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.

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Submit to the Gary Fincke Creative Writing Prize

The competition for The Susquehanna Review’s Gary Fincke Creative Writing Prize is less steep than it is for other literary journals.  Though it’s nationally distributed, it only accepts submissions from current undergraduates.  As I’ve mentioned before, you want to submit to writing contests that narrow down the pool as much as possible, so if you’re an undergraduate don’t pass up this chance!

What They Are: a print and online literary magazine run by the undergraduate students of Susquehanna University.

What They Want: Prose and poetry from non-Susquehanna University students.

When They Want It:  not announced yet.  Expect it to happen in late March or early April.

How They Want It:  via their submishmash account.   You’re instantly entered when you submit to their general submissions.

Official Submission Response Time: n/a

Personal Submission Response Time: 

Entry Fee?  No.

Prize?  Yes, $100 for each (one award for best poem, one award for best prose).

Anybody aware of/recommend any other undergraduate literary contests open to national and/or international submissions?

Keep submitting :]

Hunting for Undiscovered Publication Paths

As I mentioned earlier, I was slammed with a load of rejection letters this week.  This means that I need to start up the submission process again.  However, I’ve kind of run out of ideas of where to send my writing.  Does anybody have any recommendations for literary journals to submit fiction and creative non-fiction to?  Or a resource that lists submission-accepting publications?  How do you research and discover new literary journals?

On a side note, I did learn about a really neat new boutique publisher of long form non-fiction.  The Atavist only publishes Kindle singles (and the same stories on other e-reader platforms, like the Nook, and iPad).  If you like reading non-fiction stories and journalism that’s too long to fit in a magazine and too short to be a book, go read “My Mother’s Lover” or “Lifted” (my two personal favorites).  I’m a big fan of this seemingly new genre of writing.  They accept pitches, so if you are itching to write one consider querying them.  They seem to do a pretty fair payment price split (50/50, I believe).

My current short story submission status:

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  2. Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  3. Zahir (date submitted:  April 25th; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 1-2 months
  4. storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  5. Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

It’s been just over two months for my Zahir submission, so maybe I’ll be hearing back from this week.

Now, back to bed.  Good luck with your writing, submissions, and literary journal hunting.  And good luck to me on recovering.

What to Expect While Submitting to the Owl Eye Review and Palooka

I’m a strong believer in simultaneous submissions.  So I’ve had this creative non-fiction short story, “What To Expect While Grieving for Your Father” that I’ve been submitting around multiple places for a month or so.  It’s gotten three rejection letters–from New Delta Review, Owl Eye Review, and Palooka–and today [drum roll please!] I was notified that The Susquehanna Review accepted it!!  (Which meant I needed to withdraw it from consideration at The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle.  Read here about how NOT to withdraw your materials).

On one note, I’d like to encourage everyone to keep submitting stories they really believe in even if somebody hasn’t liked it (yet).  On another note, I think everyone should bookmark the current issues page at The Susquehanna Review and wait with bated breath for the day that they post the entire new issue online.  Then read my awesome (and rather short, sub 1,000 words) published story.  And then tell me what you think.  On yet another note, (I”m feeling musical here) I’d like to recommend two journals who might love your creative writing, so you should check them out if you’re unfamiliar.

Owl Eye Review

Very new to the publishing scene (2011) means that, in theory, they’re probably a little easier to get accepted to because they don’t have a reputation yet and maybe have a slightly undefined narrative voice.  You can read more about why they were  inspired to found the journal here.

What Owl Eye Review wants:  only poetry and creative non-fiction.  See further submission guidelines.

When they want it:  anytime.  Rolling submissions.

How they want it:  via submishmash.

Allow simultaneous submissions:  yes.

Official submission response time:  none posted.

My personal rejection time: 13 days.

Payment?  No.

Palooka: A Journal of Underdog Excellence

It’s also rather new to the field, but it’s gotten some really excellent peer reviews so I deem it a trustworthy publication.  My personal favorite story in the past issue is Scratch.  The memory of the plot has been haunting me for awhile and I couldn’t remember where I had read it and was really excited just now searching through their archives and stumbling upon it.  Definitely worth more than one read.

What Palooka wants:  pretty much every single kind of creative work possible.

When they want it:  anytime.  Seems to be rolling submissions.

How they want it: via submishmash.

Allow simultaneous submissions: yes.

Official submission response time:  about a week.

My personal submission rejection time:  10 days.

Payment?  One complimentary copy of the issue you were published in plus a discount on additional copies.

Warning:  This is one of the journals that requires a nominal fee–$2.50–for general submissions

So what’s your record amount of rejections for a particular story before an acceptance letter?

