop culture newsletter, Postcards from a One-Woman Army. She has poems about to come out in Spoon River Poetry Review‘s winter issue and recently finished up a week in Germany as a guest of the American Studies program at the University of Bamberg.

James Ducat also has a SRPR mention in his notes: “My manuscript Betrayed With Trees was a finalist for the Inlandia Hilary Gravendyk prize; my work will appear in the Inflectionist Review print anthology, and I recently had work in Spoon River Poetry Review and CutBank… I got a full time contract (non-tenure track) teaching position at Riverside City College, and I am happy to be assisting the faculty advisor to Muse, the literary magazine.”

Kate Washington says “I have been working intermittently on the novel I started in Scribe Lab, titled Expeditionary Force Messages and inspired by a World War II-era telegraph form. Recently, I’ve also had a few new essays appear: “The Winding” in the Baltimore Review; “Fire Danger: Very High” in Juxtaprose. My essay “An Inheritance” is forthcoming in The Pinch. In lighter work, I’ve had a piece in The Toast, and, last but not least, I was recently delighted to publish a list in McSweeney’s. In addition to publishing recipes, parenting, and generally living life, I’ve also been tentatively starting on some new work about the situation currently dominating my life, which is my husband’s rare lymphoma and his upcoming treatment via stem cell transplant.”

Asha Dore says “I’ve had an incredible year so far: I met my son in April, a handful of poems and essays appeared in web-based lit mags (including The Rumpus, Pacifica Literary Review, and Nailed Magazine) and the title essay of the collection I’ve been working on, Figure Studies, was published in Basalt. I’m guest editing the prose portion of Witch Craft Magazine‘s second issue this fall—“

–which Elle Nash co-founded, and which is currently accepting submissions for its second issue. (Witch Craft’s first series of chaps, called Spellbooks, will release this winter.) Of her own writing, Elle reports: “My work has been published in Hobart, The Offing, Human Parts, and most recently, a short story I wrestled with for two years was accepted to Blunderbuss Magazine. I’m almost complete on a novella.”

Stevie Taylor continues to write op-eds for the Sacramento Bee as the voice (and eye!) of her ‘California Sketches’ column, and is particularly proud to say that “the book I’ve been working on for a couple of years is in the formatting stage. We’ve printed a sample preview, and will start a rigorous editing stage next.” See an in-design preview of Water, More or Less here. (I personally cannot wait to make the ISBN cake for this book when it is finally out in the world!)

Rachel Reynolds has been submitting her work for the first time ever these past few months (“I’m finally on the front line, you know?”) and is working at the Kelly Writers House at UPenn, “…which means I go to readings, like, three nights a week and am surrounded by some of the loveliest, brightest writers I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.” She reports she is bolstered by this community of word nerds “I (to my delight and astonishment) get paid to spend time with.”

Rachel Nelson was both sad and excited to graduate from Cave Canem this year. She writes “…my partner and I rescued a sweet dog, named Stella, and I’ve been thrilled to have my work appear in The Atlas Review, Hartskill ReviewLittle Patuxent Review, pinwheel, the Black Poets Speak Out issue of pluck!, and Smartish Pace, which selected a poem of mine as a finalist for the Beullah Rose Poetry Prize.”

The news in Lyra Halprin’s heart is that her new dog “Black Rose, a tri-colored border collie who failed herding, is keeping me company while I work on two pieces I hope to place soon.” (Lyra’s daughter recently got her first Pushcart nomination; Lyra’s pretty inspired by that too. : )

Speaking of Pushcart nominations: Allegra Silberstein was happy to get three recently for work that appeared in her first full length collection of poetry, West of Angels, which was published by Cold River Press in 2015.

Katy Brown actually provided the art for the cover of West of Angels! She has given lots of readings this year, and has published her poems in a couple of anthologies, at Medusa’s Kitchen, and in Convergence and Brevities. She won one of the three Grand Prizes this year in the International Dancing Poetry Contest for her poem “Into the Blue” (read and see images from the performance at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco here).

Mary Zeppa’s first full-length collection, My Body Tells Its Own Story, was published by Cherry Grove Collections in early 2015. Mary’s looking forward to a residency this February at Ragdale.

Jennifer Pickering also recently published her first full-length collection, Blooming in Winter, with I Street Press (a cool public press in Sacramento), and recently celebrated with a book launch party at the Sacramento Poetry Center.

