Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Welcome new students of Roosevelt University and welcome back to those
returning! It is a new school year full of challenges and promise. I hope
that all of you have enjoyed your summers and are invigorated to start
afresh this semester.  I know I am, and I thought I’d share a bit of my
story here.
I am a native Chicagoan, but have spent the last eight years studying,
working and performing in New York. To say that I planned for my life to
lead me back here would be a lie, but sometimes…most of the time…plans
don’t always work out the way we envisioned them. I went to New York
excited to leave my suburban past behind to take on the Big Apple with all
my heart, and I fully expected my career to take off so I could spend the
rest of my life happily flitting about Manhattan getting paid to do what I
So, yeah…that didn’t happen. And now that I look back on it, I wonder how I
even expected that it would. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of that did happen,
and those years were some the most transformative of my life so far. But,
as is often the case, I came to find one day that I had led myself to a
dead end. I was singing well, but not where I wanted to. I was performing,
but not getting paid, and while the people I knew were lovely, they did not
have the connections I needed to get me a step further than I had already
gotten. Oh, and I was working over 40 hours a week, singing in the
evenings, and I was living way beyond my means. Something needed to change.
And I chose to initiate that change.
Chicago was a place to rebuild-- my childhood home, my native city, with my
family and friends to support me while I regrouped. (Not to mention that
it is much cheaper than NYC!) So here I am, 
adjusting from being a 9-to-5 employee and an aspiring opera singer to
being a student again. It is not easy—there have
been many tears, and many times when I just wish I was back living on my
own and working, but I know that to attain my dream, to live the life I
want to live, I need to be here.
Roosevelt has opened its arms to me and has certainly made the transition
easier. The people and the general vibe of the place is warm and friendly.
I couldn’t have asked for a more inviting school to come into, and it is my
hope that you feel the same.
I know each of you has his/her own story. We have all come here for different
reasons and are at different points in our academic careers and our life
at large, but we are all part of the Roosevelt community.
In that spirit, I want to invite every single student, faculty member, or
alum who reads this to the Writing Center. I’ve only been here a few
days, but this is a micro-community within Roosevelt that embodies the
warmth and kindness of the school around us. We are here to help
you—whether you need help refining your thesis, getting your ideas onto
paper, or coming up with ideas, period. WE ARE HERE. This is a place for
anyone who needs ANY sort of help on their writing. It is not a place to
be judged,  but a place of collaboration so that you can articulate your ideas
to the best of your ability. I stress that whatever you are writing,
academic or not, is fine to bring in. We all are adjusting, moving though,
or soldiering on through this portion of our lives. Why not use the
resources available to you to make your journey a little easier? So, stop
by sometime, and we can help you make this time at Roosevelt as fulfilling
as possible!

All the best,
Hillary E

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gothic Romance Flash Fiction Contest Deadline Tomorrow, Feb. 7th!

Hey everyone, how are the gothic romance stories coming? Just a reminder that the deadline is tomorrow, Feb. 7th! Yikes, better get writing. If you want any help please stop by the Writing Center @ AUD 442.

‘Tis the season for cheesy love stories. If you're as tired of reading them as we
are, write your own gothic love story.
Deadline: Friday, February 7, 2014
Requirement: No more than 750 words
How to Submit: Bring a copy of your story to AUD 442 or Email it as a “doc” file to
The winning entry will be announced at the Writing Center's Valentine's Party on
Thursday, February 13th in room 442 at 5:00. The winning story will be published on the
Writing Center blog and the winner will also receive a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble.
*A gothic romance usually involves the supernatural, is heavily tinged with horror, and deals with real
human angst and emotion. Examples of gothic romances include Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera,
“A Rose for Emily,” Psycho, and The Castle of Otranto.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Flash-Fiction Contest Winners

The Writing Center's Flash-Fiction Contest was quite a success! We are pleased to announce the first place winner James Yates for his piece, "The Gentlemen." Ryan Johnson's piece, "Incredulous," placed second. Yates and Johnson read their winning works at the Writing Center's annual Halloween party. You can read their stellar and spooky submissions below.

The Gentleman”

Call me old-fashioned, that's fine. I grew up in a time when women were treated with respect. Today, they are self-sufficient, and I'm not saying it's a bad thing. Just don't blame me for being set in my ways. You of all people should know me, Edmund.

How did this happen, you ask? I was walking to the cafe down the block. Every Tuesday evening, I put on my good suit and my wingtips and go get enjoy some cups of coffee and a danish. It's soothing. The waitstaff is lovely. They compliment my ties and treat me with dignity, not like some befuddled old fool.

I walked down by the alley and heard some yelling. This young punk, tattoos and a Mohawk, the whole ensemble, was bellowing at this young lady. It's not my business to pry into other people's activities, but he grabbed her neck violently. It was just for a second, but I couldn't help myself. You've seen me change. I've seen you change. It's not always possible to keep it in check.

