30 October 2012

opportunities for writers 10/30

a-z presses
This week’s Opportunities for Writers post is special … We’ve almost reached the end of the October Submit-O-Rama, which makes this the last “A to Z” series post of the challenge! To celebrate, and to give some of us a final “push” toward the finish line, we’ll be covering both three L-presses seeking your writing and a complete A-Z list of journals still open for submissions! Enjoy!

Start prepping your pencils for these great opportunities for writers
(Image: "pencils" by Borbas Krisztian)

Lovely 'L's

limestone

About: Limestone is the journal of the University of Kentucky’s English Graduate program. The journal “showcases original and imaginative writing and art by residents of the Bluegrass region of Kentucky and from across the nation.” While the “tastes” of the journal vary, the editors note that they “enjoy honest characters, sparky language, and stories that explore the complexities of being alive.” 

Submission Process: Poets should submit 5 or fewer poems typed and single-spaced; prose submissions are limited to no more than 30 typed, double-spaced pages. Simultaneous submissions are accepted with notification. Learn more about Limestone’s submission guidelines and access their online submission manager here.

Reading Period: Rolling; at this point, however, submissions will be considered for the 2013 issue (noted only so that potential submitters are aware that there may be a bit of a wait for a response)

Website: Learn more about Limestone by visiting them online at limestonejournal.com

little red leaves

About: The first thing that jumped out at me about Little Red Leaves was the title … If you’re a writer who loves to submit based on the title of the journal alone, maybe you will be as intrigued as I was. Little Red Leaves is “a collectively edited online journal of poetry.” It is published biannually. It is unique in that it publishes both typewritten and handwritten formats of poems.

Submission Process: Poets should submit either four poems or 8 pages (whichever comes first). Though they do not accept essays, “essays that border on poetry will be considered.” Poets should include personal contact information in the cover letter of their submission only. Submit work in either handwritten or typed format via Little Red Leaves' Submittable submissions manager. If accepted, the poet will be asked to submit the other format before publication. Read more on Little Red Leaves' submission guidelines, and access the Submittable manager, here.

Reading Period: There is no specific reading period listed (in general, this means you can assume it is rolling, but you may want to inquire the editors!)

Website: Visit Little Red Leaves online at www.littleredleaves.com

lunch ticket

About: Lunch Ticket is the journal of the Antioch University of Lost Angeles’ MFA community. A biannual journal, Lunch Ticket is dedicated to publishing “the best literary writing, regardless of subject matter or theme.”

Submission Process: While they do not accept previously published work, Lunch Ticket is open to simultaneous submissions. Writers of fiction, creative nonfiction, and writing for young people should submit work up to 5,000 words in .doc or .docx format. Flash fiction and nonfiction writers may submit multiple pieces, but they must not exceed 5,000 words collectively; pieces may be submitted individually or as one document. Poets should send 3-5 poems in .doc or .docx format; poems may also be submitted individually or as one document. All submissions, including poetry, should include numbered pages and be typed in 12-point. For full submission guidelines, and to access Lunch Ticket’s Submittable page (the link is located at the top right corner of the page), visit the Submission Guidelines page.

Reading Period: The deadline for submissions is Thursday, November 1, 2012 … so hurry and get your work ready! (The good news is that this deadline is for the Winter issue, which means you should hear back relatively quickly)

Website: To learn more about Lunch Ticket and view a sampling from the current issue, visit Lunch Ticket online at lunchticket.org

Bonus! 
A-Z Press Extravaganza!

What follows is a list of journals for every letter of the alphabet that are open to submissions right now! End the Submit-O-Rama strong and consider submitting to one, or all, of these presses!



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Check in with the Submit-O-Rama before it ends on Wednesday!

29 October 2012

creative writing submissions 101: avoiding writing contest scams

When you’ve been writing for a while, you’re sure to have come across at least one “sounds too good to be true” writing competition. I remember, several years ago (when I was still a relatively “green” poet), reading about a poetry contest and feeling extremely skeptical; it was free to enter, but the guidelines felt sketchy to me. To test the waters (it offered a $500 prize, so why not), I submitted what I considered to be the worst poem I’d ever written (something along the lines of “Roses are red, violets are blue, this is a poem, it’s nice to meet you”). Surprise, surprise … a few days later I received notice that my poem had been selected as one of the best entries, and for a mere $49.95 I could receive my full award package: an anthology of all the best poems, a mug, a certificate, and I think some kind of button. There was also an offer to join some kind of “famous poet” society or something, which of course was absurd … I hadn’t even won.

The point is, there are a lot of contests out there for writers, and not all of them are legitimate. It’s hard to know which ones to buy into (both figuratively and literally) and which ones are just a bunch of bologna. Generally, though, there are a few guidelines to follow to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of a contest scam.

The Cost
It used to be that the general rule was, “If it charges you to read your work, it’s probably a scam.” These days, it’s often the other way around! Most reputable contests will charge an entry fee (anything from a $2-5 reading fee to a $25-50 entry fee), but they will also offer a pretty substantial prize. The best contests, and the trustworthy ones, lay out the cost and prize details right away. In many cases, the entry fee goes toward funding the prize or a subscription to the journal or magazine; if you have to hunt for an explanation of the fee, you might not want to chance it! Also beware the “too good to be true” contest entries: i.e. it may sound great that a free contest offers a $500 or even $1,000 award, but make sure you do your research before sending in your best work to a contest that strikes you as in any way “off.”

The Prize
If you pay to enter a contest, you generally can expect some kind of payment in return. Again, look to see if the contest details where the money is going. In some cases, the entry fee goes toward paying a prize or advance to the winner. Some journals detail that the entry fee includes a reading fee and a subscription, win or lose. The prize may vary from money to publication to something else … but always make sure your money is well spent. If you’re entering a free contest, the chance of publication should probably be enough of a reward (though many journals still offer a small honorarium to winners as well). If you’re paying to enter, make sure the potential prize is equal to or greater than the value of what you shelled out. That’s not to say you should be stingy about it—but in general, a “get the most bang for your buck” mentality is a good rule of thumb!

