Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Shootin' for Great in 2008!

(The above photos include: the beachhouse we rented for New Year's 2008; May-Day at attention; JD, Cal, and Stu--badass runners; the beachhouse gang; eating a yummy seafood dinner; Scout and Hank in the ocean; Stuart and little Katie; view of the marsh and creek; Cal, me, and Mom on Christmas Eve; great friends gathering; Kate & Scout; Stuart & Scout.)
Much has occurred since my last full post (so sorry about the schizophrenic half-last one): I've returned from Montana; and Thanksgiving, my 30th birthday, Christmas and New Year's 2008 have come and gone in a swirl of family, emotions, road trips, and way too many Reese's Cups.

This semester I'll be taking a break from classroom teaching, as enrollment is down at Brevard College--which means adjunct professors like me are reminded of their sad, lonely spot at the bottom of the faculty food chain. I also won't be an academic counselor this semester, either, mostly because of low Spring enrollment, but also because I'll be once again out-of-state for a month.

I won a 2007-2008 Arts Award by the North Carolina Arts Council--yippee! I applied for the award back in May with an excerpt from my historical novel, Unto the Hills, a resume, references, and personal statement. The award is pretty competitive: only two people win it per year, one fiction writer and one visual artist. It consists of a full month and writing fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center in the college town of Johnson, Vermont.
(If you're interested in checking out the Vermont Studio Center, go to http://www.vermontstudiocenter.org/. If you'd like to see the press release for my NC Arts Award, go to http://www.ncarts.org/, click on "Writers and Books, January 2008," then click on "Prose.")

I'm thrilled at the honor (even though I dread the thought of leaving Stuart and Scout for so long, yet again). I've always wanted to see Vermont, and in the snow, and for this I blame my Mom and Aunt Jean-Marie, who hooked us girl cousins on the classic Bing Crosby/Rosemary Clooney movie White Christmas. And it's certainly going to be white: Johnson is only about an hour and a half south of Montreal, and they've had tons of snow already.

This is a different sort of residency than MAR: at VSC I'll be in single bed, single room housing, and will eat all meals at a communal dining hall. There will be workshops and readings to attend, and manuscript critiques by "true" writers-in-residence. While I'm planning on this being a solid work month--no galivanting around Vermont in a purple PT Cruiser--I am hoping to rent a pair of cross country skis and do some toodling around town. Mom, Aunt Jean-Marie, and my cousin Lindsay are planning to come visit the third weekend in February. Awesome.

As for "real" work, I soon begin online training as a faculty member for the University of Phoenix/Axia College, where I'll be teaching two writing and/or literature courses online this semester. This should be interesting, and to be honest, I'm a wee bit anxious. So much of my teaching style has to do with being present and alive in the classroom--I truly think my enthusiasm is what keeps my students interested, even if they're not die hard Emily Dickinson or Yusef Komunyakaa fans.

So now I sit, at my grandfather's old desk--which I faithfully restored--in my little house, avoiding writing by working on this blog. I've got to get to it: I need to send a manuscript excerpt soon to the Vermont Studio Center in order to have a critique (yikes) done by a real writer while I'm there. My literary agent still hasn't had any luck in finding a publisher for my novel, and I haven't heard from him in quite some time... which may be worrisome. But I hope to remedy that and other issues before the week is out.

Included are photos from Christmas in Hilton Head and Greenville, and New Years on the coast. Mock, smile, and enjoy!