My wings expanded. I flew down the alley and landed behind this hooligan. My mind went blank. My left hand shook and the claw came out. I plunged it into the small of his back. It must have been deeper than I anticipated, because this beautiful young woman got blood and pieces of stomach all over her white blouse. It was as if that, that delinquent wanted to go out with a final insult. He let out a soft wheeze. The woman sobbed. I usually don't show this side, but I impaled my fangs into his neck and shook my jaw. I try to be mild-mannered, you know that. I just can't abide by young folks with no decency. I sucked the blood from his body with one deep inhale. If I can withdraw just a few pints of evil from this city, my awful legacy will not be in vain. You know how it goes, Edmund.

I retracted my teeth and shoved his body to the ground. I wiped my mouth and tipped my cap to the belle, who crouched against the wall, shaking. I took a step in her direction. She looked up at me, her mouth open, with no sounds escaping from her lungs.

“It's okay, my love.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. I gently wiped blood from her cheeks. She never say anything. She must have been overwhelmed with gratitude. I flapped my wings and coasted up the side of the building and out into the night.

Edmund, I didn't judge when you spit and blinded that gunman with venom. I lost myself in the screaming mass of people when you flew away. I know we have to hide these mutations. We do our best to remain quiet old men. But as this city collapses into itself, we have no choice but to use these defects as we see fit. I simply had to defend that woman. If chivalry dies, then so will I.
James Yates
“Dada?” Her dark brown eyes peered up, enveloped by gnarled sleep hair. The innocent face begged the question.
“Yeah babe,” he replied without looking, busy folding laundry.
Milk dripped like snow flakes falling from the spoon, “I don’t wanna go to school today.”
He stopped, immediately concerned, “Sarah, what’s the matter?”
Her pouty lip curled, she choked back tears, “I don’t feel good, I couldn’t sleep.”
“Honey, I know that things have been hard with the quick changes. You have to learn to sleep at Dada’s and Moma’s.” He went back to folding the laundry. He silently cursed his ex for letting Sarah mix and match socks for style. He couldn’t find a pair. It was just perfect that he send her to school looking like a ragamuffin, he already felt like he was doing a lousy job as a newly single father.
Emphatically, she shook her head, “Naw-uh. It’s not that. It’s…”
“What honey? Tell me, because you have to get ready for school.”
“You won’t believe me,” she said and crossed her skinny arms. “Moma didn’t believe me either.”
He took this as an opportunity. He would listen and be the savior. “Tell me and I promise I will listen.”
She was hesitant. She looked around and whispered, “There is a monster in my closet.”
He was taking a drink of coffee and almost spewed it across the room, but he bit his tongue. The acrid coffee taste met the metallic taste of blood. “Babe, there are no such things as monsters. We can play pretend and we can watch movies, but remember they are just people. Like when Dada is on stage, playing another person.”
“I know, but Dada…”
“I’m just Dada, not Butt Dada.” She smiled. He continued, “Finish up or you are going to be late. I’ll put a flash light by your bed tonight and then you can see for yourself that there are no such things as monsters.”
* *
The next morning, Sarah dragged her blanket behind her as she walked into the kitchen rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. “Couldn’t sleep huh kiddo?”
“No. Dada, I saw it. The monster. He was trying to get into the dresser.”
“Okay. I tell you what, if the monster comes again, we are going to catch it.” He said it with such surety that he almost convinced himself.
Her face lit up, “Really Dada, you believe me?”
He didn’t want to encourage such fantasies, but he wanted her to feel safe at his new house. “No one messes with my girl.” He ran over and scooped her up. “I’m the only monster in this house…the tickle monster.” She squealed as he mussed her hair, tickled and kissed her neck.
* *
That night, he put her to bed as normal. He set up a small animal trap, from Home Depot, right outside of the cracked closet door. “Twenty bucks for her piece of mind is nothing,” he said to himself as he crawled into bed. The scrapping metal clap sound jolted him up-right. He jumped out of bed and ran to her room and flicked the light on.
With a childish smudge look, she said, “See Dada, told you.”
A ten-inch moldy green ball of snot was perched on two stick legs. Toothpick arms grabbed the cage, it looked up, “What are you looking at ugly?”
“Did you just talk?”
“Yeah, I talk ugly. Howsabout lettin’ me outta here?”
Incredulous, he shook his head and thought about pinching himself to be certain he was not still asleep, “What are you doing in my daughters closet?”
“My job. I got kids too,” the gruff voice replied.
“Job. I steal socks and take bites outta shirts and undies.”
“What? Why?”
“That’s what we eat in the Dreamland.”
“That’s really weird.”
The monster crossed his arms, “Oh yeah and what do you eat judgey?”
Perplexed, he replied, “Ahh, vegetables, fruit, meat from animals…normal stuff.”
“Oh yeah, gross muddy animals in their own waste. Food from the ground, disguising. At least our stuff gets clean in the washing machine.”
The debate ensued. There was going to be no convincing either party. Dad figured out where all the missing socks went. He agreed to let the monster go, with bags of fresh socks from the store, if it never came back. Though Sarah was hoping for it as a pet. The agreement was made and “hands shook”. Dad always listened to Sarah after that, no matter how preposterous.
Ryan Johnson