Writer in Residence
Writer in Residence is in the District's vision to serve as an incubator for the arts and to further our mission of building a community of library lovers. The goal of the program is to support the creative process of one Weld County writer during a nine-month time-period so they may complete a manuscript with the intent to publish.
What it takes to be our Writer in Residence
The resident’s work can be of any style or genre but must be related to Weld County in subject matter.
Applicants must be:
residing within the High Plains Library District boundaries
an HPLD cardholder (or become a cardholder)
at least 18 years of age
willing to commit to all associated duties of the residency.
Writer In Residence duties include:
appear at HPLD events
work with HPLD staff to develop relevant programming
work with HPLD staff to create content (social media posts, blog posts, email blasts, etc. )
agree to MOU
commit to nine continuous months of residency
Applications are reviewed in a blind judging process by a committee of local writing professionals. The High Plains Library District resident will be announced no later than April of each residency year.
Meet our current Writer in Resident
The High Plains Library District Foundation is proud to announce the 2022 Writer in Residence. Rob Walker was selected by a volunteer committee to serve as the Foundation’s seventh Writer in Residence.
Rob Walker is a former funeral D.J., failed birthday magician, and future ghost. He is also a writer who has written for 5 of Paste Magazine's 7 Humor Sites You Should Be Reading, including The Hard Times, Points in Case, and SlackJaw, among other outlets. His short stories are featured in the anthology series Crash Philosophy by Nerdy Things Publishing and Ahoy Comics. Rob's scripts have also been Official Selections at FilmQuest, Mile High Horror Film Festival, Paragon Science Fiction and Fantasy Play Festival, and the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival. He lives in Greeley with his family in a 110-year-old house with monsters in its walls (probably).
Rob will spend his residency working on his playscript, Utopia!. The playscript asks the question, “What happens when the future comes to Weld County?!”. Utopia! is a theatrical playscript comprised of a collection of vignettes and one-act plays set in Weld County, Colorado. These scenes take place in government and industrial space, the Eastern plains, and in the homes of the people who live here.
The playscript is a mix of science fiction, comedy, and drama. It takes inspiration from such media as Parks & Recreation, Avenue 5, Rutherford Falls, Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, and Resident Alien. Utopia! uses genre to examine local issues like cultural differences, expanding industry, and how these things interact.
Dr. Melanie Peffer, 2021
Dr. Melanie Peffer is a writer, speaker, researcher, and educator originally from Pittsburgh, PA. She has lived in Greeley for the last five years. Dr. Peffer is affiliated with the University of Colorado Boulder as a researcher in the Institute of Cognitive Science and teaches introductory biology as part of the Health Professionals Residential Academic Program. Over the last ten years, she has taught biology to a variety of audiences and researched how people learn and understand science, particularly biology. She also frequently writes on topics ranging from motherhood in STEM to science communication.
Dr. Peffer is an author of the best-selling book, Biology Everywhere: How the science of life matters to everyday life. Biology Everywhere is a journey through the science of life as told through our daily experiences. She was invited to speak on Biology Everywhere at TEDxCU in April 2021 and collaborated with TED-ED to produce a lesson based on Biology Everywhere.
She spent her residency working on a children’s spin-off series titled The Biology Adventurers: On the River which is now available to purchase at your local bookstore. In the children’s book, we follow the path of a small child exploring the biology in their immediate environment in Weld County. The children’s book targets children in late elementary grades when children begin to read to learn (rather than learn to read). This is also an age when groups underrepresented in the sciences, such as girls, begin to feel less like a scientist and lose interest in the sciences.
Since the book series presents a child exploring their immediate environment, one shared by children living in Weld County, children will identify with the main character and be able to readily apply what they are learning to their lives. This increases the appeal of the content, fostering continued interest in reading, positive views about science, and a sense of belonging in our community.
When not writing, Dr. Peffer enjoys playing her flute and piccolo and enjoying all that Colorado has to offer in the great outdoors with her husband and son.
A portion of Dr. Peffer’s residency was generously funded with support from the Union Pacific Foundation Community Spaces grant.
