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Work Samples

Short Story Collection: Girls of a Certain Age

My short story collection, GIRLS OF A CERTAIN AGE, includes over a dozen stories and a novella exploring the worlds of female narrators. Works from the collection have appeared or are forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, Indiana Review, Epoch, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Southeast Review, among others.

Short Story Excerpt: Only the Good

GIRLS OF A CERTAIN AGE includes fourteen short stories and novella, all written in the female voice. Many of the stories, such as "Only the Good," confront deeply female issues. Here, the first six pages are offered as a sample; the story can be read in its entirety in my portfolio below. It was originally published the Indiana Review.
PDF icon Short Story Excerpt: Only the Good

Short Story: How to Wait

"How to Wait," another story from GIRLS OF A CERTAIN AGE, is about a young woman grieving the impending departure of her husband, who has been called to duty. The story is included in here in its entirety. It was originally published in Bare Fiction.
PDF icon Short Story: How to Wait

Short Story Excerpt: "Animals"

Not all of the narrators in GIRLS OF A CERTAIN AGE are adults. In "Animals," a young girl grows jealous of a friend whose house overflows with pets and toys. The final straw? A digital pet, the Tamagotchi. Yet to be published, the story is included only as an excerpt. Several stories from the collection can be read in their entirety in my portfolio below. The portfolio also includes excerpts of my novel-in-progress, AFTERMATH, and a sampling of my other writing.
PDF icon Short Story Excerpt: "Animals"

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About Maria

Baltimore City

Maria Adelmann was a finalist for the 2017 Baker Artist Award in the literary arts. Her short story collection, GIRLS OF A CERTAIN AGE, includes over a dozen stories and a novella exploring the worlds of female narrators. Her novel-in-progress, AFTERMATH, reimagines classic fairy tale characters as modern women working through the psychological aftermath of their traumas. Fiction from both works can be found in Tin House, The Threepenny Review, Indiana Review, Epoch, Michigan Quarterly Review, and... more

Short Story Collection: Girls of a Certain Age

GIRLS OF A CERTAIN AGE is a collection short stories and a novella, written over the past decade. The stories are all narrated by females (ostensibly: a few are written in the second person), echoing themes about loneliness and friendship, sickness and health, sex and relationships, and war as experienced by those left at home. Many of the stories about deeply female issues: abortion, abuse, breast cancer. (Sounds heavy? There's also a lot of fun.)

In "None of These Will Bring Disaster" a young woman loses her job, then takes up smoking so she can join a paid research study about people who want to quit smoking. In "Elegy," a woman who decides to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy grieves not so much the loss of her breasts, but more so women she has lost. In "The Replacements," a woman who dreams of leaving her abusive boyfriend ends up running over his dog. In "Middlemen," a young woman falls in love with her mostly-straight roommate. In "The Portrait," a deaf girl becomes painfully aware of her condition when she gets lost at a museum. In "First Aid, Notes," a cutter imagines she bleeds a different color for every emotion she feels. In "Animals," a young girl grows jealous of a friend whose house overflows with pets and toys. The final straw? A digital pet, the Tamagotchi.

The collection includes fourteen short stories and one novella. A selection of already published pieces appear in this portfolio, while excerpts from the other stories are included in the final document. Stories from the collection have been published or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, The Threepenny Review, The Southeast Review, Bare Fiction, Carolina Quarterly, Michigan Quarterly Review, Cicada, Tin House online, and Epoch. Finished in 2017, the book will be taken to publishers early in the new year.

  • Girls of a Certain Age: Cover Concept

    This is a cover concept for "Girls of a Certain Age," a collection of short stories and one novella about women in different phases of their lives. I have worked on the collection for over a decade.
  • Epoch, Summer 2017

    My novella, "The Wayside," has been through many iterations. For earlier versions I was a finalist for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Novella Contest and a winner of the George H. Coxe Award for Creative Writing. The novella was published in it entirety in the Summer 2017 issue of Epoch.
  • A Novella: The Wayside

    We had a war going on between ANDS and BUTS, or, at least, I had a war going on between ANDS and BUTS. James believed BUT was a negative word that subtracted positive meaning from the first part of the sentence, and therefore he rarely used it. He would say things like, “You’re doing a great job entering data into the computer AND when you file my papers I can’t seem to find them.” — from "The Wayside"
    PDF icon A Novella: The Wayside
  • Indiana Review, Winter 2015

    My short story “Only the Good" was one of four pieces of fiction selected for publication in the Winter 2015 issue of the Indiana Review.
  • Short Story: Only the Good

    It was unsettling that a thought such as, “I will sleep with him, I guess,” had the potential to become a dot that had the potential to become a baby that had the potential to become a person that had the potential to, who knows, burn one hundred people to death in a fire, or, save one hundred people from death in a fire, and that each one of those hundred people, burned or alive, could also have been born or not born, depending on a decision that his or her mother had made, once upon a time, while sitting on the cold linoleum floor of a bathroom at work. —from "Only the Good"
    PDF icon Short Story: Only the Good
  • The Southeast Review, Fall 2016

    "Elegy" appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of The Southeast Review. I was also invited to read at the Southeast Review + Salt Hill Reading at AWP in Washington DC in 2017.
  • Short Story: Elegy

    Body parts and the dead seem to float around you, invisible and heavy, like phantom limbs. In your wallet, a picture that you carry like a membership card. The picture is of you and your aunt and your mother in the backyard, bright yellow leaves poised in the blue-gray air, mid-descent. You are young and pigtailed, your aunt holds you above her head, you hold a shirtless Barbie above yours. You know nothing about your future, about the fates that are coded inside you. —From "Elegy"
    PDF icon Short Story: Elegy
  • Short Story: None of These Will Bring Disaster

