The Solstice MFA Summer Reading Series is scheduled from Friday, July 9 through Friday, July 16. All readings begin at 7:30 p.m. and are held in the Founder’s Room of Pine Manor College, located at 400 Heath Street in Chestnut Hill. Copies of the authors’ books will be available for sale after all readings, and there is plenty of free parking!
Friday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m.: Poet and creative nonfiction writer Anne-Marie Oomen (An American Map: Essays and Un-coded Woman), & multi-genre writer Jaime Manrique (Our Lives Are the Rivers and Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, & Me)
Saturday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m.: Poet Kathleen Aguero (Investigations: The Mystery of the Girl Sleuth and Daughter Of); author and illustrator Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and The Year of the Rat); & fiction and nonfiction writer Randall Kenan (Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Century and Let the Dead Bury Their Dead).
Sunday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m.: YA novelist Laura Williams McCaffrey (Alia Waking and the forthcoming Lyla’s Flight); special guest Patrick Donnelly (The Charge and the forthcoming Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin); & fiction and nonfiction writer M. Evelina Galang (Her Wild American Self and One Tribe).
Tuesday, July 13 at 7:30 p.m.: Solstice Assistant Director and fiction writer Tanya Whiton (published in Crazyhorse and Northwest Review); multi-genre writer Laban Carrick Hill (America Dreaming: How Youth Changed America in the 60s and Casa Azul); & poet and fiction writer Steven Huff (A Pig In Paris and The Water We Came From).
Wednesday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m.: Creative nonfiction writer Michael Steinberg (editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction and author of Still Pitching); special guest Lesléa Newman (Nobody’s Mother and The Reluctant Daughter); and poet Laure-Anne Bosselaar (A New Hunger and The Hour Between Dog & Wolf).
Thursday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m.: Special guest Kevin McLellan (Round Trip); YA writer David Yoo (Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before and the forthcoming The Choke Artist); & Program Director Meg Kearney (Home By Now and An Unkindness of Ravens).
Friday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m.: Novelist Sterling Watson (The Calling and Sweet Dream Baby); fiction writer Helen Elaine Lee (Water Marked and The Serpent’s Gift); & novelist Dennis Lehane (The Given Day, Mystic River, and Shutter Island).
Directions to Pine Manor College, complete bios of our authors, and more information about the Solstice MFA Program can be found at www.pmc.edu/mfa.
MFA student Hannah Goodman has a new column appearing in The Jewish Voice and Herald.
For more information, go to: http://www.jvhri.org/
MFA student Jim Kennedy’s essay “End of the Line,” a finalist in the Creative Nonfiction MFA “program-off,” will appear in the summer issue of the magazine.
For more information, go to: http://www.creativenonfiction.org/
Grace Lin’s new book for young readers, Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same, will be released by Little, Brown on July 1, 2010.
For more information, go to: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316024525
MFA student Jina Ortiz’ poem “Miss Botswana” won an admirable mention in the 2010 WCPA Poetry Contest: The Frank O’Hara Prize. The poem will appear in the Fall 2010 issue of the Worcester Review.
For more information, go to: http://wcpa.homestead.com/
MFA graduate Faye Snider’s essay “Goldie's Gold” has been accepted by Alimentum: The Literature of Food.
For more information, go to: http://www.alimentumjournal.com/
MFA student Alison Stone’s poems have recently been accepted for publication by Art Times, New York Quarterly, and Many Mountains Moving.
For more information, go to: www.arttimesjournal.com; http://www.nyquarterly.org; and/or http://www.mmminc.org/
MFA graduate Emily Van Duyne’s poem “Ars Poetica” will be published in the summer 2010 issue of Naugatuck River Review.
For more information, go to: http://naugatuckriverreview.wordpress.com/
Fiction writer Sterling Watson’s essay, “Triangulation: Using the Third Thing to Wake Up a Dead Scene,” will appear in the inaugural issue of The Studio Review.
For more information, go to: http://www.thestudioreview.org/
CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS, & SEMINARS
Poet Kathleen Aguero will be teaching at the New York Young Writers’ Institute at Skidmore College from June 27–July 3.
MFA student Estela Gonzalez will lead a creative writing workshop in Spanish and give a reading as part of the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy at Green Mountain College on July 5th.
Multi-genre writer Laban Carrick Hill and illustrator Bryan Collier hosted two presentations and signed books as part of the American Library Association Conference in Washington, D.C. Laban will also be giving a reading and signing books as part of Renaissance Weekend in Hilton Head, SC, from July 1–5.
MFA graduate Debbie Wood Holton will conduct a poetry class, “Like You Mean It: How to Read Poetry Aloud,” as part of the DePaul University Summer Writing Conference, July 16–18.
MFA student Melissa Ford Lucken will be participating in the Romance Writers of America annual "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing on Wednesday, July 28 at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort in Orlando. She will be signing her most recent Isabelle Drake book.
Young people’s writers Laura Williams McCaffrey and Tod Olson will be co-presenting “Worlds Real & Imagined: Shaping Speculative or Historical Worlds for Young Readers” at the League of Vermont Writers Conference on Sunday, July 25 at 3 p.m.
