A Year In The Life

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Since 2010, about 350 people have graduated from this MFA program…and during that time, over 75% of them have published, produced, sold, optioned, or otherwise seen their creative work brought to public view. Many others have also found new careers in the arts, education, and journalism. And even more still are right about where they want to be, printing out that final manuscript, checking it for errors, getting it ready for submission. We’re so proud of all of our students and alums. They do incredible work. They’re out there in their communities making a difference. Each day, we feel honored to have taught them a little something along the way. Here’s what just some of them did in 2019! (Brew some coffee. Get a comfy chair.)


A.M. Larks‘s essay “All I Needed for 2018 Was a Knife and a Heart Emoji” was published in Scoundrel Time, and her critical essay “Still Playing the Girl” was published by Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. She also interviewed Susan Straight for Ploughshares and reviewed Chris L. Terry’s novel Black Card for ZYZZYVA.


Amie Charney was named one of the inaugural recipients of Harlequin’s Creator Fund in television writing. Her novel manuscript Drawn to Love won first place in the romance category at the San Antonio Writers Guild book awards. Her short stories “NOLA Noreen and Stucky” and “NOLA Noreen and Alice” won third place and honorable mentions respectively. Her story “How to Schedule a Nervous Breakdown” was published in the anthology Proud to Be in November by Southeast Missouri State University Press. Amie was also hired in May to teach and run the creative writing program at the Northeast School of the Arts in San Antonio.


Amy Reardon had interviews published in The Adroit Journal (speaking to Lucy Ellmann, CJ Hauser, and Christian Keifer) and The Rumpus (speaking to Tracy Strauss). Her article “All Vaginas Are Normal Vaginas” was published in Glamour.


Andrew Navarro had three poems published in Kelp entitled “Riding a Chiva in Cartagena,” “Peru,” and “Days pass.”


Anne Silva attended the Disquiet Azores Writing Residency on Sao Miguel Island in Portugal in July. While there, she wrote for Fodor’s 2019 Go List about the Azores. Anne also began working as the Manager of Communications in Engagement, Culture and Communications at the University of Southern California.


Annemarie Hauser was named the Programming and Audience Development Coordinator for the Los Angeles Times Events team.


Annette Roy Davis‘s essay “Searching for Answers” was published in Please See Me.


Annie Connole‘s essay “Marine Base Alchemy” was published in The Rumpus.


Ashley Santana had two short stories released:  “Tense” was published in Please See Me, and “Be Nice” was published in the Demonic Carnival anthology.


Bill Ratner had two poems published: “Emily” in Ramingo and “Phoebe” in KYSO Flash. His story “Greyhound” was named a finalist in New Millennium‘s flash fiction contest.


Brian Asman‘s book I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today was released by Eraserhead Books on March 1.


Bryan Burch‘s play Inferno, an adaptation of The Divine Comedy, debuted on July 28 at the Island Shakespeare Festival in Langley, WA.


Carol Park‘s short documentary, Footsteps of Korean Americans, aired in the US and Korea. Her textbook, Korean Americans: A Concise History, was published in June in both English and Korean. Carol also accepted a position as an Academic Administrative Associate at the California Indian Nations College in Palm Desert and an adjunct faculty position at College of the Desert in Palm Desert.


Charles G. Thompson‘s short story “Fourths” was published in The Maine Review. His story

“Two Kings” appeared in the anthology, Made in L.A., Vol. 2: Chasing the Elusive Dream.


Chera King began teaching English composition at Arkansas State University, Campus Querétaro in Querétaro, Mexico.


Clarinda Ross‘s play #Gunsense was read at Newbury Park High School in Newbury Park, CA on June 8, performed by students from the school and Cal Lutheran University, as well as professional actors. A reading of her play Love, M. took place at the Horizon Theater Company in Atlanta on March 3.


Collin Mitchell‘s story “Haircuts” was published in PCC Inscape.


Cooper Gillespie‘s band LANDROID released its debut album, Imperial Dunes on September 13. Cooper served as co-songwriter as well as singer and bass, guitar, and keyboard player.


Cynthia Alessandra Briano‘s poems “To Maria, Mi Fea, Love, Jesse” and “To Jesse, Love, Maria Guadalupe A.” were published in the anthology Graffiti from Aunt Lute Books.


