10 Must-Read Books for August

Originally posted on Flavorwire:

Pitched between the beach reads of June and July and the high literary controversies of autumn, the month of August is often little more than a break in the literary calendar. But this year publishers have perked up a bit, electing to release a combination of rediscovered classics (Shirley Jackson, Lucia Berlin) — especially in short fiction — and high-quality debut novels (Alexandra Kleeman, Ottessa Moshfegh). Most importantly, this month introduces American audiences to the great Clarice Lispector, an unclassifiable genius on the level of the best writers of the 20th century.

Fiction:

shirleyjackson

Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings, Shirley Jackson (Deckle Edge, August 4)

Shirley Jackson’s writing — a mainstay of the American curriculum — has exerted untold influence over both genre and literary fiction for decades. This collection of new material arrives 50 years after her death and just one year shy of what would have been…

View original 913 more words

Cool Places to Submit Your Summer Writing

As many of you know, there’s a brick of time each year that stretches from the middle of May to the start of September. Non-writers call this time “summer.” Writers (and especially short fiction writers) often call this time Where the hell am I supposed to submit my writing now? 

So many journals and magazines (especially the Old & Big Timers) stop accepting submissions during these summer months, leaving writers with hot work fewer options and a lot of dreams for autumn. Well, I’m excited to tell you that there are more opportunities out there than you may realize. Here are just a few to consider…

P.S. Please, in your excitement to submit new work, don’t forget to also give these magazines/journals a good long read as well—and, hell, maybe even a few dollars for a full subscription :-D

Speculative Fiction Opportunities

shimmer logo

Shimmer is a terrific publication for a variety of reasons. Not only do they put out consistently interesting, good writing for the reader in all of us, but they also treat their writers with real respect, striving to respond to all submissions within two weeks. Definitely give them a read! (and then maybe another!)

What Shimmer is looking for:
Unusual and beautifully-written speculative fiction stories with full plots and strong characters. The best way to understand what we are looking for is to read an issue of the magazine. We’re most drawn to contemporary fantasy, and seek out stories with a strong emotional core. We like unusual stories with a fluid and distinctive voice, with specific and original images. Send us your odd, unclassifiable stories.


Betwixt is a similarly great speculative lit magazine, working to get back to their authors Betwixt_Issue-7also within a two week time span while providing readers with terrific out-there material.

What Betwixt is looking for:

Betwixt publishes speculative fiction of all sorts—fantasy, science fiction, speculative horror, slipstream, weird fiction, steam/diesel/cyber/etc.punk, you name it. We particularly like stories that smash genre boundaries to smithereens, but we also love fresh takes on established genres and in-depth explorations of ultraspecific niches. Experiments in form and style are welcomed enthusiastically—but a straightforward narrative with tight, crisp language is just as beautiful. When it comes down to it, we want stories that will amaze us, astound us, provoke our thoughts, and boggle our minds.


strange horizons logo

Alright, full disclosure, I serve as a reader for Strange Horizons, but—I’ve gotta say—they really are simply terrific, and the writing they publish is consistently fantastic (in every sense of the word).

What Strange Horizons is looking for:

Speculative fiction, broadly defined.

(Bam! Dig it!)

Also, check out their page on stories they see too often.


“Literary” Fiction Opportunities

ASF logoA classic that doesn’t let you down as a reader or writer! They’re open for submissions year-round, baby!

What American Short Fiction is looking for:

Issued triannually, American Short Fiction publishes work by emerging and established voices: stories that dive into the wreck, that stretch the reader between recognition and surprise, that conjure a particular world with delicate expertise—stories that take a different way home.


Oxford A logoAnother classic, Oxford American also keeps its doors open to writers (and of course readers!) year-round.

What Oxford American is looking for:

The Oxford American is a non-profit, quarterly literary magazine dedicated to featuring the best in Southern writing while documenting the complexity and vitality of the American South.


chatt__02

The Chattahoochee Review is another that reads year-round, but the deadline (September 15th) for their current call for submissions around the theme of Migration is coming up fast. Don’t miss out!

What The Chattahoochee Review is looking for:

TCR seeks submissions for its Fall/Winter 2015 double issue with a special focus on Migration. Literal and figurative translations of the theme welcome. Not only flight, but also movement; not only movement, but also kinetics; not only kinetics, but also conflict; not only conflict, but also arrival; not only arrival, but also immersion. Dare to be topical, but also sincere. Microbiology, Animalia, suburbia, electronica, strata—relocate, dislocate, elocute.


