Hello everyone! Welcome back to my blog, which is more like a space only touched every few months, but a blog nonetheless. Today is one of my absolute favorite days of the year because I genuinely just love love. I love heart shaped things, pink and red, baked goods with cheesy notes, and letters filled with sweet sentiments. I never got to do one of those reveals on social media where I take a picture of my partner and write a long caption (that was seemingly also an insult) about the good times and bad times of that kind of love while simultaneously telling the world about the new relationship. So, I figured why not do an iteration of that now, with the 2022 publishing fellows?????
Buckle up kiddos and kiddets, because these humans are fantastic.
A few months back I had reached out to my communities and put out a call for the BookEnds publishing fellowship for people interested in breaking into the industry and looking for education, resources, and using this as a space to cultivate creative work and jump start their career. I received an overwhelming amount of interest (over 250 applicants this year!). It genuinely brought me so much joy and filled me with warmth to know that there are so many people who trusted me with this process and wanted to collaborate with me. While I got the chance to speak to so many and hear what their dreams were, I truly fell in love with the passion and wildly brilliant people I got to meet. It had been so thrilling, but also gave me such a crushing realization of how many people are out there with the vision and brilliance to bring incredible books into the world, but with literally no access to do so. There are so many barriers to even get into "entry-level" positions that are really positioned as mid-level requirements for less pay. There are curtains pulled over the industry and I listened as people shared their experiences and frustrations. There are so many people who have a love for storytelling and a desire to bring change and hope to an industry that hasn't always welcomed them, especially those with marginalized identities.
Each of these fellows have such beautifully personal stakes in literature and desires to uplift voices not traditionally supported within publishing. I'm so stoked to work with them on their projects and with their entry into publishing.
Check out each of the fellows below and get to know them a bit more.
Keisha was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised by the weirdest quartet of individuals ever forced together for a common goal. Obviously the product of that mix- mash is just as weird, choosing to use the moniker as a term of endearment and power. She loves comic books, silence, books, movies, tv, musicals, philosophical discussions, and music. Keisha absolutely abhors small talk and is usually adopted into friend groups. She is an HBCU alumnus and former educator in Philadelphia. She currently lives In The Middle Of Nowhere, Central Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and dog/ love of her life, Gannicus.
Chelsea G. Parker is an indigenous Canadian, born and raised in the prairies. She currently attends the University of Alberta, undertaking a B.A. in English Literature. As the editor of a school journal and an avid reader, Chelsea is passionate about championing author’s works and making an impact on the lives of readers. An aspiring writer herself, she is currently on submission to editors for what will hopefully be her debut young adult mystery. She’s a big fan of iced coffees, her standing desk, and her biggest fan: a cat named Sylvie.
Nyameeche Johnson is a professional dabbler. In the time found between diaper changes and fetching snacks, she reads, writes, and makes endless cups of tea. Nyameeche has developed a passion for the accessibility of knowledge, a result of her accidentally-unattended homebirths and her attempts to break into publishing. She wants to make sure BIWOC are aware of the power their voices hold, and that there is nothing that matters which cannot be changed. Her day doesn’t begin until she is wearing a cardigan, with pockets.
Josh Foreman is a 23-year-old, visually impaired, recent Ohio State graduate who thinks pineapple absolutely belongs on pizza, water is definitely not wet, and that aliens are 100% real. He loves books, baseball, dogs, and lots of other things. Some of his favorite tv shows are Survivor, New Girl, Schitt’s Creek, and Parks and Rec. He has a guide dog named Pippa, who is a golden retriever yellow lab mix, she just turned 9. Josh went to Ohio State and majored in creative writing.
Irene Wen is a Chinese-American fantasy writer based in Southern California. Ever since she learned to read, Irene is happiest when she has a book – or three or four – nearby. Currently, she dedicates her time to completing a vampire novel that draws from her experiences as a second-generation immigrant, stanning BTS like it’s a full time job, and serenading her rescue pit bull Fleur with a near-constant stream of old 90s ballads. She thinks the world is ready for more BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled voices and hopes to channel her energies toward increasing diverse representation in publishing.
Leah Moss has been a bookworm for as long as she can remember. Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, her earliest memories involve scouring the shelves of the local library for a good book. Leah studied creative writing and publishing at college, and has previously interned at Sourcebooks, North Star Editions, and the Laura Dail Literary Agency. She now hopes to find her true place in the publishing industry, hopefully as a literary agent or editor, where she hopes to uplift marginalized authors and stories. She loves creating things, whether it be music, digital art, or complex worlds and characters in her writing. She’ll read just about anything, but particularly loves YA Fantasy, mysteries with unexpected twists, and slice-of-life manga.
Leah currently works in a library as a youth associate, where she gets to spend her days surrounded by the types of books that she loves most. You can find her on Twitter at @starlight_reads.
Yusof Hassan is a second-generation British-Egyptian, studying Economics at the University of Nottingham and spending too much time watching cartoons. An aspiring novelist and a fanboy of pop culture, he hopes to break into the industry and bring as many people with him.
With a marketing placement year lined up in between his second and third years of university, as well as two novels (YA and MG) in various revision stages, Yusof is determined to express his passion for storytelling and creative solutions in as many ways as possible. From epic, sweeping fantasy settings to closed mystery settings, Yusof’s writing and his own interests span numerous genres and age groups, and he hopes to promote underrepresented voices in them.
Layla Fallah is a Kurdish-Canadian writer pursuing a degree in psychology at Simon Fraser University. Her written work is largely inspired by her experience as a daughter of immigrants and explores themes of found family, mental illness, and belonging. She hopes her stories will feel like a hug to anyone who has ever felt like they were “too much” or “not enough”. Apart from being published, her dream is to be in a position where she can uplift and amplify voices from traditionally marginalized backgrounds. Wherever she ends up, Layla hopes to combine her passion for mental health awareness, accessibility, and inclusivity, into the publishing industry. You can find her on the internet wherever bookworms tend to gather. Twitter: @laylafallah, Instagram: @laylabetweenthelines, and YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/laylabetweenthelines.