Dan McKeithan has five microfiction pieces published in Scary Snippets: A Halloween Microfiction Anthology from Suicide House Publishing. This is his first fiction publication. He also published two other stories: “Bloodlets” in Culture Cult and “Conversation” in Elixir.


Darlene Kriesel‘s article “Supporting Siblings with and Without Disabilities” was published in LA Parent. She also produced an arts and literary event called The Parable at the Gypsy Den in Santa Ana, CA on March 2.


David Martinez had three essays published: “Not Today, Satan” in Writers Resist, “Just a Flesh Wound” in Anti-Heroin Chic, and “Saudade” in Charge. His short story “Visions of Maria Aparecida” was published in Automata Review. David was also appointed to a full-time English/Creative Writing faculty position at Glendale Community College in Arizona.


David Olsen‘s personal essay “All the Ways to Save Your Life” was published by The Rumpus, and his short story “Below the Silent Flow” was published in Close 2 the Bone. David also launched the literary journal Kelp on July 4 with many alums serving on the editorial staff: Oliver Brennan (Fiction Editor), Ashley Santana (True Horror Editor), Maria Duarte (Poetry Editor), A.M. Larks (Photo Editor), and Heather Wehland (Art Editor).


David Zimmerle‘s essay “The Baja Accord” appeared in Kelp. Another essay, “Mai Tais,” was published in The Surfer’s Journal.


Debbie Graber‘s story “The Igloo” was published in Cagibi. Her story “Challenger” was a finalist in The Conium Review‘s Innovative Short Fiction Contest and was published in the eighth volume of the print journal.


Dein Sofley‘s poem “Reparative Therapy” was published by Writers Resist. Her essay “Munch” was published in Cagibi.


Diana Love‘s poems “Thrown Back in the Surf” and “Walking the Beach on New Year’s Day” were published in Kelp.


Dorothy Rice‘s second book, Gray Is the New Black, was published by Otis Books · Seismicity Editions. Dorothy also published articles and essays in Brevity (“With a Little Help from My Friends“), Writers Resist (“Going Gray: A Woman’s Right to Choose“), 8 Women Dream (“It’s Never Too Late to Dust Off Your Dreams“), Mothers Always Write (“Conquering the Jumpsuit” ) and BabyBoomers.com. Her flash fiction story “Five Points of View” was published by Flashflood, and her story “In Photographs” was reprinted in the Pegasus Review.


Eli Ryder had three stories published: “Video Forty-seven” in The Macabre Museum, “What Should Have Been” in Typehouse Literary Magazine, and “I Remember Annie,” which was read on the No Sleep podcast.


Emily Duren‘s poem “Cake” was published in Sad Girl Review. Her essay “1,392” was also published in Please See Me.


Felicity R. Landa‘s essay “Dear Sarah” was published in Raising Mothers.


Grace Jasmine‘s play The Masher was read by the Now & Then Creative Company at the Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix on May 6. The full play debuted at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June and received the Encore Award. Sarah Sheppeck served as the play’s social media manager. Grace’s essay “I Was a 2019 Fringe Do-it-Yourself-er” was published by the LA Female Playwrights Initiative.


Guy Nicolucci‘s TV movie, KILLER IN-LAW, aired on Lifetime on May 12. Guy also accepted a position as a visiting assistant professor at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey.


Heather Scott Partington‘s book reviews were published in various publications, including
USA Today (Jacqueline Woodson’s Red at the Bone, Mitchell S. Jackson’s Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, Jennifer duBois’s The Spectators, and Mitch Albom’s Finding Chika), The Believer Logger (Rag by Maryse Meijer), The National Book Review (Yiyun Li’s Where Reasons End), The Star Tribute (Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett), and Alta (Susan Straight’s In the Country of Women). Heather also interviewed Dave Cullen for The Los Angeles Review of Books and JoAnn Chaney for Charge.


Heather Wehland was hired as an event producer for the Los Angeles Times. She was previously an intern for the newspaper’s Festival of Books.


Jalysa Conway was chosen for a TV writing residency and mentorship program developed by Rideback and MRC. The program helps TV writers create new drama series by pairing them with experienced showrunners.