The Host
If the contest is run by a reputable publisher or organization, it’s easy to judge it as legitimate. But when the name of the contest host is something like “Famous Poets Society” or anything that makes you raise your eyebrow even a little, it’s okay to be suspicious. The important thing I want to note here is the importance of knowing the names of reputable organizations and contest hosts, and checking details, websites, etc. There’s the Poetry Society of America, and then there’s The American Poets Society.

The Scoop
If you feel even a little suspicious of a contest or contest host, Google is only two seconds away. Always search for the names and organizations associated with a contest before entering. Be sure not to just search “So and So Press Contest” but “So and So Press Contest scam.” Searching the former might just give you tons of links from people who don’t know any more about the contest than you do (or might have been generated by the scammers themselves). Searching the latter will bring up a quick list of anybody else who either suspects or has verified the reliability and respectability of a contest in the past.

The bottom line is: Look before you leap. Do research. Ask around. Check sites that you know list reputable contests and use them as a guide. Avoid banner ads for contests (seriously). Check links. Weigh the cost-to-benefit ratio. (And a little caveated reminder: Just because you don’t win a contest doesn’t make it a scam!) Spending a little time checking a contest out now will save you from spending a lot of money on scams and disappointment later! 

BONUS!
A Writer's New Best Friend!

Worried about where you’re submitting your writing or who to trust? Never fear … "Writer Beware" is here! The "Writer Beware" blog is “the public face of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Committee on Writing Scams.” The SFWA may be a genre-specific organization, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about the well-being of all aspiring writers! "Writer Beware" keeps track of many less-than-reputable contests, schemes, scams, and more and works to raise awareness of and expose them to protect writers. The site includes advice for writers, updates and news from the writing industry, and detailed research into the problems facing writers. If you have questions about the trustworthiness of an offer, contest, resource, and more, "Writer Beware" is a great place to go to in order to get the most up-to-date research. Check them out at the SFWA website and the "Writer Beware" Blog!


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26 October 2012

a review of kevin young’s the hungry ear

The Hungry Ear, Edited by Kevin Young
(Bloomsbury USA, 2012)
The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink
Edited by Kevin Young
Bloomsbury USA, October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60819-551-0
Hardcover: 336 pages; $25.00

When someone says you’ll “eat your words,” I don’t think they had poetry in mind. Yet in the new anthology The Hungry Ear, compiled and edited by Kevin Young, we are invited to gnaw on more than 100 morsels in poetic form.

When it comes down to it, there is perhaps no better metaphor for poetry’s place in our lives than food—it is soul food, comfort food, the thing that reminds of us home and memory and love and longing. It is at once delicate and messy, an idea manifested in the mess of a meal on the anthology’s cover and perpetuated in the book’s 158 poems. Before inviting readers to dive into the collection, Young tempts us with a quote from Pablo Neruda that reminds us that poetry “is like bread; it should be shared by all, by scholars and by peasants, by all our vast, incredible, extraordinary family of humanity.” In his introduction, Young extends the metaphor, offering that “the best poems, like the best meals, are made from scratch.” Indeed, the poems of this collection blend together like a warm homemade jumbo: the ingredients, on their own, might not seem to work together, but together they manage to form something scrumptious.

Young is no newcomer to the succulence of poetry. The editor of The Best American Poetry 2011 and author of seven poetry collections, Young frequently uses poetry to engage the things that unite us as human beings: music, art, history, film, and more. His poetry often features a chorus of voices, representing his own palette of flavorful personas and images. His most recent poetry collection, Ardency: A Chronicle off the Amistad Rebels, was named as one of the Boston Globe’s “Best Poetry Books of 2011,” and was a winner of a 2012 American Book Award. Young, in other words, is no stranger to the poetic kitchen.

The difference here is that he has invited us to join him at the banquet hall table and, to paraphrase his grandmother’s words that close his introduction, help ourselves.

The Hungry Ear is sectioned with the same careful attention as a cookbook. Instead of meals of breakfast and supper, Young provides the reader with seasonal sections, drawing the bonds between the passing of time—the celebrations and seasons that define our days—the allure of a good meal, and the satisfaction of a good poem a little tighter. There is an abundance of blackberries, apples, and greens, a gift of first fruits that serves both to initiate the anthology’s “harvest” and provide readers with a sampler of what’s to come.

Admittedly, some poems linger longer than others. Neruda’s “Ode to Salt”—with its memories of salt singing “with a mouth choking / on dirt” so haunting it makes me ponder the benefits of a low sodium diet—packs a far greater punch than Roy Blount, Jr.’s “Song to Bacon.” Poems like HonorĂ©e Jeffers’ “The Gospel of Barbecue,” meanwhile, feel something akin to that greedy growl in the stomach when you’re at once somewhat satisfied and left longing for more.

In Jeffers’ poem we are returned to that sense of haunting, and so many themes within the text come together, with lingering lines linking past and present over dinner plates:

Great Grandma Mandy
used to say food
you was whipped
for tasted the best.


It’s a strangely haunting metaphor, really, that propels the reader through this text. The seasonings enriching these poems are as varied as the poets themselves (only in a collection like this could the voices of poets like Galway Kinnell and Yusef Komunyakaa flow so effortlessly together), and the variety can at times become almost overwhelming. It’s hard to know, in some moments through the anthology, if it’s the satisfying stuffed-ness following a smorgasbord or the whirlwind of realizing you’ve been left with the dishes.

As with any meal, there are imperfections. Yet, as a whole, Young delivers a multi-coursed treat that shouldn’t be missed by any poetry lover … or culinary enthusiast, for that matter. It is a collection meant to be as treasured as grandmom’s recipe book, as warm and fabulous and flawed as any family gathered at the dinner table.

*****

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Check out these other reviews from Our Lost Jungle:

25 October 2012

online finds: the 2013 writer's market (and more!)

