Stories from the Strip: Announcing our Downtown Las Vegas Writing Residency Program

We’re delighted to announce our first residency program for writers, in partnership with The Writer’s Block bookstore in Las Vegas. As fellows in the Writing Downtown residency, writers will enjoy the freedom to work on longform projects while engaging with the city’s vibrant arts scene. June, July, August, and September fellowships have been awarded and we are currently working with partners for fellows for future months.


Why Vegas?

“Too weird to live, to rare to die” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is known for being…distracting. It’s also a place where hidden desires are openly celebrated, misfits are welcomed home, and misfortunes are cast aside. It’s a place to be oneself but also completely anonymous. Writers seeking solitude can find it in the desert, and those seeking connection can find it in a revitalized downtown, filled with eateries, parks, and public art displays.


The Writer’s Block

The Writer’s Block is the only independent bookstore and publisher in the city of Las Vegas (and the second one in the entire state of Nevada), and its leading literary presence. It is the home to CODEX, a studio that offers free writing instruction to local students. Through book clubs, readings, educational events, and lectures, The Writer’s Block is a sanctuary for bibliophiles young and old.


The Residency

Writers will live in a furnished studio a block away from the store, tastefully decorated by Scott Seeley, who has extensive interior design experience. It has a separate kitchen area, and comes equipped with a table and printer.

Meet this summer’s fellows


Melissa R. Sipin (June) – Submittable

About Melissa:

Melissa R. Sipin is a writer from Carson, CA. She won Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open and the Washington Square Review’s Flash Fiction Prize. She co-edited Kuwento: Lost Things, an anthology on Philippine myths (Carayan Press 2014), and her work is published/forthcoming in Black Warrior ReviewPrairie Schooner, Guernica MagazinePEN/Guernica Flash SeriesVIDA: Women in Literary ArtsEleven Eleven Magazine, and Amazon’s literary journal Day One, among others. Melissa is a cofounder of TAYO Literary Magazine. Her fiction has won scholarships and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Poets & Writers Inc., Kundiman, VONA/Voices Conference, Squaw Valley’s Community of Writers, and Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and is represented by Sarah Levitt at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency. She really loves yellow mangoes and strictly believes you’re finally home when you’ve found your favorite Chinese delivery restaurant and a parking ticket on your car’s window dash.


About the project: 

Scorched-Earth follows Dolores, an ambitious immigrant daughter of an ex-meth addict and ex-prostitute. After returning home from a five-year absence and winning a prestigious artist fellowship at the newest contemporary museum in downtown Los Angeles, she finds herself excavating her family’s past for answers. It is a novel based on the Marcos Regime and the experiences of WWII Filipino guerrilla fighters and “Comfort Women,” who were captured and systematically raped during the war. It is a book of mirrors: a mirror between Dolores and her grandmother Pacita, of being born within an empire and during the beginning of an empire’s colonial experiment, and the consuming fire that exists between the love of a daughter and her chosen-mother.


Calvin Gimpelevich (July) – Electric Literature

About Calvin:

Calvin Gimpelevich is an author and organizer based in the Pacific Northwest. His fiction appears in Electric Literature, Plentitude, Glitterwolf, cream city, THEM, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of awards from Artist Trust, Jack Straw Cultural Center, and 4Culture, in addition to residencies through CODEX/Writer’s Block and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. A founding member of the Lion’s Main Art Collective, Calvin has organized shows at venues throughout Seattle and performed at Henry Art Gallery, where he was also a featured speaker. A transgender first-generation American, his work deals with immigration, politics, subcultures, gender, and class.


About the project: 

“Tenderloin is a literary multi-perspective ghost story I’ve been working on for the past years, set in the San Francisco Bay Area, exploring history, politics, and subcultures. I’m in the last round of major of edits and applied to the fellowship for the privacy, time, and space to immerse myself in the book and make those final changes. I’m hoping (with the residency) to be done by October.”


Joanne McNeil (August) – Macmillan/Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux

About Joanne: 

Joanne McNeil is a writer working on a book called Lurk for Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. She was a digital arts writing fellow at the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation and a resident artist at Eyebeam. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The BafflerDissent, and other web and print publications.

Why she applied for the fellowship: 

The residency is of interest to me because this summer I plan to work on my book for a month with no interruptions (currently I’m juggling the writing between freelance projects.) I have been working on the book for just under a year and hope to turn in the manuscript by autumn. The location in Las Vegas is appealing to me because I work better in urban environments. Ambient noise like traffic outside helps me concentrate. Also, since my book is about everyday contemporary internet use, I am always curious about how apps and social networks are used outside New York and San Francisco. I wonder if I might find some interesting stories for my book is Las Vegas.

About her project:

Lurk is a book about what it means to be an internet user. Three periods of time are in focus: 90s cyberculture, then blogs and social media in the early aughts, and finally the launch of the iPhone and apps that followed. I’m interested in how the internet became normal to us. People still talk about internet experiences as science fictional and weird, but soon enough it will be taken for granted like driving a car. I want people to remember feeling like the internet is weird. The book is my way to preserve this friction.


Spots are open in November, and December 2017

We welcome writers of all genres, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, songwriting, and other creatives who work in the publishing world, including translators and designers, to apply via individual sponsors. The month-long fellowship includes housing and potentially stipends and other incidentals, depending on the arrangement with the partner..

During the program, fellows will lead a public event at The Writer’s Block, in the form of a workshop, lecture, or other community building activity.

Individual fellowships are made possible with support from Amazon Literary Partnerships, Submittable, the New York Public Library’s digital short story collection, as well as private donors. If your organization would like to partner with Plympton to sponsor a fellowship, please reach out to

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