Sandra Wassilie continues helping to run the Bay Area Generations reading series, which she cofounded in 2013—it features intergenerational pairs of readers every fourth Monday and alternates between San Francisco and Berkeley venues. She says “I continue to write and give readings in the Bay Area; most recently for Hazel, Nomadic Press, From All Points But the Center, Liminal, and Rolling Writers.” She will read for Passages on the Lake in January.

Temim Fruchter is thrilled to have her first chapbook coming out from Anomalous Press—it will be released and available at AWP 2016. You can find lots of her words at [PANK]—look for her feature ‘Between the Bones.’

Sondra Olson has been “rolling forward on the momentum of workshop” as she continues work on her nonfiction project. One of her essays was selected in October 2014 for the True Story series.

Melissa Gutierrez was happy to report that she graduated from USC with a Master’s in Professional Writing this past September: “…soon after I was hired by Social Studies School Service as an Editorial Assistant in the proprietary department—essentially I now get to read for a living.”

Amanda Trusty’s work on body image, eating disorder recovery, and body positive dance has been published on multiple publications that have since hired her to write continuously (Ravishly, Scary Mommy, Sadie Jane Dancewear, Huffington Post) and “on my own blog where I can really let loose and let the four letter words fly.” She notes that she’s been contacted to write a book, and has been “pulling my hair out ever since!”

Ginny Robinson is “currently a contributing writer for Chapel Hill and Durham magazines, and through its media company get lots of cool assignments writing about Southern food, people, and culture. I’m also helping my brother’s restaurant self-publish its ten-year anniversary cookbook, and I’m recording and archiving oral histories of students who attended the Rosenwald School in Coinjock, North Carolina. It’s a cool mix of work, and I love it.”

Lisa Wenzel has given readings at Diesel Books in Oakland, Books Inc. in Berkeley, and two UC-Berkeley Extension gatherings in the last year. She’s looking forward to seeing two of her poems in UCX’s literary journal, Ursa Minor.

Mark Willett is still writing creative nonfiction. He won a 2014 Solas award (travel writing) in the Men’s Travel category.

Adam Russ noted that the paperback edition of his book, Bloodhound in Blue, will be released in spring of 2016.

Raychel Kubby Adler signed a contract with Balboa Press, the self-publishing arm of Hay House: “at the rate things are going, I expect to have my book, Life in Asymmetry, in hand around April or May.”

Susannah Bartlow has two racial justice academic articles in press, along with a piece in Feminist Studies. She works with runaway and homeless youth and is studying to be a yoga teacher.

Lis Harvey wrote that she is “channeling all of my creative energy into marketing for the Davis Food Co-op full time, which is surprisingly gratifying (and handy, since Troy and I had a second baby in 2014). We live in co-housing in Davis and love watching our sons & writerly friends grow and flourish.”

Margie Hastings retired from practicing law in April and is too busy having the time of her life since to elaborate: “Back from France and just spent four magnificent days with Mark Doty at the Tomales Bay Writing By Writers conference. Now off to Tahoe, Phoenix, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, writing as I go.” (High five, Margie.)

Chris Campbell has taken the last two years off from poetry-writing “to focus on a historic novel about designer/poet/artist/all-around-amazing-guy William Morris, his wife Pre-Raphaelite beauty Jane, and their friends during the five-year-period the Morrises lived at Red House. It’s a story about stories–art, love, marriage, work, birth, death, addiction, clandestine love, jealousy, that whole meaning-of-life shit, and a wombat!”

Deborah Hickerson still enjoys hosting Winters Out Loud at Rootstock, and recently started up a salon that meets at her house!

Eliza Callard has published poems in Stoneboat, Hobart, Cleaver Magazine, and lots of other journals this year.

Sibilla Hershey had a piece of creative nonfiction published in the 2015 issue of Tule Review.

Sara Post is moving to a new art studio that provides her with lots more space, and says “My writing is visual at the moment—abstraction as a form of poetry.” (I can’t wait to see!)

Elizabeth Austin resumed her work on the story of Harriet Burgess and the American Land Conservancy “after a long break. My husband and I welcomed our first grandchild in 2014, a delightful boy named Liam.”

Abby Davis says “In the last three or four months I have had work accepted in the Ilanot Review, Pilgrimage, Turtle Island Review, and Flutter. I was also shortlisted for the 2015 Turtle Island Poetry Award.”

