Philadelphia Literary Journal Pride

As I’ve been combing through Duotrope, New Pages, and Poets & Writer’s in search of new markets to submit my writing to over the past few weeks I’ve slowly come to the realization that Philadelphia has a promising up-and-coming literary scene! Not that Philadelphia shouldn’t naturally be super literary and cultural–it is one of the most historic and largest cities on the East Coast–but Philadelphia, at least from my viewpoint, has been in a bit of a hibernation-mode in recent years. Honestly, people keep leaving the Philadelphia area in favor of New York and Boston and DC because the city has been going stale. Cool restaurants have been closing, there isn’t much of a shopping-draw, the only good stuff that does exist is rather expensive–concerts and the like–and it’s generally unsafe in most areas so nobody wants their cars to get vandalized or walk around the streets exploring after dark. So the fact that literary journals are budding out of this environment like a bed of tulip bulbs is rather exciting!

Though Philadelphia Stories and Apiary magazine are the only two that show clear favoritism towards Philadelphia/Pennsylvania writers and themes in their editorial mission statements, the fact that a whole bunch of exciting, new, innovative, and ultimately successful literary journals are springing up out of Philadelphia gives me hope that lots more good things are to come!

On the old side, Painted Bride Quarterly is one of the country’s longest running literary magazines, circa 1973, and is in-part staffed by Drexel University students. On the new side, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, a non-profit flash-prose journal associated with Rosemont College, only launched last year. Same with TINGE magazine, staffed by graduate students in Temple University’s MFA program in Creative Writing, and Nailpolish Stories, the brainchild of Philadelphia writer Nicole Monaghan.

Dear Philadelphia: I’m proud of you. Good show.

Do you have some local literary journals you’re extra fond of just because they call your town home?

(Image, No Copyright,

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To the Glitter End . . . Get Your Nailpolish Stories Published!

I’ve heard a lot of people wonder aloud who the lucky guy is who gets to invent awesome crayon color names for a living (did you know there’s 120 core Crayola color names?). Seriously, can you imagine coming up with brilliant creative names like “macaroni and cheese” and “mango tango” and getting paid for it? The same goes for nail polish colors. “French Quarter for Your Thoughts,” “Ski Teal We Drop,” and “Barefoot in Barcelona”–what great names! And, as Nicole Monaghan, the founding editor of the flash fiction online journal, Nailpolish Stories, believes, what a great inspiration for a story!Fiction submissions must be 25 words, exactly, not including the title (and the title has to be a nail polish color). Ms. Monaghan is looking for stories that use powerful language, a minimum of adjectives, and that stuff a lot into a little space. Check out the full submission guidelines here.

Even if you don’t end up submitting to the journal, I’d encourage you to use this as a fun writing exercise. There are so many different nail polish colors–you could get lost in the amount of inspiration they offer!–and it doesn’t take long to write a 25 word story. I wrote ten one afternoon and loved the ideas they sparked up. Write a whole bunch and get your creative writing juices flowing! Maybe it’ll end up being the first sentence to your next novel!

Published in The Susquehanna Review: “What to Expect While Grieving for Your Father”

Lots of good news! As some of you know, I had a story accepted by the national undergraduate literary journal, The Susquehanna Review, back in June.* This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for the 2011-2012 issue which means that:

  1. My short non-fiction piece, “What to Expect While Grieving for Your Father” (which won the 2011 Bloomsburg University English Department Award for Creative Non-Fiction and 2nd place in The Baltimore Review’s Creative Non-Fiction Contest) is finally published!
  2. I got my hands on a copy of the journal (so excited to read it from start to finish!)
  3. As the launch party was a celebration of the dual launch of both the print journal and the online journal, you can read it for yourself now too!

All contributing writers who attended were granted the opportunity to read their writing to a big room of people. While being video taped.

