Author Archives: beccakathleen

Two champions are crowned! NaNoWriMo 2014

In November, Ball State English kicked off its first ever National Novel Writing Month competition amongst its faculty, students, friends, and alumni. Our writers warred against each other at weekly Monday Write-Ins, pushing their word counts higher than ever before. Weekly word champions were announced via Twitter.

Cumulatively, our 20 participants wrote a combined total of more than 350,000 words.

What about the overall winners? In our initial blog post, we stated that there would be two winners:

  • the first to reach 50,000 words
  • the person to write the most words overall

With NaNoWriMo officially over, we are pleased to announce those winners.

Ball State English is pleased to crown Alyssa Nobbe and Carie McMichael our NaNoWriMo champions!

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Johna Picco: “Don’t go to graduate school without funding,” and other sound advice

Time to tune in, English majors, for another round of excellent advice from Johna Picco. Below, she gives us four amazing tips on graduate school, internships, and Life After The English Major.

Photo provided by Johna Picco.

Photo provided by Johna Picco.

So, what’s up, Johna?

It’s been nearly four years (how?!) since my initial blog post and not only have the years flown by but they’ve also brought about a great deal of change.

Since we last spoke, I’ve left my job at the American Medical Association, applied to and attended graduate school at the University of Illinois, interned at various archives and secured full-time employment (as of October 29th!) as an assistant curator of special collections at The Filson Historical Society.

Yikes. When I write it all out like that, not only does it sound hectic but also ridiculously pretentious. Well, I assure you that it wasn’t all that hectic and that my aim for this post is definitely not to boast about myself but rather share my latest experiences on where an English degree can lead.

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Senior Rebecca Haynes secures job at Ford Meter Box, Inc.

Give a warm welcome to Rebecca Haynes.Rebecca Haynes

Rebecca is a senior English Literature major graduating in December 2014.

After graduation, she will be the Sales and Marketing Administrative Assistant at The Ford Meter Box, Inc.

Below, Rebecca talks about her path to employment.

How did you English major lead to your job offer?

As a Literature major, I learned to analyze and think critically.  Part of my job description includes editing and proofing flyers and catalogs.  It is important that I be able to say as much as possible with as few words as possible.  Having lots of experience with writing and communication is a great asset for this aspect of the position.  Part of the job entails working with co-workers and other companies to set up travel details.  Communication is crucial to ensuring all the flights connect and reservations are set.

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Alumnus Ginger Bollinger seeks 60 book recommendations for 60th birthday

Everyone, say hello to Ginger Bollinger.bollinger

Ginger graduated with a B.S. in Office Administration in 1978 and an M.A. in English in 1995. She has had a satisfying and successful career as an Executive Administrator in Fortune 500 and Nasdaq 100 companies in the auto industry and in healthcare as Assistant to the CEO. Ginger currently manages a small consulting business in Boulder, Colorado, but lives in the Twin Cities, just outside Saint Paul. She met her husband, Mark, on a blind date at Ball State in 1973 and they just celebrated their 40th anniversary. They have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and three terrific grandchildren.

Below, Ginger outlines her success, and introduces an important book project that she needs our help with.

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An inquiring mind: a new faculty profile of Kristine Kotecki

Welcome to the latest installment of the English department’s new faculty profile series, where we welcome another new member to our family. Be sure to check out past profiles, which include Silas Hansen, Lupe Linares, Molly Ferguson, Laura Romano, and Vanessa Rapatz.

Say hello to Kristine Kotecki.

Photo provided by Kristine Kotecki

Photo provided by Kristine Kotecki

Kristine earned her Ph.D. from University of Texas at Austin in Dec. 2013, and she was most recently a lecturer at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Kristine will be teaching courses in world literature, film, media, and digital humanities. In her research and teaching, Kristine focuses on how the past is imagined in contemporary texts. She has written about film festivals, world literature anthologies, neorealist films, fairy-tale films, Eastern European video film exhibits, and anticolonial historiography.

So, how did you get interested in your interdisciplinary research?

I spent an eventful four years between college and graduate school exploring various paths that someone with an inquiring mind and socially conscious disposition might take.

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The Visiting Writers Series presents Michael Poore on November 12

The English department’s Visiting Writers Series invites you to an evening with author Michael Poore on November 12 at 7:30 PM in Letterman 125.

Who is Michael Poore? What does he write?

Writer and teacher Michael Poore is the author of the cult classic Up Jumps The Devil, a biography of the devil as an American folk hero.

Check out this interview with Michael about Up Jumps The Devil, conducted by James Hill. Also, read this interview about who inspires him, from The Qwillery.

Still not convinced? Read what current Ball State students have to say.