Joshua Collier, 2020
Joshua Collier has lived in Colorado since he was a toddler. Growing up with innovative educators as parents, he had opportunities to learn through hands-on projects and adventures exploring the hidden complexities all around us. This inspired both his creative expression as well as his overwhelming desire to know how everything works. These two strengths continued to intertwine as he pursued his education and career.
After completing his master’s degree in Communication and the Arts, with a focus on directing cinema and TV, his creativity has primarily been expressed through video, graphics, and photography. The desire to perpetually learn all he can evolved into a mission to inspire that same mindset of exploration and awe in the youth. He is a STEM teacher, coaches robotics teams, and runs after school programs and summer camps. He also assists his parents in bringing STEM focused, project-based learning to Kenya and Zambia.
Joshua’s goal for the residency was to create a book that encourages growth in STEM through engaging characters, historical relevance, and STEM projects that can be done at home. The story follows three friends and their unexpected adventure with a mysterious time traveler. A combination of Dr. Who and The Magic School Bus, this journey will test their ability to investigate, problem solve, and work as a team as they jump through history attempting to stop a mischievous adversary. The book includes STEM centered solutions and facts, with the goal of inspiring youth to see every problem as a chance to learn and overcome.
A portion of Joshua’s residency was generously funded with support from the Colorado Creative Industries CO CARES grant Union Pacific Foundation Community Spaces grant.
Laura Brashear, 2019
Laura is a lifelong resident of Colorado and has lived in the Fort Lupton area for over thirty years, where she and her husband raise their three children and train horses.
She is currently sharing her knowledge with students at Aims Community College, where she is a Writing Tutor and Adjunct Instructor teaching composition.
She loves the freedom reading and writing allows, from creating characters to conveying life truths. This passion led her to complete a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. Laura is excited about her nonfiction project which affords her the opportunity to share her husband’s unexpected journey with leukemia and the profound impact their family’s love of horses had on his recovery.
Julia McSherry, 2018
Julia McSherry is a freelance writer based in Greeley. She wrote a combination memoir/cookbook, titled Catch and Devour, about her relocation from New Orleans to Greeley after Hurricane Katrina. The narrative before and after recipes tell stories related to cooking, farm life, sustainability, healthy growing and eating and "slow" food. Excerpts of the book are published on her blog.
“Where I grew up in central Louisiana and then lived for decades in the New Orleans swampland, hunting and fishing was a way of life. With that, so was cooking game and fish,” says McSherry. “Colorado has a similar history of living off the land, whether it’s through raising cattle, growing crops as a farmer or vegetables as a backyard gardener. Cooking and recipes are part of the stories of our lives. Who doesn’t remember their mother’s gumbo (in my case), their grandmother’s biscuits, or a favorite aunt’s chocolate chip cookies? Food and cooking conjure stories,” McSherry stresses.
Here Julia speak about her Writer in Residence experience here.
Chris Muscato, 2017
Chris Muscato is an adjunct professor at the University of Northern Colorado. He first came to Greeley as an undergraduate student, left to earn a master’s degree in Mexican history from the University of Wyoming, and is thrilled to be back in this community.
Chris is also a contract writer for Study.com, creating online lessons about history, architecture, art, music, and literature. His work has been published in an anthology, The Shitlist, and The Gateway Review.
When not writing, teaching, or grading, Chris spends time with his wife Kristin, his dog Buddy and their twins.
“The Tides Rolled In” 2022 XR Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase Winner
Jaydine Rendall, 2016
During her residency, Jaydine Rendall completed two books in her High Plains Heroes series. The young adult fiction novels are set in the plains of Northern Colorado during the late 1800s. The three-book series was given a publishing contract with the first novel released in early 2017. The books have been used in classrooms in Weld County to teach students about the history of where they live in a fun and engaging way.
She has since published two more books in the series and is working on the fourth. For updates regarding Jaydine's work, visit her website www.jaydinerendall.com
“The writer in residence project gave me the support that I needed to bring my idea for a children's book to life.”
- Dr. Melanie Peffer, 2021 Resident