Jeanine Stevens’ second book of poems, Inheritor, will be published in 2016. Last year she read at the ‘April in Paris’ event at the Sacramento Poetry Center and also was a presenter at the Literary Lecture Series’ event on Celtic poetry.

Charlene Logan Burnett writes that a nonfiction piece begun in Scribe Lab, “228 Cambridge Street,” was published in Yamassee; a poem (also from Scribe Lab), “Sleepwalking at Age Seven,” was published in WomenArts Quarterly Journal, and that a work of fiction inspired by the ‘Art of Description’ workshop at Cache Creek, “Crow at Dusk,” will be read at Stories on Stage Davis in December. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Sarah Pape has recently published essays and poems in Passages North, Ecotone, Crab Orchard Review, and The Pinch. Her chapbook, Ruination Atlas, is forthcoming with Dancing Girl Press in 2016. In addition to teaching at Chico State, she is now offering private writing workshops through her studio in Chico, California.

Susan Wolbarst says “Over the past few years, I’ve had a steady dribble of poetry, short stories and essays published in an eclectic mix of unknown, defunct and impossible-to-find publications, including Valley Voices, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and the Eat This Poem contest anthology… My most recent publication was an op-ed piece in the Portland Press Herald on 11/02/15, in the ‘Maine Voices’ column, called “Metro bus system is not-so-magical mystery tour for Portland visitors.” I marveled that this generated 36 online comments plus a phone call to my home.”

Andrea Keeshan “had baby Indie on April 27th and started a master’s program to become a school counselor in August. Sleep is nonexistent. The end.”

Mandy Dawn Kuntz also requests more sleep: “Any creative energy I have is going into redoing kid songs on the commute between Woodland & Davis with Artemis. She demands that extra verses be added to all songs. (“There was a farmer had a cat, and Mango was her name-o,” a hamster, a tiger, a chair, Grandpa, pretzel, etc.  She appreciates variety and awkward rhymes, especially if her name is included in the song).”

Andrea Mummert Puccini says “What I have been up to is missing CNF, but still writing on my own during my precious weekly writing/reading days. I’ve been sending some pieces out (many that I worked on in CNF), and a few of them have found homes: “Edge of the Chesapeake” in River Teeth“Modern Day Savages” at Full Grown People, “On Tape” in the ‘Silence and Sound” issue of Pilgrimage, and “Imagine a Bamboo Farm” in Under the Gum Tree (forthcoming in January).  My son Nico who was born during my first session of CNF is nearly seven, and my second son Sebastian just turned four.”

Joanne Schoefer sent an update that made me smile all day: “The closest I am getting to writing lately is the top to bottom reorganization of my writing space. Years of accumulation! Lots of decisions. Who am I now?”

Gretel Wandesforde-Smith says “I keep writing alone and with others! In the past several years, classes with Valerie Fioravanti and Kate Asche, and a workshop with Brenda Miller, and currently a mini-in-person writing group and Scribe Lab, which has totally kick-started me after a period of aimlessness around my long, ongoing memoir/creative nonfiction project. I’m definitely whining way less and writing way more in the wonderful Scribe Lab community, and it’s so great to have Rae at the center of my writing life again.” (Mwah, Gretel.)

Nandi Szabo is “questioning time, memory, meaning, death. Still processing my trek in the Tibetan Himalaya. My journals are now focused on writing to my five-year-old granddaughter. Grief walking the pages with the tragic death of my seven-month-old granddaughter. All this is to say I write a lot, obsessively in fact, find great solace, and ponder publishing something somehow someday, maybe, maybe not, and ponder if it even matters.”

Shannon Masvidal writes: “Last year I had my son, Felix, who has the best smile, softest cheeks and sweetest curls. I left my job and started a new one. Then my husband did the same and is now managing the wildlife hospital in Morro Bay.  We packed up our Sacramento home and moved a few weeks ago.  We live in a small hippy town called Los Osos where it’s so dark and quiet at night that we can see the stars and hear the ocean.”

Rebecca Mercer Leduc is in Paso Robles with her husband and their daughter making Seven Oxen Estate Wines go (check out the site; it’s gorgeous!). Rebecca works at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art and is expecting her second child.

Cara Crocker is “still working on a middle grade fiction piece as a primary project. I joined the local chapter of SCBWI recently. I am looking forward to getting back to CNF, when being a new(ish) mother of two feels a little less overwhelming…”

John O’Neal continues to write “…the odd piece of short memoir or flash fiction and to dream of becoming the new American Nabokov.”

