MFA Rock

Friday Hangovers

Just a few leetle things, most of which I've already shared on twitter, but things flit by so quickly there:

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Masters Ahoy!

Just a quick congratulations to the newest class of graduates from the Vermont College of Fine Arts' MFA in Writing for Children and YA program, one Super Secret Society of Quirk and Quill (shhhhh). There are some future *stars* of the field in this group (Varian Johnson, Jess Leader and Rachel Wilson, to name but three!).

And if you'd like a peek at what the residency's like, faculty member and spectacular poet Julie Larios did a great job racing to keep up with daily reports.

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Follow Us Off a Cliff

Some students and alumni from the Vermont College MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program decided to launch an unofficial Twitter feed to share news related to the projects and activities of current and past members of the program. Other children's and YA lit-related stuff will be in the mix as well. There will be TONS of good stuff, really a gob-smacking amount.

I'm the tweeter-in-chief at the moment, with a couple of helpers, so follow us and spread the word:

I promise it won't really be off a cliff. Or, if it is, it'll be a well-written cliff.

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Lucky Days

I know, I know. I'll try to get a proper type of post up tomorrow. Just dropping in to say that all day I've felt an overwhelming and perhaps slightly corny surge of gratitude to be here in this amazing community of writers. There's no place like it, and at some point I do mean to write in greater detail about the program, but if you want to write for children or young adults, it's worth looking into and making sacrifices to come.

::end corniness for today (I'm tired, people!)::

Today in short: Cynthia Leitich Smith is a most excellent workshop leader and all-round smartypants. Also, her new book, Eternal, the sequel to Tantalize, is going to be AH-mazing, based on her reading tonight. Actually, all the readings were wonderful, but I have to tell you–and, of course, this is all I can tell you–that when the incomparable Martine Leavitt's next book comes out, it'll be the best thing you've read since forever. SRSLY. She is a genius. Not to mention a wonderful person and a wonderful mentor. And we got to squeal in tandem, in person, about my fabulous new agent.

::Apparently, there was still some corniness left.::

And Julie Larios gave a typically brilliant and funny lecture about poetry and sound. (One little paraphrased tip from it: If asked what something in a poem symbolizes, apparently death is always a good answer.) And Carolyn Coman generously gave of her time and wisdom to a group of us over dinner. And there were special guests floating around — oh, and I FINALLY got to meet Jo Knowles in person. (I can confirm, she really is a doppelganger for Pam!) A good day, is what I'm saying.

And a typical one for a residency.

Tomorrow looks fairly quiet though, and I'm hoping to sneak in some actual writing. And, y'know, a post.

p.s.  And, of course, the sad, sad, sad news is out that there will be no more YBFH in its current incarnation, at least covering 2008. Everyone involved with this series has done the SFF field a great service over the years, and I can only hope some smart, committed publisher picks it up as things improve. It's too important to just get lost; let's keep our fingers crossed things aren't so bad now that there's no room for these important books.

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Emma Explorador Pt 2
Originally uploaded by gwenda

I have completed hours and hours and hours of admin paperwork and gathering and such for the stuff that has to be mailed in at the end of one's final MFA semester… and my brain feels mushy. Also, hurty. (Evaluations, a complete bibliography of everything read for the last two years, miscellaneous forms, a title page to be signed by faculty honcho types and abstracts of creative thesis. Etc.! MLA format is Eeevil.)

The rest of the week will be spent fluffing and pruning my novel, which thankfully goes in electronically on Friday. And I'm sure the formatting of said submission will cause more head aching.

So, alas, for today, I'm afraid I'm only good for this ferocious holiday pic of Emma the Dog Girl.

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Ghostly Time Warp

Snowy Campus
Originally uploaded by gwenda

I’ve been remiss in not posting a link to Vermont Public Radio’s excellently creepy story about Anna, the ghost who reportedly resides in the College Hall tower at my grad school’s campus. (This was the first I’d heard of this story; I really feel it should be in the promotional materials.)

Anyway, have a listen to Bob the former security guard who admits he’s in love with Anna’s ghost, and believes he once nearly walked through a time warp she had opened for him. He established this with the help of local hypnotists. Oh, Montpelier, what a wonderful town.

And how much do I love that Bob and Anna’s living relatives basically held a seance in the tower at some point? Note to future seance participants: Probably not the best idea to read ghosts their own obits.

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Boring Academic Blather

Quite a few of you gluttons for punishment out there have asked for copies of my critical thesis on the omniscient point of view (especially in YA, though there’s some broader discussion too). Herewith, help yourself to this PDF of it.

I’d love any thoughts and reactions, either here or via e-mail. I’d also say enjoy, but this is an academic paper we’re talking about here.

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Enchanted Evening

Thcostume_3We were quite the perceptive crew for the annual Miss Universe viewing party and drinking game — we had very few repicks due to elimination, and core participants had the final five early on Mexico (Gene), the Dominican Republic (Shawn), Venezuela (Christopher), Colombia (me), and Russia (Allyson). (Micol’s USA sadly didn’t make it that far, though she did fall during swimsuit, which is worth extra points.)

Miss Thailand won the crowd-pleaser National Costume segment, although the competition was fierce this year. My girl got first runner-up in the Big Show. And, of course, all is right and just in the world because Sunshine’s traditional Venezuela took top honors. (I was sad to see Albania not advance, because she did indeed look kooky.)

The only reason we were able to stay awake for this, being zonked at this point in the residency, was because advisor postings were to go up sometime before midnight. They did and I’ll be finishing my novel(s?) with…

The fabulous Martine Leavitt, author of several great books, including National Book Award finalist Keturah and Lord Death. Needless to say, I’m ecstatic about this.

And now I need a nap.

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Someone Else’s Party

My god, how can I be this tired already? Could it be the strangest karaoke night ever? Which involved furtively moving the karaoke set-up to a soundproof bunker after the world’s most empowered security guard threatened to call the cops? Maybe. Our class (sans a certain WUSS) did "Mary Had a Little Lamb," which Gene somehow managed to make twisted and scary. Or perhaps that was just the lyrics.

(Why is it that all classic kids’ song lyrics can be easily interpreted as double entendres? Why?)

Still, I was in bed by 11:30, so that can’t be it, because that would mean I’m OLD.

And I don’t get OLD until tomorrow. Well, OLDER, anyway. And I forgot my tiara.

One of the interesting things about low residency programs is that they seem to accrue traditions constantly. Perhaps it’s because people aren’t together enough to get truly sick and tired of seeing each other, and so have a greater interest in doing nice things when the time comes. One of our school’s traditions is that the fourth semester class throws the Saturday night party in honor of the graduating class. My class has seven people in it (only six of who are here — sob, we miss Kate immensely). We’re throwing the party for about 150 people (all the current students and a whole slew of alumni here for a mini-residency over the weekend).

Should be fun. And, yes, I do plan to have a stash of my own birthday champers somewhere.

Tonight there’s the big auction though, benefiting the scholarship fund, with co-masters of ceremony Tobin Anderson and Tim Wynne-Jones; my contribution to it was actually the fabulous Sharyn November‘s contribution — she was nice enough to send a big bunch of ARCs and books to go as a set. That should be big fun too.

And now off to a lecture, and to continue obsessing over who to choose as my creative thesis advisor. Decisions, decisions, as they say…

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I’m here in Montpelier at Betsy’s — in a different room than usual, but Micol just came over for a late lunch so it’s feeling familiar already. As ever, the wireless seems to be misbehaving, but I’ll find a reliable signal and make proper updates at some point. Carry on.

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