Friday, August 29, 2008

Art Exhibition

The Greenwich Arts Council
proudly presents
an exhibition of works
by 23
Greenwich Pen Women Artists

Opening Reception
Thursday evening, September 11 - 6 to 8

The Bendheim Gallery . 299 Greenwich Avenue . Greenwich, CT 06830

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Online Workshop

The syllabus is up for the online workshop for first and second semester students--check it out!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Publisher's Lunch

Hey guys. Many of you may remember that the two agents at the MFA were talking about how any serious writer should do their homework and monitor the Publisher's Lunch Website.

Well, I signed up and it is pretty well worth it - with deals listings and even listings for open jobs in the industry. Anyone who would like the daily Publisher's Lunch e-mail forwarded to them can just send me a request at

Happy Writing,


Friday, August 22, 2008


Hey guys! I managed to mention WCSU in the New Milford Times!!! Yay for my pr work, even though I didn't write the article...

January, Danbury

Folks, this is the final word on the January residency--in the wake of the recent flurry of interest from the administration, I can now report that we are confirmed to be in Danbury for the January residency.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Publication in Rise Up Magazine

Some of you who started the MFA program the same time as me may remember when, in an online workshop, I submitted an essay to be ripped apart titled, "What Happened to My History." In the essay, I talk about how I failed as an African-American to teach my younger son about our history. Well, I'm happy to report that the essay was published in the Aug. 8 edition of Rise Up magazine, a magazine insert for Sunday papers across the country.

To read the pdf, you can go here:

Love, Peace and Elbow Grease,

Lisa S-O

Monday, August 18, 2008

Followup to Leopold Workshop-Students Publish Article

Hello Everyone,

You may recall the workshop at the Residency where Jason Leopold of the independent news website THE PUBLIC RECORD asked us to research a news story about Alan Foley, the former CIA Director, who supposedly vetted the "16 words" about Iraq seeking to buy uranium from an African country that appeared in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech, despite the CIA having expressed doubt about the authenticity of the report.--Chris, Matt, Harry, and I volunteered to flesh out this issue and I am happy to report that the story we wrote was the lead story in the The Public Record last Thursday, August 14, 2008, complete with byline.

Below is the story in full. If for any reason you can't read it you can also view it at--

Enjoy, Chris, Matt, Harry and Roz

Former CIA Officials Speaks Out About "16 Words" That Led to Iraq Invasion
By Christopher Gallagher, Matt Renfer, Harry L. Rinker and Rosalind Wiggins

The Public Record Thursday, August 14, 2008
Favoured : 9
Published in : Nation/World

How did the well-known 16-word phrase—"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa"—make it into President George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address (SOTU)?

The answer to that question has been surrounded in controversy ever since the intelligence that the 16 words were based upon were exposed as crude forgeries.

But in “The Way of the World,” the new book by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind, Alan Foley, the person credited with vetting President’s Bush’s speech as head of CIA’s Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC), has given his first substantial on-the-record interview that is supposed to provide some answers.

Foley claims he was not made aware that he provided Robert “Bob” Joseph, former White House weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and proliferation issues specialist, with the final authorization from the CIA that the phrase the n SOTU, as agreed upon in a telephone conversation, was correct. "I didn't assume that whatever Bob [Joseph] and I agreed upon was going right into the president's desk in the Oval Office," Foley said.

Former CIA director George Tenet personally intervened to have a similar phrase removed from a Cincinnati speech three months earlier arguing that the intelligence was not sound. While Tenet was able to make his point with National Security Advisor Steven Hadley, he was less successful inside the CIA. In Suskind’s book, Foley claims that he barely saw CIA director George Tenet. Meanwhile, he and Bob Joseph enjoyed a close working relationship.

Suskind explains the implications of this in his book: “Within this context, now finally clarified by Foley, Bob Joseph’s decision to make an unremarkable call to a friend who rarely saw Tenet or his seventh-floor disciples—and not tell this friend that he’s the last check in one of modern history’s most contentious phrases before it ends up on the president’s lips—was a perfect way to get something CIA doubted, and its director had already opposed, into the big speech.”

