“To the New Owners of My Childhood Home,” an Excerpt from Weave Magazine

Not the most recent or attractive photo of my house, but the only one currently on hand. You get a glimpse of the colors, though!

I live in a pink and green house in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Our living room is orange. Our kitchen ceiling is pink plaid. Every surface in my mother’s bedroom is purple: the rug, the bedding, the walls; she even painted her antique wood furniture lavender. It wasn’t the first house I lived in, but it’s the one I grew up in. In three years, my sister will graduate from high school and my mom will retire. In three years, my mom will put our rainbow of a house on the market and move down to North Carolina.

Even though I’m moving out of my childhood home later this month and across the border to New Jersey, I’m a little nostalgic at the idea of my mom giving up our house for good. I was half hoping she would abandon the idea, so that in a decade or so I can still come home to the same familiar place for Thanksgiving, and can forever look at the wall marked with my sister and mines growing spurts. But last year she bought a house–the retirement house–in North Carolina and she’s renting it out until she’s ready to move. It’s official.

Now accepting that we’ll really be selling our house, I realized that no matter how much we pack and how carefully we clean, we’re inevitably going to leave a lot behind. You can’t help it. For example, when we first moved in, I remember finding forgotten toy soldiers everywhere: buried in mud puddles, in the sandbox, and even shoved into the crannies between bricks in the fireplace. They were a reminder of the boys who used to live there. I decided to write a friendly, theoretical letter to the future homeowners, to prepare them for unusual things my family will leave scattered about the property.

Isn't this cover amazing?

Weave magazine liked the story enough to publish it and, if you’re not already a subscriber, you can order Issue 7 and read the whole story. I gave Weave first publication rights and I don’t want to be disrespectful and publish the whole story online, but in celebration of its publication and the magazine’s arrival in my mailbox today (so excited to read the rest of the contents!) I thought I’d give you all a little taste.

 

To the New Owners of My Childhood Home

I assure you, it’s in your best interests not to dig in the following places:

  1. The cranny of lawn nestled next to the raised strawberry beds;
  2. Underneath the bleeding hearts in the back yard; and
  3. Among the roots next to the brick walkway.

You will find dead bodies.

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Writers Are a Virtuous Breed

True fact.  Not that we have much choice, now, do we?  I suppose we could always write nasty emails demanding quicker responses, but that probably occurs to writers as often as it occurs to them to respond to rejection letters. (PS: DON’T DO IT!)

I’m currently waiting upon:

Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown

Skirt.com (date submitted: September 3rd; what submitted: 1 non-fiction) Official Response Time: 6-8 weeks

New South (date submitted: September 20th; what submitted: 1 fiction) Official Response Time: Unknown.

Press 53 (date submitted: September 24th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction) Official Response Time: Will find out by July 1, 2012

Literary Laundry (date submitted: October 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction) Official Response Time: 6 months or under.

Writer’s Digest Young Adult Fiction Contest (date submitted: October 16th; what submitted: 1 fiction) Official Response Time: Will find out by December 31st.

 

PS: See my super cool debut on the Weave magazine blog!  I cannot wait until Issue #7 comes out, with my flash non-fiction story, “To the New Owners of My Childhood Home,” in it!  Subscribe to Weave to read it yourself (I think it might become available online as well, but I’m not sure yet.  I’ll get back to you)!

PPS: As you can tell, writers are an extremely humble breed as well.  False.  As Brevity magazine assures us, it is 100% okay–and actually a good idea–for writers to brag about their accomplishments.  How else would our writing ever get read?!  (Sorry if you’ve already read this article because I’ve linked to it before, but it’s one of my absolute favorites.)

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!

Win WEAVE Magazine’s 1st Annual Writing Contest

Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Weave Magazine is a dark and fabulous literary journal.  Or, as they like to describe it:

Weave is dark humor and magical realism. Weave is strange and fantastical. Weave also loves realistic narratives in fiction and poetry. Weave loves honest and simple nonfiction, not confessional for confessions sake. Weave loves strong, well-developed characters. Weave especially loves when female characters are well thought out. Weave loves flawed characters. Weave loves retellings of old stories, fairy tales and myths. Weave is the universal told with unique, exciting language. Weave loves when writers play with language. Weave loves a poem that grabs our attention early and avoids clichés. Weave loves surprises. Weave also loves poems about animals. We love a good monkey poem, but have yet to find one. On that day, Weave will dance. Dance!

There is a distinct vibe that runs through all the pieces it publishes.  I don’t know how to explain it other than to provide an example.  The short story that stands out the most in my memory is one about a mother watching her toddler choke to death while she seriously considers the benefits of denying the child the Heimlich maneuver.  It seems morbid to claim that it’s a good magazine after describing that, but it is.  Read some samples.

What They Want:  Poetry and Flash Fiction (two separate contests).

When They Want It: July 31, 2011

How They Want It: online submission.  See further submission guidelines.

Judges:  Poetry Judge: Lisa Marie Basile and Flash Fiction Judge: Bridgette Shade

Prize?  $100 first prize for each!

I shall be submitting!  So good luck to me and to all of you as well :]

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