An Undergraduate Novel-Writing Course
Audrey Colombe, Paola Crespo, and Susanna Jones | February 2016
Audrey Colombe with students Paola Crespo and Susanna Jones
Undergraduate creative writing curriculum has developed rapidly in the past ten to fifteen years and reflects a growing concern with focused study and distinct (or “measureable”) outcomes. While the national spotlight on assessment and accreditation is partly responsible, an interest in serving students headed to graduate programs and preparing graduate programs for new students also guides decisions on curriculum development. Colleges and universities are more conscious of delivering an undergraduate course of study with a distinct arc: students begin with basic concepts, encounter the vagaries while grappling with their own writing, and finish the degree program with a portfolio illustrating the writer’s particular subject, vision, and voice. Undergraduate writing programs listed with AWP (see the AWP Guide to Member Programs) have found a number of ways to make the study of creative writing applicable to the life of the writer by including courses in research practice, deep revision, editing/publishing (primarily but not exclusively with undergraduate literary journals), genre writing, book arts, and “forms.” Some offer conferences, internships, and travel courses. However, few undergraduate programs have attempted an introduction to composing book-length texts. While many undergraduate writers see themselves as future novelists, how can we prepare them for that central, monumental task?
Longer Forms in the Classroom
For years, the more advanced fiction-writing undergraduates had asked whether our department might offer a novel writing course in the fourth year of study. I laughed—how impractical. Whole novels? The amount of work for students and faculty would be prohibitive—let alone the multiple warning signs against the survival of the book as tree-pulp in hand. The students pointed out that their demand for such a course in the curriculum had validity: publishers (they had noticed) are not looking for short story writers, while college classes almost exclusively focus on the short form. Plus, students still buy books and could easily publish their own ebooks. The University of Tampa has a writing major with rigorous literature course requirements; students were studying fiction, reading novels, in order to become novelists. Book arts and editing courses are included in the curriculum.
The students pointed out that their demand for such a course in the curriculum had validity: publishers (they had noticed) are not looking for short story writers, while college classes almost exclusively focus on the short form.
Several of these students claimed to have written novels already. (Many had tried NaNoWriMo activities on their own time.) During further discussions it turned out that no one was operating under the illusion that something immediately publishable would be written in such a course. They simply wanted practice and guidance with the longer form.
Faculty of undergraduate creative writing programs would probably agree that fourth year students bring a wide range of competencies to fourth year, capstone, or senior courses. That broad spectrum of skills arriving in a classroom can be challenging for faculty. When I discussed the idea of an undergraduate novel course with other writing faculty, at my institution and beyond, everyone agreed that negotiating the landscape of novel drafts with such a group would be very difficult at best. Further, my research confirmed my suspicions: not many colleges and universities offer an undergraduate course in novel writing (University of Central Arkansas, University of Washington, and more recently University of Utah, among a few others). A larger number offer the possibility of novel writing in a capstone course with permission of instructor and/or within the framework of individual/independent study.
Discussing the prospect with writing students who were also my advisees, I determined that their academic interests could be served by engaging with the standard form of the novel/novella from the performance side. Our composite vision of such a course would require a workshop community more efficient than the basic workshop structure. The requirements of the class would have to be very clear ahead of time, would include academic discussion, and would reference a few published novels (classics of the form). Being optimistic, I let the word out in October that the spring fourth-year fiction course would be novel writing. I put a lid on my doubts and began arranging the pieces.
Making it Work
Many of the undergraduate students were already familiar with each other’s writing—which roughly signifies efficiency. They had taken many literature and writing courses together and for better or worse knew what to expect. The undergraduate writing major cohort at the University of Tampa is made up of roughly sixty students.
I knew that for writing a complete, standard novel, one semester would not be long enough—National Novel Writing Month aside. Many graduate programs have novel courses running spring and fall—these courses have been gaining popularity for some time. (See this Interview with Kim Barnes; she presents an array of important considerations for any novel writing workshop in an academic setting.) I had to figure out how to organize activities and the workshop model in an effective pattern—so that as many as ten students (the most we’d ever had in a senior fiction course) could present full first drafts (of a short novel/novella—let’s say 150 pages minimum) and revise a major section of their work (minimum of forty pages). The feedback would have to be targeted toward their individual positions in the composing process—practically impossible to guess ahead of time. We would have to consider research and genre considerations (genre fiction would be allowed—but only with the writer’s research into the elements of the genre). Using roughly ten weeks for workshop (one week per book), we would have five weeks for positioning up front and presentation of revisions at the end.