The 2013 Writer's Market, edited by Robert
Lee Brewer; copyright Writer's Digest Books
No matter what stage of the writing life you find yourself in—whether you’re just starting or you’ve been doing this for years, if you’re just getting on your feet or you’re off the ground and ready to launch—there’s one question we all constantly ask ourselves: Where can I find a new crib for this baby?

Thanks to the Writer’s Market series, the search has become a whole lot easier.

The 2013 Writer’s Market, edited by Writer’s Digest’s Robert Lee Brewer (who also happens to be one of the best advocates for poets I know), provides thousands of opportunities for writers to find the perfect home for their writing projects. Opportunities include contests, literary journals, magazines, awards, agents, and more! The front matter is packed with helpful articles from tips on putting together your Query Letter and building your platform to figuring out what to charge for your work and guides to taking advantage of many of the more popular social media sites. Market listings include contact information for publishers and agents (including websites, physical addresses, phone and fax numbers, emails, etc.) and tips direct from the folks you’re trusting your writing to that may prove during the submission process.

The nice thing about the Writer’s Market guide is that it’s built for just about anyone. Listings cross among the various genres to give you as comprehensive a collection of sources and resources as possible. The detailed descriptions of what publishers, editors, and agents are looking for make it a little easier to figure out which people and places might make the best “fit” for what you have to offer.

Of course, as a poet, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that there are also specific Writer’s Market books limited to genre-specific writing. The 2013 Poet’s Market, also edited by Robert Lee Brewer, is an equally invaluable resource just for poets. Beyond traditional journal publications, this guide also includes opportunities in book and chapbook publishing, contests, residencies, and more. Like the other Market books, it also includes an array of editorial content on the business, promotion, and publishing of poetry. In one of the first editorial pieces in the most recent version of Poet’s Market, Nate Pritts notes that while “there’s no infallible, one-size-fits-all roadmap to success in this patchwork vocation [of poetry], there is Poet’s Market ready to provide the kind of navigation that matters.”

This is as true of Poet’s Market as it is for all the genre guides to the tricky task of publishing, promoting, and elsewise getting your writing out there for the world to see. Will there ever be a perfect guide to publishing? Doubtful. Does the Writer’s Market collection get you a little closer? Definitely.

Be sure to check out the Market books for yourself, and see what they have to offer you!

*****

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Check out all the Market books on Amazon, for desk and Kindle editions!

24 October 2012

"it's the little things": finding inspiration in the ordinary

This month has been one of those where it seems like every waking moment is a time squeeze, particularly when it comes to writing! I’ll bet you know what I’m talking about … It seems like so often in the writer-life we try to go from "Writer Kent" to "Superwriter." We have writing, families and friends, jobs, and other commitments vying for our attention, and in the midst of all this we’re trying to keep our passion for the words that so inspire us alive. It’s sometimes hard to know where to turn to keep the juices flowing and the love glowing.

This is why, for me, it is so important to take a minute and find joy, and inspiration, from the so-called little things.

“the roses”

We’ve all heard that phrase “Stop and smell the roses.” Every time I hear that phrase I imagine a busy soul walking rapid-pace through life. It’s a woman half-jogging down the street, soft green pea coat flapping in the gentle breezy wake her body’s motion creates—arms full, breath heavy, hair frenzied, off to the next thing … And suddenly: roses. They halt her in her high-heeled steps, and the gaze she gives them is almost wild. It’s that sudden realization that hits her: the realization that she’s almost missed something so beautiful. For a moment there’s nothing more important that a deep breath and that flash of red and pink and splendor.

Maybe it’s a man pausing at a red light to catch a glimpse of a little league baseball game.
Maybe it’s a cup of coffee or a glass of water that does it—a scent or a phrase uttered on the fly by someone you barely noticed was there—but suddenly you find yourself transported, and it’s the most glorious split second reaction, to take that little break and let the world breathe around you.

“breathe in”

If you were to ask me what I do to relax after a busy day, I might say, “Turn on the television and veg out for an hour.” But when I stop and think about it, the first thing I always do is kick off my shoes, sink into my couch, and just breathe for a minute. Eyes closed, mouth slightly open, head back—I just breathe. It’s the most glorious thing. It reminds me that it's not always the big thunderous lightning-bolt moments that jolt me into feeling inspired.

It really is, as India.Arie sings, the "Little Things."

There is inspiration all around you, if you have a second to stop and look. It could be a blemish on a wall or a discarded and lonely sock, the sound of a neighbor’s dog barking, the scent of old coffee. Maybe it’s singing a song, or listening to someone else sing. Maybe it’s an episode of Law & Order or the look of a silent television before the flicker of life hits the screen.

Go for a walk. Sit. Hold your breath. Breathe. Live with your eyes wide open. Dream. Find inspiration in the little things, and let the little things breathe in and through you ... they make a big difference, for being so small.

When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses? What are the little things through which you find inspiration?



*****

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Some Little Things Giving Me Big Joy Today:

23 October 2012

opportunities for writers 10/23

a-z presses
Welcome to this week’s Opportunities for Writers! This week, we continue with the “A to Z” series with three K-presses seeking your writing. Enjoy!

Start prepping your pencils for these great opportunities for writers
(Image: "pencils" by Borbas Krisztian)
Kingly 'K's

kalyani

About: Kalyani Magazine is a literary magazine for women of color.  Each issue explores one theme, word, or concept impacting women “in diverse ways.” Kalyani “specifically [welcomes] submissions from previously unpublished authors” … In other words, if you’re looking for a place for your work and you are a new writer, Kalyani might just be the home for you!

Submission Process: Submissions are limited to women (which they define as “anyone who self-identifies as a woman the majority of the time”) and those “of colour” (which they define as “anyone who self-identifies as a person of colour ,” e.g. Asian, Hispanic, African heritage, etc.). Submissions are limited to up to 1500 words. For poetry, each poem must be submitted as a separate Word document. Submissions must be emailed to the address provided on their Submission Details page; the email must include the author’s full name, desired published name, the way in which you identify yourself as a “woman of color,” and a short sentence describing how the submission relates to the theme. For more on the submission guidelines, visit Kalyani’s Submission Details page.

