Reading & Writing

How to Submit to a Literary Journal

IMG_20170817_083920When I started submitting to literary journals, it was mostly ink and paper. I must have filled hundreds of manila envelopes with my manuscripts, stamped so many self-addressed envelopes, at least half of which were never returned. What was returned, when the editors bothered to respond, was a paper slip: “We regret to inform you,” blah blah blah. On a rare occasion, there’d be a note from the editor–we really liked this but the ending falls apart/we love your voice/we can’t accept this piece but please submit to us again.

Nowadays, it’s all online. Some places kept paper submissions going longer than others, but I’m pretty sure they’ve all phased it out now. This actually makes it a lot easier for writers to submit; the various online submission managers are easy to use and help you keep track of what you’ve submitted and how it was received. You no longer get rejected with a paper slip, which, if you’re one of those people who makes the best of rejection by turning it into art, is probably pretty disappointing. But think of all the trees it’s saving! Because, man, do literary magazines get a lot of submissions. Even the small ones. The pile of paper would be staggering.

Anyway, like I said: submitting is easy. You don’t need me to walk you through the steps it takes to get your work to an editor, because the internet will do that for you. However, as a former fiction editor and assistant managing editor for a literary journal, I can offer you some insights on how to help make sure your work is well received. Continue reading “How to Submit to a Literary Journal”

Reading & Writing

The Books on My Nightstand

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Every so often, I visit a bookstore and buy an armful of books. Maybe there’s a sale going on. Maybe I have a coupon. Maybe I’ve found a hole in the wall with a great selection and simply can’t help myself. However it happens, I buy more than I can read before the next bookstore trip, or fortuitous garage sale or estate sale find (I’m always looking for books for my Etsy shop but, well, some of them don’t ever get listed).

These books pile up on me. Especially when I go through periods, like I have lately, of not reading. It just seems like there’s never enough time. And reading is so passive–if I’m going to do something during the day that takes attention away from my kids, it feels like it should be productive. In the evenings, I want to spend time with my husband. For some reason, he gets a little offended if I blow him off for a book. Go figure. I guess that’s what happens when you marry a non-bookworm.

But I always come back to reading. I have to make time for it–it’s a part of me. And if my kids don’t like me stealing a half an hour a day to read a book, well, they can lump it. (Seriously: there are times when they want me sitting near them but I’m not allowed to play, and if I take out a book or my phone or a notebook it’s tantrum time, baby. And/or they steal the thing that’s taking my attention and make me insane.) I’ve got to get back to those books. I will get back to them. Soon. I hope.

Reading & Writing

National Book Lovers Day Giveaway!

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He can’t wait to turn the page.

It’s National Book Lovers Day! (Book Lovers’ Day?) I’ve also seen it listed as National Book Appreciation Day. Either way, I’ve decided to do a little giveaway. Just tell me about your favorite books in the comments below and I’ll pick a winner at random. Once you’re picked, I’ll look at your favorites and choose a book I think you’d like from my library and send it your way!

What do you say? What are your favorite books?

Reading & Writing

Writing Exercise: The First Face You See

OConnor.jpegWhere do you write? Do you have pictures on the walls? Windows? Is it a coffee house where you escape the noise and chaos of home? Are you alone or are there people? When you look up from this blog post, whose is the first face you see?

Make a note of it. Because that’s the person you’ll be writing about for the next five minutes.

For me, it’s Flannery O’Connor. I have a drawing of her on the wall behind my computer. Watching me. Most likely judging me. But I’m going to try to forget she’s an iconic American writer for the time being and try to just look at her face and give her a story. And I want you to do the same, with the first person you see. If you know them, forget their name. If you don’t, give them one.

Five minutes. Go. Continue reading “Writing Exercise: The First Face You See”

Reading & Writing

Violet’s Top Ten Bedtime Books, in No Particular Order

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A classic

The girl is a huge fan of story time. She’ll tell me she’s ready for bed at six o’clock and then expect me to read stories until eight. It’s a problem, really, but I love how much she loves her books. There is a huge stack of books by her bed (or on her floor–it’s always tumbling down) but these are her most-requested of late. Ignore the fact that none of the protagonists are female (though I would argue Little Critter is gender neutral–in my mind, anyway–and we only know Small Bear is a boy because he morphs into Brother Bear when Sister Bear is born)–though it does annoy me, that’s not what this post is about. I just wanted to share our bedtime reading list and to ask you, what books do your kids love?

Continue reading “Violet’s Top Ten Bedtime Books, in No Particular Order”