Alumni News: Screenwriter Nneka Samuel’s TV Pilot “Rejig” Shortlisted for Two Awards

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop would like to congratulate Nneka Samuel for her recent recognition in WeForShe’s 2019 WriteForHer List. Samuel is an alumna of our 2018 Summer in Paris Writing Retreat, where she workshopped a TV pilot with our directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai, as well as Raya Hajj, Autumn Cooper, Nivea Castro, Nandini Bhattacharya, Renee Ozburn and Barbara Baldwin.

Nneka Samuel is a West Coast transplant who hails from the nation’s capital, and is a film, tv and digital media writer. The WeForShe list aims to promote women “[who] bring about a gender-balanced landscape in television.” The recognized pilot, titled “Rejig,” is about a young woman whose obsessive compulsive disorder goes haywire after she discovers that her ex-boyfriend is newly engaged. Nneka was also recently featured in the 2019 Bitch List for Best Feature Film for her film The House with the Purple Door. The film is about a girl who’s only wish for her thirteenth birthday is to see her idol Prince perform in concert, yet her disapproving parents and annoying older brother get in the way of her plans. Nneka recieved her MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television and is the recipient of several awards and fellowships, including the NBC/NAACP Fellowship, Felicia D. Henderson Award, Zaki Gordon Award for Excellence in Screenwriting and Carl David Memorial Fellowship. Nneka has written scripts for production companies such as A. Smith & Co, Flower Avenue Films and WaterWalk Productions. She currently writes for NAACP award-winning TVOne docu-series, Unsung. She also has numerous print and online credits, including Madame Noire and Heart & Soul.


CWW Alumni News: Aaron Graham’s Poetry featured in Sequestrum Magazine

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce that two recent poems, “Mythos (Deployment)” and “Footfalls” by Aaron Graham, an alum of our Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat, has been featured in Sequestrum Magazine.  On the poems, Graham writes:

The first thing that actually was able to speak to me, that I was able to relate to after I got out of the Marine Corps was Eliot’s The Waste Land. There was something about the work that spoke to me, that knew me, and that I just inherently understood. “Footfalls” is sort of an attempt to repay the favor in as much as its an attempt to convey some of my experiences with “Burials for the dead” and “Unreal Cities” using a tone and diction that flowed from the intensity of The Waste Land.  Or at least in my mind it did.

I suppose, thematically speaking, “Mythos” is almost a counterpoint to “Footfalls.” It’s really dealing with the notion of this incredible weight of history in the Middle East—really in the land itself in the grains of sand and the Tigress’ silt—possesses. To think the road the unit was patrolling was walked by the Prophet of Islam or that a few miles from the spot I was standing on the Apostle Paul was struck by God on the way to Damascus was—and even still is—jarring. These are still parts of the history/mythology of global society, if not shared then at least something we’re collectively aware of. Yet, being in these places in 2006-08 and viewing the hustle and bustle around me there were times I could not have felt farther away from anything mythological. In fact, I think the thrust of the poem is the encroachment of the quotidian into any grander ideas we have of the world.

In “Mythos (Deployment),” Graham writes:

The epicenter
might be
a minaret
woman’s veil, voices
selling dates,
road-ways tamped
packed with feet
where waiting,
still the magnitude hits.
A thousand years stretch
down this street
this town, the same
ground waked by Paul
blinded he saw
God spoke place.
Words here make
sense only if kept
aside myths
in your head.
Camel rides, bouncing
in a pickup truck bed
as it passes.

To read the Sequestrum interview with Aaron Graham, please visit their site here.  Graham’s poems, “Mythos (Deployment” and “Footfalls” can be found here.

Aaron Graham hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, population 1159, which boasts seven bars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign and no stoplights. His poetry represents a unique contribution to the arts and stands apart from the work of Brian Turner, Phil Klay, and other war poets in that it represents the experience of an enlisted United States Marine across three deployments and treats the subject matter of that experience on the front lines as a human intelligence operative, Arabic translator, and counterintelligence expert from within that frame, Aaron was recently the ‘Cecilia Baker Memorial Visiting Scholar’ for the 2016 Seaside Writer’s Conference. His chapbook ‘Skyping from a Combat Zone’ was Shortlisted for Tupelo Press’s 2016 Sunken Garden Prize. His first full length collection, “Blood Stripes”, was a finalist for Tupelo’s 2015 Berkshire Poetry Prize, his poem, ‘Olfaction’, won the Seven Hills Literary Journal’s Penumbra Poetry Prize, and ‘PTSD Poem #12’ has been nominated as ‘The Best of the Net’. Aaron founded and currently runs a weekly poetry workshop on writing the military experience for Veterans and their families at the Atlanta VAMC and continues to develop his poetry as a way of connecting with other veterans while finishing his PhD in Literature at Emory University.

CWW Alumni News: “The One Tip that Changed My Life” by Nannie Flores

Nannie Flores at the Château de Verderonne in Picardy, France

Nannie Flores, an alumna of the 2014 Château de Verderonne Yoga & Writing Retreat in Picardy, France, writes a haunting and powerful new essay, “The One Tip That Changed My Life” for Ideiya Magazine.  In the essay, Flores tackles the taboos associated with writing nonfiction, trauma, illness, and its aftermath.  In the essay, Flores writes:

Write as if your parents were dead.” In retrospect, there was something ominous and sinister about this piece of writing advice. At the time, it seemed harmless. So I took the tip when I was in college.

While in university, I wrote two one-act plays that touched on themes such as virginity and physical and verbal abuse in relationships. My parents watched the play, and they applauded along with the audience. The writing tip worked.

On the ride back home, when all the hype was over, they made sure to say they were proud of me, but that they disapproved of certain elements in my works. “Relationships are meant to be healthy,” Mama said. Papa gave his usual silent nod.

But what’s done is done. I have already written it and I didn’t need to ask for their approval…”  

Read the full essay on Ideiya here.

Nannie Flores is a playwright and nonfiction writer based in the Philippines.  Her essays and articles have appeared in, ABS-CBN News, Ideiya,, and Philippine Daily Inquirer.  You can follow her on her blog, The Fancy Delight.

CWW Alumni News: Christina Ruotolo’s new story, “Turning Water,” in The Petigru Review

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce that Christina Ruotolo, an alumna of our 2014 Château de Verderonne Yoga & Writing Retreat in Picardy, France, has a new nonfiction story, “Turning Water” featured in the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Petigru Review.  This current issue of The Petigru Review published received a starred Kirkus review and copies can be purchased on Amazon.



Christina Ruotolo at the Chȃteau de Verderonne

Christina Ruotolo is currently the Hot Dish Writer for The Daily Reflector newspaper in Greenville, NC.  She writes a weekly food column about restaurants in the area.  She also writes for HER Magazine, a monthly women’s magazine features in eastern, NC with a circulation of 13,000.  When not freelance writing, she is a full-time Advertising Account Executive at a newspaper, Barnes & Noble Bookseller, Event Planner and Creative Writing instructor at a community college.  About the CWW Chȃteau de Verderonne Yoga & Writing Retreat, Ruotolo writes, “Attending a CWW writer’s retreat in France in 2014 was a life-changing experience for me. I met wonderful people from all over the world and was able to immerse myself in my writing, finding my inner calm, voice and enjoying the beauty of another country. I made life-long friendships and it was where the idea for my new book came from.”