Reading Period: Submissions for Issue #2 (theme: Sound) are accepted until 31 January 2013; submissions “will be reviewed after submissions are closed,” which means you might have to wait some time before hearing back.

Website: To learn more about Kalyani, their vision, etc., visit them online at kalyanimagazine.com

kenning

About: Kenning Journal expresses the goal of bringing together “both ‘page’ and ‘spoken word’ poems in one place, in both their written and oral forms.” The journal is open to established and emerging poets writing in a variety of forms (formal and free verse). The journal notes that a traditional “page” version of accepted poems “will always be accompanied by an audio-file of the poet reading his or her work.”

Submission Process: Kenning is “looking for pieces that are thought provoking, idiosyncratic, passionate, funny, revelatory, ferocious.” 3-5 poems should be submitted at a time to the journal’s Submittable submissions manager. An important note: if your poem is accepted, you must send a sound or video file within two weeks or the acceptance will be revoked! For more on Kenning’s submission guidelines, visit their Guidelines page.

Reading Period: Kenning reads year round (note: they do not accept multiple submissions)

Website: Visit Kenning online and check out their archives at www.kenningjournal.com

kenyon review

About: The Kenyon Review is one of the “big boys” (or, “big girls,” to avoid gender bias) … Foudned in 1939, KR’s mission is “to identify exceptionally talented emerging writers, especially from diverse communities, and publish their work … alongside the many distinguished, established writers featured in its pages.”

Submission Process: All submissions must be submitted through the journal’s Submittable portal. Authors should submit no more than one submission in a given genre at a time. Short fiction and essays may be up to 7500 words; poets may submit up to 6 poems, submitted as a single document. The journal also accepts plays (up to 30 pages), excerpts from larger works (up to 30 pages), and translations in both poetry and short prose. For more on the journal’s submission guidelines, visit their Submissions page.

Reading Period: 15 September 2012 through 15 January 2013

Website: To learn more about The Kenyon Review and its history, and to check out the journal’s archives, visit them online at www.kenyonreview.org


Happy Writing!


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Check out these previous A-Z Presses series posts on Our Lost Jungle:

22 October 2012

creative writing submissions 101: think like (and of) the editor

As writers we spend a lot of time trying to get our work into the public eye. As such, we realize that the first public eyes that often get to skim and make judgments on our words are the literary magazine editors who determine how much further our work will go. As a former poetry editor, a current reader, and a sometimes-member of several journals' editorial support staffs, I will tell you that this is not a responsibility that goes overlooked or under-appreciated by the editors. Whether work gets accepted or rejected, whether it takes months or weeks or days or hours to make that decision, it is always a painstaking one.

One of the big pains in the business of writing is trying to figure out what an editor is looking for. Sometimes we get so bogged down in trying to appease an editor that we forget to be true to ourselves as writers. It can be hard to find the perfect balance. I’ve been on both sides of the writerly scale and I can’t say I’ve found it yet. But here are some tips, from the editor side of me, for writers who are putting their work out there for other editors to see.

“follow the yellow brick road”

One of the biggest pet peeves I had as an editor was writers who decided to ignore the guidelines set forth by the literary magazine I helped edit. If the editors say to send no more than five poems, don’t test fate by sending six. If the journal calls for Times New Roman, don’t send in a submission in Calibri just because you think it looks better. Read and follow the guidelines carefully … ignoring them is a quick way to get your work ignored, too.

“what's in a name?”

With some journals it’s hard, admittedly, to keep up with who the editor is. Especially with college presses, the editor may change on a yearly basis. Still, it can be obnoxious as an editor to get a submission addressed to the guy who was the poetry editor five years ago.

for “good”

One of the pitfalls a lot of writers fall into when submitting their work is trying to write something for the editor that writer wants to impress. As an editor, I’m not looking for a dozen poems that sound just like me. I’m looking for good poetry … period. Imitation may be the best form of flattery, but it doesn’t mean it’ll get you published.

“if the shoe fits …”

Sometimes as an editor it’s rather obvious an author hasn’t bothered to familiarize him or herself with the style or aesthetic of your journal. Even if all you can do is skim through a free preview or look online at a few sample poems or short stories, at least get a sense of what the journal tends to publish before sending your text. When I read for one literary magazine, I was sent a manuscript over 100 pages that the author wanted us to comment on and, if not print in whole, serialize. I also had a poet once send me a packet of over 30 poems and ask that I just pick my favorite five.  This was just bad instincts in the part of those writers; they obviously had never bothered to figure out that the one journal didn’t do serialized stories or publish anything longer than about five pages, or have the sense to know that when I said I wanted five poems that didn’t mean send thirty and try to get me to rummage through them.

“…wear it.”

I never thought I’d have to point this out to a writer in the submission stage of his or her career, but if you’re going to submit your work, own it. I once had a writer basically apologize for what she had already decided was something I probably wouldn’t like because she wasn’t sure what she was doing when she wrote it. She’d actually sent some lovely poems, but her weak introduction to them almost got them dismissed. If you’re not proud of what you wrote, hold on to it until you are. If you are proud of it, don’t try to butter up an editor by trying to sound overly humble. If you tell us you’re a bad writer or your writing is probably not what we’re looking for, just know we might believe you.

“honesty is such a lonely word”

Always be honest, not only with your writing but also as a person submitting to a journal. I once had to withdraw an acceptance of a poet’s work because she was an alumnus of the school, and it was explicitly stated in the guidelines that we didn’t accept work from alumni or university affiliates. The poet then tried to recant her bio and claim she hadn’t actually attended the school. If any exception was even thought about in her case, it was instantly no longer in consideration. You can’t lie your way into publication.

