Stefanie Brook Trout

Author Page with Resources for Writers

Tag: anthology

Great Reads 2014

Inspired by the lovely blog Pints And Cupcakes, I wanted to look back at the books I read in 2014 and call out a few of my favorites. P&C‘s Chloe Clark listed her top 15, but I’m just going to pick five because I don’t think I read nearly as many books as she did in 2014.

To be clear, the idea is to list the top books that I read in 2014. Only a few of them were actually published in 2014.

  1. TTTCThe Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien. (Here’s my short Goodreads review.) I know what you’re thinking. “This is the first time you’re reading this?” The answer is yes, and it shames me to say as much. First published in 1990, TTTC is one of the finest works of fiction I’ve ever encountered. If you haven’t read it yet, stop reading my words right now and get on it. I promise this post will still be here when you get back.
  2. CTTAHYOPColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami. (Here’s my short Goodreads review.) I love Murakami, and I try to read at least one of his books each year, though I’ll have to read more than that if I’m ever going to keep pace with his new work while getting caught up on some of his older stuff. I’ve encountered several negative reviews of CTTAHYOP (published in 2014), but they were mostly from people who are either just starting to read Murakami or else have tried him before and didn’t like it but maybe wanted to so were trying him again. So I strongly recommend it to Murakami fans, but I realize it’s not for everyone.
  3. HTBAWHow to Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran. (Here’s my short Goodreads review.) I’d been wanting to read this one since I first heard Caitlin Moran on NPR in 2012. I actually surprised myself when HTBAW ended up the only nonfiction book that rose to the Top Five. I’m working on a novel for my thesis, so I guess I’ve been in fiction mode lately. But let’s not let that diminish how much I enjoyed reading Moran’s 2011 memoir. I read some great nonfiction books this year, but I devoured this one.
  4. PushcartThe Pushcart Prize XXXVIII: Best of the Small Presses 2014 Edition – Edited by Bill Henderson. (Here’s my short Goodreads review, where I rank my favorite pieces in each genre.) The quality of the nonfiction alone got this book on my Top Five list. Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of good fiction and poetry here too. But the nonfiction seemed of another class entirely. It inspired me to step my own essay-writing game up considerably.
  5. PGPrairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland – Edited by Lance M. Sacknoff, Xavier Cavazos, and me, Stefanie Brook Trout. So I know it’s tacky to list your own book – I’d say it’s an unwritten rule, but I’m sure it is in fact written somewhere – and yet I’m going to do it anyway because as hard as I worked on this thing, I can’t take credit for the quality of writing our contributors brought to the table. I’ve read this book more times than I’ve read any other text, and it never fails to fill me with joy, pride, and excitement. (More about Prairie Gold on the publisher’s website.)

Several wonderful books almost made the Top Five, but these were the ones that made me feel the most.

I’m looking forward to doing this again next year, maybe even with a longer list, though for the first time in several years I won’t be setting an annual goal.

Tangent about Annual Reading Goals

I love Goodreads – absolutely adore it – and I’ve participated in their annual reading challenge since 2011. It’s a fun way to hold myself accountable for spending as much time reading as I both should and want to without making it feel like work. It’s always so much easier to find a new show to binge watch on Netflix, but you have to rein that in somehow.

Inevitably, at the end of the year, I was always scrambling to get my hands on shorter reads – novellas, poetry collections, graphic novels, chapbooks, you get the idea – or else finishing books I’ve partially read for some reason or another in order to meet my goal, which is fine because that stuff is good to read too, but this past year I really didn’t want to do that again. I just didn’t feel like it, and I’m a strong believer in doing what you feel like when it comes to reading.

I wonder if there isn’t another way to do a reading challenge that goes beyond books. I love books – I really can’t overstate that enough. But this year, I’ve been trying to read more literary journals, magazines, news, blogs, etc., and I’ve also been doing a lot of editing – reading other people’s work over and over again (and I guess reading my own work over and over again as well) – and this type of reading matters too, even though I can’t log it into my Goodreads.

