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Amtrak Writer’s Residency Semifinalists: The Entries

Alison Peters

Staff Writer

Alison Peters surrounds herself with books, green things, animals and love. A Creative Writing M.F.A. holder with a day job that shall not be named, Alison is also working on a Masters in Library and Information Science. Currently cohabitating with her partner in the Northernmost outpost of San Francisco’s East Bay, she spends her spare time exercising her big dog so he won’t get annoyed with her, reading everything she can get her hands on, and then writing about it all. If you’re ever interested in discussing Harry Potter, Alison re-reads the series at least once a year, so drop her a line.

Earlier this year Amtrak, our nation’s beloved but not really well-used (and fairly expensive) rail transportation system announced the Amtrak Residency for Writers, where 24 lucky riders will get to take free, long-distance train trips to work on their writing. It’s just like your favorite residency program, but on the move. Amtrak throws in a private sleeping “roomette”, a bed, desk, and outlets for all your plugins, and meals to help you digest all the beautiful scenery as you write.

Amtrak received over 16,100 applications, selected 115 semi-finalists, and their final 24 winners are to-be-announced. In the selection process, Amtrak really wants writers to submit a complete application package, and then to have a lot of social media followers. Lofty criteria. But I’ve got an in with Amtrak, who let me know that they were also accepting non-US trips. I managed to get a sneak peek at some of the semi-finalists’ proposed train trips, their writing sample titles and proposed publication for said writing. (Insider’s note: all submissions referencing The Orient Express were automatically disqualified.) Wishing these (fictional) writers good luck!

Writer’s Twitter Handle: @MalGoodblood

Proposed Train Trip: Hogwarts Express
Writing Sample Title: The Torturous Train: Outmoded Muggle Nostalgia, Or the Ride of the Future?
Intended Publication: The Daily Prophet


Writer’s Twitter Handle: @Tolstoyhateswomen

Proposed Train Trip: Petersburg to Moscow
Writing Sample Title: How the Mundane Train Beat Facebook’s Claim to Fame: Women Cheating on Their Husbands Ain’t Nothing New.
Intended Publication: GQ, Playboy, W

Writer’s Twitter Handle: @myAntonia4eva
Proposed Train Trip: Virginia to Nebraska
Writing Sample Title: The Heartland Before it Became a Flyover: My America, One State at a Time.
Intended Publication: Time, People

Writer’s Twitter Handle: @OrphanExpress

Proposed Train Trip: NY to the Heartland
Writing Sample Title: The Million Orphan March: Do You Know Where Your Child Came From?
Intended Publication: The Future of Children


Writer’s Twitter Handle: @gotGreenGables
Proposed Train Trip: Nova Scotia to P.E.I.
Writing Sample Title: Gender Preference in Canadian Adoption Practices: You Sure You Want That Boy?
Intended Publication: The Globe and Mail

Writer’s Twitter Handle: @givethebearahome
Proposed Train Trip: Lima, Peru to Paddington Station, England
Writing Sample Title: Bears in the City: Overrated or Undervalued?
Intended Publication: The Onion

Writer’s Twitter Handle: @ithinkican
Proposed Train Trip: Up a hill, down a hill
Writing Sample Title: With a Little Help from My Friends: The Breakdown of the American Rail System.
Intended Publication: NY Times


Writer’s Twitter Handle: @rattyintoadhall
Proposed Train Trip: Oxfordshire to the Wild Wood
Writing Sample Title: I Fought the Law and Disney Won: The Disney-fication of Classic Lit.
Intended Publication: Vanity Fair

Anonymous Writer’s Twitter Handle: @boxcarsrule
Proposed Train Trip: nowhere
Writing Sample Title: Hipsters Ruin Everything: We Invented the Re-purposed-boxcar-as-home.
Intended Publication: Dwell


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