Tag Archives: Andrew Scott

Professor Andrew Scott discusses the process of editing and publishing his anthology ’24 Bar Blues’

Assistant professor of English Andrew Scott edited the anthology 24 Bar Blues: Two Dozen Tales of Bars, Booze, and the Blues, which was published in March 2013. For an inside look at 24 Bar Blues, read the interview below conducted by English department intern Daniel Brount. 

1. What was the inspiration for “24 Bar Blues”?

I play bass guitar—badly. One of the most popular chord progressions in music is called 12-bar blues. I became obsessed with the name of that progression, all three components, around the time I finished undergrad at Purdue. Not long after, I had the idea to edit an anthology of twelve stories set in bars. In my reading of contemporary short stories, it seemed that writers of all stripes were interested in telling stories at least partly set in bars. Oh, sure, the stories might refer to them as roadhouses, blues clubs, pubs, honky-tonks, dives, or even country clubs, but at the end of the day, bars are bars.

I shared my idea with the editor of an anthology I admired. She liked the idea, too, but thought twelve stories wasn’t enough for an anthology. I agreed, but as it turns out, 24-bar blues is a chord progression, too, so I just doubled my original idea.

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Prof. Andrew Scott Recommends Thrillbent’s Digital Comics

In the latest installment of our Recommended Reads series,  Professor Andrew Scott recommends digital comics from Thrillbent.

Mark Waid—co-owner of Alter Ego Comics in downtown Muncie and the New York Times bestselling author of Kingdom Come, Superman: Birthright, the recent graphic novel Shadow Walk, and celebrated runs on titles like Daredevil, Fantastic Four, The Flash, Captain America, and more—is staring the future of comics in the face, refusing to flinch.

In 2012, he sold over 150 “long boxes” of comic books spanning the 20th century to help fund Thrillbent, a digital comics platform he founded with Hollywood writer/producer John Rogers that now publishes some of the best comics anywhere, in a variety of genres.

*Photo used with permission from Thrillbent

*Photo used with permission from Thrillbent

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Interns Tyler Fields and Nakkia Patrick Interview Andrew Scott About His New Book, Naked Summer

Last year, editor, author, and BSU English professor Andrew Scott released a brand new book, Naked Summer: Stories. In honor of this wonderful achievement, interns Tyler Fields and Nakkia Patrick interview him to discuss various aspects of his new book as well as his publishing process, future plans, and his writing inspirations. See the interview and Andrew’s short bio below.

*Photo provided by Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott is the author of Naked Summer, a story collection, and the editor of a forthcoming anthology, 24 Bar Blues: Two Dozen Tales of Bars, Booze, and the Blues. He holds writing degrees from Purdue University and New Mexico State University, where he was twice awarded a Frank Waters Fiction Fellowship. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Esquire, Ninth Letter, The Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Glimmer Train Stories, The Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. With his wife, writer Victoria Barrett, he edits Freight Stories, an online fiction journal. He teaches at Ball State University and lives in Indianapolis.

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Jared Sexton’s Interview with Andrew Scott About His Recently Published Book! (Part 1)

Congratulations to Andrew Scott, assistant professor of English, on the publication of his first book, Naked Summer (Press 53, 2011.).   In order to mark the occassion, we asked another English department faculty member, Jared Sexton, to interview Andrew about his first full-length book and his life as a writer, editor and teacher.  Below is the first installment.

1. You’re a son of the Midwest. You were raised here, educated here, you teach and live here, and your collection, Naked Summer, reads like a love letter to this region. What do you think is so special about the Midwest and Midwesterners in general? Is there something about them that makes for good living or writing?

One of my mentors writes about a place after she’s left it, when memory mixes with imagination, and that’s what happened to me, too. I was born in Lafayette, Indiana, but when I moved to New Mexico for grad school, the physical distance teamed up with a strange longing that I couldn’t have predicted. New Mexico was as far away as I could get, after all, and I desperately wanted to live somewhere else. I’d been accepted into all of the MFA programs that actually considered my application, and all were outside the Midwest. I think I subconsciously goofed up the applications to Iowa and Ohio State — forgot to send GRE scores to one, missed a deadline for the other — because I didn’t want to stay in the Midwest. 

Susan Neville has an essay about how Hoosiers have to decide if we will stay or leave. I really wanted to leave, and it was good for me to live somewhere else for a while, especially a place as rich and weird and lively — but also deadly — as New Mexico. For many years, nearly every story I tried to write came from Tippecanoe County and its environs. I decided to embrace my place, my home state, in the service of fiction.  