My older sister, who is a middle school teacher and uses this strategy with her students, suggested (several years ago, in fact, when I first mentioned my impulse to read shorter novels rather than undertake weighty tomes because of the impending Goodreads deadline) that I go by a page count goal instead, which is a smart and perfectly reasonable suggestion, but I don’t want to have to add tally marks to a scrap of paper every time I read something. (Is there an app for this? Or can someone please develop one? Thanks!)

Maybe I’ll set a 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge in a few months, but for now my goal for 2015 is simply to read a lot and not just books.

Speaking of Goodreads

Are you on Goodreads too? Do you want to connect on Goodreads? Add me as a friend or follow me as a fan here.

2014 Retrospective and 2015 Resolutions

I started this website in late 2013 because Mary Swander, the Poet Laureate of Iowa, told me that “As writers, we need to be hustling everyday.” The purpose of the site is to build a fan base by publicly sharing and archiving my professional accomplishments.

I’ve never been wholly comfortable with the level of self-promotion being an artist requires, but it’s part of the territory, and in 2015, so is blogging and social media. I know I am not the only writer who feels this way – it’s something I’ve discussed with my writer friends and colleagues extensively – but I think it’s important to mention every now and then. Because I’m not posting updates about all of my failures. Rejections don’t get a blog post. Nor do the awards I didn’t get. You won’t see me tweeting about not meeting my 2014 Goodreads goal or winning NaNoWriMo.

So as I celebrate some awesome things that have happened over the past year, it isn’t to brag or, worse, #humblebrag but to remind myself and others that, despite the setbacks that are perhaps more readily apparent in the day-to-day, 2014 was actually a pretty rocking year.

With out further ado, here are a bunch of things I’m looking back and feeling good about, a few things I want to work on, and a few things I’m just really excited about. I wish everyone a very happy 2015!

14 Awesome Things that Happened in 2014*

  1. I met Bill Bryson.
  2. As the nonfiction editor for Flyway, I published some amazing environmental writing.
  3. I went to my first AWP and presented on two panels.
  4. I did three public readings of my nonfiction work.
  5. My essay “The Drawing” was picked up by Cardinal Sins and received an honorable mention in their “translation”-themed nonfiction contest.
  6. My poem “White Squirrel” won a campus prize for National Poetry Month.
  7. I received a Teaching Excellence Award for my undergraduate English instruction.
  8. Lance and Xav brought me on as an editor of Prairie Gold, which was published in July. There were several readings, including one I did as part of a radio interview with Lance and the Voice of Fairfield. We did a Goodreads giveaway and just got a great review in the Wapsi.
  9. After my one-year term at Flyway was up, I started interning at Ice Cube Press.
  10. I started a new job as the communications assistant for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, where I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of news writing, produce short films, and design publications.
  11. I had three short pieces picked up by Festival Writer.
  12. My Prairie Gold essay “Letters After Achilles” was excerpted on the Winged: New Writing on Bees blog.
  13. Ice Cube Press nominated “Letters After Achilles” for a Pushcart.
  14. I became a reviewer for the Review Review and had my first review published.

*More details about each of these highlights can be found in past News & Events posts or on either the Bio or Publications, Etc. pages.

4 Resolutions for 2015

  1. Read more.
  2. Write more.
  3. Polish and submit more.
  4. Hustle more, which includes actually posting on this blog (and more non-me content, like the mini-interview I did earlier this year) as well as sharing updates on my Twitter and Tumblr accounts on a semi-regular basis.

4 Things I’m Also Looking Forward To

  1. Lance and I are going to be speaking at the University of Northern Iowa and then reading as part of the Hearst Center’s Final Thursday Reading Series. (Details in the Public Events section of this publication.)
  2. AWP 2015! I’ll be helping out at the Ice Cube Press table, where several authors – including Prairie Gold contributors – will be doing book signings. And I’ll be joining Lance and Xav for a Prairie Gold editors book signing at the Flyway table.
  3. Reviewing submissions with Taylor Brorby for our Ice Cube Press anthology, Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America. (Submissions currently open! Guidelines here.)
  4. Finishing my novel and my MFA in Creative Writing and Environment. After that, I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’ll be doing, but I’m excited to find out.