Have I ever mentioned that I recently developed a slight fear of public speaking? It stems from a really horrific public speaking class I was required to take in college. Before taking it, I liked public speaking the same way I’ve always enjoyed reading books aloud to my younger sister and to unsuspecting passerbyers I can convince to sit still long enough to listen. Not that I was an impressive orator by any means, with long passages memorized, or the ability to speak with a passionate eloquence which could thrill an attentive audience. If I didn’t have the confidence that I was good at it, I at least had the confidence that I could do it and that I had the right to stand in front of people and be heard. So therefore, I had no natural build-up of nerves when I prepared for my first graded speech presentation. That was, I wasn’t nervous until the professor dedicated an entire class period to a never-ending, incredibly detailed list of reasons why one should be afraid of public speaking and the knee-quivering, gut-wrenching, heart-pounding effects that everyone should have. “If you don’t have these feelings,” he told us, “it’s unnatural.”

Therefore, when I stood at the podium (read: music stand) with my printed story in hand, I was more annoyed than nervous when my voice started to quiver and break, when my heart started to race so fast that I was gulping to keep it in my chest, and when my legs started to shake underneath me like an earthquake (not ideal when one is wearing five-inch-high heeled boots). Thankfully, my voice evened out after a page and, since my story is rather emotional, perhaps listeners chalked it up to that. Two really nice students came up to me afterwards to shake my hand, compliment the story, and admit that they had been reduced to tears in their seats. I was still so flustered that my manners failed me and I didn’t do more than mumble an awkward apology for causing them to cry–and I certainly didn’t manage to ask their names–but if you’re reading this, thank you again! [waves through computer screen]

In other good news, I’ve been featured on the Bloomsburg University College of Liberal Arts blog. It talks more about the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, if you’re interested in that. You can read the post here.

*Personal Submission Response Time: 3 months, 6 days.

Perks of Being A “Jersey Girl”

1. Cheap gas that someone else pumps for me
2. Jersey tomatoes (taste so much better than Pennsylvania ones)
3. Jersey corn (can you tell I’m thinking about summer and gardens?)
4. Jersey Devil Press, an online literary journal that has some really impressive content and one I’m looking forward to submitting to! (Thanks go to Carol Deminski for inadvertently introducing me to the small independent press with her story “The Fortune Teller,” a clever take on the Jersey Devil’s plight and personality.)

For those of you who follow sports, you already know that New Jersey’s only professional sports team, the Jersey Devils, is based off a hugely popular local myth about a monster–“most commonly described as having the body of a kangaroo, the head of a dog, the face of a horse, large leathery wings, antlers similar to those of a deer, a forked reptilian tail, and prominent, intimidating claws”–that stalks the Pine Barren forests of southern New Jersey.

A bit of a rare bird in the literary community, Jersey Devil Press is super up-front, offering all the answers any writer could ever want or need on their website. For example, despite the fact that New Jersey is now and forever associated with Snookie and the Jersey Shore, Jersey Devil Press clearly states that they are not impressed with the association and in fact strive to “publicly decry the downfall of humanity that is Jersey Shore.” Thank goodness! My respect for them improved several notches. (Not that it wasn’t already pretty high, after reading their most recent issue. Seriously, I don’t care if you don’t have time; make time to read “About the Hiding of Hidden Treasure,” by Kimberly Lojewski. It’s gorgeous and probably one of the best things you’ll read this month. No seriously, go read it right now.)

They also answer some more practical things, such as:
What They Want: short fiction stories sub-4,200 words that “straddle the line between speculative fiction and literature.” There’s a more detailed list of what they don’t want, too, so don’t disappoint them.
When They Want It: Anytime, day or night.
How They Want It: Via Submittable (a.k.a. formerly known as submishmash)
Simultaneous Submissions? Yes.

Multiple Submissions? No. Only one story at a time, please.
Accept Previously Published Material? Yes, but share that information in your cover letter. They won’t publish anything that’s already available elsewhere online.
Paying Market? Nope. As they explain, they’re poorer than you are. And if you’re a starving artist, that’s saying something, now isn’t it?

Submission Response Time: Less than twelve weeks. Query if you don’t get a response within that time.