All of the clichés that are heaped upon Midwesterners — that we’re simple, quiet, unassuming, honest, generally good-natured, etc. — help create tension when a writer engages them in fiction, because a lot of readers (and certainly most publishers) on the coasts don’t expect people in “the flyover” to have rich inner lives. I think that surprise factor, dumb as it is — oh, Midwesterners are complex people, too! — can often be an advantage for writers. Some of the most surprisingly brutal books of the past few years have come from the Midwest, such as Bonnie Jo Campbell’s American Salvage, Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff, or Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone

2. You and your wife are both writers and editors, partnering on the successful journal Freight Stories. What do you think you’ve learned from that different focus that has helped you as a writer or reader?

Editing is a different skill set. Many writers are also good editors, but not all. Victoria Barrett and I have been editors for thirteen years now, first for Puerto del Sol, the literary journal we edited at New Mexico State, but also with Freight Stories, the online fiction journal we founded in 2008. This year, Victoria started her own boutique press called Engine Books. Her first contracted manuscript is a story collection from Patricia Henley, whose debut novel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Not too shabby. 

For me, editing is rewarding work. It’s also work that has an end. The composition and revision stages my own fiction must go through can be exhausting. But with editing, I’m just a facilitator, a connector, the link between the writer’s vision for a story and the reader’s perception. I have to find a way to help present the best version to readers. Sometimes that means marking up every page, and many stories we’ve published have received that kind of attention from me. But sometimes it means backing off. For example, Lee Martin’s “Bedtime Stories” is only a few pages long. When we accepted that piece, I knew it was good, but I was determined to put Lee through the same editorial scrutiny as any other writer we’ve published, though he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. I spent two or three hours on those few pages, questioning every choice, but in the end, I didn’t make a single suggestion. It was like sparring with Sugar Ray Leonard in his prime. I was way out of my league, but that experience made me a better prose-maker. Often the editor changes the story. But sometimes, the story changes the editor. 

3. You’ve told me in conversation that the collection has been a work-in-progress that you’ve tooled around with for a while now. Could you take us through a brief, albeit informational, tour of the many ups and downs you’ve had with this manuscript?

I have started other projects in the years since finishing the MFA, and some of those are finally starting to gain momentum, including a few graphic novel projects that I’m excited about. But this collection was always there, and I revised it once or twice a year, top to bottom, during the last decade. A lot of writers might have abandoned it. Don’t most MFA grads ditch their thesis projects? I simply couldn’t bring myself to do that. 

I began approaching agents near the end of 2008, just as the recession really started, perhaps the worst time in decades for the book business. In short, agents often read and enjoyed the stories, but all of the ones I was interested in working with wanted a novel instead, or at least in addition to this story collection, and I wasn’t ready.  

Meanwhile, an independent press out of North Carolina, Press 53, had started publishing well-respected story collections by authors I admired, so I submitted my manuscript in the fall of 2010. Eight weeks later, I had a contract. Five months after that, you read my book. 

Along the way, I learned how to stick with a project and how to trust my judgment, but also about the role luck plays in so many aspects of publishing.

Good News #2

This is the second post of our “Good News” series—a series to highlight the accomplishments of the English Department’s graduate students and faculty. Here’s what they’ve been up to:

Adam R. Beach’s essay “Global Slavery, Old World Bondage, and Aphra Behn’s Abdelazer,” was accepted for publication in Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, and will appear in their Winter 2012 issue.

Peter Bethanis’ short story “Poet and Clown” was accepted for publication in Art Times.

Cathy Day has received a Beatrice, Benjamin and Richard Bader Fellowship in the Visual Arts of the Theatre from Harvard University’s Houghton Library. Each fellow is expected to be in residence at Houghton for at least four weeks during the period from July 2011, through June 2012. Her project for the fellowship is entitled, “Looking for Linda: The Scrapbooks of Mrs. Cole Porter.”

Tiffany Ellis delivered a presentation of her paper, entitled “Cohort-Oriented Project-Based Learning in ESL Teaching,” at the meeting of the Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (INTESOL). The meeting took place in Indianapolis, in November of 2010.

Ashley Ellison’s essay “Connecting Memory and Research Through Eco-Composition,” is forthcoming in Indiana English. She will give a presentation with the same title in June at The Association for the Study of Literature & Environment’s conference, in Bloomington, Indiana. In March, Ellison presented a workshop with Elmar Hashimov at the East Central Writing Centers Association conference. The conference was titled “Communicating Across Cultures: The Role of Culture in the Tutoring Session,” and took place in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Robert Habich’s book, Building Their Own Waldos: Emerson’s First Biographers and the Politics of Life-Writing in the Gilded Age, has been published by University of Iowa Press. His coauthored 2010 book, Romanticism and Transcendentalism, 1820-1865, which is part of the seven-volume Research Guide to American Literature, has been named an Outstanding Reference Book for 2011 by Library Journal.