Jan Steele‘s debut novel, Shoes on the Stairs, was published by Acorn Publishing on July 27. The book was a finalist in the Best New Fiction and Women’s Fiction categories at the American Book Fest’s Best Book Awards.


Jason Metz‘s multimedia radio-style play Bone Gristle Blues debuted at Club Passim in Boston on October 28. The play is a sequel to his previous work, Transmissions from Fish City.


J.D. Horn‘s novel The Final Days of Magic, the last book in his Witches of New Orleans trilogy, was published on June 18 by 47North.


Jeff Meyer‘s film Mimesis: Nosferatu won the Golden Stake award for best feature at the International Vampire Film Festival in London.


Jennifer Croslow completed her first professional project as a book editor. Eva’s Uncommon Life—Guided by Miracles by Eva Perlman was published on December 14.


Jenny Hayes had two short stories published: “Where the Spirals Lead” in Adelaide and  “Double Zero” in Hobart. Her poem “Feminist Cocktails” was published in Unchaste Anthology, Vol. 3.


Jhenna Wieman was hired to teach English and Newcomer English Language Development at Citrus Hill High School in Perris, CA.


JoAnn Chaney‘s second novel, As Long as We Both Shall Live, was published on January 15 by Flatiron Books. The novel was named one of the top fiction books of 2019 by Book Riot‘s podcast All the Books.


John Flynn-York‘s story “Shard” was published in Charge.


John Mattson‘s short story “Figure & Ground,” which won the R.M. Kinder Award for Realistic Fiction, was published in issue 39.1 of Pleiades. His story “Object Permanence” was named a finalist in New Millennium‘s flash fiction contest.


John Rosenberg‘s short story “Split Key” has been named a finalist in Screencraft’s Cinematic Short Story contest.


Kaitlin Hulsy was hired as a faculty advisor in the Bakersfield College Writing Center in Bakersfield, CA.


Kat Kiefer-Newman‘s essay “Hospitals and Cemeteries” was published in Please See Me.


Katherine MacDonald‘s textbook The Market Edge for Filmmakers, cowritten by Russell Schwartz, was released on August 30. Katherine was also named Senior Vice President at Paramount Animation.


Kathryn E. McGee‘s short story “The Unboxing” was published in Automata Review.


Kendall Brunson‘s short film Box played at the Wasteland Film Festival in Edwards, CA on September 27.


Kerry Keith began writing a column for Southwest Riverside Real Producers.


Kyle Zaffino started a new job as a technical writer at Tandem Diabetes Care in San Diego.


Leanne Phillips‘s poem “Evening, McAbee Beach,” was published in the 2019 WordFest anthology. This is her first published poem.


Lee Cataluna‘s play Flowers of Hawaii was performed in Los Angeles on May 29 and in San Diego on June 1 as part of the Gene Autry Museum’s Native Voices 25th Anniversary Festival of New Plays.


Lia Langworthy has been hired as an assistant professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. She’ll be teaching screenwriting in the Image Arts department.


Lisa W. Nagel‘s essay “Dear Lisa” was published by Her Stry.


Lisa Quigley has been hired to write nonfiction articles for publisher Gehenna & Hinnom.

She also accepted positions as an Evaluator in Communications by Western Governors University and as the Communications Coordinator with the School of Science and Engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. Her and Mackenzie Kiera‘s podcast, Ladies of the Fright, won the Best Nonfiction Podcast of the Year award from This Is Horror.


Liska Jacobs‘s second novel, The Worst Kind of Want, was published by MCD on November 4 and named one of the hottest books of the year by Cosmopolitan. Liska wrote a photo essay on Italy for her publisher and the article “Remembering Kate Braverman’s Los Angeles” for Literary Hub. She also interviewed Dawn Finley from Feminist Library on Wheels for Electric Eel.


Lon Varnadore released two books: Crimson Planet on March 22 and Space Ranger: Mars on April 14.


Lucio Rodriguez‘s story “So You Think You Can Live?” was published in issue 6 of Forbidden Futures.


Luke Yankee‘s plays Confessions of a Star Maker, won the Stageplay competition for the Moondance International Film Festival. He directed a reading of the play at the Stella Adler Theatre in Los Angeles on April 11 and at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska in June. His play Marilyn, Mom & Me was also performed in staged readings in Hollywood and Orange County. Luke also directed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at El Camino College in Torrance, CA in the fall.