The Literary World Heard Our Prayers and Answered

Remember how I was lamenting the cost of literary journal subscriptions just a few short days ago?  Well, someone at Writer’s Relief must have heard our deep sighs of communal depression and is hosting a subscription contest on their website.  Read this article, then tweet it, or post about it on your own blog, or post it on your facebook (and then mention that you did so in the comments section) and you are instantly entered for a chance to win a free year-subscription to a literary journal of your choice!

If you don’t feel like sharing the good news, then to be a qualified contestant you’ll need to subscribe to two new literary journals that you’ve never subscribed to before.  At least one of them must cost money.  DON’T TUNE OUT THIS OPPORTUNITY YET!

A lot of publications are so jazzed about this contest that they’re offering discounts off their subscription fee for you to participate.  So go subscribe with a $5-$10-off coupon to one of the lovely publications listed at the bottom of the article–such as the New England Review, Plaughshares, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and Spoon River Poetry–and subscribe to a free one, such as Literary Laundry.  Then post a comment saying where you subscribed to and maybe you’ll win a third subscription in the bargain.  Even if you don’t, you get some lovely, affordable, and high-quality new reading (and research material for potential new submission/publication locations).  I think I’m going to do both, just because I don’t want to pass up the opportunity for some new discounted subscriptions.  (Short Story:  magazines like Cosmo often have discounted subscriptions.  Literary magazines?  Bit a of a rare bird.)

Deadline: Wednesday, October 12th.

Submit now!

For All the Broke Writers: The Citron Review Lets you Read for Free

An original goal I had for this blog was to provide readers with information about the submission response times for literary journals and magazines I’ve submitted to in the past.  However, I’ve noticed myself recently shying away from publications that don’t offer excerpts online; to read the journal and get a vibe of what the editors like, I’d have to subscribe and, unfortunately, I am not made out of money (or, perhaps, not unfortunately.  Money gets rather soggy in the rain.  But I digress in a probably confusing and not-too-funny way.  Moving on) and cannot subscribe to every journal that I want to submit to (I can afford about four or five a year).  Unless any of you are a one-in-a-million international bestseller, I assume you’re in a similar financial boat.  So what’s a writer to do?

For everyone’s benefit, I’m going to start highlighting publications that offer content online.  That way you can still submit your writing in an informed sort of way, without breaking the bank.

The first one in our series of Budget-Friendly Publications is: The Citron Review.

Published by four friends/graduates of the Antioch MFA program, The Citron Review is an online, flash-fiction, micro-fiction, short memoir, poetry, and art literary journal.

What They Want: Previously unpublished Micro-Fiction (sixty words or less; allowed up to five micro-fiction selections per quarter); Flash-Fiction (one-thousand words or less; allowed to submit up to two flash-fiction selections per quarter); Poetry (30 lines or less; allowed to submit up to five poetry selections per quarter); Creative Non-Fiction (1,000 words or less (All genres of non-fiction (memoir, essay, articles, reviews etc.) are acceptable. You may submit up to two Non-Fiction selections per quarter).

When They Want It:  All the time; rolling submissions.

How They Want It:  via email.  See further submission guidelines.

Online Archive:  read it before you submit.

Official Submission Response Time: A month or less; because they read on a monthly basis, they usually let you know at the beginning of every month.  If it’s been more than six weeks, query to find out what’s going on.

Good luck!

WOW! A Great Writing Contest for Women

Sorry guys, bad news.  This writing contest is only for females (I know!  Sorry!) WOW! stands for Women on Writing, you see.  But ladies, this is good news for you because it instantly cuts out half of the competition.  Another thing that’s cutting down the competition is the fact that they’re limiting the contest to 300 submissions.  So even though they say they’re accepting until August 31st, there is a cut off point, so submit now and submit fast!

What They Want: 250-750 word flash fiction

When They Want It: August 31st or first 300 submissions, whichever happens first.

How They Want It: online only.

Entry Fee?  $10, via paypal

Prize?  There are 20 winners for every contest (they host this contest 4 times a year).  There’s actually A LOT of prizes–cash, Amazon gift cards, and more–so I’m just going to provide the link.

Good luck!