Certainly students who already had novel drafts could submit their work to the class for workshop right away. Several others had more than one draft of their projects, many of them recent. (In other words, many were already writing their novels while completing their degrees.) The students who were in the midst or only beginning their projects could present their manuscripts for workshop later in the semester. (My suspicions about new works were correct: they came in below the word count minimum but often had better sentence-by-sentence writing.) Some of the students were working from short fiction they had completed, liked, and wanted to expand in one of two ways: continuing the plot they already had or developing a new plot around existing characters. These students typically had a character they wanted to spend more time with.
Their excitement was infectious, the vision hopeful, and I knew that a writer failing on his or her own terms is part of the process of becoming a writer.
In casual conversations leading up to spring registration, however, students began describing elaborate plots and multigenre aspirations. While grand ideas abounded, I could not ignore the earnest descriptions and gleeful claims of commitment. (I myself have several novels in draft; the force of the work in midstream is thrilling.) Their excitement was infectious, the vision hopeful, and I knew that a writer failing on his or her own terms is part of the process of becoming a writer. With sizable projects coming my way (one student reported that her novel had landed at 320 pages), I told friends and family that I probably wouldn’t see much of them until mid-May.
The class was scheduled for one night a week, four hours, roughly 6–10 p.m., with a 20–30 minute dinner break no later than 7:30 p.m. We would spend the first hour discussing the readings on craft or issues concerning the market for novels—nothing unusual there. For texts, I began with No Plot, No Problem. A standard for NaNoWriMo disciples, this book warns the writer to go easy on their expectations of first drafts in order to get a complete draft. I chose chapters from classic craft texts (for instance Chapter 1 from Charles Baxter’s Burning Down the House) as well as other standard “workbook” texts with exercises; a profile of Jennifer Weiner from the New Yorker (the class needed to have a discussion on the cultural placement of women’s fiction in the current marketplace); and a selection of writers writing about their novel-writing process—along with added selections (as needed) posted on our course’s Blackboard site.
By December 1, the class was closed: fifteen students had signed up. I sent out an email during finals week: the class would require a brutal time commitment; everyone had to read three novels over winter break and arrive to the first class meeting with a detailed outline (five pages) of one of those novels; they would have to write 150 pages if they didn’t already have a project underway; the story had to contain a complete narrative arc; the revision process would have to be comprehensive and begin immediately after workshop; their commitment to each others’ work and the group as a functioning unit was mandatory (they would have to do extensive written commentary on each novel for workshop discussion). For the three short novels to be read over winter break, I chose one genre fiction (Fahrenheit 451), one classic text they should be familiar with (The Great Gatsby), and one novel in short stories (The Safety of Objects). Though many students were going to be aiming at a genre they knew, they had to create a bibliography for their project by midterm and include classics of the genre. For students with short stories they wanted to expand on, a novel in stories would help establish some rules for interconnection. The Great Gatsby would give them a sense of scope along with scene, intimacy, and plot—plus, this book is referred to constantly in the literature on novel writing, and if they hadn’t read it yet, now was the time. Fahrenheit 451 would provide some context on genre fiction—and characters making lengthy speeches. Each of these novels also allowed for further discussion on handling tricky material: plot tension, sexual encounters, references to the past or future, interesting point-of-view parameters—to name only a few. We would pull these texts apart in discussion, and for our second meeting they had to write a similarly detailed outline of their own novel—the entire novel they wanted to write.
Of course classic outlines are not helpful for everyone. The outlines of their novels were to be primary, working outlines—the story might change drastically and eventually so would the outline. It should be considered an initial map: I told them “It’s where you want to go as you see the landscape right now.” The outline had to focus on development of the basic plot and main characters.
Both outlines would be graded, the bibliographies too. The workshop discussions and written feedback were the largest portion of the grade after the novel. Finally, the students would each choose a published novel from their bibliographies and write a book review—which happens after you publish your book and can help you imagine how others might read your work.
No one dropped the class. Instead, I was asked if we might establish a wait list. There were also many questions. Emails threads ran all through the holiday and into the new year. According to my thinking, if they could start with conceiving of the arc of a book, commit to the research and investigation, write some of it, engage the revision process (and this was one of my highest hopes for the course: they would better understand the possibilities of revision when they had the space to wander farther into narrative components), and edit each other broadly—all that, plus read and apply the advice of craft texts? Well, our project was hopeful at best.