Joyce Huff has joined the editorial board for Fat Studies, a new journal from the Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Erin Banks Kirkham’s essay, “Catherine, Crispin, and the Midwife’s Apprentice: Names and Identity in Children’s Literature,” was published in International Congress on Medieval Studies, in May 2010.

Sean Lovelace’s short story collection, Fog Gorgeous Stag, is scheduled for release on July 12th of this year by Publishing Genius.

Michael Meyerhofer’s third full-length book of poems, Damnatio Memoriae, won the Brick Road Poetry Book Contest, and will be published in April/May of this year. His fifth chapbook, Pure Elysium, won the Palettes and Quills 2nd Biennial Chapbook contest, and is scheduled to be published this month. Meyerhofer also had two prose poem/flash pieces, “Ode to Dead Batteries” and “The Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic, 1962,” place as finalists for Mid-American Review’s Fineline Competition, and both were published as Editor’s Choices. He had another poem, “The Stuttering Headsman,” published by Hayden’s Ferry Review in their 2010-2011 issue. He has poems forthcoming in North American Review, African American Review, Southern Indiana Review, New York Quarterly, Hobble Creek Review, and others, as well.

Matt Mullins’ short story collection, Three Ways of the Saw, is scheduled for release in spring 2012 by Atticus Books.

Miranda Nesler’s article, “Closeted Authority in The Tragedy of Mariam,” is forthcoming in Studies in English Literature, 2012.

Chaehee Park co-authored an essay with Megumi Hamada, entitled “Word-Meaning Inference: A Longitudinal Investigation of Inference, Accuracy, and Strategy Use,” which was accepted for publication by Asian EFL Journal. Park and Hamada both presented “Using Think-Aloud as a Metacognitive Strategy in L2 Lexical Inference Instruction,” at the meeting of the INTESOL in Indianapolis, in November 2010. Park also presented “L2 Spelling Investigation: A Comparison of English Learners of Korean and Native English Speaking Children,” at the meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics in Chicago, in March of 2011.

Martha Payne presented a lecture entitled, “The Reality of Myth,” as part of the Nick Smyrnis AHEPA Lecture Series at the University of Indianapolis, in March 2011.

Monica Robison’s article, “The Power of Words: Othello as Storyteller,” was published in Storytelling, Self, Society, in January 2011.

Andrew Scott’s collection of short stories, Naked Summer, will be published in June 2011 by Press 53.

Congrats to all our grad students and professors!

Interview with Christopher Newgent on the independent publishing world, the web’s effect on literature, and balancing work with passion

Christopher Newgent

Christopher Newgent graduated from Ball State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing in 2006. Newgent puts his degree to use trying to improve his city environment of Indianapolis by bringing independent literature to the public at art and music events. He generously agreed to share those experiences with us here at the English Department blog, as well as his experience balancing a working life with creative passions.

Can you share a little about what your job is and what sorts of duties it entails?

I work as a technical writer for Aprimo, Inc., a marketing software company in Indianapolis. My job is primarily writing the online Help—how to perform specific functions in the product. I’m about to start taking over localization efforts, which is business-speak for getting the product translated into other languages.

How did your English major at Ball State prepare you for such a position?

The fact that it had “writing” in the title helped, but it actually took a bit of salesmanship to convince the hiring manager that I could take a creative writing major and succeed as a technical writer. There’s a hefty difference between creative and technical writing, but the overlap exists in consideration of audience and precise language. BSU has professors who really excel at teaching these two aspects—Mark Neely, Sean Lovelace, and Andrew Scott particularly come to mind.

Can you explain a little about Vouched Books—how it came about and what your aims and ambitions are for the project?

Vouched is a project to promote independent literature in Indianapolis. It started with the idea of setting up a flea-market-style book table at literary and art events, and shilling small press books that I’d read personally and wanted to champion. It grew from there to include the Vouched Presents reading series and Vouched Online, where I and a handful of contributors link to work published in online journals that we like—curating our little corner of the literary internet, essentially.

As for ambitions, I should probably sit down sometime and really make a list of them. It’s all sort of grown organically so far, to be honest. I don’t have any dream of opening a brick & mortar bookstore, or making it a financially viable endeavor. I just want to promote some work that I really believe in by people who don’t have much of a budget to promote beyond the internet. And the way I’ve found to do that is to go where people are who appreciate art and words, but likely don’t know independent literature exists. If a legit opportunity arises to make Vouched my full-time career, you can bet I’ll own it, but right now, it’s just a hobby; an exercise in literary citizenship.

How do you balance your working life with your literary pursuits/passions?