How credible is Foley? His statements in Suskind’s book reverse his previous on-the record accounts. His assertion that there was pressure from the administration and Congress for analysts to provide bold claims regardless if they were true wholly contradicts his earlier statements in a 2004 Newsweek article, where he specifically says, “I don’t think I was pressured at all.”

Newsweek also indicates Foley “believed there may well have been ‘something to’ the claims that the Iraqis sought to purchase uranium from Niger” and that Joseph Wilson’s claim the rumor was false based on his February 2002 visit to Niger did not “completely debunk” the report. In July 2003 Foley testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) that he was skeptical of the Niger documents.

According to Perr Eisner and Knut Royce’s “The Italian Letter: How the Bush Administration Used A Fake Letter to Build the Case for War In Iraq,” the Bush administration had a predetermined goal to invade Iraq. However, Eisner and Royce quote Foley announcing in a December 2002 senior production managers meeting, “If the president wants to go to war, our job is to find the intelligence to allow him to do so.”

Tenet’s “At the Center of the Storm,” argues that Foley did not go far enough in vetting the 16-word passage in the SOTU.

“I was told that Foley had focused on clearing the speech for ‘sources and methods’ rather than for substance,” writes Tenet. “In other words, as long as the language didn’t give away any secrets about how the intelligence was collected, they didn’t worry about whether we believed the assertions in the speech were accurate. That was a terrible mistake. Our job was never to clear solely for sources and methods, but also for substance. And the last time I looked, as good as the British intelligence service is—and it is very good—it does not work for the president of the United States.”

National Security Adviser Steven Hadley is another individual associated with the 16-word controversy. He admitted he failed in his responsibilities to remove the untrue statement—a job that Tenet told him to do three months earlier for the Cincinnati speech—but had simply forgotten to do so later for the State of the Union address.

Foley remained at the CIA for over a year following his early January 2003 conversation with Bob Joseph, earning the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. In November 2004, he became the Associate Laboratory Director for Applied Science and Technology and National Security and joined Argonne National Laboratory in summer 2006.

We tried calling Mr. Foley at his office at Argonne National Laboratory, where he now serves as Director of National Security, to ask for more clarification. We were not able to get past his secretary.

Christopher Gallagher, Matthew Renfer, Harry L. Rinker, and Rosalind Wiggins are graduate students in the Masters of Fine Arts in Professional Writing program at Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, Connecticut.

Last update: Thursday, August 14, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stranger than Fiction

Anyone who was in my “Crossing the Imagination” workshop might be interested in reading the essay Consolation Prizes by Chuck Palahniuk from his collected essays titled Stranger than Fiction. He talks about how his success in writing creating, writing, and eventually seeing his work Fight Club as a film has gone from fiction to a reality that he has viewed with mixed emotions. Anyone familiar with the film can understand that people are constantly asking Chuck where the local fight clubs are and they give him free food all the time.

He also suggests that now that it has been a successful film, it isn’t his work anymore, but a collaborative with Ed Norton, Brad Pitt, and the David Fincher.

I am hoping to use this essay for my undergrads to explain how the essay can reveal some fascinating things about your life and even reveal something you didn’t know before. And (without spoiling it) his explanation about his father and their relationship in that essay is vivid and touching. I wish I came across it a week ago. Please check it out if your interested in those concepts in the workshop.

We create fiction as it relates to truth, and sometimes it comes about in ways we never imagined. Thanks to everyone for their ideas, their great spontaneous writing, and your professionalism as writers and creators.

Be well
Ron Samul

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Teaching at Housatonic

Housatonic Community College is hiring English Comp Instructors--

Looks like they want a "Master's or equivalent"--which means professional experience can stand in for the degree. So students currently in the program with extensive work/publication experience should feel qualified to apply, especially if you also have some teaching experience.

Blackboard Courses

If you intend to use Blackboard for any of your independent study courses, let me know as soon as possible. Either your instructor or I have to put in a request to have UC set up each course. UC is in the process of setting up the OMG workshops already.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Grant Writing Internship

The university is looking for a student who lives close enough to come to campus for an internship in the grant writing office. If you're interested in more info, contact me.