“r-e-s-p-e-c-t”

Magazine editors understand that sometimes other opportunities arise for your work. We understand when you have to withdraw pieces. What we’re less forgiving of is when you withdraw a piece because “a better and more prestigious journal has expressed interest.” I actually had a writer say this when asking if he could withdraw a piece, except in his case it wasn’t that anybody else had expressed interest; he just wanted to send it to a “more prestigious” journal that didn’t accept simultaneous submissions. A friend of mine who worked on the editorial staff for another journal had a similar thing happen. This editor was less forgiving than the staff I worked with; he actually wrote the editor of the other magazine (because he knew him personally) to say what the writer had done. While I don’t want to suggest editors would intentionally try and “black list” you as a writer for insulting them, and I don’t necessarily agree with what my friend did, I will say that the last thing you want to do is disrespect the people in the publishing world who are there to help you achieve your dreams.

Never forget: Editors are people, too, and they even have feelings. Take care in how you send out your work, and remember that editors are there because they want to publish great work—maybe even your great work! Keeping the editor in mind is more than just trying to figure out what he or she wants to read or hear … it’s also about remembering to show editors common courtesy, and the same respect you hope they’ll show your work! None of these tips will guarantee publication—but they will help you to stay on the sunnier side of the street leading you there!



*****

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Join in October's Submit-O-Rama with these 5 Challenges!

17 October 2012

the juggling act: multitasking in the writing life

The Juggling Act: Multitasking in the Writing Life
I was going to write a post on the joys and skills of multitasking as writer. But here’s the thing … lately, I have not been a great multitasker. In fact, the moment I try to work on more than one project at a time, everything seems to fall apart—which makes me wonder if maybe multitasking isn’t the brightest idea when it comes to being a writer.

So rather than trying to sell you on everything great about multitasking, I’ve gathered some great posts, articles, and blogs from other writers grappling with the same question! Enjoy!

In “Multitasking, does it work?” writer and mother Jennifer Neri admits to multitasking in many areas of her life but not in her writing life. Jennifer offers an honest look at the urge for, and the struggle to resist, multitasking.

Christopher Gronlund’s The Juggling Writer is “a blog about juggling work, writing, and life.” Christopher blogs weekly with tips for writing success and “finding the balance between one’s day job and their life.”

“The Multitasking Writer – It’s All About Balance” is the advice Karen Duvall shares with novel writers. Duvall’s balancing act is the work of balancing story elements, not so much balancing the various aspects of a writer’s life … but for many of us, our works in progress are our lives, so her words are still extremely valuable.

Camellia Phillips is a fiction writer and grant writer. In an October 8, 2012 blog post, she writes on a variety of strategies for multitasking as writers with full-time non-writing jobs, family responsibilities, and more. Read up on these tips, and see which ones you can apply to your writing life, in “Juggling Multiple Writing Projects or I know I put that plot thread around here somewhere …”

I am all for multitasking typically, but given the stress it’s put my writing under lately, I’m starting to wonder if maybe John Soares doesn’t have it right when he suggests it hurts productivity. In “How Multitasking Hurts Your Productivity” Soares suggests that while there are some cases where multitasking can work—like doing housework or exercising—there are plenty of situations in which you shouldn’t … including writing.

But maybe John has it wrong. I mean, otherwise … why would something like this awesomeness exist?

How about you? Do you allow yourself to multitask in your writing life? Has multitasking helped or hurt you in the past? How do you find balance between your writing and everything else you have to juggle in your everyday life?


*****

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16 October 2012

opportunities for writers 10/16

Thanks to the readers and guests who have sent notes with hellos and questions this past week! It’s been fun getting in touch with some of you personally, having conversations, swapping advice, and talking everything from fun poetry forms to the return of The Walking Dead! The past few days have been busy with emails and teaching-related-duties, but I’m happy to jump back into the regular OLJ schedule. (To get in touch with me yourself, feel free to drop a line here!)

a-z presses

"Jumping in" sees the perfect phrase for getting back into the swing of things with this week's "A to Z" series listing, because we've officially made it all the way up to the J's. Enjoy!

Start prepping your pencils for these great opportunities for writers
(Image: "pencils" by Borbas Krisztian)
Joyous 'J's

jabberwock review

About: Jabberwock Review is a literary journal published semi-annually by students and faculty of Mississippi State University. Besides having one of the most fun-to-say journal names around, the journal also features poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and art from around the world.

Submission Process: The journal lists guidelines for submitting by mail, but we’ll focus on electronic submissions. All submissions must include a cover letter with the author’s name, address, phone number, email, and “a brief biographical statement.” Writers should send no more than one story or no more than 5 poems at a time. The submissions page specifies that the author’s name and address(es) should appear on the first page of the manuscript or with each poem; this may be a guideline specific to snail mail submissions, but … better safe than sorry! Include a note if your submission is a simultaneous submission. For further submission guidelines and to access Jabberwock’s online submission manager visit their submission page here.

Reading Period: The reading period we’re currently in runs from August 15 to October 20, so get your manuscript ready and send it in soon!

Website: To learn more about Jabberwock, visit them online at www.jabberwock.org.msstate.edu

josephine quarterly

About: Josephine Quarterly is still in its infancy, but that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be the perfect place for your babies! Founded in 2012 by poets Komal Patel Matthew and Jenny Sadre-Orafai in Atlanta, the journal is published online in March, June, September, and December. According to the website the tastes of the editors “tend to run wild,” but one thing they know is that “A good poem is a good poem. We know what we want when we see it.”

Submission Process: Poets should send only unpublished work for consideration. Send up to five poems with your submission; poems may be of any length. Josephine only accepts submissions via its online Submittable submission manager; poems should be submitted in .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf format. For more on their guidelines, visit the submission page here.

Reading Period: Josephine does not list reading period deadlines, but publishes 4x per year so you may assume they have a rolling submission period. As of today they are currently open to submissions.