    "None of These Will Bring Disaster" was published in the Michigan Quarterly Review’s Fall 2015 issue and also won The Balch Prize for the Short Story.
    PDF icon Short Story: None of These Will Bring Disaster
  • Short Story: How to Wait

    "How to Wait" was published in the fall 2014 issue of Bare Fiction. (It is also included in my "Work Samples" section.)
    PDF icon Short Story: How to Wait
  • Girls of a Certain Age — Excerpts from other stories

    These short excerpts give you the flavor of other stories in GIRLS OF A CERTAIN AGE. The document includes paragraphs from "Animals," "The Replacements," "Unattached," "Queens," "Human Bonding," "The Suicide Files," "Where We Were," "First Aid, Notes," "Middlemen," and "The Portrait."
    PDF icon Girls of a Certain Age — Excerpts from other stories

Novel: Aftermath

I’ve always been fascinated by fairy tales: Little Red Riding Hood’s near-death visit to Grandmother; Hansel and Gretel’s abandonment and kidnapping; Snow White’s wedding reception, interrupted by a stepmother who dances to death in hot iron shoes. Sleeping Beauty, revived by a kiss after a century of sleep, is essentially a teenage-bride time traveler.

How strange. How horrific. I’ve always wondered: What happens next?

My novel-in-progress, AFTERMATH, is structured as a series of documents—transcripts, confessions, journal entries, and writing exercises—which are discovered after the mysterious destruction of a group therapy meeting place for so-called extraordinary women. The documents were created by these extraordinary women—classic fairy tale characters reimagined as modern American women—who are now working through the psychological aftermath of their respective traumas.

AFTERMATH has a playful and unusual structure that highlights and confronts serious issues about the role of women in society and the effects of psychological trauma. In Dr. Judith Herman’s classic work Trauma and Treatment she writes, “Traumatic events are extraordinary not because they occur rarely, but rather because they are overwhelming to the ordinary human adaptations to life.” While the women in AFTERMATH have been defined by their narratives, the structure of the book allows the characters to break free of these narratives and move beyond them.

Two chapters from AFTERMATH are forthcoming in Tin House, but because they are slated for publication, they cannot be included in this public portfolio. In lieu of these pieces and in lieu of including complete pieces that have not yet been published, I’ve included a few short excerpts from the book-in-progress.

Essays & Other Projects

Alongside my fiction, I have written political essays, personal essays, found stories, poetry, and screenplays. These have appeared everywhere from websites like Common Dreams, where I recently published a co-written piece on millennial politics, to Mental Floss, where I expounded on the proliferation of stink bugs. My humor writing has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency and The Adroit Journal, the latter of which published my "found biography" of David Hasselhoff.

My co-written screenplay, Living History, was awarded 2017 development funding through the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film & Media at Johns Hopkins. The screenplay was also selected for the SZIF screenplay lab for Baltimore writers.

Some of my work fits outside of the realm of any standard form, and the success of such projects, even if only in smaller community circles, often takes me by surprise. As I note in my essay “Basket Weaving 101,” included in my portfolio below, there is pleasure and discovery in mere exploration:

“Is it so naïve of me to believe that the best work is completed outside of the market, from a place of personal passion? How can I help but quote Thoreau? ‘I . . . had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth any one’s while to buy them. Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them…”

The projects shown here are just a sampling.

  • MFA vs. NYC, published by n+1

    In my essay “Basket Weaving 101,” published in n+1’s book MFA VS. NYC, I set out to discuss the financial challenges of getting started as a writer. The book was reviewed to positive acclaim, and my piece garnered special mentions in THE NEW YORK TIMES, OPEN LETTERS MONTHLY, and BOOK RIOT, among other outlets.
  • "Basket Weaving 101" from MFA vs. NYC

    "Adelmann tells the story of her MFA years at the University of Virginia with a refreshing gentleness and lack of judgment. She offers keen insights into her 'craving to create on [her] own terms.'" —Open Letters Monthly
    PDF icon "Basket Weaving 101" from MFA vs. NYC
  • McSweeney's Internet Tendency

    My short piece "Fitness Magazine Has Some Questions for You" was composed from questions found in Fitness Magazine, arranged to humorous effect. It was published on the humor website McSweeney's Internet Tendency.
  • Public Readings

    I’ve participated in and organized readings for small and large audiences. In early 2017, I read at the Southeast Review and Salt Hill AWP reading in Washington DC. Here is a picture of me reading at an event I organized as a faculty member on Semester at Sea.
  • Screenplay: Living History

    LIVING HISTORY, which I co-wrote with Jenna Krumminga, is a full-length screenplay and one of nine projects selected in 2017 to share $400,000 in grant money for development from the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film and Media at the Johns Hopkins University. LIVING HISTORY is an ensemble-cast dramedy that centers on the impending closure of Kim Kawa Wigwam, a dated roadside attraction as kitschy as it is offensive—think low-rent Colonial Williamsburg, but with a “Cowboys & Indians” theme.
  • Project: The Hallowzeen

    I co-edited and designed THE HALLOWZEEN, a collection of creepy stories, poems, and art. Books were distributed for free in conjunction with a fireside community read-aloud. The project was a finalist for a SOUP grant in my co-editor's home city.
  • Other Projects

    Many of my other projects aren't included in this portfolio. My book paintings have been sold as notecards at Anthropolgie stores and bookstores across the country, a photo essay about my father (THE TRUCK DRIVER) garnered over 36,000 views on YouTube (many from truck drivers across the country), and several of my poems won awards from The Poetry Society of Virginia.

Connect with Maria

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Maria's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.