“Anthology Delivers Fine Offerings”: A Review of Prairie Gold in the Wapsipinicon Almanac

IMG_0015 2This volume was no doubt a massive undertaking, and the effort has paid off. It will interest anyone who sees who they are as a product of where they are, and will especially appeal to those who sometimes feel that, in the words of Bakopolous, it is “almost too beautiful to bear that rolling countryside without a notebook and pen in hand.”

Pick up a copy of the latest Wapsipinicon Almanac (No. 21) to read more of what Tad Boehmer had to say in his review of Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland.

Also in that issue, check out Robert Leonard’s essay, “Iowa: ‘Land of Enchantment’ – A Literary Manifesto,” in which he discusses Iowa’s cultural narratives and how Ice Cube Press “has done more than any in the past couple of decades in publishing books about Iowa, many of them by Iowans.”

Fracture: A Forthcoming Anthology on Fracking

I am beyond thrilled to announce that I am working with Taylor Brorby on a new Ice Cube Press anthology, Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America.

Taylor and I are currently seeking new writing that considers the implications of fracking. Submissions are open until June 1, 2015.

Guidelines on the publisher’s website.

You can follow Fracture on Facebook and Twitter.

New Pubs, Upcoming PG Readings, & More

It’s October now. Leaves are changing, the temperature is cooling, my wind chime is getting noisier. At the same time, there have been developments in my personal and professional life. Here are some updates from the latter:

New Pubs

I’m honored to have had not just one, not even two, but three pieces published in the October 2014 issue of Festival Writer. Check out the issue here and then click on my name to view all three of my contributions. These pieces tend to resist easy genre classification. This is how I would describe them:

“Baconer” is a prose poem (with formatting) about factory farming, from the perspective of a pig in a CAFO. Please note that this poem uses plenty of profanity and unpleasant imagery. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it, but I think it’s important to know what you’re getting into.

“First Beard” is a nonfiction vignette about my dad, and “Performance Review” is micro fiction. They are so short, I better not say anything else about them (Spoilers!) except that I hope you enjoy reading them.

Upcoming Prairie Gold Readings

As mentioned in a previous post, our Midwestern book tour of Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland will include two October events: one at the Rozz-Tox in Rock Island, Illinois, (Quad Cites area) on October 9 and one at Prairie Lights in Iowa City on October 16. Details:

Thursday, October 9, 2014 – SPECTRA Reading

8:00 pm – Rozz-Tox – Rock Island, Illinois

Our Quad Cities reading will feature fiction by T.C. Jones and Barbara Harroun as well as poetry by Esteban Colon, Salvatore Marici, and Ryan Collins. Part of the Midwest Writing Center’s SPECTRA Reading Series, the event will also include readings by featured poets Lauren Haldeman and Erin Keane. Check out the Facebook event page for more details.

Thursday, October 16, 2014 – Reading

7:00 pm – Prairie Lights – Iowa City, Iowa

Our Iowa City reading will feature nonfiction by Will Jennings and Meghan Brown, fiction by Barbara Harroun, and poetry by Salvatore Marici. Check out the event page for more details.

Video Debut

Since I switched from teaching English 150/250 at Iowa State University to my current position as a communications research assistant at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (also at ISU), I have been involved in a lot of cool multimedia projects. My job includes writing news releases and articles, updating the Center’s website, managing our social media, publication design, and video production. That last piece is such new and exciting territory for me, and I’m thrilled to share the final version of “STRIPS the Movie” (not the official title), a 13-minute video on the conservation practice of prairie strips that was four months in the making. It premiered at the 2014 Extension Energy and Environment conference in Ames and was followed by a Q & A with the researchers. Now that the feature documentary is done, we are in the process of using the extra interview footage to make a series of video shorts that will, among other things, help introduce a broader audience to the STRIPS project.

Goodreads

Our Goodreads Giveaway is still going on. Five free copies of Prairie Gold are up for grabs! The contest closes October 31. Details here.

