Category Archives: The Business End

The Hybrid Writer’s Life (Post-MFA)

I love this article from Paige Sullivan with Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog!

There’s a lot of pressure and uncertainty for writers around the question of whether or not to go for an MFA, and then, what if you do? What if you go for that MFA, graduate, and then…what? Do you get to say, “I’m a writer” when people ask what you do for a living (even if your writing isn’t what pays the bills)? And what if being a writer isn’t your career dream, but you know that writing is an invaluable skill that you want to further hone and develop? Or what if it’s like Rae Pagliarulo says in her terrific follow-up article to Sullivan’s, where you have no intention of shucking off your non-writer job, but you know that pursuing an MFA will feed your soul regardless?

In other words, what does a writer look like, and how can we as writers (whether professional, self-proclaimed, or otherwise) come to grips with this wild identity?

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz headshot.jpg Photo by Chris Marley

By Paige Sullivan

A newly-enrolled MFA student, my job as an assistant editor at my program’s top-tier, in-house literary journal was what you’d expect: reading the slush pile. The journal accepted both paper and online submissions, meaning each week I’d work through a stack of submission packets colorfully paper clipped together in addition to sifting through the online queue.

While the work was sometimes dull, it was crucial to sharpening my reading skills, and it afforded me an invaluable understanding of the spectrum of talent and skill that exists out there. Truly, we got it all: exceptional work, promising work, and strange poems that tried to compare love to meatball marinara.

My favorite part of reading the paper submissions were the more personal touches of the printed and hand-signed cover letters, which were sometimes accompanied by a business card. For me, these submissions became fascinating character…

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Publishing Advice for the Unpublished Writer

Check out my essay on writing with The Review Review!

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Step One:

Only submit something you actually enjoyed writing, something you’re passionate about, something you’ve edited and reedited and performed aloud and hated and loved and obsessed over, whether it’s funny, frightening, serious, or melodramatic. I’ve read enough passionless gimmicky pieces to last me a lifetime.

Step Two …

Literary Magazines with Fast Response Times, Part II

Here’s Part II of a short list of literary magazines who have (or offer for a fee) super-fast response times to submissions:

Driftwood Press

Submission Period: Rolling

Genres Accepted: Fiction, Poetry, Visual Art, & Lit Crit/Interviews

Response Rate: They accept simultaneous submissions and, for $5, offer a premium submission option that promises a one-week turnaround.

Maudlin House

Submission Period: Currently Open

Genres Accepted: Fiction, Flash Fiction, Visual Art, Video, & Poetry

Response Rate: They accept simultaneous submissions and say they respond to all submissions within approximately two weeks. You can also pay $5 for an expedited submission with a 24-hour turnaround.

Carve Magazine

Submission Period: Rolling

Genres Accepted: Fiction

Response Rate: They accept simultaneous submissions, but not multiple submissions. If you become a subscriber, you can submit under a “premium” submission option, which promises a one-month turnaround.

Nat. Brut

Submission Period: Rolling

Genres Accepted: Fiction, Flash Fiction, Comics, CNF, & Poetry

Response Rate: They accept simultaneous submissions and, for a fee of $4, they promise a turnaround time of six weeks.

Gargoyle Magazine

Submission Period: Currently Closed

Genres Accepted: Fiction & Flash Fiction

Response Rate: They accept simultaneous submissions and usually get back to submitters within a week (personal experience has been fewer than three days!).

Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal

Submission Period: Rolling

Genres Accepted: Fiction, Flash Fiction, Visual Art, & Poetry

Response Rate: They accept simultaneous and multiple submissions, and have a turnaround time of ten days or fewer.

Blue Mesa Review

Submission Period: Open September 30 – March 31

Genres Accepted: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, & Art

Response Rate: They accept simultaneous submissions and, for a $3 fee, will expedite your submission with a promised turnaround time of thirty days or fewer.

Clarkesworld Magazine

Submission Period: Currently Open

Genres Accepted: SF&F

Response Rate: They do not accept simultaneous or mutliple submissions, but they usually get back to submitters within two to three days.

The Dark Magazine

Submission Period: Currently Open

Genres Accepted: Horror & Dark Fantasy

Response Rate: They do not accept simultaneous or multiple submissions, but they usually get back to submitters within two to three days.

 

Click here for Part I of this list*

Happy Submitting!

 

Novelist, Poet, Short Story Writer?

First, the good news (because Fridays should always start with good news): My flash fiction piece “Zebra Skin” has just been accepted for publication with Fiction Southeast! I couldn’t be happier about this–both because I happen to especially love this story and because I’ve been hankering for a spot in Fiction Southeast for…forever? Definitely ever since I learned that Aimee Bender was among their ranks.

