2017 has been a year packed full of both struggles and successes.

A fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center gave me a month of time to write and read, plus a studio over-looking a frozen river. I got to meet some amazing artists and writers, and thanks to my time there,  I graduated from my PhD (and passed exams!) with the help of my wonderful mentors, Leah Stewart, Michael Griffith, Jennifer Glaser, and other wonderful peers and mentors at the University of Cincinnati.

I was offered a tenure track teaching job at the University of Central Florida. Micah and I moved to Orlando, Florida over the summer, and we are so glad to be back in the heat and where we first met. I have wonderful students and supportive colleagues. I will be teaching a craft class on fabulism, magical realism, and genre for the MFA students this spring.

In the last year, I’ve published stories and essays in Kenyon Review Online, The Writer’s ChronicleEcotone, Day OnePrairie SchoonerIndiana ReviewHunger Mountain, The Masters Review, Ninth Letter, and Pleiades. I’m so thrilled that Prairie Schooner published a chapter on my novel, called “The Shadow,” about a Puerto Rican soldier parachuting into the Dominican Republic during the American occupation in 1965. Day One published my surreal story about a group of Venezuelan anti-narco agents who get exposed to a radioactive source and develop superpowers, “The Radioactives” as a Kindle Single. Esteban, who can read minds, Hector, who grows giant arms, José, who grows multiple hearts, and Marco, who can multiply himself, must all journey to reclaim what is most precious to them. “Yaiza,” in the Kenyon Review Onlineis about a rivalry and frenemy-ship between two tennis-playing girls. “The Whitest Girl” in Ecotone, is about a group of Hispanic girls at an all-girls school encounter the whitest girl they’ve ever seen. The Indiana Review nominated “The Lion and the Beauty Queen,” a story about a family moving into a house haunted by a child beauty queen in the attic and a lion prowling the garden labyrinth, for a Pushcart Prize. In the same issue, they also ran my flash fiction, “Weathering,” a story about a couple staying together amidst a flood of divorces, as runner-up in their ½ K Prize. The Writer’s Chronicle ran my craft essay, “The Fabuleme: On Belief and the Reactivation of Disbelief in Fiction,” about how both literary fiction and “magical” fiction function on wonder and use the same techniques, and what we call elements of fiction that move beyond realism. Hunger Mountain published and nominated for a Pushcart Prize my story about a boy who is given a jacket that can make him into the man he wishes to be–at a price. “The Drownings,” in The Masters Review, is about a group of kids in a pool-ridden town where most of them drown before reaching adulthood and a new girl who has to understand death in this dangerous town where downing is normal. In “True Love Game,” published in Ninth Letter, two girls play a game about true love in a basement, surrounded by ghosts and their doomed desires. In “The Tool Factory,” published in Pleiades “Human Future Fiction” feature section, a girl gets fired from a factory where the labor eventually twists the worker’s hands into gnarled fists.

Thank you to all the editors, writers, teachers, and readers, VSC, and my agent, Michelle Brower, who made all this possible.


“The Stones of Sorrow Lake” in The Georgia Review

I haven’t update my website in a while, so I’ll just add some of the things I’ve been doing lately at once.

A short story of mine, “The Stones of Sorrow Lake” came out in the new Georgia Review, and it’s also up on their website.  It’s about a town of people who wear sorrow on their skin in the form of stones. You can read it here: http://garev.uga.edu/spring16/peynado.html

Thank you also to the Editors and Lindsay Tigue, who was kind enough to interview me about the story: http://garev.uga.edu/blog/peynadointerview.html

Recently, I’ve also had pieces come out in EPOCH, Michigan Quarterly Review, Daily Science Fiction, Shenandoah, and the Mid-American Review.  I also received the Dana Award in short fiction, and one of my flash stories will be included as a flashcard in issues of the Sycamore Review as winner of their flashcard contest.

The Michigan Quarterly Review story is perhaps the strangest thing I’ve ever written. Read on for plastic toy soldiers that invade a Caribbean island.

Daily Science Fiction published a strange, tiny story about the Apocalypse and blob aliens. You can read it here.

The EPOCH story was about a group of flying prodigals returning to their island home.  Here’s an excerpt:

“We jackknifed through clouds and dodged large birds. Our parents, those who were still alive, came out to greet us, eyes squinting against the sun and hands on their brows like visors. Some were expecting us. Others were surprised, terrified at the spectacle of millions of their prodigals blotting the sky with our skirts billowing, our shirts starched for the arrival, skidding to rough landings right in front of them. We touched down on the landing strips of our parents’ driveways, denting cars, squashing flowers, rattling windows….”

I’m lucky to be in the company of lots of wonderful writing in these issues, so be sure to pick up copies. Thanks to all the wonderful editors who let my stories grace their pages!


Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award

I am thrilled to be this year’s winner of the Chicago Tribune‘s Nelson Algren Award, for my story “The Great Escape,” a magical story about a young woman’s relationship with her reclusive aunt. My story will be published next week in Printers Row Journal, the Chicago Tribune’s literary supplement, and an interview will post on Thursday.

Congratulations to the finalists as well, including my friend Anne Valente!


O. Henry Prize Stories 2015

I am so grateful to have my story, “The History of Happiness,” selected for the O. Henry Prize Stories 2015. I am thrilled and humbled to be appearing alongside some of my favorite writers. Thank you to the series editor, Laura Furman, for selecting it and the Cimarron Review for first publishing the story.

Read more about the prize stories here.

AWP Readings

If you’ll be at AWP and want some entertainment, I will be reading at two events.

The first: the Mid-American Review is reading from their latest issue on Friday from 8-11 at Gallery 13.  I’ll be reading my story about an ambulance stuck in the clouds above New York City. And there will be cake!


The second: Join us for a literary performance to remember at Boneshaker Books! Boneshakers: A Cambridge Writers Workshop Reading will feat. Bianca Stone, Alex Carrigan, Jonah Kruvant, Jessica Piazza, Anca Szilagyi, Micah Dean Hicks, Brenda Peynado, and more. We promise to light up the night!


Writers at Work Fellowship Winner

Author Ann Hood chose my story, “We Work in Miraculous Cages,” as the first place winner for a Writers at Work Conference fellowship.  The story will be published in Quarterly West, and I will give a reading at the conference.  I am so excited to head to Utah! Thank you to Ann Hood, who said such nice things about the story, and the people at W@W.

“‘We Work in Miraculous Cages’ took my breath away. It’s raw, honest, and revelatory in its portrayal of life now for an entire generation. The powerful writing throughout culminates in an absolutely stunning final scene.” -Ann Hood