Creative NonFiction Opportunities

cutbank logo

CutBank is quite simply cool. Definitely give them a read.

What CutBank is looking for:

In addition to submissions for the biannual print edition of CutBank, we’re also accepting a  variety of submissions for CutBankOnline.  We also hold several contests each year, where winners earn cash prizes and publication in CutBank or stand-alone chapbooks.


word riot logo

Word Riot is great for all kinds of writing, creative nonfiction included!

What Word Riot is looking for:

We like edgy. We like experimental. We like publishing the best up-and-coming writers and poets so we can say we knew ’em when.

Happy Reading & Writing!

A Novel Finished, A Novel Started

Well, friends, I’m proud to announce that my debut novel The Fire Eaters is finally finished, edited, and off to the slush piles of several different literary agents, awaiting their thoughts and judgement. The work as a whole took me longer than I’d hoped, but only as long as it needed. (Though I’m sure any agent/publisher who decides they like it will have their own editorial suggestions; anything to better serve the story, I say—just lay it on me!)

But really, what I’m most excited about isn’t hearing back from agents and publishers (though I am excited about this, of course; obviously; duh). No—what I’m most excited about now is the ability and opportunity to get started on new projects.

I’ve been doing a lot of short story writing since completing the novel edits, and the work of these new stories and voices has felt something like relearning that I don’t have to eat pizza every night (curry’s a thing too, y’know! and crab cakes!—and oysters!). I’m starting to also realize (re-realize?) that short story writing may be my favorite type of writing, from both a writer and reader’s perspective. There’s just something about the constant motion and newness of short stories that grips me by the heart and keeps me going.

Of course, this isn’t to say that I haven’t also already started sketching out the beginnings of a new novel. (No, not a sequel or anything like that; I need new—I need fresh air!) But, while I’ve got the plot fairly well decided on, the voices of these new novel characters are still being played with and dreamed up.

To help me get restarted and reinvigorated for all this New, I’ve been turning to some of my favorite authors for help and inspiration. If you’re ever feeling low or lost in a sea of dreaded sameness, just give these authors a few minutes of your day. They’ll make all the difference.the-girl-in-the-flammable-skirt

Aimee Bender, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

Here’s a Bender short story that’s available online for free; a great teaser for Flammable Skirt: “Quiet Please.”

Russell Edson, Assorted Poems

Here are a few Edson poems available free online thanks to The Poetry Foundation: “Let Us Consider,” “The Fight in the Meadow,” and “The Difficulty with a Tree.

Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation

In Annihilation, the first part of an imaginatively marketed and beautifully produced trilogy (the other parts are out in May and September), the novelist and publishing entrepreneur Jeff VanderMeer sets out to create a lasting monument to the uncanny by revisiting – without embellishment, and with a pitiless focus on physical and psychological detail – some very old ground. An alien invasion site. Assimilative spores. An unfurling of promiscuous alien biology. 

–Simon Ings, The Guardian

Happy Reading & Happy Writing!

The art of talking up a scene with yourself

Originally posted on A hunger for words:

“Only the boring get bored.” (Charles Bukowski, American poet and novelist)

“Sometimes I’ve imagined as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)

‘Fess up, my friend. You’ve created whole scenes and entire stories by talking to yourself out loud. I have, too.  It’s a good bit of fun. Oddly enough, I’ve discovered that I tend to have a much clearer idea of what I want to communicate if I talk it through out loud. It’s a bit embarrassing if someone walks into the room mid-monologue, but thinking out loud is a valuable part of the writing process.

So, how to talk through a scene out loud? Here’s a step-by-step guide complete with a running example.

Materials Needed

  • Mindless, non-interesting task (washing the dishes, pulling weeds, folding laundry, vacuuming, driving the car, taking a walk)
  • Inspiring phrase, debate point, movie line, imagined scene, vignette
  • Main characters
  • Suitable setting
  • Mirror/shiny surface…

View original 1,137 more words

“Would You Rather…?” for Writers

First, thank you both to Herminia‘s and to Rachel Poli‘s blogs for this post idea and questions. Goofy? Sure. Fun? Definitely :-) Plus, it’s an easy way to learn more about your fellow writers while also considering a few questions outright for yourself.

Would you rather only write stand-alone novels or trilogies?

Stand-alone novels — once a story is finished, I’m usually more than ready to take a trip to somewhere else.

