A Bookish Summer!


So it’s been a bookish summer, everyone!  The tenth anniversary of Can Creative Writing Really Be Taught came out from Bloomsbury in July and it is amazing.  I’m incredibly proud of it and I’m allowed to say that without worrying bragging because I only put it together with Rebecca Manery, most of the book is cutting edge research in creative writing pedagogy from the most current scholars in our field.  About half of the essays are re-envisionings of the original essays from the ground- breaking first edition from people like Tim Mayers, Anna Leahy, Kate Haake, Mary Ann Cain and so on.  How often do you get to read a book where the scholar gets to revisit what they wrote 10 years later?  Right, never.  So take this chance!  And still there’s more–the rest of the book is chock-a-block (as they would say in the UK) with new essays from even more of the most relevant scholars in our field, taking its pulse and predicting its future.    This book is a must have, creative writing  people, for your bookshelves and for your classrooms.  And of course, I’m biased, but Rebecca and I created it to be a must-have.  And Bloomsbury, with their vision, supported us every step along the way.

More movement on The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life: An Instructional Guide for Prose Writers.  Houston, we have a cover! And I love it:


I am so excited to bring forth this very personal guide to making a literary life, packed with lots of information on everything from making the time to write to getting published, finding an agent to giving yourself permission to write.  Writing geek’s unite! Click on the book itself to pre-order the Geek’s Guide from amazon.  Launching December 14, it will make a great holiday gift for all the creatives in your life.  Don’t forget to buy one for yourself.

I also continued working on a new, complete rewrite of Beautiful, Terrible Things which is proceeding well, albeit slowly and submitting The Lost Son to indie publishers and contests.  Let’s just say “Nevertheless, She Persisted” should be my tag line.  Anyway, a week ago, I found out that The Lost Son is part of the


Winners will be announced at the end of September but the press will be publishing lots of interviews and quotes with the short list winners in the meantime–keep your eye out for more news from me here, on Twitter and FB.  The competition is incredibly stiff–I’m happy to be among them–cross your fingers and toes and pray for me if you pray–I want nothing more than to get The Lost Son into reader’s hands.

More soon! Stephanie

Can Creative Writing Really Be Taught: 10th Anniversary Edition Coming

Big news!  The 10th anniversary edition of Can Creative Writing Really Be Taught: Resisting Lore in Creative Writing Pedagogy is coming out from Bloomsbury and is now available for pre-order here.

We’ve been working on this for months and I can honestly say, this new edition is going to be amazing.  It’s twice the size of the original, with key essays revisited by their authors ten years on and a whole section of cutting-edge essays from new creative writing scholars.  Don’t miss it!

Studying Creative Writing Successfully is Here!


From Heather Sellers, author of The Practice of Creative Writing: “A practical field guide to the rocky, thrilling terrain that is a creative writing program. Packed with advice, anecdotes and practical strategies ford students seeking to thrive as writing students in the academy and beyond.”  Topics covered include:

  • Making the major work for you
  • What to expect as a creative writing major
  • Reading as a writer
  • Invention 
  • Revising
  • How to give a reading of your work
  • How to write a critical reflection
  • How creative writing is graded
  • Studying creative writing online
  • Sustaining yourself beyond graduation
  • Literary citizenship

Available for pre-order now on amazon, Studying Creative Writing makes a great addition to many creative writing courses, introducing students to the signature pedagogies of the creative writing culture and featuring many of the top professors of our field.  Or, if you’re an independent writer or teacher you may just want a copy for yourself.  Click here to order your copy.




