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Latinidad – September 2007: MFA Programs

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  • Marcela Landres
    Latinidad – September 2007: MFA Programs Contents: 1. Saludos: MFA Programs 2. Q&A: Tom Kealey 3. Upcoming Workshops: James River Writers Conference 4.
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2007
      Latinidad – September 2007: MFA Programs

      1. Saludos: MFA Programs
      2. Q&A: Tom Kealey
      3. Upcoming Workshops: James River Writers Conference
      4. Resources: Latino Writing Contest
      Please forward to fellow writers, both published and pre-published. Thank you!
      1. Saludos
      If you've dreamed of obtaining an MFA but assumed it was beyond your
      means, think again. According to Tom Kealey, author of the excellent
      "The Creative Writing MFA Handbook," the best programs fund all of
      their students and fund them all equally. His book offers more
      information about these programs, as well as: which MFA program has
      specific funding for minority students (p. 43); where you can get a
      bilingual MFA (p. 194); how to chose your best work to submit as
      writing samples (p. 61); and what to do if you don't get accepted the
      first time you apply (p. 83). Most application deadlines fall around
      the beginning of December to mid February, and you want to give
      yourself at least two months to get all the paperwork together. As
      such, now is a great time to get started, and your first step is to read
      this month's interview with Kealey below.

      Helping Latino writers get published,
      Marcela Landres

      2. Q&A
      Tom Kealey is the author of "The Creative Writing MFA Handbook." His
      fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Story Quarterly, Best American
      Non Required, The San Francisco Chronicle, Alaska Quarterly Review,
      Black Warrior Review, and other publications. His has forthcoming work
      in Poets and Writers, Story Quarterly, and The Writer. He was a Stegner
      Fellow at Stanford University and teaches fiction, screenwriting, and
      new media writing at Stanford. He received his MFA at the University of
      Massachusetts Amherst, where he was the recipient of the Distinguished
      Teaching Award. He is the winner of the Joseph Henry Jackson Award
      from the San Francisco Foundation and is a tutor at 826 Valencia. For
      more information, please visit:

      * One of the many revelations in "The Creative Writing MFA Handbook"
      is that it is possible to get full funding for tuition to an MFA program.
      What steps can applicants take to improve their chances of being
      awarded full funding?

      I recommend that students apply to between 8 and 12 programs, so if
      you include a lot of well-funded programs in that group, it'll help a lot.
      For the most part, it's state universities that provide the best funding.
      Keep in mind that funding is often granted based on your writing sample
      and perhaps your teaching or tutoring experience.

      * Part of what makes "The Creative Writing MFA Handbook" invaluable is
      that it is informed by your own experience. If you knew then what you
      know now and were applying to MFA programs today, what would you
      do differently?

      Ha. I would've applied to a lot more. I applied to only five programs and
      got into one. Fortunately, it was the University of Massachusetts, and I
      had an invaluable experience there. I guess the other thing I would've
      done differently: After I got in, I took a break from writing, to sort of
      take it easy before the program started up. But then when I got there, I
      had no new work to show. In my time machine travels I would've written
      as much as I could that previous summer.

      * In your book, you mention "expensive programs tend to have less
      diverse workshops. I'm not talking particularly about racial diversity or
      gender diversity; I'm talking about life diversity. People from many
      different parts of the country and the world who have had different
      experiences to share within the workshop. In many ways, I'm talking
      about economic diversity." Are MFA program directors seeking to rectify
      this by reaching out to students who are more diverse in every sense of
      the word including racially, culturally, and economically? Or should a
      Latino applicant reasonably expect to be the only person of color in
      the room?

      Some programs are. Indiana University has a great model, with a
      number of minority-based scholarships. It's kind of a Catch-22
      unfortunately: you're most likely to find a diverse population in a city
      like New York or San Francisco. The programs there are great, but the
      funding is terrible. On the other hand, you might receive great funding
      at a school in the Southeast or Midwest, but the population might
      reflect that particular college town. Not so diverse perhaps.

      My advice: once you narrow down your list of potential programs to a
      manageable twenty or so, email the program coordinators. Ask directly
      about the programs population in terms of race, sexual orientation,
      economic background or anything else that you value. If the program
      values that diversity, they'll write back to you.

      * Getting an MFA does not guarantee that a writer will be published.
      Having said that, what did you gain from the process of obtaining an
      MFA that may have indirectly improved your chances of publication?

      Definitely the interaction with my fellow writers. Nick Montemarano
      sat me down with a beer and said "This is where you need to submit
      your stories." David Roderick and I were constantly encouraging each
      other to send our work out and to keep writing and risking. Susan
      Steinberg is a constant source of inspiration to me. Those friends you
      make in your workshop: hold on to them. We think sometimes of writing
      as a lonely art. I think that's a mistake. I like to push my art in a social
      and collaborative direction. It keeps me excited and involved.

      * Aside from your excellent book and blog, what resource would you
      recommend to writers who want to learn more about the process of
      applying to MFA programs?

      Amy Holman has a book out too. It's called the "Insider's Guide to
      Creative Writing Programs." Also, go to the Poets and Writers Speakeasy
      Forum at http://pw.org/. Lots of current and future MFA students there
      with advice and insight.

      3. Upcoming Workshops
      James River Writers Conference - Richmond, VA,

      WHAT: The James River Writers (JRW) Conference blends
      genres, styles, writers, editors and agents together
      in a unique series of sessions providing wide-ranging
      perspectives on both the art and the business of
      writing. Editorial Consultant Marcela Landres will
      participate in the panel "Writing a Query Letter,"
      present the workshop "Strategies for Getting
      Published," plus she will provide one-on-one
      manuscript reviews for a limited number of
      writers—early registration is recommended.