If you already own the book and are on Goodreads, please take a moment to add it to your shelf, which you can do here. It helps us out when, after reading the book, our fans take the time to rate it, review it, and vote for it on relevant lists. (Contributors: Goodreads recommends that authors write a brief note on the inspiration for the piece in lieu of a review.)

Also, as part of having a book out, I’ve converted my personal Goodreads page into an author profile. It’s the same as before but with a few extra features, like the ability to have “fans” in addition to friends. I only have two fans so far! If you are on Goodreads and a fan of my work, please visit my author profile to make it official. (Lance needs more fans too. Here’s his author profile.)


I have lots of other exciting news I’d love to share, but I’m going to keep my beak buttoned for just a little while longer until details are finalized. So that’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

Ames Release Party

Writers’ Voices

First of all, I want to say thank you to Monica Hadley and Caroline Kilbourn at 100.1 FM, KRUU-LP in Fairfield, Iowa, for having Lance and me on the show this past Friday. It was both of our first time on talk radio, and we had a lot of fun talking about Prairie Gold with the mother/daughter duo. Thanks also to Monica for mentioning us on her blog.

If you missed the live broadcast, which also included me reading an excerpt from my nonfiction essay “Letters After Achilles,” they’ll be re-airing it Monday (tomorrow) morning at 8:00 CST. You can listen live on their website.

If that’s just not going to work for you (because you’ll be at work, say, and you’re a responsible employee who stays on task), they’ll be archiving it on Writers’ Voices, so check back there at a later date.

I do want to take the opportunity to make a couple minor corrections to my bio, which has changed since the final draft of Prairie Gold was sent to the printers. While I very much enjoyed my two years as an undergraduate English instructor at ISU, as of May 2014 I’ve (temporarily) hung up my teaching hat and have been trying my hand in a new field: multimedia communications. As the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture‘s communications assistant, I write news releases and feature stories, manage their social media, post updates on their website, design publications like their quarterly newsletter, and other fun stuff like helping produce a video for STRIPS, a cutting edge sustainable agriculture practice.

Likewise, I am no longer the nonfiction or social media editor for Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. In order to give all of ISU’s Creative Writing and Environment graduate students the opportunity to serve on the editorial staff, Flyway positions are one-year appointments. I want to make sure credit for all of the wonderful work Flyway is currently doing goes to the right people: Adam Wright is now the nonfiction editor, and Erin Schmiel has taken over social media.

Of course, you can always find the most up-to-date information about what I’m up to on my Bio/Home page.

Prairie Gold Events

I am pleased to announce three exciting pieces of Prairie Gold news: an upcoming radio interview, our Midwestern book tour, and a Goodreads Giveaway.

Live On the Air

Today, editors Lance M. Sacknoff and Stefanie Brook Trout will discuss Prairie Gold on KRUU 100.1 FM, the Voice of Fairfield. Stefanie will read an excerpt from her essay “Letters After Achilles.” Listen live from 1:00-2:00 pm to catch the Writers’ Voices talk radio show.

Midwestern Book Tour

Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland is hitting the road! A 2014 Local Wonders Grant from AgArts (Iowa Chapter) is helping to support a book release party in Ames and several readings in cities throughout Iowa. See the list below for all of the event details we’ve nailed down so far. (Download a news release.)

Friday, August 29, 2014 – Book Release Party & Reading

7:00 pm – Design on Main – Ames, Iowa

  • Featuring fiction by Michelle Donahue and Rachel Lopez, nonfiction by Meghan Brown, and poetry by Claire Kruesel
  • Publisher Steve Semken and editors Lance M. Sacknoff and Stefanie Brook Trout will give remarks, introduce the readers, and answer questions about the project
  • Copies of Prairie Gold will be for sale at a special Ames Release Party discount of 15% off
  • Download our Release Party Flier