Mackenzie Kiera‘s essay “The Death of Fear: My Bloody Valentine” ran in This Is Horror on July 25. She also wrote an article for This Is Horror entitled “Death of Fear: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984 vs, 2010)—Five Fingers of Fun.” Mackenzie was also promoted to the full-time professional communications faculty at Western Governors University.


Mag Gabbert‘s poem “America” won the inaugural Rossetti Broadside Prize from American Literary Review, and her manuscript SEX DEPRESSION ANIMALS was named a finalist for the Pamet River Prize and the BOAAT Book Prize. She was also runner-up for the Key West Literary Seminar Scotti Merrill Award. She also had several poems printed in such publications as Redivider (“Oyster,” “Bone,” and Ship”), Birmingham Poetry Review (“New Year”), Thrush (“Stream,” which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize), Juked (“Dolphin”), and Glass (“Bleach”). Pieces from her “minml poems” series were also published in mutiny! and The Hopkins Review. She also began working as the interviews editor at Underblong.


Maggie Downs published several articles in Palm Springs Life (including “The Forecast from FIDM: Bright New Design,” “Michael Costello, Friends Bring Fun, Bossy, and Beautiful,” “It’s a Wonderful Resort,” interviews with J.D. Horn and screenwriter/director Ron Oliver, and a profile of UCRPD MFA director Tod Goldberg). Her opinion piece “Abortion bans punish women, regardless of state, whether or not they’re terminating a pregnancy” was published in the Desert Sun. She also contributed to the Washington Post article “Defining Motherhood” and wrote an article for 302Health Magazine (“Get By With a Little Hemp From Our Friends”).


Marion Ruybalid began writing a column for Raising Mothers, starting with an essay entitled “How Being Adopted Made Me Create My Own Brood.”


Rep. Mark Takano penned an opinion piece for Riverside’s Press-Enterprise entitled “The heavy burden of rent in Riverside County.”


Martin Cossio‘s poem “For You” was published in The Lyric.


Mary Perera‘s essay ” To Bruce Chatwin (1940–1989)” was published in The Los Angeles Review of Books.


Matthew Johnson‘s story “Shadow’s Promise” was published in the Blackest Spells anthology from Crossroads Press.


Max Gee‘s short film Terminal won several festival awards: Best SciFi short at the Vegas Movie Awards, Best Short Film at the Starburst International Film Festival in Manchester, UK, and ten awards from the Queen Palm International Film Festival in Palm Springs, including two awards for Max: a gold for best writer and a bronze for best producer. The short screened at several festivals, including the High Peak Independent Film Festival’s “Best of the North” screening on June 16. Another short film script, Hydrangea, and her feature-length script Golems Inc. were both finalists in the Other Worlds Austin SciFi Screenwriting Competition. Golems Inc was additionally named a Screencraft screenplay competition finalist in science fiction. Max was also promoted to senior lecturer and program leader of the BA in Scriptwriting for Film and Television major at Bournemouth University in the UK.


Megan Eccles‘s short story “Night Shadows” was published in Automata Review.


Natalie Ferrigno‘s story “The Passenger” was serialized in two issues of New Skin.


Natashia Deón debuted her new reading series The Release on May 25 at the Virgil in Hollywood. Co-produced by our own Darlene Kriesel, The Release celebrates the book launch of a featured writer and includes readings by other members of the writing community. She also launched the nonprofit, Redeemed, which pairs professional writers and lawyers with those seeking help in criminal record clearing, expungements, and Certificates of Rehabilitation. Natashia also wrote articles on homeschooling for The New York Times (“The Hardest Part of Home Schooling Was the Guilt“) and LA Parent (“A Homeschool Mom’s Advice for High School—and Life—Success“).


Nathania Elizabeth Oh was named a visiting professor at the Oregon Extension near Ashland, OR.


