ellenkushner: (Default)
I'm delighted to announce that Delia & I will be returning to Hollins University to teach again in Summer 2015 for their MA/MFA Program in Children's Literature - and that Terri Windling joins us there as 2015 Writer-in-Residence!

Now, here's the catch:  In order to study with me, you need to be at least a second year student.  Which means you must apply now for this year's program - deadline March 15th, 2014 ** EXTENDED NOW TO APRIL 15th!** - so that you can begin classes this summer. (Terri & Delia will be available to everyone in 2015. This is just for people who want to take my Advanced Seminar.  And there's nothing to stop you from applying now for 2015!)

Now, don't get your knickers in a twist. You probably are "good enough." The program encourages all levels of students. Seriously.  And there is Financial Aid.  It's a 6-week summer semester, a chance to find out just what you're capable of; and during the year, you can acquire credits through on-line courses.

If you wait to start classes in 2015, you'll get to take Delia Sherman's amazing "Introduction to Fantasy Writing" class, aka "How to read (and think) like a writer!" I didn't think such writing could be taught . . . until I inherited some of her students last year, in my Writing Seminar, and saw how far they'd come since studying with her. Delia works with Fairy Tale, MG fiction, and with the inside of your head and the outside of your pages.

As 2015 Writer-in-Residence, Terri Windling will be lecturing, meeting individually with students to read mss. and give feedback . . . and, of course, hanging out in the Writers' Livingroom (which I founded back in 2011) for the first 2 weeks of this 6-week semester.

I will be teaching a 4-6 person Advanced Seminar again in 2015:  Essentially, a 6-week workshop on how to get your thesis - i.e. your novel - to move forward and keep going.  I work hard to create a supportive atmosphere, with an emphasis students helping each other, not "critiquing" to show off. Both Delia & I keep office hours, and really enjoy meeting one-on-one outside of class.

You also get to take academic classes with the likes of the truly amazing Karen Coats, Brian Attebery, and more - in fact, if you want an M.A. instead of an M.F.A., your primary classes will be with them.  But you still do some Creative Writing for your degree - and if you're an MFA, you still get to take some Academic classes.

And this year, for the first time, Hollins is offering a combined MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating! Artist faculty Ruth Sanderson, Ashley Wolff & Elizabeth Dulemba have become very dear friends; you'll love studying with them.  In fact, much as we love teaching, our other reasons for returning again & again to Hollins are (a) It's in the Blue Ridge Mountains, an area rich with folklore & traditional music (Friday nights! at the Floyd Country Store!!); (b) the chance to hang out all summer with the above-mentioned colleagues, also including Hillary Homzie, Lisa Fraustino, Chip Sullivan, and many more……all creative, funny, charming & supportive teachers who have become dear friends.

Come join us?

Here's how.

**And - because one does not enter grad school lightly or precipitously: Say "Ellen sent me," and our fabulous Program Director will accept applications through April 15th!
ellenkushner: (Default)
For the first time this summer, the wild geese flew over Hollins. I looked up, and saw them in a perfect V - and I felt like someone in a Caroline Stevermer novel.

I guess it's time to go.

So I walked the hills that surround the campus at sunset - and I guess that tells me where I got Alec walking the bounds of Riverside in my recent-ish short story, "The Duke of Riverside!" We always find these things after the fact.

And then I went to Writers' Living-room, which I kind of founded when I was here 2 years ago (astonished that all the various writing MFA students didn't have a regular hangout for mutual support), and they all had lyrics sheets and sang "Die Vampire, Die," which I kind of introduced them all to - and I cried, watching this room full of (mostly) women writers belting out that crazy affirmation together. I don't think anyone noticed - or if they did, they were too polite to say so.

For dinner, Delia had made us fresh pasta with local leeks from the Blacksburg Farmers' Market, and ground venison provided by Tiffany Trent's wildlife management husband. It was insanely good, and I ate too much of it, and I'm not sorry.

Tomorrow we pack up to go.
ellenkushner: (Default)

ellenkushner: (Default)
I am deeply in love with my Hollins MFA students - a 2nd year Seminar of 6 wonderful women!  Watching them learn & write together is miraculous - like watching leaves unfurl from seeds in those time-lapse photography films . . . And about as quickly, since an entire semester is crammed into 6 weeks!  This week (#4) was notable for being the first time I felt I could tease any of them, secure in the sense that everyone felt safe & supported together, and all laugh without risk!  Wonderful, for me - and, I hope, for them.

Today I had 3 back-to-back one-on-one conferences, during which we did everything from discuss whether starting a new novel is harder than revising a broken one, to playing "The People Game" (asking direct questions to a character until we both felt we knew her well).

Yeah, I'm missing REadercon - but I'm basically getting the same high:  Talking About Writing all day!  (This will continue this weekend, when we go up into the mountains visit Tiffany Trent - with the added bonus of getting to see her chickens! You don't get that at Readercon, baby!)

So here's my question for YOU:

One of my students is writing a middle-grade SF novel about Earth kids who visit another planet (kind of a work-study program, only Top Secret).  I love her work, but was surprised that the SF elements feel very retro - kind of 1950s-style - since she's so young.  I finally found out from her today that while she LOVES SF film & TV, she has read virtually no actual SF novels.  We're going to fix that.

I realized that, in order not to reinvent the wheel - and to catch up to current publishing standards - she needs a crash course in YA/MG "interplanetary" SF!

Which I am sadly deficient in.

