See you at AWP and in Los Angeles!

More than 12,000 attendees and 2,000 presenters are scheduled to descend upon downtown Los Angeles for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs annual gathering, the behemoth of all writing conferences.  The conference will take place Wednesday March 30-Saturday April 2. I’m looking forward to sitting on a panel and taking part in an offsite reading with my Willow Books and VONA/Voices brethren and sistren. Representation and inclusion of writers of color, writers with disabilities, LGBTQ+ and women writers have been much blogged about and at the center of ongoing controversies like this one and this one.

Awards are nice, and people are nicer

Angie Chuang IPPY ceremony







Photo courtesy of Independent Publishers Book Awards

I learned that my debut book, The Four Words for Home, received a bronze medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards while checking my email in a quiet seminar room at American University, giving one of my students a make-up final exam. I had to resist the urge to jump up and celebrate, for fear of disrupting anyone.

Pictures from a book ‘tour’

Writing this blog entry from Portland, Ore., where I did a fantastic KBOO 90.7 interview last Thursday with the equally fantastic Lisa Loving. This return to the city where I lived and worked for nearly eight years, where so many of the events of The Four Words for Home transpired, makes me particularly appreciative of the communities we build over the years.

The Four Words for Home is in your hot little hands

Violet May Zivnuska Wang, age 2 and a half, is one of The Four Word for Home's first readers.

Violet May Zivnuska Wang, age 2½, is one of The Four Word for Home’s first readers.

One of the unexpected delights of having a book published is that moment when friends across the country and world start getting their copies—and posting on social media.

A ‘breakthrough publication’ blog: Holding on and letting go

Write Despite, a fun and inspiring blog committed to the idea of writing every day for 20 minutes come hell or high water, featured me as a guest author for its “breakthrough publication” series. It was fitting that blog co-host Karen Guzman – who has a debut novelHoming Instincts, coming out this fall with Fiction Attic Press – found me right as The Four Words for Home was about to launch. Karen and I were co-workers 15 years ago at The Hartford Courant, where we were part of a small writer’s group of reporters with literary aspirations.

‘Finding Home’ panel, reading and workshop at Ragdale March 22

Finding Home flyer FINALThe Four Words for Home is launching and I’m hitting the road!

One of the first events, in the Chicago area, that I’m really excited about is “Finding Home: Writing & Publishing in the Global Community.” This half-day panel, reading, and workshop at the beautiful Ragdale artist’s community focuses on multicultural stories and authors. Poet Angela Narciso Torres and I, both former Ragdale residents and co-winners of the 2013 Willow Books Literature Awards, will read from our books and teach workshops.

Thank You, Vela Magazine, for Putting Me in Such Great Year-End Company!

Vela Magazine, an online home for “creative nonfiction, inspired by travel, written by women,” kindly flagged my essay in the Summer 2013 issue of Creative Nonfiction, “Why I Remembered What I Remembered,” in their amazing year-end roundup.

Willow Books, Ragdale, and Kindred Spirits

Angela Narcisco-Torres, left, and Angie Chuang at Ragdale artists residency, August 2013

Angela Narcisco Torres, left, and Angie Chuang at Ragdale artists residency, August 2013

On the Other Side of the Reporter’s Notebook

I had the enjoyable, slightly nerve-wracking experience of being interviewed by journalist Rick Horowitz for an article on the origins of The Four Words for Home for the website of the American University School of Communication, where I’m on faculty. Rick is a consummate professional and a lovely writer who asked great questions, and I never doubted that the story was in great hands.

The End of the Line(s): On Finishing a Book

“FIRST DRAFTS ARE HELL. FINAL DRAFTS, PARADISE.” —From a tweet by @JoyceCarolOates

A fellow writer, Olivia Kate Cerrone, shared this while we were both working on books at Ragdale, an artist’s residency near Chicago. For many years, I wholeheartedly agreed with Oates, as I slowly slogged out chapters of a book whose shape or structure I did not know – because I did not know how to write a book. It was like laying down railroad track when you didn’t know where it was going, or how trains worked.