Poet Dzvinia Orlowsky will be teaching at the Keene State College Writers' Conference at Keene, New Hampshire from July 25–August 1.
For more information about the conference contact Steve Kessler at SKessler@Keene.edu
MFA student Angela Foster was declared “Bard” following a poetry reading competition at the annual Cambria Eisteddfod “Chairing of the Bard” at Morgan Creek Winery in Cambria, Minnesota.
A Rookie Writer’s Journey to Representation
By Kimberly Mitchell
On a Sunday afternoon in May, I checked my email once more before rushing out to my soccer game. A response from an agent popped into my inbox, its bold letters enticing me to open it. I grumbled, “Seriously, a rejection on a Sunday?”
Seconds later the cat flew out of the room, terrified by all the jumping and shouting. I finally had it — an offer of representation.
Should I get an agent? This is the question I found myself asking anyone who would listen during my last snowy residency at Pine Manor. After some helpful discussions (mentors never stop giving, do they?) I decided to pursue representation.
With a degree in hand, and little idea where to start, I did what every writer does — hit the library. I discovered Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents and read through hundreds of agencies, making notes for each one that represented my genre. From that list, I visited each agency’s website and narrowed my choices to ten reputable agents perfect for my novel. Surely one of these ten would recognize my work’s brilliance and quickly offer representation? Next paragraph, please.
Six rejections and four non-responses later, I was feeling pretty dejected. Luckily, one agent gave me some excellent feedback on why she passed and I later used some of her suggestions to revise the novel into its current agented form. We all know seeking publication goes hand in hand with rejection. Don’t get discouraged. It took twenty-six agents to find one who wanted to represent me. My father encouraged me over and over during this time, saying, “It only takes one.” Turns out he was right. Dads generally are.
For round two, I took another look at my novel and found I agreed with most of the suggestions one agent offered. If an agent is kind enough to offer you more than a no, look carefully at what she has to say. If it rings true, consider revising (yes, again.)
The best way to catch an agent’s attention is to write a good query letter. It’s trickier than it sounds. There are plenty of resources out there. Find them and use them. Most agents judge your writing based on the first paragraph of your query (yikes!). Treat your query like part of your written work and have it critiqued. Agents aren’t fond of generic letters so tailor each query to that specific agent.
After I revised both the novel and the query, I was ready for round two. When you’re dealing with this many submissions, you must keep a detailed spreadsheet. Include agent names, date submitted, any response received and other notes. Also, save your individualized query letters. When you hear back from an agent, it’s helpful to be able to read the original query letter you sent them.
Finally, get online. This seems obvious, but it took me almost a year to figure out. Many agents offer helpful advice and contests through their blogs. Follow them and go for the contests. The winner usually receives a critique by that agent. It’s a chance to have your work viewed, and you might end up with an offer of representation as well.
I also discovered Chuck Sambuchino’s blog, Guide to Literary Agents, www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/. One of the blog’s regular features is agent interviews. After reading one particular interview, I felt my novel strongly fit many categories the agent wanted in a new novel. I highlighted the interview in the opening paragraph of my query. She requested a partial, then the full manuscript, and finally (41 days later) an offer. Eureka!
Make sure you let other agents currently reading your manuscript, not just a query letter, know of the offer. In my case, another agent immediately offered representation as well. Then I got to choose between two great agents. After several phone conversations, I chose the agent who seemed most passionate about the book and the best fit for me.
The road to getting an agent takes research, hard work and patience but don’t give up. I hope one day soon you’ll open your inbox and find the letter that leaves you shouting for joy, too.
The Marie Alexander Poetry Series announces open submissions for manuscripts of prose poetry during the month of July.
For more information, go to: www.mariealexanderseries.com
Gulf Coast announces the 2010 Barthelme Prize for short prose, with a deadline of August 31, 2010.
For more information, go to: http://www.gulfcoastmag.org/
Río Grande Review has issued a call for submissions on the theme of kitsch and camp, with a deadline of September 21, 2010.
For more information, go to: www.riograndereview.com
Real Simple invites writers to enter its Third-Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest, with a deadline of September 24, 2010.
For more information, go to: http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/inspiration-motivation/second-annual-life-lessons-essay-contest-00000000013682/
The Millay Colony for the Arts offers one-month residencies to six visual artists, writers and composers each month between the months of April and November. The deadline for application is October 1, 2010.
For more information, go to: http://www.millaycolony.org/residencies
Poets & Writers is currently seeking a full-time advertising assistant and a part-time information technology assistant.
For more information, go to: www.pw.org
ABOUT PINE MANOR COLLEGE
As an undergraduate institution consistently ranked among the most diverse in the country, Pine Manor College emphasizes an inclusive, community-building approach to liberal arts education. The Solstice MFA in Creative Writing reflects the College’s overall mission by creating a supportive, welcoming environment in which writers of all backgrounds are encouraged to take creative risks. We strive to instill in our students an appreciation for the value of community-building and community service, and see engagement with the literary arts not only as a means to personal fulfillment but also as an instrument for real cultural change.
For more information, visit www.pmc.edu/mfa