Website: Visit Josephine Quarterly online at www.josephinequarterly.com

jubilat

About: For the past few years, when I’ve asked some poets I know what “the dream” is for publication, I’ve heard the name jubilat more than once. jubilat works to “[create] a dialogue that showcases the beauty and strangeness of the ordinary, and how experiments with language and image speak in a compelling way about who we are.” According to their History statement: “From the very first issue onward, jubilat has aimed to publish not only the best in contemporary American poetry, but to place it alongside a varied selection of reprints, found pieces, lyric prose, art, and interviews with poets and other artists.”

Submission Process: Submissions are only accepted online through jubilat’s online system, and should include three to six poems in one .doc, .rtf, or .pdf file. Poets should submit no more than three times a year. The journal welcomes submissions of poetry and art, “as well as other forms of writing on poetry, poetics or subjects that have nothing to do with poetry”; they do not, however, publish short stories (sorry, fiction folk). They do not publish reprints of recently published material, and state that they are “amenable” to simultaneous submissions. For more on their submission guidelines, visit the submission page here.

Reading Period: September 1 to April 1

Website: To learn more about jubilat, check out the archive, or drool over their list of editors-at-large, visit them online at www.jubilat.org

Happy Writing!


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Check out these previous A-Z Presses series posts on Our Lost Jungle:

10 October 2012

the 'r' word: 5 ways to face rejection like a pro

The 'R' Word: How to Handle Rejection Like a Pro
When you are a writer, you face the constant threat of rejection. I’d love to be able to say “you get used to it” … but the reality is there’s almost always that sting that accompanies every “No” you receive. It’s really no wonder—our writing is like our babies. Every “No,” to me, is like an editor saying, “Your baby just isn’t good enough to fit in here.” That’s like a blatant indictment of my parenting skills … I just failed my baby. How am I supposed to take that as a positive?

I recently had another writer friend ask me this very question, and I gave the most honest answer I could think of: it’s hard, but it comes with the job. And as much as it might seem like a cop out response, I honestly believe that the road to a single “yes” may be paved by a thousand—or even a million—“no”s, but it’s still a journey worth taking. I just shared this sentiment last week, when I received my first rejection of the October Submit-O-Rama! I share it again because I believe it's true.

If we are to undertake such a treacherous journey, we writers need ways of dealing with that rejection in a way that helps us to take it, deal with it, and move on. We need ways of reminding ourselves that the sting is temporary, and it's leading to a great reward.

“What are those ways,” you ask? Well, here are five of them:

1. Rejection “rejection”
Write a parodical rejection of your rejection notice. In it, kindly thank the editor for his/her submission of the rejection for your consideration. Inform the editor that, regrettably, you are unable to accept the rejection at this time, and state your reasons if you wish. Affirm your assuredness that your writing career is still on the right path. Assure the editor that, while the rejection does not suite your needs at this time, you welcome them to try again in the future. Sign it, and post it on your wall. Or keep a notebook and paste both rejections side-by-side.

2. Rejection art
You may have seen, from time to time, a piece of rejection art on this site. Rejection art simply takes a rejection notice and turns it into a praising piece of art. Cut out the words that don’t suite you, and leave only a nice little message from “the editors” affirming how much they love your writing. With so many journals moving to online submission managers, that means a lot more electronic rejection slips, and a lot easier of a time creating your art in an image manipulation program like Paint, Photoshop, or Gimp.

3. Rejection game
Have a challenge among your writer friends and issue awards for the writer who receives any of the following: the nicest rejection, the meanest rejection, the funniest rejection, the most rejections, etc. It’s a nice way to perhaps lose a publication credit but still walk away winning something!

4. Rejection road
Make a mural with your rejection slips tracing your path to a yes. You might sketch out an actual road on your wall, and add each rejection as it comes (who knows … the road may be shorter than you think). Or create a road map to “YES” and along the path sketch in the name of each place that sent you a rejection slip. This is a nice way to remind yourself that the answer was “No” for now, but it’s all leading up to that glorious “Yes” moment.

5. Rejection wish
Hopefully we’ve all seen that flying wish paper: you write your wish down, set it on fire, and watch it float away. Unfortunately your rejection slip is probably printed on paper that won’t so easily float away. But that’s no excuse not to go ahead and burn it! Take your rejection slip, and write a simple wish or hope on the back: “May the next one be a yes,” for example. Then, carefully, burn the rejection slip—let the flames burn the sting out of your memory.

However you choose to handle a rejection, remember that it’s not personal, and it comes with the territory. It’s not easy, but the more you’re able to face it and move on, the happier you’ll eventually be with your writerly journey! So shoulders back, chin up, and as always … Happy writing!

How do you choose to deal with the dreaded rejection slip? What do you tell yourself when you receive a rejection to keep yourself motivated as a writer? Don't forget to share your tips and ideas in the comments below!

*****

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09 October 2012

opportunities for writers 10/9

a-z presses

This week’s “A to Z” series listings include three journals beginning with “I” that are seeking your submissions. Enjoy!

Start prepping your pencils for these great opportunities for writers
(Image: "pencils" by Borbas Krisztian)
 Impressive 'I's

inkspill

About: Inkspill Magazine is a UK-based literary magazine with the mantra “Don’t be afraid to spill some ink.” They espouse a belief in “being unafraid of making a mess in the name of creative experimentation. In order to construct something extraordinary, you must first deconstruct the ordinary.” They define themselves as a platform for emerging talent, so if you have something fresh and original to share, and consider yourself someone “who might struggle to get noticed in the crowded commercial market,” Inkspill might just be the home for your writing.

Submission Process: Don’t worry about converting postage rates—all submissions are made through Inkspill’s Submittable online submission form. Writers can submit one story or article, or up to three poems. Writers can submit to multiple parts of the magazine (in other words, to more than one genre) as long as they follow the guidelines. Simultaneous submissions must be acknowledged in the cover letter. Expect a response time of up to 6-12 weeks (up to six for articles; up to 12 for stories and poetry). For more on the submission process (including a unique opportunity to earn an “Editor’s Choice” award, which includes payment), visit their submission page here.