Now, on to the meat and potatoes (or, if you’re a veggie like me, the cabbage and potatoes):

This past May, I hired on the tremendous Seattle-based editor Tara Weaver to help me tackle the monster novel that I’ve been working on for a few years now, (working title) The Fire Eaters. Not only was Weaver basically incredible (professional, kind, straightforward, sincere, creative, timely, and many other equally wondrous things), but she also helped something crucial finally click into place for me: I am not a novelist. I am a short story writer.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’ll never write a novel — I’ve already written several rather dreadful ones, in fact — but it does mean that, at least for now, short story writing is where my heart lies. It’s where I boogie. And it’s all thanks to Weaver asking me a deceptively simple question: Katie, did you enjoy writing this novel?

I had no idea of how to respond. Of course! I wanted to say. Of course I enjoyed it–I love my job, don’t I? This is what I do!

And yet there was that little voice in my head: But did you, Katie? Did you actually enjoy writing this novel?

I ask, she told me, because it was clear to me as a reader when you stopped enjoying the writing of this book. In your short stories, though, there’s never a moment where I feel as though you stopped enjoying the process or the project.

It took a while for me to really know what to do with this information. I’m a writer. Of course I write short stories–I have no skill for poetry, and how else would I build up a resume to finally write and sell a novel one day? (Right?)

But then I had to ask myself: Well, would it be so bad if you were a short story writer instead of a novelist?

Novels sell. Short stories don’t. –This is the mantra I grew up hearing, reading, encountering again and again. But on the other hand, it’s not like my novels are anything worth selling at this point, unlike my short fiction.

So, next question: Well, what kinds of books do you most enjoy reading?

Short story collections. Hands down. Always. Whenever I have an author recommended to me, I always seek out their short fiction first and, if I can’t find any, more often than not, I’ll usually ignore the recommendation and move on to someone else.

This is a habit that I know not many readers share with me, but it’s one that’s served me well time and again. If you don’t have a short story for me, there’s little chance that I’m going to trust you with the amount of time that a novel demands of its consumers. Also, short stories are those blissful dives into the moment, into the now, whereas novels so often seek to drag me into the past with flashbacks, backstory, stock characters, and on and on. Or, as Katey Schultz so beautifully says in her article “What is Flash Fiction?“:

In an era of bombardment … we’re hungry for precise details and a widening of the moment. We’re anxious for an excuse to hold time and look closely.

–And this is an urgent, pivotal job of the short story, of flash fiction, of prose poetry.

Of course, this isn’t to say that short stories are somehow better than novels, but simply that they are different (albeit closely related) artforms, and thus demand different skills and serve different purposes.

So why this hesitation on my part? Why all this pressure to write a novel when they aren’t even my preferred go-to as a reader?

Well, here’s one reason–as Amber Sparks so tragically points out in her articleLet Us Now Praise Famous Short Story Writers (And Demand They Write a Novel“:

Most people really don’t like short stories. And that includes lots of critics, who often seem to regard short story collections as a warm-up for the real thing.

“The real thing” — aye, there’s the rub. In today’s world, short stories are still often looked down on as somehow lesser, somehow not as professional, not as artistic, not as meaningful, not as powerful, not as important as the grand Novel. And I played right into their hands by letting this slop infect my perspective.

I know I also often fall into a similar trap when discussing my writing career in general. As a full-time creative writer, I’m often made to feel badly about my career. As if writing was nothing more than glorified unemployment. When people learn that I’m a writer, their follow-up questions usually tend toward these paths:

But do you also edit? Are you planning to be a teacher? What’s your day job? Have you ever considered self-publishing?

To dodge these kinds of well-meant yet soul-chewing questions, I often simply avoid telling people I’m a writer at all. –But this cannot be the answer. We writers must stand up for ourselves. We cannot allow the misconceptions of others to define who we are or what our work-lives mean, just like I must also now proudly stand up for the short story as an artform that’s every bit as vital and meaningful as the novel.

As Kara Cochran says in her (tremendous!) article “A ‘Real’ Job: The Legitimacy of Creative Writing“:

Unfortunately, writers often perpetuate the stereotypes they fight against. … We often fail (or refuse) to define what it is that we do …. Maybe we feel guilty for our gifts, for having the means to pursue something for love over money, for having found something that makes us happy. …

The problem is this: all of this is self-perpetuating. Because convention tells us to accompany writing with a ‘real job,’ writers struggle to make writing a real job.

C’mon, fellow writers, let’s make this a real job.

I’m a short story writer. I love what I do and I’m proud of it. Whether you’re a novelist, short story writer, poet, a triple threat–own it. Love what you do and be proud of it. Own it–for art’s sake!