TJ Wood has some new material in the works for a neglected blog, and is currently applying to residencies and refining short pieces for submission.

Christine Holmstrom is “currently working with NY book doctor Susan Sutliff Brown on standalone pieces relating to my in-progress memoir, Pussy on the Tier, about my years working at San Quentin prison” and notes that one of her pieces appeared in Bernie Siegel’s Faith, Hope and Healing and that Starlight (the journal of the Sophia Foundation) has featured several of her pieces recently.

Ruth Nolan is on sabbatical for the 2015-16 academic year, working on a multimedia book project (Fire On the Mojave: Stories from the Desert and Inland So Cal Mountains) and writing a memoir about her wildland firefighting work in the 1980’s.

Pam Giarrizzo is still posting regularly to her Sacramento Vegan blog, and says “I’m also trying to figure out how to whittle a full-length mystery I wrote a couple of years ago (but which never came together the way I wanted it to) down to a 4,000-word short story!”

Lakin Khan is just one semester away from finishing her Master’s in English at Sonoma State, and met her first grandchild earlier this month! She continues to wear the cap of Fiction Director for the Napa Valley Writers Conference and write for her blog, Rhymes with Bacon.

Karma Waltonen has a ton going on: “Most recently, I’ve published an edited collection on Atwood, and articles on time travel in Star Trek, the ethics of religious cults in Doctor Who, and asexuality in Sherlock. In progress: an edited collection on The Simpsons (I’m going to write the chapter on sex), an edited collection on innovative writing assignments (with Melissa Bender), and an article on The X-Files. I’m blogging, mostly about my ridiculous online dating experiment. In other news, I won the Excellence in Teaching Award at UCDavis!” (About time!!!)

Mary Lewis writes: “When I came to CCNP in 2008, I had recently lost my father and it was beautiful to be able to reconnect with my love of nature and of writing in the company of kindred souls, inspired by your readings and guidance.” She’s in Santa Barbara now, closer to her daughters, where she has found “a wonderful sangha and a community of poets” and is now using poetry in the sessions she leads as a Bereavement Counselor at Hospice of Santa Barbara “up on a magical hill where I can look out and find inspiration for my work.”

River Seanain Snow continues to write with her AWA group when she makes time between her tasks as a homeschooling mom and an urban homesteader.

Jeri Howitt had a debut book for children released this year (A Tale of Two Love) and is working on a second (From Socrates to Che the Rat). She’s published two short stories, “The Nighty Death of His Wife” and “For the Love of a Son,” and is in her third year of directing the Davis arm of the Stories on Stage reading series.

Jean Jackman continues writing her ‘At the Pond’ column for the Davis Enterprise, and is working on life stories and “using writing to work on open space issues in my town.”

Ronald Lane has self-published a couple of works of historical fiction under a pseudonym (Robin Circadian) and is also publishing science fiction and fantasy writing.

Last but not least: Brenda Heckes writes of the house she is building this fall: “I dreamt a handwritten note was taped to the glass panel on the walnut colored stained front door. It said, Welcome Home. Happy to have been intently chosen and built to safeguard your memories, hopes, dreams. I yearn to be a gracious host and gathering place for friends and family, promising to stand stately as your rural fortress such that courage can continue to emerge.”

Your humble captain (that would be me!) had absolutely nothing to complain about in 2015 aside from a little carpal tunnol discomfort. I took a sabbatical from teaching my on-the-ground programs this summer to go on a 10,000 mile road trip with the love of my life, watched my online workshop (Scribe Lab) double in size, launched a whole new one-on-one individualized coaching program for writers working on manuscript projects, and finished working drafts of a new poetry collection and a memoir… Kore Press is even turning something I said in an interview last summer into a tshirt. This year I’ve also started publishing poetry reviews for The Rumpus and doing interviews with cool poets as a contributing editor for the California Journal of Poetics—see the forthcoming December issue (#2) to read my recent conversations with Alice Fulton and Joanna Klink about each of their new books. I’m incredibly proud that work of mine has appeared this year in the first anthology for teenaged readers of poetry (Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation), on Verse Daily, and in a variety of really cool journals (including ZyzzyvaBeloit Poetry Journal, The Fanzine, Fourteen Hills, and Georgetown Review). Come January I’ll be starting work on my fourth book.


Here’s to an even longer string of updates next time. Cheers, everyone!



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