      WHEN: Friday 9/28 and Saturday 9/29

      WHERE: The Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad Street,
      Richmond, VA 23219

      TO REGISTER: Visit http://www.jamesriverwriters.com/.

      QUESTIONS?: Call (804) 230-4575.

      Invite me to speak for your organization:
      List of upcoming workshops:

      4. Resources
      When you contact these organizations, please mention that you were
      referred by the Latinidad® Newsletter. Thank you, and let me know
      what happens.
      Deadline: September 15
      Jeff Rivera, author of Forever My Lady, is holding a writing contest to
      launch his Urbano Book Publishing Company with a series of Urban
      Latino mini-books similar to the Bluford Series. The contemporary
      stories should be roughly 40 single spaced pages involving Americans
      that happen to be Latino, set in the barrio or other urban areas.
      Submissions must be written in English or Spanglish and can be any
      genre. Finalists will be published under the Urbano Book Publishing
      banner in 2008. If interested please email a five page writing sample,
      contact information and one paragraph synopsis to Jeff@....
      Write "Latino Writing Contest" in the subject heading.
      Deadline: September 10
      Black Purl Magazine's fall issue, "Let Me Upgrade You," is all about
      embellishing and enhancing your needlecraft. If you have a great way
      of adding that special touch to your craft, then let us know. For more
      information, please visit:
      Date: September 16
      The second annual Brooklyn Book Festival will take place at historic
      Borough Hall in Brooklyn, NY. Last year's inaugural festival was a
      tremendous success, featuring 10,000 visitors, 80 publishers and
      presses from across the country, and readings and discussions
      by renowned authors. This year's roster of participants include Alisa
      Valdes-Rodriguez, Ana Castillo, La Bruja, Edwidge Danticat, and
      Reverend Run, among many others. The day-long event showcases
      local and national retailers, publishers, authors and literary
      organizations. Multiple stages and indoor venues will feature adult
      and children's programming, spirited panel discussions and spoken
      word performances. For more information, please visit:
      Deadline: October 1
      An award of approximately $49,000 is given annually to a U.S. poet
      for a year of travel and study abroad. Publication is not required. For
      more information, please visit http://amylowell.org/.
      Deadline: October 5
      At least four fellowships are given annually to poets, fiction writers,
      and creative nonfiction writers for month-long residencies at the
      American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, to research
      American history and culture before 1877. For more information, please visit:
      Deadline: December 15
      Brown Recluse Books is seeking submissions from `Enlightened Eves' for
      the upcoming anthology (Fall 2008): "She Said, She Said: Selected Essays
      from Enlightened Eves to Clueless Adams." Chosen contributors will
      receive two complimentary copies of the anthology. For more information,
      please visit http://www.brownreclusebooks.com/.
      Class: January 7 – February 8, 2008
      By the end of the "Buzz Your Book" class you will have a customized
      marketing plan for your book and your book only. Authors from
      McCadam Cage, Ballantine, Penguin and SMP have taken this class,
      as well as publicists and editors from Tor, Wylie and Simon & Schuster.
      The instructor, M.J. Rose (http://www.mjrose.com/), is an international
      bestselling author and has been on the Today Show, Fox News, and CNN.
      For more information, please visit:
      Multi-published and award-winning author Caridad Pineiro
      announces the release of "South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man," the
      sequel to the hit "Sex and The South Beach Chicas." Reviewers are
      already praising the novel, which will be available in September 2007
      from Downtown Press. Chick Lit Romance Writers raved "With a little
      bit of mystery, a good dose of loving, and a lot of great girl talk,
      Piñeiro's "South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man" is a novel that all chick
      lit readers will want to add to their collection!" Fresh Fiction added,
      "Caridad Piñeiro captures character qualities and weaves them into fresh
      fabric of paper print, page after wonderful page." For more information
      on "South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man" and Caridad, please visit:
      Dr. Ana Nogales, author of "Latina Power," is conducting a study to
      evaluate the effects of parental infidelity on adult children. If either
      (or both) of your parents was ever unfaithful, you are invited you to
      participate in this study by clicking on this link:
      The results of this survey will be published in a book about parental
      infidelity. For more information about Dr. Nogales, please visit:
      Slice is a New York-based literary magazine created to provide a forum
      for dynamic conversation between emerging and established authors.
      Our mission is to pave a space for writers who may not have a platform
      but show the kind of talent that could be the substance of great works in
      the future. Our inaugural issue features Junot Díaz, Jonathan Galassi, and
      Manuel Muñoz. To subscribe and for submission guidelines, please visit:
      Please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marcelalandres/ and click
      on Messages.
      If you like my web site, please nominate it for next year's Writer's Digest
      Magazine's "The 101 Best Web Sites for Writers" list. Send nominations to
      writersdig@... with "101 Best Web Sites" as the subject line and
      a brief note explaining how http://www.marcelalandres.com/ has helped
      you. Thank you in advance for your support!
      I edit manuscripts, critique proposals and advise on how to launch and
      maintain a successful writing career. For a consultation please visit
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      You are welcome to reprint portions of Latinidad®; please credit
      The Latinidad® Newsletter and include a link to
      "People often apply to programs for a variety of reasons: to complete
      a manuscript, to qualify themselves to teach on the college level, to live
      and work within a community of writers, and/or to escape back into
      academia from `the real world.' But here's the real reason. . . . you are
      staking a claim to being a writer, and you're letting everyone around
      you know it. Lots of people talk about being a writer; you're doing
      something about it."
      —Tom Kealey, The Creative Writing MFA Handbook

      The Latinidad® Newsletter © 2003 by Marcela Landres

      Marcela Landres
      Editorial Consultant
      Writer's Digest 101 Best Web Sites for Writers
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