A few weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege of hanging out in Logan County, WV, with some of the most talented ladies I know, the other members of the 7:00 A.M. Writing Group that I sometimes get myself out of bed and to through Zoom. (They let me keep coming, even though I miss half of the meetings or more – life is complicated at 7 a.m., lol!) The weekend was facilitated through Intensive Genre Workshops’ Sheila and Tobi, who are masterful at motivating and mentoring in fiction writing (Intensive Genre Workshops – check them out at www.AskIGW.com). They are handy with words, prompts, and can cook like there’s no tomorrow! Additionally, they give the coolest swag bags I think I’ve ever received in my life! (Personalized drinking glasses, personalized journals, and a bag of “words” for each of us to take home to help us in writing endeavors after the weekend. I, Chrissie Anderson Peters, who hardly ever writes fiction at all came up with some really cool fiction beginnings/scenes during the weekend. Sheila and Tobi have cards that have things like scripted dialogue, characters, and scenarios. You pick one of each and then you create a scene with what you pick. Believe it or not, out of the hundreds of possible combinations, I picked the same three cards for two different writing sessions. I decided to take it as a sign, though, and created two completely different scenes using those same three cards. I’ll include those at the end of this blog. I got about 12 more pages done on Chasing After Rainbows during our free time that weekend, too, so I’m really starting to fill in the gaps of the trip now. 

Additionally, it is that time of year when I have submitted my manuscript for Hindman (on May 1). We should hopefully find out if we’re in the Appalachian Writers Workshop sometime during the first week of June. It’s always an anxious time, because there’s no guarantee that you get in. Each year, your submitted manuscript is read blind (your name isn’t supposed to appear anywhere on the manuscript that the judge reads), then compared to all other entries for your chosen genre (I applied for Creative Non-Fiction this year, in hopes of workshopping a few shorter sections of Chasing After Rainbows). This year, over 130 people applied for the workshop; there are 72 bedding spaces on campus. They asked for volunteers who would be willing to stay off-campus – which is really a shame, because so much of the magic of Hindman is being there in close quarters with everyone else. But, as I am having surgery about five weeks prior to the workshop, I had already decided to stay in a hotel about 35 minutes away and commute each morning, taking food with me for the whole day (I won’t be able to enjoy the meal plan, in part because of the surgery), and then drive back to the hotel later at night once everything winds down or I’m exhausted, whichever comes first. All of this is contingent on being selected to attend, of course. So, cross your fingers for me at home!

I have now submitted 32 pieces overall for the year. I have 13 rejections, have had 3 pieces accepted/place in contests, and still have 16 pieces out there waiting. Lots more submission opportunities are coming up in the next couple of weeks, so I’m very busy editing and trying to get submissions placed this Summer.

I’ve also attended some great readings and events in the past several weeks. Last month, I was able to attend a reading at Emory & Henry by Barbara Kingsolver about her Appalachian take on David Copperfield called Demon Copperhead. Since then, the book has won a Pulitzer Prize, which is quite exciting for all of us here in Appalachia. Kingsolver was a writer-in-residence at Emory after I graduated, and ended up marrying Dr. Steven Hopp, who worked in the Psychology Department during my time there. I still have the book on my “to be read” list, but hope to get to it this Summer, too. 

This past week, I attended two different events in Johnson City. Last Saturday, I was part of the reading ensemble at ETSU with the Women of Appalachia Project. I have a short poem in this year’s anthology, which is super-exciting, since I rarely see my poetry published anywhere except for in my own books. I plan to trek to Toledo, OH, in mid-August for a second outing with that anthology group (then Russ and I will head an hour or so north to Belleville, MI, to visit my Little relatives who still live in that area). On Thursday night, I got to go to The Generalist general store in Johnson City to hear Catherine Pritchard Childress and Denton Loving read from their newest books. It was a great evening and I got to see lots of friendly faces I’ve missed.

Next up, I’ll be heading to Beckley, WV, to cat-sit and write at my friend Sharon Waters’ house while she and her husband get away for a few days. Although I always miss my own family (Russ, Ichabod, and Baltic – and a newcomer we call Jonah, who lives outside in our backyard), I’m also looking forward to time away so I can concentrate on my writing for a little bit. I really am hoping to wrap up Chasing After Rainbows this year, so I can try to shop it around for a publishing home next year. Fingers crossed on all fronts on that project – there’s still so much to do!

Below, you will find my two scenes mentioned earlier in this blog from the weekend with IGW and my 7:00 A.M. Zoom Writing Group. I hope that you enjoy them!

Scene 1
Cards: Specified Dialogue + Apathy + Irritation
Judy exhaled as she stared at the bloody mass in the toilet. “There it is,” she said slowly. She had felt like something was amiss for days now.
Jeremy couldn’t decide whether to be relieved or sad. Either emotion held implications he wasn’t ready to deal with. He avoided direct eye contact with his girlfriend. “Just like you said,” he offered quietly.
Judy bit her quivering lower lip and blinked back the tears that formed at the corner of her eyes, forcing herself to believe it was all for the best. “We both knew this was coming.” Then she called the hospital and pulled her coat from its place in the closet, watching Jeremy pick up the car keys from the coffee table. All that was left was seeing the doctor to take care of any remnants. 

Scene 2
Cards: Specified Dialogue + Apathy + Irritation
Dylan threw the cash down on the table. The mere sight of it made him want to wretch. Did things really have to go down this way? He looked sideways at James and spat at him through clenched teeth, “There it is!”
James perceived the annoyed tension in every ounce of his partner’s actions and the intensity of his demeanor. But it didn’t faze James. It was simply another transaction in a long line of transactions to him. He didn’t care where it came from, or where it would ultimately lead. He shrugged his shoulders and remarked to Dylan, “Just like you said.”
Dylan marveled at James’ lackadaisical attitude, his total inability to understand what this deal going down ultimately meant to their partnership. He fumed at James’ inability to care where things were headed because he had tunnel vision about this business and refused to accept the inevitable writing on the wall. He couldn’t possibly be that blind, that stupid, that oblivious, could he? How could anyone be so uncaring and numb to the reality that this deal going through necessitated? He pulled the gun quickly and unloaded two shots, point-blank, straight at James’ head. As his partner slumped to the floor, Dylan sighed, “We both knew this was coming.” He guessed he just saw it happening before James did.