My name is Jennifer (Jenna) McGuiggan. I'm a creative writer; a freelance writer, editor, and consultant; speaker and storyteller; and teacher. I have a B.A. in English, and I received my Master of Fine Arts in Writing (creative nonfiction focus) from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
I started my professional career as a volunteer (which is a delightful oxymoron). I lived and worked in a YMCA in London, England, running a mobile soup kitchen. After a year abroad, I moved back to Pennsylvania to work for Carnegie Mellon University, and then Seton Hill University.
In 2003 I started The Word Cellar as a freelance writing and editing business, with a focus on small business marketing and book manuscript editing. Since then, I have expanded my offerings to include a wide range of professional and creative projects.
>>Download my professional resume.
>>Download my writer's curriculum vitae.
As a creative writer, I have studied and worked with the following authors and poets: Laurie Alberts, Carolyn Cooke, Mark Cox, Sascha Feinstein, Connie May Fowler, Douglas Glover, Patrick Madden, Howard Norman, Christopher Noël, Mary Ruefle, Sue William Silverman, Larry Sutin, Robert Vivian. My writing has been published in various magazines and literary journals. I am a former assistant editor for the literary journal Hunger Mountain. I have published an ebook of writing prompts and a chapbook anthology of prose, poetry, and photography.
Over the past 12 years, I have taught and mentored hundreds of people online, in person, and by phone. In 2010, I spoke on a writing lab panel at BlogHer in New York City. In 2011, I taught at the Pen & Paper: Be Present Retreat on the Oregon coast, and in 2013 I was the keynote storyteller and a workshop leader at the Soul Sisters Conference in Portland, Oregon. In addition to my online courses, I have taught or been a guest for a variety of online classes. I've also been delighted to host these authors, poets, and bloggers as guests in my Alchemy writing courses: Brené Brown, Marianne Elliott, Liz Lamoreux, Cynthia Newberry Martin, Sue William Silverman, Maya Stein, Kyran Pittman, Meredith Winn, and Susan G. Wooldridge.
About The Word Cellar
The Word Cellar is both the name of my business and an imaginary place. I envision The Word Cellar as a cozy, stone-walled chamber filled with racks and racks of words. We have nouns, verbs, adjectives, and even some adverbs. The prepositions and conjunctions sit next to glass jars of jaunty little pronouns. Perfectly turned phrases shimmer magically in the shadows, and whole sentences often appear on the walls. There's a nook just for punctuation, and another for grammar. (Some people don't like to venture into those areas, but I don't mind them one bit.) Some days you'll find me writing, and others you'll see me editing (my own work or maybe yours). Stacks of books sit next to overstuffed chairs, beckoning you to delve into a good read. The whole scene is generously illuminated by white twinkle lights, so The Word Cellar is never dark, dank, or scary. This is a place where left brain meets right brain, where whimsy shakes hands with business, and communication is considered a sacred science and time-honored art.
- Teacher, Flash Essays, Creative Nonfiction's online classes (June 27 - July 24, 2016)
- Speaker & Panelist, HippoCamp 2016, presented by Hippocampus Magazine, Lancaster, PA (August 12-14, 2016): I will be part of the Literary Citizenship Project Spotlight Panel and will also lead a session called The Writing Life: Rituals, Rhythms, & Practices
Past Events (Presenter)
- Speaker, Conversations & Connections Conference, presented by Barrelhouse Magazine, Arlington, VA (April 23, 2016)
- Teacher, Flash Essays, Creative Nonfiction's online classes (March 28 - April 24, 2016)
- Speaker, HippoCamp 2015, presented by Hippocampus Magazine, Lancaster, PA (August 7-9, 2015)
- Public Reading at Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT (January 21, 2014)
- Residency at Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT (January 2014)
- Keynote Storyteller & Workshop Facilitator, Soul Sisters Conference, Troutdale, OR (October 25-27, 2013)
- Reading, Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival, Twin Lakes, Greensburg, PA (July 7, 2013)
- Reading, Juxtapositions Series, Keynote Cafe, Jeannette, PA (January 18, 2013)
- Panelist, Writing Lab Panel, 2010 BlogHer Conference, New York, NY (2010)
Past Events (Attendee)
- Conversations & Connections Conference, presented by Barrelhouse Magazine, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA (October 18, 2014)
- Creative Nonfiction Writers' Conference, Pittsburgh, PA (May 23, 2014)
- River Teeth Nonfiction Conference, Ashland University, Ashland, OH (May 17-19, 2013)
- Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, Chicago, IL (2012); Washington, DC (2011)
- BlogHer Conference, San Francisco, CA (2008); Chicago, IL (2007)
- American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA) Writers Conference, New York, NY (2007)
- 412 Creative Nonfiction Festival, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (2006)