Tag Archives: Nonfiction

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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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!

Lucky Reads for Your Spring

Let’s welcome in springtime and St. Patrick’s Day with a big Cleaver Magazine THWACK! Lucky Issue No. 13 is out—so let’s see what’s on the cutting board.

Lucky 13

***Full disclosure, I’m an Editor-at-Large with Cleaver, and am incredibly proud to be so given its talented staff, dedication to including emerging writers/artists in each issue, and its combination of traditional and nontraditional forms of storytelling. So, yeah, I’m a bit biased.***

I recommend giving the entire issue a read, but here are just a few of my personal favorites:

LAST WORDS
by Willie Davis

(short fiction)

For a long time, I kept myself awake by writing personalized suicide notes for each of my friends. I’d found a website that compiled every recorded suicide note of the last ten years, and, not to sound conceited, I could do better. …


COCKCROW
by Tyler Kline

(poetry)

 Moment: a mother inks the scythe
above her daughter’s breast …


A PRESENCE IN WOOD
Wood Sculpture
by Miriam Carpenter

(visual art)


BLUE: SMOKE: COTTON: TEETH: CAT: JELLY: BLOW
by Anne Panning

(flash fiction)

I rarely wear blue, but today there’s a striped dress the color of rain in my closet. …


EMU ON THE LOOSE
by Thaddeus Rutkowski

(flash fiction)

Not much was happening at the artists’ retreat (people were hiding in their studios; maybe they were working; maybe they were drinking) until the emu arrived. We didn’t know where it came from; no one came with it. Wherever it had been, it hadn’t been missed.. …


 

NIGHT OWL
by Carmella de los Angeles Guiol

(creative nonfiction)

I once loved a man who was a creature of the night. Like me, but more so. He slept through most of the daylight hours, his wily hair a halo on his satin pillowcase. Sometimes I stopped by his room between classes to curl up next to him and feel his dreaming body register mine. …


Great Reads from Great Magazines

Check out these great stories and essays! Then–why not?–go ahead and check out more from these truly wonderful publications.

Tangerine” by Amy Roher, Room Magazine

(short story)

I once kept a tangerine in my purse. I watched it turn leathery, sweet and puckered. Eventually, there was nothing to it at all, just a dried-up husk.

“Life is hard,” says my ex-roommate Jeena, who spells her name that way because that’s the way you say it. She likes to tell it like it is. That’s the drinker’s philosophy. …

Cheese Baby” by Anna North, Talking Writing***

(I love this flash fiction story — I wish I’d written it!)

When my period came again, a day ahead of schedule, I carved myself a baby out of cheese. …

Wild Flowers” by Chelsea Ruxer, Hermeneutic Chaos

(flash fiction)

It was four years ago she slipped on the flat stone steps by the strawberries. She always wanted to get the weeding done after a rain, while the ground was still soft enough to pull the roots from the soil. But she was ninety-two then …

Deep Intellect” by Sy Montgomery, Orion Magazine

(I’ve probably promoted/suggested this CNF essay before but…who cares? It’s good enough to warrant all the good press it gets — Montgomery is amazing!)

On an unseasonably warm day in the middle of March, I traveled from New Hampshire to the moist, dim sanctuary of the New England Aquarium, hoping to touch an alternate reality. I came to meet Athena, the aquarium’s forty-pound, five-foot-long, two-and-a-half-year-old giant Pacific octopus. …

The Final Problem” by Scott Onak, SmokeLong Quarterly

(flash fiction)

The seven detectives lived together in a rented house. Two shared a bedroom, four had their own rooms, and one slept on the screened-in back porch, where it was darkest. …

One Lover. Two Lovers. Three Lovers. Four.
by Donna Hall, Muses & Visionaries 

(CNF essay)

I am a 60-something-year-old working, professional woman who has traveled the world, had some wild adventures, and then hunkered down to work and family, first as a mother, now as a (youthful!) grandmother, and always as a career woman. I thought there was little left to shock and upset me, but I was wrong. …

The Moon is a Wasteland” by Daniel DiFranco, SmokeLong Quarterly

(flash fiction)

At night, Thomas climbed up onto the roof of his house carrying a lasso. He threw it out, and it fell, limp and coiled. He tried again, and again, and on the seventh try, Goddamnit, he really did put that bastard right around the moon. …

***Also, for some truly breathtaking poetry, check out Acorn Journal.***

 

Happy Reading & Writing!

