A Laramie writer and educator is a recipient of this year’s Wyoming Arts Council creative writing fellowship in fiction.

Estella Soto of Laramie, along with Shawn Klomparens of Jackson, will receive a $3,000 award. Both writers will also receive a $500 stipend to read their work in Casper on September 13 at the Equality State Book Festival at Casper College.

Soto currently lives in Laramie and works as a lecturer of Latino Studies at the University of Wyoming and is an assistant kindergarten teacher at Laramie Montessori Public Charter School. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from USC and an M.F.A in creative writing from the University of Wyoming.

She designed and taught a creative writing workshop at the Wyoming Girls School in Sheridan and was project manager for the 2012 Young Writers of Color reading held in Laramie. Her winning short story is entitled “Shopping for Portia.”

Soto says the story is actually inspired by an experience she had going to a thrift store with a friend in Laramie. She adds that this is her first story that is truly about Laramie and her experiences here. She has lived in Laramie for about five years. She says she loves living in Laramie, but found it difficult to write about the town at first

“When I first got here I felt like I didn’t have the right to speak about any experiences here. I didn’t want to come as an outsider, like a city girl, to this rural place,” she said. “So I just completely avoided it and wanted to really get a sense of the place and to get to know the people in the community, which was, I think, essential to being able to write about it at all.”

She says that she is very excited to win the fellowship and feels that it came at a great time in her writing career.You can read some of her writings on her blog at http://stellastories.tumblr.com.

Shawn Klomparens, another fellowship recipient, recently celebrated his 20th year in Wyoming. He is the author of two novels, “Two Years, No Rain” and “Jessica Z.”  He won a fellowship for an excerpt from a novel, “The Banks of Certain Rivers.” He is active on social media and lectures about promoting books on Facebook and other sites. His website is http://www.shawnklomparens.com/.

Joining Soto and Klomparens for the Equality State Book Festival in Casper will be recipients of the Blanchan and Doubleday writing awards. Those also speaking at the event include fellowship judge Meg Pokrass, Blanchan winner Darcy Lipp-Acord of Weston, Doubleday recipient Yvette Ward-Horner of Cody and Blanchan/Doubleday judge Ken Waldman.

This marks the 29th year for the creative writing fellowships sponsored by the Wyoming Arts Council. Next year’s category will be poetry. Applications for next year will be available in spring of 2015.

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