A few more warnings went out: students would not necessarily be writing their novels for everyone in the room, but for readers they were very familiar with—perhaps themselves and their friends. This would require them to teach the other students about whatever formal considerations their project required. They were asked to give the group an “orienting” text with their workshop draft, a few pages from an excellent example of the craft in that genre—and they had to begin the discussion of their work by explaining why they chose the particular orienting text and how it contributed to their project. This required them to do some research, and a little more thinking about the genre. For instance, many of the women planning to take the course described writing novels that were essentially New Adult Fiction, though they had never heard the term.
For efficiency’s sake, each submission for workshop would have to include ten guiding questions from the writer, and only those questions would be addressed in workshop. This would require the writer to imagine being a reader—a reader faced with too many potential avenues of commentary. The writer would therefore be signaling to the readers where they stood in the composing process, if the energy they had put into their novels so far was leading to the desired place. (Inevitably we would open the workshop discussion to issues beyond the ten questions, time allowing.) Also, each reader would write a full page, single-spaced, response to the ten questions and post it on Blackboard before the beginning of class. These postings would be private until after the workshop discussion.
The course would not end with a portfolio, but with revisions—a thirty–fifty page section of hard revision driven by the commentary from workshop discussion. Again, they had to imagine themselves addressing the complete arc of a narrative with developed characters and reasonable (meaning interesting) complications.
One person did not show up to the first class meeting.
The Actual Process
They all read the published novels over winter break and arrived to the first meeting with enthusiastic observations. The outlines, for the most part, were stellar examples of excellent reading. Fahrenheit 451 was most brutally exorcised for characters making speeches, though admired for addressing the book as a cultural artifact.
I had never allowed genre fiction in my workshop courses before this novel writing workshop, for all the usual reasons: I don’t know the genres well enough; writing well in genres requires a strong literary base anyway; it is too easy to imitate existing and expected plots and characters. However, the novels they described writing, or having written, were either mixed genre or could easily shift into a subcategory (like lesbian sex drama—or biomedical sci-fi). If they were going to persevere in their projects, I suggested that they might as well choose a pattern and study it. (“But you told me to read lesbian sex dramas!”—I never thought I would hear those words from anyone much less an undergraduate fiction writer.) They looked up fan websites and began researching the writers and markets—enthusiastically. Since 150 pages of polished prose was not our goal, the bibliography component was also meant to function as a map for future work on their projects, material to support the writing once class was over.
“But you told me to read lesbian sex dramas!”
—I never thought I would hear those words from anyone much less an undergraduate fiction writer.
The positive energy of the students, throughout the semester (only fading at or near 9:30 each Monday night) sustained this course through many weeks of doubt and discussion on the requirements. Early on I suggested that we split into two groups (seven and seven) because workshopping fourteen novels could be too unwieldy. An agreement could not be reached and the ensuing discussion nearly sunk the whole enterprise. Some students turned in 300+ page novels (I instructed the group to read the first 150 pages while I read entire manuscripts; most student read the whole manuscript anyway); other students covered a complete narrative in eighty pages of a first draft. Each student’s skill set was, of course, highly individual and depended on previous study. Sophistication in the handling of narrative structure became immediately obvious—within the first twenty pages of each “novel.” The workshop discussion was always lively and illustrated remarkably close reading and dedication to detail.
The positive energy of the students, throughout the semester (only fading at or near 9:30 each Monday night) sustained this course through many weeks of doubt and discussion on the requirements.
The problems were not a surprise. Typical shortcomings emerged: borrowed movie and TV plots (even plagiarism); a writer’s inability to see what work the narrative was doing; writers resisting comments (unable to fathom the bad news) or struggling with the readings on craft (or outright resenting them); and a few students presented material that was far too personal. None of these problems are exclusive to this writing course, though they did seem to grow in size accordingly.
The highlights struck me as deeper and more enduring: developing energetic writing; enacting the commitment to other writers’ work; seeing the possibilities of deep revision in their own texts (when there are 180 pages, you can let ten pages go); experiencing the immersion and intense work required of a big project; considering the needs of narrative structure in lengthier narrative; and closely reading classic novels like working writers.