Thursday, October 9, 2014 – SPECTRA Reading

8:00 pm – Rozz-Tox – Rock Island, Illinois

  • Featuring fiction by T.C. Jones and Barbara Harroun and poetry by Esteban Colon, Salvatore Marici, and Ryan Collins
  • Publisher Steve Semken and editors Lance M. Sacknoff and Stefanie Brook Trout will attend and can answer questions about the project
  • Part of the Midwest Writing Center’s SPECTRA Reading Series, the event will also include readings by Lauren Haldeman, Erin Keane, and one more TBA

Thursday, October 16, 2014 – Reading

7:00 pm – Prairie Lights – Iowa City, Iowa

  • Featuring nonfiction by Will Jennings and Meghan Brown, fiction by Barbara Harroun, and poetry by Salvatore Marici
  • Publisher Steve Semken and editors Lance M. Sacknoff and Stefanie Brook Trout will give remarks, introduce the readers, and answer questions about the project

Thursday, January 29, 2015 – Final Thursday Reading

7:00 pm – Hearst Center for the Arts – Cedar Falls, Iowa

  • Part of the Heart Center’s Final Thursday Reading Series
  • More details to come!

Thursday, April 9, 2015 – AWP Reception and Reading

7:00 pm – Subtext Books – St. Paul, Minnesota

  • Featuring poetry by Lindsay Tigue, Sandra Marchetti, Nancy Cook, Stephanie Schultz, and Michelle Menting; fiction by Matthew Fogarty and Molly Rideout; and nonfiction by John Linstrom and Sarah Elizabeth Turner.
  • Publisher Steve Semken and editors Lance M. Sacknoff and Stefanie Brook Trout will give remarks, introduce the readers, and answer questions about the project
  • In addition to the off-site reading, we will also have a table at AWP, so come see us at Booth #119!

We expect to add one more Iowa reading in Des Moines and a few more outside of Iowa, so follow Prairie Gold on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss any additional developments.

Goodreads Giveaway

Prairie Gold is on Goodreads, which means you can now add it to your shelf. Have you already read it? Please take a minute to rate and review the book. Don’t have a copy yet? Enter our Goodreads Giveaway contest by October 31, and you could win one of five copies!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Prairie Gold by Lance M. Sacknoff

Prairie Gold

by Lance M. Sacknoff

Giveaway ends October 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

 

Enter to win

Let’s Talk Books

I grew up in Western Michigan, the youngest of three daughters. We didn’t have a lot of money for extras, but my mom could never say no if my sisters or I asked her to buy a book. “Do you need it?” she would always ask, and when we said yes, she never tried to tell us otherwise.

In the past 25-ish years since I learned to read, a lot of things have changed, but the way I feel about books—the way I need books—hasn’t. I’m not just referring to stories and the pleasures of reading but the books themselves, the physical artifacts that contain the stories and endure long after you’ve forgotten what they were about.

And though I have always had a great appreciation for libraries and used bookstores, there is something extra special about a brand new book: the unscuffed cover, the cleanness of the pages, the spine that I will try to keep uncracked for as long as possible. Inevitably, there comes a time with every good book that I realize I need to mutilate it—by folding the corner of a page, writing a note to myself, or underlining a memorable passage—and though I recognize the value of such interactions with the text, especially as a writer, I do not take the decision to first desecrate a book lightly.

Read the rest of “To Make a Book” on the Ice Cube Press blog.

Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland

books

The first box. (June 10, 2014)

I couldn’t be more proud of Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, which I had the pleasure of co-editing along with with Lance Sacknoff and Xavier Cavazos. The multi-genre collection from 67 different authors illustrates just as many different perspectives on the Midwest, including my own epistolary essay “Letters after Achilles.”

I am so grateful to Jamie Campbell, who designed the beautiful cover; to Dean Bakopoulos, Debra Marquart, and Mary Swander for writing the introductions to our fiction, nonfiction, and poetry sections, respectively; and to the many others who helped in this incredibly collaborative project.

Prairie Gold is now available through the publisher that made all of this possible, Ice Cube Press. Get yours online or ask your local bookstore to place an order.

book signing

Signing books with Lance Sacknoff. (June 13, 2014)