On the spot, I remembered (and recommended) John Christopher's TRIPODS trilogy (OK, it's not Interplanetary, but I remember its being very powerful), and some William Sleator. I'd already recommended Panshin's RITE OF PASSAGE, which is thematically along the lines of what she's doing (she's interested in Colonialism - and also in Morality:  What makes a good human being?) . . . . And then . . . I kinda fell off the map.

Can you help?

I'm looking for work that starts with contemporary(-ish) Earth kids, who then encounter either Space Travel or Aliens - either classics or recent much appreciated.  Suggestions?

**Andre Norton's great, but did she ever start with that premise?  And here's where I blush to said I never read a Heinlein juvenile - which is the right one, if any?  Is anyone still writing this sort of thing....?
ellenkushner: (Default)
Have returned from one of my periodic hunts in the tall grasslands of Roanoke, having hit the GoodWill, two Dollar Stores, a Mexican Grocery, Walmart & Target, in search of things like matching wine glasses & boxer shorts (don't ask). When I walked into Target I felt like a 16c peasant in Elfland:  "We don't have this kind of thing where I come from!" I told the cashier as I left with my adorable wine-stoppers in Now Fashion colors, off-brand Brita filters, and, well, ya know, Stuff.  She was very sweet; heaven knows where she thinks I was from.  I still have to find one of those thingys you put on the sink faucet so it doesn't spray all the hell over the place!  But I found wall plugs, citronella candles & cilantro. A good hunt.

(Reposted from my Facebook page, which you are welcome to join.)

At Hollins

Jun. 18th, 2013 10:39 am
ellenkushner: (Default)
A cool, rainy morning at Hollins U., just outside Roanoke. Everything is green and quiet. Delia & I are sitting at our Dining Room table (AKA EK/DS Command Central), checking email & FB, waiting to wake up enough to be hungry & start talking to each other. And occasionally jotting something down on the "To Get/Do" list for our 6 weeks teaching here for Hollins University Children's Literature MFA.  All of my writing seminar students got their first assignment in early, so I have 6 story fragments to read today; then maybe I can dig into some of the library books I grabbed last night. The most beautiful library in the world!  Hmm, might be time for cereal. 
ellenkushner: (Bryn Mawr: Writing)
Thanks, KD, for posting the hard data about Delia's & my gig this summer at Hollins.

I just found out who the Writer in Residence will be:  David Almond.

I think I may faint.

You've read SKELLIG, right??


Hollins has also launched a Children’s Book Illustration Certificate program!  Talks by their artists and lecturers are also open to all students, and to the public.  Last time we were there, we did a fair amount of hanging out in their studio with instructor Ruth Sanderson, getting to watch her latest Realms of Fantasy cover take shape, and riffling around in her picture book collection . . . and comparing red shoes and collages with the incomparable Ashley Wolff.

Can't wait to see them again!

As you can probably tell, Hollins is one of the more genre-friendly MA/MFA programs.  Director Amanda Cockrell attends ICFA regularly, and some of the academic faculty come from there.  2 yrs ago, Delia was invited to teach their first-ever "Genre Study in Creative Writing: Fantasy" class, and it was such a huge hit they're continuing it. And Ruth Sanderson is a longtime fairy-tale illustrator - a neighbor and sometimes collaborator of Jane Yolen's!

I'm also SO IN LOVE with the Blue Ridge Mountains - and Friday night in Floyd!!!

ETA:  I set this up to post this a.m. last week, before the Storm became the center of our lives.  But glad to see you don't mind!  

We are fine, making soup & watching the rain.  We are on high ground in Manhattan, and I went to the 24/hr deli/grocery last night at 11pm, when there were no lines.  Who knows what will come tonight?  But I feel pretty secure.  Hope you all ride out the storm well and safely - even if by proxy!

ellenkushner: (Bryn Mawr: Writing)
Hollins University offers co-ed Summmer M.A. and M.F.A. programs in the study and writing of children’s and young adult literature. Students attend classes each summer for 3-5 summers, until all their coursework is done.

Where: Roanoke, VA

When: This summer's semester runs June 17th - July 26th. Ellen & Delia will both be instructors this year. Applications due Jan. 6 & Feb. 15.

In order to study with Delia, students must be enrolled in either the two-year Creative Writing M.F.A program (deadline for applying to the program is January 6th: see application instructions) . . . or the M.A. or M.F.A. in Children's Literature programs (deadline February 15, application instructions here ).

Ellen's seminar is open only to second- or third-year students in the MFA Writing program. However, on her last visit (2 yrs ago), she instigated the Writers' Livingroom, a place for all creative writing students to meet each week to complain, help each other, drink, knit, and sing "Die, Vampire, Die!" She plans to return to that this year.

Both Ellen and Delia have taught and spoken at Hollins in the past, and loved the experience! So this summer Ellen will teach an Advanced Writing Tutorial, while Delia will lead a course on Genre Study in the Craft of Writing for Children/Fantasy.

A full list of courses (all of which I, personally, would love to take!) is available here.

The program features a fantastic roster of lecturers (including Brian Attebery and C.W. "Chip" Sullivan), visits from a renowned writer-in-residence (past writers-in-residence have included Nancy Willard, Marly Youmans . . . and Ellen!), and the chance for students to present critical and creative work at the annual Francelia Butler Conference on Children’s Literature.

If you’re in the Roanoke area, you can also attend talks by faculty members and other public events throughout the summer.

This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in writing children’s or Y.A. literature to study with some of the most talented writers in the field, so spread the word!

--Katharine Duckett
Assistant to Ellen Kushner

October 2014

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