Pam Munter had several essays printed in such publications as The Manifest-Station (“A Writer Changed My Life“), Sad Girl Review (“Making Movies“), Writers Resist (“The Cancer of Misogyny“), Please See Me (“Talking Headaches“), and Her Stry (“Instructions upon My Death“). Essays were also reprinted in Her Stry (“The Hypnotic Danube“), Eunoia Review (“Romancing New York“), and Culture Cult (“Channeling Doris Day,” “Hello, Dolly, Goodbye,” and “Passing It On”). She also had her short story “Ethel” published in Literary Yard and a series of three flash fiction stories published in The New Guard Review‘s series BANG! Pam’s short play Hedda the Hopper was also staged in a reading for the Midwest Dramatists Conference in Kansas City.


Pallavi Yetur wrote an article called “Now We’re Awake” for Push and Pole.


Penne Richards wrote an article called “The Work of Advocacy” for the United Way of Lubbock, TX.


Rachel Zarrow‘s article “The C-Words of Coachella: Capitalism, Consumerism, and Cults” was published in BUST.


Redd Rennick has accepted a job teaching English Language Arts at Harvey Lewis, Jr. Middle School in San Diego.


Ruth Nolan‘s review of David Treur’s book Heartbeat of Wounded Knee was published in News from Native California, and she published an article for KCET’s Tending Nature series. Her essay “Life as a Female Firefighter & California’s Wildland Fires” was published in She Explores Life. The anthology Ruth co-edited, entitled Fire & Rain: Ecopoetry of California, was also named a poetry finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. She also taught the inaugural English class for and is a founding member of the California Indian Nations College.


Ryan Ritchie‘s essay “The Dream” was published in The Good Men Project. Ryan also reviewed a concert by the Damned in The OC Weekly.


Sara Marchant‘s memoir Proof of Loss was published by Otis Books/Seismicity Editions on February 5. Sara’s flash fiction story “Letter from the Bereaved” was published in the anthology On Loss, and her short story “The Last Most Depressing Story Until Now” was published on the Fairlight Books website. Her essay “You’re Not from Here: A Memoirist Writes Through the Mudstorm” was published in Story News.


Shawnacy Kiker Perez launched her new literary journal, Charge Magazine, on March 31. She also began co-teaching a free massive open online course with the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program called “Hidden Meanings: Creative Fiction, Non-fiction, and Facts.”


Stephanie Green Smith‘s essay “Digging” was published in Charge.


Susan Ruskin was named the dean of the AFI Conservatory in Hollywood.


Tiffany Hawk‘s story “Don’t Flinch” was published by Collateral, and her interview with Xu Xi was printed in The Rumpus. Tiffany also began hosting the Tucson Writer’s Salon.


Tom Gianakopoulos‘s article “An Ethic of Curiosity: Assessing the Work of Barbara Kopple” was published by Documentary.org.


Tom Mavroudis had three stories published: “A Pantheon of Trash” in the Wildside Press anthology WEIRDBOOK #41, “Block 12” in the Denver Horror Collective’s anthology Terror at 5280′, and “The Bloody Cask of Rasputin” in the Muzzleland Press anthology Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror. Tom also won the Horror Writers Association’s 2019 Scholarship From Hell.


Tracy Granzyk launched the literary journal, Please See Me, on March 15. The journal’s staff includes John Flynn-York as the managing editor, Grace Jasmine as the nonfiction editor and A.M. Larks as fiction editor.


Travis Hedge Coke served as a coordinator and anthology editor of ALONG THE CHAPARRAL, which was reprinted by the Inlandia Institute. The UCR project, which was done in collaboration with the Veterans Legacy Program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and National Cemetery Administration, pays tribute to veterans interred at Riverside National Cemetery by documenting their stories. The project includes contributions from alums Amie Charney, Carol Damgen, and Mark Takano. Travis also published two stories (“Those Old Boi Distant Sounds” in Yellow Medicine Review and “En Passant” in the South Dakota Review Vol. 54, #3 & 4) and began writing a weekly column for Comic Watch, starting with an interview with David Moses LeNoir.


Wendy Maxon‘s short story “Angler” was published in Jersey Devil Press. This is her first fiction publication. A second story, “The Wet Nurse,” was published in Tales from the Moonlit Path.


William Hillyard‘s book Welcome to Wonder Valley: Ruin and Redemption in an American Galapagos was published on November 22.


Xach Fromson accepted a position as a book distribution specialist at Book Launchers in Los Angeles.


By | 2020-01-22T20:46:33-08:00 January 22nd, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|Comments Off on A Year In The Life

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