Resources for Creative Writing Theory and Pedagogy


Multilingual Matters Series in Creative Writing Pedagogy, especially:

  • Does the Writing Workshop Still Work? (Donnelly)
  • Key Issues in Creative Writing (Donnelly and Harper)
  • Establishing Creative Writing as an Academic Discipline (Donnelly)
  • Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom: The Authority Project (Leahy)

Professional and Higher Series in Creative Writing, especially:

  • Rethinking Creative Writing in Higher Education (Vanderslice)
  • Researching Creative Writing (Webb)
  • Caves of Making (Gross)


Can It Really Be Taught: Resisting Lore in Creative Writing Pedagogy (Ritter and Vanderslice, Heinemann 2007, 10th anniversary edition [Vanderslice and Manery] greatly expanded to be published by Bloomsbury in 2017)

Teaching Creative Writing to Undergraduates (Ritter and Vanderslice, Fountainhead 2012)

Creative Writing in the Digital Age (Clark, Rein, Hergenrader, Bloomsbury, 2015)


New Writing: The International Journal for the Theory and Practice of Creative Writing

Text: A Journal of Writing and Writing Courses

Journal of Creative Writing Studies 


Creative Writing Pedagogy (4,000 plus members, message me to get in front of the line to join)       https://www.facebook.com/groups/39509228012/

Creative Writing Studies Organization


Creative Writing Studies Organization Asheville, NC  Sept 23-24, 2016


Essay News!

Less than a week ago I was working hard on an essay about writing and perseverance for my Huffington Post column.  About a difficult subject, an assault and kidnapping attempt I experienced twenty-five years ago when I started my MFA program, it was something I had tried to write about many times but failed.  The writing always seemed forced; not quite there.  I wasn’t ready.  

Last week, I felt ready and the essay just poured out.  You can read it here, at the Huffington Post, where it got a great response.  But I’d rather you read it here, over at  Easy Street mag.  My friend, writer Wendy Russ, asked if they could reprint the essay at the magazine she edits (she is actually Editor in Chief!) yesterday and I was honored to say yes.  It is a wonderful magazine of arts and culture, especially literary arts and culture.  I encourage you to check out all the great features, like it on Facebook and get yourself on the newsletter mailing list.  Read the “Apply” section if you want to get more involved in literary culture.  Read the “submit” section and consider submitting. Spread the news to all your friends; more people need to know about this awesome literary outlet!

The Wreck of the General Slocum


This is a statue at the memorial of the tragedy. Many of the dead, mothers and children, washed ashore clutching each other.

One hundred and eleven years ago today, June 15, 1904, the steamship General Slocum set off in New York Harbor ferrying nearly fourteen hundred people, many of them parishioners of St. Mark’s Church in Manhattan’s Little Germany, to a picnic on Long Island.  It was an annual celebration for St. Mark’s, a church cruise and picnic to mark the end of the school year and the beginning of summer.

Minutes into the cruise, tragedy struck.  A fire started in a storage room and spread quickly.  Because the ship had been inspected in name only for decades, none of the firefighting or lifesaving equipment worked.  Aged firehoses instantly sprung leaks and proved useless as flames swept through the decks.  Lifeboats that had been “painted” where they hung over the years were stuck to the boat and would not budge.  And the worst insult?  Passengers who grabbed cork-filled life preservers and thought they were jumping to their safety in the harbor (few city-dwellers could swim in those days) discovered the preservers were original to the boat and that the aged cork had turned to dust, dust that became as heavy as stone when it hit the water.

An estimated 1,021 of the 1,342 aboard the boat that day died; the second largest loss of life in New York City after 9/11.  Since the outing was on a Wednesday, many of these were women and children; the men of the family still heading off to work.  By mid-day, many of them would discover their entire families were gone.  Some committed suicide that very day or in the weeks to follow; others never recovered mentally.  Many did, somehow picking up the pieces of their shattered lives.  

I became interested in the tragedy when my mother started telling me that it was one of the reasons Astoria, Queens started to grow in the early 1900’s.  Many of the men in Little Germany moved across the river to Astoria to start over.  Astoria was near Hell Gate where the ship went down but it wasn’t full of the memories of where they had lived with their families.  In fact, many said they simply couldn’t bear to live in Little Germany any longer, in a place suddenly so absent of women and children.  