Lost Books?

Looks like someone left a stack of books--maybe half a dozen books and several literary journals--in the Common Room Saturday. If they're yours, just let me or Laurel know and we'll return them to you.

Hope everyone had a good residency!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

So I'm in a Movie

Some of you may or may not remember me talking about how I worked as an extra on Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 last summer. Well I finally got a chance to see it after the wonderful craziness that is the residency and it turns out that I made the final cut of the film.

If you happen to see the movie (and please don’t go out of your way as it is only one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot), and want to look for me I am in the scene where the play is performed. I’m in the center of the screen when the audience applauds at the end.

There is also a more obvious connection between the film and WestConn as a few scenes take place on the downtown campus (which stands in for a school in Rhode Island). So WestConn is now a part of cinema history.

On a completely unrelated note, I just want to say that I had a really great time at the residency and it was a privilege to be among so many wonderful people. Good luck to everyone this semester!

ps contact info

I forgot to ask for everyone's contact info other than email... if anyone has facebook/myspace it makes it so much easier for us to keep in touch.  My page is and phone 2034177741, don't go pranking.... Stalk you later!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Miss you guys!

It's about 1 am, I just got home and indulged in a chunk of gluten free bread, but wouldn't you know it, not at great as i had been anticipating... Sitting on my bed, and I can't hear the rowdy girls across the hall :-( no workshop tomorrow.  This is, well, sad.  So my party people, thanks for the boggle, intelligent conversation, entertainment, words of wisdom, drinks, and helping to name Rafiki.  Miss you all and Happy birthday, Will!

Friday, August 08, 2008

I'm Finally a Finalist

Hello MFAers and staff,

I have some good news to share. The American Gem Literary Festival and Wright Brothers have announced their finalists and my short script Out of the Box (co-written with Lawrence King) has finally made the cut. The literary festival accepted submissions in the following categories: short screenplay, short story, story treatment, and logline. I'm a finalist in the short screenplay and logline categories.

Last week I was feeling down because I had two rejections from film festivals for my feature Finding Patience. I realize and accept that rejection is an unfortunate part of the writing process. However, this announcement puts steam back into my engine.

I wrote the first draft of this script four years ago and have submitted to this competition in the past, but I have only made it to either the quarter or semi-finalist round. When I received coverage on the script I always reworked it and tried to address my script's flaws. To date, I have done at least 20 revisions. Practice does make perfect.

I also want to give credit and thanks the students in my online multi-genre workshop from the Spring 2007 semester. The feedback you all gave me was extremely instrumental in my last couple of revisions of the script.

One of the lessons that this program constantly reinforces is that when you have a story to tell, write it. We also have to believe in as well as be champions of our work. After the script, manuscript, or article is finished, the writer has to then show due diligence in getting his/her story out in the world. I'm constantly working on that and it takes a lot of energy, but at the end of the day it is up to me and no one else.

Who knows if I'll win or place in this competition, but for me, being a finalist is proof that I just have to keep writing.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Remember the Alumni Blog!

It's been nice to be back and forth to residency. As a recent graduate, staying connected with the program and the talented writers and writing mentors post-degree is an added bonus...

Which is why I wanted to remind everyone that another blog exists for the WestConn MFA Alumni. This is where we post about our "PGS" (post-graduate syndromes), publishing news, career announcements, and other information about life after the MFA. As more students graduate, it's worthwhile to check out both blogs and stay in touch.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

AntiqueWeek Article


I saw this morning that one of the articles I co-wrote with Harry Rinker during my internship last semester was just published to the web site. AntiqueWeek is also a hardcopy newspaper-format publication; the article is the cover story for their August 4th Central edition.

I did all the photography for the article (the image scans and the jewelry photos), which was a learning curve by itself.

Here's the link --

(A second article on a similar topic is expected in the September edition of Antiques & Collecting magazine.)

See you later today at the residency --