 

 

 

Literary Magazines with Fast Response Times, Part I

*Updated 9/7/16

Here’s a short list of literary magazines who have stellar, super-fast response times to submissions:

Betwixt Magazine

Submission Period: April 1st – May 31st

Genres Accepted: Speculative Fiction

Response Rate: They don’t accept simultaneous or multiple submissions, but they are dedicated to getting back to their submitters within 2 weeks.

Nightmare Magazine

Submission Period: June 1st – June 15th

Genres Accepted: Horror & Dark Fantasy

Response Rate: They don’t accept simultaneous or multiple submissions, but they do promise to get back to you between 2 days to 2 weeks.

Bartleby Snopes

Submission Period: Rolling

Genres Accepted: Fiction

Response Rate: They accept simultaneous submissions, but not multiple submissions (you must wait at least 30 days before submitting a new piece to them). They get back to their submitters between 3-7 days.

One Throne

Submission Period: Rolling

Genres Accepted: Fiction

Response Rate: They don’t accept simultaneous or multiple submissions (you must wait at least 30 days before submitting a new piece to them). However, they do get back to their submitters within a week.

Shimmer Magazine

Submission Period: Currently Open

Genres Accepted: Speculative Fiction (no poetry)

Response Rate: They don’t accept simultaneous or multiple submissions, but they are dedicated to getting back to their submitters within 2 weeks.

Apex Magazine

Submission Period: Currently Closed

Genres Accepted: SF&F, Horror, and Speculative (prose and poetry)

Response Rate: They don’t accept simultaneous or multiple submissions, but they get back to their writers within a month.

Threepenny Review

Submission Period: Open January – June

Genres Accepted: Literary Fiction

Response Rate: They don’t accept simultaneous or multiple submissions, but they strive to get back to their submitters within a week.

Adroit Magazine

Submission Period: Currently Closed

Genres Accepted: Fiction & Poetry

Response Rate: They accept simultaneous and multiple submissions, and promise to get back to their submitters within a month.

Blue Monday Review

Submission Period: Currently Open; closes on 9/9/16

Genres Accepted: Fiction (style inspired by Kurt Vonnegut)

Response Rate: If you’re willing to pay $8 for an expedited submission (as well as some very useful, professional feedback on any submissions that aren’t accepted), they’ll get back to you within 2 weeks.

Palooka

Submission Period: Currently Open

Genres Accepted: Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, & Graphic Narratives

Response Rate: They accept simultaneous and multiple submissions, and they’re dedicated to get back to their submitters within 2 weeks.

Cease, Cows

Submission Period: Currently Open; closes 11/15/16

Genres Accepted: Flash Fiction

Response Rate: If you’re willing to pay $3 or $4 for an expedited submission (depending on how fast you want things expedited), they accept simultaneous and multiple submissions, and will get back to their paying submitters within a week.

 

Click here for Part II of this list*

 

Happy Submitting!

Don’t Set Yourself Up for Failure

Check out this great article from Anne R. Allen:

Don’t Derail Your Writing Career:

8 Ways New Writers  Sabotage Themselves

Allen provides some very solid, useful advice for the emerging writer. And while it may feel like a lot of commonsense, she actually gets to the heart of many traps and snafus that plenty of young artists often find themselves mired in. I know I’ve fallen victim to some of these issues myself, and I’m grateful to Allen for being so honest, open, and straightforward about them here.

Here’s a teaser:

We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn. But some mistakes have the potential to end a writing career before it starts. Today I’m talking about the things a lot of writers do that can keep them from having a career—or derail it for a long time. How do I know about them? I did a lot of this stuff myself.

1) Writing in a Vacuum

It seems at least half the people I meet are “working on a book.” A lot of them have been working on that same book for years—even decades.

But they never show it to anybody.

These are the people who also never read writing guides or blogs or magazine articles that might improve their writing skills or educate them about the publishing business. This is especially true of nonfiction writers, for some reason. They think a memoir or how-to book is somehow easier to write than a novel.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Nonfiction needs to be even more carefully structured than fiction—especially memoir.

Happy Reading & Writing!

–And a big thank you to Anne R. Allen for sharing her wisdom!

The Poetry Problem

For all the poets out there!

Editors' Blog!

magnetic fridge poetryHEY POETS, did you know that your spacing decisions can affect your chances of being published successfully in online literary magazines?
Most writers, poets included, create and distribute their work on word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. It’s what we’ve always done. These programs are great for viewing work on our computers and for making print-outs, but they don’t play well with online publishing platforms like WordPress (on which our site is built), Drupal, Joomla, and others.

This is a software and design problem that many poets are unaware of. And it could be the reason certain poems you submit to online publications are rejected or end up being published in a different-looking format from what you intended.

What’s this ‘white space a problem’? The word processing programs we writers use to create poems make it easy for us to spread text across a page, just as we used to do on a typewriter. Just tap the space…

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