Revealed: Real-Life Submission Response Time for storySouth

A bit unusual to hear back outside of the work week, but I got a rejection letter on Saturday from storySouth, a magazine all about the–you guessed it!–Southern experience narrative.  If you’ve got a story set in the South, about the South, or if you just happen to be a resident of the South, long-term or short, then it’s a good place to consider submitting to.  It’s one of those journals I recommend because it has submission restrictions and thus the competition is a little less steep.  So if you have any connection to the region, don’t give up the chance!

Expect to hear back in about 2 months, 12 days.

I’m a little sad that my fiction story got rejected, part because I truly thought it was a good fit, and partly because it’s the sixth rejection.  What’s your record number of rejections before an acceptance letter?  According to this article, writers should expect to submit a single submission to 100 markets, which might mean 99 rejections.

[gasps and tries to recover breathing]

No offense, but I can’t think of one other place to submit this story, let alone 94 more.  Does anybody know of a journal that accepts fiction with the themes of the South, ghosts, and the rebirth of a place after devastation (namely, Hurricane Katrina) all balled-up into one?  Would appreciate the recommendations!

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The Writer’s Curse: You Can Never Stop Working

If you’re a writer, you know that you’re doomed.  Doomed to a life of eternally working.  Time off from the day job just means you have more time to write, more time dedicated to being chained to your desk and the invisible spiderweb deadlines that you construct for yourself.  Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but every moment that other people would spend relaxing–watching television, taking naps, doing absolutely nothing–I feel like I should pack full with productive writing.  I constantly feel like I’m wasting my time unless I’m using it to work on my craft.  Because I like making polls, here’s one for you:

For example, I’m feeling rather stressed that I’m only waiting on a few short stories.  A few months ago I had a huge long list of things pending at literary journals.  With the list being so short, and me not having written any new material in an embarrassingly long amount of time, I’m feeling a great deal of writerly stress.  Am I alone or is this an occupational hazard?  While you wait for your rejection and/or acceptance letters, do you continually stress?

  • Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  • Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  • storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  • Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

Patience is (Allegedly) a Virtue

I think this is more of a wives tale than a proverb, personally.  What’s the longest amount of time you’ve ever waited to hear back from a journal or literary agent?  How do you all stay patient?  I’m going BONKERS over here.  I’m still waiting on…

  • Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  • Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  • storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  • Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

Also, I’m waiting to start a series of job interviews beginning tomorrow morning.  And then I’ll be waiting to hear back about said job interviews.  Cross your fingers for me!

It’s Not All Over: Go to the Harry Potter Exhibit!

Well I’ve got some good announcements and some bad announcements.  The NYU Summer Publishing Institute officially ended on Friday and I graduated with a Certificate in Publishing (yey me!).  Good news: with the institute over, I will now have time to be regular with my blog posts yet again.  Bad news, though, is that the reason I’ll have time is because, for the first time in my life, I am no longer a student, but just plain unemployed.  Sad times.

On the Harry Potter front, I have good news.  I went to see the Harry Potter Exhibit in Times Square and it was fabulous.  Before entering you can get sorted by the Sorting Hat (every kid’s dream come true).  The rest of the exhibit is mostly composed of props and outfits the characters wear, but if you pay a little extra for the audio tour, it’s totally worth it because the fashion designer for the films has some really fascinating insights on all the clothing choices.  I was almost starstruck seeing the Invisibility Cloak and all of the wands (Elder Wand included) right in front of me.  I (maybe) felt like jumping up and down shouting that I had found the three Deathly Hallows and for everyone to come look.  Maybe.  If I were to pick a wand out of the collection, I think Professor Slughorn’s would suit me the best.  My favorite part was when I could pull screaming mandrakes out of their pots!  For those of you still feeling sad about the last movie, read some of the Harry Potter focused postcards at Postsecret.com today.

Because there was a ticket deal going on, I also went in to see the Pompeii exhibit.  I totally fell in love with frescos–an art form I had never encountered before–and if you’re “mature enough,” as the sign warns, you can see what a Pompeii brothel looked like.  I’m not entirely sure why there’s a theme going on in my blog and in my recent museum visits.  First there was the Hiroshima exhibit at the Photography Center with the shadows and now there are the Pompeii body casts.  Thousands of people were smothered and buried in volcanic ash during the 79 A.D. eruption.  Over the centuries, their bodies decayed and left behind a hallow impression.  Archeologists used them as a mold, filled the pockets with concrete, and then cracked them open to reveal these horrific statues of what people looked like when they died.  Seeing the actual curve of their thighs, the impression of them pulling their cloaks over their mouths to filter the poisonous air, and some curled up holding each other made it hauntingly real.  The absolute saddest one, though, was a dog who was chained up and was slowly smothered by the ash despite his best efforts to crawl out and escape.