Would you rather be a be known for a specific type/genre of work or never settle down?

This one’s tough — I’d have to say “never settle down,” even though there are specific genres I definitely prefer to read and write in.

Would you rather write by hand or have to type for the rest of your life?

Type — provided it’s on my typewriter and not the computer. I love writing by longhand because it makes first drafts easier (for me, anyway), but I always want the speed of typing, and so a typewriter, I find, is often a very happy medium.

305477_426511254084805_235356331_n

Would you rather be forced to write everything in uppercase or lowercase letters?

Uppercase — I’d rather everything got to feel important rather than everything seem low as a mowed lawn.

Would you rather only write 2 perfect pages per day or 250 so-so pages per week?

I’d have to say 2 perfect pages per day. Though, given the frequent disorganization in my writing process, I can’t imagine what this might do to my longer works :-p Might get me married to things far too easily.

Would you rather be traditionally published or self-published?

Traditionally — self-publishing requires far too many skills that I’m simply not expert enough in. Also, I’d rather spend the time writing and reading rather than trying to act like an agent, writer, publicist, visual artist, and publisher all in one.

Would you rather only write in pen or pencil?

Pen — oddly, I can’t stand the noise pencils make on paper.

Would you rather only be allowed to write at your desk or anywhere else in the world?

Anywhere else in the world — I love my desk, but I also love writing outdoors and going on writing dates with friends and colleagues. I wouldn’t give those opportunities up even for a desk made of Martian clay.

What do you think? Would you rather…?

Thomas Lee on Writing a Winning Story

“‘Anyone can write one good story. A good writer can write many bad stories. The best we can do is become good writers who more often than not write good stories.'”

—a writing instructor’s advice, from 

banner-Blog-140815

I want to share this article with you not only because I greatly appreciate Lee’s thoughtfulness and honesty, but because I think Lee does a tremendous job here of demonstrating how to rethink one’s own work, publishing histories, and ability to consider critiques. It’s both a professional and personal strength to be able to sincerely and respectfully consider critiques of your work, but it can often be tricky trying to wade through reader critiques in order to find those comments that ought to be heeded and those that ought to be ignored.

I love the way Lee outlines his thought process here when it comes to what advice he accepted or rejected for his award-winning short story, “The Gospel of Blackbird.” I believe Lee’s process of teasing out why he’s accepting or rejecting different critiques (as well as why the reader might’ve given them in the first place) could be of great use to anyone who’s ever had to struggle with negative reader comments or even plain mean ones.

Of course, in the end, Lee reminds us that the reasons why one great story gets awarded over a dozen others is impossible to tease out.

“All I know is that I wrote ‘The Gospel of Blackbird’ from the heart, and I wrote the story that I wanted to write.”

And this is really all we can do as writers: make sure that we always write from the heart and only write those stories that we most want to write. Those will be the stories that people will love reading and that will lead us to become good writers who, more often than not, write good stories.

(P.S. Jeff VanderMeer also does a terrific job of discussing the handling of critiques and the selection of First Readers in his The Wonder Bookwhich I can’t recommend highly enough — tons of fun and very helpful.)

7 Things Writers Should Stop Wasting Their Time On

Katherine C. Mead-Brewer:

1 img_2541I love this post from Carly Watters. Definitely give it a read and see if there aren’t any creeping unhelpful (or even downright destructive) habits that you could lose in order to help boost your writing time and improve your writing as well. (I know I’ve battled with some of these before and continue to battle with others of them.)

“Writing happens one word at a time, one day at a time.”

— Carly Watters

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

— Margaret Atwood

Originally posted on Carly Watters, Literary Agent:

IS09AL15JWe all know what a demon procrastination is. But what about the other things that get in the way of actual writing? I have a list of things that (some, not all) writers have a tendency to waste their time with. Whether it’s old habits that need shaking, or creative crutches that lead to excuses, the only way you’re going to write your book is when you sit down and do the work.

My goal, with this post and all of my blogs, is to help writers recognize their personal limitations and push through them for higher productivity and success!

So see if these apply to you, and decide if it’s time to let it go…

  1. Writing with one eye over your shoulder – So many writers hold back, especially when they’re writing their first novel. Whether it’s because it’s painful to go too deep, or they’re afraid what others will…

View original 549 more words

A strange journey through the worlds of writing and publishing

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 595 other followers

%d bloggers like this: