Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Faculty Feature: Andy Ross

As you probably know, it’s almost impossible to secure a book contract by the major commercial publishers without the help of an agent. In order to get an agent’s attention, it’s important to compose a query letter that is clear, compelling, and most importantly, short. That's where Andy Ross's Query Letter weekend workshop comes in.

In this workshop you will work to refine your query letter so that it grabs the attention of an agent quickly. The good news is that many agents really do look carefully at their “slush pile” (the charmless term agents use for over the transom queries). During the class a draft of your query letter for the book project you are working on will be workshopped and Andy will provide notes and edits as well.

So, if you are a writer who has recently finished a book project and are ready to start querying, this is the class for you. (Especially those of you who just spent the week in a master class!) To get a sense of Andy's style as an agent, check out his agent’s blog: “Ask the Agent: Night Thoughts on Book Publishing.”

Andy Ross began his career in the book business in 1972 when he opened a small bookstore north of San Francisco. In 1977 he became the owner of the legendary Cody’s Books in Berkeley and managed the store for 30 years until it closed in 2008. That’s the year he started his agency. Andy represents books in a wide range of genres including: journalism, politics, history, science, cookbooks, and scholarly titles. He also represents books in literary, commercial, and young adult fiction and is a member of The Association of Author Representatives (AAR).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Faculty Feature: Kristen-Paige Madonia

We had the pleasure of asking Kristen-Paige Madonia, who is teaching a YA workshop at the Conference this summer, a few questions about her interest in Young Adult Literature.

What are some of your favorite YA books?
This list is constantly in flux, but I always recommend John Green's work, particularly Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. Other favorites include John Corey Whaley's Where Things Come Back and David Levithan's Two Boys Kissing. Claiming Georgia Tate by Gigi Amateau is wonderful, too, as is M.T. Anderson's Feed, Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story, and Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park.

What draws you to write YA?
It's funny, I don't actually believe writers always get to choose what they write -- often the work, the subject and the characters and themes, choose you. I didn't start out intending to write YA fiction; in fact, when my agent and I were preparing to submit Fingerprints of You to editors, we couldn't decide if it would be categorized as YA or adult lit, so we sent it to editors of both genres -- ultimately, it sold to Simon & Schuster's YA division, Books for Young Readers. But now, as I'm in the midst of collecting ideas for my third YA lit novel, I can easily say that it's the voice and urgency of story that draws me to write YA. I think I will always write for both teens and adults, but there is something so particularly honest and authentic about YA, something so relatable and powerful about that time period of coming-of-age. I've also found great inspiration in the community of readers. It's an amazing thing to connect with teens that have used your work to empower themselves in some way, to feel less alone and to gain confidence and strength.

YA seems to have a lot of cross-over appeal (both kids and adults seem to love it). Why do you think that is?
It's so easy to believe in the characters, to feel aligned with them and to become part of their worlds. On the one hand we can all remember that time in our life, no? When everything seemed so raw and  risky and transformative. And on the other hand, aren't we all still coming-of-age and changing, evolving and growing day by day?

Find out more about Kristen-Paige's Young Adult Literature workshop this summer at the Taos Summer Writers' Conference.

Kristen-Paige Madonia is the author of the Young Adult literary novel Fingerprints of You (Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2012); her short fiction has recently appeared in FiveChapters, New Orleans Review, Upstreet, and American Fiction: Best Previously Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers. She is the recipient of the 2012 Taos Writers’ Conference D.H. Lawrence Fellowship and was awarded the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Fiction Prize in 2010. She has received fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, Juniper Summer Writing Institute, the Hambidge Center, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, Millay Colony for the Arts, the Key West Literary Seminar and the Studios of Key West. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach and teaches fiction at the University of Virginia and James Madison University.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Frances Washburn's New Book

From 1999 - 2002, Frances Washburn worked as the first ever Graduate Assistant for the Taos Summer Writers' Conference! Her new book, The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band, is out this month from the University of Arizona Press. Congratulations Frances!

Opening July 4, 1969, on the Pine Ridge Reservation, The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band follows a country western band through a summer of gigs in this novel that is equal parts mystery and community chronicle. At its core is the band's sassy lead singer and guitarist, Sissy Roberts, who must unravel a mysterious death as well as her own future in this story set in Indian Country on the verge of historic changes.

For those of you in the Tucson area, Frances will be giving a reading and discussing the novel at the book's release party, Friday, February 28th at 7 PM at Clues Unlimited. The event is free and open to the public.

Once again, congratulations Frances and we can't wait to read The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band!  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kirkus Interviews UNM Press Acquisitions Editor Elise McHugh

Elise McHugh, the senior acquisitions editor of humanities and arts at UNM Press, has spent several summers in Taos, consulting with participants of the Taos Summer Writers' Conference. This year is no different. She will be scheduling individual consultations again at the 16th annual Conference.

She recently did an interview with Kirkus in which she talks about her experience working in the University Press corner of the publishing industry. "What I really like about university presses is that we are uniquely positioned to support regional writing and books of literary merit that are wonderfully written and need to be out and available to a larger audience." Elise will schedule her consultations when the Conference begins on July 13th, so keep an eye out at the registration table. We are thrilled and grateful to have her back!

Elise McHugh is senior acquisitions editor of humanities and arts at the University of New Mexico Press and acquires in several fields, including poetry, fiction, memoir, pop culture, cultural and literary criticism, and art, photography, and architecture. She lives in Albuquerque.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Participant Accomplishments - Martha Burns

Congratulations, Martha!

Martha Burns won the Faulkner-Wisdom Gold Metal for Short Story in 2007. Writer John Biguenet, whose work the New York Times called “Haunting . . . exhilarating . . . entrancing,” judged the contest. Burns’ short story, City of Paris was selected as a finalist for the 2012 Chariton Review Short Fiction Prize and was published in the spring issue of the Chariton Review.

Martha workshopped her narrative nonfiction manuscript Blameworthy with Laura Brodie at the 2012 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. She went on to finish that work and it was selected as one of nine finalists for the 2013 Faulkner-Wisdom Award for NarrativeNonfiction. Martha is working now on a novel-in-stories which she will workshop with Pam Houston at the 2014 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference.

Burns earned a Doctor of Letters with Distinction from Drew University where she did a concentration in creative writing. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Publishing Consultations Now Available with Allison Hunter & Alexis Hurley from InkWell Management

We are so pleased to welcome back Allison Hunter and Alexis Hurley to the 16th annual Taos Summer Writers' Conference. Both literary agents, from InkWell Management in New York City, have 10 publishing consultation spots available. If you've always wanted a seasoned literary agent to look at your work and give you focused, practical feedback, this is your chance.  

"The publishing consultation was wonderful! Very organized and personable with a lot of specific information about the practical side of writing. " - 2013 Workshop Attendee

Allison Hunter began her publishing career in 2005 working for the Los Angeles-based literary publicity firm, Kim-from-L.A. She then spent three years in law school, during which she was a summer associate at the global law firm Latham & Watkins and the head writer of the law school musical. After practicing pro bono family law at a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit, Allison returned to the publishing world at InkWell, where she is actively acquiring fiction (particularly women’s fiction and romance), memoir, narrative nonfiction, cultural studies and prescriptive titles, including cookbooks. She has a B.A. in American Studies and Creative Writing from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

Alexis Hurley started her career in 1998 and has been at InkWell since its inception in 2004. Alexis works in the dual capacity of Co-Director of Foreign Rights and agent of domestic works in the areas of literary and commercial fiction, memoir, narrative non-fiction and more. She is a native of the Berkshires and a graduate of Dickinson College where she received her BA in English and Art History and a minor in Italian.

Don't Forget to apply for TSWC Scholarships!

Each year, the Taos Summer Writers' Conference awards various merit based scholarships. This year, the deadlines for scholarship and fellowship application materials are fast approaching. The various scholarships available are:

The Fellowship is awarded to an emerging writer of fiction or poetry with one book in print or at press. The D. H. Lawrence Fellow will receive paid tuition for one weekend or weeklong workshop (a value up to $650), lodging at the Sagebrush Inn or Comfort Suites, and two meals a day (breakfast and lunch). In return, the Fellow contributes to Conference activities and gives a formal reading. Application Procedure.
Postmark Deadline: April 11, 2014

The two Leo Love Merit Scholarships—awarded in poetry and fiction/nonfiction—are available to any potential Conference participant. Each Merit Scholarship pays tuition for a weeklong workshop or partial tuition for a master class (a value of $650). Each Merit Scholarship recipient is responsible for her or his transportation and/or lodging costs. Leo Love Merit Scholarship applicants must register for the Conference (including paying the deposit) at the time application is made for the scholarship. Application Procedure.    
Postmark Deadline: April 28, 2014

The Native Writer Award, established in the memory of Native author and former colleague Louis Owens, offers paid tuition for one weekend or weeklong workshop (a value up to $650) as well as paid lodging to any Native American who is resident of New Mexico. The award recognizes excellence in fiction, poetry, or non-fiction. Applicants may apply in more than one genre and are eligible for only one award. Unlike the merit scholarships in poetry and fiction/nonfiction, applicants for the Native Writer Award do not need to be registered for the Conference before applying. Application Procedure.
Postmark Deadline: April 28, 2014

The Hispanic Writer Award is open to any New Mexican resident of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish heritage. The award pays tuition for one weekend or weeklong workshop (a value up to $650) in fiction, non-fiction, or poetry as well as paid lodging. Applicants may apply in more than one genre and are eligible for only one award. Unlike the merit scholarships in poetry and fiction/nonfiction, applicants for the Hispanic Writer Award do not need to be registered for the Conference before applying. Application Procedure.
Postmark Deadline: April 28, 2014

The Taos Resident Writer Award offers paid tuition support for one weekend or weeklong workshop (a value up to $650) to a resident of Taos or the Taos vicinity. The award recognizes excellence in fiction, poetry, or non-fiction. Applicants may apply in more than one genre and are eligible for only one award. Unlike the merit scholarships in poetry and fiction/nonfiction, applicants for the Taos Resident Writer Award do not need to be registered for the Conference before applying. Applicants must be residents of Taos County. Application Procedure.
Postmark Deadline: April 28, 2014

Monday, February 03, 2014

Faculty Feature: Kent Nelson

The University of Pittsburgh Press announced today that, "Kent Nelson has been named the 2014 winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for a book of short fiction. Nelson’s manuscript, Spirit Bird: Short Stories, was selected by esteemed author David Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars) from a field of 350 entries. The collection will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press this fall.

Spirit Bird indicates a seasoned talent at work,” Guterson said. “It’s a collection set in disparate geographies and touching on disparate lives, but it explores consistently the terrain of loneliness and yearning. One of its more impressive features is the way it artfully balances saying too much with saying too little. These stories open out instead of closing up. They’re moving, which is hard to do, and surprising in the sense that we’re unprepared for how they end,” he stated. “I respect and admire Spirit Bird. It’s the work of an author whose passionate immersion in life is evident on every page.”

Congratulations Kent!

This year at the Taos Summer Writers' Conference, Kent Nelson will teach a weeklong workshop focusing on short fiction. The class will be an intensive that explores on one of the hardest forms to write: the short story. Kent looks forward to focusing on each student's work in a significant and generous way.

Kent Nelson has published five collections of stories, four novels, and 133 stories in magazines. His work has been included in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, Pushcart, O. Henry, Best of the West, and other anthologies. His last novel, Land That Moves, Land That Stands Still won the Colorado Book Award and the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Award. Nelson's new collection of stories (including "Alba") has just won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize.
He has traveled widely in search of birds (757 North American species) and has run the Pikes Peak Marathon twice. He lives in Ouray, Colorado.