The “Writing What You Know” Rule is Baloney

A lot of you writers are probably throwing up your arms in disagreement at my sacrilegious statement.  But honestly, fiction writing would be really boring if authors strictly stuck to writing only what they know.  Books wouldn’t portray fantasy creatures that they concocted because they never experienced meeting one themselves.  Can you imagine how awful it would be if J.K. Rowling had never written about a hippogriff simply because she was tethered to the impractical rule that you only write what you know?

And how sad would you be if Orson Scott Card had never written the Ender’s Game series, just because he had never traveled to outer space before?  How TAME and utterly LAME would fiction be if writers always followed this rule?

Anyway, just some food for thought as you work on your own writing.

On a side note, if you’re in search of some bedtime reading material, a friend sent me the link for these sheets.  I’m not entirely sure how I feel about them though.  I feel like I might become a little OCD in how I make my bed every morning.  They would have to go in the appropriate page order!

Apparently there’s this thing called “Publishing Time” that significantly slows down the entire submission response process across the industry.  I’m not a huge fan.  As you can see, I’m still waiting on a lot of stuff.

  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. storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)
  9. Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)

I emailed Cicada magazine awhile ago to ask about my submissions since it is way past the official response time, but no response to that either.  I’m a little surprised just because I’ve had really good response time experiences with them before.  [shrug].  Maybe it’s a combination of Publishing Time and Summer Time.

I did get two rejection letters this week though–form letters at that–which wasn’t terribly heartening.  I’ll give a short bio for both those journals tomorrow on New Magazine Monday.  At least the rejections give me the opportunity to better inform you all how long you might have to wait :]

Keep writing while you wait!

Lesson: You Can Get a Rejection Letter at Any Time

Despite the fact that it’s Sunday morning, I was able to wake up and smell the roses with a form rejection letter in the mail.  A form rejection letter at that.  [Depressed hang of head].

But at least we learned something from it, yes?

 

Palooka: A Journal of Underdog Excellence

Official submission response time:  under a month

My personal submission response time:  11 days

 

The rest of my submissions:

  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. storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)
  10. Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)

I did send an email to Cicada, politely wondering if my submissions have been lost or forgotten, but didn’t get a response to the email (I sent it 2 weeks ago).  What do you do when that happens?  How long do you wait before you email them again?  Should I try a different means of contact?  (Even though they don’t have one, to my knowledge).  Any helpful advice out there?

Listen to Your Mother: Waiting By the Phone Never Gets You Anywhere

Sixty-five unopened emails greeted me.  Not a single one was about my submissions.  An awful great amount were from Victoria’s Secret and Barnes and Noble, warning me about last-minute sales.  Lame.  One was The Honors Review, announcing that the print version of this year’s issue are heading out in the mail this week (!!!)  So, I guess it’s not all bad news; I’ll get to see my name in print soon.  But after seven whole days away from the computer, I was expecting to have some rejection and/or acceptance emails waiting for me.  A reward, of sorts, for being Patient and Technology-Free.  Apparently, that award has been officially retired, so I’m glad that I didn’t spend vast portions of the past week pining away, refreshing my email and compulsively checking literary journal websites (which I’m off to do right now).  Even forgetting about the EXISTENCE of the pot of water on the stove didn’t make it boil faster.

On this day upon which I cannot look forward to any responses at all because everybody in the literary and mail delivery world is sleeping in (or at church) I am still waiting upon…

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  TWT (Total Wait Time): 5 months, 5 days
  2. Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  TWT:  3 months, 2 weeks, 4 days
  3. matchbook (date submitted: March 7th; what submitted: 1 short short fiction)  TWT:  2 months,  3 weeks, 6 days
  4. The Susquehanna Review (date submitted: March 14th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 2 non-fiction)  TWT:  2 months, 2 weeks, 6 days
  5. Zahir (date submitted:  April 25th; what submitted: 1 fiction)  TWT:  1 month, 6 days
  6. Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle (date submitted: May 11th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  TWT:  2 weeks, 4 days
  7. Brevity (date submitted: today, May 19th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  TWT:  1 week, 3 days

Please forgive me if I counted up the TWT wrong.  Math isn’t my strong suit.

How long have you all been waiting to hear back?

P.S.  Tybee Island and Savannah, Georgia, were awesome.  I highly recommend you visit if you enjoy the beach, seeing a brick wall pockmarked with cannon-ball holes, lighthouses, seafood, ice cream, dolphins, reading historical plaques attached to big tall monuments, or were ever a Girl Scout.