Senior & Alumni News


Congratulations to our Seniors and recent Alumni for this outstanding news:

  • Kenneth Lee has been accepted into the MFA program in creative nonfiction at WVU
  • Lauren Gagnon has been accepted into the MFA program in fiction at UCF
  • Kasi Bitter has been accepted into the MFA program in fiction at Chatham University
  • Michael Malmberg has been accepted into the MFA program in fiction at Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Kenley Alligood has been accepted into the MFA program in poetry at Northern Michigan University
  • Kelsey Allman has been accepted into the MFA program in creative nonfiction at Florida Atlantic University
  • Daja Hansel-Coates has been accepted into the MA program in Bilingual and Multicultural Education program at Universidad Alcala in Spain
  • Amanda Mazzillo has been accepted into the MFA program in Dramatic Writing at SCAD

Also, Summer Kurtz’s poetry chapbook, Anthropomorphic (which started as her honors thesis) has been accepted for publication.  The future looks bright – gotta wear sunglasses.




Congrats to W&L Major Kat Delhingaro

We start off 2018 with good news, with a first publication from our major, Kat Delhingaro on Two Cities review.  “After That Night” is a creative nonfiction piece and it’s a “Feature” on Two Cities.

Here is the link. Enjoy!

Awards, Awards, Awards!

On January 26, the Brannen Creative Writing Award and Georgia High School Writing Contest winners were recognized.

Firstly recognized were the 2017 Georgia High School Writing Contest winners. The Georgia High School Writing Contest, which is sponsored by the SUPER-amazing Department of Writing and Linguistics, rewards the best high school creative writing in the state of Georgia. Highly competitive, but without bloodshed, our winners were announced and honored handsomely throughout last night. 

The 2017 judges for the Fiction and Poetry category were Professor Jared Yates Sexton, and Professor Claire Nelson, respectively.

Winning out the Fiction category, Briana Hayes gifted us with a dynamic and fiery reading of her short story.

Claiming her rightful place as a poetry-writer, Bianka Ortega delivered her piece in a lovely, soft-spoken tone.

Congratulations, you wonderful writer-beings!!

The Brannen Creative Awards, begun by the amazing George Brannen, rewards writers who are either writing majors, minors or are in the Bachelor of General Studies Program, with a concentration of writing. The 2017 judges for the Fiction, Poetry, and Non-fiction categories were Professor Laura Valeri, Professor Christina Olson, and Professor Benjamin Drevlow, respectively.

The winner of the Fiction Category was Tonya Richardson, who reeled us all in for an emotional reading of her based-off-a-true-story piece, Saints’ Row.

Tralen Rhone, won out the Poetry Category with his beautifully well-written piece.

Danae Hildebrandt took the throne of the Non-fiction category with her heavy, yet touching true story of living with an alcoholic parent.

Wonderful job to you all! Thank you for putting your best foot (and pens!) forward to make GSU proud!

Special thanks to:

  • George Brannen
  • Dr. Ban Bauer
  • Miss Pat Byrd
  • Prof. Benjamin Drevlow
  • Prof. Claire Nelson
  • Prof. Christina Olson
  • Prof. Jared Yates Sexton
  • Miss Bettye Stewart
  • The Department of Writing and Linguistics
  • The great souls who showed us their work! May you all go on to do marvelous things!

Creative Accomplishments

Once again, the semester is a wrap-up; teachers and students have completed finals and are now ready to join family and friends for the holiday celebrations.

After all the stress of semester’s end, here are some reasons to lift that cup of egg nog and yell “Cheers!”

Our 2016 Harbuck Scholarship finalist Barbara Jayne McGaugheny and finalistis Aleyna Rentz, Jennifer Maldonado, and Jenna Lancaster celebrated their recognition with author Amanda Ward for the Harbuck 2016 reading in September. In October, they met and had lunch with our guest author, award winning writer, filmmaker and poet MK Asante, whom we’d brought here on a special grant through South Arts, in partnership with the NEA, and the Georgia Southern College Life Enrichment Committee.

Senior Morgan Davis saw her first publication for a story titled “Progress” a flash piece about eating disorders.  Have a look at If And Only If, the elegant e-journal that published her work this October.  Morgan will also be interviewing award-winning writer Sandra Beasley for this upcoming issue of Wraparound South.

Bryce Knight, another W&L major, had a story accepted in Stymie magazine, coming soon.

green christmas ballAnd junior Aleyna Rentz adds yet another notch to her publication belt by placing her fiction piece, “A Mean Heart” with Deep South Magazine.

This Fall 2015 also said goodbye to two accomplished and ultra-creative W&L majors Courtney Causey and Jennifer Maldonado.  Congratulations, girls!

A good round of applause is also due to alumna Amanda Malone for being nominated this Fall for the celebrated Pushcart prize for her fiction piece, “He’s All Humanity,” which appeared in Cheap Pop in April.

Last, but not least, our alumni Cassie Beasley is now officially a  New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice author for her first novel, an MG page-turner titled Circus Mirandus.

Better still, Cassie’s book just made the New York Times Best Seller list for Middle Grade books for readers 9-12.  Wow, Cassie.  We’re inspired.

The College Life Enrichment Committee has also approved a grant to bring Cassie back to Georgia Southern for a day.  She will be teaching a one day workshop in Young Adult writing, giving some young writers advice on writing careers, and giving a reading and book signing right here in our Statesboro campus in February or early March. Stay tuned for the dates or contact Dr. Terry Welford for more information.

Congratulations W&L students and alumni. Your success makes us proud to teach here, and we wish you all the best for many years to come.  I know that we’ll soon hear plenty more publication news from those who took classes here with us in the Writing & Linguistics Department at Georgia Southern, so if you didn’t get mentioned, don’t fret: we believe in you and know that soon we will hear all about your success.

Cheers.  And Happy Holidays.

Taking Your Characters For A Walk


In my WRIT 4530 Fiction class we’ve been talking about characters lately. Or, rather, we’ve been talking about knowing characters. And by that, I don’t mean knowing their names, how they look, or what their motivations are – though those are all important things to keep in mind – but rather actually knowing their characters to the extent that they live and breathe off the page.

The exercise I like to give students is a simple walk through a grocery store. I don’t know why it ended up being that, but I suspect it has something to do with the mundanity of going each week to buy your food and goods. It’s not exciting stuff, for sure, even if you run across some of the more interesting and bizarre people in the aisles. It’s the stuff of every day.

My reasoning is this: if you know what your characters are going to buy, if you know their routines, if you know their habits and the way they see the world, then you’re bound to trust them as they walk through your stories. After all, it never works to shoehorn the actions you want your characters to take into a plot. A good story allows characters freedom to act and react according to their own internal logic and motivations. A good story should feel effortless, as if you’re recording your characters’ actions instead of directing them. It’s a subtle difference, but a huge one at the same time.

So here’s how it works – take your protagonist to the store. It doesn’t matter if it’s a grocery market, a Wal-Mart, a Lowe’s, or the farmer’s stand on Saturdays. Take them and let them free of your influence. Watch where they go. What they focus on. How they react to the people around them, what they buy, what they ignore. Gain a sense of who they are when you’re not moving them like a chess piece. By the time you put them in your story, it’s not going to be a challenge anymore to gauge their moves and decisions. It’s going to be just like it was when you took them to the store. You’re going to be watching them, from a safe distance, and their actions are going to be genuine and honest.