Reading & Writing

Two Unforgettable Short Stories

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Both of these stories come from the magazine, Willow Springs:–the litmag where I interned during grad school–and I had the pleasure of editing both stories. “Sine Die” was actually the winner of our yearly contest the year I was in charge of it, though the official decision was made by our editor-in-chief with the support of his editors. Maybe I’m biased, but I believe these are two amazing pieces of short fiction. Both deal with the subject of memory, and both stand out as favorites, from my first year working at Willow Springs to my last.

“Sine Die” by Sarah Hulse, from Willow Springs 71

The doctors claim that Jeremiah’s awareness of his own condition is a blessing. Often, they’ve told us, people with anterograde amnesia don’t know they have it; they are constantly surprised by their own inability to remember.

“The Receiving Tower” by Matt Bell from Willow Springs 65

The captain lets the men speak, and then, calmly, asks each of the dissenters where they are from, knowing these men will not be able to remember their hometowns, that they haven’t been able to for years.
The captain, he always knows how to quiet us.

 

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

My Favorite Short Story

There are billions of short stories out there, and probably millions of good ones. Thousands of really good ones. I’ve read so many–both published and in the slush pile for Willow Springs–but when I think about short stories, there’s one that always comes to mind. It’s not a classic like “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” or “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (which are both great). It’s not particularly famous, nor is its author. In fact, if I hadn’t worked at Willow Springs, I might never have known it existed. It’s called “The Land of Pain” and it was published in Willow Springs 56.

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It used to be available on their website, but I guess it’s been taken down. If you can get your hands on a copy, read it. In the mean time, read another of my favorites by Stacey Richter, “The Cavemen in the Hedges.”

And Stacey, if you’re out there, I hope you’re writing. Because I want to read it.