Fresh Writers Series, Part V

Fresh and exciting writers are just popping up all over the place right now! For the first time since I began this series, I’d like to dedicate a segment to spotlighting two different writers.

The first writer is a woman I know personally and whose work only impresses me more and more every day: Donna Hall. Her debut essay, “One Lover. Two Lovers. Three Lovers. Four.” with Muses & Visionaries Magazine is a bold and impressive work focused on the joys and challenges of polyamory.

Polyamory, Hall explains, is much more than being a “swinger,” it’s being involved in “‘romantic non-monogamy with the consent of everyone involved. There are almost as many different types of polyamorous relationships as there are people who engage in a poly lifestyle.'”

But Hall’s writing is striking not only because of its subject matter, but because of the naked honesty she offers her readers throughout the essay:

… I confess to feeling slightly jealous, wondering what we old, solidly monogamous, married people were missing. I thought that the fluidity of moving from polyamory to monogamy was enviable.

The entire essay runs a tight 1,663 words in length, but Hall doesn’t let the brevity of the piece fence her in. She tells an intense story of deep love, heartbreak, and resilience, and all while raising up classic, troubling questions for her readers:

How well can we ever actually know our loved ones?

How do we know what we want as opposed to what society tells us we should want?

Could I ever decide to break my spouse’s heart?

Could they ever decide to break mine?

No doubt about it, this is a strong publishing debut and I cannot, cannot wait until her next piece inevitably comes out.

***

The second writer for this segment is Evan Anderson, author of the flash fiction piece, “The Boy Who Carried Fire,” published with Gone Lawn (a consistently strong literary magazine if you haven’t checked it out before; definitely worth exploring!).

When I first came across Anderson’s work, I was blown away. I read “The Boy Who Carried Fire,” and then I read it again, and then I immediately went hunting for more of Anderson’s work. Unfortunately, his author bio doesn’t provide any information about further publications, so the hunt was frustrating and long. I even went searching for him on Facebook and met a number of patient, good-natured Evan Andersons, but none ended up being the author in question.

So, here’s to eventually finding more of Anderson’s work out there! For now, here’s just a taste of “The Boy Who Carried Fire”:

Clocking in at only 519 words, “The Boy Who Carried Fire” is definitely a masterful work of flash fiction. Flash fiction can be a particularly difficult and unwieldy genre given its difficult and unwieldy list of demands: Be meaningful! Be poetic! Be entertaining! Oh, and keep it brief–super brief! But Anderson meets these demands gracefully in this piece (which very well might be his debut publication!).

Here’s the bio Gone Lawn provides:

Evan is a writer living in a bowl of a city surrounded by swamps and brimming with stories and music.

***

Congratulations to both Donna Hall and Evan Anderson on your publications!

I definitely expect to be reading more work from the both of you very, very soon. Keep writing!


 

What is the Fresh Writers Series?

It’s a way for me to spotlight different emerging writers whose work I’ve stumbled across and–for one reason or another–fallen in love with. Check out the previous spotlighted writers here.

What Have You Read In 2016?

boy with a hat

0707ephr11_600x3851 (c) Ephraim Rubenstein – Books: Pile XIX

I don’t know about you, dear reader of my agreeable blog, but after I finish a book or story I note it down in a Books I’ve Read list. Keeping track of what I read helps me recall books and authors more easily, and I think it’s an innocent way to challenge the oblivion that threatens to swallow most books after we put them down.

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