All posts tagged: literary review

How Not to Follow Up

Hey, writers, let’s talk submissions again! It’s been a while. I’ve previously written about what cover letters should look like, what stories you should probably not show litmags, other stories you should probably not show litmags, etc. I’d like to add to this a list of behavior you should never ever indulge in when following up on a submission, from the no-bullshit perspective of someone who spends a lot of time reading slush. If I reject you, please don’t write me back with some snide remark about how I’d like your work if only I were smarter or nicer. Why would you do this? All you have accomplished is that now you are on my permanent blacklist, and if I’m having a really annoying day, I will forward your mean email to your MFA program director or whichever magazine most recently published your work. Stop. Accept that you didn’t get in this time. I don’t get into places all the time. It happens. Please do not wait TWO DAYS and then email me to ask …

The Only Cover Letter Template You’ll Ever Need

Once, in undergrad, I submitted a story I wrote for my sophomore workshop to n + 1 and got a positive response, an interest in putting the thing in their next online issue if I could only revise it enough. I couldn’t revise it enough, because I was secretly the newest of writers, and anyway, I was busy working a job and an internship while carrying a full-time undergraduate course load and also raising a small child. Eventually, the editor who had expressed an interest stopped being as interested and moved to The New Yorker instead, and I published the thing in the print issue of a far less well-known magazine. It happens. That story was not my mature work, it was written before I’d had a good long sit-down-and-think about the politics of my art and my person, and I’m sort of (read: very) relieved it doesn’t exist on the internet. So there’s that. But at AWP this past week, I went up and retold the story to the current n + 1 staffpersons …

How to Win Contests, and Why

So I’ve won some contests. This started at the tail end of undergrad, and has continued into the present day. In the past year, I’ve won contests at New Letters, Mid-American Review, and New Millennium Writings. I placed second at Wag’s Revue immediately before that magazine shut down forever, and placed third in Glimmer Train, which was a pretty sweet get. I’ve been a finalist often enough that I no longer remember how many times that’s happened and where. I am currently, so far as I can tell, in second readings rounds at a couple places, and will probably, G-d willing, win some more contests in the future. But I actually have some mixed feelings about contests, and this is as good a place as any to discuss those feelings. First off, what kind of work wins contests? Highly polished work, sure, and good work, yes, but I think there’s more to it than that. This summer I attended the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. We ended up discussing contests during one workshop, and our instructor, …

Some Myths About Your Litmag Submissions

I read stories. A lot of them. I am the sole fiction editor for Reservoir, and I read (and edit copy) for Raleigh Review, an up-and-coming litmag founded by MFA alums from North Carolina State University. I’ve read for a couple other journals in the past, and been a preliminary reader for a couple of literary competitions in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry as well. I’m fairly sure this all added up to about two hundred stories last semester, from flash to novellas, and maybe another fifty poems, dozen essays, and thirty-five poetry collections. And sometimes I come across people online or in real life who have no insight into this process, a great many misconceptions as to how their work is being read. People who submit scattershot for years on end without success, or—and this is sadder to me—talented, sensitive writers too intimidated to submit at all. So let’s provide a little insight. Let’s clear up some misconceptions about submissions. Nobody gets published without an MFA.  This is simply not true, as demonstrated by my experiences …

Watch Your Step!

A couple of weeks ago, I did this really cool thing where I stepped off a curb into a storm drain. The drop was further than expected and onto an uneven surface and I double sprained my ankle (I simultaneously sprained the inside and outside of my ankle). I missed class. Which I can’t stand to do—no pun intended. I can count on one hand the number of classes I missed in 4 years of undergrad. The members of my cohort really came to my aid from taking me to the student health center, taking me to class and assisting me with my grocery shopping. My professor whose class I missed reached out several times to check-in on me. I felt well cared for and am ever grateful. Fortunately, I’m a writer and not an athlete, so I’ve still been able to get my reading and writing done. Although, not as much of either as I had planned. There’s something about being marooned on your bed that will drain the motivation from you to do …