The highlights struck me as deeper and more enduring: developing energetic writing; enacting the commitment to other writers’ work; seeing the possibilities of deep revision in their own texts…
Thirteen writers finished the course. Throughout the semester students constantly discussed the workload and shared management strategies. Still, the intensity of the workshop discussions stayed steady and fruitful. Everyone agreed that the overall time commitment was brutal, and four students took incompletes in order to finish their revisions over the summer. About half of the class stuck with the course design and got all the work done—the rest did a significant amount of it. Only one person failed the course. The students’ course evaluations included more detailed responses than I had ever received, almost entirely devoted to the work they did, the design of the course, and the best and worst aspects of such an intense experience. Almost all of the students agreed that such a course should be made available as part of the regular undergraduate curriculum for writing majors.
Many undergrad university programs have tried novel writing courses on occasion; the vast majority, however, are offered privately or in continuing education venues. Of the few discussions I found on undergraduate novel writing courses, the overwhelming motivation for the offering was the same as mine: professionalization. Most of them described—as I had on my syllabus—the goal of understanding the scope of novel writing and furthering a project rather than completing it.
Undergraduate creative writing curriculum has advanced over the last fifteen years, perhaps in part due to the digital revolution and the ease of manipulating text and communicating our ideas—or perhaps due to the natural outgrowth that is a result of the success of graduate programs in creative writing. In any case, undergraduate creative writing degree programs are much more common than they were twenty years ago, though the University of Tampa’s has been around for more than thirty years. Many program directors feel that the future growth in academic creative programs will be in the undergraduate sphere (see the AWP Executive Director David Fenza’s 2014 conference presentation on projected growth in creative writing programs). In reconsidering undergraduate curriculum and making it distinct from graduate curriculum, there have been many attempts to present material that supports basic understanding of craft. In some cases, undergraduate programs have decided to bust out of the typical short-form fiction workshop experience by focusing on other elements of craft—offering courses in “form” (defined a number of ways) or components of fiction (like imagery, subject profiles/characterization, regional writing, translation, techniques of defamiliarization, or research for fiction writers). Some programs have decided to offer a course or two in short-form genre fiction. All of these can be helpful to budding novelists, but none of them address the particular skills needed for sustaining a long-form narrative. However, for most programs with the number of majors under 100, let’s say, an annual course in novel or novella writing might not be possible due to staffing constraints. On rotation, however, a course offered biannually might work well.
If I were to offer this course again, I would ask for a cap of ten students and hope for eight. Calling it The Novella might help to reduce the stress level without undermining the dedication to the long form. Making a sample syllabus available in the department office would help students imagine their participation and plan for it. And I would hold to the prerequisites—majors only, and at least two upper division fiction-writing courses should be completed before registering for this course.
I would call the class a success, but that would have to be confirmed by the students and perhaps by the eventual publication of their novels—or career decisions in favor of editing and publishing. With their appraisal in mind, I invited two of them to comment here. Paola Crespo is a traditional student (international, multilingual, and interested in pursuing a career as a novelist) and Susanna Jones is a nontraditional writing major (a parent who holds a full-time job).
Part II - Student Responses
Paola Crespo - UT Alumna
I was elated when I heard the news that The University of Tampa’s English and Writing department was going to introduce a novel writing course the final semester of my senior year. I was even more excited to find out that I would not be confined to writing literary fiction (as are many university writing classes), but could explore genre fiction and even be able to work on a novel that I had started when I was thirteen (which is in fact young adult fantasy). I could finally write what I wanted to write and have guidance on how to tackle my novel-in-progress.
During my undergraduate years, I learned the foundations of creative writing: plot development; characterization; creating effective rising action, along with the climax and denouement; setting; and the general semantics and blueprint of a work of fiction (e.g., proper dialogue and punctuation usage). I produced a multitude of fictional works—short stories and flash fiction (albeit none to completion or truly revised to satisfaction)—but I was never able to practice creating a story on a larger scale. In order to become a well-rounded, successful writer, one must learn about all the tools, especially those needed to tackle such difficult undertakings like writing a novel or collection of short stories. The only way for me to know if I had what it took to write a novel was to actually write one—all the better to do so with the guidance of a novel-writing class.
In order to become a well-rounded, successful writer, one must learn about all the tools, especially those needed to tackle such difficult undertakings like writing a novel or collection of short stories.