Honestly, the only way to find a balance is the classic cliché—show up to the page every day. Make time for it. Ideas will never be the problem. A story can come to you when you’re driving to your aunt’s for Christmas. The problem will be sustaining the drive to sit down when you get home from your aunt’s and punch out a draft without having the deadlines you have in school, the drive to write for yourself instead of a grade. It’s easy to be an idealist in college, to think you’re writing for yourself then, but you’re not, and that’s okay. And you’ll find that out a year or so after graduation. Your life will get busy, you’ll have a new roof to afford, a spouse to adore, maybe kids, college loans, a car that breaks down. And unless you say, “No matter how busy life gets, I will write 750 words a day,” you’ll eventually be reduced to jotting an occasional line on a napkin until one day you wake up and remember you wanted to be a writer once. With all faith, you’ll pull those napkins out from the drawer you were keeping them, and start writing.

Are there any other projects, on the web, personal, or otherwise, that you’re involved in?

For the past almost two years, I’ve been working on founding INDYCOG, a blog that grew into a nonprofit organization that works with Indianapolis to promote cycling. But I’ve recently taken a lesser role in that as I focus more on Vouched and other endeavors.

You seem to be very active on the web, as well as knowledgeable about web-based material. What are your thoughts on the web’s effect on literature and how people are adapting to it?

I’m actually working on an essay/guest post for HTMLGiant discussing the explosion of independent music in the late 90’s due to the internet, and how I see the current independent literary community doing the same thing now, albeit a decade late. I think literature is behind the curve in adapting to the web, likely because of the taboo online publishing has had until recently. But, I think as online journals build their legitimacy, as more and more writers and publishers learn to use the internet to promote and build community, the more opportunities will present themselves to literary authors, especially emerging authors. But let’s face it—romance and celebrity memoirs will always outsell literary works, just like even though you hear all sorts of independent music on commercials and TV shows now, Nickelback still outsells Sufjan.

What are some books you’re reading right now, and what are some titles to look for that may be somewhat under the radar?

I’ve just started writing a novel, so I’ve turned my attention to those a bit, reading Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. There’s kind of a lack of novels in the small press world. I just started Matt Bell’s How They Were Found, and I recently finished Mark Neely’s Four of a Kind, both of which deserve to be read. If you’ve not read Sasha Fletcher’s When All Our Days Are Numbered yet, then you’re without. And, if you want to learn how to craft a sentence, Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler.

Top five literary blogs…GO!

In no particular order: HTMLGiant, Bark, We Who Are About to Die, PANK Blog, Big Other.

Any parting advice/wisdom you would like to offer to the students of BSU?

You are not alone.

Guest Post: Professor Andrew Scott on The Writers’ Center of Indiana’s Annual Gathering of Writers

The Writers’ Center of Indiana, located in Indianapolis, was founded in 1979 with the mission “to nurture a writing community, to support established and emerging writers, to improve written and verbal communication, and to develop an audience for literature in Indiana.” One way WCI fulfills that mission is the annual Gathering of Writers, a day-long event that features writing classes, workshops, and discussions led by Indiana’s best writers.

This year’s keynote speaker is Indiana native Elizabeth Stuckey-French, author of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady, Mermaids on the Moon, and The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa. She is also the co-editor of the popular textbook, Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, now in its eight edition. Stuckey-French will also lead one of the sessions, “From Auditions to Curtain Call: How to Cast Your Novel.”

Several universities in the state are represented on this year’s faculty, including Purdue, IU, Marian, DePauw, Notre Dame, IUPUI, U. of Indianapolis, and more. Ball State will make an especially strong showing, with three creative writing professors leading the way—Jill Christman (“(How) Can I Say This?: Approaching Creative Nonfiction With Craft and Courage”), Cathy Day (“The Big Thing: Moving from Story to Book”), and Michael Meyerhofer (“Stress and Syllables: Scansion as Craft in Poetry”).

The Gathering of Writers is a great way to meet published and emerging authors from around the state. Groups of university students have attended the event in recent years, which means it could also be a great opportunity for BSU English majors to meet their peers from other institutions.

Here is a sampling of some of the sessions listed in this year’s program:

  • · Eugene Gloria, “Poetry of Witness: Writing Political Poems”
  • · David Shumate, “The Prose Poem: Dreaming Inside the Box”
  • · Barbara Shoup, “Writing Young Adult Fiction”
  • · Tom Chiarella, “Profile Form and the Study of Character”
  • · Margaret-Love Denman, “Telling Time in Fiction”
  • · Terry Kirts, “Life at First Bite: Starting Your Food Memoir”
  • · Steve Tomasula, “Fun with Words, Or, The Art Whose Medium is Language”

A complete list of sessions, as well as that day’s schedule and faculty bios, can be found at the WCI website.

Students (with i.d.) get a 75% discount—registration is only $25.

Date: Saturday, October 23
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Where: Campus of Marian University, Indianapolis

For more information, check out the event’s website here.