Still waiting on the same journals to get back to me:

  • Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  • Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  • storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  • Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

Dear Literary Journals: Please Send Me an Acceptance Letter for a Belated Birthday Present

Still waiting on submission responses from the final hold out literary journals.

  • Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  • Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  • storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  • Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

I’m considering contacting PBQ via facebook to ask for a ball park response time figure.  It would help me and all of you out there wondering about the same thing.  Also considering sending another email to Cicada to politely inquire about my poems.  As for storySouth, submishmash has it posted as still “received” (which means nobody has looked at it yet) and Weave magazine is still considering it.  I did get the latest issue of Weave last weekend.  Haven’t started reading yet, but hopefully I can give you a bit of a personal review later this week!

On another personal note:  I went to see Anything Goes with a dear friend on Friday night.  It was, officially, delovely.  Small tip: the theater is designed to offer a good view from any seat, so don’t sweat it out if you buy the cheapest tickets :]

 

How to Grab an Editor’s Attention: Bragging (Politely) in Your Query Letter–With Example

 

For those of you who are shy and don’t like bragging about your publishing credits for fear of being impolite, stop being shy!  Literary journal editors and literary agents WANT to hear about that stuff!  A query letter and a cover letter are like job interviews.  Proving that you’re a qualified writer helps you–and your short story–get the job!  And, if you’ve been following along, and read my last post about how to win writing contests, talking about your past publications boosts your chances.  (Unfair to the brand new writer, maybe.  But they are like recommendation letters, illustrating your past quality work and dedication to writing).  As Brevity: a journal of concise literary nonfiction encourages in their blog, yes, you CAN and you SHOULD tell people about your accomplishments!

Here’s my example bio paragraph of a query letter and/or cover letter:

I recently graduated from Bloomsburg University with dual degrees in Creative Writing and History. My writing has received the 2009 and 2011 Bloomsburg University English Department Award for Creative Non-Fiction, the 2009 Fuller Fiction Award, the 2011 Savage Poetry Award, and 2nd place in The Baltimore Review’s 2011 creative non-fiction contest. I have had work appear or forthcoming in Inside Pennsylvania, The Stillwater Review, and The Honors Review.

This is the appropriate way–the way that editors expect–you to present yourself.  The facts, without inappropriate bragging embellishments like “I am a super talented writer,” or “you’ll love every word I blessed the page with.”  After the introductory paragraph with information such as the title, genre, word count, and brief summary of your short story submission, you slap in this form biography paragraph.

The Formula for a Biography Paragraph in Your Query Letter:

Your credentials (usually only mention this if you majored in writing somewhere or majored in whatever topic you’re writing about and furthers your credentials.  Bonus points if you have an MFA from a renown writing program).  Any awards your writing has won.  Where you’ve been published before.

Throwing out a question to any readers out there:  do you add anything else personal in your cover letters and query letters?  How much is too much personal information?  Any recommendations for what to put if you have no publishing credits or haven’t won a writing contest yet?

Jumping off of a recent discussion over at storynomad’s blog, should female writers sign their query letters and cover letters with gender ambiguous pen-names for the sake of upping their chances at getting published?  I don’t like to think that the literary world is still dominated by stereotypes and ruled by the “good ol’ boys,” but the percentage of male writers being published in literary journals over female writers is startling, according to the 2010 statistics by Vida.

But, according to Nobel Prize winner VS Naipaul, it doesn’t matter whether women use male pen-names or not anyway because he has super reader radar that can identify the gender of the writer based on the quality of the writing.  According to him, if it the writing isn’t nearly as good has his own, it’s obviously a woman’s creation.  Even Jane Austin pales in comparison to his dazzling writing talent.  I highly recommend reading the appalling article.  Would love to hear your opinions on the matter, so feel free to share!

On a personal note, it’s Sunday so normally I’d be lamenting the lack of postal service.  I’ve been so busy today though, moving in to NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute, meeting my new roommates, walking through a street fair that conveniently occurred below my dorm window (where I bought a bonsai tree!!  Here’s crossing my fingers I don’t kill it) that I didn’t have time to mope.

But, for consistency, I shall post my ongoing literary magazine submission waits:

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  
  2. Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)
  3. matchbook (date submitted: March 7th; what submitted: 1 short short fiction)
  4. The Susquehanna Review (date submitted: March 14th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 2 non-fiction)
  5. Zahir (date submitted:  April 25th; what submitted: 1 fiction)
  6. Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle (date submitted: May 11th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  7. Brevity (date submitted: May 19th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  8. Owl Eye Review (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  9. Palooka (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  10. storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)
  11. Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)

While you’re waiting, write, submit, and water your bonsai trees!  I watered mine today :]