I didn’t want to admit it, but I was genuinely afraid of my book and the seemingly impossible task I had laid out for myself. Tackling a novel alone is scary, and if you don’t have the right support, it can be downright impossible. After having taken the course, I firmly believe that a novel-writing class is essential for any student who takes their writing career seriously and wants to work in writing/publishing after graduation. Regardless of whether the student wishes to become a novelist or is more interested in short stories, having the experience of attempting to write a novel or book-length work can help them develop key skills and discipline that can be used in all types of writing/editing projects. A novel course can also introduce students to the publishing industry and perhaps help guide them when they seek publication in the future.
The novel course I took helped prepare me for the tremendous task of re-imagining my novel. Of course, I did not leave the class at the end of four months with a completed, revised book ready for publication—indeed no one did—because that was not the course’s intention. The key thing to keep in mind when taking a course like this is to focus on the development of the writers’ stories and writing tools, and work towards a reasonable draft at the end of term—something the writers can take home and continue with their newfound energy and advanced techniques.
Executing a demanding course such as this is no easy feat, as we soon realized. Here are a few things to consider for those who wish to commit to a novel-writing class for undergraduates:
We had fourteen students, but I feel the class should have been even smaller. A smaller group would mean more time spent on each person's novel. It also encourages an environment where writers feel more comfortable and people can really get to know each other as writers while working out the details of a specific project. It would also give the class more time to go back over edits and see how everyone improved.
This could have avoided the mad dash we found ourselves in during the last three weeks of workshop where we had to read two short novels a week. Overall, not only were there novels and readings about the craft of writing to complete, but we also had an annotated bibliography (midterm) and book review (final). The bibliography put our novels into perspective and the review prepared us for how our published works would be critiqued by others. However, many students believed the considerable number of assignments hindered their ability to successfully complete the main requirement for the class: the completed novel draft.
In light of this, a fair balance should be maintained between writing assignments, readings, workshop, and novel writing in order for the class to be most effective. After all, the main goal is to give undergraduate writers the proper skills to complete long-form narrative and advise them on their initial revisions. Other assignments, though productive and helpful, may take away from that main goal.
Another matter that arose at the beginning of the course was the unfortunate reality that a few students had a lower level of writing skill than the rest of the class. To avoid this problem, some sort of requirement for entering the class should be implemented—perhaps even permission of instructor based on a writing sample. Whichever way the professor and/or the university decide to handle the issue, it is definitely something to think about when creating a fast-moving and intensive course.
Despite the speed bumps, the results were positive. The students were largely enthusiastic and supportive of one another, which led to poignant discussions about literature, genre fiction, the current literary market, and ebooks vs. print books, among many other things. It also reminded everyone that they were not alone in feeling overwhelmed by their work or their (often daunting) dreams of becoming published writers; we were all in the same boat. The mere fact that people were actually reading the book that I had been laboring over and hiding for so long was a tremendously satisfying experience.
This kind of support also carried over into the feedback on people’s novels and stories. Everyone gave honest feedback (some admittedly more detailed than others) and genuinely wanted to help the writer improve their story. All workshops were subjective as many of our class’s stories were genre-based which naturally appeals to different tastes. However, this same pool of diverse perspectives encouraged a wider range of ideas and feedback that helped the writer see their work in a different light. I for one was able to collect valuable feedback from every student, even from those who never read fantasy or young adult fiction, and use their advice in my revisions.
At the end of the semester, my novel didn’t feel like a giant monster ready to devour me. I was admittedly still overwhelmed (I had a lot of writing and revision to do) but I now had a clear course of action. I realized I can do this; it was manageable. I believe in the end we all had a better idea of where we were going with our novels.
The course was one of the most influential courses during my time as an undergraduate writer. It was a solid stepping-stone and an encouragement for me to complete my novel and seek publication. Without it, I may have still been blundering in the dark, stressed, confused and discouraged about pursuing my dream of becoming a novelist. Now I feel much more prepared.
Further suggestions for those considering a novel course: bring in guest speakers to discuss the process of publication—both self-publishing and traditional; more specific discussion on how to develop characters and plot in such a long narrative (which would be possible with fewer students); group exercises on narrative, shared and discussed in class; specific attention on first chapters to help students launch their narratives.