Reading Period: Inkspill is published three times per year; they do not list a specific reading period

Website: To learn more about Inkspill, visit them online at www.inkspillmagazine.com

inner art

About:
Inner Art Journal is looking for “writing that is succinct, clear, and honest.” It is a poetry magazine, with a current preference for tanka (though they note that they are “open to other short forms”). They specify that they are “more likely to accept a poem that is perceptive than one that is written perfectly but lacks depth.” Inner Art includes a page on writing tanka as “a wonderful exercise in perception” so my guess is they currently have a strong preference for tanka! You might take this as an opportunity, if you haven’t written in this form before, to give it a little practice!

Submission Process: Poets should send several poems that they believe will fit the journal; Inner Art does not specify how many constitutes “several,” so exercise good reason when submitting, or query first to figure out how many might be too many. They accept submissions through a Submittable page, and provide an email for contacting them with questions here.

Reading Period: Rolling

Website: Learn more about Inner Art Journal, and check out their tanka practice guide, online at www.innerartjournal.com

innisfree

About: The Innisfree Poetry Journal is open to your original, previously unpublished poems year round. Innisfree publishes “well-crafted poems, whether in free verse or in traditional forms, poems grounded in the specific, which speak in fresh language and telling images.” They also “admire musicality.”

Submission Process: The submission should be submitted as one Word document (they note that if the writer does not have Word, Google Docs or Rich Text Format should be used instead). Poets should include  brief bio and up to five poems in the submission, which should be attached to an email addressed to editor@innisfreepoetry.org. Your name, as you wish it to appear in the journal, should be included in the subject line. Poets should submit only once per issue. Innisfree lists some specific formatting guidelines for both the submission and email; view more on their guidelines and preferences here.

Reading Period: While they read year round, the deadline for the Spring issue is February 1, and August 1 for the Fall issue

Website: To learn more about Innisfree, visit them online at www.authorme.com/innisfree.htm
 
Happy Writing!


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Check out these previous A-Z Presses series posts on Our Lost Jungle:

08 October 2012

creative writing submissions 101: how to prepare your creative writing submissions

Even though the cover letter is the firm handshake before your submission’s “interview,” the submission itself can suffer drastically if it is improperly formatted. As a former literary magazine poetry editor, I can tell you that any submission, be it poetry, fiction, or nonfiction, can lose the interest of its readers if the author is careless with its formatting.

That said, there aren’t really too many rules for you as a writer to follow when preparing your manuscript for submission to a literary magazine. Typically a magazine will post some specifics on how they want manuscripts presented. The “rules” are often not that different than what you’d expect from any formally presented document (i.e. a proposal or an academic essay). While you should always check with the magazine to which you are submitting to understand the editors’ preferences, here are “the basics” of manuscript preparation:

the quantity

Pay close attention to the number of words, pages, or pieces allowed per submission for the places you intend to submit to. For poetry, the standard request is that you send only three to five poems at a time; some presses will list no minimum, while others set a higher maximum (the highest I’ve seen is ten). Some poetry journals will specify line lengths for poems as well. These can often be tricky to navigate. For example, a press may allow three to five poems per submission, then specify that the submission should be “no longer than thirty lines.” It is sometimes left to you to figure out if the publisher means thirty lines per poem or thirty lines total. The best practice, if you’re unsure, is to send a quick query to the publisher before submitting.

For fiction or nonfiction, submissions are often limited to one piece with a minimum and/or maximum word count; expect anywhere from a minimum of 1,000 to 2,000 words, and a maximum of up to (if not beyond) 20,000 words. Prose submissions tend to be much more specific in terms of lengths, so pay careful attention to the guidelines the editors specify. Some presses will allow multiple prose pieces in a submission but, as with poetry submissions, will still place limits on the number of pages and/or words. Again, if you’re unsure about the breakdown of a journal or press’s submission specifications, always send a query before submitting rather than risking your work making a quick-dash to the slush pile!

the quality

The real nitty-gritty work of a submission often comes down to the formatting of the document itself. It is extremely important here to look for any specific requests from the publisher in terms of spacing, numeration, running headers, fonts, and so forth. But the basic thing to keep in mind, if you are doing a mailed submission, is that neatness counts. Just like you wouldn’t show up to a job interview with a stain on your shirt, don’t send submissions with smudges, stains, wrinkles, or any other avoidable blemishes.

For poetry submissions, the general practice is to limit yourself to one poem to a page, single spaced with a double-space between stanzas. Fiction submissions are generally double-spaced. A standard font should be used, usually something in the serif font family (Century, Courier, Garamond, Times New Roman, et cetera). Some publications will get specific down to the formatting of margins and titles. While you are usually safe bolding your titles, be careful: some places specifically tell you there should be no special formatting in your submission. Similarly, while the standard margin is now one inch on all sides, some presses stick with the former 1.25 inch margin, or will specify other margin alignments.

Mailed submissions, particularly with poetry, will often ask for some kind of running header with your submission. For poetry, presses will sometimes ask that you include your name, address, and telephone number in the upper right corner of the page; often it’s requested you include this information only on the first page. For fiction submissions, you will often include this same information on the first page, plus the submission’s word count (to the nearest 100 words) at the top right of the first page. Pages usually need to be numbered for mailed submissions, usually in the top right; for poetry, you’ll usually include only the page number, while with fiction the running header typically includes your surname, the full or partial title, and page number.

the sundry

Always proofread your submission several times before sending it out. Be aware of any special format requests from the publication: i.e. some will ask for underlining instead of italicization and other formatting rules that might seem small to you but will mean a lot to the publisher. Use left-alignment rather than justified alignment.

Think about the number of pieces, particularly with poetry, you will send in your submission. If the journal asks for three to five poems, why send three when you could send five? Organize your submission top to bottom: the best on top, the good-but-not-the-best on the bottom.

Pay attention to whether or not the publisher wants a cover sheet on your submission. Sometimes a journal requests cover sheets so the actual read of your submission is “blind”; the cover sheet includes your name, contact information, and the title(s) of the piece(s) you submitted.