“Brought to life by prose that is magical and yet all too real, Michael Poore’s Devil is a complex, funny, sweet, horrific rebel angel and the world’s first broken heart. Fans of Joe Hill and Neil Gaiman will love Up Jumps the Devil and will eagerly await more from this strange and compelling author.” – creative writing undergrad Sarah Hollowell

Want to meet Michael in person?

  • Come to his reading, November 12 at 7:30 PM in Letterman 125.
  • Come to his Q&A, November 13 at 9:30 am in 361 Robert Bell.

These events are open to the public. All faculty and students are encouraged to attend.

One last thing about Michael Poore

He signed up for our NaNoWriMo 2014 Face Off!


Good News, October 2014

Tuesday = Good News

In the latest installment of the “Good News” series, the Ball State English department highlights the accomplishments of our faculty and students up through the month of October.

That’s right. We have so much good news that we’re sharing it once a month rather than once a semester. Interested in September’s Good News? Check out that post here.

Angela Jackson-Brown

Mark Neely's upcoming Dirty Bomb

Mark Neely’s upcoming Dirty Bomb

Cathy Day

Mark Neely

Robert Habich published a chapter titled “Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, and Transcendentalism” in the book American Literary Scholarship 2012: An Annual, edited by Duke University Press and published in 2014. AmLS is an annual volume containing review essays on various American authors and topics.  It’s been around for over 40 years and is one of the options for everyone in the American Literature section of MLA.  AmLS is also available online through the Duke University Press site.

Matt Mullins had videopoems screened and/or accepted at the following international festivals:

Frank Felsenstein’s piece on Rowlandson’s Peter Plumb’s Diary was just published via Eighteenth-Century Fiction, a journal of McMaster University. The piece was commissioned for a special issue devoted to eighteenth-century humor.

Ashley Mack-Jackson (center) with her husband Michael and her mother Denise at the Indiana Women of Achievement Awards dinner.

Ashley Mack-Jackson (center) with her husband Michael and her mother Denise at the Indiana Women of Achievement Awards dinner.

Ashley Mack-Jackson

  • Was accepted to the Callaloo creative writing workshops in London.
  • Recently accepted the Perham Scholarship, which is awarded to girls and women in all disciplines who demonstrate excellent leadership and academic excellence.

Nicole Pena

Lyn Jones was invited by the Education Honor Society Kappa Delta Pi to give a talk on “Re-Thinking Children’s Literature: Students Need To See Themselves In Books!”

Esther Wolfe accepted her award

Esther Wolfe accepted her award

Esther Wolfe’s paper entitled “‘Except that the haunted, hidden thing was me’: Using Critical Sociological Theories of Haunting in Paradigms for Transsexual Justice” was accepted to the Diversity Symposium, where she won the award for best LGBT presentation. Her paper was also published in Ball State’s very own Digital Literature Review last spring. She is a senior English/Literature major.

We always need more Good News!

Remember, every Tuesday, we share Good News on Facebook and Twitter. You can also join our LinkedIn group. 

So many great things happen in the English Department. If you have good news to share, send it to Cathy Day, Assistant Chair of Operations, at cday AT bsu DOT edu.

The spark of recognition: a new faculty profile of Vanessa Rapatz

This week, we bring you another installment of our new faculty profile series. Be sure to check out past profiles, which include but are not limited to Silas Hansen, Lupe Linares, Laura Romano, and Molly Ferguson.

Give a warm welcome to Vanessa Rapatz.

Photo provided by Vanessa Rapatz

Photo provided by Vanessa Rapatz

Vanessa grew up in Minnesota, but has spent the last sixteen years living, studying, and working in California. She received her MA in Literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and her Ph.D from the University of California at Davis, where she has served for the past several years as a lecturer teaching classes in Early British literature, topics in drama, and composition. Vanessa is thrilled to return to the Midwest.

At Ball State, she will be teaching courses in Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, gender and performance studies.

How did you get interested in performance studies?

My interest in convents and novices in early modern drama grew out of a combination of taking a graduate seminar at UC Davis and TAing for a Shakespeare course. I started to notice a pattern in which young women were entering and exiting convents frequently in these plays and I began to wonder how that might have resonated on an English stage during a time in England’s history where convents and Catholicism were outlawed. This early question led me to start researching nuns and convents and ultimately involved a trip to England where I was a resident at the Globe Theater and made a side research trip to York where I stayed at Bar Convent, the first convent in England after they were banned in the Renaissance. My London research reinforced my interest in performance and in convent buildings themselves, specifically their remains whether in the form of ruins or re-purposed buildings.

Photo provided by Vanessa Rapatz

Photo provided by Vanessa Rapatz

How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

I think I’m an engaging and enthusiastic teacher.

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Creative + Writing: Aaron Nicely on selling your degree

Say hello to Aaron Nicely, an alumnus of the Ball State English department.