I have always been familiar with Astoria as a part of the Queens borough I spent a lot of time in growing up.  But I became fascinated by the fact that a place could grow and flourish as a result of such a tragedy.  I decided I wanted to write a multigenerational novel that began there, that started with one man, Augustus Horstmann, a watch maker, somehow starting over after losing his wife, mother, sister and young son in the wreck, and followed him and then his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren through the rest of the twentieth century.  None of them, of course, are immune to loss, just as none of us are.

Titled The Gift, the novel focuses on the stories of three characters, Augustus, his daughter Anna and Anna’s great-grandson-in-law, Nicholas, and three periods of time, 1914-16, 1946 and 2001-2004.  It’s with my agent now.

You can watch an excellent documentary on the Slocum tragedy here (make sure you have time or watch in bits; it’s almost 45 minutes long); featuring recreated scenes,  interviews with historians and survivors and present-day footage of where the steamship went down.



I’m in love–with my new website!

I’m so excited to debut my new website, www.stephanievanderslice.com.  Check it out and have a look around.  There’s an about page and a page where you can find out about my latest books.  There’s also a resources section (under the writing section) where you can find out about more about writing if that’s what you’re interested in, and you can even find a recipe for egg creams–I reference them a lot in my novels.  And my blog has migrated there to0, so now Stephanie Vanderslice is all in one place!!

The best part is that the really feels like me.  Want to know how it all happened?  I had already started to feel like I needed to re-invigorate my web presence when writer Cara Brookins came to speak at the University of Central Arkansas about her career and the role that social media plays in it.  While she spoke she mentioned that she and her family were starting a social media consulting company, MySocialFam, designed to help people understand and build their web following. They could even create a website for me.  

Flashforward two months later to a meeting with Cara and her two lovely daughters, Hope and Jada, who do the heavy lifting on the website design, at Mylo coffee in Little Rock.  I felt that they were really listening to me and “getting” who I was as a person and as a writer.  After that and some more listening and emailing back and forth, www.stephanievanderslice.com was born.  I could not be happier with it.

Best of all, I feel ready to take the reins now because they have helped me every step of the way.  I cannot recommend MySocialFam enough.  And they did not pay me to say this. They didn’t even know I was going to write it!



An Evening with Anne Lamott

I recently had the opportunity to see writing guru Anne Lamott speak at an event in Little Rock and write about it on the Huffington Post.  She even signed my well-loved first-edition paperback of Bird-by-Bird.  Read about it here.


Back in the Saddle with a Blog Hop!

Hi again, Wordamour readers.  I’ve been wanting to get this blog re-started and Anna Leahy’s writing process blog hop seemed a great way to do that.  Anna tagged me here and I encourage you to check out her blog,  Lofty Ambitions

It’s hard to keep two blogs going and I’m trying to commit to posting at least once a month on Huffington Post, which is a super-time costuming venue.  But this will still be where I cross post those links and tell you about other things going on in the writing life that don’t fit on Huffpo.  Anyway, here we go.  Answers to questions about my writing life and the writing process with the next bloggers tagged at the end.

What am I working on?

I’ve got a couple of projects going. I’m working on a book length version of my Huffington Post blog, The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life, which is almost finished. I’m also deep into the research/backstory writing for my next novel, very tentatively titled The Gift, a multigenerational tale about a family in Queens, NY arising in the aftermath of the General Slocum Steamboat fire in 1904 (a disaster that claimed over a thousand lives) and moving through the twentieth century to the 9/11 tragedy. I’m also working on a few edited scholarly collections on creative writing and am hoping to draft a memoir in the fall called Dear Madeleine: Letters to the Daughter I Never Had, about gender in the 20th/21st century and the reasons why I am glad I have sons (hint: so I don’t have to watch a daughter go through some of the struggles I went through and that still burden women).

As of this Thursday, I will be on sabbatical through Fall 2014. Can you tell?