Whatever you do, always abide by the guidelines set up by the journal or press to which you are submitting! Pay close attention to both the big things and the little things—nothing is unimportant when it comes to your work!

Good luck with your submissions! And as always …


Happy Writing!

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Join in October's Submit-O-Rama with these 5 Challenges!

04 October 2012

the “write” way: 10 time management tips for writers

10 Time Management Tips for Writers
With the Submit-O-Rama underway, and many writers’ preparations for the upcoming National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in full swing, it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. No matter how you break it down, the basic truth is that writers are always busy people. And the big question for a lot of us remains: How do I find time for it all?

The hard truth is, as writers, we must acknowledge that sometimes there just isn’t time for it all. Fortunately, the softer truth is that there are ways to take control of your time and get as much done as possible without feeling the strain of taking on too much! Try out these ten tips for managing your time as a writer:

1. Steal it
We all have little gaps in our day in which nothing is really going on. Maybe it’s your lunch break. Maybe it’s the ten minutes you spend waiting for dinner to finish cooking, or the eight minutes you spend waiting for that pot of water to boil. Maybe it’s the five minutes you spend in the bathroom. Start filling those little gaps with small tasks like jotting down ideas for your work in progress, answering emails, commenting on blogs and/or Facebook posts, scheduling tweets on Twitter, and so forth.

2. Focus
You can really only work on one thing at a time. Even as a professional multitasker I know this. Instead of trying to work on ten or five or two projects simultaneously, hone your attention in on one; wait until you are finished to turn your attention to something new. Besides avoiding the frustration of feeling overwhelmed with projects, you’ll also enjoy extra satisfaction in each task you finish!

3. Pre-plan
Take a little time on your weekend to schedule blog posts, make lists of the week’s to-do’s, and so forth. Taking an hour on one day to figure out your priorities for the week frees up infinitely more time on the other six days of your week to get actual work done!

4. Automate
Just like pre-posting blog posts frees you from having to write them during the week, automation is becoming increasingly available for simple online tasks. Tools like HootSuite allow you to schedule tweets, the sharing of recent blog posts, and more. HootSuite is also great because it helps you avoid getting bogged down in numerous stimulating social media tabs! You’re your Facebook and Twitter accounts housed under one roof, you are able to focus on the meaningful interactions they allow rather than the distractions they present.

5. Learn to say “No”
As was previously noted, it’s a hard fact but you can’t do it all. Learn the fine art of not taking on more than you can handle. This can be hard when you’re in the midst of one project and an amazing opportunity arises. Learn to prioritize instead of trying to take on the whole world at once. You have to win the war one battle at a time.

6. Simplify
If you’ve already bitten off a choke-worthy mouthful, start simplifying things. If you have multiple websites, try to keep them on the same platform, like Blogger or WordPress. If you are a member of several different organizations, figure out which ones really mean the most to you, and which you can drop or put on a back burner. If you are a member of multiple social media sites that do the same thing, allow yourself to drop the ones that you don’t really take advantage of.

7. Break
Learn to take a day—or two—off. One of the hardest things in a writer’s life is learning to step back from the writing you love to love yourself. Still, it’s important for you to have time that’s just for you: time that’s not dedicated to meeting a deadline or pleasing others or even editing the manuscript you love. Allow yourself to take a break, especially when you start to feel the wear of it all.

8. Give
We’re not talking gift giving here … we’re talking “giving up.” It’s important that you become willing to accept that you only have so many hours in the day. Take care of the important things, and let the things that can wait … wait.

9. Quit
Let’s face it: sometimes things just aren’t worth doing … or they just aren’t working. Maybe you joined a second writing group on the recommendation of a friend, but you’re not getting anything out of it. Maybe you added a new feature to your website but it’s starting to look like a flop. Remember that as bad as it feels to “quit” something … it’s also extremely brave. It’s your way of saying that there’s something better you could be doing, and that this thing is just a waste of time.

10. List
Never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned to-do list! Making lists of the tasks you have to complete helps you better visualize what exactly you need to do. Prioritize your lists by sorting them most-important to least. Tell yourself it’s okay if the things at the bottom of the list don’t get done right away.

Whatever steps you take to manage your time as a writer, it’s important to keep one thing in mind: You’re only human. Even Superman has to recharge his solar-powered batteries once in a while … and none of us are Superman, no matter how hard we try to be! Take charge of your writing time, and learn to stop letting time take charge of you!

How about you? What are your favorite time management techniques? How do you take charge of your writing time? What do you do when things start to feel overwhelming? Be sure to share your tips, ideas, and thoughts in the comments.

*****

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Here are some other helpful Time Management Tips for Writers:

03 October 2012

taking rejection to [art]: how writers can deal with rejection

Dear Submit-O-Rama Participants,

As we draw closer to the end of the first week of the Submit-O-Rama challenge, I'm sure there have been some disappointments ... Some early rejections, perhaps, that not only came sooner than you thought they would but also perhaps stung a little more than you thought they would.

I just want to encourage you to keep at it! No, rejection isn't easy ... in fact, it downright stinks. But remember this: While the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the inverse is true of submitting.

The journey to a single yes may be paved with a thousand "No"s.

But think how much sweeter that will make the "Yes" moments of your journey. There's a classic Gospel song that notes, "A little pain makes me appreciate the good times." The writing life will often be a little bittersweet: you've got to taste the bitter to taste the sweet. Just remember that it's worth it, and we're all here with you!

So find a way to turn the rain of a rejection into a rainbow, and don't think of those somber slips telling you your work wasn't the right fit as raining on your writing parade, but as watering the garden of your writing until your pieces bloom and the seeds of your labor spread far and wide. Instead of taking your rejections to heart, do what I do ... find a little joy in them by taking them to ART!

Taking rejection to "art" ... Space Invader style.

Happy Writing.

*****

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Read More on Coping with Rejection from These Writers!

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