Photo provided by Aaron Nicely

Originally from Cincinnati, OH, Aaron currently resides in Noblesville, IN, though he has also lived in Boston, St. Louis, Muncie, and Ingalls, IN. He graduated from Wabash College in 2006 with a BA in English and a minor in theatre. He then came to Ball State, where he completed his MA in Creative Writing in 2008, and his MA in Literature in 2010.

Currently, Aaron serves as the Director of Digital Marketing at Elbert Construction.

Below, Aaron shares his advice on what employers are really looking for, how to “pitch yourself,” and what you can really do with a BA in English.

Tell us about your collegiate journey.

My timeline went kind of like it’s supposed to.

College years

I went to Wabash College to get an English degree and write, which I did.  I won a grant to write a novel.  I got an internship with an ad agency. As a kid I ripped my favorite ads out of magazines and tucked them away in boxes, in books, and dreamed of copywriting.  I wanted to know why and how it worked.  I was incurably curious.

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#NaNoWriMo is coming. Let’s get ready to write!

Photo provided by Sarah Hollowell

Photo provided by Sarah Hollowell

It’s almost November. If you’re novel savvy, you know what that means: it’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month, known affectionately as NaNoWriMo.

Interested in competing in a #bsuenglish Face Off? Check out information at the bottom of the post!

To get us ready for #NaNoWriMo 2014, we’ve asked creative writing undergrad and NaNo verteran Sarah Hollowell to share her experiences.

So tell us, Sarah, what’s up with NaNoWriMo?

Every November since 1999, hundreds of thousands of novelists all over the world have taken on the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Since 2006, I’ve been one of them.

I was a sophomore in high school that first year, battling social anxiety and depression. Books and writing had always been my escape. National Novel Writing Month was just what I needed. For 30 days, I escaped into a fantasy world that was imaginative but not expertly constructed (I was, after all, 16.) I wrote 50,000 words that November, and finished the draft at 70,000 words in December.

The draft…was horrible. Really, truly, never-again-will-it-see-the-light-of-day bad.

But to sixteen-year-old me, it was beautiful. It was the largest project I’d ever taken on, and I finished it. I made a novel – a bad, bad novel, but a novel nonetheless – out of thin air. I felt magical. All of my dreams of being a writer seemed more real than they ever had before.

At this point you might be thinking: “That’s nice, Sarah, really, quite lovely. Inspiring, even. But I’m in college, not high school, and November is very near to college hell. I don’t sleep as it is, or I sleep too much. My dining plus is depleted, all used on Starbucks. I eat Lucky Charms out of Tupperware because the bowls are all dirty and doing dishes is too much work. How can I possibly write a novel?”

You make a fair point, hypothetical reader. These are real concerns. Signing up to do NaNoWriMo when you’re in college is radical, especially if you’re an English major. You’re in literature and creative writing classes already, right? You have 300 pages to read and six stories to workshop every week, not to mention that HIST 150 test. Writing 50,000 words on top of that seems impossible.

Here’s the thing: I’m lazy. Ask anyone. I’m a desperately lazy person. I’m going to nap after I finish this blog post, assuming I can stop binge watching Gilmore Girls – and I’ve won NaNo three times since starting college. If I can do it, trust me. So can you.

Spend your free time locked in your room, typing faster than you’ve ever typed. Scribble in notebooks between classes. Type notes on your phone while riding the shuttle and damn autocorrect more than you’ve ever damned it before. The worst that can happen is that you don’t finish, and I’ve done that, too. I haven’t finished NaNoWriMo since 2011.

I’m looking to change that, and I think you should join me.

Announcing: #bsuenglish Write Ins!

If you’re a NaNnano_12_new_Come_Write_In_Logo1o veteran, do it again. Write more this year. If it’s your first time, you’ve chosen a great year to start, because for the first time the Ball State English Department is going to be holding Write Ins.

They’ll be in the Letterman lobby from 9 PM – 10 PM on all the Mondays in November – that’s the 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th.

Oh, and did I mention there’s going to be a competition?

Announcing: #bsuenglish Face Off!

In November, we’ll have a page here on the blog with a list of NaNo-ing Ball State English majors and their up-to-date word count.

Every week, the current leader will be announced in a @bsuenglish tweet (which, of course, will earn mighty praise and envy from all involved).

At the end of the month, the writer who finishes first and the writer with the most total words will win prizes.

To get involved, all you have to do is send your NaNoWriMo username and Twitter handle to Becca Austin at rkaustin(at)bsu(dot)edu NO LATER THAN Thursday, October 30th at 5:00 PM.

Current faculty AND students welcome. Alums, too.

November is coming. Let’s write some novels, shall we?