On the writing front, 2014 has been a very fruitful and exciting year for me:
This summer, I attended my first-ever residency at The Millay Colony of the Arts in Austerlitz, NY. It was there that I fulfilled one of my resolutions from last year: completely a draft of my novel Venus Would Freeze. I also attended Sycamore Hill – a speculative fiction writers’ retreat in the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina – with some wildly talented people, and workshopped my novella “The Resident.”
In October, I received the 2014 – 2015 CINTAS Foundation Fellowship in Creative Writing. This fellowship for writers and other artists of Cuban descent will help me spend the upcoming spring revising/working on my novel and other projects. I also received Honorable Mentions for my applications for the Speculative Literature Foundation‘s Diverse Worlds and Diverse Writer Grants, was a finalist for the American Short Fiction Contest, and was a runner-up for the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. Additionally, my story “Inventory” was selected as a finalist for the 2014 storySouth Million Writers’ Award, and is currently in the running for the top prize. (You can vote for “Inventory” here.)
I taught a lot this year. At Rosemont College’s MFA program, I ran classes on horror & mystery writing and 21st century literature, and a fiction workshop. At Moravian, I taught a speculative fiction course to undergrads, and gave a lecture on writing with constraints during the inaugural Moravian Writers’ Conference. Over the summer, I traveled back to my beloved Iowa City where I taught a speculative fiction course for a group of bright, talented high schoolers for the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio and flash fiction and YA courses for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. I’m also a thesis advisor for several of Rosemont’s MFA candidates. It’s been a busy year re: teaching, but a great one.
On the fiction front, I published six short stories in 2014: “Mothers” in Interfictions (also a finalist for the American Short Fiction Contest, judged by Amy Hempel), “The Husband Stitch” in Granta, “Ekphrasis” in the Yalobusha Review, “Please Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead” in Help Fund My Robot Army and reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine, “California Statutes Concerning Defrauding an Innkeeper” in AGNI, and “Observations About Eggs from the Man Sitting Next to Me on a Flight from Chicago, Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa” in Lightspeed Magazine. “Mothers” and “The Husband Stitch” in particular received a lot of attention and praise.
As for nonfiction, I continued to write a lot of criticism this year, including reviews for Kirkus, Women’s Review of Books, LA Review of Books, PANK, and NPR. My favorite book I reviewed this year was John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van, a blurb from which landed in the print edition of The New Yorker. I also published a series of essays this year, including “A Girl’s Guide to Sexual Purity” in the LARB Quarterly Journal and “The Afterlife of Pia Farrenkopf” in The New Yorker. I also published a humor piece at one of my favorite online publications, The Toast: “What the Color of Your Urine Says About You.”
Throughout the year, I gave a series of readings and lectures alongside some really exciting writers, including Diane Cook, Stephanie Feldman, Julianna Baggott, and Helen Klein Ross. Perhaps most excitingly, I also gave the keynote address at my high school alma mater’s National English Honors Society induction ceremony, which was very affirming and lovely.
Last year, I had a series of writing resolutions: Finish a draft of my novel, take on no more than three unpaid freelance assignments, seek out more paid freelancing assignments, get back into my old pre-move writing routine, and read 1 novel or story collection per week. I fulfilled all of these with one significant exception: I didn’t come close to reading one novel or collection per week. I really overscheduled myself this year, and had almost no free time to do much of anything, including read. That’s going to change in the spring.
Here are my 2015 Writing New Year’s Resolutions:
- Take on no more than two unpaid freelance assignments. (Must be for very good reason.)
- Read one novel or story collection per week.
- Complete 2nd & 3rd drafts of Venus Would Freeze.
- Review more short fiction/novels/etc. via social media & this blog.
- [Redacted for superstition’s sake – I’ll let you know in a year’s time if I manage to achieve this very lofty final goal.]
So far, I have a few pieces forthcoming from various places in 2015:
My story “Difficult at Parties” will be reprinted in Latino/a Rising, published by Restless Books. My brand-new short story “Transcription of An Eye” will be featured in the surveillance-themed anthology Watchlist from OR Books. Another new short story, “Descent,” will be in Nightmare Magazine. And my essay “On Kevin Brockmeier & Michelle Huneven” will appear in A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors from University of Massachusetts Press.
This spring, I’m teaching a class on Form & Content in Fiction at Rosemont, which I’m very excited about. I’m going to try and do for this course what I did for 2014’s Mystery & Horror Writing course – talk about the readings and exercises week-to-week on this blog. I’ll also be working hard on the personal projects I had to neglect this summer & fall because of my schedule. And this fall, I’ll be teaching at Rosemont and St. Joseph’s.
There’s been some rough personal stuff this year, but with the help of my patient and loving partner, Val Howlett, my incredible agent, Kent Wolf, my stalwart siblings, Mario and Stefanie, my mentors, including Michelle Huneven, Kevin Brockmeier, and Sam Chang, and an innumerable number of friends, co-workers, fellow writers, editors, and loved ones, I managed to get through it, and then some. Bring it on, 2105 – I can’t wait.