Susanna Jones (current UT student)
As a writing major, one might take on an internship at a publishing firm or in the offices of a magazine or newspaper, learning to assist with the business of other writers’ writings while dreaming of having one’s own work published at some point. While many internships offer great insight into the business of writing, they cannot give one the opportunity to write a novel. If a writing major graduates without producing a complete work (novel, collection of short stories, book of poetry or nonfiction) the thought of starting such a monumental project in the future, while holding down a job to pay the bills, will likely remain mysterious and daunting. The college writer is likely to graduate with more blueprint than structure. Sure, a portfolio of small pieces may showcase style and potential, but limited evidence of beginning-to-end ability. Where to start, how to knock out a first draft, how to revise and revise even when you are sick of it, and how to report to work every day to meet a deadline needs to be addressed while still in school.
I was fortunate to participate in the course WRI 460 Novel Writing, introduced at The University of Tampa during the 2013–2014 academic year. Our class was made up of fourteen students, an intimacy more conceivable at a smaller private school than a large state college. The bulk of the course involved writing a 150-page first draft, with some revision after receiving feedback from every student and the instructor. In addition, we had assigned readings on craft and also chose published writing samples to analyze.
We began each class discussing the readings on craft. These readings were not well received by the students. I attribute it to finally having the freedom to plunge into writing a book and wanting—just for the duration of this one experience, this one class—not to be tethered to the how to texts. The excitement of taking a shot at producing a complete work that could start a life-long career was palpable. At the conclusion of the course, students faced the sobering reality of how much revision would still be required; of how they may not be the next big thing as they appear to be in their fantasies; of how they really do need to pour over those craft texts to figure out how to nail the opening or denouement. During this one course they wanted to believe they would complete this major work soon—and the only further information they wanted was how to submit and publish. For this reason I recommend reading assignments on how to get published and inviting guest speakers in the field, perhaps in place of the craft texts.
Draft submissions were organized in this manner: those who had a work in progress, prior to the beginning of the term, firmed up their drafts and presented their work in the earlier weeks, giving others time to start their draft and generate volume. Weekly workshop was filled with lively and passionate discussions on the draft(s) of the week. Additionally, the writers received feedback in a Microsoft Word document with Track Changes.
When posting our drafts, we were also required to share a few pages of a published author’s novel or short story that we thought was well written and had something in common with what we were working on. It took all of our energy to complete our draft. So, unfortunately, the sample ended up being hastily chosen and when asked the specifics of what we liked about it the details seemed to escape our minds. This small exercise has potential to teach students more about craft than the instructional excerpts from books on how to write, but having this exercise due at the same time as our draft left the experience rushed and forgettable. Anyone who likes to read can think of one work they would call a masterpiece. For each student to have the time to choose such a sample, dissect it and explain to the group what they have learned from the piece and what it has inspired them to attempt within their own novel would be better assigned at the beginning of the course when students are clear-headed and have had adequate amounts of sleep.
In looking at a syllabus now almost no panic arises while I listen to other students complain about the demands. I can see in my mind how the drafts and revisions will unfold.
Most immediately valuable, however, is that for every writing class since Novel Writing, the five- to twenty-page assignments are completely manageable. In looking at a syllabus now almost no panic arises while I listen to other students complain about the demands. I can see in my mind how the drafts and revisions will unfold. I know how I need to take advantage of my work commutes and long showers to generate ideas—beginning immediately after the first meeting of a term, if not before. I see how I will use moments in every crevice of the day to mull and write notes, accumulating substance for the framework. I have a realistic sense of how long it will take me to complete a first draft depending on page count. And I can see, looking at the weekly assignments, that I can pace the writing to still have time for a good comb-through and revision while keeping up on the reading assignments as well.
The novel writing course has trained me to produce, revise, and work with deadlines and feedback—no longer seeing each piece as college homework or personal writing, but as professional development.
A book-writing course for any undergraduate writing major should be a requirement—I can now fully recommend the experience. I have a novel draft. I know what my next step will be when I sit down with it again this coming summer.
Audrey Colombe teaches creative writing pedagogy at the University of Houston, where she is faculty advisor for Glass Mountain Magazine and the Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers. She taught at University of Tampa and worked for University of Tampa Press from 2003 to 2014. She writes on film, feminism, teaching, and the Pacific Northwest.
Paola Crespo is an alumna of University of Tampa and New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute. She is a published poet and writer. She currently lives in New York City where she works in the publishing industry and continues to develop her novel and other writing projects.
Susanna Jones recently earned her Associates of Arts in Writing from The University of Tampa. When not working on her novel—based on her childhood and set in Chicago—Susanna tinkers with snapshots of alternative reality in the medium of flash fiction.