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write in two genres, fiction and creative nonfiction and what’s actually a more interesting question to me is how my voice differs dramatically in each. My fiction voice is spare, precise, serene and empathetic. On the other hand, my creative nonfiction voice is edgy and funny, occasionally dramatic. Each seems to be written by a different Stephanie I carry inside me.

Why do I write what I do?

I write fiction to try and explore what puzzles me in life, namely how people survive overwhelming loss, and because I think these puzzles make for interesting stories. This was the theme of my last novel, The Lost Son, and, of course, it’s the theme of The Gift. In my creative nonfiction, I’m hoping to reach out to others, to help them find their way as writers (The Geek’s Guide), to stir up the often stodgy world of creative writing (Rethinking Creative Writing), or to call attention, again, to the situation for women in our culture (Dear Madeleine). I don’t know if anything will come of that last book, but I have been wanting to write it for a long time and after attending an inspiring session on women’s creative nonfiction at the last Associated Writer’s Programs (AWP) conference, feel ready to get it out.

How does my writing process work?

During the school year, when I have a full teaching load and direct the Arkansas Writers MFA Workshop, I work on whatever is on the top of the priority list, drawing inspiration from whichever writing project has the closest deadline. I write about ten to fifteen hours a week, sometimes during the week, sometimes on the weekends. If I write during the week, which I often need to do to keep my sanity, that means I do a lot of other work on the weekend.  In the summer or when I’m on sabbatical, I write about twenty to thirty hours a week and spend the rest of my time doing writing-related tasks, researching, reading, posting about writing on social media, mentoring other writers.

I have a small but lovely studio/office at the back of our century-old house where I can write and where my books and bulletin boards inspire me—I’ve spent years perfecting this space, my “room of one’s own,” so to speak, and I feel very lucky to have it. Our dog, Mario, has become my muse and devoted writing companion however, and in that cliched, middle-aged way, I find myself preferring his company to that of a lot of people. So until I can find a way for him to lay beside me in my studio (I’m working on it) I do most of my writing on the sofa in our living room, with a large mug of coffee on my right and Mario curled up on my left. In fact, he’s right here while I work on this post.


I lean heavily on forces like National Novel Writing Month and similar structures to get those first drafts down. Drafting is incredibly hard for me and the part of the process I’m most likely to procrastinate about, so I know that I’ve just got to get something on paper or into my computer as quickly as possible so that I’ll have something to work with. Once I have something to work with, it’s fairly smooth sailing. I love to revise. My sabbatical will be spent getting a lot of words out and down because for me, that’s the biggest challenge and what demands the most time, angst and coffee. When it’s over (sniff sniff) and I go back to teaching in Spring 2015 (I love teaching but it’s a whole other full-time job) I hope to have several drafts to work on and bring to completion in the months to come.

Who’s next in my writing process blog hop?

 John Gallaher:  Read Poet John Gallaher’s blog hop on http://jjgallaher.blogspot.com next week! John Gallaher is the author of the books of poetry, Gentlemen in Turbans, Ladies in Cauls, The Little Book of Guesses, and Map of the Folded World, as well as the free online chapbook, Guidebook from Blue Hour Press, and, with with the poet G.C. Waldrep Your Father on the Train of Ghosts, BOA, 2011. His next book will be the book-length essay-poem In a Landscape, coming out in 2015 from BOA. Other than that, he’s co-editor of The Laurel Review and GreenTower Press.

John Vanderslice: No, not the indie songwriter.  My husband, John Vanderslice, who writes at http://payperazzi.blogspot.com.  John has published over sixty short stories in journals and magazines all over the world.  His first short story collection, Island Fog, is due in September from Lavender Ink/Dialagos Press.

Dorothy Johnson: A lifelong dweller of the writing and publishing world, you can find out more about Dorothy here on her about page: http://www.reflectionsfromdorothy.blogspot.com/p/about.html  The link to the page where she will be posting her answers to the blog hop questions is here: http://www.reflectionsfromdorothy.blogspot.com.